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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Campaign Sparks: Diamond Mind (Genre and Mood)

Hopefully, you saw yesterday's Diamond Mind campaign spark. If not, quickly check it out and come back.

Good, now that you're familiar with it, I'll restate my goal: I intend to break this campaign spark down over a series of posts, and rebuild it into a fully fledged outline, ready to be statted out into your RPG system of choice.

Today, I am going to briefly discuss the genre and mood of this campaign spark. I do this first in order to make sure that everything that follows fits together and feels like it's part of the same campaign.


As I said in the original post, this campaign spark mixes steampunk and paranormal.

I'm going to define a steampunk setting, at least for these purposes, as one with Victorian values and advanced technology that uses simpler mechanisms. In Diamond Mind, the London of 1897 is know as the "city of clockwork science." It has horseless carriages, zeppelins, gyrocopters, elevators, iron warships, tanks, and projected-image telephones. I think steampunk usually also has an undercurrent of filth and exploitation, but in Diamond Mind's case, that niche is filled by the paranormal aspect.

I'm going to define a paranormal setting (again, for these purposes) as one in which magic and monsters exist alongside the mundane, but normal people are unaware of these fantastical elements. Already, in Diamond Mind I have broken this definition, but that's because the setting is on the brink of a change. Up to this point, the "extranaturals" have been nothing more then urban legends to the vast majority of Londoners, but now they are swiftly becoming a reality.


I think it's safe to say that the mood of Diamond Mind is a dark one. Not grim, like a post-apocalypse setting, but dark. After all, there exists a whole class of people who possess powers that terrify the rest of humanity, and the extranaturals, in turn, fear for their life if their powers are revealed.

But, it does still take place in a city that calls itself the pinnacle of Western civilization in the midst of an age of innovation. So, you know, it isn't all that dark.


The influences here seem really obvious to me, and I'll call them out briefly and discuss them.

X-Men: I've never read the comics, so what I'm referring to here is the first and second X-Men movies released by Fox. Particularly, the extranaturals feel like X-Men's mutants; especially if a law gets passed early in the campaign that affects the legal status of extranaturals. To that end, it's a story about a society that is learning to fear the other and/or about a society that must learn to overcome that fear and accept the other.

The Great Mouse Detective: This movie is definitely steampunk, and the main plot of Diamond Mind is stolen from, an homage to, eerily similar to that of The Great Mouse Detective. That said, Joseph Chamberlain has a very different villainous style than Rattigan, and Whisper the empathic assassin is definitely a much more serious threat than Fidget the bat.

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