Thursday, 12 November 2015

Nuria: Factions, Groups, and Institutions

I was happy about the attention that my first Nuria post gained, and the great comments from around the place. I hope this post gives a slightly deeper understanding of the setting.

Factions
On Nuria there are four major factions wielding political power. Each of them is committed to a free Nuria, but each adheres to significantly different ways of achieving it. These differences place them at odds with each other, despite their common ground.

The Nirsenite faction is the Nurian group currently in power. They dominate the Cultural Council, an institution which was granted limited rights of autonomy by the Turit as a client body. The Turit maintain a strong presence over the orbiter in the form of administration, law enforcement, military, and civil works. Nevertheless, the Nirsenites are given the freedom to maintain Nurian culture for the purpose of ongoing stability on the orbiter. As long as it doesn't threaten Turit sovereignty or taxes, it's likely to be allowed. A free Nuria is a pure Nuria.

Second to this are the Telkomet who are represented in the Cultural Council. This faction is heavily marked by privilege and is largely comprised of academics, scholars, and entrepreneurs. They privately control vast fortunes and have a vested interest in ensuring that trade and commerce continues peacefully. What they don't want, however, is to pay taxes to the Turit. A free Nuria is a wealthy Nuria.

Actively opposing the Turit are the True Nurians. To them, the Turit are violent invaders who ruin the Nurian way of life by forcing themselves onto the orbital. As a result, the True Nurians will gladly use violence against the Turit. They also hate collaborators and will target them if a Turit target doesn't present itself. Their interactions with the Nirsenites and the Telkomet are strained at best, bloody at worst. A free Nuria is an independent Nuria.

The last major Nurian faction is the Delmass. They are passive in their opposition to the Turit, preferring instead to continue to live out the Nurian culture in indifference to everyone else. In secluded parts of the orbital they live in small communes, exploiting a Turit legal loophole about taxation on private property. Although a notable faction, they are the smallest of the four and keep to themselves. On the other hand, they are treated with suspicion by the Turit who make use of spies and infiltrators to watch them. A free Nuria is the Nuria of the mind and the body.

Groups
The Turit themselves are a powerhouse of technology, commerce, and warfare. This isn't only in comparison with the orbitals, however. Although the seat of Turit power is on their orbital, they maintain a presence on the planet as well, using four space elevators as key supply lines. They are also actively engaged in exploration of the solar system's mineral resources, including the moon and nearby asteroids. Their image of themselves is an enlightened nation, not merely the greatest country on earth but the greatest nation in the system.

Institutions
The Cultural Council was formed in the surrender negotiations of the invasion. As a key strategic move by the Turit, they permitted the council to continue looking after the Nurian cultural affairs. The council is active on a daily basis, organising events, publications, festivals, and performances in continuance of the Nurian life prior to the surrender. They receive funding from their activities, but none from the Turit. The Turit allow it but do not actively support it. From time to time the Turit censor the council, especially if anti-Turit propaganda is found in any of the council activities.




Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Nagademon 2015: Nuria Setting

*blows dust off blog*

My Nagademon 2015 project is to write a DramaSystem pitch. I have an idea for a setting and I want to see where it goes. Each blog post will be one (or two) of the sections typically used in a pitch. I'm going to write this in the open, rather than write about it while you wait to see if I compile it into a downloadable file.

Nutshell
Rebel factions struggle to overthrow the foreign power which invaded this ancestral orbiter five generations ago.

Setting
The orbiters high above Earth were built in response to the disaster left on the surface. Long after the war stopped and the surface dwellers started cleaning up the pollution, several of the orbiters declared independence and demanded recognition as sovereign states. And soon after that, they developed more weapons and went to war in the heavens.

The first recognised nation-state orbiter was Nuria, previously called Orbiter Artemis. Its people were intensely proud of their place in history, having left behind the confict of older ways in favour of a peaceful existence. Their commitment to a new way of living also made them an easy target for the larger, and more powerful orbiting nations. When the Turit Federation began to expand, it was inevitable that Nuria would fall. The Nurians believed that they represented something bigger than this kind of war, and trusted in the Turit to leave them alone.

They were wrong.

Making short work of the Nurian defences, the Turit absorbed their orbiter into the federation. They let them keep most of their customs, on the proviso that they paid their taxes and remained peaceful. In turn, the Nurians became sullen and resentful. They longed for their independence again but could not agree on how to gain it. Political factions formed quickly, capitalising on the emotions of the populace, and while most people wanted to live a quiet life, they all wanted one of the factions to get rid of the Turit off their orbiter.

You are active members of the factions, though perhaps not all of the same faction. With all your heart, you seek freedom for your fellow Nurians and you know there is only one way to secure it.

You are politicians, rebels, journalists, militants, and terrorists. You destabilise Turit power at all opportunities in order to preserve the Nurian people and the Nurian home orbiter. But you must keep your real agenda secret. The Turit have spies everywhere and are ruthless towards anyone who threatens the peace.
But it could be worse; you might be a Turit spy, sent to infiltrate the factions. Your people will brand you as a traitor if they ever found out, but it's for their own good that you do this.

No matter your faction or your orbiter, what you do you do for Nuria.


Next time: the factions




Friday, 24 July 2015

Good News!

Dear Feng Shui 2 RPG Backer,

Thanks for using our pledge management system at Fundafull. Your order has been shipped.

Some things really brighten my day.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Design idea

So I had an idea the other day. It's an idea for a game mechanism and it goes like this.

1. The GM sets a difficulty number (challenge ranking, whatever...) from 1 to 5.
2. The player makes a pool of dice which is based on the relevant stat and niche applications.
3. The player rolls the dice, counting 4-6 as successes. For each success they get a plot point to their overall pool (it might already have points in it).
4. The player spends as many points as they wish to tackle the challenge, and keep the rest. At least 1 point must be spent. Spend the challenge number to pass the challenge. Spend more than the challenge number to succeed wildly.
5. Points can be used later to improve the character.

So, an example.

My character, Gus, is going to sneak past a guard.
1. The GM sets a difficulty of 3.
2. Gus has a Sneaky stat of 2, with a bonus around military installations, taking it up to 3 dice.
3. I roll and get 2, 4, 4; adding 2 points to my character's tally of 5 (now up to 7).
4. I could pay 3 points and get Gus past this guard, but I decide to pay 4 points so that Gus gets past the guard and the guard is about to start a really long patrol circuit so Gus has more time for the next actions.
5. I'm left with 3 points that I can either save for character improvement or for the next challenge.

That's the raw version of it. I think there's a bit of polish I could make to it (spending points to help other characters, refining the rate of spend and earning, and so on).

I can't help feeling that it's been done before. Have you seen a system like this? Which game was it and how did it work in that game?



Friday, 12 June 2015

Playing the Villain

I'm playing in a PTA game at the moment. We've just finished episode two. After the pilot I was unsure of my character, Lazarus Moore. He's a former priest, now a hardened utilitarian. He's also indeterminately old, thanks to an expensive treatment that eventually killed most of its users, except him. Could be some others out there but we haven't met them yet. And I've decided that he'll be played by Hugo Weaving. His portrayal of characters like Agent Smith and V made a connection to me with the detachment and passion of Lazarus.

Now that you've met Lazarus let me tell you the fun of playing him. As I said, I wasn't sure about him. As a utilitarian he had to have an overriding principle that drove him, and it had to be strong enough to make him leave his faith. And it had to be so strong that he would sacrifice for it; sacrifice himself or others. 

So I wondered if he was the villain of the show. 

As it happens, I'm more convinced than ever that he is. I don't like him but it's so indulgent in his skin. Playing him is like playing Lex Luthor or Doctor Doom. He has plans behind his eyes. He knows things. He wants things but won't tell what they are. And part of that fun is that I don't even know what he wants. He won't tell me either. 

Lazarus is going to drive the story. He's building something that is bigger than him or anyone else and to do that he will use whomever and whatever he needs. 

It's this drive and ambition that makes him so fun and dangerous to play. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Poison'd Thrones Report

I made a flurry of posts a few weeks ago about Poison'd Thrones, the game I planned to run at Go Play Brisbane. Well, the day came and I ran it. Here's how it went.

Brilliantly. 

As we were playing I could scarcely believe how well the Poison'd rules worked in the Westeros setting. The transition from pirate crew to mercenary warband was smooth. There was a common form: a group beyond the control of the authorities. There was a common individual focus: the ambitions of lawless folks for land, pardon, and revenge. With some simple re-skinning of weapons and occupations, the rules and the setting are beautifully at home with one another. 

In fact, I'm thinking of making a PDF to share my game with the world. Watch this space. 

Credit must also be given to my wonderful players. These folks knew the setting well enough that we didn't need to dwell on it. They played the themes of Game of Thrones so well. Survival, shifting alliances, betrayal, advancement, revenge, ambition… it was all there in the story. Thanks to them all for making it a great game.

One other thing to note - and this is noteworthy because it's a Vincent Baker game - the rules seemed to vanish behind the story. Every time we went to the dice, it threw us back into the story. Every time we needed the rules, they were there and then they were gone again. Like pixies at the bottom of the garden, the rules came and went without us humans ever really seeing them. But we saw the magic they left behind.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Science!

I don't know about you, but this is the epitome of Science! from Spirit of the Century.



Science! It's the best.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Poison'd Thrones: Ambitions #explicit

This is where I think Poison'd and Game of Thrones really cross paths. Every good game of Poison'd I've ever run had Ambition as the engine, driving the story. When players own their Ambitions, this game almost loses control from all the momentum.

I'm part-way through reading Book 4 of the Song of Ice and Fire and if there's something consistent about every character, every story, and every page it's the intensity of ambition. They all want something, and they all want it badly enough to be awful human beings about it. They'll lie, rob, cheat, rape, maim, and kill their way through anyone who stands in their way.

See what I mean? It's like Poison'd was made for Westeros. Let's look at the Poison'd ambitions.
To be captain
To own land
To be pardoned
To be revenged upon (here name another player’s pirate)
To be revenged upon (here name a man beyond your station)
To fuck (here name another player’s pirate)
To fuck (here name the daughter or son of a man beyond your station)
To spit in the eye of God
To spit in the eye of the devil
To live forever
To be remembered forever
To be regarded highly by society


They almost don't need changing. But let's be about it.
To be a knight or lord
To own land
To be pardoned
To be revenged upon (here name another player’s character)
To be revenged upon (here name a man beyond your station)
To fuck (here name another player’s character)
To marry (here name the daughter or son of a man beyond your station)
To spit in the eye of the gods
To spit in the eye of the false gods
To live forever
To be remembered forever
To be regarded highly by society


The best ones for Thrones would be titles, land, and revenge. However, the game allows a character to have several and gain more as the game goes on. A long list is helpful.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Poison'd Thrones: Sin and Suffering

The next couple of lists to look at for my Game of Thrones hack on Poison'd are the sins that the character has committed and the events that the character has suffered.

The sins list is based on a Judeo-Christian concept of sins, for sure. Poison'd operates within a mythology that draws heavily on that background, along with a few other elements drawn in from popular concepts of local Caribbean religions. I find that when I read about any of the Game of Thrones characters committing these acts, I still feel the same as I do within a normal Poison'd context. Here's the Poison'd list, with the hacked entries alongside.
Adultery
Blasphemy
Idolatry
Murder
Mutiny (change this to Treason)
Rape
Robbery
Sodomy

The part about a "woman living, acting and dressing the man" isn't blasphemy in Westeros, it's just ridiculous. I can't count that as a sin in this hack.

Since the Sin list was so quick and easy, I've thrown in the Suffering list as well.
Accursing (remove this because it doesn't seem to be part of the GoT world except by superstition)
Arrest
Attempted murder
Beating
Branding
Damnation
Disownment
Impressment
Imprisonment
Lashing
Mutilation
Rape
Torture

I think it's only fair to have the X for anything at the hands of the dead warband leader.

Next up? The best one of all for the hack: Ambitions!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Poison'd Thrones

After crowdsourcing my decision about which game to run at Go Play Brisbane next month, I've settled on a Game of Thrones hack using the Poison'd rules. The common space between them is found in ambition and brutality. Martin's vision of a nobility isn't particularly noble for most of the characters. Instead it's scheming, violent, and power hungry.

Sounds like Poison'd to me.

Poison'd is a Vincent Baker game, so it has lots of lists. There's a list for your character's occupation in the pirate crew, the sins your character has committed, the events your character has suffered, and the ambitions your character has. To make them work in my hack, I'll need to re-skin them.

Today, let's start with occupations. Poison'd has the following:
Boatswain
Boy
Carpenter
Gunnery Master
Quartermaster
Sailing Master
Sailor
Surgeon
X's mate

For a mercenary warband, we might not even need all of these. But let's start with these:
Hedge Knight (masterless knight)
Sellsword (trained soldier)
Freerider (scout, forager, cavalry)
Squire (soldier in training)
Disgraced Maester (a healer and wise man)
Disgraced Septon (a priest and wise person)
Page (child labour)
Cook (the company will need a new one)
Armourer (repairs armour, tack, and fights)
Mummer (entertainer, sometimes soldier)

What would you add or change for the warband to have interesting player characters?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Which game to run?

Go Play Brisbane is fast approaching! By which I mean, it's approaching at the same speed as anything else in the future but it looks faster because it's so epic.

Epic.

#getonwithitAndrew

I really want to run a game on the Saturday, possibly two, but I'm still deciding which. So let's look at the notebook.

Game 1: Lego FU
You play minifigs in a Lego world, building solutions to help you on your adventures. And unlike Lord Business, you can break down the world around you to make whatever crazy invention you like. Get ready for high action, pulpy goodness where the bad guys are bad, the good guys are good, and everything is awesome.
A game for 3-5 players.

Game 2: Poison'd Thrones
The leader of a mercenary warband in Westeros has been poisoned by Lannisters. Their agent (the company cook!) has been found out and is tied up in the middle of the keep courtyard. He's spitting blood and curses, swearing that the King has commanded two of his knights to slaughter the mercenaries before the next new moon.
An adults-only game for 3-5 players. No, really, it's adults only because it uses the Poison'd rules.

So which one tickles your story gaming fancy?