Author Topic: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales  (Read 2754 times)

Frédéric S

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Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« on: December 19, 2012, 08:38:36 AM »
Hi everybody,

I'd like to introduce my French independent roleplaying game named Prosopopée, published in march 2012.

Here's its pitch: In an old world, where humans fear nature and invisible forces, some gods named " Painters " have incarnated in wise wanderers who travel the world from one community to another in order to solve the problems caused by disharmony between people and nature.

It's a zen and poetic inclined RPG, mostly inspired by the manga series Mushishi, Ayakashi-Mononoke, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. The players create the world while exploring it (as in many indie RPGs). The game focuses on producing aesthetic imagery and fixing problems altruistically and with self-sacrifice.

So, here is my play report :
Romaric and I were the Nuances, Fabien was the Medium (the wanderer who helps people). Nuances have priority on the setting's Exploration, the Medium have the priority on his character's acts.
The whole thing owes a lot to Polaris, S/Lay w/Me and In a Wicked Age.

" She who remembers the dreams of others " is how Fabien's character is called.
We first picked inside the handbook a picture of a beetle with a symbol drawn on its elytra as a major part of the story. That's called a " paradigm " and it can refer to an object, a word, a song, whatever the players like. Its purpose is to focus Exploration on one matter.

Romaric and I start to describe a plain with short vegetation, crossed by a dirt path. Across the path we can see a village.
Fabien tells how " She who remembers the dreams of others " arrives in the village and asks for dinner at the inn.
At this time, we begin free play.
The innkeeper brings her a fat beetle on a plate. It's a famous meal around here and many travellers get here for this speciality, the first source of income of the village.

After some discussion, She who remembers the dreams of others asks for a bed and dreams of a kid, probably the innkeeper's son, who has disappeared a long time ago. Then she stands in the wastes of the village, where she finds children with beetle heads and a winged lady who's being born from the abdomen of a gigantic beetle.
When She who remembers the dreams of others wake up, vegetation has grown amazingly fast around the inn, especially between the walls' cracks. We put the first problem on a sheet of paper: " vegetation undermines the foundations of the house ".

During the game, when a player likes what's said by another, he awards him by giving a die from a common pool. These dice allow solving the problems later in the game.

She who remembers the dreams of others learns from the innkeeper that her son's effectively disappeared a dozen years ago. She searched for him during months, but the path seemed cursed, and has always rerouted her.
The wanderer decides to take the path, hoping to find the child. There, beetles swarm all over the ground. We put another problem: " Invasive beetles ".
She walks several hours before climbing a mountain that wasn't there before. At the top of the road, she sees the normal path at the foot of the mountain, like if the mountain no more existed.
She begins to wonder if she is not confined inside the dream of the innkeeper.

We decide to write another problem: "Is it a dream or reality?". A player can create a problem, if it's about something told by someone else. Then he freely chooses the difficulty of the problem (between 1 and 6).

On the other side of the mountain, she sees a bridge that crosses the sky. On the other side, a cliff, with a weird house. There she's hosted by a family. She recognises the child in the innkeeper's dream, he's grown up after all these years. He lives with the winged lady and has several children.
They offer some tea and talk about the innkeeper. She learns that they're angry with her. Fabien decides to try to solve a problem. He rolls dice and obtains that the lady (who is a kind of witch) refrains from destructing the village. She accepts if the Innkeeper stops cooking beetles.
The children invite She who remembers the dreams of the others to play. While playing, she discovers a bunch off strange eggs under the floor and understands that the big beetles that the innkeeper cooks are cousins of the children.
The wanderer leaves the house, she takes the stairs along the cliff. Here she notices that one of the children is following her. He wants to see his grand mother, the innkeeper. She who remembers the dreams of the others accepts to go with him.

Back at the inn, She who remembers the dreams of the others try to convince the innkeeper to stop cooking the giant beetles. Fabien throws the dice again, but fails. The inkeeper explains that these beetles are the first source of income of their village, if she stops cooking it, they wouldn't survive.
Then, I decide to roll the dice. Nuances can use secondary characters to try to solve problems.
So, the child enter the room and talks to his grandmother. He tells her that the giant beetles are their cousins, and calls her " granny ".
I roll the dice and solve the two remaining problems.

She finally agrees and hugs her grandson, at this time, the dream stops mixing with reality, the path finds its way back, vegetation stops growing and beetles stop swarming. The innkeeper notices that the plants in the wall give fruits. She tastes one of them and finds it tastes delicious, even better than the beetles.

That's how our story ends.

First, I would like to thank Ron and all The Forge contributors for the powerful games they created and theories they produced. It revolutionized my perception of RPGs and it made me reinforce my investment in that medium.

I'm looking for a French to English translator for Prosopopée, we can discuss about terms by private message or emailing.


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Re: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 09:15:00 AM »
I'm an official fanboy of this game (and a friend of Frédéric and the other two guys, caveat emptor), it's one of my favourite so far! Great for short two player games too, btw. I highly recommend it!

Ron Edwards

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Re: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 01:14:35 PM »

Is the city and modernism in general (e.g. economic policy) always the bad guy?

The server slowdown and split between Forge Archives and the Forge really tried to fight me, but I was eventually able to find these threads: The evils of civilization and a later one, [Sorcerer] Miyazaki + Wuxia + Westmark = Druids! (one-sheet help). They provide a lot of context for my question.

Best, Ron

P.S. If one of the skilled French & English speakers could provide a phonetic guide to the game title for the English speaker, that would be wonderful.

Eero Tuovinen

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Re: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 05:14:49 PM »
The term "prosopopopeia" is Greek, the French is pronounced nearly the same as far as I know (except for the vocal ending).

(The extra 'po' syllable is sometimes dropped in inheritor languages, it seems. The reason for the unnatural-seeming construct is that the word is a compound: prosopon+popeia.)

Frédéric S

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Re: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 06:41:06 PM »
Christoph : Thank you pal! I owe you so much.

Ron : Thank you for the linked threads!
In Prosopopée, we must play before modernity and industry era. Every Problem is caused by humans, but it can be for different reasons: We've seen a man using badly a powerful "sextant" and splited reality in two dimensions; improper funerals that led a spirit to curse townspeople; harsh treatment on a child who haunted a village as a ghost after she died; a musician who played a supernatural melody that gave birth to a nothingness area in a monastery; natural forest barrier cut down to make firewood, made winter winds blow and frost the valley... It's kinda variable.

Eero : Precisely! If you drop the "eia" at the end of prosopopeia and replace it with a french "é" (like "hey" minus the "h" and the diphthong), it should look like (there surely exists a better explanation). I guess you can hear it there if you push the vocal button :


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Re: Prosopopé | Zen & poetic tales
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2013, 07:52:06 AM »
Hey Ron

To add to Fréd's reply: playing Prosopopée is not so much a question of whether modernity is good or bad, rather than how society can evolve in harmony with nature (albeit a very surrealist one at times). It usually works out, going against the "conservative ecologist" vibes I often experience in Switzerland. It goes, in my experience, also quite strongly against the "oh, what a lovely preserved (i.e., unmoving) culture this ancient people has" (after all, one way to solve a problem is for the townspeople themselves to come to the acceptance that they have to change). In Prosopopée, change is a given. Of course, were Prosopopée played in the modern day, you'd have 1-week biodegradable nuclear waste which plants grow on at an increased rate, diminishing the CO2 problem, all in one go... Well, not always, but it's a quite optimistic game.