World Burning

A World Ablaze

Here are Luke’s recommended questions for burning a setting ripe with potential. My answers are italicized.

What’s the Big Picture? What’s going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure? What’s changing, evolving, declining?

{Madu}: Noble families vie for control over resources physical and Faithful. The Roden lurk in the city’s depths, necessary but unacknowledged. The Old Ways of insularity and superstition are crumbling before new modes of art, philosophy and commerce.

What’s the world’s culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.

Analogue to historical Italy, was it?

{Madu} Just so. Somewhat similar to the City-States era. Cittá di Scarlino could be compared to one of the smaller city-states.

What’s the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What’s wrong?

Seems we got a family feud, but is there a larger conflict we want to embroil Tizio in?

{Madu}: Well, there’s the simmering background conflict between the old ways and the new, the inherited money and the newly-minted rich. Apart from classism and social upheaval, a war with another city-state is always in the offing. A way to replenish Resources, I suppose, as a mercenary fighting for Bologna or Toscane.

What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, place?

{Madu} Citta di Scarlino is a port town on the northern coast of analogue-Italy. The city itself is the basis for a small state of agriculture and commerce, selling tin, lead, grapes, olives, fish, mutton, and woolen goods. Scarlino boasts a tanners’ quarter, a dyers’ quarter, and the river (the Erb, locally known as ‘Fiume de Puzzo,’ or ‘River of Stench’) carries the wastes of trades and slaughterhouses into the gulf. A Mediterranean environment with long, hot, dusty summers and cool, rainy winters.

What’s the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital or any dumb thing like that, but THE PLACE where all the action goes down?

What’s the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?

Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?

Tizio’s brother, for one. Others?

Imagine all of the characters are standing a room/ruin/field with the antagonists or their minions. What do the antagonists want from that meeting? What do the character want from that meeting? That’s where your game begins.

And some more mechanical questions:

What type of magic exists in this world? Pick one or two of the magic systems: Faith (and Blasphemous Hatred), Sorcery (and Abstraction), Natural Magic, Spirit Binding, Summoning, Enchanting.

Faith and Sorcery.

If Sorcery is used, what’s it’s idiom? Does it require speech? Gestures?

Gestures and speech, and it’s rare as hell.

If Sorcery is used, what spells are available? Which spells are inappropriate to the game world?

I’m content to call all of Sorcery valid, given that I doubt it will have a place in the forefront of the game (and if I have my druthers, will barely be mentioned at all).

{Madu} That’s fine by me. If we go with sort of a para-Christian idiom for Faith, Sorcery is likely to be the last refuge the damned, mad, or desperate. I don’t think anyone discriminates between Sorcery proper and Summoning/Corruption/Death/Blood magic. It’s all very nasty stuff.

If is Faith used, what is the Faith idiom? What are the religions? Is Faith universal or does it only affect believers?

Good questions.

{Madu} The para-Christian idiom for Faith seems to make sense — I envision the high-ritual Catholic church feel for the dominant faith paradigm, something from a Dan Brown novel and half-Roman-mystery cult, with factions behind factions behind factions. The Faithful speak of God in terms of “Mighty,” “Benevolent,” “Avenging,” “Merciful.” It’s never just ‘God’. As for who may be affected by Faith — I am thinking that even if you but pay lip service to “{Adjective} God” you’re a candidate for the powers of Faith, both good and bad. Otherwise, half the church would be exposed as nonbelievers from the get-go. ;) Someone who either a) truly is an atheist or b) believes in a competing Faith paradigm is immune to Faithful effects. Polytheists are well and truly up the creek, I guess. Edited to add: I’m fine with the elemental trinity interpretation. The Father of Fire, perhaps, is the nurturing and warm (yet also savagely destructive and untamed) aspect, the Son of the Sea can quench your spiritual thirst (and it makes feeding the 40,000 with fish quite in-theme) and the Ghost suits Air remarkably well, with last breaths and all. Of course the southerly entrance is aspected to Earth – for we come from the earth, and to it we return.

What character stocks are in play in this world? Which are restricted and why?

Men and Roden.

What cultural traits apply to the characters of this game world? Pick three character traits for each culture.

Madu? Field the Mannish cultural traits?

{Madu} Gesticulant, Magnanimous, Dusky.

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? What’s the black market economy?

I vote 3 months. It gives a more urbane feel. As to the currency and taxes…Madu?

{Madu} Three months it is. All the better to recover those Taxed resources…. As for currency, I’d cheerfully stick with the pseudohistorical and use ducats as the standard. Taxes are collected by the landed families — from the peasantry as well as the craftsmen and businesspeople. Taxes are flat, and based on rates set by an assessor appointed by the city-state’s ruling council. The major economic driving force was once trade and agriculture, but because of the long-simmering wars military might is now extremely lucrative. The black market exists to deliver goods to people without those annoying taxes.

World Burning

Cold as Steel doctor_madu