Thursday, June 5, 2014

Debt to Heaven: The Idea

Last night I finished up the first draft of the Green Jade Supplement for Jadepunk. I am quite proud of how it turned out, so I sat down to do a post as it has been a while. I was going to write a long post about Game Theory and dig deep into the depths of my GMing soul. I would talk of how there is no such thing as a munchkin, and how play styles interact in interesting ways. There would have been this wonderful moral and we would have all learned something. It was going to be the best post I had ever written. Then I read through it, and realized that it was self indulgent and pretentious. So instead I am going to do a post about superheroes...and the hundred years war.

"King of England, and you, duke of Bedford, who call yourself regent of the kingdom of France... settle your debt to the king of Heaven; return to the Maiden, who is envoy of the king of Heaven, the keys to all the good towns you took and violated in France."

~Joan d'Arc

Nearly one hundred years ago, the hated British invaded. Ruled by the Witch King and his Demon Breed Aristos, the British rode their War Beasts out of Normandy into the peace loving countryside of the kingdom of France. For the longest time we could do nothing but retreat against the oppressive dark forces from across the channel. It has been a year since Joan d'Arc brought an alliance between le Herauts and the Sang de Sorciers to drive back the war beasts of the invaders. For the first time we hold them back. For the first time, we have pushed them back.

The idea for this started a long while back. I have always loved the Idea of super heroes at war. However I didn't know enough, and I didn't have the right medium to portray it. I'ma be real here, I still don't know enough. I will never know enough. Ever. I need to get past this. This idea is just a first go. It is not complete, but  it is something I have been working on for over a decade. It was a post by +Bruce Baugh that inspired me to start working on this in more than a merely contemplative manner.
And now, the Let's All Steal From +Cam Banks approach to light-weight superheroics in Fate.
* You have the usual five aspects.
* Instead of FAE approaches, you have the Smallville/Cortex Plus Dramatic values: Duty, Glory, Justice, Love, Power, and Truth. These have starting ratings of +2, +2, +1, +1, +1, and +0. Yes, the choice of two top-most scores is deliberate.
* Everybody gets a free sort of special bonus stunt dealing with the three affiliations from Marvel Heroic Roleplay: solo, buddy, and team. You get +2 when using one of them, +1 when using another, and +0 when using the third.
* Use Venture City Stories for powers, dropping out the skill linkages since this isn't Fate Core.

I am least sure about that last part and would need to tinker with it some to see how it is in practice.
 Here is a link to the original conversation, should you wish to engage it more directly.

This idea struck me as a good one. It reminded me a little of Greg Stafford's sublime King Arthur Pendragon. Pendragon was the game that taught me that a game could be about so much more than a ten-foot by ten-foot corridor(not that there is anything wrong with that, I lurves me some dungeon crawls). Pendragon is part of where this hack came from. I would love, love, to do something even half as good as Pendragon.

So this idea that Bruce had(by way of Cam), reminded me of Pendragon. That started me making connections between Superheroes, Pendragon, and the Hundred Years War. This inevitably lead me, as all things eventually do, to the Star Wars Prequels. Everyone has a theory as to why they fail, and most people are correct in their analyses, the movies fail on nearly every level that a movie can fail. For me, I dwell in the mind realms of action and battle. Where the prequels fail is the fights. The fights mean nothing. Nothing is at stake. Nothing is established. The things that were true before the fight are true after the fight. The bad guys don't talk, the good guys don't talk. its mindless, in every sense of the word. After walking out of the theatre after the Phantom Menace, this was what I walked away with. I will never, ever, ever, engage in a fictional fight that has no meaning. That is what I like about what Cam did with Smallville/Cortex Plus Dramatic.

I am sorry that I am meandering here, but this is one of those ideas you have. You know the ones, they sit in your head. They circle and circle for years. It starts as just a simple thought, but over the years of circling in your mind, it becomes more. It becomes high art(in your mind). You can just throw out your art, no. that would be crazy. People won't understand, not like you do. So you must explain, in stammering words and digressions. That is what this idea has become for me. Normally I just throw an idea out there. I have millions of ideas every day. Millions. However there are three or four that just circle. Mosquitoes of the mind.

So the idea. We have the basics of a mechanical framework. We have the seed idea: The Hundred Years War...but with Super Powers. But what are my influences and what are the specifics of of the setting.

Dresden Codak's X-Men Reboot
Marvel 1602
Solomon Kane
The Lion In Winter
Robin Hood
King Arthur Pendragon RPG
Ken Hite and Robin Laws
The Leviathan Series

I will just be touching on setting specifics. Mostly because much of what I have is still sort of nebulous. In writing them down I will be forcing the ideas to take a single shape. Here goes.

The Hated British: Ruled over by the Witch King and his cronies the Eight Demon Breed Lineages. IN this history the British figured out genetics and their manipulation. They have created beasts for all sorts of tasks. The British countryside is an alien and disturbing site for most of those born on the continent.
Witch King: The First Witch King was king Edward III, the current Witch King is his great-grandson Henry V, The Star of England.
Demon Breed: Some families are blessed(or cursed) with power in the blood. These were known during darker and more ignorant times as the Demon Breed. Eventually these families seized power in Britain, making of it a haven for their kind. Britain is ruled by the Witch King, a member of the Lancaster lineage, cadet branch of the Plantagenet Lineage, as well as the Seven lineages that support his rule. Each lineage has specific power within its blood. Mixing blood is viewed as a taboo.
War Beasts: The beasts the hated British ride are not horses, nor any other animal recognized. They ride beasts that are all claws and teeth and sinuous power. Some call them serpents or dragons, but to most they are just war beasts.
le Herauts: They claim to be messengers from the most high. They have the power and vision to back this claim. Joan is their leader, though she claims no claim to such. Their examples of Divine authority are often accompanied by stigmata or flashes of light. They all have an intensity to their movements and speech. It was Joan who brought them together, and through their alliance with the Sang de Sorciers, they have begun to drive the British forces from the rightful lands of the Kingdom of France.
Sang de Sorciers: The Demon Breed in France never separated into families, they were rounded up and barricaded into land that no one else wanted, with the hopes that they would die off. For the longest time they were seen as something like a leper colony. the Sang de Sorciers are what happens after a hundred years of mixing the bloodlines. They have great power, yes. They also are all deformed, becoming as to like demons and beasts, in form if not in mind. They are Loyal to Joan, not to France. Pray nothing ill befall her, for no other has any influence with the Sang de Sorciers.

So those are my basic ideas. I would welcome thoughts and conversation on how to do this. As I said, I am far too close to this project to do what it needs.