Tuesday, November 3, 2009

De Profundis: A GM-free RPG

Michael Oracz’s De Profundis initially caught my eye on Chaosium’s catalog because of its Cthulu theme (though it's not related to Chaosium’s own Call of Cthulu game) and because it described itself as “GM-free”. To me, this marks it as an even more direct relative of the Exquisite Corpse than other role playing games.

It’s a softcover book of about 30 pages, and in many ways is really just a primer of psychodrama, although as the author points out, one intended for fun, rather than as therapy. Indeed, the back of the book carries the warning “This game is intended for mentally stable adults” which itself evokes the Necronomicon’s sanity stealing power. The game is meant to be played via postal correspondence, and though I can see some subtler aspects of play being lost by not following that format, I think it would work very well in a web forum play by post format or even just by email. An example of solo game play is described in the book. Here though, I believe the notion of De Profundis as a game is probably stretched to the breaking point, and perhaps better described as method acting or rather, method writing.

Oracz best summarizes psychodrama as game in an article which previously appeared in the (Polish?) gaming publication Portal (#3), which he includes here in the appendix. There, one can find examples of play, descriptions of typical features of psychodrama, and examples of useful devices. This appendix is probably the most lucid part of the book - the rest of it is itself an example of game play and a bit surreal, moving from description of the game and its elements to personal accounts of creeping madness and Lovecraftian horror and then back again.

I plan on setting up a forum for purposes of playing this game if anyone’s interested. The setting will initially be an island with several isolated research stations, though of course you may enter play and locate yourself in the world wherever you choose and in whatever capacity you like.

8 comments:

Jetmaniac said...

I confirm - "De Profundis" was first published in Poland. Michał Oracz is probably more famous for his board game "Neuroshima Hex" (which, by the way, is also available outside of Poland).

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

Hmmm... I might be interested.

ze bulette said...

I'll put up a link here to the forums once I get it sorted out in a few days.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

Groovy. I'll be looking for it.

Chris Creel said...

I'm game too.

Post confirmation = splar

Nick said...

I may already be in it.

ze bulette said...

The forums are set up although the first play post has not yet been entered. You can register and play here: http://www.coldmonkeymountain.com/forums/

ze bulette said...

@Axe & Chris - you two have reserved slots if you're still game...

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