I was giving some thought to my setting and rules last night while laying in bed waiting to fall asleep. Some of this is stuff that I've said before, but forgive me if I'm restating to get the foundation laid for where I'm going. Plus, it helps to restate stuff from time to time, not only because blog posts tend to be somewhat ephemeral (not that they're gone, just that they're forgotten and "left behind" as the years march on) but also because it helps me to hone the edge on what I want from the setting and game. Since I'm giving much more serious than normal thought to the possibility of recruiting the "mistress group" so I can run DARK•HERITAGE on the side without attempting to sabotage the game of the guy in our group who's running now (which I don't want to do both because he's my friend and that wouldn't be nice, and because I'm enjoying it too much to want to stop it just so I can run) I think honing the edge on what I want is timely.
First off, although I talk a fair bit about houserules and system on this blog and on my wikis; I'm not actually much of a rules-oriented kinda guy. I think worrying about rules in the actual game itself is counter-productive to fun. I'm much more concerned about everything else going on in the game; I want the rules to fade into the background. That's part of the reason why I picked a rule system that I'm pretty familiar with, which runs predictably and based on common principles rather than a lot of ad hoc and disparate subsystems (feats notwithstanding, grumble, grumble), and which is easy for me to run (and based on its popularity and commonality in the market is presumably easy for everyone else to play.) It's not the perfect rule system. In fact, I had to make peace with a number of elements that I don't really like and which don't really quite replicate the setting. Most of those I've houseruled to where they aren't a major factor in the game. The one lingering one that I haven't is combat. ALL d20 combat, by nature, is much harder to do in a narrative fashion than it is to do grid-based. I intensely dislike grid-based combat, however, so we're going to do it narrative style, and do our best. You'll have to expect and accept a little bit of a fast and loose approach, and plenty of GM rulings in place of painful consultations of the rules themselves. I'm just not interested in doing it otherwise. With the right group (and yes, I've had them in the past) that works just fine. With the wrong group, that's a potential disaster waiting to happen. I'm just going to have to be up-front about my tastes and style and do my best to filter potential players to make sure I don't get someone who's really into the tactical aspect of d20 combat who is going to be continually frustrated by my lack of emphasis on it, and hope for the best.
Next; I've given before three themes as central to DARK•HERITAGE: intrigue, crime, and horror. However, in my setting development on the blog, I've actually not given a lot of "meat" around the theme of intrigue, meaning that if I were to really focus on that in a potential new game coming up, I'd have to be making stuff up from scratch, because I don't have enough of it to work with really. That's a hole that needs filling. Expect me to do a few posts in the next few weeks that give some good hooks for intrigue. If nothing else, just so I can run with them without having to come up with them last minute. I do think I've got a lot of hooks for crime; including lists of organized crime syndicates, and development of Porto Liure and Sarabasca, two locations that have their economy largely driven by smuggling, piracy, and other criminal enterprises, and who have governments who have as a matter of semi-public policy made a notable point of looking the other way to facilitate that crime.
I've also done a fair bit of development in the arena of supernatural horror, both traditional/gothic in style, and overtly Lovecraftian. Both are elements that are hugely important to the game as I envision it, and I couldn't call my setting SWORD & SANITY if I didn't, nor could I use the tagline: "D&D rules, Call of Cthulhu play paradigm."
I've also considered four genres to be the most foundational "add-ons" to the obvious secondary world fantasy of the setting: the Golden Age of Piracy, the Old West, mainstream thrillers, and again; supernatural horror. I'm not sure that I've really talked about how, exactly, I see those "add-ons" contributing to the game, or how to incorporate them. I've mentioned them. But that's about it. Again; another hole that needs filling; something that I need to talk about a bit more from time to time. Especially if I'm about to run a game in the next few months or so; I need to know how I'm planning on approaching that.
And finally, I've talked about how I have three "core" areas of the setting, combined with numerous peripherals. I've developed one of those core areas, the Terrasan sphere, a fair bit. I've done enough with the Baal Hamazi region for the time being. The al-Qazmir region is, on the other hand, woefully underdeveloped and inadequate. I'd have to, by default, avoid that as a region that gets much attention, just because I've done too little development of it to make it workable. On the other hand, I've done enough development of some "peripheral" areas like Kurushat and the Forbidden Lands that I could have at least some element of a campaign travel to those lands. Since those are supposed to be peripheral and al-Qazmir is supposed to be core, that's a hole that desperately needs filling.
In summary; three holes that need to be talked about and filled in more: hooks on which to hang intrigue, how to go about incorporating genre "add-ons" to the game in a way that doesn't feel artificial, and develop the al-Qazmir region at least sufficiently well that I can talk about it as intelligently as I can the Baal Hamazi region.