Stone

Recently I’ve had an idea for a stone age game in my head. A few years ago, I wrote a lovely little story about a hunter gatherer tribesman called Stone, and since then the idea has been flickering on and off in my mind.

Then today I read something about the Hyperborean Cycle by Clark Ashton Smith, and it flickered back to life again.
I’ve some ideas of how it would work in a D&D 3E game, replacing the standard Fighter/Wizard/Rogue/Cleric setup with Barbarian/Sorcerer/Ranger/Druid (although I’m not so happy about the Ranger there. Maybe replace it with Monk?)
After that, throw in a bunch of dinosaurs, hairy mammals and monsters, maybe a Dire Giraffe or two, and you have yourself a setting and some rules. But I’m not sure how it would translate to other rules sets.
I’m pretty sure I could throw together something using FATE, since lifting from Legends of Anglerre for something like this wouldn’t be too difficult. Neither would most generic d10 or d20 based games.
I’m toying with the idea of writing a brief for my own rules, since I’m now trying to throw them around different settings and see how they break apart.
I’d be very tempted to do something with the 1E Legend of the 5 Rings rules. I know them better than the newer editions, and they’re pretty simple for everyday messing about. Plus, an elemental system for characters fits nicely with the setting, though I might switch about or simplify some of the character terms about a bit. Would I need to fiddle Status and Honour at all?
Would you play in a stone age setting? Have you?

Hidden mysteries and secrets unspoken

I’ve promised that there are hidden secrets dotted throughout everything that I’ve already done. I hope to highlight a handful of them below.

Whilst items may be invested with a person’s being, and made soulwrought and magical, there is a further level of power. Godwrought items are those gifted by the ascendants themselves, or which were associated with them in there previous life. Needless to say, these items are precious, and evil ascendants like the Fiend actively seek them out, as they can be used as conduits to the god themselves.

A colony of Toadfolk secretly lives in the sewers of Queenstown, and continues to serve the Queen as if she was still on the throne. Why they are there, or why they serve her so diligently, is anybody’s guess.

The Oon not only visited distant planes of existence, they also travelled extensively across the mortal world. Looking closely enough, the ruins of their empire can be found. The most ancient city of the old Draken Empire was one such ruin. Parts of Kingsmead even show some of their construction – the well in the centre of the town, and the Kingsmead Gate – a ruined gateway at the south edge of town – are of their construction.
At some point, the well was godwrought, presumably by the Lady of the Harvest, and now gives enough water to quench the thirsts of everyone within several square miles, no matter how many people that might be.
The great depth of the harbour in Queenstown is also thought to be Oon-made, although how deep it is and why it is so deep is a great cause of debate to the small number of Oon scholars.

Centuries ago, a great plague devastated the world, but the bodies of the deceased refused to give up their life. This was one of the earlier plots of the Fiend. He had somehow removed the god of death at that time and usurped his power, using it to reanimate the dead as his army. Only a new ascendant, the Darkling Queen, was able to stop the tide of undeath, and this is why her agents now seek out any remaining vestiges of the undead.

The well of Kingsmead actually leads down to a small portal to a different Origin, somehow still lingering. It is perhaps where the water in the well is drawn from.
If anyone is unlucky to fall down, they may find themselves pulled through this portal. It leads to a cave system filled with freshwater, and the long lost tomb of a half-forgotten god. Though it might be lost, it is not without guardians.

Whilst it is widely believed that all Oon perished in a great uprising, some escaped. The differences in their escape are numerous however. One or two were spirited away by loyal menfolk servants, and were able to continue their bloodline with them. The Wanderers, a strange group of menfolk with purple eyes and haunting voices, are their descendants.
Another survivor, if you can call him that, is the Burned Man, a mad god of vengeance and hate. Gone is his sky blue skin glowing eyes. Every visitation he has made to the mortal realm has described him as a walking burned husk, roughly man shaped, with burning fire for eyes, and a maniacal laugh.

Not all the different races hail from different Origins, and are instead from the mortal realm. There is a reason the Crowfolk resemble the common crow so much, and the same can be said for the Toadfolk. Clearly the Oon were skilled in the magic of life.

It is possible for some godsworn to communicate directly with their gods, but it is rare. Rarer still is the relationship between the high priest of the Lady of the Harvest, Peony Thatcher, and her ascendant. Upon taking office, usually following the death of the previous incumbent, the Lady of the Harvest imbues part of herself directly into the successor. Peony Thatcher is effectively a godwrought being, although part of this binding makes the magic a lot more subtle.

The Margrave at the time of the disappearance of the young Queen was responsible for her abduction. This is a secret passed down in the Hawksmoore line. A lesser known secret, passed down directly only to those who become Margrave, is that the Queen escaped and disappeared. The appearance of an ascendant in the new decade called the Darkling Queen was cause enough for the old Margrave responsible to suffer a painful death, and it has been such for a great many of his successors.

The Hanu, the monkey-like men of the Spice Islands, refuse to let outsiders into some of their temples, and have killed intruders. The fact that their gods seem to all have blue skin and glowing eyes was a great surprise to early visitors, but not as surprising as finding out that ‘Hanu’ was an old Oon word for ‘loyal’.

Well, there’s a good few of the secrets bottled up in my head for the setting. I’m sure a good few playtesters will be even more intrigued by the Kingsmead well now.

Collected ramblings

The problem with trying to update once a day for a week is that I seem to rapidly run out of ideas.

Over on my other blog, I’m asking people to tell me what they want me to write about in my next update. I don’t want to give up too much information on the setting, since I want to write this up and publish it sometime. Though probably at a small price for what it is, or tie it properly into my rules set. The times I’ve run the test, the rules have worked well enough for the setting.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a proper update of some kind. I’ve got a few more ideas for a sci-fi setting, and a few more for Republic, my Roman-inspired idea. I’ve even got something going that I’m currently calling Stone, which is set when you can probably imagine.
Maybe I’ll manage to write down some of the nonsense that went on in the finale of the Dresden game a few months ago. Hint: chronomancy!

Next week I’m starting a course designed to help open a business. By the end of it, I’ll be writing a business plan. The end goal is a gaming store. Wish me luck?


There’ll be a round-up of my feelings on Indie+ next week too.

Adapting the Malazan World

I’ve taken my time in actually reading them, but Steven Erikson‘s Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Ian C. Esslemont‘s Tales of the Malazan Empire are a great series of books.
I’m not finished with Erikson’s 10 novel saga, or with Esslemont’s 5 novels (the fifth due out in November), but I really enjoy their setting, and especially the fact that it morphed out of their own D&D and GURPS games.

The novels present a gritty world, with plots and betrayals, and ascended demi-gods, and a unique flavour to the magic and how it works, and undead Neanderthal warriors, and shape-shifting packs of wolves and all kinds of other fun that I don’t need to get into. Instead, you should go read them all!

Anyway, long story short, I want to go and visit, so I’ve been thinking about how to adapt my rules system to fit, and I think it works well enough, providing the setting itself is adequately explained.
Having access to a Warren is what lets a person use magic, and whilst some characters have access to several, rarely do they have mastery of more than one (Quick Ben is an exception, but he has a loophole).

So it seems that a Mage’s abilities might list traits like Warren of Rashan, or skills like Travel by Warren. In more powerful cases, they might have Magi of High House Shadow, although that puts their power level a bit higher.
A character could work towards ascendancy, or wander the landscape with an item invested by some warren or god (perhaps having somehow gotten hold of a T’lan Imass weapon). It all seems to work reasonably well. I think it needs some heavy stress testing though.

I’ll keep everyone informed of my progress!

Additional Rules for Noble Houses

The other day, I had a brief conversation with a friend working on some noble families for a fantasy setting.
Whilst she had been looking at developing them with the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, she mentioned using my rules to play the actual game.

However.

I think there’s plenty of scope in there to adapt the rules for a game involving noble houses (or any organisation- a guild, the town guard, monastic orders, superhero team, government agency, and so on).
Each house could have it’s own traits, skills and possessions that characterize it, and the characters could substitute these for their own on an important dice roll (perhaps by spending a spin point).
I think that the characters would have to reflect the traits of their house in order to substitute them like that though – they’d have to each have one of the traits or skills listed, though not necessarily the same ones.

Alternatively, the houses could be formed and fight against each other, or work in concert, like a wargame. But I’ll have to explore that option a bit further.

A week of Indie+

This week, the good folks over on the the Google+ RPG community are coming together for Indie+, celebrating the Indie publishing community.
As such, I’ve decided to pull my finger out and actually update my blogs, and get back into a writing mindset.

This week I’ll be posting updates here and over on the Kingsmead Chronicler, with what I’m up to, the latest state of that setting, the latest state of anything else swimming around my head.
And of course, my own rules set, which I’ve been cooking up for far too long now.

For this post, I’ll tell you what I’ve done with it recently.
I’ve gone back to the original intent, and made it a game using d12s, with different power levels corresponding to starting dice modifiers.
I’ve even finally added the healing mechanic in. I think there’s still some work to be done to file some rough edges off, and definitely to format it better for reading, but there should be most of the rules in places now.

If anyone would like to use the rules to run a game, that would be great. Especially if you break them entirely!
I may try and run something with them myself, and drop feedback here and over on Google+.

Hope everyone has a fun week!