Sunday, March 14, 2010

Black Rose, Part 4

What sort of stories do we tell in a this mash-up of Romantic Fantasy and Gothic Horror?

Well lets start with the obvious.  Evil is out there and it needs to be stopped.  In the Gothic Horror tradition, the evil is always more powerful than the heroes and rarely if ever fully stopped.  Black Rose would to follow suit. The evil is out there and it must be stopped (because that is what heroes do) even if the odds are stacked against them.

In Romantic Fantasy and in Blue Rose in particular, we expect there to be more character driven plots than monster of the week ones.  Not to say we can't do both, but the plot must be focused on defeating the "Evil", whatever it might be, but at the same time growing the characters.

So what are the games about then?

I could start with the death or injury of the Golden Hart.  This is the catalyst that brings the characters together.  I think more so than any other game I would want the players to spend a lot of time telling me who their characters are and what they want.  Riches and Glory are fine for most D&D games, but for Black Rose, I think there needs to be something more.

I would then spend some time slowly building up the lpot elements.  Have encounters with the Vistani/Roamers, or even a run in with a wrongly accused Night Person/Caliban/Half-Orc.  Yeah that is a little cliched I know, but I think there is value in going over some of these tropes that make up the game.

Of course plenty of undead for the characters to fight, though not names dead.  In Ravenloft back in the 2e days the authors really took the time to, pardon the pun, flesh out the monsters.  A wight was not simply a monster from a barrow, it was an ancient warrior that was once a human and some of that human might remain.  Vampires are not just high level threats (they are)  but also characters in their own right.  Blue Rose/True 20 supports this type of play since all monsters are built as characters more or less.

So what is the ultimate goal?
"Defeat evil" is too vague to build a campaign on.  I think the first step is to find out who tried to kill the Hart and find out way the land is creeping into darkness.  These are related of course.  The ultimate goal then is to discover that the Dark Lord Sayvin is not dead (sort of) and behind all of this.  To do this there would need to be a lot of exploring of the lands to gather information.  The heroes would be the lone bringers of light and justice in a world creeping into darkness.  Sounds like it has a cool 70's genre vibe to it.

In Ravenloft there is no chance the heroes could defeat a Dark Lord.  In Black Rose though, I might let them. Or at least Sayvin.  But they can't do it with combat alone, given the feel of Blue Rose, there needs to be something more.  Something that the characters have to do to show growth and ultimate sacrifice for what they believe is right.   Not sure how to do that one yet that doesn't involve railroading the players.

If it works it would make for a great campaign only game, where after defeating the Dark Lord Aldea is pulled back into the light.  I think that is a good ending.  It's not a fairy tale one, the Queen is still a widow and the deaths that happened are just as real as before.

I think one thing is obvious.  I would have to include Strahd.  I would also like to see Azalin, Harkon Lukas and some of the other Dark Lords.  I would avoid the ones that are too far removed from the Quasi- Renaissance Europe.  I would also have to figure out how the weakening of the barriers keeping them in their own lands would work out.  Some of these Dark Lords hate each other more than anything.  That is a good place to put the heroes in between.  Maybe it is the presence of Aldea that is weakening the laws of Raftenloft.  Sayvin did not complete the ritual 100% (and he is still trying) so Aldea was not pulled all the way into Ravenloft.  That has the borders of the lands become weaker and maybe the Dark Lords want to use that as a means out.  Certainly Azalin would.  Strahd is more concerned with finding his Tatyana, so maybe this freedom is something he is only using to get to her.  All the time Sayvin is making attempts on the Queen's life, but only during the night when he is active.

Lots of potential here I think.

I picked up Troll Lords Tainted Lands in hopes that it might give me some ideas.  But they seemed to have taken Ravenloft and ran in the opposite direction than I want to go.  Too bad really.  But I think there are still some ideas I can use here.

Now to find a group that would want to play this.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Idea is good. I personally think, that Blue Rose is way too cheesy for me. Adding a bit "black" to the palette would suit me well. You could concider also characters. They must aswell melt in the world. Otherwise it's just this background story where heroes do their job. Character's must also represent this "Black Rose" theme. Character's aren't necessarily those knights in shining armors or they even could be, but in every character there must be something tragic. Sounds a bit emo, but well, goth is that. Dark secrets, revenge, lust, depression.
I think that usually in fantasy games character's biggest goal is to "win" the plot GM gives for players like killing the evil dude or something. But even if in this Black Rose setting there is that "big evil", I think you could get more out of it, if there is also personal problems within characters. Some might be touched by darkness what is infecting him slowly and he is hiding it realising, he would be Shadowspawn soon (no cure, or it wouldn't be tragic). Knight who was not betrayed but was betrayer himself. Wizard who is eager for power, and knows the best mojo is in evil magic.
They all are heroes, they save the world, but in the same time they are tragic characters and the line between good and evil is thin.

Just ideas.