Thursday, February 26, 2009

Modding my game - or how I made White Wolf games more fun for me to play

When Ron Edwards started adapting Sorcerer to give it new facets, to flesh out parts of it that needed a little lovin', I was amazed. Sorcerer itself isn't the most exciting game to me, and I think I'm not quite "there" as far as appreciating Sword 'n Sorcery fiction the way Ron does; but that isn't the point. The point is that it's way cool to see somebody take their idea and then say, "Oh, you know, it could also do this!"

Brilliant! [as a brief aside, I'll be updating the Rulebook posts in the next few days to reflect recent changes and new ideas]

So, the thing I keep turning over in my head is, well, now that I have Narrativism down cold, more or less, AND I have a game design that focuses heavily on encouraging Narrativist play, it's suddenly occurring to me that I could make Mask of the Emperor adaptations of mainstream RPGs. That's a really exciting prospect to me! These would not be commercially available, at least not for money, and depending on copyright laws, I might just keep them to myself or post them as Mere Conjecture on this blog if I couldn't print up something that had, say, White Wolf Co. material as its blatantly obvious inspiration.

What I've given more serious thought to, so far, is pretty much just Exalted. That was a game that seemed to promise a set of rules that'd make me feel like a mighty hero; instead, the labyrinthine system for kewl powerz and the Official Setting pustules all over the thing made me back away slowly, watching for sudden movements.
That being said, I think I'm going to plug in a few tweaks to MotE and make a version that incorporates Solars, Abyssals, Lunars, Dragon-Blooded, and Sidereals. Once I get my thoughts organized, I'll post that here. It shouldn't be too hard, given that a lot of elements of MotE (the Craft skill, in particular) were inspired by playing Exalted and wishing it could be something more.

Another setting idea that could/would work with these rules, with adaptations, is Tsarist (or Stalinist) Russia. The intense ideological litmus-testing there, combined with the fixation of both culture-eras on a powerful central figurehead, would make for a pretty sweet take on MotE, in my opinion.

Oh, and I am loving the hell out of the Prince of Nothing series, by R. Scott Bakker. They're awesome, 95% of the time, and I highly recommend those books. I'm 2/3 of the way through the 2nd installment, The Warrior Prophet. I mention this because, hey, they kick ass, and because I keep imagining the characters rolling for social conflict resolution; people jockey for position, they bicker, and it actually has an impact on the storyline! How cool is that? It could well be that I've read this sort of thing before, and only now do I have this lens of perspective that helps me focus in on it, but yeah - Prince of Nothing could make another sweet mod for MotE, although it'd require a lot more adaptation than either of the two ideas listed above. I think. Mainly, because it's a fantasy world with a very different situation than the implied default of MotE, I might have a tough time doing it. But the emphasis on reputation, credibility (especially for the Mandate! Wow!), and social conflict with teeth makes it ripe with possibility.

The irony of modding Bakker's work is that, so the story goes, he adapted the novels from a D&D campaign he took part in some years ago.

Thass all for now!


  1. It's quite amusing that you were inspired to start this game via a White Wolf product, as my own Biohazard Dawn started as an optional ruleset for the Storyteller system.

  2. Awesome! Yeah, Storyteller broke my heart, what can I say? It seemed like it could do this slippery thing I longed to experience, but it never followed through.
    Ah, well, now I have Narrativism!

  3. I suppose one thing it did, by omission, was that it was never used to subject me to tedious, minis-based combat. Seriously, doing that to someone like me is a Hell-worthy offense!
    So there's that, at least ^_^