Friday, October 28, 2016

Gods of the Fall - Gods of the [blank] part 4 - Gods of The Strange

All these worlds and more ...

Far Beyond Quickened

You've explored the strange, you've used cyphers and seen how they can effect the real world as easily as they do recursions, and now you've found that you have started to see the fundamental underlying truth. You are starting to understand how the strange is connected to the prime reality. You've started to awaken to greater power still. You're more than just quickened now. Now, you are a god of the strange.

You're going to need The Strange for this one in addition to Gods of the Fall (and probably the CSR, but you may be able to do without). The characters should start out just like any other quickened characters. For the first tier things seem "normal," or at least as normal as things would be in The Strange.

After a few sessions however things change, and the character's catch glimpses of the fundamental code of the strange in situations where that isn't to be expected. They also start to display an unusual aura, this may be a literal corona of light on Ardeyn, an effect of pheromones and bio-circuitry on Ruk, and a bearing and demeanor shift on earth. The characters are not different, yet, but at times other people can see there is more to them.

In time, after the reach tier two, they discover they can tap into the strange in powerful and subtle ways no matter where they are. They gain Strange Shifts that function throughout the prime reality, all recursions, and the strange. These shifts should probably not be on Focus abilities to minimize bookkeeping and to emphasize that their powers are beyond all these worlds. They also choose dominions which could be very traditional, or very modern (a god of computers, a god of media), and abilities that further grant them power over the realities they visit.

The setting is that of The Strange, but dialed up a bit. These are characters who can not just travel between realities and work to prevent Earth from drawing the attention of planetovores, but in time they are capable of fighting those planetovores on something approaching equal terms. Any recursion they visit will integrate them into its narrative as ever more potent and vital figures and in time these characters may be able to become gods of multiple recursions above and beyond any they may create for themselves.

Adventure Ideas
If you ever wanted to have a planetovore actually attack the Earth this might be the ideal time to run a campaign of such scale. At the apex of their powers god characters will be able to confront and hopefully defeat planetovores of level 15 and save the Earth, or damn it when they become planetovores themselves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #96 - Hacking the Cypher System - Expanded Dominion Abilities

Ok, technically this should probably be "Hacking Gods of the Fall..." but if you're like me then the god-specific systems from GotF will end up in other Cypher games anyways, even if only in the ways I have been discussing for the past couple of Fridays (and this coming Friday). Regardless, this is still Cypher System-centric, but I'll admit it's a bit left of dead center.

One of the things in Gods of the Fall that makes character feel like Gods are divine shifts, another is their aura and symbol, and a third, distantly, are dominion abilities. You see, dominion abilities are a cool idea, but there only so much room in a book and only so many options at the disposal of players and GMs, and because Gods of the Fall doesn't use a preset list of canned dominion (Canned dominion, now with 33% less salt!) the list of dominion abilities simply cannot encompass all possibilities. Add to that that many of the abilities feel less like "dominion" abilities and more like "divine" abilities - including some of which you'd expect to be standard kit - and sadly the dominion abilities can be the lesser, oft overshadowed, aspect of playing gods.

But it sure as heaven and hell doesn't have to be that way!

You see, sometimes it just takes a simple readjustment of your point of view to see a solution. In the case of dominion abilities, I think that Bruce Cordell saw that there would be times when players didn't want to take any of the available choices, and he built in the option to forgo a dominion ability in favor of an additional type ability. That's great, and it helps, but it doesn't really "solve the problem" of dominion abilities being overshadowed and occasionally forgotten. 

Before I get to me solution I wanted to touch on another problematic non-problem: namely that some dominion choices seem to push very heavily on certain choices of foci. A Hardy Destroyer who Stands Like a Bastion, God of Fire may seem really odd choice - he doesn't have any fire abilities! Here's the thing though, Fire is the character's dominion, so shouldn't their dominion abilities help to speak to that?

The solution to both problems is really quite simple: allow players to take a second focus to replace all of their dominion abilities. That character is now a Hardy Destroyer who Stands Like a Bastion, God of Fire, and his dominion abilities are just taken from the Bears a Halo of Fire focus. In play he'll have all those cool fire abilities to pull from which will play into his dominion, but both the player and character won't need to feel obligated to play a Hardy Destroyer who Bears a Halo of Fire, God of Fire. 

I'd probably implement this at 2nd tier by giving players both the Tier 1 and tier 2 abilities of the focus that best suits their dominion. This doesn't prevent a Hardy Destroyer who Bears a Halo of Fire from being God of Fire, and if they did they could just take dominion abilities from the standard list, or even take abilities fro other foci that would also apply. A God of Fire might also Bear a Shard of the Sun or Blaze with Radiance!

Players and GMs shouldn't feel like doing this is an all-or-nothing choice either. There's no reason why a player couldn't take an ability from the core list like Call Seraph, and then take an ability from a focus at the next tier. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Story Seed - History

Image Source:

There are places of power in the world that are older than the gods. The deeps stretch back to ages beyond memory, but even on the surface there are relics the tell of ages long passed. The broken torment of the Ruinscape, the sun begotten Nightlands, and even the Verge make up only a portion of the world. Rumors an tales from beyond the desert and beyond the seas tells of places untouched by the physical effects of the Fall, though even in those lands Gods died and civilization was thrown into chaos and upheaval.

I have spoken with travelers, both those from these far flung places, and those who come from here and have traveled beyond our lands. There are many stories I have been told. There are many places that I have heard about. Of all of these only a Godsbarrow is consistently accounted.

It is old and massive. More a mountain than a structure. At its heart lay the bodies of dead gods. Through its corridors roam spirits and servitors. The stories say that one who would claim the lost power of the gods can venture within. That at the heart of the Godsbarrow they may take divinity for themselves, but in doing so they become bound to the same fate as the gods before them.

~Excertped from A True Accounting of the World's Lost History by Elzor of Corso

Sunday, October 23, 2016