Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lather, Rinse, Continue...

This entry is a continuation of this entry.

Shattered Sky 1.75 will be an attempt to return to form. My form. The project/setting will also not be called Shattered Sky. The title of Teloen Core is currently uppermost in my mind. Why?

Well, you see that little round thing at the exact center of the graphic? That's the campaign world - though the spelling has been changed since then. It is the quite literal center of my setting universe. It is the core of all things.

But, to be honest, the name of the project isn't what has been keeping me engrossed so far. It is the realization that I allowed the gaming industry and certain new releases and editions of the first fantasy role-playing game to influence my design preferences. Bugger that for a lark. I'm getting bored. Bored of Euro-centric medieval-flavored gaming. Bored of elves (especially dark elves) and dwarves. Bored of Dark Lords and Evil Bitch-Goddesses. Bored of orc armies and demon incursions.

So, what does that leave me to work with? Everything.

My campaign setting has gone through so many iterations and revisions that I find it hard to keep track. From Azur-Lun to Tharan to Aradan to Pelagena to Avremier to Eitha Myndarun to Teloen...and lots of weird places between. Along the way, my mission statement has tended to be along the lines of "more mythic and less European." What do I mean by that? Am I just going to start crafting cultures and species from whole cloth? No, I am not. I don't believe in weirdness for weirdness's sake. I'd like players to have a recognizable foundation from which to build their characters and gaming experience. I'm all about flavor.

Slavic flavor, for example. Bogatyrs and witch-hags. Immortals that can't be killed because they keep their spirits hidden away - and I don't mean liches. Horrible multi-headed dragons.
Maybe some Eastern spice that doesn't evoke China or Japan. Not only rakshasa, but also yaksha. Multi-faced and multi-armed deity figures. Deities that the hapless local mortals honor so as to avoid drawing unwanted attention from them.
I'd like more Mesoamerican influence. Maybe even Mississippian.
Germanic (but not in ways you might expect). Welsh. Finnish.
Mesopotamian. Babylonian/Chaldean. Sumerian. I want lammasu and shedu to have an actual place in the campaign.
I want chthonic entities running around making life more exciting for everyone. I want more than just Good vs. Evil. More than arrogant and tree-hugging elves. More than grumpy and anvil-hugging dwarves. I want serious culture clash and dominions that feel like something more than a brief history or anthropology lesson. Campaign settings that feel like nothing more than a fantasy version of Eurasia don't generally work for me. Neither do settings that feel like nothing more than a mashup of every significant pre-industrial world culture with a fantasy veneer.

Sure, I have my own tastes and preferences when it comes to real-world cultures and flavors. I believe I mentioned a few of them above. But, I have no desire to simply create a continent cobbled together from a bunch of kingdoms or regions that are nothing more than Sumeria bordering on Thailand, Estonia, and Tollan. I love the concept of Baba Yaga, but I don't really want to just dump her and her dancing hut into my campaign and call it a day. Now, an entire subculture of hags and witches that have a purpose and a goal within the setting...well, there's something worth looking into.

As I work on gaming concepts, I tend to run across other designers doing many of the same things. This discourages and inspires me in near-equal measure. While I'd like to present more-or-less original concepts for my players, I also like to see what the industry is doing and where it is going. Though, now, the main difference for me is that I intend to let these trends influence me less.

Next time, I might share some of my conceptualization and development notes.

1 comment:

  1. Cthulhu...ngh...ngh...ahhhh the horror! lol