But first please note that what follows is how I see things, you don’t have to agree with me.
This is a set of mechanics. Not for a game but for a guide. For I don’t see these as games, but as guides. Guides to adventure so I call them adventure guides. I know, so I’ll explain what I’m talking about as best as I can.
Here a guide is a set of written instructions on how to do a thing. In this case on how to present and run an adventure for a group of players. They and the Guide, the person running the adventure, are known as “participants”, and each has a role to play in the adventure. In the case of the Guide very often a number of roles. The AG (Adventure Guide) also presents a setting where the adventure takes place, and most often that setting is placed in a world where people live and events occur.
In a sense an AG presents a fictional version of the world we know. So you could call it a “virtual reality”. While what happens during an adventure isn’t really happening, you can pretend that they are, and since they are, sort of, you can treat what is going on as actually occurring within the context of the adventure. In a sense what you have here is a sort of imaginary life and not a story in any sense.
For unlike a story in an adventure guide events are not set down. In fact they haven’t even been done yet and won’t be done until they get done. And what happens depends on what the participants decide to do, how they decide to do it, and chance. Nothing is guaranteed, success or failure.
This is how I see things, we’ll get into further detail as this work continues.
I first encountered Dangerous Journeys in 1992. After delaying after too damn long I’ve decided to at least make the basic mechanics available to a general audience, in case there are those out there who would want to use them in one of their adventure guides. This is not presented as a game in any sense of the word, for DJ (as I like to call it) is just to damn busy to be any sort of game. As I understand the term, a game is really supposed to be something simple and straightforward, presenting a limited milieu where the options are limited, the playing pieces are limited, and events don’t take long to play out.
This is the core system reference document for adventure guides. As such it is rather basic and each guide that uses it while most often present an expanded version of the mechanics. As an example the Abyss AG presents a far future world where Humanity is poised on the brink of interstellar space and the intention is to present a space opera for the players to take part in. In contrast Unhallowed gives you a guide to horror adventures, in a world where ancient maladies are rising from whatever they were forced down into way back in the day. While both have magick, and both use the basic magick mechanics, how they work specifically differs between them, and how their worlds treat the subject differs as well.
Now to get into some detail.
Dangerous Journeys is a set of mechanics for what I call adventure guides. I call them adventure guides because that Is how I see them. They are guides to adventure where one person, called the Guide, guides a group of players through adventures set in a world where adventures tend to take place.
The DJ system was designed to mode, emulate that is, the worlds of story where adventures take place. Only instead of you telling a story set in that world, you are having an adventure while playing the role of a person living in that world. Whether it is the Urth of Changeling or the Ærth of Mythus it is his home, and how he fares in his life and adventures is up to the person playing him.
His success is not guaranteed. Neither is his failure, and it is quite likely that what happens as a result of his actions will surprise him and his fellows. An enemy may become a friend. A friend may become as enemy. A traitor may become the savior of his people, while a hero can be later named a traitor.
Those who participate in a DJ AG assume a role in an adventure. The Guide presenting the adventure to the player very often plays a number of roles. How player or Guide participates is up to him, though I do hope they at least participate willingly and with some flair.
As I’ve noted before the worlds of Dangerous Journeys are meant to model the worlds of adventure stories, from the tales of culture heroes of the past to modern day entertainment. Only here what happens to the participants depends on what they decide to do, and on how the fates turn out for them.
For the players their role is to participate. To take part. To use what skills, knowledge, and abilities they have, whatever they have, in support of the others in the party. It may not be much, it may not even be entirely relevant, but at least do something for you never know just how you might influence events.
The role of the guide is to participate, to take part as much as the players do. In addition, he needs to present the world the players are adventuring in.
But one thing he should never do is make any attempt to present any sort of balance. For reality is quite unfair and how one fares depends a great deal on how he handles the unfairness. All participants are encouraged to take advantage of their advantages, and to use those advantages to take advantage of the others. For an adventure guide is not a level playing field and how one fares depends a great deal on what advantages he has and how he uses them.
Dangerous Journeys as a system reference document presents the basic system for use in adventure guides. It presents a model of reality, or of how things could work if they could work. The mechanics presented here are not entirely realistic, nor can they be realistic for very often what is possible in a DJ AG is not possible in reality. What you do, what happens in a guide such as Changeling depends on you, what you decide to do, and fortune. You may succeed, you may fail. You may be named a fool or named a hero. It all depends on what you do, on how it turns out. And on how others react to it. Load your pack, strap on the tool belt, and get ready for whatever happens. Adventure awaits, but before you start first make sure you’ve visited the facilities.
Adventure: A series of uncomfortable events happening to some poor schmuck a long ways away.
Alan Kellogg, March 28th 2019