05 February, 2016

Monster Babies

Why didn't I hear of this earlier?

I don't usually spruik Kickstarter projects, I don't know if I've ever done so here on the blog. But, when I was contacted by Andreas Walters to have a look at his new project, I was instantly intrigued.

Here it is.

I'm just as bad at backing Kickstarters as I am at publicising them, but I've got a bit of spare cash at the moment (after completing some map commissions) and am seriously thinking about dropping some green on this. There's still a long way to go on the funding, but I'd like to see it happen.

In other news, it's nice to be considered influential enough in the gaming blogosphere that people consider you a reputable source of gaming goodness.

04 February, 2016

Survivor's Guilt

Toward the end of last year I discussed an idea about using mind control in a game. The whole idea was to make the mind control a narrative aspect that the characters had no influence over, but to make the game about something else entirely. Generally, the mind control has happened, and now the characters have to pick up the pieces of their broken lives. Now that the active part of the story is happening, there is no deprotagonisation, choices can be made, repercussions can be felt. It's all very 'Jessica Jones'.

It's a concept that I've had to exorcise from my brain so that I can work on other things.

That means another monthly mini-game. It's not the sort of thing I'd normally write, it's probably as close as I'd get to the concept of writing a mini 'American-style' freeform game. Maybe its a bit inspired by the recent layout work I did for +Josh T Jordan as well.

Anyway, if you're interested feel free to take a look. I'd appreciate any feedback on it. I might add it for sale on RPGNow/DrivethruRPG in a week or two.

Here's the link.

03 February, 2016

Random Character Generation

I'm not talking about 3d6 in order. For a game about mutant animals and the melange of spiritual systems that occidental observers blend together as "Chinese mysticism", I'm talking about the idea of rolling some dice to determine time and date of birth and how that specific result might feed back into a character according to elemental and other auspicious means. 

Character age: 12 years plus d12 (the exact animal year would depend on the year in which the game is set...the year would also determine one of the elemental affinities of the character)
Month of birth: roll a d12
Hour of birth: roll a d12
Day of birth is where things get tricky, because this runs vaguely off a 60 day system with five elements cross referenced to the twelve animal signs. A d60 is relatively easy to simulate, d6 for the tens column, d10 for the units. 

I'm thinking that these rolls might offer a range of skill choices according to animal and elemental affinities, and if a character rolls a particular element or animal more than once they might gain the opportunity to follow this path to gain special advantages.

It could be interesting to have a mouse mutant whose horoscope gives them a strong 'tiger' nature. 

Characters wouldn't have to follow their random destiny, but those who embrace their stars might find a spiritual enlightenment easier to achieve.

Just a thought at the moment.

02 February, 2016

New Inspiration

Someone a few weeks ago was posting about the TMNT and the actual fighting style that turtle mutants might have. Perhaps based on wearing out an opponent because their shell would be pretty much i pervious to hand attacks, able to avoid non-direct gunfire damage, and even be adequately preventative against most bladed and impact weapons. It would be a slow style, waiting for the opponent to wear out, then delivering savage crushing blows or bites.

If I'm going to base this game on the conflicts of belief that humans have, and the mutant animals that become caught between the world of mortals and spirits, then it only makes sense that different fighting styles, and event resolution methods might become a part of the system.

Conversion of existing thoughts

Currently, my 'Other Strangeness' mutant animal game works on a quadrilateral system. Four attributes, four elements, it's actually more Japanese than Chinese.

Air is vaguely synonymous with movement at a physical level, and living social interaction at an abstract level.

Earth is vaguely synonymous with fortitude and steadfastness at a physical level, and otherworldly spiritual interaction at an abstract level.

Fire links to violence and conflict at a physical level, and emotional drive at an abstract level.

Water links to calm and focus at a physical level, and deeper knowledge at an abstract level.

Void exists at the centre, linking metaphysically to a character's inner enlightenment. 

(Yes, it's all a bit L5R, and Musashi...)

The problem with switching to a Chinese paradigm is the fact that Air doesn't exist in the five elements, nor does Void. Instead we have Wood and Metal. The other issue is that the Japanese elements are aligned in a cross shape (quincunx), while the Chinese elements are depicted as a pentagon/pentagram with their various interrelations. 

It's a fundamental shift at the centre of the game. 

I could simply rename "Air" as "Wood" since a lot of the affinities still apply the same way. Similarly,  I could rename "Earth" as "Metal", then re-introduce a new "Earth" element. It will require some shuffling of which skills fall into which elemental categories.

Otherwise, I could maintain the notion of four points around a central focus if I organised the game around feng shui principles, with 4 cardinal directions (each bearing their own correspondences)... But again, the correspondences of the directions don't exactly match the ones I currently have in place for the Japanese elements.


And then everything falls into place. 

Mount Kailash


Tibetan buddhism has the same 4 elements I've been using, while maintaining the 12 animals, and the other ideas I'm using.

It evens brings into play the idea that the five elements can become corrupted and thus become the five poisons, which could easily link back to the five toxic animals that +Ian Borchardt mentioned in a comment to a previous post.

Setting the game in Tibet also anchors the game to a specific conflict if it's set in the modern world. Hell, there's conflict between various belief systems and regimes at almost every time in history for this region.

I'm seeing an inherent caste system, with the 12 astrological animals as an upper caste (which the current highest level held by the animal whose year it is), the vast majority of animals existing as a middle class, and the five toxic animals as the lower castes. Vultures, being a sacred animal in Tibet, would exist outside the caste system (perhaps akin to winged monks who shepherd the souls of the dying to the next life...almost a Tibetan equivalent to Valkyries).

01 February, 2016

Not Jadeclaw

So, I've had three different people all point me in the direction of JadeClaw, and or the IronClaw version of the rules where the pseudo-Chinese setting seems to be the second iteration of Jadeclaw.

If I was just going to write a hack of JadeClaw, then I'd buy a copy of the rules make my little twist on it and then go on my way.

But, I've made my opinion on hacks fairly clear over the years. You can have them in your home, or in your provate gaming group, but when you try to tell people it's your own work...that's basically the RPG designer equivalent of fan-fiction. It's lazy writing, it's taking other people's shorthands and ideas, then cobbling them together in some way that you really shouldn't be calling your own. I know that there are many other opinions about fan-fiction being a legitimate artform... but I point you to the fat that '50 Shades of Grey' started out as 'Twilight' fan-fiction and rest my case.

If the game I develop ends up similar to JadeClaw, that will simply be due to drawing from common inspirations of anthropomorphic animals, Chinese myth and legend. and roleplaying adventure. This game will take place in China, not in some mystical pseudo-China (I'm even tempted to make it the post apocalyptic China of the Walkabout setting...but maybe not).

I'll be using my 'System 4' game mechanisms, since they were developed with the mutant animal idea in mind, but character creation will be more dynamic and variable than what I'm seeing in the sample downloadable NPCs for 'IronClaw/JadeClaw'. My mutant animal game began as a homage to Palladium's "TMNT and Other Strangeness", because I loved the way characters are made in that game but didn't necessarily like the way the system was a clunky hack/fan-fic version of AD&D...only more fiddly and more clunky.

I've been digging back through my 'System 4' note and have seen a few things that need to be changed, and a few other things that just seem a bit confusing with fresh eyes. So it's time to strip some thing back, focus, maybe watch a bit of Kung Fu Panda, The Monkey King, and assorted Chinese action dramas, then proceed with the chaotic soup that fills my mind.

30 January, 2016

Could be a winner

It looks like the "Chinese New Year" idea might be a good one. I've had a few comments and private posts indicating that it's worth exploring, so now it's a case of determining the best way to continue with it.

One of the options I'm looking at involves resurrecting ideas about the mutant animal game, perhaps with characters trying to earn the favour of twelve immortal animal spirits according to the specific traits traditionally associated with these beasts. But that involves getting the mutant animal game finished first, at least to a level where these adventires make sense.

Another option would involve scenarios for FUBAR, perhaps a cycle of kung-fu adventures in a mysterious pseudo-Buddhist/Taoist/Confucian legendary realm. That game is certainly in a more ready state.

Otherwise maybe a set of dungeons or temples, but trying to make these system agnostic could be tricky. Go the OSR route, and make them generically compatible with some flavour of old D&D, or some easily accessible recent OSR format.

Any suggestions?c