Themes

Change
Mystery
Alienation

The name of the game represents the world rather than the character, though of course the character is part of the world. "Crux" is thus where the character lives, rather than what they think. The emotive basis of the character is what the game is about – the world is set up with all sorts of unsolved questions and premises, but Transformation is about what the character sees in the world and how they respond to it.

As I've played Crux (or Aisling), the game tends to go in those same places that truly great modern myth goes. The stories told by Chalres DeLint, or the epics Clive Barker details, or the focused lives described by China Mièville – these are the sorts of places Crux goes. As I play it, anyway. And I want those themes I play to be built into the game. Motifs of sexuality (coming out, rape, the complexities of relationships affected by sex), magic (reality gone wild, crossing into the otherworld), religion (how humanity relates to the divine, and vice versa), possibility (the surreality of choice manifest, potential and imagination made real), and hope (dreams realized or dashed to pieces, becoming what you always wanted to be).

I've said in the past that my favorite people are teenagers and young adults, because they're still becoming. That's what I want to highlight – becoming. The question for players is what they're going to become, and how.

Beyond the development of the educational tool, there are a number of things that need to done. First is develop a world where Barker's Imajical Dominions, Mièville's Bas Lag, and DeLint's Newford can exist happily side by side. For the most part, I think that task is done and ready for input – each of those can be a Realm in the Plasm, or a place in the Tell. More difficult is infusing the game with the sensibilities of those novels, highlighting the surreal as a way to throw choice into sharp relief. Another part is the incorporation of myth, legend, and folklore, including all the gods and fairies and monsters from them, into the explanation of the world. Again, I think this is easily accomplished given the setting and history that I've built. The most difficult piece is incorporating all of these things into our modern world, in such a way that the three themes of Crux are also painfully obvious and nigh impossible to avoid.

Another focus behind the Quest is the Heroic Cycle. Basically, the hero gets a call (or some other impetus to go on a quest), deals with various challenges, passes guardians into the Otherworld, gains the Boon (the MacGuffin, the point of the quest, something which will help himself or his people). The hero then escapes from the Otherworld to present the Boon to whoever was asking for it, and voila, the cycle starts again. You can read more about it in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Crux is intended to mirror that Cycle, and so part of our task is invoke the mood of the cycle through art, rules, and story. Think of your favorite hero tales (about Thor, Cinderella, CuChulainn, or even Superman, Spiderman, or the Hulk) and think of the themes that show up again and again: responsibility, transformation, and increasingly greater meaning to their lives. They wade through darkness, the morbid, and the disheartening, to ultimately triumph in a blaze of glory.

Throw a surreal blanket over the top of that, and you have the setting of Crux. The artwork and the text should have a feeling of challenge, the guardians at the gate of play and drama, but with a clear understanding that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Not so dark as the WoD™ art, because there is salvation and rescue, confirmed and guaranteed as part of the game, as part of myth, and not some angst-producing potential possibility when your character has gained 3,609 dots in Humanity, or some other such trait. Every story-arc ends in a bright clearing of success. Perhaps there are all sorts of strange beings in the clearing with the hero, friends he or she has made during the trials of their path, or maybe not. Either way, the darkness and urgency of their task ends, and they move on to the next, more fulfilling phase of their life.