The Strangelight Investigators is part one of a multi-staged adventure series occurring primarily in the lands of Western Immoren in the Kingdom of Cygnar; one of the dominant regions vying for power in the Iron Kingdoms. Our story revolves around six investigators and explorers who must overcome insurmountable odds in order to fulfill a destiny far beyond their reckoning.
What Makes Us Different?
I think it makes some sense to include a short write up highlighting what we might do slightly different than the typical game, if such a thing exists, and why we all have so much fun playing our campaign.
Relationships: First, the GM and Players have similar personalities and somewhat similar interests. Second, because we all genuinely like each other and get along extremely well. These first two things go a VERY long way in helping the sessions to be fun. We not only like the game, our characters, and the story; but we like hanging out and being stupid together. I firmly believe this is the #1 reason why we have so much fun.
Not as important, but still worth mentioning is the fact that we don't limit the game play strictly to Rules As Written. Let me clarify this a bit. From the standpoint of the Iron Kingdom Ruleset itself, you know, the actual "rules" - there is actually not a whole lot I change as a GM. By and large, we do play the rules as written. What we also do is add small mechanics based on those from other systems that enhance the storytelling aspect of our sessions. I will very briefly discuss the major ones below without going into the details of each.
The Montage: This can be employed anytime, although it is typically saved for special occasions. Our version of this mechanic is a variant based on an idea introduced by the 13th Age roleplaying game. Although the entire system is not for me, it does have some brilliant mechanics. Our version has one of the Players volunteer to solve an initial problem set by the GM and then introduce his own after solving the one he was given. This round-robins until all Players have a chance to give and solve a problem. This is done strictly with narrative and uses no dice and focuses on using character strengths and weaknesses.
It is Known: This story enhancer is a variant of another mechanic from 13th Age called 'One Unique Thing'. Our version has someone (usually the GM) introduce an NPC as part of the story. At that point, the game stops and a mini-game begins. Each Player is then responsible for naming one thing that is known about the NPC in question. This one thing can be a physical, mental, or social characteristic, and can be positive, neutral, or negative. Once all Players have contributed, you are done.
The Truth Is: This is a variant of combining two mechanics from different games. 'Invoking an Aspect' from the roleplaying game called FATE & 'The Player's Turn' from the underappreciated RPG called MouseGuard. Our version allows the Player to create their own truth of the game world that can temporarily give the group an advantage or increased chance of having something good happen. It always costs a character something. As long as the truth is subtle, gives a relatively short term benefit only, and is approved by the GM, then it becomes part of the story.
The Luck Die: This is a variant from the Luck Mechanic used in Call of Cthulhu RPG. Our version uses a single d20, and forces the character to roll it when the GM wants to leave something completely up to chance, and not make a ruling on it. A result of 1-6 equals Bad Luck; 7-14 equals No Luck; and 15-20 equals Good Luck. Only used in non-critical situations when there is really no indication one way or another how something could be determined. It is extremely fun for creating on-the-fly advantages or disadvantages that can change ancillary parts of the main story.
Telegraph Intent: Not so much a mechanic as an agreement between GM & Player of the way of doing things, I will again credit 13th Age, although they aren't the first group to come up with the idea. Typical player questions are asked without the player giving the reason for the ask. Example: Selene asks: "Are there any vines and soft branches in the area?" The player gives no indication of why they are asking. The GM then comes up with an arbitrary answer. "Not in this area of the forest, no." Now let's go over the Telegraphed Intent method of play. Selene asks: "I wish I could build some very basic traps, maybe using some vines and soft branches in the area I can carve into makeshift spikes." The player states WHY he is indirectly asking for the existence of the materials in the area. The GM makes a decision (or rolls the Luck die) and says, "There are not many right here, but you feel like Ancel might know exactly where that stuff is. If you can persuade him to tell you, you'll probably be in luck."
So when you combine all of the above aspects of what we use to amplify (homebrew) our game, I think you begin to see how our sessions may be slightly different than some others out there, and why we have so much fun playing. The bottom line is really this: Giving responsibility to the Players to be able to help tell the story through the power of co-creation is absolutely a key component to our game. It is what makes it so dynamic, unpredictable, and emergent. It can't be done with the wrong group, or it could seriously screw things up; but if you find the right group, it is game changing.
The Iron Kingdoms Campaign takes place in a fictional universe that combines the backgrounds of multiple roleplaying game settings, primarily focused on that of Full Metal Fantasy and Unleashed by Privateer Press. The primary ruleset being used in the campaign will be that of the original gaming rules known as The Iron Kingdoms - Full Metal Fantasy, and is focused on a more urban setting with more standard occupations and professions open to the player characters. Later on, the story will expand outward into the eastern desert; but there is much to discover before heading into that savage zone.