Tuesday, June 26, 2018

12 Things About The Green Law of Varkith: Dungeon World

This Sunday I start five-sessions of Dungeon World using Brendan Conway's The Green Law of Varkith. It's one of three "Chaos Worlds" he's written (along with Last Days of Anglekite and The Cold Ruins of Lastlife). I'm also running a one-shot of this for Magpie at GenCon. To help orient myself (and my players) I put together a one-page setting summary for players.

I dig Varkith because I love city adventures and "community building." In Green Law players collectively run a guild in a fantasy city which draws inspiration from Planescape and Perdido Street Station. The PC's guild has stats and can evolve, like the Ark from Mutant: Year Zero and the Crew from Blades in the Dark. There's a distinct guild phase which happens every couple of sessions and can change things. Otherwise the play's more unstructured than Dungeon World or Blades. I'm looking forward to seeing what the PCs come up with. If you'd like the single page pdf, you can find that here

WHAT IS IT? Varkith is a crowded island city state and trade hub lying in the middle of the Bejeweled Sea. It’s the largest, densest, and most varied city in the world.

KEY HISTORY: The Green Law rules Varkith. Once there was an Age of Heroes, powerful, selfish individuals who roamed the world pillaging. Some came to Varkith to raze it to the ground. The Green Lady learned new magics and bound these Heroes to the city, creating the first Eidolons.

RULE OF GUILDS: More importantly the Green Lady crafted the rule that no individual could exist and survive in Varkith. Instead everyone had joined with others in Guilds. To thrive, to even exist in Varkith, one must belong to a guild. Hundreds exist, each with a slightly different mandate. They come in many sizes with the largest holding sway over deep powers and large spaces.

WHAT DO WE DO? Life in Varkith is about creating a Guild and clawing your way up. In play you will define your guild’s stated purpose and reputation. We explore stories related to that purpose in unstructured play. When significant time passes in game, we do a brief Guild Turn. NPC guilds on your radar take actions and then your guild makes make a move. We resolve that and work out changes to your guild’s position & stats, then return to normal play.

WHO IS THERE? Many people exist in Varkith. The rules have ten different ones, each of which may be any class. When you choose a people, you gain all their Custom Moves.

PEOPLES: Orkari: Pig-snouted folk of legendary toughness and influence. D’horvae: Fallen builders cursed with scar-magics. V’ss’liga: Squid & Fish-headed folk with a deep faith. Halarth: Tall, semi-insectoid people tied to a legendary culture. Siccyx: Hairless, white skinned humanoids marked with linguistic symbols. Isqu: Humanoids who fear their now-dead god. Krktri: Intelligent ant colonies with mechanical forms. Fellegrith: Corpses ridden by spirits transformed by their escape from The Black Gate. Ym: Extra-dimensional spirits bound to a crystalline matrix. The Freed Ones: Familiars escaped from wizards’ tyrannical rule

INFOVORE: You can find Infovore Nodes across the city, though only the House of News has reliable knowledge of locations. The Infovore’s a creature spanning the city which takes in and passes on information throughout Varkith. Guilders use this system to get and pass information.

CONTROL: The Green Senate contains the bureaucracy of Varkith. Most people only have access to the Grand Chamber, but the actual masters make decisions in the Small Chamber.

PLACES: Some worship at The Statue of the Green Lady, though she claimed no divinity. Largest bazaar in all of Varkith, The Open Market is a stacked, multi-level center of commerce beyond the control of any one guild. The Dockyards stretch along an entire coast of the island. Here adventures may even find their own ship. Temple Row showcases the competition between faiths, sanctuaries, and divinities—come for the gods, stay for the geas. The downtrodden Krktri have purchased a section of the city, The Hiveruns, and changed the architecture to suit their needs. The Mountain has been swallowed by the city, cut with tunnels leading to a massive prison at its heart, The Tomb. Atop the mountain lies a forbidden cube of power.

HIGH & LOW: Two extremes of Varkith show that the city’s promise of equal opportunity is false. The Heaps are tightly packed buildings, constructed one neighborhood atop the other over generations. Nothing is torn down, it simply serves as foundations. The weakest guilds try to eke out a living from here. On the other hand, The Glitters are marble carved estates and galleries owned by powerful guilds and families of Varkith, most often the Orkari. You’ll find most of the Green Senate lives here.

PEOPLE TO WORRY ABOUT: Rival guilds, of course as well as the Green Senate. But you should also be aware of The Jadethroats, servants of the city who can call upon the powers of the Eidolons to enforce the Green Law. The Lawkeepers, who handle most other justice. The Street Souls magically connect themselves to Varkith and can even reshape it. The Green Monks secretly (and illegally) worship the Green Lady.

FUTURE: Varkith has prospered and grown under these rules, but corruption, stagnation, and forces the Green Lady couldn’t have predicted have begun to threaten the city’s stability.