I’ve been having a bit of a hankering recently to do some GMing (games mastering). Given that I’m not only at the other end of a Skype link from my gaming group, but also spending quite a lot of time writing novels, it’s pretty clear that I’d need something that:
a) was an abstract game not requiring much in the way of battlemaps or plans; and
b) could involve a lot of improvisation based on limited, sketched out preparation.
I initially thought of some kind of pulpy superhero game, but quickly ruled that out as superhero games tend to involve detailed combat, which wouldn’t really work via a remote Skype link. But when I thought about it further, I remembered that most of my superhero games then to devolve into detective stories where the characters spend most of their time “out of costume”.
So I started to think of something more detective based, and segued from there into a sort of pulpy new-age thing that might be way too overblown for a novel, but perhaps good for the broader-brush, larger than life setting that I think an RPG sometimes required.
Anyhow, this is what I eventually knocked up and sent to the guys in the group. At this point, it’s no more than a vague suggestion for some possible future date, but I figured that having written it, I might as well shove it up here.
(It’s as I sent it, except that I’ve added in links to make it more understandable).
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Been thinking of something. If I did it (big if, as yet), I’d probably use the Gumshoe system (Esoterrorists, Trail of Cthulhu et al) modified to include some simple magic and ESP.
Children of Selene
New-age, paranormal private detectives on a living, breathing Moon.
It’s hard to remember now what the world was like before the 60’s, so utterly did they change things. New ways of living. New ways of thinking. And then came the revolutionary year of 1968, and two revolutions that were the seed in the ground and the crack in the wall that would eventually smash the old world apart.
In Paris, an alliance of students and workers overthrew the Fifth Republic and sent de Gaulle packing. And in Prague, the massed ranks of a people united stared down the tanks of the Soviet empire.(1)
The rate of change, already bewildering, increased yet more. Old ways fused with new. Old lore, long ignored but not quite forgotten, was relearned and regained: the power of the mind, ESP, and the power of the universe around us, magic. Equipped by the latest techniques in meditation and sensing, far-seeing scientists began to make break-through after break-through. And through all of this, both capitalism and communism continued to crumble, new organic, anarchic structures
growing up to replace them.
When Apollo 14 lifted off her pad in the January of 1971, she represented the last gasp of a dying order, a final flourish of a nation not far off existing in name only. On the journey to the Moon, Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell experienced some kind of spiritual epiphany. An awakening, even.(2)
When he arrived on the Moon, his consciousness now expanded, something happened, something incredible, something that could not have been foreseen and that is still not understood.
Dormant spell of unimaginable power? Intervention by the Gods? We do not know. We know this Before Mitchell landed on the Moon it was a dead world, bereft of both life and magic. This world was Gaia’s stillborn twin.
Mitchell’s arrival resurrected the twin. In just minutes, as he and his commander Shepherd watched, the sky turned from black to blue, grass, trees, birds and insects appeared all around them, and a wide sea filled the lowlands around the Fra Mauro Highlands upon which they’d landed.
Mitchell and Shepherd were now trapped; their Lunar Lander could not fly into orbit through a thick atmosphere. As the third member of their crew, Stuart Roosa, headed home alone in the Command and Service Module, a host of brilliant minds back on the mother planet were already mobilising to design a cargo carrier that could be parachuted to them through the Moon’s new atmosphere.
In the meantime, Mitchell and Shepherd explored what was now the island of Fra Mauro, surrounded by the Ocean of Storms to the north and west, and the Sea of Clouds to the south and east. They found a rich world, full of edible fruits and clear, fresh water.
More people followed, both to Fra Mauro and elsewhere. Shepherd would eventually return to Earth some five years later. Mitchell stayed, founding a spiritual study centre at what had become the town of Birthplace.
(1) In our world, both revolutions failed, and the idealistic dreams of the sixties gradually died, as the world moved into a more pessimistic decade of economic decline.
(2) Mitchell did actually have a kind of spiritual epiphany, and has spent the time since his flight promoting a new field of study that he hopes will fill the gap between science and spirituality.
The Moon Now
Thirty years have now passed since Selene’s awakening and the Moon is home to around 200,000 people. Most of these people are concentrated in the central area, between the Ocean of Storms to the west, and the Seas of Nectar and Tranquility to the east. The capital, Brighton, is located on the west coast, with the second city, Armstrong, on the east coast.
Birthplace, on Fra Mauro island, is small, but influential. A place of spiritualism and magic, it is regarded by the majority pagan faith as the holiest place on the Moon.
There are other smaller settlements scattered along the western coast of the Ocean of Storms, and the eastern coasts of the Seas of Fertility, Tranquility and Serenity. The far side has few seas, and is, for the most part, a wide expanse of hostile desert.
Like Earth, the Moon operates as highly decentralised, near anarchic state, with no government as such, and the only authority being a network of legislatures/courts used to determine laws and resolve disputes. Commerce consists almost entirely of co-operative businesses, most quite small.
Magic on the Moon is slightly more powerful than on Earth, perhaps reflecting Selene’s younger state. Whilst still subtle (magical practitioners can’t cast lightning bolts or fly) it can be a powerful
The Moon might be a peaceful utopia, but even a utopia is full of people, and people will always have problems. Worried people looking for missing relatives; plaintiffs in a dispute gathering evidence for
the courts; wives concerned that their hand-fasted mate might be straying.
That’s where you come in.
XXX, XXX and XXX: paranormal detectives for hire. Skilled in the use of conventional techniques, magic, and ESP.
Even a utopia needs people to peer beneath the rocks.
A Note On Magic and ESP
Neither of these are very powerful. As a rough rule of thumb, things which some people in our world think work (astrology, divination, curses, telepathy, precognition, “aura sensing”, love spells, and so on), in this world, do actually work. But things which no-one in our world would suggest might work (lightning bolts, flying etc) don’t work in this world, either.
Oh, and there’s two maps that might be useful. One shows the near-side of the Moon as we see it, and is useful for having the names of things on there:
The other shows a full, Mercator view of the entire Moon, including the far side:
As a rough rule of thumb, anything dark is sea, anything light is land. (i.e. The “seas” have become actual seas). Where it’s a bit murky, you’ll have chains of islands within a sea.