[Game Chef 2011] Shakespeare's Secret Service/Castaway Characters

Started by friendOfAgnes, July 18, 2011, 11:53:34 PM

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Okay, so this is my first time at GameChef, but I've been curious about it for quite a while, and maybe this will finally get me to actually write out and complete a game design.

Anyway, I'm still working on refining the concept (and would love feedback), but the current idea is a combination of Shakespeare's lost years, time travel, and character's that could have, but never did, exist in Shakespeare plays.  Here's the gist:

In the far future, time travel has been discovered.  The details are messy, but what ultimately matters is that the past can be changed, but only if what you change would be recorded for the future to know.  Only the people and things in the time machine won't be changed, but most big changes by time travelers will be obvious, making it easy for the wardens of time to go back in time and stop them.  Success in changing history requires subtlety.

Enter William Shakespeare.  The most famous playwright of the English language, his works would have numerous ramifications for all aspects of humanities future.  Because of this, Shakespeare has become one of the prime targets for rogue time travelers, from anachronistic reformers to time-terrorists to disgruntled English students.  Unfortunately, not only is William Shakespeare one of the more important figures in history, he's also one of the hardest to protect.  From 1585-1592 C.E., nothing is recorded of William Shakespeare's life, a prime opening for attacking or influencing him while making remediation by time travelers exceedingly difficult.

This is where the players both come from, and become important.  Changing time can make things a bit weird and create some unusual anomalies.  In this case, frequent changes and reversals of Shakespeare's works have cause characters from alternate versions of his plays to enter reality, exiled from their home plays.  Their existence is somewhat unstable, however, and too much change in the wrong way to Shakespeare's life would erase them entirely.  Thus the wardens of time have enlisted them with the mission of protecting Shakespeare from the influence of rogue time travelers during his lost years.  Of course, these characters have all the humanity Shakespeare imparted his creations with, and thus their own goals they may be willing to risk their existence to achieve.


The mechanics so far:
The characters will have three stats, Comedy, Tragedy, and History.
Comedy is used for any sort of benevolent action with out intent for real harm, but then of course a bit of witty banter is all in good fun.
Tragedy is used for more ill-intentioned, destructive actions seeking to harm individual, physically, mentally, or socially.
History is used to preserve and stabilize things as they are, be they yourself, others, or events.
The basic mechanic will be a simple d6 dice pool with 4-6 as successes and a number of points for a character to assign among the different categories (this need not be based purely on the play the character comes from, as tragedies have their comic relief, comedies have their antagonists, and the play the character comes from could have an entirely different ending from ours).

There is a second aspect to the traits, however, in that points can also be spent to specify a detail of a scene, as appropriate to the stat. History specifies aspects of the past, comedy the present, and tragedy the future.  I'm not yet sure how exactly recovery of these points will work (if any).

Some further mechanical ideas I still need to flesh out are conditions for character's vanishing, character's motivations and/or endings as established by their play, and quotes of power.


Incorportating ingredients:

Exile: this one's pretty straightforward, as the player's are characters cast-out from their plays and unable to return (or so they think).
Nature: the far future society is much different from our own, with "technology" (including time-travel) based upon nature and in many ways resembling faerie magic (a la Midsummers Night's Dream).  Agents from the future (be they wardens or more malevolent individuals) will be strongest in areas of the wilderness.

I'm still working on the third, but leaning towards foresworn, possibly with a mechanical aspect or reflecting a tendency for character's internal motivations to run against their mission of protecting Shakespeare (thus requiring them to, at least formally, denounce this aspect of their being).


I can understand why characters from comedies would want to return, but those from tragedies?  They would be the worst villains of all, since they are doomed should they return.


Have you thought of incorporating characters from his lost and/or apocryphal plays? Those seem ready-made for something like this.
--Mike Olson


Greetings Sir or Madam,

   We suspect you are more than a little disoriented and wondering where you are.  What you should actually be wondering, however, is when you are, what you are, and why you are here.  This letter will give you the answers to the latter questions, answering the first is up to you.
It may be difficult for your ancient mind to comprehend, but in the distant future, we have learned how to travel through time.  Do not fret too much about it, we have legions of physicists and philosophers doing that for you.  All you need to know is that individuals from the future can travel to the past to change it, but they can only do so by changing events important enough to be recorded.  We, the Wardens of Ages, exist to correct these changes, an anomaly may be generated.  You are one of these.
   More specifically, you are a character from a play written by the writer William Shakespeare in an alternate history which no longer exists.  Shakespeare's writings are among the most enduring in all of time and have a profound influence on humanity's future, but this also makes him a prime target for individuals seeking to alter history.  Unfortunately, no direct record exists of the seven years in Shakespeare's life before he began writing, preventing our efficent and direct correction of alterations within this period and making it an excessively popular destination for time-criminals.
   Thus, we have assigned you must do everything within your power to prevent these time travelers from ever changing what he writes.  Being a character from a play, you may have confusing memory of that period and a strong desire to act it out as best as possible.  We would like to advise you to resist these urges and focus on your mission.   As a temporal anomaly, your existence is unstable such that extensive change to recorded history will erase you entirely, thus we expect it is in your own best interest to prevent these changes as well.
   Reality may bear little resemblance to the play you come from, but worry not as you will instinctively recognize your creator William Shakespeare and likewise you should also possess a basic understanding of his cultural norms and knowledge.  Given the difficulty of directly monitoring the period of time in which you are located, we will be unable to directly contact or aid you, but we have full confidence in your abilities.
   We hope this has clarified the situation and wish you the best of luck!

The Wardens of Ages

P.S. As this letter in itself constitutes written material, thus capable of profoundly altering the course of history, please do not leave it lying around.

There's a basic introduction.  Mechanics remain similar to earlier with the addition of character motivations/fates which working towards will earn back spent trait points (up to maximum).  Now working on a system to represent harm to characters (physical or otherwise) and also trying to figure out a good way to determine success or failure of antagonists plots to alter Shakespeare.

devlin1: Lost plays would great inspiration for potential characters in this game, but I want alternative versions of current characters to be an option (like a living Yorrick or the Comic version of King Lear) or characters from alternate versions of existing plays (like Prospero's wife or Hamlet's brother).

Wilper: Character's goals aren't necessarily to return to their plays, as that would be rather difficult, but that said, other characters from tragedies wanting vengeance on Shakespeare could make great antagonists.