Last night I played the game Everway for the first time. It’s been a curiosity that’s sat on my shelf for years but never used beyond one character generation session with a friend many moons ago. So last night my gaming group at work played it. And… It was surprisingly great.
I’m actually rather shocked at how well the game proceeded. The scenario I’d planned for the evening had to be abandoned because not enough people showed up so I improvised something completely new. The game proved quick, snappy, and the players seem to really enjoy themselves. Afterwards I was wondering why it all went so well. I think there were a few reasons that it worked:
The first was the pace of play. Because the rules are minimal everything moves at a very fast pace and nothing gets bogged down. People aren’t looking for some stats hidden on an elephantine character sheet. This keeps the players more engaged. I truly think having to stop and look things up or figure parse a gain mechanic yanks most players right out of the game’s story.
The second thing advantage was the vagueness of the rules. This allowed for wild, creative, and downright fun interpretations of what the hell was going on. People didn’t stop to look up exactly what their powers did, they just used them. Much of this worked in this particular game setting and I’m not sure this would be such a good thing in all genres. Classic Dungeons & Dragons or pulp settings might long for more defined settings.
There were also things that didn’t go so well:
The most glaring flaw was that the binary nature of the card drawing that left no room for the scaling of abilities. Two characters attempting an identical difficult task, one with a high score and the other with a low both have a 50-50 percent chance of succeeding. That’s a problem. You can get around it somewhat by scaling the interpretation of the results to match the players abilities, but that still seems very imperfect and requires a lot of work on the GM’s part.
The second one is that game’s lack of character attrition. With no hit points, or charges, or number of spells per day . So I found it challenging to present the players but the real sense of dread or of wearing themselves down as the quest continued. None of them seem to notice it, but I was very aware of it.
Also, Lack of Crunchiness
Finally, there are a number of players that enjoy wonky games with lots of numbers. There’s something about generating characters that are statistically likely to succeed in a scenario that’s been statistically designed to challenge them. It feels, hmm, validating when they make it thru. That sort of crunching that just doesn’t exist in Everway. It wasn’t a problem at all in last night’s game but I can see it being a facet that would turn off a lot of certain types of players.