Saturday, December 17, 2011

RPG Thoughts: Rule of Cool II

Hello again! I just read over the whole last post, and I realized that I really didn't get into the Rule of Cool thing. I titled it that, but I kinda missed the point.

The Rule of Cool is exactly that. According to The Rule of Cool is; "The limit of the willing suspension of disbelief for a given element is directly proportional to the element's awesomeness."

That's Spelljammer in a nutshell. Hell, even in the main book it calls out to the Rule of Cool; "How does it all work? Well, the easy answer is 'It's magic.' The more involved answer is 'It's magic and it knows it's magic.' The rules are still there and must be obeyed, but it is a different set of rules from what we are used to in our world. As anyone here will tell you, a fire-breathing, 50-foot-long, flying reptile is impossible, but it can live in our imaginations. The same argument applies to spelljamming ships." -Forward by Jeff Grubb, Spelljammer AD&D Adventures in Space, p3.

If that isn't a cognizant argument for the Rule of Cool, I don't know what is. Also its a pretty good definition of the Rule of Cool as well. With this campaign, I not only wanted to give my kids a grand tour of the old TSR stuff and play some 3rd Ed, I also wanted to do the most off the wall wild stuff that I can think of. I'm tired of naturalism in RPGs, and politics of game worlds. Fuck it. I want neat things to happen, because NEAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

Dungeons and Dragons is built on the Rule of Cool. Each different campaign setting does it, and I think that it is funny that the two biggest (in scope) run on this Rule Cool exclusively. Planescape is Rule of Cool in philosophy and strangeness of characters. Spelljammer on the other hand, is running of pure Rule of Cool in the setting itself. Flying boats that go to other planets? Hell yes! Squid head people who eat brains? Yes, please! Floating xenophobic magic eyeball maniacs? Of course! Hippo men with flintlock pistols that dress and act like the height of the British Empire? FUCK YEAH!

Now, here's the thing. Spelljammer is pure Rule of Cool. That's great in and of itself, but it doesn't help make things happen. What makes a great game is the stuff that is around. Did up the NPCs, and I gotta say, they are real Rule of Cool type guys. Granted, I already elaborated on the captain, but I got some others. I have a real thing for those quirky shows about small towns. Right now, I am almost finished watching Northern Exposure, which is about the a small town in Alaska. Quirkiness abounds. I find nothing more Rule of Cool then quirkiness.

Sir Captain Reginald Dawntree: 6th level Half Elf paladin, going to the stars in a quixotic quest to win the approval of his potential father-in-law.
First Mate Juan Obi: 7th level Elven Monk, best friend of the captain. He's rather exasperated and the most level headed of crew.
Navigator First Leftnenant Monticello: Giff navigator, prone to fights and takes things rather literal. As in when asked to go to the 'coolest' planet in the system, he plotted a course to an ice planet.
Ship's Cleric Helmsman Father Ishmael O'Flanigan: A 5th level human cleric of a sea god who looks like the Gorton's fisherman. He's at home on a ship even in the roughest weather, but gets spacesick.
Man-at-Arms and Ship's Butler Bigglesworth Mount Veracci Gucci Jimmy Chu: The gnome butler who works for Sir Dawntree. He's the stereotypical butler with a bowler hat, cane, and monocle. The thing is that he has a nasty temper. What the PCs don't know is that he's a 12th level barbarian. The bowler hat is a Keen Vorpal Throwing Bowler Hat +2 (1d2 damage, critical range of 14-20). He's there to be the 'dues ex machina' in case the kids get over their heads, BOOM Bigglesworth to the rescue! He is the epitome of Rule of Cool.
Ship's Wizard 'The Boy': a first level human wizard. The Boy is the former apprentice of the previous ship's wizard (who blew himself up by casting a maximized fireball in the phologiston). So The Boy has all the magic items of his former master and very little idea of what to do with them. The other main thing is that the Boy isn't actually a boy, but a girl who was posing as a boy so that she could get onto the ship (since women at sea are bad luck).
Siege Engineer Ironfist: 3rd level Dwarf rogue. He keeps going on about how he's too old for this shit. Even though he's only 45, barely out of his teens, and his beard is only 7 inches long.
Quartermaster Whose Name I already Forgot: 12th level dwarf aristocrat. He's there to make sure that the 'quest' of Sir Dawntree goes according to Hoyle. The fun thing about him is that he's slightly corrupt and slightly incompetent. So when told to get food for the journey, he'll buy a ton of escargot instead of hardtack or something.

A big group of quirky people. They are not in and of themselves an adventure, they are there to add some background and flavor. With the NPCs in place I can start working on the really cool stuff. I'm thinking of some Gith pirates riding pterodactyls. That's cool. Minotaur vikings in a spelljamming longboats (horned helmet on top of horns!)? A magic item powered version of the Justice League (Capes of Flying anyone!)? Rock'em Sock'em Golems? Getting caught in the cross fire of a beholder and Illithid battle? An Immoth Bard Rock Band playing heavy metal via auditory illusions? Wolfmen on the moon? Ninjas? Any other suggestions for Rule of Cool encounters?

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