In Between - Another GF2010 Thread

Started by dmckenna, September 12, 2010, 10:58:08 AM

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I spent a good portion of time today brainstorming ideas. I thought about working with Skin, maybe doing a game revolving around shape changers and politics. Then I started thinking about other interpretations of skin and thought about its sexual connotations. Maybe I could do a game revolving around the sex industry. I decided I didn't want to go there. Next up I thought about Deserts and this got me thinking about spiritual journeys and tripping acid. Then I thought about incorporating a city at the edge of the desert and walking towards it. Maybe the player is dead and instead of seeing visions he's walking through the high and low points of his life. I thought about how to incorporate the other ingredients into this and this idea mutated into what I've decided to go with.

In Between

The player(s) -I haven't decided if this is a one on one game or a group game yet- play as people who have died. They're dead and moving on, only they didn't lead the most honest of fulfilling lives. They've sinned, have regrets, or have unfinished business and they're unable to pass all the way on. They're stuck somewhere in between (Edge, an edge is a point where to surfaces meet. In this case these surfaces are life and death). Since we're going in a pseudo-religious direction here I think the quote about entering and leaving the world naked is very applicable here. This also let's me work in skin. So these people that have died come to the place in between naked, only their sins and regrets are engraved upon their bodies for all to see. I've decided to call this place in between "The Wasteland", although it isn't a desert in the traditional sense. It looks different to every soul that goes there. It might be a stark tundra to some and nothing but concrete as far as the eye can see to another. In the distance, no matter where they are, a beautiful golden city can be seen. It can never be reached, no matter how long you walk towards it.

What happens in The Wasteland?

Quite a bit actually, but let's stick to the important thing. Whenever someone in the living world makes a wish or prayer a pool opens up (could be water, could be something else. It depends on what The Wasteland looks like to you). If someone jumps into one of these pools they possess the body of whoever made the wish/prayer. I imagine there is going to be some conflict over these pools.


When you jump through a pool and possess someone the meat of the game begins. You are thrown into their life and it is from here that you can work to atone for your sins or resolve your regrets. You can do this by helping solve whatever problem caused the person to wish/pray in the first place. You might also just choose to take the body for a joyride and live through a second life, or maybe you do something even worse. The possession can end in a few different ways. An exorcism will forcefully remove you from the body and send you back to The Wasteland, as will death. You can voluntarily end possession at any time and the affected person can also force you from their body if they can overcome your will. It boils down to a choice. You either do good and try and make the world a better place or you don't. What you choose will affect you on return to The Wasteland. By working towards redemption or completing unfinished business the markings on your skin will fade and disappear. Once no marks remain you may walk through The Wasteland and reach the Golden City. If you act in a negative way when in the living world when you return additional markings will appear.


In this world Demons are just souls that have corrupted. They've done much wrong in the living world and they do it again and again. They're serial killers who are hanged and then possess someone and go on a spree all over again. They're selfish people afraid to move on who possess body after body to live through life multiple times. In The Wasteland they have become hideously disfigured and monstrous in appearance.

There are multiple places for things to happen in this game. I think that The Wasteland will be home to it's own set of dangers and I'd like to come up with a way for characters to manipulate things there, some kind of magic that is maybe tied to the way they perceive The Wasteland. I'd like to the residents to work together at times and to fight and race each other to get through the pools, all for their own reasons. Once the game has moved to the living world I want to change gears a bit so that it's more about fitting in so as not to get sniffed out as a spirit/demon and being sent back to The Wasteland before achieving your goal (or not). Maybe also work in what happens when to possessing spirits meet in the living world (maybe they are naturally drawn to each other). I also need to think about what happens if more than one person falls through a pool. Do multiple spirits jockey for control of a single body, or does it float free or fall into the next closest person? The ultimate goal, at least as I see it, would be to achieve redemption and reach the Golden City. Doing so would be the end, at least for that character.

I'm still thinking about mechanics. Obviously the characters are going to need to select/create at least one Regret or Sin for their characters. I'm not sure if I want to create a list to select from or just let players go nuts and put whatever they want down. I'm also pretty sure that I want to unify the mechanics across both worlds in the game. I don't want to have to jump between rules. I think I'll probably go with a dice pool mechanic of some kind that is tied to willpower/resolve. The main reason for this is because in the game the characters are either going to be manipulating The Wasteland through some kind of power or influencing the living world, so their physical skills and attributes are no longer useful. Using this pool will also be interesting for giving the possessee have something that they need to overcome to reclaim their body, so there more it is used the weaker the spirit becomes and the more easily it is banished. It might also be interesting to give the characters a Nature that they can give into. It would be whatever had caused them to fall into problems in life, but giving into it lends them power but also pushes them towards selfish deeds. It all definitely needs some more thought anyway, and before I can get too far with it I need to decide if this game is intended for just 2 players or 2+ players. Maybe I can ignore having a GM completely and have the players squabbling over pools in The Wasteland "phase" and then the ones that don't make it through take on a joint storyteller position in the living world.

So that's it. What I've decided to work with. It certainly seems kind of bleak, but I think it actually manages to hit all four of the ingredients and definitely matches the theme of Sojourner. The literal definition is "a temporary resident" and I've got that in spades. Now I just need to work on getting some mechanics I like and fleshing the setting out into something with lots to build off of. Maybe move more focus to the redemption aspect of the game, that might brighten it up a bit.

David Shockley

If there's a conflict (and I'm assuming you mean a conflict which is rolled or played out via mechanics somehow) over entering the pools, which lead into the meat of play.. obviously preventing them from entering can't be an outcome, or there would be no session. Perhaps it colors their interactions with the host, or with the host's world? Or who they end up possessing.


That's a good point. While I can imagine spending some time negotiating with others about who gets to go in the pool, racing to get to them, or otherwise fighting over them it wouldn't be nice to not be able to get through to the next "phase" of the game. Otherwise how are you to reach redemption at all?

I think the solution would be to change it from only letting one soul through to letting multiple through but weakening overall control over the body. That way it is in everyone's interest to prevent others from going through at the same time, but things can still proceed even if you don't "win" the conflict. I think this is making the case stronger for having no official GM and having players not in possession of the body run those aspects. It might even give them an opportunity to get one soul pushed out so that they can take hold.

David Shockley

Having the loser(s) of the conflict acting as GM probably works best with a fairly adversarial role. At least, if it were me, I'd probably have revenge on my mind, at least a little.


The problem I see with going in an adverserial direction is what happens when one of the characters is able to reach the Golden City? Does the game end and they are crowned the winner? I guess you could then introduce a new character, but that would make the game endless. Another option would be to move them into a more passive storyteller position, but the trick there is to make it as fun as being an ordinary player.


I've been playing with mechanics and settled on using a single pool of dice called Power. It will be used for everything from manifesting powers to influencing mortals. The size of the pool is tied to the number of Sins and Regrets a character has. The more things holding them to The Wasteland, the stronger their influence. As they resolve things their influence will lessen. I like this for a couple of reasons. It gives players a reason to select more than one Sin/Regret on character creation and it also helps keep any one player from being left too far behind the other players

I plan on having each point equal to a d6 and it will only refresh in The Wasteland. When in the land of the living it will reduce as the soul exerts influence and when it runs out they lose their grip on the body. As far as using the pool, I'm going to go with a list of different ways the souls can interact with each other and the worlds. For example, a soul not in possession of a body can still Whisper to exert minor influence, things like instilling fear or doubt. They are also able to manifest things specific to their version of The Wasteland, so if they see a tundra than they would be able to lower the temperature or do similar things. Doing these things would require them to use one or more of the dice from their Power pool.

I'm still thinking on narrative control. I'm thinking right now that one or more of the non-possessing characters assume the role of narrator and are rewarded with extra Power when play shifts back to The Wasteland. In The Wasteland players expend Power to affect the narrative. The other way I've thought about doing it is giving full narrative control to the possessing player without need to spend Power. The other players then use their power to change the narrative more in their favour while the possessing character uses their own Power to defend.

It's certainly starting to shape up. Creating Sins and Regrets for a character feels very depressing though. Writing what the bad thing you did down and classifying it just feels kind of, I don't know, slimy I guess. Regrets aren't as bad since they are created by finishing one of several sentences (I wish I hadn't..., for example). Coming up with physical representations for these is fun though.