11 March, 2018


I've got this nasty habit of overanalysing things.

I come up with a concept, then I tinker with it... I add bits to it... I work out how those new bits have modified the core... then modify them or add new bits until the whole thing is a Frakenstein mess that ends up getting stripped back to a raw foundation again. Sometimes the new iteration is back at the starting point, and sometimes it's a very different beast... at which point I analyse the differences to see what fulfils my goals better. It's an ongoing cycle.

I shared my intention for a Dark Places character generation system, with 3 fragments determined by rolling a bunch of dice then allocating the results between different columns of a table. I've been working on this concept within the context of generating characters who would use the same system and be vaguely comparable in power to the Agents in The Law. This basically means attributes with an average starting score of d6, four defenses, four to seven abilities (where every ability less than seven contributes an extra defense), and four advantages (where The Law sees these starting advantages manifest as bonus equipment requisitioned from the department, while these new characters would gain spiritual/magical powers).

The Law uses a vague lifepath system, building characters through their childhood, adolescence, then time in the Law academy; each step adding elements to the character. But my thoughts about how to modify Steve Dee's Relics have influenced my character creation ideas for this new system. The Dark Places are filled with spirits manifested through various means, some might be lingering souls or echoes of a mortal's influence in the world, others might be primordial entities manifested from the very soulstuff of the cosmos. These aren't the narrowly defined agents who've been through a specific process of education and indoctrination, they are outsiders in every sense of the word. It almost feels easier to define what they are not, rather than trying to define what they are (and in certain iterations of the design process, this definition by exception is exactly what I tried to do), but I've previously expressed my disdain for the "design by exception" school of thought through the idea that it's always cleaner to define basic rulings that cover everything that can be, rather than continually developing rules for specifics that might be.

That basically means I'm trying to develop a system that can basically handle a huge variety of concepts, while honing outcomes toward certain more likely results. Maybe a fool's errand...? At this stage the only thing going through my head is that there needs to be a focal point, a funnel that channels the various character concepts to a singularity of purpose before allowing them to go their separate ways again.

In a tribal society, this might be a rite of passage. A variety of people are valued in the tribe, diversity of skills and abilities is important for communal survival, but to be considered an adult, a specific set of tasks needs to be accomplished.

In The Law, this function is served by the academy.  Maybe the denizens of the Dark Places have become self aware through a distinct awakening process, this also helps with the idea that some denizen spirits might only be a few months old, while others have lived millennia. Before the awakening, they were simply cogs in a grand cosmic machine, after the awakening the adventures begin.

One of my versions of this character generation system saw the equivalent of race providing base attributes (and an ability/skill), the equivalent of occupation provided more skills (and an advantage), and the characters age provided a range of advantages (along with some abilities/skills)... then a few bonus points could be applied anywhere to round out the character. It felt close, but not quite there. Adding this awakening catalyst might help.

...anyway, back to the overanalysing.     

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