Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Best of All Possible Worlds (Setting)

*This is an outline of a setting for a game I will begin running tomorrow. Due to time constraints (work) I needed a setting that was simple, fast and easy to run—while leaving plenty of scope for all kinds of wacky ideas, room for players to drop out for a session or two, etc. I borrowed heavily from Dan Simmons' Illium/Olympos duology—a fantastic bit of science fantasy for those who haven't read it yet. It had already inspired a previous setting, but this time I needed something simpler and more basic, with a harder and faster discontinuity between civilization and wilderness.* -LR, 20.07.2013

#OUTLINE (this may mostly be fairy tales)

In the far off mists of time the Great Ones realised that all was not right with the world and that the Chosen suffered great iniquity therein. Thus they gathered them up, body and soul, and reshaped the world to suit the immortal souls of the Chosen.

Truly, they made the best of all possible worlds for them—a cosmos of possibility bent to the will and wisdom of the Chosen.

Truly, all would have been good.

If the Chosen had been the best of all possible people.

The Chosen rebelled against the Great Ones, and the Great Ones paid them no heed.

The Chosen quarrelled and fought against one another and the Great Ones paid them no heed.

The Chosen travelled through space and time seeking the Great Ones, but they paid them no heed.

And when their travelling ships returned, rats and worms and creeping and crawling things of mere matter returned with them, and the serpent—they thought—thus entered the Best of All Possible Worlds.

The Chosen faded into the world at last, becoming tenuous and thin, wispy things of little consequence, for the world ceased to be for them alone.

Their pillared halls sank into the jungles, their gleaming boulevards strewn by the tides, the mountain fastnesses tumbled into the gorges, their great roads covered by deserts, their gilded statues flaked, peeled and crumbled.

The rats who had travelled back with them crawled out of their holes and beheld the world they had inherited. They beheld and they were men.

#GENERAL GEOGRAPHY (pillar portals! safe havens! wildernesses!)

The best of all possible worlds is a world as many others, but to the men of the world that geography is not a vital constraint, for their world revolves around the Pillars of Choice - mystical pillars of metal built by the Chosen for rapid teleportation from location to location. Any man or woman must merely tap in the two digit code they wish to go to, and they are instantly whisked away there, along with up to their own weight again of matter they are wearing or holding.

Humans live around many of the Hundred Pillars, though some are in cold wastes, others in jungles, yet others in deserts. The greatest of the pillars are Forty-Two - also known as the Ever-Eating Hole - and Ninety-Nine - also known as the Sky-Garden of Heaven.

Within a radius of ten miles from each of the Pillars the Servants of the Chosen, constructs of steel and leather, patrol the land, keeping it safe from marauding beasts and monsters (though not interfering in the lives of men). The Servants generally ignore humans, unless directly threatened by them.

Beyond lies the Wilderness of Forgetting.

Most men say that those who venture beyond the Patrol are mad, bad or worse.

The worst penalty in most human communities is exile beyond the Patrol—a fate of almost certain death.

But there are some peaceable enough madmen who appear ever and again, cajoling the sons and daughters of stout, unimaginative farming folk to wander beyond the Patrol...tempting them with tales of Ruby Mountains and Towers that Stretch Endlessly Into the Sky.

And more.

#HISTORY (it's like the Shire! Hobbitses! Only the rangers are leather-and-steel faceless constructs...)

History is something that rarely happens among these latter-day men, for the world is good. The Patrols hold and wars between Pillar-Settlements are few - for only one traveller can cross a pillar at a time, making their defence a rather easy matter.

Most people are illiterate and view reading and the sciences as something that detracts from important things, like farming, cooking, carousing, eating and having a jolly good bucolic time—with many pies.

Many still speak of the unlucky time two generations ago when Mad King Korùn took five hundred men beyond the patrol to attack Pillar 5 from Pillar 4. All but three of his men perished and brought back horrific tales.