Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fantasy Pair-O-Dice

Avremier is not my idea of a perfect fantasy world.

I open with this because I want to be clear. Avremier was not created to be everything I wanted in fantasy gaming. It also wasn't the result of my being a "frustrated writer." I am, in fact, a "published writer." It may be my writer's soul that shaped the Avremier setting.

Does Avremier include a lot of fantasy elements that I particularly enjoy? Of course it does. I'm not doing all of this as some kind of karmic penance. More importantly, Avremier includes a lot of fictional, historical, mythological, and sociological elements that I find interesting. The years I've spent running campaigns set in Avremier have helped me develop those elements, and to decide what works.

Don't misconstrue that last statement. I've kept some elements that don't seem to work. Either, because I particularly like them, or, because I feel they are essential to the setting. As I hear far too often in response to specific questions, "It's your game - do what you want."  I happen to feel it is a game that belongs to all the participants, but I may be in the minority.

So, I never really set about to create a fantasy setting that was better than the others. I never thought to emulate an existing fantasy world. Bits and pieces of inspiration were borrowed from many sources (some of which I've listed elsewhere), but mostly as reference for my own concepts - as shortcuts. Less work - more fun, right?

I was pretty clear on what I didn't want, but the rest came about organically through stories I wanted to share (not tell), and concepts I wanted to explore. Through the years, as my tastes and interests changed, so did Avremier. Today's setting is practically unrecognizable from the world I was building in 1984. While it may be a "best of" the various flavors and iterations that Avremier has endured, it isn't my ideal world. It was never meant to be. And, it never will be.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

From the Archives - Mara Imperium

The following is a behind-the-scenes look at a bit of Avremier setting development.

When creating some primordial gods for the setting, my mind settled upon serpents for their forms. Snakes are very primitive animals, in structure. They figure in many myths and folklore tales. And so on. The first such god was a gigantic “world serpent” named Erebus — after the earliest darkness of Creation. I had the idea to break my world in half by the actions of a titanic serpent that was imprisoned within, until it won free. Kind of a Midgard Serpent in reverse. I do things like that. Well, this proto-serpent-deity spawned three offspring in the process. The three were named Naga, Coua, and Mara. I decided they would form a small, but influential, pantheon.

Erebus was known as the God-Eater. Erebus hunted and devoured deities of all kinds. Erebus represented the all-encompassing darkness of the void, swallowing everything — even light. Naga would be the serpent of earth and fire. A violent and volcanic force of destruction. Coua would be Naga’s opposite — a deity of air and water, as well as the patron of couatls (coua…couatls…so clever). Mara was the only female of the group. She had more of her father in her, being an entity of darkness and desire. Where Naga was evil, and Coua was good — Mara was neither…like their father.

Erebus quickly abandoned its former prison, and its offspring. Left to fend for themselves, the fledgling deities immediately descended to the broken world below to learn what they could. Upon discovering they were gods, the three set about dominating and developing nations under their influence. Centuries later, these three realms are Matrupaj, Temruzael, and the Mara Imperium.

Matrupaj started out as a typical “evil serpent kingdom” kind of place. Over years of development, that has changed. Temruzael is a rather mythic realm influenced by Mesoamerican culture and religion. The Mara Imperium has always been the largest and most influential of the three. So, of course, it has enjoyed the most detail and development. Once I decided the Imperium would be ruled by some of the classic female monsters of Greek myth, the rest just sort of fell into place.

The Mara Imperium is beloved of Mara, the only female deity of the serpent pantheon. Thus, the Imperium is a matriarchy. Being older than human habitation of Avremier, the Imperium developed entirely without human influence. This allowed me to make the place as alien as I wanted. Government is organized into groups of three — three groups of three, to be exact. Those who rule from the throne are the gorgons. The gorgons come from three distinct bloodlines, modeled after the three gorgon sisters of myth: Medusa, Euryale, and Stheno. As Medusa was known as “the Queen,” her bloodline is “most royal.” Therefore, most Empresses have been of the “Medusan” bloodline. Members of this bloodline are noticeable by their “golden locks.” Those of true descent will have gold-colored snakes for hair. Those of the Euryale line have black locks, while Stheno’s descendants have red snakes for hair. Most of these features are adapted directly from the myths.

Other than gorgons, the other two bloodlines that form the upper castes of the Imperium are those of Empusa and Mormo. While less important, these two lineages have their own distinct traits. Suffice to say, the Imperium is almost always ruled by gorgons. Their capital city is even named Gorgosa. The middle and lower castes are made up of serpentfolk and other mutated humanoids. Those humans that now inhabit the Imperium are prisoners and slaves. Mammalian races are seen as inferior to the other citizens of the Imperium.

After the “core five” booklets for Avremier are finished, there are many more supplements already outlined for future production. Mara Imperium is one. It will focus mostly on the Imperium itself, with some details of Matrupaj and Temruzael as space permits. Hopefully, in 2018.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017: The Year of Avremier

Now that the Avremier setting has been unleashed upon the world in published form, the plan is to keep the momentum going. For "reasons," the Dhavon supplement did not get finished by the end of 2016. That lapse should be corrected by the end of January 2017.

Work on the next supplement, Mauvolg, is already progressing. We are hoping for a mid-year release. Other projects are also scheduled along the way. Some adventures. Some smaller (less-expensive) supplements. Some Duckin' & Braggin'.

Mothshade Concepts will be attending GaryCon 2017. We're planning to attend GameholeCon as well, later in the year.

The Mothshade Concepts shop for DriveThruRPG is in the works. PDF files are being mercilessly edited and polished for download and print-on-demand.

Mothshade Concepts and associated projects will be taken very seriously by those involved - namely, myself. Serious-to-the-point-of-quitting-my-day-job-seriously. If not this year, then a year soon-to-come. This is what we do. And, as long as we do what you want to support - it is all we care to do.