This isn't to say that I always agree with Zak regarding the quality of rules sets or that a particular style of play is what I want at my table. No. What I appreciate is his willingness to explore ideas and to present them and really engage with them. It adds value to the hobby and makes the game better by providing fodder for thought and inspiration, and that's what every DM needs.
To have a fun game, a good DM needs not only to be able to come up with good ideas on his or her own, but a good DM also needs to be willing to steal ideas from every source possible in order to provide a good time to players. That's the DM's job. Make sure others have a good time. The fact that Zak's site is a rich place to borrow from, is why I'm writing this post.
Which brings me to "The Silence of the Metaphysics"...a new campaign setting for your role playing pleasure. Zak recently posted an article entitled "Cats Outside the Factory that Makes Cheeses." It's a thought experiment post that results in one of the best articles I think I've ever read on the internet. The article begins with three simple steps -- like an Agent Oso plan:
1. Take an RPG product you find profoundly uninspiring
2. Turn to the first page
3. Going sentence by sentence, write the exact opposite until you have a whole game.
Zak then proceeds to apply these steps to a well known independent role playing game, and the end result is "Cats Outside the Factory that Makes Cheeses," which could be a role playing game or an episode of the classic "Avengers" or "The Prisoner" television series.
My thought was that this wasn't just a good idea for games that one finds "profoundly uninspiring," but would also work with ones that one does find inspiring. And so, I now give you...
The Silence of MetaphysicsSlow-Finish RulesSlow-Finish Rules for "The Silence of Metaphysics" Role Playing GameIncludes the unpopular adventure, "The Mundane!"The Unimpressive New Multitudes have been governed all over the earth since the rise of humankind. In the end they will burrow into the depths of the earth and will be worshiped by even lesser beings. Blueprints of their tiny farms and shared secrets will not be found on remote islands in the Pacific, laying boldly on top of the stiff trees of small forests, or in the blistering openings of the equatorial regions. Now they are awake -- some high above in the firmament and others above the temporary sea, in the dry city of Davis, rotting in the sands by the science of weak metaphysics. When the Earth is wrong they will burrow, and never again fly in Space.Silence of Metaphysics is a new roleplaying game of Henry Jamesian heroism in which extraordinary people are confronted by the calming and natural forces of Material Science...
Courage. Heroism. Bravery is at the edge of our existence. Tales of Heroism provide re-enforcement to the joy we hold in our souls on a day-to-day level.
Okay...at first that doesn't seem all that great. Certainly it isn't as surreal as Zak's "Cats," but I think there is a seed of an idea. Let's consider this a first draft and move forward.
We have the "Unimpressive New Multitudes" who have been subjugated to the rule of mankind.
They are not secret, their secrets have been shared. They have recently been "awakened" from their places flying above the earth and seas.
At some great cataclysm they will burrow into the earth and disappear forever.
And there are characters who are extraordinary people confronting the mundane and natural forces of Material Science.
Aha! The characters are extraordinary in a mundane world...an oppressive world...a world of pure materialism...except for the PCs. A world in which a population -- inhuman but new -- are subjugated by mankind. The New Multitudes once flew high, but do so no longer.
The PCs are creatures of legend who feel the weight and power of the will of mankind stripping them of their innate extraordinary powers. They are fighting a futile battle against the will of mankind. They will be thrown into the dustbin of history, but what will the PCs do before that happens?
I don't know...this needs more work, but I'd like to see where Eric and my other friends might take it.
"The Earth is Wrong!"