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Author Topic: Brainstorming - Medieval Fantasy  (Read 4497 times)
SrGrvsaLot
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« on: April 13, 2003, 12:02:08 PM »

I'm a few days away from completing the rough draft for my latest project (a hybrid board game-rpg where the players take the roles of Gods), and am looking for a new project to start after this one.  Inspired by the "Heartbreakers" articles, I've begun to wonder if it's possible to do a completely original medieval fantasy game (or at least one that's original enough to not be considered derivatibe). Sure, the genre's practically been done to death, but there has to be some unique ideas left. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions on what I should do (or what I should avoid, for that matter)?

What I've got so far:

There are two worlds, the mundane world, or the "real" world, and the magic world. The two coexist in space, and effect each other back and forth, but only a few people can perceive the magic world. Rarer even than those, are people who can actually enter the magic world. These people are powerful sorcerors, becuase any change they make in the magic world has ripples and ramifications in the real world (for instance, you can kill someone by destroying their magical shadow). The players would be people with the talent to cross between worlds.
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John Frazer, Cancer
Realmforger
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2003, 01:43:06 PM »

I have an idea to add to that. If you're looking for an open-ended RPG, then you might not like this, but this is my general idea:

Suddenly (whether because an evil sorcerer or something put it there, or it came from another realm, or whatever), a mysterious presence has broke into the Magic Realm, and is causing evil happenings in the mundane world. It's up to the sorcerers to discover what this presence is, and extinguish it without causing too much havoc in the real world. (Maybe you'd have to take them out at the source or defeat their powerful sorcerer leader. Maybe the most powerful sorcerer in the real world has turned to the dark side, or the sorcerer came from a distant word.)

I have a possible add-on to that idea: The creatures (or presences) are able to take control of the shadow images of people in the real world, and are taking control of important officials, and spreading their order about the mundane realm. (This adds a twist: You not only have to venture into the darkest bowels of the Magic Realm, but have to convince the world that their leaders have been taken over by a strange presence. Maybe your actions against the presence in the Magic Realm will make it more difficult to take them out in the real world or something.)

I hope my ideas have been of some help!

- RF
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ADGBoss
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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2003, 03:35:10 AM »

Quick note: Realmforger thats a pretty solid idea for a MEta-plot if SrGrvsaLot is needing one.  Awesome.

Ok I think Ron spells out pretty well what he considers to be a Heartbreaker and those are a good guidelines to get you started.

A few questions you might want to consider answering:
Per the Characters (These Gifted or Sorcerers or whatever)
A- What is the Characters' rol ein society? Are they esteemed or treated like black smiths but with different jobs? Are they hated? Hunted?
B- What does it take to be one of these gifted? Do they take a red pill? Are they born or reincarnated souls? Can anyone learn this but its so hard most people do not try?
C- Can these gifted do other things? Taken down to its loweest denominator, the DUNGEON CRAWL, could these characters who are gifted and can cross worlds, ALSO pick locks and heal and fight badies? OR do they use their Gift/Magic to get around it OR is it a Wheel of Time / Ars MAgica idea where some of the characters are mundane or grogs etc?

PEr story elements
A- Is there a way to lose your Gift? And if so is the character going to continue to be viable? Can he or she still enter the magical world with the aid of his/her companions?
B- Is there a mentor-student realtionship between these Gifted and someone else?
C- How extensive is the Gift? Is it simply for allowing crossing between worlds or is part of the fundamental magical theory?

Per Races and Setting
A- Are Humans the only playable Race? Is it Man vs Nature where Nature incoludes other races?
B- Are deities or powerful mortals/immortals in the mix and can they affect the Gift and passing between?

I hope these help. The idea is pretty intriguing and I hope you go somewhere with it.

Sean
ADGBoss
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2003, 04:37:40 AM »

Quote from: SrGrvsaLot
Inspired by the "Heartbreakers" articles, I've begun to wonder if it's possible to do a completely original medieval fantasy game (or at least one that's original enough to not be considered derivatibe). Sure, the genre's practically been done to death, but there has to be some unique ideas left. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions on what I should do (or what I should avoid, for that matter)?

My first suggestion is to read fantasy literature. Lots and lots of fantasy literature. Especially anything published before 1974. I say this because if you read the Fantasy Heartbreaker essays, part of what makes them break your heart is that they are still using D&D fantasy. This is a type of fanatsy that is sometime called "medieval fantasy" "Tolkien fantasy" "high fantasy" and other names including just plain "fantasy" but it is none of these. It's a style of fantasy that originated from RPGs and is mostly learned from playing RPGs. These days, there are D&D fantasy novels and probably movies and tv shows as well.

My point is, D&D fantasy has indeed been done to death in RPGs. The other types of fantasy have barely been touched. So read books, books untained by D&D fantasy and find a type of fanatsy you like and make a game out of it. Check out the Sorcerer supliment Sorcerer and Sword for an example of doing this, Heroic Fanatsy in this case.
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SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2003, 06:30:38 AM »

Thanks Jack, that really clarified some things for me.

Realmforger: I really like your ideas, I'll be sure to try and use them.
Quote from: ADGBoss

A few questions you might want to consider answering:
Per the Characters (These Gifted or Sorcerers or whatever)
A- What is the Characters' rol ein society? Are they esteemed or treated like black smiths but with different jobs? Are they hated? Hunted?

I haven't really thought about this. I'm thinking they'll probably be feared, if they're identified as sorcerors.
Quote

B- What does it take to be one of these gifted? Do they take a red pill? Are they born or reincarnated souls? Can anyone learn this but its so hard most people do not try?
C- Can these gifted do other things? Taken down to its loweest denominator, the DUNGEON CRAWL, could these characters who are gifted and can cross worlds, ALSO pick locks and heal and fight badies? OR do they use their Gift/Magic to get around it OR is it a Wheel of Time / Ars MAgica idea where some of the characters are mundane or grogs etc?

These are pretty good questions. I think I'll have them gain the gift by surviving a brush with something in the magic realm (like maybe there's some sort of monster or parasite that lives solely in the magic realm that feeds off a person's shadow. Most people die because of this, but those that survive have the ability to cross between the worlds.) So, because it can happen to anyone, the characters could have all sorts of useful skills.

Quote

PEr story elements
A- Is there a way to lose your Gift? And if so is the character going to continue to be viable? Can he or she still enter the magical world with the aid of his/her companions?
B- Is there a mentor-student realtionship between these Gifted and someone else?
C- How extensive is the Gift? Is it simply for allowing crossing between worlds or is part of the fundamental magical theory?

I'll have to take some time and give these questions some thought.
Quote

Per Races and Setting
A- Are Humans the only playable Race? Is it Man vs Nature where Nature incoludes other races?
B- Are deities or powerful mortals/immortals in the mix and can they affect the Gift and passing between?

I think the "real" world will be a totally realistic medieval setting - gritty even. No fantasty races or monsters of any sort. The magic realm could have just about anything in it, though those things will reflect the fears and dreams of the real world's inhabitants.

ADG's post also got me to thinking about how exactly the Gifted (I like that term by the way) cross between worlds. I have two ideas about this.

a) They enter some sort of meditative trance, and simply cross over.

b)There are only certain places (like sacred groves and such) that it's possible to cross over. To most people, these are normal, if slightly spooky, but to those with the Gift, they are a doorway between worlds.

I personally think "b" is more intriguing, but it also limits the role that the magic world will play in the game, because those sites that exist are almost certainly guarded. Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?[/quote]
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John Frazer, Cancer
samdowning
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Posts: 38


« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2003, 07:30:47 AM »

I wouldn't think the places have to be guarded.  If you made it so that anything created in that realm couldn't cross over or survive in the real world, you wouldn't have to worry about it being guarded.  Also, it might be cool if things from the real world can stumble upon the entrances and have to be rescued.  Think about some of the old Irish and Scottish folk tales about faerie mounds which were only one way.

So this could make it so that anyone can pass over into the magical world, but only the Gifted knew the way back.  Your mixed parties could go into the magical world and solve a problem, but would have a time limit maybe before the mundane folk would go nuts or something.  Also, you could create spells where the mundane and the Gifted could communicate while the Gifted was in the magical and the mundane was in the real world.

The trance thing would be a pain, I'd think, because someone would always have to be guarding his friend's body.

One other thing, you'll have to make being Gifted something bad in some way or everyone in the party will just be Gifted.  The being hunted thing usually works to dissuade people.

I remember a story once where one of the characters fights a demon in another plane that was basically laid on top of the real world, but I just can't remember where I saw it.  Some of the world premises could be reworked.   I think the book was modern fantasy, though.

Oh, and then there's Digimon.  :)  Just kidding!
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Samantha Downing
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SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2003, 08:22:23 PM »

Quote from: samdowning
I wouldn't think the places have to be guarded.  If you made it so that anything created in that realm couldn't cross over or survive in the real world, you wouldn't have to worry about it being guarded.  

They wouldn't be guarded because of things coming out. They'd be guarded because beings who can cross between worlds would be very protective of the source of their power.

Quote

Also, it might be cool if things from the real world can stumble upon the entrances and have to be rescued.  Think about some of the old Irish and Scottish folk tales about faerie mounds which were only one way.

So this could make it so that anyone can pass over into the magical world, but only the Gifted knew the way back.  

I really like this idea. In fact, combined with my idea that the Gifted got that way by surviving a monster attack, it could really make the game a sort of medieval fantasy horror.
 
Quote

Your mixed parties could go into the magical world and solve a problem, but would have a time limit maybe before the mundane folk would go nuts or something. Also, you could create spells where the mundane and the Gifted could communicate while the Gifted was in the magical and the mundane was in the real world.
. . .<snip> . . .
One other thing, you'll have to make being Gifted something bad in some way or everyone in the party will just be Gifted.  The being hunted thing usually works to dissuade people.

Actually, I was thinking of requiring the whole party to be Gifted, but your idea about getting mundanes into the magic world might make that unnecessary. Still, isn't it likely that the Gifted will overshadow the mundanes, purely in terms of how interesting they are to play, even, or perhaps, especially, if they are hunted?
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John Frazer, Cancer
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2003, 06:15:35 AM »

John,

I think the setting is suitably grabby. But why do the PCs travel between worlds? Is it for power? Exploration? Does each have his own reason? Why would the PCs know each other? Would they all have stumbled across some door at the same time in the same place? If not, how do the PCs even end up interacting? Or is crossing over more common than it sounds?

Mike
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SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2003, 07:30:35 AM »

Mike,

Those are really good questions, that I hadn't even considered. Since receiving the Gift involves being attacked by a soul eating monster, people who have the Gift lose part of their soul. Perhaps it's the ability to appreciate beauty, the ability to love, or a sense of humor. The only way to regain that part of your soul would be to find the monster that attacked you and eat its heart (Losing the Gift in the process).

Each person could travel to the magic realm for his own reasons. For some it would be power (they might think the lost part of their soul a fair exchange), though I imagine most would do it to recover what was stolen from them. The Gifted could band together for mutual protection and aid, and out of a bond formed by common trauma.
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John Frazer, Cancer
szilard
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2003, 07:46:15 AM »

Quote from: SrGrvsaLot

Those are really good questions, that I hadn't even considered. Since receiving the Gift involves being attacked by a soul eating monster, people who have the Gift lose part of their soul. Perhaps it's the ability to appreciate beauty, the ability to love, or a sense of humor. The only way to regain that part of your soul would be to find the monster that attacked you and eat its heart (Losing the Gift in the process).


This has the potential to be really cool.

I think it is important, though, to consider whether it should be possible to actually accomplish. If not (i.e., if it is more of a mythical hope), will this really create motivation for the players? If it is possible, what actually happens when you eat the heart? Yeah, you might lose the Gift. Does the character then (usually) retire? Is there another motivator at that point? How do the other monsters feel about someone who has eaten one of their hearts? What sort of connection does the character have at that point? (Does the character become one of those soul-eating monsters?)

Stuart
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SrGrvsaLot
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2003, 08:41:33 AM »

The way I envision the monsters are as a sort of black, shadowy, wolf-like beast. They start out as mere animals, but they gain the memories of the souls they eat. Tracking them down would be difficult, and there's little way to tell beforehand whether the monster you find and kill is the one that attacked you (unless it reveals itself by taunting you with some of the memories you've lost).

Because of these factors, there's no person living today that has recovered their soul fragments, but everyone who would be in a position to know says that's the way it's done. So, I guess the path to redemption is halfway between knowledge and fact. It's a slim hope, but the only possible thing to do.

PS - Thanks to everyone who's helped me out so far. I'm starting my introduction today, and I'm definately going to try and incorporate as much from this thread as possible.
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John Frazer, Cancer
Chris
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2003, 04:41:45 AM »

If you want "original" fantasy, one thing to do is go to the original fantasy - medieval literature.  The modern genre has turned into such a derivative mess (almost everything in the last 30 years has been professional Tolkien fan-fic) that there is much inspiration to be found in primary sources, especially where Tolkien got his inspiration - the sagas and medieval Germanic literature (Volsunga Saga, Nibilingilied, Holfs Saga Kraki, the french romances).

I thought of this especially when you mentioned the "parallel" realm of magic.  The Norse concepts of reality have often struck me as a parallel model, with Asgard and the world tree Ygsdrasail existing along side yet separate to the mundane reality of medieval Scandinavia.  Read the Eddas (Younger and Elder).
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b_bankhead
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« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2003, 05:59:16 AM »

Quote from: samdowning
Oh, and then there's Digimon.  :)  Just kidding!


   This has given me a blood-chillingly elegant idea.
This concept of 'overlayed reality' seems pretty flexible. It could fit SF,cyberpunk, magic ,Nghtmare on Elm Street...etc....why not present the concept as a set of meta rules for something whose nature is defined by the group concept, as in Sorcerer where the group defines just what a demon is and just what humanity loss is.....
Hmmm this could be the start of a whole new product line.  There could be  whole group of supplements for various game worlds ,virtual reality, alternate dimensions, and so on just like the Sorcerer supplements...

And Digimon! and I'm NOT kidding!
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s/LaSH
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2003, 10:13:49 PM »

I confess, when I first read the description of the setting I thought it was talking about a fantasy realm in parallel to modern, 21st-century Earth. The idea of an alternate reality within which people wield great powers and can affect Earth by proxy was quite interesting.

That, of course, does away with most of the weird-spiritual aspect of the Other Realm, making it more concrete (albeit still with fantasy stuff in it). You might be tempted to state that the 'real' world can also affect events in the fantasy world. That is, sodium pentathol on Earth's equivalent to the magic-resistant witness who won't talk in the fantasy realm will act like a truth spell but without having to bypass magic resistance.

Do you see what I mean? It would work in a certain sense even if you stuck with a medieval paradigm.

I've heard things about the Second World Sourcebook (for d20) that sound slightly similar, in that there are two parallel worlds (one modern, one fantasy), but I think that's the limit of the parallel - the two worlds don't affect each other much, although the 'real' world does tend to repel magic back into its own world over time. It might be worth investigating (I got my data through reviews online).

EDIT: And Digimon is cool. Season 3 especially.
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