Authors: Ole Peder Glaever; Martin Bull Gudmundsen
Artist: Thore Hansen; Kathy Schad
System: Card Based
Publisher: Vagrant Workshop
Itras by is a surreal role playing game set in a city reminiscent of Europe in the 1920’s. The rule system is card based and focuses heavily on freeform and improvisation.
Itras by labels itself a “surreal role playing game”. It’s also been called a retro-surreal urban fable.
The setting is a city, reminiscent of Western cities in the 20’s and 30’s. In the city center, reality is relatively stable, but the further afield you get, the more it deteriorates, mutates, becomes dream-like. In the setting chapter you’ll find descriptions of dreams which have become real, mad scientists, an outline of a city strictly divided by class, sea elephants, the Machine God who lurks under the city, a gentleman with a monster in his basement, a description of the structural cancer that haunts some of the city’s buildings and much more.
We heartily encourage each group to make Itras by their own by changing, adapting, adding and subtracting.
There are pulpish elements, horror elements, creepy surreal elements, all together in a strange blend we hope will inspire.
The system is very simple and described in a few pages. The game pioneered the use of Matthiijs Holter’s resolution cards (also featured in Love in the Time of Seid and the Swedish RPG Sägen), and has it’s very own Chance Card system. The resolution cards function as a resolution mechanic, and read things like “Yes, but…”, “No, and…”, “Yes, and…” etc. The results are interpreted by players after the cards have been drawn.
The Chance Cards can be drawn once per session by each player, and serve to infuse the game with surrealism. Some examples:
Cut Scene: Jump forward three hours. Describe what conditions the characters find themselves in. You’re not allowed to describe what has happened in the meantime.
Nemesis! This card awakens the character’s Nemesis. In some way, this arch enemy affects the situation. Exactly how is up to you. Doesn’t the character have an arch enemy? Well, now she does.
What’s in its pockets? The character has something in her pocket which might be useful. What could it be?
These cards are interpreted by the player who draws them.
The book is chock full of advice on how to roleplay, be a gamemaster, plan a campaign, make an adventure, play with surrealism and more. I think it’s as good as a beginner’s game as for more experienced players.