A long time now have passed since my last post, a full year, incredible. Subsequently I have been busy with becoming a certified brewer, buying a house and dealing with renovating said house. But I have also been thinking, creating and developing new ideas for table sessions. Some of these ideas have been tested out before at my table, while others will need testing.
I want to present these ideas in a quick and dirty post for everybody who might stumble onto my corner of the internet. The ideas revolve around a setting archetype, I am unsure what to call it, and will be concluded at the end of this post.
- Three-Way Struggle
I do not mean to only play TTRPGs by night. What I want to draw inspiration from is the Noir-genre, where most of the tension and storytelling occur by night. Utilising the dark alleys and blinking neon signs to convey a muted, depressing, yet vibrant and busy atmosphere. While, so far, the description is only aesthetic, it does have play significance, as characters will be travelling by night and which creatures they might meet on their way and who to trust. The night do bring tension on it's own.
While some TTRPGs do dabble in this practise they are urban fantasies and focus on the action or romantic aspects of our favourite blood dripping creatures. This is fine and I do love myself some vampire or werewolf sessions, but I also want something else.
I want the fantasy of mythical heroes in an bygone age, who dealt with the night and its many horrible mysteries. I want my players to be those ancient heroes who deal with the gods, the magic and unknowns of this mythical nightly neon age.
To support this idea of nightcrawlers making their legends, I developed this system of moons that phase in and out of reality, each with a force they manifest into the world. Each moon has a name, personality, power and a colour they paint the world in. There are times of the month where they are more powerful and entering the world fully, therefore clash with the inhabitants and our characters.
These are just some moons that I considered to fit on a d6 dice. Every single one of them bring a different danger to the world, they emphasis a specific element, and they interact with the players and the NPCs differently. They are supposed to be characters, just like the night that the characters explore.
What these specific moons mean will be released in something I am working on. For now lets get back at what I mean they might be more dangerous at certain times and that mysterious "fully closed" bit in the picture.
When I made this system I thought I would like to have it ebb and flow, just to provide some respite from the environmental characters that are the moon. So I decided on making a simple calendar that can be easily tracked.
This minimalistic approach to a calendar is simple. You have 3 nights for each moon phase from new moon to new moon. When you hit some of the described days, something happens:
- Fully closed: you roll which moon rolls into alignment.
- First signs: the present moons influence can begin to be felt, aka first wave of monsters appear.
- Fully open: means the moon is at its most powerful, it influences the world directly.
- Last call: the moon's influence is waning from the world, last wave of monsters appear.
This approach provides a more natural segway to play according a lunar calendar, but as most of the character time will take place at night, I think it is fine.
So I am a sucker for mapping, being able to place a characters motivations along some sort of guiding path is intuitive for me. This is not meant for player characters, but environmental and villainous, helping, bystanding and etc. characters.
The concept is a riff on Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone duality of cosmic forces. Chaos and Order fighting over control of a plane of existence, none of the party really care for the world or it's inhabitants. They are just pawns in a larger game of chess. They interfere, meddle and develop these worlds to their pleasure and needs.
My riff is to add a third party to the mix, instead of just Chaos and Order I decided on Entropy, Order and Nullity. Nullity being a cosmic apathetic force, they are unwanted players in a game of godly monopoly. They just want everything to go silent and into the primordial soup that once was.
These three teams have each their own demi-beings tugging at the living inhabitants of the different worlds, trying to guide them into the control of one of them. In this image the demi-beings are in the middle circle, called Guardians, the Silent, Changers, etc. showing a characteristic of the character.
I often use these as cheatsheets for creating a character on the spot and to guide their motivations. But they can also be used to understand a pantheon of gods in a specific locale, with religious struggle being a major point of conflict to be dragged into.
So what is my summarised idea?
An ancient time where player characters are pitted against environmental characters, the pivotal Night and the Moons. These environmental characters might have allies fighting for their cause and/or their cosmic lord's fight.
Most of the game time takes place at night, in its embrace of darkness and illuminated streets. A fusion of antiquity, noir and neon. A place that invites danger and tension all on its own. It provides vibrancy in the midst of a mute and dangerous world.
I call it Neon Myth.