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#RPGaDay 7: Most “Intellectual” RPG Owned

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The Official #RPGaDay Meme

The Official #RPGaDay Meme

For the seventh day, I look at the most “intellectual” RPG I own.

Intellectual: appealing to or requiring use of the intellect. Synonyms: mental, cerebral, cognitive, psychological. This one is hard. See also my need to look up the precise definition for intellectual. Still, I could interpret it on the one hand to be “the one requiring the most mental work,” i.e. the “hardest to play” (for me, that’s Shadowrun 5th Edition, or possibly Burning Wheel). Or is it the one that inspires you, makes you think outside the box, and leads you to new lines of thinking? I think I’ll explore the latter. Also not easy.

Mystic Empyrean Element WheelIf I had to pick one, I think I’d settle on Mystic Empyrean, which is a game whose premise intrigues me but one I haven’t been able to sit down and play–yet. From what I’ve read, it appears to be a story- and character-heavy RPG that is equal parts role-playing and world-building. The main objective is to recover “Cornerstones” that can remake the dying world in your image, reflecting “the desires and dreams in the finder’s heart.” Each of the seven elements (Fire, Light, Lightening, Water, Stone, Darkness, and Air) governs particular actions you can undertake in combat, puzzle, or social encounters. Player Characters gain rankings in these elements through related Persona Traits, which abstractly represent their aptitudes as well:

Our heroes are Eidolons, beings of power who wear their souls as a skin. Eidolons are much like humans, except that their emotions, personalities, virtues, and vices take root in their immortal hearts and grant them amazing powers. Every skill, spell, or ability an Eidolon possesses is tied to some Persona Trait that resides within his heart.

An Eidolon who allows himself to be controlled by anger will gain the power to channel his rage as a great fire. One who feels entitled to things he which has no right will gain the power to devour others and steal their hearts. An Eidolon who desires to impress and mystify others will gain the skill to paint illusions of light and sound.

Another neat feature is that the mantle of Primary Storyteller passes around the group, and everyone is responsible for advancing the story and building the world. The rotating storyteller is balanced by the fact that each player has ownership of certain realms, story arcs, and characters, over which they have final say. It sounds like an excellent way to get everyone invested in the game.

This game, possibly mixed with a diceless game like Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, seems like the perfect engine for running a Magic: the Gathering campaign with PCs who are Planeswalkers. Another application that comes to mind is a campaign inspired by the second season of Magic Knight Rayearth, or even the plot of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (substituting Sakura’s feathers for the Cornerstones). It’s definitely something I want to try at some point.

What is the most “intellectual” RPG you own?

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