This is really great, I kept asking questions about the history, the war and technology as I went and kept getting answers. This really well done (I have never played Bioshock) and has a lot of great ideas in it. This could be used as an Alien world, an alternate reality or just adapted for society in which everyone is told the surface is poisoned by the oppressive oligarchy. Yet this deserves more.
1) Visuals I would wager most readers picture a somewhat Victorian or Edwardian aesthetic in the place. However, that is never discussed. We don't get a clear visual of the people in this place and I loathe to use preconceived notions in such a fantastical setting. I would also wager that at least 25% (by word count not by topic) of all steam punk fiction is dedicated to fashion, so that seems missing from this, and it could be a fun addition.
2) Culture We also get an incomplete picture of the culture and day to day life. There are a lot of strong hints at an oligarchy of rich hereditary industrialists and an oppressed and tormented but educated underclass subjected to strict social planning. I think a government and economics section could be interesting and expansive. But perhaps you don't want to state the social economic relationship specifically, and that is fine, and I get it. But some more hints would give us a better feel for this place. What kind of people do these dome dwellers chose to celebrate? What sort of media (as extrapolation of the stage play musicals) do they consume? Are there population control issues? Do they smoke? I feel like this piece and this world would be better benefited by a direct discussion of these items or few more hints and details. (I like the hints at culture myself)
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I debated about including information on the weaponization of Kalleum but I decided to leave it vague. It's something lost to their past and something they wish to put far behind them.
Basically, they found a way of launching it from a type of cannon and then having it explode over the enemy into a fine powder, along with some other compounds. It would ignite anything with fair amounts of water, such as animals and plants. After burning through the bodies it would disburse and drift into the air again (which was not intended.)
The problem was that it disbursed too well. In small amounts it would enter through any accessible membrane or opening and burn up whatever it touched. In these minute amounts it would still leave much of the corpse intact before finding its way out into the air again, acting more as a catalyst than something that would burn out.
It's possible that after another few hundred years it will eventually end up in an inert state.Go to Comment
It is a more primitive age. Bronze is the height of metallurgy. In the civilized nations, the City State reigns supreme; though much of the world still belongs to the clans of the North and East. The gods are not distant beings removed from the affairs of man; rather, they are the genius locii, spirits tied to the land who often become highly involved in men's lives. Beasts of all kinds clog the wilderness and the seas, making life difficult for travelers and merchants.
The known world is made up of the island-dwelling Helioans in the Middle Sea, the Gyptians of the Southern deserts, the Chelonians of the Southeast, the horse tribes of the East, and the numerous, savage tribes of the North. To the West lies naught but distant ocean and death.
The people give power to the gods by their belief and their worship. In turn, The gods breathe direct power into their priests. Meanwhile wizards wrest secrets from the elements via alchemical experimentation. Many of the best-known warriors have the blood of the gods running through their veins, giving them tremendous strength and vitality.
Spread across hundreds of islands ranging from tiny upthrust blades of rock to land wide enough to support agriculture and large cities, the Helioans are a blend of ideals and beliefs. Some have taken to mercantilism, buying and selling goods across all the known world. Others have taken to war, breeding soldiers of unmatched prowess. And still others are patrons of the arts, science, mathematics, and alchemy. Despite a common heritage and history, the Helioans are constantly at war with each other in one form or another. Many heroes are of Helioan stock, taken to the far corners of the world by their own undeniable urge to explore.
The patron gods of the City States are given fine places to live in these lands; they are giants who lounge within enormous temples of granite and marble, directing king and elected ruler alike in the affairs of state whilst sipping wines of the finest vintage and eating of the most tender of lamb.
Living along their fertile river, surrounded by endless desert on one side and ore rich mountains on the other, the Gyptians mostly war amongst themselves. Occasionally they organize enough to go on campaign against the Helioans or the Chelonians, but they rarely stay organized long enough to be successful.
Like the Helioans, the Gyptian gods are giants who live in temples, though these gods have the heads of beasts and their temples are made of stone. The line between priest and wizard can be a thin one here, for even though they receive some power from their gods, the priests perform rituals very much like those of a wizard. All magic taught is of this variety, meaning that those who wish to have power here must learn the ways of both the priest and the mage.
Built on top of an older civilization, the Chelonians occupy a number of ancient City States split along three different lines of treaties. They have inherited a knowledge of agriculture, allowing them to turn desert into farmland through an extensive irrigation system.
Chelonian cities are made of sun-fired bricks and center around the ziggurat, a temple wherein dwells their gods, their king-priests, and their scholars. Friendships and rivalries between Chelonian gods go much further back than those of the Helioans, driving much of their politics.
Schools of magic amongst the Chelonians revolve around the summoning and binding of demons. The power of the spell and the skill of the sorcerer are commensurate with the size and fearsomeness of the demon thus bound.
East and West ofthe Middle Sea are the lands of barbarians. Horse tribes run free across the grassy plains of the East while golden-haired barbarians wage constant war against each other in the cold North.
This is an excellent setting for exploration and combat. Numerous, ferocious beasts wander the land. Heroes can make names for themselves by bringing back proof of what they have killed and wizards are constantly looking for exotic ingredients to work with. Those with a strong arm or the blessing of the gods and in need of coin can always find work guarding caravans and merchant ships
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On a larger scale, war is common between the various City States and heroes are always welcome to join the ranks or compete as champions.
"I remember chasing that desert world in the XT-50572 system. We had assumed all the orange-brown stuff floating in the air was simple dust. Turns out it was some kind of fungus that loved two things: the carbon-dioxide and sulpher soup in the atmosphere and the insides of our lander's thrusters. You see, old Terence — that's our backup pilot who's usually onboard the jumpship in orbit — had had to sit out this mission and we were all too itchy to wait for his replacement. That was a mighty unpleasant five weeks the seven of us spent in a cramped up lander waiting on the Beta-314 crew to come bail us out. And they'll never let us forget it."
— Vick Chambers, veteran Star Chaser
Habitable worlds are rare in the settled regions of space. Most are dirty, crowded places. Star Chasers are those who cannot stand to be crushed amongst the masses. They escape the anonymous drudgery of an unchallenging life by seeking out the unknown depths of space, hoping to see that which hasn't been seen and to make their mark upon the wider universe.
In addition, despite all of the advances, discoveries, and advantages of living in a star-spanning civilization, there are still men and women who feel an irresistible urge to head out into the deep unknown to see what is out there and to pit themselves against the rigors of unexplored space. Some work for underfunded government agencies to pursue pure scientific knowledge. Others work with fancier toys paid for by megacorps who expect them to turn up profitable discoveries. Whatever the means, they are all collectively referred to as Star Chasers. Star Chasers are always pursuing that next big discovery beyond the comforts of home in the star-studded vastness of space.
The player characters are among the misfits known as Star Chasers. Ever seeking adventure, excitement, and discovery, they make whatever accommodations they need to in order to chase that next star system. The least experienced tend to be hired by some sort of government agency working with an ever shrinking budget to supply them with the essentials. Despite the poor pay and aging equipment, these are the ones who get to explore for pure science. The Star Chasers who make a name for themselves often find a much better offer working for a megacorp, with an obligation to seek out new sources for mines, interesting botanicals or foodstuffs, new cultures to trade with, or any other profitable venture.
Star Chaser crews are made up of a blend of specialized scientists, spacers, diplomats, and other rugged individuals:
The tone of a Star Chasers campaign can vary widely depending on the makeup of the Player Characters. Looking for excitement in unexplored space as part of the ship's crew? Care to explore the cultural and scientific possibilities as scientists who prefer to avoid violent conflict? Wish to head out as part of the rougher explorers who enjoy pitting themselves against the dangers of brand new worlds? Feel like setting up a campaign revolving around a first contact situation, possibly with an aggressive species?
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The life of a Star Chaser is one filled with excitement and danger. Only those who reject the soft comforts of civilization need apply.
More than one million years ago mankind went extinct, leaving behind partially sentient AI as a legacy. These AI, many in the form of anthropomorphic robots, continued to function mostly as humanity had left them. Using the labor of less intelligent machines, they built and maintained structures suitable for supporting human life and waited patiently to serve their missing masters.
In the present time, another race with FTL travel made their way to Earth and attempted first contact. They are the Trallong: large, dark-skinned humanoids who developed on a world of jungle, swamp, and desert. They are similar enough to humanity that the AI greeted them as masters.
Trallong society is highly democratic and opposed to slavery. Once they realized what was going on, a few of their specialists reprogrammed the AI to have a more independent mindset. (However, some of the Trallong saw no problem with being served by machines and kept a number of the AI as such, but this was a very small number.)
The Trallong have colonized a number of worlds outside their homeworld. It was the expansion that brought them in contact with first the Krith-kinna (see below) and then the androids of Earth. They have developed a peaceful nature, though in their past was much warfare, so they are not ignorant of the art. There is much agonizing over the unnecessary war with the Krith-kinna.
A third species exists called the Krith-kinna. They are much more alien to human ways of thinking. There are four clans or castes (it is a difficult concept to describe) that act quite different from each other and can almost be considered separate species. Their world is one of cold desert and constant wind, with a landscape much like Mars. They attacked the first-contact team of Trallong and stole their FTL technology. They have just begun to expand from their homeworld.
All Krith-kinna have a generally gecko-like appearance, modified for bipedal operation.
The Krith-gesha are long and thin with yellow-toned skin and eyes. They are focused wholly upon the arts of war and are in constant conflict with both the Krith-shepta and the Trallong. They do not breed much, instead relying on massive cloning to replace those lost in the endless warfare. The Krith-brenna supply them with all necessary materials and the Krith-klatha run the cloning tanks and patch up the wounded.
The Krith-shepta are shorter and stockier than the Krith-kinna but just as warlike. They have a deep purple skin with black eyes. They are consummate warriors who breed naturally and often. Thus they are lesser in number than the Krith-kinna but they are superior in fighting ability.
Wholly focused on technology and science, the short and chartreuse-skinned Krith-brenna run the factories and research facilities. They waste no effort in supplying the other warlike Krith-kinna and seem oblivious when any of their own die in the crossfire.
The doctors of their race, the Krith-klatha are a pure, albino white with amber eyes and a spindly frame. Those not directly involved in medicine are responsible for growing and feeding the rest of the Krith-kinna.
PCs should be able to play any of the three races (android, Trallong, and Krith-kinna.) Removed from their society, the Krith-kinna seek to continue their ways solo. A Krith-brenna will love gadgets and wish to share with her companions while a Krith-shepta will be happy in the role of party tank. Trallong society is generally peaceful but there are many possible occupations to be had therein. An independent android will be part of a race just now finding its way into its own.Go to Comment
Magic is finite and replenishes itself slowly. Once, thousands of years ago, it was plentiful and the various races prospered. But over time the magic was used up. When its rivers were too low to flow into our world, a barrier grew up between the worlds of the magical and the mundane.
When that happened, all supernatural critters and spirits were trapped away in that other world. Items of power and enchanted relics crumbled into dust. The world of magic became nothing but superstition and myth.
Over time, the river of magic replenished itself until it became too great to be held back by the barrier. Twenty years ago cracks began to form in that barrier. Just a little at first and then with increasing force.
Over the past few years it has become more difficult to deny that the world has changed. More miraculous events are reported every day. Creatures of legend have begun to appear. Spirits masquerading as gods have begun gathering followers, using real magical effects to impress the masses.
Perhaps the world could have adjusted to these changes if we had all been given more time. However, six months ago, the barrier cracked wide open. The world erupted into chaos.
Dwarves began pouring from the mountain depths of Northern Europe while lumbering trolls descended from the pine-riddled heights, both hell bent on taking back their world. Elves and the fey began terrorizing the populace of the British Isles. Djinn continue to rampage in the Middle East. In the far East, demons of all kinds stalk the land.
Few of these new residents of our world are peaceful. They have all been trapped for a few thousand years and seek to take back what was once theirs.
Yet mankind is armed with modern technology and willing to fight with equal ferocity. In addition, much work is being done to explore the arcane arts. Even so, the world is engulfed in madness.
Pick an area of the world for the campaign and use mythological creatures pertinent to the history of that region. PCs can be humans fighting against the Otherworld incursion, part of the invading force, or a mixed group with any number of motivations.
Alternatively, the timeline can be placed before the incursion but after magic has begun to seep into the world. Just as the PCs begin to gain an understanding of the nature magic, let the hordes invade.Go to Comment
There is the world of water and the world of dry land. Men rule the land, lizard folk rule the swamps and fresh water, and fish folk rule the sea.
Men tame the land, farm, and build villages, cities, and castles. They make treaties, they go to war, and they delve into the realms of the divine and the magical. They have spread across the open plain, through the wide desert, into the valleys and the forests, and over the mountain heights.
The lizard folk, or Slithesh, are split into a number of primitive tribes who live amongst the swamps and fens. They know not the working of metal and use rock, bone, and wood to build with. Being comfortable both on land and in the water, most live in villages of cobbled together shacks that sit partly above and partly below the watery surfaces of their homes.
The Slithesh are great in numbers, for the world is filled with areas comfortable to them and untenable to humanity. Their culture encourages both bravery and a healthy respect for their many gods of the natural world. The second-most respected of their number are the best warriors; the most respected are the shamans who speak directly to and for the spirits of the land.
Being clever, brave, and backed up by the power of their gods, the Slithesh are unswayed by the animosity of man. Neither has any love for the other. Raids into human territories are common, as are (mostly ineffective) retaliatory strikes. Occasionally, men attempt to raise armies to put down the saurian threat, but they are never able to push far into the swamps before being overwhelmed. Men are clumsy in the soggy, unstable ground of Slithesh territory, and their heavy chain armor is more a hindrance than a help.
Called Teesha, the fish folk have a culture far older and more sophisticated than that of man. Their cities grow like coral in the shallows and deeps off of the sea coasts. They have their own nations, their own treaties, and their own understanding of magic and the world and look down upon the barbarism of both man and Slithesh.
In appearance, the Teesha are bipedal with mostly humanoid features. They do have fins upon their arms and legs, webbed toes and fingers, large black eyes, and gills on their necks. They have large black eyes and unparalleled senses of smell and hearing.
They can breathe the air on land, though it tires them quickly; without their magics, they can survive for 2-3 days outside of their natural realm before their skin begins to crack and their limited lungs collapse.
The Teesha are most proud of two things: institutions of learning going back a few thousand years and their elaborate, unbroken traditions honoring the gods of the sea. Teesha culture is highly hierarchical in nature and respect for one's elders is expected.
Teesha cities are both beautiful and ancient; multi-tiered structures of stone and coral, pearl and shell, maze-like in their complexity. Works of art adorn the walls and byways, the cathedrals and the halls of learning.
Technologically, Teesha are somewhat backward. Due to the nature of their realm, they do not work in metals and must make due with the natural materials provided them. However, they have an impressive knowledge and mastery of magic, both arcane and divine, with which they manipulate their world. The magi and the priest outnumber all other professions. Hunters may use simple woven nets and bone-tipped harpoons in their trade, yet both are enchanted to strike true.
Mankind wars with himself and the Slithesh but has little to do with the Teesha, for their respective realms are too well separated. Teesha and Slithesh do not normally encounter one another and thus are neutral in their attitudes toward one another. If anything, the Slithesh would respect the deep respect the Teesha have for their sea gods.
The human world is typical high fantasy with a number of nations who worship different gods. The Slithesh are primitive yet potent adversaries. The Teesha are keepers of lore and magic.
Characters may be drawn from any realm, though a party of mixed race could present difficulties. Neither man nor lizard would be welcome in the others' homeland and the Teesha, outside of magical assistance (and this holds true in reverse), would find it difficult to spend much time in the world above the water. When designing a campaign, it would be important to set the location and the expectations of the players early on.Go to Comment