Week 2: Suzerain Mortal Realms
Posted 16 March 2008 - 06:23 PM
I figured I would release a seperate post for each of the ones I have just added so you guys have a place to talk about each one
Suzerain: Mortal Realms One Off and Discussion
Posted 17 March 2008 - 06:30 PM
That may be a bit of a under statement, it seems like to me that they started there game design by writing pretentious on a white board in big block letters and then announcing "Alright boys thats our mission statment."
Suzaerain was a game that was abit pretentious...
Posted 25 March 2008 - 07:49 AM
Suzerain first ed came out in 2000 and is a product of its time for sure (like one of the guys mentioned). It was UK based, as you guessed, and its style was its own - for better or worse. Nope, nobody planned for it to be a pretentious book, so every man's allowed his opinion on that score. Please remember that it was aimed at non roleplayers from drama and arts backgrounds, coming into RPGs from the amateur actor side of things, rather than being for the hardened veteran gamer. Maybe that information helps explain why its presentation didn't sit well with you during the game you ran (which was fun to listen to, by the way).
I was pleased to see you guys discussing the lack of Islamic Dominions in the game. You hit the nail on the head - the decision was shaped by events of the time. No, not 9/11 (although that was responsible for our funding falling through the next year, hence why there aren't any supplement books for that edition). Instead, think back to Salman Rushdie and his fatwa. You can bet none of us were willing to risk our lives on doing any fiction representation of Islam. We're still cagey about it. Sad but true that a tiny extremist minority has to taint the arts world with their anger and bile.
The Eastern religions aren't covered for a different reason, and maybe in retrospect we should have put something about this in the front of the book. I was a Japanese major at Oxford (back in the day), so know a pretty large amount about the area, with a keen personal interest in the mythology and religion of those nations. We didn't exclude them so they felt snubbed. More, we were aware that we should start Suzerain on familiar turf, with pantheons that are at least marginally familiar to people. The basic philosophies of the Indian subcontinent and Far East are significantly alien to western thinking. Instead, we wanted to give them the space they deserved and produce another book of the same size as Suzerain for that experience alone. Looking back, do I feel the team was wrong to do it? No. Suzerain first ed still plays because it focuses a bit rather than being scattergun in the main book. We didn't get to release any supplements, but the fact that people can play Dr Ballard and have an evening of fun without supplements is heartening to see.
As for the shallowness or depth of gaming, I think we were pretty clear that you can play Suzerain either way - as a campaign in one time zone or as a Quantum Leap game. For conventions we ran a bunch of two-hour sessions like the one you played. It was quick throw-away fun. And people enjoyed it for that. Back at home, a scenario might last a few weeks and if we liked the setting, we'd turn that into a campaign. Sure, the characters reported back to the gods every now and again, but largely they were in their chunk of the Mortal Realms. Got bored or got to the end of a campaign? The same characters could shift at will, find a new genre and/or setting. The format is meant as a release rather than as an anchor.
I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to dust off your shelf-bound copy of Suzerain, to read it through, and to play a game of it. Listening to you guys was a little bit of a trip down memory lane for me.
These days, Suzerain has got back up and running, but in a different format. There's a second edition, but I don't think you would recognise much of the slipcase book in what we're doing now. A different take on the Suzerain universe, with a different set of rules, and a totally different presentation. For roleplayers this time, pure and simple.
If any of you guys in the '20 Weeks...' gaming group would like a copy of the second editon to take a look at, just mail me and I'll happily send a copy your way. My way of saying thanks for your podcast.
Publisher, Talisman Studios
(Formerly of Treehouse, the Suzerain guys)
mmk [at sign] talisman-studios.com
Posted 25 March 2008 - 10:41 AM
Thanks for listening, I'm glad you enjoyed our brief foray into the world of Suzerain.
It's great to get feedback on these older games, especially from the developers themselves, just to see what influences and inspirations lead to the choices made in the style and overall end design.
It's great to see what guesses we made that were close and which ones were quite off base. With the explanations a lot of things become much more logical and clear.
As we explore many of these games it's always educational to see how different perspectives based upon geography and nationality play into them. Though I know some of our group has read some of the literature by Mr. Rushdie, the unfortunate events surrounding his works would never have occurred to us as having been an influence on your game, just because it was so far out of our sphere of knowledge and thinking. I imagine the more local UK audience you were orienting towards would have been much quicker to call up the link.
Such lessons are one of the reasons we decided to undertake this little project of ours.
As for your offer of a review copy of the new edition, I think that would be excellent. I know I would personally love to take a look at how your ideas for Suzerain have evolved and maybe even try and get it on the list so we can give it a go in a recorded session.
Thanks Much again for listening.
Posted 25 March 2008 - 11:45 AM
My pleasure. I'll sort you out a little bundle of goodies Nick. Have fun with them.
Martin, Publisher, Talisman Studios
Posted 25 March 2008 - 02:05 PM
There's alot of ideas in Suzerain we thought were very nifty and cool to go along with the things we disliked about it too. I'm glad we were able to help with Nostaligia there..
As we said, the game is excellent for those who are new to roleplaying, and you succeeded in your goal of making a book that was suited for the new gamer in those ways.
Posted 25 March 2008 - 03:26 PM
That came across and really made my day. The second edition is much more the 'by gamers for gamers' RPG that you might expect, but that doesn't mean we weren't proud of what we were doing back in '98 to 2000. Sure, the target audience was different (and we took some flak at the time for it too), but it's great to hear folks who unerstanding that and appreciating it.
Of course, we're proud of the second edition too, even more so thanks to the good reviews it's been getting.
Please keep doing your podcast - I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and I'm sure that lots of other people are too. In fact, what the heck... check out www.talisman-studios.com and look up the News journal (well, in about five minutes when I've had a chance to post to it). Time for me to do my bit to promote what you're doing.
Hopefully it'll being you some more traffic, guys.
Martin, Publisher, Talisman Studios
Posted 25 March 2008 - 04:39 PM
Its definitely a bit of a surprise to hear back from one of the creators of one of the games we reviewed. I look forward to seeing the second edition and see what a more fleshed out background of Suzerain looks like. I'm also curious to see the new system.
If you don't mind, I would like to ask: was it assumed that people would play the Forgotten or were they more of a 'villain' dominion meant to be skipped over?
Anyhow, thanks a lot for coming here to clarify a bit of why Suzerain developed as it did. Often we can only guess at how an RPG is born, and hearing a few words on its development helps to give a better idea of just how things came about the way they did.
Posted 25 March 2008 - 04:59 PM
The Pure Mages can be pretty cold in their logic too. "So we sink the ship, which will kill the bad guy" (and about a thousand innocent people). "Yeah, but we're saving the whole of existence here. One thousand versus billions. Simple equation."
And the Valhallans tend to get carried away with their blood and death approach to any problem. Not for the heck of it, but because that's just the way they traditionally dealt with most things.
These are all Dark Dominions rather than Light Dominions (there are six of each in the first edition book), and it's just a different mindset to dealing with the challenges which come up.
Martin, Publisher, Talisman Studios
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