Tuesday, April 9, 2013

More Ideas for Noircana and an Example (Contribution 3)

Here is a short example, visiualizing some ideas we had about Noircana (got to start somewhere...).

I rolled up a region to see what happens and came up with:

STR 8   (-1)
DEX 34  (+11)  Reversion, Enhancement, Ascendance, Enlightenment
CON 12  (+1)  Transformation
INT 16  (+3)  Decay, Enlightenment
WIS 7  (-1)
CHA 16  (+3)  Transformation

Interpretations and additions

Now there is a lot to chew on. But interpretation and inspiration is what this is about. So:

STR - This region is a little below sea level (thoughts: a negative result for bonuses gives indications how much land is covered by water, positive bonuses show how much is covered mountains, bordering regions could go up again, maybe 120 miles per hex is to much?).

DEX & CON - A freak accident (I rolled 6, 6, 5, (2, 4, 6, 5)) and very harsh living conditions. The region is fertile (thoughts: bonus on CON could mean the highest number of HD for creatures living in a region, penalties could be a direct and constant influence on the inhabitants CON. Fertile and harsh could mean it's a swamp (with some lakes because of STR). The bonus on DEX could be the number of hazards. I'd make one of those to giant (for Transformation) 1 HD primeval (Reversion) insects, another +1 could make them poisonous. Others could be strange plants (maybe related to Enhancement and/or Ascendance, so the region has some ability altering, dangerous, maybe even psychedelic plants), gas, etc.. Enlightenment could be a possibility for immortals influencing the region.).

INT - Also high, 3 positives effects of the magic (thoughts: Positive decay could mean the region is "digesting" something bad, a dead dragon maybe? Studying the dead body could lead to Enlightenment... Need to think about Mana here.).

WIS - Something is unholy here (thoughts: Not much here. Could indicate a cursed location...).

CHA - This is a beautiful region (thoughts: Transformation could mean some cyclic blossoming flowers. That and two other nice features...).

This is just a first impression to see how the basic asumptions work out. So Porky's d6 table helps defining the features of a region, Penalties and bonuses give locations or creatures. Add some names and it could work already...

Next up is class and the opposition. This one needs some work and I'll have to alter some of the tables here to get there.

Mr. K.'s Edit

Talked this through with a friend and he helped forming several ideas:

- Opponents are Humanoids, Weather and Ascendants.

- Mana helps fighting Humanoids and Ascendants (how much Mana per region might be gathered from here).

- Chi is a WIS derived pool and works against weather (calculation like with Mana above).

- Treating this like a turn-based game, Chi and Mana would be something like Action Points for a region. Those struggles would produce xp.

- Not related to Mana and Chi, but regional features (Porky's d6 table) could be harvested, draining effectively the land (reducing ability scores...).


  1. That turned out even better than I hoped it would. I love the interpretation - it's not always easy to do, but a very powerful tool, as we see here. The work you did to have the DEX rolls blend is an inspiration.

    Looking at specific areas:

    - The water coverage idea makes sense, and could be generalised to other materials, lava for example, and if so, maybe it could even suggest number of strata built up over time, or even just recently.

    - Considering positive aspects of decay is something I didn't do when I put the table together, but the idea is clever, and the example you give is a good one.

    - The bonus on CON could reflect overall HD too, as in amount of biomass.

    - Low WIS could be taken as meaning cursed, but it could also mean less of this kind of power, in which case high results could mean either blessings or curses - or both - based on the specifics of the forces generated, whether via the 1d6 table or some other method.

    Also, I really didn't think that table would be so useful. In your hands, it's giving very good results.

    Mr K. has a lot of good ideas too. For different campaigns, humanoids as one of the categories of mover and shaker could be expanded to cover other more or less sentient actors. Maybe weather could also cover geological events, even just the short scale like eruptions and earthquakes. I also wonder whether mana and chi could be facets of the same factors, but in mechanistic terms the advantages of either approach will become clear over time.

    The harvesting option is ideal for the kind of games we're talking about, and the kinds of people and civilisations too. In many worlds this would almost certainly go on, or be able to go on, and players would presumably be very interested too.

    Has Mr K. thought about blogging?

  2. Thanks again, Porky! I really enjoy your detailed, focused and thoughtful comments. I was surprised about the amount of content, too. But D&D has a huge amount of subtext and a lot of history. And it translates well so far.

    Love the idea of using the water distribution for magma and the like. I'm thinking about the consequences of cataclysms every now and then. Changes in regions could go as far as strata development.

    Borders, strata, all that could be very fluid concepts during development. And cities will be a challenge...

    The way I see this shaping right now, every aspect of the ability scores has his own line of interpretation. The raw number gives an impression of the land (alignment will specify this further; so far I think they should correspond with latitudinal lines; it will be part of my next post), bonuses and penalties show the number of features (good or bad), your table turned out to be crucial, because it builds context (what exactly could be harvested), links the periods between cataclysms (ruins, dead dragons, strata, etc.), even what spells could develop, what magic items and where immortals ascended (with indications of godly aspects, even, but here the ability score helps, too), Mana and Chi will be the tools for interaction (the idea is that regions with low Chi will have bad weather and catastrophes, like earthquakes, are a welcome addition to that!).

    So a WIS penalty could be seen as cursed features, bonuses are holy sites (harvesting could have cursed sites as a effect and adventurers "cleaning" a cursed site could result in a bonus on WIS, which would result in better weather and less catastrophes!), so low WIS would result in weak resistance against non-sentient threats (and nurturing a region should be another issue, but I digress).

    I think comparing CON with Biomass is the right way, seeing it like this, it's DEX that gives it teeths, using the bonus as a threshold for the highest possible HD has the merit, that it's not specific about the number of beasties.

    Treating regions like characters will lead to an individual interpretation of the data delivered. Hopefully with the same results as with characters in D&D!

    All this gave me another idea. We have two parts: regions (the players) and opposition (moderation/DMs). This could be used in a boardgame, for PbM or even as something where a couple of blogs build a setting together (with the moderation giving challenges for the regions on a regular basis, updating the map, etc.). All those regions could even be linked, like a huge world building effort. Well, one is allowed to dream...

    I asked him and hope he'll comment on this ;)

  3. Maybe also of interest: I could have gone a totally different direction with this, making it a hostile ruined megacity of a lost culture (DEX), where nature starts to take hold of the land again (CON) and with submerged areas (STR), giving INT WIS and CHA totally different results!

    Another idea would be to make the sum of the unaltered ability scores the number of 5 mile hex fields a region has (not sure about this one...). Harvesting below that point would result in dead (barren) hex fields...

    Another facette of this approach could be the very individual results to fight the opposition (mainly magic items, but maybe one region developes a poison killing elves or natural features to protect sentient beings in harmony with the land) and all this would be connencted to the regions level...

  4. (Sorry for flooding the comments...) Another idea: The additional dice could be freed after a cataclysm, changing/renewing the results of the features and making the old ones only traces for future reference (produces change and layers and allowing working features of a region to evolve...).

    Class and balance are the next big topics. And the framework for the boardgame part (fighting and xp).
    Any ideas?

  5. I think there's something in that board game idea. With the focus on the landscape and the long-term development, this does have a certain board game feel. Categories often seem unreasonably rigid - there's actually a lot of crossover between game types. Any system spanning an RPG-board game spectrum would be a very interesting option. Have you heard of Bios: Megafauna? Martin has a thorough review here:


    It seems to share certain features, and could be an inspiration.

    I like that freed dice idea too, that features fade. It may be enough to know the thing in the present time and extrapolate back, but it gives the GM a better feel for it and maybe a lot more to work with if the process of development is known. Another point of reference for some of this could be Microscope:


    You're making excellent progress here. I'm hoping to have something up today or tomorrow, probably a first set of interacting spells. I'm also thinking about a series of related event concepts - situations that could arise based on the spells and maybe the wider implications of the noircana theme. They could also flow from and feed into larger scale elements like this.

  6. Sounds terrific! Looking forward to read those spells. So I'll wait with classes and advancement for regions a bit to make that part of it. Maybe going more into opposition, conflict and reaction tables for the next post...

    I read some posts about microscope over at Monsters and Manuals, I think. It's systemless more or less (right?) and I, too, think it could help to have a look at it. Bios: Megafauna sounds intriguing, have to check it out.

    I'll give Small World a spin or two. Rise and decline of cultures and all that.


    The dice could even reactivate old layers of a region.

    One more thing about the frame (and opposition): regular roleplaying starts after the last cataclysm. With the freed dice concept, players helping developing the setting will have knowledge about the regions, but only the DM will know what changed (player knowledge will be legends, then). Now, I wrote somewhere that the time between cataclysm might be something around 10+1d10 turns. So if we assume broad strokes for this, cataclysms should be every 1000-2000 years and that would mean 100 years per turn. Is that too much time passing for the spells or does it correlate with them?

  7. That would work. The spell for creating a source, which can be used to create items and power spell effects long-term, will probably allow a level 36 caster to keep a source going for over 3,800 years. There's a spell for creating a reservoir of power that could even be permanent, and the power stored can be used to feed other spells too. There should be six spells in the post, a mix of trouble-making and world-changing.