Friday, August 2, 2013

Setting Thoughts

This is kind of a stream of consciousness type thing for a discussion Jason and I are having. 

Alright, so some setting ideas. Hmm. I'm reading The Black Company right now so I'm in the mood for dark and grim kind of low-ish magic fantasy with minimal fantasy races and stuff involving career soldiers just bloated with black humor and unflappable natures. 

Standard faux medieval sounds good to me as well. Hekinoe's industrialization has me well sated on guns and explosives and whatnot, so I've no strong feelings about tech level. Although, something that might be nice is exploring extinct advanced civilizations. Howard toys with that a little in Conan with Lemuria and Atlantis, but it's more like advanced alloys of metal like orichalum and that sort of thing than lasers and power armor.

In terms of low magic, I'm thinking maybe limiting spells to fifth level, but not making it take twenty levels to get to those spells. Spread out the spell levels, certainly, but also gain more access to larger amounts of lower end spells to compensate. The other thought is to augment full casters by hybridizing them. Give them Rogue or Bard style abilities, i.e. make them sneaky crafty fucks and half charlatans instead of world rearranging demigods wishing their way to superiority. Maybe something like a combination. The Wizard maxes out at 4 spells of each level memorized per day, I think. So take that and spread that out so at 20th level he reaches 4 5th level spells memorized per day, and kind of spread things out that way. Then augment it with kind of charlatan abilities.

An additional thought is to perhaps include the normal full casters, but make their normal abilities and spell levels into prestige classes of some kind that require some sort of outside influence or power source so there is some manner of price to be paid for flinging 10d6 fireballs and raining down meteor swarm. Or perhaps a strong degree of specialization with requirements of entry based on spells known or some such. Something to indicate that these caster are at the pinnacle of power, but their power has cost them something. I dunno. I like crazy awful powerful sorcerers doing crazy awful things in my worlds, but the rub is trying to mesh that with a lowerish magic world. For whatever reason, sanity and corruption aren't appealing to me at this time. Outside of all of this, I would like magic to be poorly understood and mysterious to the common man, and I would like spellcasters and magic loot to be rare. I want a kind of situation where a +1 magic longsword is kind of a big deal instead of the expectation to have by level 2. 

Hmm, the more I write about magic and such, the more I'm finding that the d20 book Iron Heroes might be a good resource for inspiration. Let's face it, "You are not your magic weapon and armor. You are not your spell buffs. You are not how much gold you have, or how many times you've been raised from the dead. When a Big Bad Demon snaps your sword in two, you do not cry because that was your holy avenger. You leap onto its back, climb up to its head, and punch it in the eye, then get a new damn sword off of the next humanoid you headbutt to death." is a badass quote/them for a setting or style of play.

Back to magic and crap. Oh! Interesting thought. So psionics. If psionics were to be included, perhaps add corruption of some sort to that. Psionics is all internal energy manipulated by willpower, perhaps the cost of redirecting your mental/physical energies is corruption of some kind of the physical form. Everything starts running or working out of whack with everything else. Hmm. Actually, I'm not even sure something like psionics appeals to me at this time. Hmm.

Setting concepts, hmm. What would be the driving kind of focus behind the setting? Low magic and race selection and geography are really just window dressing. The iconic themes and driving force are what I'm after here. With Hekinoe, it's the industrialization, grey morality, and wonky magic. What should be the iconic themes/concepts/whatevers of this setting? Aliens that periodically visit and harvest slave labor? Crashed aliens that are highly advanced and wage war from their saucer? Kind of a low tech XCOM campaign? Giant asteroids crashing into the planet periodically and releasing monstrous entities outside time and space? Kind of a low-fantasy Call of Cthulhu or something.  Dinosaurs evolved to rule the planet and mammals are their bitches? Sharks evolved legs and now wage war on land folk using a complex series of tubes for hydration/oxygenation? Some kind of weird godly campaign where every thousand years, the pantheon of gods dies out and mortals contest at a place of power and the winners become the new pantheon or some such? Something dark and post apocalyptic where instead of rad scarred wasteland, the world is a necromancy scarred wasteland ruled by ancient undead and the living hide like rats or live as cattle? That one doesn't precisely go along with low magic, but that can be worked out I think. Something kind of expansionist with a recently discovered frontier now being explored by powerful and well established nations? Kind of something involving exploration and looting of ancient tombs from unknown races/civilizations full of cunning traps and fell sorceries. That is definitely appealing and hearkens back to my original intent for Orcunraytrel.

That stuff is all basically just stream of consciousness setting ideas. Not sure any of it has taken root, but I'm hoping it leads to discussion or mental exploration that leads to something that really buries its fucking hooks in me. 

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