Light of Tomorrow

I’ve started writing the new Shadow of Yesterday book. I know what I’m doing with it, so it’s just a matter of laying tracks and throwing stuff up for playtest now and then to keep things real. Easy and fun, at least if I weren’t harassed by lesser things caused by being a part of society. Christmas, for one – apparently going to cost me some working days.

An example of a knotmap created by the Story Guide in the campaign framework of "Qek Colonization"

An example of a knotmap created by the Story Guide in the campaign framework of "Qek Colonization"

There are a number of potentially interesting threads that I’ve started on the topic out at my English-language forum on the Forge. My favourite is the open playtest call for anybody interested to go at it with my Qek Colonization campaign. There’s some crunch in there that needs testing, and I want to know if others can use and appreciate the “knotmap” style of mapping that I use to create interesting situations and latch crunch on in the Qek jungles of Near, the fantasy setting of the Shadow of Yesterday.

(More discussion of these maps in that thread, but the short story is that there is all sorts of rules stuff that allows players to manipulate these dots and lines, and most importantly, to move between them. The only real geography of the jungle is the one imposed on it by the human perspective. Fun stuff.)

Campaign frameworks, which is what the Qek Colonization stuff is, are my solution to how a huge fantasy setting like Near (or Glorantha, or Creation, or whatever) can be turned into concrete material for play of the game. Instead of overviews of geography and building styles my book will include suggestions for the sort of overarching situations that one might fruitfully explore in campaigns of TSoY. Ammeni going into Qek and colonizing the heck out of it is one of these. More about campaign frameworks in my other thread.

Finally, I’ve been speculating about the name of my book. I personally have misgivings about naming the new book and product “The Shadow of Yesterday” when it’s pretty different from Clinton’s original and not exactly “same thing, only better” that the rpg culture expects of every new product. I wouldn’t mind switching names if something good came to me, but the majority of other interested folks seem to think that I need to keep the name to help people find the product. Sensible, that. I’ll probably end up doing some sort of subtitle deal just so I can have some other name apart from TSoY to refer to my book. Would make it confusing when we had “the old TSoY”, “Eero’s TSoY” and the actual game of TSoY, which can be and is played with all sorts of materials that are not found in either book.


4 Responses to “Light of Tomorrow”

  1. Olorin Says:

    That’s quite cool, definitely have to take a better look at those threads.

    (And you mentioned two of my favorites, Glorantha and Exalted. Even more reasons to check this out!)

  2. Eero Tuovinen Says:

    Both Glorantha and Exalted have been on my mind a lot when working with the new TSoY book. The problem is the same, but the solutions different: how to provide an intricate, complex rpg setting that is much, much larger than any individual campaign could need, but do it in such a manner that the end-result supports play and does not remain on the level of meandering genre fiction?

    I have huge respect for the Hero Wars books from early this decade, those are some of the best rpg setting books ever. They are the earliest example that I’m particularly aware of where a setting is presented solely as a set of interactions between forces in the setting, to be used as a springboard for situations that are the basis for campaigns. This is explicit in how the books raise up and put into relief certain features, directly telling the reader to consider playing those bits.

    Exalted, on the other hand, is a challenging, infuriating and massive beast – it is basically the ’90s telling me how rpgs should be in some sort of monolithic last word. The way it combines specific character types and assumed interactions with a setting that ranges all over the place confounds me time and again, especially when combined with the GMing methodology that presumes GM backstory and separates player interaction with the setting into its own freeform box alongside the real, mechanized character optimization game. It’s a great setting, but it also exemplifies all the problems I have with really making use of a rpg setting in a meaningful manner.

  3. Olorin Says:

    You have a point, although I’m one of those who just love to dwell on setting material, and read it just for the fun of it. (I rare But indeed, sometimes it’s just hard to get to together the essentials. “I’d like to run a campaign in this place, what do I need? This book, that book, parts of those three books…” You propably get the picture. So yeah, not very practical.

    And I totally agree with you about GMing Exalted. Why the heck do the heroes have epic Motivations, if the GM still has to come up with a plot of his own. Sure, you can intertwine the Motivations of the characters to your plot, but that just seems so… inefficent.

  4. Olorin Says:

    Oops, just noticed. That “(I rare” part was not supposed to be there.

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