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July 2, 2008 / jadettman

Game Idea: Divine Diplomacy

This idea has been taking shape for a few weeks now. It started with the premise that player characters could not directly or overtly perpetrate violence without incurring dire results.

The players take the roles of divine beings (gods, demons, spirits, etc). Long ago, these beings formed The Compact which laid out in specific language rules to end the continuous wars between them and allow them to interact peacefully.

Those that agreed to The Compact believed that it was possible to compete with each other without resorting to the terrible conflicts that were so damaging to their mortal followers. Those that didn’t believed that only through conflict and the destruction of the mortal believers of their enemies could true supremacy be found.

Those that agreed to The Compact were larger in number and collectively more powerful than those who refused The Compact and, thus, the holdouts were exiled from the mortal realm under strict penalties.

The mortal realm, Earth, was declared by The Compact to be neutral territory, viewed as a divine Switzerland, a place where the divinities could go to meet and negotiate with their peers without fear.

Now there are factions within factions and subtlety and intrigue abound. Exiles seek to destroy The Compact and initiate the End Times. Those that follow The Compact pursue their own goals while strengthening their own power in preparation for the inevitable End Times.

—–

Okay, so originally this started as a straight Christian mythology deal with the players playing angels and demons but I thought that was an unnecessary restriction so I opened it up to all sorts of divine creatures.

The idea is that on Earth the players are immensely powerful, so powerful that if they were unrestricted they could pretty much do anything that they wanted but they would be in constant conflict with other similar beings over critical resources: mortals. So, they’ve signed this agreement to prevent outright war and resource destruction in exchange for restrictions on their actions.

Due to the restrictions of The Compact, players must work primarily through a mortal network. This network is made up of various levels of operatives, from insignificant temps to powerful adjuncts that have been gifted with divine powers. The hitch is that a player’s network is also what anchors their divinity to its mortal shell. If ever the connections between the divinity and its network are completely severed, the divinity will be banished from the mortal realm until it can make new connections.

During character creation, I want to use something similar to the process in Spirit of the Century by which players pass around their character sheets for the other players to build connections between each other’s characters. Shared history is going to be an important part of the game.

“What do the players do, though?” one might ask. My vision of the game is manifold in this respect. I see characters as interconnected mythology but, at the same time, self-interested individuals. Divinities are strongest when they are part of a pantheon. To put it bluntly, the GM would create situations (solely or with the input of the other players) for the characters to interact. Perhaps Loki, or one of the other tricksters, is causing trouble again and it has fallen to you to reign him in. Perhaps a prominent mortal (one of your operatives?) has gotten into trouble with another divinity and you must negotiate to resolve the situation.

I agree that the “What do the players do?” aspect of the game needs some focus, but that’s what I’ve got right now.

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