Making Worlds with Powers

My previous posts have elicited a number of comments on G+ and email about how powers hook up to worlds and how some settings would be created. This post is supposed to help with that, offering some suggestions on a variety of settings without going into great detail. If there are questions about specifics beyond what I have here, please leave a comment here or on G+, and I will endeavor to answer it.

With all the options Krendel offers in terms of power methods and styles, it can be easy to get a bit lost when you are just stepping into the system. You can find an example of setting creation in the Building Your Game chapter of Krendel Core, but I will also run through some additional examples here, based upon playtests and interest from people on G+. These examples will primarily address powers, but they may address a couple of other options as well. Remember that all settings include the core method. Also, other than the core method and artifice, all of these I talk about will be in Krendel Powers, not Krendel Core. Let's start with something simple. 

Modern: Core. Just Core.

There are no styles for the core method, its that core. Where that might seem limiting at first, there's 120 powers in the core method, and, since I left some out, I know there's room to make new ones. A number of play test scenarios used this setting; though, sometimes I peppered it with imprints for a genetics experiment gone wrong or so the big bad could cast galvanic maw or similar.

Space Adventure: alchemy (esoteric alchemy), artifice (esoteric science), implants (cybernetics, and a small amount of bioengineered), imprints (mutations), and psychic (psychotropy). Psychic was restricted to lesser powers without innovation. 

This playtest campaign was best described as one part Firefly, one part Star Frontiers, and five parts vodka. It was the setting we put together when folks wanted a scoundrel space setting bigger than Firefly with some aliens. So you have advanced technology, but its not too far ahead.

Fantasy - Ravenloft: alchemy (arcane alchemy and faith alchemy), artifice (arcane builders and faith smiths), arcane (sorcery), faith (supplication), imprints (corruption and mutation), and psychic (mentalism). Resonance wasn't written by time we started, otherwise it would have been hooked in too.

This playtest campaign resulted when members of the monthly Fiasco group all got behind the idea of a Ravenloft game. The five person group kept to core, alchemy (arcane alchemy), and psychic (mentalism)... until the very end when both imprint styles infected people who did some unwise things. This setting also leveraged rules for superstitions and horror.

Steampunk Fantasy: alchemy (arcane alchemy), artifice (arcane builders), arcane (sorcery), faith (supplication, covenant), and implants (clockwork).

Created for a one shot playtest where the Rocky Mountain Ratmen pulled a train job and stole the Staff of Geb (now available for free download). The player characters naturally had to go and get it back. In a lot of ways it was a steampunk version of Shadowrun. The PCs stuck to alchemy, arcane, and implants.

Super Heroes: Imprints (super heroes).

Krendel works best for low to medium power super heroes, like Cloak & Dagger, Spider-man, Vibe, Gen13, and the like. It doesn't work too well out of the box for truly epic characters like Superman or Thor, but you can tweak it easily enough with the introduction of new powers and imprints. 

Although I only used imprints during testing, that was all I needed for what I was doing. That said, comics are weird! They have a tendency to incorporate anything they can get their hands on, from super science to magic. So, you can really use any power method you want so long as it makes internal sense, but lets go over a few of the more obvious options. 

Alchemy (esoteric chemistry) lets you add disposable items to the scene. Artifice (esoteric architects) can craft any number of items with special item qualities, like a gun that can freeze someone. Implants (cybernetics) is pretty prevalent in comics with characters like Cyborg, Mother One, and all of Cyberforce. You can also throw in arcane (sorcery) for wizards like Dr. Strange and Zatanna. Of course, cults might use faith (any). Super science might access nanoswarm (holoswarms). Resonance might not fit terribly well, but its powers can easily be leveraged by imprints for characters like Blackbolt, Diva, and Banshee. Of course, there's always the psychic method for folks like Professor X or most of the original Team 7. 

Urban Fantasy: alchemy (arcane alchemy), arcane (sorcery), imprint (faeborn), and psychic (mentalism). 

Mechanically, urban fantasy shares a number of similarities to super hero lands. Some of the basic character types are already accounted for. Meanwhile, vampires, werewolves, demons, and the like require a bit of work and depend upon how you want to represent them. The easiest way is to just make them into new species: you're either one or you're not. If you are going for a more staged process of turning into one of them, then you run them like imprints where the thrall/ghoul/infected form of a vampire is the imprint seed and the full thing is the vampire itself. You would do the same thing for the werewolf. In both cases you would  restrict the the natural powers available to those that are appropriate for the species.  

Cthulhu (and other horror): arcane (any), faith (supplication or covenant), imprint (infection), and psychic (mentalism)

The protagonists will mostly be just core, but if you like you can extend things with and/or psychic. If using arcane, then you should give some thought to using the postulates optional rule. Faith and imprint should be regulated to the antagonists unless people start listening to the whispers... Also, the horror rules should be exercised to their fullest.

Mass Effect: artifice (esoteric science), focus (quintessence), imprints (cybernetics), and nanoswarm (holoswarm).

Where I did not run a Mass Effect playtest, if I did, I would have done it with the above. Biotics are represented with focus, and spiff engineer powers are managed with nanoswarm. 

Shadowrun: arcane (sorcery), faith (animism), focus (qi), and implants (cybernetics).

I ran a few scenarios that were based on Shadowrun, but I'll admit that my knowledge is limited to 1st edition books and the latest (and crazy awesome) computer games. So there may be some aspects I'm not aware of. Still, you wage mages use sorcery, shamans use animism, adepts use qi, and street samurai, deckers, and riggers use cybernetics. Pretty straight forward.

Pillars of Eternity: alchemy (arcane alchemy), artifice (arcane builders), arcane (sorcery), faith (supplication), psychic (psionics), and resonance (cantillation). 

My current favorite computer game, Pillars of Eternity provides an interesting example of resonance with their chanters. The Krendel mechanics are certainly different, but the flavor is very much there. The same can be said for ciphers and psionics.


This post has gone on pretty long. Hopefully it gives folks a bit of direction when thinking about what powers to incorporate within a setting. I can look at most settings and think of how they would be replicated with Krendel. The versatility that I demanded of Krendel helps make this very much possible. 

As a final word, remember that powers are only one part of a setting. Species and equipment will also have a big impact, not to mention cultures.