22 September, 2015

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 27) - Fighter


It's been a busy couple of days, and I suspect it will get busier for the rest of the week with prop building for OzComicCon, studying with the Aboriginal Elders, and more university work...but I really want to get this series of worldbuildding posts completed. We're pretty much there, without delving to heavily into the integration of setting and system, but there are a few more things I'd like to address about the way players interact with this world through their characters.

As I've been thinking about this idea...this started popping up in my stream...

It's a bit simplistic on the surface, but then again so many profound things are. It seems like so many of the game designers out there are too busy shouting each other down for being mysogynists, social justice warriors, proGamerGaters, no talent hacks, or anything else that is the "insult of the week". There are many gamers out there, and they all want different things. I think that in addition to the above sentiment you should design for things that you see as being missing in the world...if you want it, other people probably want it too. If you see Pathfinder and D&D5e selling really well, and you want a bit of that market share but don't really care about the product, you're not going to be happy about the stuff you're doing... On the other hand, if you're writing this stuff because there's a new and interesting direction you'd like to take the game, write that stuff. Write it with all your heart, make it meaningful, make it good.

I wrote my "System 4" because I watched RWBY and wanted a game that might emulate the epic battle scenes depicted. I love my FUBAR system, but it just doesn't handle those types of scenes very well at all. I wanted something that was fast, saw heroes decimating hordes of savage beasts, pulled narrative consequences into evey die roll, was pretty simple to understand. The system is going to need some more playtesting to make sure it functions in the way that my mental simulations unfold, but it feels good in the first run-throughs. I honestly can't say that this type of play is supported by games "Powered by the Apocalypse", fitting the OSR niche, or even Cortex+ stuff...some might say they are, but in my experience it's often a GM working against the rules (or across them) to get this type of action happening. 3:16 almost gets there, but a lot of the narrative side is let down in the regular die rolls...but again, it wasn't specifically designed to be the sort of game I'm after for this situation.

So, that brings me back around to the topic I actually wanted to discuss today. 

The regular women of this world are rapidly regenerating, long lived, and dominate the societies of the Darkhive. The combatants of this world are a step beyond them, gaining benefits from fungus, artefact and psychic potential to become truly formidable valkyries, amazons, samurai-ko, assassins, huntresses, and more. Every fighting woman is different, but many share enough similarity of training regimes, beliefs, or common goals that they form militias. The concept of global guilds across the Darkhive doesn't really make sense, there is no global currency, and travel between settlements is dangerous for most people. This is a dangerous world.

The stories of fighting women are not the quintessential "Hero's Journey". They may involve leaving the safe world of a settlement to engage the liminal world of dark cells and dank tunnels, to hopefully emerge victorious with trade goods, stories to tell and new finds at another settlement, but just as likely they'll die in an epic battle against mutated bandits, alien shellbrood, or eldritch hiveguard (when they've accidentally broken some ancient and otherwise unknowable law of the constructed sentinels). This is a dirty broken world, it's basically post apocalypse in space.

Individual stories of fighting women will typically follow gender flipped variants of tales in our world...

Red Riding Hood becomes the story of a young boy who hasn't yet succumbed to the debilitating illnesses of manhood, he takes a basket of goodies through a half abandoned tunnel to his dying grandfather. On the way he meets a savage mutated female wolf creature, through wiles and trickery he generally get the better of the wolf creature, but it takes the noble actions of a heroic female huntress to save the day.

Rapunzel might become the story of a prince, imprisoned in a cell by a decadent male sorceror who has found a way to draw the blood of the young prince to avoid the worst effects of the Manbane. A valiant princess warrior has heard tale of this lost princeling, and decides to rescue him using her skill and valour against the trickery and magic of the dark sorceror.

Mad Max: Fury Road can either stay as it is (with decaying men fighting using their virile male offspring to fight for them, permitting them to die and "go to valhalla" rather than become decrepit and decayed at a young age themselves, while the warrior women prove more capable in almost every regard)... or it can be gender flipped as the tale of a woman who becomes involved in a plot to release male concubines from a savage female bandit leader. 

The whole setting is a subversion, it can be done as males trying to take down "the Matriarchy", but even if it's played out this way the themes should be clear as a cruel inverted reflection of our own world. These would be men playing out the struggles that women face here, everywhere, every day. Tales of battle can relate to race, but I've touched on that in earlier posts of the series.

I haven't really touched on beliefs and religion in the setting, but this last series of posts focusing on specific types of characters will go there. From the perspective of fighting women in the setting, the here and now is more important than what may or may not be in the afterlife. Bodies are mulched and dug into the mushroom gardens, mushrooms feed the next generation, life is a cycle. New threats come into the hive from outside, old threats lurk at the centre of the hive tainting those who venture too deep. Everything is a struggle, and the warrior faces it without fear...well, the smart warrior faces it with fear, but does what they have to do anyway.

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