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[Bedlham] New game - Introduction

Started by Addix, June 03, 2005, 06:15:16 PM

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Hi everybody!

Well, this is my first post in The Forge, at last; it's now been a while I've been wandering here. Finally, here I am, coming with a project that I've had in mind for several months now.
I'm sure of how I should do this, so here's an introduction to it, and you guys tell me how I should proceed ;)

Basically, it's kind of a futuristic (post)apocalyptic RPG. It is meant to be very, very dark.

The action takes place almost 3 millenia after a major event we know as the Fall. It was essentially the sudden "triggering off" of the collective subconscious—of course in a way no-one would have liked. It caused major cataclysms which wiped out fair amounts of the global population and brought down a highy advanced civilization. Also, it "gave birth" to what we call the Power; the energy, generally destructive, which the Fall "revealed", and that flows through most people, being a part of the collective subconscious. Finally, another consequence of the Fall was the creation of the Bedlham. What is it exactly? Nobody knows. It is accepted as another dimension than ours. Was it born out of the Power? Or is the Power a small part of it? This no-one knows. But what's for sure is that, slowly, it seems to gnaw at our world; the corruptive Power might be one part of it, the aberrations that haunt dark places too...

Mechanisms talking, the game uses, for the moment, only d10s, the majority of the actions being resolved a d%.

Characters have 12 abilities for the moment. Most of them are explicit.
Physical abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Agility, Constitution, Perception, Charisma.
Mental abilities: Intelligence, Will, Presence, Consciousness, Humanity, Power.
You start with 35 in every ability (except Power, which is equal 2d10), plus 50+2d10 ability points you can distribute at will, without exceeding a score of 50.

I'm still not so sure about skills, but I think that Melee and Shooting will definitely be part of them.
The system I have for now is the average of two key abilities plus the number of skill points you've spent in the skill. Eg: You got Dexterity 52, Perception 63, and have spent 10 skill points in Shooting; so you're Shooting score is 68 ([52+63]/2+10 — rounded up).

Well, I guess that gives an idea of the system, grosso modo...

It'd be great if you guys could tell me what you think of it all, ask me questions and precisions, and give suggestions ;)

Thanks a lot!

- Addix

PS: Oh, and here's a "pitch" I wrote :P

Humanity has failed.
Man has fallen, and he is the only cause of his ruin.
His spirit has been the cause of an unprecedented auto-destruction, unleashing undreamt-of powers. He has triggered off unbelievably violent events, caused by his own destructive energy.

Nobody remembers when all of that happened. But everybody knows the consequences. With time, oral tales of those events have formed an obscure myth which hangs over Men, like a memory of mocking and unbearable irony.

Now life is a never-ending fight for the survivors of an apocalypse of the mind. A fight against oneself.


Welcome to the Forge, Addix!

Here are a couple of standard questions:

1) What are the characters going to be doing in your game, in a general sense?

2) What kind of gameplay are you aiming for?  I.e., is your game about the characters overcoming challenges such as combat mutants? Does it focus on exploring the desolation of a post-apocalyptic world? Does it focus on a theme, such as morality v. survival?

3) How do you envision a great session of play to be like in this game? Could you write a transcript of how you would like the players to interact with each other and the system? What about that interaction and the resulting gameplay excites you?

The answers to those questions will help guide you further in your design efforts.


Hi Xenopulse!

Thanks for your welcoming.
I'm glad you asked these questions :)

1) 2) The game focuses on the survival of the people; the common people who are struggling to survive in a violent and deadly world, where your worst ennemy, besides the others, is perhaps yourself.
The game deals a lot with this internal struggle (a duality represented by the two abilities Humanity and Power; basically, the more your Power increases, the more your Humanity goes down---I'll explain this further in another post, if you don't mind ;). Because it is so deadly, you have to think twice before acting, and you have to watch yourself.
But there's a lot of violent confrontations where you have to make use of deadly ranged weapons as well as cruel melee ones. Earning a living is not that simple, and very often the easiest way is to sell your services, of use them to make your own destiny.
That said, I want to allow players to create virtually any type of character, as long as he remains a "commoner" (which represents about 90% of the population; simply because it's far more interesting than playing cozy rich people); a white collar, a blue collar, a mercenary, a ganger, a merchant, a magistrate, a politician... (ok, the last one is a little bit less a "commoner" than the others)
So different angles are possible: you can center on pure action as you can privilege a more subtle, political angle. But I have to admit that it is more the first aspect that I've been working on, although the mental aspect (internal conflict) is quite important there.
For the moment, the characters I have had in mind were more like gang members (gangers) in rivalry with other gangs of individuals, in the seek of a minimum amount of power (reputation and money). But even then, their actions are made more difficult and delicate (or tragedic) because of the Power that is omnipresent.

Basically, the Power grants humans psychic powers. Using it, they can do almost anything, as long as their "connection" with it is strong enough. They can alter our reality (or dimension, or world...) at their own advantage. The big problem is the Power is greatly corruptive and addictive, as well as destructive for its user. Gradually, the more one uses the Power, the more his condition of human degrades (Humanity). It damages his sanity, and weakens his grip on our reality.

Hope this answers your questions, if not, don't hesitate asking again ;)

3) I'm actually thinking about a scenario I'll run for my players. The angle I'll take will certainly be the one of gangers or mercenaries. It'll be the occasion to take a large amount of notes.
Definitely, I expect it to be dark and a little desperate. The atmosphere is rather apocalyptic, especially when you begin to realize where you really are, who you are, and what you could be. The concept of Bedlham, though it may seem a little confusing in the first place (well, it is still confusing for me sometimes; but that's the prupose), is meant to be like a constant shadow hanging over the characters; not as the tormented skies they can see when outdoor, but as an insiduous menace in their mind.

Hope that helps :P
Don't hesitate to ask is something's not clear (which I'd easily understand) ;)

- Addix


Okay, I hear you say "You have to think twice before acting, and you have to watch yourself," and I think you're reinforcing the idea of avoiding risk.  Now you realize that if you reinforce the idea that characters should avoid risk and seek safety then the players are going to do that, right?

Which means they will ignore quests, avoid challenge, eschew moral dilemmas of any sort, find a nice bunker somewhere, reinforce it with all the ingenuity and resources at their command, and then hide in it happily ever after.

But then you say that they're in search of power (reputation and money) and I ask... why?  How does that serve their goal?  Particularly reputation... how can being noticed possibly be safer than being hidden?
Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum



Let me say what I like about the idea:

- You're going for a strong, dark, post-apocalyptic setting. That's cool, and it seems like a big focus will be on exploring that setting and bringing about the right mood.

- More importantly, the idea of tempting power has potential. Like Humanity in Sorcerer, it can be used to make strong statements about when the character is willing to draw on the power and risk losing his/her soul. In fact, Sorcerer might play well in this scenario, though maybe it's not crunchy enough for you.

So, I suggest you really play up the Power and its temptation. Give good scenarios for how to push the players into giving in to more power. Let them have some connections, too--among the last surviving humans, they have to have some peoplem they care about, even if it's the fellow gangmembers. Now threaten them.

Overall, I'd like to know more about how the humanity/power aspect works, because that's the potential point for setting your game apart.


Hi you all,

Glad to see the response!


When I say you have to think twice and watch yourself, it doesn't necessarily means "do nothing and everything will be all right".

This is a deadly, merciless world. If you do nothing, well you'll probably starve, get shot (or killed one way or another), or end up gnawed up by the Power...
The Power is something you can hardly run away from, since it is part of you, being part of your own mind. Therefore you're trapped. Here's one side of the struggle.
Again, this internal conflict is not the only one. Violence often prevails. If you want to earn a living, you have to do something, and this something often leads to the use of force, even if it's not the original purpose of your activity. It remains a violent world. And very often, the fastest way to earn your livehood, without any education (education's juste rare), is to use your gun or your fists.

So, when I say you have to think twice and watch yourself, although you'll have to fight at a moment, one way or the other, you'd better act as smartly as you can. It's simply because the game system (reflect of the setting) I have in mind is deadly. You are not a hero, you are a struggling human whose mind can be a great ally as much as a treacherous power.

Reputation, especially in the case of selling one's fighting services (although it can be applied to other activities), is the key to more (and better, richer) employers or more members for gangs. Reputation is a means to more money and power; what basically helps you survive longer.


The Power is a raw, hard-to-master energy, part of the collective subconscious, which grants people abilities that are beyond understanding.  It was either born out of the collective subconscious when the Fal occured or a little after. Being part of the sunconscious, everybody has a part of it flowing in his mind.
The possibilities are almost infinite; psykinetic abilities, telepathy, affecting the atmosphere, granting oneself supernatural strength... But it has a cost, as I said: the Power is corruptive, addictive, and destructive.
An excessive use of the Power often leads to psychological instability, vegetative states, complete madness, death or even worse.
It is a common thought that, once you've reached an advanced stage of "connection" with the Power (through an intensive use, or in a few cases naturally), the Bedlham is dragging you. But maybe it is the case since the very beinning. Maybe the Power is just an extension of the Bedlham; the most bearable part of it for human beings.
Therefore there is a constant duality between using the Power or not, keeping grip on our world of being dragged by the Bedlham.
But now, considere the fact that, in a way, the Bedlham was born out of our mind (collective subconscious); because of its energy. Therefore you have to rethink to possibility of a victory over the Power, which is part of ourselves.

I'll gladly (try to) clarify things if needed later on, but I have few time now :/

- Addix


Hi there!

Just a short line to inform you all I'll be doing first playtesting for Bedlham this week-end :)

Mechanics are far from being complete, but I have a pretty good idea of what the gaming should be like. Besides, the setting is pretty clear to me (duh) lol

Anyway, would any of you have advice for me?

I'm GMing myself a 3-players group. I think it's a pretty decent amount of players to have structured feedback and an attentive audience.

Of course, I'll post feedback as soon as possible ;)


- Addix