Before Wizards of the Coast became synonymous with Dungeons & Dragons it was a small role-playing game editor. he did not acquire D&D until 1997, but two years earlier he released an influential game in its own right. Many modern game designers cite him as an inspiration which, while not necessarily financially successful, is still seen as a critical sensation. Everway was released in 1995 and opened the minds of many gamers to the storytelling experience that a role-playing game could be.
Hero from the start
Designed by Jonathan Tweet, who was going to participate in the third edition of D&D produced by Wizards of the Coast, Everway was a fantastic game that spanned different powerful worlds and characters. The titular city was at the center of several magical planes, and players set off on adventures in these strange worlds. The characters were built to be mythical heroes like Hercules or Hel; There was no need to level up after killing rats in a basement before they could cast powerful magic or fight dragons.
The game used a simple set of scores based on the four elements. Whatever the higher score, wins in a conflict. Gaining powers and magic was as easy as spending a few points and drawing a few cards full of evocative art for inspiration.
The laws of Everway
One of the key elements of the game was the Fortune Deck, which was filled with Tarot-type cards meant to be interpreted in-game. Drawing a card shifts the story question to whether a task is completed at the time. way it could be. This deck is also important for creating characters; card readings provide gameplay elements and ideas for players about what their character is and what they do during the game.
Instead of comparing a roll to a target number, the plot resolution boiled down to three laws:
- The law of karma: Does the character have the skills, training, or talent to be successful?
- The law of drama: Does success or failure better correspond to this point in history?
- The law of fortune: How does the interpretation of the card from the Fortune deck affect the course of the story?
Each Fortune card had two meanings depending on whether it was drawn face down or face down. The goal was to tell stories full of magic and heroism without getting bogged down in gear lists and clutter rules. Other games before and since Everway adopted similar tactics, but many designers cite this game as the first one that showed them how to move away from more common design styles.
A silver anniversary return
25 years later, a 2021 Kickstarter brought gaming back to print. This year’s pandemic struggles and shipping crisis slowed the release, but The Everway Company sent me electronic preview material in addition to the maps.
The player’s book includes the basics of character creation, the world of Everway and acts as a guide for the Vision deck and the Fortune deck. Vision Deck prompts ask specific questions about each image for sharper story inspiration. The Fortune Deck section provides broader meanings for each card in its two draws to expand how the table can use it to tell its story.
The Gamemaster’s Book goes deeper into the design philosophy and how to use the Three Laws to run the game. It also offers suggestions for tweaks and rule adjustments to make the gamemaster better suited to their style. Finally, there are characters ready to be executed so that everyone can jump into the game quickly.
For Dungeon Masters looking to try something very different or for those looking for advice and help with their current game, Everway offers a deep dive into the philosophies behind table games.