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Avant-Garde Fantasy in M&M

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Avant-Garde Fantasy in M&M
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Joined: 01 Nov 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Beijing

Post Avant-Garde Fantasy in M&M Reply with quote
I've had a setting idea in mind for a while now. I wanted to do something that was still fantasy but kind of unique (or try anyway), but I could never figure out what game I should use for it. I started off with The Shadow of Yesterday but felt that a narrative system probably wouldn't be appropriate for us; then I framed it in Mutants & Masterminds with a special set of obligatory powers; then I tried to work it into D&D with many aspects removed (Vancian and divine magic, some classes) and replaced (with stuff from Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic).

Now I've decided to move back to Mutants & Masterminds with it and modify the system some, but I will leave character creation wider.

The Setting

Cosmology & Geography
The lands of Demdamun are strange lands indeed. Its center is dominated by the huge Mt. Marqas. Surrounding this gigantic mountain are mostly plains, with a few lakes, rivers, forests and hilly regions scattered about; herein lies civilization.

Eventually, traveling any direction from Mt. Marqas, one reaches the Infinite Wastes; as far as anyone can tell, it lives up to its name. Explorers sent into the desert return saying they could find no end to it - if they return at all. They note also that, as they journey out farther and farther from Mt. Marqas, they feel their bodies become lighter and lighter until it seems as if they can fly at will. On top of this curiosity, the explorers are shocked to discover that what they thought was several years of travel was only a fraction of that time back home.

It is never truly day or night in Demdamun; the sun stays near the horizon, keeping the world in constant twilight. (All living creatures of Demdamun have at least low-light vision.) There is some variation, as the sun does slightly rise and fall over a 48-day cycle and moves horizontally across the horizon as well; it seems as if a slow sunset is followed by a slow sunrise at a moving point on the horizon repeatedly - like a kind of sine wave.

The sun's position is also different depending on which side of Mt. Marqas you are on; its vertical position from one viewpoint is the opposite of that seen from the viewpoint on the opposite side of Mt. Marqas. Also worthy of note is that the closer you get to Mt. Marqas, the lower the sun is in the sky in general; from any point in the Infinite Wastes, the sun seems much higher and seems to cover more area during the course of its vertical cycle.

A "day" is simply defined as one of the 24 "steps" that the sun takes in either direction, which is further divided into 24 "frames" of each step (i.e., hours); the people of Demdamun do not know the origin of this view of time and largely do not question it. Generally only do the citizens of Maredda break time down any further. There are no weeks or months, but years are measured by the amount of time it takes the sun to return to the same point along the horizon's X-axis (which is 8 cycles - 384 days).

There are weather changes in Demdamun, but there are nothing like seasons. Curiously, despite the low angle of sunlight on the world, it is not as cold as expected; most of the time the weather is like a temperate mid- to late autumn - a little warmer when the sun is above the horizon, a little colder when it is below. Crops seem to grow fine. It is colder the closer one gets to Mt. Marqas, while the Infinite Wastes - hence the name - become quite hot and arid.

There is no moon visible from Demdamun, but there do seem to be stars. They are only barely visible when the sun is high and particularly luminous when the sun is low.

I will have a list of geographic regions and go into more depth about Demdamun later. Many of the place names in The War of the Yellow March will be used.

Society & Politics
Most of Demdamun inside the Infinite Wastes is divided up between loose tribal confederations, independent towns and villages, the domains of warlords and small kingdoms.

A contradiction exists - on several levels - in the Empire of Maredda. Spanning much territory and ever growing, Maredda uses anachronistic technologies to wage war: firearms, steam engines and clockwork contraptions. The origin of such knowledge is a mystery; no one is even sure when exactly they acquired it. Many bitterly hate Maredda, but in the end much effort is spent to appease them, hoping to turn away their armies for a time. Ultimately, however, the empire's war machine marches on.

The Godstate of Ormu is also unique. Propelled by their henotheistic religion and the theocracy over which it rules, the armies of Ormu also race for territory - and converts. Their neighbors struggle to deal with this seeming "lesser evil," who nevertheless takes their land and wants to change their thoughts.

Magic & the Esoteric
Magic exists in Demdamun, and while it is not terribly prolific, there are a number of magical traditions.

Truename magic is the most commonly known. Tapping into (what is assumed to be) the Language of Creation, truename mages make their wills known to the universe, which complies... most of the time. It is formally studied in many kingdoms, but it is also practiced in a limited form as folk magic throughout the lands.

Runic magic is closely tied to truename magic: rather than speak the Language of Creation, one writes it. When properly inscribed into items, these items become imbued with a certain effect or quality.

Binding magic is more obscure. One ritually summons an entity that grants him/her powers. The entity may or may not demand certain prerequisites be filled, which could include taking possession of the binder's body upon summoning. Binding magic is treated with much more wariness and suspicion than other forms of magic, particularly by both the Machine Cult and the Church of Maetheritus.

Other esoteric traditions exist that are akin to cinematic martial arts. Through means that are not largely understood, their practitioners push their bodies beyond normal limits and channel power from some inner source into their fighting prowess.

These disciplines are not practiced in isolation. It is not uncommon for any of these to be used to augment the practice of another.

Throughout most of Demdamun, the people practice a varying but similar kind of folk religion; whatever they name their gods, however, they all seem to hold reverence for Mt. Marqas.

Within Maredda a new tradition has arisen: the Machine Cult. Its believers revel in their mechanical creation, seeing this act as their holy duty - as well as spreading order throughout Demdamun in the name of the Clockwork God. All else is heresy.

The religion that controls Ormu esteems only the deity Maetheritus, who they believe watches from the peak of Mt. Marqas. It is only a matter of time before their evangelism and willingness to use force thrusts them into conflict with Maredda. They seek to convert all the known world to the Church of Maetheritus, for all else is heresy.

I'll have a list of languages by region here later. Many of the languages of The War of the Yellow March will find their way here.

Last edited by mighty_manrock on Mon Jan 07, 2008 8:47 pm; edited 4 times in total
Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:07 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address

Joined: 01 Nov 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Beijing

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The System
Eventually I will go into more detail about this, but here are the basics:

- Mutants & Masterminds (Ultimate Power material will be used)
- Defense removed; replaced with Saga-inspired defenses
- Toughness and M&M's damage system removed; replaced with hit points, dice damage and Saga-inspired condition track
- Combat system modified, using Saga's combat as a model (in particular, swift→move→standard)
- Collapsing of the number of skills
- Modification and addition of feats, powers, power extras, etc. to better fit with other changes

Or, hell, maybe I'll just use M&M (UP) straight up.
Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:17 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address

Joined: 01 Nov 2006
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Location: Beijing

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The Design


Keep in mind that these are the guidelines I'll be working with; this isn't an announcement that I'm running this game yet.

- PCs are powerful, and they're powerful from the very beginning.
- Customization is emphasized in character creation, which is why I want to use a point-buy system as opposed to a class-based system. Though I will work closely with players throughout character creation and establish guidelines for a few certain things (generally to fit the setting), the players are mostly free to create the character they really want.
- Demdamun is itself subject to player creation outside of what I will have established. For example if you're a martial adept from a certain order, and none of the orders I present appeal to you, you have free reign to detail your order as much or as little as you want. If your childhood village was attacked and razed by monsters, you tell me what those monsters are like - you can even stat them yourself. The world is filled with what you find interesting and fun.
- Backstory is up to you. If you want to make NPCs from your backstory, you are welcome to do so and I will use them in-game; if you'd rather not have much of a backstory at all, it will simply be that your character comes from a particularly unremarkable background.
- NPCs will be as compelling and varied as I can make them. They will have their own goals, biases and viewpoints, but they will never completely steal the spotlight away from the PCs.
- Though I do have a loose, overarching story in mind and there will be certain things I have in mind for the PCs to do, how the PCs interact with the world and advance through the story is up to you.
Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:28 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address

Joined: 02 Nov 2006
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So would Derowin Be suitable for this Campaign. Or a Derowin Like character?

Fri Jan 04, 2008 3:35 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 01 Nov 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Beijing

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If you recast him as a truename mage or something and as less superheroey, yeah. I'm also not sure on the starting PL or power point total yet.
Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:52 pm View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address

Joined: 02 Nov 2006
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David if you dont run this we really will fight because is sounds otesome. Yes i said Otesome. I think I want make like an Altair type character because he is bad ass. Ill figure up and back story and such. You might have to work with me a bit so I can make him rocking.
Sun Jan 06, 2008 1:59 pm View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 01 Nov 2006
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More cosmology details. See above.
Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:43 am View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address
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