Posts Tagged ‘a silence in heaven’

Happy new year, and sorry for the long silence: I’ve been tinkering away on many different projects, meaning that each is moving proportionally slower than even my usual glacial pace. Here’s what’s up in terms of games I’ve talked about here:

A Silence in Heaven has had a small beta update over at parenthesispress.itch.io; I’m at the stage where I’m finishing the individual powers for Sphere+Element combinations, which is slower going than I had thought as I try to create as few duplicates or overlapping abilities as possible. Once all that skeleton is in place, I’ll go back and add more meat to the document.

Similarly, Skald has its core system in place and now I’m working on the kennings and galdr (abilities and spells) for character creation. I’m planning to do a setting write-up at some point, but I don’t want to be too derivative of other existing works such as Ragnarok: Fate of the Norns, which has quite a thorough overview of the Viking world and lore. The preview of that is also up over on parenthesispress.itch.io.

Now, concerning games I haven’t mentioned previously here, but may have alluded to elsewhere:

After bouncing back and forth on several core mechanics for Aphelion, I’ve settled on – brace yourself – Tarot cards. This time, however, I’m pulling inspiration from some very different sources. Traits are resolved somewhat like the core mechanics in games like Trollbabe or Lasers & Feelings, in that you have a numerical rating which requires a result higher than the trait’s rating for one type of action, and below for another. There’s also a pseudo-Celtic Cross spread managed and interpreted by the narrator known as the Crux, which fills in as Major Arcana are drawn and push the plot along to its inevitable conclusion.

I’ve got a rough framework for Jewel of the Sea, including the essential mechanic (a tripartite token economy), five decks of encounters for different locations, and three endgame decks that are chosen based on decisions or events during the course of the game.

With all this other stuff going on, I’ve handed over control of my collaboration with Tore Nielsen to him; I’m now contributing bits and pieces, but he’ll be in charge of the project overall.

Alright, now time to make 2020 a productive year!

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On the Silence in Heaven front: The progress is slow but steady! A skeleton of mechanical resolution is in place, about 20% more of the Sphere+Element powers are written, more lore for the game has been set down (e.g., all the Archons have a description now), and things are looking better than before. Soon, I hope to have a preliminary draft available for followers to comment on!

A wild Game Idea appears! Neal uses Collaborate with Tore Nielsen: it’s super effective! Yes, while plugging away at A Silence in Heaven, another concept for a game sprang to mind, and I realized it was going to be more than I could develop on my own. Thus, I turned to the inimitable Tore to assist me in designing that project, with other potential collaborators in negotiations to join the team. The pitch? Dark Sun meets Into the Badlands with a dash of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Intrigued? Stay tuned for more…

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Still working on angels!

A Silence in Heaven is coming along well: I’m up to about 6000 words now, and I think the final product will be about 10,000 total. Hopefully I can crank that out in the next week in order to make the deadline for the Roll to Craft Jam, but even if I don’t, I’m definitely going to finish this game and put it out into the world.

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I’m getting more work done on A Silence in Heaven, having put a respectable number of words into the various Spheres, the Elements they’re composed of, and the Archons that angels serve. Here’s a brief listing of what’s in the document now (albeit without any mechanical stuff for right now, because that’s in no way finalized).

As mentioned before, the five Spheres of an angel’s composite soul are its Crown, Eyes, Sword, Trumpet, and Wings. These are analogous to the attributes in other RPGs, reflecting the essential things that characters are expected to do, and which have numerical ratings reflecting their strengths.

Elements available as of right now are Adamant, Flame, Glory, Gold, Hosts, Light, Lightning, Shadow, the Most High, Thunders, and Wrath. To refresh your memories, angels have an Element combined with each of their Spheres, so a given angel might look like this:

  • Crown of Flame +3
  • Eyes of Glory +2
  • Sword of Adamant +0
  • Trumpet of Gold +4
  • Wings of the Most High +1

Each of these comes with an innate gift and a manifest gift; angels always receive the benefit of their innate gifts, but must “don” a Sphere to gain the manifest gift. That is, your Sword of Adamant actually appears in your hand, or you sprout your Wings of the Most High to call upon those powers.

Archons that angels may serve are:

  • Azrael, Archon of Death
  • Gabriel, Archon of Justice
  • Israfil, Archon of Music
  • Michael, Archon of Kindness
  • Raphael, Archon of Healing
  • Samael, Archon of Destruction
  • Sandalphon, Archon of Unity
  • Sariel, Archon of Protection
  • Uriel, Archon of Repentance
  • Zadkiel, Archon of Mercy
  • Zophiel, Archon of Guardianship

There are politics in Heaven in the absence of the Creator; for instance, Sandalphon leads the “loyalist” angels who want to maintain the status quo in hopes that the Creator will return to the Throne of Heaven, while Azrael wishes to declare the Creator officially dead and install a new Creator from among the Archons. Tensions between Gabriel and Zadkiel over their conflicting missions are growing, and the long-friendly rivalry between Sariel and Zophiel is starting to get heated (Zophiel wishes to “guard” the Throne of Heaven from “usurpers”, while Sariel sees the damage this spiritual in-fighting is doing to mortals and wishes to bring it to an end).

Angels may serve the Name of one or more Archons, doing deeds to advance their causes and give them Immanence; this is rewarded with miracles that angels can call upon.

(There’s also Metatron, the dormant Archon who has not moved or spoken since the Creator disappeared; angels may decide they formerly served Metatron, but it no longer grants any miracles or gains Immanence. There are also a few examples of Fallen Elements and Names in the text which are not quite developed; they’re not intended for player use but rather to guide the creation of antagonists, but I may explore mechanics for Falling and Redemption if time permits.)

Thoughts so far?

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A hierarchy of powers

I’m becoming more and more enamored of the idea of adapting Nobilis‘ basic attribute system to this game, so let’s look at how that might work.

In Nobilis, you build a starting Sovereign from a blank slate, using 25 character points to buy your four Attributes as well as Gifts (custom special powers that don’t fall under the Miracles that all Nobles can perform with their Attributes). My vision of building angels already builds in five starting Gifts based on Sphere-Element combinations, but five Attributes, so at first glance, it doesn’t look like the character point totals would necessarily need to be adjusted, but upon further instruction, there’s a problem. See, the Nobilis scale for attributes goes from 0 to 5, and because you probably want to buy some nifty Gifts, you won’t end up spending all of the points on your Attributes. My angelic model would automatically result in scores of 5 across the board for every stat if there weren’t another place to spend points. I think I might thus want to either (a) lower the number of available points, or (b) allow angels to buy more Gifts and other traits to introduce a meaningful decision.

One of the things I was thinking of also introducing to the game, which becomes relevant at this point, would be affiliation with the existing Archons. Angels are used to following orders, not operating under their own volition, so angels would start with ties to one or more of the Archons and work to advance that Archon’s Name in the world. (Each Archon has a Name which reflects the abstract ideal they represent and advance in the world: Michael is kindness, Gabriel is justice, etc.) An angel can devote themselves to funneling the remaining spiritual light to their Archon, raising their Immanence and earning the ability to invoke Miracles in return. So that would be a logical place for a starting angel to devote some of their starting focus.

PS: I have a name for the game now! As you’ve probably seen already, the game is tentatively titled A Silence in Heaven.

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Numbers? Or not?

I’m debating whether or not Sphere/Element combinations should have a numerical rating as well, in the tradition of standard RPG attributes, or whether the system should be completely verbally descriptive instead of using mathematical comparisons. It’s not necessary when dealing with angel versus mortal interactions – angels always win – but there is obviously an opportunity for celestial beings to conflict in a meaningful way, and there needs to be a way to resolve that.


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Okay, so I’m just throwing ideas at the wall right now to see what sticks.

Angels are made up of five Spheres, each of which has an associated Element. These Elements are neither the scientific elements nor the classical elements, but a descriptor that elaborates on what that Sphere is composed of (both literally and metaphorically) and grants a special Gift based on the combination. Let me demonstrate.

The five Spheres are Crown, Eyes, Wings, Sword, and Trumpet. Each governs essential aspects of the angel’s existence. The player assigns an Element to each Sphere, as follows (I’m just picking five arbitrary examples):

  • Crown of Flame
  • Eyes of Wrath
  • Wings of Shadow
  • Sword of Adamant
  • Trumpet of Gold

The rules then tell you what Gift those combinations give you, so you have five starting powers based on your choices. You could assign any of the listed Elements in the rules to any of your Spheres, but you can’t duplicate an Element. That means, say, you could make any one of your Spheres “of Flame” or “of Adamant”, but no doubling up.

Another idea I have is that your Spheres are either hidden (in which case you just appear to be a normal person) or you can “don” your Spheres. Each Sphere would have a Subtle power that is always on, and a Manifest power for when you’ve actually donned your angelic nature. It would cost you power to do so, though, so you’re probably not running around at all times as a blazing beacon of celestial presence. When the Creator was still filling the world with Light, you could afford to do that, but these days you have to be more sparing with your precious Halo and its reserves of Light.


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