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Author Topic: [Charnel Gods] Questions and Musings  (Read 9918 times)
Old_Scratch
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Posts: 128


« on: June 09, 2004, 01:22:51 PM »

I'm looking forward to breaking my players into Sorcerer, but before playing with the Mythic Past/Haunted Present setting, I'm going to start them off with the Charnel Gods setting, which I think is a great entry for most conventional players to get into Sorcerer. So good in fact, that I think it should be part of the Sorcerer book! Anyhow, I'm using the Armageddon Clock setting (props to the person who came up with the name...) mentioned in the Actual Play forum. While reading the book, a few ideas came up, things worthy of further discussion and development.

Charnel God Questions

Race to Zero Humanity
  Ideally, players won't do this, and initially I'm not informing my players of the Harbinger, but despite this, I suspect that its possible that some people might be in a race of debauchery and inhuman acts to be the first to reach this point. Now I have some ideas to avoid this, but I'm curious to hear what others think and how they would encourage their players to reconsider such options.

The Conventional Nature of the Weapons
  Is the Charnel Gods setting by default Sword and Sorcery? Can guns and others be Fell Weapons? They're simply ignored on account of the fact that the people venturing into the fields simply don't recognize them as such? In the Charnel Fields, would there be a rail gun made of bizarre hand-crafted alloys with a baroque demonic barrel? What about a briefcase? One you open up with strange dossiers inside (Hint) or vials of biological agents (Special Damage: Lethal and non-)?

A Ranged Weapon Question
  Could you get a bow with Link and then fire arrows over obstacles or over hills and trees and Link with the arrow, getting an arrow point view of the world?

Dominion Weapons
  I had toyed with the thought of themed weapons, "Dominion" weapons that give you powers over the elements. For example a Sword (or to be cliche - a Trident) that gave you Dominion over Water? "Protection" against drowning? "Travel" for swimming or walking on water? "Warp" for shaping and altering water, "Shapeshift" into a fish or dolphin? "Special Damage: Lethal: Dehydrate Foe"?

Communicating with an Object Demon
  Now generally object demons don't talk... but what if you pulled off some sort of Ouija Board thing, throw it down, ask your demon a question, and let it spell out the answer, or throw bone runes down for it to point and indicate at, or asking your blade that can bleed to stop bleeding for a "yes" answer to a question?

End game – how does it play out?
  I'm more interested in past experiences. Does it end in waves of biblical plagues in your game? Rampaging hordes? Does all life sentient life merely have to die or does the entire world have to fracture and come tumbling to pieces for the new world to make sense of it? When designing the world, should you hint at potential ways for it to come to ruin? Huge smoking volcanoes, comets that seem closer every night, apocalypse rumors, or should this devices be left entirely to the players?

  I guess what I'm asking is:  What's the line between foreshadowing the end and some built in possibilities to inspire players for them to draw upon and integrate within their own epoch endgame?

Continuity Between Worlds
  Its a shame there wasn't more effort made at drawing out continuities between worlds. When wandering into the Charnel Fields, its a great opportunity to maybe hint at future settings and show some elements of previous settings - familiar architecture and the like. And even within the new epoch, there might be some themes from one world or another that seem to endure across a couple of themes. Some people may look familiar, some buildings may endure between epochs, and some strange geologic anomalies present to hint at past and future epochs.

Sample worlds
  Charnel Gods seems like a world builder's dream (that's part of my draw to it). You can run all those settings you ever wanted to in quick succession! So how come I don't see more sample settings for it? Does anyone want to share any of the ones they've used or would like to use?

Weapon's Stamina and Power
  What's to keep a player from lowballing Stamina to keep the power of their weapon reasonable and within control of the players, or is there a suggested limit?

Weapon being destroyed…
  I don't see any mention of Fell Weapons being destroyed - when reduced to that many penalties, do they melt into goo? Does something catastrophic happen? Is the weapon merely inert? The gods did build these to last? Are they treated as a normal demon or do they represent something greater than your average summoned demon in Sorcerer?

Multiple Harbingers
  Just musing - what if two characters involved in the same atrocity both bottom out at zero humanity - is it plausible to have multiple Charnel Gods? Sort of a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse scenario?

What if the Harbinger is killed?
  There's nothing to stop this from happening - but let's say the Harbinger is killed - do they still narrate the end of the game, or is that epoch given a momentary reprieve?

Carrion Fields Descriptions
  Anyone have any they would like to share?

Humanity and the Nameless: what’s the connection?
  I suppose this is a question for the Author:
“But if the PCs keep their Humanity up, the Nameless may never rear their ugly heads…leading some to speculate as to whether the Sorcerer’s Heresy is more than just idle chatter.” p.33
  This makes me wonder - what is the connection between low humanity and the Nameless? Do they only appear near the end of an Epoch when Humanity is plummeting? Are they only evoked during the end, and are they a means of that Epoch being destroyed? Or does a High Humanity merely represent a world far from the Nameless emerging from the Void and thus there is no need for their corpses to join the pile yet... But even if that is true, some of the Nameless are already about in the world, having been trapped there between incursions. So could you elaborate further upon this idea, Scott?
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2004, 06:56:46 PM »

Hey,

Lot of questions.  I'm curious to hear other peoples' answers, so I'll limit my response...

Fell Weapons Of The Non-Traditional Variety:  I wouldn't do it, but I can't stop you if that's what you really want.  

Fell Weapons And How They Communicate:  I wouldn't do ouija boards or runes, but the "yes"/"no" thing might be possible.  Generally, a Fell Weapon communicates by granting or not granting Abilities at a given time, and it's up to the sorcerer to figure out what it's trying to say.  Remember, miscommunication is fun.

Dominions:  If you look at the sample Fell Weapons, they more or less follow themes already.  My favorite Fell Weapon to not make it into the book was a club studded with shark's teeth that had a lot of water-based stuff going on.  I ditched it because the "water"-theme wasn't as interesting and potentially conflict-laden as the other Weapons I had created, but I really liked the imagery associated with it.

Foreshadowing The End:  Remember how, when a hero loses Humanity, the rules instruct the player to "darken" the setting a little?  That can possibly include things like comets appearing in the sky or volcanoes suddenly rumbling to life, and gives the players a great opportunity to foreshadow doomsday (and whoever ends up with the mantle of Harbinger can actively play off of that stuff once the end game is set in motion).

Multiple Harbingers:  Sounds cool to me.

Weapons Being Destroyed:  In my games, it can't happen.

If The Harbinger Dies...  In my games, it can't happen unless the Harbinger wants it to happen.  Even so, no reprieve is granted.  The Harbinger is as much a title for the player as it is for character, a position in the game distinct from a regular player, similar to the GM, but with specific responsibilities.

Sample Worlds:  Bryant Durrell wanted to host a Charnel Gods fan-page, where we'd have people submit their own Epochs, Weapons, and Nameless.  He did some work on the page, and I just never got around to getting him some initial content.  Maybe someday we can still do that though, if there are people out there interested in such a thing.

The Connection Between The Nameless And The Fell:  I'll never say for certain if a connection exists, or what exactly it may be, but the Nameless are an ever-present threat in the setting.  Their numbers may grow or wane with a decrease or increase in Humanity, or at the GM's whim, or whatever else seems appropriate...so there you go.

Hmmm...a longer response than expected.  Hopefully I didn't kill the conversation.

- Scott
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DannyK
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2004, 11:01:54 AM »

Wow, this thread really stretched my ideas of what one could do with Charnel Gods... which I still haven't gotten around to buying, but definitely plan to.
I has an interesting idea after reading it:
Operation Goetterdaemmerung

Basically, this is Charnel Gods, except that the Epoch resembles our own world, circa 1939 or so.  The Nazi occultists (yes, them again) have deciphered ancient prophecies leading them to the Wunderwaffen, the ancient weapons of the Aryan gods -- in other words, Fell Weapons.  

The Allies, having cracked the German military codes, are able to intercept some of the German military expeditions to far-flung places, and recover some of the Wunderwaffen for themselves.  

It would be almost the opposite of the game Godlike -- the PC's are superhuman character who *are* bigger than the war.  

If WWII seems to cliched, you could run the same scenario for WWI -- I like the image of two guys hacking at each other with Fell Weapons in the middle of No-Man's-Land.
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Old_Scratch
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2004, 12:45:11 PM »

I was wondering myself why limit it to fantasy - doing the wierd odd sci fi or historical game (suggesting that our own world was Naur Tier) would be interesting.

As a play on your WWII thing, clearly the Spear of Longinus, used to kill Christ and sought out by Adolf Hitler is just such a fell weapon - used to kill an Ancient (or one of the last living Old Ones or perhaps even a Nameless: Christ).

I wouldnt' do this very frequently, but I think it would be a nice ploy to do every once in a while when a group is in the fantasy doldrums.

I've got a few other responses, but I'm mulling them over. I'd like to hear other people weigh in though...
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2004, 12:47:11 PM »

I got one thing to say in response to Danny's idea: Spear of Destiny.
Because, wow, that whole scenario idea floats my boat: it's like Indiana Jones meets the Day of Judgement meets Sorcerer. I can sooo see myself running some freelance archeologist hired by the Allied forces, fighting Nazis with wit, fist and my Fell Weapon's sorcery, and trying to beat them to these ancient buried weapons, stumbling across demons and fallen gods and...yeah...

Man, that just rocks.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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greyorm
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2004, 12:48:27 PM »

Sorry to hijack for a moment, but:
Quote from: hardcoremoose
Sample Worlds: ...Maybe someday we can still do that though, if there are people out there interested in such a thing.

Scott: Hell yeah. Go DO it.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
DannyK
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2004, 12:54:28 PM »

It would be particularly cool to run this for players who aren't familiar with (or don't realize they're playing) Charnel Gods, because it would take them a while to realize that by actively using the Fell Weapons, they're moving closer to the end of the world.  (Of course, if they don't use them, then some Waffen-SS freak gets to be the Harbinger.)

Man, I am starting to regret having started another Nobilis game online.  I really, really need to get  some Sorcerer action going.

(RPG.Net just started a Play-By-Post forum, by the way; there have been several requests for someone to start a Sorcerer & Sword game.)
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Judd
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2004, 01:18:36 PM »

Old Scratch,

Do not hesitate, do not mull over.  Vomit your wonderful ideas onto the forums whenever you feel the need to put one finger down your imaginations throat and the rest onto the keyboard.  

Nice image.

Less mulling, more posting.

Judd
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Nev the Deranged
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Posts: 741

Dave. Yeah, that Dave.


« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2004, 08:02:46 PM »

Longinus, obviously.

But other possible Fell Weapons, particularly in the Germanic heritage.. Excalibur, Tyrfing, Gram, Nothung... oh, and Mjolnir (!!) I'd love to see someone flatten a tank with one swing of that puppy. ^_^

 And of course if you include legendary weapons from other cultures, the list becomes wonderfully expanded.
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DannyK
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2004, 08:06:05 AM »

There was a David Brin story, "Thor vs. Captain America" (which was later turned into a rather silly comic called "The Life Stealers") which featured this idea -- the Nazi occultists (TM) have summoned the Norse gods back to Earth (although there is a strong suggestion that the "gods" are either aliens, or some alien force that has been molded into the shape of the Norse Gods by the expectation of the summoners).  There's a a rather nice scene where the allies sneak an attack force into Europe, and suddenly there's a massive explosion!  Was it a mortar attack?  A landmine?  No, it's Mjollnir!  

But, in keeping with the cosmology of Naur Tier, it seems very appropriate for this to be a fallacy.  The explorers find an ancient hammer with dreadful powers and assume it belonged to Thor, when actually it's much, much older than that.  A bit of elemental flavor might be nice also -- I picture the guy with the air-flavored Fell Weapon taking on Stuka dive bombers single-handed.  

Anyway, I'm going to buy Charnel Gods tonight so I can see what Scott actually wrote before I go much further with this.  Maybe I'll actually try to run this puppy this summer when my RL workload drops a little.
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Old_Scratch
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Posts: 128


« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2004, 01:25:56 PM »

The Spear of Destiny/Longinus seems a popular idea. I think after running a couple of games, it would be great to drop the players into a WWII or real world game, just to sort of hit home that the worlds being destroyed are full of people, and what if our own world turned out to be merely another epoch of Naur Tier. How I would run it would be to swap out... First a sort of Elric game... then a Chinese-influenced game... then swap over for one night to a Napoleonic Era game in our own world - make up the characters and start it and after one night switch over to a Ghost Haunted Medieval campaign... then the Napoleonic realworld adventure, then some sort of Aztec-Tekumel game, and then back to the real world Napoleonic game... After all, everyone knows that Napoleon was keeping his Fell-Dagger hidden within his uniform and drawing upon it to empower his strategies...

Quote from: hardcoremoose
Hey,

Lot of questions.  I'm curious to hear other peoples' answers, so I'll limit my response...

Fell Weapons Of The Non-Traditional Variety:  I wouldn't do it, but I can't stop you if that's what you really want.
 

I think it would be an interesting break. The players may play in a couple of medieval worlds - then flip them back to a Dawn of Man scenario - I'd use scenes straight from 2001 - but instead of a black obilisk, the pre-humans are staring at a black obsidian sword that's appeared - and then one grabs the blade...

And then run the next adventure on a space vessel! Like a scene from Alien - an abandoned vessel, this time adrift in space. The characters board to discover the ship has been depressurized. Why? The person who depressurized the vessel was skewered by an ornate vibrosword - a Fell Weapon - after all, why couldn't you run a brief campaign in a world where the Fell Blades were not discovered for millenia? In this case - when the world goes tumbling down, its the screams of billions upon billions living on ten different worlds.

The Charnel Fields are seen as a sort of "Fifth Dimension". The Nameless as Alien entities from beyond reality. It could be a real fun break from the usual swords and sandals - A character with a monofilament whip, another one with a cybernetic hand, another with a gothic gauss gun with its barrel flaring into the mad grin of a demon, etc...

Fell Weapons And How They Communicate:  I wouldn't do ouija boards or runes, but the "yes"/"no" thing might be possible.  Generally, a Fell Weapon communicates by granting or not granting Abilities at a given time, and it's up to the sorcerer to figure out what it's trying to say.  Remember, miscommunication is fun.

Yes, I agree. But then I think of "Captain Howdy" from the Exorcist. I think of busting out a Ouija board during game play and using that as a prop. And, after all, there is no guarantee that the demon will tell the truth. So I'm wondering if a player is creative enough, why not let them take advantage of the idea?

Dominions:  If you look at the sample Fell Weapons, they more or less follow themes already.  My favorite Fell Weapon to not make it into the book was a club studded with shark's teeth that had a lot of water-based stuff going on.  I ditched it because the "water"-theme wasn't as interesting and potentially conflict-laden as the other Weapons I had created, but I really liked the imagery associated with it.

Soooo... When do we get to see the stuff that didn't make it into the book?

Weapons Being Destroyed:  In my games, it can't happen.

I can see both sides to this one... but I'm more curious about exploring the possibilities of what could happen if they could be destroyed. What if someone pulled a Frodo and threw it in a volcano? What if two weapons were used to smite one another - I suppose what I'm thinking about here is the sort of Laser + Shields = Atomics of Dune - something to make the characters hesitate. Yes, they do have a powerful weapon, but even these rare and important objects, crafted by dead gods, are potentially destructible as well.

They have a Stamina score - perhaps they could be destroyed that way. Or perhaps they could be thrown into the Maw of the Nameless, or dropped into the void. Perhaps a powerful ritual to undo the act of creation would be necessary.

If one did get destroyed, I would expect some sort of catastrophic event - the earth shaking, great powers being unleashed - perhaps the essence of a god is unleashed. I'll have to think about this a bit - I suppose if you're going to destroy the weapon, you'd have to consider what the weapon is really composed of.

If The Harbinger Dies...  In my games, it can't happen unless the Harbinger wants it to happen.  Even so, no reprieve is granted.  The Harbinger is as much a title for the player as it is for character, a position in the game distinct from a regular player, similar to the GM, but with specific responsibilities.

Hmmm... Again, interesting. Three Bearers are standing on a outcropping of a rock over a fissure to the Void. In the hands of one of the bearers is the infant king who is prophesized to defeat all those with Fell Weapons when he grows older. During a heated debate, Shaed throws the child into the void, losing his last point of humanity and becoming the bearer. As he laughs at the child, his colleagues throw into the abyss...

I'm willing to say in some cases the Harbinger can die - but that may not stop the End - as Humanity reflects the humanity of the people as a whole. I'd say in such a case the Harbinger still details events, becoming another sort of GM while the rest of the players try to resolve their kickers during the endgame.

Sample Worlds:  Bryant Durrell wanted to host a Charnel Gods fan-page, where we'd have people submit their own Epochs, Weapons, and Nameless.  He did some work on the page, and I just never got around to getting him some initial content.  Maybe someday we can still do that though, if there are people out there interested in such a thing.

This is a pity. I'd like to see this sort of resource up. Seriously, look at all the pages dedicated to D&D. A setting/game of this quality deserves at least one place for sharing ideas on a regular basis for others to use.

The Connection Between The Nameless And The Fell: I'll never say for certain if a connection exists, or what exactly it may be, but the Nameless are an ever-present threat in the setting.  Their numbers may grow or wane with a decrease or increase in Humanity, or at the GM's whim, or whatever else seems appropriate...so there you go.

That quote just seemed to suggest a connection. Here's a few other questions thrown out to Scott and the public in general: What if someone devours the flesh of the Nameless or of the Gods? Couldn't these things have power as well - a mortal tearing out their own eye and replacing it with the necrotic eye of a dead god? Could the fang of a Great Nameless one be used as a weapon? It seems to me like there's the potential for other elements of magic - but if used infrequently - potions made of gods' blood, the flesh mask-face skinned from a dead god, a windship built of the light avian bones of some monstrous, the giant heart of a dead god butchered from the body, hooked up to a rudimentary electrical engine, alive and beating and pumping black oil and used in some sort of Steam-punk era Tank? It seems like the Fell Weapons are the tip of the iceberg - there's lots of other content there to play around with!
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2004, 08:46:40 PM »

Scratch,

I'm torn, really.  

On one hand, I want to say that it's just a matter of Color, and you should add or adjust anything you want.  It's your game, you should do what you need to do to have fun.

On the other hand...

You know, all that other stuff occurred to me while I was writing it.  But I was in love with certain things, and that's what I wrote about (although sometimes it took restraint).  Now, you can use Charnel Gods as inspiration, use it as a jumping off point, and take those ideas somewhere else, but it won't be Charnel Gods anymore.  And to my way of thinking, if you haven't played it straight at least once, give it chance before getting to crazy.  To me, a great deal of the game's appeal is its restraint, that it's not all over the place.

But that's just me.

In other news, I'm talking to Bryant right now about the Charnel Gods fanpage, whether it's doable or not.  I'll keep you guys updated.

- Scott
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Old_Scratch
Member

Posts: 128


« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2004, 11:13:25 PM »

Quote from: hardcoremoose
Scratch,

I'm torn, really.  

On one hand, I want to say that it's just a matter of Color, and you should add or adjust anything you want.  It's your game, you should do what you need to do to have fun.

On the other hand...

You know, all that other stuff occurred to me while I was writing it.  But I was in love with certain things, and that's what I wrote about (although sometimes it took restraint).  Now, you can use Charnel Gods as inspiration, use it as a jumping off point, and take those ideas somewhere else, but it won't be Charnel Gods anymore.


Oh, I plan on running it straight initially...

...however...

...when I first purchase a game, before I read too deeply into it, and get into a particular pattern of experience or expectation with a product, I write down every brainstorming idea that comes my way. And I do it then, not later, because I find those ideas never come back as your familiarity with a product increases.

So in throwing out these ideas, I'm not necessarily suggesting I'll ever run a game like this, but merely these were some of the ideas that came up upon reading the book, which I consider high praise, since if I read a book and nothing bubbles to the surface, then its not very inspiring.

Again, congrats on the book. Now I must go, as I have a Vatican Priest armed with a crucifix which is actually a demon that claims to be a part of the One True Cross to write up! ;)

Again, thanks for a great product! And thanks for the feedback.
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DannyK
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2004, 09:59:50 AM »

Hi Scott, I finally read it (and am re-reading it).  One thing that really strikes me about Charnel Gods is how complete it seems... almost as if it were based on a movie or book.  But I can't think of any clear antecedents, except the Elric stories.  And in C.G., everybody's Elric!  

I'll have something more coherent to say later, I think.  Maybe even a review at some point.  

I do have a specific question for those of you who have played it before, though.  It seems to me that part of the fun might be playing the discovery and binding of the Fell Weapon, but the default option is for the PC's to start out with their weapon already bound.  Has anyone tried running a game where nobody has a Fell Weapon at the beginning?  The ramp-up of power level might be tricky to manage.  

Another question: how  have people handled the number and strength of NPC Sorcerors?  Some of the sample settings make Fell Weapons seem scarce, while the pseudo-Japanese setting suggests that there's a horde of warlords armed with Fell Weapons on the mainland.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2004, 02:32:53 PM »

Quote from: DannyK
It seems to me that part of the fun might be playing the discovery and binding of the Fell Weapon, but the default option is for the PC's to start out with their weapon already bound.  Has anyone tried running a game where nobody has a Fell Weapon at the beginning?

Well, here's the problem -- without a Fell Weapon, you're just a schmuck. Without a Fell Weapon, you're not really playing Sorcerer at all.  Besides, having a Fell Weapon is the conflict.

A whole game (or series of games) about getting to the actual conflict...to me, it would just seem anticlimatic. Tangentially, I think that's why I'm not enjoying the Star Wars prequels so much.

So, I'd personally just relegate it to background fiction: the first twenty minutes of the movie that set-up the actual conflict of the movie. Why gamers insist on playing through those first twenty minutes is beyond me -- to lend some sort of "credibility" to the situation, I suppose, but gods, it isn't even interesting until the conflict is set-up.

Sorry...went into mini-rant mode, there.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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