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The general brainstorming outline below was created with the help of donjon.com. It will be edited as ideas are developed to create a complete game design document (GDD).

Story

Theme

Action/Adventure

This is the most common and straightforward sort of adventure there is. In the Action/Adventure scenario, you present your characters with a task and then confront them with obstacles to overcome in order to accomplish the task successfully.

Goal

Thwart Monstrous Plan

This is a classic fantasy-adventure plot: The characters learn of some horrible plan made by a monstrous enemy, and must thwart it before the kingdom is lost or the world is destroyed. This is an epic goal, and usually requires that the characters go to all sorts of places, rounding up allies and artifacts, before being strong enough to face their enemy.

Story Hook

Mistaken Identity

The hero could be mistaken by one villain for another villain involved in the master plot. This has good comic potential if the hero and missing villain are in fact so similar that no one can tell them apart. (This is even more fun if they turn out to be long-lost twins.)

Our hero is an intentionally created clone of the Master Villain, so this would be likely to happen.

Plot

Accumulation of Elements

In this sort of plot, the heroes have to go from place to place -- perhaps covering very little area like a city, perhaps roaming the known world -- and accumulate elements to be used against the Master Villain. These elements may be clues, pieces of an artifact, evidence, or allies.

Climax

Natural Disaster

Here, the heroes' goal has been to alert the gods that the Master Villain threatens them or their plans; in the last scenes of the adventure, as our heroes face an overwhelming enemy force, the gods bring down their divine retribution on the villain, causing a massive earthquake, tidal wave, lightning storm, or flood of monsters. This is all well and good, but the heroes are too close and must escape the fringe effects of this awesome disaster. A variant on this is the Natural Disaster. No gods are actually involved, but the Master Villain has been tampering with the delicate forces of nature. He may, for instance, have been powering his master spell with the energies of a volcano. When the heroes attack the scene of his spellcasting, the spell goes out of control and so does the volcano. The villain is consumed in the eruption and the heroes must escape or be consumed themselves.

The re-occurrence of the original comet strike will be threatened at the height of the story.

Environment Design

This is a great resource for general setting and environment design statistics. Here is a VERY in-depth city generator.

General Setting

On the Road

Most of the adventure takes place on the road, as the heroes are travelling from place to place. This is especially good for adventures where heroes are investigating a wide-ranging mystery, are part of a caravan, or are being pursued by loathesome villains.

The game takes places in an agrarian society which has developed after an apocalyptic event has wiped out almost all signs of an advanced technological society, including most of its population.

Geography

Specific Settings

I: Caves of Magical Folk

These can be either beautiful, glittering homes of gorgeous magical peoples, or the dank and terrifying lairs of horrible monsters.

This is the magical cave that the Hero finds at the beginning of the game, and is later revealed to be the former home of a wise man (scientist).

II: Legendary Forest

This classic adventure site is the sometimes dark and fearsome, sometimes light and cheerful, always magical and incomprehensible forest inhabited by the oldest elven trives and most terrifying monsters.

III: Demi-human Community

In wilderness areas, this will be a large community of demi-humans -- elves, dwarves, halflings, whatever -- or intelligent nonhumans such as orcs. If your action is taking place in a city, this could be a hidden community (such as a secret underground dwarf community) or a section of the city inhabited mostly by demi-humans.

IV: Lost City

This is the remnant of some lost civilization or expedition, still thriving in some forgotten corner of the world. Remnants of lost civilizations can even inhabit cavern systems beneath campaign cities, preying on the above-worlders for their goods, slaves, and sacrifices.

V: Laboratory

This can be alchemical lab of a friendly wizard, or the horrible experimental chamber of the villain where new monsters are created and relased upon the world.

VI: Temple/Church

This can be either the church of some lofty and good deity, or the dark and grisly temple of some horrid deity (doubtless filled with evil soldiers and monsters), or even the temple that the madman villain has dedicated to himself for when he becomes a god.

Characters

Master Villain

Adelphos (Agent Provocateur)

This Master Villain is a clever spy who infiltrates an organization, order, or army, and tries to effect its destruction by getting it to perform actions which will cause others to oppose it directly. The identity of this Master Villain is usually a closely-guarded secret; the heroes will encounter his cover identity, but will not suspect that he's responsible for all this chaos until they start adding up clues. Females in this role can be very, very effective.

Minor Villains

Minor Villains will be members of the Tower of Technomages, which follow the Major Villain as their leader.

Eris (Inquisitor)

This villain is the one who interrogates the heroes and NPCs captured by the villains. He accompanies the other Minor Villain out into the field and works on anyone captured; he enjoys inflicting pain and suffering.

Cybele (Mistress with a Heart of Gold)

This character is much like the "Lover or Daughter of Villain" type of Mystery Woman from the Story Hooks section. In this case, she usually accompanies the Master Villain, but sometimes goes on missions of her own, where she runs into and develops affection for one of the player-characters.

Ally/Neutral

Obsequious Merchant

This fellow is the owner of the caravan the heroes are protecting, or the merchant the heroes encounter when they desperately need to buy something. He is oily, ever-flattering, overly agreeable, and is a sharp bargainer; the heroes will not find him willing to give them a sale price.

With most settlements being small, a traveling merchant is more logical than having a new merchant in every city. The merchant will get to know the Hero and their party throughout the adventure.

Monster Encounter

Beast Amok

Some time when the heroes are in a village or city, an animal, probably an otherwise tame or captured beast, is set loose by the villain's minions or driven mad by the Master Villain. The beast goes berserk in the crowds; if the heroes aren't inclined to capture or kill it, it goes after them.

This would likely be a genetically engineered beast made by the members of the Tower of Technomages.

Character Encounter

New Enemy

In the course of his ordinary activities, one of the heroes can make a New Enemy. Hurrying along the street, he can bump into a disagreeable fighter for whom an apology isn't enough; in a tavern, he can make some innocuous remark that you deliberately have the irritable fellow misconstrue as an insult. The New Enemy will only exchange heated words with the hero at this point, but will appear again later in the adventure and will eventually have to fight the hero.

Gameplay, Game Mechanics

Deathtrap

Tomb Deathtraps

Another classic type of trap is the sort of triggered trap left behind in abandoned tombs, ruins, and catacombs. Here, a hero who touches the wrong step, floor tile, wall brick, torch bracket, mounted gemstone, or other device will trigger some sort of ancient trap designed to kill tomb-robbers and intruders.

Chase

Footrace

The chase involves the characters on foot, probably through such terrain as city streets or the corridors of a palace. One hero may realize that the's being pursued by a party of enemies and choose to run for it; the heroes may have caught up to the Master Villain, prompting him to run for his life.

Omen/Prophesy

Comet's Progress

Events during the adventure may be enlivened by a large and menacing comet which appears in the night sky for several days during the scenario; the locals take it for an omen of doom. The comet may be the result of magic being used by the Master Villain, or the comet's appearance can pertain to an old legend involving the Master Villain.

The original cataclysm was a long-period comet (with a period of approximately 1000 years) which struck the major continent, leaving it decimated. The omen alludes to the scheduled re-occurrence of this comet.

Secret Weakness

Holy Symbol

The villain may have the traditional weakness to a specific holy symbol -- but don't choose just an ordinary one. It may be a holly symbol no longer used by the church, or may be some forgotten variation of the current symbol. (For instance, the cross may not work, but a variation -- such as the Roman cross -- might; alternatively, it might have to be a holy symbol which has undergone some unfamiliar ritual.)

This would likely be something of science, perhaps a particular element/compound or a biological serum.

Special Condition

No Lawbreaking

For some reason, at one point in the story, the heroes cannot allow themselves to break the law -- even when it would help them greatly to do so. For instance, the heroes may be asking for the help of a king whose word is law and whose power is immense. When they arrive for their audience, an emissary of the Master Villain is making a similar plea for help. If the heroes attack and kill that emissary, they will lose any chance at the king's help -- in fact, he may order their execution.

Moral Quandary

Ally Quandry

You set up the situation so that the heroes have a good chance at defeating the Master Villain if they get the aid of two specific individuals, probably experts in fields relating to the villains' activities. But the two experts hate one another and refuse to work together, even if it costs them their world.

Red Herring

Lying Rumor

This is the worst and most useful type of red herring -- the interesting rumor which just happens to be false. In adventures of this sort, the best Lying Rumor concerns the Master Villain; it gives the heroes some "important" information about him which later turns out to be useless.

False Path to the Artifact

Once again, if the heroes have had too easy a time finding the artifact capable of destroying the villain, give them trouble this way: When they get to the place where the artifact is supposed to be contained, they find the coffer or chamber or whatever empty, obviously looted by robbers, who have scrawled such remarks as "Kelrog was here!" upon the walls.

Cruel Trick

Villain is Related to Hero

In this very irritating complication, one of the heroes discovers that the Master Villain is related to him. The villain might be his long-lost father or twin; perhaps this relative is not long-lost after all, but has secretly been a Master Villain for years, and only now has the hero discovered it.

The Hero is a clone of the Master Villain but doesn't know it. This will need to be revealed at some point in the story (likely after the Mistaken Identity Story Hook).

User Interface, Game Controls

Art

Sound and Music