Submitted by Menachem Cohen
Game Designer: Ole Peder Giaver & Martin Bull
Genre: Surrealism, Early 20th Century European, Urban
Purchase: Itras By
Age Range: contains adult themes & images
Themes: Surrealism, Urban, Imagination, the absurd, change/ resolution cards
Itras By is a “journey away from reality as you perceive it with your everyday senses…the means are elements from surrealism; an art movement from the 20’s which tries to portray the life of the subconscious.” (pp.4-5). The game takes place in a vaguely European city of the 1920-30’s. City residents fly around with jetpacks and dance in a club on a street where it’s always Friday, and rumor has it that if the dancing stops there the world will end. The only game mechanics are the Resolution and Chance cards, which say things like “yes, but” or make everyone play their shadow twin. Characters don’t have such things as stats and skills, having in their stead “dramatic qualities”, “intrigue magnets”, and “supporting characters.” Characters can be and do anything, limited only by their imaginations and consensus at the table: a bipedal bison who erased his own memories; a cyborg spider who rides on the shoulder of his human intern; a hotel employee who is only seen when he wants you to see him who manipulates the physical elements of the hotel to fit guests needs, who transforms to the life of the party when he puts on his Zoot Suit, and turns out to be one of the secret primal forces of the city.
Play is largely improvisational and twists and turns based on the imagination of the players and the whimsy of the cards. Much of the book and the supplement, The Menagerie, are fiction like descriptions, all of which you do not need to read. In fact, it has been fun to every so often discover a new piece of the city and do something with it.
Intentional Use or Application
You can be and do anything. There is no limit. Itras By therefore provides a canvas and template for exploration of self to the fullest extent. This may be true of many RPGs, but Itras By begs and cajoles, laying out the red carpet and an all you can eat buffet. The lack of crunch may prove difficult for some. The surrealism foundation of the game facilitates this. About surrealism the creators write, “the subconscious contains knowledge of a reality behind that which we can normally perceive.” They say, “the Surrealists lifted the veil of reality a fraction of an inch.” (p. 7). The game aims to give us access to that not perceived reality, throwing open wide the doors of perception and discovery. Gamemasters and players can mine the game for the benefit of clients and self.
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