Friday, 11 January 2013

Hillfolk RPG - Session 1: HUNGER

We tried something quite new at our Wednesday night gaming session this week. We created a story used Robin D Laws' new DramaSystem roleplaying game Hillfolk. This game is a cooperative storytelling system which shares the creative job normally reserved for the gamesmaster to the players around the table. While Hillfolk still has a GM he has just a much control of the creative process as any other player, his job is to focus the creative process of the players into a coherent story. We had incorporated a little of this joint creation in our previous games most notably Cold City but never to the level required by Hillfolk.

This style of roleplaying is different to the regular pen and paper style and takes some getting used to. We struggled a little to start with because we tried to create too much detail for each element, by trying to rationalise each idea and ended up over complicate things. An example of this was it character generation when one of the players established that what they wanted from one of the other characters was 'his silence' the other had a little difficult leaving the statement open and unexplained. We went back and forward for a few minutes trying to decide what it was his character knew and why it needed to be kept secret. We soon realised that simplicity is the key, establishing only enough at one time to give the table a hint of a story untold and leave it as a hook to be explored later.

Here is what we created this week about the setting. The text in italics are the elements added by the players in response to a GM prompt
You live in the rugged southern highlands, where the strong and self-reliant prosper. Jagged hills cut them off from the rest of the world. They shelter you and daunt your pursuers. A distinctive natural formation, said to resemble the head of a bull, marks the hill on which your band’s fortress is built. This formation lends its name, Bullhead, to both your band, and to the fortress itself.
A narrow strip of flat land, raised on a plateau, sits in the middle of these hills. Your farmers work its poor soil. Uncertain rainfall soaks their fields one year, and leaves them to parch the next. In the rolling zones between hill and flatland, your herders pasture hardy sheep, scrawny cattle, and impudent goats. They graze on its weeds and grasses.
The land begrudgingly grants you grains and meat sufficient to a meagre existence. To enrich yourself, it demands that you go elsewhere, to raid. In bad times, like now, you raid each other. In good times, when a strong chieftain unites the hillfolk, you band together to raid more distant neighbours.
 Many clans like yours inhabit the Southlands, each with its own distinct variations on a set of common customs and beliefs. Amongst these rival clans The DeerHunter tribe whose people are said to worship the Great Stag, are the Bullhead’s most tenacious and implacable rivals.

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