The Forge Archives

General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Justin Nichol - BFG on January 31, 2010, 03:23:17 AM

Title: Eschaton- A Game of an Ending World=
Post by: Justin Nichol - BFG on January 31, 2010, 03:23:17 AM
"Raum is a great earl, he is seen as a black bird... he stealeth wonder-fullie out of the King's house and carry it whither he is assigned, he destroieth cities and hath great spite unto dignities of men, he knoweth things present, past and to come, and reconcileth friends and foes."

Pseudomonarchia daemonum
Johann Weyer

I'm working on creating a rules light, narrativist story game that is episodic in nature. I have included the first five questions of a power 19 and a few of my ideas for mechanics and the like follow it.

1.) What is your game about?
Players take on the roles of mythical creatures, defenders of the final verdant wilderness in a fantasy world, and the heart of all magic that remains. The forest at the heart of this wilderness is besieged by humans. Iron clad knights and soldiers with war machines that strive to wipe magic and the creatures of the wilderness out of existence once and for all. The players must confront the far superior physical force of the Human kingdoms in a desperate attempt to save their homes from destruction, but the more they make use of the primal magics that offer them a slim chance of victory, the more they are twisted and corrupted into monsters and bogeymen; assuming feral forms from a primal age when men still feared the wilds.

In an abstract sense, the game is about the destruction of the natural world and casts human beings as villains in this regard. It is also about the lengths to which one might go in the pursuit of a just cause and the corruption and destruction these compromises can make on the spirit of those involved.

2.) What do the characters do?
The characters battle ceaselessly to defend the wild places in a final stand against the Human kingdoms and their war machines. They may take part in any number of adventures or activities from taking human hostages or sabotaging the human war effort, find methods of viable combat with the human armies or fight them wherever possible. Often, the most effective method of doing this is to make use of ancient magics that play on the deepest passions of those involved and twist a character from a noble spirit into a creature of instinct and darkness, based on their curses.

3.) What do the players do?
Players control the actions of their characters, they also have a birds eye view of the characters corruption, and chooses the characters curses. The player also helps to spur forward the story by using their Magical Arcana to gain Narrative Control of situations.

4.) How does your setting reinforce what your game is about?
The setting should reinforce a feeling of otherness in the characters. It should have a sense of primordial magic and the creatures should feel as though they're part of a living mythology more than easily recognizable templates westernized and Christianized. The conflict present in the setting between the Defenders of the Wilderness and the Empire of Humanity highlights the themes present in the game, specifically around mans destruction of the natural world and of the pagan beliefs that were abandoned as science and Abrahamic religion gained prominence.

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about?
In prioritizing a characters abilities, they choose the level of their characters nobility and corruption, and also choose their Arcana and Curses. Many of which are conflicted gauges, each being useful in some way, and each causing the character to prioritise between success in their defense of their home and the maintenance of their noble character.

As for mechanic ideas, so far I know I want to have a conflicted gauge between a characters nobility can corruption, with corruption increasing the more a character utilized powerful Arcana to defend the wilderness. A character will also have two sets of what could be called a sort of Descriptor, one called Arcana and one called Curses, with the number of each dependent on the type of character the player chooses (fae, animals, changelings and beast men a la Satyrs, Minotaurs etc.) with Arcana detailing the types of ways and things a character can choose to effect in the story and Curses detailing the dark, primal ways their magic is affected and what they slowly turn into. All of this is very rough. I'm not sure exactly how it will work yet, but I thought, post early, post often. I hope people have thoughts.

Title: Re: Eschaton- A Game of an Ending World=
Post by: Abkajud on February 01, 2010, 07:57:22 PM
Sounds good so far! :)

So what happens when a character becomes corrupted? Is it eventually removed from play?
If so, have you seen Otherkind, or Polaris? They cover similar subject matter/end-game material, and it'd be worth checking them out for tips and ideas.

Is there any way to protect the wilderness without recourse to Arcana? Are humans always destructive, can they be reasoned with, can they be beaten without Arcana, etc? Or at least, could tactics other than escalation-via-Arcana work some of the time?

Can you also say more about the quote you have from Johann Weyer at the beginning of your post, and how that informs what you envision the defender-creatures doing? Do they ever infiltrate human domains?

Title: Re: Eschaton- A Game of an Ending World=
Post by: Justin Nichol - BFG on February 01, 2010, 10:04:48 PM
I'm not entirely certain what happens when a character becomes corrupted. It doesn't seem satisfying for a character simply to be removed from play, but I also want it to be of serious importance. To be honest, I sort of had this idea in conjunction with a second game where these lost defenders became the spectres and monsters of a civilized world but I wanted this game to work by itself before I consider it having any carryover to something else. To be honest, the reason I started working on the power 19 and posting it here is because I want it be a game thats episodic and leads towards an ending rather than being based on campaign play, but I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the end game...

I checked out Otherkind and Polaris, both seem interesting and definitely seem to be based around similar subject matter, especially Otherkind, and I'll try and research them further.

I kinda wanted the themes to be along the line of Princess Mononoke and Werewolf: The Apocalypse and other similar fare in the idea that the Wilderness can't be saved, it will be destroyed, the apocalypse can't be stopped. The game is more about telling the story of those defenders than it is about whether or not they'll succeed by virtue of your valiant efforts as a player. So it seems the endgame has to be based not on victory against the destruction of the forest but more about telling that story. Maybe each episode potentially leads to the corruption of the defenders, or that each episode acts as some sort of dynamic countdown to the final destruction of the wilderness. I'm not sure.

I don't want the game to be simply a predictable and boring "I can't do anything without Arcana- I use Arcana- the character is retired for it" because that sounds really unsatisfying but I want one of the major themes to be these once Noble creatures declining into savagery and instinct as magic is snuffed from the world. So yes, it should be possible to move through the story without escalation versus Arcana, but I wanted it to be more difficult because Arcana allows you to narrate more. That is where the quote came in, not because I felt like it specifically referred to something I wanted, but because I think it is reminiscent of the mood I find appealing. The sense of a being that is not human, that is very much not human. A feeling of these magical beings not being the stuff of fairy tales but actually being scary and alien.

I'm not sure if humans will always be destructive, but they will often be. One of the character types I want to be available is the Changeling. Human beings, and children that were stolen or wandered into the wilds and became one of them somehow.

I'm trying to use posting her and the Power 19 as a way to chew on these ideas.

Title: Re: Eschaton- A Game of an Ending World=
Post by: Abkajud on February 02, 2010, 01:35:18 PM
"...became the spectres and monsters of a civilized world..." - - that is gold, right there! Maybe you could use flashbacks and other time-jumping story techniques to, maybe, have the specters tell us their tales, while they also haunt our nights and dreams?

What do you suppose would happen to a defender who never becomes corrupted, but who is too clever and quick to die in battle? Where do cowards - and the tricksters, I suppose - run to? Is there some green Otherworld where they could shelter, knowing their kin and homes and all have been torched?

Or, for that matter, might such a place provide ease and respite from the corruption of Arcana, and relief from the struggle itself? Sort of taking the Otherkind idea of escape, but putting it in the midst of the narrative, rather than making it the End?

Title: Re: Eschaton- A Game of an Ending World=
Post by: ladygee on February 05, 2010, 12:16:45 AM (