Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Answering Setting Questions, Triple Deluxe Edition

For a setting I don't actually play games in, I will never turn down an opportunity to gab about Mother Stole Fire.

Via Lochiel (Nothic's Eye)

1) Which specific NPC do I want to piss off the least? 

Probably the White Queen and Black Queen of Tanniclen, they likely have the most personal and political power in the area in terms of practically making your day miserable. Now, the advantage here is that you have to get into the Old City in the first place - but if you can make it beyond the wall, you'll doubtlessly commit ample insult to the Queens just by being there and doing what you do, and they will find ample excuse to ruin your life afterwards with all the grace and sophistication of immortal noble sorceresses.

Given their isolation, actual meaningful details about the Queens are hard to come by, save the various designs of their body-veils. Their histories (and the nature of their relationship to each other), are a matter of intense (often lurid) speculation - thought that is all safely done outside their jurisdiction.

2) Which god should I want to piss off the most? 

Any of the Lords of Hell would suffice. Fuck them. Mammon in particular, as he seems to have come into prominence over the more directly warlike Lords in the wake of the War of the Bull. Thankfully, he is not subtle. Destroying his demons is good, stealing and distributing his wealth all the better.

3) What's the worst thing I could meet at a crossroads? 

Old Scratch, also called the Crooked Man or the Patchwork Man, is a very old demon of the Hespermont, predating Hell significantly. He preys upon desperation, offering gifts that are helpful in the short term, but will inevitably lead to self-destruction later. His favored appearence is that of a man in dark clothing, fine-looking but always a few generations out of style. Somewhere on his body will be a horrific injury - he will act as if nothing is wrong, moving without impediment even if limps are mangled and speaking clearly even if his jaw and throat are smashed.

4)What's the nearest thing that can utterly destroy me to your starting town? Or starting town equivalent? 

A demon. Nasty fuckers can show up anywhere (though they are, typically nastier and more common the closer you are to Hell.)

5) Is apotheosis open to my character? If not, why not?

Depending on who you ask, apotheosis has happened between zero and three times: DOG, Darvatius, and the Sable Maid. The ascension of DOG is generally agreed upon; Darvatius' is called into question on the grounds that Darvatius the man was killed long before Darvatius the Lord of Hell was first seen in Hell. The Sable Maid's case is complicated, and  is best described as a comparison to Catholic treatment of Mary - technically not a god, technically not worshiped, but when you've got a problem...

So no, asterisk. It is theoretically possible, but the criteria required to reach godhood are out of the scope of a typical game.

6) Do people in your world have souls? Why? 

Yes, but they are fragile, ephemeral flames. Without a living body to house and nurture them, they dissipate. Ghosts, necromany, soul-pearls, and the currency of Hell do not use souls proper, but their remnants, dregs, and afterimages.

It is possible to create a form of soul artificially, but this will be a motive soul - homunculi, even those few that possess speech, do not possess volition of their own. Considering the difficulty in creating them, they remain a curiosity

A devil is created when the soul is removed from a human (via removal of the heart) but the body's life is sustained through those certain sorceries (and of course undone if the heart should ever be returned to the devil in question)

7) Does jazz exist in your setting yet?

Yes. Blues and bluegrass, too.

8) What's the weirdest country/polity/region/area on your map? 

  • Llaphedon is an island covered in fungus jungle, filled with immortal mushroom people building an enormous black ziggurat
  • Amda long ago solved the constant squabble-wars of its kingdoms and principalities by mandating that kings may only marry other kings and heirs are adopted.
  • Ist fell into ruin when its rulers were devoured by manticores.
  • The Coast of Birds is named for several hundred miles of shoreline where one might find enormous statues of birds facing the sea. No one knows where they came from or who made them.
  • The Cinders is, as best anyone cal tell, an ancient exclusion zone caused by arcane fallout. The concerning part is how thorough its ontological hostility to life is.
  • The Magelands are soaked through with wild magic and are home to the only people who are magic instead of practicing it. It is encircled by the crumbling wall-arcology-city of Mund.
  • Wend is a xenophobic cultural and linguistic isolate and no one can quite figure out where they came from - the inhabitants have claimed to come from Atri-Tun in the Uttermost North, but scholars A) are pretty sure it doesn't exist B) are baffled why anyone would live in the Uttermost North to begin with.

9) Do guns exist yet? If they do, is there anything making them weird/different?

An ordinary person might see or use bolt action rifles and revolvers, and cannons are regularly used in warfare. Hell will utilize machine guns on occasion (which has lead to no one else adopting them). Simple enchantments on ammo (named and blessed bullets being the most common) are easy enough to procure. The gun saints of An-Hehm are the ones who get very creative and esoteric, and their devotion to the Gun Gods means they have something of a monopoly on exotic weapon types. 

10) Is there a divide between mundane/magical animals? 

There's more of a gradient between more and less magical. Some creatures will have overt magical properties, some passive, some subtle. Is "turns you to stone" more or less magical that "thing that can fly but shouldn't be able to"? If the cows start up a crop circle ritual, is that or is that not magic?

Via Vayra (Mad Queen's Court

1) What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga?

In-setting: Ordinary folks might know a bit of river forms (read: tai chi) for exercise. Soldiers will likely know a bit of pankration (here being a particularly succinct way of dealing with a combat problem rather than wrestling). 

In terms of gameplay - adipomancer or adept are dedicated classes, fighters in general will be able to do things like grapples and disarms and joint attacks.

2) Can I start out having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

Oh yes, absolutely.

3) Do you want me to write an 8-page backstory? Can I write an 8-page backstory, if I want to? If I write something down in it like I'm the timelost princess of the brass city and the daughter of the sun and I commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by my father's vizier but I don't know that, or that I'm elf conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?

8 pages is a bit more than I'd ever recommend for any game in any setting, but those two examples I can work with - offer things that are of the same spirit, tweaked for whatever setting happens to be on the table.

4) If I eat someone's heart, will I gain their powers? What about their brain?

Probably, also probably, and both will probably go horribly wrong for you, because that's how monsters tend to be made.

5) These classes are boring, can I be one from somewhere else? What about from a different system entirely?

Yeah we can figure out some conversion for it.

6) If I make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

Player makes it, player names it.

7) Am I allowed to kill the other player characters? What would I have to do to be allowed to? Do I win if I kill them all? Actually, how do I win in general?

A question entirely too rooted in the specific situation at hand for this answer to be meaningful at all.

8) What language stands in for 'Common'? Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

I have not figured it out in setting yet, come back later.

9) How do I learn how to talk to rocks? No not once a day just, like, normally?

I'm sure that the mouldywarps could teach you, if you have the patience for it.

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can I be both? At the same time?

Both is good, typically because wizards in towers cause problems and sometimes these problems are solved by throwing rocks at them, so long as the problem is a wizard causing other problems.

Via Filth Pig (The Slopyard)

1. Is there Blood Magic? Necromancy? Can I start off with these powers or do I have to get them d-d-d-diegetically? Will these things get me hanged/drawn, quartered and burned over water/tortured/burned at the stake? Is your Necromancer working off the "divination from the dead" definition or is it cool?

The most common magic in the world is, technically, blood magic, on account that it's used to stabilize and mitigate menstruation. Every woman in the world can either perform it, or knows someone who can brew up the potion form.

Blood magic on the whole is less of its own category and more just "magic that involves this certain part of the body.

Necromancy is primarily practiced in the Necromantic Socialist Republic, which might get you killed in certain parts of the world but at that stage it's more just the easiest excuse. It is the cool kind, with skeletons.

You can start off with either or both.

2. Will my limbs get hacked off? Can I get new limbs? Do they have to be human or can I have monster parts? Is there a class that does all this or is it just an NPC?

If limbs get removed, your options are, from easiest to most difficult:

Simple prosthetic > advanced prosthetic > reattaching the arm > replacing it with someone else's arm > replacing it with a monster arm.

The last one would require a specialist fleshcrafter, the two before it would need either that or a lot of panacea potion.

3. When was the last plague in the setting and how soon can we expect the next one? Can we swindle people by selling fake plague cures? 

The Plague Years were roughly two centuries ago and there's no telling if or when there might be another one. Mundane disease outbreaks happen from time to time (certain cities in Acephavara can't seem to shake ghoul-leprosy), but on the whole the world is on the ball when it comes to containment and elimination of epidemics.

Fake plague cures will be sniffed out almost immediately, it's hardly worth the time of the swindle.

4. Cannibalism gives you: A) Kuru, B) Magical Powers, C) Full stomach, D) Yet Another Unexpected Twist ?
Funerary cannibalism, performed according to the proper rites, won't cause any problems. Moments of desperation, likewise. Consuming significant amounts, especially if you are killing the people yourself with the intention of eating them, is probably going to turn you into a horrifying monster.
So C -> A -> B/D

5. What's can't I do that isn't super obvious?

Hrm. Can't tell you off the top of my head, it's not super obvious to me either.