Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New RPG Teaser: Gateworld

To begin with, this game is almost certainly not going to be called "Gateworld." That is what we in the biz call a "working title" and it is little more than a placeholder until the proper name strikes the authors. A few thing are certain, though. First, this will be a smallish release of what I anticipate to be 50 pages or so. Second, it will be using the great, cinematic system that is Mini Six by AntiPaladin Games. Finally, if people seem to dig it, it will be followed by 20ish-page supplements that get into things like giant robots, magic, psionics, and specific people and places; the core RPG will be the middle-of-the-road type characters with a general setting. The creative team is kinda up in the air, as one of my colleagues may be too busy to be bothered with this right now, but since the idea of this style of game belongs to Zachary Houghton of RPG Blog II, I suppose I'll have to include him.

Interested? Read this draft of an introduction:

Then and Now: Our History and Future

There’s a lot we don’t know about our world’s history, but we do know one thing: it wasn’t always like this.

A fair amount of information exists in the historical record. Texts, maps, novels, and other depositories of information have been salvaged in solid or electronic form and preserved by those with the means to do so. We understand a great deal of the evolution of our species to become the dominant creatures on the planet, have maintained parts of our cultural and religious identities, and know more than just a little bit about Earth as it existed in the Golden Age before The Fall.

At the apex of its achievements, the world was bursting at the seams with all the prosperity and trappings of the best that life had to offer. The people of that age had worked hard to overcome generations of hatred and fear. Peoples that had once engaged in so-called World Wars learned to work together to promote equality and peace. Hunger and poverty were made things of the past by miracle breakthroughs in the sciences and in the hearts of mankind as a whole. We know that life was good.

We also know that life was soon to get even better. In what was hailed as the greatest breakthrough in an age of breakthroughs, an international team of scientists discovered the secrets of dimensional travel. By utilizing a new technology known as Gateways, small windows in the Space-Time Barrier could be opened between two points. By precisely tuning the dimensional frequency of two of these portals, someone could step into a Gateway in New York and out of the tuned Gateway in London, as easily as stepping over the threshold of his or her own front door. Instantaneous travel was made possible between any two tuned Gateways, anywhere in the world.

Within a year, Gateway Centers existed in every major city in the world. In five years, they overtook air, land, and sea freight as the principle means of transporting goods over long distances. Within a decade, human Gateway Center traffic exceeded airline traffic. Gateway Centers rapidly replaced airports, seaports, and train stations, and were even routinely found in busy industrial and commercial centers, operated by private companies to move people and property more cheaply and conveniently than was ever before possible. 

The collapse of this great and prosperous society is something that we know far less about. Due to the shockingly sudden and violent nature of The Fall, there is precious little written of it in the historical record. Most of what we know is pieced together from what fragments we have from leading up to The Fall, oral tradition, and what we now know about how the Gateways operate.

In a matter of months immediately before The Fall, there was some concern raised over the function of the Gateways. While apparently a tiny minority, these critics pointed to what they perceived as a lack of genuine understanding by the international scientific community about how the Gateways operated. As Gateway use increased, documented variances began to appear in the reliability of the devices. Once instantaneous, a lag began to appear in the passing from one gate to another. This lag, imperceptible to the traveler, varied from a few seconds to a few minutes, and in isolated instances, a matter of hours. This lag did not appear to correlate to any known variable, such as distance traveled, the manufacturer or operator of the Gateways, or the frequency of their use. The 100 percent safety record of Gate travel was also lost when three travelers stepped through a Gateway in Los Angeles bound for Tokyo, but were never seen again.

We know now, in hindsight, that these were the first signs of what we now call Space-Time Fatigue, a phenomenon that would eventually doom the world to its current condition. Sometime in roughly the second decade following the discovery of Gateway travel, critical damage was done to the fabric of Space-Time. The constant and repetitive puncture of this barrier by the establishment of Gates eventually led to the Space-Time Barrier being unable to seal itself, and Gateways began to redirect their destinations to random locations, first to other gates within our own dimension, and then to random, uncontrolled locations across the vastness of all dimensions. These uncontrolled windows through the Space-Time Barrier are what we now commonly know as Breaches. Through these inter-dimensional portals poured alien creatures, other-dimensional beings, and all manner of monsters. Some of these were strange and new to us, while others resembled mythical or historic creatures from our past. Many were as bewildered and helpless as the Earth humans witnessing this flood, while others were clear aggressors with no thought or agenda other than violence. No portion of the planet that we know of was left untouched by The Fall, so widespread were the Gateways and so complete was the loss of their control. Our world was instantly changed, forever.

Now, some unknown centuries later, we stand at another crossroads. In the past hundred years, after ages of anarchy, we have managed to rebuild something of a society from out of the darkness, and carve out small corners of the world where we are relatively safe. Though the natives of this world are still divided, and separated by vast and unrelenting wilderness as well as philosophy and ideology, we are beginning to reestablish ourselves, one day at a time. Even more promising, after generations of study and observation, we finally may have a chance to undo the damage to the Space-Time Barrier done by our forefathers. We now know that it is possible to close these Breaches, these uncontrolled tears in Space-Time, permanently. By repairing and activating a Gateway, we can decipher the frequency of the dimension on the other side. By properly tuning the Gateway, we can regain control of the Breach, and even deactivate it. By this process we can reclaim our dimensional borders, one sealed Breach at a time.

This new hope to tame the savage forces which have controlled our world for untold ages is a very slim hope, but hope nonetheless. We can’t possibly truly know what awaits us in the dangerous zones of inter-dimensional turmoil that surround every Breach. While we have tested our new methods on isolated Breaches found in the ruins of smaller towns and industrial centers, very few of our kind have dared to explore the areas near the ancient Gateway Centers, where Breaches exist by the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, or even the ruins of the cities that surround them. Of those few who have undertaken such a challenge, fewer still have had the courage and strength to survive what they’ve found there. Even those of us who have studied the Gateways and how to use them are less than certain in our abilities. It will be dangerous, but many of us are anxious for the challenge. For the first time in our lives, or even the lives of our great-grandparents and beyond, we can devote ourselves to a purpose other than simply surviving.

I, for one, am ready for the challenge. Are you?

So, what do you think? Seem playable?


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