Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sleep of Reason: A Victorian Experience of Gothic Proportions.

Last night I spent an evening with friends around a table participating in an RPG entitled "Sleep of Reason". The game is set in a Victorian era with "real" or "fiction" personifications of that time period.

Around the table are represented; Christine Daae, Victoria Woodhull, Madame Blavatsky, Jack Dawkins, and Harry Houdini. An interesting collection of characters to say the least.

Currently, we are in a small village near London. All of us arriving at said location by different means and circumstances, yet somehow there nonetheless drawn to the same goal: find a murderer.

As the story unfolds we are met with an eerie setting and a bizarre cast of NPC's that we must deal with. The backwoods village is the home of an exclusive school for girls. The village itself is entrenched with a dark history written in the blood of it's inhabitants, to which they desperately cling to, and hide as though the secrecy of it will keep them safe.

The motley group of investigators as identified above have been set to finding various clues to the murders that have suspiciously taken place, during the full moon. Our speculations are that of a werewolf [of course] however, we are not ruling out witchcraft of some sort. Either way, the events are diabolical and our group, not seasoned witchhunters, are an endless source of blunders and amusement. Both in and out of character.

Quite honestly, it is amazing that the story even progresses, and I am sure it is mostly by accident, and the pity of our storyteller.

The game uses the D & D system, which many of you may be familiar with, as am I. Though seeing the system used for this particular setting is foreign. Last night Christine came upon a "magical book". She took it back to the inn with her to investigate further, as we were in someone's home without them knowing. After getting to her room at the inn she proceeded to open the book to which a loud obnoxious whooping sound came forth from the pages.

Obviously, it was an alarm, and the book had little signifigance other than to alert it's owner that someone was meddling. It was funny though, because this setting I was just as curious about what the content of the book was as Christine's player...however if this had been the normal D & D medieval setting, we would have probably deduced that it was only an alarm right off.

My point is that the story teller, Kevin, has artfully introduced a new game using old rules in a way that can surprise the players, even those familiar with such tricks. This "alarm" book was the topic of much laughter and jest for the rest of the game, and much to the chagrin of Christine's player, who is actually quite new to RPG, though you would never know because of his ability to step into the role.

Overall I am finding this game completely different than anything that I have ever played, and I am totally captivated. I am glad to have been invited to join.

I like the dark setting, and the possibility of squaring off with Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, or Mr. Hyde at some point. I hope we get to meet the Great Sherlock Holmes, Captain Ahab or The Time Traveler. I like how as a group, we are discovering our characters strengths and weaknesses based on the research that we have done.

Perhaps one of the things I like the best about this game is the fact that I love reading historical fiction and I love dark fiction, this game is both combined. However, I am most pleased with the person I researched and finally decided to play. For one Tuesday a month, as if in an unscripted [and highly amusing] production,...I am Harry Houdini.


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