This past weekend (yeah, I know I'm late with this), our RPG — the Crazy 98s — ended our Nobilis game after one and a bit sessions.
Nobilis is a diceless roleplaying game set in a fantasy world that, more or less, looks like ours. There's a little bit more evil, there's a little bit more good. The law assumes people are guilty until proven innocent. Other than that, it's pretty much like our world... until the characters are "enobled". The players play Nobles. Nobles are an aspect of reality, any aspect of reality. So, you could play the Power of Fire, the Power of Rubber Bands, or the Power of Innocence. The Power of Fire could create fireballs, engulf a city in flame, or light the way with a flame on the end of their finger. The Power of Rubber Bands is a little more difficult, as rubber bands aren't exactly lying around everywhere. The Power of Innocence is even more difficult. The character could control anyone in the area who was innocent, or alter things that made someone appear guilty or innocent.
Characters can also see different aspects of reality, including the Mythic Earth where everything has a spirit. In the Prosaic Earth a car doesn't start because the battery is dead. In the Mythic Earth, the car doesn't start because the spirit of the engine is being ornery, or the spirit of the battery has been caged. This is just a taste of the background universe. It is far more detailed, encapsulating Christian, East Indian, Japanese, Norse, and other mythologies. It would take too long to explain it all, so I'll just point you to the following sites.
The Nobilis 101 page is found here in plain text format:
Nobilis 101 is also available in an altered form as a Microsoft Word document at:
I came across Nobilis on RPG.net. I posted a question asking about roleplaying games particularly suited to one-on-one games; Alana and I are considering playing a game, just the two of us. Nobilis was the game most mentioned. It was fairly pricey, but the hardback book is gorgeous. The background was a bit dense, but intriguing. The example of play made the game look really cool. Alana started reading the rules. I let the other guys in our RPG group look over the book. Jimmy liked it so much he ordered the game himself. When we decided to replace our Hârn game, Jimmy suggested Nobilis.
After one and a bit sessions, only Jimmy still had a strong desire to play.
I'm not sure what happened. I'm still not sure why it didn't gel in my own mind. I first realized there was a problem when I was reading the rules and I was having a hard time coming up with a scenario. Usually when I read a game I get a number of ideas for scenarios, or at least one very strong idea. That didn't happen here. I had a couple of vague ideas, but nothing concrete, and nothing very clever. I stitched the scenario together, but there was something odd about it.
I have a hard time figuring out exactly what was odd. When I create scenarios for other games, I see the world as "gritty", it has texture. Walls are made of stone, the ground is dirt or grass, the sky is cloudy. It all seems "real". It's hard to explain. With Nobilis, everything was antiseptic, like the entire world was made of chrome and white plastic. Maybe the black and white art in the book, and the book's almost monochrome cover contributed to this feeling. It had the artificial feel of the last couple of scenes at the end of 2001: A Space Odyessey.
I wasn't the only one having trouble getting into the game. Jason wasn't crazy about it to begin with, but thought he'd give it a shot, and he did a good job. Alana was interested when the game began, but she had trouble getting into her character. I think she ran into the same thing I did, but because she was playing and not running the game she hit the wall at a later point in time.
Instead of Nobilis, our next game is going to be All Flesh Must Be Eaten, a zombie game by Eden Studios, using their Unisystem game system (the same one they use in their Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Army of Darkness roleplaying games). I'm still working on the scenario, still coming up with the background information. However, I have a couple of scenes in mind, and a strong idea for an initial scenario. And, in my mind, there is a lot of "texture" (mostly stone and wood grain, if you must know), a lot of details. This is a good sign.
4 Good Years
3 months ago