Day 22 of this year’s RPGaDay celebration. Nine days remain after we examine today’s prompt — rare.So many ways to take this one. I considered writing about one of the obscure items in my collection, or being whimsical and discussing the after-effects of a well-placed fireball spell… but instead, I find myself dwelling on an alternate definition of the word —
“marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal : distinctive”
Probably the most unique and distinctive game I’ve had the pleasure to peruse is Monte Cook Games’ Invisible Sun. Connor was fascinated by it and couldn’t resist investing in the Cube. I had to admit, it is a spectacular product, from both a design and aesthetic sense.
Invisible Sun is a roleplaying game of surreal fantasy. The player characters are vislae—wielders of magical power—recently returned to their true home: the Actuality, a world that seems like a surreal dream to those of us toiling aimlessly in the boring, grey realm you and I falsely believe is the real world. These characters face incredible challenges, visit breathtaking places, and discover secrets so astonishing that the only ones who can cope with them are those who understand the truth that powers the universe: Magic.
Conventional RPG game play, with everyone gathering for a few hours every week or two, is what makes RPGs a great experience. It’s also one of the greatest obstacles to a successful campaign, for our modern life rarely makes it convenient. Conventional play is the centerpiece of Invisible Sun, but the game also accommodates the realities of our lifestyles, rewards engagement with the game away from the table, and is deliberately made for differing player styles.
Play doesn’t have to stop when the session is over. Players can keep the game going—individually or in groups—by creating side-scenes that describe high level actions that their character want to take. They can also create flashback side-scenes that reveal actions their characters have already taken. This also means that even if they can’t make it to the regular session, they can still move their character’s story forward. A side-scene might cover what Shanna’s character does while she’s absent from the regular session.
Invisible Sun is that rare RPG that is physically stunning and designed beautifully, incorporating intricate, innovative game mechanics. While we do not play the game, as it does not suit our fellow gamers’ tastes, Monte Cook Games have delivered an amazing product that we enjoy exploring for ourselves.
It is the benchmark to which we look when designing our own games, and though it is impractical for what we do, we aspire to the sort of immersive brilliance that Monte Cook and Company achieved with Invisible Sun.