Shades of Grey
Today, as I walked the petrified streets of WormWood, I realized I tend to suck a lot of happiness out of ScatterPoint for the imaginary citizens living therein. It’s a damnably, harsh world desperately in need of heroes, and the best they can get are jobbers–folks who’d likely not stick out their neck unless there was some explicit or implicit promise of reward or favor or some other sort of trade in the bargain. These are unlikely heroes, so in that sense, and it’s an opinion I’ve heard others voice on more than one occasion, that give RunePunk a firm categorization in noir. However, that’s too easy, RunePunk is so much more than that, depending on how you want to take the game.
Players new to the world find it a large, gritty, scary, OVERWHELMING place like country bumpkins visiting New York City for the first time, but over the course of a few sessions, they are fully immersed in the setting. They feel the steam. They navigate the narrow streets with ease. They learn where to go and what to do and what to avoid.
I realize I do this with all our settings. I bake in tiny, exquisite details that bring the world to life. I do it in a sneaky fashion that gently leads the readers from the lands we know to the lands we do not and by the time they reach their journey’s end, they don’t want to leave the place behind. I’m crafting fiction for you to play in. I’m not alone in doing this. Other folks do it, but RunePunk is fashioned more from my fanciful imagination than anything else. Certainly, there are a few touchstones, but they serve to give the reader a point of reference and nothing more. The more I write about RunePunk, the clearer the separation between fact and fancy becomes. It’s as intriguing for me as anyone else.
WormWood doesn’ t sound like a pleasant place, does it? Yet as presented in the core book, it’s not particularly awful. As I explored it in depth this week and evaluated the draft today, I realized I thematically conveyed the district by its name. It is a horrid, rotten place that looks okay on the surface, but it’s nasty. It needs its heroes as much, if not more than anyplace I’ve written about. The fact the jobbers are not given clear black and white choices makes their brave, selfless choices all the more heroic and therein, I think, lies a complex kernel of truth to turn around in your head for the weekend, but I like to give you more than you can handle sometimes, so here’s your homework.
RunePunk was hard for me to pitch when it was first release. If you remember, steampunk had not risen to the heights it celebrates today, and the closest thing to it, Castle Falkenstein, dropped a decade before. The ways you could take it were hard for folks to grok at first, so I ask you, how would you pitch it? Post your comments below. We’d love to hear what you come up with!
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!