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Author Topic: The Invisible Regiment: A phantom world in game mechanics?  (Read 800 times)
C.J.
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« on: November 13, 2003, 06:09:12 PM »

This is my first post, and I will put this, looking for advice, comments, and to inspire:

the first is my latest kernel of a single campaign idea, The Invisible Regiment. Its the story of a revolutionary war british infantry regiment that was wiped out, at the last battle at New York, in an accidental cannonblast by the Continental troops /after/ Cornwallace had already surrendered. This 55th regiment were all killed, and remained tied after death to New York.
More specifically, this is not about ghosts. Its about Invisibles. The invisible people are fragments from history who remain, interacting with our world in ways that dont affect us. For example, the Regiment sees New York City grow into a modern day metropolis, thanks to the passage of time and the Present People. The Regiment may blast a building to peices, adn it will stay that way in the Invisible world, but that wont happen to the "real" building, in our Present People version of the world.

Oh, and most Invisibles are those who died who in warfare. And not all are tied to the place of their demise, only the Regiment, for some reason.

As far conflicts, the Regiment still fights on this day, with other Invisibles. They might combat a German U-Boat at the docks one day, the next be in a skirmish with Doc Holliday and his friends in the middle of Queens, or the next day be building a fortress in Central Park.

Of course, this could be used for a whole game concept. But I can imagine it would require some interesting game mechanics to pull off the nature of the invisible's existence. Sure, it could be just done on the fly by a GM, but I think it would be better to have some sort of philiosopy or system ideal at least. I mean, there are some important questions:
1. Can invisibles affect Present People?
From what Iv imagined not really, but maybe. But then would there be some skill difficulty roll thing to do that? Perhaps a Invisible stat just for doing that.
2. The Invisibles can see Present People, but can block them out. There like phantoms which are easily ignored. So..can an Invisible just walk through Present People? I guess so..but then why can Invisibles interact with Present buildings, why doesnt the Invisible world stay the same, why does it change witht he Present?
3. If an Invisible can affect Present world architecture, but only to other invisibles, not present people, can they do the same to smaller items? Why not just grab guns, food, explosives, all right when they first appear in the present world, before other Invisibles nap them?

as you can see, theres a lot to be thought about here, but I like the idea overall.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2003, 08:23:40 AM »

There's a problem with continuity in all this. Let's say in 1920 a building goes up in the real world. Then in 1930 some Invisible levels it for Invisible purposes. Then in 1940 somebody else in the real world levels half the building, and build's up a new building on that half lot. Does that new building exist to be leveled again in 1950? Or is it still the original leveled building for Invisible purposes (as I assume the other half would be)?

Do you see the problem? Not really a compelling example, but, basically, with this model it's hard to tell when the real world "reasserts" itself on the world of the Invisibles, such that they have to react to it again.

Mike
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Harlequin
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Posts: 284


« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2003, 09:19:46 PM »

In this year's Iron Game Designer at Origins, I took on a similar challenge to yours - maybe the description of how I handled this issue would help jar something for you.

Game was entitled Through a Glass Darkly, though I think I'd change it if I were to publish.  Centered on playing the Kami, the nature and place spirits of Japanese mythology.  There, as in your game, I had a second world as the primary focus, and had to deal with how it interacted with the human world.  My answer was that the mortal world - everything that did not have its own Kami - appeared to the Kami as a series of bizarre forms in a uniform black glass, indistinguishable and strange.  They shared a world with it, but lacked the senses or context to perceive any details or distinguish it; they also lacked any ability to directly affect the mortal world, it was all immovable objects and irresistible forces.

However, in keeping with theme, the Kami were given the ability to affect the mortal world indirectly - through prayers to them, dedication to innocence and the natural, and so on.  They could not directly stop a bulldozer from destroying a park, but (with the right stats and a successful roll) they could request a scene involving a little girl praying that her favorite park would remain standing.

Obviously your theme is different, but the idea of using "request a scene involving relevant Visibles" as the way of players affecting the mortal world is one I offer to you if you want it.  Instead of prayer, perhaps the Invisibles get an option to invoke 'legacies' of their battles - descendants of survivors of the battle on either side, histories and stories of the battle as they affect scholars and others experiencing them, laws and borders made possible by their efforts, all that.  This would probably have to be player-driven metamechanics involving cutscene framing, instead of a skill the Invisibles proper would possess, IMO, though the idea of a "radio operator to the real world" is intriguing for some regiment concepts.

One option might be: Spend a Legacy Point to invoke such a scene; at this point a legacy of some kind will be present in such a way that it can affect the real world local to the story.  Then you roll off using some stat (Echoes statistic?) against the GM (the local Those Who Neglect History are Doomed to Repeat It rating?), and high roll gets to narrate the scene.  You win, the grandson of your messmate passes his bar exam, defends the (important for some reason) young girl in court.  The GM wins, he bombs the exam, binge drinks, drives home sloshed, and puts her in a coma.  The results of either action echo into the Invisible world somehow - maybe the girl was some sort of anchor (call it "Regimental Banner"?) for a regiment, or something.  Crossing the border by symbol instead of physically.

Does that spark any thoughts?

- Eric
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Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2003, 10:30:36 AM »

This concept was used for Wraith: the Oblivion to describe the shadowlands, the dead parallel universe where ghosts exist closest to our world. The difference was that the only things that existed in the shadowlands were destroyed in the skinlands. A building in our world exists in both worlds, but if that building were torn down, its 'ghost' would remain in the shadowlands even after being reduced to a parking lot in our world.

Of course, what goes down must come up. Say a new building was erected on the site of the old one. The very same spot where the old building's ghost now stands in the shadowlands. If I recall Wraith's explanation of this idea correctly, the new building simply co-exists with the ghost of the old building. A mortal only sees the new building. A ghost, however, sees the old structure intersecting with the new structure. Inside, if one were so adventurous to enter, a ghost would see a maddening maze of converging walls, floors, windows, and ceilings.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2003, 09:56:07 AM »

BTW, CJ, I never said welcome. Sorry. Welcome to the Forge.

Daniael, That would seem to be the way it would have to go. But the problem with that is, what qualifies for putting a ghost image there? I mean, if I park my car in that parking lot, is there a ghost car? Does it remain after I drive the car off? If so, then there would be all sorts of cars. And presumably the images of the trees and animals that were there before the original building. If it was ever foggy, would there be a ghost of the fog? And what if there was a hill there that was leveled to make the spot for the building, wouldn't that also be there? Seems to me that, unless you qualify somehow what gets an image and what doesn't, that everywhere would likely be intensely covered with spirit images.

So what I'd suggest is some sort of system in which the spiritual energy of a place is considered. That is, maybe there's some threshold at which something is considered a "place" by it's occupants that it becomes permenant, spiritually. So if I park my car, then it probably doesn't leave an image. However, if I were to put a trailer there, and live there, then maybe it would. Probably would depend on how much happened in the trailer. I'd give spiritual energy to a place based on what happened there. If there was a murder, then definitely there would be a strong energy (which would support the Invisibles that were there). If it was just a place where everyday things happened, and nothing really exciting ever occured in, it might not leave a ghost at all. Or, if you wanted to get really complicated, there could be fainter and stronger ghosts depending on the energy of the events that happened there.

In any case, I'd see the place being an amalgam of all the times of the powerful occurances. So, if a building had a love affair in it in 1910, and a murder in 1970, it would be a mix of those two appearances to support the spiritual resonances of the events in question.

With some work, this could become an interesting part of the game.

Mike
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Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2003, 03:22:09 PM »

In Wraith, a physical object only gets a ghost if there was emotional investment in it and the object is destroyed. So a car doesn't create a ghost of itself by leaving the parking lot. However, if there was a fatal crash involving that car, then that would most likely leave a ghostly manifestation in the shadowlands' parking lot even after the crumpled physical counterpart has been towed away.

As I recall, there was plot seed wherein the group would be searching the shadowlands for the ghost of the Challenger space shuttle. There was also a metaplot involving someone detonating the ghost of the Trinity A-bomb.
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Giant robot combat. No carbs.
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