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[Chronicles of Erdor] Doing away with proper nouns?

Started by baron samedi, August 08, 2006, 08:21:29 PM

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baron samedi

Thanks, folks. I appreciate the discussion a LOT.

David: In fact, I have 7 very alien cultures that have to work together to prevent their world's destruction by the followers of a Lovecraftian goddess of the void, She-Who-Devours. Overcoming their cultural differences and hostilities to save their world, Erdor, is the game's theme.

As for NPCs, their name depends on their role in the story told. So players take an "Actor stance" (is that it?) when playing it. As you said, "you don't meet people outside of their accustomed context in a dreamworld..." And the PCs would't wonder about this, because this is how the world is.

Thanks, Aaron. You're thinking 100% like I do. I know Reve de Dragon (Dragon Dream) very well and own 2 versions: it's among the grandfathers of French RPGs and I happen to be a native French speaker. The author, Denis Gerfaud, also created Hurlements (Howlings) and a few other RPGs that decidedly make him a reference for oneirism, long before John Tynes created Puppetland. Oneirism is becoming a genre by itself in French RPGs.

I confess : I loathe Reve de Dragon's GURPS-like mechanisms. But I love the universe.

My game, the Chronicles of Erdor, is decidedly in the same genre BUT it's not European fantasy at all ; it features previously unknown fantastic species (e.g. people purple who hear through their hands, etc.), not unlike Jim Henson's/Brian Froud's creations. Their world is dying, almost all hope is gone, a theocracy of a mad goddess is about to devour the universe ...

I've talked about the Chronicles of Erdor here previously :
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=19644.0
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=20728.0

I'd have a few RPG sites to direct you to, but they are in French. :(

I'm in the process of making the page setup with the images for the 2nd French edition. (I was published in 2002 by a very small press editor, who went bankrupt afterwards in 2003). 95% of images are finished, yet, and they're beautiful.

For the English version (shorter, more focused), I think I would like to use and adapt Vincent D. Baker's RPG system, in Dogs in the Vineyard/Afraid, that does the wonderful work of intensity I would like to do better than my current system.

My collaborators are currently checking out  DITV to tell me if they it's feasible and then, if Mr. Baker would be interested, I would like to propose him eventually some kind of arrangement. If not, I'll try to develop a different system that goes towards the same feeling : cosmic consequences for ones' actions, Narrativist mechanics. If I'd use the DITV system, which personnaly I would love (if my team agrees, and moreso if Mr. Baker's wants to licence his system to other authors) it would be possible as "Fallout" to decide that a PC changes a NPC's name, or vice versa, as David suggested.  But not until a year at least - I've got to finish writing the full 4 tomes of the French version, the 2nd of which I'm finishing writing.  But I like to think my projects well in advance...

If you're interested, I could post my English "premise" somewhere, but it's 3 pages long and I don't think posting it here would respect Forge policy.

I'm happy you seem interested from what little you read about it. I've been working 13 years on this, and I'm quite proud of what we've done with our 2nd edition. I could even show you a few pictures, if you like.

Erick

Kesher

Erick, sorry it took me a few days to get back to this thread!

Quote from: Erick
David: In fact, I have 7 very alien cultures that have to work together to prevent their world's destruction by the followers of a Lovecraftian goddess of the void, She-Who-Devours. Overcoming their cultural differences and hostilities to save their world, Erdor, is the game's theme.

My friend, you got me hooked with that...

Quote from: Erick
...Chronicles of Erdor, is decidedly in the same genre BUT it's not European fantasy at all ; it features previously unknown fantastic species (e.g. people purple who hear through their hands, etc.), not unlike Jim Henson's/Brian Froud's creations. Their world is dying, almost all hope is gone, a theocracy of a mad goddess is about to devour the universe ...

...and really hooked with that.

Quote from: Erick
You're thinking 100% like I do. I know Reve de Dragon (Dragon Dream) very well and own 2 versions: it's among the grandfathers of French RPGs and I happen to be a native French speaker. The author, Denis Gerfaud, also created Hurlements (Howlings) and a few other RPGs that decidedly make him a reference for oneirism, long before John Tynes created Puppetland. Oneirism is becoming a genre by itself in French RPGs.

I confess : I loathe Reve de Dragon's GURPS-like mechanisms. But I love the universe.

I'd love to talk more about this; would you be interested in starting another thread about the "oneiric" genre, as you understand it?  I'd be especially interested in your perspective on what qualities make up the genre, and how the system of the game can support (or hinder) those qualities.

I dearly wish I had some French, but I'd LOVE to look at whatever you have in English, including pictures; just send it to akesher@gmail.com.

Back to this thread, what is it about the DitV mechanics you find so appropriate?  For instance, why Fallout?  How does it support what you want both the Players and the Characters to be doing during play?

Quote from: David
You might want to consider allowing the player characters some ability to bestow names on others, or to learn names that others wish to keep hidden.

This is a cool idea; what if characters had "use" names and "secret" names?  The secret names related to maybe ther ultimate, personal goal or fate, and if others learned those names it would give them an actual mechanical advantage over just that character?  Kinda the "Earthsea" effect...

Aaron

baron samedi

#17
Hey, Aaron, that's cool!

Your ideas gave me motivation to work on the English version. I've tossed down my boring "10 pages of provinces left" from my (French) tome 2's atlas and started to write out my first 6 pages in English. I'll post something on The Forge for feedback when I have at least a full section completed (e.g. the "Intro"). Basically, my game universe is something like a mix between Talislanta-like weird "Jack Vance" fantasy and Hebrew kabbalah, driving the theme of a dying universe under the idea of "what if the Tree of Life was imploding, and the whole world collapsing". Perhaps too weird the mainstream market, but the Forge gave me nice ideas to work with. :)

I see you've been a playtester for Polaris (reading at the book's credits). Perhaps, if you like, you'd be interested in commenting my (eventual) English version?

For pictures, here a a few thumbnails from my 3 artists. This might convey a bit of the atmosphere I'm trying to evoke by avoiding "personal names":
Image 111
Image 112
Image 113
Image 114
Image 115
Image 116

2. ONEIRISM
For oneirism, I'd be glad to help but... What do you want to know? In English, I think Puppetland and Polaris show up the theme quite well. Most French games of this genre are by Denis Gerfaud ("Reve de Dragon", "Chimeres") but there are a few others : "Hurlements" (medieval France), "Les chroniques de Nemedia" (pseudo-Bronze Age Celtic lands), "Retrofutur" ("Dark city"-like setting) and probably a few others... I'd say that "Reality is malleable by nature and cannot be fully grasped" is a good start to define the genre. I'm not sure I could contribute much more to a thread.


3. DITV SYSTEM
As for DITV, I can't presume right now about the feasibility since I don't own the rights and I don't have enough written in English to even start a discussion about a business proposal. My game's central theme is "How far would you go to save your world" :

- Would you betray your culture and your kin to save your world?
- Would you kill an innocent to protect the multitude?
- Would you repair an injustice to  "mend the Shattering of the Tree of Life", knowing by doing so could provoke a war?

The DITV Fallout idea is wonderful for such themes. I'd just crank this up a bit : instead of "guns", you have "war" : since each player would be something like a Prophet of the Ancient Testament or Islam, followed by disciples who put his stories and ideas in writing, a situation could be cranked up to full war, e.g. "To stop the (Pharaoh) from enslaving the faithful, since he will not listen to reason, Moses escalates to plague that affects the entire kingdom of Egypt (i.e. war)". Of course, I'd need to adjust Fallout on a "cosmic" scale to account for large-scale consequences. IMHO, the DITV system would be wonderful to generate the feeling of Ancient Testament-scale situations I'd like to promote through the games' adventures (e.g. the Tower of Babel, the war between Saduceans and Philistines, the Flood, etc.) in a totally fantastic setting totally uprooted from the history of Judaism. I'll have to consider similar mechanisms if I must look for another solution.


4. CONCLUDING ON NAMES
Anyhow, as to conclude about character names, I think all names of characters would be public, all names would be Traits and a player could bestow a name upon a previously unnamed NPC, or challenge an NPC to change his name (as a challenge's stake, or as fallout). E.g., keeping with the DITV analogy :
"I am the Judge of the Regretful Heart" 2d10
"I used to be the Judge of the Furious Wrath" 2d4
"I am the Scorned Peasant" 1d6 etc.

Sorry if I'm off topic. I've still got a hard time getting the spirit of The Forge's policy on this matter.

Regards,

Erick

andrew_kenrick

Quotehe DITV Fallout idea is wonderful for such themes. I'd just crank this up a bit : instead of "guns", you have "war" : since each player would be something like a Prophet of the Ancient Testament or Islam, followed by disciples who put his stories and ideas in writing, a situation could be cranked up to full war, e.g. "To stop the (Pharaoh) from enslaving the faithful, since he will not listen to reason, Moses escalates to plague that affects the entire kingdom of Egypt (i.e. war)".

Ooh I like this idea. So some of the themes are similar to DitV, but cranked up to a national/global level? So could the outcome of a conflict change the course of history or the path of an entire nation? Do you see players as being global movers and shakers like kings and generals and, as you say, prophets?

QuoteAnyhow, as to conclude about character names, I think all names of characters would be public, all names would be Traits and a player could bestow a name upon a previously unnamed NPC, or challenge an NPC to change his name (as a challenge's stake, or as fallout). E.g., keeping with the DITV analogy :
"I am the Judge of the Regretful Heart" 2d10
"I used to be the Judge of the Furious Wrath" 2d4
"I am the Scorned Peasant" 1d6 etc.

This is neat too. So the names are intrinsically and mechanically linked with a character's attributes. What would come first, the trait or the name? Or would they be one and the same?

Andrew
Andrew Kenrick
www.steampowerpublishing.com
Dead of Night - a pocket sized game of b-movie and slasher horror

baron samedi

Hi Andrew,

Since I'm afraid this thread is becoming more and more about presenting my game theme, and less about "Gaming Without Names", I'm growing fearful of the Wrath of the Moderators falling on my meek head. Still, since my question was related to understanding if my design ideas would make sense to people who never heard of my universe (and I'm making big changes since the first edition), humble me thinks this discussion is still relevant.

To answer your questions, Andrew :

1. *IF* I'd go for something like DITV, a name and a Trait would be one and the same. Fallout could thus change a character's name. At start, a character would have the following Traits (an Ironfolk example) :

a) a Name : ex. I am the Judge of the Merciful Cup.
b) a Cultural Trait: ex. I will honour the panache of my clan and caste.
c) and d) two People (i.e."species") Traits:
ex.  The silent wailing of the moons drives the Ironfolk mad.
ex. The Ironfolk cannot feel empathy.
e) A tribe Trait: I lead the Tribe of the Merciful Cup

Players allot dice to this as they wish, but Tribe traits always have d10. Notice that all Peoples have a specific emotion they cannot feel, empathy in this case. Which makes them monsters, in a way, even more so when they attempt to express things like mercy. (This setting is strange, I warned you.)

Tribes would be "equipment" brought in during War or large scale events. For every 10 people or so, the Trait is worth 1d10. So a war involving 50 people on one side and 100 on the other would oppose 5d10 + 10d10. For larger scale events, it's simply to substitute 1d10 for 100 people or even 1d10 for 1000 people. The story is about the Judges of the Indigo Flame, not their armies' merits.

Please note that terms with Capitals may change. It's an ALPHA version so far. And all this doesn't presume anything about the feasibility of using the (copyrighted) DITV system. It's just an hypothesis at this moment. Please bear with me on this.

2. Here's my pitch so far about what players do in this game. They have a dream like the burning bush, they get 7 Certitudes and 3 Gifts of Truth, and an indigo flame burning in their eyes proves them to be judges, whether they are a proud and beautiful Ironfolk or a gruesome, masked Worm That Walks (I love Clark Ashton Smith, as you may have noticed). The Judges are followed by a tribe, exactly like Moses in the desert or Noah's family or Solomon's ministers. The players are important people, wondering from place to place with their tribe, mending the Shattering of the world. You'll notice that the last paragraph (GM's role) was strongly influenced by D. Vincent Baker's presentation of DITV, of course  :

There Were Worlds Before Ours
The Last Chronicles of Erdor tell tragic tales set in the last days of a world of horrifying beauty, consumed by She Who Devours All and her barbaric legions. Divided by their cultural differences, the eerie civilizations of Erdor struggle against the Theocracy of this abominable goddess even as secret societies corrupt them from within.
Erdor will fall, shatter and fade away into nothingness, for that is known, but something of it might still be saved by its last champions: the Judges of the Indigo Flame.

What is This Game About?
The central concept of this game rests onto a single question: What would you sacrifice to save your dying world?
This game is about confronting the inevitable death of the world, making moral choices and facing their tragic outcomes in a strange land of beauty and horror.
The players take on the role of the Judges of the Indigo Flame, prophets, warriors and healers from all peoples and nations. They were given power by the ENIGMA to restore the harmony of the universe by mending its Shattering. They wander the world as its end grows near, passing judgement on the wicked, saving the innocent from oppression and destroying the forces that serve the Shattering. The clash between the values cherished by the Judges, both cultural and personal, and their duty to save Erdor drives their adventures.
The role of the Game Master, in turn, is to challenge the players with hard moral dilemmas and their consequences, to frame poetic scenes and aggravate conflicts, driving up the stakes at every occasion. He imagines nations, communities, tribes and clans viciously torn by the Shattering, without thinking of a solution before hand.
The story belongs to the Judges. Once the situation is presented, the Game Master simply reacts to what the Judges do. His ultimate goal is to force heart-rending choices on the players: knowing their world is dying, how far will they go to preserve what they cherish the most?


Erick N. Bouchard © 2006. All rights reserved.

Kesher

Hey Erick.

A couple of things first: Thanks for being so willing to share those illustrations, but you shouldn't actually post images in the Forums; links are fine, but don't embed graphics.  Second, you might just want to email Vincent yourself; he's a nice guy, and I'm certainly not trying to speak for him, but you might be surprised at what he has to say about your using his mechanics as a base of inspiration.

Also, since you started this thread, you have some say as to where it goes, content-wise; however, if you're not sure, just start a new thread about the connection of the your theme and system.

So, the pictures were actually really helpful, I thought, in illustrating the kind of world you have in mind; no Elves!, as the ads for Talislanta (or was it Jorune??) used to say...  The idea of Prophets leading tribes works really well with the kind of fallout you're talking about.  I sense, perhaps, some shades of Agone as well?  Yet another game that could probably be called oneiric.

I love the idea, much as I love it in Polaris, that the world is already doomed, it's a known fact, and what you're telling are the stories of the endtimes.  There's a pathos there that strikes a deep chord.  Plus, I don't think you can get much more French than the fact that part of the GM's responsibilites is "framing poetic scenes"!  Beautiful!

My only quibble in the game text you posted is that, as stated, you actually have two premises:

1. What would you sacrifice to save your dying world?

and

2. Knowing that your world is going to die, how far would you go to preserve what you cherish the most?

Of these two, I think the second is filled with a greater pathos (because hope is gone), and lends itself to a different, more subtle, series of heartrending choices.

Again, I'd love to read the whole three pages you were talking about earlier; if you're willing, just send it to akesher@gmail.com.

I also would be very interested in helping you out with the English versioin however I can!

Aaron

baron samedi

Thanks Aaron, and thanks everyone for the input.

Sorry for the thumbnails, I didn't thought they were invasive but I apologize for breaching etiquette. It wasn't voluntary.

I'll be replying to Aaron's suggestion by personal mail. Just for the record, Erdor doesn't have any elves (nor any quasi-elves) or orcs etc., but no humans at all too.

If anyone else is interested in what games the French may classify as "oneiric", here you have the Roleplayer's galactic guide (GROG) classification, in French :
http://www.roliste.com/themesjeux.jsp?id=16

Don't expect marvels, game mechanic wise. French RPGs tend to suffer from extreme linearity in scenarios, strong GM control and mechanics either based on Call of Cthulhu or Ars Magica. Settings, though, are often beautiful. Unfortunately I don't have much more to say on the topic... Most of these French "oneiric games" I find unplayable, except when players are passive spectators to the GM's story.

Cheers and thanks again everyone! It was very helpful. I don't mind discussing the "No Names" issue in this thread, but I'll leave the presentation of Erdor for another time, when I have more stuff to show in English.

Erick