Blast from the Past, 2009-02-08
This is a world without a sense of creation: While the one faith of man (The Church of the Holy Succession)looks back to a creator and redeemer worshipped in the world before, all people today know is that the devils tore down the old world roughly a 1000 years ago. The idea of having any more communion with the origins and deities of the previous world is generally considered bizarre. Members of The Church of the Holy Succession have faith that they can touch that divinity and the powers of their priests might indicate they can. Others contend The Church is merely serving an unknown patron devil or demon (or several) or one of the current gods hiding their identity.
The World After is built on the foundation of a technological society destroyed by the inhabitants of something like Hell: That means this is a science fantasy game as much as a pure fantasy game and mutants, robots, ray guns, and other technological artifacts may appear from time to time.
While we have Labyrinth Lord and the house rules this game is more about rulings than rules: The most important thing is having fun and being creative so don’t be surprised if situations are arbitrated outside the rules. If you fall in a pit instead of taking xD6 damage we may decide you lose no HP but break your arm. By the same token, the whole point of the Saving Roll system is to give you a way to try anything. In fact, trying things not explicitly covered by a rule will greatly increase your chances of making second level.
You are extraordinary: Not everyone in the world has levels and among those who do most don’t go very far. Don’t let this go to your head, though, as the urge to adventure marks you as an outsider in many places including, probably, your own home.
Leaving home isn’t safe: Man has rebuilt his world in little to medium-sized enclaves separated by devil scourged wastes and wild areas overrun by the beasts of the After. Strangers are usually viewed with suspicion, especially outside of the few large cities. Even the handful of merchants and traveling circuses as viewed as possible thieves and easily blamed for strange happenings. That said travelers are also the only source of news and new stories.
Who are you: While designing this game I thought characters were generally going to be drawn from the freebooters who seek old tech in the wastes, anti-raiders who hire out to rescue kidnapped wealthy citizens of the cities, mercenaries who fight the cities’ wars, and similar. You clearly aren’t limited to this but it gives you an idea of what I was expecting.
This is a world of City-States and villages: There are no grand kingdoms. Too much of the land is wasted still from the war and people are too few to provide for centralized kingdoms. In fact, some small villages have no real overlord except for whatever bandit is currently extorting enough crops from them to survive, at least until the next time a city-state needs an army and promotes him from bandit to mercenary.
You start in a region called Hors Urbis: It is a series of towns and villages centered culturally around the White City, a large port of about 13,000. An inland sea lies to the east with the coast extending north. It also runs south turning east roughly at the southern boundary of Hors Urbis. To the north are wastelands and to the west the Seas of Grass. Southeast along the coast of the inland sea a strip of fairly civilized lands runs around the southern boundary of the sea. Due south are mixed lands with a few scattered villages that have begun to be cleared and settled in the past 100 years. To the Southwest lies a close bank of a great river. The river has many inhabitants along its length and even on it. The only major traveled routes out of Hors Urbis are southeast along the sea’s shore (by both boat and overland) and southwest to a river port.
This is a sandbox game: Yes, there are “plotlines” but there isn’t “the plot” for you to find and run through. As you discover things happening you can choose to get involved and change things. You can also choose to ignore them and choose some goal or goals of your own. I am here to provide a world and the people in it, not to give actors scripts to act out. I won’t even give you a reason to be together so you can come up with your own or just not have one (or a mix of both).
The two-player rule: If at least two people show we’ll play…and come up with a reason why you weren’t there.
I listened to a lot of metal while designing this game
A random selection of inspirations for the game: The novels Black Easter and The Day After Judgement> by James Blish (a few years ago available as The Devil’s Day in a single volume). The Nightwish album Once and the Within Temptation album Mother Earth. Memories of many Tunnels and Trolls sessions in the early 80s. Three ongoing urban fantasy book series one of which is Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty novels and the others would be telling. Ken Hite’s GURPS Cabal and many columns from Suppressed Transmission. The movies Heavy Metal and The Warriors of the Apocalypse (oh, and a tiny touch of Night of the Comet…well, not really but if you’re renting bad movies to get ready for the game it’s a classic). The various Horseclans books. The full range of D&D (not AD&D, which 3rd and 4th edition continue without the A), Judges Guild, Arduin Grimoire, and modern simulacrum games designed to fit the 80s vibe. Dragonfoot.org, The World of Thool (and it’s predecessor Wilderlands of OD&D), Grognardia, Lair of the Flame Princess, Monsters & Manuals, Philotomy’s OD&D Musings, The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, and RPG.net.
Obtain and read: “With old new eyes” @ The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope and “Quick Primer for Old School Gaming” by Matthew Finch (free on Lulu).
And finally a quote: In the Good Old Days, the days of the original three books of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® game, the number of variants on the rules was roughly equal to X, where X was the number of players of the game.– Paul MontgomeryCrabaugh in Dragon #109 towards the end of the silver age of D&D
This post has been lighted edited from the original. Some interesting notes on this. I had adopted the ages of D&D promoted by James Maliszewski of Grognardia. It also happened around the time I was listening to more and more metal instead of goth/industrial/darkwave/coldwave/etc.