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Author Topic: [Lendrhald] Hostile fantasy setting  (Read 30632 times)
dsmvites
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Posts: 5


« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2006, 04:32:18 AM »

ops...
ps: if you really intend to keep the setting in the directions you lately upheld could me, Castlin, and Anders Larsen develop a pure human paralel setting?! The idea seems to good not to be worked!
;-] Just kidding!
Cheers
Douglas.
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David Berg
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2006, 07:53:45 AM »

I like where this idea is going. It reminds me of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay

It should.  My co-designer is a huge WFRP fan. 

I think you'll get more effect by showing your players reasons for their characters to be xenophobic, rather than telling them how to roleplay. Let their characters be open-minded and "modernist" if they want, just make sure that those characters are the first to be betrayed by "misunderstood" NPCs, stricken with plagues and hexes, and eaten by awful Lovecraftian horrors that they should have been shunning instead of buying a Coke and keeping company.

I have no intention of telling players how to play.  Agents of the Evil Threat are simply impossible to get along with; being open-minded is really only something you can do philosophically, after you've killed it or run away from it.

Your suggestion about sketchy NPCs is interesting -- I do intend to have corrupt humans as the occasional threat, but I don't think it'd be appropriate to instill great distrust of all strangers.  With such a hostile environment, most humans tend to be pro-human.

Also, modern paranoia has a different flavor than medieval paranoia. In the game itself, I'd avoid references to modern things like terrorism and nuclear scares in favor of witch-hunts, plague-years, and prophets of doom.

Definitely.  In fact, I intend to work on instances of all three of those to drop into world history.

Thanks,
-Dave
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Castlin
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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2006, 08:25:06 AM »

Quote
It is important that no matter how much they advance they not become a class apart, because that generally leads to the feeling that one is a badass and is in control

Well one mechanical way to emphasize this would be to focus slightly more on food than most games I've played do. Food is very close to most people's hearts, and it was pretty much what medieval society worried about. I mean, you don't have to get all Dark Sun on the players, but a little more attention to what they're eating and where it came from (and what happens if they don't) would keep them feeling human and attached to all those busy hands that make their bread. Kind of a weird thing to focus on, I know, but when your enemies eat light and brains and dreams, your muffin seems all the more humane,

I'm also a little confused as to the ultimate goal now. I understand there's this impending horror, but is it intended to be the ominous, just-out-of-vision, pervasive doom, or slimy tentacled gooey monsters? Either is fine, but they both seem to be showing up, and I think you'd have a hard time reconciling them. The physical nature of the second will probably disrupt the abstract nature of the first.

Quote
Your suggestion about sketchy NPCs is interesting -- I do intend to have corrupt humans as the occasional threat, but I don't think it'd be appropriate to instill great distrust of all strangers.  With such a hostile environment, most humans tend to be pro-human.

That's what makes corrupted humans so much more troublesome. It is also very much within the medieval mindset to not trust strangers! In game terms, though, I see what you mean; it can be a pain if your characters decide they have to run an interrogation/exorcism on everybody who asks them for help "just to be sure". If you made most of the tainted humans clearly "outsiders" or very visibly different (not necessarily physically, their behaviour could just be alien), it might help.

In terms of the flavor of doom (he he doom flavors), your players would probably have an easier time emphasizing with "modern" doom (nuclear war, terrorism) than "medieval" doom (comets, witch-hunts). If you could find a way to wrap those old ideas in modern feeling, I think that would be very effective.
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David Berg
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« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2006, 09:00:55 AM »

a) There seems to be a discrepancy between the mood first suggested and your developed idea. At first you conjured us visions of paranoia and pervasive fear and you used term like the nuclear scare and cold war. You also added up a notion that mankind was special in the setting and the heroes would face (besides regular challenges for survival) an Otherworldly threat.

Aye.  However, I also stated that I wanted this mood to be relegated to the background, leaving human society in a recognizable state.  So, some degree of subtlety is required.

Then monster races appeared in the posts and when you developed your ideas we ended up seeing a gibbering aberration as opponents. Thus, the question: how do you want to terrify your characters? With gross violations of natural order or subtle fear of an unspeakable evil that may be among them?

The Cold War feel I was referring to was not intended to be "my neighbor might be a Commie!"  It was intended to be "I might get nuked!"  The threat of getting nuked wasn't imminent, it wasn't clear, but people worried about it because they had an Enemy with the capability to strike from a distance with incredible destructive force.

I'm also a little confused as to the ultimate goal now. I understand there's this impending horror, but is it intended to be the ominous, just-out-of-vision, pervasive doom, or slimy tentacled gooey monsters? Either is fine, but they both seem to be showing up, and I think you'd have a hard time reconciling them. The physical nature of the second will probably disrupt the abstract nature of the first.

The mood is not intended to be created by one encounter with a gibbering aberration.  Many farmers will never see a gibbering aberration in their whole lives.  The Evil Threat should have many ways in which it makes its presence felt to Men.  There should be variety, because relying solely on Orcs, or Wraiths, or Mutant Fungi, or prophecies, or historical anecdotes would get old.  When it comes to characters crawling into strange places with swords at the ready, one type of thing they might encounter is a gross violation of the natural order, which hints at the fundamentally alien nature of the Evil Threat.

The subtle feeling is standing in a small village looking into the dark woods and knowing that gibbering abominations are out there.

If these answers seem unsatisfactory, please tell me how, keeping in mind my goals stated in the first post.  This seems to be an important topic.

b) I read you description of orks and kept thinking: "why do they NEED to be orks?". There was no impediment whatsoever to the possibility of 'orks' meaning savage human tribes perverted by Otherworld evil.

Well, in reality they are a race descended from humans who were perverted by Otherworld evil, but I didn't mention it because most players will never find that out.

I dislike using the term "Orc" because of reactions like yours, but when I gave my players a weird name ("Svarinskepna") and the basics (man-sized, ugly, primitive, numerous, thoroughly hostile), they said, "Ah, Orcs."  Later in the process, I will certainly revisit the idea of renaming them.

When I told you about immaterial foes my intent was not DnD related ("Goooosssh a ghost... [and I dont have a weapon +1]"), but instead something otherworldly bound to act in this plane through possession.

Daemonic possession will indeed be one of the varieties of Evil -- it's on one of the lists in my second post, along with curses, another type of non-material Evil action.  It seems like perhaps I should highlight these in the material I present.

"Why the hell are they going to be heroes?"  Of course, to save their hides.

The assumption thus far has been that all players will play characters who are curious, and willing to encounter some danger in the name of excitement, discovery and possibly personal gain.

You give me an interesting idea, however, in which the game begins with players forced into action by some scenario, and then must go on adventures to retrieve something of personal importance, or remove curses from themselves, etc....  This would establish some level of "hostile world" right off the bat...  Sounds like one individual campaign, though, not something that could be a regular setting feature...

But, what if: some castes had a purpose and a role preventing this otherworld taint to spread? Something like nobility with laying of hands, sworn to protect their people from ______ (insert evil threat here); or clergy with prophecies granted by _______ (whoever rebuilt the world after some Great Big Mess) bound to guide people on this new beginning. They could even advance (not in ranks or levels, but in Essence) whenever they upheld their purpose.

Great idea.  I actually have a player doing just that, though he's an extremist member of an underground cult, not some noble caste.  But establishing a greater role for Those Who Look To Fight Evil definitely has possibilities... as long as whatever organizations do this still don't know much about the Evil Threat, and are thus incapable of demystifying it.

Well one mechanical way to emphasize this would be to focus slightly more on food than most games I've played do.

I love this idea, but don't see any way to implement it beyond:
a) discussing meals a bit more thoroughly when I GM
b) continuing to make PCs pay for everything, including food -- this has resulted in the party helping out a farmer in his fields to repay him for dinner and lodgings when they were broke

when your enemies eat light and brains and dreams, your muffin seems all the more humane,

Excellent.  I will consider "eats light / brains / dreams" added to my monster capabilities brainstorm list.

If you made most of the tainted humans clearly "outsiders" or very visibly different (not necessarily physically, their behaviour could just be alien), it might help.

The victims of the Evil Threat will indeed be encountered.  Emaciated, wide-eyed, violent, twitchy, incoherent -- this is what happens when you drink water from Orc-desecrated areas.  Curse and plague victims will also be seen from time to time.

your players would probably have an easier time emphasizing with "modern" doom (nuclear war, terrorism) than "medieval" doom (comets, witch-hunts). If you could find a way to wrap those old ideas in modern feeling, I think that would be very effective.

Modern feeling?  I think that's pretty much up to the specific description, right?

Thanks,
-Dave
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David Berg
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2006, 09:20:53 AM »

if you really intend to keep the setting in the directions you lately upheld could me, Castlin, and Anders Larsen develop a pure human paralel setting?! The idea seems to good not to be worked!

The idea is good, for a game that's more focused on the horror element and less interested in traditional fantasy adventuring.  I'm trying to walk a fine line and have both.  In my game, there are certain obstacles that the players are not intended to humanize, nor really have any reason at all to empathize with.  These obstacles take the forms of oozing monsters, bodiless daemons, Orcs, shark-men, etc.

Obstacles where some ambiguity is part of the point will be humans.  There are certainly humans in the world who consciously or unconsciously serve the Evil Threat, and many more who are victims of it.  There is an entire nation ruled by servants of servants of a particularly nasty Evil Threat.  However, there is a reason why this nation is remote and isolated -- the general concept of Humanity is intended to retain a position of prominence and "rightness" in the world. 

The game is absolutely an anthropocentric setting and endeavor, not a single-minded investigation into horror.  Human beings are fundamental to the history, nature, existence and purpose of the physical universe.  If the Evil Threat destroys humanity, it will destroy all physical reality as well.  This is not intended to be known to PCs as fact, but there are various myths and ritual practices that hint at it.

I am not proposing to "keep Humanity pure" entirely, or to make it so "all Humans are good"; I am, however, drawing a stark division between the Human race and the Evil Threat.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2006, 10:13:59 AM »

I'd personally be more scared by degenerate, savage, tainted humans than by non-human Orcs, myself: look at the Reavers in Firefly/Serenity, or the islanders in the Peter Jackson version of King Kong, for some really upsetting models. It's always more upsetting to recognize some glimmer of humanity in the enemy you have no choice but to kill -- especially if you think, "maybe one day that could be me."

As a further step, you could tie this in with either or both of two very different mechanics:
1) If you're really desperate, you can use Evil's own methods to defeat it, increasing your power but ultimately turning yourself into that which you fight (Anders Larsen's idea, and akin to Ron Edwards' Sorcerer)
2) If Evil defeats you, and you survive, you begin to come under its sway -- you are increasingly cowed, morally broken, until finally you become a sniveling minion of those you once fought. (This works well with your idea of "facing a superior foe who you may hold at bay for a while but will eventually come to drag you down into madness and destruction.")

Now, think how radically different your setting depending on which mechanics your system uses:
1 but not 2: "Fight not with monsters, lest yet become a monster" becomes the theme of the game -- someone has to defeat Evil so that humanity can survive, but the heroes must constantly struggle to use as little dark power as possible in the process.
2 but not 1: "Better dead than Red" becomes the theme -- heroes are encouraged to do their utmost to defeat evil, and to risk everything, because if you win, there's no downside, and if you lose, well, that's still a moral victory as long as you die trying, because at least you died as a human being.
1 and 2 together: Now the whole game becomes an awful balancing act. If you defeat evil by evil means, you become evil, and menace everything you once defended; but if you are defeated by evil, then you're enslaved and warped into something evil, along with everyone you love and fight for.

The specifics of this aren't the issue, really. What I want you to think about is how huge a difference the mechanics can make to the whole feel of the game, and how crucial it is that your mechanics support the mood of the setting.

what is the reward system of the game?

It's funny, most of what I hope to achieve when I play in settings like this has nothing to do with the system.  The first things that come to mind when I hear "rewards" are "knowledge" and "cool experiences", followed by things like "becoming famous" and "acquiring wealth and allies".  These things, to me, are rewards in themselves, without needing to confer any future advantages on any sorts of tests.  (Does this mean I'm mostly a Narrativist at heart?)

The prerequisite for all these rewards is curiosity, the adventuring mentality wherein spooky or mysterious things should be investigated.  Beyond that, behaviors that tend to earn these rewards are careful thought, cautiousness, clever problem-solving and tactics.  The punishment for charging in fearlessly is usually death.

At the moment, the system involves a kind of advancement in between modeling reality (skills improve slowly with practice) and giving fantasy gamers what they've come to like (skills improve quickly by virtue of succeeding in game goals).  It's not entirely concrete yet, and supposing I choose in the direction of just modeling reality, then I'm not sure if there truly is a rewards system at all.  Players simply keep track of what their characters earn within the game world, and pursue whatever interests them in-game: wealth, cool trinkets, better armor, etc.

I suspect I may be thinking too narrowly about "rewards system" as a concept...?

Let me do my best to explain the Ron Edwards school of thinking about "rewards systems," because you're right that you're not quite getting his meaning, and it is absolutely crucial.

The rewards that matter are the ones for players, not for characters.

Now, we're all trained to think of those two being locked together: if good stuff happens to my character -- s/he gets stronger, faster, richer, more powerful -- that's a reward for me, the real person playing. Conversely, if bad stuff happens to my character, that's a punishment for me, the real person playing -- in the extreme case, my character dies and I no longer have any ability to act in the game.

But, wait a sec, if we really had our characters' best interests at heart, we'd have them stay safe at home and be investment bankers or something, not have them go into dark places with nasty beasties. And if "bad stuff for my character" is always a punishment for the player, why is it so much fun when our characters are placed in terrible peril, get jilted by their lovers, or come face-to-face with terrible, powerful villains, and so little fun when our characters just walk over easy opposition and get everything they want without a struggle?

Any game has a reward system -- if only the purely informal and social reward system where you do or say something and I respond with, "Cool!" What's more, every game's reward system boils down to that moment where I say "cool!" and you feel good about it.

Now, maybe there's some game-mechanical "cue" (to use Vincent Baker's term) that inspired me to say "cool." In traditional games, this would be things like your character making a difficult skill check because you've been spending XPs to raise that ability, for example, or your character levelling up. In a lot of indie games, this could be you spending some kind of "story point" you earned to introduce a new plot complication or NPC, totally independent of your character doing anything; or it could be you deciding your character gets hurt in a particularly impressive way (see "Fallout" in Vincent Baker's Dogs in the Vineyard), e.g. "now my character carries the scar of your sword forever" or "okay, now my guy has 'Afraid of the Dark' at 2d6."

But! If you stack up amazing in-game stats for your character, and have tons of whatever kind of points, and I don't ever say 'cool!', then there is no reward.

This is a chronic, chronic problem of games that try to apply the traditional D&D/GURPS/White Wolf model to anything besides "let's win the fight at the least possible risk to ourselves." If your game-text is all about one thing -- seeking out and confronting inhuman horror, for example -- but your mechanical rewards are all about another thing -- e.g. the more fights you win, the better you fight next time; or, the more you stay at home and train, the better you get  -- then you have a fatal disconnect. The key is to figure out what kind of behavior you want from the players -- the players, the players, the players; forget the characters for a minute, they're not real anyway, they're just instruments of the players' imaginations. Then make your mechanics reward that kind of behavior and nothing else.

This is a tremendously personal choice, but I can make some suggestions based on what you've already said:
- A "realistic" skill system that makes characters more proficient the more they practice when not adventuring is a game-killer: It encourages everyone to stay home, instead of going out and getting in trouble.
- A "realistic" money system that makes characters pay for everything, and forces players to concentrate on how much they spend and how much they earn, won't work for you: It encourages everyone to focus on money, not adventure and horror.
- A traditional "XP" system that makes characters better fighters the more fights they win, as in D&D, is a mediocre fit for what you want: It encourages getting into trouble, but never more trouble than you can currently handle -- if you have an overwhelming foe, the logical response is to go kill off some wimps first, so you can get strong enough to take on the big guy.
- A "lose to win" system, as in FATE ("Aspects"), Tony Lower-Basch's Capes, or Miller's With Great Power..., where being defeated this time gives you some kind of points that you can use to buy victory next time, and where buying victory tends to expend your points and leave you vulnerable to defeat again, might be a very good fit: It nicely replicates the whole "we lose, we lose again, we lose again, we finally win!" dynamic of many heroic stories. It can even be "realistic" if you justify it in terms of, "dang, you had to run screaming from the monster that time, but next time you'll be prepared for its horrific appearance," or "hey, you lost that fight, but in the process you think you spotted the monster's crucial weakness -- you'll be ready for it next time!" (Viz. every second episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
- A "fallout" system, as in Dogs in the Vineyard, where your character can gain new traits and abilities from being defeated or harmed, might be a very good match, too: "Okay, I barely escaped with my life that time, so now I have the trait 'I fear demons' at level 10 -- next time I'm in a fight with a demon, I can harness my fear to fight harder and win!"

(I'd advise checking out my post here - http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18387.msg194369#msg194369 - and the entire surrounding discussion).
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Judd
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« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2006, 12:49:01 PM »

However, I do not think it's possible or desirable to try to institute a policy that every encounter with Evil must entail a dramatic moral quandary and damning choice.  That sounds more like a story arc than an encounter type to me.

Dave,

Having geeked out with ya in person at State Street Diner and read over this thread as it has evolved, I think the best thing you can do at this point, as a game designer, is show up to Dexcon and do your damnedest to get into games of Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard and I dunno, I've got to look over the line-up.

I'd think the best thing you can do for your game right now is play some other games that acheve some of the goals you are talking about here in a way that you aren't used to.

Games and game books that are worth taking a look at in particular in that they are fantasy and gritty:

Sorcerer and its sourcebook, Sorcerer & Sword: if just for S&S's overview of sword and sorcery literature and kickers and bangs in Sorcerer.

Conspiracy of Shadows: For the conpsiracy creation and how it draws the players, not just the characters but the players, into this twisted web of deceit and lies.

Burning Wheel:  Beliefs, again for how to draw in no the characters but the players.

Trollbabe: for its simplicity and dice mechanics and how they create story.
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David Berg
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« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2006, 02:10:17 PM »

Judd's research suggestions just reminded me that I am not really prepared to get heavily into systems and theory talk regarding this game.  My original goal for this thread was specifically to develop the setting.  Let's return to that.

(Of course, anyone who proposes a gameworld element is certainly welcome to propose a mechanism that accompanies that element if they have one in mind.)

As I don't wish to discourage anyone who is enjoying non-setting discussions here (nor seem ungrateful to those offering help in such areas!  I do appreciate it), I have created a new thread and linked some relevant posts from this thread.

So: monsters/geography/history/culture, anyone?
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2006, 02:39:41 PM »

Gotcha on separating out reward systems as a separate issue -- that makes sense. Big caveat, though: If the mechanics, and especially the reward system, do not line up with the setting you invent, then actual play will not take place in your setting*: It'll drift into something that sorta looks like your setting but doesn't have any of the cool stuff you envisioned. (Apparently this happens to D&D and, especially, World of Darkness players all the time: "Where'd the epic battle between good and evil/angst-ridden intrigue go? We're just gettin' missions and killin' stuff.")

As for setting specifically, besides my earlier suggestion of using insane/degenerate humans for your "horde" bad-guys instead of "Orcs" (there are some good Conan the Barbarian stories that do this, besides the Firefly and King Kong models I mentioned earlier), I like the idea of having all the other "monsters" be unique. I'd suggest some kind of Creepy Details Table with random generation for quick beasties, or (more complex) a point-buy Build Your Own Abomination system for GMs to use. I would definitely not have any of these villains have their own culture, society, or system of values -- that way it shouldn't be possible for anyone to say, "oh, well, from their point of view, they're really the good guys."

Conversely, I'd make your humans, and their history, culture, religion, geography, etc., all as close to historical Europe (or rather, to the popular idea of historical Europe) as you can manage. These guys provide your players' point of view: If they're alien and hard to understand, then (a) your players will be struggling to feel sympathy with their own characters and the people they're supposed to protect, and (b) the monsters won't stand out as much. The bog-standard "generic fantasy setting" has a lot to recommend it, at least for people who've played D&D, but, better yet is the "generic fairy tale kingdom." Read a lot of fairy tales (Grimm's, etc.) and watch a lot of fantasy or medieval movies (Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven), and model your society on that. That way, your players can quickly slip into character, because everything is recognizable: "Okay, we've got castles, villages, kings, knights, priests, and peasants, let's go" (even if the priests worship the Sun-God instead of Jesus, or if some of the knights are warrior-women... I'm doing that in my own The Shadow of Yesterday game). It's very clear and comfortable who "we" are -- which makes "them," your savages and monsters, all the more horrifically alien by contrast.

* That is, as long as other people are playing the game with only the rules to go by: If you, personally, are present, especially as a GM, you can override this phenomenon.
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David Berg
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« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2006, 04:00:39 PM »

Sydney-

We're definitely on the same page about a lot of this stuff.

If the mechanics, and especially the reward system, do not line up with the setting you invent, then actual play will not take place in your setting

Right.  For example, if the rewards system is entirely about social accomplishments, characters will have no desire to wander into the dark, murky corners of the world and encounter my Evil phenomena.

using insane/degenerate humans for your "horde" bad-guys instead of "Orcs"

"They used to be us" and "that could be us if we're not careful" are great, but only if a sense is retained that "they are not us, we can't possibly be friends with them or like them or feel sorry for them."  Adversaries you can feel sorry for will be Humans.

At the moment, my plan is to make signs that Orcs were once Human extremely few and far between, requiring a large amount of experience and deduction to see...

I like the idea of having all the other "monsters" be unique.

Earthly abominations caused by the invading power of the Evil Threat will all be unique.  As for bodiless daemons or super-powerful creatures close to the origins of the Evil Threat itself, I intend for those to exist in perhaps a few types.  5 Balrogs, 3 Grells, a dozen or so Wraith-type-things...

I'd suggest some kind of Creepy Details Table with random generation for quick beasties, or (more complex) a point-buy Build Your Own Abomination system for GMs to use.

Already in progress.  See post 9 in this thread.

I would definitely not have any of these villains have their own culture, society, or system of values -- that way it shouldn't be possible for anyone to say, "oh, well, from their point of view, they're really the good guys."

Indeed.  The shark-men and lizard-men are basically intended to be animals with beyond-animal capabilities.  The Orcs toe the line -- their existence certainly implies that they probably have a culture, but I've been hoping to get around this by making sure humans never see any evidence of it.  No human enters Orc lands and returns alive; the only Orcs encountered are war parties.  I hope this is sufficient...

Conversely, I'd make your humans, and their history, culture, religion, geography, etc., all as close to historical Europe (or rather, to the popular idea of historical Europe) as you can manage.

That is indeed what I'm attempting.  The major Human empire consists of Romans loosely ruling (in heavy assimilation) three cultures that resemble medieval England, Germany and Scandinavia.  There's also a small region based on Romania, and a larger nation based loosely on Tolkein's Rohan crossed with Turks.

Read a lot of fairy tales (Grimm's, etc.) and watch a lot of fantasy or medieval movies (Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven), and model your society on that. That way, your players can quickly slip into character

Actual historical research has taken the place of this; hopefully, what I lose in immediate familiarity I make up in satisfying realism.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2006, 04:16:16 PM »

Yeah, that definitely sounds like the right track to me. Only two quibbles, really:

At the moment, my plan is to make signs that Orcs were once Human extremely few and far between, requiring a large amount of experience and deduction to see...

But if you make it too hard, most people playing your game will never figure it out. Yeah, the GM may have a plan to spill it "eventually," but we all know how many RPG campaigns break up before you ever get to "eventually," leaving the players to ask, "what was the big climax supposed to be, anyway?"

Forge games have taught me that delayed gratification and keeping secrets are bad. To paraphrase Vincent Baker's instructions for the GM in Dogs in the Vineyard, the NPCs have secrets they want to keep, not you the real person GM'ing; the GM has secrets he wants to reveal, so s/he can show off the situation in all its gruesome glory. Vincent even recommends that when an NPC is lying to the player characters, the GM should make it obvious the guy is lying -- even say, "yup, he's lying!" if the players aren't sure. The trick (again, from Vincent) is that knowing the secret shouldn't make the solution easier for the players: Instead, everything they find out should make the situation more complicated and the potential solutions more problematic.

I'd recommend that you make it damned obvious that the Orcs were human once -- and equally obvious that if you try to negotiate or to show them mercy for a second, they'll eat you alive -- and then totally not obvious what happened to them, why, or what can be done to fix it, if anything at all.

Quote
Actual historical research has taken the place of this [i.e. fairy tales & films]; hopefully, what I lose in immediate familiarity I make up in satisfying realism.

You're probably good to go, but I would recommend taking a look at some of the Conan stories (the real ones by Howard, not the later stories written by other people): Howard was a big Lovecraft fan, thought of himself as a "weird fiction" writer who just happened to be adding a pseudo-medieval setting, referred explicitly to "old ones" in his work, and invented some truly cool demons, ape-men, fallen civilizations, and degenerate savages that are well worth imitating.
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David Berg
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« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2006, 04:25:24 PM »

2) If Evil defeats you, and you survive, you begin to come under its sway -- you are increasingly cowed, morally broken, until finally you become a sniveling minion of those you once fought.
"Better dead than Red" becomes the theme -- heroes are encouraged to do their utmost to defeat evil, and to risk everything, because if you win, there's no downside, and if you lose, well, that's still a moral victory as long as you die trying, because at least you died as a human being.

I sense some potential here...  Some enemies should have the ability to inflict a fate that is (at least eventually) worse than death on PCs... and at least in some cases, this can only happen when the PC is at the enemy's mercy (e.g. having lost a fight with it)...

More Monster Capabilities brainstorms:
- implant eggs (hatch in x amount of time if not somehow removed, then young proceed to eat you from the inside)
- trigger mutation (variable in both speed of growth and in ultimate degree)
- make you permanently afraid (of similar creatures? all spawn of Evil Threat? everything?)
- distort your mind (infect with alien/chaotic/human-hostile traits?)
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Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2006, 04:29:10 PM »

Nice. Some additional ideas:

- enslave you
- enthrall you
- make you love the monster
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 612


« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2006, 04:32:32 PM »

I'd recommend that you make it damned obvious that the Orcs were human once -- and equally obvious that if you try to negotiate or to show them mercy for a second, they'll eat you alive -- and then totally not obvious what happened to them, why, or what can be done to fix it, if anything at all.

You're right, having the best of both worlds probably deserves a more thorough shot than I've taken at it thus far.

Howard was a big Lovecraft fan, thought of himself as a "weird fiction" writer who just happened to be adding a pseudo-medieval setting, referred explicitly to "old ones" in his work, and invented some truly cool demons, ape-men, fallen civilizations, and degenerate savages that are well worth imitating.

Sounds perfect.  Thanks for the tip!
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
David Berg
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Posts: 612


« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2006, 05:51:41 PM »

Let me do my best to explain the Ron Edwards school of thinking about "rewards systems," because you're right that you're not quite getting his meaning, and it is absolutely crucial.

The rewards that matter are the ones for players, not for characters.

Sydney-

I found what you had to say on this topic extremely interesting, and I have started a new thread to follow up on the ideas you described.
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