why would you make a deal with the mad gods?

edited August 2009 in Story Games
Me and my friend need some help with his character concept.

See, I've got this setting I wanna try out, and he wants to be a badass gunslinger like Roland of Gilead, and I'm like, "Yeah! That'll work! Use him." And then I come up with this really cool idea of him working for the mad gods of chaos, who pay him in qualitative money. It functions on qualities, not quantities, dig?

Caleb (the gunslinger) ain't a believer. Not many people are, dig? He's hired by the mad gods through an intermediary, who might be insane. But the money works, and that's the important part. The job is to kill a list of 23 people. Some of them appear to be for political reasons, but no clear agenda is apparent from the combination of them.

So, here's the thing. You aren't a believer, you just need the money, so why'd you make a deal with the mad gods? What is it that you need so bad and can't get otherwise?
«1

Comments

  • dig? umm no, I'm afraid...what does "qualitative money" mean? example?

    Does Caleb: a) not know about the mad gods, b) know about the mad gods but doesn't believe they exist, or c) has met the mad gods but didn't realize/believe they were gods?
  • So, you've got a coin that is denominated, maybe, "Red Coin." It buys things that are red. The transaction is magical; Caleb doesn't understand magic, but he knows the coins work.

    Some combinations of coins could be exchanged for others. A Red Coin and a Liquid Coin could be exchanged for a pair of Blood Coins.

    And, B: Caleb knows about the mad gods but doesn't believe they exist.
  • Qualitative currency is nuts, I love it. All manner of bizarre gift certificate alchemy to be had!
  • I can't remember the exact line from the movie, but in Tombstone the Cowboys are watching a play of Faustus and one of them asks another if they'd take the Devil's deal, and the second guy says something like "Yes, and then I'd put a bullet in the Devil's ass!"

    Why work for the Mad Gods? Because you think you can work them for your own ends, and they ain't no threat to begin with.
  • Interesting. So Blood is Red...do bad things happen if you try to buy "blood" with Red Coins instead of Blood Coins? (as an example).

    So here's my thought for Caleb: What makes him completely totally utterly unemployable? You may need to pair this with a time crunch so there isn't time for him to simply redeem himself and then seek more normal employment.

    For instance:

    1) the only thing he's good at is killing...but he's earned a reputation for betraying his employers so now none wll hire him. But he really needs the money. Strange how this guy doesn't seem to mind his untrustworthy rep...

    2) all killing must be licensed by the Blood Guild. War, murder, butchering livestock...if you don't have a license...you're not allowed to kill (I think whatever magical effect surrounds this would tie in well with qualitative money magic). If you kill or employ an unlicensed killer...you're in deep. Caleb lost his license...falling out with the guild leader...whatever...now he's a killer without a license...who would possibly be mad enough to hire him and face the wrath of the Blood Guild.

    3) he's bored...dillusioned...a bit mad himself. His whole life has been shown to be a meaningless exercise in pointless blood shed and now he's just looking to die. But just dieing, or killing himself, or letting himself be killed is a one way ticket to hell...only going out legitimately on-the-job gets him into Valhalla.* So here's some crazy dude wanting to hire him for not just one damn near impossible job...but 23. Who cares if the coin is wierd...death is almost certain...sign him up.

    *or if he's not a believer in anything...he wants to make sure his name lives on in infamy after he's gone...which won't happen if he goes out with a wimper...
  • The money is magic, and thus not totally reliable. The better the qualities match up, the less dodgy it is. Not necessarily bad things happening, just not quite what you wanted.

    That, and a Blood Coin can get anything that is blood-like -- which may not be red.
    Posted By: merb101Why work for the Mad Gods? Because you think you can work them for your own ends, and they ain't no threat to begin with.
    Good! But what are Caleb's own ends?
  • Payment in chaos? OK....

    Drugs to which he's addicted
    Pheromones
    The Wisdom of the Mad­® (AKA Things Man Was Not Meant To Know)
    Instances of the power to transform matter
    Instances of the power to utterly convince others, in spite of rational or logic
    Instances of the power to undetectably cheat at gambling

    I don't see actually currency ("Coins") as something the mad gods of chaos would use--too structured.
  • Posted By: David ArtmanI don't see actually currency ("Coins") as something the mad gods of chaos would use--too structured.
    I'm taking the classical sword & sorcery setup, wherein the gods are lined up on order and chaos, while good and evil are merely human concerns. But I'm putting a spin on chaos. What the mad gods are all about is the continual opening up of new avenues and opportunities -- constant evolution. Structure is not necessarily an issue, as long as we're talking about structures that are unpredictable, changeable, influenceable. They are against recursiveness, repetition, and dead ends. (A clockwork universe that eventually winds down, that's what the one god of order wants; the mad gods want a universe that is perpetually changing, moving, evolving.)

    I saw quantitative money as something representative of order, so I gave the mad gods money that works on qualities. With one Lead Coin, you could buy a million bullets, if you did it all at once. The stipulations on spending qualitative money are nil to those with imagination, and spending it opens things up to all sorts of interesting upsets.
  • You should look into potlatch economies, like the one used by the Tlingit/Tsimshian/Haida complex. I have nothing to say about your mad gods, but qualitative money is a real thing.
  • This is a bundle of fun wrapped in a warm blanket of clever.

    Caleb will make a deal because there's something he wants that he can't get any other way. Unrequited love is an old favorite. Debt is another — maybe he owes a lot of possessiveness or slipperiness.

  • Maybe he's just so down and out that he doesn't care who he makes deals with anymore. What's the threat of hell to someone who already knows they're living it?
  • edited August 2009
    He needs Time money, because he does believe the watchmaker's clock is winding down. Time is the one thing he can't buy with quantitative money.

    Why not just let the world end now? Maybe for the sake of a bastard child born on his dime.

    Edit: Of course, if he succeeds, then he probably is the watchmaker. So I guess it depends on just how like Roland (or Severian) you want to get.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: Marshall BurnsSo, here's the thing. You aren't a believer, you just need the money, so why'd you make a deal with the mad gods?
    * You have nothing left to lose and are willing to take any deal, no matter how awful, if it gets you what you think you need RIGHT NOW. The mad gods are just the fastest route available.

    * You are suicidal, and cherish the thought that any deal with the mad gods can only end badly for you -- and this particular end appeals to you more than a more mundane one.

    * You are a gambling addict, and like all gambling addicts you think it's the potential jackpot that keeps you coming back -- but it's not, of course. It's the thrill of the loss that makes gambling so addictive, and dealing with the mad gods is the purest fucking rush you will ever find...once you play their game you will never want to play any other. Everyone keeps telling you to stop and save yourself, but they'll never understand that you can't.

    * You know (or think you know) a loophole that will let you walk away from the deal unscathed, making you one of the lucky few who scammed the mad gods and got away with it scot-free.

    * They are the only ones willing to deal with you: you have alienated all the mortal kings and fiefdoms, been spurned by all the holy, been rejected by all the demons, and it is only the mad gods who will still acknowledge you -- and you don't even know why. But it's the only offer left on the table, and you have no choice but to take it.

    * You were lied to and manipulated by the mad gods: you were not aware that they were actually the ones you made your deal with until it was too late. Now they not only won't let you out of your contract, they will inflict punishments upon you if you do not continue to deal with them.

    * You are unable or unwilling to recognize that the mad gods are very real; you think that the powers you have gained are yours and yours alone, that the believers who led you to them are deluded fools, that the ancient texts are the addled scribblings of drug fiends and lunatics. You think that your worldly cynicism shields you, that you are the only man in the world who sees things as they truly are. It amuses the mad gods to let you dig your grave in this way, for it will make your shattered psyche taste all the sweeter when they come to claim it.

    * You have done terrible things, and sought out the aid of the mad gods not only to get the power to try and make up for your sins, but also because you feel the doom they will inevitably lay upon you is a fitting and just punishment for you.

    * You were raised in service to the mad gods. It is the only life you have ever known, and they have decreed that it is the only life you shall ever know.

    * All of the gods are mad gods.
  • Maybe he does believe in the mad gods? Just maybe he's so fucking insane that he believes that with the right qualitative money he can actually become one.
  • The lulz

    god knows that is why I did it.
  • Posted By: Joshua A.C. NewmanThis is a bundle of fun wrapped in a warm blanket of clever.Caleb will make a deal because there's something he wants that he can't get any other way. Unrequited love is an old favorite. Debt is another — maybe he owes a lot of possessiveness or slipperiness.
    This is awesome and I am ripping it off. Thanks!

    Caleb will make the deal because he has a secret, and a destiny, bigger than the gods, mad or otherwise. Or so the one-eyed midwife who attended his birth pronounced. He doesn't know what the secret is, or what his destiny holds, but he does know that the gods' sway over him is in some important way incomplete. He has no fear of them.
  • edited August 2009
    I like the unemployable aspect. I'd do it like this, though:
    "I'm sorry, you need at least five years of experience as an assassin to qualify for this job."
    "But ... I killed my family in vengeance eight years ago."
    "Hobby work doesn't count."
    "And I had that internship with Shadowstrike..."
    "Internships don't count, either. Good day."

    The mad gods, for all that they may or may not exist, don't check your references.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: Ben LehmanThe mad gods, for all that they may or may not exist, don't check your references.
    I bet the the mad gods send out lots of form letters and recruitment brochures.

    Congratulations, xxxMax Rheinxxx, on your xxxburning antsxxx! Have you considered a job xxxburning antsxxx with the mad gods?
  • Posted By: Marshall Burns


    Posted By: merb101Why work for the Mad Gods? Because you think you can work them for your own ends, and they ain't no threat to begin with.
    Good! But whatareCaleb's own ends?

    Freedom. The ability to choose what you want to do when you want to do it, and the Hell with anyone who says otherwise. I can see Caleb having grown up with a parent who was a sharecropper or an indentured servant, someone who spent his life under the heel of those around him, who talked constantly about being his own man, making his own way, and yet died on someone else's land, was buried in a shallow unmarked grave and ultimately had nothing of his own in this world or the next.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: BurrHe needs Time money, because hedoesbelieve the watchmaker's clock is winding down. Time is the one thing he can't buy with quantitative money.
    This.

    I can picture him trying to find the right combination of qualities to create time. And when he does figure it out, then he has to choose. Use the Time to save his loved one, or use it to save himself...

    Edit for spelling
  • Man, there's so many good ones here, but I can't sell my buddy on any of 'em.
    I'm all, "C'mon, man, Caleb has to want something. He can't be a protagonist if he doesn't want something." And he's all, "Hmmm, I dunno. None of these really fit the guy as I see him."

    The time one is my favorite. I wish I could talk him into it.
  • I keep imagining the mad gods having an intermediary in the form of a little old man in a brown suit and a bowler hat, wire rimmed glasses and a small white beard that curls at the tip. He is soft spoken and polite and always has an almost-hidden smile, as though he is the only one in on the joke. The overly-large pocket watch in his coat ticks too loudly.

    I see him as a bit of a Keyser Soze-style character.

    "How do you know I work for the mad gods? Because I say I do, and I'm still here."

    Also love the idea of the form letters, and if you could go with the time theme have the little man working/living in a shop filled with ticking clocks.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: merb101I keep imagining the mad gods having an intermediary in the form of a little old man in a brown suit and a bowler hat, wire rimmed glasses and a small white beard that curls at the tip. He is soft spoken and polite and always has an almost-hidden smile, as though he is the only one in on the joke. The overly-large pocket watch in his coat ticks too loudly.
    WTF? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

    Yeah, the form letters are super cool. Especially if they're just for totally fuckin' random things. Like, y'know, burnin' ants.
  • Why wouldn't you make a deal with the mad gods?

    Where else can you get money that literally buys love, happiness, and prosperity?

    There are somethings quantitative money can't buy. For everything else, there's qualitative money. Brought to you by the Mad GodsTM
  • To save your village from being destroyed by vampire giraffes or other mad god stuff?

    Because you have a health condition that means you can't do much and are probably going to die? No, that'd never work...

    Because for some reason he can't use ordinary money and is getting mighty thin on stolen scraps?

    Because as far as his memory goes back this is what he's been doing?

    Because his six-shooter comes from the mad gods and if he's separated from it he turns back into scrawny Donald Blake? Or the guns demand vengeance and whisper to him until he complies? (Plundering comics is good!)

    Because he's deadly afraid of death and wants to find a way to buy immortality? (The Gilgamesh/Jack Sparrow route.)
  • edited August 2009
    My friend finally settled on an idea: Caleb wants to resurrect his dead sister. I'm liking this, because he'll be wracking his brains trying to find a combination of coins to buy not only life, but buy [i]her[/i] life in particular, so that the transaction is 100% to work correctly (hate to put someone else's life into his sister's preserved body, yes?). So he'll be needing a Life Coin, as well as coins that meet other of her qualities. Perhaps a Female Coin, a Brunette Coin, and so on.

    EDIT: And thanks, everyone, for your (totally awexome) suggestions. Even though he didn't use them, they got us goin'.
  • As I understand it, one Blood coin would buy him back a blood relative, right?
  • Posted By: JuddGAs I understand it, one Blood coin would buy him back a blood relative, right?
    I imagine there would be a negligible chance. Even if the coin works on a metaphorical level, which is going above and beyond the notion of quality, there's nothing uniquely identifying about being a blood relative. Everybody has them. So there's no telling who the Blood coin would buy back, even if it did somehow manage to bring a person back from the dead. More likely, the merchant or shaman or whoever would try to slit your own throat, since that is the easiest way to produce the blood of someone related to you. I expect qualitative coins are most safely used when you want to buy a commodity, where it doesn't matter which thing you get as long as it is the right kind of thing. It's trying to be specific that gets people in trouble.
  • so he would need a sister coin and a life coin (presuming he had only one sister) ]perhaps a blood coin to get a sister who is a blood relative???

    This idea of qualitative money is interesting, did you want to keep posting here by what you meant by it , or would you like to start a new thread with more examples.
  • Posted By: Logos7so he would need a sister coin and a life coin (presuming he had only one sister) ]perhaps a blood coin to get a sister who is a blood relative???
    I think you can count on a sister being a blood relative!
  • Sure, unless the gods are going to screw with you.

    And the first thing you should learn when you want to make a deal with the gods is that the gods are always going to screw with you. "Ah ha," you think, "I have only one sister, therefore I just need these two coins." So you slap 'em down on the altar, and lo and behold, you had another sister you didn't know about. Or a childhood friend who was like a sister to you. Or a nun.

    Mortals who would attempt to negotiate with the gods must learn to be as specific as possible. Leave no room for misinterpretation. Get as much on their good side as you can, and pray -- to them or to any other gods who can help -- that they look upon your request favorably, so that they aren't tempted to fuck with you just to put you in your place.
  • edited August 2009
    Posted By: Tim GrayI think you can count on a sister being a blood relative!
    They could give you a nun.

    I now assume that the coins only work for merchants who actually offer the thing you are buying. He can't trade them to the Mad Gods themselves (otherwise, he says what he wants, pays the coin, and gets it...right?) I like the idea, but think it is a bit ill-defined.

    Maybe, he needs more than just his sister back. Like, he needs his sister back (blood coin), alive (life coin), and having forgotten that he was the one who killed her (forgetful coin)?
  • they could also give you someone else's sister for the sister coin presumably

    but yeah that is presuming that their is some kind of mad god coin accepting sister store out there somewhere. Is that part of the base idea?? I'm not sure
  • I imagine the coins only work with a merchant providing said goods, but there's probably Bargainer Demons out there who are all "We'll bring your sister back to you... for YOUR SOUL!"

    And then you're all "Nah, I've got a Sister coin, a Life coin, and a Freedom from Unintended Consequences coin right here."

    And the demon wrinkles his nose in distaste and annoyance, and goes "I suppose that will also be acceptable."
  • One would probably be able to buy dead sisters from a local underworld/keeper of the dead, or failing that perhaps a necromancer of some sort.
  • hahaha, man what i would give for a freedom from unintended consequences coin

    so that will be 9 billion dollars and a freedom from unintended consequences coin, you now own half the congo, a small fleet of rocket boats, a nuclear reactor and your own person team of lesbian stripper ninjas, enjoy!
  • Of course, there's also the interesting wrinkle that anybody you buy something from now has (at least) one of these coins. Like in my example above, you've just given a demon the power to buy somebody's sister, somebody's life, and freedom from unintended consequences from anyone who can provide it. Nice job, hero.
  • And if you do get your sister back, her big brother turns out to be a jobless, penniless drifter with blood on his hands.

    Sis is gonna love that.
  • They call me Anti-Hero thank you very much.
  • Sure, we can continue to discuss the idea of the money. It will give me ideas to use in play!

    The demon thing isn't too far off from my idea. My idea is that Caleb has to give the money to someone who is a.) a merchant, and b.) exhibits some sign of the Taint of the Mad Gods. The transaction occurs instantly, magically, and sometimes without conscious awareness on behalf of the merchant, depending on how much of the Taint he has (the more Taint, the more likely he's aware of it).
    Posted By: JuddGAs I understand it, one Blood coin would buy him back a blood relative, right?
    The odds are waaaay stacked against him.
    The resolution mechanic I'm using for this works with a dice pool, counting "hits" with 50% chance of a hit on each die. Compared to this, you have Obstacles, each of which must be addressed by "spending" a hit in order for the action to succeed. In addition to that, you have Dangers, which you may address by spending a hit to prevent them, or you can let them happen to use your hits elsewhere. Sometimes you might fail the action just to prevent a nasty danger.

    So, basically, with the coins, what we've got going on is Dangers. The less specific your coinage, the more the Dangers. Trying one Blood coin to buy your sister back is gonna come with a fuck-ton of Dangers.

    Posted By: merb101And if you do get your sister back, her big brother turns out to be a jobless, penniless drifter with blood on his hands.

    Sis is gonna love that.
    This is really a good idea.

    I hit upon the idea that his sister was also a shootist. It's in the family, a very serious thing. They had to learn to think guns before they were ever allowed to touch one. Then they had to build their own. Caleb's is made from the wood of the handle of a meat ax, and steel made from the core of a meteorite. Lorelai's (his sister) is made from the wood of an oak branch knocked down by lightning, and steel made from the scrap of a 750 Norton.
    Posted By: BenhimselfOf course, there's also the interesting wrinkle that anybody you buy something from now has (at least) one of these coins. Like in my example above, you've just given a demon the power to buy somebody's sister, somebody's life, and freedom from unintended consequences from anyone who can provide it. Nice job, hero.
    Holy shit, thanks for pointing that out! That is great.
  • You had something about a list of people he needed to kill for the Mad Gods? That he was getting payment for each of these people? That right there is ripe for gameplay, with each episode or story arch revolving around the next hit. Some people are deserving of death, others not so much.

    The really cool twist would be somehow getting Caleb to spend coins along the way as he tries to save up to bring back his sister, forcing him to move on to the next mark to reclaim the resources he just used up.

    Or let him bring his sis back early only to find out she is the next target ... and maybe the Mad Gods made a similar deal with her on the other side, only with Caleb as the mark...
  • I gotta say, Marshall, I'm enjoying the hell out of this thread and these ideas.
  • Yeah, it really is a lot of fun to read and think about.


    I'm starting to have some questions about the game itself, though; is this a one-on-one thing with your friend, or are there going to be other players? And if there are other players, how are the other players and their PCs going to fit in with Caleb's deal, the assassinations, and/or the collection of the qualitative coins?

    I'm wondering this because similar setups have come up in our games from time to time: one character is a special snowflake with a personal quest driving him or her, and the other PCs have a hard time being part of it. Maybe they don't have the right abilities to contribute much to it, maybe it's a story they don't have any reason to care about (beyond the usual "PCs stick together" habit), maybe the special snowflake actually pushes them away from it ("no one must ever know my terrible secret"). At its worst, no one is happy -- the player of the special snowflake feels like the thing he cares about isn't getting enough attention, the players of the other PCs feel like it's getting too much. Nowadays we try to spot the problem before it starts and make an effort to adjust the concept and the characters so that everyone can feel like they're an important part of that plot right away, but I'm always interested in learning how to do that better.
  • Posted By: merb101You had something about a list of people he needed to kill for the Mad Gods? That he was getting payment for each of these people? That right there is ripe for gameplay, with each episode or story arch revolving around the next hit. Some people are deserving of death, others not so much.

    The really cool twist would be somehow getting Caleb to spend coins along the way as he tries to save up to bring back his sister, forcing him to move on to the next mark to reclaim the resources he just used up.
    My thoughts exactly!
    Posted By: Accounting for Taste
    I'm starting to have some questions about the game itself, though; is this a one-on-one thing with your friend, or are there going to be other players?
    It's a one-on-one thing.
    As for special-snowflake play, I've never had a problem with playing a supporting character to someone else's destiny-laden screen-presence machine. I don't have to be a protagonist to have fun (and, as an aside, the Rustbelt is designed so that players have that option). But I don't know how other people feel about it; I've never asked them to do it.

    To address other possible questions about the game itself:
    I'm basically coming up with the 23 hits as I go. The first one is a guy named Hammurabi Musashi, and he's basically the king of half of New Mexico. Yep, that's the kind of game this is.

    Other than the resolution mechanic, the rest of the system is like this:
    PCs are defined by 4 attributes, which you define yourself, and assign 16 dice between (Caleb's are Calm, Trouble, Outrage, and Eye). You usually roll one attribute at a time, but you can do "helper rolls" like in Sorcerer, where hits on a preparatory action are rolled over as bonus dice into the "real" action. You can also gain dice by risking equipment and relationships -- if the dice gained from them miss, you lose what you risked.

    NPCs never roll dice. They act solely by pushing PCs into action, and/or introducing Dangers and Obstacles.

    There's a system of Conditions, which work like Cruel Fortunes in Poison'd: one bad thing gives me, the GM, the right to introduce new kinds of bad things (i.e. Obstacles and Dangers). Conditions are inflicted through Dangers; I'll basically be making them up on the fly, explaining the ramifications of each as I announce it as a Danger.
  • Oh, and I think it'd be really cool if he gets his sister resurrected fairly quickly, then breaches the contract before he's killed all 23 people. That'll be fun.

    Which, yeah, brings me to another detail of the game: I'm doing the "GM doesn't pre-imagine the outcome of things; he throws a situation at the player, and says, 'Now what?' and follows the player's answer to that until it's time to ask 'Now what?' again" thing.
  • How do intend for that to work with the quality coins?

    Is the player negotiating for what type of Coin he wants to do the job?
    That would be very different from you giving him a Coin you want.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsOh, and I think it'd be really cool if he gets his sister resurrected fairly quickly, then breaches the contract before he's killed all 23 people. That'll be fun.

    Which, yeah, brings me to another detail of the game: I'm doing the "GM doesn't pre-imagine the outcome of things; he throws a situation at the player, and says, 'Now what?' and follows the player's answer to that until it's time to ask 'Now what?' again" thing.
    One of the people he killed early in the game could be the one sent to "repo" the sister.

    Or depending on how early in the game, all of the targets he has killed could come back gunning for Caleb, with a sweet Life Coin being up for grabs to the one who takes Caleb down.

    ME



    ME
  • Posted By: ValamirHow do intend for that to work with the quality coins?

    Is the player negotiating for what type of Coin he wants to do the job?
    That would be very different from you giving him a Coin you want.
    He's getting a random assortment of coins from this huge rolling chart I'm currently making and revising. Half before each kill, and half after.
  • Do want.

    Is there a text? or is this much like my one on one games, ie: half in my head, half on post-it notes in a shoebox?
  • Posted By: JCunkleIs there a text? or is this much like my one on one games, ie: half in my head, half on post-it notes in a shoebox?
    Yeah, it's like the shoebox thing. The guy I'm playing this with, we've got a lot of roleplaying history together, so we can afford to half-ass the design and just wing it. We've done it for years.
Sign In or Register to comment.