Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Undead Play Concept

So, hopefully, everyone knows about monster play by now. If not, go check the LotRO web site right now. I can wait.

Good. Now, I think everyone would agree that monster play is a great concept; it lets people be antagonists without making evil characters themselves, thus everyone gets to be a good guy in the end. It's a such a great idea, in fact, that I wouldn't be surprised if we were to see similar concepts emerge in the coming years. With a little luck, undead play could be it.

Undead play is different from monster play in many ways. First of all, everyone starts the same, or very similar, as an incorporeal spirit. Those spirits are tasked, obviously, with killing the living creatures that step into their territory. By killing such creatures, the spirits can claim the parts of their bodies that were moderately undamaged, and use them on themselves to become corporeal; for example, a spirit managing to kill an enemy could decide to take only its head, and become one of those flying-head undeads. Or they could take whatever part is still in good condition and bring them back home to store for later use. When enough body parts are assembled, they create their new bodies; perhaps they'll simply stay human-like, or perhaps they'll add an extra torso and set of legs for mobility. They could also decide to go all-in and build a real monster, using extra parts as layers of armor. Taking bodies back isn't easy, however, and would leave the spirit vulnerable. If they killed enough people before, they might be able to summon a lesser spirit to carry the body for them.

For the undeads, the goal is clear : they have to kill everything in their path, no matter what it is. They are dominated only by their hatred of the living and need not worry about such things as material possessions, or even death.

For the living, it's simply a matter of security; they cannot let the undeads invade their lands, or the civilians would quickly become preys, leaving the undeads with better bodies to fight the forces of good with. If we assume that there is no perma-death for the characters, and since the undeads do not loot the dead bodies, there is little risk to going to the front, and they might luck out with undead essences or whatnots for their use.

For the living, equipment could matter. Holy water and sanctified weapons would help greatly in destroying the undead; holy symbols and explosives could insure that the enemy does not get bodies upon their eventual defeats.

Likewise, the undead could choose between a variety of powers to use, some of which coming at the cost of living essences collected from the deceased (The currency of undeads). Fire spirits could appear as flames, and ghostly spirits be almost invisible. Zombies would be expendable militias, summoned from the undead's own body reserves, while monstrous brutes would come into battle with defensive enchants.

As the battle rages on, significant points could be taken or destroyed by either side, pushing back the enemy forces. Undeads being pushed back would benefit from greater supernatural support from the proximity to their home. The living have only the desire to defend themselves as a protection, and hopefully more people would be attracted to the fight if it gets too close, perhaps motivated by a shorter walk, or bounties on undeads defeated.

In the end, it doesn't matter who wins or who loses. What matters is that people get a way to beat up each other silly, without forcing anyone in the role of bad guys.

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