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  • Lovecraft Country

    I've been considering writing for Lovecraft country, but I'm still pretty hazy what exactly these stories will entail. Will LC stages be like one shot LARP's, where everyone gets, or makes, a detailed character and you play the story for several days to a definite end? If so, is each story only going to be run once, or will the same stories be run again and again?
    If a story is only to be run once, it seems like a lot of effort for one shot (though I've done it for LARPS an multiple occasions). I'd also be concerned about debugging, since it will take weeks for GE:S to be fully functional.
    If a story is run multiple times, how do you decide which version of events is the official one? That is, if LC stages are a series of related stories, how does an author decide what has happened int he setting and which versions ot ignore?
    Anyway, answers or suggestions would be appreciated, as well as additional questions.

    Greg

  • #2
    As I'm thinking through my ideas for stages and the Grand Theatre for the Lovecraft County setting, I'm wondering about whether anything regarding the game's mechanics has yet been determined.

    Namely, will it be possible to have skills? I'd think it would be very desirable for characters to have certain language skills, marksmanship, and even magic/psychic potential. Additionally, one of the most entertaining features of the tabletop game IMHO is the Sanity mechanic. Has something already been conceptualized?

    Whether or not any of these questions have been addressed will affect the way I go about writing the stages. If it is still wide open, should my proposal include specific suggestions for how systems such as the ones I mentioned, might translate into the on-line venue?

    I fully recognize that I shouldn't be trying to replicate the tabletop RPG here, but there's a point I'm making. The protagonists in Lovecraft's stories tend to have specialized professions/skills and tend to go insane when they encounter Mythos beasties. Some players may choose to buck the RP opportunity and go full throttle against Mythos horrors if there is not a good systems mechanic in place that discourages it.

    Thoughts? Disagreements? Tea and crumpets anyone? Mind your tentacles now.

    Todd

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Newton:
      As I'm thinking through my ideas for stages and the Grand Theatre for the Lovecraft County setting, I'm wondering about whether anything regarding the game's mechanics has yet been determined.
      Basically our systems are gradually increasing in the number of mechanics that you can include in a game. If you want to create a game for the near term (this summer), you should minimize mechanics. If you want to create a game for the further term (next winter), you'll be able to include slightly more mechanics.

      We *do* currently have skills in Castle Marrach. There's information on how they can be taught and learned over at the Player's Guide page under http://www.skotos.net/games/marrach -- I also plan to write up some docs on a set of skills allowing "Alteration" in the next few days.

      So, you could at this point easily incorporate a set of skills that allows for ten different levels of experience where those skills can be taught. (This system is really specialized for a "Socialization" type game. Take a look at my article at http://www.skotos.net/articles/TTnT_25.html for some more info on *that*.)

      The more difficult question, however, will be: what do skills *do*. If you're willing to do some simple programming in the form of a BASIC-like language and an HTML-like language then you'll be able to create some simple effects for different levels of skills even now. If you're uncomfortable with that then skills will need to wait till one of the later timeframes, when we can start making libraries of skills available to developers.

      Shannon

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      • #4
        Greg,

        Sorry for taking almost a week to respond!

        Lovecraft Country stories can be any type of game that you want to propose: Stages, Grand Theatres, or Worlds. I'd personally suggest designing a Grand Theatre and then figuring out how to create a Stage that leads up to it. This slowly eases you into the system, yet gives you the best bang for your buck on the design work you do for your Stage (because you can probably reuse some of the designs).

        I'm going to paraphrase some of your other questions, which mainly have to do with Stages.

        Q: Will Stages by like one-shot LARPS?

        A: Yes, that's our core design idea for how a Stage works. You determine a limited period of time for the game and give everyone pregenerated characters.

        You could, however, run LARPs with other conditions. _Galactic Emperor: Succession_, for example, allows for randomly generated characters. The interactions in that game are caused by overarching goals held by every character and starting resources--rather than individual goals for each character.

        Q: How many times do you run a Stage?

        A: That's up to you. If you're leading into a Grand Theatre, you probably only run it once. You get value out of the time spent because you'll be building systems that can be used in the larger game as well.

        In most cases, however, you want to design Stages that can be run many times. The biggest problem here has to do with secrets. Many LARPs on built around secrets--certain items/knowledge held by certain people. In order to avoid players spoiling future games you need to figure out either how to move those secrets around or how to make the game dependent on other factors.

        Q: How do you determine which run of the Stage is the "official" version of events?

        A: It probably doesn't matter.

        If you're trying to lead into a Grand Theatre, then you'll be concerned about what "really" happens, and that might be a reason to run things only once.

        I've seen any number of LARPs, however, which were set in a specific quasi-historical period (Casablanca, the rebellion in Boldhome in Glorathan, the Civil War). Most of the time there's an "official" description of what happens, written even before the game is played. The Stage/LARP, however, allows players to write alternative versions of history.

        Even in the case of leading into a Grand Theatre, you could declare the first run as being the "official" history, and then let other runs occur just for fun ... just like that Civil War LARP where we already know what really happened.

        Q: So how would you run a series of related Stages?

        A: I'm not convinced this is the best design for an ongoing game, but I'd heartily suggest giving it a try if you want. (The reason I'm somewhat leary is that an ongoing series of Stages is somewhat similar to the idea of an ongoing campaign in an RPG and I think you need to get away from tabletop RPG designs and try and figure out how to RPG in the new environment.)

        Anyway, if you're going to do it, you can: (1) just run each Stage once; or (2) make some arbitrary decision about which "history" is what happened. It could be the first run, the "best" run, or the most common result. Then, after you finish each run of a Stage, you can publish the "official" results.

        The idea reminds me a little bit of multi-round tournaments for RPGs. I'd look into how those deal with the similar issue.

        Shannon

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        • #5
          So, what is the current Skotos concept for the LC theatre? Waht do people do in a lovecraft universe on a daily basis (besides go slowly insane)?

          On a simialr note, What do folks think is a good way to handle sanity and death in LC. By its nature, it seems characters should die if they try to tackle mythos beasties and go crazy if they try to learn too much too fast. But no one wants to see their carefully crafted character eaten by geat cthulu. Is it enough to add a disclaimer to the game, warning that characters will die? Or do we take the teeth out of Lovecraft and reduce player death to Marrach level (nonexistant/volountary). SHould the game keep track of sanity in a chaosium way?

          Oh, and are we allowed to use a modified version of chaosiums system, or only the setting?

          That's enough for now, I think.

          Greg

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          • #6
            But no one wants to see their carefully crafted character eaten by geat cthulu.


            I do! Why else would you play it?
            Lovecraft Country: Albert Zero
            Castle Marrach: Cody the Blade


            StoryCoder Azrael tells StoryHermit Death, "I *did* get told "you're amazing" by a girl when I was saucing my hotdog..."

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            • #7
              I think you will have to go with the disclamer...that kind of game..with no risk of horable death is just not the same....tho there might be a way to ease it a bit...but death just has to be there.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by GJLohman:
                Oh, and are we allowed to use a modified version of chaosiums system, or only the setting?
                Technically our license is not a Call of Cthulhu license, but a setting and theme license for Lovecraft Country. If it exists in one of the Lovecraft Country setting books, or is thematically from the same books, then we can use it. Of course, we can also create additional material.

                Thus specific systems of Call of Cthulhu, such as d100, sanity points, combat techniques, power points, spell system, etc. are not in our license. However, we will have our own system of skills, insanity, combat and magic. As I don't think that the specific CoC rules would translate very well to the electronic medium, this is a good thing.

                -- Christopher Allen

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by ChristopherA:
                  Technically our license is not a Call of Cthulhu license, but a setting and theme license for Lovecraft Country. If it exists in one of the Lovecraft Country setting books, or is thematically from the same books, then we can use it. Of course, we can also create additional material.

                  I could be way out of line here, but as far as I know, the Lovecraft stuff is now in the public domain. So, why the need for a license of any sort? I was similarly perplexed when WotC 'licensed' the Call of Cthulhu name for a d20 game - why not just forsake the abomination that is Chaosium and use the public domain material to make their OWN game?

                  Just curious,

                  Sam

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SamW:
                    So, why the need for a license of any sort
                    True, you can freely create derivative works based on Lovecraft's style and ideas, however, a number of things that we wanted to use are trademarks, such as Miskatonic University.

                    Also, it does save us some time to have available quite a few books covering the town of Arkham, Miskatonic University, and the other major towns in the region.

                    -- Christopher Allen

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                    • #11
                      OK, here's an important question. THe licences is for Lovecraft COuntry supplimpents. Are we allowed to use the actual stories of Lovecraft and company? IE, are Great Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth (to name a few) allowable inclusions in the game, or only if they appear in a lovecraft country book explicitly? Do I have to worry about what lovecraft stories are addressed specifically in that line of chaosium suppliments?

                      greg

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