Concept: Heroic. Steampunk. Fantasy. A heavily Bioware-influenced, action-packed story of all-out war, political intrigue, and tough moral choices that will ripple through the world, in an Eberron-like setting with some of the wilder elements toned down to make it slightly more gritty. Though it is an open world and players are certainly free to fly way off the railroad tracks, you'll not be wandering around without at least one really urgent hook that needs tending to.
The Setting:Imagine an entire world floating on the winds of change, a world in perpetual transition, barely recognizable today from what it may have been just a century ago. A world locked in a cycle of destruction and re-creation, its lands blessed with eternal rejuvenation, its inhabitants cursed with a never-ending struggle for survival. This is Eversky.
Eversky is your traditional floating sky island world, filled with high-flying swashbuckling adventure, a healthy dose of magic, and a touch of steampunk. Though it borrows many conventions from a number of published WotC settings, it is also a more down-to-earth setting in that players will likely be limited to fewer "weird" races. Geographically and celestially, however, Eversky comes with a couple of key twists that set it apart from the traditional DnD 4e world. The map below gives a rough sketch of how the world is organized. Note that many areas are not named. While half of this is due to laziness/time constraints, I like to think that part of the appeal of Eversky is that, due to the modular nature of sky islands, it allows me to insert new areas either when I come up with them, so that there are still parts of the world that feel like they are uncharted. Just as well, there are some sky islands that heroes have not had the time or opportunity to explore.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about the world map is that there’s only one side of it. This is because one hemisphere of the world, the entire back side of the world not shown in the map, is covered in a thick mist which makes for extremely dangerous travel. The Great Mist represents a daunting frontier beyond which few dare to travel, and from which even fewer return. It is said that beyond the Great Mist lies the Elemental Chaos, a churning tempest of clashing elements – fire and lightning, earth and water, whirlwinds and living thunder. In this crucible are formed the proto-islands which will drift into the world we know. Enormous masses of rock, imbued with the ethereal essence that lift them upwards, and later populated by plants and wildlife before passing through the Mist into the fore of the world.
Opposite of this volcanic continental forge, the fiery wellspring of all creation, exists its equally powerful antithetical force. The Maelstrom (represented by the gigantic whirlpool in the center of our side of the map) is the ever-swirling storm of shadow, chaos, and ruined island fragments, whose attractive force is the focal point of the world. Like a black hole on the surface of Eversky, the Maelstrom draws all physical matter, including the sky islands upon which living beings make their home, towards its deadly center, and down into the crater known as the Abyss. It is the bane of civilizations, creating a constant struggle for continuity among the cultures of Eversky, forcing all to seek new territories nearly every three generations, and challenging notions of immortality and empirical supremacy. With every passing day, every piece of inhabitable land draws closer to its own destruction, and cursed are those left behind without a mode of migration.
Different religions have widely varying interpretations of the Abyss, and its meaning for living creatures. The disciples of The Adamant Tribunal believe that the Abyss was a celestial judgment imposed upon mankind for original sin, and that only by cleansing ourselves through just behavior can we hope to atone for it. Other cultures, such as the elven followers of Sylvanus the Oakfather, embrace the idea that the world is in constant renewal, looking at the upside – admiring that the world in constant reformation is always abundant with resources and that no amount of civilization can ever overshadow nature, or taking comfort in the fact that even the harshest tyranny cannot last forever.
Some say that the Abyss was not always a dark and horrific place, but rather, it has been tainted by all of the suffering that has resulted from mankind’s failure to deal with it appropriately. Every family that was stranded on an island that sunk into the Abyss because they were too poor to pay for passage to the next island, was a failure of society to take care of its own. The sorrow of every victim of murder-by-neglect, purposely abandoned as human refuse on sinking islands during times of “ethnic cleansing”, and the cruelty of those responsible for their suffering, are further reflected in the dark fury of the Maelstrom. Every slave ship that emerges from the rim of the Abyss with a hold laden with desperate passengers (willing or reluctant) to sacrifice anything for mere survival, causes the further darkening of this area of the world. That very darkness feeds the Maelstrom and makes it stronger, such that those who spend too much time under its shadow, particularly the weak-willed or the greedy who come to plunder abandoned ruins for profit, are themselves affected. And so, darkness begets darkness.
The Plot: We join Eversky at one of the most decisive moments in history. The clouds are red from the spill of blood, as war spreads wider. The ever-expanding
The islands outlined in Red are currently under their control, with its capital city located on Anchord. Tymordia has an aesthetic resembling the High Elves of Warhammer or Blood Elves of WoW. Think bright reds and golds and marble towers, not woodsy enclaves
Eladrin empire of Tymordia, under the command of its Machiavellian emperor, Vernus Tyrnael, has proven itself nigh-unstoppable. The Tiefling nations of Verana and Atrice went down first nearly 11 years ago, in Tymordia's initial show of force, after which the Goliath Tribes of Haldar soon surrendered. After a decade of unsteady peace which the Tymordian Empire used to reinforce its aermada with the integration of Tiefling technology, They expanded further eastward, shattering the initial defenses of the Dwarves of Vanir. Facing the advance of the Eladrin aermada, Vanir went to the Kingdom of Illan, a diplomatic crossroads of sorts for the Free Nations of the skies, to plead for allies to join them in resistance to the empire. Returning to the front lines with the aid of the Humans of Breckenan, the Dragonborn of Relquis, and the Illani Royal Navy (led by the overconfident King Belorem himself), the allied forces put up a fierce fight.
Today, however, grim news has reached the Royal Council of Illan. Though severely weakened, the Tymordian advance has endured the brunt of the Alliance's full-scale attack. Though the humans are accomplished shipbuilders, not even a Breckan Galleon can stand up to the arcane-fueled destroyers of the Eladrin aermada. Even worse, King Belorem has gone missing, perhaps captured, perhaps killed. The last line of defense has been broken, and the colossal stone doors of Vanir have been shut as the Dwarves retreat underground. In approximately one month's travel time, Tymordian ships will dominate the skies of Illan and Breckenan. And no one is left to stop them.
Only one man on the
made up of 4 advisers appointed by the King, and 4 "Tribunes" elected to act as a "voice of the common people" by the plebians of the Tribune's respective district.
Illani Royal Council still believes something can be done. This man is the Tribune of the Market District, Lance Boreal, also known as the head of the Boreal Consortium, a ruthless but high-status trading company with a glossy exterior, but an unscrupulous reputation. It is rumored to deal in contraband, extortion, assassination, research into forbidden magics, and the orchestration of the corrupt scheme which led to Mr. Boreal's supposedly stolen election. And Mr. Boreal's proposal is as controversial as his rise to power. Still, as the rather ineffective Council holds no formal executive authority to order arrests on each other, power simply rests in the hands of he who has the money to make things happen.
So it is that one team of desperate heroes, a handful of people united by their thirst for vengeance against the Tymordian Empire, will receive the full backing of the Boreal Consortium in a suicide mission that could decide the fate the Free Skies. But finding, infiltrating, and reactivating the abandoned Warforge of Arcturia will require going deeper into the Maelstrom than any ship has ever survived to tell about. Even if your party can survive the the pirates and slavers that will cross your path, the roaming bands of crazed, bloodthirsty Shadar-Kai that call the Maelstrom their home, and the unspeakable necrotic horrors that haunt the rim of the Abyss, it is worth remembering that the Warforge must have been abandoned for a reason. There are only an estimated hundred or so living Warforged in existence, after all.
Can you reach the Warforge in time before its island has sunk too far into the Abyss to make it out? Even if you do make it out alive with the Mind Crystal that once powered the ill-fated construct, will it be enough to stop the Tymordian aermada? And can you trust the Boreal Consortium to hold up their end of the bargain? Do you have a choice?
A few more details:
- Starting level of 5, with free Versatile Expertise. Any WotC material, including Essentials, will be allowed. Just keep in mind I'm using DnD mostly as a mechanical backbone for the story, so please be willing to accept drastic butcherings, reshufflings, or alterations of existing lore. I'm creating a lot of house rules for this game as more and more folks want to really go wild on the reflavoring. However, I've tried my best to keep things pretty fair along the way, so you'll not be at a disadvantage if you don't have the sourcebooks, or want to go with a more down-to-earth approach to character creation.
- You may reflavor any Bow or Crossbow as a Firearm by adding the High Crit and Misfire properties. Misfire deals 1[W] to the user on a natural 1.
- The following races will not likely be eligible for players: Deva, Gith-Zerai, Shardmind, and Wilden. I discourage the re-fluffing of races that I've excluded, but highly encourage the refluffing of classes, feats, powers, and items. Please see the section on Abyss-Touched creatures for information on Shifters, Changelings, Genasi, and Shadar-Kai.
- A new INT-based skill called "Engineering" will be used to handle all checks that require expertise in technological devices. Just as you don't need to have Arcana to use Magic Items, you don't necessarily need the skill to use items and armor with a more techy flavor to them. Beyond that, please see the entry below on all Engineering details.
For those of you without the source books for Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, or Eberron, send me a PM and I'll let you know more about the Dragonmarks, Wild Talents, Spellscar, and "Defiling" features in the source books. Unfortunately, Themes are a bit more intricate, and I can't really help you with them if you don't have the source book. I'd rather not put up a big dump of published information on the game ad. Obviously, any d10 roll for the random Wild Talents can be rerolled in case the character already has it, or if the Talent performs effectively the same function as a power the character already has (Telekinetic Grasp if you already have Mage Hand).
Please post your finished, or close-to-finished applications in the game forums.
The Setting Information section should give a pretty thorough explanation of the setting we'll be playing with.
The Game Planning thread may contain some additional insight, if you want to scrounge through past posts.
Last edited by BadDecisionDino; Sep 1 '10 at 9:47pm..
My character concept is subject to considerable change however, not least because now I've got an Assault Swordmage in some other game and so would like to try some other class this time around. Ah well... maybe a Leader of some sort. Or some sort of Special Forces Steampunk-Sniper type. Hmm.
I see the races you're disallowing, but wanted to know how far afield we could reach for ones you would allow. Specifically, I was thinking of rolling an
Abyssal Genasi, most likely a Cindersoul Warden or other defender. I know you said you didn't want races reflavored but didn't know if you considered a genasi's manifestation free game for refluffing. I'll read more about the setting, but I was thinking that at one point he was actually Firesoul, then saw or experienced something that "snuffed" him and fueled his defendery desires.
Hmm...It seems the genasi have escaped my grasp again. Someone brought this up in the Interest Check thread, and I decided not to have Genasi in the setting. I should mention that when this setting started out, it was actually framed to accommodating an exclusively human story. I decided that it could be converted into a DnD setting, and at each step I've bent my concept to try to accommodate more races. That is to say, the progress of the race roster has been additive rather than subtractive, but there are some races that are just too supernatural that I have to draw the line.
Lance Boreal is in his 40's. Old enough to have been around a while, but not so old that he's going to go away anytime soon. The question is whether he's peaked by now, or still has greater things to accomplish. What you know of him is that he's a ruthlessly pragmatic man who, while he professes to uphold the noble motive of aiding humanity, relies on practices that just so happen to work out in his favor, and at the expense of those in his way. He is the son of Armand Boreal, who was responsible for the rise of the tram and trolley network in Breckenan. Once thought to be destined for a life of few notable deeds beyond squandering his father's money as a wealthy playboy, he claims that an airship accident in which he nearly lost his life shocked him into rethinking his future. Rising to prominence as a venture capitalist, there are dozens of projects that owe their start to his keen foresight, including the Foreign Technology Integration Program, which was responsible for the launching of a privately owned blockade-running rescue fleet that helped Tiefling refugee engineers escape from Tymordian airspace in exchange for a commitment to several years of indentured labor. Other programs have been far more controversial. Boreal lives by a Randian, objectivist ethical outlook, which has been gaining popular traction after the past few years of campaigning for election as the district's tribune has seen the dissemination of his views fueled by a seemingly bottomless political war chest.
@ IronChef - the idea you PM'd me is fine.
@ Skippy - You PM'd me about available slots. I've just put up the ad, so there are at least 5 open slots available. It's possible I'll expand to 6, but I prefer smaller parties, and I'd rather have someone be pleasantly surprised than disappointed that I chose one less than I promised.
@ Crucival and Coyote - I like where both of you are going. The migrant wanderer tribe (Vistani or whatever you choose to call it) fits this setting really well.
@ Celedal - Nothing wrong so far, but I'll wait to look at it further when you've got some more of the details nailed down.