Goodman Games

Fan Forums
It is currently Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:12 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:17 pm 
Offline
Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:01 am
Posts: 28
So in the next couple of weeks I'm probably going to be starting a Dungeon Crawl Classics game. I decided to go for a sword and planet vibe inspired by Barsoom, Dying Earth, Planet of Adventure, Empire of the Petal Throne and a whole bunch more assorted pulp. This is the writeup I have so far for the city that the campaign will center around, but I'm not much good at writing good player handouts. I'd appreciate any help that you guys can offer...

Basically what I'm primarally concerned with is

1) Does it have a decent 'hook'. Does it seem like a place that you'd want to adventure in and around?

2) Is it clear?

3) Do you get a reasonably good mental image of the city itself?

4) I'm purposely vague about some of the history. Basically the planet is a long forgotten colony of an ancient star faring empire. "The Severing" was a little understood event where interstellar travel suddenly ceased. This led to a massive war on the planets surface that wiped out most of the colonies. Do you think I need more detail though?

5) Keep in mind, I am aiming for a 'science fantasy' setting. I want weird science. However this means I need to come up with an explanation for how spellcasting works. One idea I'm toying with for wizards at least is using nanites that are still floating around as 'patrons' but that leaves priests out in the cold, and the nanites are just one patron... I'd like to avoid psychic stuff if possible, and the 'god is a computer' idea is a little old (looking at you Ultima III) but I'm stuck for other ideas.

6) Please bombard me with ideas for adventures and the like. Help me flesh this out a bit.

Quote:
Carved of black basalt and squatting like a malignant toad over the mouth of the Gray River Delta the city state of Barasbor has held sway over the eastern Desert of Gol-Than and the Bay of Sorrows for many thousands of years.

An ancient evil city, Barasbor has grown and shrunk organically over the millennia as its fortunes have waxed and waned. The oldest part of the city, the towers of the Star Men also known as the twelve towers stood vigil over the star ships and space boats of the Star Men and still stand like sentinels over the city. The oldest and most noble families have turned these crystalline spires into fortresses, each housing hundreds of loyal slaves, mercenaries and bondsmen in addition to the nobles that rule the city. Some of the greatest treasures in the world are contained within these spires. Ancient technologies and sorceries long since forgotten by the rest of the world, jealously guarded and passed down within the great families.

During the Age of the Severing great walls made of a strange gray metal were built around the twelve towers to defend the city against the great war machines that the Star Men unleashed against each other. Remnants of this apocalyptic conflict remain. The length and breath of the walls bear the scars of the conflict and entire redoubts have been rebuilt using basalt and other materials as the sorceries used to create the original walls have long since been lost. Since the Severing a labyrinthine palace structure has been built within them housing the dozens of lesser houses. Every night blood runs in the corridors and streets among these houses as the lesser houses jockey for position and power within the city.

Outside the old walls lies the New City. This is as far as most visitors will ever enter into Barasbor. From the taverns to the weapon foundries to the slave markets the new city is the beating heart of Barasbor. The nobles of the old city are too concerned with their own power plays and position amongst their peers to pay the New City much mind and so long as the tithes of gold and slaves make their way into the noble coffers the New City is left to its own devices.

Surrounding the New City and outside its much more primitive (though still imposing) basalt walls lies a massive sprawl of shanties eeking out a living in the swamps that make up the delta the city was built on. Years ago the delta was made up of fertile flood plains that served as the cities breadbasket. Over the years however much of the delta has become a stinking mire. The arable land is shrinking and the the poorest inhabitants of Barasbor have begun to feel the squeeze as food prices have climbed.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:44 pm 
Offline
Wild-Eyed Zealot

Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:25 am
Posts: 78
I like the widening circles and their hierarchy of sophistication. Presumably, if you're really treading similar ground to your cited source material, beyond the sprawling shantytown mire there lie vast wildernesses dotted with bizarre and isolated cultures long forgotten by the folk of the metropolis.

As for the origins of magic, I would be a little concerned that nanites bear too much of the stamp of modernity to fit into a true sword and planet setting. Vance and Burroughs wrote science fantasy that knew little or nothing of computers -- in ERB's case because he predated them and in Vance's because they tend to interfere with the primacy of human ingenuity. So the leap past computers to nanotechnology seems out of place to me. For my money, some kind of rift in space and time, resulting from the unspeakable weapons of that ancient war, would feel like a more appropriate source of magic. Alien entities from beyond might have slipped through the rift, and while some would be so foreign as to be incomprehensible to man, others might latch on to the human subconscious and manifest themselves as beings that appear either godlike or demonic. These could explain both arcane sorcery and clerical powers alike.

On the other hand, you and your players may have a totally different view of nanites that would make them perfectly suitable. In that case, maybe there could simply be many different flavors or "brands" of nanites, some of which evolve into consciousnesses resembling immortal deities, and others of which remain unthinking swarms of micro-machinery, awaiting the proper commands of a carefully attuned human mind.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:26 am 
Offline
Cold-Hearted Immortal
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:01 am
Posts: 1200
Location: Atlanta, GA
Magic in my campaign is controlled nanotech. But I've never said anything like that to my players and they have no idea. So, I would say, you don't have to reveal that and your players don't need to know that, it wont affect the story.

_________________

RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:02 am 
Offline
Far-Sighted Wanderer

Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 8:01 am
Posts: 28
Bilgewriggler wrote:
I like the widening circles and their hierarchy of sophistication. Presumably, if you're really treading similar ground to your cited source material, beyond the sprawling shantytown mire there lie vast wildernesses dotted with bizarre and isolated cultures long forgotten by the folk of the metropolis.

As for the origins of magic, I would be a little concerned that nanites bear too much of the stamp of modernity to fit into a true sword and planet setting. Vance and Burroughs wrote science fantasy that knew little or nothing of computers -- in ERB's case because he predated them and in Vance's because they tend to interfere with the primacy of human ingenuity. So the leap past computers to nanotechnology seems out of place to me. For my money, some kind of rift in space and time, resulting from the unspeakable weapons of that ancient war, would feel like a more appropriate source of magic. Alien entities from beyond might have slipped through the rift, and while some would be so foreign as to be incomprehensible to man, others might latch on to the human subconscious and manifest themselves as beings that appear either godlike or demonic. These could explain both arcane sorcery and clerical powers alike.

On the other hand, you and your players may have a totally different view of nanites that would make them perfectly suitable. In that case, maybe there could simply be many different flavors or "brands" of nanites, some of which evolve into consciousnesses resembling immortal deities, and others of which remain unthinking swarms of micro-machinery, awaiting the proper commands of a carefully attuned human mind.


As far as the nanites go I see people as having a very limited understanding of them. They certainly wouldn't refer to them as nanites (though I haven't thought up a decent name to replace it with). Basically they understand that they were created by the Star Men and know that they are very useful in powering sorcery, but almost no one understands what they actually are.

I see the nanites as coming in 5 (6) different forms. At the low end there is a silvery dust. These nanites are largely inert and have lost most of their potency. By expending some of them a spellcaster is able to cast a spell without penalty. If he lacks the dust however he can still cast (at least low level) spells since the entire atmosphere of the planet is still permiated with inert nanites. The second order of potency is nanites in a gel form, followed by a non newtonian solid. These provide bonus' to spellcasting checks with the latter being both highly potent, rare, and valuable. Parallel to this they can also be found in liquid (useful for potion/poison making) and solid metallic (which forms the basis of most magic items) forms. Corruption would be explained by the fact that when activated the nanites are occasionally faulty and... well bad stuff happens.

I like your idea for gods though. Another idea I've had bouncing around my head is druids. At low levels they resemble the druids of any other fantasy campaign. As a PC gets inducted into the higher mysteries of the cult however it turns out that they are actually the decedents of the engineers who maintained (and still maintain) the ancient terraforming machines that keep the planet inhabitable.

A second idea I had was an ancient, self aware (and extremely powerful) war machine (Are you thinking OGRE? I'm thinking OGRE) that still patrols the desert of Gol-Than. A camp of fanatical followers have attached themselves to it and in exchange for maintaining their 'god' it provides direct and very real protection in addition to granting 'spells' to its most loyal followers.

I'm planning on reskinning a lot of the classes too. For example I want 'elves' to actually be the decedents of the leadership caste of the star men. 'Dwarves' (as well as Orcs, Ogres, Giants and many other humanoid monsters) will be the decedents of genetically engineered/vat grown soldiers deployed during the wars. Halflings will actually be an alien race that were the planets original inhabitants. I'm also thinking that Dragons and their assorted offshoots (drakes ect) will be native to the planet as well, potentially opening up another spellcasting class available only to 'halflings'.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:08 pm 
Offline
Cold-Blooded Diabolist

Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:19 pm
Posts: 510
imperialus -- Your current write up is good.

I approached my sword and planet setting a little differently -- the characters were brought to the planet from a standard fantasy world, given almost no information and then had to make their way in the new world. I set it up as a true sandbox -- the characters have to learn what they can eat, what will kill them, and what they can enter into uneasy truces with (domestic animals, locals, etc). Instead of explaining how magic works in this world, the characters spend a lot of time experimenting -- their form of magic still works...even clerical magic... but the resident semi-psionic / semi-bioengineering type of magic is more powerful (and more deadly). Kind of like DCC as a whole, it seems better for the players if you tell them a lot less up front. What I found when I converted it to DCC is that it was a natural fit. Lots of opportunities for powerful otherworldly entities (patrons), weird creatures and magic, etc.

The sword and planet setting was very well received. One of my most successful set of sessions. I've had to pause for a while due to other projects, but the players are continually bugging me to get back to this one. I think the "same but different" quality of it catches the player's attention, so you'll probably have good results with yours.

Hopefully that helps some...

I have a lot of it here: http://mysticbull.pbworks.com/w/page/52 ... dcc%20fear

Converted from my earlier Savage Worlds stuff here: http://mysticbull.pbworks.com/w/page/21 ... 0of%20Fear

_________________
AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Our new publishing website. Have a submission? PM me.
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
My Gamer Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:35 pm 
Offline
Cold-Hearted Immortal
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:01 am
Posts: 1200
Location: Atlanta, GA
imperialus wrote:
A second idea I had was an ancient, self aware (and extremely powerful) war machine (Are you thinking OGRE? I'm thinking OGRE) that still patrols the desert of Gol-Than. A camp of fanatical followers have attached themselves to it and in exchange for maintaining their 'god' it provides direct and very real protection in addition to granting 'spells' to its most loyal followers.

I'm planning on reskinning a lot of the classes too. For example I want 'elves' to actually be the decedents of the leadership caste of the star men. 'Dwarves' (as well as Orcs, Ogres, Giants and many other humanoid monsters) will be the decedents of genetically engineered/vat grown soldiers deployed during the wars. Halflings will actually be an alien race that were the planets original inhabitants. I'm also thinking that Dragons and their assorted offshoots (drakes ect) will be native to the planet as well, potentially opening up another spellcasting class available only to 'halflings'.


Sounds good. IMC, some humans were captured / imprisoned by some vastly superior aliens on a strange foreign planet. The descendents are cultural composites: elves are "Asian," dwarves are "Germanic/Jewish," humans are more or less like normal, halflings are genetically distinct humans (w/ "European" roots, "French/Spanish"). Lawful religions are the main monotheistic ones (Judaism / Christianity / Islam), Neutral religions are the main asian/polytheistic ones (Taoism / Hinduism / Buddhism)... of course, Chaotic religions are the cults of Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Shub-Niggurath. I think aiming for a corrupted, degenerate vibe could mesh very well with a far future / sword and planet type setting. And, of course, my players have no idea about that sort of thing, except for the fact that there's two suns, two moons, and a gas giant in the sky (the "well, this ain't Kansas, is it?" thing).

_________________

RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:19 pm 
Offline
Wild-Eyed Zealot

Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:25 am
Posts: 78
imperialus wrote:
A second idea I had was an ancient, self aware (and extremely powerful) war machine (Are you thinking OGRE? I'm thinking OGRE) that still patrols the desert of Gol-Than. A camp of fanatical followers have attached themselves to it and in exchange for maintaining their 'god' it provides direct and very real protection in addition to granting 'spells' to its most loyal followers.


OGRE! I cannot tell you how awesome that is! I'm sure Keith Laumer is rolling in his grave over the fact that we're thinking OGRE and not BOLO, but them's the breaks, Keith. (Although, speaking of Keith Laumer, his Lafayette O'Leary books are pretty awesomely Appendix N themselves. I wonder if I still have copies of those somewhere...)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: A Sword and Planet citystate...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 8:35 am 
Offline
Cold-Blooded Diabolist

Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:19 pm
Posts: 510
imperialus wrote:

A second idea I had was an ancient, self aware (and extremely powerful) war machine (Are you thinking OGRE? I'm thinking OGRE) that still patrols the desert of Gol-Than. A camp of fanatical followers have attached themselves to it and in exchange for maintaining their 'god' it provides direct and very real protection in addition to granting 'spells' to its most loyal followers.



Love it. Consider it stolen.

_________________
AKA Paul Wolfe
The Mystic Bull: Our new publishing website. Have a submission? PM me.
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer: 12 Short Adventures for DCC!
The God-Seed Awakens: 3rd Level Adventure for DCC. New patron, new spells, lots of new monsters and the living weapons of the Empire of Thal!
My Gamer Profile


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 8 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group