Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Maybe It's Better This Way - A Campaign Post Mortem

One campaign that appears several different times across several different notebooks is the Glantrian Great School of Magic game. About the only thing the notes had in common was that the characters were students at the Great School of Magic in Glantri City. Early treatments for 2nd edition D&D used the Player's Option: Spells and Magic books to focus on unique casting methodologies and philosophies. These write-ups mostly used the school setting from the Gazetteer - the students studied under masters and there wasn't really anything else that one associates with modern school. Later write-ups were obviously more inspired by Harry Potter. There were houses, everyone was younger and the flavor was much less severe. There were very few rules and it mostly consisted of fluff like lists of teachers and houses. This was a game that was very much on the top of my list of "things to run if you ever get the chance".

About eight months ago I got the chance to run a game and this was the one I pitched. I began trying to pull together strands of all the things I had laying about to make it into something fun. Since I was going to use a heavily modified 3rd edition rule set the Harry Potter feel was tossed out the window - kids tossing around spells meant for dungeon diving didn't fit. I developed the school into a collegiate form with the PCs sharing the same adviser. The adviser assigns a group project where the PCs are to write a report on each of the Seven Secret Crafts per term.

The campaign outline was basically for there to be an adventure based around each of the Secret Crafts. This would take the first seven terms and ten terms would be needed to graduate. However their instructor was Troikithus, an Alphatian spy, who was using the PCs to gather information to report back to the Empire. He would be murdered at the beginning of the eighth term and things would escalate until war was declared on their graduation day - campaign over.

Things didn't go as planned. At all. And I'm about to just end the damn thing so we cam play Dresden Files instead.

Things That Worked

My natural ability to adapt. That's it.

Things that Didn't Work

The Spell System
Since everyone was a wizard I used rules where you could cast any spell you knew of the appropriate level as many times as you wanted. However you had to succeed a caster to check to do so. The idea was that since there was no limit on what they could cast, knowing more spells made you more powerful so a major goal would be to learn new spells. I even created spellbooks for each player and printed out one page descriptions for each spell they knew so that they didn't have to look them up (and also because some spells needed editing and there would be lots of unique new spells.)

The problem was that every time they failed at casting a spell their fun diminished. On top of that they never really got into the whole "collect spells" things. I should have just made it so that they didn't have to roll to cast since they were under utilizing what they could do anyways so there wouldn't be any problems with being too powerful. In addition the big spellbook required them to spend a little extra time to become familiar with what was in it and no one had the time or inclination to spend an extra second thinking about the game outside of the session (or sometimes in the session.)

The Storytelling
While I had a structured campaign in mind my natural instinct to just let players explore was too strong. Except for the few Secret Crafts people wanted to join no one gave a damn about their assignment. I probably didn't push it enough, either. So they wandered off aimlessly in their own directions and the campaign took this rambling, directionless feel. Players with more drive dominated play while others fell asleep waiting to be pulled in. I eventually grabbed the reigns and began forcing a story on them but it just felt wrong and nobody really seemed to care at that point anyways.

Additionally I think the use of the d20 rules made everyone think this was going to be an actual Dungeons and Dragons game. They kept wanting to find things to kill when I was trying to make it a more socially oriented, school focused game. There was a place for action and adventure but it wasn't supposed to be in some dungeon. Unfortunately I gave in to those instincts and the school and social stories fell into the background.

The Session Length
The group I'm in does short campaign runs. I figured ten sessions, one for each term, and a few more thrown in here and there as needed and I'd be done. However, even when I got to run the initial adventures I had prepared, they took at least two sessions to get through. This was due to the player's unfamiliarity with my houseruled system, my allowing people to explore as they pleased and that we usually had 2 1/2 to 3 hours of play in an evening. As it stands, we're eight months in, on session 12 and there are still four terms left.

Wrong Game for the Wrong Group
There are lots of other things that went wrong, but what it really boils down to is that it was the wrong game for the wrong group. What the game eventually became probably would have been fine with my old D&D groups - they loved detail oriented, crunchy campaigns that could potentially go on forever. But this group is usually exhausted by the time they get to play so lots of fiddly details and crunch are pretty unwelcome. They just want to have fun, not go through college all over again. Additionally the campaign structure that I ended up with was one that did not lend itself to resolution in a reasonable time. Plot threads are hanging all over the place and if I had another year or more to run the game they would all be covered. But I don't have that long. Better to just put a pillow over over its face and move on.

What Would Have Been Better
I should have just run this as straight D&D with all spell casters as was one of my original visions. The Great School would have been as originally written with the PCs just sharing a master and having more free time to adventure and poke around. No terms, no structure, just adventuring until they reach level 5 and graduate.

The other option would have been to use a different system but I'm not sure what would have worked without jettisoning details about spell casting. The main feature of D&D for this game was the lists of existing spells that works so well to give wizards that "nose in the books" feel. Perhaps Ars Magica would have worked.

So, it's dead. If I'm allowed behind the screen for this group again I'll probably run something like Dungeonworld, a Gumshoe game or Lady Blackbird.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Host a World - Part 2

Age of the Gods

Creating the PantheonCreate a list numbered 1-10. Each number represents one god in the pantheon. You can make the list longer or shorter depending on your desires, but remember that by the end of this process there will probably be several additional gods and several dead gods. Keep in mind that you will be rolling this list so make sure it corresponds to a die type (like d10 or d12). If you use an online number generator you can use whatever you want - this will also let you include newly created gods.

For each number on the list, roll a d20 and consult the following chart to make notes about that god to give you an idea of what they're about. Each option is a range of three with the results indicating a good, neutral or evil god. For example, rolling a 2 would indicate a neutral god since the option was for 1 through 3.

Also, sometimes the terrain of a location may be important to a god's nature. Because there tends to be so much forest (no races exist to cut it down yet), if the terrain you roll is a forest, you may opt to roll a d6. On a 1-3, treat it as forest. On a 4-6, clear cut it and treat it as plains.

1-3: Establishes a monument/personal place.
Roll a location. The god establishes a personal space at that location due to some sense of fondness for it. The type of location and alignment of the god should help indicate their nature. For example, a neutral god who lands in the forest would indicate a nature god of the woodlands.

4-6: Creates or helps a race.
Roll a location. Depending on the terrain and alignment of the god, the following races are created:

ForestWood ElvesFaeriesGoblins
PlainsMenHigh ElvesHobgoblins

The god is considered the patron of that race. If by some chance the same race is selected again (even if in a different location), the second god becomes a patron of some aspect of the race's civilization.

7-9: Creates a species.
Roll a location. The god creates a notable species of animal, plant or monster in that area. This is similar to creating a monument, only with living things.

10-12: Makes something for another god.
Roll a d10 and consult the list of gods. This god has created an artifact for that god as a gift. The nature of the gift is determined by the god it is being given to, and consequently the nature of the creator (who should probably be known as a god of craftsmen.) If of differing alignments, the story could be interesting like forbidden love or antagonistic, like chains to bind an enemy. Also, it is possible that a blank god will be rolled, so this may need to be determined later.

13-15: Kills another god.
Roll a d10 and select a god. This god kills that god. They do not have to be of different alignments. The situation should determine the god's nature. For example:
Good god kills good or neutral god - This god is a god of war with a tragically fiery temper.
Good god kills evil god - A god of justice and paladins.
Evil god kills evil god - This god is a god of plots and intrigue.
Evil god kills neutral god - A god of defilement.
Evil god kills good god - A god of murder.
Neutral god kills good or evil god - A force of nature who refuses to be trod upon.
Neutral god kills neutral god - A god of madness or chaos.
Roll a location. A one bead-sized are is the resting place of the slain god. Their nature should determine the effect on that location.

16-18: Introduces an aspect to the world.
The god introduces a system of magic or psionics to the world. The alignment of the god taints the magic system.

19: Parent of a new god.
Add another god number. Roll a d10 to determine whom the other was. Roll again for this god.

20: Creates another god.
Add another god number and roll again for this god.

No go over the notes and flesh out the pantheon some with names and any details that may strike you. You may wish to denote one of the gods as the head god or high father. If none seem suitable, create one (or one that had existed once). This process is more about creating inspiration through relationships than anything, so let your imagination lead you where it will.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Host a World - Part 1

I was inspired by Planet Thirteen's How to Host a Dungeon and thought that an world generator along the same lines would be fun. I only finished two "ages", but I still think that the material could be good for quick generation of regions for fantasy games.

Terrain Phase

Take paper and number it 1 through 10 along the long side and 1 through 8 along the shorter. (You can use any other numberings as you feel fit as long as they can both be generated by rolling a single die. When asked to "roll a location", you roll these dice and the coordinates are the location. 

One bead's distance is the equivalent of half a day's travel distance (about 10 miles).

Terrain is generated in this order: Coasts, mountains and hills, bodies of water, forest and plains.

Roll a d8 for each edge of the map. On a 1-2 there is a coast there. Connect the coasts as appropriate. This could result in the land being an island (or continent, depending on your scale).

Mountains and hills
First establish you mountain chain(s).
Roll two locations on the map and draw and mountain chain one bead wide from one end to the other. Surround the mountains with 1 bead's width of hills.

After establishing the chain, you can opt to make the region more mountainous by adding more chains of mountains and hills. Add these chains the following way:
Roll a location and place 1 section of hills there (1 sections is about 4 beads square). Roll a d8 eight times, one for each direction around the hills. If you roll a 1, place another section of hills. If you would be placing more hills on hills, change them to mountains. Do this for each section of hills you create and stop when you get no more ones.

Repeat this until you are satisfied with the amount of hills and mountains. Remember that more may be generated at a later time.

Roll a location and place a bead sized lake. Expand it in a similar method to expanding hills. A lake that is determined to be in a mountain is a mountain spring.
Repeat this until you feel there are enough lakes.

This is where it gets tricky. Rivers flow from a source to a mouth. Sources on the map would be mountains and hills, especially if any mountain springs were created. Mouths are coasts and lakes. Make sure that at least each lake has a river flowing into it. Additionally, if you have open borders you can have a river flow off the map if you feel that direction could use some water. Add rivers from sources to mouths, following paths from higher elevations to lower elevations.

For each river mouth, roll a d6. On a 1 that river mouth is either a swamp or marsh (depending on if there are trees there later on). Draw one bead of swampland around where the river meets the mouth.

Plains and forests
To determine if there are any open plains, look and see if there are any large potions of land (4 sections in size) that don't have any terrain marked on them yet. Fo
r each 4 section parcel, roll a d6. On a 1, mark a section of plains in the middle and expand it like with hills. Do not expand into mountains, but hills are okay.

All other open and hilly areas are considered to be forest, but do not mark it as such - it will be disappearing in the next phase.

Fantastic Features
You may optionally have one or more fantastic features on the map. For each feature roll a location and consult the following chart.

Mountain - Volcano
Hills - Cave Complex
Forest - "Dark" forest
Plains - badlands/desert
Lake - Whirlpool
River - Rapids

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tanien - Part 5


The northlands have become an increasingly dangerous place. As the ice has been receding and the flood season getting worse and worse strange things have been occurring in the lands of the Fairn. A bestial humanoid, either of ape descent or Sidhe devolution, has begun swarming in from the north. These "wirlicks" have little magic affinity for leylines and nodes but seem to possess god-granted power.

Representatives from Irian and the Fairn have requested aid with the wirlick problem. The Senate deliberates and decides to send an investigative team, even though the lands are outside the Republic. The Fairn don't like this - they were hoping for troops. Even worse, the Senate decrees to choose this group by lot using the same process Tanien uses to selecting its rotating police force. Obviously the PCs are selected, are brought before the Senate committee and given their orders. The northern representatives insists that they prove themselves in combat first.

Part 1 - The Wirlicks
A few "town under attack" adventures leads to the main wirlick cave system which was covered in ice as of ten years ago. Exploration hints they have an artificial creator (via their primitive religion) who might be Tyris. Their node, which is the only one they can communicate with, can be destroyed and the wirlicks will lose the ability to reproduce.

Aside from the "killing stuff" aspect is the political issues of dealing with the Fairn. They aren't happy at first, especially if any Koakin are present, but success can help bring them closer to the Republic.

Part 2 - Disease
The party is congratulated and offered more work if they'd like - this time investigating a magical disease in the west. The leylines are being corrupted so as to kill livestock. Initial evidence points towards a group of Arcanists who are seen as a corrupting influence from the Republic. However further investigation shows that the node keepers of the Bulu themselves have been infiltrated by followers of Tyris and Niron. Bringing them to justice is tricky as they PCs are seen as untrustworthy outsiders.

Part 3/ongoing - The Cult
The Tyris and Niron cultists in the Bulu lands indicated a larger presence in Arnit. The PCs can actively investigate this or run into problems with the cult as they return to issue their reports. A disturbing trend in the cultists is their belief that Tyris is going to return in physical form.

Part 4 - The Sky Node
A metallic object falls from the sky in the south and seems to act in the same manner as a regular node. It even has its own god. A cult forms around this sky node and is intent on integrating it into the Grid/leyline system at the new god's behest. None of the other gods want this and the PCs are sent to deal with the problem. Different factions will have different agendas, some which will have more effect depending on whom the PCs follow.

Whatever the powers that be want, the PCs will be faced with a seemingly benign and very odd entity. The Skynode is a communications device from one of the off-planet Sidhe or Koan colonies. When this planet suffered its apocalypses the colonies were cut off in both communication and transportation. The Skynode is their most successful attempt to send a probe after all these years to find out what happened back home.

Part 5 - The Sunken City
A fisherman found a sunken ruin and brought an artifact back to Siba where it was hooked up to a Node. All of the Keepers had visions of a dragon returning and now the entire city is gone mad in preparation for this new apocalypse. Siba is overtaken with fear, race-wars and fanaticism and the PCs are asked to look into the truth of it and investigate the sunken city.

It is a underwater Sidhe laboratory where a single frozen Sidhe researcher has awoken from her slumber. She is shocked at the state of things - people being ruled by gods again and what looks like the frozen dragons beginning to thaw. The device the fisherman found was her way of trying to establish communication and guidance.

Part 6 - A Dragon Rises
Tyris has thawed enough and is awakening. Depending on how the PCs have handled things this can be handled in many different ways. Each dragon sleeps by a node. First the node becomes awakened and the dragon enters the Grid (like Tyris) and gathers power as a god. Then the dragon awakens physically as its spirit returns to it, complete with the added power gained from its time in the Grid.

Straight up, Tyris can be fought but it will cost a lot. There are many more after him though, thousands. The only hope anyone has is to destroy their nodes before they enter the Grid and awaken physically. And they exist all over the world. A sliver of hope for the future, but a grim sliver.

If the gods of the Skynode are heeded, the Grid can be wiped again and the soul-absorbing function turned off. This will prevent the dragons from becoming gods and gaining extra power before returning to their physical bodies. It will also kill all the gods and the souls of those who still exist in the afterlife.

The last of the Sidhe has a last resort from long ago - a biological code that can be sent via the Grid to kill all the dragons. However she isn't sure if this will have an effect on the Koakin - it may kill them or at the least damage or alter them somehow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tanien - Part 4

The Gods

Chikani - The Uniter. An old Shazak goddess that initially brought the two peoples together to survive. She is the official patron of the Republic but has fallen somewhat out of favor in recent years. She still gets a good deal of lip service from officials and is still loved by the commoners.

Arane - Elven goddess of trade and commerce. Ally and close friend to Chikani, her more practical nature has brought her into greater favor with the government and leaders.

Keelan - Troll god of strength and battle. Originally an exclusive god of the Fairn, he has become more popular in Tanien as his priesthood has opened up more due to Arane's influence.

Blaine - The elven giver of knowledge. Having recovered scraps of the Sidhe's data he is a patron of magic and technology. People aren't quite ready to understand that arcane and divine magic are just advanced technology but he is at least trying to get his priesthood to get the concept.

Bwena - Cayma goddess of craft and industry. Originally a Zadele goddess, she has been heartily embraced by the industrious Tanien. She has brought many Cayma north.

Mulai - Shazak goddess of the Zadele. Her main goal is to keep the descendants of the Koan independent. Rumors circulate in the north that she is secretly allied with the Dark One.

Irian - Elven goddess of the Fairn. Believes in isolation and doesn't trust the descendants of the Koan. Tolerates the Republic when Elven factions seem to be in control.

Shegith - Siban Troll god of the afterlife. All of the above gods have entrusted him with sorting out people as they arrive in the Grid. Stern and impartial and often sought out as a mediator between the gods.

Niron - Siban god of sadism. A cayma who enjoys watching others suffer. His following is small and underground.

Tyris - The Dark God, the Dragon. No one knows where he came from but he is a dragon and is very dangerous and powerful. He has made successful raids upon the domains of lesser gods and devoured the souls of their followers. His cult is secretive and somehow evades Shegith upon death. All the gods are aligned against him.
(Just noticed that I had a dragon eating souls in the afterlife a decade before Skyrim. Take that, Bethesda!)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tanien - Part 3


One of the concepts that inspired me for this setting was that a ton of non-breedable races didn't make a whole lot of sense so I cut the "races" down to two main branches with some "others". The number of breedable subraces were originally six - three of each type - but it felt extraneous and I cut it down to two. The Gurrash were large, Troll-like Koan, the Cayma were tiny instead of small, there were no Trolls, and dwarves and gnomes were included on the Sidhe side. I felt that was pushing it a bit, though.

Elves - The elves are the direct descendants of the Sidhe, it is believed. They are shorter and possibly more intuitive than intelligent, but the resemblance is otherwise close. They are a highly adaptable people who are capable of building cities of stone and living as one with nature in the forest. Elves seems to have a natural talent for magic and many can perform simple tricks even without study.

Troll - Trolls are larger than elves or Sidhe, up to seven feet tall, and have horns growing from their foreheads of varying size. Some question if they are descended from the Sidhe at all but the fact that they can breed with elves makes it clear that there is some relation. Aside from being more physically formidable they have a stronger tendency for introspection despite a diminished intellect. The gentle giant is a common stereotype.

Shazaks - Shazaks are lizard-folk of many colors. They stand up to six feet in height and have lizard-like heads and tails. Their skin is scaly with multicolored mottled red tiger stripes, interrupted by blue, yellow, green, orange, brown, black, and white spotting. These colors can be changed at will with the proper amount of practice. Shazaks can be very social and inquisitive, a trait that makes it easier for them to coexist with the descendants of the Sidhe.

Cayma - Smaller than their Shazak cousins, the Cayma stand no larger than four feet tall and tend to be quite thin in their build. Their coloring is not as vibrant either and tends towards browns and dark greens. Incredibly intelligent and industrious, the Cayma always seem to be building something. They are responsible for many of the most impressive works of architecture in the Republic and even the more remote, primitive villages of the Zadele are elaborate works of wood and rope.

Interbreeding - The two strains cannot breed together, but Elves and Trolls can breed as can Shazaks and Cayma. In fact more and more people are simply referring to themselves as simply Sidhekin (shee-kin) or Koakin. The race choices listed here are still the most common, but there is a growing middle. In game terms a -kin character should be allowed to draw upon traits that represent whom they take after more.

Awakened - It has been discovered that animals that spend a good deal of time around a node become more attuned to that node. In some instances where they are born and live out their lives at a node, they develop humanoid-like intelligence. The Awakened are an oddity in cities but out in the wilderness they are more common and often treated with the respect any Sidhekin or Koakin would receive.

The Constructed - Arcanists have long known the secret of creating magical automatons. In recent decades they have taken the next step in conjunction with some less than scrupulous priests and pulled the dead from the Grid and put them in these artificial bodies. The reasons for doing so varies - some are simply experiments, some are attempts to regain lost friends and lovers, some are the results of the original dead person's wishes and sometimes a construct just picks up a soul randomly. Either way they are recognized as having a soul and being worthy of being treated as a living thing though the reasons for their appearance can color people's treatment of them.


I had begun to create a homebrew d20 system for this setting drawing heavily upon Big Eyes Small Mouth d20. I was inspired by the class system from the game Gladius where classes consisted of a pool of powers that could be bought with Character Points. Races were structured similarly. I liked the idea but the balance was way wonky for d20. Turns out that this way of doing things has been handled much better in the Radiance RPG.

Knights of the Tanien
An order of knights dedicated to protecting the Republic. They are oathbound to the Republic. All Republic nodes and temples must respect them and vice versa. Trained in combat and god-given gifts.

Disciples of Keenan
Priest-warriors of Keenan. Many are found in the military acting as healers and leaders.

Node Guardians - "Changers"
Dedicated to keeping the nodes outside of the cities safe. Warriors with a touch of nature magic with a focus on shape changing. Many of the stronger Awakened fill this role.

Disciples of Bwena - "Artificers"
Holy craftsmen and artificers. Aside from being skilled at mundane crafting they gain the ability to empower their creations with magic. They have a more mechanical outlook than Arcanists.

Disciples of Arane - "Beguilers"
Master diplomats gifted with beguiling magics and bit of underhanded training.

Disciples of Chikani - "Peacegivers"
Warriors when they must be, diplomats when they can be and healers when all else fails. The most versatile of the classes are often teamed with the Knights.

Followers of Blaine and masters of sorcery and artifice. Some are more magical while others have more of an artificer's touch. Since Blaine has no formal priesthood the Arcanists are as close as one gets.

The masters of wilderness nodes and harnessing laylines. While priests and disciples keep the nodes and religion in the city, the Keepers protect and revere nature and Gaia.

Disciples of Shegith - "Deathkeepers"
Aside from grave digging duties, they are judges and truth tellers.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tanien - Part 2

The Setting

(The map I had used for this region was actually just a geological map of Louisiana with some dots for settlements and a line for where the glaciers began. The Tanien River is actually the Mississippi. I lost the map some time ago but I did my best to reproduce it here.)

Since the two main breeds of people were so different and had ancestors that were at war with one another there was a great deal of violence early on. Fortunately the most isolationist of the races tended to live in places that the other race avoided. These isolationists (mostly in warm swamps or cold forests) tended to stagnate in growth while those who cooperated began advancing. A few gods had appeared by this time, usually acting as a patron for one budding culture or another.

The bi-racial civilization that built up along the main river developed the fastest. Initially it consisted of a number of city-states until one began influencing the others. There were wars, of course, but eventually a nation was born - a republic at that. Slowly the swamp and forest communities have begun to organize and open up and are considered part of this new nation. There are lands east and west in which trade has been established.

Republic of Tanien - Afro-Athens - The river republic - Irish names (I guess the elves named everything)
Free Zedele Peoples - Free plantations - The southern swamps - Berber names
People of Fairn - Celt/Gauls - The northern forests - Celtic names
The Bulu - Nomadic herders - The western grazelands - Nigerian names
The Illian - Simple fishermen - The eastern shoremen - Irish names...
The City-state of Siba - Phoenicia - The eastern city-state - Phoenician names

The main river is the Tanian.
The big bay is called Crenon Bay

Important Places
Arnit - The capitol of the Republic of Tanien. It is situated along the Tanien River and is near Crenan Bay. Houses the Senate and government buildings. A metropolis of 20,000 people.

Caen - The second largest city in the republic. Sits on the Tanien River and Zirom Bay. They don't have to deal with the Siba to use the ocean but the land is so marshy that the city's prospects are otherwise limited.

Datha - Located at the mouth of the Tanien. A hive of scum and villainy safely tucked away from the capitol. While nominally a part of the republic it is heavily influenced by the Zadele.

Irian - The farthest northern town along the Tanien. Mostly acts as a place to trade with the Fairn.

Artach - The largest settlement of the Fairn and home to their most powerful node. The religious center of the northlands.

Yoba - The main trading hub for the Bulu and their religious center. While not part of the republic many Bulu suspect the town is becoming more heavily influenced by the ways of outsiders.

Siba - An independent city state at the mouth of Crenan Bay. It controls all commerce in and out and rules the oceans.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tanien - Part 1


(Warning! Bad science ahead.)
In ancient times the world was fully peopled by two great races; the Koan and the Sidhe. The Koan were masters of biology and the Sidhe of energy. Their civilization is said to straddle worlds. Having survived the possible ecological destruction of the planet due to unwise use of their technology, they had reached an organic level of science that culminated in the Gaia Project. The Sidhe created a vast network of non-cabled energy that also acted as lines of communication connected by nodes throughout the planet's surface. Using the Koan's direction, this grid became the lifeblood for a living, self renewing planet that "breathed" in the ambient energy of the universe. All living things on the planet were tied into this grid.

Unknown to the Sidhe, the Koan designed the grid so that they could take the energy into themselves, forcibly changing themselves into a race that had no need for tools or science but lived upon raw power - dragons. They took over as seemingly immortal rulers, using the Sidhe and unchanged Koan as slaves. However the Sidhe weren't without resources and used their knowledge of the Gaia Project to have the planet attack itself so as to cause an ice age. The dragons, who needed much warmer temperatures, fell into hibernation and were buried in the ice. The survivors found themselves with a decimated world.

The Koan weren't the only ones seeking immortality via the Gaia Project, though. The Grid also acted as an information and communications medium. The Sidhe had made it such that upon death any sufficiently sentient being would be uploaded for a sort of eternal rest. What was meant to be simple storage eventually changed into an active, virtual afterlife. The conflicts that ended in life began to continue on after death - there was a great deal of damage done to the data stores in this way. Additionally, certain individuals found themselves with administrator type permissions. Effectively they became gods of the afterlife.

These new "gods" could influence the energies of the Grid and found they now had power in the real world. Combined with promises of good treatment in the afterlife these gods began accumulating followers and even religious hierarchies. Most notably a draconic god who had regretted his actions in life and did what he could for the few Koan that survived around the equator. Unfortunately many gods were not so kind and their followers existed primarily to bolster their own power.

There were very few sidhe who remembered the old days, but there were enough. They saw that their decedents were becoming enslaved by the priest-kings and their gods. Whatever hope they might have had for rekindling the flame of the Sidhe would disappear. With the help of sympathetic gods and what knowledge was left in the Grid, the remaining Sidhe engineered a final holocaust - the ice age worsened, civilizations collapsed and the Grid itself was wiped.

The legacy remaining was still substantial, however. The descendants of the Koan (the Shazak and Cayma) and the Sidhe (the Elves and Trolls) were now equal in numbers and forced to coexist in order to survive. The Gaia Project still existed but was now devoid of information. It still acted as an afterlife and gods were still created but with no programmed knowledge of how to use the Grid their power was limited and had to be relearned. With all advanced technology lost this manipulation of the grid by the living and the dead became arcane and divine magics that helped shape society but didn't totally dominate it. In addition, pockets of knowledge are still hidden about and some gods have made use of it. Finally, the ice age is receding and the ruins of the past are being uncovered - as are the sleeping dragons.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Aberrations - Part 3


The Old Faith - Essentially druidic nature worship. They focus on the element of Life. There is no actual hierarchy but followers are welcoming of each other and do what they can to aid in times of trouble.

The Alucain - Users of draconic elemental magic. They also try to act as a "civilizing" influence upon the region. In some places they are welcomed as heroes and sages. In others they are seen as arrogant newcomers.

The Voidtouched - Not an organization per say but the voidtouched often stick together. Sometimes it is in ghettos of large cities and sometimes in wandering caravans. Some suspect them of having a secret network to aid their former masters and that increases the distrust.

The Bardic School - This school was established in Suthgeard in order to uncover and preserve the lost knowledge and civilization of the humanoid peoples. They often acts as a unifying force and are called upon as mediators when the Alucain aren't trusted by one of the parties.

The Beholders

The beholders weren't all killed. Many still lurk in the dark corners of the land. Now that they are toppled from power, they have withdrawn into the factions that more reflect their nature. (FWIW I'm not sure if these groups were my own creation or from the PDF that inspired me. The brief notes make me think the latter.)

The Consuming Eye - The Beholders who simply want to exist for their own comfort now that they no longer have any responsibilities.
The Eternal Vigil - Beholders who are holed up like survivalists and waiting for the final assault to begin.
The Final Forge - Beholders that wish to regain their lost empire.
The First Eye - Acts the their shock troops.
The Flesh Reborn - Beholders who seek to replace Life with Void in the world.
The Dominion of Revelations - The Oracles who wait and watch.

There are also still beholder cults who await their masters' return. They befriend the aberrations that roam the land and seem to have a special touch with them.

The Dragons

The dragons are not idle. They have dominated the lands to the east in various ways, splitting the region up into various draconic holdings. While the metallic rulers are more benevolent than the chromatic tyrants, it is not lost on the humanoid who live there that they have thrown one set of shackles off for another.

In the West, the dragonborn act as the ambassadors for the dragons. While many do no know it, they are there to prepare the west and it more amicable to draconic rule. Once the dragons arrive they may not be pleased with the way they have been used.

Adventures and Conflicts

Adventurers are needed in this world to keep the horrors created by the beholders at bay, at the least. There are many ruins that need to be explored and cleared for rehabilitation (any many treasures left behind by the beholders.) Beyond that there are many conflicts that can be used to create adventure seeds and motion within the world.

The Alucain vs. the Old Faith - While these sides are not in direct conflict there is a good deal of tension. Suthgeard and the Iron Ring doesn't trust the dragons. The Alucain think the Old Faith wasn't strong enough to gain freedom and isn't work preserving.

Persecution of the Voidtouched - The voidtouched are a tricky problem. Those with a more religious bent consider them innately corrupted but more practical minds see they have free will and chose to rebel. It doesn't help that some ARE still in secret service to their old masters.

Beholders in the Shadows - Various groups of the old masters scheme for their return, revenge or just their own inexplicable purposes. They are threat that exists in every shadow, but they also are one than is intelligent enough to be reasoned with.

Encroaching Dragons - The dragons are coming. Some are benevolent, some are tyrants. All of them are coming to establish themselves are rulers. The Alucain seek to prepare the western lands for this in as peaceful a way as possible, but it is likely Suthgeard and the Iron Ring will never be persuaded. Can the humanoid people retain their freedom?

Final Thoughts

In the big picture of games and game world it is somewhat generic but I think this world would make for a nice change-up for regular players of D&D. Additionally it comes with some built-in world events that can be used to create shorter campaigns with definite goals (which is a good thing for some groups).