a little bit about me: my name is cody and i’ve been playing games forever. i think this is true for a lot of my generation, with one or more parents having been inspired by the new gaming technologies of the 70s and 80s. my dad happened to be into computer games. just before i can quite remember, he owned a small computer repair store, so i was using and programming computers before school.
i can remember him working his way through POOLS OF RADIANCE and the entire GOLD BOX line. i wasn’t quite old enough to be able to play, but i remember watching and listening. a bit older, i played EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. i loved to make characters, endlessly playing with combinations of dice rolls for stats, character portraits, and anything having to do with magic. i’ve loved magic since when.
but, as soon as i started the game up, i’d watch the intro, get thrown into the dungeon, and watch the landslide of rocks seal me in. it’s a pretty vivid memory. i played it a lot, probably because i would frequently die at the first battle or be too scared to venture any further.
my dexterity was also terrible, and anyone who remembers the combat waltz in dungeon crawl/blobbers knows how essential it was to survive. i had -3 to all dexterity checks (still true now!). i loved the stories and the magic and the excitement, but i just wasn’t any good at it.
(when i got a little older i didn’t jump at digital monsters any more – well, at least until DOOM came out. and some parts of MYST. and all of 7TH GUEST…)
enter adventure games. well, no, scratch that. enter a lot of adventure games that i was also terrible at, and then enter MONKEY ISLAND. unlike SPACE QUEST, which I did love, now i could no longer die. i wasn’t racing against a clock. i wasn’t certain that any wrong choice could ruin my ability to win the game eight hours from now with no indication and require me to restart. with MONKEY ISLAND i could take my time, enjoy the characters and story, and work out the puzzles as i went. music and well executed cut scenes created plenty of suspense. no need to actually punish the player. the game taught you how to play through its narrative. it all connected back together eventually.
adventure games are still my absolute favorite genre. of the hundreds and hundreds of games i own, i probably complete about five percent. but of the adventure games i own? almost all of them.
of course, a love of roleplaying games evolved naturally. D&D (especially advanced, first edition) provided a great foundation, and my love of writing translated to dm-ing, but my propensity for deviating from the rules moved me on to other more free-form systems.
i read MAZES AND MONSTERS and found it incredibly fun to make my own game systems. making games became a huge part of playing them. i can’t play anything without a critical eye for the way the pieces come together.
anyway, by high school, i ran a more esoteric gaming group using the DRAGONLANCE SAGA system. for anyone who isn’t familiar, it was based on the popular book series and D&D campaign, but deviated so completely as to replace dice…with cards, and a roleplaying ruleset revolving around that. the card mechanics were so liberating compared to what dice had to offer, completely changing the way the players could move their characters. you could choose to keep an ace up your sleeve, use your best cards at just the right moment, or have narrative control over a failure. playing SAGA meant telling a story, with the rules adding structure.
i personally associate that difference with the cards, which is why scaryridge has a moratorium on dice. i know that’s largely my own reference point, but it is also an informed one. choosing not to use dice makes a statement: these games do things differently. you know it going it.
so, a bit about THE VIOLET SANCTION, scaryridge’s first project.
instead of a set of dice, you’ll bring your own deck of cards, which becomes part of your character sheet. as you interact with people, as choices are made, as the story unfolds, consequences will begin to alter your deck. you will take notes on them, mark out pips, even remove cards entirely.
the game reacts according to these alterations. say there’s a bar brawl, the bartender gets hit, loses an eye: cross out the spade on the ace of spades. future scenes with the bartender show the ace of spades, depicting the missing eye, and the narrative takes you down that appropriate path. perhaps different choices result in the bartender dying instead: remove the ace of spades from the deck. later, the bar is closed, until they’ve hired a new bartender.
the totality of these choices and consequences, over a longform episodic campaign, replace the dm role with adventure modules and dynamic card-based physical save states.
i’m really excited to share more about the game with everyone. look forward to glimpses at the character classes available, next.