Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mage: Equinox: The Characters

Campaigns and Chronicles are meaningless without characters. For Equinox, I have two players with two characters. I'm going to go into each of them, without rules explanation, just their bits of flavor. These are Mage: the Awakening characters, so a lack of setting knowledge may or may not make it harder for you to understand.

The Esteemed NYU Professor of Chemistry

Name: Xavier Cohen
Path: Moros
Age: 38

Xavier is the one teacher that the students under him dislike and hate. It isn't out of disrespect or the way he teaches- it is more out of a fear of him. He has worked at the University for almost a decade, his one favorite student and friend turning out to be Marte.

Xavier is a Orthodox Jew- not that he is religious. He doesn't attend services much anymore. His wife also is on the University staff as a Librarian. And his young son dislikes science and even his father a bit.

His Awakening occurred during a normal day. He received an odd skull from a mysterious stranger, which drew his curiosity. When he left for the night, to go check on his grandmother's estate, a ancient small home in the East Village. En route, he came across a graveyard decorated with symbols similar to the one on the skull he had received.

The curiosity got to him.

Xavier went to a grave that matched the skull's symbol. And he then he stepped into the dead plains of Stygia.

The Up and Coming Politician
Name: Marte Garcia
Path: Obrimos
Age: 26

Marte was raised by Catholic nuns. He was a foundling, and Sister Rosemary was probably the only adult the child ever trusted. He was betrayed by people who should know better. Priests. Foster parents. People. Authorities.

Although he's Catholic, Marte really isn't that religious. He learned more about morality from the Mob than he did from Catholicism. He went to NYU and got a MBA. He even dabbled in stocks and investments. But he decided that perhaps he could change the way things functioned. Become the authority and change the hierarchy. So he has started to enter politics and became a city councilman.

His Awakening was like Xavier's. He got a present from a mysterious stranger. A large chess piece- the white King. But instead of a cross atop its head, it had a upside down pentacle on it. Attached was a invitation to a nightclub in SoHo. It was called the Fifth Sun.

So he went. Out of curiosity, if you will.

Once there, the DJ had a black queen with her. She invited him into a backroom. It was covered hundreds of sigils and signs. And clouds. And angels. And light. His senses ignited as he stepped into the skies of the Aether.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mage: Equinox Notes 2: Seasons

One of the things I once used to great effect in a game I ran was the idea of 'Seasons'. Like TV shows here in America, I'd try to break my campaign/chronicle down to a limited amount of adventures. I'd try to ahead of time decide the number of adventures- or episodes for the sake of analogy. I considered it a great creative boon for writing long plots. If you know its going to only last ten adventures, then you can go ahead and try foreshadowing in adventures two and three.

The other advantage of the use of Seasons is that it allowed me to End the Campaign on a note. I always approached the end of a Season with a finale- meant to cut off the campaign and end it nicely. When I've run games that didn't use the Seasons idea, they kinda just lingered and died. The story was still there, but it had faded away, and never really was resolved like it could be. Unfortunately, this style sometimes can conflict with the idea of a the super-long serial type game.

As for Equinox, I think its 'Season' might consist of 15 episodes. The goal being to reach a stellar conclusion at the end of 15 episodes will be a great goal. Hopefully by then I'll have obtained the inspiration for another game.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mage: The Equinox Notes Part 1

So I've sent out some emails and got some notes down for the upcoming Mage game. Among the things I've noted and tossed out is the Group Template. I first learned of it from the guys at Fear the Boot.

Listen to me, like I know them or something. Ha. Anyway, back to the Group Template.

I love the idea of the Group Template. Its a great concept, where the entire party in the game share a common history and relationship. It avoids the age-old tavern meet between strangers. I like it because it makes the roleplaying easier.

I've only gotten it to work right, and that involved the right players and the right amount of control over character creation. It was my Werewolf game, the Robot Lords. Games where I've been a player and not a GM, I've been unable to get the idea across. Not the same group of players as the Werewolf group mind you. But in the latest pathfinder game one of the other players told me that he 'wondered what was the point' of that. Yep. Backstory of a character to him was pointless.

As a GM and Storyteller, I can't and don't think that way. I love character backstory and always try to use it best I can. It helps write the story for me. So to encourage group unity and get some ideas rolling, I always have tried to use a Group Template.

How it works:
The Group Template, to work its best, needs to be the first step in character creation. Now, character creation needs, no SHOULD be done in group. I've tried to iterate this many, many, many times to my own players: GROUP character creation. Learn what group you belong to and why your characters get along.

Quick Aside on that: Character Creation should be shared if possible, mostly to share ideas. Sometimes other players can actually HELP you get a backstory figured out with questions and the like.

First make a group concept. Is the group a paramilitary squad? A order of knights? A cabal of wizards? Are they all dedicated to the pursuit and elimination of the same villain? Have they all died and come back the same way? What is the binding trait among them?

This can be simple or complex. No wrong answer.

After you know the group concept, go ahead and try to define the shared history between your characters. What has the group done and experienced together? Have they already faced a dozen battles together or did they all share the same lab table when they were created?


I'll post more thoughts on this later. Current theme ideas for the game:

Chronicle/Cabal Ideas:
Day and Night
Impending Doom
New York City (manhattan)

See ya

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Werewolf's End

The werewolf game has reached its end. When a game goes on hiatus, in my view, its the death knell of the campaign. I don't want it to be shelved, but reasons beyond my control force my hand.

So the next game idea has come up. I'm down to 2 players (which I've run games for before) and we've decided to try out Mage: The Awakening. I've never run a Mage game before (old or new World of Darkness). Nor have any of my players played in one. So it balances out. Unlike my Werewolf game, I'm keeping completely to the new World of Darkness, ignoring the entirety of the old setting. In werewolf, I had to rework alot of the rules to fit. With Mage, I can leap in without too much heavy rules revision.

John Wick had suggested once a reward rule I think I might try out. He called it 'pushes', and I think it can be easily translated into the storytelling system. Now, the point of the 'pushes' is to reward the players and characters. Whenever they do something kewl, or just something you want to reward, you give them a 'push'. They in turn, can use a push to change dice results. Yeah, this system can tweak out the 'balance' of the game.

Muh. Give the players a bit of power and let them guide the direction of the story I say. Makes writing everything easier. Pushes and other things also help keep the players from dying left and right.

Well. Time to research New York City for ideas...