Worlds to go back to

I haven’t been too productive of late, despite telling myself that once again I’d kick into gear following the New Year. It would be nice to say that this post will be the start of a new trend, but I’ve told myself that before, and I still quickly get sidetracked by something or other. I can hopefully make myself semi-productive for a while and maybe pull something together from all my draft posts (oh so many draft posts).

So, worlds I miss and want to go back to. Not ones I think about all the time, ones I work on more often. Mostly these are played experiences, ones I felt were never complete or I wish I could flesh out some more.

 

Legend of the Five Rings

So, I’ve managed a few times to put something together for this, as my incomplete play report from a few years ago might attest.

I did manage to round off a few plots that I had for my favourite character there. He was married off, above his station, into a new clan, which made sense from a story point-of-view but still felt at least one adventure too soon.

Always waiting in the wings was a backup character I made, a Centipede clan bushi who, after years of Phoenix clan training to master the art of attuning to the Void, had accidentally attuned himself to the Sun. He never had a chance to break out and do anything, and I doubt he ever will.

It would be cool to go back though. I always had great ideas for a Dragon shugenja, or to play a Scorpion how I felt he should be played, rather than how they inevitably were. With the new rules on the horizon, maybe I’ll get to try something out.

 

Dresden Files

The last time I played, my cryomancer had finally escaped his Doom as a Rulebreaker for naively reading a book on Outsiders, only to end up with a completely new Doom – never accept the help of the Genius Locum of a Leyline in order to trap a Necromancer inside an infinitely repeating second, no matter how good your intentions.

I had some ideas for pulling together a new game set in Las Vegas, with various clued in mobsters and the Lady Luck making several appearances, but I never got it off the ground. And with the Paranet Papers coming out with their own spin on Vegas, I was a little put off the idea.

More recently, I came up with a couple of ideas for other locations (Dublin with lots of Fae and Werewolf stuff going on, Hong Kong with Elemental Courts and probably Vampires and triads). I haven’t made any notes or anything on them yet.

 

The Goblin King

The Goblin King was a magic-powered supervillain in a game of Mutants and Masterminds. He was equal parts campy Batman villain and silly Venture Bros. villain, modelled in part on the Monarch.

But the game dried up just as I was starting to get the development going. Infiltrating the UN in order to have a conversation with the General Secretary, I had just let slip that the entire time we’d been playing, I’d been purposefully hamming up the ridiculous aspects of the character in order to avoid conflicts between Earth and the Goblin Dimension (which had been all but destroyed in a war under the previous, non-Human Goblin King).

I’m not sure how many other players picked up on the fact I’d been underplaying my abilities or motives, but I was enjoying it. I have a draft post sat around trying to rebuild the character in a few different superhero rules sets, but I’m not very happy with it.

One day, I might bring him back.

 

FATEPunk

My A-Z of the setting as I had it imagined was written almost a year ago. It was heavily borrowed/stolen from a cyberpunk game I’d played in for months during 2011, which I enjoyed so much I attempted a not-so-subtle copy of it (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it).

I managed to run a game around 2014 or 2015 using some hastily cobbled together rules for cybernetics in FATE. One session in and I realised that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t the story the players were interested in, and I called it quits.

If I went back to it, I would probably move away from the Pacific-rooted story, maybe exploring the areas around the rival space elevators as I’d written them. That would drop the game into either Africa or South/Central America which would have a very different feel from the Black Lagoon/Marvel’s Madripoor, or maybe wouldn’t. I don’t know.

The big villain of course would still have to be globalism and global trade conglomerates, and so on. Nativism / Globalism, Cultural appropriation / Globalism or Cultural destruction / Globalism would all work in those settings, but I don’t have nearly as many ideas of how to pull it off.

More to ponder then.

 

Sands of Fate

My elemental Arabian Nights fantasy game was fun for the few sessions I played with it, but I was so focused at the time on the rules and how to make them work that I don’t know if my setting was as good. It certainly had a few parallels with the Old Crown, which I’d been working on at the time.

I’d like to try again, maybe sit down with it and work out some of the kinks, but I’m not in the place for it right now. I’ve been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Years of Rice and Salt and it’s certainly brought some of the ideas back to the fore of my mind.

 

 

And that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll actually manage to write something else up soon too!

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Power cut-induced creativity

So due to Storm Ophelia, I had to stay home from work today, and then we lost power for a few hours. It’s back now, but it meant I actually found time to write. So here’s what I came up with at the time.

 

Since I find myself stuck in a house with a horrible storm outside, and without power inside, I thought I’d do something minimal like powering up my laptop and writing.

And after reading a few .pdfs saved in various places, I was all ready to go. Then I opened LibreOffice and was confronted with the dreaded enemy – the blank white page.

I’ve got a good few ideas on the go, but my problem is most of them are stored online somewhere, and I don’t even have a mobile signal to check where I am with them (yay storms!). So now I have to try and work out where I am with any of my ideas and work from there, and it’s painfully obvious that I don’t keep enough of them in my head.

 

So, what do I have the potentiality to think about?

 

I’m still fiddling away at my idea for the Ginnungagap – Space Vikings! – in D&D. I know it’s possible to brew together something from all the rules for magic and lasers in the game, even without more settings and rules coming out all of a sudden.

I have ideas for how Elves and Dwarves fit in, how magic works, why lasers aren’t as lethal as a phaser set to disintegrate, how to tie firearms in without getting bogged down in whether they fire bullets or laser beams or plasma bolts or dark energy disks. I’m still not much nearer to a story for a series of adventures.

I keep saying that I’ll puzzle something together if I sit down and get players, and then I delay that because I want to pull more of the rules together, rather than getting it going and fiddling and nerfing in play, which I know I should do.

I’ve more or less decided that I’ll finish my book on historical Vikings, read Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology, and then be in a place I’m ready to get going with it. We’ll see if I can manage that.

 

The Old Crown still twirls around in my head, but not with any real progress going on. Again, maybe I need to just sit down and write, or maybe I should through it at other people and see what sticks. I’m hoping Winter will give me an excuse to do more work on it, in the long dark nights where I don’t want to go anywhere, but we’ll see if I manage that.

I’m not happy with the name anymore, but I’m even less happy with any alternatives that I can come up with. I have more ideas for stories and games, but there are deliberately more hooks woven into the setting because I’ve been working at it for longer and wanted to explore, and it’s filled with different factions competing with each other.

I should probably work out if I can make a game out of it, or what game I’d want to. I’ve played with D&D (4th edition) and with FATE (using a reputation stress bar, which was odd), and I’m pretty happy I can make it work with the Cypher system quite easily, just to keep the rules very light.

Of those, I think I’d be most inclined to go with FATE though, maybe try with Fate Accelerated, because with 3 or 4 aspects it would work quite well.

 

And then, Fantasy Flight have released the beta of the new Legend of the Five Rings rules, so now I’m interested in that again (first glance – ugh, custom dice and no roll and keep?). I’m sure I’ll have a better review of the thing at some point, but based on the skim I read this morning, I like that the core rules have moved back to focussing on the same areas as in the first edition of the game, more or less.

Quick rules changes of the Ginnungagap

So, some quick changes and additions:

  • Honour stat – because I feel like it will be important to the setting. I need to work on appropriate tests for it. It will definitely be important with dealing with gods…(Yeah, just going to leave that hook hanging there)
  • Additional skills – Computer Use, Engineering, Navigate/Pilot (I haven’t fully decided the name yer). And then a skill I’m either calling Lore or Skald, see below
  • Skills removed – Animal Handling and Nature (folding into Survival), Arcana, History, Religion (folding all three into Lore/Skald)

I’m still working out some Feats of my own, but I’ll be stealing liberally from Fifth Age for now, whilst I whittle and shape.

Classes of the Ginnungagap

I’ve been reading around what other people have worked into sci-fi D&D rules around the internet, and I’ll be pinching and tweaking and fiddling as I go. A good portion of what I’m working with comes from Fifth Age, though I’m going for a lasers and sorcery setting so there’s the thorny issue of magic to work in somehow.

With that in mind, I’ve sat down again with the classes list and decided what I’m keeping and what will go, though I’m still stuck with some difficult decisions. The Fifth Age uses a Technician class to cover a Medic speciality, and I really like the class, but I’m also wanting to keep the Cleric as an option.

 

So far the classes I’m happy with are:

Barbarian (though I need to look again at which totems fit the setting)

Cleric

Officer (Fifth Age equivalent to a Bard – thinking about a name change and tweaks. The Ace variant for pilots uses inspiration dice to power their own abilities, but I don’t really like it. I might move it to Soldier and use superiority dice)

Operative (Fifth Age equivalent to a Rogue)

Scout (Re-skin of a Ranger, or possibly the Savage from Fifth Age, or a combination of the two)

Soldier (Re-skin of a Fighter)

Sorceror

Technician (Fifth Age – has variants for Medics, Mechanics, Robomancers, though I’m not sure how happy I am with that last variant)

 

Classes that might need come in:

Paladin (though I’m working on a Soldier/Fighter speciality that fits this in there. Maybe a reskin of the Eldritch Knight)

Wizard

 

Of course, my potential play group is actually only a handful of people so none of this might matter. We’ll see I suppose.

Races of the Ginnungagap

So I’ve been having a little brainstorm today about the different races of the Ginnungagap that I would allow for players.

I know it’s a sci-fi setting, so why not Warforged/robots you ask? Well, they’re in the setting. But they’re the bad guys, agents of the Frost and Fire Giants (bigger robots).

I changed up the races a bit because I wanted them to be a bit more setting fitting. The Drow are fine for Forgotten Realms, but they don’t fit what I had in mind, so I tweaked them a bit as a variant to the High Elves.

Oh, and if you don’t have a copy of Volo’s Guide to Monsters, then the Krar character abilities named below make no sense, and you don’t know what the Firbolg, Goliath, Goblin or Kobold stats look like. So get a copy!

Mannethli (Humans)

Aelfr (Elves) – Ljos (High elf variant), Svartaelf – +1 Cha, trained in stealth, elven weapons training, darkvision

Aelfblod (Half-Elf)

Dvergr (Dwarves) – hill / mountain variants

Dvergblod (Half-Dwarf) – +2 con, +1 in two others, darkvision, dwarven resilience, skill training in one skill

Niflingr (Goblins/Kobolds) – Looking at the stat blocks in Volo’s Guide, it’s very easy to believe these are variants of the same race.

Firbolgr (Firbolg / Goliath) – wood variant (Firbolg stats) / stone variant (Goliath stats). Again, could be easily tweaked to skins of the same race I think.

Krar (Ravenfolk) – Dex +2. Kenku Training (but include investigation, perception), Mimicry. Huginr +1 Int, +1 skill training. Muninr +1 Wis, Expert forgery/craft.

 

 

Parts of a City

Over the weekend, I had a non-digital day, turned off all my tech and only used my phone as a cooking timer when I made a very late dinner.

I got a LOT of reading done.

And I also did some brainstorming.

 

So, here’s a few location ideas I listed for parts and places of a city, in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, I don’t think it really matters. You could drop these in as locations during character building, or in a shared FATE location construction, and draw some descriptions, plot hooks or Aspects out from them.

They’re a pretty mixed bag, but they sort of got bunched into groups as I was coming up with them.

 

The Grand Promenade, Arcades, the Avenues, Oldtown, the New Quarter, the Zocalo

The Estates, Villas, the Tenements, Outwall

The Barracks, Guildhalls, the Senate, the Conclave, Palaces

The Great Temple, Ecclesiarch’s Palace, the Pantheon, Synod

The Souk, Night Market, the Floating Market, the Goblin Market, Caravaners’ Bazaar

Wharves and Dockside, the Docklands, Moorings, Ferries, Underbridge, Rialto, Longbridge, Riverdown

The Rooftops, Birdtown, the Nest, Highperch, Towers, Hightown

The Maze, Warrens, the Spider’s Nest, Witches’ Den, Alleys, the Broken

The Pits, Night Quarter, Vice Houses, the Dens, Red Street, Flops

City takeover

The other day, I ended up having a scroll through some old blog posts and one caught my eye that I’d completely forgotten about.

Since I’ve written that post, new novels about that hinted-at history have begun rolling out, but I’m ignoring those until I get my hands on a copy!

 

Anyway, the point being, I’m now thinking about how this could be pulled off in an RPG. How best to apply the rules, and what rules? Taking over a city is basically the main goal in any Vampire: the Masquerade game for any half-decent coterie, so I might ignore that.

What then? FATE, D&D, Cortex, Savage Worlds all give potential, as does just homebrewing or mashing a few of them together. D&D would be easy to pick up for most of my players, but FATE might give me the god-like messiness that gives them the chance to really take on a city.

I may have been playing too much Saints Row and falling back on my love of the Authority comics in brainstorming this. And then I remembered the post I made before my original city takeover and thought about connecting the players to an old forgotten temple or something like that.

 

Anyway, we’ll see. So far, my options for a new RPG are either this, Space Viking D&D, or an intro Vampire game that people might be interested in. We’ll see. It’s been far too long since I rolled some dice!