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May 8th, 2008

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02:29 pm - [Gaming] What I’d do with games I’ve worked on
I’ve written a whole lot of gaming supplements, and major portions a number of RPGs, and yet I’m essentially never tempted to play anything out of the box. I’m by nature a tinkerer and when I look at a game, my first thought is how to change it (in both setting and rules) to better fit what I would want to do with it. So, here are a number of the games that I’ve worked on and what I’d like to do with them.

Nephilim: Around a decade ago, I wrote Liber Ka for that game, and it’s still a game that I have a strong interest in (despite having never played or run it). It’s definitely one of those games that takes a while to consider what you can actually do with it. One idea I have is to relate the current rise in the numbers of Nephilim to the possibly coming Vingean technological singularity and transhumanism in general, with the rise in current and near future numbers of Nephilim being in some way mystical reflections back in time of the upcoming transformation of humanity - Nephilim would be both the harbingers of this transformation and perhaps in some fashion its agents. This would definitely have a sort of Childhood's End sort of feel, but I expect that it would only appeal to the handful of people like myself who are seriously interested in both transhumanism and occultism. Given some of my own odd spiritual musings , and the fact that I consider Nephilim to be the single best game to deal with anything like otherkin, I’m fascinated with this idea, but (as seems inevitable with everything associated with Nephilim, I have no real idea how to approach it).

Exalted: My interest in the standard Exalted setting is fairly limited. I like the setting (which is good, given that I had a major hand in creating much of it), but it’s not the sort of place that focuses my ideas for running or playing games. OTOH, Dreams of the First Age is a gem, and I dearly love Creation’s First Age. However, even there I’d not be doing anything particularly standard. I change the setting in one significant way – I’d completely eliminate the Dragon-Blooded. Instead, you have several hundred Celestial Exalted ruling over 10 billion people – so mortals outnumber Exalts by more than 10 million to 1.

In between the ordinary mortals and the distant Exalted gods who rule them are Enlightened mortals – mortals who can use Essence and who often have various implants and biomodifications (as well as the various already modified Blessed Races). One in 200 mortals is an Enlightened mortal, and the vast majority of them work for the Celestials (or more accurately for the Deliberative government). These are the police detectives, the senior research scientists, the mayors and corporate VPs, and these would also be the PCs for the idea that I have. I’d likely focus this campaign on attempting to uncover evidence of a senior Celestial Exalted who has gone rogue &/or insane and is working with some enemy power like the Fair Folk or the demon-lords of Malfeas. The PCs would do this either while secretly working for a low ranking and recently Exalted Solar (who would remain distinctly in the background) or on their own. Ideally, adventures would range from noirish detective stories in a fantastic setting, to various sorts to actiony adventures, to moderate degrees of political intrigue.

Star Trek: These days, I think one of the most useful things about well-known SF settings is their familiarity. So, I could easily see using the Star Trek universe (or perhaps a mildly altered version, where (for example) independently evolved sentient life was considerably rarer, and all the various near-humans like Vulcans and Bajorans were actually humans that some ST equivalent of Traveller’s Ancients spread throughout the galaxy a quarter million or so years ago (which is somewhat close to ST canon). In any case, I can see using ST for a very nifty Traveller-style merchant campaign, but my greatest interest would be using it as the setting for to a space supers campaign, where the PCs (and presumably various other characters, both heroic and villianous) are empowered by some of the various godlike beings in the ST setting and sent out to either do go (or ill) or to perform various sorts of missions. I can definitely see a (lower-powered) version of the Green Lantern Corps (or something more like E.E. Smith's Lensman) fitting into the Star Trek Universe exceedingly well. I’ve loved various space supers comics since I was quite young, and having a setting as detailed as the STU would definitely ground such a campaign in a way that most space supers comics aren’t.

Mage: The Awakenening: My preferred idea is still using the wonderful Awakening rules and details of the setting like the Astral Realm and the creatures from the Abyss to do an improved version of Mage: The Ascension using this general cosmology and making Awakening’s Astral Realm, the focus of attempting to alter the paradigm, while simultaneously making the Technocracy very far from all-powerful. I also think that some sort of major event that eliminated the upper levels of the power-structure and made the supernatural more open (such as I describe in the Mage portion of this post) would be especially interesting.

As can be seen by my ideas for Nephilim and Mage, my only real interest in playing in something set in the modern day is finding some way to radically and obviously transform it, which perhaps says a great deal about me. In any case, these are more musings than anything else. There's a significant chance that I'll actually run the Exalted campaign (using some far simpler rule-set, likely the nWoD Storytelling System), but as with most ideas for games, my preference is always to either co-run them with someone or convince someone to run it.
Current Mood: geekygeeky

(10 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
And Dungeons & Dragons?
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
I can see porting some of the idea to other games-systems (I especially have an impressively geekly weakness for the Mindflayers, Githyanki & Githzerai triad and Planescape remains cool), but I honestly can't see doing anything with the rule-set itself. I can write for it, but it's drastically far from my gaming style.
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Blue Rose?

Edited at 2008-05-08 11:12 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:May 8th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC)
I'd keep it much like it was written, except that I'd introduce a few more modified humans (or at least ones that could fly) and would add sufficient magitech to take it up to the magitech equivalent of the steampunk era, with magitech railroads and radios and primitive flying machines. The setting is currently at roughly a mid Renaissance (late 16h century) tech level, and I'd increase it to late 19th century.

Aldis would obviously be the leader in magitech, Jarzon would be a larger and more populous nation that was somewhat backwards technologically except wrt weapons and other devices kept in the hands of the elite, and Kern would be the center for destructive magitech powered by human life-energy and suchlike. In keeping with that sort of feel, I'd also increase the scale of the setting a bit (so the map was more like 2,400 x 1,600 miles instead of the current 1,800 x 1,200 miles
[User Picture]
Date:May 9th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
I'm very taken by the thought of sf supers in the Star Trek universe. A lot of my favorite supers stories involve the supers and their patrons, with room for everything from planetary champions like Star Boy to corporate representatives like Iron Man to quasi-governmental agents like the Green Lantern Corps and Nova Corps...if it takes the resources of a major institution to create supers, then there's room for very personalized politics.

[User Picture]
Date:May 9th, 2008 01:41 pm (UTC)
Any thoughts on Werewolf?
[User Picture]
Date:May 9th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Not really. It's not anything I've ever considered writing for and is fairly far outside of the range of my interests. About the only use I can see for either Werewolf or Vampire is as supplements for my nWoD fantasy game idea.

Edited at 2008-05-09 07:27 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:May 9th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Joining the curious - Ars Magica?
[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
One of the things I always found fascinating about Ars Magica was where the world would go next. I have no interest in the default assumption derived from the era when Ars Magica was the past of the World of Darkness. I'm also largely uninterested in both the middle ages and the standard tropes of fading magic and secret occultism, and the idea of something as flashy and obvious as Hermetic Magic remaining or becoming secret strikes me as ludicrous. However, once you throw aside any idea that the future of Ars Magica looks anything like our own history, then the situation becomes vastly more interesting. I particularly like two idea for what to do with ArM. The first is only that I like a lot, but would be unlikely to ever find anyone willing to play, and I'm also not certain what I'd do with it. The 2nd seems fairly obvious and easy and I may someday use for something.

I) ArM In Space: Several Greek astronomers claimed that the stars were other suns, as did the hermetic philosopher/scientist Giordano Bruno. He's from the 1600s, but seems fitting for the setting since he is mentioned in books on both astronomy and hermeticism.

Anyway, I'm far less certain of what the structure of the Solar System would be like (ie it could be either Ptolemaic, Copernican, or something else entirely), but regardless, magi would be able to travel throughout it and beyond to other worlds. I'm seeing great enchanted starships (almost certainly vis powered). I like the idea of Hermes Portals being used for in-system travel, but they should likely not go between stars because that would make starships far less important.

Other features: Redcaps have become a rigorously disciplined order of brave explorers and stalwart messengers. They have studied Ascetic (from Hedge Magic) Disciplines (and the Purity required). They can walk from world to world and star to star w/o other magic, but cannot carry others. They are this world's rapid transport and exploration corps (in some ways like the Traveller Scout Service).

Magic dominates the world. Lifepans are long, famine and disease have been conquered at least as much as in our world, and minor alchemical and magical devices are exceedingly common. Magi have also learned the secrets of using magic auras to both produce somewhat larger numbers of gifted and partially gifted children, and using magic auras to give people various minor magical benefits. In essence I'm seeing a sort of transhumanist setting with magic.

Themes: Fairly standard SF themes, optimism, exploration, the wonder of the universe.

Conflicts: Rival colonies, magical beasts (both in space and on other worlds), alien fey, actual aliens ...

Inspirations: The Silence Leigh trilogy by Melissa Scott (Five Twelfths of Heaven, Silence in Solitude, and The Empress of Earth), Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle.
[User Picture]
Date:May 10th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
II) Hermetic Universities and the Rise of Natural Magic: This future occurs when a few Hermetic Magic begin corresponding with and eventually working with Natural Magicians like Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon. Several covenants open universities or become associated with existing ones. Also the structure of the supernatural is changing not retreating. As cities grow, there are an increasing number of urban fey, and the Order eventually learns to incorporate techniques from Natural Magic to avoid Dominion penalties. Magic and Technology work together and magic begins to spread to all portions of society. The growth of alchemy occurs on schedule and Alchemy and Astrology are used to help offset the loss of conventional vis sources.

On the darker side, the growth of cities, the shifts in the nature of the supernatural and the more widespread use of magic ghosts, faeries, and many other creatures begin to haunt city streets, especially in poorer areas and at night. While most threats are relatively minor, even minor threats can sometimes kill the unprotected. This setting night work well in the 19th century. This is an obvious setting for including Holmesian criminal masterminds who use magic. Also, the blend of magical traditions in the more cosmopolitan cities could be a heady mix indeed. The general mood would be magical steampunk.

Themes: Freedom vs. authority, social change, class warfare, tolerance

Conflicts: Class differences, urban vs. rural, law vs. crime, human vs. fey

Inspirations: Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy novels, the Sherlock Holmes stories.

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