Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed)



  • It is the most honest title I could come up with. It's what it says on the tin.

    A few quick disclaimers:

    • I'm only kinda crowdsourcing here on select weird questions. (This is not intended as a free-for-all dogpile of every wishlist item anyone ever wanted in a game to get thrown in phrased as a requirement.)
    • No, nothing's ready to get looked at yet. (Yes, I'll post when it is, promise.)
    • Some stuff is already carved in stone. (And, well, deal with it, because it isn't changing.)
    • I will totally add more disclaimers don't you test me! <fist-shake> (Ahem.)

    General vibe of the project is as follows:

    • Take one series of Black Sails watched at least 8 times back to back
    • Take all of the PotC movies
    • Imbibe lots of liquor
    • Add all of the 'I secretly wanted to be a mermaid when I was a kid' that absolutely fucking exists in this hobby
    • Insert one part 'WE GET CANNONS?!'
    • Add all of the 'I secretly want to be a pirate even now that I'm an adult' that absolutely exists in this hobby
    • Mix in select Lovecraftian overtones <plucks out the naughty tentacle to fling away> How did that get in there...
    • Throw in some old lost island/civilization myths that are actually not at all about Atlantis I swear!
    • Add a pinch of Lords & Ladies
    • Maybe take some peyote? (Improvise here.)
    • Throw in a dash of the spirit world
    • Acquire copious amounts of rum
    • Add in at least one plausible impression of Alien Guy
    • Toss in just a hint of campy weirdness for garnish
    • EDIT: Add the most absurdly baroque wiki layout ever
    • Throw in blender, hit puree. (And wait several months. This gives people time to look up how stuff was in 1715, or watch all of Black Sails at least 50 times, either or.)

    ...if it doesn't make perfect sense, that's fine, but please note I'm not going to go into the weeds on explainers here because it's still being written down and I would really rather only do it once so please be patient until I can simply point to something, it's a lot of work and I'm already behind where I'd like to be on this.

    This is not based on an existing game system or setting, and won't be. I'm not going to spend time trying to litigate the flaws in another system when I'm trying to get this one done. There will be time for mechanics input, but it isn't now. <3

    There will be: humans, some spirit beings, and mer, which are more or less exactly what you think: fishy people of various types.

    So here's the first questions:

    1. Y'all are going to make me make cephalopods of some kind under that umbrella, aren't you. (There are already sirens and mermaids and a few other mer-things, some sparkle-shiny and some shuddersome and creepy.) If you want to be a tentacled creature (of the deep, not hentai), express your wants in that direction here.

    2. Taking suggestions for a name that does not suck for a 'more or less crustacean-y based' sort of fish people character class, because after all this time, yes, there will finally be somewhere to play a were-mantis-shrimp (or werelobster, or wereprawn, or werecrab, I suppose, since classes are fairly flexible).

    3. If there are any really unusual traits of aquatic life that you think warrant attention -- poison spines, camouflage, ink, bioluminescence, mantis shrimp punch-of-death, etc. -- for ideas for powers and such, links and ideas are very welcome. I have some ideas, but I did not actually grow up to be Jacques Cousteau like I wanted to when I was six (yes, really), so suggestions or links to truly weird and obscure sealife with curious abilities are quite welcome. (Do not worry about the mechanics, they are in the weeds! Deep in the weeds! Do not go into the weeds! The weeds are full of spiders, stay out of the weeds! The weeds are full of grue! Ravenous, spider-infested grue!)


  • Admin

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    So here's the first questions:

    1. Y'all are going to make me make cephalopods of some kind under that umbrella, aren't you. (There are already sirens and mermaids and a few other mer-things, some sparkle-shiny and some shuddersome and creepy.) If you want to be a tentacled creature (of the deep, not hentai), express your wants in that direction here.

    I think I've mentioned over this part, but... make sure you're not segmenting your playerbase. If mer-things and humans can't both go to certain places (such as an underwater bar) then it's a problem.

    Also, how much realism are you going for here? For example - language. Underwater sentient people wouldn't have developed the same kind of speech landwalkers have for obvious reasons, and possibly their weapons, civilization (do they have writing?), fashion, etc. Are you interested in exploring these things? How much is beyond the game's scope?

    Otherwise maybe introduce a cultural state of animosity - fantasy racism and old vendettas can make a game world come to life.



  • @Arkandel Really need to stick to the questions specifically -- a lot of this is stuff that will be explained later, and I am really not going into all the cultural data on the forum. That's stuff that takes so much time to even write once I don't want to exhaust myself getting into it here and now. Language isn't as much of an issue as you might imagine; this isn't a case of natural evolution, and while the societal norms have vastly diverged over a fair bit of time, they have shared origins.

    Not all places on grid are going to be accessible for everyone. Some places will be set aside for certain groups, though the vast majority of the grid is open to everyone. Some classes will be more restricted than others regarding where they can go, or when they can go there, or how often, etc.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    1. (There are already sirens and mermaids and a few other mer-things, some sparkle-shiny and some shuddersome and creepy.)

    What @Arkandel said. Beware the fractured playerbase. I don't see the need for a tentacley-type, but Davey Jones was pretty popular...

    1. Taking suggestions for a name that does not suck for a 'more or less crustacean-y based' sort of fish people character class

    Hardskins. Shellheads. The Undersea. Carapace People. Crabmen. (Nope, those all suck, sorry.)

    1. If there are any really unusual traits of aquatic life that you think warrant attention -- poison spines, camouflage, ink, bioluminescence, mantis shrimp punch-of-death, etc. -- for ideas for powers and such, links and ideas are very welcome.

    Sonar. Being able to unhinge your jaw like a shark. Anemone stingers. Clownfish immunity to poison. Being able to spit up your stomach when surprised. Mostly just sonar.



  • @Seraphim73 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    Hardskins. Shellheads. The Undersea. Carapace People. Crabmen. (Nope, those all suck, sorry.)

    ^ That is totally where I am on those, too. For real.

    I'm not too worried about there being places only one group can go. It's already painfully common in most systems people play; if the hobby can get along with only some character types stepping into shadow/the underworld/the hedge/being confined to certain hours or nightzones/etc. in WoD, I don't see it being a huge hurdle. The niche areas just get used much less, on the whole, but they serve unique purposes for their respective classes and pose significant dangers to those who don't belong there. If the existence of those doesn't immediately destroy every WoD game, I have a very hard time thinking similar options tailored to specific groups in any other game setting or system are going to be the sure and certain ruination of a grid and all gameplay.

    There's also this, really: mundane humans are the baseline, and there are the most available character classes for human characters. That means sea critters end up with modifications, for the most part, to perform better physically in the water than humans do, but suffer some penalties on land as a balancer.

    Someone could create some kind of magic potion to allow a human to breathe under water at depths people can free dive to in order to hang out around there if they felt like it -- and that in itself wouldn't be a big deal -- but the only areas they can't easily access anyway through free diving for short intervals would be at depths considerable enough to do some major damage to the human body (pressure) that people were not remotely equipped to deal with in 1715. There's only so much handwavium for things like that, or nitrogen narcosis, etc. (and that goes for everyone) that I'm comfortable with.

    Now, that might be me getting way into the weeds of realism, but it's a thing. Only certain things can go jaunting through the spirit world in game, too, but that's why it's quite literally one small spirit world zone, just like there's one small 'at depths' underwater zone, and there are areas of the standard grid that are equally detrimental to sea critters, where they really shouldn't be if they want to live longer than a few minutes for similar reasons.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    1. If there are any really unusual traits of aquatic life that you think warrant attention -- poison spines, camouflage, ink, bioluminescence, mantis shrimp punch-of-death, etc. -- for ideas for powers and such, links and ideas are very welcome. I have some ideas, but I did not actually grow up to be Jacques Cousteau like I wanted to when I was six (yes, really), so suggestions or links to truly weird and obscure sealife with curious abilities are quite welcome. (Do not worry about the mechanics, they are in the weeds! Deep in the weeds! Do not go into the weeds! The weeds are full of spiders, stay out of the weeds! The weeds are full of grue! Ravenous, spider-infested grue!)

    I pulled some stuff from electric eel biology for an Marvel mutant electrokinetic type. Both in terms of giving off electric shocks and using electric pulses for echolocation.



  • Actually, I was thinking something neat for the underwater world would be a non-human type, by which I mean one with an alien way of thinking, or fairly alien, and perhaps not open to being played.


  • Pitcrew

    Look I just gotta know...

    ...can I be a Mermaid Duchess?


  • Admin


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @Seraphim73 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    Hardskins. Shellheads. The Undersea. Carapace People. Crabmen. (Nope, those all suck, sorry.)

    ^ That is totally where I am on those, too. For real.

    Rusalka (Slavic underwater demon)

    Beisht koine (irish water monster .... Translates as beast with black head)

    Or the Snorks


  • Pitcrew

    @Arkandel said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @Auspice

    I'd ask to be a Mermaid Princess but I don't wanna seem too greedy (a) and Princesses usually have a harder time going off on Grand Adventures (b).

    But I wanna hassle pirates. While also managing a portion of the ocean and making sure fish pay their proper taxes of pretty shells.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality This sounds a lot like the project that I'm working on, especially the (totes not Atlantis) lost island/civilization myths. Only you have to swap out the mermaid bits and replace with Tropico, because who doesn't want a Tropico/Pirate mix game?

    I'm also playing down the spirit world, because I want my game to be more focused on politics and a wee bit more grounded than most MUs (demon bishops? What demon bishops? None of that here!).



  • There was a book series about creatures evolved from insects instead of humans or something. With magic.

    But there were also undersea dudes, and that would be a cool basis for the undersea culture as presented in your ideas.

    There were multiple undersea cultures, some militant, some lawless. I'd call just call the entire undersea universe 'The Deep' and go from there. Deep Kingdoms, Deep Republics, etcetera. I dunno.



  • @Lisse24 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @surreality This sounds a lot like the project that I'm working on, especially the (totes not Atlantis) lost island/civilization myths. Only you have to swap out the mermaid bits and replace with Tropico, because who doesn't want a Tropico/Pirate mix game?

    I'm also playing down the spirit world, because I want my game to be more focused on politics and a wee bit more grounded than most MUs (demon bishops? What demon bishops? None of that here!).

    I was actually so worried when I saw that, because I've been grinding away on this practically full time hours-wise since last year, and had been planning some of the concepts with someone for five (read: he told me I should do all the work because 'wow that would be cool', then flaked and vanished so I wasn't constrained by only working on it when he was around), so was initially like... oh, god, not again. The last three concepts I was tinkering with I dropped when I discovered there was too much overlap with stuff other folks are doing, so it's been rough on that front -- I'm a 'not wanting to step on toes' sort that way.

    I suspect the end results will be pretty different. There are weird demonic forces! ;) Mostly based on the lore of Ys with some Lovecraftian themes (think Innsmouth) thrown in, though, with an odd race between Spain and England and odd disappearances and, well, who doesn't love the crazy theories about the Bermuda triangle? :D


  • TV & Movies

    As I mentioned to @Lisse24 as well, I've also (also) been working/fiddling/thinking about this sort of thing, although it was initially thoughts of maybe doing a 7th sea game. That said, I don't want to use 1st Ed (because its too much like WoD in the level of min-max, hard-to-teach, need to read all the splatbooks), and kind of think 2nd sucks for MUing so... it might not be one.

    I think this mostly means you will have a couple potential players more than anything, though. I'm not sure how personally hyped I am on aliens and Cthulhu (it's overdone to hell and always = vague world ending plots which are basically the stupidest plots) but... I'd still probably play for pirates and cannons and booze, possibly not in that order.



  • @bored Agreed on the actual Lovecraft being specifically that. I'm interested in the idea more than his specific mythos. I always figure 'inspired by' is good, actually using pieces of anything as it is (even stuff that is allowed like his is) is just too derivative to be interesting, and it also comes with a lot of baggage in terms of that world that I find boring or don't want to use or deal with.

    The general notion is roughly: 'old weird sea being takes down islands in a pattern similar to the concept of Innsmouth's creepiness over a period of centuries', each time resulting in a slightly different sort of seafolk that then end up propagating in odd ways. It just happened to end up here the most recently; Ys and a handful of other 'lost island civilizations' are former locations where it had been and done its thing over the course of history, it's just that in Ys it found a partner, who unfortunately went down with the ship, in a manner of speaking. Cue strange possessions and a race to the 'new world' to reunite the crazy cults in a collage of confusion, in so far as that goes. (The cult based loosely on Ys lore takes people and seafolk, and more or less pulls a PotC 'Davy Jones crew' sort of warping on them over time, by comparison.)

    More or less the older the iteration of overtaken civilizations is, the 'deeper' they live, the more abstracted they've become, and the less able they are on land. For instance, some of the descendants of the most ancient societies would be taking cues from things like angler fish and so on, and can't ever surface in daylight, and so on, because they're so accustomed to existing in the deep deep regions and have adapted accordingly. I don't really expect to see a lot of takers on those for PCs, mind... but 'stupendously creepy more or less vampire monster fishperson' is neat enough that even if there are only NPCs of them ever made to smite in sheer horror, they'll be fun for that purpose!

    ...but really, there is a reason for there to be undersea places where people do not go lightly, or with much of an expectation of return. :D



  • @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    I don't really expect to see a lot of takers on those for PCs, mind... but 'stupendously creepy more or less vampire monster fishperson' is neat enough that even if there are only NPCs of them ever made to smite in sheer horror, they'll be fun for that purpose!

    I love playing that type of character. I haven't recently, and I miss it. They're kind of hard to take out for casual rp, but that's what alts or, er, fish out of water scenes are for.


  • Pitcrew

    @surreality said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @Lisse24 said in Strange Game Dev Inquiries from surreality (condensed):

    @surreality This sounds a lot like the project that I'm working on, especially the (totes not Atlantis) lost island/civilization myths. Only you have to swap out the mermaid bits and replace with Tropico, because who doesn't want a Tropico/Pirate mix game?

    I'm also playing down the spirit world, because I want my game to be more focused on politics and a wee bit more grounded than most MUs (demon bishops? What demon bishops? None of that here!).

    I was actually so worried when I saw that, because I've been grinding away on this practically full time hours-wise since last year, and had been planning some of the concepts with someone for five (read: he told me I should do all the work because 'wow that would be cool', then flaked and vanished so I wasn't constrained by only working on it when he was around), so was initially like... oh, god, not again. The last three concepts I was tinkering with I dropped when I discovered there was too much overlap with stuff other folks are doing, so it's been rough on that front -- I'm a 'not wanting to step on toes' sort that way.

    I suspect the end results will be pretty different. There are weird demonic forces! ;) Mostly based on the lore of Ys with some Lovecraftian themes (think Innsmouth) thrown in, though, with an odd race between Spain and England and odd disappearances and, well, who doesn't love the crazy theories about the Bermuda triangle? :D

    I know! My initial thought was aghast that we might be overlapping and both lose players that way, but I think despite some overlap in setting and theme, we're actually creating two very different games and targeting different audiences. It'll be fun to see the end results!


  • TV & Movies

    @surreality Honestly that doesn't make it sound a whole lot better. Beyond the initial ghost ship, the supernatural stuff was by far what made PotC increasingly silly and unwatchable to me, and I legitimately don't see how you really work this stuff in substantially in any way for PCs while both maintaining any hint of the theme you're selling:

    'What is that, lieutenant? (pronounced with a suitable British f)'
    'Ah, sir, I believe it's a small band of fishmen riding seahorses'
    'How terribly uncouth. Very well, you may fire when ready.'
    'Jolly good, sir.'

    I dunno. Then there's what someone already mentioned about it basically being a proven MUSH law that you cannot split up your playing population so I don't know how you have PC versions of any of these things that aren't just traipsing around town with everyone else, also leading to the above. Plus everyone and their mom will be trying for the Lonely Island achievement, with or without hilarious results:

    alt text



  • @bored I think I see what you're getting at. The fishy folk in this all have (even if it's far back) human ancestry. All of them absolutely can assume forms humanoid enough to go on land, and they can breathe air and whatnot. Some can pull off looking entirely human while doing so, too. They are, within limits, shapeshifters by default.

    Edit: The supernatural elements aren't something I'm hedging on the inclusion of, and they aren't going away. It's not meant to be a strictly historical game by far and I would never be interested in running a game like that. PotC is about the balance being aimed for -- there's weirdness afoot, it's just not going to be the Disney version of that sort of weirdness, which is deliberately campy/silly/definitely sanitized much of the time.


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