The Slow Knife indie RPG tells a story of betrayal and revenge

Indie RPG fans familiar with Jack Harrison’s past games will likely be amazed at the big twist on his latest project he’s designed. His Zine’s Quest fight Bucket of bolts is a solo game about designing a spaceship in the spirit of spaceship favorites like Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon or Firefly’s Serenity. Other mini games on his Kickstarter, Trajectory and Artifacts, which requires the player to design the space station setting and the corresponding magic item. But his latest project, funded on Kickstarter on the day it launchedasks the player to create something much more complex and abstract: a plot full of intrigue and betrayal, leading to an ultimate act of cathartic revenge.

Harrison’s New Game, slow knife, designed to guide two to four players through the set-up and tell a story that follows the vein of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel Count of Monte Cristo. In the game’s parlance, a “promising young soul” has “ruined their lives by some grasping scoundrel”, then returns to the inevitable plot of revenge. Harrison told Polygon that the driving force behind the game came from his love for Count of Monte Cristothe brand of political intrigue burns slowly and from the difficulty of doing it in most mainstream RPGs.

“I find that you get a lot of stories about brutality, both in the media and in role-playing games,” says Harrison. “You know, where everyone tries to take down the boss in one big action sequence. But there’s not much social intrigue in role-playing, especially in games like D&D. They don’t necessarily have to move that way. So I started thinking, “How can I tell such a lasting social revenge story?”

Slow knife invites the player to participate in that kind of conspiracy, with each player’s answer card suggesting the creation of a villain who has harmed “The Knife”, the game’s protagonist. The player will then retell the story of The Knife’s successful revenge campaign against them. The game is built around a deck of cards that split into four actions, structuring the player’s betrayal plan – complete with a literal plot board, tracking connections and key events. Yes, you can make your own yarn board to connect the dots, though Harrison says his tests also use washi tape, or cork board and pins.

A sample plot board from the game Slow Knife Experiment, with index card notes connected to washi . tapes

Image: Mousehole Press

“I like the game’s artifacts,” says Harrison. Indie RPGs that encourage players to create drawings, maps, or other physical elements to aid storytelling have become more popular over the past few years, especially with the rise of personal diary game built around these kinds of physical creations. But with Slow knifeChain tables are also meant to help players keep a complex story going and remind them of what plot themes are still available for development.

“In simpler words John Wick Harrison said. “While with a social storyline it is really helpful to see all the intricate connections and people you have introduced throughout the game, this allows you to try to close the rings and tie them all together. all together.”

Harrison said Slow knife is clearly designed to help first-timers or group storytellers find their place – or similarly, to help experienced players tell a particular story – because it introduces Ask compelling questions and create clear boundaries for the shape of the story. Like other GM-less reminder-based RPGs, such as For the Queen or Carolina Death Crawl, Slow knife guides players through a particular storyline, while asking them to personalize it and define it for themselves.

“What I really like about fast games is that they give you a framework to do the action,” he said. “They tell you something real about your character or about the world, then ask you to make that interesting, expand, and incorporate it into the story yourself. You’re never asked to come up with something out of canvas, you’re always just telling a little story. “

But while the shape of Slow knife The story is predetermined, it can take place in many different contexts. The game leads players through creating their own settings, or they can try out one of three optional closed sets that answer those questions first. One is set in 19th-century France. Another is a sci-fi tale about health-obsessed aristocrats aboard Arcadia Prime, a luxury space station orbiting Earth that has been destroyed destroyed by the environment. The third season places the story in a high-profile fantasy court, “the top domination of the elite elite.”

In all cases, however, the story leads to the same place. In the playthrough, says Harrison, he lays out the game’s final card at the outset, revealing the words that drive The Knife’s revenge and what the player’s villains do afterward. “Everybody knows where the story is going and where they are headed,” he said. “That allows people to steer the story in the direction of The Knife’s revenge, while also giving them enough flexibility to tell the story they want to tell with their characters.”

Three sample reminder cards from The Slow Knife

Image: Mousehole Press

Harrison said the finished game will have safety instructions for making the villains “fun-bad” rather than evil in a way that might make everyone at the table uncomfortable. “Evil is not necessarily fun to play, or fun to watch,” he said. “But when people set up these real bastards, it was really satisfying to plot their downfall, and take responsibility, with total dramatic irony, for putting them in situations where they are about to face ever greater setbacks, and less satisfaction. There’s a comedy in it that’s really satisfying to play, watching these villains build themselves up for the fall. “

And in Slow knife, that fall – as the description says – is inevitable. “I decided pretty early that I wanted the idea of ​​the villains winning to be unquestionable,” says Harrison. “It’s not a story I want to tell. I think it’s important to close that loop and pay back for all the bad things they’ve done since the beginning of the story – even if that doesn’t always reflect what happens in reality. . I can’t speak for everyone’s politics, but the idea of ​​taking down a bunch of evil rich people has a lot of appeal to me in the world we live in. Even if it’s a bit far-fetched! ”

Slow knife To be now on Kickstarterwith the campaign ending on March 21.

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