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1  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Setting Seeds; Evil Gods on: August 14, 2017, 10:34:23 PM


Mostly the "it's okay to murder, lie, cheat, steal ..." that they preach makes them evil. These devils are more like the "I'm not going to do what you say" style Satan, not the D&D Lawful Evil type devils.

So that's pretty interesting; it suggests that the gods in this setting aren't interested at all in dogma or doctrine. This would seem to suggest that organized religion devoted to them would be essentially non-existent, and they'd be opposed to hierarchical societies of all sorts. Big, organized cities, empires, and hierarchical societies full stop would consequently tend to be secular (possibly militantly so), provided everyone knows that the gods are real and opposed to rules and order.

I think one thing to figure out is whether the good gods are dead or just never existed. Those are two pretty different cosmologies.
2  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Setting Seeds; Evil Gods on: August 14, 2017, 12:32:43 PM


For me, the question inspires a setting where the forces of good were overwhelmed and defeated. The devils rose from hell and conquered the world. Heaven retreated. The people of the world worship the devils because they give power, because why worship the old gods who abandoned you? The devils don't tell you what not to do, they tell you what you can do. It is ultimate freedom. If you're lucky, they'll even treat you okay as long as you continue to follow them.

Hmm, so how are the devils actually evil? If the devils aren't interested in curtailing human freedom or providing restrictive dogmas, but will reward followers with power... are they especially capital E Evil here? In D&D Alignment terms this sounds a lot like Chaos as opposed to Evil.

I do like the idea of a Manichean universe where evil wins, though.

I think a lot is going to depend on how interventionist the deities are, how the afterlife gets run (and whether there is an afterlife), how the evil deities view human beings, and in general what the metaphysics and cosmology of the setting are like.

The evil gods might see mortals as beings with great potential - maybe especially evil souls get elevated to demonhood on death. In that case, individuals might really strive to new heights of cruelty and worship the evil gods in hopes of divine reward. Or the evil gods might act like Milton's Satan, and be jealous of humanity and want it destroyed and mutilated, so everyone loathes the evil gods and is just constantly fleeing their wrath. Or they might act more like Lovecraft's Great Old Ones and not care at all about humanity, or view human souls as nothing more than tasty snacks, and the material plane as a handy soul-larder.

Are gods in this setting "powered" by faith, as in Planescape or American Gods? If so, they're going to want lots of worshipers performing sacrifices and rituals, so they'll be more inclined to reward or spare the faithful, and also more inclined to persecute non-believers. But if they don't care about faith or followers, mortals are more likely to be ignored, or treated as playthings.

Where does the material/mortal plane fall in the cosmology? Is it at the centre of everything, or is it one of myriad important planes? If it's the former, I can see the evil gods caring a lot more about what goes on there - taking an active hand in conquering it or installing their religions. But if it's just some podunk backwater reality that thinks it's important, the evil gods might not really care much about it.
3  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Setting Seeds; Evil Gods on: August 13, 2017, 10:59:10 AM


How I handle this in my settings is that the gods themselves can't intervene in the choices of mortals. They can certainly tempt or inspire them one way or the other, but they can't force them to do anything against there will.

I think that's a fine solution, although I would then get persnickety if Clerics are a thing (divine magic = intervention, no?).

For me it's less like "why don't the gods force everyone to be good"? And more like "why did the gods create such a badly flawed world full of badly flawed creatures"?
4  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: I'm working on a Science Fantasy Setting. Need a System on: August 13, 2017, 01:51:19 AM


This may not be the case for you, but I've also found value in having a setting based in a system that almost all my players wanted to play in despite my desires, and in favor of having a good time, made a 5E D&D game that was altogether pretty fun. Gauging what your players want in addition to what you want is definitely worth your time.

I totally agree with this Weave - when you have a game to run, and your friends want to play next week, and you need to come up with something so you're not stuck with improvising everything come next Tuesday night, or whatever. This is actually basically how my current campaign setting came to be (although I've poured a lot of detail into it since) and I think it can work really well. So I'd never knock the "listen to your players and roll with the punches" style; it'd be hypocritical, for one.

On the other hand, if you don't have a group of players clamoring for a game, or time constraints, or system constraints, and you still want to world-build for a hypothetical game in the future, or for its own sake, I feel like a "setting over system" route is generally going to result in a more creative overall world, especially if figuring out a system is proving tricky. I think mucking about with systems and tinkering with mechanics can be kind of a way of procrastinating a bit from figuring out the nitty gritty details of a setting - towns, major NPCs, rivers, local cultures, languages, political tensions, religious dogmas, and all the other bits and pieces that make worlds seem real.
5  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: Setting Seeds; Evil Gods on: August 12, 2017, 11:59:08 PM


How would this change the world?

Honestly, to me the bigger question for more standard fantasy worlds is how any of the gods could possibly claim to be good. These are worlds full of wars, monsters, conquest, poverty, exploitation, fear. I don't know how the likes of Pelor and St. Cuthbert sleep at night.

I think an underutilized theological bent in fantasy is maltheism - active hatred for and resistance to the gods. If the gods are evil, they're basically just powerful bullies, tormenting humanoids for their amusement. Screw em. Hang the clerics, invade the celestial planes, kill the gods, democratize the heavens.
6  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: I'm working on a Science Fantasy Setting. Need a System on: August 12, 2017, 04:47:48 PM
I'd agree with sparkletwist and perhaps go a step further here and say not to worry much about a system particularly at this point, just do more world-building and figure out a system once you're actually sitting down to write adventures for a specific game with players. If at the end of it, d20 still looks like the best option, go for it. But it feels like trying to figure out a system first for a world that's pretty loosely sketched is a bit cart before the horse in cases like this, where the setting's specifics are very important.
7  Campaign Creation / Campaign Elements and Design / Re: I'm working on a Science Fantasy Setting. Need a System on: August 10, 2017, 05:34:36 PM
When it comes out, I think Starfinder would be worth at least a glance on the SRD. On paper it sounds pretty much exactly what you want. You'll be ditching all of the fluff from it, but that's fine.

For a slightly older 3.X space fantasy game, you could pretty easily adapt the various Star Wars stuff. The problem here is just getting hold of it, because it wasn't released under the OGL.
8  Campaign Creation / Roleplaying / Re: Homebrewing material for LotFP? on: August 03, 2017, 03:45:47 PM
The metre is kinda uneven but the illustrations are really good.
9  The Works / The Dragon's Den / Re: The Void and It Follows on: August 03, 2017, 03:38:46 PM


I don't find the creature creepy because they made no effort to actually present it as such.

Yeah, I dunno. Maybe it's that the film's techniques just seem to work on some people and not on others? I don't know. It's not one of those things that can really be argued, since it's very subjective, but I've talked with people with both sorts of responses. My wife can barely stand most horror movies and this one didn't really bother her, for instance. But then I've also talked to real horror aficionados who you'd think would be hard to spook who found it one of the most harrowing films in recent memory.

I actually don't find the Terminator especially scary at all. I know what you're saying about implacability, but I kinda liked that the thing was very easily escaped. For me what really got under my skin was the thought of thing just always out there, always moving forward, like a malign homing pigeon, and there's nothing you can do. You can escape, it's not actually hopeless in the short term, but you can never permanently get rid of it, and so you have to be constantly on edge.

I would have loved a survivalist sequence though. I know there was a scene planned at a concert that would have been amazing.

EDIT: By the way, Kindling, I like your alternative plot idea a lot. I usually don't like "the supernatural explained" stories because they usually diminish rather than amp up the horror, but that one would really work really well.
10  The Works / The Dragon's Den / Re: The Void on: August 02, 2017, 06:17:05 PM
It's interesting, It Follows is incredibly divisive. I have met people who think it's the best horror movie of the decade hands down, and others who shared your reaction precisely, sparkletwist. I think it depends on whether you find the creature genuinely creepy or not. Some people find the idea of being forever, inexorably followed just enormously unnerving and feel like the film really evokes a proper sense of dread. But I've met others who, like you, found it totally absurd, farcical, and un-scary.

I do understand the way it seems like an anti-sex parable, but honestly I found that because of the way the film depicted sex - which was incredibly de-sensationalized - it didn't feel like an anti-sex movie, because it really felt like the punishment so massively outstripped the "crime," which was not a crime in any case. It reminded me of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, where killing one albatross brings a living nightmare down upon the crew of a ship. Coleridge said that he wanted that poem to have no moral at all, and actually felt it almost had too much:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Mrs Barbauld once told me that she admired the Ancient Mariner very much, but that there were two faults in it – it was improbable and had no moral. As for the probability, I owned that that might admit some question; but as to the want of a moral, I told her that in my judgement the poem had too much; and that the only, or chief fault, if I might say so, was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagination. It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian Nights’ tale of the merchant’s sitting down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! a genie starts up, and says he must kill the aforesaid merchant, because, one of the date shells had, it seems, put out the eye of the genie’s son.

That's It Follows for me... the characters commit no more crime than the merchant.

I'm not wild about the climax, but in general the movie "worked" for me. I'm convinced that whether someone enjoys the movie has something to do with a person's character or psychology, but I have no idea what.
11  The Works / The Dragon's Den / Re: The Void on: August 02, 2017, 11:16:01 AM
Good horror is definitely not expensive; in fact, horror as a genre is singularly inexpensive and almost always profitable, one of the few genres for which that is true.

I tend to agree that it's somewhat hard to find, but generally I can find a good horror movie a year. Get Out (2017), The Conjuring 2 (2016), The Witch (2015), It Follows (2014) and The Babadook (2014), The Conjuring (2013), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Insidious (2010) and Let Me in (2010). I haven't seen much from 2011 but it seems like the only dud year, at least by my tastes.

The previous decade was rougher but did include films like Paranormal Activity (2009), Let the Right One In (2008), The Descent (2005), The Ring (2002), and 28 Days Later (2002), so it's not a total loss.
12  The Works / The Dragon's Den / Re: The Void on: August 01, 2017, 10:21:24 PM
Yeah, I saw it, and like you, I was hugely disappointed. Which is sad, because the effects were pretty phenomenal at times, but they weren't deployed very well in the film.

I felt like it was as if the third act of a horror movie got padded out to a full film. It didn't seem to understand the basic structures of horror film at all, and I thought its citations of Lovecraft were borderline hackneyed. I went into it hoping for a John Carpenter-esque throwback, but it didn't have any of the elegance or suspense or clarity of Carpenter.

Partly I think it suffered from comparison with Get Out, which I saw a short while before seeing The Void, and which was just miles better on every conceivable level of storytelling and film-making.
13  Campaign Creation / Roleplaying / Re: Homebrewing material for LotFP? on: August 01, 2017, 04:21:26 PM
Also, have you seen this? "The Call of Cthulhu" as if written and illustrated by Seuss!
14  The Works / The Dragon's Den / Re: Anyone have weird music to share? on: August 01, 2017, 01:44:19 PM
I listen to a lot of what I call "thinking music." A favourite for getting things done is the Hotline Miami Soundtrack, particularly the tracks by M.O.O.N.
15  Campaign Creation / Roleplaying / Re: Homebrewing material for LotFP? on: July 29, 2017, 08:30:01 PM
Relevant to your interests.
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