Well, after I climbed out of the big suicidal darkness that game design throws me in on a regular basis, I kept humming and harring about this, back and forth, until finally I realised the problem. I was indeed, trying to make the game a bit too Shakespearean. I had the idea of putting the principle players of Daughter, Duke, his Evil Brother and his honest Son (The Duke, the Thief, His Son and His Lover, who is the Duke’s Daughter) and having them engage in some kind of battle over the fate of the Daughter but it didn’t feel like enough for a game. Or at least, not a game I would want to play.
Because there still wasn’t enough for the central heroes to do. I could have made a game where every PC was entirely passive, jostled back and forth by her father’s demands, but I like games where the heroes have something more to do and to be. A more traditional RPG format was needed. The girls HAD to be active, powerful heroes. And they had to have something to DO, not just sit in a forest and wait to find love. I need more narrative drive than that. If that makes me a trad-game-loving boor, than so be it.
Something to do means an enemy to fight. So I went back to the space idea and came up with this:
At some point in the future, man has spread across the solar system. And not unlike in the old Star Trek episode Mudd’s Women, the one thing man lacks is women. So it was that Duke Millan dedicated himself to building a small army of comfort women. Synthetic female humanoids designed to be male companions, and programmed to be obedient, demure, wise, virtuous, fair, mild, noble, of good discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.
They were built to be the perfect wives.
There are indeed many copies of a few central templates, which may form the classes of the game. Mirandas. Cordelias. Silvias, Julias, Olivias. All taught to be good wives and obey their Father. But each also bearing a nature their father could not quite tame. Some are too honest, some too forthright, some too willful, some too unkempt, and some just plain disobedient. Of course, a rogue synthetic must be destroyed. Daughters who sought to disobey their Father had but one choice: flee into exile. Deep in wildspace, they can be their own masters or rather mistresses, but all is not well. Wildspace is full of dangerous creatures and churlish shepherds and is inhabited also by the Fey, dangerous alien beings with terrible power, not to mention Astral Spirits and the Gods themselves.
Anyone daring to walk in such wild places will find troubles and tempests cast upon them. Meanwhile, the forces of the Duke hunt the lost daughters with terrible hunger, for there is a huge bounty for each captured Daughter. And of course, any man would love to tame such a creature to make his own.
Not all men, of course. There are some good men out there, who could offer a promise of love instead of enslavement. But finding that will not be easy.
So it’s like Blade Runner and Blake’s Seven built on shakespearean language. It’s got Daughters, Exile and I guess some Forswearing. The problem now is making it different from every other space rpg ever written. That might come from some kind of internal conflict mechanism because the wiring is still in their heads, beeping away, driving them mad…