Just ran an amazing session of Archipelago II. With dice.
A Grail Epoch is a hack (which, if you don’t play tabletop RPGs, is something like a remix or a modification) of an existing game of Archipelago II.
If you’re not familiar with Archipelago II, designed by Matthijs Holter, it’s a story game in which your character strives towards a destiny that’s partially defined at the beginning of each session.
For instance, I played a session set in a sci-fi/horror setting (think Event Horizon, Alien, Pandorum); my destiny was to pull a gun and try to take control of the situation (even though my character was hallucinating about his murdered wife). So, during that session, when some of the characters started to argue about what to do next, my character went for his sidearm, and everyone got real quiet as he started barking orders. Naturally, the other characters had a problem with his behavior, and they tried to sedate him, but when the doctor snuck up with the sedative, he tripped over a console and my character realized what was up. He didn’t take it well…
So this is what A Grail Epoch looks like:
The normal version of Archipelago requires you to sketch out a map of the locations on a piece of paper, but I thought it might be fun to use a bunch of markers and post-it notes on a large piece of posterboard, then add miniatures and props (like the catapult and volcano).
In the hacked version that I ran the other night, one of the players was a Dragon-Elven Battle Mage. For his Destiny, I wrote, “… he watches as the tears in the vial turn to blood.” So my other buddy wrote the first half of the sentence: “As meteors sent by the gods themselves rain down…”
Normally, your Destiny is written by another player, but we thought it would be interesting to split the Destiny up between two, just to see what shenanigans would ensue.
Shenanigans: during the last scene, one player described a volcanic eruption during the climactic battle. And then we all realized, at pretty much exactly the same time, that it was going to fit perfectly. Sure enough, another player narrated how the ash thickened in the sky over this wintry realm, and became huge chunks of stone that fell, like meteors, to the ground, just as the Battle Mage captured the bloody tears of the undead dragon in his vial. Destiny fulfilled. Really wonderful how it all came together.
Here’s another shot of the setup, from the beginning of the adventure:
On the lower left, the Skarh King (a bestial death-worshiping lizard-man) waits by Mount Skarh, and in the bottom center, Siuvolix, an undead dragon, sets his plan into motion. The non-character minis (like the catapult and the columns) are there to provide context clues — here’s the haunted battlefield, here’s the ruined temple, this is a sacred burial ground, and so on.
I’m typing up the hack for perusal by Matthijs, and if he gives it the Norwegian Seal of Approval, I shall release it into the wild for your enjoyment.