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Author Topic: Nephilim using HeroQuest  (Read 4387 times)
RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« on: September 17, 2003, 02:53:25 PM »

This is a topic very near and dear to my heart, having been a Nephilim playtester and privy to some truly illuminating private discussion about the deeper mysteries which Sam Shirley intended to reveal in time but which never came to pass. My intention has always been to do more than merely convert from one set of mechanics to the other. I want to go into greater detail, expand on canon, totally reimagine the Nephilim universe to make it more narrative in nature, more accessible to players without occult knowledge, yet faithful to general occult principles. I will post much more on the subject once I have access to my computer at home, as I have numerous ideas stored therein from prior discussions.
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Drastic
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Posts: 23


« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2003, 11:54:56 PM »

Quote

...more accessible to players without occult knowledge, yet faithful to general occult principles.

This may be the trickiest bit, as accessibility tends to go against general occult principles. :)

But it's definitely a good conversion match.  The homeland/occupation keywords in general slap down nicely to model the Nephilim's past incarnations.  Magic conversion's a little bit trickier, but not inordinately so--and it's been awhile since I cracked open my copy of the game, so I may be confabulating a memory of Nephilim's magic systems being more rigid than they were.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2003, 01:01:20 AM »

Quote from: Drastic
The homeland/occupation keywords in general slap down nicely to model the Nephilim's past incarnations.


Actually, what I did was give each neph a 50-word narrative for its basic nature (Metamorphosis keyword, Arcanum keyword, elemental pattern) and a 50-word narrative for each Past Life. The limit was Ka (i.e., Hero Points), of which each neph had a small initial pool. It allowed for Past Lives which were more fleshed out than they were just using a 100-word-total narrative, and left plenty of room for additional color. Past Lives cost one Ka each in character creation.

Being a game of the occult, nearly everything would need a secret affiliated with it. The Metamorphosis secret is easiest to describe: gain a Become [Metamorphosis] talent which allows for full transition into that magical form. The secret of each Arcanum would be a bit more complex, and perhaps all would require a great secret as well (though, if we use HeroQuest great secrets as our model, they are end up essentialy the same: Become One with [Arcanum] Founder pretty much equals Reach Agartha, in my book).

Quote
It's been awhile since I cracked open my copy of the game, so I may be confabulating a memory of Nephilim's magic systems being more rigid than they were.


HeroQuest's Wizardry is a fairly tight fit for Nephilim's Sorcery, especially after the revisions suggested in Liber Ka. Animism has aspects which are somewhat akin to Summoning, in that I see nephs as requiring relationships with the various entities they regularly summon. Theism does not match up with Alchemy, but Alchemy was rather broken and in need of serious revision anyway. The first circle of Liber Ka-style Sorcery almost smacks of Common Magic.

I want to make use of the old concept of spirit integration from Hero Wars, except adapt it to Past Lives. Essentially, each neph discovers new Past Lives that it lived, and "advances" in setting terms by bringing those lost parts of itself back into its being. So you can run games which jump from era to era, or create elaborate flashback scenarios, yet still keep a degree of continuity. After all, nephilim may very well be co-terminous with all time and space! :)

I recommend Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris' Adept novels, the third of which (The Templar Treasure) surrounds the concept of past life reintegration. Also, Atlas Games' Over the Edge has a lovely fringe power called "Stress Atavism" which involves past life regression. Lovely fun, and one of the things I think adds immensely to the Nephilim setting.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2003, 06:28:48 PM »

Surely Drastic, Simon Hibbs and I can't be the only ones for whom Nephilim holds interest. Would that I had the money to acquire the rights, now that Multisim has given up the ghost.
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AnyaTheBlue
Member

Posts: 187


« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2003, 09:31:52 PM »

Of course not.

I just don't have anything useful to add (not even this post, really).

On a vaguely related thrust, I've had an (unfulfilled) urge to adapt Unknown Armies for running a Gloranthan game (Avatars == Rune Lords, frex).

It might make a good resource for your Nephilim-HeroQuest conversion, too, as UA has similarities to the Nephilim setting and some vague mechanics similarities to HQ and RQ/BRP.

If you do have any specifics notes, I'd love to see them!
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Dana Johnson
Note that I'm heavily medicated and something of a flake.  Please take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Drastic
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2003, 11:37:29 PM »

I've always thought UA's ruleset does a tone of grim but not futile desperation really well, but works less well for higher-powered affairs.  A good cross between its sanity/stress meters in HQ terms would be pretty nifty, though--I have to imagine newly-incarnated Nephilim in particular get hit with a variety of Self checks--when you suddenly realize you're simultaneously Joe Smith from Accounting and High Priest Keku of dynastic Egypt and a Phillipe le Devroux of the Knights Templar, it has to cause some interesting strain in the integration process. :)

HeroQuest's great mechanical pinning-down of relationships is one of my favorite parts of the system.  It works great for Nephilim, certainly--making it easier to track, right on the sheet, growing complicating webs of alliances and foes in the occult underground along with those summoned entities.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2003, 08:02:09 PM »

While Unknown Armies is a terrific game in and of itself, let's stay  on the topic: adapting Nephilim to the HeroQuest rules. UA's superficial similarities to Nephilim aside, the concepts behind the two are very different... as are their tones. Nephilim are not human, although parts of them may be.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2003, 01:26:31 AM »

Sadly, it appears that it may be mid-October before I get settled into a new apartment and can thus post prior notes I developed for running Nephilim using the HeroQuest mechanics. Things went sour with the folks from whom my girlfriend and I were supposed to be renting a condo, and now we have to search anew for someplace to live.

In the mean time, any comments on stuff already posted?
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simon_hibbs
Member

Posts: 678


« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2003, 07:55:50 AM »

While I am interested in applying HQ to Nephilim, unfortunately I also have too much on my plate at the moment to progress with this any further. I'll stick with the notes I posted here previously in the Nephilim Wars thread.

Simon Hibbs
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Simon Hibbs
GB Steve
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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2003, 12:07:12 PM »

Quote from: simon_hibbs
While I am interested in applying HQ to Nephilim, unfortunately I also have too much on my plate at the moment to progress with this any further.
A strange way to describe your first born!

But back to Nephilim, I'd never really understood why people would want to play an astral parasite but then the US version of Nephilim never really got me excited and I gave it away (in much the same way that SJG's In Nomine never really did it for me either although the original is v. funny).

Looking at Simon's write up for HQ, there seems to be plenty for a modern occult game a la Eco without needing to muddy things with PCs being Nephilim.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2003, 04:43:50 PM »

Quote from: GB Steve
I'd never really understood why people would want to play an astral parasite...


I'll not resurrect the argument that took over a year to quell on the Nephilim mailing list. Suffice it to say, not everyone considers the "astral parasite" viewpoint a valid one. I do not, and several things I have done for my HeroQuest conversion lay that saw to rest once and for all.

Quote
Looking at Simon's write up for HQ, there seems to be plenty for a modern occult game a la Eco without needing to muddy things with PCs being Nephilim.


Some of us want more than a conspiracy game, we want the game about spiritual progression and enlightenment which Sam Shirley offered tantalizing glimpses of in his NML posts but which never saw the light of day due to Nephilim's poor sales and Chaosium's money woes. Nephilim, for all its crunchy goodness, failed to achieve Sam's original threefold vision of gnostic, esoteric and cultic unity. My overall goal with HQ-Nephilim is to achieve this and, at the same time, re-form the setting so it is approachable for people who are not steeped in conspiratorial history, occult practice, and fringe theory.

So-called "average roleplayers" could not grasp how to portray nephilim characters because the game lacked a single, vital ingredient: a sufficient examination of nephilim culture and thought. Ken Hite, while a terrific contributor to Nephilim canon, lacked interest in what I consider to be the most important aspect of nephilim motivation: pursuit of the empyreal. He gave us a useful glimmer of nephilim society with Major Arcana, but he never delved into the evolution (which, like their origin, is transcendental) and psychology of the nephilim.

Nephilim must seem otherworldly yet understandable in their motives and mindsets, something the original game only manages cursorily. Nephilim  are the Many fragments of the Cosmic One all seeking to reunite with the divine. Theirs is not the world of sensation and causation, but of abstract and allegory. Magic and miracle are as commonplace to nephilim as sight and sound are to humanity. What is inexplicable to nephilim are those sensory experiences which humans take for granted, and the setting must evoke that sense of "everyday wonder" but, at the same time, not become bogged down in it.

A thought I have is that the nephilim do not incarnate into humans, but rather as humans (Moon Arcanum nephs, of course, incarnate as animals, while selenim incarnate into corpses). They do not reincarnate as much as rediscover lost portions of themselves (this is what I was referring to when I mentioned Past Life Integration in an earlier post). Human lives, both past and future, are components of the metaphysical organs (i.e., nephilim) of the One which sprang forth into consciousness when the One, responding to the disruption of its meditation by the Other, dismembered itself to become the Many.

[Greg Stafford explains this One-becoming-Many mystical stuff better in his article about Draconic Cosmology for the Gloranthan magazine Wyrm's Footnotes.]

To quote a post I made to the Nephilim-Ascendant Yahoo group, being a nephilim is somewhat like being Kosh from Babylon 5.

"I have always been here."

"We are all Kosh."

Imagine if you will that you are John Smith, an ordinary man on his way home from work who is hit by a bus. You experience the separation of your soul from you body. You drift in timeless nothingness, then see a white light into which you are pulled. You awake to discover that you are Dave Brown and have always been Dave Brown. You realize that you are also John Smith, and have always been John Smith.

You are nephilim. You live and die and live again, each time knowing that you are someone and have always been that person, yet are also these other people and have aways been them too. A thing you discover is that do not always live these lives in sequence, that sometimes you go from being Paul White, winner of the '52 Pulizter Prize for fiction, to being Guiseppe Amado, assassin in the employ of Lucretia Borgia, to being Enkishdu, architect of Ninevah's temples.

Eventually you discover that you are actually Hyaolammasu of the Magician Arcanum, risen from the magical fields which coalesced to give form to the planet beneath your feet, and discover that you were Hyaolammasu before all others, and that you have always been Hyaolammasu even as you have always been John Smith, Dave Brown, Paul White, Guiseppe Amado and Enkishdu. That is your truth. You know also that you will be countless others, more and more until at last you become One.

You have always been here.

We are all Hyaolammasu.

That is what it is like to be nephilim, in my opinion, and the original setting fails to convey this.
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GB Steve
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« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2003, 10:50:04 AM »

It is only a game, you know? From what you say it sounds as if you expect it to deliver some kind of enlightenment to the "above-average" roleplayer.

But returning to the HQ angle, why do you think this game system represents a better way of delivering the Nephelim ethos, rather than say Everway for example?
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2003, 12:00:53 AM »

Quote from: GB Steve
It is only a game, you know? From what you say it sounds as if you expect it to deliver some kind of enlightenment...


My perspective is this: if even one person chooses to explore philosophy, spirituality or  because Nephilim inspired them, then it has been more than "just a game". The same is true of any game. How many of us here acquired our initial interest in history, culture, etc. due to our roleplaying, our gaming in general? How many of us decided to learn something about the world outside our own little corner of it? Nephilim is a game, true, but games can be and often are tools for learning. I consider the acquisition of knowledge to be enlightening... don't you?

Quote
But returning to the HQ angle, why do you think this game system represents a better way of delivering the Nephelim ethos, rather than say Everway for example?


My initial, insomnia-addled thoughts are these: Everway, for all its vaunted promise, remains woefully beholden to  traditional roleplaying mode of gamemaster-as-decision-maker. It fails to provide a mechanism for player input other than through hero creation. I love the game but, in addition, Everway lacks two things: 1) sufficient detail to hold player interest over time, as heroes all begin to look alike; and 2) adequate structure to provide less-experienced players with much sense of what a hero can accomplish. Also: one of the great truths in this hobby is that people like crunchy bits, especially those which serve to distinguish characters from one another, and Everyway is short on those.

The HeroQuest relationship mechanics alone provide a magnificent means by which heroes are differentiated, and relationships are equally useful (if not more useful) in Nephilim's milieu as in Glorantha. Moreover, it is the player who ultimately determines the strength and nature of his or her hero's relationships, though the narrator can make suggestions. Those abilities, whether relationships or otherwise, in which a player chooses to invest serve as an indication to the narrator regarding the direction said player hopes to see the game go in the future. The wealth of possible sidekicks, allies, patrons and magical items adds to the distinctiveness of each hero and the authorial privilege of each player, because these are the player's to choose and develop, by and large.

More when I can liberate materials which I previously penned on this subject, currently trapped on a computer which is in storage...
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GB Steve
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Posts: 429


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« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2003, 04:28:54 AM »

Quote from: RaconteurX
My perspective is this: if even one person chooses to explore philosophy, spirituality or  because Nephilim inspired them, then it has been more than "just a game". The same is true of any game. How many of us here acquired our initial interest in history, culture, etc. due to our roleplaying, our gaming in general? How many of us decided to learn something about the world outside our own little corner of it? Nephilim is a game, true, but games can be and often are tools for learning. I consider the acquisition of knowledge to be enlightening... don't you?
I think I'll leave the rpg = applied metaphysics debate for another forum.

I'm frequently accused by my wife of having no soul (to which I emphatically say, "Yes!") so perhaps I'm not the best person to discuss this kind of thing anyway.
Quote from: RaconteurX
My initial, insomnia-addled thoughts are these: Everway, for all its vaunted promise, remains woefully beholden to  traditional roleplaying mode of gamemaster-as-decision-maker. It fails to provide a mechanism for player input other than through hero creation. I love the game but, in addition, Everway lacks two things: 1) sufficient detail to hold player interest over time, as heroes all begin to look alike; and 2) adequate structure to provide less-experienced players with much sense of what a hero can accomplish. Also: one of the great truths in this hobby is that people like crunchy bits, especially those which serve to distinguish characters from one another, and Everyway is short on those.
I don't really see HQ as being anything more than Everway in the GM-as-decision-maker stakes and I don't really see where HQ provides for more player input.

I'd agree with you about 2) but with 1) I don't. Although the rules don't provide for much differentiation, albeit for some in the choice of what each element does for each PC, you'll find that most HQ PCs are pretty much alike too, especially if from the same cultural background.

Everway is certainly short on crunchy bits though but it does deal with relationships, but in the more usual non-character sheet way of most RPGs.

HQ is more/less grainy (I can never remember which way round this goes, but I mean has a bigger range of numbers) so it is certainly more suited to a game where you want to see lots of incremental character development.

I just wonder how much of the non-metaphysical stuff is important in a Nephilim game and whether the system should put much more weight on this than you might find in HQ. I'm thinking about the way Sorcerer just has one stat for the PCs occupation. The crunchy bits should focus on what's important in the game.
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RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2003, 07:39:28 AM »

Steve: You are of course entitled to your opinion. This is not a "why use HQ?" thread, however, so I shan't debate it any further. Feel free to start a new thread in another, more suitable forum if you feel another rules set better suits the milieu.
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