Monday, May 13, 2013, 11:16 PM
As we know, the community suffered a great loss very recently due to the passing of Wrecan. It's no doubt that he was what everyone in the community should aspire to be: confident, helpful, kind, responsible, and perhaps even powerful. Now, I'll admit, I've only had a handful encounters with him... whether that be witty banter, firing feedback for D&D Next back and forth, or chatting about whatever. And each time, Wrecan was always the best person to chat with.
In fact, his work inspired me to do something in the community; whether that be continuing with playtesting (and providing feedback, with or without the Knights of WTF) or developing my own campaign setting (which I hope to get out into the world some day). When my notes and concepts were for my setting were published in Wrecan's Heroes of Blogging, that only pushed me more to continue to be innovation and create more. It's been a good month since I've had time to craft things up, as life gets in the way, and now I hear that we lost Wrecan all of a sudden. Of course, I'm still in a bit of shot, a bit confused, and very much saddened. Sure, I never met him in real life, but the fact that a random person on the web who has done so much for the D&D community helped not just me to find the strength to finally tackle a pet project I've wanted to do for ages, but the community as a whole.
So with that, thank you very much, Wrecan.
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Monday, April 8, 2013, 9:46 PM
Another take I want to go with Arothe is that the hub world isn't quite a hub world, it's a cluster of packed planes and dimensions, barely held together by a ruthless psychic force that refuses to let go of them. In this version of the setting, the psychic weave that is the power of Arothe and beyond keeps several realities close nit in a web. Each province or realm has its own barrier of psychic energy. These are there to protect the rules set in place by this reality. If this reality has no magic, magic will not work here. If this reality won't allow for laser technology, you're lugging around heavy scrap metal.
One direction I could go with this is having players find ways to break the rules, resulting in a cosmic force trying to track them down. A "Men In Black Suits" conspiracy of sorts. Or perhaps even have the cluster unaware of each neighboring reality, having safety in ignorance. Only the rare few adventurer is daring enough to try to break the rules and warp to realms not meant for them. As a result, the ensuing masquerade would risked to be broken. As a result, the weave and several other factions would have to work together to keep the adventurers in the shadows or take them out as quick and effecient as possible. For you see, if the masquerade was shattered and the multiverse was self aware, this force could not control the amount of chaos that would break out. Rules would shatter and Arothe would risk completely collapsing, perhaps forming the model as seen in the "Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey" post!
This model would allow for more espionage, dark conspiracy, clever tactics, and masquerade type of gaming. This model emulates games like World of Darkness, where the forces of the supernatural must avoid being detected by a world not ready to encounter the things that should not be. While I admit, this concept wasn't nearly as fleshed out as the space-and-time one, this is because I didn't persue this one nearly as much. However, this concept will probably be left as an option to develop or leave to others to fiddle around with. In a way, wouldn't that leave more mystery to the setting? This would allow players to fill in the blanks and uncover things for themselves with that taboo of trying to unveil information that's meant to be protected.
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Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:11 PM
So, one of the ideas I've had for developing Arothe is to make it a living world complete with not just multiple dimension, but multiple eras and time periods in which you could visit. Space-time shenanigans! This would allow the player to not only travel across realities, but see them develop from multiple points in time. Plus, I'm already sampling about of series like Planescape, Star Gate, and comic universes in general. Why not sample Back to the Future, TimeSplitters, Looper, and Doctor Who as well?
What if Arothe developed from the ground up? In the post-Cataclysm era, it represents something typical of the post-apocalyptic genre. This world is in ruins and everything is lost. The new world must adapt while trying to salvage the secrets of the old world. All of these are common place tropes from the end of the world story. However, Arothe’s old world isn’t a single one, but many! Each lost world helps to contribute the fantastic history and development of this bizarre new world. Things start as a mix of a Bronze through Dark Age. Some cultures directly reflect Earthy ones, while others are a unique blend or independent creation. From there, the desire to expand through exploration and industry hits the world, not too different from the age of adventure and exploration itself! This coincides with a cultural renaissance, not too unlike the movements in pre-Crusades Middle East and 1500s Italy. You have pirates, oceanic expeditions, the start of global communication, and more. From here, a colony era and global trade era begins to become established as a sort of less brutal/imperialistic look at the 1600s – late 1800s world, especially comparing colonial/frontier United States and post-industrial Eastern Hemisphere. Modernity meets magic is what equates to a mix of turn of the century through the 1960s. This is an era of constant war and turbulence. Entire nations are wiped out from the arcane and atom alike! Following the Great War, the world develops in a bizarre new direction. New advances in magicks and sciences lead to exciting and frightening new discovers… some that should not be. This mirrors an anachronistic mix of the mid/late 1960s into somewhere before now. From there, Arothe begins to embrace a new future! While the Vriorax Corporation has made some success encouraging technological development in an otherwise “barbaric” world for centuries, it becomes king here. Megacorporations replace traditional government, arcane and super-science based technology flourishes, and the world drastically changes for better or worse. Things develop further in both ways as Arothe’s sciences have led to unimaginable breakthroughs including hyper-advanced space travel and devastating weaponry capable of wiping out entire planets, while causing constant turmoil in and around Arothe! This intense tension attracts several paranoid alien races. Being a cautious world itself, Arothe naturally strikes back and insights galactic and civil warfare. This leads to a grim dark future for Arothe, greater than the “Great War” itself! But, since this is only the speculation of mad scientists and farfetched mediums, it is likely that alien contact could go in a much more optimistic direction. Only time will tell!
Now, most likely, I’d start in a “modern setting”, the post-war world or the cyberpunk world. In a setting where science was left to explore and develop with only a delicate observation to prevent too much depravity, in conjunction with the awareness of “arcane science”, either setting would promote travel through time, albeit at a very restricted allowance. As time travel is regarded as extremely dangerous, a guild know as The Temporal Agency (post-human beings who make sure the time streams don’t break from severe paradoxes) are ever vigilant. Recently, several threats have been appearing throughout space and time that are not meant to be, raising much fear and anxiety among the agency. Not to mention, several divergent timelines have been created from recently executed Agents who have created a number of harmful paradoxes. These timelines seek to collapse the true one.
Now, in this module, would time travel be central to the plot? Maybe, maybe not. It’d likely be used in several plot hooks to link or expand adventure ideas if anything. I wouldn’t want it becoming the focus either, as you have tons of adventure in the hub world and beyond as it is. So, would I keep this? Perhaps! As for my barrier idea, this seems redundant with worlds outside of the hub world, as I want those dimensions to have their own sets of rules to contrast or accommodate characters.
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Monday, March 18, 2013, 12:32 PM
So, I've established the world has all sorts of bizarre elements that mirror aspects of multiple genres. In the end, I've decided the "Weird fiction" monicker that authors like China Mieville use suits my needs the best. But, where to go from there? Do I mold my world as a broken up themed universe like Golarion and the Forgotten Realms? Do I stick to a central theme and build around that? Do I have a changing series of themes that starts in one style and evolves into another (Like it or not, The Forgotten Realms matches this approach)
Perhaps the dominant continent matches the "weird fiction" amalgamation that I have crafted, a cherry picking of all the genres mentioned in my last post. From there, have other lands pertaining to a specific theme, perhaps injecting a weird/science fantasy twist to it. For example, the Center World is an amalgamation of the pulp trope of the "Hollow World"/Lost World and the otherworld akin to Silent Hill and depictions of Hell, with a hint of Warhammer/Warhammer 40K thrown in for "Grimdark" influence. Since the world is literally an artificial invention of cosmic circumstance, backstories for sci-fi elements like in Expedition to Barrier Peaks and Temple of the Frog aren't as necessary, as the world is established with ray gun and spellbook in the same existence.
Now, another idea I want to play with is the idea that the world is literally a patchwork dimension with hastily connected plots of land, similar to Ravenloft. Each plot is seperated by a barrier that differentiates each demi-plane, complete with its own set of rules. Some dimensions will not allow for magic, lest you risk a paradox (similar to the World of Darkness Mage campaign) and some will not permit heavy anachronisms in technology, possibly resulting in similar reactions.
If not that, have a set time for the world and go off of an "Earthy" type of feel seen in Greyhawk, The Forgotten Realms, and Mystara. That way, I could develop a living history of the territories without cowboys dueling with knights in heavy armor getting in the way. An ancient society develops into something more medieval, which in turn becomes industrial, and then modern... and perhaps into the future!
Of course, most of the content here is pitching ideas, wondering which one I'll probably go off of. If there's enough interest, I'll form a poll. I'm interested in going off of just about any idea that's been generated so far, but I'm not quite sure which one to develop. Either idea works for a campaign setting, I suppose. The first one allows for a bizarre mish-mash world where every probablility and concept can interact. The third one provides ideas for my love of time travel, the second one allows for a masquerade type campaign where certain characters must blend into new alien worlds... within a world! I suppose I can roll with one as my prime concept and have the others as alternate approaches to Arothe, sort of like Elseworlds in DC Comics and Mirrors in World of Darkness.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 12:59 PM
So, what is Arothe? Uhhh, well... That's a tough one to describe. While you can call Gamma World post-apocalyptic fantastic-science and call Dragonlance a romantic fantasy, this one is an effort to create the hodge-podge mood. It's a world not only at war with itself, but with its identity and its reality. As such, I wanna explore what kind of genres and tropes I'm sampling!
Space Opera - Fantastic and vibrant life fills the cosmos beyond the planet, either seeking to protect it or destroy it. Arothe is a central beacon for other world diplomats both extraterrestrial and extraplanar. Within the main universe and the dimensional rings surrounding, political conflict is almost always high. Much of the galaxy and beyond is rife with epic adventure, conflict, and drama.
Dystopia – Many communities splintered off from the remains that trash this new world. However, many had a turn for the worse due to their many flaws. Paranoid, isolationist territories became fascist police states, socialized provinces became a communist nightmare. Despite this, many other civilizations have maintained balance in order to prevent hope for the development of society from being crushed by corruption. However, some rare “Utopias” have arisen. Seeing as they're a like minded and small group, they have proven a success. However, these quickly become dystopia for outsiders.
Urban Fantasy – The world of the mystical and fantastic has been modernized by today's standards. Magitech is much more common than mundane technology or pure magic. Many ancient civilizations or realms with a previous “Progress Level” have forced themselves to adapt to a new way of life, or isolate themselves from progress spiraling out of control.
New Weird – Similar to China Mieville and Planescape, there's tons of weird fiction here too! Melding of sci-fi, fantasy, horror to warp worlds both familiar and not. The world has grown far beyond the medieval stereotype and the politics feel equally evolved. The world has science and technology balanced against magic. Technology isn't something to be feared, but rather a neutral party like magic. The world is fantastic without trying to be cliché.
Post-Apocalypse – The world that is now Arothe has been continuously trampled upon and destroyed by cataclysms and dread forces. Invasive powers and species have long since overtaken the planet and realities around this world. Any remnants of the original world are long since killed off. After the end, nothing from the original realm triumphed.
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Monday, February 11, 2013, 11:14 PM
As much as I want to continue with world building, I've been busy with so much lately. Finishing up school so I can finally get my degree (returning to finish is worth it, right?), doing a massive film project, and much more. I want to return soon so I can continue to make Arothe grow! Updates have been very low, but I will write a couple every now and then, especially if I have a quick moment to think of... well, whatever!
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Sunday, January 13, 2013, 3:25 PM
Hello again! Before I mentioned that I wanted to develop my own campaign setting that aspired to be something truly unique. But, you know what they say, "everything's been done." With that I say it's how you present it. With that, I'm going to further develop some concepts here, mostly through notes. These notes cover ideas for major cities and enemies.
For a recap on my setting. Arothe is the center of the multiverse created from a space-time calamity that merged alternate versions of many realities into one. After stabilizing, the world of Arothe truly evolved into something unique, complete with new challenges and adventures ranging from super science to sorcery to somewhere in between. In a nutshell it's a mix of Thundarr, Wizards (Ralph Bakshi), Stargate, TimeSplitters, Doctor Who, and various D&D settings (especially Planescape, Mystara/Blackmoor, Dark Sun, and Ravenloft)
EDIT: When I have the time, I will continue by expanding on continents and countries. Perhaps dabble with one of my favorite topics, factions.
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Friday, January 4, 2013, 7:08 PM
In a previous post, I talked about making races modular and easy to fit in generic D&D, while making it easy to replace them with personal favorites and setting specific concepts... without having to go beyond the core books! In this one, I wanna tackle a raging ball of conflict that will never die, the split fandoms of the Forgotten Realms!
The way I see it, nothing will probably work too well in the end. The fracture in the Realms base is probably bigger than any part of D&D itself. Sure, you could say editions and their edition wars have splintered many a person, but metaplot changes have shunned many other potential customers away. I myself have not bought any of the Forgotten Realms products for 4th edition, despite buying several 4e and essentials books. For specific mechanics for a Realmsian campaign, I often confront the online character builder or borrow books from friends regarding mechanics. I won't go into details, because that rant is for another day entirely... (Plus, when it comes to the Realms, I'm a rage demon of anger, lol)
There have already been many proposals, each with merits and flaws. One such approach, "One Realms" is to push the setting along as is and continue with release, as is. However, this would further alienate fans of pre-plague realms and alienate fans of the spellplague era as well.
Retcon has surfaced time and time again. However, much of the current iteration of the Realms was attained via Retcon in order to make the setting into something more approachable for players outside of the Realms fandom, resulting in clashes with lore and complete invalidation. Now, performing another retcon would obliterate years of work and countless works of other authors. Sure, 4 years doesn't stack to 20, but it's still burning away hundreds and thousands of dollars that would lead to the same sins of the past.
So, what is my proposal? Simple! Take the Realms campaign book and player book and break it down into a more neutral setting/era book similar to "Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms." This book was brilliant, because it was agnostic towards specifics, but helps with campaign building for those desiring to have an in depths look in the Realms. If we apply this approach to the campaign guide and player book, we could create a Realms basis friendly to almost every fandom. More specifics should be charted and heavily expanded upon in other sourcebooks. RSEs would get and deserve their own books, including specifics for the changes they brought with them.
For example a Spellplague era campaign setting would detail the effects of the SP and details about the planet Abeir as well as the primordials. Outside of this book, people who are not content with abeir/returned abeir, spellplague, etc would not have to be distraut by the sight of said changes. Also, for those who don't even care for the Time of Troubles and the gods among us concept it developed, they could ignore it as it would be detailed in a separate book. I figure this way, these sourcebooks would greatly help those already interested in these concepts and would not only benefit those who want more about these eras and concepts, but those who are less than content with the changes that be can ignore them.
Also, this modular approach would be great for a sourcebook or boxed set dedicated to lands beyond Faerun. (IE Maztica, Kara-Tur, Al Qadim) This would be a great chance to rebuild and rewrite these "subsettings" that require much work to fit them into the setting more, even if it means retroactively editing them into Realms history a little more.
Not to mention, this would be an opportunity to explore hypothetical scenarios and "what ifs" in the Forgotten Realms in an "ELSEWORLDS" style book similar ot the "Mirrors" book introduced with the current World of Darkness rule set. Perhaps this point is pure hopefulness, but this would be a great way to expand off popular fandom theories throughout the years or perhaps off the wall concepts no one has even thought of yet. Of course, this book wouldn't be canon, like the DC elseworlds books.
Outside of books, continuing, chronicled lore and brief history should be covered in the main book, while being heavily expanded upon either by the novels themselves, expansion books or via Dragon/Dungeon magazine, adding a promotion to subscription.
Overall, I feel this approach would be a marketable method of ensuring at least someone finds their place in the Forgotten Realms in attempt to not widen the divide, if not patch it up just a little bit.
So, anyone else interested in such an idea?
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 7:13 PM
I made it my goal during 2013 to build (and hopefully complete) a home setting that has housed a few short adventures at most. I've been tinkering with ideas for it since its more primordial incarnations that date back to my days in Middle School. Now, more than a decade passed, all these ideas are finally starting to mold into something a lot more concrete. Hopefully during my freetime, I aim to share my progress and post various ideas and brainstorm sessions. Who knows? Perhaps I can publish my result one day. Now, I realize for every Amethyst (I love Dias Ex Machina), there are tons of unknown games that fade into the obscure. But, fame isn't what I seek. I just want a cool game world that others will like too! Here's to that goal. Anyway, here's a compilation of various notes and ideas from over the years, made into something a little less jumbled.
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Sunday, December 30, 2012, 12:59 PM
Now, I know I've brought this up countless time and time again on forums and message boards, but I want to refine my "thesis" on a blog post. I want people to play what they enjoy and I want the table I'm at to be what I enjoy. As humans, we have our own unique perspectives, perceptions and opinions. Of course, this may impede judgement, resulting in a clash of the voices for all times (Hello, Edition Wars in a nutshell!) Well, in order for D&D Next to succeed we need to get off our high horses, suck it up, and realize we need to work together here! Idealist? You bet, but enough people willing to compromise will result in success. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work (-ish)
They're still the races people like, just with a coat of paint that won't cause people to jump back, due to assumptions of their previous incarnation. A lot of people like things done for them. And if this is already taken care of, then why worry about things being shoehorned in, when they probably fit a lot better with standard D&D. Plus, if it's more generic, it leaves a lot more room to tinker with and modify. So, leave the PoLs, Realms, Greyhawks, and other stuff to their specific settings and keep the basic mechanics for a more general D&D audience.
But hold on, another idea! One of the things I love from Pathfinder is Archetypes. They can help delete the need for a flood of classes, PrC, what have you. This method might be good for kit-bashing or adding flavor to said generic race template. Perhaps include "Alternate Racial Templates" for these races, including the sources of where they came from and a blurb about them in depth. That way, you can mix, match, customize or turn the generic template into the character you like with little to no effort.
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