July 18, 2011

When worlds collide

It feels like I'm going at a snails' pace, but the Ezzin setting draws ever closer to viability.

Ezzin is a wild world, with very few cities.  Civilization is only just beginning to take hold.  I thought it would be fun to give the PCs a chance to explore the undiscovered wilderness, meet unknown species, establish new trade routes, and to build strongholds and cities.

I've been struggling with writing the introduction to the setting though.  Should I explain the lost sci-fi origins of this fantasy world to the players, or keep them on par with the characters and NPCs who struggle to make sense of their world with far fetched theories/religions that are difficult to prove or disprove?  Without explaining the lost origins of the world I'm afraid that the players will see aspects of the setting as ridiculous, and crazy... which it is honestly.  I really do have a method to my madness though.  Does withholding the rationale kill the mood, or enhance it?

As an example, here are four of the seven "civilized" races available to the PCs at character creation.

  • Halflingons - A race of proud warrior monks who seek constantly to improve their martial skills and family honor.  Rumors persist of a secretive order of Halflingon assassins who seek to master shadowy arts.  3 feet tall, ridged foreheads, quick but not very strong.
  • Andworvians -  Proud and intelligent craftsmen who live and work within their deep mines.  They employ a method of using Djinn demon runes on items to create magical artifacts.  They insist that the items are perfectly safe, but others are skeptical and think that the Andworvians are playing with fire.  Andworvians have thick, compact bones and tissues giving them some extra resistance to fire, cold, and physical blows, but this higher density causes them to sink like stones when in water.  Some say that their great resilience contributes to their renowned recklessness and impatience.  4 feet tall, blue skin, pale hair, a pair of antenna able to produce UV light, normal and ultravision.
  •  Humans - Although these people usually choose to call themselves "Human" they are known by many names: Strangers, Freaks, Mutants, The bastard race, The 10-fingered plague, New babies (newbies), The filthy, and many others that are even less kind.  Humans are the youngest of the seven civilized races. The first of their kind is thought to have been born less than 500 years ago.  It began very slowly, the original six civilized races would rarely give birth to one of these strange children.  Reactions were mixed.  Some were well cared for by their parents and tribes, others were cast out once they reached adulthood, some were believed to be cursed and killed by their parents.  Some of these human outcasts would band together, eventually forming tribes of their own.  Often poorly educated and resentful, these groups of savages quickly turned to raiding and stealing for survival.  As time goes on, it becomes more and more common for non-human parents to give birth to human children.  Now, human children are typically tolerated and taught to become useful members of their society, rather than be sent away to join the ranks of the savage raiders.  Humans are rarely seen as equals within their non-human societies, except perhaps by their parents or lifelong friends.  The child of a human is always human, no matter the race of the other parent.  Many non-humans secretly fear for the future of their people if these mutant weeds continue to thrive.  6 feet tall, 10 fingers and toes, generally have better ability scores than any other race.
  • Elfulans - Highly intelligent and cultured, Elfulans claim to have the oldest written language.  Others whisper behind their backs that Elfulans also invented the art of twisting words in order to trick and deceive.  The oldest Elfulan records only date back a few hundred years however.  Before this time they they were known as Elvulcans and lived within their now mythical garden forest home.  At the time there were many disagreements among the Elvulcans about what should be done with the strange human children being born to them.  After years of debate, the Elvulcan elders decreed that human children could not be allowed to multiply and all of them would be killed.  Those who refused to give up their human children and friends were cast out en masse, enchantments placed over the forest prevent them from ever returning or finding it again.  These outcast Elvulcans cast off the old ways, built a great city, and have renamed themselves Elfulans.  5 feet tall, slim build, pointy ears.

So, would the players benefit from knowing my clever rationalization for all of this, or should I just allow them to embrace the chaos of it all?

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