Thursday, February 16, 2006

Neitherworld: More (Focused) Thoughts on Joint Character Ownership

I'm still not completelty sold on going down the multiple players per character route with Neitherworld. If I do, I will probably include a more conventional option as well and dual-stat everything. In any case, I'm going to explore this option a bit, because the potential fascinates me. I'll be riffing off of my earlier post on Fixing the Lone Wolf Problem. If you haven't read that, you should probably do so before continuing here.

The assumption in Neitherworld is that the protagonist will be one of the Unborn. Actually, a major advantage of having multiple players per character would be the viability of assuming that the protagonist is the only (or first) Unborn.

The Unborn are changelings, bits of Fae-stuff wrapped in a human shell, raised by unsuspecting parents whose birth-child's soul was secretly stolen. That Fae-stuff that make up the soul of the Unborn is what gives the Unborn its powers, separate the Unborn from humanity, and colors all of the Unborn's perceptions. In the past, I've referred to these as DreamPaths.

Each bit of an Unborn's soul is an individual DreamPath. Each DreamPath has a particular aspect. In most (if not all) cases, this aspect will be something that colored the fae-stuff as it was drawn out of the Neitherworld. This can only happen in places where the barriers between the world and the Neitherworld are thin - places that are particularly empty, chaotic, or full of wonder. Thus, typical aspects might be any of the following: fire, darkness, urban blight, the feeling of knowing that a thousand people are cheering for you, swarms of locusts, fields of wildflowers, unbridled lust, or abject horror.

At first, each of the Unborn is only at the Approach to each of its DreamPaths. It can look down the path and gather some idea of where it leads. The Unborn can begin a travel down a DreamPath. In some sense, this travel is metaphorical, but it does require action and it does bring the Unborn closer to the Neitherworld.

Eventually travel down a path will lead to the Unborn both gaining more power over the particular aspect of the path and becoming more attuned to that aspect. One result of this is that the Unborn will become generally less human as the path is travelled.

Now, one way of handling this is to allow each player to play the protagonist on a particular path, assuming that all paths are being travelled simultaneously. The GM, under this model, might serve a number of unusual functions including weaving the different journeys (as defined by the players of those journeys) together into a coherent whole and portraying the human shell that surrounds the fae-soul-bits/dreampaths.

Conceptually, I think I have a handle on this. The big questions now: What would it look like game-mechanically? and Would it actually be fun to play?

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