Lair of The Tark
 
Beyond gods is going to be my new project once Gnome is along enough that it doesn't need my complete attention.  Written here is the combined posts of what I've given on the forums already.  More will be added in time but for now this is what I have actually typed.


So while contemplating game chef I got hit with a lightning bolt and started to think about higher beings. Not necessarily gods (though they can be) but entities of extreme power who work on levels of omnipotence. Who form coalitions to protect themselves from the predation of their fellow entities and are every bit as unique as the mortals that fear and worship (and sometimes kill) them.

Gods: Power Source: Belief.
Weakness: Mortal Dependency. Power: Miracles.

Mortal belief is one of the greatest sources of power in the known multiverse. When enough of it coalesces on a single set of ideals and images a god is born. A god is as powerful as any other higher being but rely on the lowest form of entity for their power. Their strength lies in Beliefs power to subvert cosmic law allowing them to break the rules of magic and science within any dominion/universe to serve the needs of their believers or themselves.

Sentient Universes: Power Source: Cosmic Law
Weakness: Decay. Power: Ultimate Dominion

The landlords of the multiverse sentient universes are the supreme beings within their own dominions and are blessedly rare. Most univereses, while incredibly powerful with their own cosmic and physical laws most universes are not self aware or even intelligent. They top all the higher beings in terms of raw power but that power is tempered by the biggest cosmic law of all. "All universes must eventually end." Thus over time their power decays and unless they seek outside means of averting this power loss they soon die.

Avatars: Power Source: Personal Power
Weakness: Semi/potence/prescience/niscience Power: Autonomy.

Avatars represent individual beings, artificial intelligences, powerful magicians or simply those of incredible will, who became higher beings through their own means separate of those of belief or cosmic law. They never have to rely on a secondary source for their power but because they are not innate forces of the multiverse they lack the "omni" portion in one or more of their attributes making them the weakest of the higher beings in terms of raw power. While they all never be destroyed by some indirect means they can easily be overwhelmed by another higher being who takes advantage of their weakness in another area.

Personifications: Power Source: Conceptual Energy
Weakness: Overspecialization Power: Ultimate Portfolio

Personifications represent the anthromorphized entities of concepts. The Sandman, and Death represent a pair of these extraordinarily powerful but narrowly focused beings. They are the ultimate practitioners of teir portfolio (automatic success on any challenge or power struggle in their domain) but suffer on anything else unrelated.

Hive Lords: Power Source: Combined Mortal Energy
Weakness: Power Dilution Power: Energy Division

Hive Lords represent the combined intellectual, spiritual and physical might of an entire mortal race that has grown so much in enlightenment and power that the secrets of life, death, universes, and beyond lay bear before them. They have grown so much in power they are as a single powerful entity. However due to the fact that they are many parts making up a whole they can never bring that full power to bear so while they can be very durable they can never release that power in any single attempt. However this is also a great advantage as an entity can split it's power among many smaller entities becomeing practically impossible to destroy as a parent entity may leave many dormant "children" around the multiverse that will awaken and start to gain in power again when the parent being is destroyed.




These are the kinds of beings that palyers can play. Unlike a lot of god games destruction is a very real threat to the characters and even mortals may accidentally or even purposely harm a character. These beings have actually created the superstition of fate (a complete and utter lie) in order to justify their power over mortals and keep them in check.

The tiers of beings from least powerful to most is as follows:

*Imagine this as a pyramid where the least powerful beings are most numerous with the most powerful being the rarest.

Mortals: Mortals are tiny spraks of energy given form and life. These tiny sparks can change common physical and chemical energy into the most potent and important forms of energy in the universe: belief and spiritual energy. BEcause of this they remain the source of power and worry for all higher beings. Mortals can kill a god by destroying the worshipers or simply not believing in a god. They can weaken or destroy a personification by making the concept from which they are derived irrelevant or non-existent. Mortals can annihilate avatars, hivelords, adn universes by simply creating technological or magical means that subvert or annihilate them personally. Higher entities spend a majority of their early existence ensuring that mortals at least believe it hopeless ot destroy them. For the most part they succeed.

Elder Mortals: Elder mortals are races of beings that ahve transcended the normal limits of mortal existence. However they are nowhere near god like. Typically they are much more powerful individually then any younger mortal and have an awareness of the universe and the cosmic law that no one else can boast. Almost always such a race exists across multiple planes and have an intimate understanding of the real workings of the higher entities. Typically higher entities find it more profitable to appeal to elder races and have them in favored positions rather then use trickery and fear to keep them under control.

Lesser Powers: Beings that are a few steps above the elder races in that they are usually much more pwoerful individually and typically incapable of dying of old age. Most of the time they are created by higher entities for some purpose or another. A god might create angels to serve as servants and agents for them in the mortal realm while a sentient universe might unconciously create beings to enforce the protection of their own bodies from outside forces. Sometimes they are created spontaneously from massive collections of spiritual or magical energy or by the combined belief in them by mortals (this makes them exist but doesn't make them gods). Lesser powers are not feared as much by the higher entities because they suffer the same weaknesses typically and more often then not lesser powers find it more profitable to serve the higher entities rather then conflict with them.

Higher Entities: Explained earlier.


Elder Beings: Their are beings that predate Cosmic Law. They are more powerful then even higher entities because they do not rely on any known source of power and because Cosmic Law was their creation and thus only applies to them in certain ineffable ways. These beings once hunted and consumed higher beings to fullfill their bizzare alien hungers or personal needs however after eons and eons of hunting within their grounds of cosmic law it began to affect them and they began to realize that despite their agelessness they were truly old. These sorts of alien epiphanies weighed on their twisted beings and slowly one after another they began to become dormant and hibernate. Those that did not were so alien and benign even compared to their kin they could hardly be said to exist at all and many created their own unique domains to fulfill their needs.

Elder beings and their creations might serve as antagonists for the characters. A major catastrophic event might be the awakening of such a terrible being as it slowly begins to feast upon a prospering multiverse.

Resolution mechanics: Most challenges are solved by an application of mana or simple dominance of a portfolio. However when dealing with higher beings requires a power struggle. That's where Texas Hold Em comes in. I find that in a god game the randomness of dice might be ill advised since gods should not be puppets of fate but its masters (unless you want to go greek but thats just plain depressing) . So we go with a quick game with a bit of skill to represent the investment of powers and such. Add in a few more rules to represent players using their characters unique powers and portfolios and you have a neat way to resolve conflicts that don't involve faceless rolling of plastic bits.

All higher entities have a stat known as Mana.

Mana is the single most important energy in the game as it is the substantce of the higher entities themselves, the rawest form of divine power, the universe is composed of it gods invest it in the creation of their miracles and hive lords manipulate it. It is simultaneously three different stats in role playing terms, it is the higher beings life, XP total, and power source.

They can use mana to buy attributes, take in portfolios, traits, and dominions. All these have a mana value so they can be used in bidding.

In other words higher beings have near;y the entirety of their sheet to use in a texas hold em hand known as a PPower Struggle. There are simple challenges where a simple hand serves easily enough but in a true conflict (i.e. a power struggle) Texas Hold 'Em serves as the mechanism that represents the struggle of the higher entities. Once a god has lost all his man he has lost all his power and thus becomes a powerless husk doomed to float in the spaces between the multiverse for all eternity, a fate worse then death.

A higher entities portfolios can be used to aid the players natural skill in the game so even a highly skilled poker player is forced to consider different methods of playing when faced with players who are capabl;e of forcing the table to play with their highest value card face up. Or with players who have a hand of 3 cards rather then two. Or entities with the power to nullify and devalue an entire suit of cards, change them, modify them, or even hold a Joker card (wild card) for use in any hand. Players with the Fear portfolio can force a fold while those with the Courage portfolio can not only nullify fear but force a player not to fold (making them lose more power to them by using their own foolhardy courage as a weapon). Light can reveal a players cards to them while Darkness can allow them to hide the "turn", "river" or any one of the "Flop" cards in order to add yet another level of uncertainty to an already trecherous multiverse.

One of the unique aspects of this game is that players have more access to tactical options in this game then in most games that focus on physical mortal combat. Texas Hold "Em not only allows me to remove fate as the leading factor in determining outcome (as Fate is a lie perpetrated by the higher beings to keep mortals cowtowed and obedient) .

So Texas Hold "Em only requires players to provide currency. Higher beings use their own beings as the currency that fuels this game "Power Struggle" has very many meanings to these higher beings as combat is very, very lethal. "All in" is a way to force god out of existence forever.

So with this start of concept ( I also have attributes but I'm trying to figure out how they will interact) with everything. So what would you add/remove? What would you flesh out? What elements need to be in the setting? Would anyone care to work with me on this? Why the hell are these tubes in my side leaking from the wounds? Why is my platelet count dropping after I got off the antibiotics that caused the drop to begin with? How do I convince my fiance to give me oral sex? And other important game design questions.



I like the character classes. In the Personification write-up you used examples like the Sandman. I think all of the classes could use an example or two to ground them in mythology/literature.

Using a strategic card game like Texas Hold'em sounds fitting. I think the posturing and planning that goes into winning a hand fits well with some of the classic portrayals of these types of beings. I think of grand-scale scheming and twisted plots. I'm not exactly sure about some of the mechanics you were explaining, but it sounds like you've got it figured out. Its a good fit. Explain more.

My biggest question is what kind of scenarios do you see the characters playing?

Looking forward to hearing more. Keep it up!

Ken


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One thing about these Nobilis-like games is that I never know what to DO with them. Great, so you're...playing a universe? And? What sorts of stories can I tell with that? How can it relate to my very human players? What does it even mean to BE a universe (or whatever)?

It's a cool idea, I'm just not seeing the game in it (the point of play, hooks, possibilities, player connection or desires).



I'm glad it seems like I'm not the only one who believes that Texas Hold 'Em and god games go together so well.  Yes it does provide strategic thinking to a very strategic game as well as give players the sense that they are not slves to fate and have a good measure of control to it.

To answer your question the higher entities have nearly all the same problems one would expect from godhood.  They gather in numbers to protect themselves from the power hunger of one another, to montior and watch the slumbering Elder Beings and deal with their manifested dreams and nightmares.  To deal with mortals, and lesser entities that would pose a threat to the sovereignty of them adn the Cosmic Law.  To enforce Diefic and Physical law.  Or simply ahve all sorts of political backstabbing that occurs when individuals of agreat power (desiring even greater power) come together.  Higher entities, can be every bit the hero, villain, ruler, servant or anything a mortal can be only they deal in worlds and universes and exitences that lesser beings cannot even concieve of.

The thing to remember is that higher entities are vulnerable  they are not indestructible and can easily be destroyed by their fellows .  This is not Nobilis.  This is Nobilis's meaner more mechanical cousin.

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Sounds really cool, I really love the idea of there being different types of gods just as there are different types of religions.
Are you going to have any H.P. Lovecraft style abominations?

My only issue is that Texas Hold 'em is somewhat of a non-sequitur for this type of game. Why would a deck of playing cards be related to what the various deities are doing? What exactly led you to the decision to use cards?

Other than that, I'm looking forward to this. New Age jargon about self-spawning universe gods is practically made for this type of thing.


In BEyond Gods, Fate is a lie, it is an illusion along the lines of Divine Mandate for mortal kings to justify their rule over mortals and lesser entities.  Truth be told every sentient entity is the master of their own fate.  Those that realize this become capable of killing even gods.  Texas Hold 'Em represents the mastery of fate that the gods have.  It is a game more about skill then luck with just enough of a luck element to make it RPG worthy as a mechanic.  Also, this quote from Good Omens

"God does not play dice with the universe.  He plays an ineffable game of his own devising which might be compared from the perspective of the other players as being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker, in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes with a dealer who won't tell you the rules and who smiles all the time."

And yes there are lots of lovecraftian horrors.  Not all of them are asleep some are either so benign or alien they cannot exist within Cosmic Law or gently slumber and while kept a close eye on occasionally stir in some fitful alien dream and accidentally cause an apocalypse or two.

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I did something akin to this a couple of years back...

Golgotha Showdown.

It's one of those concepts that I've thought about going back to and refining a few times, but I haven't gotten around to it.

I wanted to expand it to specific power types reflecting different pantheons around the world, and different types of incredibly powerful supernatural beings (and maybe offering a few new twists to get more characterization and actual roleplaying into the game).

If you see anything useful, feel free to take it and use it as you want...


I'm going to look at this and talk to a certain friend of mine.  Expect an Email from me if my mind can hold stioll long enough to form a coherent thought.  This project excites me in ways no other has before.  Since you have basically had a similiar idea years before in a  simpler, less esoteric and complex fashion we can take yours and mine original ideas, combine them with a friend of mines more esoteric and philisophical viewpoints on the fluff and make something...worthy.

Right now my game chef work is taking up a good deal of time but that work is a mostly solo project and is for a contest.  I can see greater potential in this.  Greater potential indeed.  

I'm running on insomnia, 4 cups of coffee, 1 nodoz 4 bendryl, 2 milligrams of Delaated(Morphine derived painkiller) every 4 hours and 40milligrams of an immune system jump starting steroid right now(in the hospital with tubes out of my side sucking a pseudocyst dry wiht a low platelet count.  Also I ahd sex wiht my fiance this morning in the most bizzare place I have yet (hospital bed for the curious)).  So if I seem a bit excitable right now I promise it'll wear off when i either vomit really soon or wake up from my coma tomorrow.

There's so much more that needs to be said but I promised myself to do soem more writing for Gnome today and I need to slleep or I'm going to die.

Ill brb to adress the questions others have when I am coherent to myself again.

Mana is the single most important energy in the game as it is the substantce of the higher entities themselves, the rawest form of divine power, the universe is composed of it gods invest it in the creation of their miracles and hive lords manipulate it. It is simultaneously three different stats in role playing terms, it is the higher beings life, XP total, and power source.

They can use mana to buy attributes, take in portfolios, traits, and dominions. All these have a mana value so they can be used in bidding.

In other words higher beings have near;y the entirety of their sheet to use in a texas hold em hand known as a PPower Struggle. There are simple challenges where a simple hand serves easily enough but in a true conflict (i.e. a power struggle) Texas Hold 'Em serves as the mechanism that represents the struggle of the higher entities. Once a god has lost all his man he has lost all his power and thus becomes a powerless husk doomed to float in the spaces between the multiverse for all eternity, a fate worse then death.

A higher entities portfolios can be used to aid the players natural skill in the game so even a highly skilled poker player is forced to consider different methods of playing when faced wiht players who are capabl;e of forcing the table to play with their highest value card face up. Or with players who have a hand of 3 cards rather then two. Or entities wiht the power to nullify and devalue an entire suit of cards, change them, modify them, or even holda Joker card (wild card) for use in any hand. Players with the Fear portfolio can force a fold while those with the Courage portfolio can not only nullify fear but force a player not to fold (making them lose more power to them by using their own foolhardy courage as a weapon). Light can reveal a players cards to them while Darkness can allow them to hide the "turn", "river" or any one of the "Flop" cards in order to add yet another level of uncertainty to an already trecherous multiverse.

One of the unique aspects of this game is that players have more access to tactical options in this game then in most games that focus on physical mortal combat. Texas Hold "Em not only allows me to remove fate as the leading factor in determining outcome (as Fate is a lie perpetrated by the higher beings to keep mortals cowtowed and obedient) .

So Texas Hold "Em only requires players to provide currency. Higher beings use their own beings as the currency that fuels this game "Power Struggle" has very many meanings to these higher beings as combat is very, very lethal. "All in" is a way to force god out of existence forever.

Carl
4/1/2010

Has Beyond Gods been coming along? I'm still very much interested.

Reply
Carl
4/3/2010

It occurs to me that this game would be excellent for both a Modern Gods game and for Kirby-esque Cosmic Heroes. Might be worth suggesting those as possible settings, so that potential players have things they could wrap their heads around.

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