Kronocalypse Design: Evolution of the Steam Age

Of all the ages in Kronocalypse, the Steam Ages has undergone the most evolution during the design process.

I started just knowing I wanted steampunk.

So what images does that conjure up? First the superficial images: clockwork, top hats, goggles. Digging a little deeper, I think steampunk is about the bright side of technology. The telegraph lets us instantly send messages to people across the country, mass production allows us to buy all kinds of new consumer goods, and steam engines enable us to travel around the world in eighty days. Anything us is possible.

final-Half-Page Continue reading

Kronocalypse Design: Humans through the Ages

It all started with the cavemen.

As I fleshed out the eras in Kronocalypse, I decided that humans of the stone age have not developed reading or writing. In Savage Worlds terms, this normally translates into the Illiterate Hindrance. I thought briefly about adding a caveat that while cave people don’t start knowing how to read and write, unless the heroes selects the Hindrance, they learn quickly to do so once they are exposed to written language.

No, I decided. Too complicated. Let’s just give all cave people the Illiterate hindrance.

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Kronocalypse Design: Mindsets

While I was playtesting Broken Earth, the players let me know that they sometimes had a hard time separating their real world knowledge from their character knowledge. It was even harder than in a standard fantasy game, because Broken Earth was set in the real world. For instance, what would somebody born 50 years after the apocalypse make of a robot drone flying overhead? Would want to rebuild a ruined hydroelectric dam?

There’s a lot of details in the Broken Earth book about the various cultures that the heroes might come from, and I could write a lot more. Some players are really into reading these histories, but others just want to show up at the table and roll some dice, so in the end I put together mindset lists for the three communities that the heroes are likely to start in. The bulleted lists highlight the core ideas of what the community are and what somebody from the community believes. Continue reading

Off to Gencon!

I’m leaving for Gencon in a matter of hours. This means there won’t be a Kronocalypse Design blog this Thursday, but we’ll get back on track next week.

If you’ll be at the con, I always enjoy meeting fans. The easiest spots to find me are probably at the Ennie awards, or in the Games on Demand room, where I’ll be Thursday and Friday mornings and Saturday evening.

Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey Stuff

Time travel is a common plot device throughout science fiction. Just about everywhere it appears it follows different “rules.” Sometimes you can change the past, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can change the past unless it’s a “fixed point.” That sort of thing.

Early on I decided I needed to codify some rules for how time travel worked in Kronocalypse, and to do that I needed to decide what the point of time travel was. In no particular order, here are some of the things I wanted to do with time travel.

  • Allow for a range of different hero archetypes from different ages.
  • Create fun mash-ups like cyborg dinosaurs.
  • Create time travel puzzles.
  • Tell an epic story that stretches across the ages.

At the same time I knew I did NOT want time travel to do the following things. Continue reading

Kronocalypse Design: I am Troog!

Through the ages, many sapient races have appeared on Kron. One early design goal was to include different iconic races for each age. The stone age was easy with its dinosaur people. The iron age was even easier with its elves and dwarves.

When it came to the steam age, the first thought was clockwork automatons, similar to Block in Ug See Big Thing that Fly. Automatons are still in, but as I continued to develop the setting, the steam age also developed major colonial themes. The far off continents unknown to the humans of the iron age could have been populated with just another brand of humans, but in the end I decided to create two new races to inhabit the far-off lands. One is a species of humanoid plants called treefolk. (It’s a working name, let me know if you have a better one.) Continue reading