old ramblings #4

From late September, just before publication.

Starting is always a creative obstacle. The blank page gives you no clues as to how to begin; it all has to come out of your head.

So we have a good many “oracles” to keep you from facing the blank page. Now these aren’t adventures or even adventure hooks (well maybe) but just ideas, imagery, issues, to spur you to fill out that ref prep form with confidence.

The Association. The most important oracle at the beginning is the Association. This is the organization that all of the player characters belong to. It has three characteristics that are rolled randomly and then the players need to make sense of them, using them to create a company or an institution that their characters will be dedicated to. And that association starts with a debt: a problem that the characters are immediately tasked with solving. This problem is vague (like “pursued by an enemy”) and the details are all yours. But it will be intrusive. When you try to find an idea to start some shit, you’ll start here. At first.

The King. The King is the wrong king. They are oppressive. But you’ll also roll for their details: what kind of primate are they and what is their specific failing? While there are some notes about how to apply oppression to the scenario, the type of failure of the King is your oracle to paint the campaign a special colour. Is the King a colonialist? A hedonist? Or maybe an ivory tower intellectual? The whole nature of the world will change. Or at least the opposition.

The Land. Each Land that the characters visit is painted using a set of oracles that suggest size, proximity to others, altitude, and trade connections. This is enough to make you image that Land sufficiently to find the adventure in it. It’s warmer and more political at high altitudes. It’s colder and more self-interested lower down. And right near the bottom it’s freezing and full of political dissidents.

Armed with these three random elements, it’s certain that your campaign will have motivation, opposition, and colour that’s novel each time you start. And after that I guarantee the game will go its own route. That’s what it does.

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