Curgoth (curgoth) wrote,

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Game Nerd: Ye Fantastique Authority

Some of you may have noticed that I lj cut a lot of my posts. This is my alternative to opt-in filters; categories are clearly labelled, so if you're not interested, don't open the cut.

I'm going to try to formalise this a bit more so that I can filter old posts when I go through the archives.

So, one of my categories will be "Game Nerd" to talk about role-playing theory.

Ye Fantastique Authority

I had an idea for a fantasy game this morning. It was, in part, inspired by Amber, and in part by Warren Ellis' Authority.

The basic idea is that the PCs are super-powered people in a generally low-powered fantasy setting. They're not level 1 mages in a a world where the city guard captains are all level 10 fighters or similar. The PCs are the greatest wizard of the age, or Greco-Roman style demi-gods. There's no Elders to keep the PCs in line, and no limits on what they can do to the world. Except each other, and perhaps a small handful of NPCs of similar power level.

Where this departs from the Amber style is that the PCs aren't necessarily family, or even aware of each other at first. My idea is to have all the PCs powerful, but just starting out, having only recently attained their present level. Think Hercules before he performed his Labours, or Arthur right after pulling the sword from the stone. Power, but generally no reputation or ingrained pattern of power-using behaviour.


For a game system, I find diceless better for the high-powered PC driven conflict (as in Amber). On the other hand, Amber's not really flexible enough, IME, to handle a really wide range of powers; it works better with a small pre-defined set. So what I'm leaning towards is a modified diceless TriStat system; characters built with their system, with a few corners cut off, and a diceless conflict resolution system. For actual powers, I'd strongly encourage players to take Dynamic Powers, so instead of 20 different powers, the Hercules character might just have [superstrength, armour, Dynamic Powers (Strength)] where the last power represents things like moving rivers, or causing earthquakes with foot stomps. That gives the PCs quite a bit of flexibility in what they can do. Put the PCs somewhere in the 250-350 point range to leave room to grow.

Sample concepts

The Paladin (Lancelot)

A noble knight with extremely high combat skills; so good he blocks strikes most people don't even see, and anticipates invisible opponents. Think The Authority's Midnighter, but with a different personality. Add on to that a healthy dose of gadgets to cover armour, horse, etc, maybe a magic sword, and drop the rest into something like Dynamic Powers (Divine Favour) to cover the occasional miracle by his patron deity. For extra fun, start this guy out as subservient to a king or high priest NPC who, naturally, isn't as powerful as he. Maybe a Lancelot setup. Does the guy hold to his vows and do what he's told, or does he decide that he's a better person to be calling the shots?

The Wizard (Gandalf/Merlin)

This one is a gimme; the classic greatest wizard of his age. Start him off after finishing his apprenticeship, or when his power awakens or something similar. Spend a handful of points on some heightened perceptions, then dump the rest into Dynamic Powers (High Sorcery). Maybe this guy is socially inept, your classic geek. Maybe she's wise beyond her years. What has he/she had to sacrifice to get all this power?

The Artificer (Girl Genius)

This guy/girl pushes the setting closer to the Renaissance, which still works for me. Supreme inventor/mad scientist. See the Girl Genius comic if you haven't yet. I'm imagining someone working for someone else, perhaps voluntarily at first, then, later, because of blackmail or something else. Some tyrant's war machine maker. I figure him having Gadgeteer, a lot of skills, and maybe a couple permanent Items of Power. On top of that, Dynamic Power (Weird Gadgets) to cover pulling strange things out of nowhere, and a hefty dose of points in Sidekick to give him a mechanised autonomous buddy. The Tyrant sends the Sidekick out to break sieges, etc. Periodically, someone gets lucky and knocks one off the cliff, and the Artificer makes another one. How much does the Artificer let him/herself get pushed around? Is he an agent for social change? Is he a one man Industrial Revolution?

The Strong Man (Hercules)

The classic strong man. A demi-god, mighty from birth, to be sure, but just coming into his full adult strength. Superstrength and Armour along with a hefty Dynamic Powers (Feats of Strength). He's a wanderer and a wild card. He helps the nice people and thrashes the mean people. He shows up, moves a river to wash some stables, or throws a castle into a lake because the owner pissed him off. Until he crosses one of the other few people with power...

The (fallen?) Angel

Another semi-divine creature. Possibly immortal, or ageless. Definitely winged, at least some times. The range of possible powers is pretty wide, depending on the player's take on it. Flight, sure, but the rest is up for grabs. Is the Angel someone sent from Above to accomplish something here? Or was the Angel kicked out? Did he/she/it just get up and leave one day? What does the Angel want to accomplish on the material world? Perhaps the Angel is supposed to deliver God's Judgement in the form of a Creeping Death, or flatten another Gamorrah. Does the Angel decide to do it? The key to playing this character would be ensuring that the Angel had Free Will, and no longer had to answer to God. By which I mean, if the Angel doesn't kill the first born sons of the Pharaoh’s people, God isn't going to show up and kick the Angel into Hell or something. Not to say that there isn't consequences, just that there's no Imminent Overpowering Smackdown about to be delivered if the Angel steps out of line.

The Green Man

The Spirit of the Forest. The Green Knight, Jack o' the Shadows, the Old Man of the Woods. Humanity is moving into His Woods, cutting and burning. People are turning from the Old Gods. Give him high regeneration, some superstrength and reincarnation tied to the seasons, and Dynamic Powers (Green Magic) or (Spirits of the Forest) or similar. Is this guy a vengeful Luddite, out to smash mills and foundries? Or is he more the type to try to persuade people to live things his way? Does he use his powers to drop forests into the middle of cleared farmland, or to give his hard-working buddies a fantastic harvest this year? Does he get along with society at all, or is he a hermit type?

Ozymandias, the King of Kings

The great political power. The Emperor to be. System-wise, drop most of his points into allies, sidekicks and contacts. Throw in some features (appearance) and a heap of wealth. This PC either doesn't need Dynamic Power, or just give him Dynamic Power (King of Kings) and use that for most of the situations where you want to pull as-yet-unmentioned political connection out of his (presumably impressive) hat. He doesn't need to have a fabulous personal power - no need for invulnerability or even mind control. He's just managed to set himself up that well, so that the entire world owes him a favour or three. Put him just having become king of his first kingdom, with plans to conquer the rest of the world.

I could probably think of more (a dragon? Or a dragon master...), but I think you get the idea. One of the reasons I like this idea is that, as a GM, I want to be a player. In this setup, the players have to drive the plot. They make the story. The GM can't push them anywhere they don't want to go, because they've got the power to plow over anything they want, except each other. Even if the GM has a couple of NPCs of similar power level, it's just a question of figuring out how to deal with the opponent instead of having to band together to deal with a common thing. This is he part I pulled from Amber, though its taken further here than the classic Amber game does.

So.... any thoughts? Questions? Criticisms?
Tags: gamenerd

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