The (living) Heart of Necrology

  • 13 Replies
The (living) Heart of Necrology
« on: July 27, 2010, 02:37:43 PM »
Warning: This will be a little (very) rambly because I'm writing this primarily to sort out my out thoughts about what I want this game to be and do.

What is cool about the idea of playing as ghosts?  I think part of it, at least for me, is the idea of being able to explore and examine life and the world from the outside.  Playing characters that have died is really just a way of looking at what is important about life.  And that's why I want to keep the game focused on, and revolving around, the world of the living.

The PCs are ghosts, but most important NPCs will be living people.

I see the game primarily focusing on the PCs trying to deal with their transition out of life.  What do they do now?  They're dead, but their souls have lingered in a strange place, a place from which they can still attempt to touch and effect the world of the living and its inhabitants.  The PCs likely still have living people that are important to them.  They likely have goals and aspirations for the living world that they may still be able to accomplish in some way as a ghost.  They may have  places they want to protect, or living people they wish to see punished.

I want to avoid a detailed setting. Like AW, I want to leave most things up to actual players.  However, I think the game should avoid having an area of the world of the dead that is "ghosts only."  If a ghost character pulls away from its connections to the world of the living and goes of to start interacting only with other ghosts who also have no ties to the world of the living... well we then we're just playing strange, bleak people with funky powers.  Which can be cool and all, but it completely loses the point of being ghosts.

The focus has to be on the living and their world.

So, big question: will this work?  I'm a little concerned that this will fall apart in play, if all the PCs are focused on are living people and things in that world, and they only directly confront each other and ghostly NPCs insofar as their aims and intentions for the living world conflict with each other.  I also have plans for at least one playbook whose character types will NOT be focused on the living world.  Given that there are some characters in AW who are also more "support types" I'm hoping this may still work.  I suppose I may only be able to answer some of these questions by trying it out.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2010, 05:15:05 PM »
I like it.  I was actually going to ask if you wanted to do Wraith's whole underworld society thing, since it feels like the different worlds were always a weakness of Wraith ... as you say, it loses the point of playing a ghost.

It should work.  I mean, think about the PC-NPC-PC triangles idea.  You're going with the idea that someone's connections to the world of the living ('chains' was the word you were using earlier) have a definite effect of some kind on their ghost, like with fetters in Wraith?  Sounds like the GM wants to tie together characters' chains.  Sure, it means that most of the game's focus will be on interactions with the living world, but hey - point of playing a ghost, right?

You'll also be able to create ghost-ghost relationships in the same way you would in anything like AW classic.  Maybe that Pardoner over there needs help collecting on a debt.  Maybe a couple of Poltergeists have staked out a neighborhood as their haunt, and they're trying to drive you or a friend out of the area.  Normal stuff.  (It occurs to me that, in the absence of mortal law, a ghost game could have a lot of the same issues of a post-apocalyptic game.)

Is it the Pardoner you're worried about?  If you re-flavor it a bit, you could broaden their abilities beyond just manipulating Shadows to also give them the ability to fiddle with chains.  Similar concept, and they're still not directly interacting with the world, but now there's an obvious reason that someone might involve a Pardoner in their world-of-the-living issues.

I'd maybe consider dropping the, um ... the playbook that was about manifesting in the world.  The Apparition?  If it's to be a game about transitioning out of life, dealing with your chains, and etc, then that playbook might be better served by breaking it and giving the bits to other playbooks.  That way, a character can manifest in the world in his book-specific way, but nobody is super-good at it.  It ought to be difficult to, say, talk to your daughter.

I think Orpheus did something like that ... like each ghost splat had a 'when you manifest, you can be perceived like this, and you can do these things' section.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2010, 05:41:45 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, Michael.  :)  I keep getting a little worried that I'm just talking to myself here.  Knowing someone is listening helps keep me interested in doing this, if nothing else (though the feedback is definitely great stuff too.)

Entangling ghosts chains together might be a good idea.  My main worry is that, say, one PC is off trying to reconcile with his still-living daughter, while another PC is off terrorizing his living wife's abusive new husband, and a third PC is attempting to possess a famous writer to get him to write her story and none of them have much to do with each other (except for possibly trading favors.  PC #1's daughter is being sexually harassed by her boss?  He gets PC #2 to make the boss's walls bleed), encouraging or requiring some amount of chain-entanglement during character creation could help with that.

(incidentally, i don't remember how much experience you said you had with Wraith, but chains are basically just the term i'm using for what Wraith called Fetters and Passions.  at the moment i'm mostly just filing serial numbers off things.  if you have any suggestions for better names, i'm all ears.  i'm terrible at coming up with good names)

and, yeah, the Pardoner (which I haven't even filed the serial numbers off of yet) is one I was concerned about.  The other is one I haven't mentioned in these threads yet, that I think I might called the Wanderer.  Analogous to Wraith's Harbingers, I think they were called.  I've been brainstorming a lot about what I want to do with Wraith's Tempest.  I think it's a fun idea in general, and it makes a spiffy analog to the Maelstrom right off the bat.  I'll probably do some color/fluff writing of my thoughts for it tonight or tomorrow.  Playbook types like that wouldn't have built in specialties for dealing with the world of the living, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, I think I may like your ideas about splitting the apparition moves to other ghosts.  Maybe.  I like the idea of some ghosts being able to fully embody in the living world, but maybe that's not a whole playbook.  Maybe it's an upgraded, 12+ result for the basic move communicate with the living.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 05:45:48 PM by fnord3125 »

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2010, 05:46:12 PM »
By the way, here's a link to the google doc i'm using for brainstorming ideas.

it's got stuff i haven't typed up in a post here yet.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 03:05:12 AM »
I know what you mean about getting worried when the replies aren't coming in, but I'm still following along even if I've been quiet for a few days, sorry!

First off: yes. This post says to me exactly why you should have a ghost game, and honestly, interested me in it a whole lot more than I was before. So, awesome.

Next up, I think that entangling the PCs mortal relations is the way to go. I mean, in AW the MC is told to say "you all know each other, and you're at least colleagues". Well, in this game, it's totally fair to say "all of your mortal connections are somehow associated, even if they just live in the same town". With that out of the way, making their issues intersect and form triangles and what not ought to be easier.

I think a lot of the interest in dealing with the fact that the ghosts are trying to move on, but are still obsessed with what's going on in the living world will be in playing up the fact that the ghosts just don't have the right tools for what they're trying to do. Your wife has an abusive new husband? What you want is for her to be happy and not in a poisonous relationship. What can you do? Throw lamps around and hope the asshole gets scared away. I imagine ghost powers creating mega complications even when they work *right* much less when you flub it up.

Oh, and from the tone you're describing, you should *really* read "The Lovely Bones" (I haven't seen the movie yet, but I hear it's a decent adaptation). That book is all about a ghost who is focused on her living relations and the fact that she can't move on until she lets go to an extent. Her interactions with the living world are super subtle and mostly based on watching, which might give you some ideas.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 08:30:16 AM »
Thanks for the encouragement, Jeff!  I'm just self-conscious.  :)

I'm not really sure how much the ghosts are trying to move on.  I think that, as in original Wraith, the ghosts don't know what else is out there.  It's clear that not everyone who dies becomes a ghost, and some of them probably believe in a heaven or that they can achieve some kind of eternal peace, but they don't know for sure any more than do the living.  I've actually been thinking the biggest fear of most ghosts is probably being forgotten.

They are, however, very definitely obsessed with some thing or things in the living world.  That is, for the most part, what's keeping them all around.

And I definitely agree that their powers to affect the living world should cause complications even when they work right.  I don't think I ever articulated it, but I think that's how it's been in my mind the entire time.

For example, the playbook that, at least for the moment, is going to have the ability to step into the living world and assume physical form there (Michael has suggested I might not want to make this a playbook) is NOT going to have the ability to perfectly control what it looks like in the living world.  So, ideally, you'd want to appear before your wife and kids like the man they remember from before he died, right?  But instead you appear as... who knows?  A little girl?  A hideous monster?  A shambling zombie resembling the man they knew?  Lots of options (probably depending on how well you rolled).  Plus you disappear in probably like a minute or two.  You're definitely not going to solve all your problems this way.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2010, 02:31:15 PM »
You could have it so that each playbook has a manifestation option (maybe automatic, maybe something you can choose to take as a playbook move expanding on the 'manifest in the world' basic move), but they're all different.  That way, interacting with the world becomes a thing where you try to find a situation in which your playbook's manifestation is useful and lets you interact in the way you want.

If I could come up with concrete examples, this would probably be better advice. /c: Also, it maybe be difficult to come up with 10ish different manifestations.

Though the idea of making good manifestations an 'ungiven future' kind of thing is neat.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010, 05:17:00 PM »
Well, the way I see it, they mostly all will have different "manifestation" just not in the way you're talking about it.  The poltergeist "manifests" by awkwardly and invisbily hurling objects around a room.  The haunter "manifests" by making messages appear on the bathroom mirror in blood.  :)  The apparition actually manifests, but probably usually as some sort of ghostly figure, physically present, but clearly unnatural.

And of course, everyone has the option of trying to make the "communicate with the living" move and choosing "They can see you" as one of the options if you succeed.  You can't interact with them physically that way, but they can see you.

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2010, 02:28:02 PM »
So, I was looking around and couldn't find your summary of the different 'playbooks' you're currently considering (roughly based on the Wraith guilds?). Are you planning on having a possessor-type ghosty?

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2010, 05:02:56 PM »
Yeah, sorry.  I haven't worked on it much for about a week, but the most current stuff is in a google doc.

And yeah, there is currently one called The Possessor.  I don't like the name, but I'm not sure what else to call it right now.  :)

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2010, 05:45:55 PM »
And yeah, there is currently one called The Possessor.  I don't like the name, but I'm not sure what else to call it right now.  :)


Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2010, 11:04:59 PM »
The Passenger?

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2010, 09:38:35 PM »
The Passenger?

(insert Iggy Pop lyrics here)

Re: The (living) Heart of Necrology
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2012, 09:09:32 AM »
If you haven't had any breakthroughs here a few I like, coercive, psychophage and puppeteer.

I will be picking up a copy when Necrology makes it into print.
It looks like you have captured all of the things I like about Wraith and ditched the things that stop me from playing it.