The Other Realm
The concept is simple: a magical fantasy world 'just next door' cosmolically speaking. John Carter of Mars or The Chronicles of Narnia are often a gamer's first exposure to the concept. There have been many novels based on the premise that "people from here" go "somewhere else" and have a grand adventure, often saving that "somewhere else".
It has been done time and time again in fantasy novel after fantasy novel. So why not in games? We have borrowed every other fantasy trope from novels, why don't we use this one?
There might be some logistics for a gamer, after all your "heroes" might not succeed or do the stupid and die, so you can't guarrentee that they will be there for the campaing. After you deal with the replacement issues, the game really runs like any other.
Or does it?
An Other Realm Campaign is a great campaign to play. The key is putting things together. The two realms and the characters can not just be randomly assembled. It would be like a peanut butter, roast beef, and havardi cheese sandwich. They are three great things that don't go together. All the pieces in such a campaign need to fit together in a way that support each other and add to The Drama that will occur during the game.
Before you can set up an Other Realm Campaign, you need to define some things. This vocabulary helps you keep everything in place.
-Earth (or base realm)
- well the other one.
- a way between the worlds.
*Note: You can set up a campaign where The Near Realm is a fantasy world and the Other Realm is Earth (or somewhere else). This just takes some experience with both realms.
Now the key to an Other Realm Campaign is intergrating the settings. Instead of just smashing two things together, the GM should stop and think about how the two realms go together.
Earth as it is now
- This is the common default for an Other Realm campaign. It is easiest setting for both the GM and the Players. The only thing the GM needs to add to the world are the things that are connected in someway to The Other Realm, if any thing.
For some reason, Toronto Canada and The Bay Area in California are the two most common locations in this kind of fiction. Could it be that authors live there or are they seen as magical places?
Earth as it nearly is now
: This is in place for the classic Other Genre which is venturing over into an Other Realm Campaign. The classic example of a Nearly Earth is a Super Heroic Campaign, which is Earth, with some notable exceptions. Other used examples are Supernatural/ Monster campaigns, A Celestial Campaign, and a Cinematic Espionage Campaign. These are really just variations on Earth as it is now, just the characters involved are going to have exceptional powers and all challanges on The Other Realm will need to be scaled up.
Earth as it was
- This is a great option, allowing your characters to have a totally different, nearly fantasy feel, without moving away from Earth. Travelers from Victorian England, the battles of WWII, or San Francisco in the 1960s, are all great places to start. They are familiar to the players, but just different enough that they have a fantasy feel.
Earth as it will be
- Science Fiction here we come. Now you can run near future, cyberpunk future, far future, or even an outerspace. This strikes at the "Earth is the best option" for such a campaign. But it is your game.
- We are gamers, we are used to "living" in other worlds. This is an option, but a weak one. It only works if the players are extremely familiar with the Near Realm.
Other Realm Thumbnail:
You need to start with a general idea for the world before you start giving it any real details. This thumbnail acts as a rough foundation for your future work. It should be just a few lines of work, highlighting what is important inthe world.
Now most Other Realms fit into one of the following four categories:
Standard Adventure Fantasy
- this is your classic psuedo-medieval, para-European, Tolkien inspired fantasy that is commonly gamed in that game.
- This is a setting is highly historically accurate. It is not a perfect historical simulation, but it is close enough for most gamers.
- Despite the name, it is quite simple: it is not a standard adventure fantasy setting or a historical accureately one. This is all those other kinds of fantay settings.
- This is a fairy/ fey realm that has only a loose connection to "reality". It is the thing of Irish fairy tales, or Norse Mythology, or some such.
Now you might have a little more to start with than this or what you have to start with does not "neatly" fit into one of the classic categories from "Other Realm Fiction". These situations are okay. Work with what you have as an anchor for the future work.
Impact of Near Realm on the Other Realm
There is always some kind of connection between the two realms. This connection can be more than "magical". In many cases, the connection effects events and probablity. In other cases, it is the people in it. This relationship impacts The Other Realm greatly and is one of the first things you need to consider about The Other Realm.
Type of Impact
Flow of Events
- the historical and not so historical events.
- the people involved
- the way things are
Magnitude of Impact
: This is an option, just not one commonly done in the fiction.
: A copy or near copy
Feedback (i.e. impact in reverse?)
The Legend Issue: Are there legends related to the Other Realm (on either side)?
How wide spread are those legends?
How well known are they?
How true are they?
And what about the Other Realm, does it have legends about The Near Realm.
The existance of legends impacts the who can know things about The Other Realm, or what might of slipped from their security.
How do you get across?*The mode of travel a path:
Gate (or non portable item/place)
Spell a process that must be done.
Key- Portable item
Gift (certain bloodlines or blessed people)
The Disaster - One time or nearly one time event creates the Path
*How many ways across?
This determines how easy it is to find a path.
*One?/ Few/ Many?
periodic? Does the path have limits as to how long or when durring the day/ calander it can be used.
conditionals? Must somthing, like the allignment of planets, be correct? Must the moon be full? Must there be a red flag running up the pole?
activateable - easy
activateable - hard
*Is a path creatable, or are they artifacts?
magic anchors (items or things )
ability w/ trigger - mirror let's say.
who or what can pass?
exposure to X
John Carter option
No- time same
Earth fast- bummer for earthers..
Earth slow- fantasy standard.
Dreamtime... it is fluid
very secret/ secret/ open secret/ public knowledge
size of group
Who exploits? And how?
How can things from one side expand the other? A wizard who studies computer science will have a powerful paradigmn to do magic with when he gets back?
How will democracy from the 21st C Earth play in a feudal environment?.. and so on
Are Earthsiders heroes over there?
*Modern advantage of health care and size. And our lack of O2. We get to be high edge over there despite our lack of exercise.
*Earthers special powers?
other characters - Native Guide.
Things to think about
last thing, the normal world could be not now. Super hero, cyberpunk, other modernish oddities. Makes for more contrast (most of the time) between the worlds.
One More Thing: you could make the fanasy word the home world and the other realm modern earth. That twists
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Three months later, I just multiplied the amount of text and some of the ideas for this submission by a factor of two.