A while ago I had this idea to do a sort of spinoff of Slime Story called “Slime Quest” that would be a fantasy game using more or less the same rules, with an anime fantasy and console RPG sensibility. In some ways I probably shouldn’t be distracting myself with it right now, but I’ve started working a bit on the setting and other aspects of it. Part of the inspiration for Slime Quest is from the fact that while I like D&D4e a lot, I would really like something that’s significantly simpler while still retaining some semblance of 4e’s tactical combat. That’s the area where I’m most happy with Slime Story after all.
One of the things I’ve started working on is the selection of races. I don’t generally find races in fantasy RPGs all that exciting–the vast majority of my D&D characters have been human, and the exceptions have all been kind of gimmicky–but I’m liking what I’ve come up with, especially once I realized that there was no reason to bother with elves or dwarves. I’ve heard many times that elves and dwarves are a vastly overdone cliche and a symptom of bad Tolkien pastiche (whereas I’m going for bad J-RPG pastiche), but I don’t think I’ve ever felt them quite so extraneous to a game as in the case of Slime Quest. Anyway, here’s my current list of races:
- Arcadians are living artificial constructs and relics of an ancient civilization.
Asuras are people with some demonic heritage. So they’re basically anime-fied AD&D2e tieflings. Or they’re the race to pick if you want to create a character who’s something like Aetna from Disgaea.
- Eidolons are people imbued with otherworldly essence, whether through some experience or their heritage. This can include demonic (what I called “Asuras” until just recently), fae (Sprites), elemental (Djinn), and so forth. I may be trying to pack too many concepts into one “race” though. In any case, it can cover stuff like Genasi and Tieflings from D&D, and characters like Aetna from Disgaea and the sprite from Secret of Mana.
- Flaum are basically little furry mascot characters, along the lines of Tabbits (from Sword World) and Tarutaru (Final Fantasy XI), physically weak but inherently magical.
- Humans you’re pretty familiar with I’m sure. The only twist here is that I’m planning to include actual “racial variations” so that the humans come in different varieties that can actually matter.
- Ogrekin are the big bruiser race, stocky humanoids with horns (which are something of a status symbol for them). Still need to develop them more, and maybe come up with a better name.
- Wild Folk I already did a full D&D4e writeup of, but they’re a race of inquisitive tribal people with animal traits (so you can make catgirls and whatnot), with a vitality and ambition that has not yet been realized. (Can you tell I was reading Terry Pratchett’s Nation around the same time I was doing the 4e writeup for them?)
I think between those six I have enough variety without getting into inaccessibly weird stuff. Each race specifically has room for interesting variations, including humans of different ethnicities, different models of Arcadians, Wild Folk with different kinds of animal traits, etc., and the opportunity for players to invent new ones if it suits them. On the other hand since Slime Quest will have sentient “monsters,” I need to put some thought into those. It would be very silly to emphatically leave out elves and then include orcs.
The classes are going to be a tad more generic, albeit with alchemists (who can variously be gunsmiths, engineers, potion makers, etc.) and knights (not unlike a D&D4e warlord, a.k.a. my favorite D&D class to play, bar none) thrown into the mix. I want to do something with backgrounds and something to encourage more plot hooks, but I need to get a better idea of where the overall game is going.
I don’t have a good name for what is going to be the setting of Slime Quest as of yet. People think of their world as “the world” or sometimes Gaia, and are only dimly aware of other worlds through the lost lore of the Forerunners. I’m not going to develop the setting in too much detail, both because I’m not sure I can do all that good of a job, and because I remember how the D&D3e Forgotten Realms book put me to sleep. I want to create a setting that’s very over-the-top and not especially realistic without falling back on “a wizard did it, I don’t have to explain shit.” There’s lost technology of an ancient civilization scattered around the world (including a floating automated city), trouble with demons, and so on. There’s also an actual monotheistic religion (a somewhat generic “Church of the One God) that stands in contrast to many different varieties of shamanism, which is why Acolytes (basically D&D clerics) and Shamans (nature-y clerics) are among the classes.
The structure of the game is necessarily going to be a little different from Slime Story, as it’s meant to cover actual fantasy adventures. The major thing I’m planning to add are “Challenges,” which are analogous to skill-based obstacles in Mouse Guard. The twist is that characters can potentially have specialized and awesome skills like Elementalism that let them tackle challenges in fantastic ways. A mage with Elementalism could make skill checks that use any of the elements he has a spell talent for to solve problems, so the guy with the ice spell could make checks to put out fires, make a bridge across water, that kind of thing.
Anyway, I just wanted to throw that stuff out there. I may well be jumping right into fantasy heartbreaker territory, but I also have the makings of a game I really want to be able to play with my friends.
Update (4/29/2010): Note the switch from Asuras to Eidolons above. I’ve started working on the actual rules some, which I’ve decided to keep fairly close to the Slime Story rules (though I renamed Awesome and Suck points to Hope and Despair points). The most notable difference (which may or may not make it into the final version) is that I swapped out Connections to other characters for Beliefs, which gain in rank and provide certain bonuses in a manner somewhat similar to connections. On the other hand it’s looking like I’m going to start working on the two games in parallel, especially since I now have a good idea for how to approach the quest rules for Slime Story.