I have been mulling over a concept for a MG hack. It started as an intended MG based hack/simplification of BW because I love so much about that game but it is oh so crunchy in many ways that are just too heavy for me. But MG is so light and springy. It was going to be a Hyboria based game for some non-pastiche Robert E. Howard goodness. But, as soon as I started thinking about Nature in MG, I realized just how NOT universal MG is as a game. In fact, it is quite specific in theme, and that is formally almost entirely captured in the tension of Nature against the strivings of the characters and the fact that this is a shared struggle in the party. So then I figured I could either throw Nature out entirely and use BW style emotional attributes where needed, which would be fine but would make the game fundamentally more BW than MG even if more mechanics came from the later than the former otherwise, or pick a theme and Nature combo that captures a similar unifying tension. And so here is my idea. I call the game simply…
The party can be of variable backgrounds, histories, experience levels, whatever (this could even fit in any setting, not just Conan/fantasy), but they are united in that they all have a consuming personal vendetta. Something horrible has happened in their pasts, something they loved or believed in was fundamentally stolen, destroyed, or maimed in such a way that they are forever changed and consumed by a dark mix of striving for justice and revenge. The party is loosely allied on the basis that they will help one another achieve this satisfaction. They truly feel each other’s pain and hate and thus they get almost as much satisfaction pursuing their comrade’s goals as their own.
Due to this vendetta, the characters are forced to strive and toil and develop skills and strengths to allow them to deal with the denizens of their enemy. In so doing they work against their Human Nature.
In this game I see human nature as the expression of man’s base wish to seek a calm painless life with pleasure in moderation, connection with people of like race/culture/outlook/religion/whatever-does-it-for-you, and roots for the future. As such, I qualify this hack of Nature with the words Clannishness, Comfort, and Survival.
Clannishness covers the tendency of folks to stay among their own people. It is the feeling of familiarity and understanding you get being around others you feel are like you. It can also be geographic, encouraging people to not move far from home. Clannishness can lead to mild and occasional acts of heroism in defense of your own, and can also lead to mistrust and apathy towards those you see as different.
Comfort indicates that people naturally want a fat and happy kind of life. Discomfort, pain, fear, and toil are to be avoided for the most part. A little good hard work never hurt anyone, but only in the pursuit of further comfort or in service of the other too Human Nature values.
Survival is the human drive to stay alive. Mostly humans will tend toward flight, but they will also fight to get away if cornered. Similarly, they will sometimes steal and kill if their survival or the survival of their “clan” is on the line.
This Human Nature is opposed to the purpose of the characters in Vendetta as it tells them to go home, be with your people, grieve and get over your loss, don’t put yourself through pain and danger and maybe death for a battle already lost, and stay where it is safe and food is plentiful. As such, a 7 Human Nature means the characters have transcended their urge for Vendetta. They no longer seek their revenge. If they continue, their heart is likely not in it the same way. A 0 on the other hand means the characters have completely lost themselves to the power of their pain and hate, becoming so reckless and despairing that they become self destructive and irrational. They lose almost all other interests and can’t take care of themselves and their affairs in such a way as to make pursuing the Vendetta practical any longer.
So that’s my idea. Thoughts? This is my first Nature hack, and it is quite tricky, so I would love to hear feedback.