It is now time to explore in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes!
Exploration can mean many things. In most adventures it means wandering into the wilderness, looking for signs of the Monster and trying to learn more about it. But it could also mean talking to the people of a settlement or perhaps just in a meadhall in order to discover more information. For some adventures it means meeting with ‘monsters’ or at least non-human intelligences.
If you recall from last week, we had just completed a voyage to reach the location of the adventure. This contained from one to three challenges, each requiring some sort of roll and providing a positive or negative consequence.
Now we have reached ‘Meadhall and Mystery’ – the Hero arrives and usually makes contact with the local leader(s) and may find a welcome place to stay in the meadhall. It is often here that they first find out substantive news of the Monster. (They have likely heard rumours before but now they might receive clarity now that they are talking to those directly affected.)
It’s Friday and that means it is time to dive into BEOWULF: Age of Heroes again. We’ve done the Portent and set the Inspiration Pool at the same time (as you generate the Portent, each step puts a token that the Monster, the Followers, or the Hero can use during the game). We’ve loaded the ship up with supplies and hired a Crew (these are different from Followers, more on that in a minute). We are ready for the Whale Road!
It’s Friday and time for a new BEOWULF blog. This time it’s all about adventure… not the adventure (that’s in the future) but a chapter where we set out the themes and process of making an adventure for the Age of Heroes.
We know that lots of folks enjoy running our adventures and strive to provide you with a variety of memorable adventures that can be enjoyed again and again. But we also know that the very best guide to what your Player would enjoy is you. So we wanted to make sure that we gave you the tools to make your own BEOWULF adventures.
The game box itself slips into a pocket and the riff coins happily slide into the box.
It wasn’t designed specifically to be portable – it just is.
The Silver Road, our minimalist sorry-telling rpg and our newest release, is similarly portable. You need the eight inch square booklet while you learn the minimalist rules, and a six-sided dice. Having a dice for each player is ideal, but that’s no hardship. Your character fits easily on an index card or till receipt.
Like Bang and Twang, The Silver Road wasn’t specifically designed to be portable, but it really is. Clearly small games are something we like making!
If you happen to be in Birmingham at the beginning of June you can catch us at UK Games Expo. We’d love to see you, so swing by the booth for a chat!
The Silver Road is a minimalist story telling game. It’s setting-free, allowing you to bring your own, and is light enough to be incredibly versatile. The game was created under heavy influence of 1970s children’s books like Susan Cooper and Alan Garner, but it can happily work for any setting.
The Silver Road is an experimental game that thrives on player participation, group story telling, and creative narration to create stories together.
As a minimalist game there’s no tracking of numerical resources, and the rules are stripped down to the bare minimum of procedures.
The game uses one six-sided dice per player, and your character fits on an index card.
As written, The Silver Road is played with a GM but recent games without a GM work well with the right group.
The Silver Road was written by Jon Hodgson (Writer on The One Ring 1e, Adventures in Middle-earth, BEOWULF Age of Heroes and the Terminator RPG) and illustrated by Mike Franchina (illustrator for Magic the Gathering and Blizzard)
The Silver Road is an experimental, minimalist story telling rpg we’re releasing tomorrow, the 24th of May, in both PDF and print. Its a 24-page, full-colour booklet with amazing art by Mike Franchina.
Jon Hodgson: If you’re a games designer (and who isn’t these days?) you’ll know it can be both complicated and interesting to sift through your influences and inspirations.
When I think about where The Silver Road came from, there are a few intriguingly awkward things to talk about in the mix. It’s probably not politic to talk about negatives. But let’s do it.
There are things I see in games which I personally don’t enjoy or think are “not good”, but which have a use in inspiring me to create something different. And I don’t like a mechanic or process I call “advanced coin flips”.
“Advanced coin flips” are where a mechanic adds lots of work to create a very limited result. We’ve all seen it – complicated dice mechanics where maybe you’re throwing a ton of dice which you then have to sort through, and ¾ of them don’t mean anything. For me, sorting through a bunch of dice isn’t all that much fun. I have to do a lot of work to get a result.
Likewise, rolling two dice and subtracting one from another – which manages to remove the intuitive and fun qualities of dice rolls, (“yay a six! Go again!”) and severely limits the outcomes, despite it being a lot of work for players.
Now sometimes, he says hedging his bets, this kind of mechanic is fun – when placed in the right context, and of course different people like different things. When we design somethign we have to make harder decisions than perhaps we would when just enjoying a game.
Most often, my thinking is that if you’re better off flipping coins for what amounts to a fifty fifty result? Then flip coins. Flipping multiple coins could make the basis for a really good game. (Ahem)
This kind of thinking was a big part of what inspired the experimental game that is The Silver Road, and all this stuff was floating around my brain while The Silver Road coalesced.
I was looking to remove as much “procedure” as possible, and explore how that changed the focus of play. I should qualify that with the idea that this was a starting point – it wasn’t rigorously adhered to once that ball got rolling. I was more keen to just see where that ball went once it was in motion.
The Silver Road, somewhat precociously and provocatively, does away with the very common, traditional RPG idea of rolling dice when your character is middling at something, and the likely outcome is somewhere broadly around 50/50. (Or 60/40 – I’m talking in very broad terms here)
This is pretty much accepted through most trad games as the meat of most die rolls, and to some degree the meat of “what you spend your time doing”. By comparison, The Silver Road is a mechanical vegan. (That’s a ridiculous sentence but sometimes arising thoughts can’t be denied)
Rather than focus on characters being middling in their abilities, and what happens being determined by die rolls around that middle ground, the Silver Road takes a different, more story-inspired approach. We’re not looking to somehow simulate “real life”. We’re looking to facilitate and inspire the kinds of things we see in stories.
In The Silver Road, your character is either good at things – meaning you will succeed, with a slim possibility of enduring some consequence, – or you’re bad at things, which means you have a very low chance of success and a high chance of consequences occurring.
A protagonist is at worst very likely to attempt something, struggle briefly, and then succeed.
It’s quite a shift of outlook and expectation, and we’ve found it to be a really interesting space to explore if you’re into this kind of thing. It is self consciously different and experimental.
In Silver Road, the content that the mechanics and procedures provide doesn’t come from undertaking a closely-matched probability test, aimed to tell you if your character can do a thing or not.
You’ll know ahead of time with some certainty that your character can do the thing. (With a little glimmer of risk that they can’t do the thing on this turn, but they will succeed on their next turn). Or perhaps that they almost certainly can’t do the thing. (With a similarly rare likelihood that they might fluke it).
The fun comes from describing how they do the thing, and how your fellow players interact, since there’s a high chance they will get an opportunity to add to your narration with a “but…”. (That’s a story for another blog).
The Silver Road Important Game Facts
24 pages long (plus cover)
21cm x 21cm full colour book (portable, loveable)
Rules-lite, minimalist story telling game (if you like rules this might not be for you)
It’s Friday and we are starting a new BEOWULF blog today. We will talk about the design, structure and production of the core game, supplements, adventures, etc. and we will even drop some hints about products under development. Today, we’ll tackle feats.
You can grab a bunch of cool BEOWULF merchandise at Redbubble. We sporadically add new designs, so keep checking back. The various designs are available of a ton of different items, including large desk mats, art prints, drinking bottles, T shirts and loads more!
a|state Second Edition: it’s not printed yet. The PDF is out now, and printing begins this week! Pre-orders are open now.
Trials of the Twin Seas: it’s not printed yet. The PDF is almost done though!
Map tiles. We’re due a reprint of several sets with only one or two copies in stock, Bringing along a less than complete range seems like a lot of weight to bring. You can get them on our web store.
Battle mats. They’re 36” square and once you’re dealing with more than a couple they weigh a ton. We’ll happily send you one through the post though!
BEOWULF inspiration mats. We’re down to just a couple left. We might bring those along in Jon’s suitcase but they won’t be “in stock” as such. We’re printing a new one for the Twin Seas campaign.
Posters: These are too tricky to transport and display well, and much easier for you to mail order than carry around Expo!
Jon will be be at the booth all weekend, with various helpers popping by too. We’d love to see you for a chat after such a long time away from shows, so please do swing by and tell us all about your adventures!