I’m not going to do my work during Black History Month this without touching on the work of Octavia Butler several times. Here work influences me greatly, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it and how I could make games inspired on her work.
Wild Seed, like much of Butler’s work, takes place in lands real and not-real, tackling without fear matters of race, class, and gender, in the same space as immortal shapeshifters and psychokinetics. Wild Seed chronicles the complex relationship between Doro and Anyanwu, immortal beings with special powers. Doro can possess other people and wears human skins like cloth. He wants to build communities of others with talents, intimidating and killing if needed to force others to fill his desires. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who has shifted through different marriages, roles, and societies.
When Doro and Anyanwu meet, it is the start of a complex relationship that spans many generations. The story follows them from Africa to the America during the slavery, and follows the two and their descendants as they attempt to build (and breed) a community of special people. It also tracks a tumultuous romance and it’s cycles of hate, love, rejection and acceptance through the centuries.
Last this is a prequel of Patternmaster, and is the first book chronologically.
Gaming with Wild Seeds
Wild Seeds would be fun to game in because it is rich in themes, and is in rich in non-fighting conflicts. A game can cover love, community-building, exploration, family, and more. There are a couple of ways that I think you could bring this to the table top, and I’ll touch on them here. There are systems that I think could handle each concept, which I list. Obviously you could work on it yourself but that can be a bit of a stretch.
Battling Lovers. This is the most private and intense, a two player game where you assume the roles of Doro and Anyanwu directly. You oppose each other but also need each other, so each battle is really two battles. On one level you need to fulfill your goals and follow your paths and instincts. On the other hand, you have a need for this other person whose goals often conflict with yours…
This could be good for a one-shot or a several-session campaign. Many systems you could run it in, though my first thought would be for Amarinthine. I think it’s a perfect fit for this style of storytelling game.
Seedlings. This is for a group of players, and takes place over many generations. For one or two session, each player takes on a descendant of Doro or Anyanwu, each with a different talent and different limitations. Each player attempts to meet the goals of their parents while dealing with outside threats and each other. Every few sessions, play shifts in time and in generation, and the players then play the children of the characters they used previously. You have the possibility to inherit the powers of each of your parents, so relationships and breeding (which the GM playing as Doro or Anyanwu can coerce/incentivize) influence heavily the powers and circumstances of the next generation you play. Chris Chinn pointed me at Hero’s Banner for this style. I haven’t played that but it looks good. I would also think that Cortex+ with a touch of Marvel (for powers) and strong dose of Smallville (for relationships). Cortex+ is great in that it handles a lot of different conflict equally well, so you can battle with powers, words, and emotions on equal footing.
I should mention that there are still a few days left on the Cortex+ Hacker’s Guide, and that it’s totally worth your time to get in on it.
Are you a fan of Wild Seeds? How would you run a Wild Seeds game? If you have any hacks you like, tell me about them in the comments!