Welcome back to the Front.
Last week in Framing the Picture, I discussed different options that a GM can use to get the players up to speed on the same page. So let’s look at the last fantasy world I shared with various players. For this exercise, I haven’t decided which area is going to be my real starting point for the campaign, so I’ll first start with the big picture.
I’ll start by naming my world influences: Avalon, the decline of the Roman Empire, from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time: the Legion of Light and the corruption of magic, Arabian Nights, Universal Brotherhood (Shadowrun), Vikings, Free Cities (Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, A Song of Ice and Fire – also kept in mind the Wall), Egyptian Empire, Blood War (D&D), Old World of Darkness Transylvania and Far East. (In one of the campaigns that I did run in this world, it turned out that Glen Cook’s Black Company also became an influence.) There are probably even a few more, but that is a good starting point.
Looking at that list, I want to cherry pick themes and moods. Gothic, corruption, and intrigue seem to be at the forefront. The players will be heroes (or not so heroic) but will have to stare down the fact that world is a free-falling hand-basket and decide what will they do about it. To make it work, the players will have to be invested in the world. They will need to care.
Since I still haven’t settled on a place to call home for the campaign, let’s take a walk about in broad brush strokes: The map for this is going to be Northern Africa (and the Sahara desert), Europe and Asia.
As an initial starting point, let’s work with these broad strokes:
- The Avalon influence. The area that would be the British Isles is in chaos. The declining “Roman” empire is losing its grasp of the area, but the distinct racial tribes of the area are anything than united. (In this world, there is no Arthur. Perhaps the players will be that inspiring force to unify the tribes.)
- In North Africa, the “Egyptian” empire has held on. They are caught between the Roman Empire and the Arabian Empire constantly trying to expand into the territory, while they watch for things coming out of the desert desolation to the South.
- The “Arabian” Empire … Home to the wondrous and one of the world’s dominate religions (Church of Illuminating Scales). The empire fights wars with the Roman Empire that it split out of, The “Egyptian” Empire, and what would be “Transylvania” due to the Church’s perception that its undying ruler is a slayer of a dragon.
- The Church mythos is that a benevolent Dragon led humanity and the other races to become civilized and helps shape the policy of the empire. Does the Dragon still lead the Empire or is that one of the populated myths to keep the people in line?
- The “Roman” Empire. No longer able to expand as easily, the Empire keeps its citizens well distracted as it tries to hold onto its glory. Lots of political maneuvering to get ahead.
- Northern Europe and Russia area are largely populated by Barbarians and Free Cities. Summers bring raiding to the civilized world.
That’s just a handful. Next week we’ll keep going…