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FAN GAME CONCEPTS: Pick'em Apart To Help Make'em Happen

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
    - Psychics aren't Mages: Psychics don't cause Paradox by using their abilities, and don't have their souls turned by supernal magic. True, they're not quite human anymore, but their abilities don't quite fuck with reality the way a mage's magic does.

    - Psychics aren't Deviants: Deviants are fractured, broken people who are slowly and eventually going to crumble into nothing. They are, however, not immune to power flare ups if they overtax themselves. The difference is that a Psychic won't level a city block, but will definitely hurt themselves from running hot.
    Don't contrast in setting terms. Setting definition comes after. What you're being asked about is to better define and delineate your thematic focus, and make sure it stands out as offering something the other games don't. Reality warping and whether your flaring power lashes out at you or others are window dressing.

    Speaking purely in terms of theme, how are Psychics not Mages? Because the themes you've described in your post are straight up Mage. Mage is about "I have a good idea and I'm going to run it violently into the ground" way more in practice than it is about philosophical questions of the soul. Mages privatize world peace. Mages cackle as they look down at the simpletons below.
    Last edited by Stupid Loserman; 09-23-2020, 10:42 AM.

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    • #17
      One of the key inspirations is the X-Files episode Pusher. The episode concerns a psychic capable of hypnotizing/mind-controlling people into doing whatever he wants, up to and including killing themselves. The psychology of the character is that he's a "little man" who found something that made him feel big, and he's using it for all he's worth. He isn't trying to take over or change the world, he just wants to have fun and uses his powers to do it. This isn't a concept of great cosmic powers, because his powers came from a brain tumor. There's also the movie Dreamscape, which is a terrible movie but shows what a powerful psychic can do with the right backup. The psychics can harm and be harmed in dreams, and require intense work to hone their abilities.

      What makes a Psychic in my mind is that it's all on them, whether or not they knew it was happening. They unlocked something in their own minds, something that only they have. They could easily become rulers, without the same hangups a Mage or Werewolf would theoretically face. Yet they constrain themselves to acting like other people, why? Psychics didn't have any part in an ancient collapse scenario. They're present through all ages but haven't ruled. They shackled themselves, but have to deal with those who don't. They're locked in a war with their own society, not open conflict but quiet, silent backstabbing to force the rules on everyone or tear those rules down to let loose.

      A lot of this is drawn from conversations I've had with coworkers who essentially say, "They should just make drugs legal, because all I want to do is shoot guns and take meth." Yeah, part of him might be kidding, but then there's that part that's being dead serious. That's the struggle with a Psychic. They basically agree to follow a bunch of created rules, and have to deal with other psychics who decided that those rules don't apply to them and run wild. To me, that's what can set a Psychic apart. They use basic Morality/Integrity, like any other human. They just put additional rules on to themselves that keep their powers in check.

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      • #18
        Other than a few historical alterations it's almost a spot on description of mages, tbh. The theme of restraining your own awesome powers is 100% what Mage is about, and the societal conflict is basically Pentacle vs Seers with some alterations in ideology. Psychics going rogue are Nameless mages.

        The thing about Wisdom is that it's designed to give mechanical incentives to exercising restraint while also reaffirming the idea that a mage who goes wild is absolutely a monster.


        Bloodline: The Stygians
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        • #19
          Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
          One of the key inspirations is the X-Files episode Pusher. The episode concerns a psychic capable of hypnotizing/mind-controlling people into doing whatever he wants, up to and including killing themselves. The psychology of the character is that he's a "little man" who found something that made him feel big, and he's using it for all he's worth. He isn't trying to take over or change the world, he just wants to have fun and uses his powers to do it. This isn't a concept of great cosmic powers, because his powers came from a brain tumor. There's also the movie Dreamscape, which is a terrible movie but shows what a powerful psychic can do with the right backup. The psychics can harm and be harmed in dreams, and require intense work to hone their abilities.

          What makes a Psychic in my mind is that it's all on them, whether or not they knew it was happening. They unlocked something in their own minds, something that only they have. They could easily become rulers, without the same hangups a Mage or Werewolf would theoretically face. Yet they constrain themselves to acting like other people, why? Psychics didn't have any part in an ancient collapse scenario. They're present through all ages but haven't ruled. They shackled themselves, but have to deal with those who don't. They're locked in a war with their own society, not open conflict but quiet, silent backstabbing to force the rules on everyone or tear those rules down to let loose.

          A lot of this is drawn from conversations I've had with coworkers who essentially say, "They should just make drugs legal, because all I want to do is shoot guns and take meth." Yeah, part of him might be kidding, but then there's that part that's being dead serious. That's the struggle with a Psychic. They basically agree to follow a bunch of created rules, and have to deal with other psychics who decided that those rules don't apply to them and run wild. To me, that's what can set a Psychic apart. They use basic Morality/Integrity, like any other human. They just put additional rules on to themselves that keep their powers in check.
          But mages do that too. They even have tons of rules to keep each other in check, with many antagonists that either subvert, find loopholes to, or just flat out ignore them. You need to better punctuate WHY the social deal with psychics is different, much like how deviant does with Changeling. The social overlap problem is the same as the source of power problem. You keep stressing that psychics gain power from themselves rather than from enlightenment to a new plane. But so far, I'm struggling to see how that ultimately makes a difference
          Last edited by Primordial newcomer; 09-23-2020, 04:09 PM.

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          • #20
            It's not unfair to say that you can do the same thing as another thing so long as it can properly capture a meaningful angle of difference. Again, Deviant got a couple of comparisons to Chaangeling, but the scale of human actors, the red-blooded mood and fervor, the much more openly self-destructive angle, and more did a lot to make Deviant meaningfully different.

            Or, looking at fan games. Well, let's look at my usual two go-tos.

            On the one hand, you have Princess: the Hopeful, where it was being compared to a lot of games both around and after release, including Mage, Changeling, and is now Beast Adjacent, but for our purposes, the most pertinent comparison is to Hunter the Vigil. Princess stands apart from that game by being unabashedly optimistic and tilting the entire sliding scale towards white, even breaking franchise convention by, for all the questions that can still be raised about the Light and the Radiant Queens, still basically aligned and driven by an elemental goodness in the world. Characters can lose their way and be misguided, but unless they completely sell-out to the Darkness, the Nobility basically always have some motivation towards the betterment of everyone. Slap on their willingness to be friendly ambassadors to other splats way ahead of Beast without the latter's appeal to monstrosity, and Princess is quite distinct as a brutal but ultimately bright drive to a better world, wahtever that means, in complete contrast to Hunter's murky grey waters where in hunting monsters tends to lead to becoming monsters and having a lot of complciated feelings and ideas about the human/monster/good/evil divides. A lot of that unembridled optimism goes a long way of infecting and directing the settings and mechanics of that game, so that even where you come cross comparisons to other gamelines, it just feels different enough that those comparisons tend to hit after the fact rather than during the reading.

            On the other hand, contrast that with Genius: the Transgression, where it's themes and moods are not only at completely at odds with each and weakening the entire sauce, but also actively doesn't do enough with it's concept of enlightened knowledge developing into power and how it crashes against an unenlightened and sometimes retrogressive world enough to ever distract the reader enough from the fact that all of that basically reads as Mage wearing a scientist's coat. Whatever the aesethetic does, it still calls anyone familiar with larger contexts to either of the Mages* just for how little the game understands itself as different from either of them-and that's the best case scenario of people grokking it. If for some reason a reader isn't digging the material, then they're bound to notice how all of the stuff that is in there is lacking substance.

            So yeah, Psychic can be about personal power and personal restraints, but it's gotta have a solid enough direction that deviates away from what Mage does, as well as answers that are good for it's thesis direction (Which, gotta say Flyboy, from what I've seen is not happening so far-I'll try and dig more into later). Conversely, Psychic can be about struggling against self as embodied by the struggle to keep power in check, but it's gotta reconcile the ways Deviant deals with powers bucking at the reins and the tolls that takes on both self and others and then pick a meaningful enough direction.

            And with that, I gotta reiterate one of things I find gets in the way of a lot of fan splats. I think a lot of ideas have merit as a particular spike of thematic direction, but often times never enough to warrant a full A-tier template with gameline surrounding it. The ideas or the iconography just often aren't enough to warrant that level of existence.

            I have been proven wrong before on this, but it's rare.

            *shocking no one who knows Genius exist as a deliberate call back to Ascension and middle finger to Awakening.
            Last edited by ArcaneArts; 09-24-2020, 12:58 PM.


            Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
            Feminine pronouns, please.

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            • #21
              Thanks Arc, I'll keep plugging away at that one in the background then.

              Steering back to Pathogen then, so the angle of disease and the horror that it'll always be around is relatively strong?

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
                Thanks Arc, I'll keep plugging away at that one in the background then.

                Steering back to Pathogen then, so the angle of disease and the horror that it'll always be around is relatively strong?
                It's a good starting point.


                Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Feminine pronouns, please.

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                • #23
                  Okay, so where can it go from there? I mean the idea that ATP is the fuel of the pathogen is a good start, but what else is there?

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                  • #24
                    ATP doesn't make any sense as fuel. It's a "just enough knowledge to be dangerous" situation: it doesn't take a lot of knowledge of biology to recognize that it's really weird to speak of adenosine triphosphate as something that you have a pool of and spend to activate superpowers. Plus it tonally clashes with all the other terms, being an acronym for a long scientific word. Stick with CofD's air of Forteana. Even if you want a scientific air, explore pseudoscience and obsolete science instead of real world confirmed science for a lexicon to raid. Maybe the pathogen is able to respire orgone or an occult miasma.

                    More importantly, I think you're not done with thematic work yet, so it's too soon to work on setting elements. Again, without thematic backing, those are just window dressing: you craft them to reinforce theme and mood. How does a game about playing a person infected with a communicable mutagenic condition explore the theme of mortality and inevitability (which is, I guess, what you can draw from the idea that "disease will always be with us")? What do you do, and what happens to you, that makes you feel the relevance of that theme?

                    Deviant's theme is that resentment is a natural response to unjust suffering, but that it will eat you up inside and leave you hollow. Mechanically, it puts the pressure of ever-encroaching instability on you, and lets you engage on an endless crusade of revenge to forestall it, but it's never enough to stop it. Demon explores existential themes of identity and paranoia. Mechanically, it puts you in danger and the tool it gives you to escape that danger is living fake lives and juggling the lies that maintain them. Its main antagonists are ephemeral beings, but unlike the other major splats whose main antagonists are ephemeral, demons can not easily perceive their antagonists in their ephemeral state, and an angel can potentially pass over a demon without either even noticing. Vampire explores dysfunctional relationships, asymmetric power, and self-rationalization. Mechanically, you literally need to hurt people on a regular basis to avoid falling into a dead torpor, you rely on Touchstone relationships with the same living people you hurt and exploit to keep from devolving into a bane-lashed monster, and your best tools to solve problems often involve overriding the will of others weaker than you and manipulating them.

                    What's your core gameplay loop? What do you do in a game of Pathogen and how does that evoke the core theme? If inevitable mortality isn't a sufficient theme to be able to evoke with a gameplay loop, what would be?

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                    • #25
                      So I got this from very long ago, Arcane may actually remember it, but to give you an idea, this is something like you should get when thinking on how a gameline differentiates it from others

                      "A game of aliens would be different from demon in that unlike demon, which is about asserting your place in the world as an individual while escaping your supernatural origin as an angel (or trying to get back, like an integrator), aliens would explore what it's like to purposely hide amongst humanity, trying to keep your loyalty to your race WHILE trying to develop human ties with a race you presumably never interacted with, and deciding whether your kind matters more than the individuals you personally speak and share experiences with."

                      Back then, the main trouble with an Alien game thematically is how does it separate from the invasion angle demon can get into, and the abduction angle Changeling can get into. This concept I have from long ago is FAR, FAR, FAR from perfect. But it does answer this by saying that a gameline about Aliens separates itself testing loyalty. The battle the between the personal relationships we have, and the obligations we feel toward our kind. The battle between allowing your emotions to compromise you and the rational that what you interact with is beneath you, even as you say good morning to it everyday. It asks that if your race was dying, and the cure comes from the person you now call friend, would you save your race, or decide it is not your place to save your own at the cost of another.

                      Of course, with Mummy 2nd edition, such an idea faces some more hurdles. But this was just to show you an idea of building the concept. Considering there are 11 gamelines, I think you should decide on very specific thematics, and THEN branch out from there to differentiate it from the others, rather than a broad idea and narrowing in from there

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                      • #26
                        I want to second reseru's posts (the Lynch-Cronenbergian pitch for Psychics in particular), but also ask: who do you actually play in Pathogen? Are you the infected, struggling with their condition and with the reactions of the world around you to your condition, or are you the self-aware pathogen itself?

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                        • #27
                          As I see it, for Pathogen you are someone that is very, very ill. Of course, you know that this disease is different, but you're not sure in what way. Is it because the virus is aware? Is it some kind of ancient superbug that somehow came back? Bioweapons project gone horrifically wrong? The virus itself isn't exerting any direct control, but you're still dealing with new urges and compulsions because of it that aren't entirely your own.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
                            As I see it, for Pathogen you are someone that is very, very ill. Of course, you know that this disease is different, but you're not sure in what way. Is it because the virus is aware? Is it some kind of ancient superbug that somehow came back? Bioweapons project gone horrifically wrong? The virus itself isn't exerting any direct control, but you're still dealing with new urges and compulsions because of it that aren't entirely your own.
                            And how is that different from deviant, or even Vampire for that matter? The latter deals with the Beast, the urge to consume blood, and even with disgusting addiction caused by blood bonds. The former has Scars and even a special Form that's contagious.

                            You just need to go further, or else people will just assume that "theres already a game for that" as they did with Deviant when we knew little about it

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
                              As I see it, for Pathogen you are someone that is very, very ill. Of course, you know that this disease is different, but you're not sure in what way. Is it because the virus is aware? Is it some kind of ancient superbug that somehow came back? Bioweapons project gone horrifically wrong? The virus itself isn't exerting any direct control, but you're still dealing with new urges and compulsions because of it that aren't entirely your own.
                              What's your core gameplay loop?

                              Vampires tell lies to keep the people they care about and the blood sources they trawl safe, while inevitably getting pulled into feuds that endanger those things.
                              Werewolves discover threats to the stability of their territory and coordinate pack hunts to destroy those threats.
                              Mages investigate paranormal anomalies and work to contain the fallout from their own ambitions and that of others.
                              Hunters team up to hunt predatory monsters who are more powerful than they are.
                              Deviants hunt down and are hunted down by malicious conspiracies.

                              What's a Pathogen game about doing? Is it just a passive internal conflict, sating alien urges and dealing with the resulting blowback? What do Pathogen characters overall choose to do?

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