What's the Big Picture? What's going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure. What's changing, evolving, declining?
Five years ago an enormous Orc army led by a few Dark Elves came rampaging down from the mountains and conquered Brittany (the northern part of human territory), smashing the human defences. The human King made a few desultory shows at fighting back but soon signed an accord with the Orcs giving them the right to move anywhere within Brittany so long as they do not kill humans without reason. An uneasy official 'peace' has since prevailed, respected neither by the orcs nor by the growing human resistance. The King's Court tends to agree with the orc leaders that any mayhem is provoked by the tactics of the resistance.
The growth of the resistance movement had provoked a split in the official Church. Anyone in the Church hierarchy who supports the resistance movement has been sacked. A heretical cult known as the Cult of the Valkyries ("the valkyries will help those who help defeat evil") has sprung up alongside the resistance.
What's the world's culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.
Some vague sort of approximation to medieval France, with strong indications from early Black Company books.
What's the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What's wrong?
The PCs live under the orc occupation, and must choose between openly working with the orcs, obeying the 'official' human leaders, and/or joining or supporting the resistance. The orcs are the Bad Guys (TM), they Hate humans and bring devastation, destruction and despair wherever they go. The official human leadership of the city is paralysed and submissive. The ongoing choice for the PCs is how to deal with the situation.
If the occupation is to end, the PCs must both weaken the position of the orcs and strengthen and unify the humans. This will take several seasons, perhaps years.
What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, place?
The game is focused in the city of Choisy, under Duke Jehan and Bishop Guillame (and The Great One Named Shagrat). Choisy is not the major city in Brittany, but it is large and influential nonetheless.
What's the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital or any dumb shit like that, but THE PLACE where all the action goes down?
The resistance movement operates in the streets, sewers and on the rooftops of the city. This month their headquarters are in a secret room below a tavern in the southern quarter.
The Orcs have taken over all official and military buildings, and sacked several religious ones for good measure (claiming afterwards that the resistance was using them as a base of operations). Strange lights show at night from the towers of the cathedral, and the resistance claims that Dark Elves work corrupt and Spiteful rites there.
Officially the Palace remains under the control of the Duke, but the orcs move freely within it. The throne room is the usual setting for major political events.
What's the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?
The capital of the human territories, Avalon, which is where the King lives and his armies are garrisoned.
Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?
The Orc leader Shagrat and his lieutenants (to be named) are the main antagonists. At some point we will bring the Dark Elves and their plans into play. There may be additional far off Evil Leaders.
Imagine all of the characters are standing in a room/ruin/field with the antagonists or their minions. What do the antagonists want from that meeting? What do the characters want from that meeting?
The antagonists would happily kill the characters, or intimidate/subjugate them into slavery. Shagrat is smart enough to know that without an active resistance movement to combat his forces would get bored and want to move on. For some secret reason we have not yet specified abandoning the occupation is not acceptable for him.
The characters would want to negotiate some major change in the orc occupation, according to their response to it. Maybe they would want the orcs to depart immediately, maybe some sort of power-sharing arrangement until the orcs leave, maybe some way of integrating orc and human societies, whatever.
Alternately, imagine the characters standing at the scene of some great disaster or calamity clearly caused by one of the antagonists. What's the disaster? How did it happen? What are the characters going to do about it right now?
Shagrat has ordered (or allowed) the destruction of a whole street of houses. Some citizens managed to escape but others were killed. The characters will respond by either attacking or negotiating with the orcs in hopes of avoiding further devastation and/or ending the occupation.
What type of magic exists in this world?
Corruption: everyone who meets the conditions (Gifted, Faithful, pact with a demon, etc).
Standard Sorcery appears with Abstractions and Distillations, and the Arsenal Method. We are also using Enchanting and Alchemy. Homonculi can be created using Alchemy.
Summoning is present, as a separate skill from Sorcery. Gifted is not a pre-requisite: anyone can learn and use Summoning and Circination, but the first test (at a minimum) towards opening these skills must be via Instruction.
Orcs with Void Embrace may learn Rituals of Blood (Orc Summoning variant) and Rituals of Night (Orc Sorcery variant), both augmented by Blood Magic. Spite-related magic may appear.
Faith: the humans are polytheistic with a Norse-like theology. It is commonly believed that Ragnarok is nigh. The major human deity in the setting is Odin. Thor is also an important deity. Odin's spheres are justice, magic, the sky, death and the family (as the All-Father). Thor's spheres are storms, courage, and protection.
Faith-related miracles affect believers and non-believers alike.
Faith in Dead Gods is possible. So is Death Art - based on Faith, Faith in Dead Gods, or Blasphemous Hatred; and always using Blood Magic.
What character stocks are in play in this world? Which are restricted and why?
Humans mostly. Elves and Dwarves are far away and currently uninvolved. An Orc, Troll or Dark Elf might be interesting too.
What cultural traits apply to the characters of this game world? Pick three character traits for each culture.
- King's supporter: Patient, Righteous, Tenacious
- Bishop's supporter: swap one of the above for Reverent
- Resistance supporter: Determined, Reckless, Secretive
- Cult of Valkyries: swap one of the above for Fervent Believer (unless you get Zealot)
- Orc collaborator: Guilty Conscience, Practical, Suspicious
- Living under the occupation (choose no side): Bitter, Ornery, Stubborn
What's your Resources cycle? 1 month, seasonal, 6 months, annual? What's the game world's currency? Who collects the taxes? What do people do for work? What's the major economy?
Seasonal resources cycle: the game begins at the start of autumn. Currency is francs. Taxes and tribute are currently collected by the orcs under the 'official' (but almost always absent) direction of one of the Duke's men. The Orcs then give the 'taxes' part of the collection to the Duke. People are trying to keep working in the city as usual. There is a strong black market in 'banned' goods (see next question).
Material world: What weapons and armor are available? Are some weapons and armor restricted to certain cultures or character stocks? What property is available? Are resources and gear otherwise restricted?
All weapons and armor are banned unless you work for the Orcs (who allow a few humans to remain in the City Guard).
Property within the city is available. Property outside the city is treated as if Outcast until the occupation ends.
Any resources or gear that have to be brought in from outside the city will often be in short supply (including food), and sometimes only available through bribery or other similar techniques. Luxuries tend to be commandeered by the orcs (or destroyed).
Resource Obs will often be +1 due to the occupation. Luxuries are only available with a successful Circles test (preceding the Resources test).
A Deeds Point will be awarded if these three things can be done before winter:
- Ensuring adequate supplies for the coming winter
- Avoiding/preventing a massacre at the Feast of St. Vithias (in about a month)
- Convincing the Court/Orcs to allow Guilds to function again - Guilds were banned by the court after the Orcs complained they were organising centres for the Resistance [true in a few cases]
Mythic GM Emulator
- Each scene will challenge 1 or more Beliefs and Instincts
- Chaos ranking may be included as success/failure conditions for tests
- Beliefs are considered to be the top-ranking open threads
- All characters listed as Relationships are considered at the top of the character list
- 4-6 Scenes form a Session (for BW purposes)
- Completing B1 or B2 completes an adventure, and at the end of that session there will be a trait vote. (Mythic rules TBA)
- It is assumed B3 is a Belief without specific goals, potentially a Moldbreaker
Q1 is asked of every scene, and may lead to Q2 and/or Q3 being asked as well:
- Which Belief is challenged by this scene? (Very Likely)
- Exceptional Yes: result of 'Yes' plus result of Q2
- Yes: 50% B1 or B2
- No: B3 plus result of Q2
- Exceptional No: result of Q3
- Which additional Belief or Instinct is challenged by this scene? (Likely)
- Exceptional Yes: result of 'Yes' plus result of 'No'
- Yes: 50% between the other two beliefs
- No: roll d6: 1-2 I1; 3-4 I2; 5-6 I3
- Exceptional No: result of 'Yes' plus result of 'No' plus
- (50% last Belief or (50% another Instinct))
- Which combination of B3, I1, I2, and/or I3 is challenged by this scene? (50/50)
- Exceptional Yes: result of 'Yes' plus result of 'No'
- Yes: B3
- No: roll d6: 1-2 I1; 3-4 I2; 5-6 I3
- Exceptional No: none