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OK, so, it turns out that I can't really muster up enough enthusiasm to finish up RIFTS, so time to go for something more obscure, though still pretty terrible.
So, Wizards of the Coast. Nowadays thanks to careful brand management of D+D, they're king shit of RPG mountain. But back when Magic was still building up steam and Wizards was still the new kid on the block, they published other RPG products as well. One of these was Everway, and it's so damn 90s it hurts. How 90s? The opening pages tell you how to subscribe to mailing lists rather than direct you to websites. Everway came in a big box with lots of goodies. Three books, lots of cards, a couple of maps and character sheets all over the place.
We'll be starting with the main book. It opens with a standard blurb, what is a roleplaying game, what kind of fantasy is everway (Generic medieval and any previous tech level, for those of you keeping track at home), a list of contents and glossary of game terms. Just about what you'd expect.
Chapter One introduces us to the core ideas of the game. First up, Gates. Gates are portals between worlds (Or "Spheres" if you're using game lingo). They tend to be marked with structures if the locals know about them, and can occur naturally in tight spaces, but they can just be any old where. If you can walk through gates, you are a Spherewalker. All Heroes (PCs) can walk through gates no trouble. If you're not a PC, you need some kind of gift or a high Water stat (We'll get to that later). Everyone has different perceptions of what it's like to use a gate as you'd probably expect. The time it takes to travel through a gate varies, both depending on the gate and particulars of the spherewalker. All spheres are in sync, with the same day/night cycle, the same stars and sun and moon. Generally speaking you'll want to wait between walks for however long you were in transit for, skipping about willy nilly causes weakness, fatigue, sickness, madness and possibly death.
Spheres, to re-iterate, are worlds. Most people are totally unaware that there are other worlds at all. The spheres all have the same sky because the gods designed the spheres for life, hence why all spheres have breatheable air and drinkable water and so on. The planets and stars have sway on the world, so a sphere could be created without Mars, but it would lack aggression to the point of total overwhelming lethargy. This touches upon a big theme of the game: Symbolism is Important. We'll get more to that later on, but it's good to see them reinforcing the theme from the start. Realms are kind of like kingdoms, except when they aren't, they're not very well explained at all. Probably just best to think of them as kingdoms/empires. Spherewalkers are rare. The city of Everway has one spherewalker to every hundred normal people, and that's the highest concentration known. This isn't by fluke, Everway was Sigil before Sigil.
Next time: The city of Everway itself. And oh my lord is there some pretentious bullshit there.
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Everway Part 2: Everway.
So, Gates. They link worlds together. Most spheres have two gates, each leading to a different sphere. Fourcorner has seventy-one, and they're all in the realm of Roundwater. And in the centre of Roundwater is the city of Everway. It's the assumed central location of the game, and this section goes into depth about it and how it works. To start with, we're given Roundwaters Virtue, Fault, Fate and Usurper. To know what these are, we have to know about the Fortune Deck.
See, Everway doesn't use dice. No, that'd be far too simple. Instead it uses a special deck of tarot-like cards called the fortune deck. The Storyguide (Or GM, if you're a normal human being) draws from it to help him determine how a particular course of action would go if it's not immediately obvious. Cards can be normal or reversed, giving different meanings, and they have pretty pictures on them with imagery to use in ajudication.
But the Fortune Deck isn't just a resolution tool, it's an actual in universe thing, a gift from the gods used to divine the future. The Guide to the Fortune Deck (There's a whole book about using it in game, we'll get to that in the future) tells you how to do this, using it as foreshadowing, or even a guide to say how and adventure will go. Part of this is drawing the Virtue, Fault and Fate of a person, realm, situation or whatever. A
is what they're good at, a
is their great weakness, and the
is a great challenge that must be confronted. While the Virtue and Fault are drawn normally, either normal or reversed, the Fate is laid sideways. Whatever challenge it is that might be faced, the Fate represents both outcomes or both sides, two opposing things that could happen.
And the Usurper? Well, the Deck was orignally 36 cards strong, laid in a set pattern that showed the evolution of a human soul from birth to perfection. Apparently when the deck was complete, this pattern was used to guide humans across all realms and spheres in a Golden Age, some say this is all bunk and existed only in the imaginations of the gods. Whatever the truth of the matter is, one of the cards was stolen and the others were mixed together, creating the Fortune Deck as it is today. Now it's used as tool of prophecy, finding deeper meaning to matters or as a meditation aid. And that 36th card? Some realms replace it with a new card, trying to complete the deck once again. That is the
, and it usually reflects on the realms characteristics and what they take pride in, while reversed it shows what they fear and feel shame about.
Roundwaters Virtue is
Plenty. It's the nexus of many many gates, and the kingdom is prosperous on its own merits. Quantity, quality and variety of both goods and peoples is the realms greatest strength. Its Fault is
Stagnation. For all of the myriad peoples that walk through Roundwater, it's an old place, and tradition and habit holds a lot of power here. The fate of Roundwater is the
Corruption vs Recovery. The rush of new people, powers, goods and ideas could either undermine all that's good about everway, or give it the vigor it needs to overcome the threat of stagnation. Its Usurper is the
. Normally it represents co-operation, community, balance, order and progress. Reversed, it means imbalance, conflict, regression and dissent.
Roundwater and Everway are given a bit of a summary next. The realm is highly ritualized and thoroughly traditional, stands on ceremony above all else and is very prosperous. While most realms have guilds or castes or what have you, in Roundwater the role is filled by large extended families. They are skilled in many crafts, and the land is prosperous and rich throughout the realm. The Emerald Family is the royal family of the realm, though the Council holds most of the power for themselves. The Royal Families worship of "The Goddess" makes her a popular subject of worship among the populace as well, though thousands of deities are worshipped in the realm, a lot of them imported by spherewalkers. Outsiders from other realms are welcome, but will find it slow and hard to integrate into society properly. Everway has a ghetto on the south western side of the city over the sunset river, "Strangerside", where these Strangers are welcome to settle.
Next time: More in-depth culture
Society of Everway
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Everway: More in-depth talk about the society of Everway (the city, not the game)
Ok, so Families. Families are a huge social thing in everway. You're considered related to everyone who shares your family name. Children take their mothers birth names, and when a man marries he takes his wifes name, though his blood family is still understood to be related to him. Interestingly, this means that a fathers children are not considered to be related to him by blood.
Family determines your position in society. If you're a Stonebreaker, you work stone. Whether that means you're an architect of grand temples or a quarry worker who works with slaves and convicts is down to your own actions and fortune. If you're from elsewhere on Fourcorner (The Realm that Everway is in, remember that? No? I don't blame you.) then you are Stranger, if you're from another sphere you are Outsider. Have a last name already? Fuck you, this is Everway, you're going to use our rules here boy. Stranger or Outsider men may marry into an Everway family and become fully a part of it. Women have to make do with marrying off their sons and daughters sons. Women hold family secrets, since they're the only ones who are guaranteed to stay in the family.
Every family has different behaviours and customs. This means that Everwayans (yeah, that's the word they use) are very tolerant of Outsiders and Strangers acting oddly, since to their mind there are no universal standards of behaviour. We're given a few of the more influential and noteworthy families to use as background.
Fashion tends to long loose garments of any colour. Jewelry is common and usually holds some significance within the Family. Whether these meanings are public or private depends on the family and jewelry in question. Makeup and jewelry are used by both sexes, with a note that since men have to be accpeted by their loves family to marry, they go to great lengths to make themselves look good. The wealthy sometimes dress provocatively to display their physiques, the wealth it takes to look good, and the prowess of their guards. On facial hair:
Most men are clean shaven. In some families, it is traditional for men to trim their facial hair in certain ways, such as a mustache but no beard, a goatee, a beard only on the chin,
a beard only under the jaw
and so on.
Goon family confirmed!
Everway uses a silver coin called a "heft" as the base unit of currency. It's also used as a unit of weight, roughly a quarter of an ounce. For smaller purchases, copper beads are used. they have holes in them so they can be strung for safekeeping, and 24 are worth a single silver heft. Gold hefts are used for larger purchases, and are worth 24 silver hefts each. Different for the sake of being different from base 10? Perhaps, but Babylon used base 12 counting, based on the joints of all the fingers of a single hand. Using both hands gets us up to base 24, so it's perhaps not quite as different for the sake of different as it first seems. Bartering and working for goods are commonplace as well, moreso than using actual money in fact.
Religion is varied. Each family has its own traditions and pracitces. As mentioned before, the Royal Family worship "The Goddess" who they believe to be the trancendent form of every goddess throughout the spheres. Exactly what the followers of the various other goddesses think of this is never stated. Magic comes in the form of priestly magic (Blessing fields, sanctifying marriages and so on), familial magic which are the secret techniques of various families for doing magical things relating to their trades, and trancendent magic, which is what most people think of when they think of "magic" in a fantasy setting. Also Outsiders and Strangers bring in their own magics. They tend not to be learned by natives, but are regarded as useful tools.
So, what does everway think of Strangers and Outsiders? Well, they're welcomed because they're kept at a distance. They can only truly join Everwayan society by marrying into a family, so they aren't a threat to tradition. Just so long as they remember that.
Next Time: The layout of the city itself.
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Everway: The City layout
Remember how The Pyramid was what Everway used as its Usurper, the missing card in the fortune deck? Well, the reason for that is that it's what the city is built around, the Walkers Pyramid. It's about 150 foot tall, the tallest building in Everway, and lacks a capstone. See, according to the myth, a deity called the Walker built the pyramid stone by stone, and searched the spheres for the perfect stones to make the pyramid with. The Walkers foosteps (The Walker is one of those mysterious figures that nobody can agree on a gender for) are the Gates. As for what happens when the Walker comes back and actually caps the pyramid? Nobody really knows.
Everway is kind of medeterranian in architecture. The rich live in open estates with many stone and wood buildings, while the poor live in adobe houses with old bits of masonry used as building stone here and there. Points of interest around the city are:
The Gaming Houses:
Basically what it says on the tin. Other amusements can also be found here, basically it's fantasy Vegas.
The Library of All Worlds:
A set of several large buildings holding thousands upon thousands of tomes, scrolls, clay tablets or what have you. They have a group of people who explore new worlds for them, called Chamber Platinum.
The Council House:
Governance goes on here. The most upper class, hoity toity district, containing the kings palace and several of the wealthier families estates.
Not only Gardens, but also temples to nature and the earth. Kind of boring.
The Temple of Mercy:
Lots of temples to deities of healing and fertility are located here. Also poorhouses, hospitals and orphanages. One of the poorer areas of the city.
The Houses of Dusk:
This is where the dead are seen to. Tradition in Everway is to be floated out to sea on a raft, but they can accomodate traditions from many different spheres here.
The Court of Fools:
An open plaza full of jugglers and jesters of all levels of foolishness, also prophets and seers. They're welcome to prostelytize and pundit all they want, if they're entertaining.
Everway really isn't big on creative naming, is it? Combat arenas, temples to gods of war, yadda yadda.
The little ghetto for people who aren't natives to live in. Also Strangers and Outsiders can stay that way, even if their families have been settled in Strangerside for centuries. The place is very mixed, with exiled kings and wealthy mercenaries rubbing shoulders.
Remember that everway is linked to 71 other spheres? Well, we get a brief shpiel on every single one of them. I'll leave most of them out (EX: Athenia, where people worship Athena. Seriously, that's all the characteristic this sphere is given) and just detail the ones I find interesting.
it's full of horse sized ants. Whether the gate shrinks spherewalkers of the ants are legit giant is something that's subject to a lot of debate.
A mage in a tower transmutes the stresses of the universe into harmless wind and rain.
An archipelago where godlings each command an island and use their worshippers as pawns in an endless war.
A realm full of towering brass cities which house only vermin.
A paradise-like garden. Anything taken from it turns into garbage.
Life is regulared by gongs that only the natives can hear.
A sphere that's one giant hedge maze, full of wierd monsters.
It is against the law to not avenge a slight or insult.
A world of nothing but floating rock islands and magical flying ships.
A large, empty stone chamber. No exit has been found apart from the gate back to Roundwater.
Anyone heavier than a child collapses the crystaline ground, and edible plants are so fragile that they collapse if breathed on.
Next: More on the Spheres
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Everway: Spheres and realms
Ok, so, we have an idea of the central city of the campaign setting, and something of what else is out there in terms of worlds. But exactly what are other worlds like when you get down to it? That's what this section answers, and everything is broken down into Universals and Particulars.
Humans are, by and large, the most populous mortal race going. There are spheres with no humans, indeed, spheres with no people at all. But humans are the Universal aspect. Ethnicicity is the Particular here. Whether it's dark skin, universally straight hair, being ten feet tall or only having one eye, humans vary from sphere to sphere and if you're experienced enough you can tell someone's sphere of origin at a glance.
The gods exist. All the gods from real world myth exist. And quite a lot that don't. The Universal aspect is that gods are worshipped. Certainly in a universe where they're real, you won't get far by not worshipping them. The Particulars are what deities are worshipped, and how. There are Spheres that worship the gods of Olympus, but they all vary, even if only slightly. We already have Athenia, the sphere where they worship Athena. But take Hera. In some realms, Zeus is given higher status, and she seems jealous and vengeful. However, in others she's given equal or even higher status than himm, she's more even tempered. People tend to worship pantheons rather than random hodge-podges of gods (Yes, we worship Zeus here. Poseidon? Never heard of him.) and the pantheons values tend to shape the people.
There is one Universal language, called the Tongue if you need to name it. Terminology, alphabet and specialist terms (greetings, titles, expressions etc) are the Specifics. There are also those who speak different languages, but they're very much the exception.
The Way and Fortune Deck.
The Fortune Deck is one Specific example of The Way, the "Combination of cosmic forces that direct the universe". The Fortune Deck is pretty common, but casting runes, sending yourself into visions and other ways of reading The Way are all known.
All realms have the same sun and moon, planets and constellations. The routes the planets take through the sky, and the names of them and the constellations are what vary.
Every sphere has the same length of year and day. The semi-gregorian calendar is used pretty widely, but plenty of other methods are used.
All spheres have solid ground, fresh water, oceans, breathable air, rain, fire and everything else needed for life. Apart from the half dozen or so wasteland spheres that were described as being linked to Roundwater, apparently. And the one with no oceans, but a bunch of floating rocks. Also most spheres are set up like earth, frozen at the poles, hot at the equator etc. The more I read about this game of thousands of potential worlds, the more it seems like the game of thousands of generic fantasy settings.
There are animals. Sometimes there aren't certain animals. Think about how this might impact the culture of whoever lives on that sphere. Thats about it.
Gold, silver and gems are universally tradable and valuable. What else is valuable varies from sphere to sphere and realm to realm. Despite spherewalkers best efforts, nobody has found the realm where the roads are paved in diamonds.
So basically, in this game of limitless potential worlds and millions upon millions of varied cultures... lots of stuff is exactly the same wherever you go. Well, that seems a bit of a waste.
Next time: Magic!
Magic 'n gods 'n shit
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Everway: Magic 'n gods 'n shit
Magic is very common in the multiverse. So are gods (really? Never would have guessed what with all the gods we've been told about thus far). Folk magic tends to be what we'd regard as common superstitions. Saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes, little talismans to bring luck or health, praying at certain times of day or before certain activities and so on. Association with names is usually quite important, so if you're pissed off with a girl named Violet you might crush some violets to try and bring her misfortune. This kind of magic is common, but not very direct or powerful in its use.
Ceremonies and rituals are also things that exist. They're used to hallow marriages, births, deaths and all that kind of thing. While they are used for their social purposes, someone buried with proper sacraments is less likely to come back as a ghost. Harvest festivals genuinely do bring good bounty the next year. Healing also exists, natural remedies in the countrysides, physicians in the cities. There's also actual healing magic, but that comes later.
Souls! When you die, your soul spends some time in some spirit realms before coming back in a new body with no memories. Depending on your beliefs and which gods you worship, there might be a way out of the cycle (Valhalla being the one they cite in the book). If you have great unfufilled tasks in life, you could come back as a ghost. They tend to hang around places where the energy of life is weak, so while lots of people die in cities, ghosts are relatively rare there due to all the people. Ghosts are focused on the past, and indeed, if you talk to one it has no knowledge of what's happened since its death.
Spirits! Different from souls in that they never had a body to begin with. Bad ones are called demons, good ones are called angels (Though "Good" doesn't nessecarily mean "nice" or "Unwilling to cause pain to better a mortal"). Godlings are spirits that have power over a small area. A deity of one lake is a godling, a deity of lakes in general is a god. Minions are powerful spirits that serve the deities, like the Furies from Greek myth. Faeries are real creatures with innate magical powers, and are pretty common across the spheres.
Cockatrices are lizard/roosters, and are all deadly poisonous in some way. Not only is its bite or peck very very deadly, they gradually sicken the area around them, turning it into a wasteland. There are various herbs and gems and such that can ward them off, and ermines are immune to their poisons.
Griffins are big lion/eagle things, very intelligent as well as being physically powerful. They hunt for sport, and if you're riding on horseback then jumping off your steed will see the griffin just kill that instead of you. Griffins can be tamed as steeds, but will reject anyone less brave than they are as a rider. They tend to charge without provocation, and fighting on the back of a griffin is trickier than fighting on the back of a horse. Griffins can be raised from cubs if you don't want to tame a wild one, but they lack ferocity, and may griffin riders will refuse to ride one.
Dragons get a bit of a backstory. See, before humanity, the deities created the dragons to rule the spheres, nearly perfect beings with earthshaking powers. As always happens in these situations, they rebelled against their creators. The dragons lost because, well, gods, and for their hubris the gods took various gifts from each dragon, whether this was flight, intelligence, fire breath or whatever differed from dragon to dragon, which is why dragons are so different as a species. Dragons tend to be solitary, so they can brood and reflect on their great loss. Dragons who breed tend to produce offspring with the flaws of both parents, so older dragons tend to have the most power, while the further down the generations you go, the less and less powerful they tend to be.
Phoenixes rebirth themselves every thousand years on a pyre. Each phoenix has a single golden feather on its breast. If you can snatch it away, you're apparently promised good luck for life. The feather grows back when the phoenix rebirths itself. Some scholars say that each sphere has one phoenix, and its rebirth keeps the sphere fresh and alive. Plot hook!
Satyrs, they're passionate, and love their partying and drinking and hunting. Some bands behave well enough to trade with humans, others are bandits for sport. Hardly any satyr is well behaved enough to seriously live with humans though. According to them, their wilder parties are attended by Pan. But why would you believe a Satyr?
Unicorns are attracted to virtuous humans, rather than just virgins. Their horns cure poison, hunters hunt them for this. They come in several varieties, including goat, antelope and many other flavours.
We're also given a list of other monsters that could show up, the usual list of vampires, sea serpents, ogres, animate suits of plate armour, you know the drill. There's then a list of sample realms which are fairly generic.
Next time: Character Creation and systems!
Original SA post
EVERWAY: CHARACTER CREATION
it's been a while.
To catch up the people who have forgotten everything about Everway, which I'm guessing is most of you:
Everway features countless fantastic worlds, gods, goblins, dragons, you wander around having adventures, yadda yadda yadda. It's all a bit bland really, but now we get to the meat of the system, character creation. Character creation takes place in six steps: Vision, Identity, Powers, Elements, Magic and Questions. In order:
VISION is where you develop the general concept of your hero. It starts out by saying that the GM or players develop the general premise for the story, then the players build characters around that, which is nice. You're also told to take five vision cards (Cards with pretty pictures on them) to develop an idea and background for your hero
IDENTITY is where you define your hero a bit more, by choosing a Name, Motive, Virtue, Fault and Fate. Names are important and powerful in the multiverse of Everway, about two entire pages are devoted to how to pick a good one. Motive is fairly self explanatory, while your Virtue, Fault and Fate are cards from the Fortune Deck (An in-universe item and also the main conflict resolution mechanic) used to represent a heroes special strength, their crippling flaw, and what destiny they must face.
POWERS, ELEMENTS and MAGIC are all assigning points to various traits, we'll get to those when we actually build a character.
QUESTIONS is where you and the other players ask questions about each others characters to better understand yourself and your companions. Not a bad idea.
So, in truest FATAL and Friends tradition, we're going to make a character based on fan submission. Give me five images with a backstory and description of abilities, a name, a motive and some thoughts on virtue, fault and fate, and I'll fill in the rest.