I was always a fan of Warhammer, Call of Cthulhu, and Rune Quest. Those RPGs form the cultural heritage I built Coldforged upon. Additionally I am inspired by medieval europe, the Catholic Church, World History in general, Folklore, and, I must add, Steven Eriksons Malazan books. Coldforged is played differently table top than on the web. The web rules are simplified for ease of use and take the back seat to the roleplaying. They are more like indicators of how a player should perform his character, than any actual law. On tabletop evenings we have a different system which, roughly, resembles a mix between Call of Cthulhu and the system used in the computer game Deus Ex I.
People might think Coldforged is very action oriented. That is true, but it is not that much combat action, even though the prologue of Shadows of War might give another impression. There is alot of baclground strife and conflict, and combat surely has its place, but I value the story, the dialogue, the setting, as well as suspense equally high, if not higher. Combat is necessary as is the "promise of death" for those who fail. Death is the means by which suspense can be created. Only by having a truly lethal atmosphere will the players be kept on their toes. But by all means: If they play good, they will most likely survive.
I kill my darlings: No NPC will ever be sacred in the Coldforged setting. There won't be any nigh immortal champions of good to get under your (or my) skin. There will be champions of "good", there will be cardinals of "evil", but they sure ain't safe where they are perched. Nothing annoys me more than holier than thou arch-mages and Paladins Everlasting. That does NOT translate to me killing all important characters, only that they are touchable. This goes for the PCs too. One day they might defeat a dragon*, the next they might die at the hands of a street thug.
*(immensly difficult in a skill based game as Coldforged is... The characters does not increase in Hit Points and such and has a flat pool that nigh cannot be increased)
So what does a typical Coldforged Campaign and Scenario constitute of? Well, let me explain:The Plots:
In Coldforged a single scenario will contain a main ingredient from the following list:
Dialogue, Combat, Cloak 'n Dagger, Problem Solving: Puzzle or Mystery, Political Intrigue, Exploring, Character Portraying, Crafting or Ceremonial Magic (Terms explained below). This component is the base ingredient and then I use other elements as spice to buff the scenario up. A campaign contains several over arching meta plots that connect the individual scenarios to a whole. I like to think about the scenarios as stand alone adventures, while the campaign is a grand saga of events. Throughout Scenarios and Campaigns I use and abuse foreshadowing, prophecy, divination, rumours and cinematic storytelling. These keywords are at the core of the setting.There are several kinds of campaigns:
-The family saga = Follow a powerful family line through the centuries. Witness their rise and fall. A far more exciting campaign type than it seems: The family saga can be a great experience for any PC. (Just ask my players)
-The Epic Campaign = Gods and Grand Demons, artifacts and relics. This campaign type needs no further explanation
-The War Saga = War threatens the land and brave adventurers must rise to the call. Manfred has an excellent thread about warfare
. The Shadows of War forum game is a War Saga.
-The Explorers' Journey = The players brave the ferocious seas and travel to foreign lands. This campaign details their journey step by step, and scenario by scenario.
-The Career Saga = The players play professionals, either in a guild or organization or perhaps even the army, and we follow that career through a number of years. Some guilds tend to have a tad similar work opportunities.
-The Grand Mix = A dash of this and a bit of that. This approach is a bastard mix of some or all of the above.
Dialogue = The act of talking with other characters or NPCs
Character Portraying = The act of exploring the life of a character. Relatives, estates, personal history, romance and personal enemies are important parts of this aspect. Players usually love this.
Political Intrigue = Be it on the divine or mundane level, political intrigues are often onion layered and thus more than they appear at first. Political intrigues can be confusingly mind twisting and often cause players some grief. I love political intrigue, especially playing on old stereotypes of this genre and making my players believe they have ended up with a stereotype... They make such funny mistakes when they grow smug.
Problem Solving: Mystery = Detective work to discover the cause of some unexplainable series of events, phenomenon or similar.
Problem Solving: Puzzle = Riddle that has to be solved, mantra that needs to be chanted, keys that needs to be found, puzzle lock that needs to be opened and so on. I never use abstract mathematical riddles akin to those found in IQ tests, as they ruin the atmosphere. Every riddle ought to have a natural place in the story and should not be detrimental to the gameplay.
Cloak 'n Dagger = The act of sneaking unseen through buildings, alleys and forests to evade detection and gain some kind of advantage by doing so. A genre of stories greatly appreciated by some players. Having a skill based game means that ALL can participate and not only the "thief".
Exploring = The act of investigating foreign woods, deserts, mountains, plains, structures and underground complexes. Players never map their progress as the structures are seldom that large and they have access to world maps.
Combat = Combat should be cinematic, dramatic, lethal and detailed. Otherwise y'all know what combat is.
Ceremonial Magic = Magic Ceremonies can be roleplaying experiences in themselves. As players explore the more advanced elements of magic in an attempt to achieve their goal, the situation is roleplayed properly. Anyone who has summoned an entity in Call of Cthulhu (provided they had a good GM) knows how exciting a ritual can be.
Crafting = Forging normal / magic swords, gathering herbs & making herbal potions, buying minerals & creating alchemical potions, crafting bows, making arrows, inscribing runes on scrolls and stone tablets, etc...