So, I’m a bit late because last week I got a Beta code for the game in development, Card Hunter. I’m finding it really fun, even when the AI does something completely frustrating (like monsters baiting my characters to move towards them then moving away). I need to post on the forums over there a couple of buggy things I’ve encountered over the past few evenings.
But I’ve managed to do some thinking about some of my ideas for StarSea. Mainly I’ve been thinking about the aesthetics for the different factions, in regards to armor and color scheme. For example, I’ve been thinking that the Divines should be more regal, as the successors to the previous empire (who are now the undead throughout the StarSea). The Arcanists might have armor that makes them look as intimidating as the creatures they bargain with for their powers. That leaves me wondering what the armor of the Psionics and Primals looks like.
One of the books I looked at in regards to other stuff I’m thinking about was the Dark Sun Campaign Guide. It kind of got me to thinking about the possibility of different armors for the Primals. Bone or giant insect chitin might be interesting, as might unusual animal hides. But that book led to other ideas as well.
I also started considering what the corruption of the StarSea actually is. An argument could be made that most corruption starts as hubris in the Real World, so why could the same be true in the StarSea. This is also often true of fiction. Anakin/Vader and Palpatine both display a pretty significant amount of hubris at various times. As does Raistlin and other villains. I’ve looked into the systems for Dark Sun defiling (and found them wanting) as well as the systems for the Dark Side in both Revised and Saga Edition versions of the Star Wars RPG. Again, I found Saga Edition wanting, but because the handling of Force points in general is flawed by being tied to level. But the general rules ideas are solid. But they’ll need adaptation for other game systems.
Other thoughts I’ve had about the corruption/hubris element is that, with some of my other ideas, maybe the Divine and Arcane orders are the villains I want them to be. It also says that maybe characters of those orders have default levels of corruption/hubris to start off with, and that the orders have their own levels of corruption. This does give me ideas for DM tracking of organization level corruption/hubris, and having the campaign possibly revolve around changing levels of order corruption/hubris.
However, all of this thinking gets me to wondering: If the orders aren’t monolithic, does this mean there are villainous and heroic versions of each order, or is each order fighting corruption within? Frankly, I don’t like this idea, because it simply increases my work, but this is a question that has to be asked, and I need to determine how the orders work and how to keep my creativity under control. However, I can see how this idea could easily force changes in how the world works and the numbers of orders, maybe forcing a reduction in the orders down to two, one heroic and one villainous. I really don’t want to do that, as it smacks too much of Star Wars…
Finally, I also thought about colors and symbols for the Orders. Do the Divines carry crosses or some other symbol? Of course, they should, as it’s fairly typical of religious types to have some specific sorts of dress. What colors? Royal purples and golds for color schemes? Should the Primals follow the expected greens and browns, or something else? Do the Psionics use the colors of the D&D 3.5 Lords of Madness organizations colors of cerulean and topaz? These are things I’m thinking about, as well as my own knowledge of how colors affect how we feel about things.
Right now, like everything else, I’m sort of up-in-the-air as to what where exactly I’m going with the aesthetics and the systems of corruption or hubris. The world I’m building will be fairly complex, and I have quite a bit to make decisions on.
So, a friend left the following comment on my Facebook:
Commenting on the use/creation of tech by non-tech classes. I think it would depend on how comfortable they were with those that created it were and how accessible tech is to acquire. Sort of that “necessity being the mother of invention”thing.
Here’s my response:
That’s a kind of logical way to look at it, and I’m more looking to create flavor. That’s why I focused so on the Primals. I can also see the flavor being related to corruption. Even the Primals will be subject to it.
So for example, in 4e, none of the Primal Classes seem to get proficiency in heavy, metal armors. That gives them a certain flavor. They don’t learn these armors for some reason, and one could say that’s a throwback to 1st ed when druids couldn’t wear metal armor, which I think was explained as the worked metal of men interfered with their connection to nature. So, in 4e we have a defender class that can’t wear heavy armor, but gets a boonus to AC based on their Con, or some such. Again, we have that flavor of the Primals being more natural and not working lots of metal for whatever reason, and it’s probably related to their philosophies rather than resources, assuming a magical world.
The further thinking is, do the Primals make stone weapons, or do they have metal weapons? Do they reserve metal for other things, or do they not use it at all as it’s an unliving thing, and they refuse to use things that weren’t alive at some point? Something I haven’t commented on in my posts has been a historical point I’ve been playing with, that the Primals were the first rebels against the ancient empire (which is now the source of all undead), and the Divines were the second. It could easily tie in to this historical element that the Primals now eschew the use of metals because they see it as a symbol of the dead things that the old empire has become.
Now, the powers of corruption in the universe affect everyone within it that uses power, and even some who don’t. In the ancient empire, the leaders created vast numbers of undead, including many of the leadership who fell to the corruption. Some leaders rebelled and became Primals, some became the Divines. However, corruption still exists, but it’s different for every group. Could a sign of corruption amongst the Primals be that they twist that idea of (once) living weapons to the extreme that they are still living, just in great pain and mutated form? Are they willing to mutate themselves? And what are the Arcanists, who bargain with unholy things, willing to do as corruption sinks in? Or are they corrupted by default, and characters from that corner of the setting are those who have risen above their corruption, or will I simply disallow certain classes based on power source (which I’m leaning heavily towards, or feat taxing the crap out of them)?
These are the kinds of things I’m looking towards, to create a lot of flavor in this particular campaign setting.
I’m really less concerned about tracking resources with this setting. I’m planning the monolithic worlds scheme (each world is basically a huge desert or swamp or whatever), so I’m assuming that the entire world’s resources can be brought to bear, and there will be few worlds which will have strong deficits of any particular resource unless it fits the world (water shortages on desert worlds, etc.). So, this is what I’m looking for when I’m referencing technological use: How does the technology (as an aesthetic) reflect the philosophises of the group?
That’s largely what I’m doing here. Determining aesthetics, and I’m just explaining it in a piss-poor, overly wordy manner. This was one of those things I really liked about 4e as the preview books came out, is that they had an aesthetic for every race. Dwarves have very geometric designs to their weapons, while elves have woodland motifs on gracefully curves weapons, and eladrin have a mix of natural motifs with the faerie kingdom motif. Dragonborn and tieflings were also given their own looks. Even humans have a look, which is sort of piecemeal, that tells us that the humans of 4e collect and reuse bits and pieces of the past to make their present.
I’ve already made some notes regarding this. For example, the Psionics will favor long, straight weapons (especially swords), while the Arcanists favor cruelly shaped axes and picks, and the Divines will use heavy maces and hammers. I was thinking spears and bows for the Primals. Do you, gentle reader, see the thinking of each faction in the weapons they carry? Do these suggestion begin to flavor the differences between them?
Wow. Another post in less than 24 hours. Will this continue? Maybe. Only time will tell…
Running a little late. It’s been a hectic week.
Mapping the StarSea
I put some thinking in on the map of the StarSea. I want the worlds to exist in a pattern, not just randomly scattered throughout the space. This is the level of power the Ür had: they moved worlds into a specific set of positions. I had thought about using the Qaballah “Tree of Life,” but I felt that would leave me with too few worlds. I want upwards of twenty or more. I want enough that all of the factions have a few worlds each, and that there can be plenty for exploration. I did a design based on the Star of David, and I liked it, but I’m not settling just yet. I’m going to wait and see what other ideas come to mind. I don’t want to settle on the first thing that comes to mind.
Technology: Putting on the Brakes
I’ve had plenty of ideas for vehicles and other items of Wyrdtech that could be floating around the StarSea. Sadly, I’m only one person, and this is pretty much a hobby right now. While I’d love to publish the StarSea setting book, right now, I doubt I can do it anytime soon. I could easily end up with a supplemental book on just vehicles and tech. That means I need to edit my ideas as I form them, and try to keep things under control, so I’m not overwhelmed with material. Besides which, the source materials I’m drawing from don’t have 75 different personal transports, troop transports, etc.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’ll probably be late next week, as I have D&D for Kids at my FLGS on Saturday, and I plan on attending a local Renaissance Faire next Sunday, and expect I’ll be home late and tired.
So, I’ve forgotten to mention things I’ve intended to, but that can be a good thing, as it gives me subjects to discuss every week. This week’s forgotten item is Bare Bones Fantasy. I picked up the POD version, which was a bit overpriced for its size, but then all POD stuff it. The book is digest-sized, but very thin, only about 80 pages.
BBF is definitely riding the “simple rules renaissance” wave, and it’s not a bad set of rules, and I can see ways I could extend it for StarSea. I doubt I will, but it’s a possibility. While I like simpler rules, I almost think this one is too simple. It’s still worth considering.
I also looked at Lords of Gossamer and Shadow this week. I considered it for a moment for StarSea, but I don’t think my current players (neither my home game or my FLGS LFR group) would be up for such an intrigue-heavy setting/system. Yeah, even the system is more intrigue-biased; just look at character creation. It’s based on the Amber Diceless RPG, including the stat auction as the initial part of character creation.
This is kind of a bad thing to me. There’s nothing new here but an extremely derivative setting. I already own both the core Amber rulebook and the Shadow Knight books. They might pull in some extra stuff from the old Amberzines, but how much of that will I need as a DM or a player? Their new setting is nice, but as I said, it seems pretty derivative, so I’m just not seeing the point of buying this one, especially unemployed as I am now. I think unemployment is good for me right now, as I think I might go broke on supporting Kickstarters, and I might have supported this one if I hadn’t stopped to think about it…
Anyway, that’s all I have for this week. Hopefully, I’ll have a little more for next week.
So, no, I have not blog-faded. Since my last post, I’ve had a pretty hectic life, which goes to explain why I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. My mother’s health problems have created a good deal of distraction from many things in my life. She’s needed someone to wait on her, as she hasn’t been able to get up and do things for herself often, so as I’m home so much of the time, that gets to be me. However, she’s been to the hospital now, and her problems have been determined and a course of treatment set in, but that means trips to the hospital and rehabilitation center, etc.
On the other hand, I have gotten some things done for StarSea, just not much.
I’ve mentioned settling on the way the world systems will work, and how the StarSea Giants will live. I’ve done some design work on how the Giants will look. Since I’m going to a more traditional fantasy look for the suns and moons, I’ve decided to do the same for the Giants. Tall, lanky and humanoid, with long, thick-featured faces. I think this is a good direction, but it makes me wonder what kinds of beings the Ür were, to create creatures that are humanoid in shape. Hmm…
I also gave some thought to the Primals, but only in that I am thinking about how to make them unified, rather than building a separate Primal philosophy for every world that the Primals control. “Why do that?” you might ask? Well, because the amounts of work it may take to make a setting might otherwise become prohibitive for a single person to write. And at this point, unless I win the lottery, this has to remain my project; I can’t afford to hire help, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do it for free.
I also remembered something I forgot about last time, regarding the setting themes versus a game system. One of the strikes against 4e (and D&D in general) is the lack of focus on philosophy. The StarSea’s themes are potentially very philosophical. Something I’ve picked up from Mage the Ascension that I want back in a setting, but maybe not as deep. MtA is about the different major factions trying to sway humanity to their way of thinking. I want some of that in StarSea. However, I don’t think any game system out there deals with this sort of thing. Maybe some of my Indie Game fans know of systems that have a way to sway societies. I know Mike Nystul (creator of The Whispering Vault) was planning a game called Crusade that did that sort of thing, but he gave up on that way back in the mid-90s, never publishing it. But I want to be able to do something along these lines. I may have to develop some sort system of my own to deal with this sort of influence.
That’s all I have for tonight. I’ve been dealing with a bad back the past couple of days, and I want to go rest. Thanks for your patience while I work out writing more frequently. I fervently want to. I’m just having trouble getting there. On that note, I’m going to try posting on Sundays. I started on Tuesdays because I started on my birthday, which was on Tuesday that year. I’m switching to Sundays because I tend to have more free time on Sundays. Hopefully that will help me get these out more regularly.
Again, thanks for following my irregular posting.
So, this was to be the first of my weekly posts, and was supposed to go live last Tuesday. I’ve gotten very distracted lately. Part of that is job hunting. You’d think with all the online capabilities our society has that online job hunting would be easier, but it’s not. There’s lots of re-entering the same information again and again and again. Even with cutting and pasting, it’s extremely time consuming, provided you can separate the wheat from the chaff in the first place. So I lose time to job hunting. I live with my elderly mother, and she’s had health issues for the past few weeks, and taking care of her also cuts into my time. And there are a million other things that distract me from posting here.
On the upside, I have managed to do some things towards getting this setting a little further along the road to completion.
One of those things was to write a little on the Theme of adventures in the StarSea. I have an outline of things I want to cover in a program called OmniOutliner that came free with my older Mac laptop. I had thought to include the Theme and Mood options a couple of months ago, and a couple of weeks ago, after my last post, I was tinkering with the outline and decided to write about the Theme. I got something I’m not 100% happy with, but I got close enough. I’ll probably tinker with it more down the road, but for now it’s a good enough beacon.
Speaking of beacons, yesterday I did some work on the way worlds have been manipulated. That is, I’ve figured out how I want to do the rings. Last time, I posted some links to images that I liked from a game called Conquest: The Frontier Wars. While I do like those images, I started realizing that having rings or bands around the worlds was just not working out for me, and was going to create a mountain of mapping. But something struck me about how I could resolve the issue, that came from some reading I’d done on Wikipedia.
I had clicked on a link about the naming of the moons of Pluto, and one of the links eventually led me to the entry on the Demiurge. In some of the definitions, the Demiurge was, more or less, defined as the maintainer of Creation. That’s what I’ve seen as the job of the ring giants, a race I’ve seen as having been created by the Ür. While this is all a bit off track, it did sort of pop into my mind as I was re-reading some of my handwritten notes.
What I’ve settled on as a compromise is that the “demiurge” giants live on structures that have been placed around the suns, moons and beacon stars, and those satellites simply orbit the worlds all in the same plane of the ecliptic. The beacons will be color-coded so that I can create “codes” for navigation purposes. A StarSea ship can either follow the beacons and fly relatively safely, or navigate their own path and take their chances with pirates and other dangers.
As well, I did some sketch work on the giants and a potential enemy race. I’m happy with the enemy race, but the giants are a bit of a problem. The images I came up with are a bit too uninspired for what I want. Back to the drawing board, literally.
I think that’s more than enough for tonight. I’ll need to figure out something for Tuesday night now…