Sunday, 31 January 2021

Vayra's Questions

Being an individual of advancing years it's often some time before I catch up to the latest trends currently entertaining the kids, and when I do it's embarrassingly late. So here I am, some TEN WHOLE DAYS after the original post, attempting to answer the ten setting questions posed by Vayra in her recent post:

The setting being interrogated is the implied setting of PARIAH.

There aren't any classes, but starting characters can begin with an attack bonus in unarmed combat or a proclivity for grappling. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess: indeed, part of the attraction of setting a game during the emergence of human civilisation is to put a little of the responsibility for worldbuilding into the players' hands. Their characters may well become the founders of martial arts styles or orders.

2) Can I start out having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

If we take "the devil" to refer to a powerful, malevolent spirit then there is a chance that your character might begin with some kind of pre-existing bond to such an entity. This is a good point to note that a) making deals with spirits is a big part of the game and b) character generation is pretty random.

3) Do you want me to write an 8-page backstory? Can I write an 8-page backstory, if I want to? If I write something down in it like I'm the timelost princess of the brass city and the daughter of the sun and I commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by my father's vizier but I don't know that, or that I'm elf conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?

I definitely do not want you to write a 2-page backstory. If you've written one I am definitely going to read it, and if I think some of these ideas are going to work with the other players then we can sort something out. Honestly, I'd prefer it if players think more about the collective goals of the pariah band rather than individual characters- it's why there's a very brief "reason for exile" generated with every character, and if you want to work that into the game you can. 

Definitely no elves or characters that are obviously cooler than the others (you are free to believe they are cool in your own mind, I cannot police you in there). Conan is acceptable.

4) If I eat someone's heart, will I gain their powers? What about their brain?

Why don't you try it and see what happens? You may find the consequences to your liking.

5) These classes are boring, can I be one from somewhere else? What about from a different system entirely?

YOU'RE boring and so's your mum. Show me these classes you really want to play and tell me why you want to play them.

6) If I make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

You get to name it. Giving something a name is halfway to making it magical.

7) Am I allowed to kill the other player characters? What would I have to do to be allowed to? Do I win if I kill them all? Actually, how do I win in general?

Do what you like, but if your character becomes an antagonist of the pariah band they're going to get NPCed. That means you won! Now go away winner and don't come back.

8) What language stands in for 'Common'? Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

There's a universal(ish) human language. Dialects become harder to understand the further you stray from the point all the characters first came together. You can define your own language if you like. Spirits will speak to you in a language that you will understand, though their requests and motives will be difficult to discern.

9) How do I learn how to talk to rocks? No not once a day just, like, normally?

Drugs. Everything is alive, everything possesses its own spirit: it's simply a matter of attuning oneself, adjusting one senses and making that reality more obvious. The problem with rocks is that they are very very old and very very slow, so their voices are low and things of interest to the pariahs is likely to have passed them by. 

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can I be both? At the same time?



There are tales of great cities where malnourished humans labour night and day in the construction of great works to honour spirits of Beyond or living gods encrusted in gold. What power do such men and women wield if not magic, that they bend the will of thousands to their own? 

Free of your tribe, free of the constraints and customs of the people that rejected you, you have the opportunity to build a world that is fair and just and in concert with the ebb and flow of the forces of nature...

...or you can bargain and swear oaths to powerful entities, and grab a piece of that power for yourselves. Maybe one of you will be encrusted in gold, summoning eldritch forces to crush your enemies and enslaving their people to build monuments to your glory.

* * *
I've been listening to Grant Howitt and Christopher Taylor on Soundcloud discussing their design decisions for the SPIRE RPG: one thing they warn about early on is the risk of striking a certain tone when discussing a setting or a game in broad strokes. That tone is the CHECK OUT MY 16TH LEVEL PALADIN THIS IS SOME OF THE STUFF HE CAN DO TRUST ME YOU DON'T WANNA MESS WITH HIM ZOMG

I don't think I ever quite get this right. At some point I will have to give Scrap Princess' setting questions a go. Think I'm still put off by having to answer "who is the Karl Marx of your setting".

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