Cut Up A Thousand Nights and a Night

I built the Thousand Nights and a Night (1001 Nights) cut-up book on Friday and had a little play with it this weekend. I set myself a challenge of trying not to have to pin myself down to a game system until I absolutely had to. I started out with no character sheet, just the cut-ups and a basic oracle.

My oracle I am coming to call my advantage oracle. It doesn’t matter what dice you prefer, it works the same way with 2d4, 2d6 or 2d100.

You roll two of your favourite dice, twice. Above average rolls are yes, everything else is a no. The higher you roll the more emphatic the yes, the lower the more emphatic the no.

If the question is more likely to be yes, you higher of the two rolls, if the question is unlikely to be yes, you take the lower of the two. On a straight 50/50 or ‘don’t know’ you just pick the more extreme of the two rolls, the one further from the average result.

What I like about it that regardless of the game system I am using, it is quick and easy to adapt the oracle to fit. I can swap yes and no for roll low systems, I can swap out the dice to match the dominant dice in the game, and nothing really changes. I am not relying on modifiers I may forget, or tables to look up the result.

d6s are my go to dice, so that is the default grab for an oracle roll. I prefer high as yes, because I feel high rolls should be good rolls.

So off I started. The adventure started with me being pulled out of prison and taken to an audience with a wealthy merchant and a royal Prince. The Princes daughter, a hand maiden and the Princes royal jacket had all been stolen, and the thief had used a network of secret passages that ran around the city, and even into the palace, to commit the crime.

If I agree to catch the thief, I will be pardoned for my crimes and will walk out free. Refuse and I die in the mornings. With motivations like that, it was an easy choice to make. I am soon shown a secret door into the secret passage network.

I next started to explore the passageways and decided that they have entrances and exits all over the city, and used the cut-ups to try and decide what sort of place I step out into when I leave a passage. for example dress of honour, and // the foe’s blood, he’ll // a spark of fire. Suggested an artisan armorer, creating fine shirts of mail.

Rather than making any kind of skills test for things like Awareness or Perception I imply rely on oracle questions. I am assuming that the princess does not want to be abducted, and would be making a fuss, and resisting the thief. This means that I can ask, can I hear any commotion, like that of a princess being dragged through the streets? That is a yes no question, and I assumed the answers were unlikely, roll twice and take the lowest result, as the abduction didn’t just happen, there has been a time delay between then and now.

I scooted around a few locations, artisan workshops here, a market, a tailor’s stall, and then I hit upon the idea of asking the street kids and beggars. Assuming that they were mostly stationary all day, they may have seen comings and goings. these questions I made 50/50, and after a few inquiries in a few places, I got a hit. I was back in a fairly wealthy area. I then asked if the princess appeared well, and got a yes, answer. Was she in distress, and got a no. Was she going willingly? yes.

So, all of a sudden this doesn’t look so much like an abduction at all. Right back at the beginning of my adventure, the cut-ups had suggested that the thief may be in some way entitled to the things that he stole. I am now wondering if it is not the royal coat that he was entitled to but maybe the thief and the princess were maybe in love or betroved? This is more of an elopement or running away rather than an abduction.

This puts me in an awkward position. Do I drag a kicking and screaming princess back to her father, having probably just killed her lover, which doesn’t sound very heroic to me, or do I let the young couple go, but when the prince finds out that I have abandoned my duty I am likely to be killed very shortly after being caught. Neither option sounds good!

I also think that the prince knows full well who has taken the princess, and has set me up. There is also a problem of do I now know too much to be left alive?

I decide that I will track down the princess and the thief and confront them, and tell them my story so far. How much worse can it get?

This is the end of my adventures so far and I still haven’t needed a character sheet or any game rules outside of the cut-ups serving up GM descriptions and the yes-no oracle.

This has been quite fun, but it is a long way from Coriolis, which is what I set out intending to play!

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