"When the dawn appeared, the Quiches descended from the hills. They advanced rapidly in rank, and they soon reached the banks of the river. Truly the encounter was terrible. The cries and the shouts, the noise of the drums, the trumpets and the conches resounded, mingled with the enchantments of the heroes."
Maya story
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Chapter 1
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 2
Chapter 6



Power 19

1. What is the game about?
Heirs to the Lost World is a game of European, African, and Native America heroes adventuring in a land of mystery. Aztec Jaguar Knights fight side by side with swashbuckling pirates and voodoo priests. The tone is cinematic (rather than realistic) and heroic (rather than gritty). The setting focuses on the fringe of contact between the New and Old Worlds in Middle America during the Age of Exploration in an alternate history in which legends and myths are true. The default metaplot in the game is the struggle against corrupted Underworld beings called Xibalbans. This metaplot could be ignored if players wanted to have different adventures in the setting. The default mood of the game is high-flying adventures like in action movies (wire-fu, but with jaguar knights). This mood is tightly tied to the mechanics and would be difficult to ignore.

2. What do the characters do?
Characters are high adventure heroes who travel the Americas fighting evil and corruption while attempting to create a land free of tyranny and slavery where Old and New World people can coexist peacefully. In the standard campaign model, characters are members of the Order of the New Dawn, a secret society with members of many different heritage groups. Therefore, players can portray virtually any character type they want, and still have a reason to work with the other players' characters.

3. What do the players do?
Players portray a character with both a Motivation and a Complication Matrix that drive the character's actions. Within a scene, players decide where their character is focusing his or her effort. Characters "spend" Effort dice on those actions considered worthy of their energy. Whenever a character achieves a critical success or a fumble, the controlling player becomes the narrator to describe exactly what happens. Surprisingly, narrating your own fumbles often becomes highlights. The mechanics reward players who narrate creative and exciting Stunts (see below).

4.) How does the setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what the game is about?
The setting is the fringe of contact between Old and New Worlds in Middle America in an alternate history in 1665. This provides the backdrop of racial, national, and religious conflict within which the characteres are immersed. In addition, the setting includes supernatural conflict in the form of beasts and creatures from American myths such as the Mayan Xibalba, the Realm of Fear. The evil sorcerers of many cultures (European witch, voodoo bokor, Aztec Naualli, and Native American skinwalker) are the ever-present example of corruption and evil.

5.) How does the Character Creation of the game reinforce what the game is about?
Players create the character they want by assigning stats and choosing backgrounds, assets, and complications. Players also choose their character's motivation, which directs his or her action. Groups wishing a rules-light game can use the basic character creation elements while those wanting more "crunchy" parts can use the rules on paths which provide characters with special abilities. Many of these abilities are tied to American legends.

6.) What types of behaviors/styles of play does the game reward (and punish if necessary)?
The game rewards heroic game play in which characters take risks to satisfy their motivations. Characters perform Stunts for a chance to earn Destiny Points, that can be spent later. Critical successes, fumbles, and Destiny Points allow the player to become the narrator for the action and describe what happens.

7.) How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished in the game?
Players earn Destiny Points for their character through their heroic actions and Stunts, and therefore the game encourages cinematic action rather than simply saying, "I attack again this turn". This creates a positive feedback loop so that doing cool stuff rewards players with tools that allow them to do more cool stuff. This also provides a creative back-and-forth interplay between the rules (mechanics) and the narration (game fiction). Characters have a better chance to advance their character if their actions work towards their motivations and if they role-play their complications.

8.) How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility divided in the game?
The Game Director has the primary responsibility of narration, but players become the narrator for actions that achieve a critical success or fumble. Players can also spend Destiny Points to change a story element slightly.

9.) What does the game do to command the players' attention, engagement, and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them care?)
The most engaging aspects of the game are the cinematic combats in exotic locations in the Americas. These scenes should be like high action scenes in adventure movies. Players make tactical decisions for their character and use their special abilities to oppose corruption in the world. Players are rewarded for creative Stunts (so the game stays interesting at a narrative level), but they also must make tactical decisions (so the game stays interesting on a mechanical level).

10.) What are the resolution mechanics of the game like?
when players attempt an action that has a risk of failure, they roll a dice pool made up of trait dice plus skill dice. The player may choose o conserve some effort by rolling fewer dice, saving them for later. Each die that rolls a 4 or higher is a success. If the number of successful dice is greater than or equal to the difficulty, then the action succeeds. Some rolls may trigger a Mojo die, giving the character many more successes. Minor NPCs are called Minor Characters. As secondary actors in the story, these characters have a simplified method of resolution.

11.) How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what the game is about?
The player characters (and major villains) have many more options and decisions to make and therefore are clearly the heroes of the story. Secondary characters are simplified and clearly secondary. Characters can also spend Destiny Points to greatly improve their rolls. In critical successes and fumbles, players become the narrator for the action.

12.) Do characters in the game advance? If so, how?
Players earn Character points in an adventure by working toward their motivations and role-playing their complications. These Character points are spent to gain additional abilities or improve stats.

13.) How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce what the game is about?
Players are rewarded by being heroic and working toward their motivations and portraying their complications.

14.) What sort of product or effect do you want the game to produce in or for the players?
The game should be fairly rules-light so that the rulebook is never consulted during play. The players should be making tough decisions, both in terms of role-play (how do you reconcile conflicting motivations?) and in terms of mechanics (should you devote all your Effort on your attack leaving noting left for defense?). Players should be narrating cool Stunts, critical successes, and fumbles that simulate action movies.

15.) What areas of your game receive extra attention and color? Why?
The setting based on history, but with elements of fantasy inspired by American Indian legends, especially Aztec and Maya.
Paths - Paths provide the "crunchy" rules that some players desire by giving their character's special abilities. While entirely optional, paths add much flavor, as well as complexity, to the game.

16.) Which part of the game are you most excited about or interested in? Why?
The resolution system that requires no tables nor detailed bookkeepinging and instead uses resource allocation so that players make important tactical decisions in the action scenes.
Stunting rules that encourages cool narration from the players by rewarding them with Destiny points, allowing them to do more cool narration.

Simplified resolution system for minor characters so that players and the game director can easily control many characters without much bookkeeping.
An effect-based magic system which allows players to customize spells to fit their character and magical tradition.
An exciting setting combining elements of Native American, pirates, voodoo, Aztec, Maya, alchemy, etc.

17.) Where does the game take the players that other games can’t, don’t, or won’t?
The game has an interplay between mechanics influencing narration and narration influencing mechanics. The Gamist elements of the game allow all players to make interesting tactical decisions. The Narrativist elements allow players to occasionally become the narrator for their character's action and encourage staying engaged with the fiction.

18.) What are the publishing goals for your game?
PDF and a POD book.

19.) Who is the target audience?
People who like tactical role-playing games in which they make resource allocation decisions, not just "I swing again this turn."
People who like games that do not need sheets and sheets of reference tables and GM screens to hold important information.
People who want to spend their game time playing rather than bookkeeping or looking up rules, but who still want more tactical choices than are usually available in "rules lite" games.
People who like some of the sensabilities found in many story-games, but who want a more traditional game.
History buffs who enjoy a little alternate history, fantasy, legends, and myths thrown in for good measure.
Fans of swashbuckling movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Legend of Sleepy Hallow, and Brotherhood of the Wolf.
Those interested in Native American peoples such as the Aztec and Maya.
People interested in voodoo.


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All content copyright W. C. Davidson, 2006-2010