Friday, August 21, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day #21: Favorite RPG Setting

Sure, I love 20's Cthulhu.  I love the random organized chaos of Illuminati University.  I love a lot of settings, but my true love is still my first:  The World of Georic.

Georic started before I even played an organized game of D&D.  I was fiddling with characters and stories, and developed a lineage for the Bloodblade Clan, warrior-kings building a future out of the fallen Ferasean Empire.   Mix in the proper dose of sibling murder, coup d'etats, and god-like power and I had a nice background to run my first AD&D game, The Temple of Elemental Evil. My buddy George and I tried to develop a more specific map of the world we were playing in, hence Georic (George+Eric).

We waddled through whatever cool modules I could find, or Dungeon mags with the right level adventures.  Temple of Elemental Evil moved to Shadowdale, which moved to a pirate lair, then a flurry of other adventures, and finally we petered out of high school with the Giants series.

Upon my return from Basic/AIT and my tart as a weekend warrior, I assembled a new group of players from my Reserve unit with some of the old guard, and we rekindled a more compact, focused Georic.  While it had a Known World shape to it, the campaign focused on the tiny village of Eding and it's surroundings.   As the group travelled to larger towns, I slowly developed each one, ultimately reaching the capital city, and just enough glory for the PCs.

A bit later, when I was in college I finally put together a map, using the random wilderness tables from the 1st Edition DMG.  Not wasting money on colored pencils and hex paper, I used crayons and the backs of WhatCon? posters for the two main halves of the Kingdom of Crosedes.

The Western Half of Crosedes:  Gnomes and Frickin' Rowand City

The Eastern Half of Crosedes  Eding in the Top Center
I gave simple boundaries that were rarely tested.  To the east was swampland and then the ocean.  To the north were the Nordic barbarians of Wyrmnal To the south was the decrepit kingdom of Feraso, and the west were young kingdoms acting as a buffer for the threatening barbarians of Galmar.   Further to the northwest were the mages of Emron, where my fellow DM, The Other White Nate (TOWN) ran his Friday night game to my Saturday night game. 

When Hackmaster finally rolled around, I said screw it.   Like most world-builders I was stealing directly from Earth history and culture, so I might as well use Earth for my map.

Enter Epic of Aerth  for Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys RPG.   A fantasy world based on Earth, with just a few civilizations slapped on (Atlantis and Mu or Lemuria, I believe).  It took a weekend, but all my notes on Georic were shoehorned into Aerth, and we continued on like nothing ever happened.
Crosedes (#1) earned a few more neighbors.  The remains of Senzar (Atlantis) are just beyond the western edge of the map. 
Everybody wanted Arthurian legend?  Lygresse it is.  Master of the Desert Nomads?   He can invade from Parthia (#47) and Yarbay (below #48) and attack the crumbling Barthey Empire (#30) and their satellite states?  Emron had a capital with canals?  Italy (Ispatlia) is now the realm of the wizard!

The first half of the campaign explored the halfling lands of Alois, modern-day Ancient Egyptians of Khemmet, and the changes that took place in Crosedes sixty years after the Apotheosis Apocalypse. I pictured this land to be a more desolate version of my previous campaigns, inspired by the tired old adventurers talking at the end of the previous campaign.

Once they felt they had explored as much of Crosedes as they needed before looking for more fame and fortune, the group suffered an "active"  TPK and I switched gears over to Karameik, err.... Marakeikos (original ain't I?)  In fact, it didn't matter what I called it,because only one of the players had ever played in Karameikos before.

It was a fun, sandbox paradise of potential, the save the Duke of Celsior (not Kelvin), explored the western humanoid lands of Milosic (and set off the invasion of the Western Orc League, but don't tell the king that.)   By the time the campaign wrapped up, the country was it's own distinct creation, save the rival ethnic groups.  We wargamed on a map of Europe for Red Arrow/Black Shield, we set the buildings of Emron City (Venice) ablaze, but they could never find the Slavers of Roark on the Mer Nor to avenge the kidnapping and deaths of their friends.

One fun thing I used to do to keep Georic a dynamic, active world was to mix in fantasy equivalents of real world problems   While I had started with the Poor Wizard Almanacs to set up a world timelines and popped things in while appropriate, I would also read the daily paper and assign more news.  Local news affected the community they were focused on at the time, State news the Kingdom, National news affected the continent (California news affected the Portugal), and, of course, world news affected the appropriate region of the globe.   Yes, I used a 9/11 style disaster PLUS the destruction of Alphatia on an entire Senzar-Emron Mage War that further sank the Senzar territories and essentially nuked half of the pleasant halfling agriculture of the Almond Coast, setting off even further destruction and famine.  Outside of their trip to a fiery Emron City, the PCs rarely encountered that storyline, but most appreciated the ongoing they heard in tales and rumors.

If I had the time and the ability to call the band back together (or a competent group of new players), I would break out Georic in a heartbeat.  It's not flashy, but it's everything I need in a world to run a campaign, and most of my old players would agree.

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