Tuesday 19 September 2023

False Equivalent Exchange

 So in this week’s Dandadan an 18th century alchemist who might be organising an alien invasion got a train across Tokyo to enrol as a high school teacher, which doesn’t even break the top 50 most bonkers things to happen in that manga but I digress

On the train, we get a like 1-page silent scene, a few panels illustrating his journey. At one point he offers his seat up to an older woman with a cane, and stands the rest of the way. Then when he arrives at the school, he comes in and just kind of takes a chair by a computer in the office, talking as if he’s always been there as he infiltrates the school right there in front of everyone. And while his new coworkers seem a little confused, they accept it. Something’s off… but it’s not this guy, we know that he works here, that’s his seat.

And it’s not confirmed or even particularly highlighted, but I’m pretty sure the train journey was a spell. Like, it’s made clear he’s using some kind of magic to alter peoples’ perception of him, but I’m fairly certain the innocuous train scene was him casting that magic, that giving up a seat allowed him to take a seat. The law of equivalent exchange is pretty well known esotericism, used to great effect in Hirofumi Arakawa’s classic Fullmetal Alchemist, but what’s happening here a bit different.

And i think it’s cool so let’s steal it 👍

The Law of False Equivalent Exchange is an FKR-style magic system that works thusly: Any character who can Do Magic may attempt a ritual. They must accomplish three tasks of their choosing which affect the material world in opposition* to their desired goal, represented by three “sub-“goals. If the GM agrees and they are able to perform the tasks, their goal is magically achieved.

*but not exactly. For example:

A character wants to become queen of a small kingdom. Instead of staging a coup or using some mundane trickery with the line of succession, they set out to achieve this via a magic ritual. The player proposes the following sub-goals and their “opposite” tasks:

- I will take the throne: I will give up a “throne”, a valuable seat.

- I will wear the crown: I will remove something precious from my head.

- I will rule the land: I will allow the earth to do what it will with me.

The player character takes a horse and cart to the current king’s castle, paying the fare of an elderly traveller and giving up their seat, opting to ride in the back. By night, in a storm in the fields outside the castle, they remove their own eye with a knife, dig a hole and lay in the dirt, allowing the soil and rain to smother them (GM probably calls for a save or something here).

The GM rules the ritual complete and accepts the exchange - when they wake in the morning, choking on dirt and blood, they clamber out of the earth and walk into the castle, where they are greeted as queen.

This could get boring if it’s too easy so I’d set limits - not silly once-a-day stuff, more like some overall larger price to messing with the material world like this. You’d be immediately set apart, visible by spirits and fairies, or maybe you’d have to reckon with the ghosts of the world you undid. Or just give it a bigger material cost, some specific magical ingredients that must be spent to finish the ritual, unicorn’s blood etc.

Thursday 7 September 2023

Murder On Line One

“Hey, maintenance? Yeah, I got a real mess over here. Someone trashed a milk right out the front of my store. You gotta send someone to clean this shit up… Nobody likes looking at a dead android. Bad for business.”

New update to the Odai 57 ashcan version! (see last post)

I’ve added a text version of Murder On Line One, a neo-noir Mothership mystery. Just the text but it’s all there and it’s all good. The adventure works as a standalone like All the Fun of the Fair, but it makes much more use of the setting’s phonebook.

I’m still working on the third adventure, which is a slightly more low-keep introduction suited for longer games in this setting. Lot of work getting a setting intro right, so that’ll be out when it’s out.

(I also feel like I didn’t end up getting that in depth with what makes the phonebook setting so suited to mysteries in my last post, so maybe I’ll revisit that in future. Not today though, it’s very hot and I’ve got like 200 zines to ship. Weapons Test 023 backers, thank you for your patience, they’re a-coming!)

Big thanks to the folks who have downloaded the Odai 57 ashcan already! Like I said this was a big experiment from me, I had no idea how it would be received or if it would even get any attention. So I appreciate your faith that the material will be good despite a lack of presentational polish as of yet. Hope you’re getting some good games out of the two adventures so far. £10 for 2 adventures seems good to me, idk.

I’m still thinking on what the best way of making and releasing this stuff is going forward. Maybe like a subscription thing? £5 a month for more polished content or something. But until I have a better idea, buying this ashcan version is the best way to support not just this project but me in general. (Or hire me! graverobbersguide(at)gmail(dot)com)

Or getting anything from my store really, maybe there’s something else on there you’d be into? Did you know I did a game about golf? I don’t talk about stuff I’ve done in the past nearly enough, there’s some cool shit on there. Take a look.

Anyway, back to shipping zines and slowly perishing in this heat. All the best x