Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Campaign Sketches: Rising Wave

A few years ago WoTC had their campaign creation contest-- essentially to propose a new setting. The eventual winner would be Eberron. I sent in a few entries-- some stronger than others. I fared better in the FR novel contest where I had a callback that I didn't make muster on. Anyway, here's one of the campaign setting summaries I submitted... not my favorite but there's some interesting stuff there. I think if I had to do these again, I'd probably approach them in another way. I also suspect that, at least this one, echo a little too much like Dark Sun maybe. A little embarrassed to put this out there, but why not?

1. Core Ethos Sentence: Heroes struggle for survival and sanctuary in a world twisted by the wars of the Sorcerer Kings, masters of the elder magics.

2. Who are the heroes? One purpose governs the heroes of this world--the undoing of the Sorcerer Kings. Once these Kings were rebels against the tyranny of the Adversaries, but in their undoing came corruption.
Camda of the Ivy, one of the few to have escaped from the Sorcerer Kings with some knowledge of their powers. She attempts to bring together others with magical ability in the hopes of finding a way to join their powers against the tyranny. However, the task of bringing together the talented and the tempted may be more than she can manage.

Draeus, with thinned blood of the divine running through him, he serves and channels the power of a god long ago destroyed by the mages. He searches for a way to resurrect the gods themselves or perhaps to even find new gods. It is said that the Adversaries bound the Powers to their will: Fate, Destiny, Decay and the others; the Sorcerer Kings lack that complete mastery. This may be the age in which Draeus’ goal can be realized.

Arcalathe Gray, has been blessed and cursed with the leaking powers of Chance. Can he help crack the barriers that protect the Sorcerer Kings? Nabus the Builder, once a Sorcerer King and servant to the Adversaries--what will his departure from the war mean for himself and others? Ablis Herkacon, bearer of the Persona blade, a weapon designed to grow into and augment the powers of the bearer. He works to find places and paths forgotten where his people might be safe and protected.

3. What do they do? History comes in waves, rising and falling. In the beginning the gods ruled the land, but then they gave over stewardship to the many races. Then came the Adversaries, from outside the world, bringing with them magics that burnt reality itself, killed the gods, filled the people with dread and poisoned the land. In turn their servants and students, the Sorcerer Kings, gathered together to destroy them. Now, heroes hope that a new wave has come for their own freedom.

With each wave, heroes have come forward and old magics have arisen. Today many search the land for artifacts and items of power that may aid them; such items are typical heralds of the changing of the waves. They seek other power as well, searching for ways to combine their strengths against the tyrants. Some risk all to gather knowledge from the Sorcerers themselves. Perhaps the greatest numbers simply try to survive. They hope to escape from a world governed by arcane whims. Some seek borderlands and lost places where they might hide away.

4. Threats, Conflicts, Villains: The Sorcerer Kings possess no single villainy, but instead represent an array of methods and motivations. Some, like Bashra the Summoner, saw all of their fellows destroyed by the Adversaries during the rebellion, driving them mad. Others, like Zaccheas Irecouncil, feared their brother Kings from the start, seeing in them the next logical threat. Still others, like Jarret the Scream, simply wish to master and perfect their arts, regardless of the cost. The games and struggles of these powerful magi and their servants trample the land and its people underfoot.

The magic of the Sorcerer Kings has torn and burnt the landscape itself. Many places have been rendered uninhabitable by duels between the mighty. Others have been poisoned slowly by more subtle magics, until the land and people were transformed. Travelers can distinguish only with great difficulty between those who dwell here and the Created races of the Kings. These places of transformations may be sources of great power or damnation.

All fear, but not all hate the Sorcerer Kings. Some reward their puppets well, and these present a significant threat. It is through such pawns that the Kings carry out a subtle war of intrigue and assassination. These city states of alliance make up the few urban centers of the land. Dangerous, filled with conspirators and informants, they yet represent the safest place for many due to the anonymity afforded by the larger population.

The Sorcerer Kings hate each other, but many fear rebellion also. It remains one of the greatest dangers for those who fight against them: action against one may draw the wrath of others.

5. Nature of magic: The Sorcerer Kings possess High or Elder magic. The Adversaries could change the world itself, manipulating the illusion at the basis of existence. Sorcerer Kings possess only a fraction of that art, but can still perform great acts. This magic, however, comes from outside the world and contaminates and destroys nature itself in subtle and not so subtle ways.

The old magics include the Low magic of the old world, weak but not destructive. Some hope these powers can be augmented by ritual or group magic. They point to the weapons of power from the past waves and records of other great magic. Another hope lies in divine magic, coming through the bloodlines of the priests. They carry within themselves some of the lost power of the dead gods. As well, the Powers, aspects of nature itself, were personified by the Adversaries to serve them. Today, some casters have become linked to those founts of power, but may not understand fully the reasons.

6. What’s new? What’s different? This setting built upon a massive challenge. The impetus of history pushes heroes forward to fight against tyranny, but the odds appear overwhelming. Simple existence is itself a challenge for everyone, perhaps even more so for those who might draw attention to themselves. The games of the Kings present a dangerous and horrific backdrop to the potential for great heroism…true heroism in the face of potential defeat.