Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Delta Green as a basis of "Base Earth"

My first decision is whether to go with the base description of Earth from the core book -- or to modify it.  I have decided to modify it in various ways to allow me to tell stories in the dark conspiracy genre I would like to play with.  Specifically, I want to emphasize these specific aspects of my Strange Earth

  • No exactly real physics -- a little magic and a little sci-fi tech
  • Government and super-government conspiracies
  • The necessity of players to cover for their actions -- not just running around guns blazing
  • But, not spending all of the time talking about cover identities
  • And, most importantly, a setting which allows me to have elements from other recursion


I will probably write on this more at a different time but I have some misgivings about how the core book treats Earth physics.  The game refers to Earth as "standard physics" but then includes a lot of pretty high tech elements that border on weird science.  The launch scenario "Eschatology Code" has weird tech operated by enemy agents, for example.  I like their weird element and I will embrace it in my core Earth -- but I recognize this contradicts a by-the-book interpretation of "standard physics."  My flexibility with physics will let me be looser with invasions from other recursions, etc.

Conspiracy elements:  

The core setting includes some fodder for conspiracy stories.  Most notably, the OSR (Office of Strategic Recursion) provides some opportunity to look at government conspiracies from the inside (with players as OSR members) or the outside (with OSR agents as antagonists).  I am borrowing from Delta Green because I want to take this even further and link it more specifically to existing government organizations.  The history of Delta Green leans heavily on he actual history of espionage -- which I anticipate will provide nice background for my stories.

Cover identities: 

 This is something I am still struggling with.  The core Strange setting seems to allow Estate operatives to pretend to have an official sanction a little too easily.  I can see the reasoning here.  Having players constantly having to create cover identities, start most encounters with a deception check, etc. could get tedious.  As it stands, GMs could pretty much hand wave the need for credentials to get access to locations, carry heavy weapons, etc.  When they want to create an encounter where the credentials are questions, it still fits within the framework of an Estate campaign.  My background in government administration (especially homeland security) makes want to ground it a little more in actual credentialing, etc.  This is why I am leaning towards a Delta Green approach where players are members of actual federal agencies with understood credentials and limits ("Why is an EPA official carrying a machine gun?").  I am curious to hear how other people react to the question of credentials for Estate operatives in the core game.

What do you think?  I would love to see more discussion of how people are handling their own Strange campaigns.  

In the future I will add stats and reskins for my Delta Green inspired version of the core Earth setting for The Strange.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Starting a New Strange Campaign

What excited me most about the early information about The Strange was the prospect for mixing various genres into campaigns that engage the very nature of storytelling and the translation of fundamental concepts across genres.  Most importantly, it lets me play with stories about the confrontation of ideas (sometimes creatures, sometimes artifacts, etc.) between different genres.

This leaves me needing to design a campaign of my own to set up the sorts of confrontations I want to explore with my players.  My plan is to adapt a few other game settings to define the core recursions for my campaign.

  1. Primeval Thule -- a low fantasy setting inspired by Robert E. Howard and other pulp fantasy traditions (more than, say, Tolkien or contemporary Forgotten Realms high fantasy)
  2. Warmachine -- a steampunk inspired fantasy setting with large mecha-like machines warring with bred monstrosities -- and each other
  3. Delta Green -- my version of Earth will include conspiracy and Lovecraftian Mythos elements adapted from the Delta Green setting for the Call of Cthulhu game (and, soon to be, its own game system)
I will start the discussion soon on how (and why) I plan to adapt elements of these settings as recursions (or as part of the core Earth -- in the case of Delta Green).

Welcome to Strange Encounters

Welcome to the Strange Encounters blog.  Following up on my segments on the GM Intrusions podcast, I will use this space to provide expanded coverage of The Strange and other Cypher System games.  I will post on the following subjects:

  1. Discussions of Cypher Systems mechanics, house rules, etc.
  2. Adaptation of mechanics from other RPGs to Cypher System games
  3. Conversions of elements (monsters, classes, etc.) from other game systems to Cypher Systems games -- mostly The Strange
  4. Discussions of elements of the core setting of The Strange
  5. The development of my own Strange campaign, and
  6. General inspirations for your own game of The Strange
I will be back soon with more actual content....