Projects to Keep the Homefires Burning
It’s one of those things with homebrew settings. Parts of it began in 1981 with me as DM and two players. More recently, much of it began three years ago with the hope of being published by a small RPG company.
I’ve changed system twice until finally going to a system that is the closest to what I played back in ’81. The ruleset is Swords&Wizardry.
Unlike Midgard, I am not sure that I will ever finish. I keep trying to finish, but I think that I have nerd projectitis too bad. Despite all organizational efforts to the contrary, it gets bogged down to making the details work and settling for “good enough”. Then, of course, I see something and say “oh that’s cool!” and let go of development for awhile.
Still, I have 1.5 hours every Monday night, a huge room to myself, lots of tables and a computer sans internet access to get things done. I think I have the magic system the way I want it. I have the time to do it without stressing out the family because the family is all in other classes.
What used to be called Shayakand and Tanah-Con-Rahn will now be called The Land Beneath the Winds. I’m going for something more accessible with much less conlanging. I don’t believe that I am able to do something akin to Spears of the Dawn, but at least something with fewer European pastiches and more Southeast Asian flavor.
I say this, but this is my fourth restart. All of this means nothing if I don’t actually publish something, you know? Still, I’m hopeful.
I enjoy the world and writing inside of it. The cosmology is different, the geography is not a planet drawn to account for prevailing winds, current, weather patterns or the like. The world is flat. The rim of the planet has mountain ranges with 500,000 ft tall mountains (straight out of Cambodian Mythology). The rest of the world has three concentric circles of tall mountains with oceans between them. The players start on the outer “circle” of oceans and landmasses. If they can somehow get over the northern mountains, they will be in a no-man’s land rumored to be the play area of the gods themselves. Heck, maybe they just go into space.
Magic is based on certain words discovered by three different civilizations. Some of the words have really weird effects like creating small objects capable of independent movement. Spells with this word could create a swarm of bees or a volley of arrows that move in wild trajectories. Hedge Wizards strip essences from creatures and sentient humanoid for their own purposes. All forms of magic interact with technology is unpredictable ways. This technology includes the alien technology of the Mentors and the human-built technology of clockwork engines. Everyone can read magic, but being able to read magic does not grant you the ability to use a scroll or copy spells in a spellbook. Spell casting is a gift of the gods. You can do it or you cannot do it.
Psionics have a purpose. Not only are psionicists gifted in dealing with non-corporeal creatures, but unlike Wizards, anyone can learn this ability.
Clerics differ by primary deity. Some have no devotion to a specific deity, but instead attempt to manipulate them all to gain boons and bestow banes. Only one type of Cleric has the Turn Undead ability. The rest have different powers and abilities.
There are no elementals. There are no golems. Ghosts are not undead, but a different type of creature that plagues civilized peoples. The sentient species are different from elf, dwarf, halfling, half-orc and the like. A few minor species exist for GMs to use at their discretion.
The super-rich build massive clockwork devices to suit their own whims. Numerous libraries exist in cities and towns throughout the land. The printing press has not been invented, but the photocopier has. Literacy is high. Books are everywhere.
Cities have apartment buildings and places to get cheap food quickly. There are no inns or taverns, but there are plenty of places to play a game of chess and discuss the potential treasures in an abandoned temple east of town…
Cities also have byzantine bureaucracies that seem to tax and regulate every aspect of city life. Each city has its own oddities. Trade and markets are closely watched. A person does not simply walk into a magic store and buy a +2 sword. You can get any kind of food, herb, powder or exotic flesh you can dream of, just don’t ask to buy magic publicly.
Benevolent benefactors known as Basha are always looking for people to help. Granted, the more people that work for a given basha, the more power he or she has. Bashe (plural of basha) see themselves as loving fathers that care for hundreds, even thousands of individuals. Through their personal network of merchants and mercenaries (and a few judges and other bureaucrats) they wield incredible influence throughout the realm. As bashe battle each other for more power, it is common for characters to be contacted to “perform a little light work” now and then.
Outside of the city, farmers work the soil largely free from the hectic life in the cities. Their basha will come and request their share of crops, but otherwise rarely see anyone of any authority.
There’s more to it, but I’ll stop there. Here’s to 2013. The year I hope to finally finish this project. Wish me luck!