Friday, 19 July 2013

Here Be Monsters

There's been some significant progress here on my end in the past few days. First, the magic item and potion creation rules have been hashed out. Which allowed me to finalize the enchanter and alchemist. I've gone through and tweaked the Harmony rules a bit, too, adding some new elements that cause Disharmony and ways to gain Harmony. I was talking with a backer the other day who is an amateur game designer (aren't we all?), and he wasn't sure how the professionals do it. This is how. It's like a giant intellectual puzzle. You work on something over here, and that gives you a piece of the puzzle over there... Trouble is when the pieces don't all fit together (which happens quite a lot, since we're dealing with a million variables). 

So, I moved on to the shifter last night. I think we've got a really great idea here. One of the things this process has forced me to do is question assumptions. Like magic, for example. Why is magic in the game? Well, because you guys expect magic in a fantasy RPG... That's about as far as many of us get. Why is it in there? Well, it's supposed to be. However, trying to justify the whys and wherefores of magic led to a better understand of the magic using classes, and why you lose Harmony for using magic. So I asked myself last night "why shifters?" 

I think we came up with some pretty great stuff. Shifters are to druids what paladins are to priests -- they're the warrior-priests of the Primal Powers. But rather than casting magic, they embody magic. Of course, that would mean they generate Disharmony every time they use a power, and I didn't want to do that. So, they don't. They've been chosen by the Primal Powers to guard the forest by becoming one with the other animals of the forest. They can have eyes of the wolf, ears of the bat, and claws of the bear... 

Which lead me to the bestiary. This is a pretty important chapter for the shifter, since this is where he gets his powers from. So it was time to look at it. 

The impetus for creating Cairn came from Mike Nystul's daughter, Lauren. She's 19 years old, and from what I understand a sensitive soul. She really didn't like roleplaying games, what with their emphasis on killing monsters and taking their stuff. So Mike set out to create something gentler. I gather he used Pathfinder and just made certain decisions about how the setting should work for Lauren. Then, he started running it for others. They liked it, and he figured he'd make it into a game for others. This is the central feature of Cairn for me -- gentler roleplaying. I'd like to honor that drive. Make it something whimsical. Make it more fairy tale. 

That's certainly been hard. I'm not sure I'm really hitting the mark. I've been focusing on mechanics and justifications for stuff, and it's all become a bit heavy. I'm aiming for Labyrinth, and I'm getting Elric. Or at least, it seems that way to me, what with all the rules-heavy stuff. So the Bestiary chapter is something I'm looking forward to. It's a great way to detail more of the world by telling you about its inhabitants. 

I see this as a fairy tale world. Ruggles the hedgehog grabs his walking stick, puts on his Comfortable Cloak, sits his sparrow familiar on his shoulder, and off he goes to fight the goblins. During the course of his adventure, he has to be careful not to be too violent or use magic too much -- he has to choose between the quick-and-easy path and the harmonious path. After all, there's darkness in fairy tales, and I think it's a key element of whimsey. But... what are the goblins? 

So, I'm going through the bestiary. Mike sent over a bunch of monsters, and I'm going through them. I really like what he's done with it. However, I'd like to make it more "fairy tale" and less "RPG." Some of the monsters in there should stay; some of them should go. So, I'm making a list. What kinds of monsters were you envisioning in Cairn?

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