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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Bret on December 03, 2001, 06:18:00 PM

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 03, 2001, 06:18:00 PM
Concept: Sci-fi setting where humanity is being attacked by a constantly evolving alien race. The mainstay of the alien forces are enormous creatures dubbed "Behemoths" - large, bony monstrosities that travel through the vacuum carrying hordes of smaller creatures in their orifices, and when they land destroying everything in their path. The only thing capable of taking them down are "Titans," large mechs constructed by humanity.

So there's the basic idea. I hope I'm not reinventing the wheel in any way. It has obvious anime influences, and doesn't show much originality in that little blurb, but I have a lot of good ideas that are in the process of getting fleshed out into a full-fledged synopsis. :wink: From there I begin work on an outline, but any suggestions at this point would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and as a rules base I'm thinking an incredibly modified system based on FUDGE.

Thanks for reading. :wink:


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Joe Murphy (Broin) on December 03, 2001, 06:44:00 PM
Ages and ages ago... gosh, it must be 5 years... I worked on a very cartoony setting. I don't remember working on the rules much at all. Hmm. I think I thought about making it  realm for Torg.

The solid, rocky inner planets of a large solar system are inhabited by various forms of machine life. Then there's a dense asteroid field/dust cloud. And the outer planets are inhabited by various 'bioids' and hyper-evolved monsters. Upon encountering each other, a war for the resources of the asteroid field has begun.

I had a few quite nice ideas. I did a *lot* of research into every mech and mecha source I could find. Everything from Evangelion and Battletech to the Centurions cartoon of the 80s. The machine lifeforms would vary considerably depending on their planet, from collosal mecha to human-sized forms. They were strongly religious, too, and had a kind of ancestor worship combined with a fondness for old technology; think

The bugs were based on Gigeresque sources like Aliens and Species. Their worlds were strongly magical, but I don't remember what I intended to do with that.

And there was a 'shadow council' organisation formed from dissidents in both factions, who combined technologies and developed nanotech.

I wanted to have a lot of *war* going on. Large scale battles with sentient ships and weapons. Over-sized lifeforms.

In a sense, it's TransFormers vs Aliens. =)


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: erithromycin on December 04, 2001, 09:08:00 AM
It's a nice concept, but it's maybe a little reminiscent of Games Workshop's 40K line. In fact, it's a small scale tabletop wargame called Epic, with the add on module Hive War. Doesn't stop it from being cool though.

Any thoughts as to how you would work the evolvery[1]?


[1] It's not a real word, but it sounds cool.

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on December 04, 2001, 10:55:00 AM
Vivolution (I made that word up). An organism that evolves as it grows and lives, not one that evolves generationally in a step-by-step way.

I dunno. Sounds's like the Zerg in Starcraft (or the Swarm in the Wild Cards books).

Maybe Ron can chime in on this?

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 04, 2001, 12:27:00 PM
Actually, Ron the biologist is wincing.

"Evolution" = change over time. It can be applied to anything, not just living things.

In reference to living things, it was originally applied to the changes observed during the life of a single living organism, what we now call "development." Later it was (and still is) mainly applied to changes to populations or types of creatures, often over many generations.

Sounds to me like what you guys are describing is "development" of a particularly mutable, responsive kind.

[None of the above is advice about what to call the phenomenon in a game or setting text. The rule in that case would be "good box office," I imagine.]


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 04, 2001, 01:00:00 PM
I think that we understand, Ron, that the use of the term here is intentionally inapropriate, and merely intended to imply a certain nature to the creatures development. Like the Platyhelminthes (flatworms) that can be cut in half and grow into two new creatures, I think the idea is that the creatures change in radical response to their environment.

Or, perhaps we can take it literally. Forex, if the creatures in question were, in fact, gigantic colony creatures (I'm thinking along the lines of the Portuguese Man-o-War, here), and the colony creatures themselves were very short lived and possibly genetically manipulated by the nature of the creature and its environment, then would it not be possible that these creatures could go through many generations with a relatively high adaptation rate and the mega-creature thereby change shape and function in short order?

I'd call that an interesting rationalization.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 04, 2001, 01:33:00 PM
Evolution is accurate. The creatures in my game would not be changing in their lifetime. Essentially, the idea behind the creatures is that they're all spawned by a hive mind of sorts. When they enter combat, the "information" is fed back to the hive mind so that in the next generations they can be altered to be more combat effective, meaning that as the campaign progresses the aliens' capabilities will improve and they will grow deadlier. In the alien section of the "book" I actually plan on having an evolution chart for gamemasters along with a technology chart for the humans - the two will be working in response to one another.

And yes, they are inspired by the Zerg and the Tyranids. :wink:

(Edit: Oh, and as for RPG influences, Bughunters is definitely it along with Battletech and Heavy Gear.)


[ This Message was edited by: Bret on 2001-12-04 16:39 ]

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: mahoux on December 04, 2001, 01:40:00 PM
kind of a Borg meets genetic manipulation thingie, huh?

(Not too scientific, but hey, what the hell do you want for a quick 20 second post?)

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 04, 2001, 10:00:00 PM
Okay, I have a web site up with a Behemoths section (Behemoths being the working title of my sci-fi rpg). I've thrown a more detailed synopsis on the page, so if anyone wants to check it out and give me feedback I'd appreciate it. Next comes the even worse step of creating an outline for the game. I'll definitely be begging help then. :wink:


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 05, 2001, 11:58:00 AM
There is an article in a series called Cruncy bits (IIRC) by Emily Dresner that gives advice about outlines.

I'd suggest that you enumerate the goals of your game here if you really want to get good help. Otherwise all anyone can do is guess at your intentions, which results in less useful advice. What do you want to acomplish with the game's design?


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 05, 2001, 04:32:00 PM
I've read that fabulous article. It's the article that got me to write an outline to begin with.

As far as enumerating the goals of my game, I really don't want much more than a fun and creative role-playing game, Mike. I don't get much more specific than that. :wink:


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 06, 2001, 11:23:00 AM
Well, consider refining your goals.

Or rather, those above are the goals of just about every RPG. That having been said, what do you think makes an RPG fun? Is it intensely complicated combat rules? Is it freeform character generation? Just two examples of goals that would require drastically different advice. If you don't state 'em, how do we know what kind of advice to give? This is one of the principles of GNS and critical design. If you don't know where you are going, you don't know where you'll end up.

Yes, this even applies to the Outline. We had a long thread about this recently. The main game I'm working on is very hard to organize, but I couldn't expect people to give me much help if I didn't let them know our goals. As it was I hid a few and that just complicated matters a lot. I should practice what I preach.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 14, 2001, 11:38:00 AM
"That having been said, what do you think makes an RPG fun?"

I think a rich setting with a lot of room for adventure and conflict makes a setting fun. I think the ability to create a wide variety of interesting characters makes an rpg fun. Those are the only things *I* really look for in a game. When I pick up a new game one of the first sections I hit is setting followed be character creation.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 14, 2001, 12:09:00 PM
Now we're getting somewhere. Here's my take - pretty straightforward.

If setting is going to be key, I'd suggest something up front of the book that establishes the setting, emphasizes the high points, and gets things rolling. And not a peice of bad literature, either. I mean a straightforward description of the universe of play, that lets the reader instantly know what the game is all about. Not just a short intro, either, but something that is extensive enough that the reader really gets what the whole game is about without getting into too many small rules or specific minutae. By the time the reader finishes this part he should have read sections enumerating a general idea of what life is like including technology (though in general terms), the big players in the universe like polities and other powers, the nature of the conflicts between these powers, and the general role that the characters can play in all of this. How can they "make a difference" (read "be protagonists")?

Then head on to chargen to emphasize the kind of characters that will be colliding with the universe in question. Make sure that it relies heavily on the information in the first part so that the player gets how the characters fit in and what they'll be doing during play. Nothing worse than making a wimp techie character only to find out that he has to do nothing but combat missions later (IMO). Also, it should have info on how the characters that are created can be hooked into the setting. Are they a military unit? Are they agants? How do their concepts and the world interact to create conflict?

Later sections can then provide specific detail on certain important parts of the universe (alien development, for example, and tech) in more detail as reference material. Bang up front, detail in back. Make sure that by the time the reader gets to the fine details that they really want to know about them. If at all possible.

Does that help?


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 15, 2001, 03:48:00 PM
That helps a good deal, though I'm now realizing that I'm going to have to do a lot more writing concerning the setting than I had originally thought. Hrm.

Thanks. :grin:

Anyone want to give me some advice on writing setting history? That's what I'm working on now and I'm finding it rather difficult.

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: erithromycin on December 15, 2001, 04:02:00 PM
It sounds a bit obvious, but start at the beginning. Where did this constantly evolving thing come from? Where is it going? What has it encountered? As for the rest of it, well, apply those same rules. Journeys have to begin somewhere after all.

One thing though. Use timelines. They help you keep things straight in your head, and allow you to build on things. Also remember that profound changes in one area of life will affect everything else, so don't forget to reflect that.

Don't worry so much about historical personalities or incidents or things. What I've always found is that if you ensure there are two or three entities in your history that have opposing viewpoints or agendas, they'll surface as you take them along your timeline if they're fleshed out enough. Is that clear?

Figure out a rough timeline of technological change and contact with things.

Figure out what groups of humanity there are at the start of this timeline, then work along it. See where things lead to conflict, or cooperation. Write something about those, and watch as they build up to other things, because those conflicts or cooperative efforts will affect other groups. Ok?

Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 17, 2001, 08:36:00 AM
Does the history include Earth? If so, does our history and the game's diverge at some point? Or is it just the future of Earth? In any case, if Earth is included, then simply start with tomorrow, or the point at which the histories diverge, and go forward and extrapolate a series of events until it looks like what you need it to be. Make up all sorts of crazy twists to get you there if you need to. Plausibility is good, but so is creativity. After all, this is a world of aliens and weird tech.

Fading Suns is a really good example, IMO. Also, if you need to eat up lots of centuries, check out Traveller which is set in the 53rd century. Sure it's got a cliche "Dark Age" and is thin in other areas, too. But it does at least connect the dots.

If not Earth, then you'll have a bunch more history explaining where the people all come from. There's always the "lost history" kludge to make this easy, but that's a cop out.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 17, 2001, 03:24:00 PM
My completed timeline can be found here -

This is just a crappy working one. I'm pretty sure that the times I set between events are pretty unrealistic, but I'll work on them more at a later time. After this I'm going to work on information on the different alliances, the aliens, technology, and anything else the player would find to be worth talking about in fluff format. Any feedback would be great. :smile:


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Bret on December 18, 2001, 04:51:00 PM
I suppose I should be more specific about what kind of feedback I'm looking for specifically. I was wondering if my the history I've created is reasonably realistic, if there's anything that needs to be extrapolated on, and also if you think the setting sounds somewhat interesting. If not, is there any improvements I could make.

Thanks a lot.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Ryan Ary on December 26, 2001, 01:37:00 AM
A note on the "evolution" question. One possibility it that the alien race has mastered bioengineering to the degree (or have a natural gift for editting their own dna if you want them non-technological) that each member of the hive (same race)is hyperspecialized to the degree that they don't share any common morphology. Rather, the particular (and I mean very, very particular) function of the individual defines there unique morphology.

For example, in a particular hive assult squad one member is is designed to breach defenses. It has massive stength (in one limb even), dense frontal armor and a keen dislike for a pherimone (sp?) that can be released by a "leader" onto the surface the "leader" wants breached.  

In another squad the creature that fills that function might be totally different or might be specilized in breaching field (i.e. force field) barriers.  

An even more bizarre twist would be to have some members of the race serve as "agricultural" units. That is they just produce energy (either in food, some other form or both or many different varieties for different functions) for the hive. These members simply churn out biochemicals (or whatever) for the others but are otherwise mindless. Sort of a sustainable cannibalism.

This is just too weird. I must stop.


Title: RPG Idea
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 26, 2001, 08:26:00 AM
As far as the timeline, a couple of questions. What year does zero AW correspond with? Or do you intend to leave that open, as in "a few years from now".

Also, how fast is your Warp travel? In terms of how long it takes to travel from inhabited system to inhabited system? Can a light year be traversed in an hour, a day, a week, a month? This will be very important in determining how reasonable your timeline is. Is there a max speed? Can it be maintained constantly? Is it like Star Trek Warp travel where the intervening space is traversed, or are there jumps of some sort involved (makes a big difference in how routs are determined)? Is the technology improving, or static? Do the bad guys use the same technology essentially, or is it different?

Your interstellar travel technology will say more about the universe than almost anything else.