Building Stuff: Inspiring

It’s funny, the question I hear/read a lot is: how do you come up with adventures. If find this odd because – as my home group will attest – I am constantly coming up with varied adventures, so much so that my group is often hopping between genres and periods. We’ve settled down now since I’ve promised a minimum of a year’s campaign, but I am still constantly mapping out adventures or campaigns in my head.

There’s a bit of time until I start hyping the Kickstarter for Nefertiti Overdrive (coming in January! Save your allowance!) so let’s talk about building stuff. Since I do want to keep reminding people about Nefertiti Overdrive (not going to lie to you) and since presently my home group is involved in a globe-trotting 1930s supernatural pulp adventure, I’m 20going to use these two styles/genres as my examples.

The hardest part of this to explain is the source of inspiration. It’s hard to explain, because for me, it is everywhere! I get inspiration all the time from comics, stories, novels, histories, TV series, movies, radio interviews – seriously, anything can provide inspiration.

Probably the best recent example of a great piece of media for inspiration was the Star Wars: Rebels pilot. This thing is made for inspiration, given that it is built from inspiration provided not just by other Star Wars stories but also from other modern speculative media.

At its core, Rebels is about a group of kind-hearted criminals working for the greater good. It’s Firefly by way of Robin Hood. The pilot was used to intro a new member to the crew, the point of view character. The story around which this was wrapped involved a prisoner rescue caper.

This is pretty easy to bend both to Nefertiti Overdrive and 1930s Pulp. Nefertiti Overdrive is about a group of legendary heroes led by a princess of the deposed dynasty. The new dynasty and that dynasty’s fearsome allies – the military superpower of the era, the Assyrians – view the group as criminals, but the PCs do not target the common folk, only the representatives of this new order. Sure, the PCs don’t travel around in a space ship, but the main story of this episode is set on a single planet, which could be a single area or even town for Nefertiti Overdrive.

For a campaign, I’d take the concept of working as criminals to fund opposition against the new regime. From the episode itself, I’d take the prisoner rescue mission and have the targets of the rescue former soldiers of the princess’ dynasty. This would be a great insert if someone new wanted to join the group. If they wanted to play the plucky young street kid who is having a moral awakening, that’s fine, but if they are going to play another epic warrior, the PC could be a leader of the imprisoned soldiers.

Applying the concept of Rebels to 1930s Pulp works pretty well considering the number of actual civil wars, invasions and rebellions ongoing in that period – leading up to World War II. I’d take Rebels and place it in Japanese controlled Manchuria (where I also set the first adventure for my home group’s campaign) mostly because a fair knowledge of the region and my absolute adoration for the Good, the Bad, the Weird.

The PCs would be freedom fighters with ties to both the Korean independence movement and the various criminal organizations and warlords operating in Manchuria. Instead of a group of prisoners, there would be one political prisoner the group needed to free, but he or she is being held with a bunch of other prisoners, some criminal, some political. Manchuria’s a pretty big place, and maybe the group has a hidden aircraft that they use (in place of the spaceship in Rebels) allowing them to travel quickly and appear as if by magic. I could steampunk it up and make it a kind of VTOL aircraft, part helicopter, part airplane.

That’s honestly the easy thing – using inspiration to create a high-level campaign concept. There’s inspiration everywhere, and if you aren’t using it directly (playing Firefly in the Star Wars universe), you can easily adapt it to what you want to play.

You can find the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rules here.

You can learn more about Nefertiti Overdrive here and here.

You can learn more about Star Wars: Rebels at Wikipedia and IMDB.

You can learn more about the Good, the Bad, the Weird at Wikipedia and IMDB.

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Losing the Battle to Win the Kickstarter

Okay, so here’s the deal – after talking to a lot of very smart people and doing some deep thinking, I’ve decided to put off the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter until January. I’m honestly not happy about this, but I need to give it a fighting chance.

Even though it’s only a couple of months, it feels like an epoch trying to get this game off the ground. I was very ready at one point to pull the trigger on the Kickstarter when I had originally intended, even though it would have likely ended in failure. I don’t like the uncertainty. I wanted to know if this was a go or not.

I’m going to wait until January to give the Kickstarter a better chance at succeeding, but I’m not going to wait longer than that. A high profile RPG set in Egypt might start funding the week before my planned date and I’m not going to care. It’ll happen or it won’t, and if events conspire to make it fail, I’ll be a willing participant in that conspiracy.

So set your clocks, save up your pennies, and spread the word, January is the month, and I am leaning toward the 13th (a Tuesday) as the day.

You can find the free Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rules here.

You can learn more about Nefertiti Overdrive here and here.

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Hierarchy and Choson

“A secret trip at night (야금모행)” by Shin Yun Bok (신윤복)

Okay, so during the Nefertiti Overdrive doubt delay, let’s look once again at Choson.

The four factors that I wanted to include in Choson included two mechanical decisions and two historical concepts: simplicity, narrative control, historical Korea’s strict hierarchy, and its disdain for warriors.

I’m not concerned with the two former, because those have been hallmarks of my design since Sword Noir. The other two I could hard-code into the setting, but that seems like a cheat. I want to do this mechanically.

My first inclination is a kind of Reputation mechanic, similar to that in Sword Noir. In this case, Reputation would be separated into classes – there are roughly four major societal/class divisions in Choson Korea. Depending on your character’s social class, there would be both positive and negative modifiers dealing with other classes – sure, a yangban noble has social rank over the yangmin commoner, and in public, the yangmin will need to act with respect to the yangban, that doesn’t mean the yangmin actually respects the yangban. External actions and internal motivations will likely be at variance in a lot of social encounters.

This would set up kind of a complex matrix, but it shouldn’t take too much time to use. And it would be the GM that would be reliant upon it, so the players would never actually have to use the matrix.

I want to do something other than just add another modifier to reactions to represent the society’s disdain for warriors, but what could that be?

Still thinking.

You can find more information on Choson here.

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Putting the Overdrive in Park

My original plan was to Kickstart Nefertiti Overdrive in October, that’s why I was pushing hard to get the Quickstart out in September.

I got the Quickstart out in September, but then realized Feng Shui 2 was Kickstarting until October. Feng Shui 2 has hit almost $120,000 as of writing, and probably $130,000 as of publishing this post. It’s a great game, so I am not surprised at all by that amount.

Unfortunately, it’s selling points are very similar to Nefertiti Overdrive, and I would imagine many of the people interested in high octane action in Ancient Egypt may have already pledged their budget.

As much as I hate to delay Nefertiti Overdrive more, kicking now is probably asking for trouble. Further, the holiday season (US Thanksgiving to New Year’s) is also apparently a deadzone. I really don’t want to wait until January after getting the Quickstart out in September, so my decision is either to chance it in November or wait until January.

Honestly, I am pretty much ready to just say “fuck it” and pull the trigger. If it happens, it happens, and if not . . . well, maybe there just isn’t the interest in this game to justify the money I want to invest in it.

So stay tuned while I wrestle with my doubts and demons and figure out what I want to do.

You can blow your budget on Feng Shui 2 here.

You can read the Quickstart here and then be so amazed that you save your allowance until it kicks.

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Free Stuff Is Popular – Big Surprise

Since its release last Thursday night (18 Sep 2014), the Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart has been downloaded 216 times. That doesn’t mean I have 216 backers for the Kickstarter because it’s likely at least half of those people haven’t even looked at it yet, but if we get 100 more backers out of this, it will have been worth the effort.

I’m working to make a better Kickstarter pitch for October, and I’m hoping that most of the previous backers will return. The target will be lower, though this leaves maps as a stretch goal, which will invariably rub some people the wrong way, but I need to get the bar lower so I’m more likely to fund – projects that look like they are about to fund or have already funded are more attractive to prospective backers.

There will be more to say about the project as it grows closer. The interesting aspect of this for me is that the game itself won’t be changing, though they way I’m trying to sell it will. It’s a lesson in marketing, and I am really not good at marketing myself.

You can get yourself a copy of the Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart (free) here.

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Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart

Maybe you’ve heard about this game of mine, Nefertiti Overdrive? Yeah, well, if you are interested in checking out a free Quickstart, you can go here.

I hope to commence the second Kickstarter attempt to crowdfund the full book in October. Keep watching SEP, my Twitter or my Google + if you are interested, because I’ll begin shouting as soon as it goes live. Please share the Quickstart with anyone you think might dig it. I need your support!

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Ease of Face Punchin’ in Choson

From the movie the Shadowless Sword (Muyeonggeom) directed by Kim Young-jun

Last post, I mentioned two of the factors of historical Korean society that I hoped to include were I to do re-design my RPG Choson. But there are at least two other factors I want as part of the design. I can imagine anyone that has played Kiss My Axe or Nefertiti Overdrive would be able to guess.

Simplicity and impressive action.

Simplicity has been the touchstone of most of my games. I switched from D&D 3.5 over to True20 and tried Savage Worlds because I wanted simple rules. Comparatively, these were simpler rules. Then I found Jaws of the Six Serpents and Old School Hack – Jaws putting me on the road to designing simple systems and OSH giving me a target for which to strive in regards to robust minimalism.

From the movie the Huntresses (Joseonminyeo Samchongsa) directed by Park Jae-hyun

The action has nothing to do with historical Choson, but more has to do with the kind of games I like to play and the kinds of media I like to consume. I’ve already mentioned the promise of the opening of the Korean TV series the Hero Hong Gil Dong. I want to inject cinematic action or at least open narrative skill and martial test rules.

So Choson needs to include historical Korea’s strict hierarchy and disdain for warriors in a simple system that supports free narrative in skill tests.

That’s what I would want for Choson.

You can find more information on Choson here.

You can find Jaws of the Six Serpents here.

You can find Old School Hack here.

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