Wickedness is a tabletop role-playing game (RPG) that explores the themes of sacrifice, power, and community through the lens of three witches who must maintain the balance between two opposing realms. The game is designed for three players and one tarot deck, with no dice or game master (GM). The players create their characters, settings, and plots by following the rules and prompts of the game.
The game is set in a world with two realms: the overworld and the underworld. The overworld is the realm of light, life, and order, while the underworld is the realm of darkness, death, and chaos. Both realms are greedy and hostile and seek to expand their influence and destroy their counterpart. The only thing that prevents them from doing so is the balance, a delicate and dangerous equilibrium that keeps both realms in check.
The balance is maintained by a coven of three witches, who have been chosen by fate to be the guardians of the world. The witches have access to both realms and can use their magic to manipulate them. However, their task is challenging, as they face many threats and challenges from both sides. The overworld sees them as outcasts and enemies, while the underworld tempts them with promises and lies. The witches must also deal with their issues, such as their relationships, goals, and morals.
The game follows the story of the witches as they try to protect the world from destruction while coping with their actions’ consequences. The game is divided into four chapters, each representing a season of the year. Each chapter consists of several scenes where the players draw tarot cards to determine what happens next. The cards provide prompts for events, conflicts, tasks, and choices that shape the narrative. The players take turns narrating what their characters do and say and describing the world around them.
One of the unique features of Wickedness is that it offers three different settings for the game: classic fantasy, urban fantasy, and cyberpunk. Each setting has its flavor and tone, as well as different character options and plot hooks. The players can choose which setting they prefer at the start of the game or mix and match elements from different settings to create their own.
- Classic fantasy: This setting is inspired by traditional fairy tales and folklore, where magic is ancient and mysterious. The overworld is a medieval kingdom ruled by a tyrannical king or queen, while the underworld is a realm of mythical creatures and dark forces. The witches live in a secluded sanctuary in the woods or mountains, where they practice their craft and hide from persecution.
- Urban fantasy: This setting is inspired by modern fantasy novels and movies, where magic is hidden in plain sight. The overworld is a contemporary city plagued by crime and corruption, while the underworld is a parallel dimension of supernatural beings and occult secrets. The witches live in a secret apartment or basement, using their magic to help or hinder the people around them.
- Cyberpunk: This setting is inspired by futuristic sci-fi stories and games, where technology enhances magic. The overworld is a dystopian megacity controlled by mega-corporations and cybernetics, while the underworld is a virtual reality network of hackers and rebels. The witches live in a hacker collective or an abandoned warehouse, where they use their magic to hack into systems and fight against oppression.
Each player creates their witch character by choosing from a list of options for their name, appearance, personality, background, motivation, specialty, weakness, bond, secret, and arcana. These options provide guidance and inspiration for the character creation but are meant to be flexible and moderate. The players are encouraged to customize their characters as much as they want.
- Name: This is the name that the witch goes by in the overworld. It can be anything from a familiar name to a nickname to a pseudonym.
- Appearance: This is what the witch looks like in both realms. It can include hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, weight, clothing style, accessories, tattoos, scars, etc.
- Personality: This is how the witch behaves and interacts with others. It can include traits such as friendly, shy, sarcastic, arrogant,
- Background: This is where the witch comes from and their life before becoming a witch. It can include details such as family status,
- Motivation: This is what drives the witch to do what they do. It can be anything from personal goals to moral values or hidden agendas.
- Specialty: This is what kind of magic the witch excels at or prefers to use. It can be anything from elemental magic to healing magic to necromancy.
- Weakness: This is what kind of magic the witch struggles with or avoids using. It can be anything from blood magic to illusion magic to divination.
- Bond: This is how the witch feels about the other two witches in the coven. It can be anything from friendship to rivalry to romance.
- Secret: This is something that the witch hides from the other witches or themselves. It can be anything from a dark past to a hidden agenda or forbidden desire.
- Arcana: This tarot card represents the witch’s essence and destiny. It can be any of the 22 major arcana cards, such as The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, etc.
The game is played in a series of scenes, where the players draw tarot cards to determine what happens next. Each scene has a focus, which is the main topic or theme. The focus can be anything from a character’s arcana to a plot event to a random card. The players take turns being the narrator, who draws a card and reads the corresponding prompt from the game book. The prompt provides some information and questions that guide the scene’s narration. The narrator describes what happens in the scene and what the character does and says. The other players can also chime in with their characters’ actions and dialogues and ask questions or make suggestions. The scene ends when the narrator feels it has reached a satisfying conclusion or a cliffhanger.
The game has four chapters, each representing a year’s season: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each chapter has a different structure and tone, as well as different challenges and opportunities for the witches. The game book provides a list of possible scenes for each chapter, as well as some general guidelines and tips for playing them. However, the players can create their scenes or modify the existing ones as they see fit.
The game also has some mechanics that track the state of the world and the characters throughout the story. These are:
- The Balance: This scale measures how stable or unstable the balance between the overworld and the underworld is. The balance starts at zero, meaning both realms are in harmony. However, as the story progresses, the balance can shift to either side, depending on the witches’ and other forces’ actions and choices. A positive balance means the overworld gains more power and influence, while a negative balance means the underworld is doing so. A high balance (positive or negative) means that one realm dominates or destroys the other, which can have dire consequences for both worlds.
- The Claim: This score measures how much each realm has claimed or corrupted each witch. The claim starts at zero for each witch, meaning they are free and independent. However, each witch can gain or lose claim from either realm as the story progresses, depending on their actions and choices. A positive claim means that the overworld has claimed or corrupted them, while an adverse claim means that the underworld has done so. A high claim (either positive or negative) means that one realm has taken over or transformed them, drastically affecting their personality and appearance.
- The Wisdom: This pool of cards represents each witch’s knowledge and insight. Each witch starts with three wisdom cards randomly drawn from their arcana suit (for example, if their arcana is The Fool, they draw three cards from the suit of Wands). These cards can be used to gain an advantage or avoid a disadvantage in certain situations, such as performing magic, solving problems, or resisting temptations. However, these cards are discarded and cannot be regained once used.
The game ends when either:
- The balance reaches +10 or -10, meaning that one realm has destroyed or consumed the other.
- All three witches have either died or become fully claimed by one realm.
- The players decide that they have reached a satisfying conclusion for their story.
Wickedness is a game that offers a rich and immersive storytelling experience for those who enjoy fantasy, drama, and magic. The game is well-written and beautifully illustrated, with clear and concise rules and prompts. The game provides plenty of options and flexibility for creating diverse and interesting characters and settings.
The game’s strengths are:
- Its use of tarot cards as a storytelling device adds an element of randomness and symbolism to the game.
- Its focus is on character development and relationships, which creates emotional depth and tension in the story.
- Its exploration of themes such as sacrifice, power, and community challenges the players to make meaningful choices and face brutal consequences.
The game’s weaknesses are:
- It requires three players and one tarot deck, limiting accessibility and availability.
- Its lack of dice and GM may make some players feel lost or confused without some guidance or structure.
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