• Tag Archives Role Playing Game
  • 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?



  • Land of Confusion 5: Exiles

    Tonight on ID we explore the culture of exiles. The disfranchisement that have opted to walk out on the world and hope for a batter tomorrow. Three cultures, each with very different answers to a society to busy to care. Outside the city we have the Beachers, below the Morlocks, and in the heart of Tiergarten the Church of Divine Sanity.

    I’m your host Lucius Abercrombie, our guests tonight include TKU Deviant Psychology Professor Garrison Frock-LaCroix, and Pamela St.Jude speaker for the New National Party, and this is Info/Data. Alright, lets jump right in shall we, Pamela, I see you already have a question.

    PStC: No I do not have a question, Lucius. I have a statement. I don’t see how you can include savages like the Beachers in a discussion on separatist societies. They are parasites, almost more so than Morlocks who at least have the decency to stay in the sewers where they belong.

    GFL: The Beachers are just another symptom of a society that can no longer coddle all it’s citizens. They choose to live in the Wastes, there is hardly a way to separate one further from society.

    PStC: How convenient for a professor from the Arcology to talk about what it means to separate from society. How many security screenings will you have to go through before they let you back into your gilded palace?

    GFL: Well Pamela, if you must know three, but I live in the Mission District not the Arcology. As I understand it though while you claim residence in Little Dubai, the NNP keeps several posh homes on the TK side of the wall for their speaker and high ranking members. However, to stay on topic, while you call Beachers parasites the Waste Gangs have never attacked the city, only peoples inside what they consider their territory.

    LA: Lets explore the idea of separatists as parasites. Lets talk about the Morlocks.

    GFL: While I understand the city’s news organizations have dubbed them Morlocks, they actually use terms such as Sewer Breed to describe themselves.

    LA: Why the disconnect do you think?

    GFL: Interesting question. Sewer Breed implies they were raised in and by the sewers. That it might be a sustainable environment. Where as the term Morlock evokes ideas of deformed and depraved peoples no longer fit for society. While it might be a way to marginalize a people or culture, I really suspect that the term Morlock took off simply because it sells better with the average person.

    PStC: And are you going to tell us that these Sewer Bread people are some underground nobility and not bottom feeders?

    GFL: Hardly. By their own admission we have multiple accounts of the Sewer Breed taping power and water. Generally connectivity isn’t an issue due to the municipal network but power for electronic devices are another story. There has been a fair amount of speculation that a number of Sewer Breed are actually employed by city infrastructure.

    PStC: The Morlocks are a filthy people. I don’t understand how any one of them could work a legitimate job.

    GFL: Don’t you think we would have more reported colonies if the trench workers weren’t at least sympathetic?

    LA: Sympathetic to a cause does not make you part of it.

    PStC: Thank you Lucius. The NNP has advocated for stricter monitoring standards of all government employees. It’s the weak minded left that allows for this kind of corruption.

    GFL: I’m not here to talk politics or policies. Lets try to stay focused on the subject.

    PStC: This is the subject. If we had stronger state controls these fringe groups would not be an issue. We should have police swarming the sewers, burn the infection out.

    GFL: Then why has the NNP brought three bills to the floor in the last session to strip funding for public services.

    PStC: Those bills reduce the tax burden and do not target personal levels within police and fire.

    LA: What about the separatist movement that tries to have it both ways, the Church of Divine Sanity?

    PStC: You can’t be serious. Divine Sanity is just a collection of xenophobic egg heads looking for tax breaks.

    GFL: The church was founded just over three years ago and has seen it’s following grow consistently each year. Formed after the Bison Fever epidermic, I think there is a large xenophobic aspect to the movement. I think the disconnect comes between the rheteric, which is fairly stock Islomo-Christian, and practice which enforces full bio-hazard precautions for members.

    PStC: Islomo-Christian? How can you compare this collection of paranoids to actual religions?

    GFL: Simple, I took the time to sit in on one of their services before tonight’s show.

    LA: They allowed this?

    GFL: To the extent they allow any outsider. They maintain a media center which broadcasts their services outside the church.

    LA: Interesting stuff. More ID after the break.



  • Chatham House 5: Nikogda Volya

    The Chatham House articles discuss people that may be inserted into campaigns as ready made NPCs to add flavor or detail to your world. The character’s discussed in the Chatham House often have ties to various organizations, Baronies, Corporations, Governments, but operate outside the normal protocols.

    Head of TK Excavation Security, Nikogda is also suspected to lead a grey team used by Thalberg-Koertig to remove unwanted personnel. While corporate politics rarely makes a difference in the day to day lives of those living outside the Arcology it puts Nikogda in a very unique position.

    Nikogda has access.Simple enough, this is a woman that can go anywhere in TK controlled space and never be questioned, or even given a second glance. The truth behind her being the one to literally sack employees may or may not be true, but in the guided upper levels rumor is all you need.

    What of course does this mean to everyone else? Well, like everyone else, Nikogda has her price. There was once another rumor that she was sold an automatic rifle design to a competitor. Four mid-level developers, that were linked to the start of this rumor disappeared over the course of the following month.

    There have also been stories that she’s hired temporary staff for security details at events in the Arcology, presentations, operas, or other performances when she would normally have no involvement. Who would question her or her troops though?

    Nikogda knows how to keep secrets, and play within the margins. For years she’s been learning just how far her boundaries go and what she can do within them. She’s not cruel, or threatening, relying more on her reputation while remaining polite. In a pinch though she is an explosive fighter in her own right should she ever have the need to deal with a threat directly. Her marksmanship is legendary and she is a skilled close quarter combatant relying on easily concealed monowhips. This of course only adds \to her reputation as executive assassin.

    Story Seeds:
    In some campaigns the TK Arcology may be just part of the city’s skyline. In others there may never be a reason to leave their protected walls. However, should your game fall between the lines then Nikogda may become a very good person to know. Story lines involving corporate espionage, smuggling, or even just trying to see a show in the Arcology could involve Nikogda.

    Alternatively, she may take on the roll of benefactor as PCs fall under her legitimate employ or as an antagonist should they ever make enough noise to upset the CEO and board at Thalberg-Koertig.



  • 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.



  • Lucid Tales – Coins

    There was a distinct smell to a junk squat. It was a chemical smell that hung in the air, a smell that sober people knew instinctively to avoid. These instincts were cooked off, boiled from the primal lizard brain of a junkie’s mind. The smell of baking benzo carbazole meant pleasure not death to those so far gone they could be here.

    Pushing through the hall of addicts there was a different reaction. Those that still had mental faculties that extended beyond how to get their next fix scattered back into the walls. Feral eyes waiting for a badge, the swarm of armored men to come flooding in behind me. I wasn’t a cop. At least not in any sense they might comprehend judging from the state of this place.

    The carcinogenic stench was enough that I could smell it from the street. A late stage chemical hive, ready to burst, overflow spilling the death packed inside this worn out husk out into the world. Judging from glazed over faces from those too stoned to run I knew I was in the right place.

    Already I could hear people getting out of her way behind me. Turning into the stairwell residual training kicks in and I’m sprinting. Hand moves to where a shoulder holster had formerly resided. Cigarettes slap against the hand from inside the coat pocket as if to remind me I didn’t use a gun anymore.

    Rounding the fourth floor I gag gasping for air. There she was. Standing expressionless at the top of the stairs she waited for me.

    “How?” I hear myself say. Confused for a moment as to where the word came from. This wasn’t where we were supposed to meet. Worse she knew exactly where I had been going and now blocked the roof. As she sat at the top of the stairs her canvass jacket pooled, dripping down.

    “What do you think I am agent Harker?” She was in no hurry. Her words cold and smooth like polished steel. She knew my name and that made things worse. The only identifier I had for her was a case file number. “Ember, if that makes you feel more comfortable.” It didn’t.

    “What do you mean?” Trying to blank, words stumble out of my mouth. Can’t fight the training as the mental picture I had of this woman is updated from her display. The file had assumed she had been some low end fixer that had gone vamp. If that’s what the file said, I knew now it was only because she had wanted it too.

    “I had heard about you, the killer of Nephilim known to look the other way.”

    “Keepers.”

    “You are killers agent Harker, tell me why.” What good were any words I could muster?

    “I want to hear them, your words.” The stench of the drug lab, wherever it was in this building, seemed to thicken. Was someone starting a fresh batch of BCKD? It became hard to focus now. “Sit agent Harker, the fumes aren’t as bad.”

    Squatting back to the wall one leg eased out into a half slump on a stair. The other leg, two steps down, supported my weight. Hand clutching the railing I watched her, watching me. Pulling the pack of cigarettes from my pocket I offer her one. She shakes her head no and I go about the ritual of lighting my own.

    “Well.” Letting out a long exhalation of grey smoke I tried to put my thoughts together. “Well, you say killers, seems like your mind’s already made up. Maybe some of us are. I don’t know. Not if I can avoid it, but yeah, I’ve gotten burned for that.” Turning from her to the orange tip of the cigarette; ash drops onto the stairs below.

    “I don’t know who’ve you’ve dealt with in the past. There are always those that want power for the sake of power, to lord over someone. I know the Keepers, or the ones I’ve met, they’re not that type. It’s not about us, you know. It’s those people stuck in the real world, like that guy from tonight.”

    “Do you know what he wanted?” The calm in Ember’s voice turned arctic.

    “No.”

    “He wanted as many ampoules of ketamine as I could give him. You see agent Harker, he’s grown apart from his wife. Despises her now. She gets off on boys she brings home from the rave circuit. While K went out of style years ago he didn’t know that. What he did know is that his wife had talked about one of her partners ODing. A sad cuckold who’d rather see his wife dead, than live with the shame. That’s who you saved tonight agent Harker.”

    “How did you know?” A stupid question but I couldn’t help myself.

    “We are the children of gods; his sins are no mystery to me.” There was something about the way she spoke. “Nephilim.” Listening to her was like watching a period piece movie, but the dialog was sideways.

    “How old are you?”

    “Does it matter?”

    “No, I guess it doesn’t. So what happens now?”

    “That’s up to you.”