Author Topic: [Pitch] Under Dark Skies  (Read 1733 times)

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Jeshin Offline

[Pitch] Under Dark Skies
« on: April 09, 2017, 06:41:38 PM »
This is a pitch thread. In it, I will outline a game titled Under Dark Skies. I will provide some general information, proposed feature lists, and suggested character concepts or roleplay scenarios. You can think of this as something akin to a movie pitch you might make at a bar with friends or a book idea you share with fellow writers. Not something that will be made necessarily but something that helps flex those game design muscles in the brain.

Name: Under Dark Skies
Core Theme: Cthulu Horror
Sub Theme: Exploration, Steampunk (Invention), Victorian (Classism)

Setting: Under Dark Skies takes place in an alternate version of earth in a roughly victorian era. You have trade companies and expansionist governments as well as privates and privateers all over the world seeking new lands, new resources, and great fortune. This golden age of exploration and invention came to an end when the skies suddenly became blacked out by oil clouds. Almost all light is blocked and the rain that falls from these oily clouds is black and oily itself. If left alone it crystalizes after drying forming something called "Nyx". Exposure to the black rain or the crystallized Nyx has been shown to cause mutations, disease, and an infection of a crystal like substance in the bodies and plants of those exposed.

Location: The game will take place on an island of some renown prior to the world changing blackening of the skies. The island has a major town inland which mines a new resource and several smaller port towns on the coast, though contact with them have been lost. It is in this isolated town, behind the walls, and with an eclectic mix of nationalities and social classes that the game takes place.

Feature List: Combat with a focus on fleeing/subduing, Superstition system which provides random benefits, Social Class and a Profession system which determines hidden stats and available skills, invention system, and a corruption/mutation/disease system.

Playstyle: This is a horror game that is meant to invoke the kind of existential drama of Lovecraft. A town separated from the world, clinging to survival, and forced to contend with the new reality. A stressful situation where madness, disease, or body horror can end the hopes and dreams of anyone from an Aristocratic landowner to a landlocked sailor. The majority of RP would probably be dedicated to metaplot elements like finding out what is happening, learning more about the nyx, and possibly finding out what happened to the other port settlements.

Note: The steampunk elements would be light we'd be talking about early electricity, steam powered engines, no steam-powered robo arms or airships.

Many Faces Offline

Re: [Pitch] Under Dark Skies
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2017, 06:50:13 PM »
You forgot to say what you wanted us to do.

Jeshin Offline

Re: [Pitch] Under Dark Skies
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2017, 06:58:11 PM »
1. Comment on the playability of such a concept, any issues that might arise from the pitch as it stands, and any particular strengths it might have.

2. Suggest mechanics/features that might be suited to such a setting or that need to be removed from the original list.

3. Ask any questions for specifics about the setting, things you might be interested in seeing expanded in this thread.

4. Anything other comments, suggestions, or questions you might have related to the pitch.

Many Faces Offline

Re: [Pitch] Under Dark Skies
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2017, 07:04:05 PM »
All you've given is backstory, so I'll help you fill in the present.  I can't really suggest mechanics until you settle on the present.

Being an island without sea travel really cuts off your resources.  There should be an emphasis on recycling; having something that is completely new should be a mark of status.  Scavenging and creative use of existing materials would be commonplace.  Food would definitely be the big problem.  Eating otherworldly creatures should hold a risk of mutation (or just rumors about it), cannibalism should be an unpopular option as well (maybe not for PCs though).

As for plants and water, you've got two options.

1) Magic is generally taboo in the H.P. Lovecraft I've read, at least for the general public.  In this case, you'd have to use magic to grow plants (maybe magic lights?) since you don't have sunlight and for filtering water.  This would mean magic would be publicly tolerated, if only in specific circumstances related to basic survival.  Going this route would open up some routes of conflict since there would be legitimate routes to magic.

2) You mentioned this is steampunk; people could generate sunlight and filter water mechanically, but since there's an everything shortage, machines would be ramshackle and require constant maintenance.  This would open a lot of player roles around machinery for basic survival.

As for Nyx, you absolutely have to give players ways to use that stuff.  Make it able to be used as a magical component, energy source, and or ingredient in illicit substances.  Maybe there are ways to purify it and maybe you won't know if you fail to do so.  Leaving it solely as an environmental hazard/poison really misses out on a lot of Lovecraftian corruption opportunities.