Inspired by some successful mostly-diceless sessions of VampireTheMasquerade, AriNieh, an improv and theater junkie turned roleplayer, decided to take the plunge and run his next game with no system whatsoever. While this is not his first foray into free-form roleplaying, it is by far the most extreme example. He'll update this node periodically with comments and insights into the scary world of Apotheosis.
Summer, 1999: A setting works its way into my head. It's got bits and pieces of medieval China, Wyrms (by Orson Scott Card), and The King of Masks. I ignore it for the entirety of creative writing with ProfessorSellery?, but eventually dig it out of the back of the refrigerator, cut off the moldy part, and make something entirely different out of it.
Spring and summer, 2002: I discover that BretHutchinson and IanTullis are coming to live (and roleplay) with me in Berkeley. Much preliminary planning, with help from co-conspirator EmilyCukier. The game's biggest theme will be the clash of cultures and religions, but it's also intended to be heavily character-driven. Most of my ideas are massive spoilers which I will not mention here. The soundtrack will focus on Dead Can Dance, Delirium, and other "exotic-sounding" stuff- no rap or industrial like in EYFiNYC?. After failing to find a good system, I'm going to dodge the issue by not having one at all. I toss around names such as "Rosary of Tears" (a lyric from an old jazz song) and "Otherside" (RHCP), but settle on "Apotheosis", a Merriam-Webster word of the day.
10/27/02: Chapter 1 has been successfully completed. I am especially pleased with the character development of Doshya and Vanya (BretHutchinson and IanTullis, respectively), who have settled into familial roles quite nicely. Their acting is excellent as usual. The religious stuff is working out okay and didn't seem too artificial. They are still in the dark about much of their family's history, but that's fine with me. In terms of mechanics, it was amazing how little I missed the dice. I tossed them around a few times, but they just didn't matter. Both players are pretty aware of their characters' strengths and weaknesses, and can fail or succeed at various tasks entirely at my whim. The danger that things would seem arbitrary or pigeonholed doesn't seem to come up. Perhaps this may become more of an issue if the characters ever enter combat. At any rate, I have yet to come up with a good plot for chapter 2, so the game will likely remain on hiatus for a few more weeks. Although the emotional intensity of sessions has been strong, I think the energy and atmosphere have yet to hit the high that EYFiNYC? did, which will probably change once the soundtrack solidifies. (Hooray for DSL and mp3 piracy!)