Like normal, I’m stealing slightly from something that I’ve been watching. Into the Badlands. The world has “ended” after something happened and there’s this Badlands split up and ruled by barons in the show, but that’s not what I care about. What we’re caring about…
We were back at it again last night with the third session of Tower of the Gods. Previously, our “heroes” Barrai, Bokken, and Thrain had gone through the test of the Tower with Steve as their fourth, unfortunately, Steve didn’t make it. Upon exiting the…
Two weeks ago, I ran my first session in the Tower of the God’s campaign. We got back to it again this past Thursday where our main character, Barrai, Thrain, and Bokken have completed the trial of the tower. For more information on that part…
So, if you read yesterday’s article on Haven, you’ll know what this one is about, a little bit. Also, if you thought that looked interesting, I’d definitely recommend not fully reading through this article because there might be some spoilers for the show as a whole, in fact I’d stop about right, here. Or at the latest, here.
Alright, now that everyone reading this doesn’t care about being spoiled, let’s hop into the game. So the troubles, if you didn’t read the article about the TV show Haven from yesterday, are basically issues that manifest in people, it can be touching someone or something and they explode, it can be that you don’t feel anything, which works fine for a Barbarian fights through pain, instead there is just no pain. But it’s bigger than that, every 27 years these troubles are activated and someone, in fact, probably our crack team of heroes or one of them anyways, is sent in to save the town and restart the 27 year cycle.
Now, you give a player free will with their character and they are going to see the end of the 27 year cycle coming, and a lot of players are going to want to try and stop it completely instead of just stopping the cycle. In the show, Audrey Parker is the key to getting the troubles to stop and then restarting the 27 year cycle. But in the show she falls in love with Nathan Wuornos, a detective in the town, and he wants her to stay and they want to solve the troubles for good. Now, I doubt that the players are going to have characters fall in love, but who knows, they might. But even if they don’t, most of the time, unless a player has completed their character arc and feels like they have nothing more to do with that character, they’re going to be attached to the character and want to keep them alive, so hence, they need to figure out a way to stop the troubles, but also not have to restart the cycle.
Probably more to explain at this point, the troubles are stopped when Audrey, in the show, or the chosen character, goes basically into a stasis for 27 years only to come back out when the time is up and the troubles are coming back. And for elves, that’s not that long, for dwarves, they have a few lifetimes of going through the cycles, but for humans, you get maybe two of these cycles in the prime of your life, so that’s why the love angle worked well for the show (granted the show isn’t elves and dwarves fantasy either). And when I say stasis, I mean trapped basically in limbo, a space between dimensions and worlds.
So we have a lot of the set-up, how would you pull something off like this?
I think there are a handful of interesting things you can do. First, I think that this is a good chance to have a larger group game. If you have one consistent person, the “Audrey” character who can make it to most if not all sessions, you can have a rotating cast of PC’s supporting them. Have them deal with an trouble per session, and by deal, I don’t mean kill the troubled person, that generally causes more troubles to manifest and troubles are in a bloodline, so the next generation would have the troubles show up. I mean, there can be conflict and there should be conflict, probably with a group who is hunting down the troubles, so almost a rival group with pretty unlimited minions and an almost untouchable boss that the players can fight. But since it’s a one and done with the stopping the troubles for good and not having “Audrey” disappear as the main over arcing story, that means it works well for having people drop in and out without missing that much.
Next, the troubles themselves, in the show “Audrey” is immune to all the old troubles, which is probably a good thing, because they can be nasty. But other people aren’t, and I think that’s where you can have some fun. “Audrey” might be immune to getting blown up if she’s touched by someone with that trouble, but the rest of the party isn’t, so how can you deal with that, plus “Audrey” can still die to a sword through the chest or any other natural means. And there’s someone who draws pictures and if something happens to the picture, like a branch on a tree is pushed, it’d push that branch in real life and break it off, so you can knock someone out that way, such as “Audrey” even though it was caused by a trouble, or explode the house around “Audrey” dealing her shrapnel damage, even though “Audrey” can’t be exploded herself.
Also, give the other PC’s troubles. In the show, Nathan, who is Audrey’s closest friend in Haven and who she ends up falling in love with can’t feel pain or touch, so he gets his hand broken, he can’t feel it, he gets shot, he can’t feel it, his hand is touching something dangerously hot or cold, he can’t feel it. Give the PC’s troubles like that. Give them the ability to heat something up to a scalding temp or free something small instantly, give them something that’s powerful but not too powerful. Don’t give your PC the ability to explode someone, they would just immediately take the town hostage.
Finally, keep this localized. Keep it in a single town that is off on it’s own away from everything else. Make it harder to get to, hard to run away from, in fact, you could use the mists like those that surround Castle Ravenloft and Barovia in D&D already where you can’t get through them, you walk in and then you just walk back out into the same town. But even if you don’t force it through magic to be localized, keep the troubles and the stories close to that town. The reason for that in the show is that the troubled would be killed or experimented on if their troubles manifested outside of Haven, so Haven is a safe haven for the troubled, make that the case for your town as well. The secondary reason for that is that if you start and end in town almost every session, you can have players drop in and out.
So end game for this, it’s about stopping the troubles once and for all. This stasis should have a physical manifestation that they can destroy. But that shouldn’t end the troubles, give them a false end, instead, for a final epic arc, give them a chance to go and find that untouchable being that wants to kill off all the troubled, give that being a way to actually end the troubles, and maybe even have them live in limbo and have the town be their experiment, again stealing some of this from the show. Use that to end it, but give them a timeline because once “Audrey” isn’t in stasis at the right time, things need to go from back to worse for our heroes and the town, and the world, probably.
So, would you play in a game like this? I think that I would run something like this, but I think that it might be harder to pull off than some games. There are definitely some trickier things, such as the players just running away from the town to stop having to deal with all of the issues that crop up. I think a session 0 where players really work together and develop the town with you, or at least plenty of people they care about in the town, you’d be able to get them to want to stay.
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So, I got back into running some Dungeons and Dragons last night on Zoom. Three/four player game that I’ve named Tower of the Gods. I think I previously did a Friday Night D&D explaining the concept, but I’m going to do that here again and…