|Finding Our Babylon in the World of Grimm
By Michael Hurley
|Grimm RPG | Published 27 October 2008|
As the Rioting River settled into its newly chosen course, we climbed the giant Beanstalk that lay strewn across the land, felled long ago by Jack after his descent from the giant's castle in the clouds. We'd hoped the better view from atop the tangled, rotting vegetation would give us a clue about where to go next, but it was for naught. In one direction was the Sea, in the other the Great and Awful Forest, and on every horizon were the World's Edge Mountains. We were trapped in the Grimm Lands, with no hint of where to begin our search for Babylon…
Grimm is a narrative-focused roleplaying game inspired by the fairy tales made famous by the Brothers Grimm. Players take the rolls of children trapped in the dark fantasy world of the Grimm Lands, where talking animals, blood-sucking plants, and insane adults are the norm, and where one's own imagination can literally change the physical world.
Kids are the heroes in Grimm because they are the only inhabitants of the Real World who seem to be able to find ways into the Grimm Lands in the first place. Adults either don't have the imagination to see the entrances, or they're wise enough to avoid them. Each kid has a unique personality built around a chosen archetype: The Bully, the Dreamer, the Jock, the Nerd, the Normal Kid, the Outcast, or the Popular Kid. These archetypes create an ideal foundation for all kinds of interesting roleplaying. A Nerd would probably have to suffer frequent tormenting by the Bully, and the Popular Kid would likely cringe at everyone else's utter lack of coolness.
Naturally, every kid has various strengths and weaknesses based on his archetype. Jocks are excellent at running, lifting, and throwing, but not so sharp in the more studious pursuits. Dreamers tend to lack social skills, but their superior imaginations could prove to be the key to finding a way back to the Real World. Every kid has five Core Traits: Cool, Imagination, Luck, Muscle, and Pluck; five Playground Traits: Hide, Seek, Scamper, Scrap, and Throw; and eight Study Traits: Book Learning, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Country Club, Gaming, Home Ec., Industrial Arts, and Juvie. Each Trait is measured by a grade, first through twelfth, representing a kid's level of skill in that area.
Grimm is a storytelling game filled with adventures that tend to focus more on exploration and player interaction than on combat. Because of this, the game uses a simple Linear d6 System. The core principle behind the Linear d6 System is it minimizes randomness by allowing the characters to most often perform at their ability level. Sometimes characters will perform a little worse at something, other times a little better, and once in a great while, a real miracle or disaster will occur.
A Grimm saga is run by a narrator who designs the adventures the players will experience and controls all of the inhabitants of the Grimm Lands. Grimm provides detailed descriptions of many locations, creatures, and magical artifacts to help narrators construct their adventures. Ultimately, the goal of any Grimm saga is for the kids trapped in the Grimm Lands to find a way back home. This way home is referred to as "Babylon." But, since few things in this fantastic world are what they seem, it's up to the narrator to decide whether Babylon is an actual location, or simply a metaphor.