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Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: Paul Czege on January 20, 2003, 12:15:19 PM



Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Paul Czege on January 20, 2003, 12:15:19 PM
Hey,

In a Dimension Syncopatic with Ours, a short tour of my fantasy heartbreaker, written two decades ago.

I was itching to do it up like this after Ron's first article, but my scanner was down of a fried SCSI card, so the game remained unreexamined in a box of old AD&D modules. But now, after an unexpected second article on heartbreakers, and with a new SCSI card installed just weeks ago, I was powerless to resist.

And it's totally strange, but the character races still make me happy in a way I don't quite understand.

Paul


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on January 20, 2003, 01:32:13 PM
Paul,

I like your races, too, for some reason. The entire game sounds rad for the era and circumstances under which it's written - and the title rocks.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on January 20, 2003, 01:42:50 PM
There's always a dude with four arms, ain't there? I did a terrible post-apocalyptic game back-in-the-day called BARREN. Bipedal bears, two-headed crocodiles, cyborgs and yeah, 4-armed dudes...

And I agree with Clinton...good title, Paul.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 20, 2003, 01:47:37 PM
Hi Paul,

All gecko characters are male; they prefer copulating with humans, and can do so without risk of offspring. At least once a year the gecko must return to his birthvillage for mating with a female of his species. The female is only six inches long; they become pregnant by biting the male's scrotum (this is very painful, a gecko usually only visits his birthvillage once a year, because he is obligated to make a trip to the harem each time he enters).

!!

When I said that writing Heartbreakers was a form of working out one's personal issues, I never dreamed ...

Best,
Ron


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Paul Czege on January 20, 2003, 06:29:56 PM
Hey,

Clinton, I'm glad you like the races. I absolutely love the buglurz-kin and the krak-kin in Nutcracker Prince. Did you ever make the connection that the infamous Sgt. Aminar "the raper" Korg from when I ran The Pool was named from the Nutcracker Prince names list? So were other prominent NPCs in that game, Gill "tats" Hocker, Lieutenant India "NoLady" Vaunt, Manumanolo Mancanes, and Rosalus, the Queen's handmaid.

Regarding the title, in the interests of disclosure, I'm now embarrassed to admit after the compliments that "In a Dimension Syncopatic with Ours" is actually the title of the tour. It's a phrase in the game's introduction I liked so much when reading it this weekend that I decided to name the tour after it. The game document itself actually bears the title L.A.R.P., an acronym inspired by M.E.R.P., that stands for Le Juan Approved Roleplaying. Le Juan is a surname I had wanted to use as a pseudonym if I were to write science fiction novels. It was wanting to avoid potential confusion with live-action roleplaying, which didn't exist as a common acronym at the time I wrote the game, and to avoid having to explain the Le Juan pseudonym thing, as well as my great enjoyment of the phrase from the introduction that caused me to neglect mentioning the game's actual name and use a title I thought would get people interested in taking the tour.

Jared, it's way interesting to me that you had the four arms meme too. I can look at the game and say without doubt that the cyclops were inspired by the one in Krull, and the Chloi by the thri-kreen in the Monster Manual II, but I honestly don't know where the four arms aspect of the darklings came from. A lot of the other juice of the darklings comes from the dark creepers in the Fiend Folio. Any idea where you caught the four arms thing?

Ron, you're absolutely dead-on right, the gecko are the race I wrote for my own adolescent issues. Maybe I didn't know the difference between reptiles and amphibians, but what better metaphor for the pain of adolescence than a slave race that stole independence and continues to struggle with the pain of relating to the opposite sex? Did you note the houri dagger? Can you say fear of beautiful prostitutes seducing and then murdering you? Of course, I only see this clearly now, in the light of twenty years hindsight. And even so, I'd love to play a burly, tortured gecko character even today.

Paul


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on January 20, 2003, 06:55:27 PM
Quote from: Paul Czege
Jared, it's way interesting to me that you had the four arms meme too...
[snip]
...Any idea where you caught the four arms thing?


No idea. I do know that many "home brew" and heartbreaker games feature the 4-armed dude character race. Talislanta has it. SenZar has it. I can't think of any others right now but we all know they're out there...


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Walt Freitag on January 20, 2003, 07:22:19 PM
Four-armed (and, more generally, six-limbed) creatures were a major feature of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels, starting in 1910. Did any major treatment of four-armed humanoids pre-date that?

- Walt


Title: Four arm
Post by: Andrew Martin on January 20, 2003, 07:23:53 PM
They're also in WEG's Shatterzone, and Games Workshop has the four-armed Genestealer.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 20, 2003, 07:54:51 PM
My hat goes off to you, Paul. I had tried RPG design for a bit and what I basically had was a game called Programs based on the movie Tron. The rules were red box D&D. Literally. I didn't even change the map from the sample adventure and I traced pictures from the storybook of the movie.

I might have had other ideas with more meat on them, but I recall most of my time was spent trying to make a Transformers RPG. I mean they had those tech spec cards on the back of the box that were practically RPG stats. All I had to do was figure out how to do it. They actually didn't follow any real logic. I have yet to figure out what the hell Firepower reflects. Que sera sera.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Mike Holmes on January 20, 2003, 08:05:28 PM
Ahem, the four armed guys are, IIRC, Orlens, from Gamma World (And probebly even Metamorphosis Alpha). And most heartbreakers of he Fantasy and Sci-Fi generes have had them since.

Mike


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: talysman on January 20, 2003, 08:23:11 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Ahem, the four armed guys are, IIRC, Orlens, from Gamma World (And probebly even Metamorphosis Alpha). And most heartbreakers of he Fantasy and Sci-Fi generes have had them since.


I don't remember four-armed guys in metamorphosis alpha, although they could have been hidden in there. the "established" mutant races that weren't anthropomorphized animals (cougaroids, felinoids, and as one reviewer put it "everything but voidoids") didn't have specific names; they instead had roman numeral labels. not very memorable at all.

gamma world may have been the source for the heartbreaker authors, but definitely the quintissential four-armed humanoids were the green martians from ERB. although he took his barsoomian races from theosophy... there were some early (pre-gamma world) dragon magazine articles about barsoom using d&d rules.

I'm wondering about the sources of the cat-races. I had a cat-race, but I thought mine was better than most, because I based them on a combo of lewis carroll's chesire cat, "puss in boots", and "tom tit tat", as well as a story about the king of cats; so my cat-folk were sub-halfling-sized felines that could walk upright or masquerade as a large but otherwise ordinary cat. most other cat-races seem to be mansized, with rippling thews.

ERB had a cat-race (on one of the moons of barsoom) that sort of fits; there was also niven's kzin and the lion-men from flash gordon. I'm presuming the heartbreaker cat-folk came in via one of those, but I'm not sure who was the first to add them.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 20, 2003, 08:44:24 PM
Tortured? They copulate constantly with human females!

Tortured?

I wanna play a gecko too, but not because it sounds tortuous.

Best,
Ron


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: clehrich on January 20, 2003, 08:47:16 PM
I seem to remember dimly that in the wake of the Drow series of AD&D adventures, I tried to come up with what would almost certainly be a Heartbreaker.  I didn't get far, but the comments about 4-armed races reminds me of the spider-people.  I don't remember what I called them, something stupid I expect, but they were basically Driders.

Speaking of "issues," I hate spiders in real life.

Anyone else do the spider thing?  Or the bug thing, perhaps influenced by Alan Dean Foster's magical singing thing or Heinlein or whatever?


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on January 20, 2003, 09:16:42 PM
Did the bug thing.

I was dissatisfied with the Ananasi of Werewolf, of all things, and decided that they were the survivors of innumerably many insect Changing Breeds.  Envision flocks of metal dragonflies darkening the sky, and wasps with glittering filigree wings.  Eek.

So, I busily threw these creatures at my D&D group for a while.  Did they love that...


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Henry Fitch on January 20, 2003, 09:30:20 PM
Y'know, I really like the idea of a little percentile chart for every spell. I envision printing them out and making a little index card for each one, and the wizard-player would take out the ones he'd "memorized" or whatever and hold them in front of him, or even draw them from a deck for some reason...

I might actually use this.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on January 21, 2003, 03:57:07 AM
Quote from: clehrich
Speaking of "issues," I hate spiders in real life.

Anyone else do the spider thing?  Or the bug thing, perhaps influenced by Alan Dean Foster's magical singing thing or Heinlein or whatever?


Oy vey, me no like spiders. At first I thought it was, "Too many legs." But after some careful consideration, it's not the number of legs at all (I saw the spider-mokey in Spy Kids 2 and it didn't bother me). It's the face. Spider faces are friggin' scary as hell. Aragog, anyone? Am I right here?

I love insects though. If I ever get inspired enough to do so I totally wanna write my D&D w/ anthro. bugs (A Bug's Life style).

The title of this thread still bugs me (no pun intended). It's not like everyone SHOULD write a Heartbreaker...it's that everyone should SHARE Heartbreakers from their pasts...


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on January 21, 2003, 08:10:24 AM
Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
It's the face. Spider faces are friggin' scary as hell. Aragog, anyone? Am I right here?

Possibly but that's because Spiders don't have a face, not as we understand faces, anyway. They are totally alien and freaky. Fortunately a rolled up newspaper works wonders.


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Walt Freitag on January 21, 2003, 08:46:39 AM
Funny, I seem to have missed out on the whole homebrewed-Hearbreaker phenomenon. Furthermore, none of my gaming friends, to my knowledge, wrote heartbreakers either.

What I'm more familiar with -- that is, what I did and what many people I gamed with did in the very early 80s -- was sort of the opposite: writing a set of "house rules" for D&D that radically changed most of the specific mechanics and at least a few of the fundamental heartbreaker assumptions, but still calling it D&D.

Because they openly acknowledged that "fixing D&D" was the goal, I wonder if these efforts were actually able to break conventions more easily than the true hearbreakers did, especially in terms of codifying drift. In building house-rule variant rulesets, there was little temptation to change things just for the sake of changing them. Individual changes tended to be made for specific purposes. For example, I remember that while the systems for acquiring and casting spells were usually overhauled, the magic spell lists themselves were rarely touched, while that seems to be the first thing hearbreakers seek to modify.

- Walt


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 21, 2003, 10:06:54 AM
Hi Walt,

The phenomenon you describe has been very common in my experience as well. I've mainly encountered Heartbreakers through published sources, not through socializing and actual play.

I found the D&D-in-name-only groups pretty frustrating when I was starting to get serious about designing my own stuff. I used to make almost a hobby of deconstructing claims like "we play D&D" and "D&D can be used for any setting," by asking key questions about reward systems, magic systems, and combat resolution. By the time the person had revealed major system-divergence in each of these categories, he or she tended to re-think the claims, or to refuse to talk to me any more.

Best,
Ron


Title: "Everyone should write a Heartbreaker"
Post by: jrients on January 22, 2003, 07:46:16 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Ahem, the four armed guys are, IIRC, Orlens, from Gamma World (And probebly even Metamorphosis Alpha). And most heartbreakers of he Fantasy and Sci-Fi generes have had them since.


Orlens also had 4 legs and 2 heads, as I recall.

Also, Orlen females were hot chicks with blue skin and green 80's hair.