07 February, 2009

AGON

On Thursday the 5th of February Andrew Smith came down from Brisbane and ran a game of AGON for us.

I've gotta say, there's only so far that you can get with theorising; actually playing a game gives it more of a visceral feel and you can really get into the mechanisms at work.

I guess it's just like drawing, sculpture, or even motorcycle maintenance in this regard.

After reading through forums and piecing together what I could from the rules I could find online, it looked like a nice system, but there were certain subtleties in the game that didn't really manifest until the dice actually hit the table.

One of the ideas in the game that I really liked was the concept of interludes.

You have scenes of dramatic action or intense narrative, where different players get the chance to compete for glory, but once players start getting injured or lose their confidence through failures, they can take a break and engage in some down time to rest. But this also gives the enemy forces in the game a bit more chance to recover their strength as well.

While you will probably gain some kind of benefit from an interlude, it really makes you think about whether resting is a good thing or not.

(I'm definitely thinking of stealing this concept for Quincunx).

Another concept is the idea of playing for the team or trying to get glory for yourself. Throughout the game a couple of times I tried to turn a few sequences into contests for the chance to win a bit more glory, it seemed in the spirit of the genre. Some I did well in, others I failed miserably (the dice gods weren't with me for a lot of my rolls that night). But it gave the game a bit more tension and I liked it.

It's a game that stands-alone quite well, but it's begging for fusions with new genres. I've heard that there is a Norse version doing the rounds, and I've seen some interesting discussions of modifying the setting to the Shadowrun universe (presumably using corporations to follow instead of Gods). Andrew suggested the Mayan pantheon as a possibility, but totems from native North American myth or other shamanic cultures would work just as well. The world that Leah has been working on was originally based off the D&D rules, but there were certain things about it that just never really felt right...I could easily see that setting being a good mesh with the AGON rules set.

As soon as I get the chance I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy to really delve into the mysteries and the full potential of the system.
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