Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Historical Settings for Roleplaying Games -- AKA, Mary has another crazy idea

Several months ago, a couple friends of mine posted blog posts about historical settings in RPGs. It is a nice break from fantasy or sci-fi settings that often pepper the roleplaying sections in bookstores and gaming stores. Those types of games exist -- Deadlands, Call of Cthulhu (if you choose to run it in the 1920s), and White Wolf has a few historical settings. At my base as a nerd and a geek, I love history. I mean, my last three entries were about Revolutionary Spies. But even further, I find history always has a way of activating my imagination, allowing me to develop and come up with ideas. And the more I read, the more I find that real life is often stranger than fiction.

That is probably why I came up with this idea for a game setting (or story if this never materializes). It shares similarities to Sliders and Quantum Leap in some areas but considering I never saw Quantum Leap and while I was a huge fan of Sliders, I don't remember much of it, it will probably be somewhat different.

The best system for this game is Cortex-Plus.

The premise goes like this: either you will be high schoolers or university students and either like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (for the high schoolers variant) or someone just messed up in the lab, a device aiming at bending time or some such (or maybe not even that), breaks. It tears a hole in the fabric of time itself forcing the PCs back into time and into random bodies of people who occupy that time. However, this arrangement is not completely stable. Sometimes, they find themselves back in their own bodies -- either due to intense stress or they fall asleep or something like that. However, whatever happens to them in the past, effects their body in the present day. So you die in the past, you die in the present.

Each "time period" is a scenario. It could take a couple sessions to complete each scenario. Each time period has an aberration -- like somewhere the laws of physics don't apply. And each time period has an anomaly which takes the form of something that doesn't belong in said time period. An example would be a cellphone in 1692. What you have to do is bring the anomaly to seal up the aberration. Once that is complete, the rip is sealed in that time period and you are flung to the next one.

Obviously, it would be more complicated than that. Each time period brings its own conflicts into the mix. And then there is the fact you are sharing the body with someone else which brings its own complications. Your character's goal would be to find the anomaly but your body's goals would be much different.

How I picture it happening is it is like the two personalities are mixing together like two different liquids. Sometimes it mixes well, sometimes it is a little murky, and sometimes is oil and water.  Like if your present day PC has a distinction "Party all the time" and he is in the body of someone whose distinction is "For God and Country" those would probably be at odds with themselves. If the PC wanted to use one of those conflicting distinctions, it would be opposed rolls and the higher is the one that wins.

That is another aspect, I would bring into play. Your present PC would have three distinctions and the past body would have three distinctions. While in the past, you can use one of your present distinctions in the past. The only thing is you have to step back one of your past persona's distinctions for the scene. And in the present, the one you stepped back in the past is now dominant in the present. So using the PC who "Party all the Time" decided to step back "For God and Country" to party at the pub in 1776 would in 2015 decide to pass up the bong and do some reflecting instead.

The same would be true for skills you would use in the present and vise versa.

Anyways, I think it would be a fun game. And I would get to use all my history nerdiness and not be ashamed.

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