The Fate of Nations – a house rule for The Red Star


In The Red Star comics, we catch glimpses of an afterlife caught between archaic warrior gods and modern industrial complexes, reflecting and being reflected in the shape and events of the living world.

In the accompanying Campaign Setting, more of the inner workings of this Spirit Realm stand somewhat revealed.
One thing, though, is missing even from that detailed description:

Game mechanics.

What the background information presented boils down to, is that the will and power of the dead affect the living and their world.

This basic principle seems to hold true, no matter whether it is ancestor spirits who guide their descendants, shaping the destiny of their people, or whether it is these same descendants who harvest the spirits’ life force to fuel a sorcerous shadow economy, steering and bending the fate of nations according to their own ends.

The Campaign Setting gives rules and stats for the ancestors themselves, as well as the spells and protocols which represent their power – freely given in one case, shackled in the other – made manifest in the mortal realm.

Though the underlying flow of destiny, described as the perhaps most important aspect of the relationship between the physical world and the metaphysical one of the Spirit Realm, is not reflected in any game mechanics.

This is of little consequence as long as a game stays at a local and – perhaps more importantly – mortal level.

Precisely because the Campaign Setting delivers the tools to move beyond this, and play immortals as well, and also because the comics themselves already make such a great showing of pitching the heroes of The Red Star into the linchpin situations where the course of history hangs in the balance and is about to be decided anew, a house rule to model the impact of the spirit realm on both personal and grand scale events seems like a useful addition.

While simply giving out flat modifiers dependent on the balance of power in the Spirit Realm and the will of its denizens (or their masters) would be the simplest and most straight forward approach, it also takes away from the weight of decisions made by the players.

This important element however can be preserved by applying an effect to Action Points instead.

If affected by the Spirit Realm, a character’s die size for Action Points is increased by 1 (e.g. a d6 becomes a d8) – if the Spirit Realm’s effect is benevolent – or reduced by 1 (e.g. a d6 becomes a d4) – if the effect is hindering.

On the Spirit Realm side, such effects on the mortal world are the result of massive expenditures of PHE.

To affect an encounter, an immortal has to be at full PHE and then invest all of his PHE into the effort of steering the flow of destiny. This PHE can also come from a soul held in a bond, in which case it also has to be drained completely. Multiple immortals (and bonds) can partake in such an effort. If they work towards the same goal (or are bonded to the same master), their PHE expenditures are totalled. If they work against one another, the total expenditures of their respective sides are compared, the side with the higher total winning out and managing to bend fate to their will (in case of a tie, both sides cancel each other out and there is no effect). They may now decide under which condition characters will be affected for the course of the encounter, and whether the effect will be benevolent or harmful.

For an immortal the PHE expenditure is a full round action. It is possible to make the PHE expenditure during an ongoing encounter even if an effect is already in place. In such an event, the totals are recalculated accordingly. If the balance shifts and another side now has a greater PHE total, the new winner may immediately define new conditions for mortals to be affected, along with the type (benevolent or harmful) of the effect.

The artwork is taken from The Red Star: The Battle of Kar Dathra’s Gate and was used with kind permission of Christian Gossett.

The Red Star and all related characters are ™ and © Christian Gossett. Used with kind permission.

The Red Star Campaign Setting is © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC.

Die Grafik stammt aus The Red Star: The Battle of Kar Dathra’s Gate und wurde mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Christian Gossett verwendet.

The Red Star und alle verwandten Charaktere sind ™ und © Christian Gossett. Verwendet mit freundlicher Genehmigung.

The Red Star Campaign Setting ist © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC.

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