DramaSystem setting ideas

edited November 2012 in Hillfolk / DramaSystem
So here are a few setting ideas I got while riding the train. I've only tried one of them so far (Pantheon) and I'd love for people here to tell me whether they think those have potential or not and where they see pitfalls.

----- Goblon -----
When the British carved the Underground, they discovered a subterranean goblin city underneath London. Because they had vastly misestimated the topography of the ground beneath, a big chunk of London collapsed, killing millions of humans and goblins and laying waste to both cities. That was a few years ago. You are goblins and nothing if not adaptable, so, for bad or for worse, you've adapted to your brand new neighbours, the humans. Will you trade with them? Will you try to get them to accept you as equals? Will you exact revenge in the names of all the sisters and brothers they exterminated? And will you help them deal with the untold horrors of the underground that you have been dealing with forever and they can barely fathom, much less prepare against?

----- No sleep for the stranded -----
According to the Computer, you've boarded the EFS 124C two centuries ago. You should have arrived at your destination just about now, but something went wrong. All crew and passengers have now been woken up to find themselves stranded in a part of the universe that doesn't match the maps stored in the database. You have to wait a few days at least before going back to cryo sleep, or you'll suffer dire consequences and if you do go back to sleep, you first have to set a new course for the ship. What will you do? Will you try to find out what went wrong to maybe fix it? Will you explore the surrounding space on the lookout for recognizable landmarks that would tell you where in the goddamn universe you are? Will you look for a planet to land on? Will you try to contact your own kind or other sentient species? Will you pray that whatever gods you believe in might show mercy on you? And how will you deal with each other in such a crowded space, knowing each breath they take is one less breath of air you might eventually need?

----- Pantheon -----
You are gods. Immortal, impossibly powerful, vastly different from one to the next. For untold millenia, you've been content to let sterile conflict between you dictate your every move. But now, there is a new actor in the fold: humans. They were given fire and intelligence by someone of your kind (possibly one of you). They talk and think and dream and, most importantly, worship. Now, you've got much more interesting battles to wage: how much power should they be allowed to wield? How much contact should your kind have with theirs? Who among you will control their minds? Who will command their hearts? Who among you will get to shape humankind in their image?


  • ----- Peas Pod -----
    You are clones. You weren't born, you were made. You exist as the replicas of other people you have never met and probably never will. But not all clones are made equal. Some of you were made to replace lost loved ones and the clients will surely come for them soon to replace their late lover, friend or relative. Others are organ banks, bred so that, should anything happen to the original, there would be spare parts. Others still are genetically engineered: breathing, walking, human scientific experiments, supposedly carried out for the greater good, freedom from all genetic diseases and defects, end of world hunger, world peace and so on and so forth. At least that's what you were told. Will you band together against the people who made you? Against the guards who keep you in check? Against the system that allowed for human objects to be made? To escape and find another place to live as full beings, at long last? To escape and exact revenge against the people who decided they were gods in that they had a right over your existence? Or will you set up hierarchies and social rules much like that of the outer world of your originals, sweetening your lot at the expense of others', seizing what power and comfort you can claim in your situation or simply trying your best to survive as an exemplary clone until they finally come to take you home, wherever that is?

    ----- Sweet Gaia -----
    Your home planet was destroyed. You thankfully saw it coming years in advance and already had space travel technology, so part of your species and civilization survived. The Motherships parted ways long ago and, after what seemed like an eternity, you've found a hospitable planet: the third one, all cute in blue, in a solar system with 8 planets, including two gas giants, one with funny rings... Problem is: it is already populated all over by a sentient and rather overactive species. How will you deal with them? And, most importantly, what will be your end goal? Total extermination? Enslavement? Peaceful co-existence? Merging of your cultures and technologies?

    ----- They shall not pass -----
    You are all part of the military and while war is raging on the other side of your country, you have been tasked with securing the opposing border to prevent the enemy from backstabbing you and the neighbours from taking advantage of your focusing elsewhere. The weeks drag on and nothing happens. Soldiers grow more restless as more bad news pour in from the front: what are you doing rotting here when your fellow countrymen are dying in service of your great nation on the other border? Then again, if you leave your post, you will leave a fatal weak point in your wake and, should enemies strike it, most certainly doom the future of your country. How will you deal with the brass? Will you side with the restless and petition command for a strategic change? Will you make examples of them to preserve order? Will you show initiative and scout the neighbouring land for signs of impeding attack? Or stick to your orders and wait blindly?
  • edited November 2012
    I add my own. It derives from my next week end dramasystem attempt.

    ----- Refugee camp -----
    You strive as members of a refugee camp in Darfur. What is your place in such structure? Will you obtain UNAMID to allocate some precious peacekeepers to patrol your area? Will you get raided by one of the numerous political factions of Sudan? Will one of the tribes living around accept to share food or medical supply with you? Will you accept to smuggle weapons from CIA, China or Russia with their appetite for oil control? Will the once cannibals Zande accuse you of witchcraft? How can you respect all cultures dogma when they are already at war?
  • ----- A School for Scandals OR The Colour of the Boathouse-----
    A training centre for a branch of a British Secret Service during the Cold War. It isn't exact history, but more a thematic take on it. It's the place spies are sent to learn tradecraft, recover from collapsed missions, and spend their days after having screwed up one thing too many. The players take the role of staff members- some have been there a long time, some hope to return to active fieldwork, some are there under a cloud of suspicion, some have been forcibly retired, some love teaching, some are double-agents, some were too brutal for the work and others too gentle. The campaign arc is about them competing among themselves and also trying to carry out their duties. Battles between ministries test their loyalties, there's a war in their own bureau, they have to help the CIA. Sometimes they have to interrogate people or train recruits for a specific mission even while things are kept from them. Romances, office politics, espionage, loyalties, teaching, student affairs, etc. Constant pressure from outside in the form of suspicion, budget constraints, and threats of closure. Not to mention actual assassins. Think Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy plus The Sandbaggers plus In The Loop plus A Very British Coup plus MI5 plus A Perfect Spy.

    ----- The Scrye -----
    City Watch in a vast magical and corrupt fantasy metropolis try to keep the peace, stay alive, avoid attention from above, and perhaps even line their own pockets. They have to deal with rival departments (Sorcerer's Guard, The Imperial Delegates, The Military Vigiles) while trying to keep the streets safe. Crimes and mysteries are secondary to everyday life and trying to simply maintain order. Crazed adventurers, black lotus pushers, a splintered assassins guild, and City Elders on the take. Bribery and corruption versus idealism and a sense of this place as a home. Internal struggles between guards balances against the code of internal loyalty against outside forces. Some magical tools on request- like the eponymous technique. Think The Wire plus Fafred & Grey Mouser plus A Game of Thrones plus Hill Street Blues plus Copper.

    ----- Bamboo Village -----
    A small samurai clan has to deal with the decay of their daimyo and the pressures of the ongoing civil war in Japan. Provinces continue to fall, ronin and bandits roam the lands, and no one knows which way the political winds will blow next. The samurai and other retainers have begun to battle among themselves even as more pressures have come down from on high. Corruption, decay and fatalism versus honor, duty, and tradition. This would be the story of a rural samurai village- at the margins and probably looked down upon. Players could be samurai or non-samurai who have obtained position in this time of chaos (Geisha madams, yakuza obunyan, merchants, ronin, peasant chiefs, priests, monks). The world and celestial order is uncertain- and the question is can the players keep this place together or will it all come crashing down. campaign issues surrounding supplies, bandits, demands for taxes, wandering killers, and so on. Think Red Beard plus Satsuma Gishiden plus Samurai Rebellion plus Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo plus Samurai Champloo.
  • Posted By: Atarun
    ----- Goblon -----

    ----- No sleep for the stranded -----
    I like these two very much. The first makes me wonder if it might be possible to do a Changeling the Lost game with just DramaSystem. Focused on the Freehold interactions and the tensions between players and their dual natures. The second reminds me a little of Fourty Thousand in Gehenna, SM: Alpha Centauri and Earth Two. That's great fodder for a tense story.
  • I also did a full pitch write up few weeks back Malign Universal.
  • Goblin and No Sleep for the Stranded sound more like traditional "adventure" settings. I like Pantheon and Sweet Gaea.
  • edited November 2012
    ----- In your head -----
    You play a personnality in the head of a subject who suffers multiple personnality disorder. Scenes are hallucinations. You struggle to make your place in this changing reality and those other personnalities. But here is the twist : there may be some therapy going on. And maybe some of those personnalities are intruders : the incursion of the self consciousness of the subject, or of some psychologist. Who can you trust in those dreams ? What will you try to achieve ? Preserve your existence ? Take over ? Bring peace ? Forge a lie ? Set a nightmare ? Kill a disorder ? Change yourself or someone else ? Gain dreaming abilities ? Cure the subject ? Take grasp of reality ? Fight medicamentation ?
  • edited November 2012
    ----- Fairy tale -----
    Pinnocchio, La Fontaine's Fables, animated cartoons ... name it. Episode themes are morals or lessons to portray, conform to or deviate from. You play a colorful character that takes part to what's at stake at the moment, tries to prove something to the others, or does the smartest move in a given situation.
  • ----- Red and black -----
    In the years previous to the Great War, America is swept by political turmoil, violent strikes and civil unrest. The radical ideas that germinated in Europe over the last century have arrived in full force to the country, spouted by working class immigrants and echoed by intellectuals. Amidst that chaos and turbulence, a group of anarchists and free-thinkers try to ignite the flames of revolution using passionate speeches and subversive newspapers. But what will happen when utopia clashes with cold reality? When the ideals of insurrection, free love and solidarity turn into violence, jealousy and mistrust? The coming war will give the government the excuse to stomp down the already volatile movement, how will the group react then when some more radical anarchists decide to answer repression with murders and bombing attacks?
  • edited November 2012
    (this last classic reminds me a lot of some of the Gundam animated series. Now I figure out what the inspiration of those japaneese cartoonist was :]
  • edited November 2012
    Prior to 1976, the demarcation line between North and South Korea was not enforced in the Joint Security Area -- North Korean and UN personnel could freely move about the whole village, although each side maintained their own buildings.


    I think this is fertile ground for a DramaSystem game, and the list of notable incidents on Wikipedia provides good story hooks for the GM.
    However, I think the historical setting might have too much influence on players' decisions - and to set a similar scenario in the modern era would make the parallel too obvious. My idea, then, is the aftermath of a colossal war between fantasy empires. I'd make it a low- or no-magic setting, but the presence of terrible enchantments as something like a nuclear threat could also be good.

    So here is a village, grown around a wayside inn and now abandoned, somewhere between A Game of Thrones and the Cold War:

    The Inn of the Two Empires

    It has been twenty years since the two greatest powers of the world signed a truce, but the war is not yet over and settlement has not been reached. The two sides' legions keep a wary peace along the frontier, where no village now remains for seven leagues either side of the borderline.

    The two empires meet at the village of Wooden-Gate Inn - the only place where the terms of the truce permit human habitation. The tavern that gave the village its name is now the site of negotiations between the two sides, and home to their military detachments and imperial legates, as well as the diplomats of the Nine Islands who act as mediators. The atmosphere is tense, distrustful, and full of posturing. Scuffles between enemy soldiers are uncommon but not unheard-of. Should one turn fatal, the repercussions could be immense.

    The truth is, your nation's armies are exhausted. When violent incidents erupt you must meet force with force, for to seem weak would invite an invasion. But neither can you afford to provoke any serious attack, or let events at Wooden-Gate Inn spiral out of control.
  • ----- The siege -----
    The streets smell of gunpowder and burnt flesh, your ears still ring from the cannon fire and the wailing of your moribund neighbours, waiting for gangrene or infections to end what muskets and bayonets had not. It's 1808. Outside the walls, the French Army falls back to their camp to prepare the next assault against the city. The bands of shell-shocked civilians and rebel soldiers who managed to repel the first attack against the city gates converge mindlessly into the town's main plaza. The mayor has fled the city; the Captain-General is in a cell in the town garrison. Without them, the eyes of the inhabitants of this northeastern Spanish city fall on you. You, the hot-blooded baker who commanded the first attack against the stationed French troops. You, the guilt-ridden priest who killed a French soldier just an hour ago while trying to protect a member of your parish. You, the scared artist who wonders if this uprising won't plunge Spain again back into the dark ages and if it wouldn't just be better to let the French inside before hunger and disease devour you all.
  • edited January 2013
    Posted By: edige23----- The Scrye -----
    City Watch in a vast magical and corrupt fantasy metropolis try to keep the peace, stay alive, avoid attention from above, and perhaps even line their own pockets. They have to deal with rival departments (Sorcerer's Guard, The Imperial Delegates, The Military Vigiles) while trying to keep the streets safe. Crimes and mysteries are secondary to everyday life and trying to simply maintain order. Crazed adventurers, black lotus pushers, a splintered assassins guild, and City Elders on the take. Bribery and corruption versus idealism and a sense of this place as a home. Internal struggles between guards balances against the code of internal loyalty against outside forces. Some magical tools on request- like the eponymous technique. ThinkThe WireplusFafred & Grey MouserplusA Game of ThronesplusHill Street BluesplusCopper.
    This reminds very much of my own first DramaSystem idea. In my head, the city was going to be next to some very ancient ruins that were full of traps and treasure, which would mean the city was lousy with adventurers. The main thrust was going to be local business owners and city watchmen dealing with these parties of dungeon delvers, who would (of course) behave in ways inspired by the terrible conduct of D&D characters in previous games I've been involved in (as GM and Player). Casting Fireball during bar-fights, bringing back dragon eggs that hatch scared baby dragons (and attract their angry parents), magic missiling bartenders for no reason, clumsily hitting on every female authority figure they meet, destroying the local economy with irrational gold expenditure, mass-producing dangerous magic items, etc. Of course, the notion I had would've ended up very monster-of-the-week (in this case, reckless adventuring party of the week), which seemed like it might stifle players pursuing their own plots, and on another level, it probably would've just been me trying to get catharsis for past games gone bad. Your version sounds much more fruitful for a DramaSystem game.
  • Now that you guys are mentioning adventurers and cities...

    Now, I don't know if you guys know about this, but here in my country the one in charge of bringing presents this time of the year is not Santa Claus but the Three Wise Men, who arrive on January the 6th. Imagine my surprise when, opening the presents this morning, I've found something for you gentlemen!

    Without further ado, let me present you...

    Dungeons & Drama
    A seasoned adventure party, along with their companions and hirelings, explore a vast, abandoned city, where danger, mystery and treasures await in the halls of its labyrinthic palaces.

    At first I was going to give it a cooler name such as Elegia or even Dungeon, but let's be honest, in my head it's been Dungeons & Drama since the moment I started to work on this stuff. I'm sure I don't need to mention this, but Dungeons & Drama is heavily influenced by the dungeon-crawling genre, from early D&D to videogames such as Dark Souls (one of my players showed me this game once and I won't pretend that Anor Londo isn't exactly how I imagine the city). Anyway, it's around 2000 words of badly written English (I would consider it a favor if some of you could point out some of the more glaring grammar errors!) that hopefully will inspire you guys to create some of your own!
  • edited January 2013
    ----- Survival -----

    Things got out of control. Now, you are the only few people left inside the endangered area. Is your place still safe ? What is your part in this mess ? Will you make things better or worse ? Define with the players what you know of the nature of the hazard that shattered everything. Define what is the area (space station, underground complex, island, country, ...). Prepare a map with the following points of interest : Danger, Stuff we need, Communication center, Hostiles, Databank, Abandoned area, In stasis, Weird signal, Shelter, Vehicles, Weapons, Food, Water, Medical center, Labs, Factory, Outside, ... (remove or add anything to this list). Ask the players what they know when those things come up during the game.
  • I have the PDF's for a Savage Worlds setting called War of the Dead. The story is essentially a zombie apocalypse, however it has a great twist in that it starts out with the characters on a cruise ship when the zombie infestation begins.

    The setting was not that great for Savage Worlds, but I think it will be awesome for the DramaSystem. I'm going to spring it on my players when we take a break from 13th Age.
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