Thursday, October 20, 2022

❄️ Waste Inferno ❄️

The Silver Warrior by Frazetta

Sound - track.

FOR CENTURIES, the frozen island of Efirene, nicknamed "Inferno", has served as the Empire's dumpster. Criminals, dissidents, deserters, or anyone looking for a fresh start took refuge in this Waste. A known secret, three competing archmages carried out foul experiments in the island, obliterating themselves (and making it more dangerous) in the process. Engadin the Enchanter, The Iron Mage, and Ralagazzam the Restless.

TEN YEARS AGO the Empire fractured into a myriad of city-states. Decadency and corruption survived the fall. Inferno, now in an awkward position, still accepts the scum on the other side of the Ocean. A brass collar inscribed with explosive runes placed on every Criminal's neck.

NOW, your sorry ass lands on the docks of Inferno, dizzy and starved after a one-way unforgiving voyage across the Ocean. A tight collar is placed on your neck. Buy your Libero state with the daunting 10'000gp fee, and with it the right to roam free, acquire land, or leave Inferno forever!

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Stranger in a Strange Land

No, this is not a post focusing Heinlein's book by the same title. More popular in its time, this work definitely flies a lot under the radar these days. Touches on a lot of varied themes. A read I greatly enjoyed some years back, and that probably is more notorious for coining and spreading the term "grokking".

This post is about the dichotomy of a lot of roleplaying games that operate under the dynamic of one Referee and a bunch of Players. This is: what does my Character know (about this world, about the adventure) that I, the Player, have no way of knowing? Which can be extrapolated to: how much homework do I, the Player, have to do in order to enjoy this experience?

This task is tackled with different approaches, and varied rates of success in my experience:

1. The Referee prepares a detailed multi-page primer document, which encapsulates the most distinctive, pressing, and (for the game) important points about the campaign world and its assumptions.

2. The group has a shared understanding of media and tropes associated with the upcoming game. Books, graphic novels, TV series, films. And the group grooves from there. D&D becoming its own regurgitated ideas also falls in here.

3. The Kitchen Sink approach. Everything goes, within one extremely broad theme. This is liberating, but removes the sense of wonder very quickly in a game that could be primarily focused in exploration.

4. Players get a significant share of the world-building. Player: "Which God does my Cleric worship?" Referee: "Dunno, you tell me".

My puzzlement comes from "Strangers in a Strange Land" not being a more common happenstance when starting and adventure game. It is ubiquitous all over literature and other media: Peter Pan, Gaiman's Neverwhere, Harry fucking Potter, John Carter of Mars. This vehicle serves as an outlet for exposition for the viewer/reader, so why not use it more prominently in our games?

We can make characters foreigners from distant continents, time travelers that got stuck here, someone from our own reality that lives this adventure in their dreams. The possibilities are countless.

I'm not claiming this is not used, or that I'm proposing anything innovative here. Just that next time character creation comes up, let's just liberate ourselves from the burden of doing too much work ahead of a game. And consider the "Stranger in a Strange Land" from time to time as a viable option.