I read this early on when I had very few votes but forgot to come back around and vote on it. I'm glad it made its way back around.
Even though the language is geared around systems with levels, I find it easy to view it in more abstract terms. In fact, I think it helps to put mechanical "levels" into more generic terms that cross gaming systems. Going up in power can mean gathering XP and hoarding magic items, but it can also mean gaining political clout in a more role-playing heavy system or boosting attributes and skills in systems like Cortex or Savage Worlds.
As a GM developing a campaign, I find this to be a good set of guidelines to keep in mind.
The format seems a little confusing. I had to read it through a couple of times to grok it. I agree with the others that this could use some fleshing out.
I could see the priests of Percepticus being the philosophers with those of Visax having more of a scientific bent.
Overall, a creative piece.
I heartily agree. The collaborative nature of Strolen's is one of the primary reasons I am here. I feel that receiving helpful comments has helped to make me a better writer overall. On the flip side, it can be awfully demoralizing to spend several days toiling over a sub only to watch it fade off of the front page with nary a word.
Before I wrote my first sub I spent a fair amount of time reading sub after sub. I learned a lot from both the subs and the comments, such as things to avoid and tips on how to do better. I think the comments, being public, help more than just the author. In addition, I felt comfortable posting my own work because the comments were so constructive rather than confrontational. I received some good feedback on that first sub and that gave me the confidence to keep going.
An excellent first sub. It is tightly focused on the one subject while hinting at a greater world full of history and a blend of cultures. The narrative is well-written; the characters come through strong and give a human face to the structure.
I suppose there could have been more detail on the empire itself, although that wasn't the direct subject of the sub and could be a whole new one on its own (hint, hint....)
There are plenty of subs on Strolen's that run the gamut from high and low fantasy to steampunk and science fiction, so I wouldn't worry about the genre. I think creativity gets rewarded more than sticking to cliches.
Overall, I like this. The puzzles are interesting and practical and I think there is enough description to carry it through.
I probably wouldn't use it myself. While I see the challenge in making a single player face a barrow alone (and I would applaud a GM who could pull it off), I don't like the idea of making the rest of the players wait around. The few times I've ever done something like this, I've lost control of the group (players would lose interest, get up and wander around, and have trouble getting back into play.) Maybe that says more about my limitations as a GM, but I have more success when I keep as many players involved as possible. Plus, I like seeing how a group responds to a challenge. That kind of group energy is the reason I play so few video games (and I'm too set in my ways to try those new-fangled MMORPGS.)
While I could be wrong, I think Echo's point is that this feels a little contrived. Your point about the classic dungeon being far more unrealistic and contrived is a good one that I fully agree with, which is why I don't run them.
I do prefer subs with some extra prose. Even though I would never read stuff like that off to the players, I find that that extra bit of flavor helps bring the ideas to life for me. I understand that that is a personal preference, so I don't knock off points for subs that don't do it. You provided enough detail to make it understandable and I commend you for that.
And bonus points for using barrow mounds. I've always been fascinated by them.
It seems to me that with these creatures being so powerful, so difficult to kill, and so easy to multiply, that they would quickly overrun an area. That would definitely be a good plot hook on its own. The players could be given clues as to the wizard who created them and then try to find something in his notes to help destroy the blood beast infestation.
Good characterization of Corran. The link to Vulcan's Walking Stick was broken but I was able to find it through search.
This was an entertaining read. Characters and items like these can definitely be used to "flavor" a campaign.
I do have one question. How was the cooking set created? That part seems a little vague but is key to the whole piece. Did it originally belong to the royal chef? Was the walking stick somehow involved?