Sunday, March 17, 2019

Relics: A Game of Angels

Over the last three weeks I've been looking at the Tarot and how it has influenced my game playing and designing over the years. This brings me handily to this week's blogpost - a review of a forthcoming Kickstarter that uses the Tarot as a game mechanic...

Relics: A Game of Angels launches on Kickstarter on the 10th April 2019
Relics: A Game of Angels really ticks some major boxes in appealing to me. First of all, it uses Tarot as a mechanic for task resolution (and other cool elements). It also is about angels, which is very cool. And also, it's written by Steve Dee who I've known from the days of playtesting Conspiracy X 2.0. Sure, I may be a little biased, but you need to see what is sure to be a very cool Kickstarter launching next month.

Relics uses the Fugue System as designed by James Wallis that first appeared in his game Alas Vegas (which I mentioned last week in the blog). In Alas Vegas the basic premise was that the characters woke with no knowledge of who or where they were, and the game gradually filled in those details as the story progressed. The Tarot cards are used for task resolution using Blackjack (or "21") as the main system. However, in Relics the characters know who they are - they are angels stranded on Earth. The memory recovery element is still present, but the players start with a definite feel for who their character is, as they struggle against demons, creatures and some humans, to try to save the world from itself. Instead of remembering who they are, the mechanic cleverly allows players to recall skills or information that will help them in times of need, filling in the character's backstory as the game progresses. The player determines the skill they need to "remember" but another player narrates the memory.

In addition to this, the angels can discover and reconnect with powerful relics that have powers and abilities that could aid them in their fight, or have the opposite effect. While the game could be a pure fight against demons and evil forces, the inclusion of these relics adds an element of hunting for hidden and powerful items, racing against time and demonic powers to gain control of them before they fall into the wrong hands.

Artwork from the forthcoming Relics RPG
I've been reading the playtest document for Relics and I'm really enjoying the use of the Fugue system for it. It seems like a perfect marriage of system and setting as the characters uncover elements of their past that can influence their actions now.

The Tarot cards are used in additional ways in Relics, coming into play in character creation (though in a faster way to that which I've been toying with in WILD) as well as generating random miracles, and other narrative effects.

It is going to be hard to review or preview Relics without mentioning other angelic roleplaying games, and this really does feel like it could be an excellent successor to the incredibly popular RPG In Nomine, (originally In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas) that was big in the late 90's. And that's not a bad thing to be compared to as I loved In Nomine. Relics also has echoes of TV series such as Lucifer and Supernatural, and movies like The Prophecy, though the tone of the game is certainly a lot darker.

Another fantastic element that the game has going for it is the design of the Tarot cards. Remember a couple of posts ago I talked about the original Mage: The Ascension game and the Mage Tarot that was produced to accompany it? It is still one of my favourite decks and the artwork is fantastic. Well, it seems that Dan Smith (aka SMIF) who did some of the artwork for the Mage Tarot, as well as most of the illustrations for In Nomine, is on board as artist for the Relics Tarot.

With that, and Steve Dee's writing, and a great use of the Fugue system, it looks like Relics could be a huge success. Definitely check it out when the Kickstarter - you can find it here!

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