More Guys With Swords

For a friend’s birthday this weekend, a request was made for a game to be run, and given a combination of short notice and assessment of the taste of all players involved, I ran Two Guys With Swords.
2GwS has a somewhat fantastic self-selection process. It is run (at least by me) with a certain tone that combines high action with no small amount of tongue in cheek. Thankfully, the random tables do a fantastic job of conveying the tone of the game – if you see the tables and they make you smile, then it’s probably the right game for you.
Anyway, this was interesting since it was a full table, and we ended up playing Five Guys with Swords (insert obligatory hamburger joke here), which required a little tweaking of things. There were also a few decisions made on the fly that might be useful for folks looking to do interesting things with C+, so I figure I’ll run through them.
First, the big change for chargen was to allow every player to write something down on everyone else’s sheet, so it went something like this – write a distinction, pass the sheet left, write another distinction, pass the sheet left, and keep repeating this until there were 5 distinctions on the sheet. It worked startlingly well, and because distinctions are entirely subject to player interpretation, it was less inhibiting than doing the same thing with aspects might have been. it also gave everyone a little bit more of an investment in everyone else’s character, which was a good way to establish quick cameraderie.
Second: Magic rules. So, 2GwS technically includes magic, but it’s totally the magic in the same way that Gray Mouser technically knew some magic. That is to say, badly – often to the point of disaster. When a player uses a gonzo distinction for a gonzo effect, they roll both the d8 and the d4 (and do not get a plot point) but in return there’s a lot more narrative leeway in the outcome (and I am also more shameless in my willingness to explicitly pull out crazy-ass consequences as a result).
Third: Multi-sided conflicts. At one point in the first fight, one of the players started a small avalanche (d8) which I shamelessly spent complications on to turn into a d12 + d8, and it became a third side in the fights. Mechanically, this proved staggeringly easy to adjudicate, at leas tin part because the avalanche wasn’t doing anything terribly complicated: if it wins, it puts a “Buried” complication on the opponent, and it was an equal-opportunity threat (one fight ended with both sides getting whomped by the Avalanche and taken out of the fight)
Fourth: Fixed and transient play elements. It totally helps to have 2 colors of post-its, so transient declarations are a different color. Makes table management much easier. Similarly handy – I’ve been experimenting with all-caps handwriting lately, and while I’m still undecided on it, it _absolutely_ helps with the post-its.
So, given those rule hacks, the thing I found I need to add are a few more tools for the GM for handling his threat budget and drawing inspiration in a manner similar to the generation tables. In the absence of that, I was very ad hoc in my threat numbers. I think it would probably be easy to standardize it, and I have at least one good idea for a hack (turning any cleaned up elements into complications). All of which is to say, I suspect I may have to do a proper 2GwS writeup, including some explanation of what actually happens at the table for those who don’t quite get some of the statements I’m making about the game.

5 thoughts on “More Guys With Swords

  1. Cam_Banks

    2GwS is one of those things I would love to see us polish up and put out. On my list of other things I would love to see us polish up and put out, as soon as we can take care of the people involved. Great recap, Rob!

  2. Evan

    I’m thinking I would buy that hack/game/supplement, etc.

    The inspiration is obviously Lieber, but definitely works for things like Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (which he humorously subtitled “Jews with Swords” in his notes on the novel). Princess Bride is, of course, another place this could go, though S7S also does that well.

    I will hope to see this one day at something like a Tste of Cortex Plus at Labyrinth Games.

  3. Rob Donoghue

    @evan You have quite accurately sussed out the bulk of the Bibliography.

    @morgan Somewhat, but loosely. This was pretty much zero prep, so if someone had a strong idea, people were willing to work with that (or at least tweak it amusingly), but by and large I started chargen so fast that people didn’t have a lot of time to think beforehand, so the pass-around was as much about character discovery as it was about creation.

    (As an aside, I like other player input in chargen – think shared novels – but I only encourage this kind of extreme level of it for one-shots of a lighter tone).

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