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Author Topic: Ergo Arcadiam - Postmodern Faerie Tales (longish)  (Read 1066 times)
dadahero
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« on: March 01, 2005, 06:12:09 PM »

So, with much prodding from a friend and avid reader, I have hauled myself over here in hopes of getting some feedback on this game I dreamed up years ago, but has been sort of lying in stasis while I did things like got a job, paid rent, etc.  Most of what made it onto paper from the original version can be found at my http://wiki.athousandmooks.net/sandbox/arcadia.php">Ergo Arcadiam wiki, which will hopefully see updates as this stuff evolves.  

When I first tried to explain my game, the words "steampunk" and "faerie" always crept in, but the more I think about it, the more that seems to miss the point.  Both of those descriptors are true, to some extent, but both were chosen as a means rather than an end.  

Instead, let me start with something about character attributes, which will hopefully be a better way of showing the ideas behind the game.  A character's primary attributes are other characters or archetypes.  For example, the first things on a nobleman's character sheet might be, "Two parts Baron von Munchausen, four parts Charleton Heston, two parts Richard the Lionheart, and one part Superfly."  (You know, you've got to throw in a little foil, or the character gets boring quickly.)

After that, the important scores are hexis, physis, and psyche, which measure a scale between imaginary and real, and shape how the character builds his or her memory palace.  They translate roughly into English as intuition, wisdom (or perspective), and insight (or artistic ability).

So to put the game in terms of itself, it is equal parts of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic, a John Held, Jr. cartoon, Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of An Author, and just a dash of Julie Taymor's Titus.  As for its hexis, physis, and psyche, I can only guess.  I hope the choice of examples doesn't come across as pretentious, because as much as I liked throwing in strange meta-narratives into the test games I used to run, the game is also just my favorite set dressing for high intrigue, fisticuffs, and other types of gaming that doesn't involve even the smallest bit of self-examination.

I have only a vague idea of how I want the mechanics to be set up.  I still hope to have everything be Tarot based, though I have to admit that sometimes I want to sneak in something into the mechanics that resembles Loteria. I'm a sucker like that. However, I sort of want the development process to involve the creation of cards. I don't know if this means something weird like making your own suit, or just adding embellishments onto an existing card that signify. There will hopefully be two sorts of game play depending on the situation: one for tense (or subtle) situations that plays sort of like blackjack (or baccarat if you're feeling continental... which I usually do) and one for chaotic things (because under it all, we still like to pretend we're in action movies) that plays sort of like Lunch Money. My big problem there is sorting out how to handle cards played by the storyteller/storyguide/whatever who will probably be commanding a small army of mooks.

As for the setting, most of the basic things will remain the same as they're already outlined on the wiki, although I may take a fine tooth comb to some of the ethnic groups to make them... well... a little less ethnic. I think largely I avoided it, but I don't want anyone to say "well, the boggans are Latnios" or something like that. In spite of the fact that the domovoi yaga take their name from Russian. They're not Russians. I promise. Just... okay, they're pretty much Russian, but they're not going to change much.

The back story has been rewritten in my head, but really only up to the death of Oberon. Everything from there on out pans out basically the same. Every time I try to explain why I'm doing this, it comes out entirely wrong, and so I think I'm just going to have to write it down and have some of you take a look at it.

Hopefully there will be a little more intermingling of the Victorian stuff with the more Jazz Age feel that isn't quite thoroughly mixed into the culture. Plus a whiff of the Roman where the tuatha da danan are concerned (yes, I know that's Celtic and you're just going to have to get over it). Actually, now that I think of it, there's going to be something rather like the tuatha da danan, but I think that's just going to be one name they're known by. And yes, they're still gone. Anyway, there will probably be some medieval throwbacks when country folk come to town, but I haven't quite worked that out.

Last of all, Ergo Arcadiam is not about faeries in as much as students of the mystical or occult would know them.  Harbingers of death or representations of nature or what have you. It's about imaginary people in the minds of the Western culture. It just so happens that at the moment that means faeries. But that's changing. It took me a good long while before I got over thinking this was basically just Nobilis, but then I read a little bit of it and decided it was sort of the anti-Nobilis*. It's about little stories about people who don't exist, and don't really want to. The biggest stories are about the people who just want to be real. Take that as a parable for life in America these days if you like, but it's still a clumsy one and I'm still working on it.

So, where should I go next?  What would you like to hear more about?  What suggestions do you already have from reading this?  I'm eager to find out.  Thanks all for reading this far.

*Not that I have anything against Nobilis, I just think this is coming at some of the same concepts, but from an entirely different angle.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2005, 08:26:17 PM »

You may want to check out Shadows In The Fog, specifically about the creating-meaning-during-play kinda stuff.
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Nathan P.
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My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
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