I had this dream where I was fighting giant insects who had infectious blood that caused you to partially mutate into an insect if it got into your bloodstream. It was a deeply creepy dream that had elements of seventies album cover fantasy, mid-eighties AIDS paranoia, and a weird tribal vibe – the latter probably due to some reading I’ve been doing about the Denaina Athabascans. Anyway, I’ve been chewing on it ever since.
Right now the thing I’m totally keeping is the path system. There are pre-defined goals, and each time you check one off you get a little reward. When you complete all three goals, your character has earned a reputation. So some are have mechanical bits:
- Abandon, and be abandoned by, your family.
- Stand somewhere no person has ever stood.
- Become a Messenger (acquire Command, Talk, Travel, and Know and all advanced tactics/specialties)
and some are all drama:
- Defy tradition and insult your elders.
- Break someone’s heart.
- Allow a dependent to go hungry.
And of course you can author your own set, too. In fact you have to. But the existing ones are hard-coded into the setting, so you get richly rewarded for reinforcing the tropes. Acquiring a mutation sucks*, but it starts you on the Tainted Path, which gets you cool new stuff and, eventually, a monstrous reputation. If you see bits of AGON and TSOY and Burning Wheel in there, well, what can I say? I do, too.
*Except when it does not! Like when it allows you to see using your skin instead of your eyes. Like some insects can. Not kidding, look it up.