Saturday, November 14, 2009

Introducing: The Metagame

I've been gaming on Google Wave, recently, and having a fairly good time. I have also thought about gaming as a social activity more than an escapist exercise; Google Wave is good for telling a story but not so good for having fun with your buddies.

But is there a way to turn that to your advantage? I can conceive of a world where face-to-face communication within the party is impossible, intimidating, or (better yet) dangerous. Games like Hunter: The Reckoning spring to mind, where party members might be unwilling or unable to connect to each other due to physical, moral, and emotional difficulties.

But I have an even better idea: The Metagame.

RPG historians seem to agree that Eight Kingdoms was penned sometime in the late 70s. Some are of the opinion that with better business sense, it might have quickly replaced Dungeons and Dragons, but nobody actually knows who the author was - when copies show up, their covers are missing and any mention of an author is illegible or just gone. No existing publisher claims the book, no author has stepped forward, and only an uninteresting series of legal loopholes prevent the work from simply entering the public domain. Eight Kingdoms has become a legend in the tabletop RPG community in the way of all urban legends - nobody's played, but everyone claims an uncle who went to DragonCon in 1989 and played EK in a hotel room after a bar crawl with a vendor whose name he can't remember.

Eight Kingdoms does exist. Unfortunately, Eight Kingdoms is much more than a game. Eight Kingdoms wasn't even written by anyone in this world. Eight Kingdoms is the bridge linking our real world to the world of Eight Kingdoms. Characters in Metagame are PCs who have played EK. Maybe it was a copy they picked up at a garage sale when they were twelve, or maybe they had an older brother who came home one weekend, ran a game, and then then lost interest.

The problem is, the fantasy world of Eight Kingdoms started to spill into our reality 30 years ago, and vice versa. Our world can't contain concepts like goblins and witchcraft any more than the world of the Kingdoms can contain firearms or democracy. The two worlds will tear each other apart if nobody does anything about it.

PCs will create the character of a gamer who is part of a gaming group that communicates (at least a little) via Google Wave. They will also determine who their Eight Kingdoms character is. Characters in Metagame can channel abilities from their Eight Kingdoms character to help them fight the darkness spilling into the real world. An IT technician playing a Spellweaver can use magic to his advantage, while a college student playing a Troubadour may find he can make himself irresistible to those of his gender preference.

That's the basic idea - it's pretty much World of Darkness but built around a gaming framework. It'll be more "white collar" than WOD, but who knows, it might send gamers to a darker place.

No comments: