Systemized Choson

I have many ideas for the new Choson RPG – new name forthcoming – and much of that is tied to system. Like Centurion, I’m starting this from the ground up, with no inspiration spurring me on. I have an idea for a setting, and I want the system to fit in it.

There are two things I need the system to do: mirror the divide between the military and the bureaucracy, and mechanize the hierarchical stasis of social classes.

That’s not a lot for system to do, but both of those are very abstract. Creating mechanics to illustrate societal trends has not been my strong suit, but I want to try it here. This is about a setting, yes. I want to create a setting that allows me to play with all of the historical aspects of Korea that interest me. But I don’t feel that bolting on an existing system will do that setting justice. The setting and the system can reinforce each other, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

And so the system also needs the right feel. What will PCs be doing in this second-world Choson? What heavy lifting will the system be called on to undertake.

And here lies the rub – PCs might be involved in political intrigue, they might be battling armies or bandits, they might be seeking out supernatural dangers, they might be doing any number of things.

However, this is not as great of a problem as it might seem. Nefertiti Overdrive, in my experience, has been able to handle all of those without missing a beat. Every Challenge – be it kinetic or cerebral – worked basically the same and all that changed was the narrative of how the PCs overcame the Challenge.
So the system needs to handle any kind of task under the same basic mechanic.

I also intend conflict resolution to be relatively grounded. Again, this I more like Centurion than Nefertiti Overdrive. While I cannot control the narrative people using the system will create, the Challenge or Task structure – how the odds are arrayed against the PCs – will help to reinforce the intent. If fighting three opponents is exceptionally difficult and dangerous, or deciphering an unknown script requires multiple individuals with the proper knowledge working together, or an opponent is as likely to see through your deceit as swallow the lie, that tells the PCs how the world works.

Yes, PCs will be able to improve to the point where all of these are easier, but as long as we don’t stray into superheroics/wuxia/level 100 territory, we should be fine.

All images from the movie Musa (the Warrior) which is set in the Koryo period of Korean history. You can learn more about Musa at Wikipedia and IMDB.

You can find out more about Choson (RPG) here.

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