Basic Overview of COREAC
This document contains a very brief introduction to the style, genre, and tone of the weekly game.
Open Table Principles
- Welcoming and open. New, curious, (in)experienced, drop-in/drop-out, and (ir)regular players are always welcome. Diversity and inclusivity are non-negotiable.
- Play at the table. No preparation is needed before we sit down to play. All rules will be taught at the table as necessary.
- Dynamic, persistent world. Sessions stand alone, but occur as part of a complex ongoing campaign with emergent (unplanned) narrative arcs and themes.
- Sessions begin and end in a safe fictional place (usually camp or town). This allows a different roster of players to participate from session to session and thus facilitates drop-in, drop-out play. If you are not present, we simply assume that your character is off doing something else rather than participating in the current expedition.
- Gentle power curves. Low-level characters have fewer mechanical and fictional advantages than high-level characters, but they are not otherwise substantially disadvantaged compared to high-level characters present in the group.
- Character stables. Players may create multiple characters, though they will only send one character on a given expedition (i.e. play that one character in a given session). All of a players' characters form their character stable. If a character dies, the player may immediately roll up a new character, which will then be incorporated into play as soon as possible (even at the expense of verisimilitude).
Old School Ethos
- Exploration of a shared world. The focus of the game is the exploration of a rich, wonderous, layered world. The world is populated by creatures with gameable motivations, littered with ancient sites and powerful artifacts, and inhabited by a variety of factions ripe for interaction, alliance, and intrigue. Although combat occurs, sometimes by choice and sometimes out of desperation, it plays out quick and dirty (rather than acting as the focal emphasis of play).
- Player agency. Players drive play through their characters' choices and agendas. In particular, there is no overarching
storyimposed by the Referee; rather, players cooperatively determine their agenda(s), destination(s), and task(s), and thereby shape both gameplay and the emergent narrative.
- Real challenges and consequences. The game presents genuine fictional challenges that do not have predetermined solutions, but rather rely on the players' skill and ingenuity to solve (not just requiring mechanical options listed on a character sheet). Fictional consequences, both good and bad, are allowed to unspool. Success is not guaranteed; indeed, legitimate failure is an important and meaningful part of old school-inspired adventuring.
- No "game balance" fetish. The Referee does not impose a vision of "game balance," but instead expresses clear diegetic signals that allow players to adapt to the difficulty of a given fictional situation or adversary. When players choose to face a difficult situation, they do so consciously and with recourse to clever plans, creativity, and bravado.
- Development through play. Story results from the choices that players make for their characters during play and from the consequences that follow, given the diegetic logic of the world. The game is occasionally lethal, so the most developed characters are those that are played the most often and that survive the longest. Any backstory or character development is strictly created through the process of table play itself.
- Fiction first. All action begins and ends in the fiction. For example, players may not simply call for such and such a roll ("I roll my Search skill."). Rather, they describe how and what they do, and only on that basis will relevant game mechanics be invoked.
- Transparent and honest play. Transparency in all procedures is expected from all parties (no fudging, cheating, or arbitrary applications of fiat). The Referee's role is to act as an impartial judge: to adjudicate actions fairly, to follow procedures scrupulously, and to press consequences forward, regardless of how beneficial or harmful they may be for the players. Players are encouraged to question the Referee's rulings, since a discussion of these points tends to elaborate the fictional situation and help everyone involved better coordinate a vision of the shared world.
Genre and Tone
The genre is classic sword and sorcery and horror, like that found in the hey-day of pulps like Weird Tales. (The game's tone is especially influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, and Michael Moorcock.) Tonally, Weird Fiction tales are dark, wondrous, violent, exotic, and often sexy. Unlike epic adventure fantasy (e.g. Tolkien and those he influenced), the genre has a personal, local focus and often features flawed or morally compromised characters. Horror elements are intrinsic to the genre, which also shows traces of planetary romance (and other early sci-fi). Modern "dark fantasy" is a close outgrowth of classic Weird Fiction.
For more information, see the complete rules and other game materials.