April 7, 2024

A simple mechanic can say a lot about a game. WPGs

I’ve taken a bit of time off from RPGs recently. Not playing, I’ve actually been playing more than usual.

In my school game with students I’m using the Named toolkit, by Wightbred, running The Isle of the Plangent Mage. In my home game we are slowly making our way through the starter box of The One Ring 2e (Free League physical, DriveThru PDF). I’d like to look at each of these and give some thoughts on them in the future, I guess here is a preview of what I’m looking at writing about in the near future. Oh and Diplomacy (updated 4/18/24: read my post here). I’ve been playing a ton of Diplomacy with my students and school staff. I’d like to write about that as well though.

But I’ve taken a break largely from thinking about RPGs, I’ve taken a break from a lot of the discourse that surrounds RPGs. I still listen to Between two Cairns because I enjoy Yochai and Brad’s views on adventure modules. But I have stayed away from most stuff around the industry. It has been a great escape. Also I’ve had grad courses stuffing work down my throat for months and just have not had time to dad… and teacher… and student… and RPG blogger so I had to let something go for a bit. This is not to say I am returning to my weekly articles, but I am hopeful to be able to return on some sort of regular schedule.

Anyway that’s enough about me and mine. What I wanted to write about was The Epic of Dreams and in particular, a specific mechanic that I always return to as such a big part of the game. And really it doesn’t do all that much in game, but what it does do is it tells you so much about the game before you ever actually even play it. This particular mechanic tells you what is possible with the ruleset and what the author has decided his focus is and what types of stories he hopes people will tell with the rest of the rules.

So sit back, and let me talk about why I love the idea of Order Class in The Epic of Dreams by Drew Cochran. I should at this point just put in my disclaimer that I worked on the creation of this book and am listed in the credits, Drew and I have commissioned work from one another at various times over the last four years and this very site’s logo was conceived and drawn by him. This is less review and more of a retrospective of a mechanic in the game and what the game has done for me.

In many conversations with Drew, the games creator, I don’t think I’ve ever really talked much about Order Class beyond that humans and most elf game characters will use the Order Class of two. We abbreviate this statistic as O/C 2. It stands for the literal size of a creature, but also so much more.

First off let me give you the briefest of explanations, because that is where the beauty of the mechanic lies, and how best to do that but with a graphic taken directly from the book.

Used with Permission, Epic of Dreams Basilisk Edition pg. 42

O/C Starts at 0 the size of a gnat. The sizes increasing to human at 2 (halflings?, yeah probably a 1) and then scale up fairly exponentially, up to the size of a literal god O/C 6.

O/C mechanically does imply certain things. There is a list of Totems that are used to be the basis for the sizes but I won’t get into those here. What the O/C does in game is it gives you your basic roll modifier throughout the game. It is similar to a base bonus in other elf games, use your skills, abilities and other character attributes to improve rolls beyond your O/C. O/C does not change in play unless your character physically changes throughout the game or ascends to some sort of godhood.

Ascending to godhood. well the number is there so why can’t your players do it? Why not play a game in which they play as the gods themselves? There is scale to the world in which you can play. Most Elf games teach you how to play as human sized creatures and pits you against the rest of the world in whatever way. This is possible and encouraged just by including Order Class at all.

The beauty of O/C is that there is a an implied way to play games at different levels. Want to run a game of tiny creatures in the fey? Create a party of O/C 0 and 1 characters and then let your players go nuts.

If you want to play a game where your party includes a giant or just has all giant creatures then you can dream up a character/s in the realm of O/C 3 or 4.

I remember the 3rd edition of the big Dragon Game had a whole book based around deities and demigods. the epic gives the singer the tools to allow their players to play at this scale and the creation of the characters can be dreamed out through the same means that you would create standard” elf game characters.

Order Class as a means for understanding the worlds you can create give a unified solution to many issues created in other games that focus on a specific size of play. The Epic of Dreams is a world building and World Playing [Game] book.

(World Playing Game (WPG), could this be the answer to that question of what do we call games that allow us to play worlds?”, a quick Google search turns up no evidence of this term, but maybe it is just what I’ve been looking for.)

Anyways sidetrack aside… The Epic of Dreams is a wonderful toolkit that can be used as a whole game or stolen from as inspiration for creating amazing worlds, the spell lists, character titles, ancestries and bestiary and many other parts of the book can be used to help a Singer and the players dream up any world to play in. Beyond the lists and tables with fun helpful inspiration there is a lot of help with running games up to including Muses that a Singer can call upon to help move the game forward in new ways. All of this is possible and in fact it is encouraged through mechanics like Order Class.

What a wonderful game to use as a World Playing Game. Order Class is a gameplay informing book, that helps unbound your play, unbound from the usual stale and stiff vanilla fantasy games. While I do not run the Epic of Dreams myself for any groups (currently) I often find myself flipping through it as a helpful guide for how can I give new life to my games. There is a free quick start available for download on itch. I recommend giving it a look. Drew is very active on the Socials, you can find him all over just search The Epic of Dreams in your social app of choice and he is one of the kindest people in the industry that I have the pleasure of working with on a regular basis. for more you can join The Epic of Dreams discord, I’m also fairly active there if you’re interested in interacting with me as well.

Thanks for joining me here, see you all again soonish.

Derek Bizier, the Halfling O/C 1 who dreams of (36)Raising a Crusade Against the False Emperor” Master

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