I’m working on a fantasy hack inspired by Grimms-style folklore.
I’m working on a fantasy hack inspired by Grimms-style folklore. One way I’m invoking that folklore vibe is to retool conversation-based mechanics like Rituals and Crafting to tell a short story instead of being a purely meta examination of the task.
Here’s a draft of a fast travel mechanic I’ve been noodling for the past week:
Cities and towns in the Blackwood are separated by wide expanses of dense, magical, and dangerous forest. In truth, it’s more accurate to say the forest is occasionally interrupted by human settlements! Travel is important in many fantasy tales, but rather than explore each moment of the trip in detail it’s favorable to distill the trip into its bare essence.
In The Blackwood, this takes the form of a short folktale wherein the fellowship ventures into the forest, someone with a weakness is tempted, and someone with a strength rushes to the aid of their companion. During these scenes, the players and GM narrate the story together based on a series of prompts:
1. A player begins: “Once, a beguiling wood stretched between [LOCATION] and [LOCATION]…” GM responds with “The world beneath its boughs was strange and perilous…” and then goes on to describe the terrain and its challenges.
2. GM says: “Those woods didn’t need eyes to see the thicket in one errant’s heart…” One player responds, offering up their errant to make an Entanglement roll. The player must state what doubt or weakness the forest seeks to exploit within their errant.
3. Player says: “On that day, the forest sent an elf to tempt us…” GM responds with an offer of Elven Meddling (read: Devil’s Bargain) hanging in the air to tempt the fellowship.
4. GM says: “But in the face of this, under these ancient trees, one errant stood tall…” One other player responds, offering up their errant to make a Resistance roll. The player must state why their errant decides to come to their companion’s aid.
Entanglements are narrative fuel that I want to emphasize in this hack, so I like the idea of rolling for an additional Entanglement outside of Downtime. The Resistance roll doesn’t negate the Entanglement roll. Instead (because it’s a move to aid your ally against a capricious elf), the roll is to resist Harm. It feels a little tacked-on right now but I’m working on it. Finally, the Elven Meddling is a little modified from the typical Devil’s Bargain rules in this case: you can add a die to one of your two roles in this scene, but it takes a die away from the other role.
I’m interested in any feedback folks may have!