Archive for September, 2011

Ninjas, Hexagons and Wikis

My friend Trämmer approached me the other week about a game idea he had recently started working on. It was a combat focused ninja game with miniatures on a hexagonal grid and mostly based on the famous Naruto manga and anime series. We spent pretty much all of last Sunday discussing mechanics and design ideas and we feel now that we have a good base for this project.

It could be a while until our next in-the-flesh playtest together since he’s back in Budapest for his studies, but thanks to the miracle of the Internet we can still work together on this project. We will set up a wiki for the game shortly as a way for us to organize everything. We will also use things like Facebook, MSN and Skype to talk about our different ideas and suggestions, so if we want to test some rules changes then all we’ll need are a hex grid with coordinates, some minis or tokens, some dice and some spare time. I don’t think I have to point out that that last thing might be our biggest problem.

This project has a number of interesting challenges. I have never played combat on a hexagonal grid, so I some things to learn about using it tactically. I have to explore the realm of varying between using D30s, D60s and D100s for the different skill levels. There is a deck-building mechanic with your combat manoeuvres that will let you customize your fighting style against your opponent.

The way of the shinobi looks bright.

For the past couple of months I’ve been working on a game setting where reincarnation is a proven truth. I have been trying to write a blog post about it for weeks now, and none of my seven previous drafts have been any good. I’m about to give in to desperation and just post whatever comes to mind just to get this over and done with.

Mythological explanation
The universe is conscious, and it wants to understand itself. To do this, it has split off parts of itself as observers. By examining itself from different points of view it can gain a greater knowledge of itself. Each person has one of these parts inside oneself, the soul. During the lifetime of its body, the soul gathers many memories. On death of the body, the soul caries these memories back to the universal soul. A soul still has a connection to all memories it has gathered. Through these connections you can remember the past lives of the soul. There are certain things you can do to help bring forth these memories, to strengthen the connection. People want to remember good things and forget bad things.

Remembering the past
Normal people can remember things about their previous lives, but only tiny fragments, like parts of half-remembered dreams. It can be very vague and fuzzy, but there is almost always a strong emotion carrying it, serving as the connection to the memory.

Something I felt was important to have in this setting was the cultural value of diversification. Just as the universe is trying to experience all of reality, so should you do in your lives. You might have been a swordsman or a carpenter in your previous lives, and now you might try to make a living as a fisherman or a sheep herder.

Technological stagnation
I want the technological level of this setting to be lower than in your typical fantasy setting. After doing some light research (mostly reading Wikipedia and the game manual for Age of Empires) I have decided to set this somewhere around late bronze age and early iron age (Ancient and Classical Greece would be good examples).

I also want karma as an important thing in this setting, though I’m not sure how to implement it.

The start of the campaign
During history there have been a group of legendary heroes that have been reincarnated in times of troubles. They created a secret order whose only purpose is to travel the world and test young children (under the age of ten) in order to find the heroes whenever they reincarnate. Our heroes would be teens bearing the mark of the legendary heroes (purple eyes, an unusual birthmark, something the group of players would agree on), found as children and raised in secret hideaways far from civilization. When they all have grown up enough (become young adults), they will all be taken to the main fortress of the order for the grand memory reawakening ritual (a secret and very expensive thing). They will then reacquire all the memories from all of their past lives and proceed to journey out into the world to fight the current threats to the world. But this time something goes wrong. The temple is attacked during the ritual by agents of the great darkness threatening the lands and our heroes flee to avoid getting slaughtered. They would be out on their own in the world, and the people who recognise them would expect great things of them. During many adventures they would learn new skills, find their inner strength and reclaim ancient artefacts and become the ones who could defend the peoples from whatever might threaten them.

The goal of the campaign
One unfortunate thing is that I will not see this campaign play out in the way I intended it to. My health doesn’t allow me to be the one to run this campaign, so a lot of things will be done differently. For me, the big question in the campaign isn’t IF the teens will grow up, collect a bunch of legendary artefacts and, in typical fantasy hero fashion, stop the evil power that threatens the lands. For me that’s a given. The big question for me is HOW the group will accomplish this. It is not the goal that matters, it is the journey.

I hope at least some of this made any sense to you readers…