Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Campaign Sketches: The Inward Ocean (and Linkdump)

Small edit to add in a couple of links here at the top:

Saturday Morning Watchmen (Video) Making the rounds now-- pretty funny.

This guy sums up what I hated about Wanted the comic and the movie.

Ken Hite, one of the finest and most imaginative rpg writers, has an interesting interview with James Maliszewski talking about "Old School" rpgs. It is an interesting look on a niche of the hobby I hadn't considered. I've been playing since '76 or so (I think Cat got her copy of the original DnD Xmas of '75, but I could be wrong).

One Minute Later Comic Covers

Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death live-action web series. Brubaker's a great writer-- and does comics work worth reading. This series features Zoe Bell, the Aussie stuntwoman from Tarrantino's Death Car.

There-- that makes up for my thinner linkdump earlier. Back to work.

Another one of the campaign pieces I wrote-- again, not that great, but interesting.

1. Core Ethos Sentence: The Old World, static and decaying finds itself in a race to claim the new lands and magics of the realms revealed by the lifting of the Grand Veil.

2. Who are the heroes? The nations of the great continent of Daesorach, once thought to be the only land--a great ring bordered on its furthest outreaches by the World Wall and enclosing the World Ocean--approaches a new era. For centuries the center of the Ocean kept all travelers back with reddish haze and strange storms, forcing sea travel to hug the coast. Now the celestial sphere itself has cracked and the Veil is gone. The long stagnant empires of Daesorach look towards new territories, called Amaltirah, the lands of the Veil.

Angsley Knowyes, the Seneschal of Urocyon, knows of the new rush but wonders if it will be enough. In the far corners of his demesne he has heard of vanishings, of places forgotten, and of a strange quiet which has descended: one word, “silence”, but little else. Knowyes fears what the weight of ages may mean. Marabeth Cardinev as well seeks answers, searching for ways to smuggle non-human slaves out of the Sabinic Theocracy to possible freedom in Amaltirah.

On the seas, Daesendis Soulforge strikes against the most powerful ships of the fleets headed for Amaltirah. In a long life dedicated to freedom, the opening of Amaltirah has reawakened his hopes and driven him to the sea in search of justice again. Cleome Amar, scholar and mage, born of human and elder blood, travels to Amaltirah in hopes of finding and preserving new Words of power and perhaps unraveling the secret of the cracking of the celestial sphere.

In Amaltirah itself, Rhaze Ghadravaga the Devil-Wrestler works his way towards the heart of the realm, through the Heroic Kingdom of Sammerus and the Bloodlands of Rendor. The lifting of the Veil has meant other, older dangers have been revealed. At the heart of the land lies the Azure Tower, Veiled even from Amaltirah and said to be the gate of the rebel gods. Acmaris Sunhold is also filled with fear. She has seen the coming battles between Kingdom of Math, the despot lord of Amaltirah and the newcomers. She knows it will be the client states of Math which suffer, unless a leader can be found.

3. What do they do? The agenda of these heroes vary, some opposed to one another in this time of chaos and change. Some seek answers. The new lands promise new Words of magic, perhaps finally allowing them to understand the language of the heavens itself. Others hope to uncover how and why the Veil fell, through this hoping to uncover the meaning of the portent of the crack across the sky. Some seek hope. For races and peoples tyrannized in Daesorach, Amaltirah offers escape. They fight to bring their people here and carve out a new place. Among those of Amaltirah, the changes may mean the end of the rule of the Kingdom of Math. They seek signs that may point the way to that freedom. Some seek power and wealth. In doing so they will be changed by the quest. Pirates, rogues and adventurers may find themselves swept into the pageant and the coming conflict.

4. Threats, Conflicts, Villains: Both Daesorach and Amaltirah possess their share of villains. The greedy and rapacious among the Empires see the new lands as a chance to cast off old bonds. Long crushed together by history and geography, they can finally expand. The Sabinic Theocracy, human purists, blaze this trail, but are only first among many. In Amaltirah, the Lords of the Math, armed with powerful Words and armies, have held dominion over other Kingdoms for generations. The lifting of the Veil represents change, and change is a threat to them. They arm themselves, massing an army created by alchemy and the magic of Words imbedded within steel and stone.

The threats of men are not all that face the world. Daesorach has built its own form of destruction, whispering quietly and gnawing at the edges of its civilization. Built from the scraps of misuttered Words of power and the apathy and decay of the old world, the Silence works to vanish places and people within itself. Now it has enough power to create avatars of itself, faceless silencers who retain a shadow of thought and animation.

But at the center of the world lies the Azure Tower. Those gods which fought against the others at the beginning of the world were imprisoned here in a tower miles high with legs straddling the whirlpool at the center of creation. Some have already escaped, while other direct their power, drawing people here in hopes of releasing them fully.

5. Nature of magic: Magic comes from “Words”. Over time, these Words have been discovered and cataloged. They burn themselves into the mind and only the most powerful can contain many of them. The combination of these Words creates spells. Different nations possess different Words which they husband and teach carefully. Part of the great push to reach Amaltirah is motivated by the hopes of new Words and new combinations of effects. Some believe that these Words make up an original language, perhaps that of the gods. They hope to complete this lexicon and through it understand the universe. Casting magic itself takes a toll on the caster. Words have a weight in the mind and the unprepared can slowly crush themselves with magic.

6. What’s new? What’s different? This setting draws on the conflict, ambiguity and drama of the contact between civilizations. Neither side necessarily possesses moral right or military superiority, portending a drawn out struggle. However, this struggle may serve to aid the forces of liberation and freedom as well. Characters may also find themselves in moral quandaries, questioning the divide between their own heroic agenda and the ways of the natives. Finally, greater conflicts echo these human ones and may in fact use them for their own purposes, giving greater depth to the questions of right and power.

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