Monday, July 26, 2010

Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law Book Two, Before They Are Hanged, continues the character driven wide campaign arc started in the first book. What I forgot to mention with the first book, is each book opens with a quote and that quote is only a partial quote for the cover title.

In this instance, "We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged." by Heinrich Heine.

Quotes are a useful tool for setting the mood and the GM could do worse than to start each session with a quote based on what she expects the game to be like. In some instances, the game may be heavily focused on exploration or dungeon crawling and in others, it may be highly based on the characters themselves where the GM weaves the tale from the characters' backgrounds and events in the campaign.

Such a campaign as the latter is almost impossible to determine the events that will play out because the players are in an open campaign and can do anything, but if the GM has been keeping notes on what the players are doing and what has gone on in the past, she shouldn't have too hard a time.

The quote on the other hand, may introduce an NPC, a magic item, a place, a piece of forgotten history or something along those lines. In these instances, the actions of the players aren't as necessary in the framing of the quote.

In terms of game mechanics, one part struck out to me. In 4e, there are those, including myself, who sometimes look at the martial power source and ponder it's use of daily and encounter powers. Unlike magic or psionics or primal, martial would seem to be... well, free of such limitations. But what if there is an 'origin' story to such things? The players, in many editions and default assumptions, are not 'normal'. They are heroes.

So when reading page 105 of the sci-fi edition, "The devil-blood grew thin, and died out. It is rare indeed now, when our world and the world below have drifted so far apart, to see those gifts made flesh. We truly are privileged to witness it."

..."No more than a faction. But in her, there is a trace of the Other Side."

This is almost an origin story. In the super hero genre, it's a common thing for many heroes to have a common point of origin and to owe their powers or abilities to one particular event. In a role playing game, due to the power levels involved in some game systems, especially as the levels increase, why not borrow what works and provide some origin points? Martial powers are an expression of that common origin and don't rely on outside incluences, but still owe their origin to that common event.  King of how like the Golem and Doctor Strange are both mystic in nature but approach the whole genre vastly different than each other.

Just a passing idea mind you and one that could be eaisly swipped to explain how players are able to do things that most of the others in the setting can only gasp at.