I have found another interesting game for you. This time it gets surreal with Itras By. I hated Kafka and surrealism at school, but this game shows how to do it right.
Itras By is set in the city of the same name, which is similar to a European city of the 1920s in the noir style. There are the first automobiles, a subway meanders under the city and the radio finds its way into households. But then there are also the strange things, like yak people, talking monkeys or disfigured humanoids, which usually lead a shadowy existence. Sometimes the physics in Itras By seem to work differently than in our world and the residents might even not notice it.
In the book, the history of the city and the individual districts are presented. There are tons of NPCs and bizarre, interesting and completely weird places. The setting part takes up almost a third of the book with less than a 100 pages. While reading you get many ideas about what you can bring in as a game master and that’s exactly how the setting part should be.
Itras By goes a very different way than many role-playing games. On the one hand, no dice are rolled and, on the other hand, the characters have no stats. In Itras By you have very free role play and if the outcome is not immediately obvious, then there are decision cards that determine it. Here it can happen that you achieve a partial success or maybe you need help or the conflict escalates. The characters in Itras By are mainly defined by their background, descriptions and contacts. The dramatic properties, however, are at the heart of every character and provide a role-play aid to the character. The book provides many examples that can help creating one’s personal dramatic characteristics. The Advisor property is one of my favorites. Here the good and the bad side of the character manifest themselves (like the angel and the devil on the shoulders) and try to influence the behavior of the character. Two players take on this role and to their best.
As you can see, the focus of Itras By is not on an epic campaign with earth-shaking consequences. The game lives from the interaction of the players with one another and with the environment. The city is so interesting and you can get very creative here. Improvisation is definitely in demand and creative groups have a real playground.
The game lets you choose how surreal the city should be and which parts you would like to have. Places and people can easily be included or left out. This allows the group to create their very own version of Itras By. I also really like the many campaign concepts and adventure hooks included in the book.
If you want, you can add a little more flavor and use the random cards from the card set. My favorite here is the musical (included in the optional card set). If this card is drawn, everyone (including the game master) must sing about their actions and descriptions for the rest of the session. That certainly creates all sorts of amusement in the group.
On Roll20 there is a character sheet for Itras By. The basic cards of the game are available as PDF, these can also be used for the online game, but of course this involves some effort (copy individual cards from the PDF and paste them online). This can of course be simplified with a webcam and having a set of cards. Without a webcam, not all random cards can be used, such as “silent film”, since you can only act with gestures.
Nevertheless, I think that you can play Itras By online very well.
Itras By is available in German and English and has 305 pages. It is in black-white-yellow/orange and the layout is very legible. I like the handy format (B5) and both the binding (hardcover) and paper are very high-quality. I also think it’s very important that the book has a ribbon bookmark. Actually all setting descriptions are great adventure hooks. Enclosed is a city map that you can paint yourself with an overview of the individual parts of the city.
There is also the card set with 55 decision and random cards. In my opinion, this is also very high quality. In addition to the cards listed in the book, there are also some bonus cards here.
Who might be interested in Itras By:
- Players and GMs who want to experience a crazy setting
- People who like the focus on their character and the surrounding
- Players who love free roleplay and like to improvise
Who might not be interested in Itras By:
- Players and GMs who need dice and extensive character sheets
- People who don’t care about surrealism and the 1920th
- Players who need epic stories and far-reaching consequences.