October 14th, 2010


An RPG in the Lonesome October

Originally published at Figures of Text. Please leave any comments there.

From the Twitterz:
Edel Ryder-Hanrahanemopod Been reading a chapter of this every day:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Night_in_the_Lonesome_October Thoroughly enjoying it.
Myles Corcoran MylesC @emopod That’s a marvelous book. I prod my wife every October to run a RPG based on it after she admitted the urge to some years ago.
Edel Ryder-Hanrahanemopod@MylesC Ooh, month long rpg?
Myles CorcoranMylesC @emopod It would be lovely to play out each day in October a day at a time. Can’t see ever getting it together logistically though.
That’s a design challenge. One aspect of gaming that rpgs often handle poorly is the issue of attendance – what happens when a player misses a game? I’ll handle that in another blog post, but it’s obvious that getting together every night would be infeasible for the vas majority of groups. We could have done it back in college, when everyone was living in gamer-houses and playing four or five nights a week was not considered at all excessive, but we were young then, and foolish, and highly caffeinated.
Getting together once a week, though, is doable. A putative rpg version of A Night In The Lonesome October would have to be a mix of play-by-email and tabletop. Each player sends one email to the GM per night, describing their actions for the day. Then, once a week, the players meet up and play through a night as a group. The nebulous rules of the Game played in the book could support this – assume that extended meetings between players are forbidden except on certain nights.
During character creation, each player would secretly choose to be an Opener or a Closer. You’d also pick your companion animal (or play the companion animal, and pick your mysterious master) and your other talents. During play, the challenge would be to assemble the list of ingredients you need for your ritual while investigating the actions of the other players. Each player would have their own list of things they needed, but some items would appear on multiple lists.
The final session would be on the last night of October. The ultimate decision of Opening or Closing would depend on how far each player got in their ritual, and which side they stood on at the end.
System? Right now, I’d be tempted to try the new Smallville rules on it. It’s set up for player-vs-player conflict, and the complex relationship maps it produces do look just like ley lines…