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18:12, 17th April 2024 (GMT+0)

Freeform Games Interest Check.

Posted by Talon
member, 404 posts
Tue 23 Jan 2024
at 23:32
  • msg #1

Freeform Games Interest Check

I'm thinking of starting up a guided freeform game, but I'm waffling between what sort of game/theme. I have a few ideas, but none of them are leaping out at me so I thought I'd see if any of these resonated with other folks to help tip the scales for me. All of these ideas will lean more towards sandbox play styles and require players to be proactive, either actively pursuing different story threads or coming up with projects of their own to develop. The ideas are as follows:

Fated Chosen Ones - You are the sole survivors of some great cataclysm, you awaken in a temple which is the sole remaining bastion of existence which you then rediscover and salvage piece by piece.
Tone: This would likely be heavily exploration based and feature an eclectic mix of genres as you explore the wreckage of creation.

The Escaped Experiments - You were captured by an evil overlord and experimented upon, then through some stroke of luck you've escaped. Now you need to remain free and fight back.
Tone: Dark, gritty, fights would be more dangerous. The world to discover would be evil and overrun. Likely a stronger narrative whereas the others would be more sandbox.

Colony Ship Arcane - You're one of the mages on a team within a tower that's been teleported to unformed plane. Your mission was to prepare the plane for colonization by your homeworld.
Tone: Bit of a sci-fi tone while fantasy themed. Your wizard tower is like a spaceship, your mission is to cobble together islands of reality. This game would have stronger emphasis on player drive, as I expect mages to have personal projects.

Behind the Veil: Urban fantasy. Not our own world as I don't really want to unpack that can of worms. This would be a game of the players forming a new secret society so they don't get swallowed up by the intrigues and dangers of the hidden world.
Tone: This game would have more politics and intrigue than the others, a lot of the conflict would be the result of interactions with other secret societies. This is probably the concept I'm least certain of as I feel like urban fantasy is surprisingly difficult to pull off.
subscriber, 220 posts
Wed 24 Jan 2024
at 10:34
  • msg #2

Freeform Games Interest Check

In terms of a general point, I would be a little apprehensive about keeping a number of these games freeform rather than trying to include a system (even if it's a bare bones homebrew one). It does depend a bit on how active you expect the GM to be in terms of actively creating the world, piloting NPCs and leading the plot and how much you expect to leave as a sandbox, but I would certainly say that The Escaped Experiments would definitely need some scaffolding around it (even if fairly abstract) to keep players from God-modding or having very different perspectives on how dangerous the world is.

In terms of concepts, I do think the Escaped Experiments could be the most interesting from a roleplaying perspective - depending on how much you want to turn the screw, it could be anything from mutants to Prometheans to something escaped from a Drukhari lab, and I think you could pump in a lot of atmosphere and create both some very brutal but also some very tender moments if you were inclined. As mentioned before, I would probably try and apply a system to it, just so that there's a baseline that everyone is working from and you don't have a massive power discrepancy behind the player who thinks they can take their creator and the slow burn player who thinks their character is so broken they can't even hurt a fly. You'd probably also want to make this one Adult.

Behind the Veil has potential but I think it's going to require a very steady hand on the tiller and a lot of legwork from the GM to keep it going, both in terms of creating a believable world, populating it with NPCs and keeping players in check so they don't end up either undercutting each other or indeed Gordian knotting the situation and exposing everything if they lose their patience. You'd probably also want to apply some degree of system here just because especially in social games, there's a risk that a highly charismatic character can blag their way past most things and you probably want to limit that. As before, an Adult rating would probably be a good shout on this one.

The other two are somewhat less to my taste - partly, the kind of abstract 'playing with realities' really doesn't speak to me, but I also think the core gameplay loop of exploration tends to become stale pretty quickly, and the very desire to have variation across realities means that it's harder to specifically tailor characters to the setting.

But all of this is personal taste and feel free to ignore it as you see fit.
member, 21 posts
Wed 24 Jan 2024
at 11:39
  • msg #3

Freeform Games Interest Check

I run a secret society game with urban fantasy elements (this is a fact, not an ad, before anyone baps me for advertising - this fact is relevant to the next things I am writing): it's challenging but not impossible to do as a freeform thing. As advice, I'd suggest making sure you have a couple of really good roleplayers at the core who are invested with different aspects of your society before opening to the public.

In my experience with my game it was easiest to get to steady, quality activity by networking with potential players from other games I was in first (I always asked DM permission before bothering folks, we all have to play nice lol) and then placing key people in key roles to drive plot from within. Instead of it being like "a bunch of attractive people are locked in a manor" like House on Haunted Hill or something, having those hooks has allowed players to immediately become invested in the plot without having to wait around to be introduced and do their own networking.

I don't have the capacity to take on another game even as a player at the minute, and I wish you luck with whichever choice you make. I'm always up for an RMail if I can be of any help. :)

- Star
member, 405 posts
Wed 24 Jan 2024
at 16:10
  • msg #4

Freeform Games Interest Check

Thanks for the input!

I definitely wasn't planning on pure freeform for any of these games. As GM I plan to arbitrate the action based on the narrative flavor of the players, I'll have some loose stats to give players something to measure themselves with. Freeform just seemed the best way to describe it since there aren't going to be dice rolls dictating success/failure most of the time.

After hearing your thoughts I think I'll lean towards the colony ship idea, the idea of pseudo sci-fi flavor in fantasy gets more interesting the more I think about it. But I'll bring in a stronger narrative start since I'm hearing the trepidation towards a broad sandbox. Having mulled it over during the night, I think the escaped experiments theme is too likely to encourage players towards a lot of angst roleplay, or edge too close to grimdark.

If anyone did peruse the thread and wanted to apply, I've created the game here and will have the ad up shortly:

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