Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Culture of Liquor

I work with a wide variety of ethnicities. Many of them Mexican. In the recent past, they've introduced me to Sol, Modello and Modello Dark, the beer responsible for "the World's Most Interesting Man", as well as various types of Patron and other tequilla based liquors.

What does this have to do with a RPG thought?

Many cultures have their favorites and their opinions on what makes those drinks so good. In looking at some of those drinks, like good old Grand Marnier you learn that some fruits are grown that may in and of themselves not be edible, but may lead to the creation of various liquors.

In a fantasy campaign, this lends itself to some interesting options. For example, what if there are magical fruits. What type of ambrosia may that lead to? What if healing potions or another highly valued potion is only capable of being harvested from a specific type of fruit that only grows from a speicifc type of tree or vine? What is soil is a key ingrident in something the liquor makers need? What if a grove comes under attack?

Other venues of course, can be minor in tasting competitions. In any competition, the playing field can be intense. For example, Adult Swim recently premiered an episode of the Boondocks, Red Ball, where a simple ball game is given the intensity of a Dragon Ball Z fight. If there's something highly desirable coming from the outcome, some of the sides may even, dare I suggest it, cheat. This could invovle poisoning the tasters, impriosoning the tasters, replacing the tasters, or something else along those lines. What if one of the players is a fine drinker of wines and finds himself under threat of assassination if he doesn't vote a particular way? What if he's such a good judge of wine that a local whose just as good challenges him, but instead of focusing on that rival, the player happens to notice that while his rival is out drinking, that rival's wife is left home alone and desperate for company from a less borish source there her drunken husband?

The lure of beer can have many more applications than merely being the catch phrase then, "I spent all of my money on ale and whores."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fringe Versus the Forgotten Realms

Fringe has toyed with the idea of another universe, a parallel reality in season one and takes it to the next step in season two, especially the ending. As I've viewed the end of Fringe not on TV but rather, off the old Fox site itself, there will be some spoilers below about Fringe and how I was thinking of tweaking something like it for a Forgotten Realms campaign.

So spoiler space.

In Fringe, the alternate universe has many duplicates of the core characters but there are exceptions. Many of these characters are not necessarily the same as they are in some areas, but in others, have the same core personalities and strengths.

But what does that have to do with the Forgotten Realms?

If you have some long term players or some new players who've read a lot of the fiction line, you could do a Fringe that doesn't use alternative universes, but alternative time lines.

For example, imagine the players are starting off well before the Time of Troubles, but events from the time of Troubles cause rifts in time, similiar to the BBC show Primeval, but instead of millions of years, it's just from that era. But to complicate matters, the Spellplague also cuts through time and creates more potential paradox. This would be an excellent bit for characters who are playing long lived races and the GM isn't quite using the reduced life spans of the 4e rules.

What would characters from 4e want in the distant past though? Let's take the Spellscarred. Perhaps they've heard of Spellfire. This ability, the ability to absorb magic, might be in high need to take care of many of the various problems in the 4e default setting as well as possibly curing those who suffer from the scars.

But where does that leave the Time of Troubles characters? Perhaps during her first death, Mystara sees a flash of her next and final death. and has agents of Magic scattered in time and space to try and stop the events that lead to her untimely death. This might not go unopposed by other deities, such as Helm, who once again would find himself on the opposite side of her again, even though in the future he himself is not where he'd like to be.

In such a situation, the agents through time are not going through in terms of conquest even though their goals may be huge. Rather, they are using personal goals and motivations to interact with the players. The GM can have fun making old pre 4e-magic items into the new system as well as spells and other monsters that might have been more popular.

The important thing is to take the characters the players are running and make it personal to them. At the last episode when Olivia approaches Peter, she says she has many reasons that Peter some come back to the other side but it boils down to her saying that he belongs with her. A personal matter that crosses universes.