The Collaborative Campaign – the setting

In thinking about this long-term design project, one of the first questions that needed to be answered was whether to create a setting from scratch or use a published setting.   Both have advantages and disadvantages, but in the end I decided that I would use a published setting as the basis for the project for two reasons. First, it gives a more comprehensible foundation for the project – this is a new thing for me and may be for others as well, and I wanted to be able to ease into it without long discussions of how warp drive works or how long the ears of elves are. A published campaign setting does that.

Second – I paid for the books, I might as well get the use of them.

With that out of the way, I had to decide which published settings I was interested in.   Since the idea was to collaborate with others, I wanted a broad variety of settings that would give a wide spectrum of choice for what sort of stories could be told, as well as a selection of genres.  After perusing the shelves (and the boxes in the garage) I came up with the following –

Traveller, the New Era – science fiction. The Imperium, a large human empire spanning over a thousand systems, has collapsed due to unrest, war, and the release of a sentient and malevolent computer virus capable of inhabiting and operating most high tech machinery (starships, automated factories, robots, large construction equipment, etc.). The collapse occurred around 70 years ago, and various worlds are picking up the pieces.  There are two potential settings – the Regency and the Reformation Coalition

The Regency – the last remaining vestige of the Imperium, which managed to inoculate itself against the outbreak of Virus. Now faced with political upheaval, threats from alien neighbors, and the continued requirement of constant vigilance of it’s borders

The Reformation Coalition – a group of systems which were ravaged by Virus but have managed to bootstrap themselves back to starfaring status with some assistance from their alien neighbors. They, too, face internal strife as well as continued threat from Virus as they begin to expand past their current borders.

The World of Aldea (Blue Rose) – romantic fantasy. The world of Aldea is one of high fantasy, where magic is relatively common, and there are numerous fantasy races (though not quite in the Tolkien mold). The setting is one that encourages romantic fantasy, rather than the sword-and-sorcery sort of fantasy more common in roleplaying. In Blue Rose there is more emphasis on interaction, and less on stabbing things in the face.

Glorantha, Dragon Pass region – mythic fantasy. Glorantha is a highly mythic world, where interaction with the gods, and use of magic is commonplace. Dragon Pass is an area that is considered to be quite magically active, even by Gloranthan standards. The tribes who live there (nominally similar to the Norse in some ways), face numerous challenges such as the encroaching Lunar Empire, periodic assaults by chaos, intertribal strife, and service to their deities.

The Known Worlds (Fading Suns) – Science Fiction/Fantasy.  To quote the copy from the Holistic website:   “It is the dawn of the sixth millennium and the skies are darkening, for the suns themselves are fading. Humans reached the stars long ago, building a Republic of high technology and universal emancipation — and then squandered it, fought over it, and finally lost it. A new Dark Age has descended on humanity, for the greatest of civilizations has fallen and even the stars die. Now, feudal lords rules the Known Worlds, vying for power with fanatic priests and scheming guilds.”

Vimary (Tribe 8 ) – post apocalypse/fantasy. In the aftermath of a world-shattering event that destroyed modern society, and generations of slavery under the terrible Z’bri, several tribes were able to unite under new/old gods and achieve freedom. After a generation, however, their society is becoming increasingly insular and stressed. Vimary, incidentally, is the remains of Montreal.

Poseidon (Blue Planet) – environmentalist science fiction. Set on a water world, the first human colony of Poseidon faces numerous challenges in a unique and sometimes difficult environment. Several species of cetacean have been uplifted to sentience, and some humans have been genetically modified to operate in an aquatic environment.

London (Hot War) – post apocalypse horror adventure. In the aftermath of World War Three (which occurs in the early ’60s) all communication between London and the outside world has ceased. The survivors must try to hold the remains of society together in the midst of threats from outside (which include horrific monsters unleashed during the war) and within (as various groups attempt to gain or solidify control of London).

I chose all of these settings because all of them interest me, and the choices contain a good mix of fantasy and science fiction. The systems for most of them didn’t interest me all that much, but that was OK because system isn’t what this exercise is about.  Creativity is.  If we get that far maybe we can examine systems at some later date, but for now I would prefer to keep the project entirely systemless.

Which brings us neatly to poll #1 – the setting!

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