Judas priest, this is going to be a mess because Triton's Call has come out of decades of different inspirations, gaming experiences and gut instinct about the gaming industry. It’s all over the map, conceptually so you’ve been forewarned.
Any time you step away from fantasy, as a game designer, you take a huge risk.
As point of proof, the award-winning Ken Hite and we have a little shared habit as I’ve interviewed him over the years. I start a question with something like, “What do you think of the latest changes sweeping the RPG industry?” and he stops me cold right there.
He patiently sighs and says, “This is the part where I remind you that these ‘changes’ are only happen to a small portion of the RPG crowd. The vast majority of them are enjoying D&D and will continue to do so. But I will be happy to give you my opinion about those changes you’re talking about.”
Ken himself is one of those designers making changes as he tweaks and plays around with a system call Gumshoe, which tackles the situation of the players missing their perception check when the GM has an important clue hanging around. It’s a question that’s important to Ken since his RPG love is Call of Cthulhu, a game where investigation and research is a central theme.
On a more personal note, one of the longest games I’ve run was Mage, which was the Matrix and Urban Fantasy/Horror seven years before the movie. And before that I ran GURPS Horror game. Three guesses who wrote terrorizing beauty.
I’ve even fiddled around making a game where graffiti was the source of magic (based on futhark runes) and read, but never got to play, Unknown Armies.
Fast forward to 2016, I ran a End of the World RPG game. The set up is our current world that has you, as your own PC, going through an invasion scenario. The four books in the series take invaders, like the Gods or our own Machines, who push us back into the stone age. The book I picked was Aliens, which included aliens … from Atlantis.
Funny thing, I’ve always wanted to run a comic book RPG about an Atlantis AND my first trunk novel was an Urban Horror novel about conspiracies, pretty outsiders and Atlantis bio-tech. (Maybe I should have lead with that.) Needless to say, I enjoyed running that game and kept trying figuring out how to revisit it.
I also like giving GMs options but if you already have my Cypher PDFs, Mortal Fantasy and Cruel Stars, you already know that. I also loved the tool kit approach that allows GMs to run the same concept in a dozen way. And especially after reading Hite’s Night’s Black Agents, it proved to me that such multi-genre book would work. (Thanks to Stephen, who motivated me to expanded Triton’s Call to include fantasy)
Both goals are also a great way to expand the appeal of a book that already has the deck stacked against it for not being pure High Fantasy.
So all of these separate obsessions have all rolled into a single inspiration for a game.
In these early days I see the toolbox taking the GM through the process of narrowing down their game to a sentence, something similar to our Cypher fans (or would that be Cyfans?) The different blanks in the sentence would define different aspects of the genre, action and the timeline.
All things are subject to change but for example:
The characters have discovered they have ____ Atlantean bloodline, but their kin are involved in a _____ conspiracy and have planned an _____ invasion that will happen _____.
After working through the book, a finished sentence would look something like this.
“The characters have discovered they have mutant Atlantean bloodline, but their kin are involved in an International conspiracy and have planned a psychic invasion that will happen soon.”
This will be just one tool, though. I still have to iron out that Trident of Power yet.