The CWAL Rubber Room
"Ishpeck: Shameless redistributor of poop."
Right, so the CDE thing was (and still is, IMO) a hugely exciting new direction for CWAL to go in on MAGGOTT's demise, and I for one feel that it has a lot of promise.
The problem is we all sort of ran out of steam on the project. We invented a world, gave it the broad strokes of a story, worked out the basics of its history, and... never really went anywhere with it. Our focus was nonexistent, our scope too broad. We spread too wide a net, with too little thread, and everything slipped through the gaps.
That said, we did come up with a pretty comprehensive and pretty exciting world. One in which stories are still itching to be written. It lives in my mind more vividly than almost any other fictional universe I've come across, and I think it's got a lot of mileage in it, if only we were more prepared to take it for a drive.
In fact I have done just that, on two occasions, with some friends of mine; I'm part of a fairly avid pen-and-paper RPG group, and I've used the CDE setting with them a couple of times. One time in Canada (1937ish) as a three-day stop-off in a "sliders" style ongoing campaign. One of the party was corrupted by Carthage's otherworldly machinations, two others were nearly killed by the Schneesturm, the rest barely escaped with their lives amidst a jailbreak orchestrated by the CARV Banking Trust (in Canada trying to smuggle illicit guns and tech) after a mixed reception from the local Resistance cell.
The second visit came in the twisted Austria of a warped 1930, as a Gypsy circus troupe coming out of hiding after four years spent in the forested hills above Innsbruck trying to escape the worst excesses of the Russian invasion. They traded favours with the local Government for permission to pitch their tent, sold hope and an escape on the black market, traded with the Resistance for information and illicit supplies and pissed off the local criminal element by marching in on their turf while evading eldritch horrors in the forest and accidentally recruiting a half-Frenchman, half-lion called Xavier to be their new wolf-tamer. And you might say "don't you mean lion tamer?" but trust me, these wolves... scary enough to count. And nobody talks about what happened to their old lion tamer, so don't ask.
My point is, writing a story as a lone author can be kinda hard. I struggle with it a lot, for sure. But turning the story into a game works pretty well, and one of the other gifts MAGGOTT left us was a pretty good (and very very simple) RPG framework, in the shape of Star Thugs. I've worked on a variation of the Star Thugs character rules that lets you build a simple character to work a narrative with, and the basic ideas he built in that book are pretty sound. The second campaign I ran in the CDE universe (the circus one) used my Star Thugs-inspired system and it worked pretty well because my group prefers to build the story as a narrative with characters rather than characteristics anyway.
The second point, then, is that the setting we've built in CDE is rich as fuck and actually dead easy to run a campaign in. There's no shortage of ideas- a Gypsy circus in Austria for a character-driven story of intrigue, economics and survival in a post-apocalyptic world under the jackboots of authority. A Resistance cell or "Police" unit in Canada for anything from a comedic romp with the local Schneesturm to a serious treatment of asymmetrical warfare and anything in between. A settlement in the London Underground for a Metro-style survival-horror scenario with the added incentive of digging some spikes into the Russian occupation. A ship crew in the North Atlantic or in Japanese waters for a Pacific Rim meets Star Thugs meets Lovecraft combat survival scenario with big-gun battleships and internal Navy politicking. A banking cartel in America for a Shadowrun-style corporate conflict scenario where money must be made at all costs. A gun-runner in Mexico. A weird semi-hallucinatory nightmare in Australia. I could literally go on for days; the potential here is endless, and the whole setting is a huge fucking goldmine.
So, to get on to the actual question; Firstly, would you guys have any interest in an RPG campaign in the CDE setting? If so, what kind and what setting would you find most interesting? I'd certainly be prepared to run something, and I might even be able to set up a sort of play-by-post system to help things keep ticking over when people can't make regular sessions (it'll run slower that way but it should keep running). If you're into it, let me know.
Secondly, do any of you have any interest in developing the setting as an RPG/wargaming background? (Oh yeah, forgot to mention, plenty of scope for tabletop wargaming and skirmish scenarios here as well!). Because if you do, I'd love to work with you. I've been feeling for a long time that we put too much work into this to just let it slide, even without considering the huge debt we owe MAGGOTT as a group and the fact that I feel kinda bad that the thing we started to honour him never went anywhere.
Umm, that's about all I got for now.
I know I was never the best-known CWALer and that I don't really have the same name-recognition that some people here do (probably not helped by my tendency to lurk for entire years at a stretch) but I do feel quite strongly about this as a project and there are people among you who I have huge respect for both as people and as professionals. I don't mind if I don't end up leading this as a project. But I would dearly love to see it be an actual, real, ongoing project. If you're feeling it, get in on it. Please.
- [CDE] A Proposal - Captain Hat 12:20:17 12017-10-01