Posts Tagged ‘fate’

Jumping Genres!

July 4, 2014

My last post was written mostly with humorous intent, but also was intended to get some thoughts churning. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, I wouldn’t derail an existing and relatively serious,steady game so wildly as to put something like the Deck of Many Genres into play. That would be a rather gross abuse of the social contract between GM and players, really.

I would, however, shift genres in a game as long as that made sense within the context of the game… and I would also run a game where the very premise revolves around shifting genres/layers of reality/alternate dimensions where the players move from one genre to the next and possibly back again. It might work best with a certain pre-determined number of predesigned genre/setting/layers where the players will run genre-shifted iterations of the same character/soul/self. I think that could be really, really fun.

Originally I was going to go back to the last post and edit it to that effect, but then after my friend Terry made a comment on his repost that was very much in line with my thinking, I decided this might be better suited if I post it by itself. I’ll share a few specific examples of times I’ve experimented with the genre-shifting concept already in games and found it a satisfying pursuit, point out a few narrative media where this technique or a variant has been used to good effect. I’ve never run a campaign where shifting realities and genres was a major part of the premise, though I have done individual adventures in a couple different systems that explored the concept either seriously or otherwise.


Deck of Many Genres

July 2, 2014

Mandatory Legal Disclaimer: side effects of bringing the magic item in this post into a game with a group that takes their games too seriously or that aren’t already expecting some serious weirdness may include rage quitting by players, blank stares, loose teeth, lost friendships or, in extreme cases, critical existence failure.

Recently while at my desk, an idea occurred to me for a magic item that might inspire far more dread in the hearts of players than even the infamous Deck of Many Things… as the title suggests, this is none other than The Deck of Many Genres. This is a magic item that is best reserved to particularly open-minded, experimental or creative play groups and GMs, and would clearly be much easier to use in a game like FATE, Wushu, Capes or Savage Worlds that can be retooled to new genres on the fly without hours of number-crunching misery. Alternately, a wily or enterprising GM might have stats generated for existing characters from your D20 or whatever game in FATE, Capes or something similarly fast and fluid that can be taken to hare off into crazy land with this thing as a side jaunt. (more…)

I Am A Dork: Legend of the Archons Edition

November 22, 2011

A number of years ago, while working on Legend of the Archons, my FATE variant, I came up with a character who was supposed to appear in the setting, but I missed some very amusing correlations between him and a certain pop culture figure until very recently. It was pointed out to me when I was explaining him to Alesia, with whom I am working on the LoA story Agents of Change. She took one listen to my description of him and immediately spotted it, and even assumed that it was deliberate… I had to admit to her that it had not been, even though it’s so blindingly obvious. Yeah, I completely deserved the teasing that she gave me over it.

I needed a character who would be a master artificer, weaponsmith and armorer, cunning in clockwork and the crafting of sundry engines of destruction. He was to be physically strong and imposing, and both renowned and fairly wealthy due to his mastery.

He needed to have been taken captive by one of the story’s major antagonists and put to work making those lovely death dealing devices at his captor’s bidding, including a special suit of armor. The idea lay fallow for years because LoA got put on the backburner. Then Alesia and I revived the LoA idea and started working on a collaborative writing project on the subject and I took him out of mothballs.

Not long before I had the discussion with Alesia, I made a cheesy little avatar of him, below:

Dream Avatar
With all of the above in mind, I needed to name him. Since he’s resident in the Dachs region, which is analogous to the highly fragmented western portion of the Holy Roman Empire during the Renaissance, I wanted him to have a solid, strong sounding Germanic name. “Stark” is a German word for “strong,” so I named him Heinrich Stark.
You can stop laughing at me now.
Yeah, he looks like RD Jr. Yeah, he is in a cave with a box of scraps making weapons of mass destruction. No, I didn’t for a moment think of Iron Man when I made him up.
That said… if you’re going to do a thing, you might as well embrace it. As far as I am concerned, I am now under a moral imperative to have Tony Heinrich build himself a suit of clockwork power armor. Yeah baby, it’s going to be awesome.

Caledor Thaddeus MacRae

October 26, 2010

Here’s the current working version of Caledor Thaddeus MacRae, the SteamHammer dude that I’m working on. Yay for placeholders! I shall continue to edit this as I make progress.


Caledor Thaddeus MacRae

Concept: Blue Blooded Sorcerer-Inventor

Species: Half-Elf

Direct lineal descendant of Rahann Magritte Gunderit, member of the merged lines of Gunderit and MacRae, scion of House Gunderit.

Phase I – Background

Events: Of mixed yet noble ancestry, Caledor was in many ways set apart from his upper-class peers. On the one hand, he was a part of the founding house of his nation, but on the other that house no longer rules Freinorden. Also, neither the descendants of Asur nor Druchii are entirely comfortable with a man who claims not only both, but even beastmen and mutants as ancestors. Accordingly, He grew up being publicly treated with respect, but privately isolated. Instead of cultivating many friends, he turned inward and discovered that the spark of magic burned bright indeed within his breast.

Aspects: High Magic Prodigy, House Gunderit

Phase II – Education

Events: Caledor was raised with every advantage, and his powerful mind and deft physicality left no question but that he had fairly earned a place in the prestigious Enric-MacRae Polygnostic University rather than winning it through family connections. He excelled in his studies, and in particular found a passion for rune engineering and aviation.

Aspects: Nothing But The Finest, The Wind In His Veins

Phase III – Wars and Perplexities

Events: Caledor served for a time as a dashing officer of the Freinorden Fifth Air Fleet, and spent a number of years running sky pirates and Old World privateers to ground, and was decorated for gallantry and initative in the storming of the sky-fortress of the Skull Emir of Marrakaz.

Aspects: Stiff Upper Lip, Thunder Drake

Phase IV – Caledor MacRae and the Storm Engine!

Aspects: The Rahann Device, The Nefarious Professor Hertzfeldt

Phase V –


Skill Pyramid:


The Calendar of the Age of Reawakening

October 19, 2010

So I was recently asked what the current year of the Legend of the Archons game is.

Heh. I’d been resisting deciding just what year my own personal online campaign is set in for a while, but I’ve decided to finally bite the bullet. Note that, naturally, anybody else running a LoA game wouldn’t have to set their game in the same year as mine. Golden Rule and all. Plus I’m not particularly interested in foisting my own campaign’s plot on others (I’m a little “over” metaplot).

But first, a bit of examination of the calendar itself. Since Occida is pretty much dominated by the Sentieric faith, I’ve decided that the current epoch dates to an important event in the history of Sentierism rather than some civil event like the founding of some empire or other. I decided to go with a solar calendar, even though the crepuscular preferences of the Alanir initially had me thinking that I’d go lunar, but I then decided against those. First, because it’s easier to write what you know, and second a carefully calculated and justified solar calendar seems to fit the early alannic scholars that set the thing up to begin with. Also, since clocks have not yet become commonplace (though they are starting to appear), the day is reckoned to begin at dawn rather than at midnight. As timekeeping technology advances, this may well change, but for now Occidans mostly count their day to have started when they and the sun rise together. And yes, I’ll have the year begin in midwinter for the convenience of our playgroup. I’ll stick with the 12-month thing as well because that’s based partially on some rather clever geometry.

The primary calendar system in Occida is the Raleshisian Calendar, after St. Raleshis, an early Church father who formulated it based on his own observations and the astronomical writings of the Prophet. St. Raleshis chose the epoch from which his calendar would count its years as the year in which the Nine Archons first convened at the Prophet’s call and covenanted to operate as a cohesive body henceforth. This epoch was set well after the fact of course, and in fact was adopted after the Prophet’s departure from mortality. Thus, this calendar was formally introduced in its own year 200, a year carefully chosen by St. Raleshis and ratified by the Archons of his own time.

There are of course a few competing calendar systems out there, for example the lunar-based Hassamic calendar which is in use by the Ubayyads and Olmayyads and the ancient Hellesic calendar, still in use in parts of eastern Occida. Certain isolated bodies of pagans dwelling in Badhb and the Jotlaw still use their hoary and arcane calendar systems as well.

But what year is it now? Well, Legend of the Archons is set in the Age of Reawakening, which is pretty analogous in most ways to our own European Renaissance. To go with that, I’ll use a scale of years similar to our own AD/CE rather than some vast scale of time assuming that culture and technology have remained fairly static for numerous millennia like some games do (the dreaded “Medieval Stasis“) or the conceit that the Archons rose up sometime in the unutterable past, which has never been how I saw things. Plus, remembering what I learned of the apocalyptic religious hysteria that hit Europe in the runup to 1500 AD, I’ll say that we’re a little bit shy of 1500 in the Sentieric Era as well. It’s a good round number, and it can feed into some creeping dread, panicked penitents and the like.

I’ve decided that the abbreviation in use for the current epoch is “R.S.,” from the Old Alannic phrase Ras Sentieris, which translates to “On the Path” in English, thus indicating how many years the Thinking Peoples have been, well, on the path.

Accordingly, my own current campaign is currently set in the springtime of 1499 Vos Ras Sentieris (year on the path).

Religion, Fantasy Races And Tokenism

October 18, 2010

It seems to me that, though there are a number of exceptions of course, fantasy settings tend to have polytheistic religions. Also, in those settings that have nonhuman inhabitants, there is very seldom much if any religious crossover between humanity and the other species. Humans generally have one or more pantheons of gods (or occasionally just one god for all humanity), and each individual nonhuman race tends to have one god (or a discrete and separate pantheon) all to itself. Fantasy settings also tend to have a lot more henotheism than is evidenced in earth’s history as well, but that’s a separate discussion. (more…)

I Been Shipped!

November 14, 2009

Um, wow.

I have learned that a friend wrote a little fanfic-type drabble about one of my RP characters. This is, in itself, an interesting phenomenon. I’m accustomed to hearing about folks doing this with characters from literature, video games, TV etc… but using one of my PCs is a new one on me. On top of that, she ships him with another character from the same game.

My character? The crusty and emotionally distant,  spacefaring oh-so-stubborn tough guy Tarid Rachem del Barca. His partner in shipping? The passionate and fey magical alien Qamala Sotiris. They’re very much an oil-and-water pair, and I found this piece very amusing.

Oh, yeah… maybe I should provide the link to the little fic itself, huh?

Here it is.

Diaspora Space Combat Chapter

September 25, 2009

Allrighty, I haven’t added as much content to this recently as I’d have liked, but that’s msotly because my other projects are humming along pretty quickly and distracting me.

However, it has come to my attention that the fellows behind Diaspora (hard scifi FATE system) have made their space combat rules available for free download at their website.

If you’re interested in FATE, check out this variant. It’s pretty interesting. I’m more of a fantasy/steampunk guy right now myself, but this is still cool stuff.

Hillbillies From Hell!

August 29, 2009

I’ve meant to post this idea for a very, very long time.

Back when I was still running games using the old World of Darkness and its Storyteller system, I had an idea for a series of pickup scenarios to run a very blackly humorous game.

This idea came from creatures that I found in the sick and satirical yet awesome supplement Freak Legion: a Player’s Guide to Fomori and the far superior and more serious later supplement Possessed, which detailed not only Fomori but Gorgons, Drones and Kami (creatures possessed by wyrm spirits, wyld-spirits, weaver-spirits and Gaian forces respectively). While I use the term fomor in my blog a lot, this is a very different concept than the one found in my Legend of the Archons game.

The creatures that I found that inspired me so? Why, the Fomor Families of course. What are they? I’m glad that you asked. They’re a distinctive form of Fomor that operates in groups that are notable partially because their taint is passed down family lines and also because the Bane spirits that possess them are elemental in nature rather than emotion-oriented banes like those that create most Fomori. They flourish in backwoods areas like the everglades, Louisiana bayous, deep in Appalachia and similar places (tiny New England towns work too, hint hint). They’re actually one of the more dangerous types of fomor too, not because of individual power but because they cooperate with one another and they don’t tend to stray far from territory with which they are intimately familiar. Also, they’re frequently Kinfolk to the Black Spiral Dancers.

So what have we got here? We’ve got degraded and inbred mutant hillbillies, more or less. It’s The Hills Have Eyes, the hillfolk family from the Simpsons and the guys from Deliverance all at once but they’ve got grotesque spiritually-based powers on top of their misanthropy and ignorance. These guys are literally the Hillbillies From Hell!

And that is where I got the name for this potential series of one-shots. I figured that I’d do a series of them but put them in no particular order and without any real attempt at continuity. They’re stand-alone scenarios using the same characters, more or less.

Instead of having the titular Hillbillies From Hell(!) as antagonists, we’d more them front and center to being a dysfunctional, despicable and blackly comedic protagonist group. Picture something like a film directed by the team of Rob Zombie, Quentin Tarantino and Terry Gilliam. PCs would have to include some or all of the following:

  • Pa, the patriarch of this here band of hellbillies. I reckon that he’s a laconic sort that, when he speaks at all he has the final word. May be up on some supernatural lore also, a la Old Man Whately from The Dunwich Horror.
  • Ma, the dreaded and terrifying harridan that keeps everybody else in line.
  • Two or more big, brawny idiots of sons/cousins/whatever, in varying degrees of size and cunning.
  • The obligatory Hot Hillbilly Girl.
  • Optional: The Wilbur Whately. See The Dunwich Horror for more on this guy. Utterly creepy, only marginally passable for human and surprisingly erudite in supernatural matters and dark lore despite his lack of a formal education.
  • Optional: a little weaselly snitch of a younger family member.
  • Optional: the chilluns/young’uns.
  • Optional: If somebody’s feeling frisky, they could play the alpha of the family’s rampaging pack of hound dogs. It’s not like most of the family is any smarter than the old hound dog anyhow…

I am just doing this to toss ideas out there and to help myself remember this. I’ll probably never run it, but I’d love to at some point. Maybe somebody cut put it together for a convention game.

Below are the titles of some of the possible scenarios I came up with to run the Hillbillies From Hell(!) through:

  • Hillbillies From Hell Save The World! – A flyin’ saucer or two touch down on the Hillbillies’ land intent on establishing a beachhead for a planetary invasion out someplace where nobody will care about. It’s up to the Hillbillies From Hell to save the world from these gribbly alien scum a la Redneck Rampage. “Pa, ah see a bright light out there inna yard – it’s prob’ly them gubmint. Git th’ squirrel gun!”
  • Beverly Hillbillies from Hell! – Paw’s out shootin’ at some food and while he’s out there he finds something that makes the family rich beyond the dreams of avarice (maybe impressive movie-grade uranium deposits or something equally entertaining) and so they move out to some posh locale while still making sure to keep an eye on the pestilent little hole they came from. Demonic hillbillies mixing with the elites and noveaux-riche. Hilarity ensues.
  • Hillbillies From Hell Family Feud! The Hills Rise Wild meets Romeo and Juliet or the Hatfields and McCoys, anyone? Why are they feuding? Is it over some mystic artifact, or because of soembody’s sister/cousin being literally given the eye by somebody from the wrong family, or is this simply a feud that has been going on since before anybody now living can remember?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Hit the Road! Traveling cross country to see Wally World… with the Hillbillies From Hell. Cue disaster.
  • Hillbillies From Hell Go To School! Social Services has cottoned on to the poor treatment and zero education of the family’s chilluns, and has decided to step in. If’n the family doesn’t want to lose the young’uns, they’re going to have to send them to school. To be fair, Pa’s probably going to have to send the older ones too. Hilarity ensues. Alternately, the game could focus on the kids having been actually taken away from Ma and Pa and placed in foster care… how long can the state cope with having these hellions as its wards? Can we actually root for Ma and Pa to find a way to get their young’uns back?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Against The Law! You know these guys are involved in moonshining and probably growing certain other interesting substances, and it’s very likely that some corrupt official wants their land and possibly something else of theirs, so he has turned his equally corrupt official minions to finding a way to cart the lot of them off and justify a land grab. maybe the corrupt commissioner is a Toad Fomor in a white suit and taking kickbacks from Pentex to pave the way for the company to claim the “old mine” that’s in the family’s territory. Cue car chases, colorful metaphors, confederate flags and of course the jiggling of our own resident hillbilly hottie. Them Dukes!
  • Hillbllies From Hell Stick it to the Man! This is one where for some reason or another, some slick big city developer has decided he needs to develop the family’s land. Maybe he’s decided it’s a good place for a resort, or a power plant, or perhaps he’s a civil engineer that wants to put a freeway through. Whatever. Anyhow, what’s important is that he’s decided that the hellbillies have to go, and the snake’s not only got a bunch of lawyers and cronies but he’s also put the ATF or some similar federal agency on to the family’s questionable practices. Stick it to The Man!
  • Hillbillies From Hell at the County Fair! Can Ma keep her prize giant punkin from eating the judges before it can win the blue ribbon? Can Cletus find a way to woo both the prize hog and its pretty owner? Can Pa make it through the day without shooting anybody? And what ever happened to them young’uns?
  • Hillbillies From Hell Go To Town! – The family has to go in to town for one reason or another (to get parts for their broke down old tractor maybe? For the Farmer’s Market maybe?) and hilarity ensues.
  • Hillbillies From Hell and the Great Bank Robbery! Pa takes the family with him to go to the bank and get his subsidy/welfare/whatever check dealt with, and some poor bastard of a bank robber decides it’s a good time to start a high stakes bank heist! Before Pa can get his money! And he took Lula Belle hostage! This is going to get very ugly, very fast. Heck, we could make it a high rise and go Hellbilly Die Hard.

Since dreaming up this concept, I have reviewed it and thought that it could run very well in a number of other game systems. Apart from the assorted universal systems, a game like this would work really easily and entertainingly in Capes or FATE/Spirit of the Century, and would also make for a hysterically awesome game of octaNe.

Steamhammer: a Taste of Things to Come

August 23, 2009

So, I have decided that my poll has gone on long enough, and the results are ones that I can work with. At a commanding plurality of 44%, the winner is Steamhammer. I really liked Warhammer: Age of Steam and Rune Engine also, but I’ll go with the results of the poll on this one. I do think that is a good title and I’ll run with it.

Also, I’ll give a little tidbit of one of the ideas that is going in to this game as well. Note that any wiki links below are to items and persons that as they were in 2519 IC, not as they now exist some 500 years or so later.

One of the distinctive features of this setting is that, not only is it in an industrial revolution/age of steam type tech level, but also that certain enterprising factions have also begun fairly serious explorations of the possible integration of magic and technology, leading to some steam-powered wonders of rune and steel known to modern science as Rune Engines. The first pioneers into this area of knowledge were of course the verminous Skaven with the insane warlock-engineering of Clan Skryre, and the Skaven remain on the bleeding (and extremely explosive) edge of this technological wave.

However, outside of Skavendom, the field of magically-empowered technology owes much of its current state to experiments and concepts pioneered in the New World rather than in the old. Cultural factors such as the influence of elvish views on magic and an eagerness to recruit engineers that were willing to innovate beyond the bounds and restrictions of the dwarven engineer’s guild in the Old World combined to create an atmosphere that was more receptive to this sort of endeavor. Indeed the civilized nations of the Old World have been slow to adopt or pursue this area of knowledge and remain far behind due mostly to their distrust of magic at large.

The greatest of the early innovators in this area were the Get of Oroboros, the magical society operating out of Schloβ Drache as part of the Dragon Brethren. Their leader, the immensely powerful Liche Cedric Enric, along with his closest collaborators Derelek Caravan the dwarven alchemist/engineer and the intuitively gifted Rahann Magritte Gunderit, pioneered most of the early work in this field and much of what stands today is based on their body of innovation.

One particular area into which very few other than Enric have been willing to delve is a sub-type of rune engine that has immense yet eerie and ethically worrisome promise. This is arguably Cedric’s greatest invention: the Wraith Engine. Using mysterious necromantic arts both of his own devising and derived from ancient nehekaran texts, the master Liche has learned how to bind the spirits of the restless dead into arcane machineries to provide them with motive force and even the ability to operate with a guiding albeit often malevolent intelligence.

Since the fall of the original Schloβ Drache into the harbor at Kalterhafen, Cedric has turned the partially-submerged fortress into his own personal workshop and field for experimentation. Few mortal beings are permitted (or would desire) to enter now, and no living men patrol its crooked battlements though their position commands a highly strategic point for defense against any naval assault on this critical port city. Mortal defenders are unnecessary, for Enric has filled the place with spirits, undead beings and wraith engines in the form of both automata and artillery.

Around the ancient fortress, sunken ships litter the bottom of the harbor. These ships have been visited, partially repaired and imbued with wraith engines of their own by Enric and his minions. He has several times deliberately scuttled captured enemy vessels to add to this number. Should any hostile fleet dare to sail on Kalterhafen, they would have to contend not only with the mortal navy stationed there and the formidable gunnery of Cedric’s tower, but also would have to contend with a flotilla of ghost ships rising up from the deep in their very midst to wreak havoc.

We shall further examine Rune Engineering, the Wraith Engine and other subjects of interest to Steamhammer at another time.

Also, because I’m a dork that enjoys creating these silly little electronic paper dolls, I’ll post a pic of a possible character idea that I had – I haven’t named him yet, but I envision him as a descendant of Rahann Gunderit who has continued to pursue advancements in rune engine technology.

Young, well bred and a mad sorcerer-scientist. Whats not to love?

Young, well bred and a mad sorcerer-scientist. What's not to love?