Monday, August 1, 2011

A Band of Joyous Heroes (BoJH)

It's been a while since I worked on these rules - maybe even as long as six months or more. I became too focused on getting the background info sorted, or rather, how I was going to communicate it to players - and that led me off on a series of tangents which I won't go into now.

Lately however, I've started to think about the rules again. For those who don't know, A Band of Joyous Heroes (BoJH) is a game set in MAR Barker's Tékumel setting; the setting from the old TSR game: The Empire of the Petal Throne (EPT).

What sort of game you ask? Well, in the past I've called it a "Tabletop Adventure Game" or "RPG-Lite" and, as you may know, it's based upon the Two Hour Wargames family of games. They have started using the term "Immersion Game" for some of their games so I guess that is what it is.

It is definitely intended for tabletop play, definitely with miniatures, with the table representing the scenario or scene for the nights game. I should also note that Two Hour Wargames gets their name from the fact that their games are typically playable in that amount of time - so that is what BoJH is striving for. This means that if things work properly then you might be able to complete more than one scene in an evening. How cool would that be?

The term "Immersion game" comes from the fact that the rules strive to place the player in the role appropriate for the game. ie. the Squad Leader, the General, or whatever. They use mechanisms like "Reaction Tests" and "PEFs" (Possible Enemy Forces) to take away the powers of the 200 foot general. Power Gamers and Mini-Maxers need not apply. I have no idea if anyone has ever run a tournament with any 2HW rules, but I suspect they would not work too well for that purpose. Totally different mindset, IMO.

So my intent is to cast the players as Tsolyáni citizens, with all the rights and obligations that that entails. (This is why I have been so focused on background this last little while.) There would be no "adventurers" as such - not in the D&D sense. For one thing there aren't any traditional D&D taverns - a low status hostel probably comes the closest to that. The players are intended to be higher status, however, and Tsolyáni social mores would prevent to two social classes from mingling on such an intimate level. The peasant is very much the peasant, and his social superior is "Exalted One", if spoken to at all (not unless spoken to first!)

Another reason there are none of your typical "adventurer" types: everyone has a job. When I say everyone, I mean most people. There will always be some who don't work, and many in the high status clans don't work, as such, but where they don't work they have obligations, which has the same effect in that you don't hang about as a sword-for-hire doing odd jobs for wizards and such. Not that there are Wizards hanging about either - magic is pretty much controlled by the temples, so magic-users are priests (and shaman) who are generally employed by their temple in some role.

That isn't to say that there aren't adventures - there are. It's just that they have purpose. The goal of the game is to style the players as [potential] "Heroes of the Age"* in the employ of a Patron, or possibly Patrons. They could be acting for their clan or on behalf of their clan with another party; they could be acting in the interest of one of the Temples, or one of the political parties, one of the many secret societies or the Imperium itself. Their patron could be a wealthy or powerful individual (such as one of the Imperial Princes) or they may not even know who their true employer is.

This will necessarily effect the choice of characters a player can have. Broadly speaking, they can be from the same faction as other players, ie. the same temple or clan; from an allied faction, ie. another temple of stability; or from a reluctant ally, in a case where normally opposed factions have joined to achieve some mutual goal.

* The term "Hero of the Age" comes from the background material. Every Age has a great hero or heroes, who do fantastic deeds that become the stuff of legends; or, if they fail, become the cause of some great mythical cataclysm.

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