New York Crossings

New York Crossings

N.YX by John Grümph

"N.YX Fantasy Urbaine" is a french diceless roleplaying game by John Grümph, a prolific author and illustrator. He creates original games and also translates and illustrates english works to French, for instance, his version of HârnWorld is beautiful.

N.YX is diceless, its mechanics are inspired by Amber and Dream Askew. The gamemaster and the players stack success levels against difficulty levels. Creativity, compromises, and karmic debt help the players up their stacks.

There are no hit points, each character has a "health monitor", presented as a clock, three slightly tired quarters (zero to 3, 3 to 6, 6 to 9), three wounded slices (9 to 10, 10 to 11, 11 to midnight), beyond midnight the characters is inconscious or dead.

The background of the setting is current day New York City, hence N.YX, but the author suggests limiting oneself to the island of Manhattan. Wikipedia and Google Streetview to the rescue.

N.YX is not meant for a one shot, there is work to be done by the gamemaster and the players to add a parallel world under/in Manhattan and such work only bears decent fruits in the medium term, campaign game.

There are a few frames for world building. There is a font of magic hidden behind a Veil. There is an Invisible World along the human world. Denizens of the invisible world know about the veil and what lies behind and some may even leverage it. Denizens of the invisible world are organized in Clans. An Invisible Board tackles issues in the invisible world, the major clans each have a delegate in the board. The identity of the delegate is usually known only to the clan rulers and to other delegates.

The invisible board has at its service the Blades of Manhattan. They protect and serve the citizen of the invisible world. The player characters are blades.

In French "lame" means "blade", it also means "card" as in Tarot card. It can also mean "bearer of a blade" (in English too, right?). The Tarot connects to the next type of character, the Arcana. They are entities with a certain power on the invisible world, they are designed by a name and a number, like in Tarot. The blade may call them for help, but the arcana's services have a price.

Choose a clan, build a team, by asking questions to the other players, construct the world with the gamemaster... Play: identify, understand, solve...

It's a short book (in French), but the second part is a wonderful mini (general-purpose) gamemaster guide. My favourite piece of advice is:

Maintain a high tempo, link the scenes, prevent timeouts. Que diable ! N.YX is an adventure and swashbuckling game, not some kind of contemplative scandinavian roadmovie.

One fun concept, since John Grümph is an illustrator as well, he has peppered the book with portraits of denizens of the invisible world, see figure below. He suggests the gamemaster closes his eyes and drop his finger on a page as a NPC character generation technique. I love that.

I'd probably print those character pages and arrange them on a sheet, a drop of a cube (remember, diceless) would replace my finger. John Grümph suggests using a toothpick.