As my Rogue Trader game progresses and I do the odd bit of work on my D&D FAE hack here and there (in between making Youtube videos for my channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/MrLARGEJO), my thoughts turn to what sort of campaign and game system I might like to run next; for the last few months it’s been the Lorien Trust LARP mainline season (the time when they run their big 4 events) and i’ve pretty much been concentrating on that and running the odd tabletop session, now that the mainline season has finished i’ve got a bit more time to think about potential future games (also to write up my last Rogue Trader session).
I’m reading a couple of fantasy books at the moment and, inspired by a lot of youtube videos that I have been watching, have been leafing through my old D&D books; i’m also playing in an interesting Pathfinder game run by my friend John Miles which has us exploring a strange other world via a fantasy equivalent of the stargate, the idea of character from one D&D world exploring other planes of existence has always been one that i’ve enjoyed since the original AD&D Planescape setting and so i’m quite enjoying playing the bespectacled scholar who is on his first trip out of the library (despite his age) and is overwhelmed by the potential wealth of information in this strange magic-rich world. All of these factors have got me thinking that it’s been a long while since I actually ran any fantasy/D&D-esque style games, I tend to go for grim contemporary settings like the nWoD or, more recently, darker sci-fi settings such as Shadowrun and Rogue Trader.
D&D with a twist
When running D&D/Pathfinder or any other similar games I generally try to put a little bit of an interesting spin on it, this is mostly because myself and my regular group of players have played in numerous D&D games over the years and the standard Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms game can seem a little stale after a while; not to say that we don’t still enjoy breaking out the Forgotten Realms books on occasion, certainly I have a fondness for Faerun as do a number of my players, we’ve also played numerous Eberron D&D games (and I know John is a big fan of that setting). Possibly my favourite D&D setting that i’ve ran sticks in my mind not so much for the setting but because it introduced elements of time travel into it; being aware that time travel games can create all sorts of problems it was done via a plot device to restrict temporal travel.
Although a lot of details in the setting faded from my memory I do remember that in the past of the setting at some point an evil sorceror had attempted to summon an army of undead to overwhelm the globe and had narrowly been prevented from doing so; the player party (although they had lost a couple of characters including the halfling Pip Ratcatched and the Paladin Delembrandt by then due to various incidents) were sent back in time to this point where, due to their interference the ritual to summon the dead army was interrupted at a crucial point, causing the energies to run wild and tearing a large portal open to the plane of undeath. When the player characters made it back to the present time they found that this portal had allowed legions of undead to storm onto the prime material plane and the future now choked under the oppresive regime of a vampire monarchy lead by none other than the Vampire Lord Delembrandt, a darker version of their old friend who had fallen to the undead hordes and had been raised as a vampire, becoming a fearsome Blackguard; one of the other players was also able to “resurrect” the fallen Pip Ratchcatcher but playing a much grimmer, vampire hunting alternate future version of the character. The game was a bit of a mess (mainly due to my own youthful lack of planning and foresight) and we never really got to finish it, but I certainly found it enjoyable and the players seemed to quite enjoy it.
So what to do now?
I’ve been knocking around the idea of doing a setting with a Nordic flavour for a while, even going so far as to by the D&D book Frostburn because I find the idea of a world encased largely in ice a very cool visual and it would allow me to pull on a lot real-world mythological resources and forteana; in the Nordic myths the gods are set against the background of an apocalyptic Ragnarok that will result in the deaths of most deities and this idea has been visited a few times in various RPG settings. I was reading about the Midnight setting (which i’ve only played briefly), a setting that basically retread the same ground as Lord of the Rings but at a point where the Dark Lord has effectively won the day and subdjugated most of the known world, the players taking on the roles of resistance fighters trying to overthrow the evil regime; it struck me that this ‘after the bomb’ style might be what i’m looking for in a D&D setting.
I’m sure this has been also address in a number of RPGs as well, however, it’s not something that i’m aware my regular group has particularly played before.
So i’ve started jotting down a few thoughts and ideas about what i’d do in this setting, i’ve jotted them below:
– Before the world was a land of fire and ice.
– Gods pushed back the ice giants to the northern and southernmost parts of the world.
– Gods pushed the fire giants down to the centre of the world and imprisoned them there, providing heat that their new creation might live.
– Deities used to exist.
– Signs of Ragnarok:
– It sates itself on the life-blood of fated men.
– Paints red the powers homes with crimson gore.
– Black become the suns beams.
– A wind age, a wolf age.
– The world tree shudders.
– The Jotun come from the east.
– Loki breaks free of his imprisonment.
– The fiery inhabitants of Muspelheim come forth.
– Surtr advances from the south.
– The gods go to war.
– Odin is swallowed whole fighting Fenrir.
– Freyr fights Surtr and loses.
– Jormungandr is met in combat by Thor, he defeats it but only takes 9 steps before collapsing.
– The sun becomes black while the earth sinks into the sea, the stars vanish, steam rises, and flames touch the heavens.
– An apocalyptic event occurred that resulted in the deaths of the deities.
– Their bodies fell to earth from the heavens where they because some sort of features (possibly statues that have a minor magical effect around them).
– Divine magic ceased functioning.
– No longer in fear of the Gods, the ice giants moved across the world once again, bringing the cold and snow with them.
– Many peoples perished in the climate changes but some societies were able to survive, albeit reduced to a primitive state.
– Low magic game (possibly using the Iron Heroes alternate players handbook).
– Main focus of the game would be survival at first, followed by discovering the history of the world, then possibly having the player characters push back the ice and rise to replace the old dead gods.
Obviously i’ll be intending to do some more research on this and formalising some of these ideas before actually running it ad a game, but this is my starting off point.
Any thoughts/comments gratefully received.