Day 7 – Most “intellectual” RPG Owned
All RPGs can be really ‘intellectual’ or really ‘silly’ depending on the group so this is a bit open to interpretation. I’m ruling out ‘pompous’ and going to go with games which can either have a rich indepth background or need a masters degree in Math to understand how they work ;)
Actually I did have a few ideas on what I could choose from – Skyrealms of Jorune, Nobilis, Amber, Ars Magica, Unknown Armies, Tales of Gargenthir, Harn, Continuum, etc…In the end I opted to go with Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth which was published by Last Unicorn Games back in 1994.
Aria was ground breaking in the fact that the players helped develop the game world and partook in creating it’s “history” by dropping off at various points in the worlds timeline to explore and expand the story – thus there actions then becoming part of the worlds background. The game had two core rulebooks (Worlds and Roleplaying).
I’ve always loved the idea of being able to play in a larger and broader environ than a single character in a single moment of time. I love the ‘empire building’ or ‘guild vs guild politics’ and trying to outmaneuver your opponents (I think that’s why I enjoyed LARP so much as you ended up playing with potentially hundreds or even thousands of other player characters, as opposed to the same group of 4 or 5 friends whom you might be able to start second guessing). I’ve longed for a game with the epic potential of the Houses of Dune where you’d end up playing as both an individual character as well as one of the ‘inner circle’ of decision makers of your House moving the chess pieces round with possibly little care as to the ‘agents in the field’ survival – as long as they succeed at all costs!
Wikipedia has this to say about Aria….
“Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth was a role-playing game published by Last Unicron Games in 1994. Unlike many other role-playing games which centered on individual characters in a pre-set game world, Aria was intended to facilitate the creation of gameworlds, complete with cultures, histories, and politics. Players play not a single character, but a series of characters across the history of the game world, in essence playing the role of a given guild, city or culture, and telling a larger, grander story than would be accomplished with individual characters.
The emphasis for character, culture, and world creation is placed on concepts over statistics, and is meant to encourage players and game-masters to create fully fleshed-out, realistic worlds and cultures with feasible histories and politics. Magic is largely left open for the game master (the Mythguide) to decide, in terms of how magic is performed, how one learns it, and what it is capable of within the world. As with most other aspects of Aria there are no set rules on how magic has to work, which races are available, or any other aspects of the culture or world.
Aria is based on the concept of the ‘monomyth’, the fundamental story that is at the core of most if not all myths, legends and fairy tales. The system is meant to encourage and inspire gamemasters and players to come up with grand tales that not only tell a story but serve a deeper purpose and meaning, in the vein of Joseph Campbell’s assertions about myth and the Hero’s journey.”