User:Morbus Iff/Sojourns and Scholars

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This is an incredibly early napkin. Comments to please.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Sojourns and Scholars is an attempt at a nearly combat-free conversion of the latest edition of the world's most popular fantasy roleplaying game. It arose out of a desire to play with this latest version, but to do so like the days of yore: where the players and gamemaster together determined the story, not the outcome of mindless skill tests and combats simulated with miniatures and handily-named attack moves. One could say that we're attempting to convert a gamist system back into a narrativist one, but we'd rather just state that we prefer to use the latest rules to play in a world where physical combat barely exists.

This world is Ghyll, "an amazing collaborative improvisational fiction that combines an intoxicating patchouli whiff of fantasy with the reckless driving tanginess of bebop", or so says one now-deleted Internet blog. The worlds (or, more accurately, orthogonalities) of Ghyll originated as an encyclopedia whose creation depended on a small ruleset of forced integration called Lexicon: an RPG.

Players became "cranky, opinionated, prejudiced, and eccentric [scholars] from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized ... Despite the fact that your peers are self-important, narrow-minded dunderheads, they are honest scholars. No matter how strained their interpretations are, their facts are as accurate as historical research can make them. So if you cite an entry, you have to treat its factual content as true! (Though you can argue vociferously with the interpretation and introduce new facts that shade the interpretation.)"

After 18 months and more than 50 players, the wiki used to contain the encyclopedia grew to more than 300 full articles, hundreds of timeline entries and people, maps of the known world, and a healthy sense of erudition. Each entry, no matter how foolish or serious, fit in with factual data previously established. The Encyclopedants, acting as the encyclopedia's gamemasters, spent obscene amounts of time ensuring that flavor, sanity, and plausibility were retained. For some, it became one of their most treasured gaming sessions, even though it was far outside the realm of traditional tabletop roleplaying.

Ghyll is, certainly, a potpourri of ideas, some insatiably silly and others malignantly mixed. With the primary character race being podunkish insectoids, along with singing pachyderms used as morale boosters, Ghyll shares a technology level with traditional fantasy, without being the same old Tolkeinesque or traditional rehash of medieval elements. There are no suits of mail here, no longswords, no halflings or elves. Merely humanoids with a penchant for singing, doggerel, and a need to fit in.

The Core Tenets of Sojourns and Scholars

Sojourns and Scholars differs greatly from the ruleset it purports work with. Whereas that ruleset advances players through the levels of life by killing hordes of plastic miniatures, Sojourns and Scholars is focused on exploration, discovery, note-taking, and article-writing. Everyone plays as a scholar, and your ultimate goal is to be well-known but, more importantly, well-read.

  • All players are gamemasters.
  • Writing, of some sort, is expected of all players.
  • You play weaklings and pacifists.
  • Exploration is your primary form of adventure.
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