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MoonHunter Sayeth 20171206

MoonHunter

Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
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Just Sick Of It.
And a setting that uses a disease. And some classic MoonHunter Sayeth advice

Blog Entries
It is the season. But not the one you think. Everyone in the house is in a various stage of sick. Except me it seems (Yay! Flu Shot!). Our family tradition is that at least one person is sick Thanksgiving (or thereabouts) and one or more on the week around Christmas and New Years. (Ohh the joy of the annual sinus infections...) In short, we are all either tired, out of it, or tired of supporting everyone else. There is not a lot of enthusiasm. Still Commitment to write. Now there was that sort of vow that I would stop writing web stuff at home, and write my game. Well between tired and enough work to make me work hard at work (and meetings), there was not writing on much of anything recently. So. I blarg at you from the safety of home.

I tend to "play" in creative threads and postings. On a couple of boards, I had put up threads about diseases, plagues, and healing. (I have a passing interest in the subjects.) Many people would look at the threads, but nobody and I actually mean nobody, would post of these. Okay, when I broke them down to smaller posts, they gleefully posted to the plagues thread. They occasionally commented about healing organizations. Nobody touched the disease threads. (Okay, I would get a hit every now and again, but it takes time. )

So two weeks after starting the last of these threads and nobody responded, I asked myself, "Hunter, why is nobody posting to this thread?" And the answer that floated up out of my subconscious, "Heroes don't get sick, or if they do... they certainly do not die from it."

Well unless they play Morrow Project or have an annoying Fringeworthy GM, but those are another story. If you are playing in the Survival Genre, realistic diseases might be a thing... but that is not a notable slice of the gamer pie chart.

The PCs are "the heroes" of the chronicle story. If they die, they should die in dramatic or heroic fashion, rather than just closing their eyes one last time while shivering with fever. Plagues are things in the background to add tension to the chronicle or setting, giving the players something they needs to solve or work around. Regular diseases are things other people get. Heroes seem to be immune to them. If a hero gets sick, they are not going to die from it.

Like everything that happens to a hero, it should be dramatic and add a complication to the chronicle.

Heroes can't just get sick. Diseases should bring tension to their situation. One of the greatest story arcs in comics is Spider Man's historic fighting and stopping Dr. Octopus. That happens often enough, so what made it special?. This time Spiderman was sick with the flu. Not only was he sick, he was really sick. Sick and it was raining. So he never got better over the story arc because he was swinging around the city cold and soaked. What would of been a fairly standard fight, expanded into several issues. He could not stop him because of the pain, the high fever, the slowed reflexes, so there were several engagements. He eventually took the Doctor down but at great risk and personal sacrifice... it was dramatic... it was powerful... it was scary that a super hero was almost killed because he had a case of the flu.

So like everything that enters in a chronicle, it should add something to it. Diseases have many dramatic options.

Diseases can be used to enhance the tension and difficulty of a scene/ scenario.

Example: A simple trip into the mountains to get a spell component flower becomes difficult as the entire group of characters comes down with the disease (which they are getting the flower to cure)... reducing their effectiveness... unable to function normally - small speed bump monsters become major threats.

Diseases can create "the clicking tock" for a dramatic count down. After all, "normal people" can be sick.

Example: Get the cure from Settler's Bay to Juno within a few days or people will die.

Diseases might generate fear, social movements, and other mob activities.

Ever see a mob running away from something it fears.... how about a plague victim? Or they might run away from a town infected.

Diseases have lots of uses.... historical threats, exotic problems, needs for cures, and this is all without the bad guys using them as a tool.

We should be thinking about diseases and their impacts on the chronicle.

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So I have been talking about diseases and how they can make drama. Every setting should have some innate drama and tension.

So, of course I have a setting for that. I did a lot of work on a setting that centers on a disease... and it isn't zombies.

First, you must read The Omen Plague
Okay, that was kind of neat. It had such potential.... that it led to... what would happen if...

So, while historically it did not start with The Codal Post, it makes sense to look at it next. (This also gave it an address on Strolen's).

Now, the important part was MoonHunter blarging out ideas on a forum (Like we have never seen MoonHunter do that before.) This thread shows the various plotlines that will be happening in the background. They may or may not impact the players.

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One thing this setting provides is a learning moment. It is all about The March of History. Most GMs create these detailed histories....that completely stop the moment the chronicle starts. (Waiting for PCs to make history... but everything else stops). So one of the points I like to hammer home in setting design... is how the world will "go on" as the chronicle goes on. PCs can impact that, but usually this all happens in the background.

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1. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: When we build our game environments, we know all the details (hows, whys, whens). Then the campaign starts; history stops. Unless it revolves around the player characters, in most games, nothing else happens. A reminder, CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT. The rest of the world is "in play", as well as the characters. GMs: The players may or may not have an impact on the march of history. If they want to, let them influence events.

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2. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: History is made every day. Events that occur today will affect tomorrow. Apply this idea to your game. Treat your world as it is "under construction". It's never finished. This keeps your mind open to possibilities. Keep recording history in the game environment's time line. Apply "events" in places where the characters are not. The world does not have to revolve around the characters, but it does need to move around them.

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3. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: Change is the only constant. The game world does not have to revolve around the characters, but it does need to move around them. Events should occur when and where the players are not. When applying history and change to your world, keep track of the results.

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4. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: Sometimes an idea is more important or powerful than an army. When a new idea (a technique, a new technological thing, a new spell, a new weapon or armor, a new way to make more things faster, a new application, or an idea (paper money, the corporation, the internet)) occurs in a place, determine what factors will help it spread (or stop it). These are such things as how fast the change will be accepted (how useful is it and who supports it), how far change spreads (based on communication), and lastly what barriers prevent such changes. Change doesn't always occur easily. Cultural elements may stop things from evolving. However, change happens or something occurs to suppress the change.

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5. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: History moves forward. Don't have things happen too fast, or no one will know what is happening (unless future shock or chaos is a theme for the game). Don't try and alter events to fit particular goals. You can easily destroy the proper pace of change in your campaign. The flow of history is a tool for the GM, not the dominant element.

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6. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: To control the flow of history in their campaigns, some GMs create a list of "future events" and "innovations" that they want to see in the campaign. By thinking of the things you want to happen in the future, and their results, the GM can be totally prepared for the event, even if the players are not. The GM applies the events / innovation when it seems to fit the story.

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7. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: When creating a world, you should always create two timelines of history that stop at "now"- the current game year. The first is the world's true history. The second is the acknowledged history, or the history everyone on the world (and the characters) know. There will be overlap between these two timelines. If you are having a long term campaign, you should create two more timelines, extending the "history" into the future. Events on these possible timelines are applied as appropriate to the campaign. This gives you a feel for where the campaign is going. By seeing what is no longer appropriate, you know the effect of your player's actions.

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8. MoonHunter Sayeth: The March: As a GM, you can use "history" as a guide for how things will proceed on your world. How I love history. Then again, I love a good drink, but I don't approve of drunk driving. While basing events on actual history is a good idea (they come pretested), it is not always applicable. Many historical events occurred because of a random element or some thing that did not occur in your world. It is too easy to toss something into the game world and say "it happened that way in history." The "history excuse", copying an event and throwing it into your game environment (or worse, looking up a historical event like ones in your world to justify their existence) ignores the whys and hows of history. Remember those classes you took? History is whys and hows mixed with whens. Why should your game world's history be any different? History is great for research, but it's a lousy excuse. Use history to understand, but make sure you understand first.

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9. MoonHunter Sayeth: A ruler and some tape: When creating a world, it is often best to create it to a steady state several hundred years in the past. Take the world from there, evolving it as you would a game you are playing in. That way when your player characters arrive a few hundred years later, they feel the world is in motion, that there is life beyond their "patch". GMs, see the March for more on this idea.
 
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