Friday, July 30, 2010

A Revisit

This post is a year and one month old and I wrote it as a way to kind of ask myself questions to get more info about my world...from myself. Anyway, I do love the retcon machete and I thought it would be fun to go through the post question by question and fill in what has changed about my campaign world.

A thousand year war? Seriously?
-Kind of a stretch, I know. But is it really a thousand years or was it just agreed upon that it was a long period of warfare and a lot of records were lost (Kusseth City itself lost three analytical engines and documentation storage facilities). Who says it lasted a thousand years anyways? Kusseth? The New Empire? What about the elves of Volungsheim? They are immortal after all.

Machete Use: Minimal, there are no elves in my world now that I've stepped away from the whole "fantasy must have elfiness" mindset, it is also called Volungshemle now.

Are there dragons in the world?
-Yes. They are neither metallic nor chromatic or crystalline. This goofy ass color related shit DnD has pulled is weird and has always bugged me. My dragons are much like komodo dragons, just bigger and more dragon-like. Their "fire" breath is actually a pair of venoms that when combined in oxygen begin to burn. Its kind of swirling around in the back of my brain, but I'm picturing a Council of Wyrms-esque setting (Which only means something if you know your AD&D settings.) on a continent to the south of The Known World. Maybe.

Machete Use: Minimal, probably won't do a southern land ruled by dragons, but a primordial one full of dinosaur type creatures would be a fun exploration experience for the group. The countries of The Known World are looking to expand.

If the continent the Empire of Kaleshmar was built on exploded in the unnamed magical catastrophe, why is the Old Empire about three feet off the shore of The Known World?
-Kaleshmar was big, Pangaea big, likely bigger. Every continent (including The Known World) in the hemisphere was a piece of Kaleshmar. If you go a couple of inches beyond the paper borders of my drawn map you find other continents. One is a barren island composed of the remnants of the huge crystalline towers the Kaleshmarians dwelled in. Might be fun to explore that one.

Machete Use: Borderline nothing. The Island of Crystalline Towers is where Walthuler went. Kaleshmar was a flying island now though, so The Known World was kind of under it I guess, rather than being a piece of it. I wonder what lived on it before Kaleshmar burned the sky and crashed into the seas.

How advanced are the Abraxen Orcs?
-Early 1900s era technology.

Machete Use: These words remain true, except the orc part. They're just called Greyskin Abraxens now.

Why is Kusseth so lawless?
-Everything in Kusseth is taxed, including corruption and breaking the law. Fines are the most common form of punishment in Kusseth with only a rare few crimes are punishable by death (mainly those involve pissing off wardens). It is more productive to use a warden to extort a crime lord and take a percentage of the warden's take than it is to shut the crime lord down outright. If the people of Kusseth really truly wanted law and order, they'd murder the crime lords and bards and petty criminals themselves and save the officials the red tape of documenting and tracking all the bribes and kickbacks and fines. Kusseth bleeds every mark it can from its people, and this allows the nation to be the powerhouse of the Known World, rivaled only by the Fallen Empire, and New Empire.

Machete Use: Not at all.

What about the Dwarves and the Children of Volung, aren't they pretty tough?
-Dwarves are completely non-aggressive, mostly they just respond to attacks on them. Even then, the attacks on them are pretty fruitless. They outnumber every other nation in the Known World, but their cities are so deep they really don't need to bother with the above ground world. The Children of Volung are the least populous race (excluding the Fallen) in The Known World, without support from the Dwarves they would quickly fall to the superior numbers of the surrounding countries, but only in a full scale war situation. The warriors of Volungsheim are quite literally the most competent and deadly (excluding Cenn the Reaver) found in The Known World and only when outnumbered could they be conquered.

Machete Use: Quite a bit, dwarves are called Dwenoren now and are a lot different from typical fantasy dwarves. Also, reavers are the deadliest warriors in The Known World, but a lot of them are Children of Volung, so it kind of evens out.

What caused the long ass war?
-A rogue faction of the empire of Kaleshmar that did not become the Eldumans living in the Old Empire.

Macehte Use: Fuck if I know. What started off the war has become as much a mystery to me as it has to the people that dwell in The Known World. In the original incarnation this campaign world, it was Gorvixes. Anyone remember fucking Gorvixes?

-Kaleshmar was big and had lots of wicked powerful sorcerer types living in it. Plus they had colonized the whole world by the time their empire shattered. They didn't all land on the little rock that became the Old Empire, nor did all the tribes of that empire experience their own little dark age. The world is scattered with uprooted Kaleshmarians and their various plots and empires. It was a big empire and lots of people means lots of schisms among the population.

Machete Use: Heavily and violently. This bit is now non-canon. Heh. I should get a rubber stamp of that made too. I think I'd hit Eric in the face with it.

How and why?
-They wanted to destabilize The Known World and prevent the Eldumans of the Old Empire from having a support base should this rogue faction find itself needing to fight them.

Machete Use: Your guess is as good as mine.

How do Cromm Cruach and the Fey relate to Kaleshmar?
-They don't. The empire of Cromm Cruach and the Grey Wastes rose up after Kaleshmar was destroyed.

Machete Use: Pretty significant, his name is Keroen Skathos now and the Fey are called the Nel.

Ok, what about Balor and the Firbolgs and Fomorians, they predate Cromm and the Fey don't they?
-No, they don't.

Machete Use: Pretty significant. His name is Braldenon now, and they are called the mountain-kin and primordials of the Feronel now.

But Cromm discovered them and they were full-fledged civilizations that were locked in a war with each other.
-Not a question, but I'll explain. The Grey Wastes and the Fomorians and Firbolgs and Balor himself are/were figments of Cromm's imagination. Just like Herne was a figment of Mab's imagination. The Glamour of Rulers, and Cromm Cruach especially, is godawful powerful and Glamour turns the will of its wielder into reality.

Machete Use: Major. I've changed a lot of names, heh, you should read my story. Glamour is called Gifts now, and Herne is Herowen and Mab is Merobel. The early Nel aren't figments of Keroen Skathos' imagination anymore, he fed his power (his Gifts) into some strange misty phantoms and they gained corporeal form and became the Feronel races.

What are the sea-folk exactly?
-A tribe of Kaleshmarians that live in massive underwater cities. They did experience their own dark age when their magic failed and most of them died.

Machete Use: One word, magic should be technology.

How far out are you man?
-I'm pretty far out man.

Machete Use: Still hella true, and now I am listening to Bowie's In Space

Why is magic screwy in this world?
-It isn't screwy on the world, just on the continent called The Known World. This is because there are certain objects that regulate the ebb and flow of the cosmic energies that power creation. These objects are scattered across the world and one in particular lies somewhere in the Known World and it is malfunctioning. It is not the only one.

Machete Use: None.

Why call the continent The Known World if you admit that it is not the only continent on the Known World?
-Because the people dwelling there (aside from the Abraxens and Eldumans) are as self-centered and self-involved and pompous as early human civilizations were. Most think that they are the center of the universe, so that arrogance would of course lead to stupid shit like calling a relatively tiny chunk of land The Known World. The pirates of Haven have another name for The Known World.

Machete Use: None.

What is it?
-The Ass End of the Southern Seas.

Machete Use: None.

Why are Abraxens so savy with technology?
-They were enslaved long ago in their desert homeland by an invading force of Kaleshmarians. At this time they were primitive and didn't know shit (much like the orcish cliche' found in the Monster Manuals of the past). The Kaleshmarians were utterly corrupt and lazy and totally hedonistic. They did not care about their slaves, but they expected them to be competent, so Abraxen society and culture was eroded and replaced by Kaleshmar learning, except that the orcs had no talent for sorcery. They still made good slaves though. Now they were smart and they realized they were outgunned, so they used their newfound learning to fashion devices to mimic the powers of their enslavers. Then they gutted those sons of bitches.

Machete Use: Orcs are Greyskin Abraxens.

Why is every race so long-lived and/or immortal in your campaign?
-Hard to say. There is logic behind it though. The Fallen are immortal because the Bleak Tyrant won't let them die. The Children of Volung are immortal because Volung is a Ljosalf (sp?) and they ate other Ljosalves who ate Jotuns, who ate the fuck out of the gods of the north (who were actually a faction of Kaleshmarians that managed to survive the destruction of their empire with most of their arcane gadgetry, but not the magic that made it, intact.), that power is quite thin after all these years so the Children of Volung can't do the awesome shit he can, but it can still sustain their lives. Eldumans are immortal because their bodies are crafted from living crystal and their mental prowess fuels them. The Vyanth elves are immortal because their master the...D'ayO'hE'en (I have it written down somewhere but that is the gist of the name) infuses them with life and vitality. The Sereth are long-lived but not immortal because their creator the Fair One and his power are no longer living among them, eventually they won't live much longer than a normal human. Unless the Fair One is found.

Machete Use: Mostly true, but a lot of the names are different now because The North is no longer my Norse Story.

Why are the Children of Volung so bat shit crazy and violent?
-The Hunger, as detailed by Maggot in my Norse Story. They just don't know it though.

Machete Use: Still technically true I guess. I've toned down their insane violence though.

Why no gods?
-Because I don't like the idea of being totally subservient to some creature that can't understand the daily trials and tribulations of life. Plus, it means your character is a totally useless individual that is only competent because he has a divine creature paying attention to him once in a while. Seriously, what does a Cleric have without divine power backing him? A high Religion check, scale mail, and some weapon proficiencies. Maybe a flashy holy symbol he can sell for a few gold as well.

Machete Use: At this point, we're playing the potato poe-tah-toe game. The Bleak Tyrant isn't a god, but he can grant more power to his followers, tear down cities and buildings with his power, and reshape his country into a more pleasing environment. He can do big deal shit, and some people might worship him because of it. He isn't a creator of the universe, but he is definitely more than a dude with some magic.

Why put in stuff to take the place of gods for divine characters then?
-Because it isn't fair to just say "Nope, can't do it. Be a Bard if you want to be a leader role." I also think my definition of extremely potent individuals like the Bleak Tyrant and Cenn the Reaver granting others pieces of their power is a decent analog.

Machete Use: Fuck divine classes, there are twenty-six classes in 4th Edition now, five of them are from the Divine power source. I wouldn't let anyone play them now even if they wanted to.

How are they different from gods then? (Thanks for this one Eric)
-A god exists on an alternate plane and has armies of angels and archons and shit to serve its whims and put the hurt down on those that piss it off. The "gods" in my world have homes and kingdoms they and their followers must defend and if they want to hurt someone they need to do it themselves. My "gods" can have their heads hacked off, it wouldn't be easy, but it can be done and it would be final and would allow their killer(s) to absorb its power if they so desired. Gods automatically grant you power for your prayers, regardless of what you are doing at the time. The "gods" in my campaign turn off your juice if you go against their will. Maybe its not quite as different as I would have liked, mechanically speaking in game terms, but when/if I write about it, it will be different.

Machete Use: That still would work, if I allowed divine classes anymore.

This is Bowie to Bowie, do you hear me out there man?
-This is Bowie back to Bowie, I read you loud and clear man.

Machete Use: Ooo yeah man.

How can Traith survive having a boiler and turbine assembly installed in his chest cavity?
-He's not fully human, and by the time the boiler and turbine get put in, he's mostly running on electricity anyways. I don't have hard science for it, because it likely doesn't exist, but the turbine juices up his spine and brain, the brain directs it like it would any electrical impulse and that is how Traith continues to exist. If I can't figure out a way to eliminate the need, I have Doc supplying him with IV foodstuff to combat the fact that his stomach is gone.

Machete Use: I haven't written about Traith in a long ass time. Bums me out sometimes.

The Fallen have the Bleak Tyrant, the Children of Volung have Volung, etc, etc. Who or what do the people of Kusseth and the Dwarves have?
-The Dwarves have Maggot. The people of Kusseth have Law or Chaos.

Machete Use: Nope. No divine classes.

How can Law or Chaos grant power?
-The same way sorcerers and wizards can use "magic" and the Eldumans can use psionics.

Machete Use: Sometimes I say nonsensical goofy things.

So its all the same thing, magic and psionics?
-It is and it isn't. Consensus reality, to a certain extent. Magic is magic, but it is no different than the power divine characters receive from their patron, or psionicists use. Its is all energy redirected by the will of those that use it. The wielders just perceive it differently and their perceptions dictate its nature, thus psionic powers are stable and magic is not. If a warden who is a Paladin believes in Law and Order and that he serves those forces, he will be granted power. Just as with the other patrons, requests for aid and power will be denied if he works against the cause of Law.

Machete Use: Moderate. It is true that all the crazy super powers in my game stem from the same cosmic energy, and they are altered by the perceptions and beliefs of the wielders, there are no divine characters in my campaign anymore.

So where does "magic" come from?
-Those objects that regulate the ebb and flow of cosmic energies are called Cosmic Engines and they help refine and channel the animating forces of the universe. Some were built to allow living creatures access to those forces.

Machete Use: Still true.

Who built the engines?
-The Eldarine.

Machete Use: Yup.

Who are the Eldarine?
-The Conteog, Saevoi, Lacerat, and Everseon. I suppose the Vacusu are Eldarine as well, but they are trying to eat the universe whereas the others are trying to preserve it. They built the Cosmic Engines so that they could wield the energies of creation to fight the Vacusu. They could already wield the energies of creation, because they were part of the birth of the universe, but the Engines allowed them to fine tune their powers and provide more juice for them.

Machete Use: Entirely accurate.

Why so many different afterlives for the Fey?
-Because they are immortal energy vampires. Energy/matter cannot be destroyed, only transformed.

Machete Use: Spoiler alert!

What are their afterlives exactly?
-Fading is when they allow themselves to dissipate into nothingness, they haven't the will left to keep themselves solid (though they don't really understand that that is what happens). Oblivion is when a Ruler or some similarly strong force unmakes them and reabsorbs their essence, this is about as close to utter and complete death that they can get, although technically they still exist. Death's Halls are where they go to basically sleep for eternity kind of endlessly reliving their lives. Rebirth as one of the Sluagh is when their bodies still exists but their brains get hollowed out and emptied of all their memories, since they must die to become Sluagh their bodies are usually in pretty rough shape.

Machete Use: A bit. Some of the names are different now and I've restructured the deaths a Nel can suffer.

Bloody Head/Cromm Cruach, how does that work exactly? Does he have multiple personality disorder?
-No. Cromm is a complex individual. He loves violence and mayhem and slaughter, but he also has something resembling a code of honor and conduct. There are certain things he will not do and certain non-murderous things he enjoys. There is something of the scholar in him in that he enjoys the knowing of things and educating others. He is basically a scholar and a warrior, but he finds his natures at odds with each other. For a Fey to deny his nature is the path to Fading. If they have an identity crisis and are confused about who and what they are, they can lose touch with themselves and Fade. For Cromm to exist the aspects of his personality must be forced into extremes. Bloody Head became insanely violent and hungry for blood while Cromm ended up a pacifist.

Machete Use: Still mostly true, but I do get a bit more in depth on the whole Keroen/Bloody Head relationship in the newest version of the story.

Ok. What caused the initial rift?
-Danu and her talk of honor. When she came on the scene she filled Cromm's head with the notion that mindless slaying was unwise, even if there wasn't any true malice in it and the Tuatha De' Danann didn't truly die (they became Sluagh). Cromm trusted her and paid attention to her as he did any warrior sworn to his service, but he still love the slaughter, just as his people did. This put his thoughts at odds with his impulses. Driving a wedge between his personalities and dividing his nature, which led to him beginning to Fade and the creation of the Bloody Head personality.

Machete Use: True.

Why is Oberon such an asshat?
-Because that is his nature, to be self-centered and narcissistic. That is why he is a giant beacon of Glamour that can challenge the might of the Sluagh. He is a thoughtless creature of almost pure impulse and that is why he is so powerful.

Machete Use: Names are all different, but still essentially true.

D20 Shadow Chasers became this world of Kaleshmarians and Fey and shit, how did that happen?
-The final scenarios of Shadow Chaser would have resulted in the breaking of one of the aforementioned Cosmic Engines, by way of nearly killing one of its caretakers (the skull of brass and bronze was his skull in fact). This coupled with celestial events occurring above the planet totally altered the lines of power blanketing the planet and the empire of Kaleshmar. This caused all their carefully managed energies and various magical powers to go haywire very briefly and send their empire into utter chaos and mayhem.

Machete Use: True enough, though there have been some minor tweaks to the story, which is all detailed in the Kaleshmar 101 post. Kalesmar was not magic, though this is what the races of The Known World think of it.

Celestial events?
-The Elder War ended and the creation that the Eldarine had used to end it had to be dismantled, but it was too powerful and instead they had to wipe its mind of knowledge. If it was allowed to survive the war intact it posed too great a threat to the universe should something go awry with its internal workings. They could not kill it so they erased its knowledge and personality and cast it down to be imprisoned on the planet below them in hopes that it would find something resembling peace and happiness. They loved it and respected it and owed their lives to it, but they could not allow it to jeopardize the life of the universe.

Machete Use: Still all true.

What was the creation?
-A remnant of a previous universe. Kind of like Marvel's Galactus, I think.

Machete Use: Still basically true.

-This universe was not the first one, nor would it likely be the last. The thing the Eldarine used to end their war was an artifact left over from a previous existence. They don't know much more about it other than the fact that it predates the Saevoi and the cosmic seas of chaos that birthed them. They also discovered that is has some similarities to their Cosmic Engines.

Machete Use: True.

So what exactly did they do to it that makes it their creation?
-They sort of went Six Million Dollar Man on it. It resembled their Cosmic Engines enough that they were able to remake it better, faster, and stronger so it became sort of an uber-Cosmic Engine.

Machete Use: True.

What else?
-They gave it weapons that further empowered it.

Machete Use: True.

Sounds pretty powerful.
-Yes, stars and even whole solar systems lived and died at its command. It could remake reality within certain parameters, but that is what it took to beat back the ever hungry Vacusu.

Machete Use:

Why are all the names in your world taken from Earth myth?
-Earth and this world are separate realities, but some things are what they are regardless of your reality. Iron is iron in both worlds, and water is water. In Earth's reality science and technology are ascendant, in my world myth and magic are ascendant. So, Thor was a real dude with fancy gadgets here, not a myth. If someone starts talking about electricity or some obscure scientific discipline in my world they would take about it with the same manner of awe and disbelief that someone in our reality would talk about magic or monsters.

Machete Use: Gone the way of the dodo.

Are you saying your world is an alternate reality and has an alternate Earth, Jupiter, Venus, etc?
-I am in fact saying that.

Machete Use: Probably not an alternate reality anymore, more like a far distant part of the same universe. I figure the universe is big enough to accommodate a bunch of goofy shit.

Does that really affect anything though?
-Not especially.

Machete Use: Still basically true.

What's the deal with the big animals in the Beast Lands?
-They are big. One of those things that regulates the flow of cosmic energies and whatnot lies in the Beast Lands and over the millenia it has affected the nature of the creatures dwelling in close proximity to it.

Machete Use: Still true.

Anything else?

Machete Use: Still true.

That was fun. It is kind of neat to see how my campaign world has evolved and changed over the past year. It feels like the thing is becoming mine, rather than my world seen through a lens of DnD rules. I like it, it feels like I'm making something tangible and "real" to spend my gaming time in. Heh. I think the world is robust enough that I can focus less on world building now and more on history and current events and hopefully players new and old have enough info at their fingertips that they can find their own stories in it. A secret dream of mine is that one of my friends would run a campaign in my world, and then I could have a character galavanting around in it too.

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