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Akrasia

Akrasia is my current long-form fiction project. Provided my resolve doesn’t fail, and fortune cooperates with fate, this will be the manuscript that makes me a published author. Third time’s the charm, right?

The Blurb
When the War of Magi ended with the destruction of ancient Athens, the First Amagium was founded; an order of mages avowed to prevent further magical warfare. After two catastrophic collapses, the Amagium’s third incarnation protects humanity from supernatural threats while dictating permissible spells and arcane artifice. But as citizens begin to chafe under those constraints, law officers known as Keepers struggle to maintain order in the face of mounting criticism.

Save for his haughty nature and the mixed blessings of an unusual parentage, Hace Matthews is the one of the most gifted aspiring Keepers to matriculate at the Arroyo Athenaeum in decades. His promise is second only to the record-shattering academic performance of Alinore Valmont, a prodigy driven to exceed the crushing expectations of her family at any cost. Meanwhile, Sevardin Harker, a once-decorated Keeper now on suspension for misconduct, searches for hope in a world hollowed by the loss of his partner and lover.

Thrown together in the wake of tragedy, this fledgling team must face rash extremists and murderous warlocks while peeling back the layers of a conspiracy within the Third Amagium itself… or the horrors of unbound wyrd warfare may once again consume the world.

The Premise
I originally set out to write a blend of Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim and V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, but the book is shaping up to be something darker. Imagine Law and Order: Supernatural Crimes Unit with alternate history flourishes and Rothfussian influences. Like my preceding project, it is a contemporary urban fantasy novel, but Trespassers’ spellwork was conducted in conspiratorial shadows, whereas Akrasia’s magic is not only out in the open; it is the world’s technological, cultural, and historical fulcrum.

The Characters
Trespassers was a multi-POV affair with three main characters, though you saw everybody through the lens of a single character and his magical perspective-hopping gift. Trouble was, many readers didn’t like the guy playing looking glass. Especially at the start of the adventure, where I essentially wrote him as the worst-possible version of myself. The fact that he had been shut away for a year, with no preexisting human connections, made his redemption story an even harder sell.

This time, I’m writing heroes from page one. Characters whose examples I aspire to follow, based on positive aspects of myself and people I deeply admire, tempered by flaws that I can speak to from personal experience. Each of them has friends, family, mentors, skeletons in the closet, and baggage pertaining to themselves and each other. No muddled memories. No arrested development. Just badasses being badasses.

I’d tell you more, but they should really speak for themselves.

The World
Akrasia’s Earth is an eerie reflection of our own, estranged by the ubiquitous presence of magic. Familiar figures and places appear in a history following a similar trajectory, though their roles and significance have been tweaked or scrambled. Comparable events play out over identical geography with different political boundaries. Epistolary excerpts precede each chapter, providing hints of these enigmatic differences. And as the world building blocks become bedrock, I will share documents detailing these eccentricities here. See what I’ve already revealed in the Sneak Peeks section below!

Sneak Peeks
Everything here is very rough and subject to change, but because I’m excited and eager to share, here are some teasers. Critiques welcome, speculation sustains me.

Chapter 1 – Updated 11-15-18

 

Amagium: Arroyo

Just as I developed L.A. Wyrd for Trespassers, I am developing a companion game for Akrasia called Amagium: Arroyo. Just as the books share some common concepts and mechanics, so to do the games. It is an asymmetrical title for four players, with one player running the show, and the other three assuming the roles of Amagia in a Venture (my wizard-cops work in teams of three). Whereas L.A.W.  almost exclusively focused on board movement and combat, Arroyo is about solving criminal cases through a mix of force, detective skills, and interrogative abilities. It has a much stronger narrative focus, built around self-contained stories that play out over the course of 45 to 90 minutes.

 

Playable Characters
This time I am eschewing Ability Decks in favor of Grimoires; character specific playbooks full of different spells, attacks, and approaches to problems. The goal is to ensure players have their full array of abilities available at all times (if they bear resource management in mind). There are still elements of RNG to keep things interesting, with card draws fulfilling a comparable (but more flavorful) role than dice rolls in D&D or other tabletop systems.

 

Fate Master
Fate Masters share a similar goal to Dungeon and other Game Master archetypes: run a fun campaign. That will mean different things for different groups, and I am hoping to give them a flexible enough scaffolding to accomplish that goal. The antagonistic options available to them in a given scenario are comparable to those you’ll find in a “Haunt” in Betrayal at House on the Hill, but they are regulated via a sort of Narrative Mana system cribbed from the Ebb system in Thornwatch.

 

 

Rough Structure
The Amagia begin the game by choosing their characters. After that, the Fate Master selects a Case File which includes:

  • A unique map that serves as the gameboard for all the materials in that case file
  • A public “Premise” sheet listing the narrative frame and initial goals
  • A secret “Plot” manual with three separate scenarios for the FM to choose from
  • A number of entity cards and tokens to describe enemies and hazards on the map
  • (And maybe a number of mission rewards that offer the game a legacy element)

The Premise represents the Amagia’s starting knowledge of a scenario—such as a call for backup, a brief from dispatch, or an APB for a suspected malefactor or monster. But each Premise and it’s associated map can blossom into one of three distinct Plots that the FM may choose from. To provide a tentative example, a public protest at an Amagium-run facility can become a riot, or serve as the diversion for theft, or a terrorist plot.

After the FM displays the map and Premise, they should select one of its Plots, while the Amagia select a load-out (anima and permitted equipment cards) to bring along for the case. The Amagia may keep these selections a secret until the FM settles on a Plot.

Once the FM reaches a decision, they draw the entity cards and map tokens that are permitted by the Plot, and set up the board. Some entities’ inclusion and token placement will be specified by the Plot, while others are left to the FM’s judgement.  To reveal the true nature of the Plot (and in some cases, secure an arrest), players will need to look for arcane and physical evidence, as well as witness testimony.

The prototype combat/action system has been developed (and is teased by the image of the Action Reference card), but I expect the game to be almost completely unrecognizable after just a couple playtests as was the case with L.A.W.. 

My efforts are currently focused on getting further in the novel, so the game’s maiden voyage is a ways off yet, but I’m hoping to host the first play test early in spring of 2019.




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