I’ve been stealing an hour here and there to work on ATTIKA, a game I’ve mentioned before.  A few weeks ago, I came across an old public domain text on life in ancient Athens — one I’d not seen before:  A Day in Old Athens by William Stearns Davis (1914).  That brief work is a thing of genius!  WSD has a novelist’s eye, and through it he brings classical Athens to startling life.  It lives and breathes, full of grime and dust and glorious architecture.  It would make the perfect companion to a game set in ancient Athens.  By using it as the setting chapters, all players regardless of historical acumen would be on the same page as far as the game’s environs are concerned.  Additionally, I could enhance the text with sidebars and text boxes filled with chronological info, quotes, clarifications, and the like.

Here’s an example, using WSD’s first chapter and a few sidebars.

I’ve also finished a rough draft of the character creation rules.  It’s diceless, based upon choice and creativity rather than chance, and the game does not make use of the standard attribute scores (Strength, Agility, etc).  Instead, players describe their characters in terms of Facts, Drives, Boons, Fears, and situational Plot Twists — all of which lends itself well to narrative game-play, rather than the more tactical play ascribed to games like Dungeons & Dragons.

If you’d like, read the character creation section and make a character.  I’d love to see the fruits of your labor, if you’d care to post the results in comments!

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3 thoughts on “

  1. I know I’ve already shown you this, but I thought I would share it here to help you illustrate this brilliant idea. It should be known that I am not a “narrative” gamer, and much more comfortable with D&D-style games. that being said, ATTIKA has me pretty excited. Anyways, my first “fruit” (not a commentary on his orientation):

    Herakleios of Sparta
    Gender – Male
    Position – Metic (immigrant)
    Concept – Outspoken Scholar and Teacher
    Arête – 2

    Boons (3)
    Had a Spartan upbringing
    Knows law, history and protocol
    Truthful and blunt

    Facts (2)
    “I have an Athenian wife and a son.”
    “I run a gymnasion.”

    Drives (3)
    “I love my son more than anything.”
    “Can I affect politics without being a part of the system?”
    “I believe every person should forge their own destiny.”

    Fear –
    My son dying.

    Plot Twists (2)
    – Counsel someone I have a relationship with.
    – Threaten violence.

    History: Herakleios was born a Spartan, and was raised in the agoge. After serving several years as a citizen-soldier, his young wife died giving birth to his son. That son was deemed unfit and discarded. It was a wound that Herakleios would carry forever.

    After the Peloponnesian War, Herakleios left Sparta under the auspice of wishing to further the new relationship between Athens and Sparta. In actuality, he had begun questioning many of the philosophies behind Spartan society.

    He has studied under many masters in Athens, and has garnered a reputation as an astute and outspoken scholar. He runs a gymnasion funded by his patron, where he instructs Athenians in Spartan-style athletics and combat, as well as discussing and furthering his own philosophies on what would make a perfect society. Though he is congenial, he does have little patience for weakness (something his Spartan roots will not let go of), and is quick to anger in the face of (perceived) chosen ignorance and dishonesty.

    Herakleios’ wife, Pelagia, is a loving wife and very typical of Athenian women. His son, Leonikles, is barely ten years old, but already shows signs of being an ideal Spartan, despite his being raised in Athens. Herakleios believes that Leonikles bears the soul of his lost son.

    • I love it, Tom! The core system (based on Principia by Tony Dowler) really does create authentically “Greek” characters. Hopefully soon I will have time to work on the rules and gameplay sections, then put it all together with WSD’s public-domain text and offer it for playtesting.

  2. Thank you for this! The novel I’m writing takes place in Sparta around the time of the Pelop War. I’ve been knee deep in Sparta for the last three years, but now in the last part of the story my MC travels to Athens. I was dreading the task of making her time there seem authentic. This seems like it will be very helpful.

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