The Frozen Misery of Centuries

I have a big, pontificating post about gaming in general, but thought I’d post something about the game I’m getting ready to run. As fun as the beer-and-pretzels Shadowrun game is, I’ve been wanting something… more. So I thought I’d try and get something more roleplaying and player oriented. I’m stealing mechanics from all over the place to try and see if I can empower players more (and let go of a bit more of the narrative control than I’m used to).

The biggest challenge I’ve been faced with is just getting people to agree on anything. When I started this out, I forgot about the simple fact that you can’t get a group of 6-8 people really agree on anything. Part of the challenge is using email as a medium. People would state their opinion, and then not post anything further. Were this face-to-face, I’m sure there would have been more dialog and compromise involved.

I ended up taking advice from rvdammit‘s advice and having a weighted vote based on what seemed to be the top 3. Exalted won out by a narrow margin.

Then I tried to get some concensus on what people would like to play in Exalted, and opinions were less vocal but still not unified. So then I just tried to pitch out something that worked in most of what people wanted. I’m dubbing this effort “The Frozen Misery of Centuries.” I got the title by looking through for the word “winter.” I got this poem:

The human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now. The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul [we humans] ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise
Is exploration into God.
Where are you making for? It takes
So many thousand years to wake,
But will you wake for pity’s sake?
-Christopher Fry, A Sleep of Prisoners (Epilogue)

In general the game I’m aiming for is loosely inspired by A Game of Thrones. The player characters were all mortals affiliated with a Great Family of House Ferem in the Northern city of Cherak. While away from Cherak for some as-yet undetermined reason, there was an Incident and everyone was killed except them. And they only lived because they Exalted. My original pitch was for them to be Solars and Lunars, but one person has asked to be an Abyssal and I’m trying to get discussion going on whether people are okay with that. Part of the challenge on this front is that only half of the 8 people that are tentatively playing are familiar with the Exalted setting. So they have no basis for judgement. My main concern is that the other players will say, “Oh, we don’t want to trust the evil person” and the lone Abyssal player will have trouble getting roleplay with other players out of the deal. So I’m trying to get people on board with having an element of tension within the group before I commit to allowing the person to play this.

I’ve started a new tag just for this campaign, my thought being that I’m going to see how well my musings work when they impact with me trying to run something. There might be spoilers. I’ll try and warn before the cut if anything will be spoilery.

5 thoughts on “The Frozen Misery of Centuries

  1. morinon

    I think that Abyssal can work…

    But not loyal Abyssal.

    And considering that Abyssal exaltation is a far more personal thing than Solar or Lunar, it’s harder to work in. Solars maybe get a vision. Lunars meet Luna. Abyssals meet up with the Deathlord who exalted them, learn things, and go to the Mouth of the Void to give up their names.

    A lot more.

  2. sixthsecret

    Well, they’re supposed to :)

    Loyal can work, the bigger issue is that loyalist would go through that whole process, which our “one month later” start leaves little time for. A loyalist could be more of a paragon of the ancestor cult or a “chronicler of Creation’s demise”: watching and observing and ministering to the bits of Creation that die. Both don’t require them to be ravening murder-death-killers.

    Also, a lot of people don’t know what Abyssals are beyond some creepy new lieutenants the Deathlords have been fielding.

  3. admin Post author

    The training/initiation time isn’t as much of an issue for me.

    Is your concern regarding a loyal Abyssal geared more towards group dynamic? `

  4. morinon

    Yeah, pretty much. Unless the group is fairly dark, or Abyssals are very much changed in nature, a loyal Abyssal isn’t likely to work well in such a group, unless they’re hiding it ICly, which would place it in an adversarial relationship.

  5. admin Post author

    I guess from my perspective I’m used to playing a lot of Amber, where it is not too unlikely for there to be, on some levels, an adversarial relationship between all of the PCs. Amber works around that with two key assumptions: The first is that you are usually family (or have a vested interest in the family) and the second is that there is usually some larger threat at hand (which leads to the cliche “save the universe” trope in Amber games).

    Playing an Abyssal in a party-driven game like Circle Plus Two would be a death sentence. We barely stand each other IC as it is. ;) But if the Abyssal with another PC’s spouse (or sibling or some other family member) and they ally with the Solars and Lunars to oppose some third threat. Then you can also have all the undercurrents of tension, one side trying to recruit the other… Roleplaying gold. But it does require the players to be into it. As many times as I’ve seen it work in a game, I’ve seen it go bad when there wasn’t enough to keep the players working together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.