With Hillfolk in outside playtest and on the brink of a crowdfunding campaign, I’m now in the early stages of The Gaean Reach, Pelgrane’s game of interstellar vengeance, based on the classic cycle of SF novels by Jack Vance. While I originally thought this would be a Skulduggery variant with some GUMSHOE grafted on, it turns out to be the other way around: GUMSHOE with a touch of Skulduggery.
The game’s default campaign frame pits the characters against a nemesis, who they hunt by increments over the course of the series. Every group defines its own nemesis, usually called Quandos Vorn. During character creation, each player indicates what Quandos Vorn did to incur his or her PC’s wrath. This delineates both the nemesis and the player character.
In the in-house game, this is why the protagonists plot revenge against Quandos Vorn:
“After I critiqued his academic paper, he saw to it that I lost everything—my tenure, even my family.”
“I used to be a corrupt interstellar cop on his payroll, until he killed my partner and framed me for a series of crimes I didn’t commit.”
“When my casino would not accommodate his obscene requests, Quandos Vorn shut it down.”
“His ponzi scheme collapsed the star-spanning financial empire I was supposed to one day inherit.”
“To keep himself sharp, Quandos Vorn hunts, battles, and kills clones of himself. The only clone to ever survive one of these pursuits, I seek to avenge the humiliating defeat that left me hideously disfigured.”
From those five statements, we know much about Quandos Vorn’s behavior and capabilities—and even more about the people who seek him.