I've been designing a world which will hopefully develop into a tabletop RPG. It's a dark urban fantasy that incorporates steampunk elements (though the latter is not a focus).
There's a wiki I'll be updating, though it's just a slightly better organised version of this topic. Hope you enjoy it regardless of how you decide to approach it!
Anyway, here goes:
04-16-2014: added Sanctum Architecture
04-17-2014: added some notable people
As opposed to the combat-orientated and stat-filled DnD, I want this RP to be more focused on silver-tonguing and outwitting enemies, a more feminine playstyle, if you will. The basic structure is developed here with the magic sciences, and from there making creative solutions to problems is rewarded. Much like a modern day urban environment, needless violence will result in severe penalties.
The classes, despite their names, are much more similar to ways of thought rather than archetypes in most fantasy RPGs. Biothaum represents creation, alchemical thaum is destruction, whereas spatial thaum is manipulation. From there, each of the three can easily fulfill either a mage/knight/healer archetype, though the method will vary greatly. There are also the newer "hybrid-thaums," or combination of two magic sciences. Electrothaum is the manipulation of destructive power, Lifemancy is the creation of life, and Dreamtech is creating alterations in the world.
Besides the three major magic sciences, there are Ruffians and the monastic order of "Whisperers." Most gameplay revolves around the busy cities, so having a local person will benefit the team greatly during campaigns, as well as their conventional combat abilities (which thaumist will usually lack). Whisperers are currently being worked on… they basically talk to inanimate objects and can manipulate luck.
Each of the three main cities themselves will also offer much different environments. They will each focus on a different kind of eco-political system, though they are all centered around the crown jewel of each, the University, where their respective thaum is focused upon. This doesn't mean that each city relies on only one type, but simply favors one.
This RP will have some bizarre magic systems, weird creatures, and dark ideas! I hope it seems interesting to everyone!
Ideas that may or not be implemented.
- Everyone is fairly fragile, unless modified. A mage-like focused RP.
- No HP system, opting for location damage. Probably less hard stats, focusing more on skills and knowledge.
- Strength is not used for attack, damage is more based upon the weapon used. It is, however, used for lifting things, climbing, etc.
- Steampunky environment. Steam technology is popular in Delmen and Linmerr, though Sanctum has opted for more electrical technologies due to their favored thaum
- Each city will have vastly different environments, with difficulties in various ways (Linmerr will find it harder to trust people, but violence is easier, for example)
- Smooth talking is good. Creative solutions are valued more than boring answers. Fudge system, likely
- As such, many characters should have contacts. Secondary characters can be made for these contacts. Ruffians will have more as they tend to be more connected and local.
- Everyone knows a little bit of thaum due to the education system. Education is highly valued in all of the metropolises, though not everyone is able to go to the main University. Instead, many go to smaller schools or trade schools.
- The world created by me is not 100% concrete. Input from my friends will be taken into account, and I want to really flesh out the cities and make them interesting. A giant collaborative thought experiment on the world!
- Originally, the mechanic was going to be implemented as a support character, but I felt he was rather boring to play as. Instead, it'll probably be a good idea to have a contact that's a mechanic
- Six main campaign types: Vigilante, Eco-terrorists, Mercenaries, Civilians caught in the wrong place wrong time, Organized Crime, Political Terrorists
- Playable races to come later, but currently only humans…
- A focus on verticalness. Instead of just 2D planes, the cities are massive and tall. As such, the ability to move up and down is very important, if not more important than just the x and y axis.
The three major metropolises spear the skies, their monstrous towers ascending into heaven. From almost every place on the continent, one can see them all. The city-states are currently at an uneasy peace with one another, though it was not always so true.
Biothaum was the first magic science to be developed. It drew from a fairly common desire, to mimic nature. Man wanted to run as fast as the cheetah, for soar through the sky like an eagle, to swim as fast as a swordfish. Simply gluing on pieces of the animals worked poorly, but was a crude first attempt. From there, the practice grew more and more refined, with people being able to not only seamlessly attach limbs on whim, but even to morph their body into anything they desired, even if it were fictitious creatures. Seeds could be engineered to attack enemies, animals could be trained and controlled from afar, and, on a sillier note, cosmetic approaches grow ever so popular. Biothaum, though able to be such a flexible power, was deemed grotesque to many due to the nature of stripping animals of their limbs and the creation of "meatmass," which is a requirement due to conservation of mass. It was also used heavily in numerous bloody and terrible battles, specifically build monsters created to fight and engineered to slaughter thousands made the magical science seem horrific in many people's eyes.
Alchemistry came second, though it is also a very ancient art. From simple potions and herbs, the search for purified effects became desired, especially since eating certain foods led to unwanted side effects. Explosives, fire, acid, and ice are some of the many different kinds of ability alchemist developed during their studies into the world of elements and chemicals. The leader of Linmerr at the time adopted alchemistry as the main thaum of his city, as he himself was a student of the magic science. With the freedom he granted, alchemistry became explored deeply as thousands immersed themselves, developing steamrifles, rocket packs, bombs, etc. However, due to the nature of the pollution, the city became smoggy, the yellow haze a constant on the the lower levels of the metropolis. Some were content, though other sought even more cleanliness.
And so, Spatial Engineering came from the people who left the other two nations, studying the budding science. A relatively new magical science, it has not been quite developed as far as the others but may have potential to surpass the other two. The heavy downside is the absurd energy cost of Spatial Engineering, which thankfully Sanctum subsidizes for its citizens. The ability to shrink and expand rooms, the ability to slip between cracks of space, the ability to create portals has proven to be so immensely powerful. Many believe it's the future, but worry about the spatial pollution that it may cause, disrupting reality.
And while the have been the main focuses of their respective Universities, there has been a growing movement to study more than one fields, leading to hybrid studies. Lifemancing, Dream-tech, and Electrothaum have been steadily growing more popular as they take the best aspects from combining the studies, though the difficulty in understanding the complexities of several fields is the limiting factor for those who want to learn them.
As for now, the three metropolises are flourishing in their own ways. The people are happy for the most part, but there seems to be those that might want to disrupt the current environment...
Delmen, the Lively City of Biothaum
Linmerr, the Free City of Alchemistry
Sanctum, the Glorious City of Spatial Engineering
Benevolent dictatorship with socialist leanings
The "fishbowl heads," or more politely called the Krishnik, are a race of sentient, symbiotic micro-organism creature. They live in large clear plastic bags called Slags, a lazy portmanteau of sludge bags. Known to be unnecessarily polite, these creatures have a mild psychic ability which allows them to speak telepathically. However, due to the limit of their powers, they also can very easily fall for lies.
Their general flexibility allows them to squeeze into almost any shape needed, though they often stick with humanoid for simplicity's sake. Also, due to their general non-specialized body parts, they are aware of their surroundings from all angles. As such, they are able to multitask very well. However, once they are hit, they make leak, which is important to immediately patch up. If too much liquid is lost, they will lose many of their abilities and it takes them longer to replicate back to full strength.
Fishbowl Heads speak as a collective. They reproduce by budding, where any number of Krishniks (They tend to be polyamorous) pour in a small portion of their sludge into a special bag for development. This new bag is flushed via a carefully guarded ritual that ensures their new bag will be a new individual. Little is known about the ritual other than it slows down replication and erases most of the memory of the organisms. However, even their childhood states are relatively short-lived, and they quickly reach adult colony size within the first 5 years.
The Faceless are a strange race of beings, lying in the border of perception and reality. Their appearance, a natural mechanism that they have no control over, is that of whoever the other party feels most comfortable talking with. As such, even in a group situation, no one will be able to agree on the true appearance of a member of The Faceless, not even the Faceless himself. When looking in the mirror, the Faceless sees himself as he is most comfortable seeing himself. If a Faceless is friends with humans and identifies as Faceless, he will see himself as an amalgamation of his friends.
From birth, the Faceless are required to wear a special lapel (created by spatial tech so it does not get affected by the perception filter) to identify themselves. Not wearing the lapel has severe consequences, such as life imprisonment or execution, depending on the circumstances. In order to prevent them from running rampant, special officer teams of two with an exchanged eye watch for fluctuating beings. Many are order to kill on sight, though some may opt for non-lethal methods.
The Gow are kinda like furry millipedes. They have adhesive feet that allows them to scale walls. They are incredibly intelligent, but are also face severe prejudice due to their non-humanoid form. They also have difficulty speaking due to a different evolved vocal cords, but many have a speakerbox instead.
The Lizard Frogs are forced to break their arms often as they grow up, allowing for a stretchiness in their arms that allows them to swing around. They also have very powerful hind legs to let them leap.
Sphericles, often called Blobs derogatorily, are very round creatures. Instead of limbs they have numerous small nubs to aid in locomotion. They are incredibly intelligent and tend to spend the majority of their time thinking without moving. They often use devices to aid in their studies and have some telekinetic ability in order to aid in their everyday life, such as eating (of which they do much of). Sphericles are incredibly lazy and will always find a way to get around doing the least work with the largest results.
When moving, they will shrink their head in like a turtle and roll around. As such, they become very dirty and covered in filth. This leads to a lot of prejudice about the species, despite their general ability to prove useful in the intellectual areas.
Current skills are not set. If anything, they are very flexible. As long as the idea fits within the philosophy, they can usually be added. In fact, feel free to suggest ideas!
"Nature knows best."
- Limb attachment
- Limb replacement
- Limb modification
- Inorganic/organic fusing
- Seed Gen: Fast grow
- Seed Gen: Manipulation
- Seed Gen: Spore
- Seed Gen: Carnivorous
- Creature Manipulation
- Enemy Manipulation
- Fleshgen: Conversion of "meatmass" into usable parts and vice versa
"Let's get this job done."
- Poison: Liquid
- Poison: Gas
- Chemical Medicine
"Solving problems with grace."
- Zoom: Optical: Allows for observation around corners, for example.
- Space-bending: ("Need to shoot around a corner? Done.")
- Portal tech
- Slip tech: Ability to slip between the cracks in space.
- Expansion: To make an area larger
- Shrink: To make an area smaller
- Shift: Changing distances in a linear way
- Severance: Cutting space
- Mend: Putting space back together
- Gravity Manipulation
Hybrid - Bio/Alc: Lifemancy
"I will take the next step and become a God."
Creation of artificial life. Often degrades quickly. Ambitious individuals usually, as they are effectively playing god. They tend to be more socially shunned due to their powers.
- Small animals
- Brainwash potions/body control
- Blast creatures (All elements): Using any of the established alchemical fields, Lifemancers can "infect" animals with a certain element. For example, a rat that will shift its chemical makeup to explosive chemicals when triggered.
Sample Lifemancer - Knight Archetype
Hybrid - Bio/Spa: Dream-tech
Manifestation of ideas. More about information manipulation than lifemancy. Creates "ghosts," echos, etc.
- Seed Gen: Photosynthesis Energy Conversion: Can convert the sun into usable energy via
- Echoes: Leave messages that re-enact your efforts
- Ghosting: Creates a "ghost" that travels through anything
- Info extract
- Mind-diving: Can explore the memories of someone
- Mind defense: Fights Mind-diving
- Sublimination: Light mind alteration on a large group of people. Used by people in power usually. A morally ambiguous power that has been greatly slammed by the media.
Hybrid - Alc/Spa: Electrothaum
Manipulation of electricity.
- Surge: Uses electricity to enhance strength
- Electro/Energy Conversion
- Electro-pionage: Can look through electrical wires. Can touch a power outlet, for example, and look through cameras and other outlets, even.
- Magno: Metal Manipulation
- Magno: Polarity control
"I know something that can help."
Steamrifles: Steam-powered guns. Favoured by the police force of Linmerr. Activation methods varies substantially, from large steam backpacks to chemical reactant cartridges. Backpacks, although bulky, can allow for sustained firing and more powerful shots. Chemical reactant cartridges are noisier and require constant reloading, though they tend to be smaller. As a result, the former tends to be favored in powerful rifles, whereas the latter are used in smaller concealed pistols. Steamrifles also have the ability to fire a variety of shots, ranging from birdshot, slugs, to gas canisters.
Vac-guns: Terrifying weapons used by the Delmen Enforcement Agency. Vac-guns work similarly to a long range vacuum. Empty cartridges are loaded in to the gun, and the gun pulls in the target, ripping it out of the source, whether it is flesh or stone. It then packs the torn contents into the shell and ejects it. As a result, it leaves a slight larger hole than the shell in the target, causing much pain and damage. Larger shells are used when larger amounts of damage are required. Vac-guns are especially useful in law enforcement as they can gather information about suspects even after a grazing shot.
ARC-beams: Electro-thaum weapons used by the HGM (Her Grand Matriarch's) Security Force. ARC-beams work by firing a quick burst of electricity at short range. However, with clever spatial manipulation, the distance to the target can be shortened, extending the beam to as far as needed. Automatic and manual versions are available. Automatic ARC-beams have implanted machinery to do the spatial manipulation, though they tend to be much bulkier and energy inefficient. However, they can be used by anyone. Manual ARC-beams, however, require a spatial engineer in order to use. They tend to be much smaller and concealable, and can also be manipulated around obstacles by a skilled user. Variations in settings can change from lethal to non-lethal bursts.
Firesparkers: Commonly called "mind-fryers" by the public, these weapons of questionable morality are oftentimes used by terrorists. Firesparkers use miniature portals to create a focused element of heat at the target. They do not require line of sight because of portal usage, but also have massive energy consumption. They derive their names as terrorist oftentimes target heads, causing heads to spontaneously combust. However, firesparkers require massive skill to aim properly, and can oftentimes backfire if calibration is not exact, exploding in the user's hands.
Suggesters: Suggesters are exotic and rare personal weapons used by Whisperers. They perform a variety tasks, from knocking targets unconscious to controlling them through subtle means. Distance affects the potency. No one really knows how they work, as Whisperers do not allow anyone to examine them. Each Whisperer will create their own Suggester when they reach adult age, and if someone other than the creator even as much touches one, they will crumble into useless scrap.
Serafina Greyscale (Imperial Matriarch of Sanctum): Tall, intimidating, commanding. Serafina Greyscale usurped the throne from her aunt, Lady Corinthia Greyscale, at age fourteen though a bloodless coup, citing her prodigious skills as a Spatial Engineer as proof of her divine favour. They were not unfounded, as Serafina's dream-tech is unmatched by anyone throughout the land.
She had rulesd the city with a fair but iron fist for the past thirty years. Even the most minor of crimes can result in harsh punishments, and political prisoners are summarily executed. However, she cares very strongly for her people, and the rewards are great for citizens of the great city of Sanctum.
Isabella "The Wolf" Dendra (Captain of the Imperial Guards, The Imperial Blade): Serafina's right hand and one of the highest ranking Facelesses in the land. Rumor has it that her spatial thaum abilities may even exceed Serafina's, but she simply chooses to remain in the shadows. Her loyalty is unwavering, and her phase-blade is always within hands' reach, should anyone even attempt to threaten the Imperial Matriarch. It is no secret that the Imperial Guards double as an espionage agency, but their role with such affairs remains unofficial. Though she never received much formal education, her talent and intuition more than makes up for it, as does her guile.
Corvus Linn (Chief of the Sanctum Security Forces): Corvus commands the Sanctum Security Force, often called the Sif. Though he may appear at least fifty, his body acts as if it is twenty years younger. Though he lives in the city of Sanctum, known for its spatial thaum, Corvus is a biothaumist by education. Serafina recruited him by grand promises of money and unlimited energy, of which he desired with his Lifemancy research. Some rumors suggest that nearly half the security force are clones, experiments of Corvus, but those are merely unfounded rumours.
Athlayst Bai (President of Delmen): Known by both friends and enemies as the man with many faces. Athlayst is charismatic and charming, though one should never let one's guard down around him. He has been known to change his face to adapt to surroundings, sometimes even performing acts of espionage himself. He ultimately cares for his city very much, but a single man can only do so much in the overly populated city.
Tyton Strigid the Wise (Prime Minister of Linmerr): Some call him a mere figurehead, and that is not unfounded. Tyton cares for little more than his research, performing only the minimum as the leader of Linmerr. However, the position itself is little more than a title outside of wartime, so few care in times of peace. Tyton is ultimately well-meaning, but lacks to power to change much.
The Board: Nine members compose the board, each technically controlling a main Column of Linmerr. However, they often pay little heed as long as the general peace is upheld and taxes are paid.