The colony of Free World was established less than 50 years ago. It is a wild world, untamed as yet and populated mostly by free-spirited settlers who are unwilling to give up their new home. The citizens of this brave new planet are a rough lot, the types willing to go to their graves before caving to the whims of outsiders.
Most of the settlements here originally took the form of small enclaves, groups of people who came together for mutual benefit and survival. Some numbered less than a dozen souls while others were comprised of a few hundred. These enclaves were scattered across the planet in a generally haphazard fashion.
The world itself is thickly forested, warm, and humid. There are vast reaches of jungle, with a smattering of oceans, lakes, rivers, and seas. The wildlife is prodigious, diverse, and often dangerous. Wresting a living from such a world takes perseverance and not a little pure grit.
Only a few years ago, Free World was hit by the first wave of a new alien threat. Being at the edge of populated space, Free World was humanity's only warning of what was to come. After an initial assault upon the world, these aliens gave little thought to the widely scattered inhabitants. Instead, they set up a small force and continued on with their invasion of worlds further in toward inhabited space.
Too widely dispersed to be easily wiped out, the citizens of Free World have taken to fighting these invaders using whatever means that they have available.
There are two distinct species of alien: the yellow-skinned, humanoid Klandatha and their insectoid foot soldiers.
The Klandatha are tall, generally thin creatures with large black eyes, leathery skin, and long, delicate fingers. They have highly developed technology based on organics and an understanding of physics far different from our own. Their ships appear as gigantic, shelled creatures propelled by a mysterious, purplish plasma.
The Klandatha's foot soldiers are an insectoid race genetically modified by scientists to be obedient and deadly. Bred from a race just on the verge of sentience, there are many subtypes, each designed to perform a specific task.
The name "Free World" has become a rallying cry for the surviving human inhabitants. At the edge of colonized space, overrun by hostiles, the hardy souls of the world have joined in a loose network of guerrillas. If they can somehow take back the world, they can choke off the invasion point and do much to hamper further intrusions into human space.
Supplies are scarce and the defenders must live by their wits and strength of will. There is a real opportunity to play up the difficulties of survival and success here. No stores exist for purchasing new equipment; PCs can use only what they can make, scrounge from the settlements, or steal from the invading aliens. Their fortunes can (and should) change on a dime. Anything scrounged from the human settlements will be easy enough to use (although it may not be in the best of repair) but the technology used by the aliens will take some getting used to. Any PCs with technical abilities will be at a disadvantage when attempting to figure out or adapt the tools and devices of the Klandatha or their insectoid soldiers. The PCs should always be outnumbered and out-gunned; if they do not out think the invaders, they will die.
As rugged freedom fighters on an invaded world, a Free World campaign is meant to be based on freeing the world and helping to repel the overall invasion. This can range from a few sessions of playing heroes to a long-running campaign that culminates with total success or complete failure. It is even possible to continue a successful game into space in an attempt to effect the total removal of the Klandatha threat.
There are two different worlds: One is the realm of flesh and blood and bone. The other is that of pure spirit. The world of spirit is a strange one, hardly comprehensible to the mortal human mind. It is the land of both the dead and the supernatural and the place where all dreamers go when they sleep. No mortal mind may touch upon it outside of either death or dreams.
The World of Dreams setting is fantasy, yet the only magic is that which can be accessed while in that space outside of our normal reality. The priest must commune through meditative prayer and the wizard must enter the deep trance. Special dream witches ply the darker realms while asleep. Once in the dream world it is possible to rework the mortal one. This is a skill requiring many years of study and countless hours of learning deep concentration. For entering the dream world is one thing; maintaining awareness while there is something else.
Many exist who do not trust the World of Dreams. Some of these act in direct opposition to this power, either because of belief or out of a deep fear of what they do not understand and cannot control. To such it seems that the physical realm should be enough for the needs of mortal men.
More than a few have joined together into what is called the Order of Lightning and Shield. To those who follow this order, the World of Dreams is only meant for the natural dreamer, the dead, and the gods. They strongly believe that living men should never consciously meddle in such a realm.
Membership in this order varies by region and community. Entire nations have turned to this philosophy, though these are few in number. Other groups of the Order are mere rumors in nations which value highly the connection between this world and that of Dreams. In such places the followers of the Order of Lightning and Shield must tread lightly.
Despite the rank and file of the Order coming from those who have never been to the World of Dreams (outside of the normal way), its founder was once an accomplished weaver of dreams. Once night long ago this wizard, the great Tarothian, accidentally entered a place in the World of Dreams which forever altered his outlook upon his life and the lives of others. During this particular foray into the other realms, Tarothian found himself in a place of complete and total darkness. Within this great blackness he began to fear, for he could not find his way out of it. After a great deal of time desperately searching and lost to a blind panic, he heard a loud voice calling out. This voice hold him many things, few of which he has ever been willing to share with others. Mainly, though, his eyes were opened up to the real dangers which lurked within the Dream realms, places which the curious risked disturbing whilst blindly poking around.
Armed with this knowledge, Tarothian began a crusade to warn others about what he had learned. He met with little success and much ridicule for his crazed mutterings about these dark forces. Eventually he found an unexpected ally in those who lived in ignorance of the Dream World. Playing upon their fears, he was able to spread the word about his discovery and obtain the help of many. However, since the founding of the Order, his only success has been in the fracturing of humanity.
All dream magic is based on ritual. There are no quick spells as in most fantasy worlds. There is only the World of Dreams and what may be accomplished within. In order to practice this magic the wielder must enter through some form of sleep, whether that be a deep trance, meditative prayer, or controlled unconsciousness (as in lucid dreaming.) Once within that state it is vitally necessary to maintain focus; without this focus it possible that the dreamer may never wake (although often this simply means that the dreamer wakes either without success or with negative results.) With the correct focus, the dreamer must then go to work creating just the right dream. The spell is accomplished by making a symbolic representation of the change which is desired within the real world. There are many different ways to do this and each dream weaver will use their own symbols. The detail and success of the task is directly related to the dreamer's skill and patience. The effects can vary widely depending on the skill of the weaver. The wounded may be healed, truths may be revealed, enchantments may be cast.
There are three types of entities in the World of Dreams: Dwellers, Demons, and Lords.
Dwellers make up the majority; they tend to be representative of their role or where in the dream world they dwell. Some are elemental in nature while others are tied to the land, a people, or an idea. There is much variety amongst the Dwellers. Whole libraries are dedicated to describing the many types and their abilities and aspects.
Demons are the most like man and also the most interested in their wants and needs. A Demon is always ready to provide information or assistance but this also always comes with a price. The demons know that their skills are highly valued and charge accordingly, though never in real-world goods.
Lords are the true power amongst their realm and demand to be treated with respect by any visitors. They command great forces and should never be underestimated.
Man is not the only being who dreams. There are many beasts of the wilds who are also able to walk the World of Dreams, though their wants and needs are not as that of mortal men. Many are the potential effects of such creatures.Go to Comment
The Riddle of the Seal
That the seal may be split in twain is a legend known to a relative few. It has been said that splitting the seal will split the world. Some believe it to be a literal sundering of the world while others believe it would mirror a division of the faith. Others have conjectured that the two halves represent the division between this world and the world of spirit; they hypothesize that a split of the Seal would cause a rift between those two realities and bring chaos to the world.
The Seal itself appears to be rather simple in nature when viewed from afar. When one attempts to follow the details it appears complex. The simple spiral is actually made up of a number of thicker lines intersected by a number of smaller ones. Hagartha used it as a focus for spiritual meditation and believed that he came to know something of the nature of Ahkti by pondering these lines.
Following the lines with ones fingers reveals that the lines are not solidly connected but are rather pieces of wire threaded around each other. Pressure on various parts causes other parts to shift. To Hagartha, this symbolized the interconnectedness of all. Accordin to Hagartha's teachings, this shows how we cannot affect the smallest thing in life without touching a web larger than ourselves. He used this as the basis for a philosophy of peace and respect toward others.
The two halves are connected by a bisecting line which is made up of a great multitude of these variously sized threads. Putting pressure on a point of one half of the Seal will cause a shift in the threads of this bisecting line which will then be reflected in a change in the other half of the Seal.
The legend of the puzzle is this: if the bearer of the Seal were to place pressure upon an intricate series of points on the Seal, in a specific order with specific differences in pressure, the lines in the middle would slowly unwind and cause the Seal to split into two mirrored halves.
Most bearers of the Seal have been vehemently opposed to solving the puzzle, feeling it would undo the divine power of Ahkti. A few have tried, however, but with no luck. In the modern age it is often a source of speculation, especially in the argument between mechanical and animistic world views.