Redux: Universal Princesses Dimension Drive!

Originally posted to Google+ in February 2017:

Was going to be running an Apocalypse World: Dark Ages play-by-post with some friends. Then everyone got very busy with volunteering, protesting, representative-calling, attending city council meetings, and such and the verdict came down to me that — given everything they’re doing in their regular lives — they weren’t in the mood to play folks scrabbling in the dirt to survive the rule of might-makes-right.

So now we’re playing Princess Drive as a more upbeat alternative, instead. I don’t mind; I just want to run games for my loved ones. If they want to be magical girl Princesses piloting mechs to smash necromantic golems and such, that is 100% fine by me. This is actually my first chance I’ve had to take +Topher Gerkey‘s game for a spin, despite making character sheets for it years ago and a couple other false-starts on playing it. We’re not using the canon setting entirely… its more like canon setting++.

The PCs are 21st century teens from our world who have been chosen, across time and space, to become the newest Princesses of the game setting of Bradamante. I’m sticking with Bradamante being a Clarkian science-fantasy alien planet in humanity’s far-flung future, as per the default setting, and I’m going with “magical portals” (wormholes) connecting the modern setting for our game to the “magical” realm of Bradamante. Why are they being chosen across time and space? Well, I’ve got three players, so I think it has something to do with what’s happened to the other three Princesses.

Antagonist of our first arc is going to be the Witchqueen of Ligeia, with her necromancy, dark magic, and Nephilim bone-mechs. Canonically she has slain four Princesses before, and she has some kind of newly acquired power that is motivating her to start attacking Bradamante and Hypatia. I’m thinking maybe she’s captured the most recent three Princesses in rapid succession and has hijacked their magical powers for her own ends. My PCs are Beasts, Hues, and Glints; so the NPC Princesses are Blossoms, Stars, and Facets.

I’m imagining lieutenants imbued with corrupted fragments of the captured Princess’ power — all of them more than a little unnerving/uncanny valley to interact with, since the Witchqueen is a necromancer first and foremost. Debating whether these should be monsters-of-the-week or actual lieutenants. We’ll see. Regardless, I think the captured Princesses from Bradamante is why (or part of why) the 21st PCs get chosen.

Had the players pick Bonds for both Earth and Bradamante, connecting them emotionally to both worlds. I’m going to emphasize both their mundane lives and their superhero princess lives, because my play group loves that “there’s a monster attacking, but its PROM!” thing so much. I love the little rule about threatening a Bond revokes its mechanical benefits, but puts an Aspect in its place — perfect for Compelling and drawing a character down the road into an episode’s character-rich B-Plot. Very cool. Going to be fun, I think.

I’m thinking about what Bradamante looks like to me. I’m picturing the Greek/Italian aesthetic of Aldis from Blue Rose but I’m thinking of the weird techno-arcane blend of He-Man, Escaflowne, and Steven Universe. I’m thinking of the gates between Bradamante and Earth, and I’m in love with making them show up on our side as Thomassons… find the weird, no-longer used places in the city and use them and bam you can reach the other side. The staircase that goes nowhere, the door that opens into a two story drop, the railroad crossing that doesn’t have any rails on either side of it, etc.

I came up with some specific Aspect choices for my game, which is different from Topher’s default Princess Drive. Beyond the High Concept, Trouble, and Driver (magical token) aspects, I called for a Background Aspect and a Relationship Aspect. The Background is your high school character trope, which will help root them in the duality I’m going for. We’ve got a trouble-making bad girl, we’ve got a lonely valedictorian, and we’ve got an outgoing cheer captain. The Relationship aspect is all about picking someone else on the team and saying how you feel about them.

For their mechs, they too have High Concept, Trouble, and Driver Aspects. I went ahead and imported from Apotheosis Drive X the “Why do I defend” Aspect question, and made it a mech aspect. So, when they summon their big magical armors, why they’re willing to do it to protect this other world is a big deal. The last Aspect I made a “Mech Trait” aspect — they can just use it to say something cool about their magical armor… that its real fast, that it has a cape, that it has a prehensile tail, etc.

This is just some random thoughts and musings. I’m happy with the campaign shift. I think everyone will be much happier now.

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