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Overall, as I said before, Everway has a lot of good things. Among other things, it has a great spread of magical schools, and powers, and setting background (seriously, over half the playing guide is about the city of Everway and the spheres). It uses generous amounts of example text to walk players through how to make characters and give advice on how to properly play them. The player’s guide even gives players a peek behind the curtain and explains karma/drama/fortune to the players, as I mentioned in the last article, even though it doesn’t strictly have to do so.

You know what Everway doesn’t have, though? A fully developed advancement mechanic. There are hints every so often that heroes can improve their elements or their Magic score through play, but there’s literally no way to do that written into the game text. The closest there is to an advancement system is the introduction of boons, which are possible magical items or powers or knowledge that heroes can be given during play as a reward for quests – but the text also says that boons are one-use-only abilities. There are no experience points, and no permanent bumps to a hero’s starting build, to be found between Everway‘s covers.

Glorious and Fearsome addresses this by taking two apparently throw-away mechanics already in Everway and mechanizing them as advancement milestones. Heroes in Everway choose a Motive (a description of what that hero wants to accomplish) and also choose or draw three cards from the Fortune Deck to indicate their Virtue, Fault, and Fate. The Fate card specifically is neither upright nor reversed, but “sideways” to represent something hanging in the hero’s future that remains unresolved as of yet. The Mythics of Glorious and Fearsome likewise have an Ambition as well as Story Deck cards indicating Virtue, Vice, and Destiny. When a Mythic makes headway toward their Ambition or comes closer to facing their Destiny, they earn a Mythic Point, which can be spent to improve or add abilities to the sheet.

That more or less covers what will be different about Glorious and Fearsome. Fans of Everway will probably be heartened to hear that I’m changing as little as possible, only to address those things that Everway has garnered criticism for in the decades since its release. Hopefully this new implementation will be a worthy successor and a step forward in design.

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Part of the way you know you’re reading a game from the 1990s is Everway‘s use of language. It was relatively progressive for the time in using “his or her” frequently instead of defaulting to the usual “his” (although the singular “their” is still better), but it fails to acknowledge the problems intrinsic in the masculine-gendered term “gamemaster”, so in the interest of being properly inclusive, I’m going with “storyguide” for Glorious and Fearsome.

But there’s another reason. Today’s game designs have the advantage of something that Everway didn’t have: the Czege principle. Paul Czege’s wise observation that having the same person set up a character’s adversity and then also resolve it is unsatisfying rings true in light of the fact that, as mentioned in the previous article, the GM is both the one putting forth challenges to the players, and then deciding how they resolve essentially by fiat when applying either fortune or drama to the situation – that’s two-thirds of the time, at least on paper.

Glorious and Fearsome deals with this imbalance by explicitly codifying the Czege principle into its rule structure in a manner similar to Fiasco: players are given either the opportunity to frame a scene but not decide its resolution, or to hand over the scene framing to the storyguide or another player in exchange for the right to declare the resolution themselves.  For this reason, it’s actually a good thing that Everway decides to explain fortune/karma/drama to the players rather than just the GM: G&F strives to change as little as necessary in updating Everway for a contemporary sensibility.

Let’s start off with one important point: Everway is a good game. It has a lot going for it: its aggressive multiculturalism, its extensive use of examples to guide new players, its production value, its use of art as part of the play experience (especially the vision cards), and for me in particular, its embrace of heavily narrative play.

It’s that last part that gives many other people trouble, though. Criticisms of the system focus on its mechanical lightness, perceiving that it relies too heavily for some on gamemaster* fiat. In rereading the game in preparation for Glorious and Fearsome, I can see the validity of that criticism: the laws of fortune, drama, and karma are great in principle, but just handing them to the gamemaster and saying “pick the one that seems right” rubs more traditional players used to more structure the wrong way. Everway is heavily improvisational in the course of actual play in ways that the character creation process doesn’t quite prepare you for. (And the character creation process is, for many RPG players, the only part of the system they really have to interface with to the extent that they have to “understand” it.)

For Glorious and Fearsome, one of my first tasks is to take the engagement that players show in the process of creating their characters and make it carry through into sessions of play. A player is telling the gamemaster what they want to be important in the game through the choices they make when they pay their points. Everway gives that a nod with the law of karma, but I’m explicitly creating a hierarchy of the three laws in which karma gets first place. The vaunted Fortune Deck (in G&F, the Story Deck) is used if karma doesn’t clearly resolve the issue, as per the law of fortune, and only if the card drawn doesn’t point to a satisfying resolution does the law of drama come into the picture.

*By the way, Everway uses the term “gamemaster”, but I’m replacing that with “storyguide” for Glorious and Fearsome. More on that in part two.

Glorious and Fearsome

My next project is titled Glorious and Fearsome. It is primarily a reimplementation of Everway, but with DNA borrowed from subsequent games like Nobilis and Exalted to hopefully improve some of Everway‘s design weaknesses or oversights.

The PDF version of the second edition is out now! If you bought the first edition, you’ve already been updated to the second for free.

There’s also going to be a print version this time! The files have been sent to the printer, and I have to approve the proofs when they arrive, but thereafter, you can have your own hard copy to play with.

And don’t forget about the Anthology Deck, which is also available right now!

The inimitable Lisa Padol will be returning as the editor for the second edition of the game, so the draft is in good hands. While we wait, how about some mood music?

 

Begin your adventure today with a free download! And don’t forget – just 4 more days to submit your own creation for #AprilAlchemy!