2018/12/31

OSR: What Time Is The Apocalypse?

I'm trying to get back into the habit of writing. It's like exercise. Stop for a bit and all the muscles go flabby. If this post is below my usual standards, think of it as the first jog after the Holiday gorge.

I've been struggling to define when my pre-apocalyptic setting is set.


"Medieval", especially "medieval fantasy" seems to cover everything from Constantine to Cromwell. Joan of Arc, Robin Hood, and Richard the Lionheart all happened at approximately the same time; before muskets, potatoes, the printing press, and ruffled collars, but after togas, orgies, and chariot racing.

Well, this is Restoration-Georgian-Regency-Victorian fantasy. It starts with liberalism and social change and ends with the first World War, but it's more focused on the middle bit than the transitions at either end. Charles Dickens could meet Sherlock Holmes at a coffee shop to discuss the new "going-up-and-down-a-bit-and-then-moving-along Gertrude" cloth-weaving machine, and then leap out of the way of a coal-powered Omnibus full of soldiers newly returned from some poorly thought-out foreign adventure.

As Blackadder Series 1 is to Medieval, so Blackadder Series 3 is to this setting. It's Discworld's Ankh-Morpork but with a bit less furious optimism.

London, Gustave Dore

Endon

Is London. That should be obvious. Not the real, historical London but the London of a thousand movies and TV series and novels and half-remembered anecdotes.
   If your group is intimately familiar with London, then it's Hong Kong.
      If your group is intimately familiar with both London and Hong Kong then it's New York.
         If your group is intimately familiar with London, Hong Kong, and New York, then what the hell are you doing playing RPGs? Clearly you've got a lot more interesting things to do with your time. Maybe you should be the ones writing a book, did you ever think of that? No? Well too bad, it's your job now. 

How Do I Use This In My Medieval Fantasy Game

Endon is an outlier. It's a few decades or centuries ahead of the curve. This isn't necessarily good thing. Endon's rise is like a firework; lots of glitter and sparks, but fundamentally unstable. For a time it's on the cutting edge of creation, but the book is about a pre-apocalyptic setting. Something's going to give. It doesn't have to make sense forever because it's not going to last forever; it's a violently unstable brew.

Until it all falls apart (and possibly takes the rest of the region/continent/world with it), Endon is the place to
-buy the latest fashions
-buy the most potent weapons
-meet the most elegant, refined, beautiful, seductive, poetic, etc, etc, people.
-meet people from any part of the world
-sell magic items for the most money
-get leads on the most profitable ventures

If you have a problem, if no other generic medieval fantasy city can help, if you can find it, maybe you can reach Endon.
Just make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.


Send your players there to solve some unrelated problem and see what they do. Drop rumours of Endon into generic medieval villages; a city lit by a thousand ever-burning lamps, a city where actresses dance with princes and even the poor eat steak.
If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly, or the referee is forced to change the game into a new framework which will accommodate what he has created by way of player-characters.
-Gary Gygax, The Strategic Review II, 1976

The goal is to make Endon a "weird wizard show" where the players won't have time to get bored because the world is falling apart around their ears, or because they're too busy making money/gaining political power to care. It's a new, temporary, bolt-on framework.

Infinitely Great Britain

This one's a freebie, unrelated to the rest of this post. You can have it. Go nuts.

I've always wanted to run a Victorian Stargate game. Maybe not based on the actual Stargate TV show but something similar. Victorian dimension hopping. Taking all the most fertile aspects of the UK (as seen on TV only) and parodying them to hell and gone. The crossover to end all crossovers.
Let the flag of Infinitely Great Britain fly over every world. Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the planes.

11 comments:

  1. Well it's going to have to be rescheduled, Idris Elba cancelled it.

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    1. Ah shoot. How does Tuesday work for you?

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  2. Does this count as somewhat close to a Victorian Stargate?
    http://www.failbettergames.com/sunless-skies/

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  3. What sort of book will it be? A novel? A sourcebook? What?

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    1. A sourcebook/gazetteer type thing, except less words and more practical at-the-table utility.

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    2. Can’t wait. I’d buy your grocery list.

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  4. Really looking forward to have the book in my hands!

    About the bonus post, the Britain dimension-hopping made me think of Luther Arkwright. Did you know about it?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Luther_Arkwright

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  5. The Planar Hopping Brittania sparked some ideas. Pith helmeted officers disembarking from astral ironclads, ready to present the Pax Brittania under the most favourable terms, all under the rule of the Immortal Goddess-Queen of manking (bonus point you grab some old Praetorian Guard minis, since you´re getting into WH40k).

    As I find great delight in blowing established settings up, I would present my players with a Waterdeep shelled into oblivion by a space faring version of the pre-WW1 British Navy.

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  6. I think Marvel's Excalibur series involved some dimension hopping, with Captain Britain having counterparts on the other Earths.

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