Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Surrender The Planets

We all have campaigns we want to run some day. The danger becomes holding onto those like the fucking Precious. This has so many horrible side effects...
  • You end up miserly hoarding all your best ideas for a genre or system for the unplayed campaign.
  • You come to places in your other games where these ideas would fit in very naturally and escalate things superbly but won't use them, making an active decision to ankle the game you're currently running.
  • You end up putting off running something in that genre/with that system because you don't want to do a lesser version of your eventual grand designs. 
  • This probably means you just never end up getting that to your table.
  • The longer you take without running it, the more it is built up in your mind. That means you're always chasing moving goal posts.
  • That means you end up doing more and more work for something that never happens.

There are good reasons to hold on, stick it in there, tough it out, and maybe one day live to run it. But you risk becoming that person who takes their own lore/the game's lore so seriously that they can't enjoy running it unless everyone else appreciates it on the level you do. All of these we risk.

I say surrender. I dearly believe that any game you're playing now is better than The Game You'll Play Someday. Any time spent playing is better than time spent not playing. Fielding any character, just A character, is better than wasting time worrying about making the perfect character, or saving a pet concept for a rainy day. You are playing or you are waiting and they are not role waiting games.

(I guess Maid is sort of a role waiting game but that's a different sense of the word and there's a whole social differences at work and cultural implications and oh I almost forgot fuck Maid just a little.)

I'm not saying give up on that game ever happening. I am saying give up on you ever doing anything with it. Release it freeware. Let the world use your code for something great. Because maybe I get to finally play the fucking game I wanted to play.
  • Maybe someone who did not care about this system/genre will be attracted by your ideas and be compelled to give it a try.
  • Maybe they won't but they will find your ideas cool and then they will find you cool. Coolness is an importance currency but it can never be banked or given, it must only be earned and it must always be earned.
  • Maybe they will run a game like you wanted to run and you get to play in it. Maybe they even use your cool ideas.
  • You have freed yourself from the shackles of your awesome albatross, so you can just fucking run a game and have fun, guy.
  • You can focus on putting your work where it's needed and actually producing something, be it a published text or just a Good Time on Friday.

The most shameful thing, too, is that when it comes time to surrender you will realize how much of your work was in an unprofitable area that nevvvver was going to be useful at-table or maybe never come up. Maybe you even realize how little you actually had accomplished for this dream scenario, or that you just aren't the person to run this. I'm not half the DM that most DMs are so I'm pretty sure anybody reading this would run a game I'd love to play. I mean, they already do! Maybe they would also do that but with ghost tigers! I don't know, guys. I think it's for the best.

So: Goodbye.

UNDER HEAVEN 

A FENG SHUI CAMPAIGN
i demand to play in

The year 3X3X and the dominant culture in the world is a post-Chinese empire with major Egyptian, American, British, and Japanese grace notes. This largely came about after a probe built by these empires - itself one node of a star bridge - connected with not one interplanetary culture but a multi-culture. Received as a field of thought they were not embraced or lifted up. The response was basically, "Come and get us. Here's how to do it."

The Empire has basically been leapfrogging planets. This is done using the power of geomancy and chi and shit. You are born attuned to the world you are on or perhaps you were always so strange because you are not in fact attuned to this world. In order to travel to another world you must still yourself and align your chi with the biome of another world. This is a dangerous process requiring attunement to your fellow travelers and to the target planet at the same time and, as such, leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of cosmic danger unmoored from space and time. Living bicycles. Radioactive goblins. Jiangxi vikings. Much stranger things, like electric dread and ghost math. The geotravelers visualize their journey like a path through an enormous branching tunnel made of shining danger and the distractions of history.

Great towering domes are filled with geotravelers whose bodies have slowed their metabolism to the point where they barely breathe, their hearts barely beat. They are tended by gardeners who treat them like celebrity heroes. If they have fought their way through the 'netherworld' between worlds and survive their attunement then they find themselves on a new world. This world has been shaped by powerful geomancers already, turned into a living, vibrant world by people reaching back in time for as long as the planet has been. Once the geotravelers have attuned they advance (like attuning to Feng Shui sites in the normal game) and compose themselves a second body out of the life force and potential energy of the world. From there, if they so desire, a geotraveler can make their way to a forest cloister, sacred temple, iron fortress, or wherever geotravelers gather on this world, center themselves, clear their mind, and project themselves further outward into the stars. World to world to world, one mind concentrating across many bodies and worlds.

If you fail to attune you snap back to the world you last attuned to. If one form is destroyed you lose your attunement to that world and must re-establish. Again it works just like feng shui sites in the base game. There are outer forces at world - the extraterrestrial consciousnesses that favor the Empire's ascent or oppose it or only favor it on certain terms. These constantly interfere in the great journey across the Infinite Steppe.

Now as excited as the Empire is to ascend and as well regarded as geotravelers are IN GENERAL there is opposition within the worlds of the Empire as well. Part of this is because of the carefully curated chauvenism enforced on each new geoformed world. While the Empire is looking forward to being the big swinging cosmic dick they don't want to forget where they have come from. To that end the different branches of the Climbing Tree have the fruit of history. Some blooms have matured into reflections of different periods from Egyptian, American, British, or Japanese society. Most, however, and the ones most germane to the campaign, represent different periods of Chinese history.

Mars is our first stop on the way to Everything. Red Mars represents the Maoist China of the 60s. The next lily pad you leapfrog to is in the constellation Ares and it reflects the Qin unification. So on, so forth. Technological anachronisms for the world's period are forbidden. Different archetypes are reflected differently in the game, or not: a Ghost for example might be an actual ghost, or an echo of a geotraveler who didn't survive the attunement and only leaves a faint impression in this new world, or an extraterrestrial energy form, or something else weirder. Drivers may be experts in the vehicles and conveyances on the world they come from but they might also be starship pilots, maintaining routes between the geoformed worlds and satellite colonies mining moons or local asteroids or whatnot, killing pirates.

So junctures and juncture penalties and feng shui sites and attuning burning and space travel, all that shit becomes the same thing. Some archetypes might be specific to one world. Sometimes a historical revision may come down from the Curators of each world and everything shifts according to the new information. Perhaps some geotravelers are little more than auditors for authenticity, history cops. Then there's the question of whether the ascent, the great journey, is anything of the kind. What are we going toward, who are we climbing toward, and is there anything we might be running from? Perhaps even forces outside of this sphere wish to impede and divert our energies. Maybe a player manifests in one way on a given world and a different way on another. Maybe a new world brings a whole new type of animal and therefore a new type of transformed animal! Maybe there are different local zodiacs holy shit....!!

I surrender. Just let me play.