MoonHunter Sayeth 20180831

MoonHunter

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#1
Setting: The Little Cities Campaign
Now for something, a little different

The People escaped from someplace that should not of been conducting that kind of experiment. From what we have found out, no one should be doing this kind of experiment. But they did. The Yellow Men.

The People came into being because of it.

How did they escape? The process made the rats smarter, more upright, with useful thumbs, and a facility for real language. It was just a matter of time before they figured out how to escape. The Yellow Men feared being caught and were preparing to End the Experiment and The People. The People realized this and in a moment of quiet implemented their escape.

They slipped out of the lab. The Yellow Men from the lab pursued them. They killed many with fire or acid. Some distracted the Yellow Men so the rest could escape.

They moved out under The Great City Above. They made several nests around the city, for safety. These nests have become towns and now Little Cities under The Great City Above.

They encountered their non-people relatives and even interbred with them. While breeding in with the general rat population has diminished the average intelligence of the communities, it is still quite high (human average rather than super intelligent). These ratsized humanoids have carved themselves a niche in the underworld and thrived.

There are now several Little Cities Under under the Cities. They are in places where people do not go, abandoned tunnels, tubes, foundations lost, and so on. Technology, power, and materials have been "appropriated" from Humanity above. In fact, much of Ratling society is modeled on the Human society above, just scaled smaller. They have thriving communities, with at least two generations never knowing anything else.

Note: They are still occasionally hunted by The Yellow Men (hazmat suitted men from the lab). They look for sightings and follow up with fire or acid.

Note: The local predators of the under city are now smarter (as the "process" was absorbed by eating Ratlings). While not Rat smart, they are vastly more intelligent than they were and sometimes are developing more human like traits. The predators and The People/ Ratlings have an unseasy status quo truce.

Note Some Ratlings that belong to The Sun Cult, think they are the dominant species now. They should be in charge of Ratling society, and eventually the surface world. They are clever, using Humanity's technology against us in subtle ways. (See mecha thread if you want to go more overt).

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There are many possible chronicle frameworks for this one.

If you go with Human Characters as Main, you go with Urban Fantasy. Humans dealing with the existence of the Ratlings or Magic Users who encounter one more strange things or other. (note: Not all Urban Fantasies are overtly magical. However, if you want to go that way... magic or alchemy is a much better explanation for super intelligent more human rats. That same formula given to a human should make them a "superior human" and possibly immortal. So there is a cult out there... experimenting with such things.)

So of course, the players discover them. This could become a game of allies. It could be a horror game (depending on the attitude of the Ratlings). It could be a survival game. It depends on the characters and the first few contacts. They can help players. They can hinder players. They might trade services.

You can opt to use this as a subsetting in a different chronicle. Imagine super heroes encountering them. An urban fantasy chronicle which is normally dealing with vampires could take a small vacation from that investigating these smart rats
If you go with Ratlings as the main characters, you can go "science fiction", "science fantasy", urban fantasy (as explained above), steampunk, adventure, or even straight fantasy. They have their own roles in the society here. The chronicle framework could be on ratling society. It could be normal day to day drama, things with the Sun Cult or other oddities. The Chronicle could deal with The People and their interaction with Humans of the Grand City Above. It could be normal people. It could be supernaturals (Human supernaturality (vampire ratlings?) and such).

I personally would run this as a Ratling campaign. Fantasy characters in a steampunk/fantasy world under the Giant's city.

Note: You even have media to help you - Rats of NIMH books or movies - depending on the tone you want.

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Most players have a problem playing games when they are not people (Humans or Human like). Thus playing a game where you only have three fingers and a thumb, twelve to sixteen inches tall, and a tail (and also having some other interesting abilities), might be a challenge for some players. (There is also a possible stigma for playing animal characters). Still some gentle reminders played through in the game (as you climb up through the sewer pipes to the building... ) might help The players might need some help dealing with scale differences (I hop into the car and throw it into gear... ummm no). Still, with a little work and a few reminders, it could be a fun game.

One tool that can help is Encyclopedia Moments

The learning curve for games can be pretty steep. It could be a culture - rich and complicated, character types - unique abilities and unexpected one, or the actual world - exotic elements and different physics, or some combination of elemments that players need to learn to play the game well. The GM has options: start out taking it easy on the players, help them out if they make a choice that does not seem informed, or just gloss over things. Starting out easy and taking off the training wheels and raising the bar as the chronicle proceeds works best. Still some times the players feel like you are controlling their options.

The best tool for training that has less complications during the game is the encyclopedia moment.

Every game session starts with an encyclopedia moment. The GM rattles off one to five lines about a given subject or location that usually will come up this game. This can be about the climbing, weapon ettiquitte, religions, public baths, what the local forest is like, and so on. This serves two purposes: one, it helps everyone learn the location/ culture; two, the players will pay attention to the "bit" because they know it will be important to a near future event and will take it as a cue.

By keeping it very, very short, it is easy for players to understand and use. If you drone on for a bit... they will tune you out like they tune out teachers in school. Players, unlike GMs, don't like to study for games. Keep it light, simple, and never make them ready "scholarly books" or even long passages from scholarly books.

Also put the bit in the chronicle packet for the GM records, a reminder for players, and a study sheet for new players.
 

baakyocalder

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#2
Interesting little setting with the ratlings. I like the discussion of how many different campaigns the setting could be used for.

The encyclopedia moment is a good GM suggestion. Players usually don't do that much homework, which is probably why I prefer to GM. I like reading game lore and immersing myself in the setting. I have to remember most players aren't that engaged.

Would providing a recap of the adventure in a 'movie announcer' voice be a good way to do the encyclopedia moment?
 

MoonHunter

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#4
baakyocalder;bt693 said:
Oh, and is this blog post the original post that was planned?
The problem with doing "work" at work is that I have to transfer writing between programs. So what was originally here was missing a number of edits and missing most of the encylopedia elements. Sorry to the first three people who read this. I brought it together and nudged the last three people who were "here" to reread.
 

MoonHunter

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#5
baakyocalder;bt692 said:
Would providing a recap of the adventure in a 'movie announcer' voice be a good way to do the encyclopedia moment?
Actually, that would work. I sometimes think of the GM narrator as a character with their own voice. This fits perfectly in that. I always want to channel David Attenborough when I do narration. (I tried to be James Earl Jones, but I can't get my voice that deep).
 
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