JP On Gaming

Friday, March 20, 2015

[Secret Project X] Writing the villains

For the past week, I have been unemployed, waiting for my new job to start. So what is a guy to do?

Writing of course!

When I returned from Canada last week, I began to put together a number ideas for Secret Project X (SPX). And as I keep put those things into a document, more and more kept coming. Before I realized what was going on, I have well over twenty pages of material, and material for another twenty! I was looking through other 3pp's old books for inspiration.

So what was I writing about? One of my favorite topics: villains.

Now I post in a previous post that I had found my gimmick for SPX. I mentioned in that post some of my ideas, but I did not reveal them, yet. The setting needed villains. And well one of the group of villains I really love are NeoExodus's First Ones.

That's right. The First Ones!

However, I was not thinking of using them exactly like in NeoExodus. I wanted to use them in a different way, give them a twist as well. One thing I learned from working with LPJ is that you never put out the same dish. Always give things a new or different twist. That's one of the reasons he has been in the business for so long, creating such awesome products. So I went back to an idea I had discussed with him long ago that never went anywhere. Imagine a location where the First Ones are still in power. In Enemies of NeoExodus: The First Ones, we presented Kayen'Te, the Undershadow where the First Ones are. However, that book allowed for a LOT of open interpretation and tie-ins.

Oddly enough, I pretty much presented the same idea to the PFS leadership way back when. I was asked to present a project for an "alternate campaign", something that could support evil characters and/or very different races, but also allow Pathfinders as "guest stars". My idea for Paizo was to use Tian Xia as a background and have the PCs work for different factions. Really making the final result something that would allow for a much different play experience. Many of the ideas I had with this (not all of which I provided to Paizo) made it into what became NeoExodus Legacies.

So back to our First Ones. In SPX, I thought about putting them in power. What would an evil empire look like after a few centuries, when not tied to some clear deity or undying creature.

So what would it look like? I quickly began thinking about a series of civil wars that would wrack the empire until a new or stable leader would emerge. I immediately thought of the last century of the Roman Republic. The civil wars first between Marius and Sulla, then Caesar and Pompey, then between Octavian and Marc Anthony. Until Octavian/Augustus took power each generation placed someone in power, then they fought for that power and once the tyrant would die, the fighting would start again.

Looking at the Romans, there were periods of great stability (from Titus to Marcus Aurelius ~70-180AD) and periods of great instability (~the third century).

Though I don't think the Roman empire was an evil empire - least not the same way as the First Ones. That was my basic framework.

For more, you will have to wait for another day/ another post.


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