Bloodlust : le retour de la vengeance

edited June 2009 in Game Design Help
On TheRPGHeaven, In the Emergent Complexity thread I lured myself into some Bloodlust nostalgia (with a little assistance from Benoist, Ian and Brand). I've been thinking about this and got my hand on the pdf. Aside from the question of keeping the rule-system (at least the core of it) or not, which is a heavy can of worms in itself, I've been examining what to do about the game mechanism about the interaction between weapon bearers(WB) and the god-weapons(GW). To me it's one of the weak point of the original game.

A few explanations. Bloodlust offered different game modes:
- players play the role of WBs, GM plays every GWs. Easy on beginner players (except GMs) but quite frustrating too considering how lethal combat is supposed to be. Hence story continuity is related to GWs more than WBs. Hence players aren't very engaged or commited to their PC... Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It doesn't work on the long run.
- players play the role of GWs. Should be quite nice but WBs, as important as they are don't interact that much with the fictional world. I assume it would be boring at some point. And just like previous mode it's a lot f#%&ing work thrown on the GM's shoulders.
- players play both a WB and his/her GW. Good solution for GM workload but it means that nothing is conducive to inter-players interaction. Mental dialogs between WBs and GWs are almost impossible to role play while it's one of the major interests of the game.
- players play the role of one GW and the WB for another GW. Probably a little difficult but could be assisted by players using a hat to make obvious when they play WB or GW. As intensive as it is on the players, I believe this is the way to go. The role of WB should be exciting especially if the player in charge of the divine inner voice is doing his job of promoting his own agenda.

So now back to the premises of the game :
- most humans are looking forward to becoming WBs. It means power, quick social ascension and fulfilling wild fantasies.
- WG are looking for the proper WB and some form of symbiosis. They want to get control of their WBs and the way to achieve that is to stimulate their common pulsions/desires. GWs should be able to force the fulfilment of unshared desires sometimes too.
- Desires are : Prestige (gaining respect, power over people, becoming a legend...), Violence, Sex, Reputation (winning as many duels as possible, defeating WBs, inspiring fear...) and Wealth.

The original system used a number between 1 and 10 for each desire of a WB. GW have a modifier which could get between -3 and +3 but the creation rules make this range of values very different for each desire. Once combined the resulting modified desire would be uncontrolable if negative or superior to 10. This is something I'm not really happy with. I'd like WBs to have even a remote chance to resist their strong drives. Also there isn't anything to reward WBs to give in to their desires.

I'd like to figure out some mechanisms that would :
- help materialize the risk of a desire leading to the GW taking control. Something very visual, in the middle of the table.
- involve the GM too. After all he's the one who is going to target players with stuff like "you notice a gorgeous woman at the bar", "the villagers are looking for a hero, someone to help them defeat the monster" etc... He's the one bringing most of the stimuli in the fictional world. He's got to be bale to stir shit up.
- become some kind of economy. Probably some sort of circle like : GM declares a stimulus and gives a token to GW A. GW A realizes that he/she's got enough tokens to trigger some frenzy or negotiate with WB B to fulfill the desire. GW A gives tokens to WB B and takes control for the rest of the scene or sth like that. At the end of the session WB B exchange his tokens for some sort of reward, for being pushed around by his divine alter ego. I would like to make Elric type of situations ("you made me kill my wife !") quite frequent, though in a lighthearted way rather than emo.

It's kind of taking shape in my head but I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Any suggestions and references to relevant game systems will be greatly appreciated (especially if it doesn't cost me a penny).


  • edited June 2009
    So this sounds kind of like Charnel Gods for Sorcerer - is that an good game to compare it to?
  • Beats me :) I admit my ignorance.
  • Okay, I was just curious if you'd heard of it. That wasn't an "it's been done!" thing, especially since it doesn't do some of the things you're talking about with the economy. You might want to check it out. I really like the idea of playing the God Weapon to someone else's Weapon Bearer, similar to how Wraith had you playing someone else's Shadow. It's such a great idea that I want to see in a game that isn't Wraith.
  • On the top of my head, I see two ways the GW could force the WB to act a certain way:
    - in SotC or Fate, the WB would have aspects like "bound to a blood addict sword" or "my axe wants to be feared". Then the WG player could compel the WB aspects. If the WB goes with the weapon solicitation, he earns a Fate point. Else, he loses one.
    - with the In A Wicked Age system, the WG player has the right to tell "as you fight your cousin Yyrkoon, you let your wife impale herself on me". If the WB does not want to go with the suggestion, there is a conflict. If the WG wins, it has the upper hand in the negociation and can exhaust or injure the WB player.

    By the way, I played Bloodlust back in my high school days. All the desires, XP reward system and WG mind controling system was probably the worst part of the rules. Now, I think I would kill to play Bloodlust with IAWA.
  • Bret: thanks for your input. What I couldn't figure about Charnel Gods is who is playing the demon weapons. I'm also afraid that the tone is on the pathos side while I'm looking for lighthearted campy jubilation as in the original game. The parallel with Wraith is right on spot. I tried to sell this game to my group years ago... I think it would have been easier to sell fried cockroaches on a stick :)

    Antoine: I'm amazed by the positive reactions I get by mentioning this game around. I didn't expect that. What mood did you get at the table while playing Bloodlust ? And thanks for the suggestions.

    I'm going to have save some dough and buy a few pdf...
  • edited June 2009
    I understand now. I'll admit that with a title like Bloodlust I hadn't considered that the game might be lightheard and campy. :) In Charnel Gods the GM plays the weapons which are demons a la Sorcerer.
  • Oh and I have in my head something to share that may depict what I'm going after. Maybe it will help feedback.

    Let's say we have three players and a GM. The players are Arthur with Amanite as a weapon and Amed as a bearer, Bruno with Baal as weapon and Bjorn as bearer and finally Christine playing Crom as a weapon and Chazam as character. We could portray the way the interactions like this :
    It's got a similar pattern as in Vampire : The Eternal Struggle (CCG). I love the concept of Predator/Prey circular flow and know as a fact that it is a source of fun. I want to exploit it in this rpg.

    So let's say a scene focuses on Amed (played by Arthur) and Crom (played by Christine). Amed is a warrior who would above all like to be feared (Billy the Kid syndrome). Crom tries to ride this wave because GWs gain experience when their bearer give in to their desire. Plus it's a way for Crom to achieve some secret goal by manipulating Amed. Amed is supposed to infiltrate a bandit camp to steal something. While sneaking in, he notices a NPC wielding an impressive WB with a big reputation. Tension : Amed should remain sneaky for the sake of his mission, but his drive for Reputation is exciting a desire to provoke the NPC for a duel.

    I'd like the game system to open different tactical options for Arthur and Christine here:
    - negociation. The desire is really strong. Christine could take control for the scene. The odds of whatever mechanic for controlling the WB are on her side. Arthur tries to change her mind and say : "let me steal the damn mc guffin and I swear I'll provoke the bad guy just after". Arthur could be lying btw.
    - frenzy. Christine decides to take over. If she manages to win control. Whatever visual meter modeling the urge is depleted, making next frenzy less probable in the near future.
    - breath in, breath out. Arthur resisted Christine's take over. The meter isn't depleted, maybe just slightly lower because Amed managed to keep the inner voice under control and Crom has to back off a bit.
  • Hi Franck,

    Your last exemple could very well be modeled in Fate with the exception that the choice would still be in the WB player hands. If he wants to deplete his Fate Points ressources, he can always refuse the weapon suggestions (= compeling of aspect). But, he'd better have some other aspects to compel if he wants to earn FP. Because FP = control of your behaviour but also efficiency to reach your own goals. For me that would be better than loosing character control. I've always found that lame in Bloodlust.

    You could also do something like the fact that the WB player must offer one FP to use a weapon power with the possibility for the Weapon to refuse and pay one of its own FP also.

    I think that could be a nice model. But you would have individual desire aspects without any score rather that the numbered desires mecanism of Bloodlust. I don't know if it's a problem for you.

    By the way, the mood at my table wasn't realy campy but it was still light hearted. It was pretty similar to the other game of the same author (Croc) that we played a lot at the time : Magna Veritas (the angel side of In Nomine). As much as I like Charnel Gods, I don't think you could have the same mood with its Humanity mecanism. Perhaps with Sorcerer and a well conceived Humanity definition. Still, in Sorcerer, the demons (in this case the Weapons) are usualy in the GM's hands. That would be a big hack to give them to the players.

    Although, the light mood isn't hard coded in the game. Its more an issue of gaming culture in France, of the dark humor in the rules text, etc... You could totaly play a grim Bloodlust.

  • Antoine : you're not the only one who suggested FATE for my case. Maybe it's just that I never got to play any implementation of it and I might change my mind in the future but every time I try to read FATE rules I start to loose my focus and I don't get excited at all.

    But when you say that you didn't enjoy losing WB control in the original game I can totally understand that. The thing that (I hope) will smooth this rough aspect is the circular flow. Sometimes you loose control of your WB and sometimes you steal control of another WB. That's why I believe it will lead to a game play where the weapons are what matters most to the story. The bearers will be anvils to bang relentlessly on :)

    Another impression I had about FATE is the lack of old school crunch with the list of weapons, the random tables for GW powers, the min maxing when creating a new WB... I love the principle of the combat system with normal attacks, fast attacks, brutal attacks, feints, blocks and dodge, and how they offer tactical choices. I might transpose that to another system but I'm pretty sure I want to keep it.
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