Design Challenge: World of Remedy

ruemere

Adventurer
Folks,

Here is a design challenge that occurred to me today - what game would be best to replicate a World of Remedy, i.e. a game setting where a team of protagonists would explore stories similar to those in Max Payne, Control and Alan Wake? This short article is about to propose certain axioms, and the challenge would be to propose an existing game system with a sound argument backing the choice.

Character axioms:
1. Initially human, advance into superhuman levels of durability, limited time control, limited reality alterations, high self-sufficiency.
2. Dark secrets or backgrounds that can be turned into strength at a karmic cost.
3. Intense physical prowess challenges: running, prolonged gunfights, recovering with a short rest, coming back after major wounds with scars.
4. Resolve triumphs over physical limitations.
5. Achilles heel weaknesses (psychological traumas, phobias, relations that come with benefits and costs).

Character goal axioms:
1. Avert a disastrous event.
2. Lead survivors away from the threat.
3. Control a threat.
4. Gain a prominent position within their organization or finally free themselves from ties with such organization.

NPC axioms:
1. The story progress is achieved through interactions or reading notes.
2. Some of the most influential NPCs hide in a plain sight.
3. Even the most helpful NPCs speak indirectly, in riddles or in a way that is difficult to comprehend.

World axioms:
1. The world cares not. Unless characters get involved things do not get better.
2. The world outside of human sphere of influence is full of skycraper-high elephants. You can survive if you learn and understand rules well enough.
3. The world runs on conspiracies. First impressions are false. Descending into hidden depths reveals that there is ever more to learn.
4. People have agendas. Think little apocalypse clocks everywhere.

Supernatural axioms:
1. Supernatural wears everyday face. An object of power looks like any other object. Infinite or impossible corridors are brutalist and mundane. Alien serpents have electric lights for eyes and speak through radio static.
2. Supernatural is twisted through human agenda into a threat. Alternatively, Supernatural is incompatible with human sphere of influence and thus a threat. Alternatively, Supernatural is an extension of human agenda, a regret, a grudge or desire for vengeance.
3. Supernatural breaks normal people, but always leaves a choice in character's hands. Alternatively, characters are immune to Supernatural.

Opposition axioms:
1. Enough guns is sufficient.
2. Most opposition are mooks, but will deal devastating damage if allowed too close or allowed to attack with an advantage of surprise.
3. The elephantine threats always require research prior to engaging them.
4. Talking things out is an option, though there is cost involved.

Well, here it is. Anyone up for the challenge?

PS. Sources and inspirations:
1. Remedy games: Max Payne series, Control, Alan Wake series.
2. Conspiracy and Horror games: Delta Green, Night Black Agents, Apocalypse World, Band of Blades.
3. Some RPGames that came close: Agents of ODD, Chamber.
 
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In terms of games (systems?) that already exist? Probably not many without extensive modification.

Some could cover different aspects, but not all at once, nor to the best possible machination.

Just to knock on wood though, I imagine my own system would do well adapting most of this. Character axioms would take some work (2,4, and 5. Other 2 are already baked in), but the rest would mostly exist in content delivery, with select bits being in the core.

The Character axioms would mostly just need some retheming and some other mechanical tweaks. For example, 2 could be covered by how my Mages work, it'd just have to be blended through to the Profession system and then rethemed to fit the idea.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
In terms of games (systems?) that already exist? Probably not many without extensive modification.

Some could cover different aspects, but not all at once, nor to the best possible machination.

Just to knock on wood though, I imagine my own system would do well adapting most of this. Character axioms would take some work (2,4, and 5. Other 2 are already baked in), but the rest would mostly exist in content delivery, with select bits being in the core.

The Character axioms would mostly just need some retheming and some other mechanical tweaks. For example, 2 could be covered by how my Mages work, it'd just have to be blended through to the Profession system and then rethemed to fit the idea.
Interesting, mind sharing a few details about your game? The system, the settings, core concepts, etc. No need to go into details - just make a good brain tease, though.

Note that this is just an exercise for the sake of taking on the challenge. I have given some thought to this topic since yesterday, and probably found something that would make a good core.
 

Interesting, mind sharing a few details about your game? The system, the settings, core concepts, etc. No need to go into details - just make a good brain tease, though.

Note that this is just an exercise for the sake of taking on the challenge. I have given some thought to this topic since yesterday, and probably found something that would make a good core.

In a nutshell, Labyrinthian is a high fantasy legend shaping game. Rather than inundate players with a lot of cool lore thats cooler than anything the game does, the game is about creating that cool lore. Its the kind of game where if you see a dragon in the distance, you don't have to ask nicely or build carefully, you can go suplex that dragon into the mountain.

How it accomplishes this is sort of unconventional. Its an extreme power fantasy in one aspect, but in order to sell that your characters and their stories actually are worthy of being that legendary lore other games use as set dressing, characters are fundamentally mortal and are expected to endure quite a lot to get to where they want to be.

Combat is a (so far, I won't claim its fully realized yet) brutally efficient tactical game, and outside of that Survival is also heavily integrated and expected, but in some I think cleverly non-abrasive ways; its doubtful one will hate having to eat, if having to eat means you can get special powers and buffs that diversify your capabilities. Likewise for sleep; sleeping in a lavish hotel will do more than roughing it in the woods, and spending time, coin, and resources on your own Stronghold or Settlement will be even better.

And additionally the game also fully covers an expansive and comprehensive Adventuring game, incorporating not just Survival and Combat, but also fully realized and (hopefully) well integrated systems for Crafting and Gathering, Exploration and Discovery, Settlement and Domain building, Mass Warfare, Social and Questing, and indeed, an expansive Character Building pillar that combines the best of classical Classes with modern Skill & Perk design. If you want to take every subclass as a Barbarian? You can do it, and its balanced.

Put another way, imagine if 4e DND had the rest of its pillars just as elaborate and concisely designed as Combat is, but then all of it was carved for great efficiency, integration, and smooth gameplay thats easy to approach. Thats the overal design goal.

Which, naturally, is pretty up there as a pie in the sky, but I'd wager if it weren't for the drastic lack of content that I've yet to put to paper, I'd already be there. The broad core design is sound by every measure I've been able to take of it, so once I finish setting that in (I'm nearly through the biggest pain point with it atm, and then things are going to get knocked out pretty rapidly) its just a matter of settling in and getting content made.

That was probably more detail than you asked for lol.

But to speak to the elements I was referencing, how my Mages are going to be designed revolves around a Corruption mechanic, which is more or less similar to how DCC uses the idea. Physical deformities and the like that manifest out of using magic.

The key difference for mine is that Corruptions also introduce stat drains and buffs, which are pretty devastating for would be magic users who don't want to be trampled to death by a stiff breeze. In the overall "meta" this is the big counterweight to the fact that magic is freely accessible to anyone.

But where Mages specifically interact with this system is through Corruptipm Conversion. Each Mage-type class has a unique way to deal with Corruptions and turn them into boons, with new drawbacks that are easier to manage.

For example, Wizards can harness their Corruptions into runic sigils that get etched into their body. These runes will remove the debuffs, but will also sap away Mana, and eventually will start destroying the Wizard if they don't keep their Mana up. But what the Wizard can also do, is purge their runes, curing them of their original Corruption, and deeply empowering their spells (and thus, increasing the chance of getting more Corruptions).

But as a contrast, take my take on the Warlock, whose shtick is about embracing the Corruptions rather than trying to get rid of them, which is wrapped up in a theme of being Cursed. This introduces subclasses like the Curse of the Staff (obviously, you get a cursed staff as a weapon that levels with you), but also ones like Curse of the Emissary, which is basically possessed by an eldritch ghost, the class.

How Warlocks deal with Corruptions though is by purging their debuffs; Warlocks in combat are all about debuffing in various ways, and so they want as many Corruptions as they can get. This however, leaves them as a bit of a clay cannon; they're easy to mess with, but they get more and more formidable as combat goes on as they purge their debuffs onto their enemies.

So why i thought these ideas could apply to #2 in Character Axiom is that you could retheme the mechanics to produce that dynamic, and if you carry it through to and integrate it with my profession mechanics, you could introduce some substantive character building. Professions in a way are sort of a secondary skill system, where different Professions can be leveled up in Rank to provide different benefits; I imagine this same base system could be used as the basis for a more involved Background system.

My game assumes PCs are mostly young, or at least inexperienced in much, so they wouldn't have much of a past, but mechanically I could definitely see it working with the right tweaks.
 


ruemere

Adventurer
Pretty elaborate setup. Also, an entertaining reading.

Your setting reads like a feudal or fantasy (or neofeudal) version of Mage, with PCs being movers and shakers.

Thank you for sharing.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but 90% of the axioms look like a GM's campaign choices - independent of the RPG.

But I'm pretty sure the skyscraper-sized elephants will want a character sheet.
 


ruemere

Adventurer
Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but 90% of the axioms look like a GM's campaign choices - independent of the RPG.

But I'm pretty sure the skyscraper-sized elephants will want a character sheet.
A GM is a single person. I was more keen to getting a recommendation for a fitting ruleset.
 

ruemere

Adventurer
You should play Mage the Ascension or Unknown Armies. I promise most if not all your ideas are already baked in.
I am not familiar with Unknown Armies - could you try to sell me on the idea?
The Mage, I agree, with, though the somewhat wobbly magic rules and the fact that shooting people to death is so damn difficult unless you make a masterclass character. Also Max Payne would not survive the backlash from his time-warping antics.
 

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