After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead)

Clans, Psychonauts, Burn & Metaplot

After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead)

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by txerren Fri Jul 20, 2018 6:04 pm
Hey everybody,

This is my first post in this forum so please bear with me if I am breaking any of the Recombination Group´s rules. It will most probably be messy and unruly, so my excuses in advance :D

I have very recently finished what I consider an inmensely satisfactory campaign with In Thy Blood (we were three players and the GM and all four of us felt refreshed, in awe and all around extenuated-satisfied with the world building capacities of Degenesis) and I have just finished reading The Killing Game and Black Atlantic.

I personally find Degenesis terribly sugestive and almost a literary genre on its own due to its combination of high-end visual art, frustratingly fragmented and infinitely dense world-narrative and, of course, its playability, and I believe In Thy Blood was kind of a pinnacle on its own game. Maybe because it was new, because it was different, because it was very (very) well done or because of its unbelieveable characters (Neva, Abacus, Verena, Custus, Fernex, Lucio... hell, even Attila), but it f**** worked wonders as a reading experience.

Reading TKG and BA after playing ITB has been different, as I was both more world savvy and even more lost than before, and I believe I still have a kind of a reading hangover and possibly need a more paused second approach to both books. Still, there are some both diegetic and extra-diegetic doubts that I wanted to share with you. I am genuinely interested in your opinion, both creator-side and playing-side:

1) Aquitaine hurts. It hurts almost too much because it feels... unjust. I don´t really know where the game stands regarding the fixedness of certain plot events. Does Aquitaine need to be erased? Does Argyre need to survive? Do the characters need to contribute with all their sweat, blood and tears to this exact outcome (getting the Jehammed´s Will together, bringing it to Briton, getting into the sub, etc etc)? Is it fundamentally important for the metaplot to arrive to this exact point in history or are we as a community OK with the idea of creating different 2597s, one with no Bath, another with no Aquitaine, another with no Leviathans awake? (can we play with different alternative Degenesis timelines, the Zigguraths being maybe not only chrono-accelerators but possible pathways to alternate dialectical dimensions - somebody said time-related rapture?-.

2) Regarding Marauders, Prophets, GG and the Generally Strange and Deranged Big Bad Asses. How important do you feel it is for the players to be positioned in the I Don´t Have A F*** Clue - OK I get it continuum regarding their motives, logics and agenda? I felt that the Argyre-Helios opposition was - politically speaking- ambiguous at times and utterly alien at intervals. Do they have to make sense or should they actually not make sense at all, playtime-wise?

3) Regarding micro-stories. I am very tempted of re-starting the ITB campaign with another bunch of "heroes" and to just let them wander around Lucatore, Bergamo etc. How do you feel about Degenesis being played at the micro-meso-macro levels regarding the metaplot? Should the characters rush to meet their destinies in Franka or should I allow them to marry and spend 20 years rebuilding the town? How do you combine the bigger and smaller pictures?

4) About Bayonne. I am Basque and therefore leapt out of pure joy when read the name Bayonne in the Rising Ravens adventure (yeeh! something survived! yipeee!) , but then I realized this Bayonne is not the original Bayonne but something entirely different. Why is there another Bayonne in the middle of the Rhône delta? Is there something there or its just a name that the survivors appropiated? Is the idea of moving cities around a hint of how we should just do whatever we feel like regarding geography, history, physics and the rules of time and space?

5) Technically speaking, could it suffice to use Ifrit´s blood to activate the Will? We know that the horned ones have all drank from Aries´blood, and therefore carry his nanites. Could it be so easy as for some of its second-hand blood to reach the artifact to activate the Stream and therefore the pr0n? Is thinking this cheap? :D

Well, those are some of my thoughts after finishing the Jehammed´s Will Saga.

Heartfelt congratulations to everybody involved in the creation and evolution of this great world. It is a great game, it is a great read and it is indeed a great community!
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by Ketzer Tue Jul 24, 2018 4:23 pm
Well, I can´t answer your specific questions about certain NPCs and such as I haven´t played the campaign at all. And there is a specific reason to that:

I´ve been a roleplayer for a little over 20 years now. I´ve played a hell lot of systems ranging from classic Fantasy to SciFi, Post-Apo, Horror...you name it.
For a good part of that period I´ve been playing together with my group as is today. So we all know each other very well. As experienced roleplayers we always try to play creatively, walk different paths, if that makes any sense. And that´s where the trouble starts...

ITB, KG and BA are written and composed in a way that makes it absolutely impossible for me to get my players where the campaign needs them to be. It would be like having to herd a little flock of ducklings along a very thin path while they´d go astray all the time.
This would, in my personal taste, create more frustration than fun, as we love the concept of Open World Playing without the limitation of railoaded storytelling.
As a GM I don´t see my part in always cutting the branches that my players grow just to have them go where I need them to. I see my part as quite reactive...I introduce the setting and give them some little plot-hooks to follow. If they do, fine, if they don´t, I react to what they give me.

And that´s why I see the Degenesis campaign as unplayable for me. It so much depends on certain things to happen that if the players somehow chose to act different than I need them to the whole concept falls apart.
I love the story and I really enjoy reading it as a kind of novel, but in my very personal view it is not fit to be played at the table with players that have their own mind so to say...at least not for someone with my philosophy of roleplaying.
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by Proton Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:30 pm
txerren wrote:
3) Regarding micro-stories. I am very tempted of re-starting the ITB campaign with another bunch of "heroes" and to just let them wander around Lucatore, Bergamo etc. How do you feel about Degenesis being played at the micro-meso-macro levels regarding the metaplot? Should the characters rush to meet their destinies in Franka or should I allow them to marry and spend 20 years rebuilding the town? How do you combine the bigger and smaller pictures?


Well, my group and me, we started our Degenesis journey long before ITB came out. Our characters rediscovered an old submarine bunker in balkhan and try to build there a base, maybe a small town. They are far from the events of the meta-plot, but sometimes I let them hear of some news, so that they wonder: what is happening out there. But they are so engaged in their own plans and problems, it would be hard to drag them out from there and push them to Purgare and to Franka and to the Atlantic.

So we decided to create fresh characters for the meta plot campaign. We just started with Embargo, and I don't know yet, if we'll manage to follow the course of the campaign as intended in the books.

Maybe you have to play the stories of ITB, TKG and BA multiple times with different characters, so that each time they get different insights, depending on their decisions and which path they follow. And who knows, maybe Aquitaine survives in some of these story lines because the characters act different in specific cases or they provoke other events, that lead to a different sequence of events ;)
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by txerren Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:08 pm
Thank you both!

I guess that ITB being my first experience with Degenesis I still am kind of obsessed with "playing it right".

Strangely, in our case the PCs managed to "misbehave" all the time and almost militantly resist my ideas of how they should be behaving (succesfully stealing Verena´s amulet right away, insisting all the way that House Danesci was the key to the whole political situation, trying to get Custus to exhumate Altair´s body with mechanical cranes and a convoluted plot to distract the villagers, the Cloister tower blew up! we must climb the tower!...) BUT they stayed on the road AND the campaign worked despite everything. It does happen sometimes

But I agree that the saga does contain certain key "unmovable" events that either have to happen as is or reverse engineered a la deus ex master for the plot to follow the yellow bricked road. OR, of course, the whole thing can be deconstructed and turned into molecular components for another thing entirely which is great fun <--- (the Primer likes this).

I guess as I grow more confident I will evolve slowly to a more open style where characters can actually diverge from the main line of events, but I wonder how do you all feel about also diverging from the more metaplotic aspects of the game. For example: should the players insist in a non-confrontational approach to Barghest (or even agreeing on handing him Vikal) could he show something other than violence? Could they decide that despite Dr Vega´s lack of scrupules the Spitalian is right and the Starfire is crucial for the survival of humankind, deciding to save the stone and f*** the rest? Or even, could the GM introduce a colony of leperos attuned to two earth chakras at the same time (and thus treat what we "know" of the primer as a provisional, imperfect corpus of knowledge...)?

Doubts, doubts. Possibilities. ^^

PS: I am reading TKG again. Amazing how the book seems to change each time I read it. Most suspicious. :D
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by Morebytes Thu Jul 26, 2018 3:02 pm
Hey txerren,

I guess that ITB being my first experience with Degenesis I still am kind of obsessed with "playing it right".


My five cents: Let go ;). In my opinion, there are two different ways to play the campaign (having read ITB and TKG and working on BA, my group is slowly heading towards Purgare now). The first way is hard railroading, "play as ye book tells you to do". Does work, if your players enjoy to be laid back listeners of uncle txerren telling a story. Doesnt work, if your players like to develop their own plans and ideas. Which most of the players prefer, I presume. The second way , "play as it fits your play and GM style" and take ye book as an encouraging and incredible rich basket of ideas and characters. That's what I do. If it doesn't end as ye book says it, well, that's a sign of players creativity and might well lead to other plot ideas.

My rule number one when it comes to metaplot, don't stick to the metaplot (sorry Marko :D ) for no good reasons IF (and that's a big one) it changes the world as it is now. The main reason to play metaplot stories is to be part of world shaking events, and that's okay, but only if the story is focussed on the players outcome. Otherwise they are merely, well... hatstands. Nice to have, but only eye witnesses. Which I consider unsatisfying. If a metaplot changes the way we look at the world, in that case it's no big deal if your players choose another path. You are the GM. You are the world. :)

Could they decide that despite Dr Vega´s lack of scrupules the Spitalian is right and the Starfire is crucial for the survival of humankind, deciding to save the stone and f*** the rest?
Hell yes, they could do so and, surprise, find themselves in another conflict, different frontlines ;). Great stuff for more conflicts. Knowing my players for a while now I see it coming exactly and I will adapt to it, if they decide to side with Vega.
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by txerren Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:40 pm
Thanks Morebytes.

Although I would gladly hear what other GMs and players and the creative team have to say, I must say... I stand convinced by your argument :)

Existential and unbearable freedom it is, then :D

Thanks again!
Last edited by txerren on Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by Ilfaralek Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:03 am
IMHO one of the most rewarding experiences for a GM is it to see the players making the world their own. You set them on the path and see where the path leads. If as a GM I try to railroad the whole thing it does not only endanger the player's fun because there decisions loose meaning, it even hinders me as a GM from having fun. It is just so much fun to quickly adapt to the player's sometimes crazy, sometimes ingenious plans. More than once I had created a devilish opponent and was prepared for the ensuing battle ... only to realize that the players found a way to circumvent the fight or even the whole antagonist. Rather than bending their path to lead back to the antagonist it was fun to witness their approach to the situation.

But that is just my experience regarding the wonderful people with whom I had the pleasure of GMing. I guess it all depends on what you and your players like :)
In Ghat they believe in vampire watermelons, although folklore is silent about what they believe about vampire watermelons. Possibly they suck back.-- (Terry Pratchett)
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by Aerouan Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:43 am
Hello ! :)

I will make it kind of short because I could write a long time about it :D

To me, what happens in the book is the canon story, and this is on what the next big books, those that will also be metaplot-shifting, will be based on. They will continue this story.

So, no, nothing is forced upon you and your players. They can totally decide not to give a fuck about the big badass story taking place around them and focus on more personal stuff. It's legit. Same, they don't need to actively try to change whatever is happening in the world. Just know that if they don't act, the world will keep going without them.
For example, if they decide not to take action in Black Atlantic, Helios will live, Ifrit won't die, and the first Moloch will attack the Western Coast of Franka because Vicarent won't be able to fight it on its own.
Deciding not to act is a choice, nor good or bad.

From my point of view, if you want to play those scenarios, you need to accept the fact that there is a huge probability that it won't happen like written in the books. Your players will do things that are not mentioned, and won't just follow the roads. If you are prepared to this and ready to deal with it, it's perfect.

As for Bayonne (hi i'm a fellow french), this is just Marko doing whatever he wants :D It's not linked to the real Bayonne at all, and shouldn't be a source of confusion.

As for Ifrit, his blood isn't the right thing to take. You need to use Aries' Blood. Something he carries on him. In his inventory you can see he has 40 days worth of Aries Blood ! :) That's what you need to activate the Will. But it's probably not clear for everyone that it is the thing to do. I would ask my characters to make several Artifact Lore rolls (maybe with 20/30 success needed) to find it out, or else it would be too easy.

Hope it helped you dude :)
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

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by txerren Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:02 pm
Hey, thank you both, Ilfaraek, Aerouan!

As for Ifrit, his blood isn't the right thing to take. You need to use Aries' Blood. Something he carries on him. In his inventory you can see he has 40 days worth of Aries Blood ! :)


OMG that was huge! I obviously didn´t realize that!! (just another example of how incredibly -and wonderfully- hyperdense the Degenesis books are!).

I agree with what you say. Basically the Jehammed´s Will saga books provide the railroaded event succession "as is", without any PC intervention, but the moment you throw human will into the mix the train must get, by definition, derailed.

I haven´t yet continued the In Thy Blood party with the Killing Game, but when I do, I will certainly make sure that both the GM (that would be me) and the players feel the wonderful, horrible pressures of freedom ;)

All hail the Molochs ;)
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Re: After Black Atlantic: doubts miscellanea (spoilers ahead

by Darkoorj Wed May 08, 2019 12:34 pm
Hello,
my players are quite experience : they often break the storyline in ways I never anticipated and, as long as the inner logic of the world is respected, I feel it's a very good way to tell a satisfaying story for both my players and me.

In ITB, they try to team with Decoy 9 and are ready to shut the fuck up about his presence in town as long as he helps them solve the crime. Decoy 9 has really no reason to murder them if he can get what he wants. So everybody's happy even if the story is written otherwise.
This is just an example of how they twisted the plot.

So feel free to unleash your players and just us the stories as background and scenes ideas.
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