1.  
    The title 'Between Continents' is purely a working one at the moment and maybe subject to change.

    As some of you might know, I've had this idea for a while now of doing a third game in what would unavoidably be called a trilogy. Cold City and Hot War were obviously the first two parts and for a long time I've envisaged the third part being a thematic prequel, rather than a further thematic sequel.

    All that waffle aside, the time and place that struck me as ripe for exploration was Contantinople during the period 1918-1923. This was the time when the city was, like Cold War Berlin, divided amongst victorious allies. There was great tumult as the Ottoman Empire finally disolved and the seeds of what would become modern Turkey would be sown. There was the fallout from the Russian Revolution and Civil War, as aristocrats*, White Russian military figures, Mensheviks, and refugees of all stripes flooded across the Black Sea to escape the 'Bolshevik Terror'. Nationalism, imperialism, religion, and factionalism all came together in the great city of Constantinople.

    That's the proposed backdrop to the entire thing. The themes contained within the game would be similar to those that preceded it. However, I'd like to step away from technological horror to a more occult basis for the strange goings on in this game. Not that technology won't play a part: strange Byzantine inventions, mechanical chess players from Georgia, and all those kind of things could certainly play a part.

    This next bit kind of imagines that you have at least a passing familiarity with the mechanics used in Cold City and Hot War.

    The system elements would stay broadly the same, in order to maintain continuity. One part I'm struggling with (and the bit I would like help with) is pulling the characters together. In CC you have the RPA, in HW you have the SSG. In this game I'd like to be a bit more expansive, but still provide a concrete foundation for bringing characters together. I'm thinking that as part of the collaborative game creation process, there are several choices for why the characters are together.

    As regards how to bring characters together, I've been making notes about (character) group creation as part of the overall game creation process. What is the group? Why are the characters involved? What assets/powers/relationships do they have? And various other things. With some work, this could be a very workable way of sorting things out. And: why is an individual character with this group: to support, to subvert, to gain in some way, etc?

    Connected to that, one of my other thoughts has been to abandon the Factional/Organisational Hidden agenda in favour of a goal/mission based agenda. A good analogy to this would be the military missions from Duty & Honour. However, the way I'm looking at it, individual characters could support or oppose the goal, with that level of interaction (or even the type of interaction) changeable across time, influenced by things such as consequences. The weighting of the goal would be the same as for hidden agendas, just operating slightly differently.

    Example:

    Scott's character supports the goal enthusiastically and gets +2 dice in conflicts where he is trying to move the group towards successful completion. If successful in a conflict, he gets to add a tick to the goal track (like the track used for agendas)

    Neil's character opposes the goal with all his heart and gets +3 dice in conflicts where he is trying to obstruct the successful resolution of the goal. If he is successful in a conflict he gets to add a minus to the goal track.


    Through time, Neils character may actually become convinced of the necessity of the goal and move towards support. Conversely, Scott's character may grow disillusioned and disheartened and move towards opposition.

    The number of spaces on the goal track would be a way of dictating the length of game. No more than one use of the goal bonus would be allowed per scene, although multiple characters, supporting and opposing, could use their bonus in that single conflict.

    Personal hidden agendas would essentially remain the same. Or maybe they too can change?

    Oh, and I was thinking of making initial character description very easy: choose an adjective, choose and nationality, and choose an occupation, background or role.

    For example:

    Disillusioned British Diplomat
    Vengeful Russian Aristocrat
    Friendly Greek Soldier

    Oh, and for those with an interest in such things, here's some of my non-fictional sources:

    Nur Bilge-Criss, Istanbul under Allied Occupation 1918–1923
    Peter Kincaid-Jensen, 'The Greco-Turkish War, 1920-1922'
    Michael M. Finefrock, 'Ataturk, Lloyd George and the Megali Idea: Cause and Consequence of the Greek Plan to Seize Constantinople from the Allies, June-August 1922'
    Henry P. Beers, 'United States Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters, 1919-24'
    A. L. Macfie, 'The British Decision Regarding the Future of Constantinople, November 1918-January 1920'
    Tom Reiss, The Orientalist

    I realise this is a pretty lengthy post with lots in it to mull over. Feedback on the mechanical changes would be appreciated as a first priority.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Prince
    • CommentTimeApr 1st 2010
     
    Sounds cool Malc.
    I think you should keep with the temperature theme though how about Smouldering Straits? Simmering Nexus? Almost as good as Lukewarm Village.

    I think a mission based structure would be great. How about making the PCs all members of some sort of secret society that seeks to possess archaeological treasures from ancient civilisations – which of course have sinister occult properties…
  2.  
    Joe Prince:Sounds cool Malc.
    I think you should keep with the temperature theme though how about Smouldering Straits? Simmering Nexus? Almost as good as Lukewarm Village.

    I was going for Tepid Town myself, but Smouldering Straits has a certain ring to it.

    Joe Prince:I think a mission based structure would be great. How about making the PCs all members of some sort of secret society that seeks to possess archaeological treasures from ancient civilisations – which of course have sinister occult properties…


    The ancient civilisations trope is something I'd certainly like to bring in to the game, particularly Byzantium, Holy Roman Empire, etc. I do like the notion that, rather than trying to suppress something (as in Cold City and, to a certain extent, Hot War), the characters in this game are making a more overt effort to access or utilise the strange goings on.

    Cheers
    Malc
  3.  
    Triple Point

    (edit: see here)
  4.  
    Howdy

    Malcolm Craig:
    One part I'm struggling with (and the bit I would like help with) is pulling the characters together. In CC you have the RPA, in HW you have the SSG. In this game I'd like to be a bit more expansive, but still provide a concrete foundation for bringing characters together. I'm thinking that as part of the collaborative game creation process, there are several choices for why the characters are together.

    I'm not there on the setting yet, you're not convincing me, so as Joe Punter what I'd like to see is something new in the rule set to get me excited. If I may be so bold, the SSG for example seems a fairly bog standard "you're working for X and they give you missions" thing. What would be useful to see is a method of creating your own group or organisation (maybe even giving that institution a profile that could be brought into conflicts). They players decide if they want to be a Gentleman's Club of bored, rich young men looking for something, or a subversive political cell, or whatever else it is they think they need to be.

    Malcolm Craig:
    As regards how to bring characters together, I've been making notes about (character) group creation as part of the overall game creation process. What is the group? Why are the characters involved? What assets/powers/relationships do they have? And various other things. With some work, this could be a very workable way of sorting things out. And: why is an individual character with this group: to support, to subvert, to gain in some way, etc?

    Yeah, like that! ;)

    Malcolm Craig:
    Connected to that, one of my other thoughts has been to abandon the Factional/Organisational Hidden agenda in favour of a goal/mission based agenda. A good analogy to this would be the military missions from Duty & Honour.

    What's the difference between a Goal and an Agenda? D&H is more structured in its scenes and conflicts from what I've seen, but I'm not sure what you're suggesting with the name change, aside from in your example, other people can effect it.

    Malcolm Craig:
    Personal hidden agendas would essentially remain the same. Or maybe they too can change?

    I don't see any immediate gain from changing one and not the other. With friction in the group and personality differences, or the potential for someone's personal mission to conflict with someone's wider goals, I would expect the same "interfering" mechanics to work for personal as well as factional agendas (missions).

    Example
    Scott's family who guide and sponsor him abhor Muslims and he gets +2 dice whenever conflicting with them or their goals, being Factionally aligned to reducing whatever influence the Ottoman's may have.

    Neil personally wants to marry an Ottoman widow (whether for love or the wealth, who can say), he gets +2 dice when trying to reach betrothal.

    Neil's potential bride wants to be invited to the Ambassador's ball and Neil tries to arrange it though his contact, but Scott can't stand the thought of her being given credibility and similary uses his contacts to discredit the woman.

    If Neils succeeds he gets a tick in his Personal mission (and Scott a cross in his Factional one), if he fails to get the invite he gets a cross for the set back to his wedding plans (and Scott a tick for limiting the influence of his family's enemy).

    Malcolm Craig:
    Oh, and I was thinking of making initial character description very easy: choose an adjective, choose and nationality, and choose an occupation, background or role.

    What does being Russian, or Greek, or anything else bring to the table? Is it just a descriptor? Does it summon up the same ideas for everyone round the table? Or does it need clarifying what, if anything, that means? Does nationality have a direct impact on the game? Is that what its about?
  5.  
    Gary Bowerbank:
    I'm not there on the setting yet, you're not convincing me, so as Joe Punter what I'd like to see is something new in the rule set to get me excited. If I may be so bold, the SSG for example seems a fairly bog standard "you're working for X and they give you missions" thing. What would be useful to see is a method of creating your own group or organisation (maybe even giving that institution a profile that could be brought into conflicts). They players decide if they want to be a Gentleman's Club of bored, rich young men looking for something, or a subversive political cell, or whatever else it is they think they need to be.


    A couple of things to be noted here (well, one thing really): I think this, like Hot War, will tend towards niche interest. Those who find the setting 'grabby' will find it very grabby indeed. Fundamentally, I write games in settings that excite me. I'm really excited about Constantinople in that era and I hope this will translate into the finished product.

    That being said, your points about group creation are spot on: it really needs to be a core part of the game experience and it is certainly something that I'll be paying a lot of close attention to. In many ways town creation in Dogs in the Vineyard is an exemplary model for how to do this kind of thing really well. What I'm thinking of for BC won't be a hollow aping of DitV town creation, but it's a useful touchstone.

    What's the difference between a Goal and an Agenda? D&H is more structured in its scenes and conflicts from what I've seen, but I'm not sure what you're suggesting with the name change, aside from in your example, other people can effect it.


    I think the difference is primarily semantic, but that kind of stuff can certainly affect the way people view such things. A 'hidden agenda' implies something calculated, slightly sinister perhaps, with hints of machinations and plans. A 'goal' is far more open. The naming convention is flexible and may change as the game progresses. At the moment, it's pretty much a placeholder.

    I don't see any immediate gain from changing one and not the other. With friction in the group and personality differences, or the potential for someone's personal mission to conflict with someone's wider goals, I would expect the same "interfering" mechanics to work for personal as well as factional agendas (missions).

    Example
    Scott's family who guide and sponsor him abhor Muslims and he gets +2 dice whenever conflicting with them or their goals, being Factionally aligned to reducing whatever influence the Ottoman's may have.

    Neil personally wants to marry an Ottoman widow (whether for love or the wealth, who can say), he gets +2 dice when trying to reach betrothal.

    Neil's potential bride wants to be invited to the Ambassador's ball and Neil tries to arrange it though his contact, but Scott can't stand the thought of her being given credibility and similary uses his contacts to discredit the woman.

    If Neils succeeds he gets a tick in his Personal mission (and Scott a cross in his Factional one), if he fails to get the invite he gets a cross for the set back to his wedding plans (and Scott a tick for limiting the influence of his family's enemy).


    Some interesting thoughts there that I'll need to mull over at greater length and see what comes out.

    What does being Russian, or Greek, or anything else bring to the table? Is it just a descriptor? Does it summon up the same ideas for everyone round the table? Or does it need clarifying what, if anything, that means? Does nationality have a direct impact on the game? Is that what its about?


    Again, it's a descriptor, a semantic device, or whathaveyou. To my mind, the fact that these things might not summon up the same ideas for everyone round the table could produce some really cool stuff in play.

    Thanks for all the thoughts. It's good to have stimulating feedback at this early stage.

    Cheers
    Malc
  6.  
    I see a couple of possibilities here, fictionally. One is, as you say, the end of the Ottomans (I wanna play a Janissary!) The other is the rise of Fascism in Spain, Italy, and Germany (where they took hold — there are other places where it didn't, but that doesn't mean it wasn't present, e.g. the US and UK).

    I've been thinking for a couple of years now about Orient Gateway and No Pasarán as models for an RPG. I think the occultist stuff may be best buried in the silt of the Bosphorus, but Spain in the 1930s was a really horrific place and therefore a great setting, particularly given the inspiration of Pan's Labyrinth.
  7.  
    Joshua A.C. Newman:I see a couple of possibilities here, fictionally. One is, as you say, the end of the Ottomans (I wanna play a Janissary!) The other is the rise of Fascism in Spain, Italy, and Germany (where they took hold — there are other places where it didn't, but that doesn't mean it wasn't present, e.g. the US and UK).


    Certainly the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of modern, secular Turkey will be a big part of the background of BC. The roots of fascism could certainly also affect the interplay of forces.

    I've been thinking for a couple of years now about Orient Gateway and No Pasarán as models for an RPG. I think the occultist stuff may be best buried in the silt of the Bosphorus, but Spain in the 1930s was a really horrific place and therefore a great setting, particularly given the inspiration of Pan's Labyrinth.


    Yes, fascinating and horrifying times indeed. Civil War/post-Civil War Spain could certainly be an intriguing and terrifying setting for a game. I think you should write it!

    As far as the occultist angle goes, it's something I'm keen to see within BC, but not to the extent of, say, call of Cthulhu, with cultists on every street corner. Early twentieth century occultism can be connected with the themes of technology present in Cold City and Hot War. Aleister Crowley, for example, associated with JFC Fuller, one of the great pioneers of modern tank warfare, connecting the horrifying technology of war with occultism. There's certainly scope to take theme like that and run with them.

    Thanks for the thoughts and comments. Much appreciated.

    Cheers
    Malcolm
    •  
      CommentAuthorNeil Smith
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2010
     
    (Sorry I'm a bit late to this party...)

    Cold City was about scavenging for national advantage and keeping the world safe. Hot War was about petty squabbles and desperately trying to survive. It would be nice to have a game that's about creating something new from the pieces you have lying around. A game of crafting, perhaps were the foundations of the twisted technology get laid down. It would be a nice turn around to have the twisted technologists being the good guys, improving the lot of the world. There was optimism about technology that could be reflected in the game.

    I think having a single goal for the group would limit the potential for backstabbing and angst. It's always fun when two national agendas conflict, or a PC has their national and personal agenda at odds. In CC and HW, there's always the 'mission goal' to keep the PCs together (ha!) on top of the national and personal agendas.

    I really like the idea of group and goal creation. It's something I think games need more of: a procedure to create a compelling situation with things in motion.

    Neil.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMatt
    • CommentTimeApr 26th 2010
     
    Neil Smith: It would be nice to have a game that's about creating something new from the pieces you have lying around. A game of crafting, perhaps were the foundations of the twisted technology get laid down.


    That'd be really neat, a nice fictional conceit too, as whilst the characters can be all optimistic about the world they plan to build with the occult tech stuff, players all know where it may lead.

    Actually, I've been re-reading Planetary of late and that kind of "archaeology of the weird" feel might fit quite well with Between Continents.
  8.  
    Matt/Neil: No worries about being late to the party, you input is always valuable.

    The notion of turning the conventions of CC and HW on their heads is an appealing and interesting one. I'll need to have a good think about how this all ties in and, more importantly, how it would be implemented in play.

    Re: comments on having a single group goal, I see where you're coming from on this. National/Factional Hidden Agendas do provide a lot of the 'meat' in CC and HW. I'd like to experiment with various ways of doing this to see what is the best. Especially if the game adopts an inverted way of looking at things, as mentioned above.

    Cheers
    Malcolm