Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Urutsk Rising Part II

We take up where we left from yesterday with our interview with Kyrinn Eis. 

Hill Cantons: Alongside your world, the gaming components seem to have evolved in stages too. By the looks of what you brought to NTRPG Con it looks like you are making a big qualitative jump with the game. Where's that at?

Kyrinn Eis: I have to stay more than one step ahead of the competition. In the years since I started working on Urutsk: World of Mystery, I found my focus change from trying to target the OSR, to making a product I was truly happy with. At each stage along the way, when I was a bit doubtful or aimless, an older, more seasoned gamer would come along (Rob Kuntz and then Jeff Berry) and encourage me to stick to my vision –not selling out for a quick buck and the temporary interest of a fickle crowd.

Careful readers of my blog, from the beginning, will see little hints of my planning a boxed set of rules, of non-D&Desque rules methodologies, and of my lack of complacency regarding everything from aesthetics to rules mechanisms. I love system-work, but I also have a strong artistic side, and the two have married happily with my own nostalgia and homages to bring the world I have inhabited for most of my life to this world, for others to explore with me.

HC: One of the things that made him very happy was to see that you are taking up a number of themes—domain-level, solo, and multi-level play--that I've been trying to explore myself either on the blog or in the Domain Game. Tell us what we can look forward to in your game.

KE: The boxed set's premise is that explorers, businesses, entrepreneurs, slavers, convicts on the run, and religious refugees travel from the Vrun Continent to start operations/new life on the Marnharnnan Continent. This was done to help ground readers in the setting, providing researchable topics (Early European Colonisation of the Americas) to tether them in their exploration of Vrun-ness as well as the varied terrains of the Sunken Continent.

Players can decide if this is to be a one-off competition game of several colonies (somewhat akin to, but not actually as monotone and finite as the Euro-games: Settlers of Catan, Carcassone, or Puerto Rico), a competitive campaign game, or a co-operative campaign game where Players control PCs in the same or allied communities. As exploration is necessary to find the resources needed to maintain the colony/group, new challenges are uncovered or roused from their slumber to plague the Vrun attempt to claim the virgin continent.

Secondly, the game had to be friendly towards solo gamers, and to that end, the Control Sheets and system work not to define what can be done, but to establish the foundation of what has been done in certain instances in other times and places.

This means that as a solo game, the amount of work one puts into it determines the value of play one experiences, and that the solo gamer has to live with the sense of going too easy one themselves, or taking a sense of pride in surviving more challenging play.

Solo gaming when scored against an un-moving target is essentially masturbation: Roll x to get y. But, if the scaling of the challenge is set to synch +n with the detail and involvement the Player puts forth, there is no need to speak of re-play value – instead, conversations will be of Continued-Play-Value.

HC: You have some tactical combat rules to work with this too, right?

KE: Vanguard, the soon to be released skirmish warfare and tactical RPG rules set, is designed to dovetail with the “basic combat” of the boxed set, and both are the immediate sibling of the Vrun Players' Module–the Vrun Sourcebook where why you are the way you are is explained in detail – it really ought to be thought of as a comprehensive line of interconnected parts, each of which is useful on its own merits (the VPM, for instance, may be just what grognards voicing their desire for a sourcebook that they can then stat as they see fir for their preferred system).

The complex, then, of Vanguard plus the boxed set plus the VPM and subsequent titles yields a deeply textured and detailed world setting in one period of its history, allowing for decades of play, invention, and re-combination I have only previously seen in various versions of EPT/Tekumel or Glorantha (although Skyrealms of Jorune, and perhaps Blue Planet had it in them if they had been taken in those directions).

As I have kept this setting going through every major time period in its history, I know others are capable of doing so-in the same way Tekumel and Glorantha players have been able to–to a degree of full immersion limited only by their imaginations (see the Aethervox Gamer's Tekumel costumes, let alone their collection of scale-props and thousands of vividly painted miniatures if you don't think gaming fandom can exist to Star Trek or Star Wars levels of intensity).

Do I want you and everyone else who plays an RPG every once in a while to come to Urutsk? Absolutely!

Will everyone want to make it their go-to game and setting? You'll only know for certain if you want to do so by giving it an honest try. It isn't D&D.

As Steve Winter told me at the 2010 NTRPG Con, “It isn't Gamma World”, and by extension, it isn't Mutant Future or X-Plorers, either. Nor should folks think that it is my version of Tekumel– Shr.d-forbid!–it is simply, Urutsk.


  1. You talk about domain-level and solo play, how about some examples?

  2. Interesting stuff! If I make it to NTRPG next year I'm planning getting some time in Urutsk.

  3. @DaveL:

    @Ragnorakk: I look forward to that! :D

    @ckutalik: Thanks again for the interest in Urutsk, and your generous offer to interview me here.
    --I'll return the favour! :D

  4. It was my pleasure.

    BTW this is the description on the boxed set (adding it here to give readers a little more detail on what it contains and how it presents itself.):

    URUTSK: World of Mystery Boxed Set

    Discover the World of Urutsk, and explore the Sunken Continent, filled with untold treasures and fearsome foes. Quest for technology that will aid your people to regain starflight, or keep the Ancient Wonders for yourself to build up a powerful colony. Reap the natural bounty of the virgin land for a tidy profit, or live in harmony with it and learn powerful secrets. Alongside these treasures and beasts are carnivorous plants, alien humanoids, and starfaring monsters vying for the same resources.

    Components include:

    * 01 20" x 30" Full Colour Map of the Marnharnnan Continent and surrounding islands

    * Custom Dice that eliminate a multitude of rules, making for faster play while maintaining strategic options

    * Colour Chips and Pawns in 8 colours for tracking Workforce, Yield, Waste, and Setbacks

    * Play Money and Active Player 'gold' doubloon piece

    * 36 page Rulebook

  5. Interesting interview. Urutsk is one of those interests that you get more out of, the more you look into it. You could get the rulebook and judge the mechanic for it's merit and walk away without really knowing the game if you don't know some of the rich setting. It's bliss to find a project that has an inherent depth to go along with the dice.