This is short review I’ve been meaning to write about Rose Bailey’s Bright & Terrible – a game about the last survivors of the great society of Atlantis as they travel a world that once paid homage to them. To quote the opening:
With the Atlantean boot no longer on their backs, the human kingdoms rejoice and throw off their regents and satraps, entering an age of giddy prosperity and bloody war.
It is this world in which you wash up upon the shore of the Sea of Sorrows. You are a noble of Atlantis, perhaps even the Indigo Empress herself. You carry with you a fell weapon from the shadow vaults, before which all must cower, flee, or simply die.
Your exile is ruled by two opposites: the Bright aspect of a once great ruler, and the Terrible aspect of a once horrible tyrant. In this way, the games resolution system reminds me strongly of Trollbabe or Lasers & Feelings – roll under or over, based on your actions.
The great bit of tech in this resolution system is in the interaction between the three colors of dice you roll – black for being a hero, red for your impending doom, and green for companions or outside aid. When different dice match, consequences are brought to bear – doom may come to pass, companions may be slain, it’s all built into the interaction of these dice.
The other system you have at your disposal is the ability to narrate a Glory or Tragedy flashback of old Atlantis – by doing this you may change the aspect used in a roll to snatch success from the jaws of defeat.
The game has short advice for playing and running it, so it needs folk familiar with role-playing. But it doesn’t need a GM unless you want one – the entire second half of the book is a series of evocative tables for generating adventures.
I’ve been sitting on that game for a while, and I regularly go to reread it. It hits that “tragic, powerful wanderer” trope so well. If that’s your thing, check it out.
At 24 pages it’s a quick read, but it packs a big punch.