HEarlPendelfield
 member, 23 posts
Thu 29 Dec 2016
at 21:16
IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
You could always have separate threads for smaller groups that share similar creature origins, say if you have two or three that are some sort of fey run their story together, lycanthropes together that sorta thing, may help some.
BadCatMan
 member, 263 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 02:11
IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
I've lately caught an urban fantasy bug, so I'd be interested.

I prefer free-form, if only because I don't know many other systems.

Regarding origin stories, the usual attrition of players in the early stages of a game will mean that some would disappear before you even finish playing out the origin story, or not long after. When new players come in, they'd need their own origin stories played out. You'd be forever playing out origin stories before getting to the main game. Group origin stories would be unlikely (did the werewolf and vampire and others just decide to gang up?) and each type of creature has its different story.

How about flashbacks? When the game's been running a while and the dedicated players are known, you can then step back and explore how they came to be what they are. The outcome will be known, of course, but this would always be the case: we know the vampire PC will be bitten by a vampire and survive, this isn't a surprise. The specifics of how, however, will be new. Players can create their backstories as normal but leave the transformation in broad brush-strokes with a few key elements and gaps to be filled in later.


High school might work well, with monsterism as a metaphor for changes in body and mind, finding oneself, keeping secrets and coming out, and deciding one's future. It's why it's so common (Buffy, Teen Wolf, Class, etc.).


Title: Puberty Boos :D Punning on the old Australia teen novel/series Puberty Blues, but I guess non-Australians won't get it. But you get the idea. Take a suitable series or title, twist it to include a fantasy element. Like Saved by the Hell or Smells Like Teen Spirits. :D If you like dumb puns, that is.

Otherwise, just name the game after the school. This could have an ironic twist: Buffy's Sunnydale was anything but sunny. Or borrow the name of a horror author: Stoker Senior School or Lovecraft High. Or a popular horror setting: Arkham Academy. Or how Catholic schools are named, with a saint, particularly one of the weirder, more gruesome ones.
SorcerousSoul
 member, 84 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 02:59
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
BadCatMan:
How about flashbacks?


This is wisdom.

Also, Smells Like Teen Spirits is great.
JediMaster007
 member, 156 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 03:50
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Here's something to point out. You immediately lose someone like me when you start talking about High School age, unless you are specifically looking for a goofy, borderline anime look and feel.

That sort of defeats the purpose of going with a supernatural, monster feel, doesn't it?

And then, my next question would be, how are you going to determine who gets what, and then what they can and cannot do?
willvr
 member, 1013 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 03:52
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
err... to be fair, Buffy was high-school age and that was definitely anything but goofy.

I would steer clear of catholic high schools though - just because your chances of pissing -someone- off with how you portray it is higher. Especially if you don't see it being catholic as being much of a difference.
Syrris
 member, 426 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 04:37
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
  As with JediMaster's point, High School age games are everywhere as it is, including monster-teen ones. If you *have* to stick to a specific age range, I'd suggest bumping it up to something more like 20-25; the characters are legally independent and if they want to work with the 'figuring things out' metaphors then college/trades/etc environments work for that too (without requiring everyone be attached to a specific place).
BadCatMan
 member, 264 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 04:44
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
PS: Flashbacks also allow other PCs to get involved, even if peripherally, in either their normal or post-transformation days (assuming characters change at different times).

There are stacks of teen fantasy series that are nothing like anime, nor goofy.

I'm not fussed about the setting either way though. But high school (or university) is good for bringing different characters together and forcing them together. Anywhere else, it's harder to get them all to come into contact.

This message was last edited by the user at 05:13, Fri 30 Dec 2016.

CaesarCV
 member, 229 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 04:48
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
I'm glad to see that there's a bit of interest! Lots of good discussion though, happy to talk more.

To BadCatMan
Thanks for the dumb puns idea! I'll look into a few. As far as the catholic high school idea one, I chose St. Martha since she's a saint that calmed a monster and taught it to help instead of harm. Hence the symbolism.

The idea on Flashbacks is a very, very good point. I'll probably do something like that so I can have them running concurrently.

to JediMaster007:
Well, to be fair I don't necessarily think that a High School setting means it can't possibly be gritty or dark. There are plenty of dark High School set stories like the movie Brick as well as hundreds of others. Granted, I probably wouldn't make it hyper gritty anyway. I don't see how having younger protagonists can ruin a darker feel. The stress that the younger characters would have to deal with, friends, families, and so on and so forth, would only be even greater than with someone more mature.

As far as determining who gets what, and what they can or cannot do, I have a few things set up. I would have a list of applicable creatures, and players would be able to choose which ones they're interested in, and I'll put that in myself. As for the available abilities, I would probably be the arbiter in most of those situations.

To Willvr:
As for the Catholic school thing, I do have a reason I'd slightly prefer to keep it that way, but if people get uncomfortable I'll understand. Maybe I'll ask the players if they're uncomfortable with the topic. I don't expect it to be too huge of an issue sine Catholic schools tend to be rather secularly focused these days, but it's a good point to remember.



New posts after I wrote this one.

I agree with BadCatMan slightly more than Syrris. With everyone having their own jobs it's hard to get everybody to link up. I played through an Unknown Armies game with that exact problem. I'll definitely consider bumping up the ages though.
BadCatMan
 member, 265 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 05:12
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
It might help to state what age range you expect. In a high school setting, 14 year olds are very different from 18 year olds, and necessarily have different tones.

Name: Ah, St Martha's the one who defeated the Tarrasque. Cool! Consider just going for an understated name: St Martha's Academy. The game advert and categories tell the interested player what it's really about.

Creature: Maybe let players suggest their own if they're feasible? Players who know their folklore might come up with something novel and unexpected, beyond the usual vampires and werewolves.
CaesarCV
 member, 230 posts
Fri 30 Dec 2016
at 05:52
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
I'd definitely be leaning towards the latter age ranges, closer to 17-19 or so if I stick with high school. That way they aren't too young, but still not entirely on their own just yet. The understated name might be a good idea too now that I think about it.
Syrris
 member, 427 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 07:33
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
CaesarCV:
I agree with BadCatMan slightly more than Syrris. With everyone having their own jobs it's hard to get everybody to link up. I played through an Unknown Armies game with that exact problem. I'll definitely consider bumping up the ages though.


  Make connections part of character generation: everyone establishes links to 2-3 other characters before entering play. In most cases this would mean connections (which could be related to their school years) that developed before they became 'monsters', although depending on how long it has been since the change occurred some of them might be afterward - particularly if it's someone else with the same/similar condition.
CaesarCV
 member, 231 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 08:00
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
I can definitely do that, but it does get back to what I meant by  organic character linking. That step is already more complicated than having them all be part of the same group. Having characters as all part of the same school gives them all immediately something in common and a reason to be together. I guess I'm not seeing the big advantage of the older characters other than 'less goofiness'. I suppose it allows more varied characters in terms of occupation and the like. Maybe I'm just missing something?

I'm partially choosing the high school or college setting since people are more connected and less independent. Risking breaking those bonds as you wrestle with new inner and outer demons is a good source of drama. A centralized location also provides easier chances for the bonds and the like. Like if one person hates a teacher , and another idolizes them, that's a good dramatic opportunity.

I hope I'm making sense here. I'd love to see arguments for other options

Also sorry if my posts aren't the best at the moment ha ha. I'm on mobile at the moment and that makes things harder. Hence all of the typos.
Syrris
 member, 428 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 09:27
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
  The main argument from my perspective isn't goofiness or the lack thereof, but that 'high school drama' - aside from being an immediate turn-off to a lot of people - is already a well-served genre on RPOL, and a fair number of those are monster/magician/etc variants.

  There are certainly plenty of 'supernatural creature' games that focus on adults, but they tend toward one of two things: specific game systems and their settings, or a full age range of characters. While the latter may include some 20-ish year old characters, they aren't usually the focus (at least not in quasi real-world ones - fantasy genre games are obviously a different story).
CaesarCV
 member, 232 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 09:58
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Ah. I can understand what you mean by that! It does make a good bit of sense. That being said, I think that the shared character cast and other advantages of a school or similar based game kind of outweigh the disadvantage you listed there. Maybe something closer to college age might be better? It would allow for a bit more freedom and avoid a good deal of the teenage antics. Alternatively something like a unified place of employment might help with some of the issues as well.

The issue with an adult game is that people tend to be more isolated and devoted to their own issues IE, one person's police work and another's job as a paramedic, while with a school or maybe other setting the characters are a bit more united. It makes a more shared cast of NPCs believable.
willvr
 member, 1014 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 10:02
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
If you really want to avoid teen-drama; go for college. I think, shared place of employment, unless it's deliberate, reaches out as 'coincidental' a bit too much.
BadCatMan
 member, 266 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 12:47
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Unpopular or not, the high school setting could be limiting from a storytelling point of view. As the focus of the campaign, almost all action defaults to taking place in the school. All threats originate there, which starts making the school look cursed. But character events will take place in PC's homes, PCs will meet up in local hangouts, sports areas, and wherever, taking the focus away from the school. If high school isn't popular (I don't mind either way), then you could expand the setting to, say, a small town or isolated suburb or a street. This way, PCs the same age will likely still know each other and come into contact. They can go to school and have stories there. And when the school setting gets dull or overused, the story can go to some place outside the school, where PCs get their first job, play a sport, etc. This allows for more varied settings and stories.

Outside of a contained setting, bringing similar beings together requires extraordinary coincidence or an outside influence. Maybe a mysterious someone sends them invitations to counselling sessions for the suddenly monsterified?
JediMaster007
 member, 158 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 16:27
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
One thing I want to point out right off the top about connecting stories is this.  Attrition rates?  What happens, if say, BadCatMan and I have a mutual background, and for whatever reason, I leave the story?  Now he's stuck in the wind.  He's either got to find someone (with GM approval) who can step in and fill the same role I was, or he's got to nullify (or just randomly change up) whatever X background or Y story traits were.  In that regard, he might as well have not started with any sort of connection.  This isn't to sound negative.  It is literally a fact of games on rpol.  It happens in every sort of game.  How would you suggest a workaround for that?

The school thing.  Meh.

Granted, this is just me.  But I still loathe the school idea.  When was the last time any of you have spoken to someone who is still working on their high school education?  No matter how smart and mature they are, you can still see they're not an "adult."  But it's more than just the teen drama thing.

I'm also looking at this.  No matter how good a kid is at something, they're still not as good as an adult.  It takes real prodigies just to do what adults in the same field do, and then it takes savants to surpass them.  Dr. Reed from Criminal Minds is not the norm.  There isn't one of him in every group, despite what the TV tells us.  There isn't even one of him in every 100 groups.  Your Varsity Quarterback may be able to win the local championship, but that doesn't mean he's getting a scholarship to Penn State, and even if he does, it doesn't mean he's going to go pro and play for the Dallas Cowboys.  Sure, the school bully may be able to beat up the captain of the wrestling squad, and when he lets go and turns into a werewolf, he may even be able to go on a rampage and take out his drunk dad, one of the neighbors, and two of the unsuspecting local cops who have no idea what's going on.  But the minute he crosses paths his with ex-girlfriend's Army Ranger daddy back from 3 tours in Iraq, he's going to get his tail kicked up between his ears and it won't even be a challenge.

The point I am making is, when you use a High School type of setting, not only does it come off as goofy and immature (which may be the whole intention!), you're going to have to constantly remind people that even under the best of situations they're still "weak."  So what if the varsity cheerleader thinks she's hot stuff, especially because some dumb vampire made her a vampire too?  She's just a really really weak vampire.  Not only does she have the problem of being a newborn vampire, she also still has the problem of still being a child.  Which means things like curfews.  And having to be at school the next day.  And that dumb boyfriend who won't leave her alone.  And that nosy mother always wondering what she's doing.

So having said that, I would highly recommend using the college setting.  Even if they're still young (college kids usually range between 17-21 for Freshmen, and up to 27 for seniors, with odd exceptions), they're not teenager young.  And barring that, I would also suggest the nearby town.  That way someone who doesn't want to play a kid or student (be it high school or college) wouldn't have too.
SorcerousSoul
 member, 85 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 16:47
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
JediMaster007:
Not only does she have the problem of being a newborn vampire, she also still has the problem of still being a child.  Which means things like curfews.  And having to be at school the next day.  And that dumb boyfriend who won't leave her alone.  And that nosy mother always wondering what she's doing.


I'm guessing this sort of thing is part of what Caesar wants the game to delve into.

To the rest: I don't know about you, but the majority of college groups I ran into weren't made up of savants. The "strongman" in the group was probably not going to beat out a tabbed Ranger, or better yet one from the actual regiment. The "brainiac" in the group might do well on all her exams, but she's likely not publishing ground-breaking science in the course of her undergraduate. These people exist - but they're still exceptional and out of the ordinary.

And, as with any game that involves the supernatural, it already requires a good deal of suspension of disbelief. Unlikely circumstances don't really rate next to suppositions like "Yes, vampires are really real."
JediMaster007
 member, 159 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 16:53
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
That's kind of my point with regards to the brainiac and strongman.  The thing is, people don't want to play the weakling vampire or the werewolf guy who can beat up a bunch of high school kids but is still a pushover when dealing with actual adults.  Or do they?

And sure, there is a suspension of some disbelief.  Of course.  Where do you draw the line though?  Are you looking for something that can at least pretend to be taken seriously, or are you looking for something that is an entirely over-the-top anime fanboi's dream?
CaesarCV
 member, 233 posts
Sat 31 Dec 2016
at 21:13
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Lots of interesting discussion here! As far as the matter of characters being in and around the town, I may have overstated the centrality matter. There will definitely be events, storylines and the like that take place outside of the school, whether those be searching for a Jiang-Shi on the streets of Chinatown or looking into a nightclub run by some other horror of the night. People getting jobs and the like would certainly be possible as well. It's moreso that the centralized location like the school provides a lot of useful benefits that I'd rather not give up. For that same reason I'd really rather not have characters be just from in the town and not students. It basically ruins any sort of advantage, and creates characters that are 'insiders' and 'outsiders' that would be a hassle to deal with.

As for Jedi's comments on the power level thing, I do worry he's stumbled onto a little "it's a feature not a bug" sort of situation. I'm generally not into the power fantasy style of play, and I think that weaker characters would actually make this scenario a bit stronger dramatically and thematically. Being badass werewolves and monsters is certainly fun, but it's not something I'm hyper interested in for this sort of game. This is about your characters having to choose whether to embrace the monsters they're turning into or try to cling to their humanity the best they can. That kind of 'weakness' is useful in this scenario, since they aren't badass super monsters, at least not at the beginning. They're people thrown into a new world against their will, and chances are they aren't totally prepared for it.

Granted, the characters would still be starting characters in Savage Worlds if people want a harder system, so they're hardly incompetent or weak. Being a bit outmatched by the horrors that they now know inhabit their world is to be expected, and I think kind of more interesting.

On a side note, characters won't be fully monsters at the start of the game. They're sort of 'on the way'. How much they delve into full monsterhood depends on their actions and personality in the game.
BadCatMan
 member, 267 posts
Sun 1 Jan 2017
at 02:03
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
JediMaster007:
One thing I want to point out right off the top about connecting stories is this.  Attrition rates?  What happens, if say, BadCatMan and I have a mutual background, and for whatever reason, I leave the story?  Now he's stuck in the wind.  He's either got to find someone (with GM approval) who can step in and fill the same role I was, or he's got to nullify (or just randomly change up) whatever X background or Y story traits were.  In that regard, he might as well have not started with any sort of connection.  This isn't to sound negative.  It is literally a fact of games on rpol.  It happens in every sort of game.  How would you suggest a workaround for that?


Yep, I've been there. Strongly linked backgrounds (as friends, family, lovers, rivals) work best when players already know each other and can trust each other to play long term and be reliable and not have disputes. For example, I know willvr from several games over a few years, so we might work something out. On the other hand, with lightly linked backgrounds (simply knowing of one another, working together, having a run in or two), it's no biggie if one of the players leaves, as the relationship is easily ended and forgotten.


The power level of characters (not in stats but how they look in the world) is defined by the threats they face. Standing up to the school bully makes them look like hot stuff. If that bully is also an ogre, then they're going to struggle. If the army steps in to round them all up, then they might surprise the soldiers at first with their powers, but will soon be overpowered. However, they might have more success running and hiding. That is, how powerful the characters look mostly depends on what the GM and campaign put up against them. Or what kind of trouble they draw.
GreyGriffin
 member, 51 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sun 1 Jan 2017
at 22:05
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Color me as someone who's interested in the basic concept but not convinced by the setting.  I'm a total sucker for tragedy, so the idea of playing a character who is cursed or transformed is basically my modus operandi.  However, for all the narrative density that High School offers as an advantage, the utterly miniscule, localized scale of high school conflicts, the hormone driven emotional stakes, and the vapid clique politics intrinsic to the setting are a pretty powerful turn-off.

Another High School issue of the characters is that the characters lack autonomy and authority.  If the characters lack power in their supernatural lives, and lack power in their personal lives, their actions are unlikely to matter to anyone but themselves.  If the PCs are crappy vampires who are in high school, who cares what they do?  There are bigger and more important and more powerful vampires out there who are doing things that can impact people and the setting, and they can't meaningfully change their own lives.  The characters' actions end up being largely inconsequential.

That's not in and of itself necessarily an unworkable scenario.  That's essentially the whole premise of Old World of Darkness.  While I'm not intrinsically opposed to stories that focus on personal growth and primarily emotional narrative stakes, combining that with characters who aren't legally competent to make decisions for themselves and who don't have any real personal responsibility seems like a recipe for wasting the strongest narrative hook in your pitch, which is the personal cost of succumbing power.  Who cares if you lose your job if you live at home because you have to and the job was at the mall food court?  Who cares if you break up with your girlfriend if it's just a high school one-semester fling?

So, yeah, I am in on the theme and overarching ideas, but the high school setting just doesn't jibe too well with me.
CaesarCV
 member, 234 posts
Sun 1 Jan 2017
at 23:09
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Yeah, to be fair as I've seen more of this discussion I figured I should push towards more of a college setting. It's kind of a nice middle point.

This message was last edited by the user at 23:10, Sun 01 Jan.

BadCatMan
 member, 268 posts
Mon 2 Jan 2017
at 02:36
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
I don't know US high schools, but I figure Hollywood High School is a setting or subgenre like any other, with its own particular kinds of characters, stories, and themes, exaggerated and divorced from reality. Saying it's unrealistic is like saying Tolkienistic fantasy or space-opera SF are unrealistic: well, of course they are, that's the point. The criticisms of the GM's choice of setting seem directed more at the wider setting/genre itself, rather than the game concept or workability. People who watch a series or movie or play a game in any setting choose to accept the storytelling rules and themes of this fictional world. It's fair to choose to a set a story or game in the Hollywood High School fictional world, if it works for what the writer or GM is trying to do. Again, I'm not fussed either way, just interested in the storytelling logic.
CaesarCV
 member, 238 posts
Mon 23 Jan 2017
at 18:42
Re: IC and Advice: Urban Fantasy Humans turned into Monsters
Game is up! Thank you all for the wonderful discussion and Ideas!

link to another game