Art Preview: Conflict & Madness

Posted: December 10, 2011 in artwork, games, Memories & Madness, storytelling
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s another of George’s stunning interiors for Lost Days of Memories & Madness to keep you busy whilst I talk about the mechanics at the centre of the game: memories, conflict and madness.

We talked about memories last time, so this time I’ll talk about how they fit in with the mechanics of the game when the dice hit the table. Remember in my last post I talked about bidding for memories, and how the amount bid for a memory was its value? Well, in a conflict, you get to roll a number of dice equal to the value of any related or relevant memories, so the more powerful a memory, the more potent it is when you draw upon it in a conflict.

The dice in question are D6s and you roll them as a big pool. Much like in Sorcerer, Cold City and Covenant, you’re looking to get more dice of a higher result than your opponent.  I find there’s something oracular, akin to casting the bones, about fishing through a dice pool looking for high dice and sorting out the result. If you have more dice higher than the opponent, you’re winning the conflict. Note the use of the present tense there, because it’s not a done deal yet.

Players – all of them, not just you and your opponent – can then get involved influencing the outcome, reflecting the long, drawn out Machiavellan back and forth of elven intrigues. Influence is applied by spending coins – the other currency aside from memories, gained as tribute for winning conflicts or selling memories – and for every coin spent a dice on either side can be added in or re-rolled. Only once every player has passed his turn to apply influence is the winner determined. But it’s not just blind coin pushing and dice rolling, as each time a coin is spent the player must narrate how his elf influences the conflict, no matter how distant and removed the influence might be, creating this slowly building narrative intrigue potentially spread over years.

The final twist is that once the winner is determined, both sides take one last look at the dice pools for any 6s and 1s. 6s garner bonus coins, whereas 1s… oh 1s are treacherous , they bring nothing but madness. Madness reduces the value of a memory, turning it into a madness coin on your character card. Short term, madness coins can be used against you, opponents able to spend them as though they were their own coins, but long term madness is where the whole tragedy kicks into a higher gear.

When an elf has more madness coins than the combined value of his memories – and this might happen swiftly, for an elf might find himself without many memories all of a sudden if picked upon by his fellow courtiers – he descends into madness, forever going insane and exiting the story. But that’s not the end for the player, for they get to take on a far more delicious role… that of the creeping ruin about to befall the Eternal Court.

And that’s what I’ll be talking about next time.

In other news, although I’m out of print copies in the Steampower shop, you’ll be able to find it in all good online retailers (I recommend Leisure Games in London), and of course the PDF is available from RPGNow.

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