Monday, July 12, 2010

What if, when civilization was first forming...

(These are notes that I had compiled a while back when I was foolishly thinking I was good enough to write modules. I had considered publishing an alternative history deal centered around a Black Ziggurat. Ha! Boy was I dumb. So, I'll just muddle around here with it, and maybe get together some players for it someday...)

What if ...

... the god/dess/es were real, and they influenced PCs on a much greater level - similar to a charm person, or to where the player had to make a saving throw versus an attribute to do something against the will of a god inside of the god's city? And what if this was easier at lower levels, because everyone is basically a grunt, and as you grow in levels/importance, you grow in the sight of the god/dess?

... magic users were really sorcerers and your very first "first level" spell wasn't Read Magic but Summon Demon so that you could use the demon to cast spells? And what if the mage had to have a high Charisma as well as high Intelligence? And what if the mage had to make a Charisma save to have the Demon cast the spell (ala, EPT's Spell Fumble roll prior to casting a spell?) And what if instead of sucking up the Demon's HP when the spell is cast, on a failed save, the Demon would still cast the spell but the hp cost came from the Mage?

... only those who wanted to risk disfavor with the Gods could write?

... technology was something that caused the Gods influence/power to be less? So that yes, you could use the higher technologies of refined metals, writing and what-not -- but then those Cleric spells might not work so well?

... everyone had a shot at divine favor/intervention?

... you could move up in levels, but you also had some measure of how happy your God or the city's royalty were with you... and that depended on how much of your "stuff" you gave?

... gp/sp was only a relative "measure" - coins and money was not as prevalent as jewelry, cattle, slaves, property?

... going into the "Underworld" meant you really did go to a place where the rules changed in how things worked?

... Resurrect spells were really opening portals to the deepest parts of the Underworld where you had to battle to regain the souls of your lost comrades.

... the end game was your quest to become a lugal so that you could be equal to a god through technology, control of the people and worship of a god and how the god's influence was spread to other cities, territories?

... Jeff's game of EPT at Winterwar had influenced my view of "Land of 2 Rivers" a lot more than I had realized?


Chad Thorson said...

Very interesting, I think you should still write it!

Jensan said...

I like the Resurrect-spell idea, to have to fight for your (comrades) souls.
What happens if you fail and is slayed in the underworld? A game of lost souls, with new attributes?

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Jensen - roll 3d6 6 times ...

@Atom Kid - for my personal use only. I learned a good lesson from trying to write a module.

Erin Smale said...

Good concepts - I particularly like the MU summoning a demon to cast spells for him idea particularly, which CHA being more important than INT.

Given these, what makes you think you can't write a module? I'd absolutely check out the Black Ziggurat.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Erin - because when I was done writing Tombs of Hulkursag, I reread it and it was complete shit. But that's history, and I'm more interested in playing than publishing.

netherwerks said...

Do it. Write it. What you're describing in terms of your own work is not that it's bad --not by a long shot--but you need a comptent editor. Your work is very good. The Black Ziggurat would be a lot of fun to play-in, as you describe it, and if we can help you out to make it happen, keep us in mind.

Anonymous said...

Cool ideas... I'm all for turning the expectations of D&D style games on their collective ear and making some interesting new twists in campaigns. I think it engages everyone's brains more, and keeps players (and DMs) from falling into the same old easy to fall back on ruts we usually experience in fantasy gaming.

Erin Smale said...

@ChicagoWiz: just because you're the author doesn't mean that your opinion merits extra weight ;)

I agree with NetherWerks. I've come to rely on my editor because he *always* finds way to say what I want better than I can say it myself. Authors are too close to their own work, and aren't to be trusted as a result.

Don't mean to dredge anything up. Just hate to see people sell themselves short.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

Well, let me brutally honest with you - I can't afford the editor that I would need for the steaming pile of crap that was my module.

I barely make enough to support about 3 families - and with bills piling up, vehicles that need parts, house items that need fixed - well, I'm not in a position to invest in writing something that just isn't going to make me more than beer money.

So it'll be fun to spin something as a game for friends, but I'd have to write something far and away above this crap to merit just a pass thru with my 3 Headed Monster blokes. Michael Curtis I'm not!

Pulp Herb said...

Very interesting although I wonder why EPT influenced it.

That said, writing it and writing it for publication and writing it for paid publication are three very different things.

I'd say do the first and do it often, here or in private. To get better at writing you must write.

I'd be very happy if you did the second where publication = pdf downloadable somewhere. You have good ideas which I'd love to inspired by.

As for the third...I think for most of us it is over rated and should be avoided.

Unknown said...

Part of the fun with this is that it makes for some interesting mixes when you use the same ideas in skills-based systems. INT becomes knowing the facts of Doing Magic - which herbs do what, what a circle might mean; WIS is the actual psychic wherewithal to do the magic and CHA is the effect of how it works with the things you summon. Fireball? That's just a tiny elemental with a big stick...

What this means for skills: consider that these flavors of knowledge have an effect in communication. Dude who can fry you for Xd6 reasonably has a bit of a bonus for "diplomacy" and "intimidation."

Funny you bring up EPT as the source of this - I was thinking of running a Tsolyani game using Houses of the Blooded as the crunch up at FLGS in Grayslake... ;)

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@EKB - interesting, but I have to make a confession - I avoid skill-based rolling games about as much as I can. In your example about finding the right mix, I would do some role-playing and figuring it out.

I'm not sure if that's what you were getting at, I thought perhaps you were, but I'm not sure. :)

The attribute checks are used about as sparingly as possible in my game. I'd much rather have a negotiation about what you're doing than just roll dice.