|E.M. / Hound (worksalone) wrote in despairhorizon,|
@ 2011-09-30 02:14:00
|POWERS THAT BE|
S T O R Y
It's a "magical girls & boys" fantasy roleplay inspired by recent anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. You need no knowledge of PMMM or YW to apply. Considering the game was named after the trope, however, a love of drama, dark and grim atmospheres, genre deconstruction, and character development will make a big difference in enjoying the game.
The setting is the most important piece in the puzzle that is Despair Horizon. This isn't true for all games, but here it's a playground for every one of the characters. Their actions will influence the landscape, the war, and the events to come...
Two hundred years ago, a terrible calamity known as "the Blaze" befell much of the world. Since then, the world has fundamentally changed. It's become a place where the contrasts between law and chaos have become all the more skewed, like in the fairy tales and myths, and as such the perfect battleground for forces beyond human comprehension.
No one is ever approached by the Powers by accident. You have to be the right person for the job, and their expectations and trials try the human spirit. If you are, and you agree to take the Oath... in the blink of an eye, you will be given the tools to make the change you wish to see in the world a reality.
Life fights an endless battle against death, knowing that one day, everything will end. Nevertheless, the two forces wage war every day, in this world and many others...
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S E T T I N G
The game takes place in Prism City, in the year 200. Prism is a city-state located on a sea coast and surrounded by a vast desert wasteland. The partially domed city is controlled by the monopolistic Prism Corporation and is characterized by severe class inequity; the higher-income population resides inside the more pleasant geodesic domes, with the remainder left in tenements beneath the upper level. It resembles New York City, if NYC were a delicious three tiered cake.
When "the Blaze" hit nearly two hundred years ago, leaving an enormous crater in the middle of North America, everything changed. Humanity was not unaffected, and for reasons still not understood, the personal memories of those who survived the event became distorted and unreliable. The calendar was scrapped and reset to count years from the catastrophe. History began to fade, leaving mankind standing over the edge of a very wide hole, wondering how best to cross and move on.
People flocked to the nearest cities to survive. Many had to go as far as the coasts, and much of the transportation and trade between cities is done via boat and controlled by Prism Corporation, with the city serving as a sort of hub. The current level of technology is futuristic and very refined, although its distribution does not extend to the lower quarters. There, the technology is about modern day level and in some cases outdated as far back as the '60's-70's.
The common mindset towards the future isn't exactly bleak, and the situation isn't quite apocalyptic. The world is more or less recovering from a huge "un"-natural disaster and still feeling the aftereffects, losing farmable land since nothing grows in that region, switching to transportation via water since it takes less fuel, etc. The major food shortage has passed and much of it is now grown in the cities themselves in futuristic greenhouses. The city-states have also become quite self-contained. Because of that, there have been major, major job shifts, and almost everyone now works for the companies that own the cities in some way. Their influence in the everyday lives of the citizens is very pervasive, since most people buy everything they need from the same companies that employ them. The poorest are those who had no ties to the companies before the Blaze, came from other city-states or now work where they have little influence. Technology of all kinds and water transportation are the king and queen industries. Still, while life has gone on, albeit very changed, many conspiracy theories remain about what exactly the Blaze was. Some people believe the companies who owned many of the cities even back then were testing weapons and an accident occurred. Or maybe, they found what they were really after...
Being teenagers (mostly), your characters will likely have their own thoughts about their economic future, class, Prism Corp, their schools, society, and the Blaze that will factor into their encounters with one another and their desires and goals.
Please feel free to add your own rumors, politics, history and info to the mix. Character/NPC-run businesses and important locations are welcome additions to the city as well!
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C O N T R A C T S
If you choose to make a fighter, your characters have a choice between one of the two Powers that Be to form a contract with.
Their formal names are Nelabasis (Lithuanian for "horned"), the force of entropy, and Labukas ("hornless" with the prefix for "good"), the force of life. Servants of Nelabasis are sometimes called fiends, while servants of Labukas are called friends. You will probably be using the terms "order" and "pro-entropy" to describe their respective factions.
Little is known about these beings, who approach people of power - immense untapped potential - at a crossroads in their lives, often during a period of change or loss. Labukas bids them to uphold the natural order and preserve life in exchange for only the means to do so, and Nelabasis grants their heart's greatest desire in exchange for their mortal "soul". His servants then wander earth causing acts of violence and destruction in efforts to hasten entropy - universe death, which is progressing far slower than Nelabasis would like.
Labukas grants power only to those who wish to change themselves and become stronger. Nelabasis grants power to those who wish for the world to reflect their own desires.
Labukas gives each of his servants a Manual - originally a tome, though it can be anything and takes the shape most intuitive for the user - full of instructions for his new servants. Along with his Unbreakable Rules and a copy of the Oath they took, it includes the contact information of every one of his servants. This includes their "active"/"inactive" (amnesiac) status, powers, location, etc. Naturally, if this were to fall into the wrong hands, the consequences would be catastrophic. Luckily, normal humans are unable to read it, and if a servant dies, their Manual vanishes into thin air.
Nelabasis often appears in the shape of four-legged animals, while Labukas prefers humanoid and winged forms. Some friends have taken to calling Nelabasis "Big Bad" and Labukas "Big Bird", but the nickname changes on a generational basis and whatever forms are "in" with the two forces at the time.
They are promoted from an ordinary human to a living beacon of stability or chaos, staking out their master's territory on the cosmic playing field. This shift begins slowly at first, then snowballs as they are increasingly pulled away from mundane human matters and become a servant full-time.
Those who side with Nelabasis simply wake up and go on living the dream they traded their soul for. Over time, their personality becomes more warped, and as their greed and desire grow, so does their dissatisfaction with the mundane world. They often leave it behind before their lighter counterparts and commit themselves to entropy full time. Many who aren't killed quickly by humans or Labukas's servants become increasingly sociopathic and violent, and may go on to develop other mental disorders. It is said that if these poor souls aren't put out of their mercy before they lose all of what makes them human, they begin to shift into something indescribable...
Those who side with Labukas lose their human names immediately, deepening the disconnect between their two lives. If they are called by it, they'll remember, but it won't feel as if it belongs to them and they'll promptly forget it a moment later. Most choose to fashion their own working names or adopt the nicknames their comrades call them.
Over time, servants of Labukas also lose their memories of their very reason for fighting, as a preventative measure to keep them from being swayed to the darkness. Without desires, Nelabasis has no bargaining chips. However, apathy and depression become very real problems.
If they're a good guy, they're obligated to use their powers to destroy the enemy and banish evil. Breaking this rule by harming innocents or acting selfishly has serious consequences - they will lose their powers and all memories of having served under Labukas forever. The exception to this is if they are approached once more to form a second contract, but this is said to have occurred perhaps twice before and the costs are very dear and very high. This is the only "way out" for those who side with Labukas, but should not be taken lightly.
If they're a bad guy, they have only to use their powers to hasten entropy. Their power ebbs and flows depending on how widespread the chaos and destruction becomes. Killing innocents in the streets is helpful but not required - relatively discreet acts such as a string of arsons can also rack up points. There is no way out for those who side with Nelabasis except death.
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P O W E R S
So, what does your character get out of all this? Power, of course, to make a difference in the world - or shape it to match Nelabasis's ruined vision. You cannot have a power without swearing an Oath to one of the Powers that Be. No exceptions allowed.
Powers and fighting are not huge parts of this roleplay. Certainly not the focus. They are merely a vehicle for plot, metaphors for your character and ways to play with the overarching themes in the game. That doesn't mean coming up with them can't be fun or won't add a lot to your character.
Pretty much any power you can dream up, your character can have - anything from elemental powers to time-travelling to magical weapons is welcome. The powers a character receives are often related to their desire or reason for fighting; for example, a desire to cure someone may grant enhanced regenerative abilities. You will have to run your idea by the mods before your character is approved, so be thoughtful and thorough!
In the efforts of keeping things balanced, while you're coming up with your character's powers, please keep in mind the powers of their allies and enemies. Ideally, entering the game, your character will already have a check - someone on the other side who could potentially take your character out. You should easily be able to see how others could exploit weaknesses or match them blow for blow. Remember that your character will be part of a faction, if not a team. Even if they decide to go the lone-wolf route, keeping this in mind will help keep battles even and interesting in the future.
Giving powers suitable limits can help with this. Some good ones are time limits (on the stamina of your character or duration of the ability), range (how close or far your character is to their opponent, or the range of their power's influence), speed and accuracy.
If you can't think of any limits, try weaknesses. Everyone knows the elemental rock-paper-scissors game, but weaknesses can also come from the character's personality. Their fears, morality and experience all make for good ones. For example, the average untested, flailing noob won't be using their lethal powers to kill until they build up the proper fighting resolve. Most new (emotionally balanced xD) contractors should at least have this basic weakness.
If you're looking for ideas, www.superpowerlist.com is a good place to start!
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T H E P O W E R S T H A T B E
Both powers do not much care for their servants, or involve themselves in their day-to-day lives. They will drop in on rare occasions, often to watch over important battles impassively. Much like the gods of old, they are to be feared and respected. They do not love or show mercy, and bestow powers onto their servants much like a lord would equip their serfs with weapons during wartime. All humans are expendable... some more so than others.
Of the two, Nelabasis interacts more closely with his servants. It's a necessity when you go around granting the pathetic wishes of mortals, after all. Of course, Nelabasis is insincerity personified. All he wishes for is death, and he will go to any lengths to ensure this is carried out on the largest scale possible, even if his own servants are caught in the fray. While Nelabasis will say whatever he has to to get humans to swear a binding Oath to him, their sanity is fair game afterwards. He is wont to purposely misinterpret wishes, and give well-meaning people lethal powers just to see if they'll snap one day and take a lot of people with them. When his servants sell their souls to heal or protect others, he often waits for just the right moment to show himself to worried or grieving relatives and ask them to form contracts. His tests try the limits of his servants, the way a child tests the strength of a new toy by tugging on its parts. If something gives way, it doesn't surprise him all that much.
He is the fire starter. He sets fire to the kindling already present in people, and plays with the flames and even cinders until there is nothing left.
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G A M E M E C H A N I C S
There are three types of posts that can be made: action, video, and voice. Action posts involve characters speaking and interacting face to face, and is the format we will most often be playing in. Video and voice posts are made using phones, which allow for video and voice chatting and broadcasting. Phones like these are widely used, except among the poorest of Prism's inhabitants, and can be purchased in most stores.
Posting format is in prose, unless you're doing video or voice posts. In these cases, comments can be a mix of "comment spam" (speech only) and action brackets if you prefer it. In general, all should be posted to the main community. Video and voice posts may take place on your character's journal instead if they are one-on-one conversations or address more "personal" subjects (i.e. character development is happening).
Posts are tagged by character, and events and post-events have their own individual tags. Simply list your character's full name (pro-entropy) or contract name (order) when tagging.
Playercesting happens when one player is in full control of two or more characters in a single thread. In a small game like this, it's allowed to a certain degree when another player is also present in the thread. For example, Player A plays Character A and Character B, and Player B plays Character C- this is allowed. What is not allowed is Player A playing Character A and Character B in the same thread, alone. If possible, try and avoid playercesting in general unless plot demands it.
Battles are largely left up to the players. Please remember the rules against godmodding and metagaming (having your character know things they shouldn't know, such as out-of-character information you as the player know) when you play out fights. Please treat your opponent and their character with respect and fairness.
Since battles with this kind of freedom are new to the mods as well, we will be keeping a close eye on them. It may take some time before players know their limits, and the mods know what hard rules we have to set. Please be patient with us while we figure out a system that works.
Yes. There are characters (ex: Epoch) with powers that may be able to bring your character back from the dead - provided everything goes smoothly and without a hitch. There is still a chance you will not be able to revive your character if he or she should die in-game, in battle or otherwise. Please be aware of this, and make your decision carefully.
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B A T T L E S
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P L O T T I N G
There is an emphasis on player-run plot in this game. We want everyone to feel welcome in suggesting plot ideas, and to play with the setting and explore conflicts between the characters. This goes from making up a location in the city and having your character move in, tossing your character into a battle that doesn't have the fate of the world at stake, coming up with a rumor that just so happens to be real, etc.
This doesn't mean there will be any shortage of pre-determined plot though. With each new event, it's hoped that both the individual characters and factions will react in various ways, and decide to take action in various ways. I'll then try to steer those splintered groups towards the conclusion (answer) they need to find. So, while the "end" of the game has been decided to a certain extent, the events that lead up to it are entirely in the hands of the players. Basically, you can decide which trail of breadcrumbs you want your character to follow in pursuit of the truth. They'll all lead in more or less the same direction, but the flavors they'll lend to each character's story will be very different. /food metaphors
In order to give you as much free-reign as possible, many of the areas in Prism, and politics and history behind the city have been left hazy. It's your job to fill in the blanks of your character's relationships with the world so far, and take advantage of them to weave them further into the overall plot. Most character-driven plots should be allowed, as long as they don't interfere with the major events of the story. There's always the chance that a subplot revolving around a few characters can escalate and become relevant to the overall plot, though, so it's important that you speak with the mods about any subplots you want to introduce.