The reasoning here is that I'd like to experiment with making the world more accessible to players. I love what we've accomplished with DtD, and I'd like to see what the other end of that spectrum looks like. Scaling down to stakes that are immediate, visible, and quantifiable also has a lot of appeal. I don't expect that the whole campaign would stay at that level, but that's fine.In the village there is a Great Machine that has lain dormant for as long as can be remembered. When it sparks back to life, it brings change to the village, spouting instructions and teaching the villagers to use strange new talents. In this way the villagers begin to relearn the secrets of magic and science. Many adventures center on repairs or modifications to the Great Machine.
Ideally, there is also some kind of no-marshal-needed way to interact with and enjoy the machine. I've been very pleased that Martel's Table has given players something to look at and think about, but they can only do things when a marshal is present. The next step on the path of Interesting Stuff is to give it moving parts that the players can mess with and resolve without a marshal present.Several years ago I wrote this post about changing the scale of games. I'd be pursuing this idea, with the addition of a few more tasks - something that was like being nobility, but not. Maybe a "family of the Council Fire" - a few families that for some reason have a hereditary right to lead the village council. They're a priestly and judicial caste. These backgrounds are a big part of how the game sets its tone for the players. The more unorthodox version of this is a more formalized character history process, but I'd need to give that more thought. I don't know what kinds of dramatic events might have shaped this village, but I am happy enough with Historical Events that it would be tough for me not to repeat that trick. Some of the burden currently shouldered by Historical Events would instead rest on familial connections that Plot goes out of its way to help establish.
This setting seems like a perfect chance to have an all-humans campaign, but in working on DtD I've realized that makeup races are really useful in distinguishing two different characters played by the same person. It's easier and more memorable than making sure every single character you need to play has a distinctive piece of costuming. At the same time, I've never quite gotten on board with the huge numbers of character races seen in some settings.
The seed of this idea is the tokens themselves and how they are decorated. I feel like it would be incredibly cool to establish a visual language signifying relative rarity and value in the size, shape, and coloration of tokens, so that when you get something awesome, every aspect of the object builds your anticipation of this new thing. The name of the skill - that is, the literal signifier - can grow more mysterious and ambiguous; if everything else comes together correctly, this only intensifies your interest in the thing.
The point here is pretty obvious: to let the players direct the evolution of the content. This is something that we've done in DtD, probably more than players realize. Therefore I'd like to try making those choices and directions more explicit. The early choices also inform later choices, to a certain degree, by establishing idioms and connotations; otherwise a lot of these choices are made with minimal transparency, only a smattering of clues, to put a tiny bit of a brake on the tendency toward recrimination if you wind up not liking the results.On consideration, a lot of this idea seems like a simple perspective shift on Tulevar from Shattered Isles' second arc. There is some justice to that; it's been eleven years since Tulevar became part of my imagination's melting pot, and it's not surprising that it should resurface. On the other hand, I'm pointedly casting the PCs as the natives, and I'm not planning to go in an Aztec direction with this so much. The cave complex that provides a place to explore in the early game is a strong parallel for Tulevar's Labyrinth, after a fashion, though not quite as multiversal. Also, if I ever did run this, I could do a damn sight worse than stealing the kepri (malicious goat-people) outright. Each time the Great Machine adds new territory to the world, the setting becomes a bit more unlike Tulevar.
The important part of this idea is something I mean to post about in much greater detail in the future, but in brief it's this: Villains should always get a chance to talk to the heroes. The conflict of their goals and philosophies is what defines each as hero or villain. You can't be an iconic hero if you don't recapitulate your ethos, and you can't be a very good dramatic hero if no one knows what your ethos was before and after it changed. I would go out of my way to establish customs of parlay (more like really important guidelines that it profits the heroes to obey) in the setting - which is also a related aspect of wanting violence to be the solution to fewer of the significant conflicts.I haven't currently worked out any of the story of why the world is separated into island realms in the mists, though I want to emphasize that I am not just putting a new coat of paint on Ravenloft. Ravenloft is one of the all-time great settings, no question about it - and there are certainly Major Villains in the setting that are dimly comparable to the domain lords - but it's still not quite where I am with this.
Labels: Below, campaigns I'd like to run, free content, setting ideas, video games35 36 37 38