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The TARDIS-Lite Project: Need some help going forwards.

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  • The TARDIS-Lite Project: Need some help going forwards.

    So, this isn’t going to be anything new for people here in the forums, but ever since I’ve gotten into Demon one of my long standing goals is to create something like the TARDIS from Doctor Who in Demon the Descent. The goal is relatively simple; make something that is bigger on the inside, look relatively mundane from the outside and is able to move from one place to another without physically travelling between the two. Time travel is something I’m fairly explicitly not looking for it to have, owing to how tricky storytelling Demon is without players having a mobile home in this manner.

    Over the years I’ve gotten a few plans towards making this ideal become a reality, but not one has yet to really work out owing to numerous factors. These are the ones I have tried and conceptualized.


    Plan 1: Befriend and gadgetize a Lare.

    It has been noted by people who worked on Demon that the TARDIS was an inspiration for Lares, and it shows very clearly. Lares are alive with their own thoughts and desires, they’re able to change themselves around on the fly, they can be bargained with and best yet they generate their own supply of aether, which means that any gadgets implanted in the to facilitate travel won’t have any worry for running out of aether due to downtime. This seems like an ideal set-up.

    Unfortunately, the plan falls through owing to a few factors. One is the storyteller even including one in the game (my experience in this had the storyteller not understand them, not include them in spite of a Lare being in my goals and my backstory and not telling me about this) much less them being amenable to the deal. Two is how the mechanics of the Lare don’t quite work out for the whole “teleporting mobile home” deal... namely in that the Lare is taking up at least the size of a small house, if not larger, so something like that literally teleporting about the place is going to get a lot of strange looks and not be practical beyond moving the game between towns/cities. Three is that it’s not clear if a Lare is working with their outer dimensions when it comes to their inner arrangement, which ties into problem two; even if a Lare were to inhabit a literal police box or phone booth my character couldn’t fit all the mechanics required to make such a Lare really functional. Then there’s the fourth issue on what would happen if this Exile were to be given the chance to betray the Demon and decline, Falling as a Demon... which really, really doesn’t have any precedent and thus is uncertain on how that would work out mechanically. Attempts to write-up a Demon-from-Lare have resulted in nothing but headaches for myself, and I don’t want to inflict that on any future storytellers who get the idea to deal with it.

    Suffice to say, I’ve stopped looking to this route.



    Plan 2: Suborn and maybe gadgetize Infrastructure.

    This one came up in a game with a storyteller who thought, since I was interested in a TARDIS I would want to have a bigger on the inside Infrastructure. In concept I can see where they were going with it, since the God-Machine has already laid out the groundwork and It can do a lot of things Demons can’t.

    In practice, this plan fell through even faster than the Lare one did. One reason was because the storyteller made the rolls to hack the Infrastructure in the game incredibly high without explaining why (the reasoning for this has varied in each conversation, from it being a sign they wanted the players to investigate the Infrastructure first, to an Angel using Influences to make it harder to hack, to not understanding Incepts were always on). This has turned me off suborning Infrastructure from a bad association. The bigger reason, number two, is simply because I don’t like the idea of taking Infrastructure for the project. I want this to be something my character builds, something unique to themselves, and just taking it from the God-Machine robs them both of that uniqueness and it means the God-Machine explicitly knows what weaknesses and requirements that Infrastructure has. It also has the Lare issue of the outside still being bigger than desired, even if the inside is much larger.

    Suffice to say, not a fan.



    Plan 3: Gadgetize a bolthole.

    This is an idea I had when I was waiting around for a Lare to show up in a game, inspired in part by one Doctor Who story where the TARDIS has a sort of escape pod with limited capabilities that can take a person to a nearby planetoid if the TARDIS is ever in danger (the Jade Pagoda, if anyone’s curious). I figured that if I could utilize a gadget in a bolthole to move it around, it could work as a sort of shortcut for a few elements while giving me something to work with for the gadgets to move the larger project around.

    Believe it or not this idea has had some implementation and success, and others have suggested it to me too (among them being a very helpful post by ArcaneArts in a previous thread about potentially turning the bolthole itself into a gadget, which I have experimented with writing up). It’s the one I’ve pondered on the second-to-most in terms of actually going forwards in a game with as a permanent means of accomplishing this overall goal.

    Sadly, this plan has fallen out of good graces for much the same reason as the Infrastructure one; it’s too good a shortcut, taking the uniqueness out of the whole idea. Even the implementation mentioned above was only briefly utilized as by that point I had run out of patience for the game I was in (life lesson for me on not presuming a storyteller will remember discontent expressed in games and to just talk to them about it). Turning a bolthole into a gadget has likewise become a headache for me to conceptualize without turning it into an unbalanced mess, so I’m putting that to the side as well.



    Plan 4: Make it entirely out of gadgets.

    This is the other plan I’ve had the most in terms of whether I could actually do it or not. In concept it should be plausible: gadgets can take any Embed or Exploit and take their effects in very sideways directions in regards to the original effect, and with Lambdas combining gadget effects into something new while potentially retaining the original effects the sky is the limit. I’ve had write-ups made of all the individual effects made and remade several times over, and in theory it should take time to make in-game but would be a unique and memorable experience. This is especially since my character would be designing all the parts and thus while technically anyone else could make the plan work only mine would have had the designs for me.

    In practice it’s been the plan that has made me the closest to outright rage quitting simply because none of my games have let me be a proper gadgeteer, much less actually take steps towards building up the resources I’d need to make the gadgets for the project (at the very lowest number I’d need five gadgets, at optimum nine with three lambdas made from them). My most recent game has been the closest to actually taking any steps, but the storyteller for that game had me simply handle and identify gadgets for the agency rather than making or trading them for NPCs, and a problem player meant that the game went off the rails at a few points to varying degrees. I throw no shade on that storyteller, though, as they were new to Demon and did far better than they had any right to. It just serves as yet another example though of my games having the story come before my character’s goals coming forward.

    Out of the storytellers’ hands, though, are two very huge bugbears to this process that the previous plans have also fallen victim to. One of them is gathering the experiences needed for the embeds/exploits, gadgets and suborned Infrastructure required. It’s probably not hyperbole that most players have felt the issue of never having enough experiences to make the character they really want to have; this compounds the problem of having to make at least five gadgets, even if the embeds/exploits were already on hand.

    The other bugbear is in actually designing the gadgets themselves. Unfortunately, having so much freedom with gadgets means having an infinite number of ways around things, and my design philosophies regarding gadgets (that a lambda of two embeds can do the job of one exploited gadget more quietly and for far more downtime) has come to bite me very, very hard. One big fear of mine is being separated from my TARDIS-Lite or having to keep it in cold storage for a time skip, and finding that the aether within any exploited gadgets has attracted Cryptids, Demons or Stigmatics, been stolen or has simply dried up without my intervention. Suffice to say, trying to embeded effects that, when paired, can transport the whole structure and everyone inside a fair distance but not make it broken has been extremely tiring. And this is before even having the hardware for the gadgets either, which has been its own set of headaches.



    Plan 5: Creating a cryptid to act as one.

    This plan is by far the most recent and also the only one I am positive could never come to pass in a game I wasn’t hosting. The idea of cryptid diatoms (though not sure of cryptoflora would fit them better?) being made into structures came up as an idea that I initially had for Infrastructure. However the idea quickly mutated into something else entirely, under the idea that while these diatom structures (Diatomic Structures, even) could be programmed and constructed quickly with just water they had a terribly bad habit of growing at alarming rates in the presence of aether (and thus essence), forming cancerous like growths. This would make them ill-advised for Infrastructure by and large, but an enterprising Demon could find a way to grow a particular colony over time into a new entity. By carefully feeding it aether and gadgets to make the colony develop in a particular direction over generations of diatoms, weeding out particular outcroppings and growing favorable ones until they were a very different entity that could not only resist deforming in the presence of aether but draw it out of the air like Demons, take a particular shape to blend in and even communicate with the host...

    You’re starting to see why this wouldn’t really gel in the average game, can’t you? It’s a long term project without a lot of input outside of other parties becoming inexplicably interested in what the player was doing, the diatoms becoming antagonistic or something else breaking in, and serves more as a backdrop than anything really interactive until an arbitrary time frame is hit. It serves as an NPC plot more than it would an actual player’s.


    All this said, I have to ask;


    Plan i: Going forward, aka TLDR

    What would you guys do for something like this? I am seriously running out of ideas and patience for this project and it’s affecting my desire to play Demon owing to how invested I have been to accomplishing it in Demon. However, my ideas just aren’t gelling with my storytellers and what friends I have interested in gaming aren’t interested in this one much me storytelling it.

    Thank you for reading, and apologies for all the rambling.

  • #2
    I can understand your frustration there. My first suggestion would have been to subvert a facility but you've obviously gone that route.

    My second suggestion would relate to boltholes but in a different way potentially. If you were able to hijack or mimic a beasts lair possibly through exploits, boltholes or gadgets. The easiest solution here is show of power but that requires the actual exposure to a beasts lair which is a big catch.

    Another route that could work but would be a long term investment and definitely relies on ST interpretations. This idea leans on "places that arent", either you find one and subvert it or maybe you seek a way to generate a reflection of your bolthole which can only be accessed from within shifting to the shadow from within your bolthole. I feel you can understand that this has promise but heavily is dependent on an ST sadly

    Otherwise, you've taken much the same routes I would have already.

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    • #3
      If your storyteller is proving to be unamenable, I must propose the tried and true method I learned from the wizened sage Red Mage Statscowski:

      Have you tried spraying Febreeze into your Storyteller's eyes?

      (Jokes aside though, it does seem like either ST or the gaming group's goals are the main problems here. You have a lot of viable solutions already, any one of them would work, and so at this point it's either a) The TARDIS in general doesn't fit the scope of the game that everyone is trying to have, or b) The Storyteller (or possibly the group at large) is being obstinate for what seems to be no good reason.)
      Last edited by ArcaneArts; 08-16-2020, 07:26 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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      • #4
        The main thing I am taking away from this, and a bit more reflection on my past games, is to simply communicate more with the Storyteller for what it is I am wanting in a game. Still not sure what method of the above I want to do (still leaning towards diatom cryptid), but perhaps I should discuss that with a Storyteller too to see what means grabs them.

        That said, subverting “places that aren’t” could actually work really well, especially in a crossover game of sorts. Maybe even stitching a few together into a psuedo-Lair, almost like a sort of cleaning-the-world sort of deal. Something else to ponder over.

        Thanks for the replies guys. It’s greatly appreciated.
        Last edited by Taidragon; 08-16-2020, 06:00 PM.

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        • #5
          I can think of two ways that I would do this (if I was STing a game of D:TD, that is);

          1: House ruling the interaction between the Bolt-Hole sub-merits Trap Door (which causes the Bolt-Hole's entrance from the physical world to not exist as long as the connected Demon is inside it) and Easy Access (which enables an Unchained to alter the location of their Bolt-Hole's door by spending a point of Aether). Namely that the character could manifest the door elsewhere by passing two rolls (one to shift the door, the other to control where it 'manifests' (the latter being necessary for having any kind of actual accuracy)) and spending an amount of Aether that I've yet to decide on (though I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of it depending on the distance and any specifics the player is aiming for ('Any closet door' would be far less demanding than, say, the manhole cover located between 8th and 12th, or somthing)) if they had both and were inside it. I'd also stretch the definiton of 'door' to basically be anything that could act as a feasible 'threshold', such as doors, garage-style shutters (the kind made up of multiple slats of metal), manholes, trapdoors and so on.

          2: Combining your 4th and 5th plans, perhaps with elements of your 2nd and 3rd ones thrown in as well, with the 'subverting "places that aren't"' idea proposed by Mr.F.I.X.. I'm not sure of the exact details yet, but I'm sure we could figur it out eventually.
          Last edited by TerrorCooper; 08-20-2020, 07:54 PM.


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          • #6
            Funny enough, I hadn't hit upon the idea of combining these plans together in some way until it was suggested, much like when Mr.F.I.X. suggested the "places that are not" or when ArcaneArts suggested a bolthole.

            As such, Plan 7: The Amalgam of Plan 5, with Plan 3, Plan 4 Plan 6 and a bit of Plan 2

            You may notice Plan 6 isn't written anywhere, but here is the long and short of it;

            Player character is a Demon who was an engineer as an Angel that worked with stray bits of reality, spaces that replay trauma ad-nauseum long after the trauma passed until they subsumed themselves back into the fabric of reality. They would take these unoccupied spaces (preferably fresh ones but beggars can't be choosers) and de-compile them, systematically removing their extra-dimensional and various occult qualities for the stuff to make boltholes and let the rest fall back into reality - a form of recycling, as it were. Only thing was that these spaces tend to be the homes of a rather curious and dangers form of creature known as the Begotten, who don't like it when their extra-dimensional lairs are threatened. This poor Angel had the bad luck of finding one of these spaces in the process of being claimed as a chamber, was scared within an inch of its life and fled... but was fascinated by the concept of such a space becoming connected to something else.

            The problem with this idea is having a means of actually getting into a Chamber before a Beast gets it, if not actually finding them and stitching them together, and, well, ensuring a Beast doesn't enter it and tear things up... and that's requiring the storyteller to include Beast content. However...


            Plan 7 takes a bit of everything (safe perhaps for Plan 1, for having no Lare involved) and goes something like this;

            As with Plan 5, the player character deals with Frustrum Clusters in order to create a cryptid that can act as a TARDIS-Lite. To do this they'd work on getting a colony of Clusters to grow (probably one that they had gathered soon after Falling, or having been the cause of Falling), feeding it carefully crafted one-shots in order to encourage certain behaviors. Once at a critical, sustained mass it would be ready to be programmed to take on certain forms to blend in and act natural, as well as building the hardware to properly input the designs to the Clusters. Where things differ is in how the Clusters are programmed: by taking data from various Infrastructure.

            Though we aren't given specifics on the creation of Boltholes, it's not hard to speculate that they are produced by Infrastructure, if not from a facility then on-site. By rigging up the Infrastructure to the programming device, the Demon could program the Clusters on not only how to form a doorway into a pocket dimension, but also how to comprise the room in the pocket dimension itself. While it adjusts to do that (and to have the sheer mass required to do such a thing), more gadgets can be made and fed to encourage behaviors, and more Infrastructure can be found and pillaged for useful data to feed the clusters. Throw in an Embed to connect to the Clusters while they form into a structure (if not more gadgets fed to make these functions), create a gadget to move the structure around (and perhaps feed it to the Clusters themselves to make it built-in) and with the grace of the storyteller, voila. Player is encouraged to engage with Infrastructure, has something to protect, can make its functions to design via gadgets, and the end result is something that is unique and hard worked for.

            The problem is that it takes in problems from all these plans, too;
            * The player still needs to design these functions, and if the storyteller doesn't refund the experiences from the gadgets or replace them for a merit tied to the TARDIS-Lite, then that's potentially a lot of experiences to dump in.
            * The other players need to either be involved or be okay with this sort of thing happening on the sidelines, and sharing screentime so the player can actually get on with their project.
            * The storyteller needs to play ball in actually allowing this creation to be made I know, it's still throwing the "have to trust the storyteller" aspect around, but as has been established it has been a huge problem in getting this ball rolling.


            As it so happens, though, I do have a design for the effects of the actual "move from one place to another" effect.

            It would be an extended action, with something like Wits + Science or Occult, or perhaps even something like Survival for navigation; the target number would depend on it being a relatively short hop (in miles) or a long jump (in tens of miles), with each success covering a mile. On a successful use, the T-L moves from one location to another in under a minute (or perhaps each roll is less than a minute), but isn't quite on point; for a hop you're not quite at your destination, but you're able to easily access it (being across a highway from your destination, for example); for a jump, you're going to be something like a mile out in a particular direction. A bit of a jaunt, but nothing you can't do. An exceptional success on either puts you directly where you wanted to be, or just a little out of the way of it but still able to get there easily (respectively). A dramatic failure for either puts you into a place that you don't want to be at (like in a prison, or underground... or inside Infrastructure).

            The effect costs an aether to use, and may or may not be only able to be used once a scene to avoid spamming it. Using it to get inside Infrastructure will be... tricky. It adds 3 to the total successes required, throws a penalty on top of that, a normal success causes someone to notice something is off and to investigate the area, and a dramatic failure not only fails to get you inside but alerts the God-Machine immediately. An exceptional success lets you slide right in though.
            Last edited by Taidragon; 08-21-2020, 12:19 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Taidragon View Post
              Funny enough, I hadn't hit upon the idea of combining these plans together in some way until it was suggested, much like when Mr.F.I.X. suggested the "places that are not" or when ArcaneArts suggested a bolthole.
              Glad I could help. And what do you thinks of my house-ruling Idea?


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              • #8
                Originally posted by TerrorCooper View Post
                1: House ruling the interaction between the Bolt-Hole sub-merits Trap Door (which causes the Bolt-Hole's entrance from the physical world to not exist as long as the connected Demon is inside it) and Easy Access (which enables an Unchained to alter the location of their Bolt-Hole's door by spending a point of Aether). Namely that the character could manifest the door elsewhere by passing two rolls (one to shift the door, the other to control where it 'manifests' (the latter being necessary for having any kind of actual accuracy)) and spending an amount of Aether that I've yet to decide on (though I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of it depending on the distance and any specifics the player is aiming for ('Any closet door' would be far less demanding than, say, the manhole cover located between 8th and 12th, or somthing)) if they had both and were inside it. I'd also stretch the definiton of 'door' to basically be anything that could act as a feasible 'threshold', such as doors, garage-style shutters (the kind made up of multiple slats of metal), manholes, trapdoors and so on.
                The plan is feasible if nothing else. However, barring having an interlock for this I am not too fond of just having a raw Bolthole able to do this. It feels a little too easy, kind of opening the door for others to do the same and making things kind of messy. Granted, it sounds pretty aether intensive, so that might curb its use somewhat.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Taidragon View Post
                  The plan is feasible if nothing else. However, barring having an interlock for this I am not too fond of just having a raw Bolthole able to do this. It feels a little too easy, kind of opening the door for others to do the same and making things kind of messy. Granted, it sounds pretty aether intensive, so that might curb its use somewhat.
                  Yeah, the intense Aether cost would be the main drawback of the interaction. An Unchained would have to go in one of two general ‘directions’ in terms of how they traveled;

                  A) Performing a large number of low-to-mid cost jumps to slowly reach their target location, which would also both take a lot of time and run the risk of over/under-shooting and getting the wrong target. It would, however, have the advantage of letting them recharge between jumps and thus doing it more quickly.

                  B) Expending a single, but large, amount of Aether to reach the locale immediately. Due to the greater cost, a Demon would have to wait a while between jumps as they regathered their strength, and with its own complications if the distance was under/over-shot, or the target missed. In exchange though, it’d take far less time to ‘land’ at the right spot and the risk of missing would be much, much lower (albeit a lot more catastrophic in consequences).

                  I’d also have it being rather rare, or at least somewhat uncommon, since most of the ex-angels wouldn’t have a bolt-hole, let alone one with one, or even both, features. And those who did, wouldn’t have really thought to try it. And while there would be rumours about it, most would just ignore them. Plus most would have a preferred territory that they’d like to stick with, so there wouldn’t be much incentive for them to move. There’d also be the exorbitant price tag of using it to consider, so only ArchDemons would really be able to do it with anything approaching actual, relative ease over longer distances.

                  Nomadic members of the Unchained, particularly those with high Primum, would be the most likely to have it of course, if only to avoid leaving a potential paper trail.

                  Of course, you don’t have to go this path if you don’t want to, so I’ll not judge either way.
                  Last edited by TerrorCooper; 09-07-2020, 08:11 AM.


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