Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

Hinterland

0
0

Yesterday Titled Mills released the computer game “Hinterland” over Steam. In that game you play a character that was tasked by the king to build a new town in the hinterlands of his country. You do that by cleaning the area of monsters, bandits and the undead (Diablo-style), building houses for new settlers and equipping them with the best equipment possible. Although the game is pretty simple graphics- and gamplay-wise, it’s much fun seeing you small community grow. You can even ask your settlers to join you on your adventures into the wilderness.

Playing that game got me thinking. The gameplay of Hinterland should be easily adopted to fantasy roleplaying. A whole campaign could revolve around the building of a town somewhere in the wilderness, perhaps at the frontier of a once powerful kingdom. Did someone say “Points of Light”? In my opinion this kind of campaign could be perfectly suited for the new D&D 4th Edition. And with having a small village that the players are tasked to protect and develop further, you not only give them a home base but there’s much to do.

You can have them secure the area, try to establish diplomatic relations with the barbarian tribes/dwarven clans/elven communities in the area, destroy the evil wizard/lich/warlord/whatever that has build his tower near the town, secure access to certain resources like a spring, gold mine, whatever the town needs to grow and prosper. They will also have to maintain peace inside the town and even recruit new settlers and some guards to help defend the town when they are away adventuring.

Of course this could also be adopted to other genres like Western, SF, et cetera. In a western game you have the classic western frontier town and the players are perhaps the town’s mayor, sherrif and the deputies trying to help the town survive. In a SF setting you can expand the town to a whole colony world. You can let the group scout and survey the world, protect colony ships full of settlers, fend of space pirates and explore the ancient ruins left over by an ancient and highly advanced specues!

Fantasy Superheroes

0
0

We all know the classic superhero comics. Usually they are set into our modern world and the heroes wear either spandex or leather suits in flashy colors. But why not set a superhero tale into a medieval fantasy world? In a way D&D4E has done it, but a fantasy Mutants & Masterminds campaign comes to mind.

If you look at mythological heroes they usually have special powers not unlike the superheroes from your favorite comic book. I remember that I own a thin X-Men comic book where our heroes are in an illusion created by a villain so that they believe they are living in a medieval city. In that story Storm was some kind of queen and Wolverine a lone mercenary with a large sword. I found the idea intriguing. 

One of my favorite comic series is still Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers. It’s a shame that it was never completed. The protagonists of that series are all exceptional in their own right, much like modern day superheroes. There’s Gully, a small girl, wears the magic gauntlets of her father, giving her enormous strength, Calibretto a wargolem, Garrison, the famous swordsman, Red Monika, a rather voluptuous thief and Knolan a powerful wizard. This group not only reminded me of a D&D party but also of superhero teams.

So, what do we need to mix the fantasy and superheroes genres?

  • Larger-than-life characters
    Your usual Joe Sixpack fighter will not do. You at least need a special sword, or a magic armor to give your character to rise to superhero levels. Insanely powerful magic items or over-the-top abilities help to give you the four-color-heroes feel.
  • Use comic conventions, not fantasy conventions
    In normal fantasy roleplaying games you start with amateur adventurers that slowly advance to heroes acquiring new abilities and “phat lewt” on their way to the top. In a superhero fantasy game we need powerful characters from the start, so there probably is not much advancement in terms of the characters’ power or gear.
  • Flashy clothes and catchy names
    No, I don’t think spandex suits work well in  a medieval fantasy settings but you should not to clothe your characters in brown linen. Also enormous swords and huge shoulder pads work in MMORPGs and Japanese manga and anime, so why shouldn’t it work in your campaign too?
    Names are also important in the superhero genre. For example a swordsman called Garrison is way cooler than his colleague Bob. And follow Greywulf’s advice and give your party a name!
  • Use a superheroes roleplaying game to run your campaign
    Ok, D&D4E probably works for getting that four-color heroes feel, but why not do it right? Run the campaign using Mutants & Masterminds and allow your players to build PL 10 heroes.
What do you think? Could a “superheroes genre meets fantasy” campaign work? I will definitely play around with that idea. I still have to think something up for next week when I want to introduce two friends into roleplaying. Perhaps some superheroic fantasy could be their thing.
P.S.: Thanks to ChattyDM for giving my creativity a jumpstart over Twitter today and to Greywulf for his excellent superhero-related posts!

Dungeoncraft: Religion on Asecia

0
0

In most medieval-fantasy campaigns the gods are very real, they grant spells to their most devout followers and they sometimes even walk the earth. In a world like Asecia, I want religion (especially organized religion) on of the major forces of the world but I don’t want gods meddle with the affairs of humans. Although there are several religions on Asecia the gods themselves never interact with the living (although the pious believers will probably tell you otherwise).

As I wrote about in the first episode, there is no special divine magic. But most people believe that the mark of sorcery is a gift from god (or the gods) and organized religion and the magocracies worked hand-in-hand for millenia. But in the times of urbanization and industrialisation the power of religion starts to wane.
But let’s first talk about the major religions.

The Holy Cerynian Church of the Great Architect
Shortly after the Cerynian empire became the first democracy the Cerynians adopted the religion of the Great Architect. In earlier times they revered the Three Sisters, three vengeful and unforgiving goddesses. But then a young prophet from a small province at the border of the empire started to tell the people about the Great Architect, a loving and creating god that created the world for humans to make their own. The new religion was very successful with artists and craftsmen, that preferred the positive creativity of the Great Architect over fearful obedience to the Sisters. Especially the mages opposed that new religion because they feared that they would lose their power, because it was believed that magic was a gift from the Sisters. But in the end the new religion prevailed.

The Holy Cerynian Church of the Great Architect is now one of the major religions in Cerynia and the other nations of Asecia. Following a long tradition most priests were craftsmen or artist before they were ordained. Followers of the Great Architect believe that the best way to please their god is to create something that outlasts their death, like a piece of art or a building. Members of the Church of the Great Architect don’t beliefe in an afterlife and they strive to live a fulfilling and pious life.
The Symbol of the Church of the Great Architect is a hammer and compasses. The priest usually don’t take a vow of chastity but some monks do so in order to focus on their religious or scientific studies but those vows are normally not for life. The tradional garb of the priests is a simple grey hooded robe.

The Brotherhood of the Three Sisters
Although the Brotherhood has lost most of its members hundreds of years ago, the religion is still alive. The Brotherhood believes in the Three Sisters, three vengful (sometimes almost evil) goddesses that expect complete obedience from their followes. In Brotherhood dogma all sorcerors are the Sisters’ children and shall be revered as well. In the Brotherhood only men are allowed to pray and take part in church service. There are a lot of rules which regulate the lives of the believers and not following those rules leads to fast and draconic punishment. The Brotherhood’s symbol are three black female figures in front of a red disc. The priests usually wear read, unadorned robes and featureless black masks that cover the whole face.

The Church of St. Michael
Michael d’Arellien was a minor noble with almost no magical talent born on one of the island that are now called the Principality of St. Michael. He was a devout follower of the Great Architect but pretty insignificant until a fateful day when suddenly his magical talent increased hundredfold. It is said that his magical aura and his eyes were shining bright as the sun even when he was not actively using magic. That influx of power has given him immense insight and hidden knowledge of the world. He used his new-found talent to help people, heal the sick and he preached about a better world for all humans. Many people believed that he was the reincarnation of the Great Prophet or an avatar of the Great Architect himself.

He convinced the Cerynian Empire to grant the Western Isles independence and became their first prince. But he tought of himself not as the ruler but the servant of his people. In the following years tales of miracles spread throughout the Isles.
All of the Principality sects started to rise that believed the prince was more than a man. They believed he was the Architect himself walking amonst men. And when Michael d’Arellien suddenly vanished without the trace it was believed that he transcended.

Today the major religion of the Isles is Michaelism. The Church of St. Michael still resembles the Chruch of the Great Architect but its followers believe that a man, St. Michael of Arellien, was an incarnation of the Architect himself and that he came to lead the Isles into freedom. The priest of that religion wear white silken robes adorned with the symbol of a white-blue star.

Minor Religions
 The citizens of Tovenar are followers of the Great Architect but there was a schism several hundred years ago that lead to the creation of the Holy Tovenari Church. The Holy Tovenari Church uses a slighty modified liturgy and this church is mostly based on monastries. Tovenari priests wear black robes.
There are rumors that the people of the lost kingdom of Rivenar worship some kind of evil entity, but that’s unconfirmed and doubted by most scholars. 
There are also a lot of atheists and agnostics in most countries especially in Cerynia and the Principality. 

So, that concludes this episode of Dungeoncraft.