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Tone and Setting

January 31, 2013

I ought to say something about GMing if I’m going to claim to be a BastardGM.

My settings tend towards the Homeric. I want the PCs to be the doers of great (and sometimes horrific) deeds. I’ve been mulling it a while, but a friend helped cement my understanding of what I aim for. I picked on him for some of his artwork. He often does space opera themed work, but invariably, there will be an ancient, inhuman, terrible thing come up. He replied that “that’s what happens when you discover Lovecraft during your Star Wars obsession.” I grew up first reading Greek and Roman myths. I have used the names from obscure myths I don’t even remember reading, a fact I only realized twenty years later.

Due to my Homeric inclination, I prefer the PCs be remarkable in skill and ability. PCs with divine heritage, legendary prowess, and other exceptional traits. Since I GM Rifts, such PCs do mesh into the setting and system as well as anything can be said to mesh in Rifts. I expect the PCs to do great deeds, whether heroic or terrible. I prefer the heroic, but some PCs just have to be horrific on occasion.

Also due to my Homeric perspective, I do not care as much for armies with giant robots to be featured. While I admit there is some room for Homeric figures in heavily mechanized combat (the Red Baron, Roy Fokker,  Miriya Parina Sterling, etc.), I prefer more intimate combat, where the opposing parties may converse. By the same token, I dislike mass combat where armies are involved. Since I use Rifts, it’s much easier to avoid armies since the combat system is slow for even smaller groups. I shudder to think of a large-scale engagement run via Palladium.

While I use SDC rules for Rifts (and have yet to come up with a scaling method I like), most of my changes are in making  Rifts a whole world rather than a ton of crazy ideas cobbled together with duct tape and bailing twine. While this occasionally requires some mechanic tweaks, it usually involves reworking the setting, such as explaining how competing cosmologies and pantheons can exist without one being right and all others being wrong.  I also address Palladium’s omission of Abrahamic faiths, which I find puzzling given its modern-day settings and heavy use (often butchery) of real-world mythologies.

And, in counter to my friend’s Lovecraftian evils, I prefer evil with a human face.Where Rifts includes so many Alien Intelligences that one cannot sneeze without tripping over one, I keep them few and far between. The only known AI in my campaign is Splynncrynth, the Splugorth lord of Atlantis, who is hardly alien at all if in motivations and demeanor. Though Splynncrynth’s body is a giant eye with too many tenticles, his outlook and mentality seem very human. I do however, use gods, but I have precedent from Homer, who had the gods directly involved in human affairs, even when not having affairs with humans.

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