• Tag Archives Story
  • Lucid Tales – Eve

    Cold masks smells. Something I found myself surprisingly thankful for, once my body began to adjust to the frigid nature of the bus. To coin a phrase, we were the unwashed masses. I, reeking of a Bake house in its last stages of life, the wino with her collection of candy colored stains on layers of jackets, the two bullyboys clad in leather and sweat from the kicking’s they gave the night before.

    The boys didn’t try to hide what they were, leering from the raised back end of the bus as if they along were the sovereign rulers of this small icy kingdom. They gripped the safety bars with bloodied knuckles and smiled at any that bothered looking up at them. The world was simple for these boys. Strength, that’s all that mattered.

    Was it so different for our kind?

    “Our kind.” The words escaped in a croak as I realized how exhausted I really was. A J-pop princess looked up from a hand screen. It was a brief look then she returned to whatever she had been doing.

    The sun was breaking as the bus pulled into the station. Already the morning crowds were swelling around the transit bays. Facing another blast of frigid air, I’m reminded of the lingering chemical stench on my body. Although, no one else at the station seems to notice over the general aroma of men and women being herded off to their jobs.

    A tube takes me underground; the trains in Tiergarten ran deep. Well below the old rail lines, these tunnels were virtual public bomb shelters. Inside the affluent districts, there was a series of security checkpoints before reaching the trains. Out here on the outskirts of the city, they only cared if you could pay the toil. Not smart security since it’s the same trains.

    The appearance of security for those that believed in it, out on the outskirts, there was no need for pretense. Until I knew what Ember was, there was no going home. I needed answers and soon enough I would be another worm sinking into the pristine garden.

  • Chatham House 6: The Reader

    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.

    Books, three century old antiquated media. Who has time for books; you can get all the data online and compressed. It is faster and more efficient. Digital media is also easy to update. So what if for thirty years after the purge schools taught that Led Zeppelin was the flagship of the Nazi dirigible fleet? Eventually data that is more accurate was recovered, and we know now that they were part of the USO.

    Schools cannot afford traditional books. Instead, teachers use educational pages, pulling them up on subsidized monitors between info-breaks. Few people can afford or appreciate the older media but books; both fiction and non-fiction continue to circulate for the discerning buyer.

    One such buyer, Shelly Adder, or the Reader, is one such buyer. Maintaining a discrete store simply titled Ends on the edge of the art district Shelly trades in pre-war books. Not the manuals or technical guides that most corporate types like to snap up, they have too much of an obvious value. Anything else though is fair game including an extensive library of new age work.

    While she manages to stay open, Ends is never busy, in fact it is rare to see more than one or two people in the store at the same time. This may be from the price tag assigned to some of books she keeps. Occasionally scavengers try to pawn off books they may have found in the Wastes but it is rare for Adder to buy from anyone off the streets. How she procures her texts remains an unknown.

    Story Seeds
    How does she get those books? Characters may find themselves on either side of this mystery. The Reader has several sources and does not rely on any one supplier. Instead, she keeps them all at a distance to prevent any one person from knowing too much about Ends and her collection.

    The Reader has been compiling documents for years. While still incomplete, the Reader has a very different understanding of the events leading up to the Great War as well as other subjects. Adder is not the type to prevent people from browsing the shop for hours. There are very few people with access to her private library though.

    An occult understanding? Because so many books pass through Ends and the Reader’s hands there are few subjects she does not know something about. While few might think to turn to her, she may be one of the best sources for more esoteric works in Tiergarten.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.