RunWorld Designer Notes

July 13, 2007
Four Basic Character Concepts

Ok. Time to get this show back underway. RunWorld was the premier setting intended for the story driven RPG system Untold, and so it needs to be restarted (along with Untold and Resistance).

This is going to be a series of "designer notes" dated by the day I wrote them down, detailing ideas that need to be incorporated into the final product. Each note will be a reflection of its given mood, in that some will be hectic and more or less nonsensible and others will be long and drawn out.

The first four things I can think of are in dealing with character creation in a PKD driven universe.

NUMBER ONE: The Average Joe Effect: Since the standard phildickian hero tends to be an everyman, then it should be held that the characters should be the average to which the world maintains, with the vast majority of the antagonists being greater than average. In general, if characters have some military training, then the military will have more. If characters are intelligent, the the world in general will be more so. PKD's stories and novels were not about being able to overpower the enemy but about being able to overcome your enemy.

If one player wants to make a high powered character, or if all players want to unbalance the game, it might be a good time to use "The Truth" against them.

NUMBER TWO: The Quirk: Most PKD characters have something odd about them: a drug addiction, schizophrenia, able to control time in short bursts, telepathy, clairvoyance, depression, visions, and so on. Each character in RunWorld should have quirk appropriate to this game. The quirk is often part of what makes them fit into the current storyline.

NUMBER THREE: The Truth: Characters will have "The Truth" about them which is unknown to them, at least at the story's start. The Truth might be their place in the storyline, it might be something another character is doing is regards to them, it might be something about the character's past. The Truth might be kept small, involving only vague mistakes in a memory of a personal history. The Truth might be the same for all characters, such as one involving virtual reality or some version of an afterlife. In cases where a character tries to power game, The Truth might be an explanation for their stats or their "real" stats might be unknown to them and that is only the perception of what their character is like. During certain crucial roles, when a character is honestly being tested, the real stats are used though no real explanation why a roll that seems successful is a failure will be given.

In a case of a character's The Truth, the uncovering will part of the storyline, and be thought of as a climax for the character.

NUMBER FOUR: The Good: PKD characters tend to be always fighting for a sense of what they consider the good, even if what they think is the good is somehow flawed. This should be reflected in the game. Players can play pricks if the want, but most storylines should generally reflect flawed characters working towards making the world at least "essentially" better.

July 13, 2007 (part 2)
Reality Warping

One other note that needs to be kept into the mindest of playing is that PKD's stories always involve the notion of "perception alters reality". A system sort of like Donjon's excellent system might be slight incorporated. When a really good roll (say a natural 12) shows up, the player gets a chance to say what he or she thinks is going on and the GM fits this suggestion in, as appropriate into the big picture. Likewise, on a natural 2, the GM might introduce a surprise into storyline not nominally hinted at. This would replace criticals.

The basic system would go like this. Say two characters are trying to open a door. While trying to pick the electronic lock, the player rolls a 12. The GM asks the player "What do you think is going on with the lock?" and the player says "Tom (the character) realizes the lock is a fake and the real door is behind the bookcase over there". The GM takes this information in and reveals that the real door is behind the bookcase. But it, too, is locked (though to a lesser degree).

If, however, Tom's player rolled a 2 the GM might interject and say "Tom realizes, after a few minutes of trying to break the code, that the door is older than he thought and this lock is busted. This door has not been used in a long time." Even if this makes a discrepancy in the current storyline (like seeing someone go through that door) this does not necessarily violate PKD-style rules

Written by W Doug Bolden

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