Thursday, June 21, 2012

Western Baronies: The Ko'Manna

Wow, it's been a while since I talked about my fantasy-western setting, The Western Baronies. Some people asked me about it, so I'm putting up more new information about the setting, starting with the part of it that's the most sensitive to deal with.

You see, every western setting needs Indians to go with the cowboys. But making a caricature of real-world Native Americans is about as palatable as the way most Gothic-horror settings add in gypsies without thinking about the connection to the real-world Roma people. Still, it's tough to write about western expansionism without talking about the oppression and destruction of native peoples. As long as the analogues to Native Americans are portrayed as complex and deep rather than walking "red man" stereotypes, I think it's possible to write that sort of thing without offering offense to anyone--and to ask interesting questions about right and wrong in the context of imperialism.

As well, the Ko'Manna offer an intriguing opportunity to create a cross-cultural pollination that didn't occur on a large scale in the real world, with people from the imperial side joining the natives en masse. This also gave me the chance to add something to the setting that isn't seen often even in Western games set in some version of the real world: Mormons. That is to say, a religious group that has a strange and complicated relationship with both the imperialist side and the native side of the struggle, and isn't entirely accepted by either.

For some other interesting portrayals of this question, I thoroughly recommend Totems of the Dead for Savage Worlds and the excellent Dogs in the Vineyard.

With that said, here are the native folk of the land the invaders call Marikuhl...



Though they are widely regarded as the natives of the west, the Ko’Manna and their many tribes are more properly eastern folk, driven beyond the Corundum Mountains by the colonization of Galatea seven hundred years ago.

Originally, the Ko’Manna lived in the forested hills and low mountains of eastern Galatea. They had dwelled there since time immemorial—the Ko’Manna keep only verbal records of their history—and had learned to live in harmony with the land and its natural resources. Their technology was primitive by the most generous of standards, utilizing stone tools in their lifestyle of hunting and gathering. Most tribes subsisted on the land in a basic fashion, wandering across their territory and occasionally trading with other tribes. While tribes sometimes fought over resources, such conflicts never blossomed into anything that might be considered a war.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sound the Guns!

Over on the Goodman Games forums, they were discussing adding guns to your fantasy campaign, and there were people adding in that guns should be super-rare or super-expensive or super-lethal. It occurred to me that I had never gotten to rant about my feelings about this particular treatment of guns in fantasy, so I let it all out. And here's my thoughts about it, reposted in blog form:

My great complaints about fantasy worlds that decide to introduce firearms are the ideas that firearms:

1) follow the exact same form of development as in the real world;

2) are more powerful than existing weapons; and

3) are ridiculously expensive (usually to "balance out" how much more powerful they are than standard weapons).

Monday, June 4, 2012

No Cure for the Summertime Blues

Since last we left our intrepid hero, he graduated from college, got accepted into graduate school, and found a summer job. What does the future hold for our plucky freelancer?!

I'm not sure at this point, but it's definitely been tough to submit any work to anybody. The good news is that it looks like the Hellfrost d20 stuff is finally coming out this fall. It's always nice to see something you worked really hard on coming out. I'd like to be doing more work now that I have the free time, but these days it seems to be Kickstarters all the way down. My novel project didn't go so well, but part of that is because I don't think I really understood how to make a successful Kickstarter at the time. I've got a few ideas for RPG projects that would work well for the system, but I still need to refine them a bit more.

It looks like I'll actually be able to run Savage TORG again starting this fall as well. Much props to HawaiianBrian for coming up with the original Savage TORG conversion that forms the basis for my games.

I'm really grooving on several new games right now too. My love for Mistborn continues unabated, especially now that the fantastic guys over at Crafty Games got out the revised version of the pdf. I'll hopefully be picking up my hardcopy at GenCon and getting it signed by Brandon Sanderson. He's a fantastic author and a lovely person; I got to meet him earlier this year at Joseph-Beth Bookstore here in Lexington, where he signed my Mistborn novels. I'm looking forward to getting him to sign the RPG as well.

I also really like the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game from Margaret Weis Productions. I was always a little turned off by Cortex. It seemed like Savage Worlds with the fun surgically removed. The Cortex+ system on the other hand is made of raw, unrefined awesome. Cam Banks is a wonderful designer, and if I could ever work with him I would consider it one of the highlights of my career. MHR has a beautifully narrative structure and a neat dice pool mechanic.

In the category of "Games I didn't think I'd like but wound up quite enjoying," I'm going to mention the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. I thought it was just another old-school clone building off the nostalgia-bomb movement of the OSR, but it's really a lot more than that. The best way I can describe DCC is as if a gamer from 1977 had been mystically transported to 2012, given a crash-course on modern game design, and set loose in an art gallery populated entirely by heavy metal cover art. By which I mean, the game is shockingly awesome and genuinely revels in its old-schoolness without being just another old-school clone. It does some genuinely original things with its design philosophy, and does so while capturing the roots of the gaming hobby. More than that, it's a 480-page book chock full of art. I loves me some games with lots of art, especially good art.

Hopefully, I can get back to posting regularly now that I don't have the insanity of senior year pressing down on me, so watch this space for future updates.