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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 140 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [TSOY] Giant species design  (Read 12891 times)

Posts: 153

« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2008, 08:34:12 AM »


Thanks for the clarification around the Secret of the Temper. Your explanation makes more sense now.

I do like your fluffy-crunchy Secret combinations, though they do sometimes get wordy. Still, when we're writing like this, with free-flowing brainstorming, it makes perfect sense to do it that way. Sometimes the ideas develop simultaneously, and its good to make people clear what you're trying to convey with the mechanics of the Secret, as well.

For instance, fluff explanations like "giants don't heal slowly because they're brittle, but because they are by nature huge, slow-moving, and their injuries are epic in scope" makes it all make sense for me. I'm sure it helps other people, as well.

Secret of the Slow Conversation

Nice, although a bit mystical and therefore not everybody's cup of tea. I'd have this require Secret of the One-Eye myself, as they have special affinity with unliving things. Having performing this take a week is a nice touch, although I'd also require 1 Reason point; we should always remember to have anything and everything cost Pool, otherwise the pool mechanics don't work so well...

I understand it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I want the option there for people who are doing something a bit more quirky with the species. In our games we've seen elven naturalists (trees are about the only thing as long-lived as elves) and complete stone-cold killers, just as we've had goblins who are zealots and mendicants about their addictions, breaking the trope of addiction-addled comic relief. So, I'd like there to be options for giants who do more than just rage or fall to slumber, though to stay true to the bent of the species, I included the whole "you can fight nature if you'd like, if sitting around for a week is too dull for you rampage-y types" aspect.

I'd always meant for it to have a Reason cost, so we're totally in agreement there. I missed it when I got busy writing the fluff for it, actually.

Secret of Death-Throes

Good, although highly situational and might be a bit too expensive. I like how this interacts with the Secret of Bulk. I suggest that the character should be able to use the points as Vigor as well; being broken is a bit hard on the guy as it is, after all, and it's a bit anticlimatic if he can't spend these points because he runs out of Vigor.

That's a great call, re: providing dice which can be used as Vigor. Its intent was always to help you still be dangerous at the end of a conflict, which I think is a classic giant trope. Watch out for his final stumble--it might just crush something important.

Secret of Primordial Chaos

At first a bit too easy, but the Harm penalty balances it nicely. Personally, I would add that this is done as a refreshment scene and the SG is within his pregorative to act on his usual vulpine instincts accordingly. Allowing refreshes without the accompanying plot complications / openings is not a good idea, after all, and it's always nice if some miners find the giant when he goes about bashing a mountain to pieces.

I think thats a good idea in general, for Storyguides to act on their instincts on this one. It isn't supposed to be an option for unlimited refresh certainly, so the Harm might help with it. Do you think that it should be balanced by actually inflicting a Harm Level equal to the pool points gained? That could be harsh in some conditions (i.e. if that Harm Level is already filled, you'd actually end up taking an even higher one), but it'd also be clear that this was about destroying things to have power at your disposal, and NOT to make it easy to heal (because you'd be guaranteed at least as much Harm as you could otherwise heal, making it a draw at best, and possibly worse).

Secret of Disaster

Most excellent! I would require Secret of Chaos and Secret of Colossal Size, though; I like how something epic like this is only doable if you're really of epic size. After all, the giant without that Secret might be off-scale for humans, but breaking the earth's crust is still off-scale for him. Also, consider upping the cost to 5 Vigor.

Also good calls. I should keep city-destroying disasters at the appropriate high scale they should be at, which is truly monstrous things like the Colossal Size giants.

Secret of Biomass

Again, require Secret of Colossal Size for this really off-scale stuff, I'd say... then again, it's not unreasonable to have a smaller giant also carry some biomass. Also, I love the refresh mechanic. Perhaps something like this:

Secret of Soil

Secret of the Grove

I removed the healing bonus mostly because colossal giants might not heal naturally. Not opposed to it per se, although I frown upon alleviating assigned weaknesses with more Secrets.

These are both great. Thanks for showing me how to run with that one. I knew I was on the cusp of a fun idea, but couldn't quite get my head around it. I like that the Grove option is clearly for Colossal giants, but that the Soil option works well for giants of "standard" size.

Was your suggestion that those are second-order Secrets after taking something like Secret of Biomass, or that they replace it? I'm almost tempted to say they replace it, but I know you expressed liking the refresh mechanic therein.

Secret of Greatness

This is a bit weird in that it completely redefines the giant, metaphysically. The human-becoming bit is especially worrysome. I'm not opposed to reinterpretation (and I like the idea), but perhaps something a bit more societal would be appropriate:

Secret of the Titan (Ability)

Much better. Thanks. That's a great integration of Troels' idea.

I still think even this redesigned version could be interesting to include the whole lose-Stature aspect in it, and the potential of human transformation. There's probably an argument which could be made that its not narratively satisfying to have a mechanic occur which could drive you into another species without your consent, but even the Secret of the Sleep of Rebirth does something similar. I don't know. I'll let the issue settle for a bit, and see where I stand when it comes to actual play.

Secret of the Speaking Sleep

I kinda like this, although it also cheapens the remoteness of the giant when he as a character communicates directly with others. Definitely not a Secret that I'd allow a character to have without struggle. Well balanced, though, so no complaints. I'd suggest considering some form of symbolic communication, perhaps: it'd be much cooler if the giant's sleep visage only spoke in riddles or hummed, or perhaps spoke not at all. I like the idea that the giant himself is not a volitional being while in the sleeping state, as his volition is concerned with the marvelous dreams he's having. Which reminds me, a non-volitional alternative:

Secret of Heavy Dreaming
The giant's dream is so heavy that it affects the general area where he is sleeping. After each scene of the dream, the player describes shortly how the dream slowly seeps into the environment of his sleep. Thus new springs may open up, trees wilt, women bear triplets, skies grow dark as the giant's slow thoughts shape the landscape. If something pertinent is happening in the environs at the time, the SG discourses upon that shortly as well. (Normally the giant is not aware of his environs and the player is only aware of them if some other character's scene takes place nearby.) Cost: 1 Instinct Requirements: Secret of the Encompassing Dream

Both of those suggestion threads are great. I can definitely see the Speaking Sleep being a more omen-tastic kind of thing, where a giant's player describes some non-verbal message he tries to send in symbolic form, or conveyed through expressions only (I'm a big fan of the silent character in a role-playing game, for the dramatic challenges it imposes and the ways it forces us to express ourselves in other ways

Also, I find it surprising that you don't discourse upon the obvious synergy this stuff has with the earlier dream shaman material. I would kinda assume that a giant intent on wielding his volition in the world once more would turn his dreams towards methods that allow him to control them and even pull others into his dreams. We should remember that the giant actually has quite a bit of opportunity in his hands, as the giant dream is so real in so many ways. Learning dream shamanism during the long sleep is far from impossible for the giant trapped in his own mind.

Oh, I wanted that to be a real possibility (and I'll comment on it in "Giants on Near" in the species fluff I write), but I was mostly letting species be species and culture be culture. Invariably, someone's going to play a Vulflander giant at some point, and be able to integrate the two, but I want the ideas to be able to work independently of each other, as well. As you can see from oliof's post, there are people who are going to use the giant ideas in Qek, Khale, and anywhere else, and they may not be keen on all the Vulfland stuff posted here, or may have their own versions of those places or magics. So I was leaving viability there without explicit cultural crunch being required, though I know it sacrifices some of the "integration" feel that some people are looking for. At the moment, as I'm posting stuff online, I want it to be modular and have utility for people who are interested in some threads but not all of them, but that's a personal design choice, and won't suit everyone's philosophies.

Interesting One-Eye stuff. They're starting to appeal to me more.

It's probably true that I'm like oliof in that I have pre-defined splat ideas to help guide players in new directions, because it helps some of them explore new avenues on the fly. I think it takes a special kind of madness (which I certainly appreciate) to be able to pave bold new roads for your character development, including inventing new Secrets and mechanics on the fly when you need them, though some people have definitely got the spark. Indeed, if they didn't, we wouldn't be having these conversations at all.

As is, I think the giant stuff has really shaped up excellently, and I'm not super worried about the One Eyes at the moment. Even as you suggest, its a destination for a giant character, or Storyguide characters to interact with. It might be the case that actual play is going to help me determine my love for them, so I'll let that rest for a bit.


Glad you're grooving on the ideas. That sort of thing had always been my intent; much like the dwarves, I didn't want giants to just be a one-region phenomenon, so you and I are thinking along the same lines there. Imagine a giant in Khale wandering around with tress growing out of his back (via the Secret of the Grove), and how that would lead human Khaleans to treat him. Isn't there a legend about Old King Khale himself, being a gnarled old tree-like giant somewhere?

Giants might well be slumbering in the hills and swamps of Zaru, where an enterprising group of escaped slaves or ratkin could use them to their advantage in dealing with Ammenite oppressors. And woe to the enemies of the Maldorite lord who manages to shackle one of these titans and turn him into a living siege weapon... though what giant would stand for this for long without seeking every opportunity to turn his fury on his captors?

Hopefully, for those who are interested in them, there's a couple of places where they fit in nicely in the world of Near. Let me know if you end up having fun with them in game. Much like the dwarves, I'm eager to hear if there's been successful field-tests, and the story ideas that have come out of them.

Thanks for all the input, everyone. The ideas have been stupendous.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)

Posts: 153

« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2008, 11:18:55 AM »

So, the more I think about the giants, the more I worry that we went directly to crunch on them without fully concepting what their narrative niche is all about. I like the elemental and rage stuff which has come out of them, and they definitely feel mechanically primal and powerful, but I still think about some of what Troels said about their emotional place.

While I was originally tempted to do something about their "huge emotions", and then to push them towards the same ego issues that are tied up with the elf, both of those seemed either too abstract (after all intense huge emotions could just as easily be intense love or intense desire or anything else, which trods too heavily on the human, goblin, and other motifs) or already spoken for (I don't want to wreck the id/ego/superego triangle of the goblin/human/elf trifecta, even if we complicate it some by inculding dwarves and/or giants in that).

As we've defined dwarves in terms of Family, Mission, and Tradition, and pointed the vulfen towards concepts of Predator/Prey and Dominance, I'm tempted to push the giant rampage stuff towards the idea, very specifically, of Suffering. So, here's an idea to bounce off the assembled crowd, and see what people think of it:

Consider giants as inmically connected to the idea of being marked by some form of emotional agony or hurt. This plays to some of the "only feeling huge emotions" nicely, but keeps us squarely within the genre of things that would be rampage-worthy. Effectively, the implication is that giants live a life of suffering, reminded (however dimly or abstractly) of the emotional scars that shaped and created them. Some players might try playing giant characters who have some inkling of what these original scars were: just as some elves have the Key of the Bloodline, these giants  could be the product of a long-standing feud or injury done in the distant past, or a crime which was never brought to justice. They can easily vent their fury on a human community, a line of nobles, an organization, or just people who remind them of their past. Great crimes, cruelty, barbarism, and horror are the triggers which caused these giants to become what they are. They have become as chaotic and merciless as raw nature in its destructive form; while they embody the storm, flood, fire, and rockslide, it is those things which serve as an emotional metaphor for our own brutality and hurt.

Not every giant has to go this route, of course, just as not every elf character will be connected to a human past and (by extension) have a sense that some transformation occurred which brought them to this new state of life. But it might make for an interesting element to play with. It also makes the giant less likely to forgive a sleight, which is a personality trait which isn't currently spoken for among any of Near's other species at the moment. It allows their rage to be more than one note, frothing at the mouth craziness. If we can imagine the giant is a towering physical monster with a soft emotional underbelly, it seems like a clear motivation as to why they're rampaging all the time. If we extend that idea into the fact that they're towering monsters precisely BECAUSE of that soft emotional underbelly, well, there might be something which is narratively interesting in that "pumpkin fiction" kind of sense which TSOY embodies when it really hums.

I'm worried, in essence, that the giant feels very static at the moment, which seems a bad thing. His portfolio of Secrets and the narrative thrust of the ideas so far push him to be alone, and I'd like to come up with some interesting antidotes to that tendency, some built-in character drives which push giants towards interacting more (and thereby triggering all of their troubles). Great stories aren't told about characters who want to be hermits and succeed in being them for the rest of their lives, after all; its kind of a dull tale. The Species Keys for elves, when carefully examined, almost always drive more interaction with other people. That Eternal Question isn't going to answer itself in the void; you've got to interact with your Bloodline to hit the Key (however secretly), and even the Key of the Self mandates that you've got to be around other people specifically so you can *refuse* their requests. Its remoteness, yes, but of the most social kind.

If we make the giants remote creatures, I think they need things which bring them back to the narrative, and serve as motivators for them, in the same fashion.

Any thoughts?

-shadowcourt (aka josh)
Rich F

Posts: 20

« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2008, 01:05:55 PM »

This new twist seems more appropriate to the undead, with a 'Crow' style vibe.  To be honest, I'm surprised someone hasn't produced an undead supplement yet.  It's a natural development of the story arc.

Posts: 77

« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2008, 10:31:44 AM »

Consider giants as inmically connected to the idea of being marked by some form of emotional agony or hurt....

If we can imagine the giant is a towering physical monster with a soft emotional underbelly, it seems like a clear motivation as to why they're rampaging all the time. If we extend that idea into the fact that they're towering monsters precisely BECAUSE of that soft emotional underbelly, well, there might be something which is narratively interesting in that "pumpkin fiction" kind of sense which TSOY embodies when it really hums.

Yes! I love it. It makes it very easy to tie giants into stuff about relationships, which is where the real fun of TSOY lies, because so much hurt is the consequence of relationships AND so much relief from hurt can be found in relationships. Plus, the crunchy bits making it harder for giants to recover or relate make even more sense now, if giant life is pain.

So, transformations. Goblins transform by conquering their addictions through relationships with other people. Elves transform by acknowledging the existence and importance of other people. Giants transform by dealing with their grief and pain through relationships with other people. Those are the nice, uplifting transformation stories on offer, and they're good.

Of course, being an elf fan-boy, what I'm itching to play here is a magician-giant, say a qek walozi, or a goren warlock for some true ugliness, who seeks to conquer pain by expanding his mind, realizing that pain is an illusion, like everything else, going for elfhood. Now throw in a source of pain driving a need for relations with other people and a number of such people (other PCs) with common interests making their doom undesirable, tempting him towards a less bleak solution, and we have something I'd play.

And there's considerable room for human-to-giant stories too.

Good stuff, Josh!

Yours, Troels
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