First of all, we launched the Kronocalypse Kickstarter campaign yesterday. If you haven’t done so, go check it out! Now on to the design blog.
Roleplaying games have some pretty fantastic locations, from floating cities to crystal forests. Though it turns out Earth has some pretty cool locations too. Some of them are so cool that I had to incorporate them into the Kronocalypse setting.
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In previous blog posts, I’ve talked about Magic and Miracles in Kronocalypse. Today I’ll talk about the Arcane Background of the future: cybernetics.
Arcane Background? But in the Sci-Fi Companion, don’t they have rules for cybernetics already?
Yes, they do. So why reinvent the wheel? A few reasons. First and foremost I want cybernetics to be part of the character concept, not just another item you purchase. Also I want characters to be able to start with some cybernetics. The prices in the Sci-Fi Companion are beyond the reach of a starting character. I could lower the price, but if I did that, it would be too tempting for everybody to just load up on cybernetics as soon as they can afford them. I also don’t want Kronocalypse to center on finding loot to buy cool stuff. (You’ll see that philosophy again when I talk about how we handle relics in Kronocalypse). Continue reading
As I’ve mentioned before, two major goals of Kronocalypse are making each era feel like a compelling setting by itself, and at the same time making them feel like a unified whole. Last time we looked at the details of one era, the steam age, so today we’ll looking at one of the elements that binds the ages together: Mobius.
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.
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.
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
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what gives miracles its own flavor in Kronocalypse. Today we’ll take a look at miracle’s sister arcane background: magic.
Like miracles, magic is available to characters from the stone age and iron age. Rather than harnessing the spirits, however, mages study arcane spells and rituals to manipulate the world around them.
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
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
In a previous design blog I talked about how one design goal for Kronocalypse is that each era could be a compelling setting on its own.
While the settings could stand on their own, another important design goal is for the different eras to feel connected and seem like the history of a living world. Continue reading