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Author Topic: War in the Heavens, early days, help needed  (Read 3583 times)
gtroc
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« on: August 16, 2011, 01:56:41 PM »

Hey all, I am currently working on a space opera(esque) game. The basic concept I have is it is about holy war(s?) in space. The game, or at least this part of it, combines the best aspects of Star Gate and Dune(in my mind the best parts). I am using a Fate inspired mechanic(though it is not(currently) exactly the same(if you want to see my basic concepts check out the my design journal). I have two issues so far. The first is that I am still struggling with focusing on the players characters, and not on the world. Basically, what do the players do, what is the game about? Secondly, I would like to flavor the game text in a way that makes the players think about what the characters believe. As this is a game about a holy war I would like the beliefs of the characters to be at the forefront. So I am aiming to design the language of the game to emphasize the belief and religious aspects of the game. As i am quite stuck at the moment, any advice would be welcome. Thank you much!
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Daniel36
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2011, 03:23:20 PM »

Hmmm... How about mirroring it a little to the Crusades. Characters are basically soldiers for whatever religious leader(s) you create, and their armour and horses are their space ships, which they can outfit to match their "playstyle", so you could not only have character creation, but also "spacecraft" creation, which can be somewhat the same, as in you have your tanks, your speedy scout vehicles, etcetera. Give them the ability to upgrade their craft with new items, they get when they receive a medal for services.

You could have different religions / houses, perhaps ask them which one they would like to be a part of without telling them whether they are "good" or not so "good", and players will have to think about whether they will retain their faith when they are asked to perform specific tasks that are hard to swallow?

Some food for thought. Hope it helps.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2011, 03:28:20 PM »

You could take a leaf from the riddle of steel RPG and every time they pursue their belief (important: Whether they suceed or fail at that pursuit) they get a power up. Then make the world nasty enough, statistically, that they need these power ups to some degree, or they'll get wasted.
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gtroc
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2011, 09:55:24 PM »

You could take a leaf from the riddle of steel RPG and every time they pursue their belief (important: Whether they suceed or fail at that pursuit) they get a power up. Then make the world nasty enough, statistically, that they need these power ups to some degree, or they'll get wasted.

now there is an interesting idea. It adds a level of complexity, but at this point the game is very simple so I am fairly certain that a little complexity won't be too out there. As I don't have Riddle of Steel I am not certain how it would work here. but maybe some kind of tier system of beliefs. each religion has things it holds sacred, and you place a number of those precepts(three of them?) in order of importance to you. I will have to work on this idea a bit.

Hmmm... How about mirroring it a little to the Crusades. Characters are basically soldiers for whatever religious leader(s) you create, and their armour and horses are their space ships, which they can outfit to match their "playstyle", so you could not only have character creation, but also "spacecraft" creation, which can be somewhat the same, as in you have your tanks, your speedy scout vehicles, etcetera. Give them the ability to upgrade their craft with new items, they get when they receive a medal for services.

You could have different religions / houses, perhaps ask them which one they would like to be a part of without telling them whether they are "good" or not so "good", and players will have to think about whether they will retain their faith when they are asked to perform specific tasks that are hard to swallow?

Some food for thought. Hope it helps.
I like your thoughts.They got me thinking, What if, instead of designing their ship(s), they instead deign the religion? I could put a few sample set pieces in the game, they they could model off of, fight, or if they don't want to design there own they could play in one of those. maybe ten worlds/systems?

the problem with the crusades, is that it is very specific to a time and a place. while this is fiction, I would like to not be tied down to just Abrahamic religious wars. if there was a Holy Land though...hmm...maybe earth is the holy land. I could combine it with a bit of Shambala and grail lore. earth was lost long ago. maybe earth never had, or realized it had, a gate.  still a bit European though. And while I am not against euro-centrism in games, in the future who can say that Western culture gets there first. i find it unlikely that the Chinese and Russians won't be out there. and as the costs for space travel drop lots of fringe beliefs will spread to the stars. I even had an idea for a culture of Luddites, who over came the hatred of technology long enough to get to a new world and start some kind of agrarian utopia. naturally all things go to hell after a while, but that is where the fun is.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2011, 10:43:34 PM »

As I don't have Riddle of Steel I am not certain how it would work here. but maybe some kind of tier system of beliefs. each religion has things it holds sacred, and you place a number of those precepts(three of them?) in order of importance to you. I will have to work on this idea a bit.
Ahhh, that kind of ends up as something else entirely, as the GM decides what is required of following a belief, since it's in the book and a 'GM thing'. I'd suggest that you can list a religions rules, but the player just invents their own beliefs/goals. In riddle of steel it could range from 'love for my lady' to 'I will become king'.

It really doesn't need to be complicated at all. Players who are interested in playing will catch onto it quickly.

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gtroc
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« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2011, 11:43:58 PM »

As I don't have Riddle of Steel I am not certain how it would work here. but maybe some kind of tier system of beliefs. each religion has things it holds sacred, and you place a number of those precepts(three of them?) in order of importance to you. I will have to work on this idea a bit.
Ahhh, that kind of ends up as something else entirely, as the GM decides what is required of following a belief, since it's in the book and a 'GM thing'. I'd suggest that you can list a religions rules, but the player just invents their own beliefs/goals. In riddle of steel it could range from 'love for my lady' to 'I will become king'.

It really doesn't need to be complicated at all. Players who are interested in playing will catch onto it quickly.



I wasn't implying that it was complicated, just more complicated than what i currently have. which, if you have read through my stuff, is not much at the moment. I like the idea of taking a set of religious tenets and making them hard and fast. Commandments, if you will. though I still think the players beliefs/aspects/whatever should have to do with those commandments. I still would like there to be the option, maybe even the default option, of the players designing the religion. though, to be honest, I am not sure how to do that and make it come out to be something believable. there would have to be parameters, but again I am bit lost there.
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Daniel36
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2011, 12:27:12 AM »

Oh I wasn't implying you use the Crusade as is, just as an inspiration to the direction to take. So what I was thinking was, you could have the religions / houses / factions, and the background story is that they are all, in one way or another (perhaps with different methods) trying to gain lands and therefore followers to their cause, and the players are the crusaders sent out to those distant planets to do just that.

You have the travel aspect, needing to travel from system to system and planet to planet, being able to use their craft to do battle. You have the war aspect in that there are different religions fighting one another. Then after landfall it could turn into a game of diplomacy, where they need to convince the planet's government of their beliefs. Or, if they don't want to listen, again battle.

But take from it what you will. I was just randomly blurting out ideas.
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gtroc
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2011, 12:56:11 AM »

Oh I wasn't implying you use the Crusade as is, just as an inspiration to the direction to take. So what I was thinking was, you could have the religions / houses / factions, and the background story is that they are all, in one way or another (perhaps with different methods) trying to gain lands and therefore followers to their cause, and the players are the crusaders sent out to those distant planets to do just that.

You have the travel aspect, needing to travel from system to system and planet to planet, being able to use their craft to do battle. You have the war aspect in that there are different religions fighting one another. Then after landfall it could turn into a game of diplomacy, where they need to convince the planet's government of their beliefs. Or, if they don't want to listen, again battle.

But take from it what you will. I was just randomly blurting out ideas.
I like the idea of other factions outside of religion. though I think it would have to be different in each stellar state. Nobles houses in one, mega-corporations in another. I will think on this, it will mean i will have to have some kind of mass battle conflict resolution mechanic, or maybe something else. the PCs would be the equivalent of diplomats/spies/special forces, what they do affects what happens, but they can still win or lose dependent on an outside roll. kind of like Burning Empire, but you know without the grind.
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Zachary_Wolf
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2011, 08:34:44 AM »

Sounds like a neat idea gtroc! Questions:

1) Would it be assumed all of the PC's are of the same religion/faction?
2) Would the players be assumed to be cooperating with each other?
3) What is the action scale? Mostly focused on space battles in ships, or individual spec-ops missions on foot and land vehicles?

I admit I like the suggestions Daniel gave. Having the players design their vehicles in different styles (Tank, Scout, Striker, Support) has always been an idea bouncing around in my head and I think it would work well with your setting concept. Also, it may not need to be central, but I do like the idea of providing morally difficult choices for the players. For example, your zealous religious leader orders you to destroy the enemy's water treatment plant to weaken the nearby military outpost, even though it will also affect the city full of innocent civilians a few miles away.

As far as designing a religion, I think that is also a cool idea, but that would imply that each player is creating their own religious affiliation and therefore would be at odds against each other?

Callan's suggestion to reward players for persuing their goals is also very good. How do you feel about this idea?

Each player picks three "Convictions", a Vision, a Commandment, and a  Crusade. Your character's Vision is their own personal goal, a piece of imagery that wish to see come true. Their Commandment is their religious goal or code of behavior, something that could possibly be common to more than one player. Their Crusade is their current mission, typically shared between all players and usually given to them by their religious leader.

Example:
Vision - To become Bishop of a small planet or colony.
Commandment - To bring justice to those under the heel of oppression.
Crusade - To travel to the Urdot System and investigate the missing missionaries.

Whenever the player meaningfully persues one of these Convictions, perhaps they could get bonuses to their rolls? Or maybe, they get extra experience or whatever you use for advancement.
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Daniel36
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2011, 09:01:58 AM »

I would not let players all be of different religions. That would just make a mess of things. Players shouldn't be given so much control over setting anyways. It's a false freedom. They get to bend the world to their will, but that's not theirs to do. I guess it's a discussion all on its own, in fact I will go and create a thread for it when I have a little time, but they don't HAVE to decide on every aspect. They can take parts of the religion they like and therefore pursue, much like you have different roles in, well any church really, but the religion itself and its creed should be imposed on them.

It's how they act within the boundaries of their faith, whether they stay true to it or wish to stray outside. It's what they do with the tasks given to them. Within that, they have plenty freedom, but just as we can't control where we are born and what we look like, players shouldn't have full control. Especially if they get to outfit their spacecraft and all that cool stuff, it's not a crime to impose things on them.

But that's just me. There will be a discussion on it shortly! :)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2011, 10:21:45 AM »

Hi,

Is Jake your name?

You might find this thread useful: Three games about religion. The concepts I present there may be helpful in seeing how individuals extract different aspects from something called "a religion" and then call those chosen aspects the religion.

Also, here are some games which I think provide solid, useful understanding of how culture, religious practice, political identity, moral choices, and especially compromises across religious boundaries can be productive in play: Fading Suns (specifically the Priests of the Celestial Sun supplement), HeroQuest, and DeGenesis.

Best, Ron
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gtroc
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2011, 01:26:04 PM »

Hi,

Is Jake your name?

Yeah, sorry I always meant to sign at the bottom but then I forget. so I put it in my sig, but yes Jake is my name.
Quote
You might find this thread useful: Three games about religion. The concepts I present there may be helpful in seeing how individuals extract different aspects from something called "a religion" and then call those chosen aspects the religion.
I noticed that thread right after starting this one. I liked it, and it has influenced the way i am looking at this. I think I even mentioned something like this earlier. I may no have been as eloquent as I could have been though. Thank you for the ideas!
Quote
Also, here are some games which I think provide solid, useful understanding of how culture, religious practice, political identity, moral choices, and especially compromises across religious boundaries can be productive in play: Fading Suns (specifically the Priests of the Celestial Sun supplement), HeroQuest, and DeGenesis.

Best, Ron
I have been digging through my old copies of hero quest and fading suns, as I go along this is becoming closer to those than I had originally envisioned. I really like the myth building stuff in hero quest especially(I have first and second ed, I really prefer the flavor of first). of course reading any of Robin D. Laws work is an eye opener. That guy can't help but innovate.

I would not let players all be of different religions. That would just make a mess of things. Players shouldn't be given so much control over setting anyways. It's a false freedom. They get to bend the world to their will, but that's not theirs to do. I guess it's a discussion all on its own, in fact I will go and create a thread for it when I have a little time, but they don't HAVE to decide on every aspect. They can take parts of the religion they like and therefore pursue, much like you have different roles in, well any church really, but the religion itself and its creed should be imposed on them.

It's how they act within the boundaries of their faith, whether they stay true to it or wish to stray outside. It's what they do with the tasks given to them. Within that, they have plenty freedom, but just as we can't control where we are born and what we look like, players shouldn't have full control. Especially if they get to outfit their spacecraft and all that cool stuff, it's not a crime to impose things on them.

But that's just me. There will be a discussion on it shortly! :)

I totally agree that the players should be of the same faith. I thought about allowing multi-faith games, but that would be a mess. I am not saying it isn't doable, just that I don't think I can do that particular type of game. I do still want(in the absract) the players to have the option to create there own faith(as a group). I believe this lends to more buy in. I think that this would stop the issue I have seen in other games where the players refuse to let the characters believe an in game religion. they say it is because it is not logical/makes no sense. If they design their own religion, they will not see the holes. the blind spots of the designer and the players will be the same because they are the same people. though i do plan on having a few premade religions set up. thank you for your input, as it raises some interesting questions it raises a good question that I really should be thinking about this early in the game. How much freedom do I give the players in this game? I will definitely be thinking and tweaking this as I go along with alpha testing

Sounds like a neat idea gtroc! Questions:

1) Would it be assumed all of the PC's are of the same religion/faction?
2) Would the players be assumed to be cooperating with each other?
3) What is the action scale? Mostly focused on space battles in ships, or individual spec-ops missions on foot and land vehicles?
1. yes that is the current assumption I am working from.
2. Again yes, though cinflict would still be an interesting element. currently I am working with the idea that the PCs work together, but hey do not have to like one another, just share a similar in game goal.
3. now that, that I do not know. I want there to be space battles yeah. I have these massive carrier vessels and hordes of fighter craft, I would love to use them. I also like the idea of comando raids,diplomacy, scouting new planets, maybe even missionary work. here's a question, would narrowing the options here help my game or hurt it? I am unsure.

Quote
I admit I like the suggestions Daniel gave. Having the players design their vehicles in different styles (Tank, Scout, Striker, Support) has always been an idea bouncing around in my head and I think it would work well with your setting concept. Also, it may not need to be central, but I do like the idea of providing morally difficult choices for the players. For example, your zealous religious leader orders you to destroy the enemy's water treatment plant to weaken the nearby military outpost, even though it will also affect the city full of innocent civilians a few miles away.
I also like the idea of designing personal craft. I have issues with it on a personal level though. see I used to work as an fighter jet mechanic(F15E strike eagle), and when you mass produce an object for the military the closest to custom you can get is your name on the side. I realize that this is fiction, but I can't make my brain move that way and still feel right about it, if that makes sense. I do like the idea of hard choices. looking at actual holy wars I can see a great many things happening outside the bounds of doctrine. also on those massive ships there could be whole regements of men whose belief differs slightly from the PCs, or who have lost faith, or who only use this as an excuse to kill.

Quote
As far as designing a religion, I think that is also a cool idea, but that would imply that each player is creating their own religious affiliation and therefore would be at odds against each other?

Callan's suggestion to reward players for persuing their goals is also very good. How do you feel about this idea?

Each player picks three "Convictions", a Vision, a Commandment, and a  Crusade. Your character's Vision is their own personal goal, a piece of imagery that wish to see come true. Their Commandment is their religious goal or code of behavior, something that could possibly be common to more than one player. Their Crusade is their current mission, typically shared between all players and usually given to them by their religious leader.

Example:
Vision - To become Bishop of a small planet or colony.
Commandment - To bring justice to those under the heel of oppression.
Crusade - To travel to the Urdot System and investigate the missing missionaries.

Whenever the player meaningfully persues one of these Convictions, perhaps they could get bonuses to their rolls? Or maybe, they get extra experience or whatever you use for advancement.

I really like the terms Vision, Commandment, and Crusade. those are very evocative, and I think i might use them. I am leaning toward having the players, as a group, design a religion for all of them. basically it would be like city creation in Dresden, only instead of a city you would have a religion to play in. Also I am really thinking hard about making the Earth lost and Mythical. Humans left so long ago that the information they have is fragmentary at best. And perhaps the Earth is not part of the Gate network, so finding it again is a serious quest, probably impossible. The earth would take on the feel of the holy grail/holy land. I like this idea, but am unsure how to use it to spur play. I have a rule, if it can't be used by players why is it in my game(the GM is a player).thank you for your responses, just one day on these forums have really helped me figure out a few things about my game.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2011, 08:17:31 PM »

Quote
I am not sure how to do that and make it come out to be something believable.
There's only one thing that's hard to believe - and that is that believing is really, really easy. Believing is not hard at all. It's a cakewalk. :) That's the only hard thing to believe.
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gtroc
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« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2011, 10:59:18 PM »

There's only one thing that's hard to believe - and that is that believing is really, really easy. Believing is not hard at all. It's a cakewalk. :) That's the only hard thing to believe.

Believable may have been the wrong word to use. Perhaps the question should be, what kind of system could be designed that would end in a religion,or set of philosophical doctrines, that would feel real to the players? What kind of framework would I need to make something feel plausible? I hope that clarifies my dilemma. though to be fair, this thread has already helped me through a couple of dilemmas already. It as helped me really focus in on what I want out of the game.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2011, 11:15:32 PM »

If your asking me, I think it's simply a matter of the players own philosophical capacity. They may have the capacity simply to play a character who believes a certain religious tenents (maybe it's just acting ability?). And they'll just do it if you say that's what the game is about.

Others expect it to somehow feel plausible when they get into contact with it, like somehow there's a real religion structure and a fake one and they just know which is the real deal. I don't think you can do it with them - probably in such a case Ron's game method, where (as I see it) religion isn't really central and if it comes up at all is mixed around alot of other human stuff, is probably the best model. That diffuses religion, dilutes it (though possibly cloaks it as well), instead of trying to intensely forfil someones sense there is a 'plausible religion' involved.

So, I'd say there are two crowds and you decide which you want to aim for with your design. I might be wrong, or there may be three or more crowds, etc.
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