Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Offloading setting-stuff, take 1

As this blog is designed to, at least initially, act as a place to dump the sundry bits-and-pieces of D&D stuff I've put together, the first few posts will likely be like this one (i.e. little descriptions of locales with some annotations). This stuff here is of the WFRP mold, and is thus the real world with added elves and gorbels. Apologies for any cusses in the text, something was up the day I wrote these (let's say I was channelling Zak S.)

I think key to this is a sort of underlying theme of 'either it's a city or it's the wilderness and it's deadly' or, to put it another way, it's like the 'points of light' in reverse (gaps of darkness?). The cornerstones of the world are the various metropolises and city-states, but in between are just wild landscapes littered with things that will kill you.

  • Prettain: Grimy Blanchian shit-stained Britain-analogue, vaguely pre-norman and with extra Celtic stuff for colour. Feudal, dominated by ludicrously out-of-touch toffs and a succession of quirky and occasionally dangerously mad monarchs. Maybe the aristocracy holds to some form of ‘chivalry’, but still come off with a sort of old Etonian air, like they see themselves and their surroundings through Arthurian-tinted spectacles and treat everybody like that while at the same time being completely venal pointless bastards. (Speaks for itself, really. It's Britain in the 'dung ages', and people have Anglo-Saxon names 'cause I like them better than French ones.)
  • Mordengrome:Bloody enormous drowning-in-its-own-immensity metropolis and all of the inspiration that goes along with it. Mordengrome squats low and wide over a sluggish black river, its crumbling bricks and labyrinth of chimneys and steeples rising into the smog. London/Mieville/Venice/Lankhmar/Noir/&c. Gigantic and bizarre and practically incomprehensible and thoroughly sin-drenched. The basic distillation of an urban environment with added decadent sorcery, or something. (If I had my way, most adventuring would happen in cities, hence the sheer number of them in my campaign worlds. This is the primary one, though. The city that is characterised mostly by its urban-ness, instaed of a certain feel or genre it emulates like other cities)
  • Great Pesmect: Much like fake-Britain, but slightly cleaner and the aristocracy is seven times as decadent and weird. Court fads and baroque etiquette prevail, and Machiavellian Harkonnen schemes are the order of the day. people are noir-ish and full of ennui, ruled by a conjoined brother and sister who keep a vast harem of the country’s most beautiful boys and girls. Was once known simply as 'Pesmect' until some king of the past decided, in a fit of aggrandisement, to append the 'Great' part. (I was recently informed of the 18th-century court fad of scathing wit, where the victims of said wit were occasionally driven to suicide by the jokes made about them. Witticism-based combat is the obvious extrapolation of this, and it claerly would come out of Great Pesmect)
  • Arlemania: Warhammer-y fake Germany, with creepy Grimm forests. Witches, goblins, barrow-wights, fairy tale puzzles, and a hundred squabbling egomaniacal elector-princes.
  • Balquileia: Quasi-Mediterranean land locked in a feud with religious enemies. Devoutly religious, some crusades-stuff and an inquisition. Subvert things by making them a witchocracy, instead of fake-catholic.
  • Astraghul: Ineffable brown people. Religiously different to the rest of fake-Europe. Intermittently have crusades launched against them. 1,001 Nights and some Sword-and-Sandal stuff goes here. (A bit facetious here, but basically one needs somewhere to stick the sort of things that pseudo-mediaeval Europeans regard as exotic. It's all of the Muslim world, from North Africa to the Mughal Empire rolled into one big, dubiously politically correct, package)
  • Carcoveria: Fuck-off huge empire (or multiple interrelated fuck-off huge principalities trying to unite each other) to the east. Cold, rich, and very like us but not quite. Straddle the line between foreign devils, bearded barbarians, and relatable neighbours.
  • Ymoria: Snow-blasted icy barbarian wasteland of vikings. Wolves, giants, fur cloaks and such. Add in some Martin-esque Northerner kings, more like Scotland or something than Norway. There’s some Beowulf here, too, and some Broken Sword. The trolls here have culture and king and things, and are kind of more like giants in certain respects.
  • Orzorine Empire: The now-flagging remnant of a sword-and-sorcery empire that once spanned the known world, still fabulously wealthy but also failing. Fat off the riches of the east, but increasingly seen as ripe for raiding to the west. The place to procure rare or obscure items, seek nigh-lost knowledge of elder days, and experience the last few traces of weird fantasy fake-Rome.
  • The Thaumic Putrescence: Freakish magic wasteland. Mind-breakingly weird shit, mutation storms and an aggressively unnatural slant to everything. All of the deepest weird in D&D goes here, as do mutations and anything else that breaks your sanity from being too messed up. (this is basically MiĆ©ville's Cacotopic Stain, right down to the ridiculous name in an attempt to mimic the feel of the Stain. It exists solely to rationalise to a degree such monsters as Flail Snails and Owlbears without resorting to 'a wizard did it')
  • Malbandon: Pirate Venice, with secrets and ships and sneak dealings. A Leiber+Assassin’s Creed feel, with secret societies and cults and underground warfare under the nose of a corrupt Doge and his militia cronies. More weird nobility, but these ones have a penchant for expensive foreign drugs and like masquerades. (preferably attended whilst off their heads on black lotus powder)
  • Hawksaw: Dracula and Bathory and vampiric politics; Twisty dense forests of Ian Miller treants and people gibbeted on trees and bracken, Balkan nonsense (vampire watermelons), sinister gypsies, wolves.
  • Bridge-city. City made of bones. Giant city now inhabited by normal-sized people. Middenheim. City built in a giant sinkhole. City of permanent night. Bloated Gormenghast-Carcassonne city-fortress. (I never felt like fleshing-out yet more big cities, but these are a handful of basic ideas should a need for a city-state arise.)
  • Nonhuman lands. Dwarves live in mountain-holds (mountain dwarves have a caste-system, and are either devoutly religious or decadent and weird, and probably have a bunch of dark, subterranean cults) or are itinerant fairy tale tinker-types, akin to the dwarves out of The Hobbit+Rumpelstitskin and whatever else. Elves are from another world, which is a messed-up fairy tale universe of Faerie weird. They’re hard to understand, and mostly live in hill-palaces that are half in our world and half in Faerie or wander about the deep forest doing their own Elfish business. You almost never see an elf in a city. Halflings live in human lands, and are pretty much like tiny, fat, West-Country landsknecht who like off-colour jokes and pipe-smoking. They vary slightly in character and detail depending on where they live, but basically hold to that standard. Gnomes are like tiny elves as written by the Dutch. They like animals, are slightly woodsier, and represent the fairy-types that aren’t elvish or goblin-y. Orcs occupy a big region to the south, a sort of ‘Here be Orcs’ land. Goblins are like other fairy creatures.
  • Vort/Jackolantern: Hardboiled, rain-slick city of bawdy music halls and speakeasies, rampant gang warfare, and anarchic cops-and-robbers antics every night. (I like both names, but can't decide which is more appropriate. The idea of politics involving a power named Jackolantern is awfully appealing, though)

2 comments:

  1. Oh I am liking the sound of this a lot. Bonus points for use of "fuck off" as an adjective.

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    1. Cheers. And really, what better way to describe fake-Russia than with multiple instances of 'fuck-off'?

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