First off, if you’re playing in my Fell Met Sea game please don’t read this yet. It’s 100% full of spoilers for my current thoughts on setting background that you haven’t learned yet. If you’re not playing Fell Met Sea, I’ve put together some ideas about how the previous civilization(s) that preceded my PCs’ present world fell apart. Check out the consequences of sacrificial blood magic!Continue reading
I’m putting together a game for teens stuck in social distancing mode due to Covid-19, to be played over Discord. I’m using Exemplars & Eidolons, which I mentioned here. This is all being run through the auspices of the LARP camp where I work. I created this setting years ago, and have expanded it through several games since; for the quick and dirty version, think Romance of the Three Kingdoms meets Avatar: TLA, with a soundtrack by Lustmord and Dead Can Dance.
The Thousand Year Empress disappeared 20 years ago. No matter what else they disagree on, everyone can agree on that. Some say she was murdered, others that she died of disease or old age, and yet others claim that she ascended into the Celestial Firmament and left the mortal realm to its suffering.
Another thing all agree on: the Empire has suffered ever since.
Without the Empress’ guidance, her vast Empire has descended into chaos. Provinces take up arms against each other, proclaiming themselves Protectors of the Empire or rightful people’s rebellions. Several provinces claim to have the Empress’ true heir to guide them: sometimes one of her children or more distant descendants, sometimes claiming to have the reborn Empress herself.
Drought, flood, and famine scour the lands. Bandit armies rise and maraud. Some provinces fall to plague. There are rumors of disappearances, of demons, and of other worse things. And it is known that in some places the dead themselves rise and set themselves against the living. Some even say that the dead walk at the behest of the Empress, whose talking corpse leads them to retake her domain from beyond the grave.
The Empire as it was is gone.
But it need not be so forever; there are still pockets of stability, and many struggle to protect the land and each other. Many members of the Empress’ ancient knightly orders—both honorable and disgraced—and many of her ministers still strive to prevent bloodshed, to restore peace, and to build upon what they saved from that which came before. Here and there provinces band together in amity, supporting each other against the dangers of the world. It is a dangerous time, but it is a time when a dedicated few may make a difference.
What will YOU do?
Today’s post is brought to you by the caffeinated musings which have distracted me from my homework and encouraged me to write world background material instead.
The setting of For The King! is largely lacking playable non-humans at the moment. There are a few dwarves or elves who might be somewhere in the realm of Duval, and there are some gnomes and halflings and others scattered around, but most people, in most places, are human. The orcs and half-orcs mostly live to the northwest of the kingdom, generally part of the large nomadic tribes which roam through those sections of the Trade Lands. Heck there are centaurs too, but they generally stick to the lands northeast of the kingdom of Duval, and don’t have much direct contact except with traders who venture out onto the northern plains.
And yet there are remnants of dwarven architecture throughout the center of the kingdom of Duval, and historical records definitely suggest that they used to live in the area. So… where have all the dwarves gone?
Once again, I find myself investigating the cosmological background of the setting I’ve most recently created. I was reading through the Dungeon Master’s Guide again, reading the section on planes near the beginning, and I’m in that usual place: somewhere between excited and miffed. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to change the things that haven’t excited me.
I’m comfortable, for the most part, with the material the DMG offers on things like the Astral and Ethereal planes. I’m more okay with the DMG’s ideas for the Shadowfell, the Feywild, and the various elemental planes. I’m not very happy about their ideas for the Outer Planes. I have some rewriting to do; let me tell you why.
Hell, courtesy of Dante.
Last time I kept mentioning someone that I decided to call the Most Powerful Devil (MPD), without ever going any further into who or what that was. But I’ve come up with more background for them since then, and in so doing I’ve also come up with more details for the game-world as a whole.
So, today I have a stupidly simple calendar (though I haven’t yet bothered to give the months names), I have a better idea of what the afterlife looks like (I’ve totally tossed out the basic alignment-based fare in favor of something a bit more complex), and I have a name and backstory for the Most Powerful Devil. I think you’ll like this stuff. Continue reading
Back in November I wrote about a new RPG campaign that I had cooked up, a game that I’ll refer to as For The King! for lack of a better name. If you are currently playing in or are going to play in my 5th edition D&D campaign, you might want to be careful with reading this post. If not, feel free to read this early-concept campaign overview. I’ll avoid saying things here that could be too spoiler-y, but I plan to explore the nature of magic, demons, devils, and other such inimical forces. Your character might or might not have access to this information.
Based on the first few sessions that I ran for my brothers, I already know that the setting allows for angels and fallen angels, though the latter are more like Remnants from In Nomine, powerful supernatural beings from other planes who have had some part of their greater nature stripped from them by intent or by accident.
Angels and their derivatives are all essentially moderately self-willed fragments of the god they serve, and might be thought of as something like having a god let its fingernail clippings (or maybe severed finger?) go off and do its bidding in the world. A bit like some kind of overpowered intelligent celestial dandruff, I suppose. But I don’t know off the top of my head how to make demons and devils work, and I don’t just want to sign on to the metaphysics presented in the 5th ed. Monster Manual without some editorial input. I’d much rather doodle in the margins and make their setting fluff more thoroughly my own. So read on for sweet lore! Continue reading
Monday’s post gave a taste of the game that I’m preparing, but didn’t go into any details about what would follow. That was intentional. If there’s any chance that I’ll run this game for you, I strongly suggest that you don’t read what comes after the break. If you want to see some of what I’ve come up with, and maybe a bit of how I came up with it, read on.
This post is only going to include non-spoiler material, appropriate for the opening of the game.
You (the players) are the King’s officials, expected to enforce his decisions, act in his interest, and carry out his wishes in the wider Kingdom. Mostly drawn from the wealthy and noble classes, the King’s officers are expected to outfit themselves out of their own pocket and see to their own expenses. There are always a few exceptions to the norm of “wealth and privilege,” since an individual’s skills and qualifications for this particular job are far more important than their bloodline, but exceptions are likely to have an interesting story for how they became one of the King’s officers without the usual entrée. In many ways, you might think of the King’s officers as Musketeers with a little less in the way of Alexandre Dumas.
The game is set in the Kingdom of Duval, and begins with the players being sent from the capitol city of Duval to the backwater county of Mont Mondal. Count Xavier of Mont Mondal was recently imprisoned for treason against the throne, when he broke his oath of fealty. He was executed along with many of his closest companions, and the executions have created quite a disturbance at court. One of his companions, the wizard Castanedra, fled back to Mont Mondal on the same night that Xavier was taken prisoner: you and your compatriots have been tasked with capturing her and returning with her in your custody. You have also been instructed to raise the county’s levies and send them to the capitol, to join with King Mander’s other forces already mustering for war against the Kingdom of Meius to the east.
While thoughts of war on the nearby eastern border weigh heavy in everyone’s mind, how are you and your companions going to run this powerful wizard to ground and bring her back to Duval?
Other things that people from the Kingdom of Duval would know:
-Meius and Duval share a border that runs through an agriculturally rich valley. North and south of the valley the terrain becomes increasingly hilly and mountainous, leaving only one clear passage between the two kingdoms. While the kingdoms have a long history of trade with each other they’ve recently suffered through a series of trade disputes and feuds, and there are now frequent border raids which have further angered each side.
-Count Xavier (that’s pronounced “Sh-avier,” more or less) had a meteoric rise to match his catastrophic fall. He was ennobled and granted County Mont Mondal a little more than ten years ago, and he and his companions were widely recognized as having done a great deal to make Mont Mondal actually livable for Duvalians. Xavier and his companions drove out a large clutch of magical aberrations which had claimed the land as their own, and then kept the local bandits in check. While his breaking of his vow of fealty clearly put him in the wrong, some people have even gone so far as to say that they wish the king hadn’t had Xavier and his companions executed for their treason. Not that they’re likely to have said as much to the king. The king, after all, is known to have a bit of a temper.
-The city of Duval is slowly being surrounded by the many thousands of soldiers who have answered their liege-lords’ calls. The various levies have been joined by a few mercenary companies looking for work, and their spirits are high as they prepare to fight against Meius. The king’s armies only wait for a few more levies (like those of Mont Mondal) to join them before marching against Meius in the east.