Monday, January 9, 2012

Muppet Mondays! - Creation Myths

For those who may be unaware of it, Archaia Entertainment has released the first of a series of three graphic novel prequels to The Dark Crystal, which is called Creation Myths...


The book looks beautiful, with excellent interior art and a stunning cover by original Dark Crystal concept artist and personal art-hero of mine, Brian Froud. The stories look interesting, introducing a new character who blends into the fabric and history of Thra (the proper name for the planet on which the Dark Crystal stories take place) as well as Aughra and the Gelflings.
It should also be brought up
once more that Archaia plans to release a Dark Crystal Role Playing Game, which will utilize a trimmed down variant of Luke Crane's Burning Wheel system, similar to how it appears in Mouse Guard. As I've noted before, I am not a big fan of Burning Wheel but I do like Mouse Guard quite a bit so I am looking forward to seeing what the rules can do for this setting and vice versa.

Now some, like
The Rhetorical Gamer, might say that the story and setting of The Dark Crystal is kind of a closed one. I actually agree. I also think that's too bad. I can definitely come up with some ideas for gaming in The World of The Dark Crystal had the end of the film not shut most of those avenues off.

This brings me, in a roundabout way, to something else I wanted to say regarding IP and licensed setting RPGs.

I'm not sure when I first began using these terms but I tend to refer to IPs and the stories and such that come from them by the labels 'Open' and 'Closed'.

An 'Open' IP setting is one where the greatest story has not or at least might not have already been told. Usually, these settings have the concept of further adventures and other heroes you are not watching built in. If the characters you are watching are not the only heroes in that setting according to the rules of the setting itself, an RPG in that setting is significantly easier.

A 'Closed' setting is one in which the story you viewed or read that introduced you to said setting, climaxed in a definitive ending. The main characters of such an IP are either the only ones of their type remaining or were the only people present when the storied came to a close. Very likely, although not universally, it was they who ended it.

Star Trek is an open setting. Sure the Enterprise is the flagship of the fleet but you know a fleet exists. There are other ships with other captain shown in the canon of the setting. The galaxy is shown to be filled with inhabited planets and alien species, artifacts and stellar phenomena just waiting to be discovered.

Lord of the Rings in a fairly closed setting. This aren't multiple fellowships. There is one. There is only one ring of doom. Other rings exist but they aren't the The One Ring. I mean, it's got the gall to actually name itself, 'The One Ring'. The nerve. Unobtainium indeed.

Likewise, the world of Middle Earth is fenced in a bit but the end of the series. We know that the boats sailing west never return, since essentially they sale toward metaphor. The planet is fairly well mapped or at least part of it is.

Now some may disagree with me and see the vast expanses of unexplored material in Lord of the Rings just waiting to be discovered by bold and adventurous players. Likewise, I have actually heard a number of people say, "Well, my character will never be as cool as Kirk/Picard/insert favorite Star Trek character here, so why would I want to play?"

This is by no means a scientific and/or foolproof means of designating or qualifying an IP setting to determine if it's appropriate for play but it is something that should be considered in detail before you get started. If you think you can make it rock, please be my guest.

I am actually really excited to see this Dark Crystal RPG. It may only give me ideas to add to my D&D-But-Not universe but I hope, I really, really hope, that it gives me ideas on how to run The Dark Crystal.

Barking Alien


  1. I liked this and thought I would go off a bit and blog about it myself - thanks for the bump!

  2. I'm glad you liked it. I'm also glad you commented. I'm feeling that weird vibe again where lots of people appear to be reading my posts but I don't get too many comments.

    Seems, upon reading your post, that we are on pretty much the same wavelength here, though LotR is so closed IMO that, for me at least, I find it very difficult to run that setting at all.