THIS PAGE OFFERS A CAMPAIGN MODEL for the continuation of the 1492 Serenissima game set in Renaissance Venice in a world of sorcery, alchemy, and clockwork marvels.
The characters are the “black ops” inner circle of an influential Venetian merchant house, tasked with discovering occult secrets to profit and advance the House, take subtle action in furtherance of the House’s goals, and ward the House and its family from occult rivals.
Concept: Turkish daVinci, driven out by possible political enemies in Ottoman Empire, maybe disgraced after clockwork demonstration for Sultan went awry. Possibly sentenced to death in absentia? Now works for House D’Este as a sort of “Q”—clockwork engineer of marvels and weapons. Terms of service require he take Venetian apprentices.
Possible goals: Redemption, devoted to The Work, create living machines, create a thinking machine.
Play motives: Intrigue & exploration, travel, consulting with other clockwork Masters, alchemists.
Cares about: The Work (as a relationship), apprentices/pupils, people left behind in Istanbul.
Play motives: (1) Explore supernatural/divine impact and power struggle of Reformation and rise of Protestantism. (2) Delve into effect of necromancy on world, following up on lines explored at outset of worldbuilding, e.g., protecting secrets, fearing sorcerous slavery after death, motives of ghosts, etc. (3) Connection of ghosts to Heaven and Hell—eschatological exploration of divisibility of the soul.
- HBO-ish: maybe 1 notch down from full-on HBO tone and scope of sex/violence.
- Primary thrust is investigation, exploration, intrigue, with doses of action.
- If a scene strays outside someone’s comfort zone, use veiling technique to fade to black or move “camera lens” as necessary. Players should simply ask to veil current scene.
- Some soap opera elements can be there if relevant to or include player characters.
- Be careful not to make it too cerebral — players want their characters to be in the field! Finding an ancient book is the exciting part, having the book and the workshop scenes can happen off-stage, possibly framed in a sort of Set Piece subgame.
- Though a weird version of our world with sorcery, alchemy, and clockwork wonders, these things are still relatively unique and powerful, not ubiquitous. Powerful or notable individuals like da Vinci are apex movers and shakers who act as nodes and wellsprings of weird stuff. Players can still have relationships with these movers and shakers and have an impact on the larger setting.
Spotlight Points – get them also by enduring Flaws, maybe 1 per session or scene, with a cap. Explore giving the award once per session to start. Incentivize playing one’s flaws regularly, but not so much that everyone’s constantly trying to hit all their flaws.
Troupe-style play – use “grogs” or redshirt fighters as lesser characters owned in common to provide secondary characters for play as well as additional fodder for action scenes. Keep them at one template each, very simple, but with space for new abilities to be added in play.
Opening adventure idea: Return to Constantinople to get [Nate’s character] out of the city and his death sentence?
- Keep Supporting Character stats opaque.
- Keep most player secrets transparent, don’t encourage player v. player secrets. Encourage transparent collaborative authoring instead.
- Feel free to ask for scenes, and players can take some ownership of defining areas of world with which character is associated.