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  • Starting an Orpheus campaign, seeking advice

    After excitedly buying all the Orpheus books back when they came out, then having them languish on my shelves these many years, it turns out I'll be starting a campaign of it this week!

    I have a few things I'm wondering, and I was hoping some of the people here could be of assistance.


    Anything that needs to be done to move it up in time?
    A lot of stuff has happened since the books came out. It seem to me, though, that it should be possible to set it today without changing anything. Am I missing anything? Will any of the powers need to take into account technological development?

    Should I keep it in the US, or move it to my own home country?
    I'm Danish. When we were originally talking about playing something in a roughly contemporary urban fantasy/horror ish genre, we were talking about setting it in our setting. But after looking at the core book, my players started saying how they would be just fine with playing it in the US, seeing how it's more of a campaign than just a game without a setting.

    I'm still in doubt, though. I think it might be easier for us to make poignant stories set in our own city. On the other hand, it would mean changing all of the setting material to account for Orpheus being in Denmark, and not in the US. No FBI, no DEA, instead replacing it with Danish alternatives.

    Has anybody done this? I'm wondering how difficult it would be to do.

    How bad would it be to move some of the rules content from certain books forward?
    I'm looking at the rules content from some of the books, and I'm wondering what's stopping me from giving the players access to it before we get to that book. Most of the Horrors I would probably save, because there's a power balance to consider. But why not make merits and flaws available from the start, for instance? I'm also considering whether I'd want to make phantasms and marrows available early if a player player needs a new character (and I'm intending to play hard enought that that might become relevant).

    Any lessons from Wraith 20th to take into account?
    I suddenly remembered that Wraith 20th included a section on Orpheus - but it seems like it's mainly just a way to bolt some projectors onto Wraith. As such, I'm thinking I will probably be using the Orpheus books instead. But there might be some rules changes or other bits and pieces from Wraith - or elsewhere - that would be useful to take into account.

    Any thoughts on pacing?
    We're a busy group, and so we won't have lots and lots of time to play. For reference, we just spent about three years playing a 26 session campaign of Exalted. As such, I want to move through the whole arc relatively quickly. My plan is to do some high level narration, talking through some cases and such, in order to make it feel like the characters have done more than we see in play.

    But I'm still very interested in hearing how the pacing has worked for others. How long have you spent on each book? Would 2-4 stories per book be decent? Which parts need more time, and which can be gone over with more speed?

    And also, I guess, how much XP the players should accrue. As they run into more and more Spectres, they are going to need to be more and more competent, I'm thinking?

    Tips for making stories are also very welcome - what are some good Orpheus missions you have run?
    I'm thinking I'll start out with some regular missions. First one or two relatively simple missions with some moral dilemmas, then a mission that has them doing some slightly more shady things for Orpheus. But good ideas are very much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

  • #2
    Phantasms are good at info gathering, I think, so they are best saved until Orpheus falls. Orphan Grinders should not be moved, that change is pivotal. Marrows don't have any storyline impact that I can remember but you should be careful with their power. Honestly, they are pretty disappointing in terms of relevancy.

    In a normal game I would leave the tapping spite reveal in the same location because they are supposed to appear around the point that the characters are desperate enough to really risk their souls. I think instead of that you should pick a player and see if they would be willing to temporarily have their character fall to Spite.


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    • #3
      Anything that needs to be done to move it up in time?
      A lot of stuff has happened since the books came out. It seem to me, though, that it should be possible to set it today without changing anything. Am I missing anything? Will any of the powers need to take into account technological development?
      Not too much. Orpheus came out in 2004 so most technology we have today that someone would expect to come across did exist in some fashion back then. Obviously some things might need to be tweaked but nothing that major and frankly I can't think of anything that would require any mechanical changes when it comes to technology.

      Should I keep it in the US, or move it to my own home country?
      I'm Danish. When we were originally talking about playing something in a roughly contemporary urban fantasy/horror ish genre, we were talking about setting it in our setting. But after looking at the core book, my players started saying how they would be just fine with playing it in the US, seeing how it's more of a campaign than just a game without a setting.

      I'm still in doubt, though. I think it might be easier for us to make poignant stories set in our own city. On the other hand, it would mean changing all of the setting material to account for Orpheus being in Denmark, and not in the US. No FBI, no DEA, instead replacing it with Danish alternatives.

      Has anybody done this? I'm wondering how difficult it would be to do.
      That really depends on how you want to handle the overall Orpheus Metaplot because there are several ways you can go about doing it. The easiest is to keep it in the USA. If you wish to transport it to Denmark, there's two main ways to do it. The first is as you said, making Orpheus a Danish company. I'm not Danish so I can't help you much with rewriting the company's history and founders. The other way is to simply have the PCs working a Danish Branch of Orpheus.

      But regardless, I would play around with the Metaplot and timeline of Orpheus because... well due to the nature of Orpheus when it was published, it doesn't really stop to consider the ramifications of the Orpheus company on the rest of the world. The Orpheus game is very much set up around it's Metaplot with little else in mind.

      The easiest method would be to either move the timeline forward so the events leading up to the default present day of Orpheus happened in the 2000s and 2010s, with the company being a new thing or alternatively, set the game around 2004.

      But you could also spread out the timeline over several decades though you'd probably want Orpheus to be more on the secretive side and not widely known about for most/all of that time.

      How bad would it be to move some of the rules content from certain books forward?
      I'm looking at the rules content from some of the books, and I'm wondering what's stopping me from giving the players access to it before we get to that book. Most of the Horrors I would probably save, because there's a power balance to consider. But why not make merits and flaws available from the start, for instance? I'm also considering whether I'd want to make phantasms and marrows available early if a player player needs a new character (and I'm intending to play hard enought that that might become relevant).
      Honestly I'd say anything save for the Orphan-Grinders is fine. I can't think of anything else that should be held back like that.

      As for the lack of Merits and Flaws in the Core Book, that was a common thing for the WW gamelines at the time, not something exclusive to Orpheus.

      Though I will note that the Marrows suffer some design issues like the lack of a Banned Horror.

      Any lessons from Wraith 20th to take into account?
      I suddenly remembered that Wraith 20th included a section on Orpheus - but it seems like it's mainly just a way to bolt some projectors onto Wraith. As such, I'm thinking I will probably be using the Orpheus books instead. But there might be some rules changes or other bits and pieces from Wraith - or elsewhere - that would be useful to take into account.
      I do recall that Wr20 did address at least the Marrows' lack of a Banned Horror, barring them from the Sandman Arcanoi or in other words, the Phantasm Horror. Beyond that I can't recall anything else.

      Though you many want to take the Language Ability (if Orpheus has that) and make it a Merit as the x20 lines have done and replace it with an approiate Knowledge Ability.


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