6d6 Hellenic Treatment

This treatment outlines our core concepts for this game and shows its intended tone and style. Discussion is, as always, welcome.

General Scope

Our intention is to provide a large setting for games and adventures to take place in. The first book will be this setting, detailing who the characters are and the world they live in. A sample campaign will also be included, with more providing supplementary material.


Core Concepts

A New Age of Legends

The great writers have long told tales of the times of ancient Greek heroes. These words of prose and poetry tell of the great heroes such as Hercules, Odysseus and Perseus. From the fall of Troy to the Labyrinth of Crete, heroes of divine blood and blessing have stood and fought for themselves, for their cities and for Greece.

With the foundation of these heroic legends, Greek power thus forged has grown so that Hellenic society is now the premier civilisation of the Mediterranean. Many think that the influence of the gods has waned as the influence of man has grown in these more recent times. Greece is a hot bed of new ideas and philosophy, all vying for prominence in the minds of men. But despite the march of logic and the progress of reason, Greece finds itself once again plagued by the conflict and strife that so characterised its near-mythical history. Into this dynamic world step a new generation of heroes and new legends are being written. Indeed, players of Olympic Legends are not playing real men or women, but legendary characters. By invoking the symbols of their patron gods or applying their minds to nature they weave their own stories. These men and women must be clever and strong if they are to transcend the stories and challenge fate. In turn, blessed and damned by the Gods, will they bring forth an age of new legends?

In this game, the players take on the role of these new heroes, each having a patron god to serve and call upon.

The Gods are Subtle

The gods do not grant men their powers, only aid them in more subtle ways. Godly aid can be gained by using their symbols in your rolls, accompanied by a description of the action. For example, the champion of Apollo cannot burn enemies with the sun, but can play the Sun card to ensure that when he jumps from the ledge onto the Persian soldiers beneath him, the sun is behind him and blinds them. He may also invoke Apollo’s realm of archery to guide a desperate arrow into the eye of a rampaging cyclops. A champion of Poseidon may choose to storm a beach by having his trireme carried onto shore by a great wave amongst horses made of surf and foam, to terrify his enemies and surprise them with his speed.

The gods may choose to communicate in person, or will act through their symbols again. Hera may will her champion to kill someone by having a peacock call whenever they are met. The gods will never communicate exactly what they mean…

The gods can also be surprisingly literal. For example, Zeus is the son of Chronos and had to be hidden from him during his infancy. One version of this story has a nymph hide him from the Lord of the Sea, Land and Sky by dangling him from a tree so he was in none of those places and so invisible to Chronos. Another episode sees Hera bind a woman's legs together to prevent her giving birth. It is this kind of literal but poetic thinking we want to promote in this game to give it the flavour of Greek epics.

The Gods Have Their Own Plans

Champions are chosen to help a god meet his or her own ends. Therefore, champions can be equally expected to do great things for Greece, clever things for knowledge, or vicious things for their patron’s vanity. The gods are not your servants: they will not appreciate disloyalty or you calling on their power to meet someone else’s ends. The gods are also fickle and human politics pales in comparison to their infighting, so it is certain that their champions will be involved in these. The god therefore can serve as a primary source of plots, though humans have free will and will also drive the world onwards.

Philosophy

As well as mighty heroes, Greece has raised clever men who have thought on all aspects of the universe. These philosophers act partly with the powers of the gods but mostly with their own powers of understanding. They have a School of Thought instead of (or as well as) an Olympic patron which determines how they understand the world. They can craft cunning devices or directly influence the world around them according to their principles and paradoxes. Zeno’s paradox can be used to stop an arrow in flight, or evade a pursuer despite being slower than them. The Theory of the Four Humours can be used to cure the sick and injured. The Theory of the Four Elements can be used to extract fire directly from wood.

In essence, if champions fight and quest, philosophers do everything else. We haven’t fully worked out how these will work, but we will include them until such time as we decide they don’t work at all. We may replace it with magic, since we find magicians in stories more often than philosophers.

The Scope of the Setting

For the time being we have chosen to set the game in 400BC. The Greek cities swerve between being a major power and turning on each other. The eastern Mediterranean is dominated by the Acheaminid Empire of Persia which stretches all the way to the Indus in the east to the Bosphorus in the west. Their power is not unchallenged however; the Egyptians are in the midst of an uprising and the Greek cities remain a thorn in the Empires side. Out towards the west, Rome is just a small Greek colony with big ambitions and the seas are dominated by Carthage. A stuttering war is being fought in Sicily between Syracuse and Carthage. In the north, untold numbers of Celtic people control the forests and hills.

400BC has been chosen because it is just before Alexander unifies Greece and we can bring in internal Greek squabbling as well as external threats, such as Persia or northern barbarians. Persia is also more interesting at this point than after Alexander destroyed it. Picking a real date also means we can focus our research on the politics and society of the time, and also means we don’t have to invent maps.

Extra human sources of conflict in the world increase the richness of potential stories, and we can play on the interplay of mortals and gods. For example, a war between Athens and Corinth over a colony sparks anger between Athena and Ares. Ares wishes to exacerbate the war, Athena wishes to end it, and so her champion(s) must find a way to stop the war. Of course, this will anger Ares who will attempt to kill Athena’s champions and so on and so forth. It can also lead to rivalries between player characters, especially when the Games are on.

Our stories focus on Greece: its politics, heroes, Gods and monsters. A nation is defined by its surroundings, so Greece’s neighbours will be described to provide GMs and players with a deeper well of information to draw stories from. At the moment we want to include notes and draw on them to make NPCs, monsters, and stories, but not allow players to make characters based on them. Whilst it will be interesting to let someone play a Brythonic warrior empowered by Brittania, or an Arab who is hounded by a djinn who is all-to-eager to sell him help, these may be best left to supplementary material since they are different kinds of stories.

Our rule-of-thumb regarding scope is to make sure the game does one thing and does it well, and that we don’t distract ourselves (and the players) with unnecessary details. In this case, we want to write a game where the players can tell epic legends of great heroes, all with lots of poetic licence and expansive language (and gestures).

=Historical Accuracy=

By picking a date have the ability to accurately represent the state of Greece at that time. It is intended that this setting provide the players and story leaders with enough information and flavour to imagine and build a world around the stories they wish to tell. This is our focus. As such, we will be making little changes to what might be called 'established history' in order to provide a better narrative framework.

Light on Equipment

We want the players to enjoy playing out the myths, not fiddling about with inventory management and money. Money will not need to be kept track of, unless the game leader makes it part of the story that they are poor. The assumption is that players will need mostly their wits, a spear and a good helmet. Special items such as a mirrored shield, silver spear or magic helmet will need to be sought out or crafted.

Magical items will be handled as the narrative demands, and the exact rules will depend on the item. For example, Dragon’s Teeth can be planted in the ground to create living skeletons. In this case, the teeth are activated and the effect happens at the end of the turn, when the skeleton being to climb up from the ground.

Death and the Underworld

In the Core rules it is mentioned that reviving the dead is setting-specific. In this case, the dead go to the Underworld to cross the River Styx into the realm of Hades. Many heroes in myth find ways out of the Underworld and ours should be no exception. The intention here is that if a player character dies, the player can choose to play another character or to pursue rescuing the previous character from the Underworld. Obviously, this will split the party somewhat, unless they all die. Doing this adds mini-campaigns into the game and makes it quite a challenge to get a dead player back. The potential for escape applies to antagonists as well as heroes.

Discussion

Mark Foster, 2011/12/04 12:18

I have put this up here to demonstrate to everyone the kind of game we want to write, and to invite discussion. As the project moves along, I expect the text here to be woven in elsewhere so this page will slowly disappear.

The major question mark in the above is Philosophy. It's an idea we want to explore, but it may get dropped in favour of magic. We need to do more research on Greek conceptions of magic (where does the power come from? What do the gods think of it?) to help us decide.

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open/settings/6d6hellenic/treatment.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/02 11:57 by cyancqueak
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The 6d6 RPG tabletop store is owned and operated by Chris Tregenza. Who also owns and runs Myomancy, a site about ADD / ADHD medication, Autism and Dyslexia Treatments and also site called Poosk. Chris also provides copy-writing, web design SEO advice to sites like Dingles' Games pathfinder rpg resources.