Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Divine Blood using Urban Shadows

Since I did a bit dealing with reskinning Monster of the Week to be used to run an action/investigation centric campaign set in the Divine Blood universe, I thought I'd start looking at doing one for Urban Shadows as well. I may consider looking at Monsterhearts, but the focus, and mechanical enforcement of, dysfunctional relationships in that game is something of a turn off for me. Anyway, back to Urban Shadows.



Now, it is a bit trickier to run a mold Divine Blood to Urban Shadows than it is for Monster of the Week. This is due entirely to the Playbooks/Archetypes involved. But I'll get to that later, I think.  For this blog, I'm mostly going to be focused on reskinning the Factions and Corruption system of Urban Shadows for the way things work in Divine Blood.

Divine Blood Page - for more detail on setting information.

Campaign Style


First off, since I forgot to deal with this in the article on reskinning Monster of the Week at first and had to edit it back in, I'm going to focus on what you would do in an Urban Shadows Divine Blood game.

Divine Blood as a setting is primarily a fictional setting where the game was made to expand and add background to the short stories as well as invite other people to play in the playground I created. It is basically a love letter to a wide variety of stories and thus it is a huge genre blender. There is slice of life, espionage, pulpy action, occult investigation, martial arts and a variety of other things.

Let's start with which aspects of Divine Blood that Urban Shadows is not an appropriate rule-set for.

  • Slice of Life - The sort of challenges faced by the average civilian supernatural is rarely life-threatening and never even touches on the idea of the corruption of power. There are numerous civilian Demons and Gods that are about as dangerous as an elementary school teacher, which isn't accounting for the recently reincarnated who are children in everyway that matters. While the debt system could represent the sort of madcap favor peddling that would go on between a bunch of high-school kids, the Corruption mechanic is right out. (Somebody will mention Monsterhearts, I'm sure, see my earlier commentary...also note the Monsterheart skins suffer the same problem as Urban Shadows archetypes as we will get to later)
  • Action/Investigation - When the focus is on the players working together to investigate a mystery, find a bad-guy and beat the crap out of it, corruption and debts are both unnecessary additions to flavor. For that matter, the rather low Harm scale of Urban Shadows is very much counter to encouraging scenery chewing fight scenes.
  • Warfare - For similar reasons to the previous listing, Urban Shadows is inappropriate to represent the sort of battle going on in parts of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe where full-scale war involving humanoid fighting vehicles from 12ft to 17ft in height. The ruleset of Urban Shadows is meant to deal with much subtler, more backroom warfare. The sort of stuff you'd get in the Cold War rather than full scale military engagements.
 All that in mind, the sort of campaign style for Divine Blood that Urban Shadows' ruleset WOULD represent well is the intrigues that occur between the Gods and the Demons, the interplay of various mortal secret societies, the official intelligence community of various governments and the occasional talented amateur or independent.

This would basically have the characters as street-level individuals connected to various factions in the overall Divine Blood setting. Given that one of the major issues of the current geopolitical scene in Divine Blood is that nobody is talking to each other, and this is especially true of those agencies which are nominally the good guys, it could even be that the player characters have more knowledge about various factions than even the world at large.

Factions


The Urban Shadows factions are based on the nature of the characters and the power they wield.

  • Mortality represents the individuals who lived on the edge of mortal existence. People who know about the supernatural forces at work within the world but are still human themselves.
    • Hunters, conspiracy nuts, veterans, etc
  • Night represents mostly formerly human individuals who now reside in the shadows of the city and deal in various political and criminal agendas.
    • Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc
  • Power represents those individuals that are privy to secrets of power and influence on a cosmic level. They deal in issues that involve prophecy and power beyond mere temporal concerns.
    • Wizards, oracles, immortals, etc
  • Wild represents those individuals that have a tie in to forces from outside the realm of the earth as a whole. They are often at least moderately alien in their desires and can be quite malevolent.
    • Demons, angels, faerie, etc
For a Divine Blood setting it isn't really easy to separate by their species. It is entirely possible to meet a vampyr who has no idea what he or she is and lives off prescribed protein drinks and lives as one of the clueless mass of civilians. For that matter, you could meet a lemurian (deep one if you want to be rude and start a fight) who knows perfectly well what they are but still hasn't any knowledge of any conspiracies or plots and basically just lives as a dockworker.

One thing to note is that there are numerous organizations in the Divine Blood setting that are as much the good guys as you can get from an organization: Avalon, Psyche, the current God and Demon leaderships, Socrates Group, the Breholm, the Siskind, several other major sorcerer families and most of the free world's intelligence community (though they're closer to neutral). The main reason the setting is standing on a knife's edge right now is because most of these various organizations are not talking to each other and some don't even really know the others exist. There is a heavy amount of complacence that has led to the active guardians of the world becoming small in number or else unobservant. The player characters would be sitting on the front-lines of that mixture of complacency and distrust that keeps all the information needed to prevent disaster compartmentalized and, thus, not useful.

Regardless, this still leaves the issue of how to arrange the factions of Urban Shadows to match Divine Blood.

  • Mortality - This would represent independent contractors, meddling amateurs, civilians in over their head, conspiracy theorists and the like. These are people whose major connections are with average people, whether those average people are a colony of harpy-like ravens in New York City or just the common humans.
  • Night - As with the standard Urban Shadows, this would represent the street level webs of information and politics. Criminal organizations, undercover cops, federal agents such as the FBI and so on. Their webs of intrigue and political power are largely local and despite being better organized than the Mortality types, they aren't part of the over-arching channels of power.
  • Power - These would be people with connections to some of the big names in the espionage game. The frontline soldiers and investigators for various intelligence agencies and secret societies.
  • Wild - I was tempted to relate this to the struggles of the Eternals which have barely been mentioned yet and I've decided are mostly not going to be heavily important to plot direction. However, instead I am going to point this out as the agents focused on politics external to the Earth.
What does that mean in relation to the groups in Divine Blood?

  • The Public - All those humans that don't know about the supernatural, including the growing number that now believe in the supernatural (due to Psyche's agenda of eventually going public) but have very little actual understanding of it. Individuals like cops or people who just stumble upon the supernatural or intelligence world would be likely fall into the Mortality faction.
    • Mortality
  • The Community - The Community is not really an organization per se so much as it is a loose collective of a significant portion of the world's supernatural civilians. The majority of them would live rather boring lives, but one or two would end up getting pulled into dangerous situations. Many would get warned off getting involved or else encouraged to sign up with one group or another. Those that remain meddling amateurs would be in the Mortality faction.
    • Mortality
  • Psyche - Psyche encompasses several levels of employees including contract employees that are hired for a job to job basis. Most of those are civilian magicians and shapers with little to no crisis training and are hired for minor jobs like curing a naturally occurring curse or arranging some feng shui, but they maintain lists of freelancers able to handle more dangerous assignments. The majority of Psyche's freelancers would be independents who could either be Mortality or Night depending on how much they base their life around the more dangerous Psyche missions. Given their primary responsibility is dispatching job offers to freelancers with a secondary responsibility of investigating situations that are especially politically sensitive or dangerous, then the Secretarial Pool is a good option for either Night or Power.
    • Mortality (low-risk freelancers)
    • Night (high-risk freelancers, low rank secretarial pool)
    • Power (high secretarial pool, the Ten Secretaries and regional directors)
  • Avalon - Outwardly a simple mercenary organization, they get most of their funding from developing and field testing weapons and other tech for the various free world countries. They do this by maintaining control of several companies around the world so as to, on the surface, avoid laws that limit weapons' designers interactions with other countries. Avalon maintains field teams, intelligence operatives and business oriented individuals. They also often turn to Psyche to hire supernatural aid. (unbeknownst to the membership of both groups, Avalon and Psyche leadership are well aware of each other, Avalon even partially funds Psyche, but are keeping the relationship between organizations secret).  They would represent Power faction individuals for the most part.
    • Power
  • Socrates Group - This used to be a branch of the US Navy and is now folded under Homeland Security. Their interest lies primarily in the various extradimensional shards surrounding Earth and even employ many individuals (human and otherwise) native to such outside regions. As such, despite being a terrestrial origin organization, they fit best as a Wild faction. They mostly involve themselves on Earth in the interest of providing for the extradimensional civilians in their employ and in searching out inactive gate anchors to proceed with more exploration of Earth's cluttered cosmology. Socrates Group includes non-human agents such as those from the Refugee Shards.
    • Wild
  • The Sorcerer and Magician Families - Mostly humans without any inborn talents (they, in fact, have a mostly undeserved reputation for considering themselves superior to born supernaturals) but born to families that have a long history of supernatural study and thus can provide excellent training in sorcery, magic, feng shui or all three. Some are decidedly heroic in attitude (such as the Breholm) and others are rather more mercenary or self-interested. Psyche was started as a collaborative effort of several Sorcerer families. They all have a very military nature, however, and usually view themselves as a sovereign state separate from public governments. Sorcerer family members and agents are at the very least Night faction and far more likely to be Power faction.
    • Night (local members) 
    • Power (more active members)
  • Federal Law Enforcement - The step between the spooks and the local cops, these are almost definitely going to be at the Night faction with some being at the Power faction. Interpol would also sit at this level.
    • Night (common federal law enforcement)
    • Power (borderline spooks)
  • Intelligence Community - The North African Alliance's Ministry of the Economy, the Cultural Republic of Chinese and Mongolian Peoples' Youxia, the CIA, the NSA and other such organizations all sit very firmly in the Power faction though with their fingers in the Night faction.
    • Power
  • Faustians - This Yomian organization of Demons, defected Gods and Yomi-allied humans exists to infiltrate criminal organizations, cause them to self-destruct and sweep in to gather the resources left behind for the use of Yomi's interests (including purchasing housing for its civilians to relieve the overcrowded nature of Yomi.). They keep themselves almost entirely focused on the street level of politics and would thus be the Night Faction for the most part. Also, the Faustians represent one of the backdoors through which Yomi and Nirvana communicate with each other as the long truce settles down into an expected true peace. So occasionally some Faustians will be more of the Wild faction.
    • Night (majority of members)
    • Wild (backdoor diplomats)
  • Heralds - The Nirvanite equivalent to a solicitor, Heralds act as lawyers, business representatives, social workers and other such things. They include Gods, defected Demons and Nirvanite-allied humans in their ranks. They are the Nirvanite mirror to the Faustians. Unlike the Faustians, their focus is more obviously split between Mortality (focusing on the lives of civilian Nirvanites and those mortals related to them) and Wild (focusing on the politics of Gods and Demons).
    • Mortality (local Nirvanite reps)
    • Wild (House solicitors, Eye prosecutors, backdoor diplomats)
  • Shadows and Eyes of Ra - Both of these factions are very much the Wild Faction being the Law Enforcement/Espionage organizations of Yomi and Nirvana respectively. Most of the remaining battles between Gods and Demons occur between members of these organizations. Since killing a God or Demon results in the death of another God or Demon via the Compact, most of these conflicts end with people being sealed into prison shards and "forgotten" about. Neutralizing the individual without killing them.
    • Wild
  • Gargoyle Nations - The gargoyles largely retreated from Earth into massive extradimensional shards of their own creation similar to Yomi and Nirvana. They maintain a few points of observation on Earth, however, and sometimes send in transformed spies to watch what is going on in their homeworld. They are largely isolationists considering humans primitive for their overall lack of knowledge on psychic phenomenon and considering the Gods and Demons dangerously reckless with their absurd levels of advancement.
    • Wild
  • The Refuge Shards - Around two thousand years ago, three Gods and four Demons were given orders to eliminate those cults and species that had intimate knowledge of the Gods. By the time some among them realized that the orders were illegitimate, they had committed genocide on a massive scale and even killed a few other Gods and Demons in the interest of keeping their activities quite. A number of humans and species escaped Earth into the various extradimensional shards that had been left mostly forgotten after whichever God, Demon or sorcerer that created them abandoned the demiplane. The descendants of these refuges now live in the cosmology. Within the last sixty years, through contact with the Socrates Group, some of their civilians have been emigrating back to Earth, but they remain nations in their own right. These shards are heavily populated by trolls, humans, seraphim, dvergr and succubi among others. They are definitely a Wild faction.
    • Wild
  • The Faerie Courts - The first villainous organization on this list. These are the remnants of the sidhe led by Oberon and Titania, the only two confirmed immortal sidhe. At one time in the ancient past, the Faerie Courts were as powerful as the Gods or the Demons and likely more malicious. They are a supremacist group who considers the sidhe the perfection of evolution and are heavily bitter about how they were forced out of the world so long ago. They consider most of the sidhe living on Earth as traitors to the purity of the species (amusing since sidhe can only reproduce with other species and are sterile with each other). They are a Wild faction and it is entirely possible for their low-level operatives to occasionally defect to the greater freedom provided outside the Courts.
    • Wild
  • The Path of the Golden Dawn - Another villainous faction, their philosophy is to create power for its own sake. They are unconcerned with what their members use their power and influence for and only serve as a society with the goal of aiding each other in achieving their goals. This very laxly morale philosophy is not inherently evil in and of itself, but it has attracted a plethora of highly corruptible people and mired people into favors they'd rather not have. Dawn operatives would be in the Power Faction.
    • Power
  • The Thule Society - Another Power Faction, these human supremacists are a direct continuation of the Thule Society that tried to influence the Nazi party during the Third Reich. They are also the hidden power behind the transition of Brazil to a German-speaking Fourth Reich. Due to a WWII encounter with the Goddess Eris, they've come to the conclusion that they were manipulated into the Holocaust as a way for humans to cull themselves.
    • Power
  • The Restoration Society - Britain's continual decline from power since the 1800s has produced this imperialist society which is a Power faction. The Restoration Society aims for the world to once again come under Britain's rightful rule. They have managed to hold tight to full British control of Canada, though recently the IRA has been stirring up trouble there. The Restoration Society faces some difficulty in that the royal family, much of the civilian government and most British citizens are largely uninterested in returning to the days of empire, resulting in Britain's intelligence community being rather schizophrenically mixed between honest and corrupt...even by the standards of the intelligence community.
    • Power
  • The True - True believers in the mission of spreading communism, The True are largely terrorists that have refused to accept the collapse and Balkaniztion of the USSR. They are mostly a Night faction due to having poor organization, though some might have Power contacts. A lot are focused on try to piece together various fragmented warlord controlled areas in the former USSR or on punishing the capitalist nations.
    • Night
  • The Order of the Throne - The secret police of the Empire of Myanmar. By reputation, they were established by First Emperor MacArthur himself, though some suspect that they were rather established by whatever hidden power was supporting and pushing MacArthur's mad grab for power at the end of World War II. They mostly only operate within the area of the Burmese Empire (most of what used to be China and almost all of South East Asia). Operatives of the Order are part of the Power Faction.
    • Power
  • Ghosts and Entities - Souls of the dead and souls which have not yet ever had a physical body. These can be of any Faction depending on the individual involved. Most of the dead simply pass on, a few remain on Earth for a decade or two, some remain for centuries or even thousands of years. The only way to permanently get rid of one of these is to convince them to cross over to the afterlife. However, they can be sealed away indefinitely. Entities lack an understanding of mortal life and are capable of causing some heavy dangers as a result of their ignorance.
    • Any


Corruption


The corruption mechanic in Urban Shadows assumes that the corruption comes from wielding the supernatural power.  This does not work in Divine Blood since supernatural power is simply just another natural force with capabilities that are easily predictable by experts. Professional sorcerers, magicians and psychics will have the attitude of soldiers, spies, engineers and scientists. The stereotypical mystic type is looked upon poorly as someone that either doesn't know as much as he claims or else is untrustworthy.

Psychics do refer to something called "corruption" that occurs will psychic powers are pushed past their limit, but it primarily manifests as bruising, nose-bleeds, internal bleeding and other physical maladies that last until the life-force repairs itself. Corruption, within the lexicon of the setting, is no more serious than someone exhausting themselves from physical activity (meaning it's possible to kill yourself but that rarely happens). Mental symptoms from corruption are a sign of psychics that aren't well trained in handling the stress to their life-force or else show bad judgment somehow.

That said, the Corruption mechanic still makes sense for use in intrigue style campaigns in Divine Blood. (otherwise, I wouldn't be bothering to fit Divine Blood into the Urban Shadows rules) In this case, the Corruption mechanic here would more relate to the character becoming more and more steeped into the intrigues of the world. This is the corruption of political power, righteous causes and crusades. Someone who fills up their Corruption would begin to be more aligned with the interests of their organization over that of the people they know from other organizations and factions.

But, don't characters who fill up on Corruption become threats? How is them becoming more and more aligned to a good organization like Psyche or Avalon make them a threat?

Consider for a moment, the first Predator movie. Carl Weathers' character in the movie, Dillon was an old friend of Arnold Schwarzneggers' character, Dutch. Now, however, Dillon was deeply mired in the CIA and thought nothing of lying to his old friends in order to use their skills to accomplish the mission of retrieving evidence about Soviets supporting the rebels. Ostensibly, Dillon is working for the "good guys" but he has become a threat to his old friends by dumping them into a problem that they were not fully informed of (even without the headhunting alien).

This is similar. Even someone as concerned with the well being of her troops as Gaetana Trolletti is still ruthless enough to be willing to employ a sixteen year old boy for the skills he gained as a child soldier in Yugoslavia and onward. This despite the fact that Damir's use as an asset at the age of eight is what originally spurred her to break away from the Path of the Golden Dawn and commit her loyalty to Avalon. She also may express regret for using Avalon to further her own crusade against the Dawn and make sure that she doesn't expose Avalon too much, but she is still going to employ Avalon resources in countering the efforts of the Dawn where she sees an opportunity avail itself.

Similarly, once you fill up on Corruption, your character may nominally be still a "good guy" but they will likely view the "big picture" as more important than the "little guy." Cause will trump friendships. Friends become assets to be used, regretful as that may be. Everyone is expendable.

The Problem of Archetypes


Now comes to the main problem of using Urban Shadows to roleplay a Divine Blood espionage/intrigue campaign: the archetypes.  The archetypes of Urban Shadows are largely identified by particular types of creatures. Given one of the facets of Divine Blood is that training trumps talent, this is not particularly useful. For example, in Divine Blood it is of minimal importance to the resolution of conflicts whether or not someone is a Demon, but it is very important whether or not your character is a trained soldier or not.

Also, supernaturals of Divine Blood do not have the intense instincts commonly associated with supernaturals of other settings. The only werewolf who has appeared in the setting so far has not yet changed in any scene he's appeared in and admitted that his temptation of turning into a wolf to scare a bully at his high school was never followed through on because he figured said normal human bully would still tear him apart even as a wolf.

It's important to remember that, with the exception of ghosts and entities, all the supernaturals of the Divine Blood setting are the result of evolution or direct modification of species (the Gods and Demons created a number of the species on Earth out of humans during a period before the current mortal friendly leaders came to power). Even the people that have taken up living in the various demi-planes and extradimensional shards of the cosmology are still terrestrial beings.

Divine Blood supernaturals do not represent any truly spiritual force whether divine, infernal or fey. They are all different breeds of mortals (even if some of them will never die of old age).

That said, some of the archetypes have clear problems.

  • The Aware, The Hunter, The Veteran and The Wizard are mostly fine to play as they are.
  • The Tainted. Given Divine Blood's lack of a definitively spiritual force, this would take some reskinning. The Demon Form is problematic since even in the case of Apprentices and Avatars (magi who have cast Black or White Magic sourced from a particular God or Demon so often that they've formed a permanent link) having a link to a particular God or Demon does not make one grow the "shaman's rope" gland that is needed by most species for shapeshifting.

    For that matter, the vast majority of Gods and Demons don't bother with shapeshifting themselves and consider their human form their true form. In addition, while resurrection is possible in Divine Blood, it isn't really easy even for Gods and Demons. That, however, is relatively easy to reskin as the Tainted's patron somehow interferring to prevent the death from occurring in the first place rather than resurrect the person after the fact.

    If you rework the "Demon Form" to represent various special effects that occur when making use of whatever source of power you get from your patron rather than an actual shapeshift, it could work.
  • The Fae.  The focus on promises really hits the literal OCD attitude most sidhe have with regards to making deals and promises. It also hits on the illusions that are the characteristic inherent talent that active sidhe psychics have (not all sidhe are active psychics, most aren't, actually). The idea of what lords or ladies they have would need to be reworked a bit. Divine Blood sidhe evolved from humans naturally and most of the modern sidhe live outside of any court or feudal structure. However, their deal-making tendencies means that they could still end up being loyal to a particular organization. Or their species' tendency toward OCD could manifest in some other way to replace the lord/lady/token from the homeland. 

    Shapeshifting is not an associated trait of sidhe, but they are descended from humans and require humans to reproduce, so it is entirely possible for a sidhe shapeshifter to exist. Likewise elementalism can be explained by an inherited talent for controlling some energy, or it could be used to represent training in channeling: the martial art form of sorcerers using brute force life-force to create shields, blasts and enhance the body. In the case of sidhe, that life-force is cream in color and referred to as "glamour".
  • The Wolf. Again, most shapeshifters are rather normal people. You could use the basic "Let it Out" move to represent the extent of most werewolves' shapeshifting abilities (they usually just become a basic wolf). The Wolf archetype from Urban Shadows would represent a shapeshifter that has put greater than average effort into making their shapeshfiting into a weapon. It could be used to represent any of a number of shapeshifters from Divine Blood: therianthropes, humans with shapeshifting talents, Gods, Demons, gorgons, some jurougumo, some kitsune and so on. Any case where the individual has gone beyond the basic functionality of their born power and both expanded and weaponized it.

    There is mention in one of the short stories of a characters' cousin who was a therianthrope that had gone beyond just wolf forms and could take the forms of multiple animals as well as easily do partial transformations. However, she never weaponized the talents despite being married to a witch hunter and makes a living teaching other shapeshifters basic and advanced skills to control themselves. That would more be an example of an Aware with an Advanced Let it Out move. Comparatively, even without shapeshifting, Naiki Semezou has the hunting instinct and physicality to be modeled via the Wolf. Especially since part of her physicality are technique triggered effects enhancing her body.

    That said, the day/night/moon triggered transformations aren't normally a thing. That would be considered a mark of an immature or untrained shapeshifter, so the Wolf's limits on shapeshifting would likely have to be reskinned. There ARE transformations, as adverse shapeshifts, that can be triggered in such a way, but they are rare and damaging to mind, body and life-force. Sufferers usually go insane or die within a month or two of infliction depending on whether their mind or body was weaker.
  • The Vamp. As with the Wolf archetype, this one is heavily focused on the traditional idea of the vampire as an undead thing that feeds on the living. Most Divine Blood vampires, a layperson's term referring to a wide variety of species and other groups, would regard someone feeding on other sentients in the same way most of us would regard somebody engaging in cannibalism. Most vampyr, a rare species that appears as an occasional throwback in some human bloodlines, live and die either never realizing they're a vampire.

    There are, or were, true undead in Divine Blood but they are largely unique individuals the product of various sorcerous shapings that have some rather sociopathic requirements.They're basically ghosts that, prior to their own death, found away to bind their souls into their corpses past death and still allow their bodies to maintain the illusion of life, unlike the shambling corpse that normally results when a ghosts animates anything, including its own corpse. Only a few of these undead acted anything like the political manipulator presented by the Vamp archetype for US (Sisyphus comes to mind). All of the known undead are sealed away in prison shards somewhere, though until someone convinces them to cross over to the afterlife, that is a temporary measure. The last known active undead was sealed by a band of first-time witch hunters led by a Psyche founder by the name of Abraham Van Helsing. If a true undead were in an area, the surrounding vegetation would slowly die, there'd be at least two deaths a week, possibly more if it used a less efficient feeding method or created any minions, plague would spread due to weakened immune systems in the area and animals would vacate the region.

    That said, the US Vamp could be reworked as a political/underworld mover and shaker type character with the exception of the Eternal Hunger move...something would have to replace that. And you'd likely rename the archetype to something like "The Broker" or the like to represent an information broker.
  • The Oracle. Mostly, this archetype is just fine. The only reason I set it off to it's side is because of the two varieties of see-the-future characters that the Divine Blood setting has discussed so far. There are Oracles, which can see up and down the timeline, and then there are Prophets who subconsciously edit in events from alternate timelines according to their own expectations of how things will go.

    Oracles constantly get visions, but most of those visions are minimal use to them. Their visions show what would have happened if the oracle hadn't had the vision. As a result, the more directly involved they are with the events of a vision, the less likely that vision is to come true. If they have a vision of themselves rolling 12 on two dice, for example, then their mood and attitude will shift, causing them to roll the dice in a different manner than they otherwise would have and thus the roll does not come up 12. If they have a vision of themselves watching the news when an earthquake happens, then it is very likely that the earthquake will happen.

    There is no record in Divine Blood of a Prophet knowing what they are within their own timeline so to date it is only known what the passive subconscious effects of a Prophet on the timeline are. They are usually identified by analysis of their lives after the fact and seeing how often events around them matched their worries, hopes and predictions.

Why Not Make Divine Blood its own game?


This is probably a question that has been asked on either this or the Monster of the Week reskin article.

The answer is that I DID make Divine Blood it's own RPG. However, I am someone who believes in adapting a setting toward whichever system you prefer to use. The Divine Blood RPG is a hybrid of Strands of Fate and Fate Core but not everyone will appreciate that system. As to the idea of creating a specific Divine Blood Powered by the Apocalypse game, that runs into a specific problem.

Most Powered by the Apocalypse games are narrowly focused on a very specific mood.

Dungeon World is focused on the classic Dungeons and Dragons high fantasy story.

Monsterhearts is focused on the dysfunctional relationships featured in various bodice rippers masquerading as urban fantasies and horror books.

Monster of the Week focuses on action and investigation by heroes facing monsters and villains in a modern world.

Spirit of 77 focuses on the anti-authoritarian outlandish adventures of the 1970s movies and TV shows.

Urban Shadows focuses on the intrigue and politics of urban fantasy stories.

Apocalypse World focuses on the personal stories of grim and bitter men and women living in the world after the end.

Legacy focuses on the leaders of entire communities coming together in the wake of the end of the world.

The fan-creation No Rest for the Wicked focuses on the sort of heroic sociopathic adventuring that appears in the Borderlands video games.

Divine Blood is a setting deliberately built to encompass a wide range of moods being possible.

One Divine Blood scenario deals with a bunch of high school kids dealing with smarmy reporters, an unexpected supernatural puberty and trying to create absolute best damn booth at the fund-raising fair.

Another Divine Blood scenario deals with a team of individuals brought together to research the disappearance of a Psyche exorcist looking into what was supposed to be a naturally occurring curse.

A third Divine Blood scenario deals with Amaterasu, recently reincarnated and currently 12 years old, going missing during an earthquake and taking some sort of injury that makes it impossible to telepathically locate and rescue her thus resulting in a near race as mortals, Gods and Demons all try to reach Amaterasu before something happens.

A fourth Divine Blood scenario deals with tracking down an old journal taken down by an old witch hunter in which he may or may not have accidentally relayed one method which a person might use to become undead.

A fifth Divine Blood scenario involves dropping uprights (mecha) behind enemy lines to serve as distraction so that a CIA team might secure and neutralize an uncontrolled former-Soviet nuclear weapons site before one of the local warlords realizes it exists.

To create the whole of the Divine Blood setting would require multiple different Powered by the Apocalypse games. As such, it is preferable to adapt those rulesets that already closely model certain types of stories that can occur within the Divine Blood setting.

For that matter, Powered by the Apocalypse games work best in recreating a genre rather than a specific setting. So if I were to create a PbtA game to recreate Divine Blood's relaxed sitcom-silliness/slice-of-life style game play as seen in the Day at the Fair scenario, I'd instead create a PbtA game meant to roleplay silly supernatural shenanigans, possibly by starting with Monsterhearts and softening the edges to be less sex-focused and more focused on absurd conicidences. Then I would use skin that to play the Divine Blood setting. Likewise, instead of specifically representing the mecha of the Divine Blood militaries, I'd create a PbtA game modeling mecha fighting action and skin that general game to reproduce Divine Blood.

In any case, I feel PbtA works best when the base game models a genre and the specific setting is just a skin applied to it.

Monster of the Week is already perfect for the Action/Investigation mood and Urban Shadows is already perfect for the shadow-politics mood. So, I have worked to reskin them.

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