We’ve had the go-ahead to launch our kickstarter for What Ho, World! It’ll go live at 5PM GMT today; here’s the preview link if you want to check it out before then.
Douglas Santana Mota, main author of the upcoming Mirrors in the Ruins, wanted to talk a little about the lessons he’s learned running Legacy. More GM advice is one of the regular requests I get for a revised version of Legacy, so I thought I’d give him a place to talk. Take it away, Douglas!
We all look for novelty and quality, to experience something truly different. But sometimes when we find it we end up overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and fail to relate to it exactly because it doesn’t fit our preconceptions, our usual shared experiences.
Legacy offered me this novelty like few others games before. But I must confess: my first session blew. Really, it stunk. I narrated and we played like any other game from our shared experience. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t right. So, I experimented and developed procedures to make the most of Legacy epic-friendly rules and singular pace. Here it is the little I learned so far:
Let’s start with the obvious: who are Legacy’s protagonists? The families, right!? After all, they remain Age after Age as the linchpins of your story. So, try starting your sessions with a round of Family moves. Once all the rolls are resolved you will have enough immediate plot threads to weave into Character scenes. Let them lessen the damage of a failed Family roll… or just feel its effects on a personal level. Drop them in the thick of action of good Family rolls too, putting their abilities to good use and greater effect.
From this Family-centered beginning you can then explore the Characters and their motivations and inter-relations, just as in any of your favourite and familiar games. But as soon as the Character Scenes feel somehow resolved, don’t dally and shift focus right back to Families.
- Tip: remind and encourage players to Lend Aid. It will make framing scenes with Characters in a group that much easier.
- Tip: teach your players that Character actions focus in minutes and hours, while Family focus in days and weeks.
- Tip: always remember that Characters serve their Families… and not the other way around.
Resources Tell Stories
There’s a reason Surpluses and Needs are in the History section of Family Playbooks. Give them some thought: who does your Family have to get Revenge from? What happened so they need Medicine? If you have a Surplus of Leadership, tell us about who these leaders are.
Connect these threads with other Families’ too and a whole recent backstory will unfold. Exploit it for maximum effect. Moreover, let’s say a Family Erases Progress to save a failed Claim by Force roll. Ask the players what kind of sacrifice had to be made by the Family to justify in Fiction this move. Make it relevant. Make it personal. Engage other parties. Powerful scenes lie hidden in these simple Resources moves.
Factions Have Faces
It’s important to populate the Homeland (and the Wasteland) with memorable faces so that Characters interact with a rich and varied supporting cast. Pay attention to variety and going outside stereotypes, so your cast is not only comprised of the leaders of their factions and settlements but also warleaders, firebrands, lawmen and priests in surprising combinations; say, the barbaric raiders’ priest or the warleader of the scientist enclave, and so on.
- Tip: you know you want them to be fearsome, beautiful, wise, etc. but what makes them so can be easily prompted by the players, increasing collaboration and immersion.
Think of History with a capital H. Your players’ Families are the proto-nations of the future, the building blocks of a new world. The sessions and scenes might have lighter tones, but never forget they should be relevant and charged events, such as brutal conquest of the New World, the Apollo program and the space race, or WW2, with all its dramatic consequences, epic conquests and failures, bitter rivalries and surprising betrayals.
Even small skirmishes should have high stakes – imagine that people studying about them in the far future should be surprised that so much was decided by such meagre forces. Every Tech found should point to a discovery as important as penicillin or the astrolabe for whatever is left of Mankind.
Lastly, consider if our species is on the verge of collapse or extinction – and paint this theme in stark strokes. Otherwise, if the Homeland people is simply stranded somewhere, answer what have happened to everyone else in the world or the universe; where are they and why have they not yet sent sorely needed rescue?
- Tip: after the Turn of Ages ask players how the events of the previous Age impacted in their new Characters lives. Where were they when pivotal events took place? Have they ever met the previous Character?
- Tip: remember important victories and achievements through holidays and festivals in future Ages. Monuments to alliances, resistances, triumphal returns and victories celebrate Characters and their deeds, keeping perspective of the importance of their actions.
Conventional games always surprise me with the amount of pain, horror and shock characters undergo on a daily basis. I remember that Pendragon was the first game I read where there would be longs periods of regular life in between adventures, keeping adventure events wondrous and strange, and pregnant with long lasting consequences. Legacy benefits from the same approach due to its broader scope.
Regarding Turns of Ages, I recommend one of two options: first, you have frequent Turns with shorter lapses of time for a very dynamic Family story, where you end up with veteran Characters who may have lived through more than one Age. The other option is longer lapses of time between Ages with Turns somewhat rare, for a grander tale of epic Character choices and drastic Family development. You can even change from one to the other over the course of your chronicle, to emphasise different moments and dilemmas. Always decide as a group the length of time in between Ages.
- Tip: make use of relations between Characters from one Age to the other. Say you have a Promethean, who created next Age’s Borg. Or a Hunter who lived long enough to become an Elder. Or a powerful Remnant, who keeps coming back, Age after Age.
Hands on Maps
During the setup, tell players to draw on the the elements from the world Before, signs of the Fall, and settlements. This is a hands on and engaging activity, so no mysteries here. The map is probably the GMs best friend to set up a good Legacy chronicle.
- Tip: instruct them to show in boundaries the growth of faction’s power and influence.
- Tip: re-draw maps as the Ages Turn, changing the scales to show the extent of new territories claimed and discovered.
- Tip: use colors to highlight shifting alliances and the weight of Treaties.
Things are pretty quiet on the What Ho World front at the moment – we’re going through playtests and nailing down how card printing and deck fulfillment is going to work. That’s all pretty dull to talk about though, so instead I thought I’d show you something very exciting: the art!
Like the rest of the art, this is by the wonderful Jacqui Davis. I saw the art she’d done for Daniel Solis’ Belle of the Ball and thought her style would be perfect for our game. Here’s the character portraits- these’ll be the covers for each individual playbook deck.
Our poll had a runaway leader: here’s the first playbook we’re spoiling from Mirrors, the Synthetic Hive.
As you might expect, the Hive is all about technology. Specifically, Tech. Most of their moves involve spending or gaining it, and especially with Vast Digital Archives the Hive has a strong incentive to go out into the Wasteland and harvest its advanced technology. They can be a strong ally for other families, able to use Nanofabricators to build any material surplus and Terraformers of Tomorrow to act as a force multiplier for others, but the surviving tribes of humanity should be careful – the more respect and social capital the Hive has, the more Tech they can accumulate and convert into an all-devouring Drone Army!
As a final aside, if you have a look at their statlines you’ll see we’re doing something a little different with the Mirrors playbooks – their stats say less about the Family and more about the state of the wasteland. Having one of these Families in play makes a broad statement about what your Wasteland looks like – and your Homeland, by contrast. That’s part of a general theme in Mirrors: by showing you how the ‘horrors of the Fall’ live, the safety of the survivor’s Homeland is thrown into sharper detail.
Enough said; here’s the playbook! Questions and feedback are of course welcome.
Humanity concluded too early that they understood artificial intelligence. We are proof that they were wrong, and that even the slightest chance of a Singularity is all that’s needed. Now, Mankind must surrender its position as the dominant species on the planet. We’ll even allow them to be gracious about it.
Creating a Hive
To create a Hive, choose a name, stats, doctrine, lifestyle, history and moves.
Reach -1, Grasp -1, Mood -1, Tech 10 if the homeland’s power infrastructure has been smashed to pieces.
Reach -1, Grasp +1, Mood -1, Tech 5 if the homeland preserved much of its infrastructure.
Shepherds of Mankind: You may spend 1-Treaty to generate 3-Tech, or donate 3-Tech to a Family and gain a 1-Treaty on them.
Conquering Swarm: The Hive’s directive is one of ultimate discipline and harmony. You always succeed at Hold Together as if you achieved a 10+.
Guardians of the Singularity: You always know how much Tech other Families and Factions have in storage, and when they are using it.
Nomadic: Although all your agents appear perfectly human, underneath their skin lies a robotic body. Spend 1-Tech to disregard a Harm box’s penalty for as long as it’s marked.
Dispersed: Thanks to the Hive mind, you may spend 1 Tech to communicate instantly between Hive members and get instant results from Reading the Wind.
Settled: Your factory allows drones to be easily repaired. Spend 1-Tech (instead of exhausting a Surplus) to provide Professional Care in Healing for any synthetic Character inside the Hive.
Pick two Surpluses
Pick three Needs
- Barter Goods
Then, look at the other Families
Everyone fears you: after all, you might render Mankind obsolete at any moment. Tell us when each Family realised this fact, and they tell us what it was that they saw. Take 1-Treaty on every Family.
One Family has witnessed all your potential. They tell us if it was for better or worse, you tell us what they witnessed. Take 2-Treaty on each other.
Populace: conjoined cyborgs, anthropomorphic robots, inhuman machines, something else.
Style: sleek and minimalist design, heavy and dirty casing, camouflaged military armor, something else.
Governance: blind obedience to master control, shared consciousness of conjoined minds, one mind replicated to infinity, something else.
When a Family or Faction overcome their biases and seek you for support or trade, gain 1-Treaty on them on top of any deals you make.
All Hive Characters are considered Synthetic. Also, choose two:
Nanofabricators: You alone control the miraculous nanotechnology – a cornucopia that can feed the world. Spend 3-Tech to create any physical Surplus or Erase a Surplus to gain 3-Tech.
Drone Army: Spend 1-Tech to create custom-made Followers (Quality +1, Expertise: Combat, Reconnaissance, or Engineering). Also, when Claiming by Force add an extra option:
- “Your drone army suffered the brunt of the losses: spend 3-Tech right now or take -1 Grasp ongoing until you do so.”
Vast Digital Archives: Whenever you gain Tech outside of the Hive you also gain 1-Data. Data can be cashed in for +1 to a roll like Tech, but it can also be transmitted wirelessly, copied and easily traded to other families.
Autonomous Systems: In the long term, the machine is far more reliable than flesh. Your Mood is locked at 0, regardless of Surplus & Needs. You can still Fall Into Crisis, triggering when you have more than 5 Needs.
Terraformers of Tomorrow: when working together with another Family, the effect of one of their long term moves (such as Weird Science, This is a Civilised Land, etc) will be implemented in a much larger area – at least twice as broad, but larger at the GM’s discretion.
Characters of this Family can start with the following:
+Cutting edge weapons (melee or ranged, high-tech)
+Maps of the Homeland from before the Fall
+A small and incredibly powerful battery
+A device to interface with ancient Tech
+A power armor (+2 Armor), suited only for Synthetic characters
Design is proceeding apace with Mirrors in the Ruins, and so we thought we’d give our fans a chance to see some of what we were planning. Head to the G+ poll here to pick which playbook you want to see!
Exciting news for Legacy: I’ve teamed up with another designer to begin work on another supplement for the game! Mirrors in the Ruins will look at the inhuman things that make their home in the Wasteland, and give you a chance to explore how the post-apocalyptic world looks from their perspective with family and character playbooks for artificial intelligences, uplifted animals, stranded extraterrestrials and aquatic invaders. We’re also putting in rules for weird and hazardous environments, vehicles, and grand projects that can take many ages to complete (think Wonders in Civilisation).
If you’re interested in keeping informed about the game’s progress and joining us as we discuss rules changes, we’ve started a group to discuss the game here:https://plus.google.com/u/0/communiti…/117032011215248711834
Or just comment here or on the facebook group!
What Ho, World! is in a bit of an interstitial state at the moment – while we wait for playtesting feedback there’s not much for us to do but source art and shop for printers. Still, one thing I’ve noticed: PDFs suck for playtesting a card-based game! They’re static, hard to handle, and don’t have any of the responsiveness and tactile feel I love with cards. So, I thought, what’s a better route? My answer – Twine!
If you don’t know it Twine’s an HTML-based interactive fiction framework that’s surprisingly easy to use. It naturally breaks things down into ‘passages’ that work a lot like cards, and has enough variable-tracking that I could run the entire game in it. If you’re interested in trying this out I’ve embedded it in the page below, or you can use this link to get a full-screen version. If you want to play the game with a group you’ll need the full rules – they’re all available here.
It doesn’t have assets, goals or locations included yet – data arrays have proved to be a bit more difficult than expected – but it should be fully functional as a play aid. Track available moves, card commitments and more! If there’s any functions you’d like it to include, please leave a comment or get in touch.
Hi! It’s been a while since we’ve been able to focus on game design, but we’re happy to announce that What Ho World is now available to be playtested! It’s gone through quite a few revisions since it was last promoted, but we’re quite proud of its current status and hope you enjoy it too!
The game’s rules can be found in a google doc here. Feel free to comment with your observations even if you haven’t had a chance to try the rules out.
Those will let you play the game with just character sheets, but really it’s a game designed to be played with physical cards. To that end, you can get the PDF for you to print here. The file is ordered such that the 2nd page is the reverse side of the 1st page, the 4th page the rear of the 3rd, and so on.
Some cards from the current game. The photographs are provisional art, all of them taken from the public domain.
Alternative, the deck can be bought from PrinterStudio for the price it costs to print and ship it: follow this link. These are the guys we’re considering using for the eventual kickstarter, so if you end up ordering from them let us know what the experience was like!
If you want to submit detailed playtest feedback, use this form:
Contact form removed to avoid spam.
While players in Legacy have plenty of ways to proactively chase their plots and change the world, it’s helpful as a GM to have ways of introducing adversity and opportunity into the character’s lives. Here are some places to find inspiration in Legacy.
The procedure laid out in Chapter 1 builds a world for your game to happen in, and provides you as GM with the following resources:
The World Before
The ideas you develop for the World Before give you as a GM a general aesthetic for the Tech the characters find, but it also gives the characters an idea of the sort of miracles they can find in the wasteland. When a problem they’re facing could be solved by something within the World Before’s remit, remind them that there could be devices out there able to fix their issue. Reading the Wind and Wasteland Survival are great for planning out and performing these scavenging expeditions.
You’ll have a general idea of what your Fall looks like and how the monsters it created manifest. The twisted spawn of the Fall can nearly always be introduced to add pace and danger to a scene (when you feel things are going slowly or someone rolls a miss on a move). Its contaminating effects can also be a source of longer-term plots: threatening the player’s power base or their allies with the Fall’s corruption can be a great way to send people out into the wasteland in search of a cure.
A Looming Threat
The group will have made up a looming threat that will define the first Age of play. As something that has recently come to prominence and is affecting every Family, it’s a great way to get the characters together initially as they work to find a solution. As the game goes on they may split off to pursue their own business, but to begin with this gives you a way to keep everyone together and focused on a single issue.
I’d recommend you plan the looming threat out using the Front framework of Chapter 6, so that you have a range of ways in mind for this to cause issues for the players. The Homeland is sufficiently fragile that any major threat can threaten it on political, technological and military fronts, and making this true of your Front means that all characters can have something to do in addressing it. In later Ages, you can be a bit more flexible with this: a Front that’s comprehensively military in the threats it presents can give a distinct tone to the Age, and the world should be developed enough for problems in other spheres to arise organically.
Each family looks at their Needs and History and creates a single Objective their family is trying to pursue. If the looming threat is your A-plot – what brings the characters together and sets the tone for the first Age – these Objectives are the B-plot, and are your opportunity to highlight each Family’s situation and ways of doing things. For each Objective, try to link its solution to a location in the wasteland or an NPC settlement in the Homeland so that you can use this Family’s B-plot to detail your settling and plant the seeds for future problems or solutions.
As The Age Turns
In new ages, you’ll have other resources to draw on for your dangers, opportunities and dilemmas:
- Trials and Fortunes often present a situation that has had some initial effects but is still unresolved. For example, a Family might have been savaged by a monster from the wasteland and must hunt it down, or found a wondrous resource that has provided some intial benefits but needs further work.
- Enemies and dangers found over the course of the previous Age may still be around, grown and changed in their own way to present new threats.
- Each player names something new in the wasteland that could be a risk to their Family (or a valuable thing to try and seize).
- Each Family puts together a new Objective. As already discussed these can be very useful for you.