• Category Archives Game Play
  • Tainted Souls 6: Side Effects

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    While all Lucid have a tangible or psychological manifestation of their link to one of the Realms this does not have to be the only unusual quality about them. Players and GMs may opt introduce characters that have little quirks to their powers.

    Imagine the Dark Lucid, with their mastery over shadows, that when angered the lights flicker or their face grows dark. How about the Verdant Lucid that always seems to have cats and dogs following them? These side effects shouldn’t offer the character any advantage but may hint at the nature of a character’s power.

    These side effects can and should add depth to the characters and the overall narrative. Being able to add narrative around one’s character helps to draw the players into the story making them active participants and not simply casual observers. This also helps to solidify a player’s image of their character. And, while it’s an acting trope, getting to know your character can have a powerful effect on one’s performance.

    Players should not feel obligated to use side effects. This is tool to allow for creative play and should not feel like an impairment to players. However, letting players take on some of the qualities that don’t tend to get written down but make for dramatic effect is usually enough motivation to get the ball rolling.

    Depending on your players GMs should be careful of power gaming and trying to take advantage of side effects. The other precaution is that side effects may lead to scene stealing. Don’t let side effects bog down a game, the story is the important part.

    No mater what shape side effects take for a character or campaign remember that these are tools to add fun and interaction. The stories you tell are your own, as both GM and Players you have the tools to relate the world you want to play. Don’t let printed text keep you from adding personal flare.

  • Nothing Wasted 6: The Real World?

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    Have you ever been forced to question one of your fundamental beliefs? These moments may take any form. When they happen through, you know, because something deep within has shifted, maybe it’s resolution, maybe it’s doubt. For the Lucid that can be encapsulated in the moment they realize they are no longer fully human. When they are confronted with that fact everything changes.

    Not every game drills down into each characters’ Elucidation but these are powerful moments in their lives. However, they aren’t necessarily the last great revelation that character may experience. A lot of gamers take the oddities of their world to be mundane, so it can be hard to bring these moments that should shock, or terrify their characters to light. That does not mean these storytelling tools are lost though, it simply requires a little added creativity.

    As discussed in the Window Dressing article in telling a story we frame the world the characters exist in. This can also mean managing expectations, to steal some corpspeak. While the world develops players get an understanding of what’s normal, and what’s normal for them. Players will often fall back on these established points of world detail to guide character action. This is great for establishing a consistent feel and continuity to the world. Something, that’s generally useful to have in any long term game. What happens through when one of these incontrovertible facts of their reality is completely undone?

    To borrow a classic example, what happens when without warning a PC’s trusted contact or ally turns out to be a mastermind? Yes, this is a plot line that may have been done over and over again, but there is a reason for that. This kind of shift forces the character to reevaluate all of their experiences with this friend. This may come from a sudden shocking reveal or the slow build up of evidence gathering and piecing together the truth to finally be confronted with the reality that was there all along.

    How to use this kind of revelation in Fractured Kingdom? An easy way to address this is by introducing NPC members to a player coven. With one of them operating under their own motives. Players are a suspicious lot and may suspect their new member Rotiart may be secretly hiding something. What if this betrayal came much closer? Some gaming troupes may establish character motivation that is inconsistent with the group. The Coven Call adventure seed explores incorporating conflicting motives in a Coven dynamic where the PCs are the outsiders. Who’s to say the PCs aren’t the one’s with conflicting motive? That’s not to say a PC is a villain, or traitor, they may simply have drastically different goals and morals that they do not share with the group. The revelation of which can completely shift the scope and direction of a campaign.

    This of course is simply one example. What if the reverse was true, a long standing antagonist is reveled to be an ally? A place the players thought safe turns out to be anything but? Of course this only scratches the surface in the supernatural world of Fractured Kingdom. What happens when they are confronted by the truth of their powers, or the cost they may have?

  • Tainted Souls 5: The Verdant

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    To be touched by the forces of unbridled nature. That is what it means to be Verdant. The essence of life has passed through the Verdant’s body and their manifestations reflect this.

    While many Dark and Grave manifestations may be seen as curses and Slumbering Lucid often as blessing, the Verdant’s manifestations vary so drastically that either blessings or banes are possible. The powers of the Verdant are so varied so to are the manifestations that surround their Lucid. Players should consider their Boons or desired Boons when selecting their character’s manifestation.

    Characters with shiftier qualities most commonly have some physical representation of the beast the hide within. These changes may be drastic changes from the character’s former appearance or may develop subtle as the Verdant Lucid learns to interact with their Realm. Those Lucid with control over the nature may show signs of their favored element such as a light green hue to their skin, constantly sweating or smelling like rain.

    Few Verdant Lucid actually dwell within cities, and so it is perhaps for this reason it is easiest to feel their presence. The garden where grass and flowers feel that little bit more vibrant, the odd corner where all the cats seem to congregate for no discernible reason.

    GMs should be careful of these larger area manifestations, while they add detail to the world they lack the personal impact that manifestations should have on the character’s life. Consider them more as background elements and less as the character’s actual core manifestation.

  • Nothing Wasted 5: Consequences and Repercussions

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    The core of every role playing game is character interaction. How the players interact with the world around them and the people in it. While it can be fun to go head long into the fray of battle this is only part of the story. Both GMs and players should consider how and why things are happening and the impact the players actions have on the world and story as a whole.

    What does this mean? Here are a game play example.

    During the course of a story a Coven of Lucid’s meet with a contact in a bar while investigating a string a murders. Shortly after leaving they are attacked by some street punks. Dealing with the gang members they return home and begin shifting through the data their contact was able to turn up on murders in the area. One might chalk the gang fight up to a “random encounter” and simply move on.

    This serves as a way to bring action into the a session that might have otherwise been fully devoted to social interaction and research. However, it may also leave players wondering hat was the point or thinking that the game is overall combat driven. Lets take a different look at this same scene

    During the course of a story a Coven of Lucid’s meet with James Dove, a contact, at the GoLoHi, a remix bar known for trafficking designer drugs. They are investigating a string of murders and the bodies all seem to have black on black eyes like an Ice junkie. Traffic out of the GoLoHi is run by the Kamden Enforcers, a smaller gang but they have good chemists. Seeing what looks like a deal going don on their turf they decide to get in on the action and send a message. Outside the GoLoHi the Coven is confronted by the Kamden Enforcers looking for money. The players escalate this to a full on fight, knowing they can easily handle a few gang members.

    They might not know why the Kamden Enforcers came around looking to give them a hard time, but there are enough background elements that, assuming the Coven was creative or had the right skills, they could put things together if they wanted to investigate. These details give the world an added depth turning a random encounter into part of the greater urban ecosystem.

    Now, lets now look at the player’s actual actions. In our example the Kamden Enforcers came looking for money and what they got was a fight. A common enough outcome in any role playing game. How did the fight turn out though? Did the Kamden Enforcers live, or did the supernaturally charged Lucids kill them outright?

    In an urban area, with night clubs, any fight is going to attract attention. Use of strange abilites even more so, even at 2 AM. Escaping without the police escalating matters further is one direct complication. Video equipment is cheap and little brother is almost always watching even if it doesn’t make the news. Somewhere on the net there is likely going to be footage and when the Kamden Enforcers sent to deal with the Coven don’t show up again someone is inevitably going to be very interested, or even if they do, the footage serves as proof something’s going on with the player characters.

    Where do we go with this? There’s any number of possibilities. Gang payback is an obvious choice, possibly even kidnapping Dove to get to the Coven. Maybe the gang leaders take a more pointed interest in the characters if they used supernatural abilities. This might mean trying to steal their powers somehow, or even brokering a deal with them.
    “I saw how you moved, slipping through shadows, don’t tell me it was a trick, I’ve got uses for someone like you.”
    There are also larger scale repercussions, what if a Keeper analyst comes across the footage. The Coven may soon find themselves under surveillance from a much more powerful organization than any street gang.

    While the above example is centered around an action scene GMs and player should always consider the possible consequences of their actions. The positive being just as important as the negative if not more so. A chance encounter where the character showed kindness to a girl they thought homeless may turn up some time later as a way into a bolt hole off the grid or an in with an underground commune. These types of interactions build the world around the characters and lets them know their actions matter.

  • Tainted Souls 4: The Slumber

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    While those marked by the Dark, Grave, or even the Verdant often see their gifts as a curse those blessed by the Slumber have had their dreams made manifest. There are Lucid that see these Dreamers as weak willed, or shallow. This may be true for some. However, the Slumber allows mortals to transcend physical limitations, even perform acts best left to comic book characters. They can become beacons of hope in another otherwise bleak landscape. For these reasons the Slumber are often the most restrained of the Lucid.

    How else do you shake a man’s hand, when you can just as easily crush their skull with only a fraction of additional effort?

    The core book describes the Slumbering Lucid as either wild or unrestrained. This may just as easily pass from hair and clothing to deeper aspects of their appearance. Imagine the Slumbering Lucid who’s face seemed to constantly be shifting or moved in a way to make them seem less like a person and more like a machine?

    As discussed in previous articles tying the Manifestation to the nature of one’s powers can also be an excellent tool for Character development. There have been many stories about Seers who’s gifts come at some price. How about a Slumbering Lucid with Stacked Senses that chronically and constantly gets which sense they perceive something with wrong.

    Smells like you’re watching WFCX.

    Tastes like w should turn left.

    These idiosyncrasies can add a great deal of flavor to a Character. Don’t be afraid to explore the shear odd molestation one has in their dreams. Although, GMs should be weary of the character that whenever he makes an announcement in public finds himself pant-less. (That is more the purview of the Dark anyway.)

  • Nothing Wasted 4: Window Dressing

    Nothing Wasted explores ideas to help utilize different aspects of gaming to their fullest or promote new ways to use existing tools.

    There is a tendency to treat the story around the PCs as the center of the universe, and like most people, what happens in their daily lives is the most important thing to them. However, there are always more things going on in the world than what directly affects an individual. In a game these external events can add depth to a world, helping it to feel like a living breathing place.

    When planning a campaign, or even a story it can help to plot several peripheral stories. These events may or may not related to the characters, over even be part of larger events that may come back to impact them. These types of details help set the stage on which the players will be interacting on.

    For example a GM is planning to set their up coming campaign around the tent city outside a major city. They begin by setting up some general background events:

    There is a movement to beautify the city.
    Unemployment is on the rise.

    Shelters and soup kitchens are reporting being over capacity.

    Agro Corporations are experiencing labor strikes.

    These are broad events that may in the grand scheme seem somewhat related but the impact to the characters isn’t instantly clear. However, when the GM tells the characters they shouldn’t be wealthy and live on the outskirts of the city it likely wont be much of a surprise. More so this gives the Players jumping off points for backgrounds.

    The GM decides to center the first story around in the campaign around food shortages in the community. Since most people in the tent city barter with one another this means most people are starving. To reinforce this the GM adds the following events to the world.

    ASA cattle farmers have gained the rights to clear another two thousand acres of no longer protected rain forest for grazing.

    Police are cracking down on the homeless and area transients.

    Black Reign has released their new album Long Winter.

    While these first two elements may be delivered as news stories during the course of game play. The GM opts to have this last event delivered though a slick ad campaign involving canvasing every square inch of unattended wall with Long Winter posters. While unrelated the name is enough to invoke the right images in the their Players

    Depending on how the Players react the GM hay run a story around the Agro Corps keeping labor on strike to drive up food prices and Watchtower manipulation to drive people to the churches for aid. For now though the Players have several snippets of information that both set the tone and help to build the world around them.

    not every story needs these types of background details. However, interspersing them though the course of a campaign provides additional details and can be a great tool for flavoring your game world.