Tuesday, 22 April 2014

UK Games Expo RPG Awards - First Offering - Intrepid, John Keyworth

The first game on the Expo list is Intrepid, designed and produced by John Keyworth, a member of the UKRP Design Collective (http://ukrpdc.wordpress.com/).  It was released last year and has won praise in a number of places with its innovative nature.  Styling itself as an "Indie" game (by which the storytelling and narrative focus is far more important than the requirement of rolling dice to decide things.), Intrepid tells the story of a journey, the nature and quality of the journey are decided by the players upon starting the game.

I say players, and the key point here is that unlike most traditional games, there is no games master in games such as this.  The responsibility for the game running smoothly is shared across all the players, each of them taking turns to narrate a part of the story (in effect taking the role of games master for a turn at a time), while other players work on the narrative with them.  There is no "winner" in this game, the reward is a story well told and enjoyed by all.

There comes a time in every roleplayers life when the rules start to mean less and the story starts to mean more.  I personally came to that realisation about twenty years ago, but I understand that a lot of people need the framework of rules to work with, it allows them to adjudicate when questions come up that need straight answers. It doesn't make rules-light systems (Amber) any better or worse than rules heavy (Rolemaster) systems, it's just presents a different way to do things.

Played from a single piece of paper to illustrate the journey being undertaken, and that piece of paper will change every time that a new game (or a continuation of a game) is played, there are no character sheets as such, no boards on which to play, and no massive list of swag and items that the characters are trying to increase. The feel is as far removed from traditional roll-playing as you could get.

And that brings me to the judges comments.

Lacking in mainstream artwork with the usual creatures, example adventurers and full colour panorama's, 
Intrepid does have a strong visual impact with the flowcharts and illustrations that it does use, a salutory lesson that sometimes less is more especially when all the artwork is absolutely essential to the game.

Intrepid has a number of good lessons in making games work that more mainstream games could benefit from taking note from.  The nature of how the game is played and how relationships and scenes evolve is neatly done and makes for good reading even if you don't play the game as it is written.  

Very impressed with the production values, well laid and out presented and the game is a mere £10 for the print copy and considerably less for the PDF version, which as everyone knows these days barely buys a beer and burger at Expo, a good game for a good price.

Intrepid is available from RPGnow