So I'm going to take a break from the AD&D and old school focus of the blog today to get some thoughts down for a new campaign idea I've got. Now I cannot entirely take credit for this, as I'm pretty patently ripping off the core idea from a symphonic goth-metal band called Within Temptation. Within Temptation put out a concept album recently (last year? the year before? uncertain, as I've only recently discovered the band) that carried with it both a comic book limited series and three short films. The album, entitled The Unforgiven, functions as the soundtrack to the comic series, and deals with people who have been returned from death by a mysterious old woman to battle the forces of darkness and punish sinners. The key is that all of these people had some severe and fatal flaw in life, which is what lead to their deaths--their resurrection is a second chance at redemption. So far as I can tell from the films (I have yet to acquire the full album or get the comics), those resurrected are given a power unique to them which they use in their battle against evil.
I'm thinking this is an awesome basis for a game. For system I'd use the Unisystem, specifically Armageddon, and the Primal Powers rules. In my game those brought back would be called Primals. I'd cook up a new Supernatural Quality for them akin to those purchased by vampyres, werewolves, avatars, etc.
The world would of course be very dark, urban, and gritty. Probably wherein every city looked like something out of the Crow. Evil holds sway, the final nights are coming, and these resurrected souls are the last hope for good to prevail. I'd do away with the Old Gods idea in favor of a more Gnostic and thematic approach to the cosmos--there's Good and Evil and they are huge, nameless forces that work through agents in the world. Regardless of whether you call them Ahriman and Ahura Mazda, God and Satan, Thoth and Set, or Thor and Loki, it's all the same--Good and Evil, Light and Dark set in an eternal struggle.
As far as other supernaturals I'm thinking the usual vampires and werewolves, plus angels and demons, but all the PCs would be Primals.
Sticking with the Gnostic idea, I could set up seven Archons who represent the forces of darkness that currently hold the world in its sway. These Archons could be opposed by seven Aeons sent down from the Pleroma to walk the Earth, helping the forces of good. Once an Aeon leaves the perfection of the Pleroma, however, they become tainted by the physical realms and must then be themselves redeemed to return home. This adds an additional level of complexity and stakes to the cosmology.
Of course it would be rare, if ever, for the PCs to encounter an Archon or Aeon directly. I'm just working out cosmology in my head right now.
Adventure scenarios would involve them going up against great evils, both supernatural and mundane, as they seek to balance the scales of their own sins and hopefully redeem the Aeons. If I stick purely with a Gnostic theme--which I'm actually kind of digging, the only way to win the war against darkness is to find the lost First Aeon, Sophia, who is lost and trapped somewhere on Earth, and redeem her. All of this, of course, is thematic setting material, and wouldn't necessarily form a direct part of the overall campaign.
Hm. Ideas are flowing, including some that draw traditional Mother Goddess myths (particularly the "three faces" aspect) into the Gnostic Sophia realm.
There's a lot to like about this idea and I think I need to explore it further. Not too many games have dealt with the various Gnostic cosmologies as the basis for their setting; it puts an interesting spin on things. And there's a lot of options for red herrings in the setting's "theology," as there were a lot of diverse beliefs under the overall Gnostic umbrella.
I need to explore this concept more.