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[Interest/Discussion] Stargate: Fantasy Edition using Perilous Wilds and Dungeon World

Atlictoatl

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My latest obsession is thinking about a Stargate: Fantasy game, where the medieval fantasy PCs are involved with a gate device that either allows travel to other worlds or that spits out strange creatures that need to be dealt with. There's still some rough bits about it in my head, though, so I thought it might be interesting to discuss elements of it and see how others might help me shape my thinking about the rough idea.

Some general ideas:
  • I think I prefer the idea of the PCs using the gate to explore, as it makes the game more about exploration and less about dealing with invasions.
  • I know I want to use The Perilous Wilds by Jason Lutes.
  • I have it in mind that the PCs are from a society that is more militaristic and authoritarian. On the Midnight spectrum (though not fully at the Midnight end of it), because the idea of a good-aligned society in control of the gate and going out and doing good deeds is a little too honey-sweet for me. I'm imagining fleeing through the gate from the home society and having to make due in the new land they find themselves in, making alliances with the locals, defending against their kinsmen, and making forays into other lands connected to the gate. More survival-focused than good-deeds focused, though of course the players can decide to put their survival at risk to help (or hinder) other communities.
  • This would be a sandbox.
  • I'm fairly certain the PCs would initially be human only. Other sapient species could get involved in the game as they are encountered through the gate, either as hirelings and henchpeople, or as PCs if replacement PCs become a thing.
Some discussion topics:

While I'm all-in on the use of The Perilous Wilds and the Dungeon World system in general, I'm still a touch skeptical about the DW classes. Baseline, they seem more heroic fantasy than gritty fantasy. Is this a bias of mine, or does that 'bias' hold up?

While I'd probably convert Wizards more towards the Freebooters on the Frontier version, the Freebooters classes in general might be a bit weak. I could probably strengthen things by conducting advancement differently. Grim World is also grittier, but it's pretty set in its own universe, isn't it? (I don't actually own it.)

While I enjoy the search for the perfect playbook as a player, as a GM I'm skeptical of all of the content out for the game and that it's balanced well against other material. I might want to limit things to classes built with Metzger's Class Warfare, but that might introduce a whole other workload for me as a GM. Do folks have any thoughts about the large amount of third-party content available for the game, with regards to curating it for a specific type of game? In addition to balance/power, there's also tone. That said, there's a lot of interesting stuff out there. More than I could possibly curate ahead of time.

Those are my first thoughts. Does this spark any interest in discussion? Would you want to play in such a game?
 
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Lysus

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I'm definitely interested, but I don't really want to try to collate all my thoughts on my phone. I'll elaborate on your questions later, when I have time to sit down at my PC.
 

Atlictoatl

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I added
  • This would be a sandbox
to the list above.

~*~

The more I look at it, the more I like the Freebooters on the Frontier playbooks as being less superheroic, while still being quite competent at their core abilities. I do miss some of the customization/specialization/wonder of some of the third-party Dungeon World material, though.

There's some elements of the Dungeon World Unlimited Edition third-party stuff that is interesting. While the alignments in FoF work, Drives could be interesting. Backgrounds and Heritage are a nice way to replace Race. Doing away with Ability Scores and keeping the modifiers makes sense. I don't know that I'm up for a line by line comparison, though, between UE and DW. Maybe if I take it slow going and customize any differences from core DW.

Characters would be starting at a higher level, probably L2 or L3. (Possibly higher, if we're using the FoF classes, so there's more customization.)
 

Lysus

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To start with, I own Perilous Wilds and Freebooters on the Frontier, but I haven't read them, so I can't really offer my opinion regarding that content. That said, I'll hold forth on the rest of what you've got here and we'll see what I come up with.

It sounds like you're less interested in the narrative, mission-based structure that has generally been used in the Stargate setting and we're looking more at exploring the worldbuilding implications of being in a place connected to a sort of gate network like the Stargate system. That's something that I think could be potentially interesting. I haven't watched any of the spinoffs, but SG-1 didn't really go into a lot of that stuff because of the nature of their home base. Existing in a sort of marginal, liminal space that is both isolated and far too close to civilization is a setting that will likely be a setting that's rife with hooks for PCs to go after, while also providing an easy way for a man to kick down the door with a gun, to paraphrase Chandler.

As to Dungeon World as a system, I'm a bit less convinced that it's the system you'd want to run this type of game. Yes, the playbooks themselves skew heroic, but I think the heroic lean to the game is built into both the basic moves and the GM moves themselves as well. Grim World (which is setting neutral) does definitely take the playbooks in a darker direction, but also doesn't really push back on the PCs being heroes, they're just more Jack Bauer than Galahad. If that's what you're looking for, that's fine, but if you're looking for something more dramatic and less action-adventure in tone, I don't think DW is a great fit.
 

Atlictoatl

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It sounds like you're less interested in the narrative, mission-based structure that has generally been used in the Stargate setting and we're looking more at exploring the worldbuilding implications of being in a place connected to a sort of gate network like the Stargate system. That's something that I think could be potentially interesting. I haven't watched any of the spinoffs, but SG-1 didn't really go into a lot of that stuff because of the nature of their home base. Existing in a sort of marginal, liminal space that is both isolated and far too close to civilization is a setting that will likely be a setting that's rife with hooks for PCs to go after, while also providing an easy way for a man to kick down the door with a gun, to paraphrase Chandler.
Aye. I've been making my way through Stargate: Atlantis and it features a bit more of this. Both series are focused on the Mission of the Week, but Atlantis is an isolated outpost in another galaxy that is making contact with other worlds to assemble resources to fight the growing numbers of enemies they've found there. It has a survival element to it, though they are also technologically advanced.

I think the themes of this game would be more about survival, needing to travel either through the gate or the wilderness to amass the resources necessary to grow and develop the home community. There would be politics and diplomacy, exploration, etc. It would probably be built in a nodal fashion -- I don't necessarily want to get lost in exploring multiple continents on the same world, though that's a possibility if it's what the PCs want to do. Fashioning a system wherein the PCs strive to quickly catalogue what's going on near the gate, what resources they might be able to gain access to, etc. is a little more interesting to me, though some travel will be desired to fully utilize the Perilous Wilds system. I think there's a simple theme conceit in assuming that the gate is placed close to interesting locales, so one doesn't have to travel weeks into a new world to learn what it might have to offer. In Stargate: Atlantis, they have the advantage of advanced sensory equipment, so I'd have to think about how the fantasy party would know that traveling two days north of the gate would be the wisest course of action. That's pretty easy to narratively defeat, though.

What's less clear to me at this point is what external or internal factor forces the party to use the gate, versus just using it until they find a place suitable to call home. Perhaps that is sufficient, and the first part of the game is traveling through the gate in order to find that place, and then building up that place once it's found, but it would be interesting if there was another theme involved that allowed play to quickly be about strengthening the home base while still exploring.

The relationship to 'back home' is also not yet well-developed for me. Instead of an authoritarian regime, it could be environmental cataclysm or some other driving force that causes the party to flee the world, though cataclysm becomes especially bleak if only a handful of people survive, and I don't know that we want hundreds or thousands of refugees following the PCs. With regards to a 'back home' that is still there, it's a different game if the PCs are gathering resources to save their homeland, versus giving up on it and searching for a new home, versus running from something back home that is following them. I'm initially perhaps more interested in the PCs moving forwards rather than looking backwards, at least in terms of where they're expending their resources (i.e. not trying to save their homeland), but that could be a decision deferred to the co-operative setting design, once players are identified.

I do think this is a game with fewer players, probably three. Henchpeople/followers are likely, and I'd prefer the sort of game that has a few players passionately engaged and driving their individual and group agendas forward versus 5-6 players who, by virtue of the size of the group, have more of a tactical coverage of bases and too many conflicting agendas and lighter individual participation. Those six-player games invariably seem to be driven by a smaller number of core players, so I'd kind of like to skip to that core group and be able to give them more spotlight because there's just a few of them. The Followers can broaden the play experience, even with fewer players.

As to Dungeon World as a system, I'm a bit less convinced that it's the system you'd want to run this type of game. Yes, the playbooks themselves skew heroic, but I think the heroic lean to the game is built into both the basic moves and the GM moves themselves as well. Grim World (which is setting neutral) does definitely take the playbooks in a darker direction, but also doesn't really push back on the PCs being heroes, they're just more Jack Bauer than Galahad. If that's what you're looking for, that's fine, but if you're looking for something more dramatic and less action-adventure in tone, I don't think DW is a great fit.
I use the phrase 'medieval fantasy' to separate it from 'high fantasy', and I envision that game not being 'high fantasy' only in that it doesn't feature all of the four-color races and the same sort of epic background as a Lord of the Rings or Faerun.

While I'm generally okay with the Basic and Special Moves of Dungeon World, Freebooters on the Frontier does replace all of the Basic Moves and strives for a grittier, more oldschool feeling. Advancement is slower. Characters are still competent, but it's less 'four-color', which isn't really an appropriate descriptor for fantasy, but might be for Dungeon World.

Perilous Wilds supplies specific Moves for wilderness exploration and 'followers' (henchmen/hirelings), as well as an overarching framework for more robust exploration. Freebooters incorporates those, though I haven't yet done a side-by-side comparison to see whether it jiggers them at all.

So I do think Dungeon World with a Perilous Wilds overlay could work, and especially so with an additional Freebooters on the Frontier overlay and an understanding that we're going for something a bit grittier.
 
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Atlictoatl

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The stuff in Corvid Sun's Planarch Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer is all a pretty critical add-on, from the Feral Anthropologies guidelines for "playing in settings where culture matters" to the Heritage Moves for both PCs and encountered NPCs and possibly even the Finding Work stuff. The City of Dis would probably be left behind, though that could be an interesting frame instead of a Stargate... but it's too close to my other game in Byzantium, and I don't really want to do Dis so much as a gate and a reason to use Perilous Wilds.
 
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Atlictoatl

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What I like about Dungeon World and Perilous Wilds specifically is that it provides a very simple, intuitive, creative framework for devising places and creatures. It lacks the tactical complexity of a more medium-crunch fantasy RPG, but I don't mind having a more rapid and narrative combat-resolution mechanic, allowing the game to focus much more on exploration, diplomacy, politics, and even resource acquisition. Possibly trade?

I mean, it's conceivable that the game could disperse with combat in the HP-centric D&D model and move more towards an Apocalypse World model, where conflict is more about seizing control. I'm not sold on that; D&D style combat may be more fun.

I don't want to be remotely dependent on a rulebook or bestiary to supply creatures and foes, and Perilous Wilds and, to some degree, Dungeon World gives ready access to that.
 
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Atlictoatl

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Are there any lurkers who have general interest in the idea? What might draw you to it? Is there anything I'm describing that turns you off? Is that why you're only lurking?

If the idea of play centered around a stargate in a fantasy universe doesn't appeal to anyone other than Lysus and me, I might try to persuade my brain to drop it.
 

Artaud le momo

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I've been looking at this thread, and might be interested, but have two problems. First, of the titles mentioned, I only have Dungeon World, so I don;t know how the other books would affect the gameplay etc, or what themes they develop, that sort of thing, and secondly, I've not really done any play by forum type games before, so I'm not sure what the sort of level of expectation is.
 

Atlictoatl

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I've been looking at this thread, and might be interested, but have two problems. First, of the titles mentioned, I only have Dungeon World, so I don;t know how the other books would affect the gameplay etc, or what themes they develop, that sort of thing, and secondly, I've not really done any play by forum type games before, so I'm not sure what the sort of level of expectation is.
Hi, Artaud le momo! Welcome to RPG.net.

At this juncture, I'm looking less for players and more for discussion to help me identify where I have some good thoughts and where I have holes in my thinking, with regards to the concept. Like, where does it interest and intrigue, and where does it fall flat.

Even as a player, there's no need to be concerned about whether or not you have access to Perilous Wilds, etc. Most of that stuff can be behind the GM's screen, and are just codewords signifying a theme.

Perilous Wilds = wilderness exploration moves to bring Dungeon World more into the hexcrawl and oldschool formats
Freebooters on the Frontier = getting more oldschool with PCs, while within Dungeon World parameters
 
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