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Author Topic: [Kindling Moon] Answering the Power 19  (Read 3000 times)
Kevin A. Ranson
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Posts: 12


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« on: February 04, 2006, 08:43:41 AM »

1.) What is your game about? Fantasy characters are displaced into an alternate reality. To survive, they must either take up the mantle of their alternate counterpart, find a way back to where they come from, or embrace the opportunity to become someone and something else altogether.

2.) What do the characters do? Once displaced, any number of friends or enemies may be lurking about to do them harm or aid them. Each choice will directly affect everything that comes after.

3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do? Players control one character each; their initial decisions in character dealing with being displaced will influence who they can ask for aid (or who will spurn them) while introducing the world to the players. The game master has the task of guiding the players toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve.

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The initial clue to the metastory is, in a realm where you feel like a stranger in a strange land, it turns out you're not the only one (after all, their are other players in the group). It has happened before, are there other groups, will it happen again and/or to what purpose?

5.) How does the Character Creation of your game reinforce what your game is about? The task/trade system design limits characters by their own traits, not by class restrictions. This enables them to evolve as required to learn additional survival skills if they choose to; being flexible is paramount.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)? Opportunities for problem solving, interaction, and combat all exist, but knowledge learned before taking these actions may be the most important. Curiosity usually won't kill you, but outright stupidity will. If something in the back of your head says 'run,' it may not be the worst idea.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in your game? Interaction should be cautious; loose lips sink ships. There are those who know what's going on (the displaced conspiracy?) and who the characters might be, and even the most innocent NPCs may seize an opportunity if a character gives them one.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game? With all the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, the possibilty for lots of story and interaction is everpresent. Small groups are recommended; only the most skilled GMs (and the most cooperative players) will be able to handle groups larger than 6 players.

9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?) Characters often find themselves directly involved in current events, sometimes even before they arrive! Events are also moving in the background, either for or against the characters and all the time.

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of your game like? The more a character advances in a task's rank, the less random and more exact their skill becomes. By design, any time a task can be appropriately pitted against another, the defensive roll (or counter roll) must exceed the attack action. In this way, a sword swing can be avoided with a task of dodge, block, parry, or shield use, but a "common sense" rule prevents using 'seduction' to stop sword strikes (although it could be used to ensure the sword never swings at all...)

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what your game is about? The roll vs. roll has a limited open-end function, but there is no restriction to how high a task rank can go; there will always be someone or something out there better than you, and you would do well to recognize that before your squashed like a mushroom.

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how? Yes. For every successful action, an experience point is awarded; such points can be traded for improved tasks (raising skill ranks) and traits (loosening skill restrictions).

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The more you learn, the harder it becomes to learn new things. The system is deliberately designed to make it difficult to be all things all the time; choices will come back to haunt you, and that's when friends (with different task abilities) come in handy.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players? The elated feeling of discovering a clue that yields the best choice and helps the characters achieve their goals.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why? Tasks are divided into trades that best suit what is related about them; since traits only set restriction, it is the particular task rank itself that matters when the time to act comes. Otherwise, the characteristics and realm histories are the most developed.

16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why? All the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, and the possibilty for lots of story and interaction.

17.) Where does your game take the players that other games canít, donít, or wonít? Their own possible past, possible present, and possible future.

18.) What are your publishing goals for your game? Get it out there in as many forms as possible; eventually create a way to merge individual campaigns at a tournement into one reality where everyone can meet for the first time (if only temporarily).

19.) Who is your target audience? Anyone looking for something new to experience along with character and be part of a larger story they will actually affect.
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~ Kevin A. Ranson
http://KindlingMoon.com
Graham W
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Posts: 437


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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2006, 09:26:40 AM »

Hi Kevin,

4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The initial clue to the metastory is, in a realm where you feel like a stranger in a strange land, it turns out you're not the only one (after all, their are other players in the group). It has happened before, are there other groups, will it happen again and/or to what purpose?

This is interesting. Who knows the answers to these questions? Does the GM know and he gradually reveals it to the players? Do the players invent the metastory during play?

Reading the answer to question six as well, there seems to be quite a lot of mystery in this game: a lot of things that the characters are expected to explore and puzzle out. How do you handle this? Is it in the traditional "The GM knows the answer" way? Or like the game "Inspectres"? Or...how?

Graham
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Kevin A. Ranson
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Posts: 12


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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2006, 03:46:22 AM »

Right now, those are mysteries which are going to be seeded to interested Game Masters via our support web site, over the course of a series of adventures, and (we hope) at least a trilogy of novels. The first (and introductory) adventure will introduce as many elements of the metastory as we can, hopefully sparking plenty of introspection as to what end. The GM will also be given a highlight checklist of the metastory elements introduced thus far (which, of course, any player could also read but shouldn't act on unless their character learns this), but what the final end result is will be a closely guarded secret... for now.

The metastory will not be absolutely necessary to play, but we hope that the creative GM will use it to help make their gaming group experience richer. The best part is, we know where it's going, but there are at least three distinct ways it can all end up.
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~ Kevin A. Ranson
http://KindlingMoon.com
TonyLB
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Posts: 3702


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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2006, 06:13:00 AM »

How old are these characters?† Because, seriously, when you're playing "I don't belong in this world, but I've got to try to figure out how to fake fitting in for at least a little while" ... that's a story that plays in a different way for teenagers (for whom it's pretty much business-as-usual) than for adults or children.† Thoughts?

Also, it seems like the game is slanted heavily toward a cautious, risk-averse approach to the problems of the world, right?† From the "loose lips sink ships" mentality right down to advancement:

12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how? Yes. For every successful action, an experience point is awarded; such points can be traded for improved tasks (raising skill ranks) and traits (loosening skill restrictions).

... where giving XPs only for successful actions slants people toward only testing on near-certainties, whenever they can manage it.† Are you promoting caution deliberately?
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Kevin A. Ranson
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Posts: 12


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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2006, 08:53:56 PM »

Caution yes, but more importantly, we're promoting "thinking in character." This is a so-called "low fantasy" setting in that characters will have a real influence by their actions (which naturally puts a little more pressure on the game master to keep track of such things). Overconfidence will get you killed; the purpose is to further the story, and you can't do that from beyond the grave.

Also, a note on the experience. The system utilizes a simple thumb rule (in fact, the entire system is populated with them and summed together on a cheat sheet for quick reference) to determine if a success point is awarded. Any task attempt must have a positive and negative consequence to gain a point when successful; otherwise, anyone who constantly rolls to look over the shoulder for bad guys would be constantly gaining experience. The "roll" for success rule is likewise complemented with a "role" for success rule; if the player does something in character that the game master feels has furthered the success of the game and story, an experience point can also be awarded. 

The game master can also, at his discrection, decide that an action was not worthy of a success point. The only automatic points come in combat (or other character vs. character interaction) when the game master calls for rolls and one character exceeds the contested roll of another.

And why have such rules to award experience during play? So *I* don't need to do any "point adding" after game play (nor should any other game master; let the players do the bookkeeping!)

Character age? Most characters begin striking out on their own (or would be allowed to) when they become adults in their cultures at about the Earth-equivilant age of 15. However, your character can be most any age (within reason), but is assumed that the character's total experience as a starting character is matched to all those in the group being played with. A clever game master would actually have no need to maintain such a restriction; a player should be able to answer the question as to what additional events in their character's life caused such an age difference with so little additional experience to show for it.
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~ Kevin A. Ranson
http://KindlingMoon.com
Troy_Costisick
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Posts: 802


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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2006, 04:46:22 AM »

Heya,

Thought I'd critique some of your answers to the Power 19 and see if that helps you out any :)

Quote
2.) What do the characters do? Once displaced, any number of friends or enemies may be lurking about to do them harm or aid them. Each choice will directly affect everything that comes after.


-This does tell us what the characters actually do in the game.† Like, how do the characters acheive their goals in the game?

Quote
3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do? Players control one character each; their initial decisions in character dealing with being displaced will influence who they can ask for aid (or who will spurn them) while introducing the world to the players. The game master has the task of guiding the players toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve.


-Your answer to this one makes be believe that you think the GM knows best what the players' characters actually want.† Is that true?† Do you believe that the GM should be guiding the players to their own goals?† Or do you think the players should be telling the GM how they want to reach their own goals?

Quote
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The initial clue to the metastory is, in a realm where you feel like a stranger in a strange land, it turns out you're not the only one (after all, their are other players in the group). It has happened before, are there other groups, will it happen again and/or to what purpose?


-This answer tells us nothing about the Setting of your game.† It does give us some insight into the Situation the characters face, which is cool.† But doesn't tell us a thing about where and when the events in the game take place.

Quote
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)? Opportunities for problem solving, interaction, and combat all exist

-Problem solving, interaction, and combat are all pretty generic.† Can you go into more detail about how these behaviors in the characters/players are encouraged by your game?

Quote
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game? With all the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, the possibilty for lots of story and interaction is everpresent. Small groups are recommended; only the most skilled GMs (and the most cooperative players) will be able to handle groups larger than 6 players.

-[Bold emphasis added was me].† I want you too look up the terms Illusionism, Force, and Railroading in the Provisional Glossary here at the Forge.† It's what your game does.

Quote
9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?) Characters often find themselves directly involved in current events, sometimes even before they arrive! Events are also moving in the background, either for or against the characters and all the time.


-This is interesting.† Very interesting.† How does play begin before the characters show up?† What kinds of interactions between the players does this entail?

Quote
12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how? Yes. For every successful action, an experience point is awarded; such points can be traded for improved tasks (raising skill ranks) and traits (loosening skill restrictions).


-This sort of resolution system encourages players to almost never take risks.† My suggestion would be to instead give a point when the characters fail at a task.† This way, no matter what, they get something each time they roll.† If they succeed, they get what they wanted.† If they fail, the lose what they wanted but do get a consolation point to help them not fail again next time.† It will encourage much more adventurous play.

Quote
14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players? The elated feeling of discovering a clue that yields the best choice and helps the characters achieve their goals

-Good answer.† But how are clues created and discovered?

Quote
16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why? All the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, and the possibilty for lots of story and interaction.


-What are the mechanics in your game that make this happen?

Peace,

-Troy
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Kevin A. Ranson
Member

Posts: 12


WWW
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2006, 10:27:30 AM »

Quote
2.) What do the characters do? Once displaced, any number of friends or enemies may be lurking about to do them harm or aid them. Each choice will directly affect everything that comes after.

-This does tell us what the characters actually do in the game.  Like, how do the characters acheive their goals in the game?

Assuming that you're not asking for a skills list, characters can take the high road (leaving themselves visible, seeking audiences with nobles), the low road (hiding from nobles, moving along the commoners and in secrecy), or the back roads (stay out of civilization and let it come to them in the vast wilderness between cities). Ideally, all of these may be of use from one time to another, so a combination will likely result.

Quote
3.) What do the players (including the GM if there is one) do? Players control one character each; their initial decisions in character dealing with being displaced will influence who they can ask for aid (or who will spurn them) while introducing the world to the players. The game master has the task of guiding the players toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve.

-Your answer to this one makes be believe that you think the GM knows best what the players' characters actually want.  Is that true?  Do you believe that the GM should be guiding the players to their own goals?  Or do you think the players should be telling the GM how they want to reach their own goals?

You're right; that's not what I intended by that. Try this instead: "The game master has the task of chronicling the players' actions as their progress toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve." At no point should it be suggested that the game master has their own agenda; however, many of the non-player characters under gm control does.

Quote
4.) How does your setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what your game is about? The initial clue to the metastory is, in a realm where you feel like a stranger in a strange land, it turns out you're not the only one (after all, their are other players in the group). It has happened before, are there other groups, will it happen again and/or to what purpose?

-This answer tells us nothing about the Setting of your game.  It does give us some insight into the Situation the characters face, which is cool.  But doesn't tell us a thing about where and when the events in the game take place.

The setting is primarily an Arabian fantasy (although Egyptian, Indian, and other influences exist), one with a history that almost destroyed the realm at the height of their last era and is only now beginning to reach such a level again. The one difference is that the 'gods' that existed in the old age were held accountable for the destruction of that time and were shunned afterward (which is much easier to do when you think they all destroyed one another to cause the aforementioned cataclysm). However, their teachings from a holy scripture have survived, knowledge written before they become petty and greedy; those with power have no fear of such divine beings, while those without find themselves drawn to the wisdom of the past. The question always remains: were the gods really destroyed, do they watch silently in shadow, or are they waiting to return when enough believe?

Quote
6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does your game reward (and punish if necessary)? Opportunities for problem solving, interaction, and combat all exist

-Problem solving, interaction, and combat are all pretty generic.  Can you go into more detail about how these behaviors in the characters/players are encouraged by your game?

In many games, there is nothing to think about other than "the mission." With the complexity and (hopefully) realism we've seeded into Kindling Moon, there should be enough gray area to encourage non-linear thinking about the motivations of characters. For example: the players learn that the ruler of a city is really a shape-stealing fiend that drains a portion of the lifeforce from all citizens within, but the amount taken from an entire city isn't enough to make even one commoner sleepy and the city enjoys all the happy benefits of an immortal benevolent dictator. Are the player's justified in killing the ruler? Could such knowledge be a lie? Should they ally themselves with the ruler? Is it right that the commoners are happy but have no knowledge their lifeforce is being suckled upon?

Quote
8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in your game? With all the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, the possibilty for lots of story and interaction is everpresent. Small groups are recommended; only the most skilled GMs (and the most cooperative players) will be able to handle groups larger than 6 players.

-[Bold emphasis added was me].  I want you too look up the terms Illusionism, Force, and Railroading in the Provisional Glossary here at the Forge.  It's what your game does.

Any game master can cheat by leading their flock to water; the difference is, can you handle the individual attention from a group of players loose in a world where anything can happen and make each player feel that they're the only one getting attention? Not to brag, but *I* can, and in groups larger than 6. This is taxing, however, but the rewards are worth it if you're willing to spend weekends in your imagination instead of at the movies in someone else's ideas. 6 seems to be a good number, but 3 is better and even a single player campaign can be very rewarding.

Quote
9.) What does your game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?) Characters often find themselves directly involved in current events, sometimes even before they arrive! Events are also moving in the background, either for or against the characters and all the time.

-This is interesting.  Very interesting.  How does play begin before the characters show up?  What kinds of interactions between the players does this entail?

This again is where the game master must be aloof to make this work. Wherever the player's characters end up intially, they may find posts or even positions of power previously occupied but strangely vacant, posts where their alternate counterparts were once part of. Perhaps they'd been murdered in secret and not seen for days before you showed up (which will really upset the murderer when they find out you've risen from the grave). Other opportunities can be a complete surprise when someone from their own past is no longer the person a player's character remembered them as. I've had more than one test player ask me, "What? Did we all die and wind up in Hell?"

Quote
12.) Do characters in your game advance? If so, how? Yes. For every successful action, an experience point is awarded; such points can be traded for improved tasks (raising skill ranks) and traits (loosening skill restrictions).

-This sort of resolution system encourages players to almost never take risks.  My suggestion would be to instead give a point when the characters fail at a task.  This way, no matter what, they get something each time they roll.  If they succeed, they get what they wanted.  If they fail, the lose what they wanted but do get a consolation point to help them not fail again next time.  It will encourage much more adventurous play.

I elaborated on this in my last post. "Fail points" sounds neat, but the real test is "Was their both a positive AND negative consequence?" Example: the player uses a task to see if a suspected pit trap is ahead of them; the roll is negative (no trap detected), but since there was no trap, no point is awarded. If there is a pit trap but the roll is still negative but a trap is there; since the roll fails, no success. If the both exists (negative) and is detected to avoid (positive), then a success results and a point is awarded.

Also, Kindling Moon is designed to use mostly single-digit numbers (for quick math) to translate into more complex results. So if you're thinking, "I'd be lucky to get 10 points a session!" you'd be right, but ranks increase by spending successes equal to the rank being raised to, and most task ranks fall under 10 points (the die system is what makes the difference). Everything is scaled to this benchmark, and we've spent thousands of hours to ensure it works.

Quote
14.) What sort of product or effect do you want your game to produce in or for the players? The elated feeling of discovering a clue that yields the best choice and helps the characters achieve their goals

-Good answer.  But how are clues created and discovered?

Game master preperation and on-the-fly thinking.

Quote
16.) Which part of your game are you most excited about or interested in? Why? All the intricacies of alternate realities and alternate characters, and the possibilty for lots of story and interaction.

-What are the mechanics in your game that make this happen?

Ah, he riddles me the ancient riddle! Here's a scret then. As I mentioned before, the setting is an Arabian fantasy, but in additon to being a wide-open space with desert terrain dividing conquering cities, there are also djinn (or jeannies or whatever). These creatures have an agenda (part of the metastory) and, like their mythical counterparts, can bestow a wish. This wish, however, is actually a weaving of reality to fulfill the wish's requirements, an alternate reality where the wisher's request is true because it had ALWAYS been true. And, if you haven't guessed already, this mechanic is also one if th many ways characters find thmselves no longer in Kansas anymore!

Thanks for your questions, Troy!
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~ Kevin A. Ranson
http://KindlingMoon.com
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2006, 05:52:22 AM »

Heya,

Quote
You're right; that's not what I intended by that. Try this instead: "The game master has the task of chronicling the players' actions as their progress toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve."

-Awesome.  So how does that work in-game?  Mechanically speaking.

Quote
The setting is primarily an Arabian fantasy (although Egyptian, Indian, and other influences exist)...The question always remains: were the gods really destroyed, do they watch silently in shadow, or are they waiting to return when enough believe?

-So how does that relate to this:

Quote
1.) What is your game about? Fantasy characters are displaced into an alternate reality. To survive, they must either take up the mantle of their alternate counterpart, find a way back to where they come from, or embrace the opportunity to become someone and something else altogether.


Quote
In many games, there is nothing to think about other than "the mission." With the complexity and (hopefully) realism we've seeded into Kindling Moon,

-With time/multi-demensional travel, a pantheon of "dead" gods, and shape shifting rulers, how is 'realism' at all important in your game?  What do you mean by realism?

-How does this:

Quote
For example: the players learn that the ruler of a city is really a shape-stealing fiend that drains a portion of the lifeforce from all citizens within, but the amount taken from an entire city isn't enough to make even one commoner sleepy and the city enjoys all the happy benefits of an immortal benevolent dictator. Are the player's justified in killing the ruler? Could such knowledge be a lie? Should they ally themselves with the ruler? Is it right that the commoners are happy but have no knowledge their lifeforce is being suckled upon?

-Relate to this:

Quote
1.) What is your game about? Fantasy characters are displaced into an alternate reality. To survive, they must either take up the mantle of their alternate counterpart, find a way back to where they come from, or embrace the opportunity to become someone and something else altogether.


Quote
Ah, he riddles me the ancient riddle! Here's a scret then. As I mentioned before, the setting is an Arabian fantasy, but in additon to being a wide-open space with desert terrain dividing conquering cities, there are also djinn (or jeannies or whatever). These creatures have an agenda (part of the metastory) and, like their mythical counterparts, can bestow a wish. This wish, however, is actually a weaving of reality to fulfill the wish's requirements, an alternate reality where the wisher's request is true because it had ALWAYS been true. And, if you haven't guessed already, this mechanic is also one if th many ways characters find thmselves no longer in Kansas anymore!

-So is it by making a wish that characters are translocated into the body of a counterpart?

Peace,

-Troy
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Kevin A. Ranson
Member

Posts: 12


WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2006, 12:55:49 PM »

Quote
You're right; that's not what I intended by that. Try this instead: "The game master has the task of chronicling the players' actions as their progress toward the goals of their characters: accept, escape, or evolve."

-Awesome.  So how does that work in-game?  Mechanically speaking.

The game master takes notes and the intiative to do a little homework between sessions. Maps, history, and a simple character creation for gm-controlled characters are there for support. Most importantly, however, is that other characters are affected by the players' characters.

Quote
The setting is primarily an Arabian fantasy (although Egyptian, Indian, and other influences exist)...The question always remains: were the gods really destroyed, do they watch silently in shadow, or are they waiting to return when enough believe?

-So how does that relate to this:

1.) What is your game about? Fantasy characters are displaced into an alternate reality. To survive, they must either take up the mantle of their alternate counterpart, find a way back to where they come from, or embrace the opportunity to become someone and something else altogether.

The first is the setting and a little background. The second is how players are introduced to that setting and background.

Quote
In many games, there is nothing to think about other than "the mission." With the complexity and (hopefully) realism we've seeded into Kindling Moon,

-With time/multi-demensional travel, a pantheon of "dead" gods, and shape shifting rulers, how is 'realism' at all important in your game?  What do you mean by realism?

Perhaps a better word is 'consequence.' In the real world, when supplies are used up, they're gone. When the dam is destroyed, the water has to go somewhere and someone has to rebuild it. It is possible that something wished may have set the entire alternate realm itself on a collision course with its own destruction or inability to support life.

Quote
-How does this:

For example: the players learn that the ruler of a city is really a shape-stealing fiend that drains a portion of the lifeforce from all citizens within, but the amount taken from an entire city isn't enough to make even one commoner sleepy and the city enjoys all the happy benefits of an immortal benevolent dictator. Are the player's justified in killing the ruler? Could such knowledge be a lie? Should they ally themselves with the ruler? Is it right that the commoners are happy but have no knowledge their lifeforce is being suckled upon?

-Relate to this:

1.) What is your game about? Fantasy characters are displaced into an alternate reality. To survive, they must either take up the mantle of their alternate counterpart, find a way back to where they come from, or embrace the opportunity to become someone and something else altogether.

One of two specific events usually starts a campaign. Either a group has no idea how they wound up together in a strange yet familiar place (a Twilight Zone-worthy displacement), or one among them has wished them all into a dangerous situation ("Ray, what did you DO?")

Once the players characters carve out a safe zone for themselves, other opportunities (provided by the game master) that could result in travel to a alternate realm can appear, or others with a similar story may be encountered. Like any open roleplaying game, all the game master can do is provide opportunity, but other travelers will come, other wishes will be made, and the players may have to become involved or choose to avoid a situation. It would be easy enough to say "the players must be heroes" but I'm not going to; every sentient being has their own idea of right and wrong, and "You don't want to go making the friends with the wrong sort," right?

Evil is a choice, just like good. But the key to the above statements being connected is that the player must choose who will they will ally themselves with, even if the answer is no one. There are simply too many other variables to answer this question any other way.

Quote
-So is it by making a wish that characters are translocated into the body of a counterpart?

That's one way, yes. Another way is if someone ELSE does, and you happen to get caught up in it. Are you the dreamer or the dream?

These are ALL great questions, by the way.
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~ Kevin A. Ranson
http://KindlingMoon.com
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