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[#] Earthflame's Games: An Introduction
08:56pm EST - 11/14/2008

Hey all, this is Earthflame. No, I'm not coming back any time soon. No, I'm not entirely better yet. I'm going to return at some point, but until then, I'll satisfy myself with writing articles. I'm not yet back on /tg/ or the sup/tg/ IRC, but I will answer questions posed in comments or emails. I'd prefer if these focused on the game or matter being discussed, rather than my own personal health or somesuch. There'll be plenty of time for that later.

This brief Article will, hopefully, serve as a foundation, giving the basic premise of the following articles, as well as a list of the games I've currently thought up, letting people know what's coming.

It also serves to let me put out a little of my game design philosophy. First and foremost, I design my games to be fun. Second, and nearly as important, I try to design games which will, at the end of the day, work with the players to make a good and interesting story.

Realism, practicality and other such "real" concerns are of relatively low priority. If I can include them relatively easily, and they make the game more enjoyable, then I will, but if a part of the setting doesn't make "Sense" in some way or another, I won't harm the game simply to satisfy realism.

I often feel a need to set the PC's apart from most other people in their world. That's not to say that the PC's are the only people of that type, but its a uniting factor between them. This might be their very nature, i.e. AI's in ArtifIce, or something about them, i.e. the unforgetting Guardians in Mentality.

On a rules front, my general preference is light, or at least not heavy. A slightly modified version of Occam's razor serves well in this case, with simpler and less clunky rules which do essentially the same thing as larger, more complex ones being preferable. If its necessary, I won't shy away from complex rules, but its something I'd, generally, like to avoid.

In an odd paradox of genres, I'm generally very strict with magic and very lax with science. Magic must have a set of rules, internally consistent and logical within the setting. I like designing magic systems, so this isn't much of a problem. Science, on the other hand, falls by the wayside in favour of Science! I know nanites can't do everything, that mecha are horribly impractical and that quantum doesn't work that way. However, I don't really care.

In what some might see as a display of pseudo-intellectual faggotry and general arrogance, I always try to have some philosophical heart in my games, some issue or set of issues which, even if it never comes up in play, underlines the whole setting and, even if no one ever gets it, lets me feel clever. Its usually very obvious, and not half as clever as I'd like to think it is.

After a couple of hundred words of rambling, onto the game list. I'll include a brief description of each one with the title. If you like it, say so in the comments, and I'll write an article on it.

Finished

ArtifIce: The Game of Machine Intelligence

A role-playing game about the lives and exploits of sentient machines in a variety of settings and roles. At its core, its complete, but my over-ambitious mind is already considering various sourcebooks and alterations, so don’t think of it as "done" just yet.

In Development

Eurid: Legacy of Eurydice

Eurid is a game which is in a quasi-playable state, but needs refining, testing, and codifying, which I currently can't be bothered to do. It involves the tales and tasks of Eurids, genetically modified superhumans, Synthetics, their physically disabled, cybernetically augmented kin, Augmented, normal humans with cybernetics trying to live in a world of increasing technology and corruption, and Herculeans, the ancestors of Eurids, the race of the ancient heroes of old. And, above them all, seven AI gods laugh, and work plans to take control of this world, re-establishing their hold over mankind.

Mosaic: A game of Runic Magic

Mosaic is currently in the hands of Xaras, Cornflake Blues, and various other contributors who seem to be getting on fine by themselves, so I won't bother them too much at this time. The base premise of the game is a fantasy setting where runes are the foundation of nearly everything supernatural. For a longer, more detailed and better written summary, look it up on 1d4chan (Just search "Mosaic").

Concepts

Thicker than Water

Thicker than Water is a fantasy setting, full of a menagerie of strange creatures (Some rather unusual, even by fantasy standards) and dominated by totemic magic users, split into ten distinct categories, each with unique a powerset. Its history, in the long term, stretches back to a high tech "Golden age", ended by a meteor. However, rather than the meteor hitting the planet, the scientists managed to move the planet out of its path. Unfortunately, when they tried to put it back, their machine exploded, pushing the planet further out of orbit, and causing the extended ice age that the majority of Thicker then Water is set it. The fluff is pretty extensive, although not complete, and the rules might be complicated, but its a good concept.

Mentality

Mentality is my take on the dystopian societies of 1984, Logan's Run and Brave New World. The price of a "perfect" society, free from crime, greed and evil is the complete removal of those thoughts from the mind, a universal mental conditioning, meaning the average citizen cannot even conceive of harming another person, stealing or various other things. However, the major difference between this and most other "dystopias" is that, in The Society, it actually works. It is, currently, uncorrupted, free and democratic. However, The Guardians are both dangerous and necessary, helping suppress and control any and all who break conditioning, while at the same time having lessened conditioning themselves. The PC's are distinctive as, while most guardians have past missions blanked from their minds, it doesn't work on them. This means they learn more quickly, but also are more easily corrupted by the increasing enormity of what they have done, and what they have to do. The fluff is intentionally vague, and its without a spot of rules.

Desert Rain

Desert Rain is inspired by an Iced Earth song and reading revelations one too many times. The basic idea is a group of people who went "Seeking the desert rain"- a euphemism for walking into the desert as a form of suicide. However, oddly enough, they found it. The desert rain is an amalgamation of all the suffering, fear, and above all hatred of those who have died in the desert and all its wars. Those touched by it are instilled with that rage, given a purpose to destroy. At first, they'll be called to destroy little things- minor organisations, towns or people. As time goes on, they gain new tasks, ramping up in difficulty and scope until they may end up wiping out entire religions or civilisations. As a kick in the teeth to any sense of hope in the setting, there is no god or true prophets. Nearly all the religions are based upon the age old activities of others who were touched by the desert rain, their heinous deeds and wanton destruction turned into holy crusades by generations of Chinese-whispers style record keeping. The fluff needs expansion, powers need nailing down and there's no rules as yet, but I think the concepts good.

Afterworld

Afterworld is one of my oldest ideas, and is best described as a post apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy. The world has been changed by a great Cataclysm, with nearly the entire surface uninhabitable by normal humans, who are trapped inside Sanctuaries- areas of land miraculously spared from the Cataclysm. Outside the sanctuaries, any normal human turns into a shambling, mindless mutated zombie, as do most animals. Some, however, gain power, the ability to control an element of nature, or sometimes stranger powers. From the dark past of prehistory returns the forces of fantasy, the monsters and mythical races who once shared our world, and now seem to have returned, to take a slice back. Very detailed fluff, but little to no system behind it.

World of Blades

An odd idea, initially for a homebrew campaign which never happened, but which I think could use some more development. At its core, its simply a fantasy world where everyone has a weapon bonded to their soul. How they gain the weapon varies, as does the form of the weapon, and its abilities are as varied as there are people. These weapons are always important symbols, as their nature reflects that of their user- people do not choose the weapon they create. It simply flows out of their nature through one of the various forging rituals. The forging rituals, as well as things like weapons breaking, being destroyed, reforged or reclaimed from the dead, are all detailed in a thread on the sup/tg/ archive. Even if only the fluff was developed further, this is worth a go, since its relatively easy to implement in most generic fantasy systems.

Watching Over Me

There was someone you were truly dedicated to. Perhaps the incredible bond between parent and child, the unshakeable trust between siblings, the platonic closeness to a true friend or the absolute love for a soulmate. Whichever of these you had, its gone now. There was an accident. They died, you lived. They died to save you. If they hadn't acted, you would have died. They did, and you survived. Living without them is the hardest thing you've ever done. Except, they didn't leave. You slowly come to realize that, they're still there. They protect you, and watch over you, keeping you safe. This has lasted quite a while. But now, they are in danger. Something is hunting them, the spirits of the departed, and if it gets to them, and you can't save them, their immortal soul will be lost, cast into oblivion. You can't let that happen. Protect them, empower them, and find their unfinished business. Let them complete the task they were left on this world to do. Let them find their final rest. You know they'll be waiting for you. This game was designed when I was thinking "PC's don't have enough emotional motivation in most games- its just power or money" and Iced Earths song Watching Over Me turned up on my iPods shuffle. The subsequent brainstorm produced this cliché-ridden paragraph. Might turn out well, might not. We'll see in good time.

Journey

You got bored. Simple as that. Things were good, but immortality does wear thin. The invisible, untouchable hidden utopia you were born too feels too small, too unreal. You need to get out into the wider universe, and see what you can see. You've got some friends, and your technology, and a wonderfully naïve inquisitiveness. Lets see what's going on. This idea was partially inspired by 3:16, Carnage among the Stars, where the bored waste of a far future earth go on a killing-spree crusade, to keep them occupied. I thought, what happens if people from that society just got bored? Give them incredible power and technology, and knowledge of virtually all things, but all the wisdom and tact of a toddler. The idea of a mob of transhuman, immortal tourists wandering around the galaxy struck me as having the potential for a rather interesting game.

From the Ashes

The war was over before it had even started. That much was obvious to everyone involved. It didn't mean you didn't fight. If anything, you fought harder, since death would probably be better than what would happen during the occupation. The nation was small, but powerful. The opponent was huge, and overpowering. The endless armies are washing over the countryside, towards the capital. Then, you're given your last orders. You are the nations best. The strongest, smartest, best trained squad. You won't be wasted in the brave last stand. You will wait, in hiding, keeping your skills honed and your weapons armed. Then, when the enemy begin to become lax, when the occupation seems to be dragging on, but the people have not yet lost sight of hope, you'll strike. Kill as many as you can, drag the aggressor screaming into hell as you ride out on one last charge. From the Ashes of a fallen war, you will rise, and it is your duty to see your last command fulfilled; Kill them all. This game was inspired by an odd dream, starting with the generic "last stand", then following a commando group who were there for after the last stand, who brought down the enemy even after defeat. Its only a concept, not even a setting let alone a system, and it exists in that odd genre of action RPG's where a small but highly trained unit can slaughter their way through massive numbers of enemies, but at the same time, you're fighting a losing battle. The nation will never be refounded, the dead will never be reborn. For all your skill and power, you've already lost. I thought it was an interesting idea at the time.

Gods war [Need a better title]

In the beginning, there was one god, and all was unified. Then, all divided, with all matter becoming unique, and all matter having its own god. And as matter changed, so did gods, and as matter unified and divided, so did gods. And eventually, the universe we know now came into being, and there were so many gods. Gods of stars, gods of seas, gods of mountains, gods of light, gods of shadow, gods of love, gods of hate, gods of all things. Of course, they fought. Of course, they died. As they fought, men rose from the earth, to praise them and empower them, to fight and die for them. And the gods saw this was good, and fought more, killing and killing, each individual stronger for each of their siblings they slew. Until, at this time, there are only seven gods. The eternal warring of the gods has ended, first and foremost due to an unforeseen effect of their struggle. The remains of dead gods do not fade. Instead, they lie, stagnant and dead, between the divine and the real. And, by this time, no gods can break through this barrier of corpses, and the world of man has not felt the touch of any god in centuries. Now, men are the gods only conduits, their praise and belief empowering the god, and allowing the god to send power down unto them. Some the gods have chosen as their greatest, living avatars of themselves, and they are blessed with all the gods can give. But there is a threat, to all the gods. The power which flows out of the soul, unto the gods can be changed, and now, many have learnt to channel it into themselves. This innate empowering of man needs no gods, but brings about miracles of a sort which, for eons, the priests kept to themselves. Now, it has come to war, the armies of the gods versus those who would destroy them, and the world between them is caught in this turmoil. This is a war which will decide human destiny and fate for all time. Which side do you choose?

Pause

Time stopped. Or, more accurately, it stopped for everyone else. You and your friends could still get about, with some difficulty. The air gives rather a lot more resistance than you'd think, unless you concentrate, and objects don't move at all without a thought in the right direction. Other people, those not moving, don't seem to wake up, even if you do move them. Its all very odd. Then you see something. A living break in the structure of reality, a moving fracture in the fabric of existence, and you know why this is happening. The universe has broken. You are those chosen to fix it. However, to do that, you need to know what's broken. And to get time to do that, you need to avoid being torn in half by that horribly, warped amalgamation of beanie-babies and combat toys… Pause is an odd game I came up with after a day-dream during a boring lecture, where time stopped, but me and my friends could still move around. The PC's are normal people, randomly chosen to fix whatever's broken. This isn't just a physical object that needs fixing. One of the concepts underlying reality has been damaged, so a degree of problem solving and puzzling is required to work out how to fix it. What's more, the break produces Abominations, warped aspects of reality, related to the damaged concept. You're not completely screwed however, as the PC's have two important advantages. First is control over time flow. This allows them to move, by letting the air around them, or the door in front of them have time, for example, but can also be used for defense, like removing the time from a door so it can't be opened, or stopping a thrown knife by taking away its time. Smart PC's will come up with endless uses and abuses for this. Each PC also has a special object, which gives an added advantage. It can be anything, as long as they carry it nearly all the time. Some people have two. These objects can change form, into a weapon or a tool, or if they have two, one is a weapon, the other is a tool. These objects have various properties, but they are universally indestructible, which can always be useful in odd, and frenzied situations.

That's all I got for now. I'll watch the comments, answer questions and write up an article on whichever game idea gets the most interest over the next few days.

Until next time,

~Earthflame

Comments

1 LordXaras
09:18pm UTC - 11/14/2008 [X]
Good to hear from you again, EF. Mosaic is making a bit of progress, and anyone interested in the project is encouraged to join #mosaic for a chat or Q&A (a fresh pair of eyes and lobes are always welcome).


2 PurpleXVI
06:23am UTC - 11/15/2008 [X]
I like the Pause concept, but who's to say the players are the only Chosen? Maybe there were others as well. Maybe the Warps in reality caught up with them, corrupted them, and now there are others with time flow control out to keep things "stopped."

Or maybe some of the other Chosen were just completely alone in a dead and stopped world, and they went completely bonkers. Now they consider the PC's to be horrible creatures or hallucinations that they must fight, or ignore.

"Watching Over Me" reminds me of Wraith: The Oblivion. Drag down a PDF and read it if you want more inspiration, or just, y'know, play Wraith. Though it'd be an interesting twist to have the players as the living and the NPC as a Wraith they need to help. If you want to make capable mortals, nWoD has rules for that, or you could just take oWoD's Vampire and refrain from giving the players Humanity, a Blood Pool or Disciplines, then you're pretty close to a mortal(maybe cut their stat or skill pools a LITTLE bit).

Journey seems interesting, but lacking opposition. You could have the players as Galactic Police, keeping bored transhumans in check, or just generally bored trans-species, post-scarcity civilizations, preventing them from shitting all over developing species and planets with their hypertech.

Thicker than Water seems pretty interesting, too. I imagine you'd have a dark, ice-covered surface, with all civilization, and as many creatures as possible, having fled into the depths, where they cower as close to the lava flows that keep the place surviveable as possible, with the occasional suited-up venture to the surface to recover old stuff or lost treasures. Even with full-spectrum lamps and stuff, I imagine there'd be a lot of albinism, people and creatures as pale as ghosts. Or then again, others might have become pitch black, or brown, or gray, to camouflage themselves.

Hell, who knows? There could be all sorts of creepy things hiding down there, woken up by the civilizations who decided to crawl down for cover.

Also: I think you need to stop making systems, EF. I think you're just creating too much trouble for yourself by making new systems rather than adapting old ones. Don't fix it if it ain't broke, and all that.

Artifice, for example... You could just have taken any other system, removed physical stats, modified the mental stats a bit.

Eurid? Again, what is so unusual about it that it needs its own system? I mean, what does it have that other systems cannot possibly handle?

Mosaic? Again, I could think of at least a half dozen systems that could be modified instead.

And half of these settings, if not all of them, would work perfectly fine if you just modified something generic like the Unisystem a bit. Or, hell, for Pause you could even steal stuff out of Exalted as the players begin to grow into their crazy time-twisting powers.


3 Lord Licorice
08:19pm UTC - 11/15/2008 [X]
@Purple: He *is* modifying existing systems. The very first sentence on the 1d4chan article for Mosaic is "Mosaic is based on the Unisystem, scaled down to four main stats (Physique, Reaction, Intellect, Essence) and six magical stats arranged in opposed pairs (Life/Death, Matter/Energy, Knowledge/Faith)."


4
02:41am UTC - 11/16/2008 [X]
LL: That's enough cutting to make it completely unrecognizeable, though, it leaves nothing but the basic resolution mechanism. And I'd be surprised if that doesn't require changing as well.


5 Earthflame
05:53pm UTC - 11/16/2008 [X]
Xaras: Great to hear from you too. Its good to know Mosaic is in good hands.

Purp: Great ideas for Pause, I'm sure they'll be of great use, and i'll certainly look into Wraith if/when Watching over Me needs development.

In Journey, I imagined the players being their own worse enemy, through a combination of boredom, naivety and an ability to land themselves in trouble which could make Dr Who jealous. Then again, a generic system for transhuman, space opera jaunts of various natures would work just as well.

As for systems, LL got it right. I do modify existing systems to make them fit the current game. However, no system fits perfectly, so i just change it a little bit (and then a bit more...), Sometimes to give the game independence/definition from the original system, sometimes because the original system doesn't deal with something the way i'd want it to, and sometimes just on a whim. However, i'd say all the modifications i make to the systems are justified, and in the end the game will be better off for them.

Also, Pet peeve- "Don't fix it if it ain't broke" is utter bullshit. If we adhered to it absolutely, we'd never make any progress in anything, never take any risks, never have any new ideas, never do anything new at all. I realise the quote does make sense in some contexts, but as a universal adage its unworkable and retarded.

Final: The next article will probably be Pause, as its my newest idea and one I'm currently thinking on, and its likely to come within the next week. Stay tuned.


6 PurpleXVI
02:13am UTC - 11/17/2008 [X]
Pet peeve: People who feel the need to change something that works perfectly well.

Sometimes shit just really AIN'T broke, and any attempts at fixing made will just be the stuff that actually breaks it.


7 Issyl
12:27pm UTC - 2/07/2009 [X]
I like Artifice, Eurid, Mentality, From the Ashes, and Pause.

Anyway, cool.


 

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