Saturday, 25 July 2015
Designing the perfect Retropunktechpulp genre Setting
I have a few more road war and ww1 and Retropunktechpulp tables to get out shortly plus d100 village idiots. I considered doing separate d100 teens for fantasy and cyber/supers/SF stuff.
Work hours cut so more relaxed and writing and some other projects - art for local game con, invited to a art fair and Paste Modernism 4 and a bit of effort getting more teaching work by writing a paragraph. Had interview for my job. Have two con games to do. Sorting room out and chucking every not quite working appliance. Will get some zine stuff done too.
I wanna merge multiple ideas into a single setting but i don't think i could fit all into one world. Reading others debate about mars setting at Timothy Brannan got me thinking more about this. Has been combing over silmilar territory in retro pulp. I must get the new Hollow earth stuff he has been reviewing.
I could pick and mix sources, stealing from the best into a coherent setting.
I could cram everything into one setting like Kim Newman novel or Alan Moore's league of extraordinary gentleman.
Or have a cluster of interrelated planes with overlapping content for a ultimate sandbox.
I could imagine multiple mars in different dimensions all linked and on some mars is lifeless and barren with only a trace atmosphere. Others have advanced civilisations of humans or aliens.
Inspired by fantasy mars settings talk i was reminded how could i choose just one of the awesome mars settings or fictions from comics, fiction and film. If I shove in everything might be ugly or hard work. I like all the human stuff in Space 1889 but not so keen on Martians (But do like Venus with swampy dinosaurs) and the moon (HG Wells first men in the moon). Id have fight over so many good mars settings - some tough choices.
So the setting I'm working on will be a cluster of realities between 1890 (steam) to 1930 but also with future like 1980 or 2020 as envisaged by SF writers of that period. I wanna do a steam and deco punk pulp setting with the flexibility of multiple realities, multiple emanations of time streams in a multiverse....
Besides influences from the above mentioned writers I will be drawing from the following. Steampunk of Micheal Moorcock (Oswald Bastable and Rituals of Infinity). 2nd DrWho Patrick Troughton Wargames Story in 1960s. and the Luther Arkwright comics (now with a RQ rulebook which will help - also this series very very Micheal Moorcock and is basically Moorcock's Rituals of Infinity).
The point of the last batch of references is they have the multiple realities and a strong story. Oswald Bastable books have great realities that are probably more horrible than most of genre. Oswald witnesses worlds at war and he knows wherever he goes he will witness that worlds first atomic detonation in a war. He is a bit too doomed for most RPGs. Rituals of Infinity features a agency aware of a few dozen parallel worlds with a force using psychically blank android/clone troops and agents to accelerate destruction of parallels. Luther Arkwright clearly uses this and other Moorcock ideas like Jerry Cornelius. Arkwright as a more detailed good and evil organisation, psionics and more. A little bit of Invisibles by grant Morrison might creep in(especially the 20s version of the team). TORG rpg has some nice ideas too. Dr Who wargames episode seems to be set in WW1 but really a time machine using race are stealing human soldiers to create a slave warrior race to conquer the universe. Other Dr who ideas might creep in. The main thing about these sources is time/plane travel will happen and their are multiversal threats like cthulhu mythos, dimensional warlords, and android disruptors spreading chaos.
Initially will be WW1 setting. I want to have it start historical with some biplane, tank and trench fights then have party sent into no-mans land to scout strange phenomena. This will keep up a bit and war will grow weirder. With divergent missions more pulp missions and plane shifting. Other time travel plausible too and will let me use miniatures from all time periods. Initially will be working (unknowingly) for a agency like the Laundry novels (Charles Stross) and Diogenes Club (Kim Newman). Later will hook up with multi planar agency - will be more planar factions introduced. The most dangerous reality travellers would be super heroes with inbuilt powers. Technology is more difficult to plane shift and has issues with local reality laws. Of course greys, evil germans and zombies will need a good thrashing or needle gunning.
I'm going to run this next year with a few teasers and a con one off this year.
Once gets into final form I can possibly keep it going for a long time and get very weird. Possibly drop in and new players can be kept ignorant of mega plot.
Ideas include all your basic stuff plus this:
Plane Shifting - essential for metatemporal agents for good and evil
Incarnation Shifting - plane and time travel with new bodies embedded in local time space, temporarily merge with local self who might not remember much
Astral Travel - variants could send spirit to other times/spaces and possess a local body
Reality Stabiliser - stop meta-temporal anachronistic tech from working in non native local reality template. Or might allow tech to work if local laws more chaotic (magical)
Reality Harmoniser - can shift tech, magic and anachronistic tech without infringing on local laws
Reality Chameleon - blend into local reality and fit in, absorb local every day knowledge from planetary overmind. Advanced masters can change clothes and tools
Reality Warp - let chaos in and local reality matrix fractures and bad weird stuff happens. Might summon otherworlders like a elemental or demon. Often creates a vacuum or gust of air if pressure of other planes different and possibly light. Preferred power for madmen
Tongues - absorb and communicate in local language from local collective consciousness - might not work if no intelligence about
Planar Scan - find gates, sense dimensional dematerialisation's, sense dimensional instability or travel or weak points. Some entities can harm you if you percieve them
Self Resurrection - if killed or destroyed new body forms amid elements of nature over time, often more like a parallel self than a continuous selfhood. Some forms are a bit creepy like reborn as a baby and rapidly grow to adulthood. Some use as a extreme form of plane travel.
Incarnation communion - can talk with other selves on other planes for information or sending planar messengers
Planar Communion - can speak to entities from other planes, most stick to one and form a relationship. May entities are jerks who want you to summon them or release into our world, others just alien horrors.
Summon Incarnation - call for a parallel self to rescue you, might be same each time, might replace you in their position with skills to escape their peril. If one of you die the ripples effect all of your incarnations and you could tell if someone was hunting and killing your other selves.
Summon Entity - most stick to one entity type per time you take power. You call being or beings who appear rapidly and you can banish them with resistance roll. You have no power over them but may bargain with them. Offering to send home most common bargain. Many call on things from beyond that are horrible. Devils, angels, greys, elves, mythos entities, elementals, demonic gods, aliens, dinosaurs, insectoids
Some planes and powers
Inter planar tech like gates, suits, monoliths, multidimensional vehicles or the "black boxes" used by many cheap and dodgy shifters (who gave it to them?) may not work in some realities or dimensional zones. Psionics are most versatile but even they might have difficulty in some planes stranding the mentalist meta-temporal explorer. Who'd have thought esp might not work on some planes, gosh! Magic from high sorcery to divine evocation to occult lore can be handy for realm hopping. Magic dependent on communing with other planes or planar entities changes every plane. You can get to a world and be stranded as your plane shifting means might conflict with local axioms and you wont be able to return the same way. One of the crappier situations is a plane ruled by gods (Or a god machine) who can interdict travellers from passing. Forcing you to ask them for help or or forcing you to kill or bypass them.
Hyperspace - a inter dimensional medium tapped by interstellar travel and other ultratech engineers uses, takes a thousand years to go from FTL to teleporting to forcefields, anti gravity, dimensional tech. Occasional wreckage, space mines or lost space prison found. Some entities with and without bodies. Hyperspace corridors can be built at mid hyperspace era tech but oftn lower tech civilizations find old trails that make hyperspace travel safer and usable by less advanced civilizations. Gates are an alternate more secure system because they can also block unwelcome non gate using visitors by interdicting FTL travel drives. Very advanced surround ship in warpspace bubble and seem to travel and perceive universe better than entering hyperspace
The Void - quite possibly a misty quasispace with a atmosphere that supports life somehow, possibly inside a multi dimensional being. Has some inhabitants. Possibly used by ancient cultists for travel. Pretty creepy, makes everyone seem drained
Etherspace - other planar space overlaps with interplanetary space and used for in system trips in conjunction with a Phlogiston drive for reaction that pushes against the ether
Astral Space - mental planes of existence, the medium of ghosts, spirits, shamans, occultists and source of ectoplasm
Time Vortex - for time travel but look out for chronovores or time travellers
Overspace - ultra high density plane of mass, energy and mentality without time. Things from that zone tend to explode a human if they possess one. Summing or communion using chimes and other sounds ike chanting helps call them. Any contact increases air pressure and causes blood noses and hemorrhaging in exposed body parts like eyes, makes ears pop painfully. Entities may swallow you to prevent you being crushed or exploded if taken to overspace. Best avoided really
Subatomic planes - are accessible by scaling down through reality and vice versa (shrinking or growing)
Hollow World - not really inside earth a manufactured artifact pocket universe outside of time and full of remnants of strange lost and extinct things and lost civilizations. Possible many gates deep in the earth used by ancients to flee worlds
Mythical and Fictional possible - Mythical have gods fictional somehow based on books or published or broadcast fiction.
Things from Beyond - Some entities can harm you if you perceive them. Possibly entering our world through your perception of them. These planes are frightfully close and influence on us according to unfathomable cosmic cycles. Some say hyperspace travel drawing them closer as mass of universe changes
I will be able to use my Cthulhu-Metropolis and some of my other settings again.
I will use my card system using playing cards and my BRP
Must feature villain and seconds and henchmen
Making waves in a plane like overthrowing a state or introducing anachronism can attract trouble from many weird things.