(Re)Destroy/(Re)Build (credit goes to Vegedus at snafu-comics.com in the Role Playing forum)
“I woke up from a dream, yet my eyes see only nightmares. Corpses in the streets and a shrieking red maelstrom where the sky is supposed to be. The world itself seems to be dying and nothing really makes sense. Today, I accidentally walked into someone’s memories, nearly killed her as a child. I never thought I’d miss the laws of physics being consistent this much. The voice tells me to fight, to destroy this broken world and the last ones in it and I’ll be able to create a new one. One without senseless suffering like this, perhaps. I shouldn’t believe it, but my gut tells me otherwise. When I unlocked my power, instinctively, I knew I was born for this.”
- The setting is our modern day world, struck by a supernatural calamity, killing all but a handful of all living beings in the entire cosmos. Reality is slowly dissolving, allowing a new universe to be born, in a cycle that has supposedly been going on forever. This new world will be designed according only to a single vision and the survivors are to determine which it’ll be.
- It’s a sorta action-intrigue kind of game. The characters have awesome powers and the most straightforward way of accomplishing their goals is to kill the others. However, it’s not the only way, diplomacy, mindfucking and backstabbing also being quite effective. PvP is to be expected, either way. Drama, angst and general roleplaying faffing about is also encouraged. Really, it’s about whatever the characters do, because...
- It’s a sandbox game. There’s no pre-written plot. As a GM I have a couple of characters meant for stirring shit up and a couple mysteries up my sleeve, but no plot, no sequences you have to go through. All the characters have a central goal they should pursue with vigor, and how they go about it, and what they do in between, is the story. I’ll do some of it, but you’re still largely in charge of interesting things happening in and around your character.
- There’s a resolution system in play, so fights aren’t won by whoever posts most aggressively. It’s based on the concept of “no guts, no glory”; a risk has to be taken for anything to be accomplished. Inversely, you can’t lose something you haven’t risked. I’ve tried to keep it simple and non-intrusive and it can be bypassed entirely if people would rather not deal with it.
- The concept is heavily inspired by the videogame Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, and a little by the others in the series as well. There’s lots of differences though and the game isn’t canon or required knowledge or anything. If you have played it, you’re free to draw as much inspiration as you want from it.
A ritual older than time was enacted and the end of the world came swiftly. The sky turned in a red, swirling vortex and all life started dying in a matter of moments. Billions of people fell dead immediately, at best letting out a scream first. You watched this, catched a glimpse of building contorting and changing size, shadows coming alive and reality itself destabilizing before blacking out. In your unconscious mind a voice spoke to you. It explained how the destruction of the universe had been set in motion. How it was a necessary step in the rebuilding of a new one. And how you could be the one to rebuild it according to your own vision, as a god incarnate. This vision, this burning flame for change is the only reason you are still alive, one in a billion. You are not alone, however. There are others with visions just as strong. They will have to persuaded to your way of thinking or be killed. The new universe cannot be created until then. Your weapons have been readied. Reality, fickle as it this close to the end, can be bent to your will, your soul’s strength materialized. The rest is up to you.
The game takes place in New York, simply because it’s a big city that most of us are somewhat familiar with. It’s also the eye the storm, the most stable place in a deteriorating world, though that doesn’t say much. Like everything else, the earth is steadily dissolving. At the start of the game, the points farthest from New York, which is Australia, is effectively gone, and the rest is going too. Keep in mind though, reality is not consistent, walk through a door and you may find yourself seemingly on another place on earth. Your character can also come from anywhere, and be in New York for specific or mystical reasons or for no reason at all. The city streets are littered with corpses, well-preserved and lifeless in a doll-like manner, though there are also many who are conspicuously clean. It’s dark everywhere because the sun is not visible anymore, instead there is the fluctuating, red glow from the vortex and the occasional working street lamp. Like everything, electricity is inconsistently working in some places and not others. While the major streets and landmarks most lodged into the worlds subconscious look like themselves, odd things and places can be found in every alley. What I’m trying to say is, that it is your world too and you may fill in what you like, as long as it matches the overall theme.
The game will start one day after the calamity started. This is to kickstart things a bit so we don’t have to spend more time than needed on “omg, this is horrible!”. “omg, I haz special power?” and “omg, nothing makes sense!”. Basically, your character already knows what’s going on to the detailed here and the shock may have lessened a bit. Wangst is still good though and your character may still be finding their sea-legs, if you think that’s interesting. It’s just so we can skip past a bit of the unnecessary set-up and exposition. Your character may also have been sleeping for all of that time, if you do think the “reveal” is interesting. Alternatively, you can always do flash-backs. It’s also enough time you may have met some of the other characters already, but you should state it explicitly in your character sheet if you have.
What you can always do
The rules come into play when you enter into a conflict with another character and during special, player-initiated challenges, and only then. For all other parts of the game, you say what happens and that is what happens. So yeah, you can go scaling up the sides of buildings, invent parts of the landscape or one-shot random monsters, without me stopping you. You should not fuck with physics in a way your characters power does not enable you to, but since the setting itself is messed up, there’s a certain amount of leeway to be had by detailing your surroundings instead. Gravity might be weaker or tilted in an area, the food you’re eating might last you for days somehow and there might just be a convenient hole in space to escape through. You can just declare this and it’ll be true. What you cannot do, however, is dictating anything about what happens to another character than your own. Not without using the conflict resolution rules.
When you enter into conflict with another character, the rules kick in. As mentioned, it works both as a safety net, and an encouragement to risk it all and win some fights, dammit. Conflicts can be of any nature: physical fights, social, trying to convince someone to join your cause, a mind battle, who can sprint the fastest, whatever. The players involved are the ones that decide when something counts as a conflict, and initiates it themselves. The only requirement is that two characters is in direct opposition, having opposite goals. It’s probably most suited for combat, and while I think it’ll work well for social intrigue also, it’s perfectly fine if people would rather just “talk it out”. The rules will often get you further in terms of the game’s overall goal though (or further away if you lose, heh).
At any point, anyone can identify they are now in a conflict. First, they’ll do the usual thing and post something about what their character does, probably something drastic like throwing the first punch. Then, in spoiler tags at the end of their post they should detail two things: Their risks and style bonuses. Risks are what you are willing to let happen to your character, mostly in the case that you lose. Bigger risks means higher bonuses which help your odds of winning. You cannot enter into a conflict without risking anything. When one player has posted their risks, the other player should respond in kind, posting first how their character responds and their chosen risk. Then either I or the players roll two ten-sided dice for each combatant, adding in the bonuses, and the higher sum wins. More on this later. Each player should then follow up with a post detailing the consequences of the roll. The winning player generally have the right to describe the infliction of the risks the loser chose. If they risked serious bodily harm, the winner is allowed to describe how they beat up the losers character, badly. They can also let the precise effects of some of them be up to the other part, as might be appropriate with mental risks and such. The loser has the right to describe how the conflict ends, whether they surrender, flee in haste or just leave in a huff, unless one of their risks specifically dictates how the fight should end. In its most compact form, a conflict takes four posts, but can be longer. Not all risks have to be taken right away, but can be “built” up over multiple posts. For instance, the initiator can add to their risks if the opponent bids much higher. The resolution after can also be done in multiple posts, the ultimate outcome is just set in stone when the dice are rolled.
Below is the standard lists of risk you can take. They’re divided into categories of how much of a bonus it gives you. +1 is awarded for bad, but not debilitating stuff that can mended, +2 is something lasting or particularly nasty, +3 is something incapacitating that puts you at the mercy of your opponent and +6 radical, permanent change of the character, death and what’s worse. You can at max take enough risks to get a total bonus of +10, and you take max 2 risks in the +1 category, max 1 from all the others. The list goes:
+1: Temporary Setbacks
- Losing a very useful, but not significant item
- Serious fatigue, needing rest for most of remaining day
- Serious embarrassment and disreputation, in ones own eyes and others
- Question your own beliefs
- Gain respect for the specific opponent/change your view of them
- Power exhausted, completely unusable for 24 hours
- Accidentally hurt an ally or innocent
- A small, but nagging injury or mental trauma (-1 in your next conflict)
+2: Lasting Hurt
- Losing a personal, unique and important item, to your opponent if they wish
- Conceding to any reasonable demands of your opponent
- Minor mental breakdown, impacted self-confidence or rationality for an indefinite duration
- Power unstable and dangerous for a long while (essentially giving me, the GM license to fuck with it and you)
- A fixable, but serious injury or trauma, like heavy blood loss or temporary insanity (-2 in your next conflict)
- A permanent injury or trauma, like a crushed bone or a new phobia (-1 in all conflicts, unless you get someone else capable to mend it)
+3: Losing the Fight
- Surrender, on their terms
- Concede to their way of thinking
- Incapacitated, knocked out cold
- Captured, to be dealt with later
- Bleeding out, dead without help
- A part of yourself, like a limb, or your power, gone forever.
+6: Lose Yourself
- All but a slave to their opponent, bound to follow their every command
- Mind forever broken and lost track of your goal, catatonic or insane
- Subsumed by your own power, integrated in the fabric of the current universe
- Dead, your corpse the foundation of the next universe
This is not a complete list, you can, and I hope you will, make up your own risks along the way. What makes sense will often depend on the specific situation. Like, if you know your opponent wants something specific from you, risk that. It’s good sport. These are mainly examples so you know what categories they should fit into. Note that the math works out so that you gain a pretty sizeable advantage by taking more risks than your opponent, but it’s never completely unlikely you will lose. The most important thing rule though, is you may never inflict something on your opponent that they have not risked, or you have not won the right for yet. You may not inflict serious wounds on another character (cuts, bruises and flesh wounds should be fine), you may not kill a character you have captured, before winning the right to do exactly that. The rules expect some degree of gentlemanly conduct from you.
Conflict Resolution Detailed
So, you write about post where you duke it out, decide what risks you’re willing to take. You post them in spoiler tags at the end of your post like so:
Or similar. You also post it in the OOC if you prefer, and it’s not crowded that day. Once all involved in the conflict have posted all the risks, the dice have to be rolled. I can do that for you, or you can do it yourself to speed things up. Either way, the rolling is done via this website. Input your character’s name, roll 2d10 plus your total bonus. The site saves the rolls so they can be looked up later, so there’s no cheating. Whoever has the highest sum is the winner, and has the right to make true all the risks the loser took. They can do however many of them they want, them all, or just a select few, if they wish. If the difference of the two results are less or equal to 3 (20 and 17 for instance), the loser may inflict one +1 or +2 category risk on the winner, as a consolation prize. If the two results are exactly equal, both may inflict ALL +1 or +2 category risks on the other, and can then either start a new conflict or solve it in a more civil manner. As mentioned, the winner has the right to make the risks come true, but take advantage of the OOC thread and communicate, discuss which specific outcomes are the most fun and such. You also never HAVE to inflict all the risks as the winner, you can chose which ones you make happen. Fights with multiple opponents work just the same, it people are in “teams”, on team can win, otherwise there’s always only one winner. Someone who rolled higher than one but lower than another is still effectively a loser, but may help in realizing the risks of those with lower sums.
Hopefully this all makes sense. There’s one other thing you can do with the rules, called challenges. If you’re ever bored, you can end your post (or post in the OOC) with “Challenge” in spoiler tags. When you do this, I, as the GM, will follow up by making your characters life... Interesting. I’ll throw monsters, falling-rubble, spontaneous black holes or something else at you. Then I’ll post in spoilers a target number you have to beat. You’ll do the usual thing and post your characters actions and chosen risks. The roll happens and if the roll is less than the target, I get to act on your risks. Equal to, or above, and nothing bad happens, and something good might. Roll 3 or more above the target number, and you at least get a +1 to your next conflict or challenge, but challenges might also provide opportunities, for instance for healing, but it varies.
Challenges are really the only way in which I’m a traditional GM. If no-one is initiating challenges, I’ll just play my characters and adjudicate the rules. Otherwise, you’re in charge of things happening. If you ever can’t figure out what you should do, put in the challenge flag, and something will come to you. Alternatively, you can put in “Challenge (no dice)” and there won’t be any risks taken or dice rolling business, but still dangers and opportunities coming at you.
A conflict is any time you are in direct opposition with another character. Post in spoiler tags at the end of your post the risk you are willing to take. Max +10 in risks can be taken, and max one from every category, except for +1, where it’s 2.
Your opponent will do the same. Keep posting until you both have all the risks and bonuses you want. Roll 2d10 plus your bonus via this website or signal me to do it for you. The one with the highest roll may inflict all the others risks taken on them. If the difference between the two sums are less than four, the loser may also inflict a +1 or +2 risk on the winner. In a draw, both can inflict all such on the other.
If you’re ever in doubt about what to do in the game, post “Challenge!” in spoilers and I’ll throw something interesting and/or dangerous at you.
Note that I’m taking a “less is more” approach to the character sheets, and really, the game in general. That means a longer CS isn’t a better one. What matters is you make an interesting character with just a bit of complexity to them. Those that enjoy writing lots for its own sake are of course allowed to do so, but no one else should feel pressured to pad their CS just to make it longer.
Name: (A real world name please, unless your character has deliberately decided to forego that in the current situation and wants to be known as the dark knight or whatever)
Quote: (Something they would say, that gives a good glimpse at their character. It matters a lot whether it’s a quote from after or before the calamity, the latter should be something a real person would say. After, in case you haven’t noticed, people might be going a little crazy.)
Background: (Whatever you feel is important about their life from before the event, perhaps also what they’ve been doing on the day after. This stuff is only really important in the way it ties into their personality, relates to the other characters or their vision, so you don’t have to go into all too much detail.)
Personality: (Keep in mind, real life people, both having some character flaws and strengths without being too extreme about either is appreciated. You should focus mostly on who they are after the calamity, how they intend to act now. Keep it short, focused, don’t detail more characters aspects than you can juggle in play. NOTE: Your character has to somehow be a “doer” type. They have to be passionate and committed to their vision enough that they’re willing to actively pursue it. Perhaps reluctantly or cowardly, and passion can easily smolder rather than burn, but your character has to be able to get shit done one way or another, or they simply won’t work in the game. Really, they would be dead already.)
Vision: (Perhaps the most important part of the CS. Your character has a vision for a new universe. The vision can take many forms: It can be political (f.rex. a world where communism actually works), relating to life itself (all life in state of constant happiness or where all life is one organism, made of many minds) or the shape of reality (a universe consisting only of simple shapes, with intuitive laws of physics). Having a very radical or abstract vision is encouraged, we’re building realities from scratch here. Though, your vision may also develop over the course of the game, you don’t have to detail here exactly what the new world is going to look like, just what your character cares most about changing. Also, your vision need not be specifically heroic or villainous, it should be what your character believes is best for the world. The winner gets to decide what is right and what is wrong.)
Power: (So, you have some sort of power to bend reality, since it’s very bendy right about now. There’s no real limits to what this can be, but there are some requirements. Your power should be a minimum of one of these:
- Deeply personal, closely relating to your vision or personality. A power that is a direct extension of yourself, of your soul. That’s where the power comes from.
- Tightly linked to the game’s themes, being uncanny, disturbing, bloody, mindfucking, dark or surrealistic. Fuck with reality in destructive ways, punch holes in space that won’t mend.
- Very creative, cool and diverse in its use.
Aiming for all three is great, of course. You’ll really have to impress me to get the last one, though. The power should obviously not be godmode and overpowered, but the rules are partly there to ensure you can lose no matter your power, and it should definitely be powerful. Your power doesn’t have to be applicable to fighting, but its a significant choice if it isn’t, though a gun is still a handy backup. You only have one power, one area of reality you can mess with, but you can detail numerous sub-powers that follow from the overall one. Also, give it a cool title.)
Appearance: (In broad strokes. Size, build and distinguishing features. Do introduce yourself in-game too, this is just for reference.)
Name: Carrie Phillips
Quote: “The end is a foregone conclusion. Regret is wasted energy. Only the next world matters now.”
Background: The Rebuilders. An ancient cult or guild of people, stretching far back through all of human history. A few chosen ones, granted the knowledge of the cyclical nature of the universe: That each end and is created by the will of the living. Therefore also granted insight into the malleability of reality and given the power to end the world, although ‘when’ was never for them to decide. Carrie was born into this fellowship and has dedicated her entire life to them. She was taught since childhood that individual lives mean nothing compared to the fate of both the current universe and the next. Her day job was as an economist and day-trader, but most of her time was spent in the inner circle of the Rebuilders. High enough up in the hierarchy that she was privy to the their most well-kept secrets, but she only commanded a sub-section of the New York branch of the order. It was not on her orders that the calamity was started, but she helped plenty in making it happen. She had imagined the true leaders of the Rebuilders would survive, being full well prepared to die for the end, yet here she is, chosen to fulfill their glorious vision.
Personality: Every social skill Carrie has, was trained. She never had any interest in people, she was simply meant to lead and manage them. She can be friendly and caring, but only if she deems it advantageous in the current situation. Otherwise, she is cold and unflinching and could give less than two shits about anyone elses reasons. But she is not brainwashed. She is smart, dedicated and strong-willed, and does what she does out of her own volition. And it is unwise to stand in her path.
Vision: The official goal of the Rebuilders, taught to most of the membership, was creating a world of great cooperation, where no one was lonely. Where no living being could survive without help and sociopaths would go extinct. Carrie was part of the inner circle, and knew better. The vision had been the same for thousands of years: A tranquil, eternally peaceful universe, without the possibility of life. A horrible prospect to most people, no doubt, but life only see life from its own perspective. Death is only painful before it is. A universe without life would be free of pain. Who can fear it when they are already dead? Human morality must come to the same conclusion: The potential to create life is not mandated, is not a moral obligation, society forces no one to sire kids. Why should the new universe be any different?
Whether a universe without life can re-start the cycle, destroying and rebuilding that universe is unknown, both to Carrie and the Rebuilders, but it matters little. There will be no one to regret it should it not.
Power: Wings of Erasure
Carrie harnesses the power of the calamity, the end, itself. She can delay, accelerate or redirect the dissolving of the world. With little effort she can strategically cut chunks of the city out of reality, although with little precision either. With more effort, things can be unmade retroactively, removing them from the flow of time and everyones memories. The self-consciousness of living beings tend to be stubborn about being unmade, but some focused effort can do them in too. When precision is needed, she can unleash the six Wings of Erasure from her back. Perhaps more tendrils or blades than wings, they are flexible and extendable and deletes anything they touch. And they’re precise enough to do brain surgery and make you forget everything.
Dean is both a useful tool and a liability. As long as she excludes an authoritative attitude, he seems to do what he is told, but given that he lived through the calamity, Carrie knows his vision differs and she will have to kill him eventually, and he will likely rebel first. His power will prove very useful and his cooperation can all but guarantee her success, so this will have to be delayed for as long as possible. However, she also needs to land the first strike, kill him before he kills her. She is dedicated to keeping both a close watch on him and keeping him at arms length.
The first night after, Carrie had a vision in a dream. A blood-thirsty presence, a sense of something coming for her from afar. In the dream it spoke to her in a language she did not understand. Only picked up it calling itself the Wanderer.
Appearance: Quite tall and thin. Black hair coming down bangs almost covering her eyes face. She looks her age with decent amounts of wrinkles, yet seems full of vitality. Her calm, serious “I will kick your ass” stare is beyond compare. Skin completely white, and wears muted clothing as you’d see on a secretary: tights, black skirt, white striped dress shirt. On her chest a pin, a star with a black hole in it, insignia of the Rebuilders. Another pin above it, a black bar, designating her rank.
Name: Dean Griffin
Quote: “Whatever happens... I can’t let all this be in vain. I can’t just let another universe be built just so it can be just as shitty as this one!”
Background: It was mostly by coincidence Dean learned of the cult of the Rebuilders. A friend of a friend was a member, and deemed him worthy. Dean signed up the moment he learned they could practice real “magic”, and the sense of fellowship and belonging didn’t hurt either. He had talent, but the powers he had then was nothing in comparison to after the calamity. He knew the Rebuilders purpose, that they were really some doom-worshipping cult, but the people themselves were not any loonier for it. They always talked about “the end” as some ancient prophecy, a far-off event, so he always figured it would happen beyond his life-time or not at all. Until the day he saw long-time friends of his, giving their lives willingly to fuel an odd machine. The sky turned red and he expected to die... But didn’t. He was himself surprised at this fact, as he did not much share in the vision the Rebuilders had for a new world order... Although that could be the reason in and of itself.
Personality: Dean is an upstanding and honest youth, who tries his best to do right by all. He’s not terribly great at executing on that, however and is more of a follower than a leader. He’s friendly and attentive and much a people person, but without his friends, he’s a little lost and all of them are dead now. Though he had more warning about the calamity than most, he’s still pretty shook up by the death of all civilization. Trying to turn his grief into grim determination, he’s struggling to find the bravery to fight for his vision.
Vision: Something that grieves Dean almost as much as death of all the world is all the progress done by humankind rendered moot. The world had always been a shabby place with more pain and death than joy, but it was getting better. Through technology and education, humans was making it a better place. And it ended suddenly before it reached it’s pinnacle. Dean wants to create a world of equality. Where there is no competition and enough of everything for everybody. Specifically, through technology. Where people don’t have to go through absurd competitions of life and death as the one he is currently embroiled in. He wants to re-create the world as he thought it might have become, given time.
Power: The God Machine
Dean has control over technology, in the broadest sense of the word. Anything man-made, anything ever designed and constructed, he can create, talk to or control by ordering around. One would be surprised to hear the stories an old fence-post has to tell. All has some small down-sides: Creating takes a little while, and the thing may be unreliable if it's something Dean has little understanding of. Things tend to be pretty dumb, so might not always answer intelligibly or follow orders well. These weaknesses can be mostly alleviated by summoning the god machine: A massive monolith, a mess of technology and tools fused together, a robot or something else entirely. Stepping into it, Dean is protected and can control it directly and let loose any number of attacks. It's highly immobile, however, and tires Dean quickly.
Relation: Carrie was, or is, one of the higher-ups of the Rebuilders. She was a lot more dedicated to their cause than Dean. She could be said to be partly responsible for the calamity. However, Dean used to take orders from her, and still does. Unlike him, she knows what she’s doing. The thought that their visions clash, that he should rebel, has occurred to him, but it doesn’t feel right. The Rebuilders knew what they were doing, he feels like a dumb kid out of his depth in comparison. He had never put that much thought into what a new world should be like. Putting his head down and doing as he’s told seems like a better answer.
Appearance: Tall, short and blonde haired. Reasonably fit, he takes care of his body. Square-jawed and as attractive as any well-kept person his age. He has a distinctive mole on the right side of his nose. Wears a couple of decent, grey jeans and a black and red striped dress shirt. He’s pretty sure it was a different color before the calamity. On his chest a pin, a star with a black hole in it, insignia of the Rebuilders.