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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 137 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Western Journeyers: Setting Challenge review  (Read 2455 times)

Posts: 25

« on: January 10, 2007, 11:00:25 AM »

Why did I get all the hard ones? Western Journeyers is an anomalous entry in the setting contest. It takes Under the Bed, a game of childhood and growing up, and springs it to a kind of eastern pilgrimage. The restoration is made with a heavy hand: while UTB is basically one big conflict resolution system, WJ is chilled narration contest. There're no stakes to lose or gain, as if the players fail to win the conflicts, they are automatically resolved for their benefit. The endgame is just checking who won with most Valor / Favorite points.

And while one expects a narration game to be rich with colour aka fuel for the narration, there isn't much of that in Western Journeyers either. Or, this depends: about 350 words out of 1400 total describe sample encounters. However, the samples are more thematic situations about whether the monk will fall for the earthly lusts. There's hardly a hint of what the rest of the milieu is like.

Basically, a lot is lost if one doesn't know what novel Lehman is referring to - this is, of course, intentional. But presuming that one would know the book, it might be nice to tell the story again through the medium of roleplaying.

Ok, Lehman, take the cat out of the bag: what on earth is this supposed to be?

Sami Koponen
Ben Lehman

Posts: 2094


« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 02:51:15 PM »


I don't feel that I should comment on this until all the votes are in, simply because I think it's unfair that judges should have my explanations to go along with my text.

I do think it's interesting that you find my rules so drastically different from Joshua's, though.  I see the rules as three different things, all minor:  Modifications to UTB to make it more playable in general, modifications to ratchet up the difficulty, and color rules.


Graham W

Posts: 437

« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2007, 03:28:35 AM »

It's difficult to review this, because I don't own or know Under The Bed. So I'm in the odd position of reviewing a setting divorced from the game.

That said, I'm excited about Western Journeyers. From reading it, it's the game (setting, whatever) that I'm most excited about playing.

The conflicts look excellent and they're the main reason I like the game. More than that, they're thoughtful and involve moral quandrys (or perhaps quandries). It's those conflicts that makes me want to play.

I've no knowledge of the cultural background to this game: I can only understand it from a Western, Christian perspective, and it's best to be straight about that now. From that perspective, the game is a succession of temptations, and that's a fantastic premise for a game. The idea that someone intervenes in these conflicts if you fail is entirely appropriate: you know you've failed and that someone had to intervene to stop you from succumbing. Equally, it makes perfect sense that you can't die: what would it add to the story if you did?

How well is the game system integrated? How well does it seem to fit?

I've no idea.

How will the game presumably work in play, especially with regard to how the setting facilitates a certain kind of play?

As far as I can judge with no knowledge of the game (not very far), it looks fun. The conflicts alone look as though they'd kickstart a very interesting game.

How complete, accessible and well presented is the material?

It's completely clear and has probably the best layout in the competition.

Very original, very stylish and absolutely fascinating.


Posts: 675

« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2007, 11:14:19 AM »

I was more handicapped judging Western Journeys, because I could find very few details of the game it's based on. Nevertheless, I tried to set my lack of familiarity aside. Again, I divided the 10 possible points into four areas, but allowed a maximum of 3 points in any area, so a game could make up lost points in one area by being exceptional in another.

- How well is the game system integrated? How well does it seem to fit?
From what little I could gather about the game system, it seems to fit well. I don't have enough details, either in the original system or the adaptation, to give it a perfect score, however. 2 points
- How will the game presumably work in play, especially with regard to how the setting facilitates a certain kind of play?
Again, it seems like it would work well, but I was a little cloudy on some details. Seeing it played might clear things up. The part that scared me was that there's basically no way to fail a challenge, it's just a matter of how badly you do before the master has to step in. 2 points
- How complete, accessible and well presented is the material?
I know enough (vaguely) about buddhism and China to understand the basic premise and understand how the game is supposed to play out, but I haven't read the referenced novel. This could be compensated for with more details, in a complete published edition of this game, but it handicapped Ben a bit in this competition. 1 point
I like the idea of enlightened monks, but there's plenty of chinese-inspired games out there, so I gave this a high score, but not the maximum. 2 points

Total: 7 points

John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
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