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Offline MysticMoon

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Pocket realms
« on: May 07, 2011, 01:04:45 PM »
I would like to start fleshing out the campaign world for The Lost Empire. The original world was ripped apart into individual pockets of geography which now float in the ethereal realms (à la Ravenloft, but without the horror aspect.) Each is a few hundred to, at most, 1,000 miles in length (shape can be variable) and completely cut off from anywhere else. Each was once under the dominion of the Empire but was suddenly freed from its influence with the sundering of the world. The Crystal Tower has a facade in each realm, which would allow travel between the realms if it hadn't been inaccessible for 3,000 years (since the sundering.)

I have only vague ideas for some of the realms at this point and could use some help expanding them:
  • A couple of temperate realms based loosely on traditional fantasy.
  • A far north, Nordic realm replete with mountains, fjords, dwarves, and giant-kin.
  • Tropical island chain
  • Mediterranean
  • Jungle
  • Desert
  • Plains

For the most part, these realms have not advanced far technologically and some may have reverted to a degree. I'm considering the possibility of a realm or two developing steam punk tech.

The ultimate goal of the campaign will be to reweave these realms together. Players, having gained access to the Crystal Tower, will be traveling from realm to realm in search of artifacts, lore, tomes, etc.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2011, 10:29:22 AM »
Sliders comes to mind, the PCs using wormholes to travel through a parade of almost Earths until they find the right one.

The thing I would be concerned about running into is falling into the pre-established rut.

This realm is cold and mountainous, so lets keep an eye out for vikings and frost giants, this realm is overcast and the trees all creak evilly, get the vampire hunting kits out.


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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2011, 11:10:26 AM »
Thanks for the reminder. The "pre-established rut" is a trap I fall into quite easily and one I'll look out for.

And I loved Sliders (even though the ending sucked.) I wouldn't be surprised if that was partly the inspiration. I try not to look too closely into that murky pool of ideas that is my creative font. My sanity is shaky enough already. :)
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2011, 01:23:34 PM »
I really like the "stargateish" aspect of  facadetraveling and, again, the idea of sundering.

Well planning sundered worlds isn't that different from planing others, with the different that these worlds have to contain everything they need in this small area. Which would mean that certain materials are not easy obtainable in certain "worlds" and would cause technological reversion.

Well, that said. What are you searching for, ideas or full fledged worlds you could plug in?


Just to begin, a few (pretty standard) ideas:

A "Waterworld" with only a few landmasses. Huge, magically strengthened ships with "sideships" that span fishingnets for food. The only freshwater sources are a small island and a magical artifact (which has to be stolen to  'reweave' the realms). The Facade goes directly into the ocean, so crossing is only feasible if a ship is near. (So you have to look before you jump).

A mountain region, where only the tops of the mountains were sundered into a different realm (or the other half is some other region without a clear sky and where you can climb into oblivion). People live on cold islands above the nothingness and use dirigibles to cross over. It is said, that the volcano in the mids of the realm has caused the sundering, to destroy the Empire, which had tried to mine gold and other rare metals.

A world where only young people live, everyone over 25 (or younger depending on standard-parenthood age that you want to allow for your campaign). At their 25th birthdays people go through the edge of the realm to a better world (or not actually). The people of this world believed that the old wizards of the empire where responsible for the attack over time knowledge faded and people believed that it was "old people" who caused it and gradually the age limit sank to todays number. Naturally there won't be a warm welcoming for older people.

The Mirror Kingdoms (they do not actually call themselves that). Before the shattering the Kingdom of Peronia was a  thriving small Kingdom under the control of the Empire. But the sundering split the Kingdom in halves. Now both Peronias are shattered worlds with the kingdoms capital at the edge of their realms.
One side had the righteous king governing over the remains of the kingdom and the city guard to calm the people. Peronia is now a beautiful place of peace and harmony.
The other Peronia had the young concubine of the king and the fierce army on their side of the split and is now a cesspit with slavery and brutal fight over the kingdom Dozens of women claim the heir of the concubines throne.

Well, that's my ideas. Fell free to use, expand, change  or dispose of them however you feel like.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 03:56:36 PM »
Those are excellent suggestions, Juliet. Thanks!
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2011, 04:28:21 PM »
You're welcome. I'll try to come up with some more ideas, maybe you find something you need.

Offline Mourngrymn

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2011, 08:57:44 PM »
My thoughts, as little and unimportant as they are at times...

I really like the "stargateish" aspect of  facadetraveling and, again, the idea of sundering.

Well planning sundered worlds isn't that different from planing others, with the different that these worlds have to contain everything they need in this small area. Which would mean that certain materials are not easy obtainable in certain "worlds" and would cause technological reversion.

Shouldn't be hugely difficult, almost planning or creating them as different kingdoms/ countries etc with no real outside source other than what they have to survive. Possibly with the realms being shattered occasional chunks of realms drift into others bringing needed or not used resources... interesting idea if that is how the players find out that the world they live on is actually part of another huge span of realms. Where they live is one of the places that had issues with keeping history or didn't know the reason for the sundering and they thought their little realm was their entire existence until they crash into one and are told otherwise.

A "Waterworld" with only a few landmasses. Huge, magically strengthened ships with "sideships" that span fishingnets for food. The only freshwater sources are a small island and a magical artifact (which has to be stolen to  'reweave' the realms). The Facade goes directly into the ocean, so crossing is only feasible if a ship is near. (So you have to look before you jump).

I like this, I can see masses of flotillas massing to keep the peace, or floating islands similar to the Steriks Islands floating randomly through the void of water endlessly. The difficult part being the object or knowledge they seek will obviously be under water in a sunken mass or temple. Finding out about it should be a task, getting there and getting it painfully difficult.

A mountain region, where only the tops of the mountains were sundered into a different realm (or the other half is some other region without a clear sky and where you can climb into oblivion). People live on cold islands above the nothingness and use dirigibles to cross over. It is said, that the volcano in the mids of the realm has caused the sundering, to destroy the Empire, which had tried to mine gold and other rare metals.
I like the imagery with this one... balloon battles over valuable hydrogen pockets that are used for the dirigibles trapped in the mountains comes to mind.

A world where only young people live, everyone over 25 (or younger depending on standard-parenthood age that you want to allow for your campaign). At their 25th birthdays people go through the edge of the realm to a better world (or not actually). The people of this world believed that the old wizards of the empire where responsible for the attack over time knowledge faded and people believed that it was "old people" who caused it and gradually the age limit sank to todays number. Naturally there won't be a warm welcoming for older people.
This one is iffy for me... killing off a population at the age of 25, or any young age, seems to me as if it would thin it far to quickly making it impossible to keep the population up. Unless the group gets there and somehow can convince or prove that killing the population off isnt the answer. Or perhaps the "old people" dont die but somehow are somewhere else living out their lives somehow living in another pocket realm of sorts. Maybe being over the acceptable age they are forced to go there and they find their answer to help pull the realms together.

That's all for now, you will be returned to your regularly scheduled program shortly.
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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2011, 06:43:10 AM »
What about linking the age-limited realms? People who age above 25 vanish into the elder-realm whereas kids there likewise vanish into the Youth-realm once they are weaned.

They could receive a tattoo in the Elder-realm and be recognized according to it once they return. All people in the Elder-realm would know of their time in the lands of the young, but the youngsters would just see babies appear (the magic would work so that the babies appear next to a native) and have strange ideas about where they go after their 25th birthday.
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2011, 03:42:12 PM »
Before I go on wanted to apologize, if anyone felt affronted by the "age-limit world".  I actually didn't think about the moral implications at that time. How to topple that issue?
Whether a group wants to get into the moral realms of "mass murder" or not is up to their own bidding. I always thought of sci-fi and fantasy as a possibility to discuss themes that couldn't be discussed in "real life". Maybe it's me but mass murder never bothered that much in these kind of stories. We're talking about a world, where 3.000 years ago a huge part of the world was just shattered apart.

To the question of feasibility: This is highly dependent on the circumstances people these live under. If they have a functioning society, enough food and water, a mild climate and a moderate amount of diseases it would be. With a 0% death rate a women would just have to make 2-3 children in about 11 years.
The moral questions of young mothers and young death is the far more pressing one and I can't answer that for you.

What the group does or doesn't do... well I always figured they should be left to their own devices but any righteous group would at least try...
Anyway, since the main goal of the campaign is to reweave the realms they would put an end to the practice anyway.


Well... About linking the age limit realms, if the young ones shouldn't know where kids come from, they have to be much younger. Put some fourteen year old kids together and they'll figure out how kids are born 9 Month later.


More world ideas:

A realm where most adult women where out of the realm as the sundering happened (because of some wedding ritual) the remaining adults thought that a demon had stolen almost all women and trapped them to take the rest. So they disguised all girls and the remaining women as boys and men. Today females and males are virtually indistinguishable, if you don't know what you have to look for. Tradition calls for clothing that would make it hard to distinguish by typical gender characteristic, but there are secret clues.

A kingdom where mighty sorcerers conjured demons to do there bidding, but after the sundering no demons could be called anymore. The demons couldn't find their way to the realm. To keep in power the leaders imposed slavery, but slavery of humans was disallowed, so the human slaves had to dress up as demons. Till this day all slaves are painted in colors and have fangs and horns put on their bodies.

A divided realm, with only a small path between them, either this was one realm that was almost ripped apart or two totally different realms that now lie near each other in oblivion. One of the realms has almost nothing. Before the sundering it lay on the edge of the fruitful plains toward the northern regions. Only rich trade made live bearable. They think a mighty demon, the "sunderer" destroyed the world.
The other realm is much more livable. With a wonderful river and warm climate people have a paradise in this realm. They also think that a being called the sunderer is responsible and has to be kept in good mood.
So: Every 20 years the first realm sends a fighter to hold the sunderer at bay, so he can't destroy the last piece of the world. This fighter goes into the second realm, where he assumes the role of the sunderer and has an awesome time. 20 years later his replacement arrives and he goes back to the first realm and tells them how he had to fight the evil sunderer. The replacement guy tells the second realm that he is the rejuvenated sunderer and they do his bidding.

A realm that is controlled by mighty sorcerers. Only these sorcerers have no clue about magic (at least not the fantasy kind). Before the sundering real wizards controlled the land but over time almost all knowledge was lost and today only parlor tricks remain. But everyone fears the mighty magician who can go through walls, can be sawn in half or even let a tower vanish! FEAR THE MIGHTY WIZARDS!

If you like the whole "drifting" idea. How about some kind of "assorted house"? A realm that was clotted together from small shatters, that didn't fit anywhere else. It's a huge area, some square miles or larger made out of the interior of houses. Sometimes you there might even be some kind of winter garden or courtyard but it is mostly rooms.


I have three other ideas about a battlefield, hunters and a never ending party but they will have to wait until later.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2011, 03:57:19 PM »
Before I go on wanted to apologize, if anyone felt affronted by the "age-limit world".  I actually didn't think about the moral implications at that time. How to topple that issue?
Whether a group wants to get into the moral realms of "mass murder" or not is up to their own bidding. I always thought of sci-fi and fantasy as a possibility to discuss themes that couldn't be discussed in "real life". Maybe it's me but mass murder never bothered that much in these kind of stories. We're talking about a world, where 3.000 years ago a huge part of the world was just shattered apart.

I don't think Mourn was offended by the age-limit world, Juliet. I believe he was questioning it on a practical level. And Echo was running with it. This is a good thing. It means your ideas got them (and me) thinking.

Edit: If you were just expressing a general concern, don't worry. I've seen far more controversial subjects bandied about within these walls.

I think you do bring up an interesting point, though. Moral characters could easily take exception to this practice, which would be good grist for the adventure mill.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 07:05:26 PM by MysticMoon »
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Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2011, 04:05:13 PM »
I have three other ideas about a battlefield, hunters and a never ending party but they will have to wait until later.

Keep 'em coming! I plan to use many of your suggestions.
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2011, 04:39:11 PM »
Not that much time today, so I'm going to jump right in.

The moral issue apology: I did it partly because of Mourngrymn statement, that he thinks it would be okay if the group does something against it, but mainly because of I thought that if someone speaks up, many could just be offended. But no worry. Offending someone wouldn't stop me from posting. I think if a storyteller doesn't offend people he does something wrong.



Back to worlds:

At the exact time of the sundering a battle raged between the empire and some neighboring nation. The battle stopped and both armies retreated to their camps. Nobody knew what happened and so the war had to go on. Until today. Today neither party knows what the "war" is about and parts of the old battlefield and near plains have been converted to fields and the camps are now settlements. The "war" is nothing more than a play. People seldom die and most parts of their war machine are to old and brittle for a real fight. But they just can't stop. This is why they are here. Their grandgrandgrandparents (add some dozen more grands for good measure) fought this war, and so will they.

The never ending party. This one is about timing. At the exact moment of the shattering some old lady tried to stop a party for Emera, goddess of wine and music. Everyone thought that Emera had punished them for stopping the holy feast made to her honors. To not be punished further they partied on to win her favor back.
Till then the party never stopped. Theres always music, dancing, drinking and singing. Either they have some magic artifact to supply them with wine and food, or people are taking turns at working and partying. - You could go two ways with this. You could either make some funny adventure about people who will never stop partying, or a dark adventure about people who are forced to party 24/7. A society at the verge of breaking.

This one actually a bit iffy for me. Can't put my finger on it, but somethings not right. Maybe because it has the same premise as the "demon" world. Anyway here we go:
In this world hunters had to prove their worth by hunting a specific beast. A creatures that was extremely elusive and only good trackers could ever hope to catch it. Only after catching this beast a hunter was allowed to start his one family. But this creature didn't live within the realm or was wiped out after the sundering. Today one (adult or teen) child of each family gets the (or a) bone of one of these creatures. The "bonebearers" go and hide in the woods and then hunters search for them to found families with them. You could change gender-roles to make it a bit less sexist.  -  A good first adventure for this world would most likely one, where they find a bonebearer, who is not amused, because he/she had an agreement with a hunter about meeting in the wood, so they could be together.


In the end you can/should still add details to it and you could just mash some of my ideas up.


I also have a smaller idea, that doesn't really builds on the whole "sundering"-idea but still could be used. I'll post it as soon as I find the time.


Any Idea about how the whole "reweaving" will work?

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2011, 06:14:08 PM »
Any Idea about how the whole "reweaving" will work?

Only in general. The PCs will gain access to the Crystal Tower by degrees (as they collect McGuffins on their journeys.) These new areas will figure into the reweaving but will likely include puzzles that can only be solved via their travels.

Any ideas you have on that will be welcomed.
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2011, 03:30:19 PM »
Sorry for that long wait. Way too much to do.

Anyway, I hope I can put  later this weak some further Worlds together, but till then:

Reweaving Ideas:

A Mirror. Always an easy pick. The Mirror shattered with the Empire and the shards are all over the realms. As a plot twist: The Mirror holds a mighty demon (or thousands of demons) and they will be released as soon as the mirror is put together.

A Model of the Empire. The strategists room holds a gigantic, but shattered model of the empire. Each Realm Holds a representation of it self. So the battlefieldworld would hold a golden soldier (or horse or whatever). A town could hold a small golden house, a bigger city could hold a miniature representation of its actual appearance. You could also use landmarks, or things the towns where known for.
Each object could have unique abilities, if you fear that these are to powerful you could restrict the powers to the realm they belong to or the realms in general. (Magic is awesome... No Explaining necessary...)
So the "Neverending Party" world could have a golden horn that creates food and wine.

Or you could just let them weave. Literally.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #14 on: May 17, 2011, 03:37:21 PM »
Or you could just let them weave. Literally.


Straight-forward. I like it ;)

I wonder if I could somehow work this idea in with Dozus' Cartogramancy - The Magic of Maps. The PCs must make a magical map of each realm and then find a legendary cartogramancer to sew them all together.
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2011, 04:02:15 PM »
That's a neat idea. It could be that they have to draw the maps (with draw tests if your system has them) or that these maps make themselves. Like in Video games (Not really into those but I'm sure I've seen that). You go somewhere and the map draws itself of your immediate surroundings.
Or you have to go to certain "Map Points" (maybe old cartographer's measurement points, marked with stones or other carvings?).
These Points could Mark Borders of the Empire or Provinces within them or "official" townships and cities of the empire. (The Waterworld could have ships and islands that have to be travelled, one ship is the official flagship, a town on an island was officially founded by the empire and one ship has a marker for a new town that never arrived)

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2011, 08:51:13 AM »
Reweaving Ideas:

A Mirror. Always an easy pick. The Mirror shattered with the Empire and the shards are all over the realms. As a plot twist: The Mirror holds a mighty demon (or thousands of demons) and they will be released as soon as the mirror is put together.

A Model of the Empire. The strategists room holds a gigantic, but shattered model of the empire. Each Realm Holds a representation of it self. So the battlefieldworld would hold a golden soldier (or horse or whatever). A town could hold a small golden house, a bigger city could hold a miniature representation of its actual appearance. You could also use landmarks, or things the towns where known for.
Each object could have unique abilities, if you fear that these are to powerful you could restrict the powers to the realm they belong to or the realms in general. (Magic is awesome... No Explaining necessary...)
So the "Neverending Party" world could have a golden horn that creates food and wine.

I think the cartogramancy and model ideas can work together. The tower could have had a room which held a representation of each area of the empire. Those items would have been used as a kind of anchor for the tower facades. When the world was sundered, those items ended up in their respective realms. The PCs must retrieve these items for use as map foci. Each focus is used in the creation of an individual realm map.

That's a neat idea. It could be that they have to draw the maps (with draw tests if your system has them) or that these maps make themselves. Like in Video games (Not really into those but I'm sure I've seen that). You go somewhere and the map draws itself of your immediate surroundings.
Or you have to go to certain "Map Points" (maybe old cartographer's measurement points, marked with stones or other carvings?).
These Points could Mark Borders of the Empire or Provinces within them or "official" townships and cities of the empire. (The Waterworld could have ships and islands that have to be travelled, one ship is the official flagship, a town on an island was officially founded by the empire and one ship has a marker for a new town that never arrived)

I like the general feel of the map points. The PCs would need to do some investigating to figure out where they needed to go. I'll think on this a bit.
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Offline Juliet

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2011, 03:28:04 PM »
Well, so much for later that week. Some problems came up.

The only problem I see with the "map points" idea would be, that it is a McGuffin. You have to make it a part of your world, or you will stretch your players suspension of disbelief.

I like the idea measurement points, you can find them in many real word places, and they could be a major plot point of the empire. The empire could have been obsessed with it's size.
Either because of the emperor sheer lust for power, or because of some higher motives.
They could tried to get bigger than:
  • An even older empire, that almost everyone has forgotten about. The Empire was shattered by immortal mages of the old empire. This mages are still living in your "normal" game world and will try to stop the players, or maybe they are trying to recreate the old empire while the players uncovers the truth.
  • The demon empire in hell (or wherever demons live in your gameworld). The emperor tried to create an empire so big, it could rival the demons. As soon as that was achieved, he could destroy them (because of some weird magic or the size of his army). But the Demons shattered his empire. But the mages of the empire could  trap the demon army, that shattered the empire. (or the shattering happened because of the mages, that stopped the demon army in their tracks)

Both ideas would give you an even bigger story, you could tell after the campaign and would elevate the quest for size and measurement to a vital point of the history of the empire.

Offline MysticMoon

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2011, 03:44:09 PM »
Well, so much for later that week. Some problems came up.

I've been insanely busy for the past few weeks and haven't done any work on this. Hopefully that won't continue much longer.
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Offline hylandpad

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2011, 07:18:23 PM »
How about a realm that is literally covered in it;s entirety by a teeming megalopolis, which claims to be (but may not be in actuality) the seat of Imperial Power before the sundering.

Food would have to be shipped in from another sundered isle, perhaps one much more agrarian in nature. The Imperial Steward is busy consolidating his power base to care that the nobles war with the merchants, and the small-folk are suffocating in their own filth.

This offers plenty of opportunities to explore the lower class districts, filled with ghettos, shady taverns and houses of ill repute, while dodging thieves, cut-throats, and the cronies of gang leaders. Also, you could easily allude to real life problems; a food shortage perhaps, that's causing a slow, but simmering rebellion while the oblivious nobles live in glorious splendor (ala the French Revolution.)

Speaking of nobles, there might also be a garrisoned, fortified Aristocratic district where wealthy noblemen live. A problem here might be the emergence of a middle class, where blue-blooded nobility butt heads with new-money entrepreneurs.  City guardsmen here might be bought and sold by the noble houses, and used for special "protections" or to look the other way to street violence. To complicate things, nobles not only struggle with merchants, but with each other. This could result in a Romeo and Juliet style house war, complete with assassins, street battles and whatnot.
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Offline Cheka Man

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Re: Pocket realms
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2011, 08:51:27 PM »
Should I create one of these realms?