3.5.2   ATMOSPHERE AND THEME

Two very crucial aspects of a game are atmosphere and theme. Atmosphere involves the general mood of all ambient story elements. Additionally, atmosphere is also dictated by the pace of the story. Different atmospheres include: light-hearted, action oriented, dark, and whimsical. Theme, on the other hand, deals with the ideas behind the plot. A theme can be specific to a particular story, or run through a series of stories. Keep in mind, a theme need not be a set moral statement. In fact, in many cases it works best to formulate the theme in way of a question (Is man truly worth saving? Can we ever really make up for the misdeeds we’ve done in the past?) The storyteller need not have an answer to this thematic question. The mere fact that it operates behind the scenes can engage the players. Themes are best felt and not seen.

The atmosphere and theme of a particular story varies. It is up to the storyteller to determine what works best for the tale he is telling. What the author can explain, however, is what atmosphere he feels runs through the entire game and what themes have struck him as important.

As far as atmosphere goes, the author has envisioned this angelic world not as dark, but as sad. There is a forlorn, almost sorrowful quality to these divine creatures. Once they were the most loved of God’s creations, but since the coming of the children of clay they have been forced to play second fiddle. How sad it must be for them to have to battle demons (once their beloved brothers) over the souls of these usurping mortals. Empty churches, hollow chanting, suffering children, and unanswered prayers, these are the images that come to the author’s mind when thinking of this game.

There are many themes that run through the heart of Children of Fire. Two seem to stand out from the rest. First, the theme of moral dilemma is preeminent. Good can sometimes be wrong while evil is right. Every choice has consequences. Put the characters in moral binds, situations without easy solutions. Present them with choices that all have a downside. Total success in a mission should be a rarity. Often sacrifice of some kind is necessary to come up with a suitable solution. Second, the concept of eternal children is essential to the game. Try to instill in the players a sense that, though they are older than time, they are carried by whims and adolescent urges. They are by no means venerable sages or perfect guardians. They do not have all the answers.


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