[Rev/Eng] Motes in the Eye of the Emperor

edited September 2006 in Story Games
This game uses Jeff Moore's somewhat awesome, somewhat frustrating sheet. That said, compared to the laments I've heard about other sheets, I feel like I've dodged quite a few bullets. Still, this was a difficult game to get a handle on. For some reason I kept thinking "space station" when lookingat the sheet, or at least future sci-fi. But of course, there's the trigrams which look very I-Ching like, yet simultaneously have nothing to do with the I-Ching as far as meanings vs. the names of the attributes (er, aspects). Also, the game apparently uses ten siders, though it might use others.
In his wisdom, the last Solar Emperor saw the setting of the sun, and sent his children off into the night.
New Kitay might very well be the last repository of humanity; if there are others, the people of New Kitay are unaware of it. New Kitay teems with people in the sixty-four generations since the first Celestial Emperor was born and established his unbroken dynasty. And floating above New Kitay is Yi Jing, known by a thousand names. The High Palace, the Morning and Evening Star, the Ascendant City. The Eye of the Emperor.

Only the most blessed and exalted from New Kitay are allowed on Yi Jing - even the beggars up there are considered higher than the most revered nobility on New Kitay. From time to time, the Emperor sends his agents across New Kitay, selecting the most distinguished for the honor of coming to Yi Jing. Young and old alike compete for the privilege. Only the best are chosen.

The players play brand-new Blessed; newly trained in all the Imperial Protocols, knowing they are among the best in the best. Ambitious, arrogant, assured of their ability, it is a group of alphas, the big fish of their small ponds. After introducing themselves to each other in a collaborative/competetive character generation process where you don't even necessarily get to choose your own name, the Blessed finally arrive on Yi Jing and begin their lives.

At the moment, it's a percentile game. Players start with 50 points of resources, enough so that if all they do is spend them on their Body and Mind, they'll have 100 in everything - they will be everything a human can possibly be. It's a good bit of science fiction there - perfection is not just attainable, it's pretty easy. Unfortunately, being perfect isn't really all it's cracked up to be. You're really so much better off spending some of those resources on... erm... some form of Stuff that's nifty and keen, and is written in the Skills/Abilities section. And that's where I fall down right now.

I'm not sure what sort of stuff I want. This has obviously got to be things that can be used outside of the regular system; rulebreakers of sorts. They are Skills and Abilities, they transcend the Aspects. They are the most likely reason that these particular Blessed were chosen in the first place. They need to sound majestic and maybe mystical, and hopefully not completely combat-focused, 'cause that's kind of boring. They need to do something less mundane than bonuses to statistics, since the statistics can be brought to perfection by not buying anything at all.

But... what the heck are they? What is this Stuff? I know it has to be central to the way the game progresses. I've got a hole just big enough for it. I just can't find the peg that fits.


  • Heya

    The link to the character sheet is broken. I'm going to 'run' over to Kevin's site to take a look. Be back later.
  • edited September 2006
    Could they be the skills, artifacts, or whatever that led the newly-Blessed to be chosen? I'm imaging a 10 year old, newly-Blessed for his artistic talent, and his paintbox and brushes are part of his Stuff. Or a 40 year old woman and her amazing wooden spoon, symbol of her great cooking skill.

    Are the Blessed the only ones who get to pass on genetic code? I imagin there'd be a heavy breeding program to avoid in-breeding in a tightly restricted population. How big is New Kitay? Is it a continent, a city, a planet?

    I love that you might not even get to pick your own name.
  • Here's the correct link for the sheet: http://www.kevinallenjr.com/reverseengineer/jeff%20moore.pdf (the http:// was forgotten).

    If you think that character sheet is mad, check out the Icar RPG Character Sheet (JPG).
  • Stream of consciousness time.

    I'd like to see Skills/Abilities represent Perfection in things other than Body and Mind. Like Meg suggested...maybe Perfection in painting or cooking or poetry or engineering or mathematics or karate or marksmanship or...

    OK, so I'm getting a Huxley, Brave New World vibe here with the talk of perfection. The Blessed represent something like an Alpha and the heirarchy below, and people would be afraid to show weakness, a flaw, in the supposed Perfection. Perfection is not all it's cracked up to be, because the protagonists cannot possibily live up to the expectation of Perfection. Failure is not just a set back, but a sign that perhaps if the Blessed are not Perfect, and the Emperor picked them...then perhaps the Emperor is flawed too...and all of society becomes chaos.

    So what happens to Blessed who aren't perfect? Are they removed? Sent back below? Killed? Hidden away to avoid scandle?


    In terms of character generation then, they have enough resources to become *almost* perfect in everything. Like 97% perfect. On percentile, that's pretty good.

    In terms of play, they know they cannot last. One day they will fail, they will hit that 3% and that will be the end of them. The end of Perfect.

    /stream of consciousness

    Good Luck!
  • edited September 2006
    New Kitay is a planet (or more specifically, a planet-sized moon of a gas giant, just because I adore that particular visual); a crowded planet, sixty-four generations later. Yi Jing is a space station floating above the planet, resplendant and beautiful (at least as far as the people on the planet are concerned, and it's not like many people who go there ever come back).

    That said, I'm totally with Meg on this - the Skills/Abilities section is all about why most of your characters are chosen (those who get absolutely no Skills/Abilities can reach perfection, which is kind of cool in its own way). They shouldn't interact with the Body/Mind trees at all. It's hopefully "stuff" in a "stuff on the sheet" kind of way, not in a "stuff you carry around" kind of way. (I'm not a big fan of equipment/gear) I know the general form that these Skills/Abilities are - they:

    (1) Should interact with the Body/Mind trees obliquely, if at all.
    (2) Should be easily desired by more than one player, usually.
    (3) Should not appear more than once across all characters (players will bid for them). Although players can have more than one.
    (4) Should be awesome, in a mechanical, actually-use-in-game way.
    (5) Should not require too much text to write down and describe (that skills/abilities section is small)

    It's that #4 where I'm mostly faltering right now, though 2 and 5 are big issues too. I love the ideas of the great painter and the nifty cooker. But... how does that come across in the game rules? How does that come across in play?

    Oh, and by the way, see that "Key Aspect" chart in the corner? Every time it's your turn, after determining what it is you want to do, you roll on that Key Aspect sheet. Eighty percent of the time, the Protocols of Yi Jing will dictate how you need to approach it. (Which can lead to interesting situations, like needing to use Endurance to seduce a woman). The other 20% of the time, there is no particular approach... and this, I think, is where the Skills/Abilities will truly shine. Whatever they are.
  • I'm getting closer to figuring out what goes in the Skills/Abilities section. I feel like a sculptor, cutting away at this unspecified block until a shape emerges.

    Whatever else Skills/Abilities do (and I'm still lost there), they also will come with two things: an Office, and a Duty. Yes, this means one person can and will be able to hold more than one Office, but that's fine. It also means that if someone winds up with no Skills/Abilities, they might start without an Office (they'll be, like, a Minister-Without-Portfolio; totally acceptable). It allows for a nice, direct plug into the Yi Jing bureaucratic structure, a springboard for further action.
  • Lx, I'm not getting a very good idea of what the characters do in the game. They go up to the space station... and then what?
  • I think they either spend their points on being perfect or they spend their points on having problems. And it just happens to turn out that having problems gets things done in ways that being perfect just can't manage.

    Problems they could spend points on: alchoholism? Monomania? Off-palace responsibilities? Unrequited love?

    I think we already had something like this conversation: I think if it's a game about being perfect, there should be a choice between being the pinnacle of enlightened humanity and being a person with a name and problems and little quirky habits. Perfection is generic -- will you give up everything that makes you who you are to attain it?


    Ignoring that, I like the idea of everyone having really incredible-sounding Titles of Office, like The Star-Engineer of the Kwee-Jan Manifold or Beggar-Poet of the Sapphire Atrium. A little Xanadu goes a long way.
  • edited September 2006

    That's actually where I'm falling flat right now. The characters get to the space station, and then where X is a variable defined as "not something directly involving the bureaucracy, but which the bureaucracy will most certainly help and/or hinder the accomplishment thereof". The game has Levels (the sheet mandates this), and one of the ways of counting coup among players, I think, is to be the one with the highest Level. But I don't know what is, and that is why I'm stymied, I think.

    Rebellion very explicitly is not what I want, although that's the most obvious suggestion. I'm okay with ideas of subversion, though, like "the only way things REALLY get done is by going outside the bureaucracy" or somesuch.


    It's not really a game about being perfect. It's a setting where perfection is something that happens, but is so beneath notice that no attention is paid to it. The only time a player character is perfect is if he passes up every single Ability he could possibly take - and Abilities are supposed to have massive narrative punch.

    I approve, btw, of the idea of incredible-sounding Titles of Office, and that's one of the directions I want to take the game, once I figure out what is. In fact, I'm hoping that once I figure out what is, the Abilities and Skills will fall into place like rain. I'm probably not that lucky though.
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