Using Short Order Heroes In Game

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Kickstarter for Short Order Heroes.  It is a RPG that is based on descriptive cards that can be played by itself or used in combination with other games in a variety of different ways.

My cards 🙂

The cards are the brain child of Jesse Butler and Adam Ghozeil,  I have had many online discussions with Jesse and I am pleased to say that he is a great guy and deserves the success that his game has garnered him.  The cards are illustrated by Eleanor Ferron and the border design was created by Tyson Smith.  The combined skill of these people have brought to life a professional set of really handy cards to have at the table, regardless of the game system that you are playing.

I have not played either set of rules that are supplied with the game.  The core rules that are designed for play with the cards alone and a second set of rules written by Morgan Weeks (another great guy) writes a set of rules to use the cards in conjunction with the FATE Core rules,  Don’t get me wrong, I have used them in combination with the FATE rules just not as Morgan has suggested here.  I have a deck of cards just over 150 in number(I got some extras to the base deck because of the Kickstarter).  On each of those cards is a descriptive word and an image that pictures that word in action.

I have had these cards for a long time and I have been remiss in taking them to a gaming table.  The first time that I did was the recent game of Lords of Gossamer and Shadow that I ran online and I wondered why it had taken so long to get these together!  I use the cards by drawing a hand of five cards when a major NPC is met and I discard two of the three cards to make up the attitude of the character as they are met by the PC.  For example, say the players walk into the den of a medusa and they are attempting a diplomatic approach to gain an item that they need to power the toothbrush of Zod.  I draw five cards.

The draw for my major NPC…

As you can see, I am presented with a choice of cowardly, observant, wicked, heroic and clumsy.  I set to thinking about the purpose of the medusa and realise that the use of clumsy would be the antithesis of what I was chasing but so is heroic,  I take those two cards and end up with cowardly, observant and wicked.  These three work really well for me as I want the medusa to test them based on her observations of the group.  She will attempt to have them back into a corner but if the party is strong enough she will back down and give them access to what they want, at a price.

I have never had a hand come out that did not give me a combination that I could not use and they make my NPC’s spring to life in game as I play to their attitudes built from the cards.  And of course it need not stop there.  These cards are also to bring your more two dimensional NPC’s to colour as well.  they meet the town guard?  Well I draw three cards and follow a similar process.

My hand drawn…

As you can see again, I have drawn a hand of polite, dreamy and stoic.  I am still going to discard two of these cards as for a bit part character I really only need the one hook.  You may think that I would leap at stoic for a town guard but I don’t tend to work with the obvious.  Either of the other cards really appeal to me a lot more than stoic.  I imagine them in play and decide that these two offer two different opportunities.  Firstly, if I play the guard as polite the players will be suspicious and unnerved.  they are not used to polite guards and that would give me a bit of a giggle.  Alternately, if I play him as a dreamy character I can really picture him as a young blonde haired guard who thought his life would be in the theatre but his Dad was a guard and so he had to be too.  See how this really makes the character come to full colour.  I discard stoic and polite  to come up with the deeper character that it prompted from me.

So, that is how I use them in play.  They are brilliant!  When I am not GMing then I am likely designing and I can use these cards just as well there predetermining their attitudes and personalities in a diverse and fun manner.  Heck, I just like looking at the cards and the illustrations.  The other beauty of these cards is that they are system independent.  After all, the descriptive names are just about personal condition more than anything else!  Sure, something with alien desires like Cthulhu may not match them but most everything else will!

After all that there is still more (I feel like I should mention steak knives).  I found my youngest son reading the cards and then found him using some words that were on the cards in the right context later on.  These cards are like flash cards!  My son has a language problem according to his school where he was having trouble connecting words to actions.  These seem to be helping some way with that, especially with actions at least.

So, where do you get the deck I hear you ask.  Well, the cards are available at your Friendly Local Gaming Store (FLGS) and if you can not find them there then go to the Calico games website and order them direct from them online.  Currently it is the basic deck of cards but from memory I think I saw a post from Jesse recently (17 April actually) stating that an expansion to the game is almost ready so I am excited.  Keep an eye out for that and I will hopefully do a new post about the expansion when I add it to my own deck!

Seriously, I am kicking myself for how foolish I have been for not breaking these out in my game sooner.  They make giving the NPC’s individual personalities a) easy and b) fun for the GM.  Get your hands on a deck and start practicing yourself.  Or use them as an RPG on their own.  it would be a great way to run an impromptu game when you can’t be bothered working your way through a more involved game set.  Oh and for the proper version of this game you won’t need dice either.  Buy a pack to find out why!  Keep rolling!

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