The indie RPG The Slow Knife tells a story of betrayal and revenge
Fans of indie RPGs familiar with Jack Harrison’s previous games
Will probably be surprised by the big twist on the latest project he’s developed. His hit Zine Quest Bucket of bolts is a single-player game about designing a spaceship in the spirit of favorite spaceships like the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars or the Serenity from Firefly. His other mini-games on Kickstarter, orbital as well as Artifact ask the players to design the space station setting and magic item accordingly. But his new project was funded on Kickstarter on launch day. Asks players to create something far more complex and abstract. A plot of intrigue and betrayal leads to a final act of cathartic revenge.
Harrison’s new game,
Slow Knife was designed for two to four players to participate in the process of creating and telling a story. In the spirit of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel. Count of Monte Cristo. According to the game, the life of “a budding young soul”. Has been “ruined by a handful of greedy scoundrels” and then returns to plot inevitable revenge. Harrison tells Polygon that his passion for Count of Monte Cristo type of slow-burning political intrigue. And because of the difficulty of playing it in most popular RPGs. “I’ve found that you get a lot of stories of violent action. Both in the media and in role-playing games,” says Harrison. “You know where everyone is trying to beat the boss in a big action sequence. But there isn’t much social intrigue in RPGs, especially in games like D&D. They are not necessarily adapted in this way. So I started thinking, “How can I tell such a long-term story of social revenge?”
Slow Knife invites players into such an intrigue
Where each player answering a card is challenged to create a villain who harmed? “The Knife,” the game’s protagonist. The players then go into detail about Knife’s successful revenge campaign against them. The game is built around a deck of cards divided into four acts that structure the player’s betrayal scheme. Complete with a literal plot board, tracking connections, and important events. Yes, you can make your own yarn board to connect the dots. Though Harrison says his playtests also used washi tape or cork boards and pins.
“I love game artifacts in general,” says Harrison.
Indie RPGs that encourage players to create drawings, maps. Or other physical elements to aid in storytelling have become more common over the past few years. Especially with the advent of solo diary games built around such physical creations. Nose slow knife the string board is also designed. To help players make sense of a complex story and remind them of what story threads are still available to develop.
“In a more direct John Wick stories, you can keep the characters in your head – you go from point A to point B, it’s pretty easy,” says Harrison. “Whereas with a social story, it really helps to see all the complex connections and who you’ve introduced in the course of the game, which allows you to try to close the loops and tie it all together.”
Harrison says slow Knife is specifically designed to help budding role-players
Or group storytellers find their footing—or, in the same vein. To help experienced players tell a particular story—because it asks probing questions and creates clear boundaries for the story’s form. Like other non-GM RPGs such as For the queen or Carolina Death Crawl, slow Knife guides players through a specific storyline. Inviting them to personalize and define it for themselves.“What I really like about fast games is that they give you a framework for action,” he says. “They tell you something true about your character or the world and then ask you to make it interesting, expand it and integrate it into the story yourself. You are never asked to come up with something from a single piece of fabric; you always tell a little story.”
But at the same time, the form slow knife history is predetermined;
it can take place in various conditions. The game helps players create their customizations, or they can try out one of three additional playsets that answer these questions in advance. The action of one of them takes place in France in the 19th century. The other is a sci-fi tale of health-obsessed aristocrats aboard the Arcadia Prime, a luxurious space station orbiting an ecologically devastated Earth. The third-place the story in a high fantasy court, “the main domain of the high elf elite.”
However, in all cases, the story leads to the same place.
According to Harrison, during playtesting, he shows the game’s last card at the beginning, revealing Knife’s revenge clues and what the players’ villains do after that. “Everyone knows where history is leading and what they are aiming for,” he says. “It gives people the ability to steer the story towards Knife’s revenge while still giving them enough flexibility to tell the story they want to tell with their character.”
Harrison says the finished game will include safety rules to make villains look “fun-bad” instead of evil,
To make people uncomfortable at the table. “Evil is not necessarily fun to play or watch,” he says. “But when people create these real bastards, it’s nice to plan their downfall and be responsible, with full dramatic irony, for putting them in these situations where they’re going to doom themselves to more and more failures and less satisfaction. There’s some comedy in there that was very enjoyable during playtesting, watching these villains prepare to fall.”
And in slow Knife, this fall is – as the description says – inevitable.
“I decided pretty early on that I wanted the idea of the villains winning out of the discussion,” says Harrison. “It was not a story that I was interested in telling. I think it’s important to close this loop and pay for all the evil they did at the beginning of the story, even if it doesn’t always reflect what’s happening in reality. I can’t speak for everyone’s politics, but I really like the idea of wiping out a bunch of evil rich people in the world we live in, even if it’s a little fantasy!
The slow Knife is now on Kickstarter, and the campaign will end on March 21st.