I've been a bit silent on the blog lately, mostly because I've been working on the finishing touches for Ogre Gate and making sure it goes smoothly into layout. However I also made more of an effort in the last four to five months to refrain from posting unless I have something I really want to talk about. So aside from campaign logs, design/campaign notes, and the occasional review, I've been staying away from posting here as much as I used to. This helps keeps me more focused on finishing out books (devoting a set amount of time each day to blog entries takes away from that).
But today is too hot in Boston for design work (this was written on Friday). At least for me. It isn't scorching but it is nearly 80 and I don't have the AC set up yet, so I've mostly been watching Kung Fu movies and taking care of other things. For me, 80 with any amount of humidity is hot.
So I figured I'd take some time to talk about what I've been learning as we've started to really delve into the Profound and Immortal levels of play in Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. Much of this is just preliminary thoughts on my part in terms of campaign structure, but interesting because it is very much the opposite of my experience with our other game, Sertorius.
In case you haven't seen my posts before on the subject, the Profound and Immortal book is going to address higher level campaigns for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. The low levels of the game focus more on wuxia-style campaigns, while the higher levels allow for campaigns in the style of Immortal (Xian Xia) and martial arts fantasy genres. Even at the earlier levels, these fantasy elements are present, but they become much more pronocuned when you reach Qi ranks 7 and beyond. There is material for this in the core rulebook, but to address it completely, it needs its own book. These levels begin at Qi rank 7 and go to 24, taking you all the way to becoming immortals or demon heroes. This is very much the point in the game where you become more of a super-being, and get into godlike territory.
Our other game, Sertorius, features characters who start out with this level of power, and as they grow the campaigns tend to open up, becoming more freeform and sandbox as the players amass power and can do what they want. But the cosmology there is different, the gods are not as involved. In Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate it is inspired by the Heavenly Bureaucracy from Chinese sources, so there is more of a celestial structure and hierarchy in place. The result is players start out in the lower levels having more freeform sandbox-like play, but once they hit those profound levels and attract the attention of immortal forces and sects, things become more structured (at least in general).
So you have an arrangement where characters shape their own destiny early on but then eventually, when they hit a certain apex of power, settle into the celestial hierarchy and have to work within that. This doesn't mean they aren't free to roam; they are, they just have to contend more with the rules put in place by various deities (or be really clever about it if they want to break them). A Monkey King style campaign is certainly possible, where the players rebel against Heaven or something. But those are more rare, because they come with such risk for the players.
The shift in exploration also shifts a bit. At earlier levels there was a lot of exploring the local environment, but at higher levels the players are exploring realms mortals would have great difficulty accessing. So the landscape changes and that makes for a different kind of expiration.
There are still investigations, city adventures, crawls across the kingdom and so on, but because the players are becoming more important, have attracted the attention of deities and immortals in a world with a fairly centralized cosmology, it produces a very different experience than similarly powerful characters in Sertorius.
This has been my experience at least.