Solo Engine RPG Battle Royale Week: Oculus Tri-Fold

Hey everyone, welcome back. Last time, Jack got arrested by the security guards because I thought lightning struck twice and the Mythic GM Emulator proved to be just as useful as ever. Now we focus on the Oculus Trifold, which actually has two versions. For the sake of ease, we will be using the updated version by Geoff Osterberg.

This is a rather unique beast among the crowd. Reading the play test, I can sum this up as being like a mix between Winter and the Nine Questions system. Basically, you are asked questions based on scenarios rolled via a dice. I like the way Oculus writes itself out. I actually feel like this would make a tabletop version of the LSD Dream Emulator. How funny that yesterday I put down one emulator and today I pick up another.

By what I mean with that comparison is that the Oculus’ story is basically “you, with your polyhedral talisman, can see alternate universes and it’s up to you to write your experiences with the talisman down” and it has a nice bit of world building to it with the concept of Familiars (basically the focal point for all your dreams) and writing up how multiplayer would work (shared viewings). It is very interesting and perhaps I’ll be willing to give it a try on its own.

However, I’m going to see how well it works with playing in cooperation with other games, to see if can work or if it is supposed to be played on its own. Although, I think we might need to use some sort of focal point to guide the focuses and lenses. So let’s begin. We have the same scenario of a man in a plane with a witness and someone who I am hoping is not a shady man.

The game has two sets of twenty words, each labelled Focus and Lens. Focus is meant to be used first, and then Lens is used afterwards if Focus isn’t enough. Though let’s use the Focus/Lens to see through the Oculus Window and see the man sitting with Jack Jackson.

[Focus and Lens: 6, 10. Focus is Service, Lens is Innocents]

The Oculus Window sees that the person next to Jack was a flight attendant.

Thank God. If it was another shady dude with intentions to kill the witness who has yet to make any action and for all I know is just a dummy, I’d probably just shoot him in the head and gone “alright, next round.”

So, we answered the question of what’s happening, a flight attendant is sitting next to Jack and the witness. Now we need to answer the question of why it’s important. Well, I think I answered that in a meta sense, but I’m going to say that she’s in on the protection program as well.

With those questions, we have nothing else to add outside of her being our familiar. For the next four scenes (called Viewings), I will be playing as her rather than Jack. Let’s call her Jane.

VIEWING 2

So, for our next viewing, we have…

[Focus: 18, Defeat]

An hour passed before snakes attacked and nearly killed everyone. Jane and Jack are fending off the snakes with all they got, when suddenly, one of the snakes goes for [rolling…] Jane.

Well, Jane, roll to dodge!

[Nerve Roll: 3, 2, 4, 5]

Jane dodged the snake as Jake pulled the two by the arms and ran off.

Alright, so she rolls out of the way. So that’s what is happening, now the why is it important part. I think it’s pretty obvious. They’re put in a bind. Nothing else is springing to mind, so it’s onto the next viewing.

VIEWING 3

[Focus: 3, Secrets]

Oh, I know this one…

As soon as Jake and the others retreat to the back of the room, Jane took out a gun and pointed it towards Jack. She explains something, though the Oculus Window blocked what she says.

Much like the play test I’ve read to get a better feel for the game, I figured to incorporate the fluff for Oculus into the story. So I have now pointed a gun at Jack. That’s what’s happening. Why is this important? Well, we don’t know. We know that Jane turning traitor is pretty bad, but we don’t know why she’s doing it. Her speech is blocked by the Oculus.

Before I end the viewing, I want to find out why she betrayed Jack. There are multiple reasons, so I figure this would be a good time to incorporate the lens and make up the fluff that using the lens helps focus on the Oculus Window some more.

[Lens: 12, Myth]

“There was an old mythical tale about the Quetzalcoatl and his policy of safe passage. If the passengers pass through his airs and he smells a criminal among them, he will unleash his wrath until the criminal is killed.” She says.

So we have some sort of reason for why she betrayed Jack. The snakes aren’t a terrorist attack or an attempt at sabotage, but rather a karmic retribution brought on by an Aztec deity. Jane’s trying to stop this mythical curse by killing Jack or the Witness. Though it depends on who is the criminal and what the crime is.

Jane points the gun and fires at [rolling…] the witness.

[Cool Roll: 5, 3, 2, 2]

A bullet hits the Witness in the shoulder as Jack retaliates.

[Nerve Roll: 3, 4, 5, 2]

But Jane dodges the bullet. She hides behind the bathroom stall, readying her next attack.

And I manage to hit the Witness for one damage. He’s pretty squishy, so I’m going to say another shot will kill him. So we end this viewing and go onto the next.

VIEWING 4

[Focus: 17, Restore]

Jane peaks behind and sees Jack patching up the witness.

So that’s what’s happening. Why is this important is obvious. She needs him dead. Alright, I’m gonna have it.

Jane rolls out of the bathroom stall and fires one last shot at the witness.

[Cool Roll: 5, 2, 2, 3]

She fires and lands a fatal blow onto the witness’ head. He falls over dead. Jack fires at Jane.

[Nerve Roll: 1, 5, 3, 2]

She tried to get away, but a bullet grazed her arm. The snakes began to leave as security rush onto the section of the plain, guns trained on both Jack and Jane. The two would be arrested for possession of firearms, and no one will know why there were snakes on a plane.

Holy crap! This ended dark! So, if you have been keeping count, that’s one game where I had a happy ending, one ending where I had a bad ending, and one ending where it’s bittersweet… What will the other emulators hold for me?

I have to say this once again: Oculus has very good fluff for an emulator. It’s simple, but can serve so much story potential. For how minimal the possibilities are, (two lists of twenty items compared to two lists of a hundred items and two images out of around a thousand possible images) the Trifold managed to make it pretty engaging. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll go back to this.

Tomorrow, I’ll test out an Emulator I’ve been dying to try out ever since I heard of it: The Covetous Poet.

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