Last week, we tackled some of the tools and attitudes you need to make your higher power (ed) game more fun for both the GM and heroes. This week we’re giving you tips and tricks for inspiring your epic games.
Embrace mythology … and comic books
For many, the concept of divinity comes from Greco-Roman and Judeo Christian foundations. This conjures up images of omnipresence and vast control of at least one natural element if not all of them.
But in there are many cultures past and present, where demigods and gods were much more limited in scope, a Celestial Bureaucracy as it were. Others had gods that were supernatural bloodlines or races can carried on with plots that would make a soap opera look tame. The very first superheroes. The fun thing about such power structures is there is always someone higher up on the holy ladder than your PCs.
Look up the stories of Gilgamesh, Cúchulainn, Hercules, the Tuatha Dé Danann and of course, the Chinese Celestial Bureaucracy for inspiration. Think of these games as more like fantasy version of comic book heroes. In that vein, the jedi and sith from the Dark Horse Star Wars/Old Republic series are also great reads.
Remember Hercules has been a member of the Avengers for quite a while.
It’s a god game, use godly tools.
Don’t let your prophesies tied down into specifics. Instead of proclaiming, “six mighty heroes, three humans, one elf and two dwarves, with the magic flute, will face down the Liche at his birthplace castle,” you could go with, “the Free Peoples who defeat the evil with their fervor and their heart.” That bit of advice is good for RPGing your prophecies at any power level because if your game lasts more than a year, real life will intrude. Player’s works schedules change, your gaming tastes may shift or a dozen other things will change up the PCs who are trying to fulfill that prophecy.
In Gods of the Fall, they have a thing called the Seven Prophecies. These vague bits of “prognostication” aren’t foretelling the future but are more like agendas that need to be filled.
When the PC do a divine labor related to one of the Seven, that revelation gets closer to be fulfilled. There’s nothing presaged about what or how it gets done. (I guess that’s why oracles and prophets speak in riddles.)
It may not be how a real augury works, but it’s a good way to add focus and theme to your game. PCs having “visions” during their pre-ordained work also fits the demigod milieu to a tee.
What those vision do in my games is a multitude of things. My PCs have had visions that range from cut scenes that tease the players about what the villains are doing to clues about important upcoming events and people they need to meet.
Finally, divine energy can be portrayed as its own energy source separate from magic. Let your PC demigods innately feel it like a sixth sense. Players have used it to help key them into finding out what sort of mischief is afoot. They can quickly know if something is being done by a mortal wizard, one of their own, or another pantheon and plan accordingly.
Keep your sense of discovery as you explore their goals.
Perhaps the best tip at preparing for high powered game is to start your prep at the end of latest session by asking your crew, “What do you want to tackle next week?”
Getting them to commit to at least a plan helps you two fold. It gets their buy in – they were the ones to choose it after all – and it gives you a place to start. Then you can figure out how to recycle all of your plan B material from last week.
As a quick aside, it probably go without saying that not every player is a fit for these type of games. Take time to pick the players you want for this game.
But once you get a comfort level with doing a low-prep, high improv game, you’ll realize that you’re discovering this world as much as your players are. That can both be exhilarating and just plain fun.