Yesterday, in the middle of a busy work day, I saw a tweet that asked what RPGÂ I loved but never got to play. My answer was pretty much instant:Â Nephilim: Occult Roleplaying from Chaosium Games1. I love the themes, the setting, the basic idea behind it all, the flavour of the magic, the emphasis on playing trulyÂ alien beings trapped amidst humanity… all of it.
What I don’t love about it is the system.
See, it uses BRP, which is fine. But I never found it a good fit. It became fairly complex in handling the three different types of magic in the game, and was just a little too crunchy for my taste in a game that dealt with so much magical thinking and arcane/hermetic symbolism. It always felt like a real break in mood to go from talking about the ritual for summoning Those Who Creep and Nibble to doing mechanical calculations of the various astrological influences to work out what bonuses and penalties you had on your percentile roll2.
As I said, I was in the middle of a busy work day, so I didn’t really respond to the tweet. But the idea ofÂ Nephilim kept rattling around in my head, pulling up the question, “If IÂ wereÂ to runÂ Nephilim3, what system would I use?”
There are a few core elements that whatever I used would have to handle, and the central one is the character generation. When you create you character inÂ Nephilim, you do it by determining the string of different eras that they incarnated in, and what they learned in each one. What did you learn fighting in the Trojan War? How about in King Arthur’s Court? And leading a colonization attempt in the New World? That adds so much flavour to the game that I couldn’t ignore it.
But modes inÂ Atomic Robo RPGÂ do pretty much the same job: they allow you to pick a few categories with set skill lists, and the various skill choices accumulate. That idea got me excited enough that I tweeted about it, and got a little bit of interest online. Enough to let me know that it wasn’t a bonehead idea4. That told me that Fate Core would probably work. Which is handy, because I love that system5.
This evening, I’ve been gathering myÂ NephilimÂ pdfs6, and then I’m going to start creatingÂ Fate of the Nephilim.Â It’s going to be a long-ish project, but I’m strangely excited to do it. My first step is going to be going through theÂ Nephilim books and and making a list of all the things that I think are central enough to the heart of the game that I need to come up with a way to model them inÂ Fate. Then, tackle character creation. That’ll make or break my initial ideas – if I can get character creation to feel right, I’ll know I’m on the right track.
I’ve decided that I’m going to do this out in the open, here on my blog. This is for a fewÂ reasons:
- It’ll be extra motivation to keep at this and get it done.
- It’ll be a record of the project that will be safe as long as nothing happens to my domain.
- It’ll get me blogging again. I haven’t had much to say on the blog for a while7, but this is interesting to me and, hopefully, to others.
I hope you follow along my little experiment. I hope it’s interesting. I hope it works out. I’ll be back in a few days with that list I was mentioning.
- Yes, I know that the original version of the game was from French company Multisim. I can’t find any trace of them with a cursory Google search, though I do find French NephilimÂ pages. I don’t read French, though. Anyone know if they’re still around?
- Did I mention that the way it handled magic got complicated?
- “…which I would never do…”
- Hey, if four Internet people agree with me about anything, I take it as divine revelation of truth.
- Pure coincidence and no confirmation bias at all, I assure you.
- The books are all very worn and beat up. E-book are what I need for this part.
- ForÂ quite a while.