Jonathan Tweed's Everway represents a fascinating attempt to decouple the rules of a RPG from dice. Although diceless role playing has been introduced by many other systems as well, Everway provides quite visionary a substitution for the dice: cards. Chance, that is, random results, is simulated by drawing cards from a deck. The outcome of an action is resolved by interpreting the image on the card. By doing so, players actively participate in narrating a story. The concept of story telling is also used in White Wolf's World of Darkness titles, for example, but is more rigorously integrated into the game's rule set in Everway. The visionary and interpretative aspect is also more advanced than in Castle Falkenstein or Dragonlance 5th Age, games that also incooperate cards to determine the outcome of actions. The tarot cards' paintings help players and game masters to imagine and visually construct what they are talking about.


Regarding the scenario, Everway deals primarily with elements and spheres. The former means that virtually all things are derived from the four elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air. This applies to matter as well as to the very nature of a living being. For instance, a character's maneuvering abilities are derived from his Fire, while its cleverness, reasoning and intelligence is sourced by Air.

As for the second aspect, spheres, player characters belong to a small number of gifted beings who are capable of walking the spheres, that is, can travel between the planes of existence. This ability opens up innumerable varieties of vistas, cultures and worlds, all of which can be visited, explored and interacted with.


Unfortunately, I stumbled across Everway quite late. When I played it for the first time, the Everway hype had already ebbed away. This is quite a pity, because I instantanously liked the concept, the scenario and the rules. It seems that Everway's concept didn't prove to be tasty enough for the masses.

Some of my own ideas on role playing games, Epitome in particular, come quite close to Everway's concept, but this has not been intended and is accidental. I, too, thought about stripping the rules from dice and pushing numerical values into the background to emphasize the game's story and plot. Yet, I never pondered about employing (tarot) cards, since I still think that images should be summoned in the players' imagination only, with the aspect of chance being left out altogether.

The Four Elements The Spheres

Last modified at 2001-03-27.