What's that, Furcadia?


by on Dec.07, 2007, under Artists, Dragons Eye Productions, Location, News, Private Dreams, Roleplay, Talzhemir

I wanted to share with everyone a new tool that Talzhemir has been working on for Roleplayers. It’s called Oracle. It isn’t meant to revolutionize or change the way you approach roleplaying; there’s something in there for everyone.
However, it is meant to help facilitate roleplay seamlessly into a group of players. Behind the cut below there is a lot of information, (the entire class Talzhemir gives out) on how to use Oracle. Some of it won’t make a lot of sense; it’s best to catch her on Furcadia when she’s about to give a class so you can get whatever information you need form her directly.

The oracle project started earlier this year in March. Talzhemir was working on the first draft of “Furre!” and was nearly completed and ready to publish. It has all the usual accouterments that one would expect of a paper-and-pencil RPG: Armor, Hit Points, weapon types and special abilities.

While showing some roleplayers everything she’d come up with, Talzhemir came across an interesting problem:

I was showing some RPers the game mechanics, and the reaction was, “That’s nice; somebody will probably like it, but we’ve got much more important problems, Talz!” More important than whether or not that sword or that spell kills you…??? I took a few steps back and started to question the entire RPG paradigm that Gary Gygax & Co. spawned out of the historical wargaming miniatures hobby: an obsession with hitpoints and armor class and weapon size and special abilities that every major computerized multiplayer online game still follows. And it dawned on me that none of them really felt like being somebody else. They feel like puppeteering a robot paper-doll in an enormous boardless boardgame. You feed it, you put a bandaid on its knee when it gets hurt, you dress it up, and you pick it up by the neck and shake it to play nice with the other orcs and elves. It’s not you.

She went on to talk about how the Arbiter is an analogous persona inside the system that works similar to a GM, in the fact that they help settle disputes. They’re different, however, insofar as they don’t have to spend hours crafting out an adventure that the players are going to go through. That kind of GM is getting pretty rare, in her opinion.
Instead, the Arbiter is able to play in the game with the other players. The only time they use their ‘power’ is when there’s a question that needs to be answered. That way, there is no real power for them to abuse. Situations such as “if a woman is pregnant” are the types that Arbiter’s are meant to help with.

The entire interview is posted behind the cut if you’re interested in reading it, along with a copy of one of Talzhemir’s classes.

Talzhemir: I’d love to express that I’m overwhelmed by reactions I’ve gotten.
Damadar: All good?
Talzhemir: Mostly good. Some “I’m confused…” and some “I don’t think anybody will like this, so I don’t want it.”
Damadar: Hrm. ‘Bout how long’ve you been working on Oracle?
Talzhemir: I started in March of 2007. The project was kind of a surprise to me.
Damadar: How so?
Talzhemir: Well, I was really close to having a first-draft of “Furre!” to publish- it’s got things like hitpoints and armor and weapon types and special abilities. I was thinking about how to introduce that in a way that integrates with roleplaying as we generally know it on Furcadia– and pulled up short when I realized how much I’d taken for granted about what furres know about roleplaying in-general…
Talzhemir: I was showing some RPers the game mechanics, and the reaction was, “That’s nice; somebody will probably like it, but we’ve got much more important problems, Talz!” More important than whether or not that sword or that spell kills you…??? I took a few steps back and started to question the entire RPG paradigm that Gary Gygax & Co. spawned out of the historical wargaming miniatures hobby: an obsession with hitpoints and armor class and weapon size and special abilities that every major computerized multiplayer online game still follows. And it dawned on me that none of them really felt like being somebody else. They feel like puppeteering a robot paper-doll in an enormous boardless boardgame. You feed it, you put a bandaid on its knee when it gets hurt, you dress it up, and you pick it up by the neck and shake it to play nice with the other orcs and elves. It’s not you.
Damadar: Do you think that Furcadian’s miss out on the fact that there isn’t a single GM/DM running the game?
Talzhemir: There’s somebody who’s kind of analogous, the Arbiter, but they also get to play the game. We’re kind of at a low point in tabletop-style paper-pencils-dice RPGs. Most Furcadia players have never ever played that kind of a game and have no clue what a Game Master (a Dungeon Master is a type of GM) does, so they don’t miss him/her. Those of us who have played traditional style tabletop RPGs with a GM do tend to miss them– and that’s an America-wide phenomenon.
Talzhemir: People who will contribute hours of time for free doing the kind of preparation tabletop gaming requires of the GM have gotten scarce. Oracle addresses that part of the equation by being a form of storytelling that hardly requires any preparation of that kind, at all.
Damadar: What is Oracle’s biggest strength?
Talzhemir: I’d say it’s giving you the chance to be your character, more than any MMORPG allows, and even more than traditional tabletop games encourage. Tabletop games are usually prepared by a GM in-advance. He/she decides where the adventure will be, what the challenges are, and what the rewards are likely to be. But, out of politeness if nothing else, that locks maybe four to seven player characters into doing what the GM thinks they’d have fun doing. “The Party” has to stay together or they can’t have fun…
Talzhemir: …This is deeply engrained in traditional American gaming– from day one, D&D established every group has to pick one player, “The Caller” who says what the group is doing. With the exception of some very rare and wonderful and special GM’s out there, it’s gotten boiled down to Kill Monster, Take Treasure. And if that’s what you wanna do, Oracle does it…
Talzhemir: …But Oracle ultimately doesn’t force ‘The Party’ to remain together. So individual goals are likely to be pursued. The Paladin can right the wrongs, the Thief can be devious, the Mage can search for ancient lore. Much more than that: The Princess can meet her suitors who are trying to cement family alliances. The Gangster can be sent out to rough up a laundromat chain owner. The Vampire Rock Star can get challenged by a mummy in Cairo or a werewolf in Greece while doing a European tour. You’re not going down the railroad track laid down for you, you’re making major IC choices it makes sense your character could pursue.
Talzhemir: Hmm, I feel like I’m doing NaNoWriMo again!
Damadar: And what is its biggest weakness?
Talzhemir: The biggest weakness of Oracle is that it threatens to usurp power over a whole Continuity. It takes control of Continuity out of a Dream’s owner and puts it squarely into the paws of the furres who play in it. In Oracle, if all the players unanimously decide something happens, there is no dice-roll, it simply happens. It encourages people to think in terms of rational democratic self-governance instead of bowing to the wishes of the Dream’s creator….
Talzhemir: …Oracle doesn’t say players in a Dream can do whatever they want when playing in an established Dream: Suppose six characters at your local tavern Dream ask the Oracle, “Has a deadly plague killed off 99% of the population today?” They go through the process and come up with an “Yes.” This scenario is against Oracle’s rules because Oracle says all those whose characters are involved have a right to an equal say in the outcome….
Talzhemir: …The nature of Oracle is to constantly throw off establishing facts. Suppose there’s a visible assassination attempt in the bar. Furres could ask the Oracle, “Do the city guards arrive in time to do something like pursue the assassin?” They could decide, the city guards are nincompoops and the odds are very against that possibility. The Dream’s owner might prefer the guards to be a competent elite. Can you sorta see how this gives potential for a tug-of-war between Continuity owner and players?…
Talzhemir: …The ideal solution might be, for Dream owners to start training and authorizing their own Arbiters and having a rule that RP is only valid if it’s been okayed by furres empowered to protect the Dream owner’s vision of their IC world.
Damadar: Aha. An arbiter is like the hands of a dream owner, helping to keep continuity flowing. A continuity developer, or overseer, as it were?
Talzhemir: I think Arbiters could be a link between the Dream’s rules and the Rah’s (Dream owner’s) wishes, like that. I expect alot of them will not be part of any Dream. Oracle lets them run ongoing “campaigns” in the style of the paper game GMs, in any entirely OOC room…
Talzhemir: …Some will be entirely freelance– autonomous like gunslingers and Knights Errant– acting as Arbiters only when furres come to them with some IC challenge to solve….
Talzhemir: …You could say, some will be “Daimyo” lords over their own private domain, some will be like “Samurai” in service to a Dream and its Continuity, and some will be “Ronin”, acting where needed.
Damadar: Or, to go for the Wild West Them: US Marshals, Sherrifs, and Lone Rangers? =p
Talzhemir: Funny you should mention that… the Texas Rangers are one of my inspirations here. You see, they were often outnumbered. Once, a ranger arrived to shut down an illegal boxing game. There were hundreds of armed men and it had been rumored there would be a gunfight between several factions. The Mayor who’d called for help said, “We’re done for; I asked for a whole company…” The ranger, Bill McDonald, drawled, “One riot? One ranger.”…
Talzhemir: …The rangers didn’t just rely on looking tough, though. They stood by to keep the peace and often helped people to help themselves come to an equitable solution….
Talzhemir: …It takes maybe an hour to really learn Oracle but with an Arbiter guiding you, it takes next to no time to get playing. It’s very efficient for me to find and train Arbiters: it only takes one Arbiter to run a whole lot of Oracle sessions with a lot of different people….
Talzhemir: …I chose the name “Arbiters” because I want to stress, their primary function is “arbitration”, to “facilitate”, and not “rule others”.
Damadar: It wasn’t because you’d been playing Halo 2 and Halo 3?
Talzhemir: Actually, no– I was playing City of Villains. The “Arbiters” in that are the neutral elite agents of the Arachnos villain super-organization that you see to go up a level. Oracle Arbiters who run campaigns have a vaguely similar role in that they can award experience points.
Damadar: Interesting idea. What do you say to the people who think that’s too much power in their hands?
Talzhemir: The only power any Arbiter ever has, is that which the players voluntarily opt-in to giving them. Either they knowingly opted to join a Dream that employs Arbiters officially, or, they signed up for a game session with an Arbiter, or, they asked an Arbiter (for example, neutral help deciding out if a furre is pregnant or not.)…
Talzhemir: Actually, the furres most likely to become Arbiters were probably doing similar things before, as unofficial leaders in their own playgroups. Generally they’re informal autocrats and unofficial GM’s and Oracle actually spreads power out, de-concentrates it.
Damadar: A real democracy, instead of a tyrany, as it were?
Talzhemir: Fortunately, I think it’s generally friendly leadership that’s going on, rather than ugly bullying. And, that can be a tiring burden. “Key players” often feel like everybody else is standing around and not contributing. If they complain that others depend on them too much, it’s viewed as praising themselves thinly veiled as a whiny complaint. Yet it’s true. The less-key players stand around not contributing because they don’t feel what they can contribute is going to matter- and they’re often right. I call this phenomenon “sag”.
Damadar: Oracle will help counter “sag”?
Talzhemir: Yes!

This is most of the script that Talzhemir uses to run her Oracle class from:

While this is going on, you might be on the lookout to recruit some adventurers for an Oracle game of your own after class!

Thank you for coming to help us unravel the mystery of the Oracle system. In this class there’ll be points at which I pose a question.

Please, remember to close all other windows and follow along with this class. I’ll begin each topic with a “Frequently Asked Question”. It will get “interactive” fairly soon.

Q: What is Oracle?

A: Oracle is a storytelling tool. It can be used anytime. When used to run a full life-and-death adventure, it’s done around a table or maybe by a nice fire. (Running a whole game in public, though, is asking for twinks to ruin it.)

Owners of a Dream can decide to authorize Arbiters. Then, the adventures they oversee become a valid part of the Dream’s Continuity. In an ongoing game, your character can improve through experience points awarded at the end of a session.

It can be used with or without an existing RPG system. It may involve roleplaying but it’s mostly for specific adventure sequences, scenes in which events definitely happen in the continuity.

Oracle includes a VERY streamlined easy fast combat system of its own, but it works fine with posed combat too.

Oracle does make use of dice. Now, I can hear some of you thinking “but I don’t like dice!”. Oracle has made alot of converts. If you THINK you don’t like dice, please give this a chance, because it probably does not use dice the way you expect!!!

Q: How many can play? A: We recommend 2-4. More than that is a little sluggish online. It’s somewhat similar to cooperative fiction, in which everyone describes what their character does, but there are also points at which your input is needed on what’s happening in the game world.

Q: So, we come up with several ideas, then we roll dice to see which one it is?

A: No, not exactly. 🙂

When there is a question of what’s going on, or what actually happens, all the players are allowed to suggest possibilities (the “Brainstorm” phase). The possibilities are discussed (the “Reasons” phase)…

…When the Arbiter feels there’s been enough discussion, they “call for odds” and then everybody gives input on just how likely that possibility is (the “Odds” phase). Then, dice are rolled to see if that’s how it comes out (the “Dice” phase).

The story tends to make sense because the players constrain the wackiness when they set the odds together. If the players happen to want a game in which the strangest things occur, they can choose to do that, instead.

*** Okay, here’s our first pop-quiz. 1. Who here can tell me how to roll two ten-sided dice on Furcadia? (Type -hi! to hear/send Shouts at this point, please?)

((type roll 2d10))

2. How do you roll so that you also see the value rolled on each individual dice?

((use all-caps, as in, ROLL 2d10))

(If you have any questions, do feel free to ask, that’s why I’m here. I’m using a “script” to help make sure I don’t miss things, but I’m happy to pause and repeat, rephrase, or explain. We like the “live/hands-on” approach and we think coming back to read a log later is probably boring.)

3. How do you add or include a comment about what the dice roll is going to determine?

Okay, let’s go on from here.

The game will go slowly at first; this is normal. As you play more, you’ll all become more skilled. Relax and let the tale unfold.

You’ll soon find that the journey will be as important as the destination, and everybody’s mind is engaged.

Q: Does everybody do generally the same thing? A: Yes and no…. A traditional pencil/paper/dice/tabletop roleplaying game (“RPG”) has ‘players’ and a ‘game master’ (“GM”) who’s like a referee who doesn’t get to play. This is different.

Using Oracle, everybody gets to have a character that they control.

There are a few special out-of-character (“OOC”) jobs that somebody might take, to help make it smoother for everyone.

Q: What are the five jobs? A: Arbiter, Dicer, Chronicler, Scripter, and Accountant. I’ll only describe the Arbiter here, as that’s the only necessary role to fill.

The “Arbiter” is somebody trusted to have the final say on what question will get asked, and what the odds will be. It’s the Arbiter’s duty to keep the story moving forwards. This is the closest there is to a GM in this kind of roleplay.

An Arbiter doesn’t know all the answers in advance, though. He/she is findings things out just like everybody else. When things happen, they are as much a surprise to the Arbiter.

Thus, the Arbiter can play a character just like everyone else, with no unfair advantage. The Arbiter is the only special position that needs to be filled.

Here’s a handy start-up page for the Arbiter to print out, for use with Oracle: (plaintext) http://www.thegenieslamp.com/rp/oracle_startup.htm (.PDF format) http://www.thegenieslamp.com/rp/oracle_startup.pdf

A brief discussion: Does everybody playing the game have to have a character? (If you’ve been through this class before, please let someone new discuss it! thanks.)

You might find it surprising, but Oracle works just as well with the whole group sharing one protagonist character, or even, no characters at all. You could generate a new world without anybody in it, using Oracle.

Generally, though, only those have a character make the odds. It’s just most comfortable and fair when those who can make it dangerous also have a stake in the outcome.

-There are two very important philosophies that guide our decisions here. They’re “Writer-ism” and “Simulation-ism”. Writer-ism says, “Make it fun, make it entertaining, make it pleasant. It’s a GAME, people.” Simulation-ism on the other hand says, “Make it believable, make it challenging. Keep it true to the source-material/canon/movie/book/etc. Don’t turn it into a cakewalk.”

-The very best RPers you’ll find are those who strive to balance Writer-ism and Simulation-ism.

Q: Okay… So, what exactly is this game about? A: YOU, the players, decide where and when the game is taking place! What world, what country, what city? Is there magic? Is there ESP? What year is it? Pick something you generally all like.

Once you have a fairly good idea, the Chronicler should take this info down. The Arbiter must have a sense of how realistic or unrealistic this particular game world is supposed to be. The Scripter should be a bit familiar with how people of that day and age talk and behave.

Decide how your characters all know each other. Bear in mind this first Plot Assumption: All of your characters know each other and are already friends. That’s a rule.

Q: Is there sex and/or violence in this game…?

A: Again, that’s up to the players.

* DO agree on a “movie rating” sort of standard. Players should know what level of violence is likely to be described. It can be very vague or “in good taste”; it might be in gory detail. You’ll be more comfortable when you how “extreme” the action is supposed to get.

Q: Does my character have to die just because the dice said so? A: This is your choice– but it’s a choice that all the players need to agree on before the Adventure begins.

At the “Hardball” level, characters die when their hitpoints reach 0 or lower. They can be injured, permanently scarred or maimed, and even become psychologically messed-up. If your character risks dying and being made into a vampire who loses all emotional feelings towards their former companions, that’s playing Hardball.

The ruling theory of Hardball is that In Character Actions should yield In Character Consequences, and if they aren’t fair, well, that’s just too bad. Hardball is best suited for players who can accept that.

At the “Softball” level, characters can be injured, but not permanently scarred or maimed. They tend to bounce back from trauma relatively unchanged, leading to a lighter flavor of play. They can only die if the player truly wishes that.

Under “Softball”, the players mutually decide to avoid pursuing the harshest possibilities. Our assumed default for Oracle is “Softball”.

Under Softball, instead of being killed, characters are ‘Defeated’ and the story picks up from a lesser outcome such as capture. If a player opts to “take a death”, they must wait at least 15 RL minutes before bringing their new character in.

Before you choose, you should all know about what IC death can mean to your game!

Here’s some Con’s of letting characters die:

IC death is very destructive to the Continuity. Relationships in the game world resemble a net made of connections between characters, both PC’s and NPC’s. This is sometimes called the “social fabric”.

If a PC dies, connections are severed and in many cases, not repaired by the survivors. Losing even one PC causes a gaping hole to appear.

Once the character dies, the player can make somebody new up, but it will never be quite the same. Players tend to have OOC feelings, even just a little bit, for these fictional characters.

It takes a lot of work to develop and play a character. The game may go on but the character’s death will probably mean that at least their part of the story ended on a sour note. Being around all your former character’s friends can be OOCly unpleasant.

No matter how mature you are, after your favorite character dies, there’s a good chance you will not want to play again.

Here’s some Pro’s of letting characters die:

There are some Continuities where the credibility would be hurt if the heroes kept facing death but just kept bouncing back to life.

Too many deaths can destroy the social fabric, but too few can make the story world feel cheap and hollow.

The death of a character is an OOC sacrifice, made by a player, in favor of making the game world feel more dramatic, dangerous, and more realistic.

Continuities based on “conspiracies” and/or “serious crimes” often work best as Hardball. When a character is captured and tortured, whether or not they reveal secrets is too easy if the player knows their character can’t be maimed or killed.

In a Hardball game, the bad guys are likely to be extremely cruel (meriting an R rating or worse). Whether or not the character cracks and reveals secrets will depend on a dice roll, not the player’s whims.

A game about hunting down dangerous criminals or deadly rivalries between gangs should probably be “hardball”. A “horror” genre game needs to be “hardball” to feel worthwhile.

…Then again, there’s nothing wrong with the players all agreeing that this Continuity has the concepts or elements of a particular genre, but isn’t going to actually be that “dark” or fatal. You could play in a horror “flavored” world where the game isn’t actually horror.

Once you’ve decided what the game world and the game style (Hardball vs. Softball) will be, next you need characters.

To keep characters from being wildly inconsistent, Oracle has its own Character Generation system, which is optional but I recommend it because it adds to the fun.

For those guidelines, see Section 8 of the following web page http://www.thegenieslamp.com/rp/oracle2.htm

(As a default, Oracle gets the use of special powers down to being able to have ONE defense, ONE attack, and, both fade after 3 rounds of combat. You can purchase more with experience points.)

Q: In Oracle, can our characters fight each other? A: Not really, because Oracle is not a Player-versus-player game. To save conflicts, time and hassle, there’s three things that we all assume from the start, called Plot Assumptions.

Plot Assumption #1: All the PCs are on friendly terms. Should one of them encounter an adventure lead, the rest would naturally go, too.

Plot Assumption #2: The game starts with your characters in a place that they (together) more or less own. It can be a mansion; it can be a castle; it can be a tavern and inn; it can be an office building; it can be a hotel. Pick something fun.

Plot Assumption #3: Getting to the start of the adventure will not be an issue. For example, if you rolled ‘Investigate a Crime’ and the location was ‘Jungle’, you can assume that the person who sent you to investigate sends you on a military transport helicopter, pays for plane tickets, etc.

Please remember that ‘set-up’ for Oracle isn’t preparation for the game, it’s part of the game already. We want to get off to the best start that we can, and making this up can be alot of fun.

Q: How does the game start? A: The adventure begins with receiving an Adventure Seed. It’s helpful to think of it in terms of describing an Event, a Location, and a Messenger.

You can see some sample tables by typing .event .location .messenger But really, to work well, you should make custom tables for YOUR game.

If the setting was Hogwarts, you could have a random location table that said “Forbidden Forest”, “Diagon Alley”, “Little Whinging, Surrey”, “The Hufflepuff Dorms”. Your messengers could include “Your House’s Ghost”, “An Auror”, “A mythical creature”, “Some kind of written document you found”. And the Events could include “You must warn someone of danger”, “You must hide from someone.” “You are sent to recover something unique and precious.”, etc.

Under Oracle rules, a randomly generated Adventure Seed is considered more than just a goal that the players agree to pursue together.

It describes a new condition valid in your game world.

Your characters are never forced to complete the adventure, but if they don’t, its natural consequences still hold true.

Suppose the adventure seed was “Someone you know has been captured.” Whether or not your characters rescue them, that event has still taken place in the game world.

You could go on some other adventure. When you were done, you might return home and you could ask, “Did the captured person get free by some other means?” They might. …Or they might have died horribly as an indirect consequence of the choices of the player characters.

An Oracle game is about your characters. But, unlike many other RPGs, you’ll notice that the world might not contort to be kind or convenient for you…

(So, when you construct your own Event table, bear in mind what could happen if you loaded it up with disasters.)

Ultimately, Oracle is primarily a player-driven, not dice-driven, game. Instead of a random adventure seed, most games should be about goals the players chose to pursue, and not just reactions to random events. Random tables can be fun, but think of them as training wheels to help get you started, not as the main game itself.

And, that’s why roleplaying by waltzing into some random bar or public establishment almost NEVER turns into a meaningful adventure. Players often don’t play as if they were a part of the same game world. They won’t care about the consequences of NOT going on the adventure.

“Most games should be about goals the players chose to pursue.” What does that mean…? It means, use adventures to enforce who your characters are.

Are you a vampire hunter? Go hunt a vampire. Are you a gangster trying to move up in the ranks? Defend your territory, defeat your rivals. Are you a fallen angel with a debt to mankind? Go do a heroic good deed. Are you a soldier in a freedom-fighter mercenary unit? Go liberate some oppressed civilians!

Q: We have an Adventure Seed; now what do we do? A: Now you’re either ready to start clarifying the situation by asking questions OOC, beginning with a “Brainstorm”. Brainstorming is the phase in which the Arbiter asks for concepts and impressions of what might be going on.

We’re not deciding what is going to happen. Brainstorming is just a moment to pool everyone’s creativity!

When the Arbiter feels there has been enough Brainstorming, the Arbiter must choose a question (or “family” of related questions) to pursue.

There are two extremely important rules about those Questions!

First, questions have to be “Yes/No”.

Second, you can only ask a question if there’s an IC (“in character”) way for the characters to know the answer. For example, you could ask, “Is it raining?” because your characters could just look outside. A question like, “Is our arch-enemy planning an ambush right now?” should only be asked if someone had some sort of appropriate super-power.

This limitation makes it feel like you’re right there with the characters, finding out what they find out.

After “Brainstorm”, the Arbiter asks for “Reasons” the answer might be yes or no. Players should volunteer both reasons-for-yes and reasons-for-no. An “I don’t know…” is perfectly fine, too.

To be valid, a reason has to comply with all the information you have so far. Because of that, players aren’t allowed to join in mid-session because they don’t know what went on before. Generally, if someone walks out of the game, their character is gracefully written out of the story.

The Arbiter allows a few minutes for Reasons, then moves on to requesting Odds. This Dream has a command .odds which posts them to you. Arbiters can post it to the whole group to “call for odds”.

After everyone playing volunteers a number, the Accountant adds them and gets the average. (all remainders are simply dropped.) Then, the Dicer types ROLL 2d10 (with an explanation on the same line).

If the roll is equal or lower than the Accountant’s number, then the answer to the question is “Yes”.

Q: When is there a fight? A: An opponent might appear when you reach an appropriate place and queried, “Does our enemy appear?” (The movies Bladerunner and Labyrinth both end something like that.

An optional rule says that if an ordinary Question is answered with Odd Doubles, you meet an enemy, while on Even Doubles, you meet a friend (could be old or new!).

If you haven’t made a custom table of enemies, one is provided that gives stats for different opponents. Oracle is balanced in favor of the players but there is still a very real chance of being defeated.

Default stats for enemies are given but custom stats can be easily made up if you’re using an existing RPG system.

Fights in this game are a BIG DEAL. They should be rare. Unlike D&D and other game systems, experienced characters don’t acquire ten times more hitpoints over time.

If you’re using an RPG system such as BESM or WoD or D&D, you’ll need to make up a stockpile random encounters in advance for when you need them.

Q: What if the rules don’t cover something? A: When the rules don’t cover something- make something up. The overall goals of this Storytelling game are for everybody to be treated fair, and to all experience a meaningful and satisfying story. Always keep these two ideas in mind:

“You’re amongst friends.”

“When something goes wrong, relax. We will all try to fix it.”

This is your time, and your game. It’s up to you to instate or abolish the rules that work best for YOU, as a group, and you can decide to override written instructions at any time. Expect to build up your own unique collection of “house rules” to customize things!

Well, that about wraps up the very basics of Oracle. Thanks for attending this class. –You’re ready to play!

Related Links

An example Oracle session, including an example of the “native” combat rules

“Things To Come, Code that Enhances RP”

“Player Requested Scenes”

An example of an Oracle session using a World of Darkness character:

Sinder’s backgrouhnd:

Some stuff that was removed from the script, but may be of interest:

The “Dicer” is somebody chosen to make die rolls when the Arbiter requests. Should there be combat, everybody rolls dice for their own character. When there are questions affecting everybody directly, though, then the Dicer makes the roll.

The “Chronicler” takes general notes on what’s happened. As new characters enter the game, the Chronicler gives them an appropriate name. Not every character needs a name; generally, characters that talk meaningfully to the PCs get names. Naming the non-player-characters (NPCs) is a way to hint at their personalities, so even thugs in a gang sent to ambush our heroes should get names.

A Chronicler can make the names up or they can use random name generators, easily found online.

The “Scripter” writes poses and dialog for the NPC’s. He/she doesn’t make major decisions about how the NPCs behave. If there’s a question about what happens, it’s still decided by the whole group & the dice.

A good Scripter gives the NPCs natural reactions that enforce a sense of the game world, helping to bring it to life. Sometimes, the way the NPCs talk will nudge a PC into a particular course of action. (A Scripter is on their honor to treat their own character the same as everyone else’s.)

Last but not least, the “Accountant” tallies up the Odds and divides them by the number of active players. (The Arbiter or someone else should also do it, to help catch errors.) When combat rolls around, the Accountant keeps a little file handy and tracks everyone’s initiative, Current Hits, and use of Powers.

Talzhemir is an artist, a game designer, and co-owner of Furcadia. She and Jeff Dee have co-authored many different things together, including work on the Furre! system. She is published by UNIgames, and is the main continuity manager and artistic director for Dragon’s Eye Productions.

The information about Oracle that is written here belongs to Talzhemir, and was used with permission. Contact her through Furcadia for information relating to its use.

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