Design Notes

I originally conceived of this as Urban Fantasy with a hint of horror thrown in. The campaign is leaning more and more toward horror, the longer I try to work on it, though. Must balance things.

Things I Want

I'm interested in a long-term story arc. Can this really be done in RPGs? I'd like to see some kind of sequential story -- the characters remain largely the same, but get closer and closer to resolving the major conflict. Dream Pod 9 does a great job of this, especially with their Tribe 8 product.

Atmosphere: my favourite games are ones where the campaign setting sets us up with a very palpable campaign atmosphere. Hero isn't one of those, in my opinion. Wanting to leave as much room as possible for adaptation by the players, Hero sticks with the generic. This isn't going to do that. This isn't a setting -- it's a story, and needs to develop tone. The characters, therefore, must play a role in the overall story. I shall tell the story in terms of archetypal characters. These characters need to have individual story arcs.

Mystery: this story is building up to something. Pieces of the story arc are revealed in each chapter. And things are unfamiliar. Avoid the standard trappings: Illuminati, conspiracy theory, traditional monsters... instead throw in the unfamiliar.

Contrast between high fantasy and street-level atmosphere. The High Lord of Faerie and his retinue search out the UnSeen enemy on the tracks of the Toronto subway system. The wizard's fire spell sets off the sprinkler system in the no-tell motel.

More and more, the stories I enjoy have a clear idea about where they're going, and usually an intention to stop once they get there. Babylon 5 is the exemplar in my mind: five year plan. And then it stops.

Things I Don't Want

I don't want Vampire: The Masquerade. Ix-nay on the ampire-vays. Vampires are too overdone. Find fresher stuff.

Although I liked a lot of stuff in Mage, I didn't like the "Good traditions versus the Evil Technocracy" element of it. No Good versus Evil. There's an UnSeen Enemy, but the motivations are more nuanced than simple evil.

I don't want magic that's heavily slanted toward western occultism. Mix it up with Makaya and eastern stuff.


Traditional Notes


The traditional notes from Hero system:

  • Morality
    Shades of grey.
  • Realism
    Mostly real world but with magic, faeries, and the ocassional dragon thrown in.

Urban Fantasy Notes

Some conventions, per the genre notes.

Setting: This is a "Secret Wars"-style campaign. Something is up, and people are deciding on their sides.

Magic: Combat magic. Fireballs. Force fields. Good, magic goodness.

Non-Human Characters: Yes. Ghosts, lycanthropes, immortals. But no bloody vampires.

The Government: That's to be discovered.



  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

    I like the idea of London below and London above. And the idea that there's a category of people in London who knew a lot about the secret goings-on in London. I also liked a lot of the characters -- the Marquis, and Hunter especially.

  • The Call of Cthulhu RPG

    When I first played this game, I really liked the feeling that I couldn't really predict what was going to happen next. The adventures where always more creepy than I thought they were. Also, the Cthulhu creatures are probably my idea of demons -- no humans-with-horns demons. Demons are formless, gibbering, pustulent, and invoke insanity.

  • The Books of Magic comic and the Hellblazer comic

    These stories touched a whole lot of different fantasy elements. Faeries. Mythology. Dark, grimy horror.

  • Buffy and Angel

    Great contrast between tragedy and humour. Also, change in the characters -- people must change and sometimes that change is going to be unhappy-making. Some of the character story elements are great. Wesley and Tara stand out as wonderful examples.


Copyright © 2002 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated September 23rd, 2002.

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