There is Therefore a Strange Land is a multiverse game. Yes, that's right. Multiverses. It's not your father's multiverse, by any means (I'll post a proper 'manifesto' at some point soon) but it is about PCs adventuring in, er, Strange Lands. To what end?
Well, the main reason is because the Muse took me. And when the Muse takes me, I go with her. (My Muse looks like Kelly Brook; I don't know about yours.) But there are other reasons.
First, I love Planescape, but - to return to a Monsters & Manuals favourite from yesteryear - it does have the tendency towards banalifying the fantastical. It does a wonderful job of making you want to run games in its vision of the planes (there has never been more packed into an official D&D setting, by a long, long distance), but it also reduces them, in a sense, to just another fantasy world. It tames a lot of the mystery. I think this in part because of a strategic error: making planar PCs an option, and making Sigil with its factions the centre of everything. It instantly deprives the planes of a sense of wonder if you domesticate the whole affair by making it something the PCs are familiar with and engaged in from the outset; The Hobbit may have been perfectly good if Thorin and Gandalf had been the main characters, but it wouldn't be the anything like the feeling of adventure you get with the perspective being Bilbo's.
Second, other attempts at interdimensional or cross-dimensional games tend to leave me cold through being obsessed with themes. The most recent example of this sort of setting is that found in The Strange. I've absolutely nothing against it, but it simply doesn't engage me in the slightest. These things are a matter of taste, of course, but everything I've read about it makes it sound like "Sliders: The RPG", and I don't want to play "Sliders: The RPG". I don't want a multiverse setting to be "Let's go to Wild West Land this week. Next time it's Bizarro World, and after that Everything Is Dinosaurs". It's all a bit too much like The Magic Faraway Tree for my liking.
So I feel like it's about time multiverses got the noisms treatment; if only to try to prove that nobody has even tapped that well properly yet. And if you don't like it, you can break it to Kelly.
You will be hard pressed to surpass the Planescape setting. The relationship of Sigil to the Outlands is quite plausible, if you consider the relationship of the New York City to the surrounding states. NYC is a cultural capitol of the world, best represented by its street vendors and its eateries to serve the multitudes of immigrants who live there.ReplyDelete
The only place, where you might improve on Planescape, is that the Planescape's multiverse is based on the AD&D planes of existence and alignment, which is a bit retarded and has no basis in the modern science or philosophy. Having said that, you will have to have a lot of originality and talent to surpass the quality of the Planescape: Torment CRPG setting. That game, as well as the first 2 Fallouts, went way over the heads of the game designers. I still don't know how they did it, but those games were a social satire a lot more subtle than Swift's Gulliver's travels, that was riffing off the 1990's American subculture. The settings of those games occupied the same space as the budding body modification, HC music, and other street "scenes" did. Fallout one was Southern California, Fallout Two was North California, and Planescape Torment was the seedy urban underbelly of America at that time. Regarding the multiverse-based game, any strange land that you can come up with will be the funhouse mirror of your terrestrial experiences here. There is no point in bringing anything into the setting, unless it brings an additional dimension into gameplay. To pull it off great, you will have to figure out what element the multiverseness will add to your game's experience, that could not be explored otherwise.
It's a good job I ooze originality and talent, then.Delete
What are the unique features of your multi-planar setting beyond what you already mentioned?Delete
What I'm mainly interested in exploring is what happens in the 'real world' if there are portals to other planes of existence which some people know about. The setting isn't quite the real world, because alchemy is real, and so are God and the Devil. But the idea is that while PCs go off on adventures in other worlds, they will sooner or later want to come back to the real world, and there's just as much going on there as there is anywhere else.Delete
... because there are other alchemists in the real world, who engage in the extraplanar travel, and will use it to their advantage as well. You might include the plane of existence known as the Dr. Jung's Castle. Dr. Jung of the Jungian Archetype fame, was fascinated with Alchemy and was influenced with its ideas, when he formulated his theories of the personal transformation. In his memoir, he writes of living inside his head, dreaming up a huge castle kingdom, where ruled a wise king. A castle, apparently powered by electricity, and Jung spent a lot of time, working out how the castle would be energized. It was more than electricity, of course, you gonna have to read his Memories and Reflections, to figure out the type of energy he was dreaming about.Delete
noisms - it'll be interesting to see where this muse takes you, especially how you handle the travelling part. As you say, the PCs will want to return to the real world (or some preferred plane), where presumably they're making use of the fruits of their exploration rather than being eternal wanderers. Having planar travel not become banal, but also not infuriating, seems a tricky balance to strike.Delete
> I think this in part because of a strategic error: making planar PCs an option, and making Sigil with its factions the centre of everything.ReplyDelete
I dunno, I think you could still make a pretty non-banal setting with planar PCs. It seems like in that case you just make it clear that they don't know everything, haven't seen everything twice, that sort of thing. That to me seems to be the issue, kind of like how the PCs I ran in Numenera could recognize any cipher fairly easily, despite them oft being unique pieces ripped off of tech that's millions of years old. It's a dichotomy between the fantastic and the well-known.
Even the factional infighting could still be a thing, especially if it's some people's way of adapting to the howling black void of unknown under their feet, behind the veneer walls bordering Sigil. But certainly that's a very different emphasis than what books about Sigil gave us.
To me, the least fantastical thing about many settings is having about 200 pages of dry facts to memorize about them. Based on your last work, I doubt this is going to be a problem.
Yes, you won't ever have to worry about that with anything I put out there.Delete
There are certainly ways to do planar/ multiverse without devolving into "planet of the week" type stuff, or making it familiar. Certainly your earlier ideas about overlaying Fae and regular worlds are a way to do that, i.e. make them geographically similar but change the rules.ReplyDelete
Seems to me that Dante also had something going as well...
My muse continues to look like Olivia Newton-John.ReplyDelete
Mine is like Naomi Rapace...ReplyDelete
Damn you all. I've got Timothy Spall.ReplyDelete