Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Hopper and the Birth of Painted Corners

So. Once upon a time, I wrote this:

The Hopper
(Yeah. I know I keep hearing those stupid commercials in my head and the boston accent. But I haven't come up with a better name for this. "The Bin" just doesn't seem right.)
In any case. I've had this thought percolating in my brain meats for a bit and I want to share it, because I think it's a good one.
I'd like to have a forum in the ST section called "The Hopper" and into the hopper i'd like to put things that I know we'll need for a game. Like Floaters, Floaters are NPC's that your players can bump into in play, that aren't necessarily attached to a specific character or NPC. For instance, any game set in a city is going to need someone who can manufacture fake identification. I've seen exactly ONE PC that was built around this concept in my whole career as a gamer. So, odds are good that there's a NPC out there who does this sort of work, and maybe he knows stuff and maybe he don't
Crimelords, Crazy street people, members of the city council, any person like that you can dump into the hopper.
Drop-ins are also a good thing to throw in the hopper. A drop-in is a description of a place, and maybe there's hinky supernatural stuff going on, and maybe there isn't. A drop-in normally has a full description of a place and some text about the people that normally inhabit it. Nightclubs, strip bars, all-night gas-n-go, stuff like that.
The next thing you can throw into the Hopper is widgets. Things with some kind of mystical juice that are floating around the supernatural landscape of your town. Mostly this will be a description of the item and just a bit about what it does. But you don't want to go into a lot detail, which i'll explain in just a bit.
The last thing you might want to throw into the hopper is Legendry. If you find that you've found some obscure bit of city lore or a rumor that just keeps coming back like a bad penny, this is where it would go.
There are only two rules about Using the Hopper.
1) Each entry in the hopper receives it's own thread. If you use something from the hopper, you must describe HOW it was used and who was involved. This helps others keep all the movements of things straight.
2) You must not get too terribly hung up on mechanics for things in the hopper. Especially if you're running a cross-over game. Not all games have the same sort of power level and not all things translate across well from game to game. (Spirits in both Mage and Werewolf leap to mind) As a result, a drug dealer that appears in a vampire game might be tougher than expected in a fight, but in a werewolf game, is still likely to be "Hors de combat". A widget in Mage might function differently for a vampire who's interested in it's properties. Nailing HARD mechanics on things in the hopper restricts who can use them and starts fights. And in truth, certain types of things ought to be outside the actual scope of mechanics.
Why would you want to have a Hopper in your game?
Because, those ST's who have an affinity for painting the corners of the World of Darkness, are likely going to make things and put them in the hopper making it seem as if you done a MASSIVE amount of work to detail a huge number of the nooks and crannies of your world. Hiding toys and little easter eggs in every square foot of your sandbox. Some people really appreciate that sort of effort.
I know I do.

The Hopper, as an idea, never really caught on. I shopped it to a few people who I thought might get some use out of it, but as it turns out, it never seemed to gel anywhere…At least as far as i aware. I'd LOVE to find out that I'm wrong on this.

I suspect I know why. Running a game on a chat site is an enormous energy drain. There's always something you should be doing and even more crap you should be reading. So who exactly has TIME to build an entire city of people, places, and things for a world of darkness. Chat games are, at their basis, ALWAYS a sandbox, and while some players might jump at the chance to detail a goodly swath of that sandbox, other players WON'T.  And not all players would even be good at it.
You'd need an editor for submissions from players and ST's alike.  And if there's a thankless job in any chat game, It would be this.

But, since it was something that I enjoyed doing. And since I knew I could do this project piece at a time, and since I wasn't running a game or setting something up for a specific city…I knew I could create something that was useful and maybe people would use it.

And that's how Painted Corners was born.


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