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Author Topic: Dreaming of the Opium Drip - A Gentleman's Game System & Setting  (Read 2101 times)
Gelatinous Cube

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« on: January 04, 2010, 10:04:34 PM »

Dreaming of the Opium Drip
-Pulp Adventure
Played With Cards.
A Gentleman's Game System (c)

Ace Of Spades

Mothmen don't die easily.

We were standing with our backs to the quicksand pits of Iur and I had my blackjack and Joe Trenton had his six-shooter but the damn things swarmed around us and knocked us down--bad twist of fate. When their blinking kevlar-proof wings enveloped us, I thought we were done, but it turns out the Hollow World was accessible through the sandpit into which we fell. 'Course one or two of them fell through with us, but I beat them senseless. And Trenton threw away his six-shooter, it was clogged with mud.

Then we looked around and saw our reflections on some sort of weird bubbling three-dimensional model. Yeah, it captured our physiques from all sides- even Trenton's gouty fat- and projected the thing a few feet in front of us, just at eye-level.

When we got our bearings, we saw that we weren't out of the woods yet; high up above, in a glass container I could see a man's face. He was laughing and sitting at a control panel. I recognized him- it was Doc. Livingston Saint-Savage- the madman scientist we'd been contracted to find.

I looked up at the evil man, licked my lips, then removed my tan akubra hat and asked, "So it's Dr. Livingston, I presume?"

Now Playing: Echo Chamber... Fatboy Slim

The 1870s through the 1920s are a time of high adventure, weird science, and
The 1950s through the 1970s are a time of great conformity, hard drugs, sexy times, and rock and roll.
The 2100s through the 2120s are an age of singularity, time travel, and high arrogance.

2120: Playing Gods

Printouts on the iCatchers told us what was going to go down; the Russians were tunneling through time to kill Adolph Hitler before he betrayed Stalin and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact--We couldn't let them do that. According to our PredictoDisplays a timepast alteration of that magnitude might do away with time travel itself. So while they were timetunnelling, we'd have to hit them hard.

If we failed to breach their building, then we were going to need to jump back to the past and one-up them, taking out their Prologue Team before it finished its mission. Still, since time travel hadn't been destroyed in this timeline, we were pretty confident we'd succeed in fixing the past-- but according to Alistair that only meant that in one divergent line everything went okay- what we needed to do was reconcile ALL the timelines and clean up things so that we could finally get that General Unified Theory of Relativity figured out and get some faster-than-light travel.

Yeah, our Scientists told us the only thing holding us back from FTL was the shattered timelines-- because of them, physics wasn't logical. So that was our job; stop these Russians now, and stop anyone from the future who might also be trying to change things. Problem was, we didn't really know what the Prime Timeline was supposed to be. For example, turns out Archduke Ferdinand wasn't supposed to get shot at in Serbia. We only found that one out through making a time-variate analysis of the Archduke's real killer's gloves. When we jumped forward, we found that the South African's were responsible-- THAT political imbroglio took all of The Time Society's none-too-prodigious resources to reconcile.

Now Playing: Ghost Town... Shiny Toy Guns

Aces High
Jokers Wild
Twos go Low
And a Coin to Keep Things Civil.


I walked through the streets of London, my werewolf on a leash. We entered the Club Quark and were bedazzled by space-age bubbling lights and gooey liquid that dripped from the ceiling like stalactites in a cave. At the bar we took a few Crazy Pills and watched the dancing on the hydraulic floor. Fun and games was over though; we had to deal with the Stone Stalin. He haunted the psychadellic dreams, you know- came for you when you went to the Fifth Dimension- the emotional one, came to crash you down and steal your high. But we weren't letting him do that this time, we'd come prepared- leastways I had. I'd brought a supernatural, and because we'd had bloody union just that morning, I owned power to traverse mind's smoggy passageways and to affect the otherside.

When the stone-faced man of steel, the automaton, the stealer of dreams strode out of the smoke, dispersing and crushing colors of the world with an Iron Hammer, my ivory-studded tongue curved out and wrapped itself around his strong neck and placed a pinprick in his neck, sapping away his strength.

Now Playing: Journey to the Center of My Mind... The Amboy Dukes

 -Take heart, things are looking up.
 -1 Extra bonus point. (A 9 becomes a 10 in value)

 -Draw this and you're 'bout as lucky as a dog in 1900s Cathay Canton, fellow.
 -Instant fail. GM's discretion how bad.


 -Everything hurts a little harder.
 -Take extra damage (2) or suffer extra negatives (2), depending on who wins the normal draw.

Battles and Skill Challenges are resolved in a game of War. Draw High, hope the challenger draws low.
That seem boring?

Don't forget to stack the deck. Gain decks of cards when you level up; and pick out 12 of the best that you want; GM picks another 12; The other 28 are random.

* Shuffle randomly into two stacks.
* One stack is the stack you can see, the other is the hidden "Shadow" stack. Add the ones you draw to the playtable as modifiers when a skill challenge or a battle is taking place. Be careful to not use up your best cards, because they only replenish at the end of a session. You can choose to add a card from your chosen stack or from the shadow stack.

Reaching Level 4 allows a player to pick 24 cards; and reduce the amount of random cards to 16. Reaching Level 6 allows a player to pick 32, and reduces the amount of random cards to 8. Level 8 is the maximum level (2x the amount of card suits).
Required for Play: Up to 8 sets of cards per person.

Taking Damage
-Damage taken is not determined by the face value of the cards; that merely determines whether damage is taken. Damage taken depends on what the Firearms+Firearm Quality or Fist/Knee+Force rating of one character is against the Dexterity and Armor Rating of the other character. After those are subtracted, the damage is given.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2010, 10:20:44 PM by Light Dragon » Logged

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2010, 10:41:15 PM »


All the eras may interact, or the players may choose to play in a particular era.

Anachronisms are more than welcome in any time period for the era. 2100s' time traveling has certainly screwed up the timeline enough to allow for that particular bit of strangeness.

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2010, 10:41:40 PM »


Stories to Tell

The first era is steampunky and pulpy.

In Character

Ride the Iron Bullet

Themes : Adventure, Discovery, Exploration,


-The Gentleman's Club
-Society of Steam (nefarious)
-Explorer's League
-Imperialist's Alliance

The second era is psychadellic, dreamy, and weird.

In Character

Walk the Dreamlands

Themes : "Drama", Duality, Humility (Teamwork), Introspection


The Supernatural play a large part in the second setting as they seep into reality through rock music, drugs, "relations", and other high-intensity inducing wonders.


Out of Character

Walkers (Enemies)
Walkers are creatures of negative energy; they get people 'down' and drain them of inspiration, hope, life.

-Dream-Creatures : Amorphous blobs that shape into one's greatest fears and enemies and challenges. Dream-Creatures torment the Awakened unless disbelieved. Dream-Creatures are allowed to play the Awakened's cards in addition to their own. And they can choose from remaining cards in the Awakened Player's stack when they play (from a randomly grabbed set of 6).

-Ghouls : Drain life and hope. One bitten by a ghoul gets very down and all his cards are one less effective.

-Fey : Creatures of insanity. One injured by a fey has a chance to succumb to the Inspiration Blindness and be sent back into the waking world in a dreamlike state. People in such a position have been known to scratch themselves to death, thinking they are covered by bugs, or to walk in front of cars, thinking they are in the middle of their homes.

-Musical Notes (Boogiemen)

Other (In the Real World)

-Angels (Walkers), Elemental Spirits (in the real world), Innocents (Child Spirit Walkers)


Out of Character

-Heightened emotions allow people to Awake and enter the Dreamworlds... which is dangerous, but can often be rewarding; resulting in Inspirations and Creativity that make life better for everyone else.

-Positive emotions act as a shield for the Awakened.

-Negative emotions act as a sword... but without protection, an Awakened person is quite vulnerable. Negative emotions are far more dangerous for an Awakened to have than positive unless that Awakened is an expert in the dreamworld; which few are.

-Walkers and the Awakened. & The Rock Against Hell

Out of Character

*The Awakened are those who have their senses heightened by the vices of the era; they can see things in dreams and defend the rest of society from the evil things therein; or they can ally with them and gain great insight and power.

*The Walkers are the creatures that reside in dreams, in the shadows, that spring from music, that are created in ecstatic throes; they are often beautiful, but they are dangerous. They can cause great mischief in the world by manifesting themselves. They had best stay contained in the music. They first threatened to break into the world with the advent of Jazz Music.

*But Scott Joplin and George Gershwin managed to keep the Walker's in the dreamworkd due to playing a convoluted "ragtime" tune that left the Walkers confused and lost in Jazz's uncertain rhythms and unable to seep into the world's happiness. Some say that the music let the Walkers in; but musicians know better, the music just lets them see the Walkers better. WWI- that was the Walker's causing, WWII- that was their madness as well. Now it's the 50s and WWIII's just been averted due to the Korean War's 38th parallel treaty. Looking back from the 2000s, you wonder why Vietnam didn't explode into WWIII; that's because of the musicians. But Now, it's 1950 and it's all up to the "Great Two's" spiritual descendants, Janis Joplin and George Harrison and the rest of the music establishment to keep the evil down in a rock against Hell.

-The Yogi: The greatest TM (Transcendental Meditationist) in the world, the Yogi knows more than anyone else about the dreamland. Find him in dreams and learn much; then learn of his pain, that he is but a Bodhisattva, and can never attain true enlightenment because he is trapped in this world to relate his knowledge to others. Will you help him attain enlightenment, can you? Will you assume his responsibilities? He warns that they are great.

Ways to Reach the Dreamland : Childbirth, Drugs, Intercourse, Near-Death-Experience, Rock n' Roll, Transcendental Meditation

The third era is technological, psionics, and cyberpunkish.

In Character

Manipulate Time

Themes : Arrogance, Conquest, Creativity,


-Quondam Imperfect "The Past" (Prologue Team)
Dedicated to rebuilding the past in a better way, the "Past" is mostly composed of Americans, Brazilians, Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Russians, and South Africans. [Quondam is a word meaning that which was; the former, basically this is a fancy way of saying Past Imperfect.]
-Time Society (Rehabilitator Probes "Rehabs")
*Dedicated to the status quo of the past, the Time Society is mostly composed of Americans, Australians, Britons, Canadians, Chinese, and Koreans. It is better funded than the Quondam Imperfect and their Prologue Teams, because it represents the winners in Time- the ones who would stand to lose by a re-writing of the past.
-A note on America and China
*In the Pacific Century, these two giants progressed greatly on the strength of their Internet Technology and vast coal reserves. Due to their massive educated populations, both societies have sent prodigious amounts of scientists and explorers into the past on both sides of the Time Clash.

But all the eras can interact with each other given the 3d era's conceit of time travel, should players so wish. The themes of each section are different, but complementary.

In Character

Travel the World

Themes : Creativity, Discovery, Teamwork

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2010, 10:41:47 PM »


How to Build a Character

Character Types
-Given to be representative for starting ideologies that a character may choose to assist in roleplaying. Not intended to limit player choice.

General Name (SettingA name/SettingB name/SettingC name)

Creator (Inventor/Dreamer/Technocrat)
 - You build ; You create ; You make another thing.
 - Most Adventurers in SettingB
 - +1 Bonus point to Brightness when level up.
 - Like a Wizard.

Destroyer (Verdigris/Overload/Nova)
 - You fight ; You destroy ; You are the only thing left.
 - Most Adventurers in SettingA
 - +1 to Fist and Knee or Firearms when level up.
 - Like a Fighter.

Healer (Mechanic/Flowerchild/Medic)
 - You empower others ; You fix their natures ; you help them better realize themselves.
 = +1 to Spirit/Will when level up.
 - Like a Cleric.

Manipulator (Gearhead/Charismatic/Propogant)
 - You change things; you lead people; you make them do what you want.
 - Most Adventurers in SettingC
 -+1 Deviousness when level up.
 - Like a Rogue.

When creating a character, each player has a certain amount of resources (10) to place into the below 8 categories in addition to any bonuses given from a drawing of cards valued 1-6 (or an acceptance of 3 across the board in each category):

Brightness: How good are you at having ideas and being creative.
Dexterity: Avoidance.
Deviousness: How glib are you, how manipulative, how devious?
Endurance: How much armor can you wear. How long can you keep swimming and going.
Fist and Knee: Physical fighting.
Firearms: Aimed/Range fighting.
Spirit/Will: Useful for resisting spirit damage; Like a Fortitude and a Will Check.
Vigor (HP): How hard may you be hit.

Level Up
After a certain amount of "successes", players may "level up". Each time they level up, they gain one point and one bonus point to add to the above-listed Resources.

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2010, 10:41:59 PM »


Inspiratory Works

-How to Make Friends and Oppress People... Vic Darkwood (2006).
-Tom Cringle's Log (1833)
-Flashman Series... George Macdonald Fraser
-L. Sprague DeCamp's Rivers in Time
-Castle Falkenstein RPG
-Savage Worlds RPG
-Genius: The Transgression RPG
-Paratime Police Series... H.Beam Piper
-Crosstime Traffic Series... Harry Turtledove
-Rivers in Time... L.Sprague DeCamp
-Stainless Steel Rat Series... Harry Harrison
-A Deepness in the Sky... Vernor Vinge

-The Mummy Series
-Indiana Jones Series
-Yellow Submarine (Beatles)
-Help! (Beatles)
-Starship Troopers

-Honor Amongst Thieves... These United States
-She Creatures Invade... The She Creatures
-Look to the Skies... Creature Feature

People and Other
Aubrey de Grey
Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge (Technological Singularity)
Dresden Codak Webseries

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2010, 11:14:55 PM »

*Posting now welcomed.

*Also for anyone who read between the first posting and 40 minutes thereafter, I edited and fixed several issues.

Spawn of Ungoliant

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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2010, 01:59:29 PM »

"Prologue Team" - Russia's version of the Time Society's team?

This is cool and bizarre... are you envisioning the players as time travelers, principally?

I like the system - very simple.  Using War is quite ingenious, I think.

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2010, 12:52:56 AM »

Thanks Steerpike. I am glad that you see it as unique enough- I was hoping to create something distinct from the general steampunk/pulp by incorporating several layers to the madness-- and specifically by involving the 50s-70s as a playable time period, with all the uniqueness of that era.

The players could be any sort; from time travellers to indigenous to a particular era.
The first era is steampunky and pulpy.
The second era is psychadellic, dreamy, and weird.
The third era is technological, psionics, and cyberpunkish.
But all the eras can interact with each other given the 3d era's conceit of time travel, should players so wish.  The themes of each section are different, but complementary.

R. Talsorian Games's Castle Falkenstein was a large inspiration for the system. I also used cards in eBil; this is sort of the logical evolution of my conception of card-use in a game. I also think that cards really suit the flavor of the game- more fluffy than hard dice.

Thank you again for the kind comments.

I am Doubt, hear me mutter!
Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2010, 01:41:16 AM »

Can you give an example of play? What kind of "decks" can you choose from when you go up a level? An entire deck, or a series of different cards?
What kind of point is it that playing a heart grants?
Then there are probably some more rules to be specified, I'm guessing; damage and such, and character creation (starting deck).
If you are interested in card mechanics you could look into Suzerain. I remember that it used a card set as a randomizer.
To infuse the game with some more quirks I'd probably make jacks/queens/kings/aces special cards and not just "numbers".

Writing: Broken Verge v. 207
Reading: the Black Sea: a History by Charles King
Watching: Farscape and Arrested Development

Gelatinous Cube

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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2010, 10:03:45 PM »

-Hearts basically grant an extra value to whatever card is played. Thus, if a 10 is played, it becomes an 11.

-When you go up a level, you choose new cards from a whole deck of cards in addition to the current deck that you have to count for your chosen cards; you always have random and GM chosen cards to contend with in addition to these cards when you are drawing randomly for resolution of events. So you'll probably keep adding high value clubs and hearts to your hands as you level up.

-Thank you. Those were good questions. I think I have addressed them here at last.

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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2010, 01:38:20 AM »

Gameplay in the 1950s-- Jerry Lee

E flat.
D Chord.
C Chord.
A sharp. Whole Note. Whole rest. Coda. Coda. Coda.
Bass player freaks out.
Drummer drops down.
I step out.

The notes are swirling round and round and round our heads, bulging with strength. My spirit was too strong for the creatures that lived within to take me down. I spoke to the wispy-daemons-- the boogiemen-- and whispered my demands. They surrendered their home keys to me; those higher and lower were to be protected and left to gather strength.

I said NO, THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. And I played my card; an ace of hearts to their two of spades. They were done for. They'd failed most heavily. And they shrank back, moaning and wailing and promising to bring their urNotes for revenge.

Band Members woke up. Notes were on the empty sheets in front of them; more harmonious, consonant chords. In my hands was a catchy tune- bass scale, treble and all -- wholly complete and utterly like nothing else that came before. It was black music, mixed with rockabilly- like Buddy Holly; like Chuck Berry-- only better.

I read it. It was good- but did I trust it? The notes had given it to me, but it was tainted with their dark power; could it come back to haunt me? Did I care, when fame was within my grasp.

One month later, I was playing on Steve Allen.

Then I drew a spade-- #$&*.

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