I remember loving Mage: the Ascension when I was in college. I liked Vampire and Werewolf, too. Wraith and Changeling, not so much. Mage, though, I loved.
I think it was the ambiguity and the god-like power. Mages could change reality just by believing something else. And they weren’t monsters, not like the other WW titles.
I also think Mage really primed me for Amber Diceless. Amber has a lot in common with Mage, in my mind. The vast cosmic power and the myriad possibilities, mostly.
At some point, I decided I wanted to run a Technocracy game, though. A game where the players were the frontline agents of the Technocracy whose job is to keep reality from falling apart and to fight monsters with cutting edge ultra-high technology.
I still want to run that game.
Last weekend, I picked up my Technocracy sourcebook from the shelf and started to read through it. There are still a lot of things that I like about the setting and the idea of a playing the Technocracy. There are a lot of things that are discordant to me, though, and I wonder if that is why this game has never happened.
First, technology is not magic and the Technocracy shouldn’t have all of it’s tech based on the Mage magic system. I have a good idea why it was done that way, of course, this is a Mage sourcebook after all. It just doesn’t ring true to me.
I want a recasting of all of the Mage tropes from an ultra-high tech perspective. Don’t tell me about the Technocracy’s Horizon Realms, tell me about their experiments creating pocket dimensions in hyperspace. I don’t want to hear about what level of the Life Sphere is required for cloning. Cloning is ultra-high tech. It has nothing to do with magic. Sure, it may be experimental and it may not fully have the kinks worked out but that hasn’t nothing to do with Paradox.
I think what I really want is going to require some work. And maybe a different system.
Last Sunday I ran a wuxia game for some friends. I used the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying rules. It was pretty fun.
There were some ups and downs, of course. I’d never run a Cortex system game before, so I didn’t really have a good idea about how tough opponents should be. Largely, this worked in my favor because the PCs kicked all sorts of butt, as they should
For future reference, more d8s and d10s, fewer d6s.
And, if you’re interested, here is a link to check out the pregens I made for the game:
This is an idea I’m noodling around with for a modified Attribute setup for Amber Diceless roleplay.
The basic concept is that PCs have three primary Attributes (Mental Acuity, Physical Prowess, Social Influence) and three derived Attributes (Awareness, Manipulation, and Presence).
Prowess would cover any physical actions, whether they be dueling, wrestling, running, or what have you.
Acuity would cover learned and accumulated knowledge as well as other kinds of mental activity.
Influence would cover political and social connections.
Presence, as the intersection of the social and physical, is intended to cover leadership and animal magnetism. So, how well a character inspires loyalty or other feelings.
Manipulation, the intersection of social and mental, is intended to cover a character’s intrigue capability.
Awareness, as the intersection of physical and mental, is, I feel, the weakest part of this. It is meant to cover a character’s immediate perception of her surroundings but it seems like there should be more to it that that.
This setup is intended to be augmented by another system for differentiating characters a bit more but I don’t have that sorted out just yet, nor have I decided whether it is really necessary or not.
Here is a quote from the duel section of Houses of the Blooded:
First, a duel is fought in a series of beats. Each beat, one of the duelists is the aggressor and the other is the defender. The duelists trade back and forth… unless a switch in momentum occurs. A Maneuver striking the opponent off guard. We’ll get to that later. First, let’s go through the duel step-by-step.
Having read the Houses book a few times now, the author doesn’t ever get to that later. I’d rather he had, though, because it sounded kind of cool.
Here’s the solution that I’m planning to try in the upcoming game:
At the end of every exchange (what the author calls beats) in which there is both an attacker and a defender, the defender gains two dice for his next exchange and the attacker loses two dice for his next exchange.
The idea is that this will shift the momentum of the duel from exchange to exchange to create that back and forth tempo. We’ll have to see whether it works.