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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 152 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Atlas: Setting challenge feedback and observations  (Read 1991 times)

Posts: 206

« on: January 15, 2007, 12:48:27 PM »

As I seem to be the first one writing about it, I could put out a proper review of Atlas. It is a setting that certainly deserves it. Alas, with my current time constraints, all you will get are some random observations, mainly aimed at further development of an already-solid setting. Sorry.

This is a setting with a message, which is good. I am not completely convinced that the message itself is positive, even though the downward spiral of Polaris is replaced by a positive arc. Regardless of my personal political feelings and leanings, I was certainly carried forward by the rhetoric in the early chapters. There's a bump on page 13, and a series of fits and starts starting on page 21, which unfortunately loses that momentum. Now that you are no longer constrained by the word count, I heartily support any ideas you might have about revisiting the text and adding more of that entertaining ranting. Also, I would leave all the "meta" discussion about alternate settings and 50's memes to the end, where they would be conveniently covered without destroying the unity of the primary storyline.

"Positive Polaris" is a variation that needs to be proven through playtesting, I think. Although you could say that the idea is exactly the same as in every upward-spiral, positive power curve D&D-derived game out there, I cannot say I am immediately convinced that it will actually work when explicitly stated, made mandatory. Will the players get the feeling of victory through adversity, perseverance through cleverness, as offered by "those other games"? If that is not the point of the setting at all, I would be very interested in hearing how you would classify the stories that you expect to be created through Altas play? It is no longer a tragedy, it is not yet an action game. It is certainly a commentary, but is it a commentary that will hold the reader's interest? I do not mean these questions to be in any way negative; rather, I would like to hear what your real goal for this setting is. Can you really have a game about "celebration of human potential"? Or am I being too cynical?

Two minor layout thingies. On my machine, pages 13, 21, 37 and 51 have an ugly colour, not in sync with the overall look-and-feel. I do not think it is intentional. Also, the pages have no numbers, even though the table of contents refers to them.

This was short, but hopefully we'll get some discussion going.

+ Mikael

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Anna Kreider

Posts: 65

« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 03:57:57 PM »

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2591

« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2007, 02:30:54 AM »

I'm in agreement with both of you about the difficulty level of the text. Mainly it's just because I started writing and made my structural sketch without worrying about the word limit. Then I noticed at one point that I'm actually a couple hundred words shy of the limit, and could write no more. I could have gone back, deleting excess material to make room for more support, but I'd already spent enough time on the job and didn't feel like it. So what you see is what you get, and blame the 10 000 word limit if you will.

But, that's backgrounds. Apart from being fringe and difficult to translate into play, the main point of contention seems to be the positive switch of the dramatic arc. Mikael: the word you're looking for is "paean", a song of celebration and triumph. That's what the setting is pretty much intented to be. I don't personally anticipate any problems with it, any more than there is in literary paeans such as Robinson Crusoe or, of course, Ayn Rand's work. I do freely admit that the text doesn't dwell much in the specifics of what, exactly, the personal journey to victory looks like. It's pretty obvious if you've read some of the source literature, that's all I can really say.

Hmm... not much else to say at this point. I'm not bothering with my analytical hammer when it's my own setting in question, I'll rather save it for the next one on my list of targets. Perhaps I'll find some playtesters who are familiar with the issues and subculture of libertarianism at some point, who knows.

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Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
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