Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Workshop on Fronts for The Strange, Part II -- The OSR

Welcome back to the workshop on Fronts for The Strange.  As a reminder, this is just a space in which I work out how I am designing fronts for my home campaign.  The general discussion of fronts is found HERE and serves as a useful starting point.  The first post in this series included a discussion of the first front for my campaign -- the Provost's Council.

In this post, I will discuss the second of my fronts: the OSR.

I want to keep the fronts distinct.  This serves several purposes.  First, it will help the players distinguish the fronts.  Story lines will lose their impact (and all blend together) if the various fronts become interchangeable.  Second, having dramatically different fronts will allow me the flexibility to tell different sorts of stories.  It is important, then, for each front to represent a theme and flavor.

The theme/flavor of the previous front (Provost's Council) was gothic horror.  This theme is relatively broad and can encompass many different stories.  This also sets the point of comparison.  My other fronts need to be easily distinguishable from the gothic horror theme.

Swategway -- Sean T (Flickr)
The second front is the OSR.  In the core setting for The Strange, they are known as the Office of Strategic Recursion.  That is a little on the nose for me.  It also suggests that more people know about The Strange than I am comfortable with for my game.  I want to keep the notion of an official (if secretive) government organization that seeks to defend the US from threats from other recursions.  I will just rename them the Office for Strategic Resources to give them a simpler cover and keep the secret of recursions a little tighter in the setting.

The motivation for the front will move beyond the base description.  Instead of simply wanting to protect the country, they will want to develop new technologies based on what they find in other recursions.  They are limited in what they can translate back and forth and may well be behind The Estate in their knowledge of recursions, generally.  But, they are trying real hard.

I will track the progression of the front by the nature of the weapons and technologies they have at their disposal.  When the party first confronts OSR agents, they only had conventional technology -- with a spy thriller vibe.  If the party fails to prevent the OSR access to recursions, they will slowly bring back cyphers and tech inspired by those settings.  Access to my Iron Kingdoms analogue will result in suspiciously similar robots.  Access to Ruk may result in biotech grafting or long-range coordination and surveillance through something like the umbilical system.  This is how the party can see they world change as they succeed in their tasks.

This front allows me to bring in elements of spy fiction, black helicopter conspiracy theories, etc.  This will be easy to distinguish from gothic horror.  While the Provost's Council will have a flavor of  retro-technology and magic, the party will face firearms and military tech with this front.  This also opens up other types of settings (military or government bases) and stories (running from the authorities, etc.).

If nothing else, working on this front introduced me to the beautiful image above -- a SWAT team on segways.

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