Posted on February 14, 2016 by Flames
As Atlantis falls, how will you use your fate? Where will you stand in the face of the coming wave?
Chariot is a fantasy role-playing game set just before the final fall of an occult, theosophical Atlantis tempered by my boyhood imagination. It uses Tarot cards rather than dice, and has a heavily occult and magickal flavour to it.
Game Designer Howard Ingham is currently running an IndieGoGo campaign for Chariot and stopped by the Flames Rising office to offer up a guest post about the project and some of his inspirations for the game.
CHARIOT – Roleplaying in an Age of Miracles
This is Atlantis at its end, just before the final catastrophe, an empire built on slavery and conquest with nowhere left to annex, fallen into infighting and complacency.
You play one of the twenty Fated Witnesses, the ones who bring the world into its next age.
You have a boon that no one else shares. The Fool at the Edge of the Precipice always comes out unscathed. No one will ever raise a hand in violence against the Prophet of the Lost. And the Invincible Charioteer will never be defeated in battle.
And you have had a vision of the day you’re going to die. Nothing you can do will change that, and you cannot die before that. You’re not going to survive the end, but you know the end is coming and it’s up to you to decide what you’ll do. And who’ll you’ll save. Your life is not at stake, but so many others are, rich and poor alike. Will you take this final chance to bring some sort of justice to Atlantis, with its glorious riches and crushing poverty, its arrogance and sadness, beauty and horror?
Where will you stand, in the face of the coming wave?
So this is Chariot. I’m Howard, and I wrote a bunch of books for role-playing games a few years back, mostly for White Wolf. This is my own project.
It’s pretty much written now and it’s funding – http://igg.me/at/ChariotRoleplay – and if you contribute you can see the 99% complete playtest draft right now. I’m happy to say that although it’s still got a fair few weeks to run it met its admittedly modest funding goal in its first three days. This surprised me, because I had always thought it would be a pretty hard sell.
This has been, by design, a one man show. It is, so far, all my work, every image, every word (if I meet my stretch goals, my friends Malcolm Sheppard and Stew Wilson are on board to write more, and let’s hope they do, because everyone benefits).
The game uses Tarot cards rather than dice, and draws on the symbols they carry to advance the game’s story (the stilted, slightly static look I gave the images is mainly because nearly every one is a card from the Tarot deck I’ve made to go with the game). By having characters who can’t die and who automatically win or cannot lose certain kinds of conflict, I’ve directed the drama of the game towards the lives of other people – so for instance, by having one character who cannot ever lose a violent confrontation what I’ve actually done is taken violence off the table as a gameable thing, meaning you have to concentrate on what comes before the fight, and what comes after.
Nothing I have ever designed in this field more encapsulates who I am. The game is a biography of my imagination. I have poured myself into it.
I was that kid who got into Dungeons and Dragons because I was into the occult.
Not the other way round, mind, as the people who orchestrated the Satanic Panic of my childhood would have you believe (as if having Magic Missile on your character sheet somehow made you think you could contact the Real Forces of Darkness). My Dad collected books on the occult and the supernatural. He read Prediction every month, in the days when that magazine was a glorious mash-up of astrological advice, conspiracies, True Supernatural Tales and magickal workings. His shelf was all Lyall Watson and Paul Devereux and biorhythms and Soviet Psychic Discoveries and… and, well, Atlantis.
I was banned from reading that stuff. Of course I used to sneak looks at it all the time, and the one book I would go back to was called Mysteries of the Lost Lands, which I still have, where I first encountered Atlantis and Lemuria.
And not the Ancient Greek Atlantis, although that was the starting point, the Atlantis of the Theosophists, of Blavatsky and Steiner and Scott-Elliot. The dream Atlantis.
Lemurians as three eyed giants with dinosaurs on leads. Blue Rmoahals. And sky-chariots, stately flying ships powered by the generative potential of an acorn.
It lit up my imagination.
When I got into Dungeons and Dragons a little later and began my tempestuous and fervent lifelong relationship with it, it was obvious I was going to make an Atlantis. I wrote my own game rules (they were simple, I remember, four stats and ten skills) and added my own take on the setting to it, filled with maps and drawings.
I only had my Dad’s books to go on and filled the gaps in the world with Blue Women and Silverskins and Unity Vines and flying islands and Lemurians and Rmoahals that, I would later realise from deeper reading into the imaginary worlds of the mystics, didn’t really reflect the source material quite as much as I thought they had.
I clung to that Atlantis, and about this time last year I decided to throw myself into making this my project, but that it was going to be my Atlantis, with the things I’d invented as a boy, with all the anger about poverty and class inequity and fascination with Western Occultism I always had, and all those tiny autobiographical details that you won’t see if you don’t know me well, but which are, I assure you, there. I kept every rough edge and kink, and yes, I rewrote it and made it make some sense.
But substantially Chariot is the same Atlantean world I made as a boy, fueled by Prediction magazines and cheap books about lost lands, the meeting of my Dad’s library, which I have inherited, and my own life.
Sending a thing like this out into the world is a risk, it really is, but hell, why not? This is me. This is the thing I made. And if you like it, I would love to share it with you.
Find out more information and back this project at IndieGoGo.com!