Saturday, June 12, 2010

Batshit Crazy?

Not sure if this actually qualifies - you be the judge.  I have made the decision to present material from my old D&D 3.5 campaign as I created it, regardless of if it is so wrapped up in the unique history of my world that it operates under completely different rules that I will also have to explain.  After all, if any of this stuff is too out there for a regular D&D campaign, those elements can be ignored or simply presented as background material with no mechanical impact on the rules used.

I have literally hundreds of pages of material at my disposal now that I have made this decision, so I decided to provide a brief outline of the content I hope to present.  I doubt that this outline will actually be Batshit Crazy, but I assure you, when I start releasing detailed posts of material from this world, the Batshit will be Insane.  Much of this material will be presented more or less unedited as I used it in my campaign because I have quite a bit saved in .doc files that I can just plop in here.  A majority of the material is handwritten stuff that will have to be redone for presentation on a blog, but I will try to scan in all of my drawings to help illustrate the world.

An overview of World Geography:

I will tidy up and post some world maps and regional maps.  This will include several detailed sections: The Orcish Lowlands; the Eastern Frontier of the "Western Empire" including the Valley of the Dam; the "Eastern Empire";  the city of Siss Anor and the surrounding desert, including the ruins of the Temple of the Goat outside Siss Anor and detailed maps of the Temple of the Bull inside Siss Anor and the dungeons below it; the jungle lands across the ocean; the Mist Coast including the islands of the Mithr; the Northern Wastelands including the Osbirg Glacier, the ice cities of the Fafnyn, and the Order of the Red Hand; and the town of Gragon including the complexes beneath it.  Note my unsatisfactory names for the Eastern Empire and the Western Empire?  The names and some general background setting details of those two empires in my game were taken from gaming products published by TSR.  I have not yet decided what to call them, but I feel like I need to rename them because they are certainly nothing like the published materials that share their names.

A Brief History of Time:   A few words about the nature of space and time in my campaign universe.  The idea of the Infinite Possibility Matrix will be introduced.  The IPM will finally allow time travelling without all those messy questions of consequences!  So strap on your time travelling helmet and get going!

The History of the World:  A broad outline of the history of the world, starting with its birth roughly five billion years ago and continuing to the present.  This will be a timeline with relatively little explanation of the events listed.

Individual Epochs in the History of the World: These will be more detailed than the world history timeline, and will provide more information about particular epochs that proved extremely formative in the creation of the world of today.  Allow me to provide just a snippet about some of the epochs as a sneak preview.

The Age of the Chaldeth: The Chaldeth were the original (and for millions of years the only) intelligent species in the world.  Even though they experienced time very slowly, their effectively immortal life spans and the combined telepathic powers of their collective hive mind enabled the Chaldeth to construct several monumental edifices that survive in perfect condition to the present day (weathering millions of years and going strong!).  The Chaldeth also learned to comprehend the true nature of reality and through their investigations into the Infinite Possibility Matrix ended up discovering four unique creatures that seemed to attract power and cause chaos across all nearby realities.  The Chaldeth, a collective mind that treasured stability and deliberated on actions for thousands of years, could not abide the thought of creatures that by their very existence cause threads of reality to warp and intermix.  The Chaldeth bound the creatures into this world, harnessing the tremendous power that flowed into and out of them as a perpetualy renewable resource.  Of course, this laid the seeds for the eventual downfall of the Chaldeth after the Age of Splintering Time and Space.  While the Chaldeth persisted in this reality for a few thousand years after the Age of Splintering Time and Space, this epoch can be officially demarcated as ending when the first random connections between realities began appearing.  To the Chaldeth, the subsequent events occupied a span of time comparable, when accounting for their incredibly slow reaction times, to a few weeks in human temporal perception; at the end of that time the Chaldeth had left this reality forever.

The Age of Splintering Time and Space:  The radiation emitting from the Creatures (even though they were encased in the largest structures the Chaldeth had ever built, designed specifically to keep them bound and to harness their energy) eventually weakened the connections between each universal point in this thread of reality, and connections began to appear randomly between this world and places and times from across the infinite possibilities of the timeless universe.  The world was soon overrun with species that rapidly outcompeted the very slow reproducing native species.  The Chaldeth were no exception; despite the fact that their telepathic abilities as a collective mind were more than powerful enough to "patch" the radiation leaks and handle any intruders, their glacially slow response times meant that by the time they even noticed the problem, humans and orcs had proliferated across the world, harvested most of the ancient growth trees that had stood for thousands upon thousands of years and robbed the land of much of its vigor.  Saddened, the Chaldeth constructed a temple in the heart of a comet using strange elements found in its rock to attune the vibrations of their collective mind.  Using this temple, the Chaldeth were able to transport their entire race to a backwater point in the Infinite Possibility Matrix with few connections to surrounding realities.  There, the Chaldeth hoped to complete their meditations into the Infinite Possibility Matrix and divine their true purpose in existing.

Early Post-Chaldeth Epoch:  Beginning with the closure of the rifts in the IPM by the Chaldeth prior to their departure, this epoch marks the beginnings of the world of today.  Species of impossibly different origins and evolutionary histories found themselves thrown together in the melting pot of the world during and immediately after the Age of Splintering Time and Space.  Many could not survive in this atmosphere at all.  Many others changed the atmosphere itself as they survived and prospered, emitting peculiar gases as a result of alien metabolisms and energy sources.  Eventually, a balance was reached and the intelligent beings that had managed to carve out a foothold began the process of territorial warring and empire building.  Towards the end of this epoch, several civilizations that grew up around the ancient Chaldeth monuments housing the Creatures discovered that they could harness the power of the Creatures.  With this extremely powerful and renewable energy source, these civilizations began an aggressive campaign of conquest.  The desperation of the neighboring kingdoms and city-states to combat the new energy weapons led to the signing of the Devilish Pacts.

The Devilish Pact - Mid Post-Chaldeth Epoch: A coalition of human groups summoned representatives of a powerful race of "devils" that abide in an alternate universe.  The devils were powerful creatures, but they could not spontaneously generate energy like the creatures that the Chaldeth had captured.  Instead, the devils harvested life energy from living sacrifices and used that energy to manipulate reality.  The devils also were exceedingly meticulous and lawful, refusing to enter fully into this world until a pact was made and a contract was signed detailing the terms of the deal.  The humans were looking for a source of magical power to combat the energy wielded by their enemies who had the good fortune to live near an ancient Chaldeth Monument/Creature Prison.  The devils were looking to harvest all the energy in this world (while still obeying the letter of the contract).  The terms of the Devilish Pact gave the devils a circular area of the earth to call their own with a diameter of one mile.  The devils promptly dug a lined shaft straight down through the middle of the world to the other side, and constructed a one-mile diameter tower that pierced the planet through.  While the humans complained, the devils pointed out that the contract only specified the footprint of the devil's area of the world, it did not specify how high or low that area would extend.  As the contract clearly was not worded so a reasonable judge would infer that only a two-dimensional area of the world's surface had been granted to the devils, the devils argued that they were entitled to that one mile diameter circle of the earth all the way through the planet.

I will detail the cities that grew up around the Devils' Tower on both sides of the globe, and give a history of the civilizations that kept to the terms of the contract for generation after generation.  The devils kept their end of the bargain, providing energy contained in "batteries" that could be used to power a variety of infernal devices.  The humans provided the contractual amount of live sacrifices, easily gained through warfare with their enemies.  This continued for thousands of years.

Breaking the Pact - Late Post-Chaldeth Epoch:  The wars eventually stopped, because the city states in league with the devils finally overcame their ancient adversaries.  While subjugated populations provided the live sacrifices for a while, after many generations the oppressed peoples of the world began to grumble and rise up against the tradition that sent so many of their best young men and women to be offered to the devils in a magnificent public square.  They knew of the power that the devils provided, but the vast majority of the people never saw that power themselves.  The batteries (in truth a device capable of capturing life-force when a sentient creature dies and storing the life-force as energy that is available to be used for many purposes) and the weapons, vehicles and devices that used the batteries as a power source passed from the hands of the devils to the hands of the traditional hereditary leadership.  The system was corrupt and the leaders and the priesthood cared for little except securing the necessary number of sacrifices to keep the all important batteries coming.  You see, the number of sacrifices and batteries provided by each side were fixed at the number detailed in the contract.  But over time, the number of devices that used those batteries slowly grew as the devils kept giving away more and more incredible devices to the humans.  Soon, there was an intense perceived battery crisis because far more wealthy nobles and and priests had entire private armies equipped with equipment than could be supplied with power by the monthly battery quota delivered faithfully and on time by the devils after the monthly sacrifices were performed.  Anger over the battery crisis mounted: the faithful upper level bureaucrat who was finally rewarded with a devilish artifact but learned that he must wait 15 months before receiving a battery; the impotent leader who must stand by and watch as her possessions are taken because she was not well connected enough politically to get batteries for her soldiers' equipment; powerless.

The anger was only fueled by a discovery made by an eccentric group of arcane researchers affiliated with the church that far more energy was generated by each sacrifice than the devils returned to the humans in the form of batteries.  While all of the details of this transaction were recorded in minute detail in the contract, the contract does not mention the total amount of power generated by each sacrifice but does explicitly state that the devils could keep any energy in excess of the amount required to provide the battery quota.  A power-hungry and desperate upper-class looked on in anger at the devils, now knowing full well that the devils could provide triple or quadruple the number of batteries and STILL gain a sizeable amount of life-force energy in the exchange.  An angry and long-oppressed lower class chaffed at the monthly sarificial quotas and saw none of the benefits provided by the devilish energy. This volatile situation culminated in an ill-fated attempt to storm the Devils' Tower and seize all of the devils' power reserves.  Unfortunately, the short sighted humans had failed to read the fine print in the contract, detailing the consequences of a breach of contract.

Contractually, the devils had free run of the planet for exactly one year from the moment of the breach of contract.  When the deal had been signed so many thousands of years ago, the human representatives had thought themselves mighty clever when that was all the devils asked for in the event of a breach of contract.  Unfortunately, the devils had prepared very well and had been waiting to take full advantage of that one year of freedom.  They released a plague of organisms that they had created, using the genomes of native species and splicing them with devilish genes.  These organisms were known as the Devil Progenitors and they were designed to go out and reproduce with their corresponding native organisms, producing offspring with devilish traits.  Coded instructions were embedded in the devilish gene sequences, genes that could be activated via an external trigger.  The devils' plan was simple - release the Devil Progenitors, then sit back and watch as generation after generation of the devil progeny out-compete their native brethren.  Once the tipping point was reached in the devils estimation, they would remotely trigger the hidden gene sequences and cause the devil progeny to go into berserk war mode, destroying all life on the planet.  The devils would harvest the entire life energy of the planet using their "tower", in reality a giant device specifically designed for the purpose of capturing and pulling in life energy from across the entire planet.

In several threads of reality, this did not succeed entirely.  The Devil Progenitors were released, but it is possible that a second invasion into the Devil's Tower by a coalition of human and demi-human forces succeeded to an extent.  Most threads end in this invasion's defeat at the well prepared hands of the devils (much as the first invasion ended).  However, an elven prince (just a general note here - elves do not exist anymore in the particular present of the campaign world, as their extremely slow reproductive rates did not deal well with the Devil Plague.  Devil Progeny reproduce insanely fast regardless of their heritage, so the elves soon found themselves outnumbered by elf-devils and fled this reality or died) attempted to use a powerful artifact to momentarily stun the devils.  Some threads continue with the devilish defenders put into a magical sleep by the artifact while a group of human wizards (TruE magic users) transported the devils' Soul Phylactery (the massive battery that the devils stored their accumulated soul energy in) to the surface of a comet and sequestered it in a temple they created there with magic.  As the comet hurtled away across the solar system, the devils found themselves deprived of the source of their power in this reality and were unable to awaken from the magical sleep they had been thrown into by the elven artifact.  The world that unfurled after this is the campaign world that I will be detailing, not the barren and lifeless husk that is all that remains of the world after the devils left in most threads of reality.

Other Epochs to be detailed include:

The Age of the Devil Plague:

The early Modern Age:

The Modern Age:
- Religion in the Modern Age
- the Old Ones in the Modern Age
- the Return of the Comet

Unique magic systems:  TruE Magic, Symbolic Magic and Trance Possession Magic (levels 1-6 of an early version of this system previously published on this blog, available as a .PDF) will be detailed.

TruE Magic is a form of energy manipulation not reliant on memorized spells or particular symbols.  Its practitioners have learned to unlock the hidden energy potential that exists within all matter.  It will be presented as a simpler point buy system easily compatible with standard D&D spellcasting and a more complex version that allows for the creation of new spell effects on the fly.

Symbolic Magic is only accessible to members of a Devilish bloodline created in the Age of the Devil Plague (epoch).  The potent combination of the powerful devil genes and a body evolved to exist on this plane of reality created readily accessible pools of energy (chi, for lack of a better word, and to differentiate this energy from the Energy which forms the E in TruE magic and is a more universal property of all matter).  Devil Progeny can tap into this chi through perfect execution of movements designed to carve symbols into reality and release attacks of devastating power.

Trance Possession Magic is loosely based on Yoruban trance possession religion and its syncretized forms in the new world, Santeria and Candomble.  I previously published on this blog a post about Trance Possession Magic, and character levels 1-6 of the Trance Possession Magic rules are available as a .PDF.  I will also publish more material detailing additional gods and entities that can be invoked into the body, some of whom are tied to particular locales and cannot be called upon outside of those areas.

Unique Creatures:  

New creatures will be presented in both the discussions of various epochs and in the detailed discussion of particular areas of the world.  Many of these unique creatures will use the new magic rules, particularly Devil Progeny.  All Devil Progeny can use Symbolic Magic, but many 1st and 2d generation old ones are also powerful TruE magic users.  

- Several races of Insect Devil Progeny will be detailed along with keyed maps of their dwelling places.  

- The Old Ones (the only surviving 1st generation Human Devil Progeny, who have been sleeping in their well-secured chamber far beneath Gragon for 50,000 years) and the cult that worships them have filled the lowest levels of their temple with many interesting diversions, not the least of which are the successes from the breeding program overseen by the eyeless High Priests.  The entirety of the sprawling tunnels and caves underneath the sewers of Old Gragon will be laid out in map and short key form.  I imagine a dedicated post or two will be given each to the priesthood, the particular bloodlines of the four surviving Old Ones, and the immense warrior breeding program that the temple runs far underground.

- New plants will also be included, an area that I feel is often overlooked in campaign world creation.  

- The strange chaos-inducing creatures that the Chaldeth bound into this world each were encased in a massive construct that was manifested by the collective mind using the power of the creatures themselves.  The huge constructions that house the creatures are designed to capture, channel and store the energy that constantly radiates from the creatures.  All of the constructions and the creatures beneath will be fully described, including the massive "dungeons" within the dam that rises above the creature that resembles a bat.

Unique Items:  

Many items that might be considered "high-tech" or "sci-fi" exist in this world.  Some of those actually are high tech artifacts deposited in this reality during the 
The Age of Splintering Time and Space.  Most are powered by Soul Batteries and date from after the Devilish Pact was signed.

There will be weapons of all descriptions.  Amazing flame cannons, mechanical swords, you betcha.

There will be vehicles.  Your standard "hover craft" in a variety of forms.  

There are also a number of unique named books that are relics of the various cults that sprang up during the Age of the Devilish Plague.  Each of these books contain many rituals which will be fully detailed.  These rituals can be quite powerful in effect but all require very specific sacrifices and ceremonies to be performed.  These posts will not be for the faint of heart.  If you can't handle the Book of Ebon Bindings, then I would skip these when I get around to posting them.  


  1. That's some setting, Carl! :D
    --Very cool. :)


  3. It's a bit wibbly-wobbly Timey-wimey stuff!

  4. Quite a bit of info. I'm sure I'll use some of it. I'm especially looking forward to the Insect Devil Progeny.



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