So… I’ve put this off long enough. I’ve been working on my epic, long-form, GM-less roleplaying game since early 2011, and it’s time for me to finally put something out there. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you… Eternity:
Here’s the pitch:
Eternity is a unique tabletop roleplaying game that allows player to tell an epic story in the style of The Iliad, The Bhagavad Gita, The Bible, and many other epics. No GM or preparation is required.
In Eternity, players take on the role of powerful, godlike beings known as The Vast. These creatures, lording over entire planets, are constrained only by their Attachments, metaphysical ties that grow stronger each time The Vast use their amazing powers. As a Vast’s Attachment to a specific concept or idea increases, she must act carefully to respect the rules of the Attachment, her hands tied by the power she wields.
In addition to playing The Vast themselves, players also portray the cast of priests, heroes, and mortals that make up the Vast’s Pantheon. While The Vast possess cosmic power, it is often the members of his Pantheon that carry out their wishes. After all, only the Vast must respect the bondage of their Attachments…
The condensed ruleset is about 60 pages long, and it contains everything you need to play the game with your local group. I’ve got the Age Mechanics finished as well, but I figured I would see what kind of feedback this first section gets before I polish those up for public consumption. This first set includes Character Creation, Scene Mechanics, etc, for use in setting up and running the first 3-4 sessions of the game.
(Special thanks to Stras for reading over an early draft, Eppy and Jim for excellent playtesting feedback at Dreamation, and Jason Pitre for a whole bunch of good advice about how to get this thing out to folks.)
As always, comments, questions, and feedback on this is really appreciated. I’ve run this game for a lot of folks over the last two years, but I’m always surprised at the excellent and interesting observations people have about the game. I’d also love to hear from anyone who has played the game at a convention: does this ruleset reflect the experience you had at the table?
P.S. I’ll be running Eternity this weekend as part of the Indie+ March Gamenight. Come check it out: Indie+ Playtest: Eternity
Last month (Feb 2013), I had the pleasure of GMing a massive game of Marvel with three amazing GMs: Tim Rodriguez, Frank Manna, and Mike O’Sullivan.
The game was awesome, and I’m already having ideas about how to run it again in the future. But before we move on to that, here’s the actual play report for Day 1 of the game…
Annihilation Day +00… Thursday, Feb 21
Heroes: Wolverine, Spider Woman, Silver Surfer, Beast, Nightcrawler
Villains: Annihilation Advance Fleet, Kyln Mob of Prisoners, Omega Red
Choices: Is it worth risking your life to save those sentenced to die?
Timers: Destruction of the Kyln d8
Rundown: SHIELD agent Spider Woman and three X-Men arrive at the Kyln, carrying an imprisoned Omega Red in tow and escorted by Silver Surfer. Immediately, they receive a distress hail in several galactic languages. Lit spheres of the Kyln begin to go dark, and shadows appear on the bright white background of The Crunch. (Timer starts)
Before any discussion, Nightcrawler makes the sign of the cross, grabs Beast, and teleports onto one of the Kyln spheres. This teleport goes awry, and they end up in one of the many sewage treatment areas-better than Open Space, though!
While Beast finds a way out of the sewers, Silver Surfer bends the Power Cosmic around the spheroids of the Kyln, stopping the encroaching fleet from destroying more of the facility for a time. Surfer then attacks the Advance Fleet head on, destroying several ships and damaging others-telepathically directing the Earth heroes to flee from the coming armada.
Wolverine pilots the ship into a swarm of Annihilation fighters, who damage sublight engines. As the power flickers, Spider Woman cows Omega Red into behaving in case his restraints fail. Eventually, she is forced to vent his cell into space while Wolverine attempts to get away from the Crunch.
Beast reverses some positrons and slingshots an entire Kyln planetoid away from the Crunch (the science is sound, d12 effect), saving himself, Nightcrawler, and thousands of prisoners and guards. This takes out power to the cells, however, and Nightcrawler makes quick work of the rioting mob.
Wolverine and Spider Woman engage the hyperlight engines while the Annihilation Fleet is distracted-Surfer’s massive burst of cosmic energy drew Annihilus’ own flagship to them. Surfer successfully draws the majority of the Annihilation vanguard away from civilized space.
The Decimation of Xandar
Heroes: Nova, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, The Hulk, Thor
Villains: Annihilation Wave Ground Troops, A Warship
Choices: What can you protect, and what are you willing to sacrifice, when you only have a split second to chose?
Timers: The Annihilation Wave d6
Rundown: Open with building scenes on each of the characters.
- Thor and Dr. Bruce Banner were sent by Captain America to meet with Shi’Ar dignitaries about opening scientific dialogue between the two cultures. Banner examines bits of Danger Room level tech with a Shi’Ar scientist, while Thor recounts tales with a dignitary.
- Drax steps out of a Nova Corps prison cell that Cammy just busted him free from. He scoops up his knives and locates the nearest space dock while Cammy kicks a Centurion in his unconscious head.
- Nova is escorting Gamora to the Nova Corps prison on Xandar. Gamora has been charged with, and is completely guilty of, assassinating a House Fiyero elder, and decided to give herself up to the Nova Corps because it was the easiest way to get to Xandar to pull off her next job.
Action Scene: The heroes all find themselves gathered together in the same space port when the Annihilation Wave strikes. The exterior wall is sheared away by a troop transport ship crashing into the port , sending all of the people inside spiraling off into space.
Drax has an easy escape route in front of him, but Cammy lost her footing and is quickly falling out into space. Drax gives up on escape and instead moves to rescue Cammy.
Gamora also has a chance to escape in all of the mayhem, but instead stays behind to fight against the Wave and try to protect people.
Thor decides to help the civilians rather than defend the Shi’Ar diplomats, creating an incredible storm inside of a stories-tall space port along the way.
Banner gives in and becomes the Hulk, smashing his way through his enemies.
Nova doesn’t abandon his fellow men, but gives up on trying to save face and keep Gamora incarcerated. He blasts past the ground forces and creates a stargate inside of the troop transport, sending half of it to the Kyln (and off to another table).
The Wave proves too much for the heroes and Xandar falls in a flash of sickly yellow light.
Transition Scene: The withered, frost covered remains of Xandar drift out of orbit and away from its sun. The atmosphere is failing. The remains of the amazing technological marvel that was the shell around Xandar drifts shattered in the sky.
Drax comes to in a pile of wreckage, but he can’t find Cammi. He wanders off to find her in the remains of the Shi’Ar diplomatic vessel, toying with the weapons. He scolds her, telling her that she is never to leave his side.
Hulk wakes up, still as the Hulk, and tends to securing able transport.
Nova wakes to the Worldmind shouting in his head. “8X8: you must locate the physical location of the Worldmind immediately. The Worldmind is failing.” He stumbles off, injured gravely and barely able to see.
Gamora wakes up in the cramped confines that contain the Worldmind. She sees the holographic projection of the Worldmind fade into life and hears its plea: “Please deliver Nova Corpsman Richard Ryder. He is the sole remaining Corpsman. Without him, Xandar will die.” For reasons known only to Gamora she decides to help.
The ragtag group of refugees finally converge on a small craft that the Hulk was able to pull free from the wreckage. The ship has no working thrusters, but Thor is able to teleport the ship and its crew away.
The Battle for Aks’lo
Heroes: Iron Man, She-Hulk, Deadpool, Iron-Spider
Villains: Extirpia, Queens Guard, Artillery Troops
Choices: [How do Earth heroes even begin to engage cosmic threats?]
Timers: The Harvester of Sorrows
Rundown: Tony Stark is on-board the S.W.O.R.D. vessel Flamberge towards Skrull space, attending a diplomatic peace treaty mission. Meanwhile, Deadpool and She-Hulk have engaged in a drinking contest and wake up in a janitorial closet aboard the Flamberge. At this point, the stowaways are discovered and are briefly hauled before Brand and Stark before being sent to the brig. Shortly, they arrive at the Skrull Empire’s borders, they are met by Baroness S’Bak as escort to the Capital World of Tarnax IV.
Soon after the escort arrives, an urgent message comes from Baroness S’Bak that they are to the escort has been diverted and that they are to accompany her to Aks’lo. Upon arrival, they find the planet under heavy attack by the wave, commanded by none other than Queen Exterpia.
Abigail Brand orders the ship to stay clear of the fight – but it soon becomes clear that the fight will come to them whether or not they “are involved.” The Earth heroes begin plotting their engagement as an outlying Mantis assault vessel gets too close and starts attacking. Deadpool takes this opportunity to teleport on-board and single-handedly takes out the crew of that ship. He then sets the engines to overload and sets course for Exterpia’s capital ship, managing to slip past its defenses to deliver a surprising blow to the wave’s leadership.
Meanwhile, She-Hulk is headed for a shuttlecraft in order to reach the surface and defend against the invasion that is clearly enroute. Iron Man chases after to try and stop her, but is caught inside as they take off towards Aks’lo’s surface. On the way down they are joined by Deadpool who is using his teleportation ability to hop from ship-to-ship and take them out.
After the shuttle crashes, the heroes engage ground troops only enough for Deadpool to teleport the team aboard a personnel transport, which they turn back on the Capital ship once more. This will not succeed – and as their stolen ship is shot down, Deadpool transports them on to the bridge of the capital ship, where they find and fully engage Queen Exterpia herself. Unfortunately, squabbling between Iron Man, Deadpool, and Spider-man creates an opportunity for the Harvester to consume Aks’lo. Abigail Brand informs them in no uncertain terms that their ride is leaving — and the heroes depart, having both failed to protect Aks’lo, or defeat the Queen.
Despite Exterpia’s successful mission, the proximity of the heroes to Exterpia’s person is disgrace in the eyes of Annihilus, and she is rejected. She has gone rogue, trying to regain sufficient glory to even remain a concubine.
This past weekend, I went to Dreamation 2013 and helped to run Kristacon, a long-form convention gaming experience using the Marvel Heroic System. Brennan Taylor also ran a Bulldogs event as well using the same kind of ideas, so we had like 30+ players across the two events playing in roughly 30 hours of gaming.
It. was. AMAZING. Easily one of the top gaming experiences I’ve ever had. The story was amazing (and the actual play report will be created soon!), and the community was so great that I was always looking forward to the next event. My fellow GMs (Mike O’Sullivan, Tim Rodriguez, and Frank Manna) were just awesome, and I had a blast.
I had so much fun that I’ve already started brainstorming ideas for the next time we do this kind of thing. And one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is whether this would work with a different game system. Here are a few ideas:
The Pitch: 8-12 people pick up the AW playbooks to portray the entire community around a single hold, including the Chopper gang that roams the area, the Hocus whose cult lives in the hold, etc.
Pros – Evocative game with a simple system that’s easy for people to pick up (roll+2d6). The Playbooks mean very little needs to be done for character creation (everything is included) and the PvP will be quite likely. Like Marvel, people have a quick sense of play books, and it’s easy to pick up a new one if your character dies.
Cons – Requires high capacity for GMs, hard (but not impossible) to double up on play books (which are much more limited than data files). No preset adventure for the GMs.
The Pitch – 12-16 people pick up the DW playbooks to portray a grand adventure against a vast darkness, a Lord of the Rings style event that calls upon the heroes of a fantasy land.
Pros – Just as evocative and simple as AW. Playbooks are quick for people to pick up, and character creation is pretty easy. It’s also a hot game, though, and that could attract a lot of great players. Since it’s a bit easier to double up on playbooks, I think we could host more players.
Cons – PvP is pretty unlikely, and the GMs would have to write a whole adventure before the players showed up, as the sandbox element would need to be a bit more constrained to give it a sense of an arc. In addition, the fantasy genre may not generate the same kind of excitement as superheroes.
The Pitch – 8-12 people pick up the MH playbooks to portray the tortured high school students of a single high school, coping with a dark danger that might overwhelm the city on the Hellmouth.
Pros – Again, AW-systems rock. Easy to pick up playbooks and character creation would make it easy to add new players. Homeroom scenes would be amazing.
Cons – Like AW, fewer playbooks make it tough to host a lot of players. In addition, MH is explicitly about sex and drugs and rock and roll. It might make a few players uncomfortable. Marvel, of course, always has a comics code!
Fate Core / Dresden Files
The Pitch – 12-16 people create Fate or DF characters to play through a custom adventure written by the GMs.
Pros – Easy to host lots of individual characters. We can write the adventure to fit the space and time. Relatively easy system (roll, then deal with aspects), and there is clearly, clearly a fan base for the game. Bulldogs essentially did this during Dreamation 2013.
Cons – Character Creation starts to take up time, and new players are hard to add. It’s also got the same GM burden as the other games (or more) and a more difficult system for new players than AW, but probably on par with Marvel.
It’s official: all of the short story anthologies have shipped. Given that we are a bit behind on getting the Expansion book out to folks, we went ahead and shipped copies of We Are Dust to all backers at the $50 level and higher. We hope you enjoy them!
If you’d like to pick up extra physical copies of We Are Dust, they are now available through our website for $10:
Between now and February 10th, use the coupon FLYFREE to get free shipping on copies of We Are Dust. We are really proud of this book and all the stories in it. We’d love to ship you a copy!
As you may remember from my post last month, I’m producing a setting for Fate Core called Timeworks. The setting will be part of one of the Fate Worlds books that the Evil Hat Crew is putting together as part of their AMAZING FATE CORE KICKSTARTER that has blown up everything, climbing to more than $300,000 in pledges. Whew.
I just submitted the first draft of Timeworks to Evil Hat, and I wanted to share some of the fluff text I’m using to try to explain the setting of the game. Rather than simply tell the players what it’s like to work for Timeworks, I’m giving them a set of primary source documents–transcripts, training videos, etc–to simulate what it feels like to get hired by the company.
So without further ado, here’s a chunk of the setting for you all to discuss:
[TIMEWORKS TRAINING MANUAL, PAGE 27]
The Myth of the Butterfly Effect
Many Timework’s operatives express a deep fear of displacement before engaging in their first alteration, claiming that they are frightened of the potential side-effects that displacement can bring about in the timeline. Partially this is the result of popular media that we have embedded throughout history to discourage time travel, such as Mr. Ray Bradbury’s infamous work, A Sound of Thunder, in which a misplaced footstep in the Cretaceous leads to disastrous effects in the present.
The truth is that the greatest difficulties we have discovered when traveling through time is that our actions will not matter; rarely do we find unintended consequences. The timestream, or space-time continuum, is robust, and easily shakes off the death of a single butterfly or an additional sniper on a grassy knoll. Our operatives are often forced to undertake drastic measures in order for their efforts to successfully alter the timestream. Accidental timestream manipulation is rare and the effects are usually localized and contained.
For example, [REDACTED SECTION].
Coping with the Stress of Displacement
In addition to the more general fears about the effects of displacement on the timestream, operatives also express concerns about the stress of displacement itself. Operatives often find the idea of “living in the past” simultaneously exciting and terrifying, hoping to see what it was like “back then” while fearing that they will be unable to pass for normal in an era that is not their own.
These fears are not misplaced. One unfortunate effect of displacement is the tendency to attract unwanted attention from local authorities. Given that Timeworks operatives are usually involved in clandestine affairs, such attention can quickly get out of hand, spiraling into violence or incarceration. It is of the utmost importance that Timeworks operatives avoid these kinds of encounters and minimize their contact with local authorities at all times. Failure to do so will potentially damage the timestream, perhaps even cutting off Timeworks HQ’s ability to retrieve operatives from the field.
Dealignment and Personal Quantum Fields
In order to protect Timeworks operatives from the effects of altered timelines, each Timeworks operative undergoes a process known as dealignment. This procedure simultaneously reinforces the operative’s personal quantum perspective and severs the operative’s link to the current timestream, enabling her to alter events in the past without fear of altering herself. Because this process is involved and quite dangerous, Timeworks operatives go through a complex and lengthy screening process to ensure that they are prepared for the procedure and Timeworks employment.
Once the process is complete, however, a dealigned operative could kill her own mother or father without fear of never coming into being, as the dealignment separates her from the original timestream in which such events did not take place. Upon returning to the present, she would find that no one outside of Timeworks knew her, and that all records of her existence outside of the company had been erased, but she would not cease to be.
It should be noted that there is currently no method of realigning operatives after the procedure has taken place. After all, the timeline in which an operative originated will have ceased to exist by the time said operative decided to leave Timeworks. Psychological profiles of operatives all indicate that only rarely is dealignment seen as a loss once an operative has undergone the procedure; the vast majority of operatives have built successful lives free from the burdens of their original timeline.
Magpie Tagsactors alpha test Beasts By No Means Vulgar character creation classroom contest submissions conventions Dungeon World early rpg drafts educational materials Eternity fate core first session Fred Hicks Funding goals game art Game Chef 2011 Game Chef 2012 game design Games on Demand GenCon gods houses of the blooded Kickstarter Our Last Best Hope Pete Figtree pictures of actual play playtests production notes Proof reviews RinCon Shakespeare short story collection sneak peak stickers teacher's guides teachers The Appointed The Play's The Thing The Vast three questions Timeworks We are Dust