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View Full Version : What system should I use for an "Alice in Wonderland" campaign?



Reksew Trebla
2014-11-03, 01:18 AM
Okay, so I wanted to test an idea I had for a story in roleplay form. The story is simple:

At the end of "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There", Alice gets crowned a Queen for making it to the other side of the "board". As you know, the "Chess" Queens in Looking-Glass Land have special powers, which Alice, as a Queen, should now have.

So my idea is, "What if Alice returns to Wonderland at some later point in time, as an adult, and claims it as her "rightful kingdom"?" Wonderland would be corrupted at this point, so everybody would be crazy, not to say they weren't already crazy, and they'll be warped and twisted. For example, I'm thinking the Mad Hatter will, through some sort of ability (or magic), cause the tea to come out of a tea cup shaped like a weapon (may only be a sword, or may be changeable from one thing to another), and the tea cup would act as the handle.

Alice would be the ruler of this corrupted Wonderland, and would have become corrupted herself. On top of that, she should have some ability/levels that mirror her ability to enter dream worlds/alternate planes, and also have her "Chess" Queen powers.

But the problem is, I'm not sure which system to use for all of this. I don't want to use something like D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, as with a rough estimate of homebrew, the campaign would be low leveled, unless I wasn't realistic with the power levels of everyone, and I'd like to keep what little logic Wonderland has if I can.

So does anyone have any ideas?

Jeff the Green
2014-11-03, 01:42 AM
It'd be hard to go wrong with Fate. It's very setting-neutral and flexible and it's easy to add in any subsystems you want, like magic or whatever. It's also rather useful for a place like Wonderland where there's a blurring between scenery and people because you stat locations up the same way you do characters.

some guy
2014-11-03, 02:35 AM
Zak Smith's settingbook of A Red & Pleasant Land (http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.nl/2014/10/red-pleasant-land-in-flesh.html) (link to a safe blogpost with pictures of the book, but his blog is occasionally NSFW because of nudity) might be something very useful to you. Basically, Alice in Wonderland with vampires. It's written for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess system, which is an old school d&d retro clone. Stats should be easily transferrable to your system of choice.
As for system, what else than low-level do you want in it?

Pinnacle
2014-11-03, 12:13 PM
My usual recommendation would be Mutants and Masterminds, but if you want low power it might not be best.

Mono Vertigo
2014-11-03, 01:17 PM
Okay, unusual advice here...
Check out JAGS Wonderland (http://www.jagsrpg.org/) for inspiration or power ideas. (Long story short, the game's about the real world, but Wonderland also exists parallel to ours, and people occasionally slip into it. Wonderland is a terrifying, twisted, insane dimension; when people survive the local dangers long enough, they tend to develop symbolic powers and mutations, or dip into sorcery).
DO NOT use the JAGS system though. It's unnecessarily complicated. Fate might indeed be a much better fit.

Yora
2014-11-03, 04:10 PM
In a game that is all about encountering strange new things and with few "standard situations" that occur regularly, I would also go with Fate. A game build around ability scores and specific skills wouldn't be much use here.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-11-04, 12:10 AM
I'm going to suggest a much lesser-known game called Swords Without Master (http://dig1000holes.wordpress.com/swords-without-master-2/). You just have to tweak the core in a very particular manner.

It's a game about two competing tones in a story: Glum and Jovial. The core mechanic is mostly concerned with those two tones, not so concerned about success vs. failure. The tone of a scene can flip between the two, and the tones of characters' actions shift by the roll of the dice. It's a really neat system, and the only tweak you'd have to make is deciding what two Tones best showcase Alice in Wonderland's mood. (Strange and Madcap, perhaps? You need two tones that have a strong contrast against one another.) It's interesting, because the game is far more concerned with painting an evocative story than with tracking character abilities. You even start character creation with a piece of art!

Here's a sample of what a bit of a scene might look like...

(Setting the scene) The three Rogues walk into the feasting hall (Mood of the scene: Jovial): they are named Grost the Guardian, Ileyye the Enigmatic, and Dat the Shifty. They have come here for information necessary to continue their quest.

(Action) Ileyye steps up (roll: the tone of her action is Glum), and a wave of cold wind blows out a few candles, as a weirding glow illuminates her face. She asks, "Where can we find the cowardly warlord Holgras?" A young man, on his knees, says, "Spare us, please, magi. Holgras has taken refuge in the Iron Vale to the east."

(Action) Dat mingles with the feasting (roll: the tone of her action is Jovial), and strikes her way into a riotous circle of dancing. She ascertains from her new friends where glorious treasure can be found: there is a dragon's hoard no short distance to the north.

The game's far more involved than my brief example, but hopefully that gives a little bit of an idea. It's just...very cool. Well worth a play at any rate.

Jeff the Green
2014-11-04, 12:49 AM
It's a really neat system, and the only tweak you'd have to make is deciding what two Tones best showcase Alice in Wonderland's mood. (Strange and Madcap, perhaps? You need two tones that have a strong contrast against one another.)

Math and Opium.

Phelix-Mu
2014-11-04, 12:53 AM
pssst...Exalted...heeheehee.

No, actually, if you seriously stripped out the more complicated parts of the rules and the default setting flavor, you could do it. As a benefit, if you can understand the rules for playing Raksha in Graceful Wicked Masques, then you can pretty much model any kind of anything with Raksha charms and grace magic. Damn hard to understand, but incredibly powerful tool for modeling really, extremely bizarre stuff, which is kind of the idea underlying Wonderland.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-11-04, 09:40 AM
Math and Opium.
That is strangely apt. And I see what you did there.

Rondodu
2014-11-05, 05:36 PM
If you read French and somehow manage to find a copy, I guess Hystoire de Fou (http://www.legrog.org/jeux/hystoire-de-fou) would do very well. I donít actually know, never played it.

Terraoblivion
2014-11-05, 05:50 PM
It definitely seems like something you want a more narrative system for. Fate would be solid if you want something fairly close to normal and conventional, but with a distinct narrative bent, hacking the basic system between *World, or Powered by Apocalypse if you prefer that, games might work too, but I don't know them enough to really tell.

However, my personal recommendation would be Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. It already tends towards the decidedly weird already, one of the example PCs achieved enlightenment after getting hit in the head by a dodgeball and now she can turn people into mechas for a period by pulling their hearts out and another literally carries an artificial moral compass with him to make sure he doesn't stray too far, while also focusing heavily on making sure you do a meaningful narrative with it. It's not really very concerned with success and failure, but rather with what story you're telling and making sure you take meaningful actions in pursuit of your goals and have a solid dramatic arc with them. It rewards you for taking thematic actions, including setbacks and failures, and for triggering emotional responses in your fellow players rather than success or failure as such. Also, the book is beautiful.

Rover
2014-11-05, 06:10 PM
My usual recommendation would be Mutants and Masterminds, but if you want low power it might not be best.

If you go third edition, the M&M supplement called Threat Report has stats for characters based off of those in Alice in Wonderland.

CarpeGuitarrem
2014-11-06, 11:35 AM
However, my personal recommendation would be Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. It already tends towards the decidedly weird already, one of the example PCs achieved enlightenment after getting hit in the head by a dodgeball and now she can turn people into mechas for a period by pulling their hearts out and another literally carries an artificial moral compass with him to make sure he doesn't stray too far, while also focusing heavily on making sure you do a meaningful narrative with it. It's not really very concerned with success and failure, but rather with what story you're telling and making sure you take meaningful actions in pursuit of your goals and have a solid dramatic arc with them. It rewards you for taking thematic actions, including setbacks and failures, and for triggering emotional responses in your fellow players rather than success or failure as such. Also, the book is beautiful.
I am personally shocked that I forgot about Chuubo's.