(Trinity Continuum Player’s Guide on BackerKit)
That’s right – the TCPG Crowdfunded on BackerKit campaign ends this Thursday, the 20th!
We’re charging towards 800 backers right now, and with the excitement that always happens in the last two days, there’s no telling how much further we will go! So if you haven’t backed – now’s the time!
Just a heads-up, this was a day of many meetings, so the “flavor text” this week is going to be really abbreviated. Sorry about that, but a lack of time combined with my hunt and peck typing have conspired to make getting y’all the info, “the crunch”, a priority, and so my usual wacky prose must be curtailed!
We took a look at our Onyx Path Mailing List stats to – wait! you didn’t know that there’s an Onyx Path Mailing List that sends out two aggregated emails per week automatically (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to folks who’ve signed up for it?
(Which is different than the aggravated emails that I usually get!)
What that means is that you’ll get this MMN blog, plus any blog posts from over the weekend on Tuesday, and then the Wednesday Release/Sales blog and anything else we post between those days gets included, too! Ian’s Monthly Roundup, blog posts for games like Matthew’s current series of teasers for The World Below – they’re all included, you won’t miss any of them, and they show up in your inbox automatically!
I haven’t mentioned the Mailing List for quite a while, so it’s great to see so many of you already signed up – and if you’re new to the idea, go ahead and click on that lil box there on the right side of the Onyx Path website!
It’s just that easy.
Speaking of Matthew’s The World Below blogs (which come out every Thursday), last week featured the winning ideas offered online concerning the destruction of the previously thriving settlement of Glowstream. From the blog:
Thank you to all the commenters, and a special thanks to T.J. Wilson, whose idea formed the core of this lore entry, and everyone else who commented, as I’ve tried to incorporate a little something of each of your suggestions! We even added a little Stephen Kingism in there, at the end.
As you may have determined from previous blogs, characters in The World Below consist of three Paths, currently known as their Dawn, their Dialectic, and their Calling. Each grants access to something different in the game and is determined by different things, too. Dawns are an amalgamated origin for a character, while Dialectics speak to a character’s internal synthesis with the World Below. As already-mentioned, a Calling is a character’s destiny and role in the pack.
Loyal commenters, please state below whether you want to know more about Dawns, Dialectics, or Callings, and next Thursday you’ll receive more information on the one that garners the greatest number of votes! I also invite you to comment with anything further you want discussed in these blogs regarding The World Below. What aspect of the game really interests you?
You can check out last week’s blog for just what did happen to Glowstream, and then add your vote in the comments via this link: https://theonyxpath.com/the-world-below-glowstream/
Another thing Matthew is looking for are entries to our TikTok Contest I mentioned a couple of week’s ago. We’re looking for short vids, really, so TikTok or FB or whatever venue works for you so long as you let us know about it directly, and/or via links or hashtags. Could be funny, informative, a package opening, whatever. Could be for any of our Onyx Path games, and the winner gets a $150 coupon!
The Fantastic Four! That’s my newly coined name (as of this blog) for our fantastic Onyx Pathcast hosts – which now includes Danielle Lauzon! Please join me in welcoming Danielle officially as the fourth host of our Pathcast, which we think will provide even more flexibility for our topics (and banter)!
Danielle’s first official session will be available this coming Friday- so we hope you’ll download and let us know what you think!
We talked a fair bit about the GAMA convention all next week, where we’ll be represented at the IPR booth and giving away copies of the freshly printed Storypath Ultra Brochure. If you want one of these physical copies of the newest iteration of the Storypath System – let your local game store know so they can snag you one!
We ALSO talked about this year’s OPP Con! More properly, the Onyx Path Virtual Convention to be held online from June 16th – 18th! I’ll be sharing more news as to what we’ll be doing, but figure on pulse-pounding panels, riveting reveals of upcoming projects, genuinely great gaming, and captivating chances to chat with your Onyx Path favorites!
Hope Stan appreciates all that awesome alliteration!
Finally, if you’ve missed the Comments section of the MMN from last week, you missed a very fun series of back and forth posts discussing the theoretical urban dark fantasy/horror game world that Onyx Path could potentially make – someday – and commenters letting me know their thoughts on our projects and this potential project, how WoD and CofD handled the themes and topics, and generally what they are into with supernatural games and media.
It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m hoping we can extend it into this week’s Comments – so previous posters, can you jump over here? And if you have thoughts and want to share them with me and your fellow posters – you are sincerely more than welcome!
C’mon down! Set aspell.
Y’all come back now, to:
MANY WORLDS, ONE PATH!
LAST FEW DAYS!!! The Trinity Continuum Player’s Guide funded in a tad over Four Hours on Crowdfunding On BackerKit, and we’re headed to 800 backers! Come join us and help us top that, and, of course, here come the Stretch Goals!
Here’s the link so you can join in:
Onyx Path Media!
Dixie and Eddy formally welcome Danielle as the fourth host of the Pathcast, and interview her about what she’s been doing lately, as well as some more chat about the Trinity Player’s Guide.
As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/
Onyx Path Media now has its own blog on Tuesdays! We’ll continue posting our highlight of the week here, but Tuesday will be the day to visit if you want to catch up on actual plays, interviews, deep dives, and other assorted Onyx Path media!
Please check out our attached media schedule for the videos on our Twitch channel this week! In particular, keep those eyes open for our Storypath Showcase, where we give an excellent profile of our various Storypath games and how to play them!
MEDIA HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK:
The wonderful Story Told RPG Podcast has recorded a wonderful episode all about the Book of Lasting Death for Mummy: The Curse 2e! You can find the podcast here – https://thestorytold.libsyn.com/episode-123-the-book-of-lasting-death – and the book here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/406043/The-Book-of-Lasting-Death?affiliate_id=13&src=OnyxPathWeds
The Onyx Path News discusses recent and upcoming releases! You can find it on our YouTube channel (click the bell to be informed when we go live!) but if you missed the last episode, here it is: https://youtube.com/live/O8ygaDg_Xyg
They Came From Beneath the Sea! on Roll20 VTT!
Here are some more shots from the They Came From Beneath the Sea! Compendium!
And there’s also the Scion Jumpstart, all ready for Roll20 VTT fun!
More news and links when we have them!
The Scion: Origin and Scion Hero Compendiums are now available on Roll20!
Scion is just the start! They Came From Beneath the Sea! and other
Onyx Path RPGs are in development for Roll20 virtual tabletop!
The first of our official Scion sheets designed for Foundry VTT are
Direct Link: https://foundryvtt.co
Looking for more virtual tabletop resources? We have a selection of
Tokens, Encounters, and more available now at DriveThruRPG!
Get ’em here: https://bit.ly/3SnrNJ7
Our Sales Partners!
We’re working with Studio2 to provide our traditionally printed books out into your local game stores. Game stores can order via their usual distributors, and can also contact Studio2 directly. And individuals can check out our projects via the links below!
Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books, dice, and screens? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/
As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles in PDF and PoD versions at DriveThruRPG.com!
Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble).
Check out Melody Through the Mirrorshade Lens and Facets of Truth , as well as Trinity Continuum: Terat and The Hollow Courts on Kindle in the Kindle store!
On Sale This Week!
Loyally devoted to their conspiracies, Devoted are valuable agents willing to go toe to toe against the Renegades! The PDF and PoD versions of The Devoted Companion for Deviant: The Renegades will be available Weds on DTRPG!
Also available this Wednesday on Roll20, VTT tokens for both Scarred Lands – Wise & Wicked and Scarred Lands – Blood Sea – official tokens for online play!
As we are slowly returning to attending conventions in person after the current COVID-19 outbreak, keep an eye out here for more physical and virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with!
Once again…the creature RISES! Here comes the Onyx Path Virtual Convention (June 16th – 18th)!! More news to come!!!
We’ll be at the IPR booth at the GAMA Trade Show April, 24th to 28th, so let your friendly local game store know that they can talk to us there! And if you ARE a retailer, we’d love to chat with you right there!
Game Night With Onyx Path Publishing at Start.Playing is the last Friday of every month! Come play some They Came From! in celebration of the upcoming They Came From…? KS! (But any of our game lines are welcome all day long!)
Please spread the word about GMing games as much as
possible. Details on how list a game are at the bottom of the page in
And now, the new project status updates!
Our full list of projects will be available monthly on our blog! Check out March’s full list report here:
DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM EDDY
Here are the projects that moved to the next stage of production:
Scion – Scion: God Player’s Guide
- Matthew: All the options you could want to make our already epic God game even more so! I love a book with additional tools for players, so I’m very much looking forward to this one.
Tasty Bit – Scion Demigod: Village
- Eddy: Redlines were done. Some really fun ideas here of a lost Welsh village and how it ties into The World. I can’t wait to see the final draft!
Exalted – Abyssals
- Danielle: Final drafts have escaped from the Underworld and now populate the developers’ desks.
TC: Aether – Aether Audiobook
- Eddy: Matthew has turned around a final draft of the audiobook script. Now for me to read it and start planning out the audio design!
They Came From! – They Came From…?
- Matthew: Our mysterious They Came From…! book approaches editing, but must first be carefully scrutinized by Rich. What genre do you think this game covers? Answers in the comments below, and a shiny penny to whomever guesses correctly!
Tasty Bit – TC: Aeon: Spaceship
- Eddy: I was pretty happy with the final draft of this, and it went through approvals very quickly! Now it’s off to editing.
Realms of Pugmire – Pugmire 2nd Edition
- Eddy: I haven’t cracked open the files yet, but I’m sure Dixie did her usual stellar editing job. She even made a lexicon for me! I’m going to carve out some time and go through it all again, word by word, to make absolutely sure it’s where I want it to be.
ART DIRECTION FROM MIKE CHANEY!
In Art Direction
- Ex3 Eight Directions – Sketches coming in… finals starting to trickle in.
- Ex3 Many Faced Strangers – The Art Chefs guys are working on this one next.
- TCF Cyclops Cave/Classified – I have Lee on Classified halves… but trying to think of another person to do some. I’m gonna see if anyone in his crew has a similar b&w style and is available.
- TCF ?– Larry’s fulls are in. Cover working. Other artwork is in progress… I’ll have more info from Maria later this evening on that.
- TM20 Lore of the Traditions – Last of the art is in the works.
- M20 Victorian Jumpstart – Contracting.
- SCION Once and Future – Reviewing finals and hopefully moving into the finish line.
- SCION Dragon Jumpstart – Art in progress.
- TC Anima – Most of the MMO art in.
- TC Assassins VTT Adventure – Difficulty with an artist. Trying to work it out.
- DTR Clade Companion – Figuring out an artist roster…
- W20 Icons of Rage – Getting notes over to Maria…
- MtAw Tome of the Pentacle – Started during AR proofing phases.
- Ex3 Crucible of Legends – Josh is working on it.
- W20 Howls of the Apocalypse – To Travis for layout.
- HTV Tending the Flame – Working on that this week.
- W20 Apocalyptic Record – God willing and if the river don’t rise, it’ll go to Paradox by end of the week.
- TC: Adventure! – PoD proofs on the way. Trad printing files prepping.
- Exalted Essence – Awaiting errata, the Indexing.
- M20 Victorian Age – At KS fulfiller.
- M20 Victorian Age Screen – At KS fulfillment shipper.
- Scion Dragon Screen – AT KS fulfillment shipper.
- Scion Dragon – At KS fulfiller.
- Scion Masks of the Mythos – At KS fulfiller.
- Scion Masks of the Mythos Screen – At KS fulfillment shipper.
- Storypath Ultra Brochure – At IPR and ready for GAMA.
- They Came From! Tasty Bit Compilation – Prepping PoD.
- Ex3 Surface Truths – PoD proof on the way.
- SL Vigil Watch Kelder Mtns – Inputting errata changes.
- TC Stampede of Justice (Adventure JS) – Errata being put in.
- DEVIANT Devoted Companion – PDF and PoD versions available on DTRPG this Weds!
Today’s Reason to Celebrate!
Today is International Bat Appreciation Day! “Bats contribute towards controlling pests, create rich fertilizer for landowners, and pollinate fruit and flowers.” And they almost never fly into your hair and definitely never cause Wanderers-style international plagues. Go bats!
79 responses to “TCPG on BK! [Monday Meeting Notes]”
About an urban fantasy gameline. I really do think a heavy emphasis on how the presences of Supernatural Beings such as Vampires,Werewolves,Wizards,Fair Folks ghosts and even less well know beings, affect the human world would be good. What if in this Urban Fantasy setting there was little in the way of vampire-only organisations and every vampire had a niche in the mundane world? What if wizards didn’t have a great congregation of wizards that only they could reach,but each wizard was tied to a mundane organisation?
That’s certainly a valid way to go. Now, would those be public-facing, like a vampire has to sit as a witness during a Congressional Oversight Committee representing their government agency? Or are they secretly part of our mundane orgs?
I am biased but I prefer the supernatural beings manipulating human organisations to their own ends,or helping those organisations from hidden corners
No worries – none of these discussions are anybody voting on a direction or anything more than exchanging ideas theoretically. Biases are welcome when it comes to what sort of setting you enjoy – like we’ve been discussing.
If you were to create a new Urban Fantasy line, there are lots of things I’d expect of it:
* First of all is to have the queerest developer and writers working on it.
* I would like it to be written with an even more leftist perspective than the CofD was/is.
* This game line would have to do away with most if not all WoD trappings. No “clans” or Werewolf “tribes” or reused names except maybe 1 or 2 that can’t be helped (like nosferatu).
* Ideally it should be either 1 game containing all of these supernaturals and their sub-mechanics while having an underlying common theme to all
very distinct mechanics to reflect each line’s themes (and no crossover compatibility at all due to it).
The latter would produce the best and most consistent games in terms of communicating their proposed experience.
I’ll second all of this, with a preference for the first option of #4 — I feel like “entirely separate games with distinct built-in moods” is pretty well covered by WoD/CoD and the indie market, and that doesn’t have as much appeal to me
Yep, as I noted in the earlier discussions, there’s some things we legally just can’t do, even if we wanted to. There’s copyrighted stuff that isn’t copyrighted to us and general stuff that would maybe suggest this new thing is connected to those old things – that suggestion is also bad legally, and also creatively, I think. So for both business and creative reasons, which are both important, we’d need to do our urban dark fantasy/horror thing as a clearly new game setting. For your either/or options, that would suggest the one book with all included, as I think the combination of WoD and CofD has plumbed various degrees of the separate game lines per supernatural. But maybe there’s a fresh take on focusing each line solely on the monster?
I agree with this, and I specifically would prefer option 2 of that fourth thing on the list. That is, if I had to pick between just those two options. As much as I like the idea of supernaturals being able to crossover, I think the themes of them can get diluted. I feel like I am in a slight minority (but hey I don’t know for sure) but I personally do not feel crossover is one of CofD’s strengths despite it being more mechanically possible.
Good comment overall! Like I said, I agree with most of it. We need more unique takes on vampires and werewolves. As a side note too, I think the idea of magicians would need to not be reality hackers. In theory it’s cool but, and this may be a hot take, I personally don’t necessarily think “mage” when I see the powers of either Mage gameline though I think Awakening is closest.
Seems like it depends on what the themes are to start with. How were they presented in the setting if the setting was, in fact, created with allowing each type of playable character type to exist? In WoD’s case, each game line (of the original five) was created to stand on its own. Only later was the WoD “umbrella brand” emphasized – this was a prime part of the Revised Editions. For CofD, crossover was more of a consideration, but I’d still say that it was a secondary or tertiary consideration at best. 5×5 splats per supernatural gave consistency to the lines, but ultimately felt like it was too artificial for a setting, even if it worked as game rules for ease of grasping that this was indeed a World of Darkness (nWod, CofD) game. So all that to ask, is it possible to start creating your Urban Dark Fantasy/Horror setting with understood ecosystems for each type of supernatural you can play worked out so as not to dilute the themes?
I think it is possible, thinking more about it. Humans coexist (well we try to anyways) with each other despite differences in culture, so it would feel perhaps more organic if there was a world where all these supernatural types coexisted. I do agree that 5 X 5 splats does feel a little artificial but it does help with clarity.
As for themes, well, it can be tricky. To use two examples I keep using because I am more familiar with them, we can look at vampires and at werewolves.
When I think of vampires I think of the monstrous hunger for blood, dark gothic romance, deceit as an everyday occurrence, the balance between your old morality and your new reality, and other such things. I think of political maneuvering, having terrifying power over the living, and hiding in plain sight. Before I forget, I think some interesting twists on the daylight weakness would be interesting. Instead of burning in the sun, or having to sleep like a rock, maybe vampires are only lethargic and can’t use their powers when the sun is up, which could provide some tense moments when their enemies are hunting them but the vampires need to go out in the day for something they cannot afford to miss.
When I think of werewolves, I think of the thrill of the hunt (and I daresay it’s hard to see this as a risky copycat idea because other media like the Elder Scrolls heavily involves the hunt with its werecreatures, since their creator is a god of the hunt), the pack as family/team/friends, the struggle to keep your secret from your loved ones, protecting what is yours, and probably others I will remember after I post this reply. I think of werewolves being freaking badass monsters that can go head-to-head against other monsters. One of my all time favorite guilty pleasure movies was the 2004 Van Helsing movie. I love the final scene of werewolf Hugh Jackman brawling with bat-monster Dracula. You root for the wolf, even if he is ferocious and could be dangerous to you too. There’s something so satisfying about werewolves standing against other horrors. However its done, that is what I want from a werewolf game for sure.
To bring this all together, yes in theory I do think it is possible to let each of these monsters share this world and keep to their own niches and themes. The problem lies in mixing parties of both in a game when each supernatural type is so tied up in their own particular quirks. A vampire who likes to chase their blood meal just doesn’t feel quite the same as a werewolf tearing through a back alley to bring down the asshole who threatened their territory. If werewolves are to specialize in physical pursuits like hunting and battle, they are pre-disposed to it and that’s arguably what a werewolf game “should” involve (I stress that “should” is a strong word and there is no one right way to do things). But if the vampires are more oriented to social barbs and political battles while the werewolves are really good at hunting targets to bring them down, you will at least have to split the game between more subtle forms of conflict between characters and more overt conflict involving brutal physical combat to keep everyone at the table engaged. The last thing I would want as a big fan of a political vampire game is having to go through a lot of combat encounters like it’s D&D. Conversely, the last thing I would want as a big fan of an adrenaline-triggering werewolf game would be to have my werewolf sit around and only do what werewolves are really good at doing maybe 20% of the time while the party engages in constant politics. This is not to say that either vampires or werewolves are one-note and can only do one thing well, being able to do more than just what you’re good at is cool and realistic.
I guess what I am getting at here is that if you can put these beings in the same world together, then that is fine. But how do you keep things fun for everyone in an actual game when the common themes of each creature, while having the chance to be similar, are often different. CofD’s way makes sense in that vampires, werewolves, mages, etc. all have their own problems, so they don’t worry about anyone else’s. While they can all work together, they rarely do so because they each have so many different problems of their own to worry about. They keep to themselves and that honestly makes sense. And I like to know the ins and outs of the specific supernatural beings, which you can’t necessarily do in a theoretical book that throws them all into the pool at once to be used as character options. There might be space for some paragraphs about how werewolves hunt and keep territories and tell stories of their past, while vampires have existed for millennia, hiding among humans and forming their own shadow governments. But that might be all a core book would get if each supernatural type was to get equally covered in one book. This is why I lean towards each supernatural getting its own focus, because you can expand each theme for that supernatural to their maximum potentials and get into some really cool and creative places.
I probably have more to say but I need to end this before this gets way more ludicrously long than it already has. 🙂
I like the suggestion that Vampires are weaker during the day and without access to their powers. That could lead to some tense encounters where Vampires are in a situation near dusk and they must engage with the scenario as a mortal would while they count down until their powers kick in and they can act as they wish.
I’ve often thought that an interesting new take on exploring playable Vampires would be a mechanic that focuses less on loss of control to the Beast, but rather a loss of connection to your old life. As you use Vampiric abilities more and more you lose connection to and memories of your old life.
Make the player trade who their character is for what their character can do. Using a power like celerity becomes a harder choice if you know that you might forget or stop caring about one of your children when you do it.
Good examples of ways to shift some of the aspects we expect from vampires, but without directly contradicting our overall media-based knowledge of them. In fact, wasn’t Dracula shown as weakened during the day but “unholy” at night in the novel, I think so but it’s been a few years since I reread the book. Since we probably wouldn’t want to or be able to use the Beast anyway, your idea gets to the heart of it but from another direction – nice.
It’s sort of the contrast between our core expectations for each type of creature, what would be fun/satisfying to play with each type of creature, what we have previously played with them, and what is appropriate for this new setting. Maybe somewhere in that Venn diagram of a game is a sweet spot where they all overlap, maybe we only get two or three. Is that enough to get folks interested?
“First of all is to have the queerest developer and writers working on it.”
Is that really important?
Absolutely. This is Onyx Path.
Yes. Okay. But WHY is the sexuality of the developer important to write a book about monsters who feed, kill and destroy?
To make sure the “monsters” are both sympathetic and destroying the most satisfying targets, obviously. Punching up is always more interesting than punching down as a literary trope.
Essentially, if you’re playing a monster with whom you can’t relate, there’s no point in making a monster game. I wasn’t there to create it, but as a player from 1999 on its why WoD appealed to my weird, queer, goth and punk self.
Hope this helps!
I am holding out for a Trinity Continuum sub-game ala Assassins, dealing with a dimension in the Continuum where the supernatural is real. Something that could be plugged into the rest of the TC continuum.
I’m glad you enjoy the Trinity Continuum, but such a setting, at least an officially-supported one, is unlikely.
Nearly every game Onyx Path makes invokes magic and the supernatural somehow. While there’s some stuff which mimics that, the Trinity Continuum is explicitly a sci-fi-oriented setting without a supernatural world.
As Ian points out, the Trinity Continuum is a consistent setting, even if there are all sorts of possible worlds that connect to each other via the Continuum. I’m sure we could come up with some method of empowering supernatural creatures and powers that still worked in the setting, but then whatever we came up with would be constrained by having to make it work by those external needs rather than creating something directly engaged with urban dark/fantasy/horror. So really, that’s a whole ‘nother conversation to have.
They Came From? The Wild Alien Frontier…play your space shows like Star Trek, etc.
For some reason Wild Alien Frontier made me think of Wild West mixed with space exploration, and I got the Specter of the Gun episode of Star Trek the original series jammed in my head. Probably not what you were actually describing! 🙂
Certainly a better reference than Cowboys vs. Aliens.
I always get to these things when there’s but one comment if that. Didn’t see any of the conversations last week. As some pointed out we do have a Storypath Urban Fantasy game, which even has a horror supplement. But on the other hand, I’d love to see a new take on the darker vibe a la WoD and CofD. And there’s a part of me that would find it interesting to do a monsters are around us Dark Urban Fantasy style setting without a masquerade. Or something. There are so many takes on the our world, but darker theme, there’s a place where OPP could find a niche separate from the games what come before, but also strike out in a different direction than Scion. I suppose one question is whether that’s a direction you all want to delve into. With things like the World Below coming out you could just make a totally new niche instead of finding your way to get something in the niche you once inhabited. Now I’m kinda circling into weird thoughts, but I’m always at least interested to see what you do.
Well, in a Scion mode of thinking for a minute, would we be talking about a horror game in a setting like The World in Scion? Supernatural creatures existing openly – “that’s a legit vampire club and there are laws for how much blood they can drain from human patrons” sort of thing? We’ve actually had a fair amount of previous Scion fans talk to us about how they prefer Scion 1e’s hidden mythological beasties to The World’s openness, so I’m wondering if an open setting is more urban dark fantasy, and a hidden setting is more horror?
As for whether we should just keep breaking new ground with our games, I can’t see us not doing that, regardless of whether we someday do our own horror setting. There’s certainly an element of “doing that voodoo that we do so well” when looking at a game that is specifically horror oriented, as so many of our creators and fans started with games in that genre.
I kind of like how the Dresden Files does it, where the Supernatural doesn’t really make a huge effort to hide itself, but mortals are quick to bury their heads in the sand and ignore all the strange going on around them.
Since I know you know Scion 2e, there really are a lot of different settings to those dials that can work in the proper framework – and in this and many cases if there’s just the slightest reason that holds water for it not being out in the open. Willing suspension of disbelief has to be a thing, because most – and I do say most – of us would not actually believe in the level of supernatural that exists in these game (fiction, TV, film) worlds.
Urban Fantasy isn’t my favorite genre, but it could be an interesting vehicle for Zilaenor’s favorite thing: Storypath crossovers! On the face, you could simply have a Scion: Origin supplement, leaning into the idea of Scale and mythic power being a thing you *face* rather than a thing you *have*. But, of course, what would UF be without the Quips, so you gotta have some TCF in there. On the other hand, TC has an ever-growing well of mostly-human content.
Reading through the lore & metaplot discussion from last week, my take:
I like a light touch in the core books, where “I want these powers” is mostly divorced from the sorts of history, allies, & enemies I have.
Then, separate books outlining 1+ campaign settings that give stronger guidance. Still including enough mechanical reverse-fluff to sell it to people who don’t want to play in the specific setting.
This structure makes it easier for me to build my own world, because I have both a relatively bland foundation and an example of how to build on top of it. Personally, I usually layer pieces of my favorite novels, but have been disappointed by most Official RPG Adaptations I’ve gotten, even when technically strong.
Absolutely. As a publisher, I always want us to be aware of the different ways that folks use and enjoy our stuff. Essentially, you’re looking for inspiration from the published game, and bits you can pull into your own world. For others, it’s a strong setting that they can immerse themselves in, for either playing in or reading (or both). And for others still, they need a combo of rules and setting that work off of each other to pull them in. All legit, and all something we need to be aware of as we make new games and books. Not every game line will approach solving that the same way, but it is worth us keeping such things in mind as we design.
Sure, something that pulls from X,Y,Z that we’ve already done is a possibility. For crossovers of gamelines, that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at tightening up the Storypath System with Ultra, so that there is a very clear base system behind all the game lines, which then will allow a very clear demarcation point of customizing the official rules for us (like adding Quips in They Came From games), and which will make it easier for homebrewing and pulling in elements from other SPU games.
I am all for you guys to make a new urban fantasy line with a darker tone. Doing some of the “classic” horror tropes of shapeshifters and vampires and the like. I think you guys have proven that you can write quality products.
What would I like to see? The main thing is to avoid the chance to break the cosmos as a player or else influence entire countries and the like. Try to avoid the height of power stuff that was in WoD. I like the power levels of CoD.
I would also like for you guys to add in a conversion to Storypath if you do use a different ruleset from Storypath Ultra. That way my players can keep to the same system.
The Storypath Ultra Brochure contains specific (and pretty extensive) conversion notes for each of the current SP game lines in the back, so not sure if they are written as flowing both ways, but you should be able to see how it would go. And really, Ultra isn’t a totally new take on a dice-pool system, it’s a tweaking and cleaning up of Storypath, so you’re not looking at needing the Rosetta Stone to understand it.
…Wait, I thought Many Faced Strangers was already in Layout? Why is it back in Art Direction?
Because we needed more art.
More Lunar-centric art sounds delightful!
I’m over the moon about it!
Urban fantasy is a fun genre for sure. I’d be interested in seeing a world where things are a bit more integrated and understood. The Masquerade and all the other veils of secrecy are all good fun and all, but it’s been done. Having a world where it’s well documented that the supernatural is real would be a different change of pace – which isn’t to say i want Werewolf baristas and vampiric firefighters – having individual monsters hide away because they know peoples reactions, or know they’d be hunted because of how well know each supernatural curse is is new ground.
These days, there’s “well documented” and then there’s well documented. Do most people believe in ghosts and angels and/or demons right now in our world? In magic, in curses? How far past where we are belief-wise do we need to go for a world where folks “know” that there are Fae and Vampires and Werewolves? One of the questions I have each time somebody mentions opening up the awareness of the supernatural in a possible game world is how far we can go before we lose that connectivity to our actual world that I think works for a lot of our community. When does the setting become just another made-up fictional world?
It’s a good point. I think a lot of it depends on how recent the “discovery” was. If it happened centuries ago, and was entrenched, you get a very different experience to if they were discovered in say, the 80s. The other aspect would be how integrated they are into everyday life – i don’t think that i’d personally want it integrated to the extent of the movie “Bright”.
It does indeed depend, especially with the design end of world-building, even if you hide 99% of it! Our life openly ruled by monsters throughout history is actually a pretty interesting concept, although maybe too close to the real world. 😉
There would also be the option to go weird, like Welcome to Nightvale, Fallen London, Sunless Sea/Skies and Cultist Simulator. Maybe have the supernatural come to light and people include the occult into their lifes.
Yep, and those are really fun directions. Now, to be honest, I really liked Nightvale when it felt more constrained to one very odd little town, but that was early on. I guess that’s more overt with a protective coating of weird so really normal folks just don’t pay any attention? Again, when do we go from Urban Dark Fantasy/Horror to Weird Horror? Maybe it’s not even important – although the reading and enjoyment of something like this is pretty different than the creation of such settings for gaming – and so establishing what’s what is necessary if you don’t want your game to slop all over the place in ways that your audience can’t get a hold of themselves. Gaming design is collaborative with your audience in a very weird way…
I always got the impression that CofD was positively very open about explanations for the weird. Encountering a life energy sucking creature could be explanied by VtR vampires, spirit possesed mortal, certain Changeling kiths and all of them were true and not even the limit. Often we wouldn’t learn the truth. But I see your point.
(You did incredible work on the CofD, so it is hard to seperate my train of thought from it.)
Let’s try another angle. What am I looking for in my rpgs right now?
More on the rules light side, concentrating on the story and drama less on organazing rules, conditions, effects etc.
I grew up on The Dark Eye, that game has a running metaplot for 30 years still counting. It got too much for me, but I enjoy a continued story. I’d love to have some lore and overarching story with reoccuring characters for my game. Maybe a possible metaplot could be delivered in separate campaign sandbox books. (I know, scenario books don’t sell so well, but in Germany setting books seem to sell ok.) Instead of delivering full campaings these books could contain places, characters, schemes and events to use in your home campaign. Highly adaptable to the own table. The central events of the book could establish the meta plot. Have you experimented with this idea or are there already a ton of products like this, that I am just not aware of (bc I never played WoD)?
What else? I want a game, in which I can get into facetts of my personality, that I can’t explore in rl. I want to got dark and have brilliant moments of being the unrestraint best version of myself. As a ST I want thick and heavy atmosphere, I want to know what buttons I can push savely and get all the emotions.
I think, I am looking for the central idea or theme for a new urban fantasy setting.
Fallen London pulls the occult into the open kicking and screaming. (The story starts with bats stealing London. One can sell their own soul at the brass embassy to the devils. Fleeting memories are tradeable items.)
Took a break to discuss the topic with my partner. Maybe it is the way to go “public” with magic and occult like in True Blood. Of course not all supernatural communities want to be discovered, especially with all the missinformation going round. Hiding from the public eye becomes very active and there is no magical mist hiding my troll form from crazy racists.
Those you brought the supernatural into the spotlight are those who are rich and safe. The others are left to struggel. It is a question of for what people is the world (still) a save place. And I’d like to say, that is a question many people are asking themselves right now.
To tone down on “Well we got Mages that can throw the sun at their enemies and can just teleport into the white house.” Let’s make magic prizy; both in personal sacrifice and real money. You got your billioneer wizzards, that creat astral lines of satellites to show off who got the biggest car in space, completely disconnected from people who practice simple protection magic, charms and divinition out of a school bag, just to not have their ride break down.
Your friend spent to much time with the wrong croud and became a unreliable and maybe even devious leech? I think, there are a few people who can relate with that right now.
So how far out in the open are we talking?
There are lobbyist groups run by vampires, everyone is sure of that. But what can you do? Eat all their money? That one govenour might employ alchemy on his ralleys to give the mood just an extra kick. At this point anything can be declared an opinion or alternate fact. Making this a theme for the game grounds it very much in our world (and our real world horrors.)
First off- thanks for your compliment on CofD! Very much appreciated! We very much wanted, both editions, to leave space for the unusual, the undefined, and the weird. At the same time for CofD, there was a challenge in providing any alternatives and context for the rest of the setting, and I think folks felt that strongly. Maybe one way to phrase it was that you were given the tools to build your own things, but not enough background so that you knew where to place what you built. And I think that applies to Storytellers with their chronicles as well as players with their characters. That so many folks were able to adopt and adapt to that kind of experience after WoD is really a testament to gamer imagination. Give us lemons, and we’ll build a flying car! (While drinking lemonade – building flying cars is thirsty work).
The public awareness thing, as I note further down in the comments, is clearly really important to our audience. But how accepting folks are to a world where everybody knows about the supernatural, in terms of such a setting no longer actually being our real world, is another thing to consider as a designer. If somebody has been playing/reading about all these “secret world” style games for decades, they may indeed be tired of yet another one. Yet there’s reasonable evidence from others in our community that not playing in the closest possible version of our real world shifts the experience into fantasy – and they don’t want that. I know for a fact that there are many Scion fans that started with first edition’s hidden world who are not at all fond of the open The World as a setting. So, it’s a thing to continue to be considered.
Trinity Adventure is so close to being done. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m thinking of a campaign opening adventure inspired by the Business Plot.
You’re going to be darn happy in May!
Besides CofD I enjoy the Sorcerer RPG and KULT. So from a rules perspective I like very rules-light systems.
I have not yet understood if you are looking for a Storypath based game, or a new rule set for this new Urban Fantasy setting.
But something that no rule set ever nailed to my perfect happyness is Sanity/Humanity (or whatevery you call it).
For me playing an Urban Fantasy game the mental and emotional state of the character is a big source of personal horror and drive.
My first rough idea about such a system:
– there is some kind of measurement on how well you function in the “normal society”
– when you become less of a “normal human” you develop mental/social/physical quirks that make it harder for you to “fit in” and interact with people that are not accustomed to this.
– so instead of a 1-10 scale you get tags, which come with different bonuses/maluses to social interaction
– of course there could be individuals or social groups where certain “negative” tags are considered normal, or even positive.
Due to repeated acts of violence a character gets the tag “aura of violence”. When doing their groceries people start to avoid him and the mall cops are checking him out.
When meeting with some thugs in a dark alley the same tag gives him some street cred and makes it even easier to strike a deal.
With a system like that all the different moral systems of the WoD could be replaced. As well as a “Call of Cthulhu”/KULT style mental stabilty system.
Some more ideas for the tags:
When a Vampire gets more powerful he has to take a tag from a list of things like:
– extreme pale, hungry stare, not blinking, smells of decay
More general tags:
– narcism, no respect for personal space, agoraphobia, racism,
These tags come in different levels of severity, and there could be more severe versions that can be selected in succession.
All in all it would be great to have some generic system for all types of characters that shows how well they function in the normal, human society – and that shows that when you move away from human society (by becoming more of a monster, enaging in violence and anti-social behavior or ascending to a higher state of conciousness) you loose touch with it.
Just to be sure I’m on the same page with you, you see Kult and CofD as very rules-light? People’s definitions vary wildly, so just checking. No wrong answers. For us, I do think we’d be looking at an existing “house system” rather than going back to that well once again, but who know? A “fitting-in scale” with ramifications, might be a reasonable alternative to variants of sanity scales and the like, but you’d have to do it in such a way that you weren’t connecting to actual human physical or mental states. Since the goal is personal horror, that can be tough to do.
I have a very different perception of CofD. It is not rules light in my eyes.I can summarize all Systems from Vaesen or Heart the City beneath on one Page. Can’t do that with CofD.
I see “KULT: Divinity Lost” as very rules light. I see CofD as rules mid-heavy (definitive improvement to oWoD, but with Mage 2nd Ed. you got a bit overboard with rules details.)
I personally would prefer something a bit lighter than CofD (a bit fewer skills, a bit more streamlined supernatural powers, get rid of the grappling rules).
Ok, we are on the same page then. 😉
For me, the most important thing in urban fantasy, is the balance between reality and the fantastical. In our group, we have been playing a homebrew called rebirth – It is based on the novel the reincarnation papers. It is based on the idea, that the players starts to experience glimpses from former lifes. we have slowley expanded it, so the first part of the chronicle, the players are send around in europe, to figure out the clues they gained from theire former life experience. second part of the chronicle, is the awakening of different occult powers, and a lot of different secret societys hunting them, to gain some of their special energy and knowledge. It is dipped very much in occult mystery, with templars and other kind of secret socitys hunting the players, but also with a lot of flash backs to former lifes in different time areas. To be honest, we have, in my rpg group, been playing different world of darkness games since the early nineties, and are quite allergic to the repetition with vampires, werewolves, Harry Dresden and so on. So it would be great, with a game, where it would be another take, but with the rich culture and mythology of the world of darkness – that is where we got the idea of former life’s from. I would also mention, that mask of mythos is a stroke of genius, and it is a shame, after my opinion, that it isn’t, a independent game line – I could imagine all the expansion books it could provide also the special take, that you are not just cthulhu investigators, But Investigators touched by the mythos – my favorite book in the scion game line so far.
Very interesting gaming you’re all having- congrats! It sounds like your group found the right game to engage them! Let’s hope that anything we could come up with would indeed provide that dark depth you’ve been enjoying with your game. Awesome that you’re loving Masks of the Mythos – we certainly think it is great, as well! Since the impetus for it was to provide an alternative way of playing Scion, we designed it to go with the whole many pantheons thing, but there’s nothing wrong with dropping everything but the Mythos parts and diving in.
What a fantastic topic of discussion! Allow me to join in!
1. Crossover that allows cultures and themes to shine:
I think the premise is key. For this, I am thinking back to Teal’c from Star Gate and Worf from Star Trek. They aren’t human, they have their own cultures and it colors every single scene they are in. The thing is that they are part of an organisation that is bigger than themselves. The Klingons are still out there, causing trouble, and we get entire klingon episodes delving very deeply into klingong themes and cultures. For a game, an organisation like the Talamasca, or the Federal Bureau of Control could employ vampires and werewolves who have proven themselves. This allows a team of players to have humans, vampires, werewolves, psychics and whatnot to work together towards a common goal. Each of these players can have the flavor of what they are and whenever a field mission takes the team out to deal with an out of control elder vampire or broker peace between the Werewolves and the fae of Boston, that’s when the spotlight is put squarely on their themes and cultures. Cause we’re on their turfs now.
2. Rules light:
As light as rules can be. I love how in DnD I choose a class, then a specialisation and make a couple choice along the way. I would do the same here. A character whose a werewolf could choose to be specialize in shapeshifting and, say, diplomacy and progress in each of those skills, making choices along the way. Everything they need included in the skill’s wide selection. They get to pimp out their monstrous shape and hulk out, do you want more strength or opposable thumbs? You wanna upgrade your wolf shape instead? Sure, wanna get lean with +2 stealth or develop a clenching jaw? You’d like more control on when you shift? Alright, you can now shift as long as it’s night or if someone you care for was hurt. Quick simple check marks on a skill tree and job’s done. You know what you have, what you can do and what you can unlock with a glance.
3. People in the know:
I think it’s often best when people don’t know about supernatural, but it’s also hard to believe no one does when there’s so much of it. I’d go with a lot of people know, and in general try to protect the rest by keeping it secret. In the field, you’d usually deal with people who know, other agents, allies or straight up vampires, but “civilians” you’d usually try to keep in the dark. And if they find out, then… it happens. Think the show supernatural, a hell of a lot of people have seen things, doesn’t mean they know everything, and most people don’t know. Mascarades and death to all who tell the tale has been done to death.
4. Mission based gameplay
Going in the field on assigned mission allows the DM to tailor the game easily. Examples above mentioned it would be sad for a werewolf player if the crew only did politics, and such. If the team goes where the organisation sends them, the ST can make sure to keep it varied and give all players their time to shine.
If the players are “in control”, where’s the horror? Well, there’s no rule that says the horror must come from one’s nature. And if I’m being honest, that’s been done a lot as well. I’d say in a game like this, the horror would be coming in from outside of the organisation and from things even they don’t know. Just because the player vampire is a decent person, doesn’t mean their maker is. Or that factions within the culture isn’t horrific. And in a world where vampires, werewolves and such are a known element, whatever’s still unknown, whatever’s even worse out there, whatever makes them quake in fear, is prime real estate for horror.
Even for your supernatural abilities I’d like to have an open list.
I prefer to have individual monsters and not have people say “look it’s a Vampire it will drink your blood”.
If you have an ability that allows to “fuel your abilities with stolen energy”. This could mean all sorts of things.
You could be a succubus sucking out the life force with sex, or a hightmare drinking the fear you are causing to a sleeper.
If you don’t mind my asking, I’m wondering if your interest comes from having a lot of exposure to the more codified supernatural characters. Are you a long-time WoD or CofD, or other horror game fan?
I’m 44 years old and I’m enjoying TTRPGs for around 33 year now. I got into Horror RPGs with KULT at the age of 16 and discovered Vampire a few years later.
Then I fell for the WoD. I owned a lot of oWoD books and now I ensure to own at least the main source book for every CofD line. Horror is my favorite kind of RPG experience as it gives me the chance to experience extreme emotional states in the safety of a “virtual environment”. I still play fantasy RPGs sometimes, but the experience that gives me feels bland compared to the emotional impact Horror can have. Nowadays I’m mostly the GM – as few other people can create the level of intensity that I enjoy.
A really engaging RPG experience is the thing I’m looking forward to for months. With wife, kinds and job I have only time for a 8 hour session like that every 2-3 months …
I also enjoy tweaking mechanics and thinking about the inner workings of an RPG to best fit my needs. I wrote hundreds of pages for oWoD -> CofD conversions and home-brew variants of rules.
Over time I became more and more aware that mechanics should be as much in the background as possible without prohibiting things like the feeling of advancement over time (I don’t like the cypher system for example as there is to little advancement for the characters imho).
I also did crossover of multiple WoD lines pretty much from the beginning. I like that every player can select the type of monster that feels best to them. And I love the culture clash that happens.
I created a setting in Vancouver where we played in for over 12 years with over 30 NPCs with ovn agendas and personalities – but always without detailed stats as I usually improvise the abilities of an NPC whenever needed.
So long answer short – I know pretty much every WoD rule from the mid-90ies on AND I play other Horror RPGs as well. 😉
I would be honored if you want to contact me
Hi Y! Good to hear from you!
Lots of great points – in fact, five points – that I do think are important when considering how to develop something new in the horror-esque genre.
#1: If the game was about a variety of supernatural characters in a single world, then #1 is ultra-important, but even if you are only intending on a werewolf game and setting you’d want to flesh out the “ecosystems” for other supernatural creatures if they existed at all.
#2: I’m starting to feel that the term rules-light is becoming meaningless through having too many definitions. Everybody has a different take on exactly what it means. Now if you are saying less rules need to be referenced during regular play, or less dice need to be rolled, or no charts, or only charts, or everything is just quicker, then that gives us a concrete idea about what you’re looking for that is your rules-light and we can compare it to ours. And, of course, then game designers need to either listen to rules-light folks and then stop adding rules details, or listen to the folks out there who ask us for more rules to give them data to work with. Not easy.
#3: This seems to be a big thing for folks, and IMHO it shouldn’t be. I mean, if the game says the monsters are secret – for whatever reason they give – why not just accept it and move on to playing? It’s a trope and you need to in place in order to play as intended. Let it go. But, since this does come up a lot, A LOT, the very fact that it does indicates that it’s something that pulls people up short and breaks immersion. Maybe we want our monsters but they can’t be scary if their existence doesn’t make sense to us. Break the willing suspension of disbelief and the tension is gone? It’s definitely something that we need to consider in designing a horror game.
#4: Conceptually, I agree. In fact, I think both WW Vampire games were easier to get into for players in part because there’s a built-in mission for every vampire: you need blood, tonight! Sure, that’s also something that folks blink through once they’ve established other things their characters are up to, but it’s there and it’s clear so there’s never a night a vampire is at a loss for something to do, and their GM has that as a springboard in the same way as the hooded stranger in the tavern can give your elf and dwarf a dungeon delve. The balance you need to keep, again IMHO, is between every chronicle being a mission, and not allowing a waste of game night because everybody is lost for what to do.
#5: Yes. In fact, I seem to recall a definition that said that terror is internal fear, and horror is external fear. For what that’s worth!
As a further comment, I have only limited experience with Storypath, from Scion 2E specifically, but I think the path system would greatly streamline things for a new game, including Urban Horror/Fantasy. And you can really let players get creative with different path options in order to let people build their unique characters. This could help with giving players chances to be part of the world.
I am sure this has been commented before but per the idea of breaking away as much as possible from CofD and WoD, universal factions for the various characters might work best, especially local ones. CofD did a good job with making sure its Covenants and Tribes did not have like, some boss half a world away you had to report to, but further breaking up of the faction idea could help. Instead of tribes for werewolves, they only form packs, and that is the center of their social organization. Maybe some packs are just five werewolves in one area, meanwhile there are some packs that are practically empires in some regions. Same with vampires, perhaps there is a small club in a small town of only ten vampires, but over in San Francisco, there is a huge blood government with a strict hierarchy. A theoretical book could provide examples or such groups and different sizes they can be, while having a section for GMs to build their own for their players. Rich mentioned something about 5 x 5 options for splats felt a bit artificial, so maybe putting a true emphasis on local, organic traditions is what is needed, and these organizations could provide scaling benefits depending on how big or well-equipped they are. People would essentially get to decide what their factions are at their tables. The obvious disadvantage here is that this may not appeal to people who would rather have more factions that are set-in-stone and more well-known across the world to just have at the ready, but that has been done at least twice with WoD and even CofD to some extent.
I guess we could create a bespoke system for a potential urban dark fantasy/horror line, but that’d kind of run counter from our current efforts to tweak Storypath to something more standardized with Ultra. That leaves us with two versions of Storypath and the Onyx20 system for our games that use d20s and other polyhedrals, and right now we still need to see if having three “house systems” is workable for us.
In terms of just how big your connections and orgs are, I think that there seems to be a wide range just through the WW games, but also an interest from folks in the depth that those big, ancient, international groups bring to the table. They captivate players – and on a big picture level, they provide world-wide players a common pool of discussion points. Your Consortium of Evil Geniuses is different than my Consortium of Evil Geniuses works great table by table, but is less useful if you’re playing with strangers and you need some common background, and that goes x10 for player with folks from around the world. At least that’s been what folks have told me over the decades. Maybe, ideally, you have a mix with space built in for those smaller, local, groups, and the big baddies are a consistent backdrop everyone can be familiar with? Worth exploring, certainly!
Thank you for understanding my point despite a rather glaring typo I made!
Oh I would not think an urban horror/fantasy system would need a separate system. I suppose I am misunderstanding something but it may be because I only know the Storypath system from Scion 2E so I am a bit in the dark about Ultra and the other systems used by OPP! I would assume, though, that a system more in line with what OPP is currently using or planning to use would be more useful, unless again I am misunderstanding your point.
As for the organizations, lacking a common anchor point is a fair consideration. I can see maybe broad “political” leanings that have a worldwide community as being more realistic than one organization somehow having territories across the globe, but I guess it becomes difficult to make that concrete and exciting enough for players to engage in.
Just want to duck in here briefly – as we’re spending this weekend painting the kitchen – to run down the systems I was talking about so folks don’t have to go digging through the past Monday Meeting Notes blogs where I have previously detailed them.
Right now, our “house system” is the Storypath System, a 10-sided dice pool system that we use for Scion 2e, the Trinity Continuum, They Came From! games, and Dystopia Rising: Evolution. Each of the lines has a slightly different or expanded version of the system as we were still stretching it to see what it could do. Storypath went live over five years ago, but we were working on it for a couple of years before that.
Storypath Ultra is the result of us taking all those years of playing and designing and reviewing and refining Storypath to a leaner and, we hope, even easier to play system. Still 10-sided dice pool, still rolling at a target number. Ultra premieres as a physical brochure available at the IPR booth during next week’s GAMA convention. The con’s for retailers and distributors, so if you want to be sure of getting a physical copy, let your local game store know and maybe they can get you one. Ultimately, the brochure will be available to the public as a PDF at least. The first game where you’ll be able to see it in action is The World Below, where you can see how it handles the fantasy genre and magic.
Onyx20 is our in-house system that uses d20s and other polyhedral dice ala many other games out there including the 8000 pound gorilla of TTRPGs – D&D. We were already working on it when the whole OGL debacle with Hasbro happened, so a lot of folks may not have heard of it in the midst of all the noise. Right now, only Realms of Pugmire (Pugmire 2e) uses it, but it’ll be our d20 system of choice moving forward!
Hoping against hope that the review of the finals for Once and Future goes quickly so it can dive headfirst into layout. The Mabinogi can’t come soon enough!
As always, keep an eye out on this very blog each week – or at least monthly with Ian’s Release Round-Up blog on the last day of each month. And if you want both those blogs as well as any other, the Onyx Path Mailing List is the easy way to get the blogs automatically emailed to you. Just sign up by clicking on that box on the right side of our webpage. (I’m hoping this rolls along fast, too – I just handed over the symbol for it to Mirthful Mike!)
I don’t envy you trying to create an original urban fantasy game. There are so many urban fantasy properties/fictions out there (WoD, Witchcraft, Anita Blake, Dresden Files, Rivers of London, etc), that it will be hard to avoid being derivative.
Rules wise, if using Storypath, I feel like Scion has a good foundation with its use of denizens. Treat each supernatural splat as a type of denizen and expand on that.
There’s Original, and then there’s original. 😉 And what value are you getting from something so Original that no one is engaged by it because they can’t relate to the Hat Vampires of Old Transylvania? Clan Fedora is kind of creepy, but look out for those pretentious Clan Beret vampires! But just doing reskins of other folks’ creative material is just not appealing either. So yep, if we someday did an urban fantasy/horror game, the rules combined with the setting would need to feel different and fresh, but not so far away from things that players could recognize – so that they’d have some deeper resonance with the characters.
One thought about rules:
I always loved the idea of the Sorcerer RPG and “On the Edge” that there are no real skills, but professions, hobbies and jobs (with a value on how good you are with it).
So when you do something you can tell how this falls under the purview of you job or hobby anf the use that value – if not just roll on the attribute.
Absolutely one way to do it that makes a lot of sense as opposed to the more laundry-list approach of listing individual skills (etc) and trying to decide which one your activity falls under. Of course, I also would expect other kinds of arguments at the table: “What do you man you can use your profession for this Riding roll? You’re a dentist!” “A dentist for a carnival where I did trick riding dental procedures under the big top!”
Hmm, some thoughts:
* The “pretty penny” line makes me say that the new TCF is “Dickensian fiction”, street urchins, working class blokes, and rich misers dealing with haunting ghosts and unscrupulous landlords and factory owners.
* For Urban Fantasy, a dream would be that OPP manages to buy CofD out from under WoD in paradox and then does a third edition that keeps it’s uniqueness and drops everything that ties it to WoD. But more realistically, it’s almost too big of a question, as others noted, there is some Urban Horror already with Scion, TC: Aether, and even TCFBtG! So, really it would come down to what a Developer wants to make, if someone at OPP has a strong idea for anything than that is the direction that’s good.
First off – WOW this Comments section has exploded! Thanks to everybody who has sent over their thoughts and ideas – I hope you’re all enjoying reading these different viewpoints as much as I am! Also, I’ll be working my way back up the stream from here, so bear with me as I wade up the metaphorical river.
I think a lot of folks trying to get by in our modern world can see similarities with Dickensian London, so that’s not surprising. After all, he did a fair bit exposing the iniquities of London and society at that time.
That’s would only happen if Paradox has a change of heart for a deal like that, so… we really do have to focus our speculations on what Onyx can do itself. Thanks so much for your vote of confidence!
An urban fantasy scenario that is alternative to the WoD and CofD ? It could be a world where supernatural creatures reign over the human populace. Human beings choose to become monsters themselves, through the use of technology, genetic engineering or by paranormal means, in order to retake the world from their conquerors.
I actually just responded to that concept from another post and then checked these comments again. Wow. Great minds thinking alike and all that. So like hunters who are rebels combined? Nice.
“Just beneath the Surface” (Or “subdermal”)
We like to think ourselves to be in control. We need this idea to continue our lifes. If we loose the feeling of control, things turn very frightening very fast.
The thing is, we aren’t controlling shit. Maybe never did. There is a whole vast world just beneath the thin fabric we call normality and it took over. It infects people in power, turning them into monsters. It infects nature around us, turning it into eldritch wilderness. It infects our our city, turning them into hungry labyrinths. It infects our loved ones, turning them against us…
It infects us, turning us inside out.
Folks from the Key of Solomon say, it is the touch of another universe, taking hold like a curse. My buddy is with the Last Research on the matter and believes, we drove to far in our pursuit of controll over nuclear reactions. I personally think, it is just the next step of natural evolution and our drive to create a new world with no need of human effort. Thing is, we won’t make it much longer and word has it, tonight something major will happen in this sleepy town. Something will emerge and the mission is to either get our hands on or destroy it, before any maniac sweps it up.
This mission, my friend, will test you abilities and skills. It will test your conviction and resolve. But mostly it will test your trust in what is true and who you are.
I could see a game, that is about the last fight, with little hope. Less fighting species more fighting ideologies, with a massive looming, supernatural thread. Factions would try to keep things under the wrap, because we have seen how well/reasonable mankind reacts to global threads. Yet the strange pieces the thin veil again and again and again. Some see potential in the creepy new developments, others willingly ignore them.
A game that emphasizes on fast dice resolution. Maybe with a system that puts damage to skills instead of universal health. Filling up a desperation/hurt meter, that can be used to fuel acts of conviction and valor (not unlike the “I am getting better bc I got hurt” in the They came from line.)
I can see a toolbox kit for several supernatural creatures with examples but exchangable features. (The basic vampire brings abillity x, y, z and got the following weaknesses and features. But you can switch and swap. Increased powerlevels mean upgrades in strenghts and weaknesses. First a dice reduction in sun light, later full bbq-vamp at dawn, if you choose to take this weakness. ) This keeps things fresh.
Have a “corruption” map for communities and the world on a large scale, to show the escalation. Corruption implies, that it is a bad thing happening. As soon as you play supernatural creatures, the perspective changes, because it might make the world more hospitable to them. It is basically change. One could offer several origins of the change, that lead to different outcomes and consequences.
Place your monsters in the larger factions but in these times of crisis no leadership can trust, that their subjects all stay true to the goals or loyal. There is backstabbing, territorial struggeling, conspiracies.
Global events that happen as the strange erupts in places.
Forgot, that you mentioned a third house system would be a stretch, so the skill idea might be to out there. I’d guess the rest would be easily achivable.
One thing regardings characters. I do often oneshots and for them a character with 13 superpowers (Scion ready made characters) or 12 + on regular Demon (DtD) are soooo many, too many to be handled in a learning experience. I’d advocate for a less heavy front load of abilities (and there are a lot of general abilites hidden in CofD texts throughout the books, like changelings can get free from any physical restraint). This would be a blessing. Less powers through selection during creation with the option to add more for more experienced players and characters.
For Urban Fantasy, I feel like monsters should be unpredictable…and that includes playable monsters. Quite simply, I feel if there’s one corebook, you should be able to build what kind of supernatural beastie you are. There is elements in Aether’s Magogs and Deviants, but let’s go all the way and make “discovering what I actually am and what makes me different” is both fun and leads to some lovely punkish undertones for the “more left than CofD” idea. Splatbooks are just as much about culture of “these monsters that all consider themselves vampires/werebeasts/sorcerers/Analog Horror technobeasts/etc” as it is about the themes of that clade of monsters.
Shoot classic cosmic horror in the head – there can be alien gods, and they can be dangers, but the horror comes from how humans or things that can be called human react to them and seek to exploit them. Vita Carnis is a good idea – there’s the meat monsters, but the horror is from how powerful people are selling the rest of humanity to them and murderously keeping the deal secret. The Carnis themselves are not evil, some are actually kinda cute, and them taking over an area causes it to become more ecologically healthy over time due to their lifecycle leaving plenty of nutrients for the ground – they aren’t the villains, the cult of the Singularity that would rather sell humanity for meat to restore the planet rather than invest in resource conservation are.
A big thing though? Embrace science. It is not “wrong” or “conflicts with magic”, while magic may be frustrating to science, it’s due to humans not being sure how to do science to magic to make it sufficiently analyzed. Certain more mad inventors have used magic as shortcuts around lack of technical infrastructure for testing their theories – Deadlands Mad Scientists are what I have in mind, their inventions are actually advanced tech but they subconsciously use magic to somehow make contemporary Wild West tech implement the principles they need to work.
Also, magic should not be bound to anything so tangible as bloodlines aline – it’s boring, and it’s a little racist. Maybe some magic is, a la D&D sorcerers, but there are also pacters (warlocks, clerics, Deadlands hucksters) and scholars (wizards).