Saturday, 4 June 2011

Amaranthine #amaranthine @davidahilljr


So recently I have had the joy of contributing a little to this game, Amaranthine. It is my first true stab at some sort of freelance writing for an rpg. And I think I can say that it has gone well. It is only a thousand or so words, but I would like to think that I can actually write in an evocative way that is useful both as prose and gaming content. It has been a good learning experience as well as I feel that I have already learnt how to improve my writing just by getting back the red lines.

Anyway, Amaranthine is an rpg by David A Hill Jr and Filamena Young. Daivd is best known for his work with White Wolf on recent projects like Invite Only, a suppliment for Vampire The Requiem covering how vampire socialize and run gatherings, and the Werewolf The Forsaken Chronicler's Guide, a multipart book that remixes the game. He has also worked on such things as writing content for EVE Online, the rpg Eclipse Phase, and his own game, Machine Zeit.

Filamena Young is also co writing Amaranthine with David (duh, David is her familiar... I mean husband) and so also wrote Machine Zeit. Filamena is also known for her work with White Wolf on such books as Nighthorrors: Unbidden (Mage The Awakening), Nighthorrors: Wolfsbane (Werewolf The Forsaken), Ancient Mysteries (Vampire The Requiem) ad Immortals.

So what is Amaranthine about? Well a few weeks back on the Darker Days Podcast I had the joy of interviewing David about the game and asked him about the mechanics of the game.

Amaranthine is a game about immortal souls. Souls which have been reincarnated over many lifetimes. So it is clear that you are playing a game about supernatural creatures. But more critical is that the game is about relationships, and how they turn hot and cold and snap over time. Something that is pretty important for characters that can hold grudges and romances over many lifetimes.

Anyway here is the description from the writers themselves.

Something of the things that have jumped out about the game are the mechanics for relationships, and the the method of character design.

Character design is a collaborative effort, similar in some ways to some indie rpgs. In Amaranthine, during character creation a number of questions are answered, and some may be direct towards others in the groups. For example some of the questions are simply filling in the blanks e.g. I have never, I have once, I have sometimes, I always, I will never. Its good fun and something that I would use in other games in future. It also provides a good laugh for the players as they see relationships set up. Go listen to the podcast that David and Filamena recorded with their gaming group when testing this out with some new players.

The main focus of the game is relationships, and this is visually and mechanically tracked using relationship wheels. The idea is to show how relationships can change over time, go sour, or turn a full 180. It can help drive the plot and show how relationships can be driven to break point and that only some other great act can rescue it. Or how a emnity can turn into love. All of this is magnified by the immortal nature of the characters.

The other neat thing is that the game is moving away from an xp driven system for advancement, and instead will focus on roleplay in game actions to drive advancement. It will then reward players for good roleplay, and also prevent stats just magically improving without good reason e.g. no time being spent on training etc. The other neat idea is how a character can discover new skills through roleplaying flashbacks where said skills were used in a previous lifetime.

So Amaranthine is shaping up to be the Highlander like game we have always wanted. A game about epic romances, brotherhood, betrayals, and revenge, taking place over lifetimes. I'm looking forward to having a crack at the finished game and I think my own gaming group would really enjoy after playing things like Vampire and Changeling. Go check it out and read their blog for more.

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