Thursday, August 13, 2009

Steal Away Jordan: Stories From America’s Peculiar Institution

Steal Away Jordan: Stories From America’s Peculiar Institution is a self-published indie RPG from Stone Baby Games with a very strong theme. Drawing from “neo-slave narratives” like Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Octavia Butler’s Kindred, it asks players to take the roles of slaves before the Civil War, an uncomfortable prospect for some players. The game needs lots of d6s and a single die marked with a skull for the 1. A character is defined by descriptive attributes that determines a slave’s Worth (expressed as a dice pool), with strong, skilled male slaves being of higher Worth than female or children slaves. A character also has 3 Goals and Motivations, each with an associated Task. Complete a Task and a Slave increases his (self) Worth. Goals and Tasks are kept hidden from the GM, but in keeping with the genre/history, the GM has the powerful task of setting a Slave’s Worth and giving him his name.

To resolve Conflicts and Goals opposed Worth dice pools are rolled to get Lucky Seven successes (paired dice that make 7). Winning minor Conflicts increases a slave’s Worth, empowering him for later major Conflicts. The Skull die is rolled for luck or desperation, but a bad roll (the Skull) can kill a slave. Playing Conjourers and ghosts is possible, but this optional supernatural element adds complexity. Designed to educate and promote historical awareness, this storytelling game needs a good GM and sensitive players to play. Underwritten, it needs developing to become a better educational tool.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I'd like to clarify that Steal Away Jordan was never intended to be an educational game, although it can certainly function as one. I intentionally kept historical minutiae out of the text in order to encourage players to create their own world and their own characters. The game is not meant to be a re-enactment, it's meant to be a table top role playing game. Historical accuracy is optional! If players want to play a fantasy or cinematic Antebellum world, there's plenty in the text (and in the references at the end of the text) to facilitate that. If players want to play a very specific time and place (something appropriate in an educational setting, I suppose), then the lesson for the day in the classroom should include those specific details.

    If people learn something, that's a bonus, but not an objective for play.

    Thanks for the review!
    Julia B. Ellingboe
    Stone Baby Games