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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 177 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [sic] The Salad In My Head  (Read 4628 times)
Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« on: July 21, 2007, 06:56:34 AM »

Well, it's not the title of my game Wink

After an evening of brainstorming, I have a salad of ideas in my head and I didn't settle on a single concept yet. After eliminating the... wacky ones, I'm left with three concepts strong enough to work with them. However, I'll write only one game (if any at all), so to be clear – everything I won't use is up for grabs, if someone finds some use for it.

What I need at this point are opinions that would help me choose the direction to take, and some general brainstorming of how each of these concepts could be developed.

In general, I want to write a game that I'll play later, so no experimental stuff or one-shots (i.e. I need potential replayability and some genre portability). I'm in the mood for something tactical, but not overly complicated (well, I don't have space for overcomplicating things anyway). This means that I need to come up with some smart chess-like mechanic - simple in principle but allowing for complex strategies. I'm not sure how much competitiveness I want, however – I definitely want the game to feature the potential for either strong drama or strong color.

Most probably I'll go for rotating GM functions.

Also, I'm pretty sure I'll be pushing as many things that normally occur during the prep into the play itself as possible. Most probably the players will have a default starting setup or very few starting options (possibly confined to a list). I want characters to develop some solid mechanical definition later in play, however.

As for the sets, I've considered both Set B and C, but I'm not working with any of them. For B, I could have strong pirate and western attitudes, but set the game in a setting where they both fit (hmm, Black Lagoon comes to my mind) – but it's probably not the game I'd want to write now. For C, if I stretch “wacky” to “eccentric”, I can cover it with some crazy cultural mashup and have a rather straightforward post-apocalyptic space opera – but I'm not sure if I could tie an interesting system to such mechanics.

So, the three concepts I'm considering are as follows:

Setting: high fantasy.
Theme: revenge/treasure hunt story.

The idea is to have a setting with slightly Earthsea style magic, i.e. words of power, shaping the world with language and the like. All protagonists would have some magical potential – possibly, they'd all be skilled bards. The treasures are runes that the characters search for all over the world, to later use in creating their words of power and spell formulas. I'm not sure how to deal with the revenge part yet – maybe it's in some threat to the world. (Ancient gods, once banished, return to seek revenge?)

Conflict resolution would work kind of like this: someone makes a statement about something that will happen. Then, players manipulate words and letters in the sentence to change this fate. Everyone would have a pool of runes/letters that could be used for adding and modifying words, more letters could be gained by assimilating words and so on. There would be a number of options for manipulating the sentence, and most probably the characters would have some special feat-like abilities in the lines of “add an auxiliary verb for free”, “make your normal move and assimilate any prefix” etc. Obviously, any change in the statement would have to be accompanied by narration of corresponding changes in fiction (with completely chaotic effects for random combinations of letters and illogical sequences of words).

The game could use Scrabble pieces, but since I don't want to mess with Hasbro's patents, I'd probably have to find some way around it Wink

This game would be pretty much tied to the setting, however, so it's portability is close to zero, unfortunately.

Setting: sword-and-sorcery/cyberpunk.
Theme: religious conversion/flight-of-fancy story.

Sword & Sorcery and Cyberpunk go well together, as there are some genre parallels that make the mashup easy. I'd probably go for a fantasy setting with cyberpunk attitude and styling. Religious conversion part can be easily handled by MegaCults with their Sorcerer-Priest agents as main source of adversity, and the protagonists as heretics and rebels (i.e. which side are you on?). Flight-of-fancy can be covered by general gonzo over-the-topness – spiritual or astral world as an equivalent of the network, Lovecraftian AI gods chained in cyclopean MegaCult citadels, crazy oversized weapons, grafts, tattoos, crystalized angels implants and extravagant hairstyles.

I think it would be somewhat Planescape-ish, and Exalted filtered through cyberpunk lens would also have the feel I'm thinking about.

I suppose I'd go for pretty tactical, mission based play. I have an urge to steal some general concepts from Skapani we Krwi, Jacek Golebiowski's (JackTheOwner) current project in progress. The characters would be really tough – i.e. damage measured in normal human opponents that the blow could kill, and in case of non-combat challenges the performance would be measured in how many normal people could be swayed, outwitted or whatever. Character's overall power and vitality would be measured by some Reputation score directly based on the body count. Mostly color thing, but I think it might set the mood nicely.

Also, I'd steal Jacek's idea for slot-based combat, in a modified form. There would be a number of tactics to choose from, probably about five (Combat, Sorcery, Leadership and the like), and there would be a number of charts on the character sheet, one for each tactic and one for damage rolls. At the start, the sheet would be blank, but in play the character would acquire various techniques, grafts, spells and stuff,  and the player would fill the slots under each tactic with them. In combat/conflict, he would roll a number of dice (e.g. five, from d4 to d12), and then assign them to the tactics. The results on the dice would indicate which slots can be activated this turn. By default, the result would indicate the damage dealt, but some slots could contain special tricks (a short list of mechanical effects, like healing and buffs).

At the start of each mission every player would give the antagonist player a number of challenge points, measured in potential body-count (e.g. “I'm ready to face a thousand soldiers. Have 1000 points from me and bring it on!”). Then, the antagonist player would spend them to create the challenges, be it mooks or named agents and monsters (e.g. Sorcerer-Priest with a power of a hundred men or a battle golem with the strength of a thousand). I could use a modified version of Callan's “Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies” idea here – i.e. in each turn, the antagonist would choose one or two tactics that won't work, and dice assigned to them would be compared to the character's damage/failure chart instead of tactic chart. The player would have an option to define in what ways his character can be hurt (e.g. in play he could assign his eccentric hairstyle to one of the slots on the damage chart – then being hit in this slot would result in having the hairstyle messed up instead of losing a body part).

Add a reward mechanic similar to Final Stand's (i.e. players create a list of rewards and penalties before the mission, and then choose the rewards in order determined by their body-count), and that's basically it.

I probably like this concept the most, but on the other hand, it would be a rather standard fighty game.

Setting: western.
Theme: relationship/survival story.

This game could be interesting, I think, but I'm not sure if four pages is enough to cover it. It could come out similar to a lite version of Troll Lands. It would be about pioneers trying to settle a new land. The players would take the role of their leaders, with one of them playing the environmental threats and natives in each “turn”.

It would include some micro-management, and some board-gamey factor, in the style of Civilization or Settlers (i.e. plan the infrastructure, teach people the right skills, and so on). Maybe I could even include a board. E.g. I could make the document in such a way that after printing it on A3 sheet one side would cover initial setup and general rules, and after the short prep the sheet could be turned over to the other side, that would serve as a board/playmat with rules needed in play on it.

Relationships would be covered by strength of bonds within the community, required to face the harsh land. Also, I think that the player acting as the antagonist in a given turn would gain something like Fear points for causing serious troubles to the community – and in a later turn, as a regular player, he could spend these points to gain bonuses, as the community is united by the hardships. I think I'd need an economy that would encourage providing hard adversity and actually trying to cause serious damage to the community as the antagonist, in order to later have resources to rebuild it stronger as the regular player. The switch might be tricky, though.

So much for my initial thoughts. Sorry for the ramble Wink


Posts: 31

« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2007, 11:47:50 AM »

The conflict resolution that uses the manipulation of words is really awesome... damn... I want to steal it Smiley

My SIC thread about cowboys, pirates and splatterpunk: Disguised by Borrowed Plumes
Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2007, 02:24:58 PM »

Heh, thanks. Well, you'll have a chance to steal it, cause I'll probably leave this idea for now - I'm not sure if I can develop the concept into a playable enough game fast enough, and using only four pages. I think it has some potential, however.

I'll probably drop the settlers idea as well - it's a good material for a board game, but don't have any good idea for including role-playing aspects in a meaningful way.

So, I'll probably go with Set D in the end. It won't be the most original game, but it's probably the safest bet for something playable. Too bad I didn't feel very well today, and didn't do any designing yet.


Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2007, 08:30:42 PM »

I toyed with the idea of a word based magic system for a game once, if you know the games, it was a blend of White Wolf's "Mage: the Ascension" and Mayfair Game's "Chill". You basically had a range of elemental word categories, with each word being worth a certain number of points to master. Some words had pre-requisites for others, and certain words were kept secret by different schools. Each word had a basic effect, and a combinatory effect so that you could develop more complex mystical effects by unfiying the powers of different words (at heightened magic cost or other risks to the character).

Of course, the best I managed to refine and simplify that magic system, it still filled at least six pages of text for a good coherent and well rounded system..and that would rule it out for a [System in a Can] challenge.

As for your comment about "stealing Hasbro's patent", one of the rules in the challenge is that it can use things found around the house...so why not say something like "Lettered tiles as found is such games as Scrabble, upWords, and others". That way you keep the generic idea without specifically mentioning one particular game. I like it and think that it has potential.


A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2007, 10:00:03 PM »

I don't know Chill, but I liked the old Mage game - I'm slowly working on my own take on similar concepts.

Let's see...

Basic conflict resolution wouldn't have to take too much space I suppose - I only need a small number of maneuvers that could be used to manipulate the initial statement (create, destroy, modify, assimilate words, syntax manipulation and the like), with some general correspondences in fiction. Should fit one page. A page or less of special abilities, a page or so of setting and initial setup stuff, and with small enough character sheet I'd still have some place left, possibly.

However, I could see the setting in a form of a collection of short snippets about different realms, that would set basic difficulties for different maneuvers, and could be manipulated in a similar way (e.g. you have Goblin Lands realm, a few words describing it, and few numbers determining difficulties for certain forms of word manipulation - once there, you can for example change "bogs" into "woods" and add a citadel). Depending on group's experience and power, some locations would pose more of a challenge than others. There's not enough space for something like this, though, and otherwise the game wouldn't offer much meat.

The resolution itself could be tricky - I've been thinking about taking turns and rolling successes on various maneuvers, with the number of successes based on the number of letters that are to be manipulated and realm's affinities. But there's a potential problem of short vs. long synonyms, and general slowdown conneted with possiblel word look-ups. Maybe I could include some trade-off between short and long words, for example basing experience awards on the number of letters in the statement. That way, as the characters advance, the players could use more and more sophisticated vocabulary.

The idea with suggesting "generic lettered tiles" is good - I'd probably try to write the rules so that they were optional rather than required, anyway.

All in all, the rules could come out clunky in use, and the whole thing would be rather limited by the lack of genre portability. I'm still struggling between A and D.

D on the other hand could turn out a bit too similar to Anders's concept in tone. Maybe I'll take the rules I had in mind for this, and use them for a Ninety Nine Nights style High Fantasy game. Hmm...

Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2007, 11:31:41 AM »

Hmm, maybe I'll try to write the "letter quest" game after all. I experimented a bit with the layout, and with a bit of min/maxing I can have the sheet with complete list of "feats" on one page, 40-50 locations on two pages, and a whole page for the rules. Given that the rules themselves won't be extremely complex, I should be able to fit them on one page.


Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2007, 05:54:00 PM »

Just an idea out of left field...


The game with the dice that show letter faces rather than numbers, where you try to make words out of the letters that are randomly displayed.

Just another option instead of "Scrabble Tiles"...

While I'm writing though, the magic concept I had worked on previously concerned nouns and verbs. A magician needs one of each to work an effect. The basic verbs were pretty simple "Create", "Destroy", "Transform", "Enhance", "Hide" or "Sense". More knowledgeable magicians understood more complex verbs like "Corrupt", "Enchant", "Heal" 'Summon" or "Refine".

Basic Nouns were elemental in nature like "Earth", "Air", "Fire", and most magicians know one of these in addition to the nouns for "Self", the noun for their race, and maybe the word for their home enviroment. More complex nouns combine elements, for example knowing "Earth" + "Water" may allow access to a word for "Mud" or "Clay".

You could probably get away with a simple concept based on these ideas within half a page  or so. A dozen verbs and a dozen nouns can mix and match for 144 possible effects, and that's not even including the idea where you combine multiple nouns or verbs in the one spell.

But all this is heading away from the ideas you've got...

...ignore it if you don't think these ideas are suitable or useful.


A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2007, 12:51:54 PM »

Sounds a bit like Donjon's magic rules, only with pre-defined list of words. Anyway, I've tossed out some of my initial concept (i.e. "feats" - creating a decent list would require more work than I have time and energy for, and they could easily come out broken). Here's what I have for now: overall concept and rules for conflicts.

Primordial gods, once banished, return to unleash their vengeful wrath upon the realms of Midgard. Characters are Skalds who travel the world collecting Runes needed to defeat them.

Now, Skald is a multi-purpose generic hero class as in, if it was a console game about cooks, there would be samurai cooks, sniper cooks and sorcerer cooks.

The setting and gods have a Nordic feel as in, if it was a console game based on Nordic mythology, there would be bosses like Osiris, Quetzalcoatl, Leviathan and - just maybe – Loki.

Runes, system-wise are simply letters from A to Z. There are Lesser Runes (normally used in conflict resolution) and Greater Runes (required to kill gods, change realms and create new ones, and for other monumental deeds). Setting-wise, Lesser Runes are just an abstract magical energies rather than objects, and Greater Runes are various artifacts that concentrate cosmic amounts of this power.

Characters are defined by five Elemental Affinities (Aethyr, Air, Earth, Fire, and Water), pools of Lesser Runes, and list of Greater Runes possessed.

Character creation involves determining starting Affinities (somehow, maybe combining race and class), choosing a homeland (from a provided list of realms), choosing a motivation (possibly, from a list of starting goals), and picking a name after a gemstone/mineral, flower/plant or weapon/tool (the name sums up the whole character). The player starts with some set number of Lesser Runes (three of each letter or something like that), and no Greater Runes. After creating the character the player picks his starting realm, and that's the whole prep.

There will be a list of realms, although I'm not yet sure how much definition to give them (possibly, not more than an evocative name, and certainly no more than 2-3 sentence description involving some story hook). Each realm will have Elemental Resistances, available Greater Runes, and pathways to other realms listed.

The game will have a somewhat traditional setup with the GM, but he will be mechanically constrained (difficulties determined by current location and the like) and will have his own pool of Lesser Runes to use in conflicts.

Here's the conflict resolution:

At any moment, if you want the events to take a different course than narrated by someone else, you can initiate a conflict. Make a statement about the desired course of events. This statement is Fate.

Starting from the player to your left, everyone has an option to affect Fate or forfeit the conflict. Continue taking turns clockwise until Fate is sealed or all but one of you forfeit it.

To affect Fate you need to invoke a chosen Element on your turn. Invoke Aethyr if you want to seal Fate.

First, determine your Elemental Power (EP) for the turn. Roll two six-sided dice, add your Affinity in the invoked Element and subtract appropriate Elemental Resistance of the current realm. If the realm is your homeland roll two bonus dice, or one bonus die if it's a neighbor.

If you're the GM, roll two dice and one additional die per player in the conflict (only players active in the conflict from its beginning or from your last turn count). No Affinities, Resistances or other modifiers apply to your roll. Choose the invoked Element before you roll, regardless.

Next, you can spend your EP to affect any number of words in the statement. Affecting each word costs EP equal to its number of letters. After paying the cost of the word, you can manipulate it as explained for your invoked Element (spending additional EP and possibly Runes). If the Element has more than one usage, you can freely combine them in the same turn.

When you're done with your turn, any unspent EP is lost, unless it's Aethyr. You can keep and add unspent Aethyr to your EP on your next turn, but only if you invoke Aethyr again. Otherwise, it's lost.

At the end of your turn, look at the statement and narrate how things are getting close to its realization. If Fate is illogical or contains incomprehensible words, narrate an ongoing struggle to change the last course of events.

Once you seal Fate, it becomes a fact. Narrate how events resolve.

If everyone but you forfeited the conflict, you automatically resolve it however you want. Note that if everyone forfeits it right away, there is effectively no conflict and your statement simply becomes true.

Spending Elemental Power:

Invoking Aethyr lets you move words in the statement. Pay 1EP to move the affected word one place left or right. Also, invoking Aethyr is needed to seal Fate. This use doesn't require you to affect any words, but you need to spend 3EP per every word in the statement. This can be vetoed by anyone at the table if Fate is illogical.

Invoking Air makes it possible to steal Lesser Runes from affected words. Pay 2EP per letter to remove it from the affected word and add it to your Lesser Runes pool. Mark them differently – if you forfeit the conflict, you lose all stolen Runes.

Invoking Earth creates and empowers words. Spend 1EP to insert one Lesser Rune from your pool into the word. To create a new word, affect it by paying for the desired number of letters and then create the letters. You can put newly created word anywhere in the sentence.

Invoking Fire burns affected words. Pay 1EP per removed letter.

Invoking Water changes, merges and splits affected words. Spend 1EP to change the place of any letter in the word or transfer it between two affected words. Pay 3EP to merge two affected, neighboring words or to split one word into two.

An example of how this, in theory, works:

Ruby and Axe are assaulted by a demon in the ruins. They try to fend off the beast, but the GM initiates a conflict.
GM (declaring Fate): Demon eats Ruby.
P1 (invoking Fire): Demon eats b. Ruby swiftly evades demon's assault!
P2 (invoking Earth): Demon eats bomb. Axe throws grenade into demon's maw!
GM (invoking Air): Demon eats. Demon spits the bomb and dashes in Axe's direction!
P1 (invoking Air): Demon s. Ruby fires an arrow to draw his attention!
P2 (invoking Earth): Demon dies. Axe hits the demon with his mace!
GM (invokes Air but fails to affect anything): You hear his howl of pain!
P1 (seals Fate with Aethyr): And his horned skull cracks open.


Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2007, 02:50:52 PM »

Good idea.

I can see it working, but sorry, I can't see it working well.

Some primal concepts are very powerful but have very simple words. Kill, Heal, Burn, Die, Eat...they've been a part of the human subconscious for millenia. The effects the describe are dramatic, and from a magical perspective very noticeable.

More subtle concepts haven't been around for as long, and in most languages they have more convoluted words. Combine, Transform, Reveal...things that would make less of an impact on the game world seem to be harder to accomplish in this type of system only because the words are longer.

So you could write up a standard list of 4 letter words for simple magical tasks, 5-6 letter words for more complicated and difficult tasks, with 7+ letter words for the most powerful effects. Otherwise you'd have to bring some other kind of mechanic into play that balances out against this.

Maybe it costs you a point of elemental power per letter in the word to bring it into effect. If someone wants to change that word, they have to spend just as much elemental power, and for every extra point they spend beyond that, they can make a change to the word by rearranging letters, adding subtracting, etc.

Still, interesting concept and definitely worth pursuing.



A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2007, 10:30:25 AM »

Well, there are good and bad options in this game - and obviously, the player benefits for choosing god ones.

However, it doesn't mean that shorter word is always a better choice. Notice that before you start doing anything with the word, you need to pay EP equal to its number of letters to affect it (and then, manipulating the letters costs some more EP). Consequently, short words are easy to create, but difficult to defend and vice versa.

Consider statements like Ruby kills the demon and Ruby eradicates the demon. You probably woudn't be happy if the GM reduced kills to kis (7 Fire EP or 9 Air EP), then invoked Earth to make it kisses (6 Earth EP + 3 Runes), and then sealed this Fate (12 Aethyr EP) Wink However, even trying to touch eradicates would cost 10EP for the start, add the cost for specific manipulations. Additionaly, from eradicates it's not far to decapitates or kills, so even if the GM erodes some letters, you can still make it go your way. Or, maybe you will struggle with the syntax, as the GM uses Aethyr to make it The demon eradicates Ruby. I can see some strategies here.

Also, sometimes the player won't be able to work with the word due to lack of required Lesser Runes/letters (you won't make anyone die if you don't have d, i and e at your disposal). Other times, you will want to include certain word in the initial statement only to steal its letters with Air and replenish your Rune pools for their use in later conflicts.

I still need to tinker with the numbers, however. I'm not sure if location's Resistances are a good idea, as they might complicate the math needlessly.

Also, the GM will hardly have any chances against players working together, if only one Element can be invoked each turn. I think I need to give the GM more dice, and possibly include some option for combining different elements in the same round.

Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2007, 09:58:32 AM »

I'm still tinkering with the numbers, but I'm switching to small pools of d6s determined by the Affinity level, with the dice results added together. In Realms with Elemental Resistance there's a two dice penalty to the pool for a given Element. It will be possible to split the pool between different Elements and roll separate EP for each of them, and spend them for effects separately – but I'm not yet sure how to handle splitting.

Other than that, I'm slowly expanding the draft bit by bit.

Adventure Creation

First, you need a wrathful primordial god. Name this entity after some mythic being: god, hero, angel, demon, monster or the like. Anyone can suggest the name, but everyone needs to agree on it, as it sets the difficulty of the adventure. The longer the name, the more difficult it will be to defeat the main antagonist.

Examples: (a list of ten or so names goes here)

It's best to play it loose, separating the myth from its original cultural context. Pick the most apparent aspect of the entity and then warp and exaggerate it. This is what defines the primordial, and what poses a threat to the world.

If you're the GM, choose one Realm. The entity invaded, conquered and corrupted it, and now its monstrous armies threaten neighboring lands. Pick an agenda for the primordial from the list below, or think up your own:

Primordial started a full-scale invasion on one neighboring Realm. If it succeeds, it will expand its kingdom.
Primordial sent his agents to another Realm. They try to corrupt the land or its people, gain its support or acquire its Runes.
Primordial stole an important item or abducted an important person from another Realm. If this item or person is not brought back, some catastrophe will befall the land.

(I need to add 2-3 more)

You can give the primordial another agenda or create an additional antagonist with his own, now or at any later moment in play. The whole group must agree on it, however.

Character Creation

Choose homeland for your Skald from the list of Realms.

Rank his or her Elemental Affinities from 1 to 5.

Name your Skald after one of the following:
a flower or other plant (examples)
a gemstone or other mineral (examples)
a weapon or other tool (examples)

What does the name say about your character?

Give your character a Motivation. It needs to be somehow connected with the primordial, the agenda of this entity or the Realm where it resides.


And you're done. You start the game with three Runes of each type in your pool, but no Greater Runes. Pick your starting location from the list of Realms (it doesn't have to be your homeland).

More later.


Posts: 803

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2007, 07:15:22 PM »

This seems to be coming along nicely.


A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Christian Liberg

Posts: 67

« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2007, 02:43:27 AM »

I really love the idea of changing the runes, i was also thinking of something like it way years ago, but i never came anywhere with it, due to my inexperience. This challenge has really gotten me thinking about some of the older ideas i had, for that i thank all of you guys.

I like the way you are doing it, with the ability to produce totally unpredicted results. Im not quite sure i like the way you pit GM against the players, but that is propably just a indication of our different views on the GM duties Grin

How do you intend to change the difficulty of the main antagonist ( very cool way of deciding the difficulty ) man id hate to go up against the Nebuchadnezzar Smiley do you intend to change the cost of the letters in respect to the main antagonist? am i missing something or? I was thinking of giving a modifier to how many lesser runes the antagonist could use a round? for instance Nebuchadnezzar could for instance use 6 runes each round ( aethyr would always have to be used alone )

Even though i like it alot, im fearing that the game would be to hard on the GM ability to present a decent game to the players, as a large amout of players would do away with even a very articulated GM. unless of cause you aided the GM by giving him advantages corresponding to the amount of players or something similar?

Filip Luszczyk

Posts: 746


« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2007, 03:00:30 PM »


Well, the main role of the GM in this particular game, as I see it, is providing adversity for the group to overcome. It's not total players vs GM competition, however. Rather than try to win with players, the GM is supposed to create challenging situations that the group can solve. This setup is somewhat close to D&D in this regard, I think.

You're right about giving the advantage to the GM - his pool of dice in conflicts will be dependent on the number of players.

As for "the difficulty" of the antagonist, my idea was that conflicts with them work as normal, but it's not possible to kill/banish/seal/whatever the primordial permanently without the power of a number of artifacts. Basically, the group needs to collect some Greater Runes, win the conflict and sacrifice these artifacts to unleash their power. Primordial's name tells what artifacts are required.

For example, to defeat Thor, the group needs one artifact with Greater Rune T, one with H, one with O and one with R. Now, say, defeating Quetzalcoatl would require 1Q, 1U, 1E, 2T, 1Z, 2A, 2L, 1C, 1O. Nebuchadnezzar is a totally badass monster.

To gather artifacts with these Runes, the group needs to travel the world - there are 26 Realms total, and in every Realm artifacts with different Greater Rune can be collected. Consequently, the name of the main antagonist affects the length of the adventure and "checkpoints" that have to be visited. Shorter names are good for a short game, Nebuchadnezzar is good for a mini-campaign.

Additionally, artifacts with Greater Runes make it possible to burn Lesser Runes of the same type for additional dice (e.g if you have Crystal Sword with the power of Greater Rune C, you can spend letter c from your pool of Lesser Runes for a bonus 1d6 to EP roll). Also, these treasures can be sacrificed for rerolls, for creating new Realms (as shortcuts between other Realms, personal domains and to gain Homeland bonuses), and possibly for rapid transport between distant Realms.

It took me a while to design the list of Realms. However, they are basically "a board" for group's travels. There are no specific descriptions, but I tried to make the names somewhat evocative (well, finding good alliterations for X, Y and Z was... tough). Every time the characters visit a Realm, the GM and players should come up with some new feature, suggesting themselves with the name of the land (i.e. travelling between Realms is basically fleshing out the setting).

The Realms are like "bubbles" scattered on the branches of Ygdrassil. Every Realm has two direct passages to nearby Realms, and two one-directional gates. There's a certain pattern to it, but the whole world is like a labyrinth and players need to plan their travels carefully (finding shortest routes that allow them to collect Greater Runes they need).

I still need to write some rules and examples, create a character sheet, stitch the rules together and organize them, but I'm drained so I'll call it a day for today Smiley

Here's the list of Realms (they should fit one page):

Arctic Archipelago
Greater Rune: A
Weak Elements: Earth, Fire
Paths: Eagle Empire, Windmill Woods
Gates: Jungle of Jewels, Plateau of Pillars

Bayou of Bazaars
Greater Rune: B
Weak Elements: Air, Earth
Paths: Fiery Forest, Xenophobic Xanadu
Gates: Kingdom of Keys, Quiet Quagmire

Clockwork City
Greater Rune: C
Weak Elements: Air, Water
Paths: Glacial Garden, Yellow Yonder
Gates: Lizard Lagoon, Ruins of Riddles

Desert of Daggers
Greater Rune: D
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Water
Paths: Heather Highlands, Zone of Ziggurats
Gates: Moonlit Mountains, Scarlet Shore

Eagle Empire
Greater Rune: E
Weak Elements: Earth, Water
Paths: Iron Island, Arctic Archipelago
Gates: Nameless Necropolis, Tainted Tribelands

Fiery Forest
Greater Rune: F
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Water
Paths: Jungle of Jewels, Bayou of Bazaars
Gates: Ocean of Oblivion, Unsung University

Glacial Garden
Greater Rune: G
Weak Elements: Air, Fire
Paths: Kingdom of Keys, Clockwork City
Gates: Plateau of Pillars, Valley of Visions

Heather Highlands
Greater Rune: H
Weak Elements: Fire, Water
Paths: Lizard Lagoon, Desert of Daggers
Gates: Quiet Quagmire, Windmill Woods

Iron Island
Greater Rune: I
Weak Elements: Air, Fire
Paths: Moonlit Mountains, Eagle Empire
Gates: Ruins of Riddles, Xenophobic Xanadu

Jungle of Jewels
Greater Rune: J
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Air
Paths: Nameless Necropolis, Fiery Forest
Gates: Scarlet Shore, Yellow Yonder

Kingdom of Keys
Greater Rune: K
Weak Elements: Earth, Water
Paths: Ocean of Oblivion, Glacial Garden
Gates: Tainted Tribelands, Zone of Ziggurats

Lizard Lagoon
Greater Rune: L
Weak Elements: Air, Earth
Paths: Plateau of Pillars, Heather Highlands
Gates: Unsung University, Arctic Archipelago

Moonlit Mountains
Greater Rune: M
Weak Elements: Fire, Water
Paths: Quiet Quagmire, Iron Island
Gates: Valley of Visions, Bayou of Bazaars

Nameless Necropolis
Greater Rune: N
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Fire
Paths: Ruins of Riddles, Jungle of Jewels
Gates: Windmill Woods, Clockwork City

Ocean of Oblivion
Greater Rune: O
Weak Elements: Earth, Fire
Paths: Scarlet Shore, Kingdom of Keys
Gates: Xenophobic Xanadu, Desert of Daggers

Plateau of Pillars
Greater Rune: P
Weak Elements: Air, Water
Paths: Tainted Tribelands, Lizard Lagoon
Gates: Yellow Yonder, Eagle Empire

Quiet Quagmire
Greater Rune: Q
Weak Elements: Air, Fire
Paths: Unsung University, Moonlit Mountains
Gates: Zone of Ziggurats, Fiery Forest

Ruins of Riddles
Greater Rune: R
Weak Elements: Air, Water
Paths: Valley of Visions, Nameless Necropolis
Gates: Arctic Archipelago, Glacial Garden

Scarlet Shore
Greater Rune: S
Weak Elements: Air, Earth
Paths: Windmill Woods, Ocean of Oblivion
Gates: Bayou of Bazaars, Heather Highlands

Tainted Tribelands
Greater Rune: T
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Fire
Paths: Xenophobic Xanadu, Plateau of Pillars
Gates: Clockwork City, Iron Island

Unsung University
Greater Rune: U
Weak Elements: Earth, Water
Paths: Yellow Yonder, Quiet Quagmire
Gates: Dessert of Daggers, Jungle of Jewels

Valley of Visions
Greater Rune: V
Weak Elements: Earth, Fire
Paths: Zone of Ziggurats, Ruins of Riddles
Gates: Eagle Empire, Kingdom of Keys

Windmill Woods
Greater Rune: W
Weak Elements: Fire, Water
Paths: Arctic Archipelago, Scarlet Shore
Gates: Fiery Forest, Lizard Lagoon

Xenophobic Xanadu
Greater Rune: X
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Earth
Paths: Bayou of Bazaars, Tainted Tribelands
Gates: Glacial Garden, Moonlit Mountains

Yellow Yonder
Greater Rune: Y
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Earth
Paths: Clockwork City, Unsung University
Gates: Heather Highlands, Nameless Necropolis

Zone of Ziggurats
Greater Rune: Z
Weak Elements: Aethyr, Air
Paths: Desert of Daggers, Valley of Visions
Gates: Iron Island, Ocean of Oblivion

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