Gods and Monsters may very well be my second favorite thing to come out of FATE. At the risk of sounding like a try hard going "I'm one of you, guys!": I don't like FATE, I mean, conceptually it's okay, its just the storygame equivalent to GURPS in a way. However, after a brief period of love it just came to be that I don't like or even 'get' story games and so I drifted back to older RPG. They are more to my tastes. Regardless of mentality in the story game community, smug mindset of people mocking older RPG and the entire host of needless drama, there have been some FATE books I've truly enjoyed even if I'd never run these settings with FATE. These are Baroque Space Opera, an euro comic-inspired scifi setting which is heavily inspired by the likes of 'The Meta Barons' and 'Gods and Monsters'. This is the one I'll focus on.
"The world of Gods and Monsters is untamed and primeval, and in a certain sense allegorical—it’s the sort of world where the sun is a ball of nuclear fire, a golden chariot, or just that thing where light comes from, depending on which story is being told. The wild places of the world are just more than their modern equivalents: the mountains are more rugged, the forests are darker and more tangled, the ocean is more capricious and full of sea monsters. Human civilization takes the form of scattered villages or nomadic tribes, with the occasional town where the population is dense enough to warrant one, working hard to push back the boundaries of the wilderness and bring more of the world under their control."
-Gods and Monsters
|This is from the book itself.|
But what are the 'rules' and concepts to Gods and Monsters which would make it different enough from a typical Godbound game? What does it bring to the table? What are it's key elements?
- The World is Young: This is a world barely in its infancy, just past the cosmic creation. This is markedly different from the ancient, decaying and broken world of Godbound.
- The World is Allegorical: Rather than the crumbling ruins of theotechnical (read: god-stuff magitek) world, with rewritten natural laws and complex technologies and sorcery reshaping or having reshaped it, the 'weirdness' of the G&M world is because its simply more symbolic.
- Regions with Clear Cut Themes: This is partially tied to its storygame roots, but the regions of the world are given certain aspects and themes, like how the plains are 'vast and open'. These are all 'high concepts' to a region, almost like a platonic ideal. I like that. I'm keeping this.
- Gods were never human: This is one of the clear difference between Godbound and Gods and Monsters. The Gods of G&M are described as 'a locus of power that wears a form and walks the world'. This mean Gods aren't simply mortals and immortal beings bounded to a Word of Creation, they may very be a reflection or embodiment of the Word of Creation. Of course, many gods can and will assume human characteristics, but this is not required.
- Gods can become Monsters: A god which lose itself in its power become a Monster. Given these are Word-bound beings of great power which can shape the world just as much as a Pantheon, we could narrow it down to them serving a role similar to the Angels and Parasite Gods. However, this will also mean we need a system to represent the risk a God has of turning into a Monster. Is this 100% necessary? How much should it take? I'm not sure yet, so its entirely possible to assume this is optional and that playable Gods simply don't turn into monsters. Decisions, decisions...
Gods are Immortal...maybe?: By default, the Gods of G&M are immortal and always have a mean of coming back. I don't think this is entirely needed and is a bit more of a storygame concept. However, given how easily a Godbound can become immune to mundane dangers, this doesn't need specific rules: a few miracles or gifts can turn a bronze sword to the gut from death to 'ow'. They would certainly be ageless and immune to mundane problems such as sickness, which would certainly be a massive danger in such a primitive world.
- Everything Else isn't worth mentioning: The game has a lot of rules and how to handle a God changing things. These aren't really important, since Godbound already has all that. No need to reinvent the wheel here.
As I type this, I've spent the last ten minutes re-reading key parts of the book to make sure I had everything nailed down. I still do, so good, now I can proceed in fleshing out the concept. Keep in mind this is less of an edited post and more of a train of thought turned into a post.
Now is there any concepts in Godbound I'd need to establish within his kind of setting to make the two merge seamlessly? Well, Godbound has its Celestial Engines but I believe those don't necessarily need to be ridden of. Given how young and primordial this world is, how vast and filled with pure wonder and power that its engines of creation may as well just be actual, physical parts of the world itself. This mean harvesting Celestial Shards requires breaking and/or remolding of parts of the world, permanently changing it. The idea is crazy and destructive, filled with potential so I like it! I'll keep it. Perhaps there are other, smaller fonts of power to tap into but these probably take far more time to harvest and acquire and maybe they yield less shards.
But what about character creation? This is worth considering, after all. The G&M book associate Geas to a God's mantle. Their concept is their sense of self. Well, that is fairly easy to translate to Godbound as it include actual part of their sheet: their choice of Words and Facts. So far so good.
- Perhaps players should choose a Consuming Temptation or Taboo Behavior? Or there could be some drawbacks a God(bound) choose which reflect some fundamental aspect of their nature which limits them.
- Should Artifice not be a Word to keep that Bronze Age feel? Perhaps its invention, as a Word, would be a major setting milestone.
- What about Sorcery? This one too could perhaps not exist, as odds are not even Low Magic would exist.
All in all, surprisingly little need to change between these two games conceptually, despite how the two are byproducts of two completely different mindset of game design.