Anyone tried The Bloody Handed Name of Bronze

Hi there. As you may know, Joshua A.C. Newman (of shock: fame) is Kickstarting a new game, The Bloody Handed Name of Bronze. The game was originally released as a 16-page zine, now available as a preview of a much larger book.

Has anyone played this game yet? I love the thematic focus, the possibility for collaborative worldbuilding inherent in the Names rules, the possibility of a very short 2-player game you can play over a lunch break, and I think the “Well of Names” is just killer. I wish every game came with a mystic name generator. I am also really intrigued by how the two ‘classes’ of the game are built to offer each other aid while also putting each other into risky situations.

With that being said, there are virtually no actual plays online, and the extreme density of the text makes it difficult for me to see how it works when it hits the table (not that I mind, I actually kinda enjoy how the voice contributes to the sense of the zine as an ancient artifact). Anyone have experiences with the game they’d like to share?

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I like the game! It definitely plays smoother than the text might suggest, but you still need that storygame thing of involved and generous players. I think you’re totally right, though; it’s for sure a game that could benefit from some APs or other examples!

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Yeah! I feel that storygame vibe. It took me a couple of read-throughs to realize that the entire dramatic situations on pages 8 and 9 were probably generated by a Companion answering the questions “Where are you?,” “What do you?,” “Who joins you in this place?” Which seems like quite a bit of heavy lifting! However, the game feels very PbtA, both in terms of the dice mechanics, and how you have to collaboratively build a charged situation, then trust the PC’s impulses and the dice will set the chaos-machine humming.

If you don’t mind sharing, how did you start your session and end it, and what mechanics/procedures surprised you with their smoothness, @flatvurm? And either way, thanks for your reply!

I have no experience with this game, but I’ve been curious about it for some time. I look forward to reading about people’s experiences with it!

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I played it as a convention! I had a great time. You kind of need a table of strong storytellers for it.

The Well of Names is really great, and we generated lots of wild gods and spirits to have ill-advised deals with.

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Nice! The idea that everything has a name is something I am looking forward to exploring (imagining a Rain-Singer who knows the name of every cloud save one, or a wizard who has learned the name of Death…trouble is, she had to trade her secret name to Death to get it).

Do you feel like having someone who knows the game well is important (again, I may be conflating the difficulty of the text with the difficulty of the procedures), or is your sense that the game’s emergent rules interactions would become clear pretty quickly? (sorry that’s such a vague question!)

Hey, folks! I’m happy to answer any questions you’ve got! The book is now in print! You can also get the PDF of the Codex Edition either as a xenophiliac or when you pre-order the 220+ppg book, which will be shipping as soon as Kickstarter orders are complete!

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Hi, Joshua!

How different is the design of the free version, compared to the book? Is it closer to “same rules, with better text and presentation” or closer to “complete redesign”?

Welcome!

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Hi there, Joshua! Thanks for jumping in to answer questions. I have two:

(1) I tripped over this rule hard on my first couple of read-throughs. I think I get it, but want to make sure:

When an opponent with a name faces a companion, grant a namedealer a gold die for each attribute they have. Grant a hero a die of jet for each attribute they have and each attribute of any trophy borne by the named opponent.

On my reading: This means that, in terms of ‘task resolution,’ a Hero is way more likely to succeed when going up against other mortal champions who are wielding trophies, right? Their arena is chariots and bronze, not trickster-gods and con artistry. But in facing mighty foes they’rea risking making their Great Name jealous, either because word is spreading of the Hero’s deeds, or because their Name might prefer them to be sticking it to other Names?

A Namedealer, on the other hand, gets lots of bonus dice to get INTO deals with the oldest, mightiest, biggest Names they can find (tricking a legendary Sand-Emperor at cards, cheating Death Herself with a linguistic loophole), and if they have a big Name on their side, they can squash their opponents. But the bigger the Name they call on is, the more likelihood they have of the name breaking contract and raining wrath upon them. Right?

(2) Also! Are the short stories on pages 8 and 9 of the Preview fictionalized Actual Plays of the game? Both of them got me pumped to play a couple of duet sessions and build a tiny anthology of legends!

I haven’t played it yet but I backed it and have the PDF.

I am thinking of using it to run a Moana one shot, but I’m not sure this is as good an idea as I think it is.

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That sounds cool! Are you imagining it as using the Name-dealer rules for Moana, who’s made a deal with Maui? I really like that the Name-dealer moves don’t require a Companion to engage in violence to attain their goals, which feels really refreshing.

I was actually thinking Moana would have the ocean as the main name she uses. Maui could be a Fated Hero and his hook is a Trophy.

Or players could make new characters set after the events of the movie.

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If I understand you, then you’ve got it!

Both simply put you in a precarious situation. You’d better hope that you’ve been handling your client relations well when you go up against Hektor or Enkidu!

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I actually saw Moana for this purpose! Maui is unquestionably a trickster who can speak to volcanoes or whatever, but also a Fated Hero. Part of what’s going on is that the cultural basis is really different. Literacy isn’t a thing in their society like it is in my source material, so even a big overconfident jerk is able to access secret knowledge.

I think Maui has access to some sort of Charm The Pants Off Them action that he can take, probably instead of Lead Followers (since hat doesn’t seem to be a thing in the movie). Available consequences might be,

  • They don’t see through to your intentions.
  • They do what you want.
  • No other is made jealous.
  • They’re grateful to you. Seize one destiny as you say “You’re welcome!”
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Thanks, Paul!

The basic game design has been complete since 2015 or so. However, I’m doing a lot of unusual things, some of which are subtle, and figuring out how to express them has been a long road.

Additionally, the theme of feedback that I’d gotten from the zines was basically, “I see how to do stuff, but I don’t understand what I’m doing.” The book is very heavy on giving context through stories (one of them by a Hugo and Nebula nominee!), illustrations, play examples, and lurid description framed by plain English commentary.

The Actions are rephrased in several places, too, to help players understand when they’re triggered, who affects whom, and so forth.

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Joshua - Thanks! That’s actually really helpful.

I was watching the movie the other day and the parallels to your book struck me, and then that day the new pdf came to my inbox! I read it and saw about a 90% alignment, but was worried about the other 10.

I don’t have a lot of system mastery yet since I haven’t played it so there’s no way I’d be able to confidently hack it yet. This is useful.

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