Adam

The Gods II

Chapter 3: Transition Phases

by Scott Martin

Last updated 10/5/97

Creator

The Gods Site
Gods II Home Page
Introduction and How to Join the Game
Quick Summary Rules
The Complete Rules
The Power Lists
Current Game Info

This Chapter
Myths
Alternate Awards for Myths
Goals
Creating New Lesser Gods
Adding New Characters
Dropping Unused Characters
Buying New Sphere Cards
Costumes
Sets, Props, and Game Accessories
Role-playing and Simulation

As the periods between the actual game sessions, the transition phases allow the gamemasters to update information and the players to indulge in some creativity. There are a number of specific actions which players can perform during transition phases, primarily by telling the gamemasters, who will update their records with any changes. The gamemasters may set any reasonable deadlines on these actions so that referee materials can be prepared in advance of each game session.

Your primary job during the transition phases is to maintain records of the game and make them available to the players. This includes a list of characters and their various abilities and mana totals, information about Heaven (demesnes and artifacts in play), and information about Earth (races and terrain). You should make as much of this information as possible available to the players.

In addition, before each game session you should prepare lists, notes, spreadsheets, or other game materials that will help the referees perform their jobs, especially for calculating mana from the various sources.

In addition to the options described below, you should take advantage of the transition phases to prepare for the next game session. Reviewing these rules and the many powers available in the game will not only help you achieve your aims but will also make the game run more smoothly for everyone. Feel free to plot and plan with your fellow players. Such communications should, if possible, be role-played in character; you'll find that this greatly increases enjoyment of the game as a whole. And if these communications are in written form, they can even be submitted verbatim as myths (see below)! Don't worry if one of your myths contains "secret" plans; just ask the gamemasters to delay making it public until after the entire game is complete.


Alternate Awards for Myths

Instead of awarding mana for myths, gamemasters may wish to grant bonuses more appropriate to the events related in the myths submitted. Some examples include extra goals, discounts on certain powers (usually only for a certain number of uses), One-shot access to powers normally unavailable to the character, discounts on purchasing certain sphere cards, free gifts, added bonuses for a demesne, terrain changes on Earth, and/or additional population, cities, or modifications for a race.

Whatever the award, the gamemasters should make sure that it is equivalent in worth to the amount of mana they would have otherwise granted, taking into account that a specifically defined award is worth somewhat less than the more open-ended gift of mana. If more powerful awards are desired, they can often be balanced by corresponding disadvantages, especially where such disadvantages would be appropriate according to the myth. When balanced in this fashion it is possible that myth awards could even be permanent.

Myths

Myths are stories, poems, songs, historical essays, scriptural extracts, theological treatises, or just about any other creative work which describes the characters, Heaven and Earth, or events in the fictitious game universe. During each transition phase, the gamemasters will award each player anywhere from 0 to 10 mana for his myths, depending on the gamemasters' judgements of quantity, quality, and creativity. Amounts above 5 should be awarded only for truly exceptional myths.

Myths have no other effect on the rules, but provide richness and depth to the characters and make an excellent source for choosing personal goals. Myths will be compiled and made available to all game participants. Players may collaborate with each other on their myths, but need not do so; it is perfectly acceptable for different myths to be completely contradictory, just as are those of the religions on our own Earth.

Some typical myths include:

  • Myths of Origin: Written between Eras Null and Aleph, these myths explain how the gods and celestial spirits came into being. More importantly, these myths should include the name of each character, the only mandatory mythic element required of all players.
  • Myths of Creation: Typically written after Era Aleph, these are stories about the creation of the Earth, the origins of mortal races, and the formative years of Heaven.
  • Myths of History: Tales of the mortals on Earth: the exploits of great leaders, the rise and fall of civilizations, wars and disasters, and the stories the mortals tell one another about the doings of the gods.
  • Myths of the End: Prophetic myths about the final days, usually predicting the outcome of Ragnarok (and no doubt decidedly partisan in nature).


Objectives

Transition phases are also the times to submit new objectives. (See the Introduction.) While these will have no effect on the rules of the game, they can be the key to good role-playing. Gamemasters should record each objective, along with the transition phase during which it was chosen.

Creating New Lesser Gods

During any transition phase other than the first (between Eras Null and Aleph) the greater gods may create new lesser gods by promoting characters from the ranks of the celestial spirits. Only celestial spirits who were actually present at the previous game session are eligible for this promotion, giving all of the greater gods an equal chance to "woo" potential lesser gods during the session. The celestial spirit must be willing.

The process for creating a lesser god is identical to that described in the Chapter Two. The former celestial spirit loses all of his celestial powers (both generic and persona) and replaces them with his new sphere powers. Though the excess lesser sphere cards generated by this process immediately go into the sphere pool, they are not available for purchase until the following transition phase.

Adding New Characters

Since The Gods can last for a long time (up to many months), it is possible that new players may wish to join the game after it has already begun. This can be handled during any transition phase by starting the new players as celestial spirits. A new character begins in the game with the generic celestial powers, a celestial persona of his choosing, and 20 mana. If the player wants to play a character of higher power then he'll have to work his way up the ranks during actual game play.

Dropping Unused Characters

In addition to adding new players, in a long game it is possible (even likely) that some players will be unable to continue for the full length of the game. This can be handled in two different ways.

First, players unable to attend the game sessions may provide a substitute. The substitute player will play the character with all of the same attributes, powers, and goals as set up by the previous player.

Second, the character may be "retired". Treat this situation as if the character had been obliterated, though the player and/or gamemasters may make up any story to explain the character's disappearance from the active universe. All mana and artifacts in the character's possession at the time are lost. It is strongly recommended that greater god characters not be retired, as this can seriously unbalance the game.

Goals

While certain common purposes are defined in the rules (under Winning and Losing), each player has the opportunity to define individual goals for their character to achieve. Throughout the game, each player may select up to ten goals. These do not need to all be chosen at the beginning of the game; more can be added during any transition phase until the character has a total of ten.

Goals should reflect the nature, personality, and desires of the character. They can be almost anything, but must follow a few guidelines:

1) Each goal must have a clearly defined completion, such that the gamemasters can easily judge if it has or has not been fulfilled. For example, "Destroy cities on Earth" is not an acceptable goal since it is open-ended. "Destroy ten cities on Earth" has an obvious point of completion.

2) All goals must be approved by the gamemasters. If the goal does not have a clear definition within the rules of the game, then the player and the gamemaster may collaborate to determine a method for the character to achieve his goal. For example, "Have a child" is a reasonable goal, but the rules do not provide for a character to have children. The gamemasters should work with the player to develop auxiliary rules for "having a child" or simply expand the meaning of existing rules to encompass the goals. At the gamemasters' option, such auxiliary rules may have an actual effect on abilities and events within the game; if so, the rules should be made public to all players so that anyone can take advantage of them. Some example auxiliary rules for "having a child" are:

  • Two characters must spend fifteen minutes alone in a room during a game session and expend 5 mana each. If they do so, they are considered to have a child. (Auxiliary rules with no game effect other than completing a goal.)
  • If two greater gods create a lesser god together, they may consider it their child. (Using an existing rule to define a goal's completion.)
  • Two gods must each contribute one of their sphere cards to the child. The child, represented by a doll, is now treated as an artifact. If one of the parents possesses the child, he may use the first level sphere powers of the child as if they were his own. Any other god who possesses the child may, if he wishes, "kill" it, in which case the child is destroyed and both parents lose all of their mana. (Auxiliary rules that actually affect the game.)

The gamemasters should be especially careful when creating auxiliary rules that affect the game. These rules must be designed in such a way that they do not imbalance the game. As a good rule of thumb, auxiliary rules should provide more negative effects than positive ones. Goals are supposed to be difficult to complete!

Players should inform the gamemasters of any completed goals at the end of each session. During the following transition phase the gamemasters will award 1 to 10 mana for each goal completed, depending on their judgement of how difficult the goal was to achieve. (Special Rule: Mana for goals completed in Era Omega is awarded during the game session. After completing a goal, a player should find a designated gamemaster at the first opportunity and receive her mana.) Most completed goals should receive 5 or less mana; the upper number should be reserved only for the most truly formidable goals.


Role-playing for Sphere Cards

Why should an available card in the sphere of War go to the god who simply pays the most mana? Shouldn't it go to the god who is the most war-like, who most epitomizes the sphere of War?

If the gamemasters wish to use this rule, then players of gods have the option of declaring before a game session what sphere they are working toward. The gamemasters will then judge those characters based on how well they role-play the characteristics associated with that sphere. This requires a lot of communication between the players and gamemasters, as the players should understand in advance exactly what types of behavior the gamemasters expect of a certain sphere. Similarly, the gamemasters must ensure that the "hoops" they make the players jump through are equivalent in difficulty for each sphere. Gamemasters should also have some flexibility, allowing players to define their own interpretations of a sphere, especially the greater spheres which are so broad in nature.

At the end of a game session, each player who "declared" for a sphere will be awarded a "mana credit" toward the purchase of a card in the appropriate sphere. 30 credit is a suggested maximum, and awards above 10 should be reserved for truly extraordinary role-playing. As an alternative, this role-playing contest can be used to determine who gets a sphere card sought by two or more players; the "winner" would then still have to pay the normal mana cost.

Buying New Sphere Cards

During the transition phases, a god can use her accumulated mana to acquire new sphere cards from the sphere pool. The cost of a sphere card is dependent on whether it is a greater or lesser sphere and on the number of cards the player already has in that sphere. Costs for multiple sphere cards bought at the same time are cumulative: if a god starts with no cards in Sea and wants to buy two, the cost of the second card is calculated based on ownership of the previous one.

While greater sphere cards in the pool may be purchased by any god, lesser sphere cards may only be purchased by characters who have gained permission from the lesser god who first brought the sphere into the game. The act of giving this permission cannot be coerced by the use of any game powers; it can, however, be the subject of a divine oath, as long as that oath is completely voluntary. In essence, the decision must come from the player.

Purchase cost for a Greater Sphere card if...

  • God possesses no cards in the sphere = 30 mana
  • God already possesses 1 card in the sphere = 20 mana
  • God already possesses 2 card in the sphere = 30 mana
  • God already possesses 3 card in the sphere = 40 mana
  • God already possesses 4 card in the sphere = 50 mana

Purchase cost for a Lesser Sphere card if...

  • God possesses no cards in the sphere = 20 mana
  • God already possesses 1 card in the sphere = 10 mana
  • God already possesses 2 card in the sphere = 20 mana
  • God already possesses 3 card in the sphere = 30 mana

If more than one god wishes to purchase the same sphere card, then the characters must bid for it, with bids beginning at the base cost: the highest bidder gets the card. The gamemasters can handle bidding in any manner they desire, ranging from "public auctions" to silent bids, as long as the players are informed of the details so that they can fairly participate.

Primal beings may not purchase sphere cards; they are forever frozen at the six sphere cards they start with. Archetypes and the minions of archetypes may not purchase greater sphere cards and may only purchase lesser sphere cards from spheres derived from their archetypal greater sphere. (Example: If there is an archetypal goddess of Sea, and she has two minions, the gods of Rain and Rivers, then the only sphere cards which these three characters may ever purchase are the lesser spheres of Rain and Rivers.)


Sets, Props, and Game Accessories

In addition to costumes, the ambience of a game session can be enhanced by many other means, including set decoration, props, music, food, etc. All game participants are encouraged to assist in this endeavor. The gamemasters may charge a fee at the beginning of each game session to cover materials; such fees should be announced well in advance. In addition, the gamemasters may reward a player with mana (usually 1 to 10) for her character during a transition phase in which she makes or procures any special game contributions. Alternatively, the gamemasters may design specific awards which are related to the contribution; for example, a particularly good set representation for a demesne may result in extra blocks for the demesnes defenses.

Probably the most important prop in the Gods Game is the actual map of the Earth on which all of the action will be run, including symbols to indicate mortal populations and cities and some means of tracking each race's knowledges and other traits. This may include any number of elements, including such possibilities as a large physical map upon which counters and tiles can be moved, display boards, transparencies which can be drawn on and projected, or various computer programs which model the Earth map rules. The only requirements are that the final products be visible simultaneously to a large number of people in the Window on the World and that all elements be easily manipulable by the referees who will be running the Earth. The creation of these props may be quite extensive and require the work of many people. The gamemasters should coordinate all of these activities so that all of the pieces work together and meet the needs of the game. Players who contribute their time and resources above the average should receive appropriate mana awards.

Costumes

It is your responsibility to put together a suitable costume for your character. If you come to the session dressed as Talarian the Conqueror of the Void rather than Joe the gamer, it becomes far easier for you to act like Talarian the Conqueror, and just as importantly, for others to react to you as if you were Talarian the Conqueror. If you accomplish that much, you've already achieved half the point of being in a live role-playing game.

In order to encourage costumes, you may decide to award 1 mana at the beginning of each game session to each character who appears in costume. Optionally, characters with particularly good costumes, or who clearly put more than the typical amount of effort into it, may be given 2 mana.

Role-playing and Simulation

The Gods Game system is meant to strike a balance between "role-playing" and "rule-playing". The rules exist both as a game system in which players compete to win and as a means to allow players to portray immortal beings and simulate a fictitious heaven. However, given the complexity of the rules it becomes easy for players to concentrate on "playing the system" at the expense of role-playing a character. By its very nature, the rules system rewards good rule-playing. It is up to the gamemasters to use human judgement to reward good role-playing.

The gamemasters should encourage good role-playing by intervening and adjusting the system wherever they see fit. The gamemasters have the right (and the duty) to delete, alter, or augment any rule of this system or any specific parameter of their own game in order to help the players simulate the "game-reality" being created and to enhance the enjoyment of all participants.

Described here are a few mechanisms by which you can encourage good role-playing and enhance the game-reality:

  • Reward the characters of players who do exceptional role-playing jobs. Awards can be in the form of mana or other more creative advantages. Since you can't be everywhere at once during the game, you should encourage the players and referees to nominate individuals whose actions or acting specifically made the game more fun.
  • Interpret acts that lie outside the rules. Gods are supposed to be important; their every deed resonates through the universe with significant consequences. While the rules try to cover many of the possible ways in which gods affect the world, they are necessarily limited. So, if a character performs some significant or unlikely action, you may cause this action to have consequences on the game. For example, if a god manages to gain the blessing of every greater god (or better yet, every god) for a newly created lesser god, that should have some effect on the new lesser god. Perhaps this has the same effect as a powerful, universal divine oath to prevent the child's death; perhaps the child becomes immune to all forms of damage (except one, of course, such as a specific sphere or artifact); or maybe the new god becomes universally loved by all mortals and gains a 10% cult in every race on Earth. Negative effects are also possible: what happens to the god who buys a lot of gifts from demons? (Some suggested caveats: Limit these interventions only to relatively unique acts, unless you want other characters repeating the act in order to gain the advantages the first person did. And never tell players in advance how you will rule on a hypothetical case, unless you want to be deluged by players asking "What will happen if I do this?"; let them do it and find out afterward.)
  • Describe as much as possible in terms of the game's internal fantasy reality rather than in terms of rules.