Friday, March 24, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Inspirational

Today's a quick post in words, but a long one in duration, because I'm on vacation at Gary Con! I'm probably busy playing a game or wandering through the dealer hall. Regardless of my absence, I wanted to make those of you who may have missed it aware of a great resource for Gods of the Fall GMs...

Crash Course Mythology

If you are a fan of mythology (as I have been since I was a kid) you probably owe it to yourself to check out this series just for that alone. If you are a GM or player of Gods of the Fall I think there's some value here in seeing how myths are structured and evolve. I've embedded the first 3 episodes here but by the time this posts there will be two or three more beyond this I think. Well worth the 10-15 minute chunks of time in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #112 - RPG Blog Carnival - The Darkness Within

Because I seldom come at these blog topics from the obvious angle, and because there is an increasing amount of fiction (and therefore games) derived from exploring a person's headspace, let's take a look at the darkness of the mind and soul....

Dreams & Nightmares

Journeying into a person's dreams, or even the world of dreams itself, is hardly a new idea. These kinds of the adventures are not typical but they can certainly be fantastic. As you no doubt know, dreams can be very strange. More than that though dreams can be dark. Exploring a person's nightmares often means coming face to face with their worst fears.

The possibilities here are endless. Perhaps the characters have to enter the dreams of a local lord and rescue him from his nightmares. Once inside they have to navigate the twisted nightmare realm and convince the lord that they have the power to awake from these dreams.

Likewise character's may be able to enter the world of dreams, a strange parallel to our own world into which people sometimes dream themselves during sleep. The dream world is perhaps safer than a specific person's dreams, and yet also more dangerous. While the character's will not be at the mercy of the dreamer's mind they will still be in a realm where thoughts and dreams can impact the world around them. Worse they may come into conflict with dreams that have become sentient, or other dream walkers who have more control.

The Landscape of the Mind

Much like entering a person's dreams entering their mind can allow you to experience aspects of their personality that can be personified as individuals. The adventures one can have inside another's mind can allow them to see that person's personality rendered real. A person's dark side may be manifest as a terrible monster, or more insidiously it may be that an evil person's mind if a hostile environment that attacks all outsiders.

Exploration of this kind can allow you as GM to explore aspects of an NPC in ways that force the players to re-evaluate their relationship with the NPC. The PCs may learn that deep within the evil sorcerer is a scared and abused boy whose heart turned to darkness because of his traumatic childhood. Or they may learn that within the peaceful monk that runs the orphanage is a sadistic soul that drives the monk's fearful temper or strange behaviour toward certain people.

The Hyde Factor

Naturally when exploring themes and stories around people's dark sides one need not delve into the character's soul or dreams. Instead of internalizing the narrative one can externalize the darkness through magic curse, science mishap, or madness. This is the Jekyll and Hyde story and is well known. It's fame makes this no less interesting, and indeed can act as the instigator for an adventure that will lead to dream delving or mind walking.

That monk's dark side may be causing him to act out, perhaps even channeling his Qi to transform him into an Oni during the dark of night. The characters then need to dive into the monk's mind (during the day) to confront the darkness in the monk's soul and defeat the oni.

How do you use the darkness within in your games? Do you explore the dark sides of your PCs and NPCs at all?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Story Seed - Absolute Zero: Arrival

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Fifty thousand credits. More money than my little ship and crew could take in with a year's worth of the jobs we usually executed. Fifty thousand credits for a three month journey into the Oort Cloud to a station that didn't officially exist except as rumor. The risk was that my passenger didn't pay up front, but fifty thousand credits was worth the risk, and I could only assume that there must be something at the coordinates he gave us, otherwise he'd be as screwed as the rest of us.

Now I sat in the cockpit, the thin man known only as Keady hovering behind me as we drifted toward what he assured me was the much rumored Absolute Zero station. The asteroid, if you could really call it that covered as it was by structures and gantries, tumbled end over end relative to the view-port. This far from Sol it was dark and only the station lights really gave away the size of the thing. I turned and gave a questioning look at the thin spacer behind me. "This? This is Absolute Zero?" It was far more impressive than I could have imagined. He just nodded. I was about to press him for more information when the comm squawked.

"Unidentified vessel, your ship silhouette and transponder are unregistered. Come to a full stop and identify yourselves. Ship name and port of origin. If you fail to comply in ten seconds you will be fired upon. Over." The comm signal cut off, whomever ran this place was clearly in no mood to play games.

As if thinking the same thing Keady licked his lips, "You'd better comply. They have mass drivers and gigawatt lasers. At least the last time I was here they did."

I was already firing thrusters to bring the ship to a stop relative to the tumbling rock as he said this. I looked back at him again, "How ... how'd they get their hands on military grade weapons?" Keady looked at me with those dark ringed eyes of his and I just shook my head and turned back to my console. I flipped a switch and spoke aloud, "Station is this the Captain Alexander of the Lakini out of Port Vesta, please respond. Over."

The reply came quickly, "Standby Lakini." There was a moment of silence, "Lakini, please state your crew compliment, number of passengers, and business here. Over." Perfunctory and straight to the point.

"Five crew. One passenger. We were hired on specifically to get this man here after the disaster at Hecate station. Over." Probably more information than I needed to give them, but better safe than sorry. The comm was silent, my skin began to itch and I checked the passive sensors to see if they were powering on a weapon system.

"Lakini, who is your passenger? Over."

I sighed, even as station control went this was getting irritating. I thumbed the comm on and gestured to Keady to introduce himself. He nodded and cleared his throat, "This is Keady, authorization code Ee-Ell-Enn-Two-Four-Bee-Omega-One-Six-Epsilon. Over." I didn't know what any of that meant but I assumed station control would. I looked at Keady again, wondering who this man was. Not for the first time since pulling this man from a life pod floating in the debris of Hecate station I wondered just what I had gotten Lakini into.

"Lakini, you are clear to approach docking port Two-Seven-Alpha. Welcome to Absolute Zero. Over." The flight path sent by station control directed me to a large docking spar that jutted off the central mass. I keyed the ship to automated docking and let the computers do the heavy lifting. When I was done I turned but Keady was gone, and I was left once more wondering what lay ahead. I hoped it included fifty thousand credits.