First things first, this is only the WORKING title for the campaign setting. I think it's kind of silly and probably won't keep it, but it serves as a good indicator to others as to what the setting is about. Let me know what you think of it, and if you have any other ideas for a title.
The world (as yet unnamed) is pretty much like ours as far as climate and geographic features are concerned, but much larger...giving many possibilities for exploration-based campaigns.
Technological development is varied throughout the world, but the most sophisticated regions have reached a level comparable to our early 19th century. An industrial revolution is just taking form in some areas, the steam engine is coming into its own but electricity is still highly experimental. Gunpowder having been developed by Alchemists many years ago, flintlock pistols and rifles are present but rare except for the military and the wealthy. Medicine is barely adequate; battlefield medicine can stop bleeding and repair some damage, but sterilization and anesthetics are only experimental theories. Diseases are thought of as maladies of the spirit and microrganisms are unheard of. Illnesses uncontrolled with herbal remedies and crippling injuries are considered too difficult to treat with anything but magic.
Magic is a recognised influence in the world...I would compare Magery to the study of Physics, and magic itself to nuclear forces. Mana can be thought of as an energy field suffusing the universe and all things in it; the glue holding all things together and defining reality. Many people use magic on a small scale, little hexes and rituals here and there, often governed by religious/philosophical beliefs of how the world works; but some have evolved magic into a science of its own and devote years of study to the craft of understanding and shaping reality.
Humans, while present, are not the only intelligent life here. It is not certain how much influence the presence of magic has had in creating such a bounty of sentient life, but there are believed to be as many as one hundred different racial types throughout the world. The extent to which these races mingle varies greatly throughout different locations...some races and cultures are very cosmopolitan in their attitudes, while others are completely xenophobic or just too psychologically alien to mingle with or understand.
I think the best way to describe the feeling I'm working for is steam-age fantasy mixed with pulp novel adventure and horror elements and a little comedy to lighten up the dark bits.
1. Working against stereotypes.
Though cultural and natural values dictate behavior to a great extent, there are NO "evil" or "good" races. The Nazi movement was a misguided belief system that resulted in horrendous actions by its followers, but they were only doing what they believed to be right at the time. And there were sympathetic Germans that did what they could to help the innocent victims of their corrupted government. In this world, a member of a reptilian race that EATS members of other races if it needs to is not inherently evil...it's merely doing what it has always known. Also, a human empire that drives out a whole population of these reptiles to save one of its colonies is not necessarily doing the right thing.
2. Progress vs. Dehumanization.
When the Industrial Revolution hit, many things changed for the better; but there were also many who were afraid of where it would lead. Mass production techniques threatened uneducated labor workers with the possibility of unemployment, and those that remained employed were forced to work in steadily worsening conditions for steadily inadequate wages while those who ran the factories came to rival the aristocracy in wealth and influence. So it is in this world...and with such an environment of poverty and unfair treatment, upheaval is never more than a demonstration away.
3. The fight for equality.
The struggle of the lower classes to gain respect and equality from those who retain power through social standing and wealth. Also the struggle to gain freedom from oppression in its various forms...financial, sexual, racial, etc.
4. Religion vs. Self-Determinism.
Are the gods real? Do they define us or do we define them? Are we bound by their schemes and ideals, or can we direct our own paths?
I know these sound pretty d**ned egotistical, but I'm really not so full of myself. I just think some of the best stories I've read and played are the ones that force you to ask questions of yourself. The best games have the same characteristics of the best dramas and comedies. And, I view the industrial age as one of the best settings to ask alot of these questions...all the struggles and ideals and discoveries that were made, and the reckless enthusiasm for new adventures. That's where I'd like to play.
These are just various sources to give you an idea of the flavors and themes that fit how I want this setting to feel...
The books "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar" by China Mieville
"The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "The Dunwitch Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft
The movies "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", "The Ghost and the Darkness", "Gangs of New York", "City of Lost Children", "Tombstone" and "Brotherhood of the Wolf"
The comics "Poison Elves" by Drew Hayes, and "The Invisibles" by Grant Morrison
Well, this has taken me a while...sorry to be so long winded. If anyone is interested, I'll start typing up my other notes in various threads.
What I'm hoping from this is to get some good feedback and discussion to help develop this world for my future plans to publish stories in the setting, based on the adventures of players.