01 September, 2016

Asymmetric Play



Thinking more about these operatives in an eternal war between a "One Universe/One Truth/One God" legion of technocrats seeking to establish order in the outer planets, while a group of eternally warring ancient monstrosities maintain their millennia-old principalities and kingdoms. This is perhaps akin to the Warhammer 40k notion of human space marines waging an eternal war against the chaos gods, just as much as it is related to the idea of the Technocracy against the most ancient of Vampires who fled to the outer planets to escape the damage of the sun.



The latter is still the core framework of the game. The vampires are able to simply slip into slumber while they make the journeys through dark-space taking years or even decades shifting from one planet to another (and months to get from a plant to a moon). The technocracy might employ state of the art jump drives (or blink drives) to instantly travel those distances, but such jumps require nuanced calculations and are subject to random instabilities that even the most power of their psychic clairvoyants can't predict.

There are numerous "neutral" ports in the deep black (Neptune, Uranus and Pluto); places where the vampires have sworn not to fight openly, and where a neutral crew can make a living, or pick up trade jobs. There are even a few places in the shallow black (Jupiter and Saturn) where the Technocracy have sworn not to openly attack free agents or neutral crews, as long as they don't openly use dark powers. But much of the solar system beyond the asteroid belt is rife with war. Dark rusting hulks of ancient vampires drift between worlds on voyages that may have lasted decades or even centuries, some of these ships have even fallen into stable orbits of their own, principalities of rust and biomechanical blasphemy, ruled over by vampiric lords and ladies who have long been considered myths by those who maintain a connection to the waking world.



The nature of the blink drives has basically meant that the Technocrats don't need to go through the mid or deep black if they want to explore deeper into the galaxy or universe, they simply skip over these parts of reality to get where they need to go. They could leave the vampires in peace, but it's a matter of pride that they claim the entirety of their home solar system before they start the push to other star systems.

For the purposes of asymmetry, the vampiric ships are slower than the technocrats. They need to be self sustaining entities capable of keeping the ghoul crews alive, and are therefore much larger than the sleek crystal and titanium blink ships of the Technocracy.

But at a more fundamental level, there is an inherent asymmetry between the characters who draw their powers from each side. I'm viewing the Technocracy as more of a collective, if characters incur penalties from their psychic/mystic/technocratic powers, it takes longer for negative effects to impact the narrative, but when those penalties manifest, they affect the group as a whole. I'm viewing the Vampires more as lone wolves, and when they incur penalties from their disciplines/blood-magic, they manifest far more easily but only affect the individual responsible for that power.

So basically...

Light/Technocracy
Penalty Level 1 - No effect
Penalty Level 2 - No effect
Penalty Level 3 - Minor group effect
Penalty Level 4 - Moderate group effect
Penalty Level 5 - Major group effect

Darkness/Vampires
Penalty Level 1 - No effect
Penalty Level 2 - Minor effect to self
Penalty Level 3 - Moderate effect to self
Penalty Level 4 - Major effect to self
Penalty Level 5 - Character becomes an NPC and moves against the rest of the group

If a team has two light characters on it, their penalty effects would be cumulative... (eg. Penalty level 1 from one character and penalty level 2 from another character make penalty level 3 for the whole party)

If a team has two dark characters on it, they track their penalty effects separately.

If a team has both light and dark on it, the effects would be cumulative from each side... (eg. Penalty level 3 from the light character and penalty level 2 for the dark character... The light character only suffers the "minor group effect", because the dark character's effect is personal. The dark character suffers the "minor group effect" and a "minor effect to self".) 

I'm thinking through the narrative potential here. I expect there to be some odd twists in the way things work at various party sizes of differing light and dark consistency, and this twist in the dynamics will make different types of crews employ different strategies.



More to think about.
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