Creating a Moorcockian/Lieberian/Zelaznyan setting for T20

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Postby Jeremy757 » Thu Apr 07, 2005 6:34 pm

I think its cool they put this forum here. Im definately interested in hearing other peoples thoughts and ideas on these rules. I myself think that with some tweeking they could be used for a more traditional high fantasy game. As I read over the rule book Ive been cojuring some notes on how to do such a thing. When I get them into coherent and complete sentences Ill start my own thread here.
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Postby Yldarr » Thu Apr 07, 2005 10:14 pm

Love Blue Rose...Love True20 even more.
How about:
"Stephen Dondaldson's THE LAND RPG: The Roleplaying Game of Tragic Fantasy" (please!....)
or
True20 versions of:
M. John Harrison's "The Pastel City" (Dying Earth-ish, only more grit less fop...)
or
Lyndon Hardy's series "Master of Five Magics", "Secret of the Sixth Magic","Riddle of the Seven Realms" (coolest magic system developed in a fantasy trilogy ever!)

I could go on...

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Postby Yldarr » Sat Apr 09, 2005 2:58 am

Back on topic...
What parts of gritty, self-reliant fantasy do we want for this proposed setting? (anti-heroes, shades-of-grey moralism, deadly combat, wierd magic, etc.)

What will the thematic backdrop be? (low-fantasy, high-fantasy, war, exploration, post-apocolyptic, intrigue, etc.)

What about the level of society? (ancient, dark ages, renaissance, new world, etc.)

What kind of base culture/s, and, pseudo or real? (european, arabic, oriental, etc.)
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Postby Eri Anikemi » Sat Apr 09, 2005 5:26 am

An excellent idea to gain you an enjoyable setting that encompasses all the elements of a darkly dangerous fantasy world. I have recently come to love the notion of using Universalis to create worlds among gaming groups. It requires a small amount of adaptation when dealing with a board, but it still produces excellent results.

The Universalis system basically means that everybody takes a turn describing an element in the setting that is being created. You all go around in a circle, adding to the elements as the setting is slowly created. You bid 'coins' to oppose setting elements that you loathe, and spend coins to create elements that you like.
Without using the coin system though, it is actually possible to bid turns... you bid a certian number of turns in the game and then sit out those turns while the rest of the group goes on. You can still bid turns while you're counting down though.

So... perhaps Nisarg should go first? It's his idea... Just name an element to the setting. One single element that you really like. Then someone else can chime in, and we continue around until everyone has had a turn. Obviously the first constraint placed on the deveoping system would be "No hope filled fluffy setting elements"

To suggest... common elements that show up in more gritty flavors of the game are "Epic conflcit in the past", "Vast tracks of land destroyed by epic conflict", "Roaming beasts of evil and vile darkness", "Magic can cause madness or insanity", "Humans commonly show thier darker side", "Life is often like a Victor Hugo novel."
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Postby Eri Anikemi » Sat Apr 09, 2005 7:14 pm

If there are ground rules agreed upon (indeed, everyone knows what kind of world you want to create Nisarg) then the system works very well indeed. It is a system, and the Universalis book itself is very 'crunchy'. The fact that it produces a story instead of a series of dice rolls doesn't make it less ordered or structured. It happens to use a non random method of creation.

I would hardly call our monetary system a 'system'. Despite the fact that we don't roll dice for every transaction. I'm sorry, but you hit a nerve with that statement.

If you're not up for it, then that's fine. It seems you know what you want.
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Postby Eri Anikemi » Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:35 am

Alright, fair enough. Uh... well is it political correctness to want women to be treated fairly at least somewhere in this world? I don't want a matriarchy, (though if I understand the genre's in question an Amazon kingdom is kind of manditory isnt it?) but I'd like there to be options in the roles for women beyond 'sex object and/or rescued toy'.
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Postby Yldarr » Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:01 pm

So, this is what you're looking for so far:

1 -
...sorcery arcana, ritual magic and the summoning and making-pacts-with of dark chaos-tentacly gods...


2 -
...a kind of gritty high fantasy, where most of the world is composed of dung-gatherers and rat-catchers, but some people are avatars, living gods, mighty wizards, etc. There's wars, exploration and political intrigue...


3 -
...a vast kingdom or two, vast expanses of empty wilderland, and a few border cities with semi-independence, as well as a lot of wierd and powerful places...


4 -
...kingdoms that closely resemble real-world historical kingdoms.
The kingdoms are sprawling empires in the byzantine/roman style, or conniving italian city-states, with more distant outlands being moorish or indian or asian (it'd be really cool to have an indian kingdom as part of the setting)...


Sounds like a mix of the Swords & Sorcery genre, The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, The Three Musketeers, The Black Company (which we have from GR) and Talislanta (in fact alot like Tal, except less alien).

I like it! :D
The avatar thing and the vast expanses give me an idea.
Perhaps this world has just recently (hundreds of years) had a godwar of some kind.
The war changed everything; the world itself was altered, some gods could not return to the outer realms, many nations were destroyed, knowledge was lost, and a new political structure was created as new empires and kingdoms grew out of the old...some ruled by fallen/weakened/trapped/disguised gods.
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Postby Skyblue » Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:25 am

So far the game setting has many interesting elements I like, expecially the darkness of it. But for things to truly seem dark you need contrast.
I believe the setting needs what I call Havens of Good.
A place or group of people untouched by the corruption.
Simply a suggestion.
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Postby Eri Anikemi » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:50 am

Hmm... coupled with the GodWar/magical cataclysm/ancient disaster trope that seems to be so prelevant... seems to come the 'Ancient Wonders' phenomon. Ancient engineering projects, bridges, cities, ruins... etc etc. All of which are of "Some unknown material" that seems to be "impervious to age", or some other implausable effect. One of the ones that I've always liked was the super highway. An almost Roman like network of roads and bridges, causeways and aquaducts that 'modern' cities thrive and depend on, but have NO idea how to handle, build, or maintain.

That could fit with either the godwar, a declining empire, or both. Perhaps this ancient empire depended upon 'unholy' sorcery and fell due to whatever causes these kinds of empires to die.
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Postby cynic_devine » Thu Apr 14, 2005 5:10 pm

Well, running a dark gritty fantasy version of trueD20 is fairly easy. It does require some rules tweaking, but let's deal with setting first.

Ok some basic points:

1) Keep the Blue Rose idea that the good deities* don't really interfere, but the demons/evil spirits/alien cthulhu things do interfere.

* I am not counting the Golden Hart in this assessment, but you get the idea. The good deities are no where to be actually seen, but the bad spiritual stuff is all around. I like the idea that the supernatural critters in the game are bad,alien, or just plain wierd (like some of the legends of the fairies in Irish myths-primal & chaotic).

2) Maybe go with the idea that the tech levels in the game are really skewed. Some places, have late Medieval or Early Ren/Ref period tech but others are clearly in the early Dark Ages levels.

3) There is a lot of wilderness, a lot of it. Civilization is a couple of small little pockets. Also, the civilization is wierd with a lot the typical fantasy tropes thrown out the window. Maybe something like Lankhmar(sp?)

Some tweaks.....

1)Drop the Alignments.
2)Magic comes in 2 forms arcana (call it what you will) & rituals (something like the Incantation system from Urban Arcana)
3)Only Playable Race is Human
4)Drop the following feats: Cure Blindness/Deafness, Cure Disease, Cure Poison, Imbue Life. Hey you wanted gritty, whatever do though get rid of Imbue Life.
5)Keep Calling & Natures.
6)Make Corruption something more like the Taint mechanic from UA & make it represent the character actually being warped by dark energies, not behaving badly.

Just some thoughts.
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Postby Stareyes » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:31 am

Better still would be to have some kind of randomly determined character traits in the style of WFRP.

That would annoy the piss out of me unless it was optional, no matter what genre it's modeling. Every time I get randomly-determined character traits, I have a hard time staying in character because they usually won't match my perception of the character I want to play. Authors don't roll characters randomly on a table (except for writing exercises), so I don't see why roleplayers should.

Can't help much as the only thing on the list I've read is are the Amber books. I did enjoy the fact that every character in Amber was complicated and had strong motivations, but I think that is far more of a player thing than a system thing.
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Postby Stareyes » Mon Apr 25, 2005 8:36 am

Both create characters. I maintain that it is much more difficult to play a character that was created by following a 'recipe book' of traits than to play one that was created organically based on what the player wants to play and the stats/roles/feats s/he picked. For one-shot NPCs, who only need a few defining traits and a motivation it might be fine, but a PC should be what the player wants to play (provided it fits the GM's worldview and doens't hinder the enjoyment of other players, of course).

Also, I make the point that Mr. Zelazny's books are highly character driven -- a good part of the first five Amber books are Corwin dealing with his siblings first for the Crown, then in unravelling exactly what is going on with Amber. A lot of Corwin's manuvering requires knowing how his siblings would react, and what their motivations were. This sort of character knowledge comes more naturally if care is taken in constructing personalities for characters that players can easily slip into.

One thing I liked about True20 vs. d20 is it is trying to take away from the chance of d20 -- aside from the HP rolls (which I would house-rule as the static one-half-maximum+0.5), no dice are involved in character generation. A table of pregenerated character traits, save as a on-the-fly quick-NPC generator, would take away from that.
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