Everway is a fantasy role-playing game  first published by Wizards of the Coast under their Alter Ego brand in the mids. Its lead designer was Jonathan Tweet. Marketed as a "Visionary Roleplaying Game", it has often been characterized as an innovative piece with a limited commercial success. Wizards later abandoned the line, and Rubicon Games purchased it, and published several supplements. The line was sold again to Gaslight Press in February
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This post is part of the Dyvers Favourite Game Project. People complain that EVERWAY was too politically correct, and speaking as a guy whose published ouvre is perhaps littered with more sodomy jokes than are strictly necessary, they may have a point.
No game since has looked this good, full stop. Greg Stolze. Everway arrived on the crest of the Magic the Gathering wave in the mids in a huge box stuffed full of art cards and nicely designed character sheets. Aaaaand… it flopped. But why? Well, it was expensive compared to the perfect-bound offerings. I heard that WotC refused to allow sellers to carry MtG if they would not also carry Everway , though that could be apocryphal.
I do know that the extra vision cards were sold as random boosters, which made sense for MtG when players would buy and trade, but for a roleplaying game where the GM often provides all the moving parts at the table the market for collectable vision cards is already vanishingly small. I picked up my first set for pennies in a remaindered book shop. So commercially it may have been a questionable venture, and something that would not have happened had WotC not been making absurd sums from the CCG market.
Everway is a game of Heroes who travel to other Spheres and Realms via Gates , doing Quests along the way. Well, maybe.
The more obvious parts are the images in Vision Cards and the Fortune Deck , as well as the character sheets. Feast your eyes:. Whether Tweet intended this or not, the repetition around the number 3 has a mythic resonance to it.
Likewise the use of four elements in the character sheet has a numerological quality. And notice also that heroes are constructed around both the number 3 for their metaphysical Virtue, Fault and Fate and the number 4 for their earthly Fire, Air, Water and Earth scores. But deeper and more resonant still is the way the Fortune Deck is central to the entire game — as a metaphysical principle, in the in-game fiction, as a tool on the table for the players and GM to generate random results.
If all this seems a bit New Age for some… well, yes. Everway is like that. It is perhaps the ur- hippy game — laced with symbolism and so politically correct it hurts. But try not to hold that against it. Where is this person? What, if anything, does he see in the water?
What is the most important thing he has ever done? What does this place mean to him? These questions are directed at both the GM and the players. Typically the players pick 5 cards during the Vision Stage of character creation, and the GM will use more cards during adventures. Pretty good value, eh? But what Everway does is teach these really useful techniques, putting the use of art and open questioning at the heart of the game. If that were the only thing that Everway did it alone would be worthy of praise.
Any game can just swap out dice for cards. The genius of the Fortune Deck is the way it repeats as a theme throughout the game, both as a thing on the table and an object in the game world:. Functionally the cards are like the Major Arcana in the Tarot, with upright and reversed meanings. There are a lot of opportunities for the in-fiction uses of the deck. Like, what interesting new form can the Fortune Deck take? Like a massive clock tower in the centre of a city, proclaiming hourly divinations?
What if the cards are drawn by putting your hand into a box with a scorpion inside? How would the population respond to such readings? How easily can they be ignored? The Fortune Deck is also the constant that the Heroes can observe, when everything else changes as they travel through different Gates.
The PCs see the Fortune Deck objectively, but to the people of the many Realms they pass through, their way of interacting with the deck is the Way. Personally I dig the whole cosmic patterns repeating on a human scale, but it could easily be pushed to the background.
The total number of elements are also low, meaning they stay within the constraints of working memory. The other part I want to mention is Powers. With 20 points to spread amongst Elements a 3-point power is a big deal, but then it should be.
Everway is more of a premise than an actual setting. It goes on at length about its many families, locations, politics such as the adoption of family name along the female bloodline.
I guess some people will be put off and others will say these elements make the setting more mythic and dream-like. World design is mostly topological. Still, I think Realm creation is genius, both for simplicity and the way it engages with both heroes and the fortune deck. The Fate of the Realm provides the crisis or decision that affects the Realm and the Quest and the Usurper ties the Realm directly into the Fortune Deck — both of these are mechanically supported by the game props.
So, this is Everway. All of these can be tagged as a sort of mythic narrative game, though none as cohesive as Everway , or as tactile. But in the age of diverging approaches to RPGs where the OSR and retroclones, GMless story games and the like, I think it represents a separate genre — a sort of mid-nineties minimalism that I keep coming back to.
I even like that it flopped. And I agree with the comparisons to various forms of synthesized esotericism, such as Blavatsky. I enjoy games in which you can cut lose within an implied structure.
As it happens I use the Vision cards in my game of HeroQuest 2. They are beautiful cards, and it is a pleasure to find a use for them. Thanks too for the mention of HeroQuest. I will return the favour when I write my HeroQuest 2 article for my essay as part of the Dyvers project. Skip to content. This post is part of the Dyvers Favourite Game Project People complain that EVERWAY was too politically correct, and speaking as a guy whose published ouvre is perhaps littered with more sodomy jokes than are strictly necessary, they may have a point.
Greg Stolze Everway arrived on the crest of the Magic the Gathering wave in the mids in a huge box stuffed full of art cards and nicely designed character sheets. Feast your eyes: A bit less obvious is the symbolic use of numbers — the repetition of the number 3 for example: Three modes of resolution Karma, Drama and Fortune Three kinds of powers Frequent, Major, Versatile Three-stage divinations Virtue, Fault and Fate Whether Tweet intended this or not, the repetition around the number 3 has a mythic resonance to it.
The cards are beautiful, too: Functionally the cards are like the Major Arcana in the Tarot, with upright and reversed meanings. Fluff and World Building Everway is more of a premise than an actual setting.
Karma is about work ; if the task is something the character ought to be able to succeed at, they will succeed. Fortune is about fate ; if you want to submit success or failure to the cosmic will, draw a card. Final Remarks So, this is Everway. Hi Ralph, Great piece on Everway. All the best, Phil. Pingback: The Trindie Triangle. Pingback: Remembered with Honour: Lace and Steel.
In Loving Memory: Everway