Spitballing Urban Fantasy Ideas
So I was writing a different post and realized I really, really want to jump into a new campaign because the current one is getting into emotional territory that I just don’t want to play because it strikes uncomfortably near the recent family drama. So what does that mean for the next game?
The genres we’ve played least in the last thirteen or so years of duet gaming are modern urban fantasy/paranormal romance and science fiction. Since I don’t think I can talk Robin into playing a Star Trek game, the urban fantasy setting seems the best choice. The question then becomes one of how I want to handle this modern setting.
Do I want it to be modern “modern?” It’s tempting to set the game back in the ‘90s as an excuse to listen to old grunge rock CDs for background music; it also cuts down on the presence of cell phones and internet searches. Frankly, I’ve got a pretty contentious relationship with the millennial generation, so playing again in that brief, shining moment when Generation X mattered would be a bittersweet joy. I’ll really have to consider it.
(Of course, I could always have the central characters be the same age as me and Robin and just be in better shape than we are. I was born the same year as Neil Patrick Harris and Rose McGowan, so I know it’s possible to stay trim at my age – it’s my fault I’m a chubby neckbeard, not 1973’s.)
The more important question, of course, is how magic works in this world. What kind of magical folk hide in the corners of the world? Is it the old World of Darkness, with fairies, vampires, werewolves, and wizards all having their own distinct spheres of influence and independent systems of magic (heck, they practically had their own distinct cosmologies)? Is it “Lost Girl,” where everything – including liches and vampires – is a fairy? What to do, what to do…
I know it won’t be “Supernatural” or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with a more-or-less normal human trying to exterminate the weird things in the world. There might be monster fighting (I know there will be) but that will be a matter of policing the border between humanity and the weird – not that I necessarily see the heroine as the Anita Blake or Harry Dresden cop/detective type. Perhaps an ambassador or negotiator? Someone whose purpose is to attempt to resolve situations through negotiation and understanding instead of violence but who can – like Roger Smith – kick ass when needed?
(Obviously, I can’t dictate the character to Robin – that’s a surefire way to lose her interest -- but I can spitball ideas to help her find a hook.)
If we go that direction, then it seems logical to go with the heroine being something that can walk the fine line between factions, something that is defined by insight and cleverness rather than violence. The creatures that come to mind are angels (but not the “Supernatural” type), fairies, gods, kitsune, and wizards. Vampires and werebeasts lend themselves far more to violence as the first solution, and I’m not sure Robin wants to play something that literally eats people anyway (with the possible exception of a werecat).
Or, just to go way out on a tangent here, what about a kuei-jin sufficiently advanced along her dharma to feed from breath instead of blood or flesh? That suggests an Asian setting, but Japanophilia is a shared interest that Robin and I have from way back. The kuei-jin mix the civility of vampires, the mysticism of the changing breeds, and the otherworldliness of changelings in a kinky, anime-flavored package. Plus it’s an excuse to listen to Yoko Kanno… and to finally use a system and setting I’ve invested a lot of money in and never actually played.
Looking at the paragraphs above, it looks like I am already pretty set on a World of Darkness-type setting, if not the OWoD itself. That makes it pretty tempting to just toss FAE aside and use the actual Storyteller System. I wouldn’t feel as bad about that as I did about ditching Honor + Intrigue because I am a jackass and didn’t pay anything for FAE. Of course, Kindred of the East is notoriously complex and I try not to do that sort of thing anymore.