[Note: We're taking a short break from the Monday Minute because of some unusual circumstances I hint at down at the bottom of the blog. We'll get back to it later this month, but I wanted to get this one out to you first, since I can only do one post this week.]
Continuing our Q&A to dig deeper into the tough questions about why in the world we are pursuing the Cosmothea RPG and setting when there are other things we could be doing with our time, here’s another blog entry. Skeptical? That’s OK, so are we! Sure, we think Cosmothea is something to get excited about, but putting together a great game and setting is a lot of work and we want to do it right. So we ask questions just like you do!
I’m here to post and answer questions, so if you’ve got a question, let me hear from you! I’ll do my best to answer them. I fell in love with the blended-genre concept at an early age and my enthusiasm is catching as it is only becoming more popular over the years. There are generic games out there, but Cosmothea was specifically designed to embrace the blend, and I think we did both the setting and system in a way that will appeal to many. So, if you are even a little interested, I hope you’ll stick around and give it a chance. Thanks!
Q&A #2: How does the Cosmothea RPG reinforce what the Setting is about?
The Cosmothea RPG covers rules for roleplaying in all the various blended-genre adventuring options that are represented in setting. The career paths are not exhaustive (in fact we cut down the size of the core rulebook to make it more affordable, though we hope to bring some of them back later), but each career path is highly customizable, which reflects the myriad of variations that would be present in a setting of this size, with the same career paths on so many worlds across the universe. Rules are also included to enable players to fairly easily create any career path they could imagine that could possibly be included in the setting.
There is variety among the races too, with loads of options for representing variations of each race, like with the career paths, which meshes very well with the setting. And just as you can choose how complex your adventures are in the setting (anything from dungeon delving and investigating derelict spacecraft, to mysteries, political intrigue, building and running guilds and more), the rules cover such things and also offer levels of complexity for those who want a simpler game or for those that want it a bit more meaty. There are 3 levels of complexity, but players can mix and match the levels according to taste, just as the setting can be blended to taste, being large enough and diverse enough for them to take what they want and ignore what they don’t.
And just as there are areas in the setting that were left intentionally mysterious, such as the Sleeping Lands on the world of Adara, and some of the planets listed on the star map, so that GM’s can have the freedom to explore their own creativity, tell their own stories and go their own way, the rules also supply the tools for the GM to handle such excursions into their own minds.
Just as there are far more adventuring options in a universe like Cosmothea, unlike single genre games and settings, the rules cover what’s possible within the setting – they are married, the game built specifically to fit the setting. The setting is about exploration, discovery, invention, combat and more, and as such, rules have been created to handle such things. A scientist can invent new technologies.
Treasure in the game, whether high tech, magical or otherwise, has been designed to shed light on the setting, add personality and are also highly customizable, all of which ties in well to the setting itself. While you could play the game without the setting – making up your own setting if you preferred, the RPG has been designed to neatly fit together with the setting; the two have become one intentionally.
There is but one magic system, though a good amount of variation as to how to implement it, which reflects how magic works in the setting itself. But just as we don’t present several magic systems for players to pick and choose, and we don’t offer rules to cover variations on career paths that aren’t part of the canon universe, nor optional gear or transportation methods or other options for elements that are not intentionally supported in the setting, the setting is also not meant to be generic. Hence, they go hand in hand.
The gods and super A.I., faith and worldviews have always been a huge part of the setting, and as such, you can sense their impact on the universe and their part in the epic storyline regardless of which world you are on. Rules are provided for tackling matters of faith, worldview and divine intervention, but like many things in the setting, there are optional rules for handling good and evil, law and chaos and they are designed to accent, not restrict the players’ enjoyment.
Cosmothea sports an epic storyline that runs through everything and the rules make it possible to do just about whatever you want to do within the blended-genre storyline provided in the setting. Because the setting and system are married, you will find bits about the setting popping up throughout the rulebooks (from creature lore to brand names on gear, to the gods). The setting is big enough that you can explore a wide variety of options and the rules enable players to influence the storyline using Drama Points, granting them a bit of control, but not enough to ensure they always get their way. The rules, like the setting, are full of challenges, as characters struggle to survive in a universe on the verge of collapse, with sometimes startling events transpiring, which the resolution systems and health system helps emulate.
Now, if someone wanted to ditch the setting, they could still use the rules to have fun in a wide variety of settings and genres, but the game was specifically designed to handle precisely where we were taking the setting. That said, we wanted people to have enough room to try a bunch of cool, different concepts (like a magical wild west, magic-powered cars and appliances, post apocalyptic mayhem, mechs with an anime feel, hint of Spelljammer, superheroes, alien exploration, high fantasy escapades and dangerous cross-dimensional chaos, dogfights in space and other goodies), within the setting without getting cheesy, artificially slapping stuff together stuff like some games do, or breaking the epic storyline, so that meant we had to make a pretty big system to run it. It also meant that we needed to keep things from getting too crunchy so we could fit it all in the core rulebooks, but then that aligned with our goal for the setting to be more flexible and cinematic, so it’s all coming together nicely.
The setting is cinematic and the resolution systems represent that well, offering interesting, sometimes surprising turn of events and levels of risk that the players can change on the fly (for example you can swap between 3 different resolution systems as desired, and increase your odds of a critical, at the risk of increasing the odds of a fumble).
The rules, like the setting, are more about spotlighting cinematic moments, intense social interactions and uncovering ancient oddities and epic mysteries, than focusing on hyper detailed realism stuff you might read about in a science textbook like some sci-fi RPG’s get caught up in. We don’t let ourselves get caught up in extreme detail in either the setting or system as we feel there are great stories to tell. We’ve been playing Cosmothea for 34 years and in our experience, people are more likely to remember and talk fondly about exciting, epic stories, and intense encounters than uber realistic combat or scientific crunch.
Notice: Due to some exciting, but time-consuming events, the next blog post will be significantly delayed, and will not appear until late this month (maybe around the 27th-29th). I will have very limited internet access before then (and more often than not, none), so thanks in advance for your patience!!! We are far from closing our doors, but this hiccup can’t be helped. Good stuff ahead. If you post a comment or question, I promise I’ll answer it asap.
Would you prefer I answer the questions with less detail and make shorter blog posts? Are you guys reading to the end or giving up halfway through? Are there details you would like me to cover that I’m not? What would you like to know about Cosmothea that I haven’t covered yet? Anything specific? (I know this blog is still fairly new, and there’s much I haven’t touched on, but if you ask, I’ll get around to it sooner, rather than later. I’d love to hear your feedback, comments and questions – really! Thanks!