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Nero Grimes

How Much Supernatural/Magic/Psychic Abilities in the Raider-verse?

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Does it matter?

 

Lucius Alexander

 

If I described it as "a two headed camel" that would not capture the full horror of it, for you would think of the kind of bicephaly that is not an uncommon deformity, though such things are usually born dead or die soon. And it was not deformed, it was as well formed in its way as an earthly creature with its own logical symmetry - oh, so symmetrical it was! - but it was a symmetry impossible to terrestrial life, utterly alien and repellent to me. The old sorcerer called it palindromedary, "that which runs each way alike." One could only approach it from the front, it was literally impossible to come at it from behind. Nothing could be behind it, for it had no behind to be!

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That is so unworthy of you.

 

The 'spielberg factor' - Early Onset Artistic Hubris - is why none of the Lesser Movies are not fully canon. 

 

Atomic Fridge is the new Jump the Shark.nce.

 

Bah.  Nonsense.  Jumping out of a crashing plane on a rubber raft to ride it down the mountainside was not a whit more survivable.  

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Well, to return to the original question, and speaking as a considerable fan of Call of Cthulhu (the game) and anything written by HPL, I think for me the difference is best described by the word "atmosphere." 

 

Clearly Indiana Jones is a globe-trotting adventurer, in the classic mold of people like Doc Savage (if not so "super-powery"), while the average protagonist of a Cthulhu Mythos story is more like Marcus Brody.  Except that Marcus Brody doesn't know anyone even remotely like Indy, and instead has to deal with the situation on his own.  And except that the situation doesn't involve murdering Nazis stealing an ancient artifact as the primary opponents, but monsters so beyond the average mortal's ability to deal with them that the most frequent recourse for the protagonist is either death (often by suicide) or a rapid descent into madness.  Even when purely mortal cultists are the primary enemy (as in in the eponymous Call of Cthulhu itself, they are actually not considered the worst part of the story; but merely lesser manifestations of the incredible evil and corruption of the primary foe (that being whichever Great Old One the protagonist is being forced to confront).

 

Nor is any of what's going on really "magic" -- even though it may be described that way by mere humans; but instead is a manifestation of Clarke's Law though more focused on mathematics and physics than merely on technology.  Or, to rephrase Clarke's Law:  "Any sufficiently advanced mathematical, geometrical or physical sciences skill is indistinguishable from magic."  Given that HPL was an atheist, his "magical systems" (at least according to his letters) were intended to merely be mysterious manifestations of outre math and scientific understandings -- indeed in Dreams in the Witchhouse, he clearly makes that connection as Walter Gilman both slowly goes mad and increasingly interacts with Keziah and Brown Jenkin as his understanding of "non-Euclidean" geometry grows.

 

So while it would clearly be possible to interpret Indiana Jones adventures in terms of the Cthulhu Mythos, they would cease being the free-wheeling pulp adventures they are, and would instead become dark stories of cosmic horror in which Indy and his friends would be consumed by horrific deaths at the hands of frequently nearly indescribably monsters and beings and the survivors would steadily descend into abject madness more as a defense mechanism than anything else.  Which brings us back to the "atmosphere" argument I launched in the beginning.  In Cthulhu Mythos stories and games, the world is a terrible place, concealing inconceivable evil and terror which can only be "defeated" by nearly impossible efforts, usually costing the protagonist either his life or sanity, and which really only constitutes a minor setback for the entities being opposed.  In Indiana Jones, a single (talented, but basically normal) human opposes and overcomes more common "evils," albeit with many "cliffhanging" opportunities along the way, and with the help of some loyal, but probably not terribly impressive friends.  Indy suffers no real negative consequences of his confrontations with his enemy; he's not driven insane, nor is he killed (though he may take a beating along the way), nor is he left with deeper questions as to the meaning of it all. ("What's that?"  "The Ark of the Covenant."  "The Ark of the Covenant?  Are you sure?"  "Pretty sure." -- and thus a major event in Indy's life is dismissed in one flip exchange.  Whereas in a more Mythos-oriented tale, merely seeing the image might be enough of a shock to send him fleeing from the tunnel he's in towards the more sane light of day.)

 

In game terms, it's why Call of Cthulhu has a "Sanity" mechanism (which will eventually and unavoidably remove any character that physically survives the game through guaranteed madness), and D6, Pulp Hero, and so on doesn't really (though you could certainly add one if you liked).  I note in passing that in Chaosium's house organ for Basic Roleplaying, Uncounted Worlds, they have replacement rules for "Stress" instead of "Sanity" which removes the inevitable descent into madness from the game and replaces it with a more "shock" -like mechanism suitable for more pulpy roleplaying -- and which, unless over-damaged through lack of time to relax and heal, can be completely recovered from with no lasting ill effects.  Whether "Stress" is any more a description of reality than "Sanity" is, I'll leave to the sufferers from PTSD to determine.

 

Anyway, that's my $0.40 worth (that much, because I probably went on about 20 times as long as anyone wanted me to).  ;-)

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Yeah, the problem is this long ago shifted from "how much supernatural stuff belongs in the Indiana Jones universe" and became "guess what things I like".  When you're making pronouncements that Temple of Doom didn't happen and that the "true" Indy universe must include your Xena/Buffy crossover fanfic, then you're not talking about Indiana Jones as anyone else in the universe will recognize it anymore.

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"Anyway, that's my $0.40 worth (that much, because I probably went on about 20 times as long as anyone wanted me to). Newbie"

 

 

Not at all.

 

I'll check out Uncounted Worlds.

 

As to "non-Euclidean" or "non-supernatural" magic. A friend and I fiddled with a form of Block Transference Computation.

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“Anyway, that's my $0.40 worth (that much, because I probably went on about 20 times as long as anyone wanted me to).”

 

Not at all.

 

I’ll look up Uncounted Worlds. A ffrienfd and I fiddles with a “non supernatural” magic based on Block Transfer Computations. With some of the Incomplete Enchanter thrown in.

 

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“When you're making pronouncements that Temple of Doom didn't happen and that the "true" Indy universe must include your Xena/Buffy crossover fanfic,”

 

Oh no! He’s hacked my super secret private fanfic file!

 

ToD still happened, with next to nothing of Willie in it. When does comic relief stop breaking dramatic tension and start dragging the whole movie to a stop?

 

Answer: when she gives it up to the director.

 

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As to how much "supernatural" stuff belongs in Indiana Jones style pulp roleplaying, as opposed to Call of Cthulhu, well, I guess the obvious answer is it's up to the Game Master really.  From what I've read and seen, every Indy Jones event has something supernatural going on, whereas as a "Keeper" in Call of Cthulhu, I generally try to restrict that stuff as much as I can since it seems like it would tend to make the player characters even LESS likely to survive, with scenarios not having anything magical or supernatural about them roughly half the time (though that's somewhat misleading since generally I run scenarios in groups as either full-fledged campaigns or as mini-campaigns involving two or three scenarios, and the culmination of the scenario group ALWAYS has something "Man Was Not Meant To Know" in there somewhere, even if only by implication).

 

So to me (though I'm only just beginning to run Indy style Pulp adventures thanks to a new player wanting something a bit more "cinematic" than the classic CoC type stuff tends to be), it seems that the supernatural actually crops up in the Indyverse MORE than it does in my Call of Cthulhu campaign.  And that's kind of odd, really, now that I think about it....

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 well, I guess the obvious answer is it's up to the Game Master really.

 

So to me (though I'm only just beginning to run Indy style Pulp adventures thanks to a new player wanting something a bit more "cinematic" than the classic CoC type stuff tends to be), it seems that the supernatural actually crops up in the Indyverse MORE than it does in my Call of Cthulhu campaign.  And that's kind of odd, really, now that I think about it....

It ultimately being up to the GM is just the beginning; I need solid guidelines lest I start 'doing my own thing',  leaving players in the dust with every free-wheeling turn I take. My favorite adventure is A Kringle in Time, which blithely trips through time and space, changes genres with breath taking impertinence, and prefers funny to logical.

 

BTW.  The 'stress rules' are in a free pdf magazine, Uncounted Worlds #2, at http://www.chaosium.com/. I also found two arctic adventures that will fit in with an Tunguska Event arc. (In Weird Menace: Supernatural, the Tunguska Event is caused by someone opening a Templar fortress of solitude incorrectly).

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It ultimately being up to the GM is just the beginning; I need solid guidelines lest I start 'doing my own thing',  leaving players in the dust with every free-wheeling turn I take. My favorite adventure is A Kringle in Time, which blithely trips through time and space, changes genres with breath taking impertinence, and prefers funny to logical.

 

BTW.  The 'stress rules' are in a free pdf magazine, Uncounted Worlds #2, at http://www.chaosium.com/. I also found two arctic adventures that will fit in with an Tunguska Event arc. (In Weird Menace: Supernatural, the Tunguska Event is caused by someone opening a Templar fortress of solitude incorrectly).

 

Well, okay, but if you know your players are confused and/or turned off by that, why would you do it to them?  It's supposed to be a communal effort -- and if everyone isn't enjoying it, that's a good way to become a community of one.  If they DO enjoy it, then you are giving them what they like and no guidance is necessary.

 

I guess what I'm saying is that the guidance you're seeking is sitting right across the table from you -- what do your players say?

 

(I'm honestly not trying to be flip here -- I wish we were talking face-to-face since you would hear my actual tone of voice and all.)

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Well, okay, but if you know your players are confused and/or turned off by that, why would you do it to them?  It's supposed to be a communal effort -- and if everyone isn't enjoying it, that's a good way to become a community of one.  If they DO enjoy it, then you are giving them what they like and no guidance is necessary.

 

I guess what I'm saying is that the guidance you're seeking is sitting right across the table from you -- what do your players say?

 

(I'm honestly not trying to be flip here -- I wish we were talking face-to-face since you would hear my actual tone of voice and all.)

 

Flippant is fine. The last few years of my gaming life needs all the comic relief it can get. Long, sad story.

 

As to the game being communal, they lack an intellectual curiosity necessary for world building. They are smart, and good, gamers; but by no means Hobbyists. They love driving but have no interest in working on engines.

 

I ran a SKETCH/MicroLite mash up. and it was Quinn who found the glitch that allowed her to generate fatigue to cast spells at 'no cost'. However I have see the parochial nature of her personal library.

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Flippant is fine. The last few years of my gaming life needs all the comic relief it can get. Long, sad story.

 

As to the game being communal, they lack an intellectual curiosity necessary for world building. They are smart, and good, gamers; but by no means Hobbyists. They love driving but have no interest in working on engines.

 

I ran a SKETCH/MicroLite mash up. and it was Quinn who found the glitch that allowed her to generate fatigue to cast spells at 'no cost'. However I have see the parochial nature of her personal library.

 

Hmm, guess I'm just failing to communicate.  My players don't "build the world" other than by playing in it, but they can and should tell me what they enjoyed the most about the last session, as well as what they didn't enjoy about it -- which provides some steerage as to what kinds of things they find fun and want to do more of.  Some like investigation more than others.  Others like the opportunity to use their fists or guns more.  Some like car chases and zeppelins, others like puzzles to solve (incuding the physical kinds where you have to put the correct doohickey in slot A, or everybody winds up getting dropped into a pit, as long as the clues as to which doohickey is correct are there for them to figure out).

 

In fact, the only constant that I've discovered is that they ALL seem to like a lot of handouts (player aids), like newspapers, mysterious letters, journal pages, autopsy reports, even the occasional stone tablet or statuette, which is a personal holdover from my Call of Cthuhlu games.  They love getting those and trying to figure out how they fit in.  Of course, since I give them a whole newspaper sheet sometimes, they tend to overthink the "background" articles more, thinking they somehow relate to the main story, but I get my revenge on them later when it turns out the second background article in that newspaper I gave them three months ago in a completely unrelated adventure has some foreshadowing for the adventure they're on now!  <insert insane evil laughter here>

 

Part of the lack of involvement in world building, I guess, is because there really ISN'T much world building in my games (whether pulp or Call of Cthulhu) -- they're set in 1920s and '30s Earth, and the only things that switch out are that some artifacts actually do what they say they do in the legends, evil cults are real as are the gods they worship (this one more in CoC than in pulp), evil masterminds and femme fatales exist, as do their nefarious plots, and that the characters themselves may develop a bit of a "reputation" in certain circles for getting things of a specialized nature done.  Oh.  And there may (or may not) be a "Hollow Earth."  ;-) 

 

Along the way (by way of those background articles in the newspapers, or maybe a selection of old radio shows -- Live365 is great for this) I try to encourage them to explore the real history a bit; the Call of Cthulhu Player Handbooks are great for this since it includes timelines, biographies of famous people, and discussions of events.  They don't have to, but the ones who do seem to really enjoy reading (or, in some cases, watching old newsreels of) the history-related things, and it seems to improve their enjoyment of the game.  Plus when they talk about things like that it usually gives me a plot hook I can get in there sooner or later which ups the "immediacy" of the game.

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I was raised by hobbyists so tinker I must.

 

My current group are great games and are not shy about feedback. I have no one to hash out ideas with.Spend a lot of time and effort working out a game - 'looks good on paper' but does not survive the first time dice hit the table.

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All games are thinly veiled dungeon crawls.

No, they aren't. That is just one play style. There are people that run games that are not remotely dungeon crawls, thinly veiled or otherwise.

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No, they aren't. That is just one play style. There are people that run games that are not remotely dungeon crawls, thinly veiled or otherwise.

 

Let me qualify that statement.

 

It is for this current group and most of the groups I've been in for the past few years.

 

Sorry.

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Let me qualify that statement.

 

It is for this current group and most of the groups I've been in for the past few years.

 

Sorry.

I took that to be what you meant.

 

Obviously others interpreted it as a universal blanket statement.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary says it could have been read either way.

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Actually, I'll agree somewhat with Nero on this one -- it seems to me that a LOT of games and scenarios sort of work out that way.  There are exceptions, of course, but if you really look at things, it seems like a lot of the time it comes down to that in the end....

 

Though maybe a better term would be "macguffin hunts" vice "dungeon crawls" since a lot of the crawly scenarios never descend underground (and we could argue the term "dungeon" is what makes people read it literally), even though you're still just after the magic beans or jujube or whatever.

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It is all moot now.

 

Quinn has acquiesced to a rules reset with minor patches to close the glitches she loves to abuse. We use the brunch nook in her hotel, so we have to keep her reasonably happy.

 

Pulp is once again on the back burner.

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