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Author Topic: (A Seed of an Idea) An Inter-generational Saga.  (Read 837 times)
MJGraham
Member

Posts: 49


« on: November 19, 2009, 03:11:48 PM »

I'm writing another game in my spare time. It doesn't have a title yet. I'm using Ancestral Saga as a place holder until the right title comes along. The basic premise is that its about a family's involvement in a heroic saga and it takes place over several generations.

Characters will have the attributes of Authority, Might, Prosperity and Amenity. All characters are created by the group and distributed at random amongst the players, one per player. There will be a GM whose job it is to make life difficult for these characters. All characters are indebted by their positions and relationships until the day they die. E.g., "I must always protect and obey the will of my king" or "I will make sure my children grow up to be strong and free." To fail to fulfil these debts is worse than dying, and can only be remedied by an heroic death in battle, or exile or subjugation for a number of years.

Games will begin by taking an appropriate book, perhaps an epic fantasy novel, a Greek Tragedy or Norse Saga and randomly selecting a passage, reading it aloud and using it as inspiration for the upcoming story.

What other kind of things would you like to see in a game of this nature?
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2009, 10:18:24 PM »

For my own personal tastes, I'd want a strong emphasis on the generational aspect. Perhaps a limited number of events, phases, or turns as you follow the rise of one generation, their growth, their culmination, and their passing down the inheritance related to the saga to the next generation. The traditional young woman, mother, crone progression and the like would be inspiring to see. Or using the seasons to describe what stage of life a given hero is in.

I'd also like to see specific concrete benefits and difficulties passed down and modified by each generation.
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2009, 01:45:32 AM »

A couple of comments and questions comes to my mind:
 * I assume that you knows of "the Volsung Cycle", it incorporates assumably the original to Wagner's Niebleungslied, and quite a few more generations, that is unheard of in the Wagnerian Opera.
 * Will, for instance, one Gaming Session, cover 1 Month, 1 Year, 5 Years, 10 Years, 20, 30, or 50?
And, if the actual playing only covers a Month or a Year, then how will the rest of the required time be solved?
Will the GM arbitrate, or will it be a consenus or Storytelling between Player(s) & GM?
 * Can a Character's Indebtment change during the story, and what happens then?
Like, a Loyal Royal Guardsman becomes a father, and wants to protect his children instead of the King?

Curious Cat
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MJGraham
Member

Posts: 49


« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2009, 05:32:33 AM »

chance.thirteen, I like the idea of each gaming session representing a season in the life of the characters. My first thoughts are to begin the game in the winter (last years) of the older generation whose actions will determine the kind of challenges faced by the younger generation in later sessions (seasons). E.g. One character's father may have been brave and cunning to have stolen some rare artefact from a dragon's hoard, but it will require much more than bravery and cunning to defeat the dragon when it finds out who stole from him.

Catelf, I know of the Volsung Cycle, but I've never read it. My hunch is that gaming sessions should cover any where from a year to five years to allow for some quite epic journeys and growth. In between sessions time might pass at a rate of hours or decades. It will be up to the GM to arbitrate the passing of time. Indebtment can only change with death. In your example, the royal guardsmen is indebted to both his children and the king until either he, his children or the king die. If these debts should conflict with one another, e.g. his son tries to kill the king, well then that's fine too as it is just the kind of tragic dilemma that I'd like to see happen in this game.
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DWeird
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2009, 06:46:55 AM »

Is the family (or lineage, or clan, or whichever) itself going to have any sort of writeup and mechanical relevant bits? I don't know what your intentions are with this design, but personally, what I'd like most is toying around with what makes the family so special.

"We are a house of necromancers! You can't just go wander off to slay dragons like some manure greased farmboy!"
"Damn you father! I'll slay just what I damn well please!"

And depending on who gives in first, it either stays a house of death cheating mages or moves on to killing great beasts. Or some combination of the two.


A little intergenerational conflict, a little uncertainty in what the ideals of the family are (You must protect the king and the country, but the king happens to be a tyrant), and a lot of staying power for the results of these conflicts, so what a character did three generations ago would still matter.


Actually, what is this game supposed to be about? The importance of long-term decisions over short-term ones? Raising heroes out of your children and instilling proper values into them? Being kickass in a way that's actually noticable in the history books? Fucking up the life not only for yourself, but everyone last one of your descendants?
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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2009, 10:41:14 AM »

.... DWierd sparked my imagination and curiousity a bit further:
 * A Guardsman consider his/her duty is to protect the Country, and this usually equals protecting the King, but if the King is a Tyrant, then the Guardsman ma become obligated to Kill the King, instead.
 * Also, will "Magic" be commonplace, or "just" an important Backdrop, or will it be (seemingly?) non-existant?

Oh, the reason why i don't mention what i'd "like to see", isbecause i'm really unsure how it would fit into your concept, .....
but, in a way .....
 * Consider a different Race, or even Species, and the paths that may take: It can end up Tolkienesque, with them being described as Evil by "Normal Humans", or it can end up as Trekkian Co-existance.

Curious Cat
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2009, 11:25:36 AM »

also, are all players members of the same family? do they live in the same period or is one of them the grandson of the other? Does a player ever gets to play as his grandson, for example? if players get to role as each other player descendants you could get a better roleplaying of a generational rift, otherwise they might tend to play like their same character is young again. Are there any mechanics for growing a character upon a reflection of his ancestor? best luck, looks like an interesting idea.
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2009, 12:47:19 PM »

Depending on your goals, I could see more than one story being told per phase of a generations age. I just would won't to run a five year campaign about any one of them, you'd miss out on the generational aspect.

Another set of age phases would be a  tarot suit. Depending on other mechanisms, you could approach the number cards as a single phase, or as something you accumulate, then progress through page, knight, king or queen, then ace. This would be something like being an assistant to an older hero, earning your own name, archiving the height of growth within the society, then finally laying the true seeds of something new.

All the symbolism is to fire the imagination, and keep the steps a little discrete. For instance, I could easily see a story where a character becomes a leader of the people by rank, but hasn't really moved into the queen or king phase.

If you are going for a very open setting, and want the players to be able to make up almost anything, I feel you'd need something to guide the meaning of given problems. I would suggest traits for the heroes that represent what they can gain for their family or their culture over their career. So the game itself decides what trait is being tested or earned and then the story created needs to match this thematically at the minimum. So, one approach would be that a Crafty challenge be something like a riddle or shape shifting contest, you could also allow that the classic Ulysses trickiness against a stronger foe counts as well. Depends on how directed you want the narration to be from everyone.

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Catelf
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2009, 12:23:37 AM »

Me again:
 * I think Warrior Monk's idea is truly fitting, but one could also let a Player "return"  to a similar character, like a Really old NPC would say someting like:
"You looks, and fights, just like your great grandfather, that i had the honor to fight alongside with....",
 * You can alsu allow for a "Past Life(Lives?)" thing, allowing some Character to get flashbacks from an earlier life(or several).

Cat
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Warrior Monk
Member

Posts: 85


« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2009, 02:39:24 PM »

duh! I didin't thought it before but actually some of the bigger rewards could be hereditary and play a major role for upcoming generations. Like, for a service your character's grandfather made to the kingdom, your character gets to be admitted to the court and can speak to the king. He can even get a title, and thus it looks like a really long campaign where every once in a while your character dies of aging and you get to create a new one... except that you inherit some virtues of your ancestor, some of their flaws and get to develop your own, along with your own reputation. You can add that reputation with your family reputation to get a social modifier applicable to everyNPS that knows who your character is.

I recall the last session of the last game I run as a GM. In order to make an epilogue for their characters, players got to make some quick and general rolls for defining the degree of success or failure for their long term plans after the campaign was over, along with some rolls to determine how long did that took, in months or years. It went so fun that we even rolled for all NPCs including the villains who survived the campaing and othewr relevant NPCs. You can use something like that for the period between generations, if you still haven't got anything wrote for that part yet. Best luck!
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 612


« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 12:53:43 AM »

Hi MJ,

What would I like to see in a game of this nature?

I'd want some long-term issue that a good number of play sessions (i.e. generations) would resolve.  Whether it's "do we save the world or not?" or just "do we escape from the bottom of the caste system?", I'd need to know what the failures and accomplishments of my characters added up to in the end.

I'd probably want this big, main issue to strongly effect all players' characters, not just mine.  This would be the backbone of the saga, with individual or lineage-specific subplots fleshing it out.

I'd prefer it if the accomplishments of one generation demonstrably affected the next generation.  I mean this as opposed to the GM just resetting the threat to provide a constant level of challenge to each generation -- in that scenario, I would care more about each protagonist (and would want a good chunk of time to devote to them), with less interest in the generational flow.  This wouldn't be awful, but I'd rather take the unique angle (multi-generational saga) and milk it for all it's worth.  So it should make a damn big difference for my second character whether his dad (my first character) died saving the town, or merely died trying but failing to save the town.

Finally, I'd want all the status, intrigue, alliance and enmity that I assume you're going for with your attributes.  I'd want to say, "Do not speak to me thus, for my grandfather bought this land upon which you dwell with his blood during the Siege of 200!" and have that reputation and history mean something.  I'd want the chance to play a reckless glory-hound, a long-planning schemer, an average joe at the crux of an historic situation, a slave, a king, or a general.

Oh, and prophecies would be awesome.

Hope that was useful,
-David
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2009, 07:08:44 PM »

It will be up to the GM to arbitrate the passing of time.

Danger!

That's the single most important concept in this idea.   You can't just assume that the GM at the table will be able to figure out how to handle it if you cannot give rules and advice as to how to do so.  It cannot be handwaved away; if you can't concieve of a way to do it then there is no guarantee that it can be done at all.
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