Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spark: Hellfire Empire

Last Monday we did world-building and character creation for Spark. I figure I should write this stuff down. +Jason Pitre, you might be interested in this.

We have three players (+Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Matthew Homentoasty, and +Dirty Heart) plus me as GM.

We start off picking pieces of media that we find interesting. Sarah picks Angel. Michelle picks Hozier's album. Matt picks Young Avengers, the graphic novel. I pick In Bruges.

Next we go around and say why we like those things. Sarah likes Angel's focus on making hard choices, being forced to choose between two options and take the one that sucks less. Matt likes the comic book's focus on figuring out who you are while doing big things like saving lives. Michelle likes the imagery of death, identity, and mortality. I just think Colin Farrell is hot like the ethereal, weird, old-Europe vibe of In Bruges.

Step three: We figure out our genre. We talk a bit about time period and how to translate what we like into a game, and come up with "Steampunk Superhero."

The next step is to establish facts about the setting. We go around the table a few times and come up with the following:


  • Demons hide among us. 
  • Demonic magic put out the sun. 
  • Streets are lit by green hellfire. 
  • There is life beyond death (ghosts and zombies exist). 
  • The demons are trying to take over the kingdom; there's an impending demon regime.
  • Steamtech is non-demonic; it's a purely human invention. 
  • Queen Mona clings to her Empire (the demons haven't gotten her out yet).
  • Demons are trying to take over by marriage. 
Now we need a title for our series; we come up with Hellfire Empire

Next step: Setting beliefs. Everyone contributes two, and then I pick three that I like best. 

Sarah gives us Royals rule by Divine right and No good or evil, only shades of grey.
Michelle gives us People should keep to their own and Will conquers all.
Matt gives us God is dead and The demons will vanish with the sun
I contribute The dead should stay dead and Steamtech is obsolete

Now I pick three that I want to see represented in the game. I pick Steamtech is obsolete, the demons will vanish with the sun and royals rule by divine right

Next step: I rank attributes. Four attributes, Body, Heart, Mind, and Spark, and the higher ranked one is the one that will show up the most. Since this is going to be a superhero game, I put Body high (d10), with Heart and Mind at d8 and Spark at d6. 

Back to the group: We create Factions. First we just name them: Sarah gives us "the Queen's Demons," Michelle gives us "Artificer's Guild," I give us "Backalley Runners" and Matt gives us "the Beelzebub Club." But then we go around and list a mandate for each one, and get "We just want to be free", "Control steamtech and meld it with demon magic", "information is the only currency" and "drive the demons back," respectively. 

And then Faces for the factions, with two Strengths and a Weakness. Master James Harlock is the Face of the Artificer's Guide; he's Resolute and Canny, but Prideful.

Father Liam is the Face of the Beelzebub Club. He's got Holy Relics and he's Patient, but he's Stubborn. 

Garth Zelling is the Face of the Backalley Runners. He's Personable and he's got Lots of Information, but he's Anemic. 

Agamemnon is the Face of the Queen's Demons. He Appears Wholly Human and he's the Queen's Secret Lover, but he's a Known Pacifist. 

We create ties between the Factions, and decide that the Backalley Runners have a non-aggression pact with the Queen's Demons and the Beelzebub Club. The Queen's Demons are allied with the Artificer's Guild, and the Beelzebub Club is violently opposed to the Queen's Demons. 

And finally, we create Agendas, one for each Faction. The Artificer's Guild is trying to display their new Hellfire Engine. The Beelzebub Club wants to Destroy said Engine. The Backalley Runners want to Learn the Truth About the Engine. And the Queen's Demons want to demonize Sally Graham, one of the Queen's advisers. 

Whew. With all that in mind, the players make their characters. 

  • Matt makes Nameless Yutz, a science rebel. His Beliefs are: the Divine is absent, the gold standard is still present, and the demons will leave; steam remains.
  • Sarah gives us Brigid Bardel, a sleeper demon sent to sway Sally. Her Beliefs: Human culture is more free and enlightened than demon culture; blending demonic power with steamtech melds the best of both worlds; separate but "equal"
  • Michelle's character is Amelia Marx, a techgnostic rebel. Her Beliefs are the people control the means of production, the queen cannot rule without the will of the people, God is irrelevant
There's more to do with characters, but it was getting late and we decided to leave off the personal connections until next time to help everyone get into character. Looking interesting!