Sunday, August 23, 2009

This blog was on a road to sadness.. People reading it might conclude I'm having a bad year. (It is tempting to apply the "emo" qualifier, but it is overused and inaccurate.) I was saying... No, I'm in the middle of a very good year. I do have sad circumstance casting shadows, and my life is kinda roller-coastering but thinks are good over all. Anyway, I want to share with you a thing. My latest rpg adventure.
I was storytelling one via a blog and some mails. It was fantastic. I'm officially finishing with that story. It's kinda sad to end it, this way, but I'm happy no less. It was good while it lasted. So here I'm gonna spill my beans. I have two stories to tell. One is about the literary elements (includes spoilers) and the other one is about the meta-game. I know myself, if I write one I might never write the other one and I really want to share the campaign's back-story, so sorry for the meta content. If I ever have time and memory, I should tell that other one.
Disclaimer: I'm gonna tell silly things which from your perspective might soud dull, however here I am pointing "hey, this is interesting". Besides, if you were playing with me this campaign, you might read things you didn't want to read. So in a way, I'm telling you, sorry for the rant.
I chose a Hunter: The Reckoning based game, because that setting was the first one that inspired me a story worth playing. I wanted something fresh for my players. We munchkinize everything we touch. I wanted to exalt the mundane world. It is, after all, my new year resolution.
Players rightfully can ask me "Who the frak do you think you are to try to force me to actually role play?" I'm no one. I just want people to see if they enjoy a less hack/slash game. Anyway, even though my goal was that one, I had another one far more important, to be a better ST. So, I listened attentively to my players. That's why I finally added fight scenes. (Those sound easy to do but are very hard to create in an asynchronous media.) Yet above all I always tried to make them have meaningful choices/consequences. The only problem with that idea is that I thought too much the back story... You see, for any change to be visible to them, I had to pass it through a large chain reaction; Characters lived in a huge world. :S
Let me start from the beginning. When I decided to have a die-less game, my inner writer looked for something awesome to write about. Here, I found the Heralds. The cannon doesn't tell much about them, as usual in White-Wolf. However I have read enough of their books to put together some clues. With them I played to see if I could put something interesting. WW said there should be two, Yin & Yang. In a supplement from Demon: The Fallen, Lucifer said that there where only 2 angels left. Like this, there are a dozen more clues which I intertwined. I decided I liked the angel idea, but I couldn't do the estereotypical angel. I'm really tired of the "angels are so good that they are stupid" or the "angels are actually mean". It was a challenge.
How to portrait good epic guys accurate? My inner writer really likes to try new points of view. First thing, God had to go. I couldn't play them as tools and be interesting. Second, they had to be really good, no evil hidden agenda. They have an agenda, but there should be no confusion they are good in the Santa Clausian way. Third, I'm also tired of the "they were really powerful once now they don't". That's a dilemma, I want them powerful, but if they are too powerful why is the world in such a state? I had to find a balance. These guys were to be diminished gods, but still good epic gods compared to mankind.
I made them out of the tarot. The Priestess and Judgement Day. Near enough to Yin and Yang? They were to represent the ultimate Mercy and Justice. But how to portrait epic beings? I decided to battered them down with a hard world. As a discoverable backstory, I set them to be survivors of the first war between angels and demons. D:TF tells about what happened from the demon side. Well, Maria and Pancho, where to be the ones to tell the other story.
The angels that won the war, lost their God. And they never got a chance to know why. Most of the angels lost their will to serve after the war, becoming just stars. An important Literary Design decision was to answer, what happens when an epic being dies? Or can they die? I chose to let them die, but the universe couldn't be without one of the principles, so from their remains spirits were born in the Werewolf: The Apocalypse fashion. So for example, nowadays there's a Luna Incarna, well that's actually a dead angel. It's a really creepy idea. That Angel of the Moon was so epic, that its corpse is still far more intelligent and powerful than almost anything in the Creation. This is a worthy idea.
Only 21 angels decided to stay with humanity after the dust settled. These are the Mayor Arcana of the Tarot. Not to be expected, Lucifer is not the Devil, he's the Fool, the Zeroth. One of the first things the angels decided was to split the world and reign over them. They made an oath to not intervene in each other's realm. That's why the World of Darkness is so different in Africa than in the Middle Kingdom. Angels thought that without the original Chorus structure, they couldn't rely in each other. That was obviously a very bad idea. A singer usually doesn't know how to lead a band. Anyway, our story is about the two who ruled Middle Kingdom. (Wait no, it is about the players! But I'm still in the backstory... you see how this could be a problem??)
Another chore I put myself to do was to study. I read about the real Chinese history and about the WoD. I wanted to do the best possible mix, keeping them both honest. (Of course in case of doubt, players were to decide...) Kuen-jin backstory tells a big chunk about the golden age of that realm. I decided that there was never an August Personage In Jade. It was always Pancho or Maria pulling the strings. They needed one of these guys. They are utterly incapable of taking the credit for their actions. They need a head. They need to believe that they are serving God. After all, having worship is akin to being a demon! They rightly describe themselves as forces of nature.
It's interesting to note, that these guys are inhumanly intelligent and powerful, but they do make mistakes! NP-Complete. Not even they can foresee every consecuences... that's why they went to war. They fraked creating the Wan Xian for instances. That's why they now create Hunters. "Powerful" enough to beat some bad guys, but not too much to be cocky. However their most significant mistake was to trust Mikaboshi. You have to understand, as any angel, they love humanity. Sad epic beings, they are programmed to love without control these monkeys. So they thought that Humanity could be better with a reencarnation plan. Something to give all of us an edge to Transcendence. Strange how these angels think. Worth thinking about.
Anyway, they helped Mikaboshi to get on top and be a Yama King. Unfortunately, all Yama Kings became corrupted and hungry for more power. Luckily that old oath protects the rest of the world from these beings. Unfortunately MarĂ­a and Pancho were inside of their realm... Mikaboshi's greates victory was to imprison the angels! That's how the world became ever the worse in the standard WoD way.
I should mention that all the 21 angels eventually failed. These guys should have known that they are gregarious in nature. Only one of them "survives", Loki, the Hanged Man, Kishijoten, father of all Nuwishas. Though he is not an angel anymore. He is just himself and is about to disintegrate for that exact reason. Too much dissonance. Yes, I'm a bit influenced by Destruction from the Endless. However this guy is actually important for the playable story!
These 2 angels were imprisoned in no other place but Nagasaki. These guys were in a mini-hell :( They would have died there if not for the H-bomb. I don't want to be disrespectful here. I want to say that for all the bad things that happened that day, at least one good thing came out. Kinda like Pandora's box, having Hope as the last thing.
So after the bomb they are once again free, but they are battered down. Too much time in the box. They have kinda fallen. They doubt themselves. They are so weak and starving that they go to do the exact same thing years later demons will do! They possess people. That's a worthy nice twist. They had to do it, the fifth great maelstorm is all over the place, it hurts as they have never ever felt it. And the worst is what they discovered. There are no more angels and humanity was at war. Too much for these good guys. They were crushed by despair. They lost faith in humanity. That's why they didn't start right there rebuilding Creation. They were about to quit.
Yet some years later (few for an angel). Man goes to the moon! Wow, they can feel the Glamour. That's enough for these sappy beings. They would help mankind be better, once again. However they are weak. With surprise they discover that their nexus with the universe was cut. Actually it's the doubt in themselves. A doubtful angel is not an angel for too much. As fast as they can they need to fix this world! Haste is the mother accidents. Anyway, in this weak state they fear Mikaboshi so they flew outside of their former realm. They come to Mexico.
Actually they go through out the world for several years, it's a bit slow with the whole problem of having to have a body, but they manage it. An important thing to mention is that they develop an etiquette of angelic possession. only guys that are open to them can be vessels. For instance Maria's body is actually a Nicaraguan teacher that everyday prayed for God to help her have the capacity to teach the deaf. (She got her deal.) Obviously Pancho and Maria are just "nicknames". Angels just as demons can hear when you say their names, however these beings are so powerful that they just have the human name they wish to have. If you are in Mexico and you want to have a good pulse of mankind, I could swear hearing everything said around "maria" would be really useful. How lucky is that these guys won't go crazy by all this information (but they would react a bit more slowly that usual). So, in other words, Maria and Pancho act like people, because they are inside real people, they are weak, they are afraid of Mikaboshi and because they use their resources in having a better grasp of the world... I'm proud of this.
I have tons of things more to add, but I have to sleep. Let us see if I can continue this tomorrow. Sorry for the rant without structure...

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