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    Default Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Before anyone gets super pedantic (and I am certain someone will, very soon): By Noir I am refering to the wider style, including contemporary Neo-Noir, and not only to 1940s detective stories. By High Fantasy I mean a self contained fantasy world with elves, dwarves, knights, and wizards, regardless of narratives and characters. No need to debate exact definitions. (Though I am certain someone will, very soon.)

    Now to the actual matter at hand.The vast majority of my favorite works of fictions revolve around characters who live removed from normal society and have dealings almost only with the shady underworld, inhabiting a world where betrayal and deception are common and everyone is trying to outsmart everyone else, and if that doesn't work just kill them dead. Which for most intends and purposes could be summed up as noir. A nice thing about it is that it works in pretty much every time and in every place, including completely made up fantasy and sci-fi settings. Thief 2 and 3 are great examples of Fantasy Noir. Hellboy is a hugely succesful Fantasy Noir comic. Planescape Torment is as pitch black noir as it can get. Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell are THE big Sci-Fi Noir movies. Is Call of Cthulhu Urban Fantasy Noir?

    It seems to me like something that should have a lot of potential for running an RPG campaign and setting it in an otherwise pretty normal looking fantasy world.
    What elements are needed or highly conductive to running a campaign that feels noir and is fun to play? How would a GM plan and run a campaign? I would be very happy about any advice or even just ideas and thought that anyone might have to contribute to this.

    I think that at the very core, noir is primarily about mood. It is dark, but it's not about ruins and squalor and not about gore or horror. An association that comes to my mind very quickly is decadence. People are indulgent, but often in a self-destructive way and you can easily tell that there's not going to be a happy ending at the end of the paths they are taking. Noir is about extreme selfishness. Villains will betray everyone if it benefits them in the short run, while heroes try to outsmart those who they think will betray them. The goal is not to defeat and kill your enemies, but to get the thing you want and get away with it.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I guess I'll get pedantic, then. Noir is one of those genres that suffers from being associated with a setting rather closely, and suffers for it, so you technically can't have noir in fantasy. But it's the JRPG problem - Dark Souls was made in japan and is an RPG, yet it clearly isn't a JRPG. So let's agree that standing definition of noir is a tad silly and move on.

    What we want here is to basically look at the mood and the general message of noir and repaint it with elves. Noir as such thrives on the dichotomy between idealism and cynicism, and takes the stance that while a person may be a decent fellow, people as a group can't by their nature, and tends to focus on what the people as such do to the one decent fellow.

    So I agree that Thief and Hellboy are noir, but I'm not so sure about Plansecape: Torment - the PCs problems are all of his own making. That said, genre borders are a fuzzy thing, and Torment certainly borrows from noir a lot.

    Call of Cthulhu isn't noir as is, though, albeit it can be if the DM bends a few things. CoC is, at its core, about the inability of anyone to really matter in the grand scheme of things - Cthulhu does loose in that one novel specifically because of the fact that, while powerful, is is just as unimportant in the grand scheme of things as Joe Average - and that is a scary thought.

    A good example of fantasy noir is the Witcher series - Sapkowski was more influenced by general post-Soviet cynycism (see Lukjanenko and Night Watch book series, or Strugatsky brothers for more) than straight up using noir as inspiration, but the games themselves took a touch more from them, and both noir and Sapkowski/Lukjanenko/Strugatsky style have a lot in common in the first place.

    I don't think that you can have noir in high fantasy by definition - high fantasy means more or less Tolkien-like, and that kind of high level conflict of ideals doesn't mesh well with smaller stories noir thrives on. You can, with some difficulty, have noir and high fantasy in one universe, just not in one story - anyone familiar with fanfiction can wrap their head around this, I'm sure.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Eberron, the city of Sharn to be specific, seems to be made for exactly this.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    A sufficiently large city breeds several opportunities for noir style fiction. Waterdeep for instance was my go to for several noir style stories. Major players moving small pieces who are each trying to desperately clutch to their own scrap of something. Everyone paranoid due to not knowing who is actually connected to whom. Being stupidly easy to get in way over your XP level head. Yeah, I'd say a merchant city has tons of opportunity for a noir style adventure.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    So I agree that Thief and Hellboy are noir, but I'm not so sure about Plansecape: Torment - the PCs problems are all of his own making.
    But isn't that also one of the main elements? Other people may be bastards, but in the end all the bad things that happen to you keep happening because of you. Noir is all about flawed protagonists who end up being the source of their own misery, after only a slight nudge from someone more ruthless than them at the beginning. As the Joker says it "All it takes is a little push".

    Really not sure if you can make this work with a party of PCs. True noir is probably too much about individual introperspective for a group of players who play by talking. But it's something that could be very well captured by NPCs, both opponents and allies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    Eberron, the city of Sharn to be specific, seems to be made for exactly this.
    It clearly was the intention, but did it actually do anything specific to support and evoke that effect? That would be most helpful here.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I would like to recommend reading the Dresden Files novels if you have the time for it. The first few are most Noir-esque, but the series bends quickly towards Urban Fantasy after that. I don't know how the Dresden Files system pans out, as I've never been able to play it, but maybe the novels will give you inspiration.

    EDIT: Specifically start with Storm Front, the first book and the most Noir of the series.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. series is probably the most precise example of what OP is looking for. It's nothing more or less than The Big Sleep meets D&D.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Before anyone gets super pedantic....
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    Sword and Sorcery (as named by Fritz Leiber in the 1960's to describe the type of fantasy adventures written by Robert E. Howard in the 1930's for Weird Tales magazine) does have some resemblances with the "hard-boiled" detective stories such as those written by Dashell Hammet for Black Mask in the '20's and '30's, which were the inspiration of "noir" films such as The Maltese Falcon.

    The "pulp" ethos of characters like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe isn't that far from characters like Conan and the Gray Mouser.

    I would straight up steal be inspired by the set-up of The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep, etc. The trick is to make them properly Swords & Sorcery you need a hint of "uncanny" supernatural elements, but even then there you don't need much, like in Leiber's Two Best Thieves of Lankhmar story which could quite easily be a 20th century pulp crime short story.

    Cyberpunk, Noir, and Swords & Sorcery share a certain atmosphere of corruption that makes stealing plots worthwhile.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    To me noir means a (relatively) small setting and a conflict with (relatively) personal stakes, with a tendency towards the unsavory elements of society.

    This means that for fantasy noir (ignoring the high fantasy bit, as the inclusion of other races doesn't change much) I'd focus on a city instead of a kingdom, and have one plot dominate the campaign. Work with the players to give them personal stakes in the story, and keep it low key. They're not fighting to save the city, their goal is to recover an item or five a missing person. Sue, there maybe be something bigger connected, but the PCs are interacting with it on the small scale.

    I'd also significantly cut down available equipment, but maybe add some more in. Heavy armour is out of this is taking place in a city, as are most heavy weapons. This points towards a swashbuckling aesthetic, with rapiers and daggers, so let's add pistols to the mix. Most NPCs either wear no armour or a buffcoat, wielding a dagger in your off hand gives +1 defence in melee, and other minor touches gives us a swashbuckling noir setting. So lets add in some fantasy elements, illusionists that disguise illegal establishments, PI clerics, and maybe a mixture of elf and dwarf inhabitants to the city. Goblins employed to keep the sewers clean, all that stuff.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    It might be worth looking at the Discworld, Thraxas, and Bas-Lag novels for ideas on how to merge the two tones, since some of those do it extremely well.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    The problem with Noir in gaming is that most people want noir elements and consequences to be things that happen to other people, not themselves and not their characters.

    Take Planescape: Torment as an example - the better you are at the game (or if you use a walkthrough) the less the noir influences you and the more you can outsmart the various traps and bypass nasty compromises you are intended to make, to the point where you and utterly own the final boss and send all your companions off with a smile (okay you can't save yourself, but you can save a bunch of other people from damnation). The better Planescape as noir example is the novel Pages of Pain - which is noir to the max but would be an incredibly miserable adventure.

    Gamers are not good at embracing 'life sucks, you will lose, your characters will suffer' as a gameplay model. This is how Vampire: the Masquerade was originally intended to be played - every character would eventually lose all their humanity and go mad. It's also how almost no one actually played the game at table and went off to have crime-fighting 'vampions' adventures with katanas under their coats instead. The novella Ill Met in Lankhmar (arguably the most famous of these stories since it won the Hugo and the Nebula) involves Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser losing they only women they will ever truly love because they offended a sorcerer and there is not a thing they can do about it. Just try pulling that kind of stunt at a gaming table and see how it goes over.

    Being able to do noir-inspired stories in a tabletop environment is far more dependent on your players being willing to accept it than all other factors put together. You can find a piece of almost any fantasy setting where decadence reigns and the dominant characters are self-indulgent and self-destructive - you can even do this in FR, just set the campaign in Zhentil Keep - but you have to make it clear that 'start the revolution!' is not in the cards when you do something like this.

    As such, if you want to go down this road, find some players you trust and tease them with something moderately noir-ish to make sure that producing a noir campaign won't result in flipped tables.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Cyberpunk, Noir, and Swords & Sorcery share a certain atmosphere of corruption that makes stealing plots worthwhile.
    Corruption certainly is a must. But in the context of fantasy, what does it mean? Bribery and neoptism should certainly be part of the game, no question there. But when we also have supernatural forces at work then we can also work magical or demonic corruption into it. Maybe we can even blend the two together?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    To me noir means a (relatively) small setting and a conflict with (relatively) personal stakes, with a tendency towards the unsavory elements of society.

    This means that for fantasy noir (ignoring the high fantasy bit, as the inclusion of other races doesn't change much) I'd focus on a city instead of a kingdom, and have one plot dominate the campaign. Work with the players to give them personal stakes in the story, and keep it low key. They're not fighting to save the city, their goal is to recover an item or five a missing person. Sue, there maybe be something bigger connected, but the PCs are interacting with it on the small scale.
    I would say noir is inherently urban in nature. Noir is perhaps the total opposite of the classic fantasy journey quest. Every adventure is centered around a single place, though I think short trips to the outskirts up to a day's travel away could still work very well. But after that it's straight back to the city where all the various strands are coming together.
    For a longer campaign, I think moving between different cities would be possible. But there is a huge benefit from having established contacts with known NPCs. That's something that would get lost when moving between cities and not revisiting them regularly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Being able to do noir-inspired stories in a tabletop environment is far more dependent on your players being willing to accept it than all other factors put together. You can find a piece of almost any fantasy setting where decadence reigns and the dominant characters are self-indulgent and self-destructive - you can even do this in FR, just set the campaign in Zhentil Keep - but you have to make it clear that 'start the revolution!' is not in the cards when you do something like this.

    As such, if you want to go down this road, find some players you trust and tease them with something moderately noir-ish to make sure that producing a noir campaign won't result in flipped tables.
    I think it needs to be established that the campaign is going to have a pretty flat power curve. Either by picking an appropriate system, or when playing something like D&D restricting the campaign to E6 or Heroic Tier, or something like that. One of the fascinating elements of detective noir stories is that the balance of power in a scene can completely flip at any time, depending entirely on who is holding the gun. Characters that are otherwise weak or seemingly helpless can have complete control over a scene when they hold a gun and the other characters do not. It's the opposite of a steep power curve and long level progression.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I wouldn't think it's hard to do. Any intrigue-heavy game in an urban setting is about halfway there. Keep the stakes low, stay in the shady side of the setting, make sure there are plenty of twists, and you're about there.

    I dunno about decadence as a normal staple, but "self-destructive characters" certainly is not. "Suckers for a pretty face," maybe, but classic noir at least usually features good men struggling in a seedy world.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I have a description of the genre, which even if it might not be entirely accurate or always applicable (what is?), I always like.

    If a private eye is hired by an old geezer to prove his wife’s cheating on him and the shamus discovers long-buried family secrets and solves a couple of murders before returning to his lonely office – that’s detective fiction. If the same private eye gets seduced by the geezer’s wife, kills the old coot for her, gets double-crossed by his lover and ends up shot to death by his old partner from the police force – I can say with complete assurance: you are wallowing in NOIR."
    Add mood music, sprinkle your campaign with elaborate description about ceiling fans and smoke, and give players who do private eye monologue before an act a bonus advantage, and you're golden
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Well, that's not really going to work in a standard fantasy setting or in an campaign. But getting pulled into other peoples' plot is certainly the bread and butter of noir.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I would say noir is inherently urban in nature. Noir is perhaps the total opposite of the classic fantasy journey quest. Every adventure is centered around a single place, though I think short trips to the outskirts up to a day's travel away could still work very well. But after that it's straight back to the city where all the various strands are coming together.
    For a longer campaign, I think moving between different cities would be possible. But there is a huge benefit from having established contacts with known NPCs. That's something that would get lost when moving between cities and not revisiting them regularly.
    Yeah, I was kind of more focused on the single story/arc, because that's my campaign experience, but I can totally see that working.

    I think it needs to be established that the campaign is going to have a pretty flat power curve. Either by picking an appropriate system, or when playing something like D&D restricting the campaign to E6 or Heroic Tier, or something like that. One of the fascinating elements of detective noir stories is that the balance of power in a scene can completely flip at any time, depending entirely on who is holding the gun. Characters that are otherwise weak or seemingly helpless can have complete control over a scene when they hold a gun and the other characters do not. It's the opposite of a steep power curve and long level progression.
    Hmmmm... a bit more magic than your average setting might help here. If everybody is a weak mage, then being the only one with a wand at the ready might be a major advantage, as nobody else can effectively launch offensive spells.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Corruption certainly is a must. But in the context of fantasy, what does it mean? Bribery and neoptism should certainly be part of the game, no question there. But when we also have supernatural forces at work then we can also work magical or demonic corruption into it. Maybe we can even blend the two together?...
    .
    Well I'm big on the use of magic is corrupting itself.

    One way is that dark deeds are used to effect magic (the classic is human sacrifice), another is that the use of magic changes reality in unsettling ways (Dark Sun had using magic blight nature), and there's always the staple of the use of magic attracts demons. The Call of Cthullu RPG, just had learning magic driving one insane (similar to going "cyber-psycho" in the old Cyberpunk RPG), so that's an option, perhaps Sorcery eventually turns one into a demon?

    Combine the ideas!

    For "greater good" or ill motives a sorcerer commits dark deeds to effect a spell. The spell leaves a residue of pollution, and a monster (ghost) inhabits where the spell has wrought.

    To make it more "Noir-ish" make the motivation to cast the spell lust.

    Think of a classic, Merlin's transformation of King Uther into a semblance of Duke Gorlois so that Uther could have a night with Igraine, besides siring Arthur, could that spell be what "enchanted" Britain (giants etc.)?

    Another option is make magic a non-renewable resource ala The Magic Goes Away by Niven (though IIRC Necromancy could temporarily replenish manna), so that "great spells" deplete magic.

    One story had a werewolf try to prevent the use of spells, because with manna gone all werewolves (passed genetically) would stay wolves, not human.

    Swords & Sorcery has uncanny supernatural elements.

    Noir looks askew at human morals.

    Make the motives and the magic "dark".
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I think you can have a noir atmosphere without being confined to a strict noir plot formula.

    Fiction and gaming are related, but they're not the same thing. In fiction, the author(s) can decide that the characters make the bad choices that lead them to ruin, and have those choices play out. No real person's fun is tramped on by this creative course.

    In a game, however, forcing the players to act out a "formula" of predetermined hopelessness just isn't something that's going to be universally enjoyed. It's one thing to give them opportunities to fail, to make the wrong decision, to slip and hurt something they care about... it's another thing entirely to make this inevitable no matter what choices they make.

    Going back to the VtM example, most people didn't play it that way because melodramatically chewing a giant angstburger while going through the motions of inevitable doom is, IMO, boring as hell, and maybe even a bit juvenile.



    One problem that might be encountered with running a noir atmosphere in a typical high-fantasy setting is avoiding powers (spells, etc) that insta-solve mysteries and uncover lies. Divination, always a problem with mystery plots in such settings, could easily become a plotwrecker, for example.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I like the idea of magic being poluting. When you use it, it stays around in the place it was used and it sticks to people who are passing through even later.

    In the Stalker games, the anomalies are not actually caused by radiation but happen to appear in an already irradiated area. You could make it that magic messes with the rules of nature and weakens them so you can detect the spells even weeks and months later. And people who have been to highly corrupted areas not only get weird, they also spread the corruption around
    It's a great setup to make magic highly illegal in many places, which makes magical items great goods for high value smuggling. Mysterious lead lined caskets are great quest items.

    Regarding guns and magic wands, you could also have various miscellaneous magic items that anyone can use, even with limited arcane knowledge. Pulling one out can instantly change a whole encounter.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    One problem that might be encountered with running a noir atmosphere in a typical high-fantasy setting is avoiding powers (spells, etc) that insta-solve mysteries and uncover lies. Divination, always a problem with mystery plots in such settings, could easily become a plotwrecker, for example.
    That's a setting thing more than anything else. And even then, modern forensics can be pretty impressive (at least when fictionalized), and you can still tell modern mysteries. As long as the divinations operate by a knowable and foil-able set of rules, you should be fine. "Damn, he cut the security feed before going in" becomes "Damn, he laid down a salt circle before doing in."
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    That's a setting thing more than anything else. And even then, modern forensics can be pretty impressive (at least when fictionalized), and you can still tell modern mysteries. As long as the divinations operate by a knowable and foil-able set of rules, you should be fine. "Damn, he cut the security feed before going in" becomes "Damn, he laid down a salt circle before doing in."
    Ironically, the way Hollywood treats security systems and computers as "magical", those tropes might work better with actual magic.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    There was a decent investigation system by Robin Laws called Gumshoe.

    There are links to the various games built with it here: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index....ence-document/

    IIRC there was some good advice in at least one of those about running an investigation game in a magical setting.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    There was a decent investigation system by Robin Laws called Gumshoe.

    There are links to the various games built with it here: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index....ence-document/

    IIRC there was some good advice in at least one of those about running an investigation game in a magical setting.
    That's interesting, will take a look.

    E: post below mine makes me less enthusiastic. ;-)
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-07 at 03:49 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    There was a decent investigation system by Robin Laws called Gumshoe.

    There are links to the various games built with it here: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index....ence-document/

    IIRC there was some good advice in at least one of those about running an investigation game in a magical setting.
    I was not particularly impressed by Gumshoe, actually. The much-vaunted focus on investigation boils down to "everyone has to take investigation skills off a big list, which automatically find you clues," and the rest looks clunky and un-fun. You're probably better off grafting that one idea into a more interesting system.
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    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    I would say that noir tends to be very plot heavy and concentrates on a small cast of memorable characters in a confined setting. Transposing this into an RPG, I think that such elements as random encounters and resource management are mostly out of place. In this particular style, the journey really isn't the destination. When the players want to go to a place, you can just skip right to the front door and take it from there. If the party runs into someone along the way, I think it has to be someone who is looking spcifically for them. You don't run into random bandits, but into bandits working for the villain. Watchmen don't appear randomly, but when there is a risk of them reporting the PCs presence to a villain.
    When it comes to monsters, they would be very much underused if they just appear randomly. When a monster appears, then it better be serving a villain, be a villain, or appear in response to something nasty that has been done. The monster should be story relevant and it's presence mean something.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I would say that noir tends to be very plot heavy and concentrates on a small cast of memorable characters in a confined setting. Transposing this into an RPG, I think that such elements as random encounters and resource management are mostly out of place. In this particular style, the journey really isn't the destination. When the players want to go to a place, you can just skip right to the front door and take it from there. If the party runs into someone along the way, I think it has to be someone who is looking spcifically for them. You don't run into random bandits, but into bandits working for the villain. Watchmen don't appear randomly, but when there is a risk of them reporting the PCs presence to a villain.

    When it comes to monsters, they would be very much underused if they just appear randomly. When a monster appears, then it better be serving a villain, be a villain, or appear in response to something nasty that has been done. The monster should be story relevant and it's presence mean something.
    With noir, perhaps most of the opponents should be "humans" (or the like) and more (not all or even most, just more) of the challenges should be constrained in that they aren't solvable with open bloodshed (as the authorities tend to look askance at people killing each other in broad daylight even in "medieval" cities).

    Which isn't to say that opponents should all be linked to the plot or the antagonists directly. Trying to question someone in a seedy tavern might tick off the other patrons who just don't like nosy people poking around in their favorite dive, leading to a "bar fight", which attracts the watch, which etc.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Focusing too much on one narrow situation is indeed probably not a good idea. A common theme in noir is that the protagonists find themselves in a situation where they can keep going on the offensive and probably get killed, or they can save themselves by accepting they've been beaten and walk away. "Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown." is a great ending. Both outcomes can be the "good ending" for a story, but either way you won't get a happily ever after.
    However, to make the option to leave things be and walk away a reasonable choice in an RPG, it can't just be the option to "stop playing the game". Players need to have a range of other things thery can continue focusing on and continuing the campaign.

    I am suspecting that the best setup for such a campaign would be a City of Adventure where there are multiple factions having different goals and are simultaneously working on their plans. If the players cede defeat in one conflict, they should still have work to do with some other ongoing conflicts.You want an ongoing continuity instead of basically disconnected oneshots. You can do that with regular detective stories, but those tend to have clear resolutions and closure. The lack of these and the prominence of ambigous endings is one of big aspects that shapes the noir style for me.
    But since you don't want to have every potential plot hook be completely obvious with a big red arrow, you probably do need some encounters that are actually totally random and not directly relevant to anything. And the players could always make a friend or enemy for the future. And if nothing else, random confrontations are opportunities for players to discover and define their characters. How they react in charged and dangerous situations will shape how they see their characters as persons in the future.
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    Default Re: Noir campaigns in High Fantasy settings

    Quote Originally Posted by MintyNinja View Post
    I would like to recommend reading the Dresden Files novels if you have the time for it. The first few are most Noir-esque, but the series bends quickly towards Urban Fantasy after that. I don't know how the Dresden Files system pans out, as I've never been able to play it, but maybe the novels will give you inspiration.

    EDIT: Specifically start with Storm Front, the first book and the most Noir of the series.
    Some of the later short stories keep this, particularly those with the not-Harry POV. Check out Side Jobs.

    On the system; Dresden Files uses a modified version of FATE (and Fate Accelerated), which at base can do Noir relatively well via FATE points. The GM can offer you extra points for playing to your foibles or forcing your ideals, which gives you more juice for the finale. Or you keep yourself untarnished, but you will struggle more to win. But as with all things FATE - and really for this kind of theme in general, you really need the player buy-in.

    And you also need to resolve how to deal with an "every man for himself" theme with a semi-cooperative game. A small group (2-3) is thematic; more than that, and the party really ought to be an alliance of convenience.
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    Active Abilities are great because you - the player - are demonstrating your Dwarvenness or Elfishness. You're not passively a dwarf, you're actively dwarfing your way through obstacles.

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