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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    I have a "main" world building project (Dawn of Hope). But sometimes I have worlds that just spring to life in my head and won't go away until I write them down. And even then they stay around. I don't have any plans for these--not stories or games. Most of them would require (if turned into a game) very different rulesets than I'm used to. I'm sure none of them are particularly unique, but they are insistent.

    Here are brief descriptions of a couple of them, the web of worlds multiverse and Koldun.

    Spoiler: Web Of Worlds
    Show



    A multiverse ruled by four Paradigms in two dualities: Technology/Magic and Spirit/Matter. These Paradigms influence the physical laws of the universes within their ambit. Not all universes are "stable"--most of them are fleeting fragments (kinda like Amber's shadows). And even the stable ones can disappear (with another taking its place) as the balance of Paradigms within it shifts.

    Magic is (at least in this depiction) much more chaotic and individualistic than tech. To the point that the far reaches of the top have no stable laws at all, anarchy at the level of physical law itself. So sort of a weak correlation to Law/Chaos, but without any moral flavoring. It just...is. Spirit is concerned with the immaterial, where thought determines reality (in the extremes), while Matter is where physical laws dominate all.

    One thought I had is that none of the extremes are likely to be anything people from earth would understand or be comfortable in.

    Four worlds stand on the intersections of pairs; four are well within a "quadrant" dominated by two of the four. And no, the universe isn't a two-dimensional thing, that's just one way of looking at it.

    Where Tech and Spirit dominate, you have a world that has become more and more digital, with AI and mind uploading, Singularity. Where Tech and Matter dominate, you have a world with nanomachines, replicators, and body modifications/cyborg implants, Ubiquity.

    Where Matter and Magic dominate, you have an elemental world dominated by dragons and monsters of legend, Drakonia. Where Magic and Spirit dominate, you have Faerie (the Fair Folk of legend, who are not necessarily nice) and the laws of nature are...well...flexible.

    Tir na nog is a world of elves (of the celtic sidhe-esque variety, not the Tolkien/D&D variety). Bastion a world of magitech. Cyberia is basically a mashup of all the cyberpunk/body-mod/weak-ai genre. Holy Terra is a world ruled by gods/spirits and their priests, as well as psychics, voudun, and paranormal practitioners of all types.

    Some people, known as web-walkers, can traverse between worlds. This isn't trivial, and incurs costs.

    Dissonance: What web-walkers experience when on worlds other than their home. And for those that don't spend enough time at home, they feel dissonance everywhere--they've become detached and rootless.

    Dissonance is the sense of not fitting in. Of things being wrong in fundamental ways. Its root cause is the conflict between the Paradigms and not being aligned with the current world's balance. It surfaces as mental stress and even physiological changes, as the nimbus the walker brought along conflicts with the forces of the world. When a walker has exhausted their reserves of strength, any additional dissonance is enough to create an Ego Break (which can mean anything from a mild sickness to being ejected from that world, often leaving a rift behind, or outright dissolution of your identity, leaving a monstrous Void Born in your place).

    The amount of dissonance experienced scales (at base) with the distance the walker is away from their home. And moving between outer worlds and inner worlds is much more costly than moving among inner worlds.

    World 1 World 2 "Hops" Base Dissonance (arbitrary units)
    Inner Inner 1 1
    Outer Inner 1 2
    Inner Inner 2 4
    Outer Inner 2 8
    Outer Outer 2 16
    Outer Outer 3 32

    Most normal people, regardless of the world of origin, can handle 1-2 dissonance and no more. 10 is the normal limit for "superpowered" people. Only those of supreme power can start from an outer world and maintain themselves in another outer world, even in an adjacent quadrant, and no one except __________ has ever been recorded to have managed the trip to an opposing quadrant and that effort caused a massive Ego Break once __________ caused Paradox.

    Paradox: What local residents experience in the presence of a walker who does something that breaks the normal local laws. Mild amounts can be rationalized away--he wasn't really hit by that car, or he had an adrenaline rush that granted supernal strength for a moment, orů Greater amounts, caused by more flagrant violation, cause varying effects in the people and world around them. Many of these are psychological, causing trauma, nightmares, headaches, sickness, or outright psychosis. At extreme levels, it can cause a local Realignment, changing the local balance of Paradigms. This allows walkers to actually change the world. However, paradox carries risks for the walkers as well, especially if the people are particularly stubborn. For a large enough group of people can unconsciously reject the paradox, causing it to rebound on the walker as a surge of dissonance. This frequently causes the more destructive forms of Ego Break.

    So if a dragon (local to Drakonia) shows up in Bastion and takes on their true form, they're going to cause paradox for anyone who sees them. Note that compared to White Wolf's Mage games, this is reversed. Everyone around the wonder-worker experiences paradox when they enact the wonder, while the walker experiences dissonance just by being there. And if you try to do a wonder and fail, especially if that failure is caused by the presence of locals who reject your wonder, Bad Things Happen to you. Death or insanity are the nice forms. Worst case your self shatters and a Void Born (monster, basically) is created.

    Death and horror are very possible here. None of the forces involved are playing around, and you don't bounce back. Web-walkers have short lifespans unless they're very careful. And even then, rates of insanity and other trauma are way higher than normal.


    Spoiler: Koldun
    Show

    This one is much less fleshed out. Basically, a world where magic is both quasi-alive and changes things that are affected/use it. Basically chaotic, not orderly at all. Everything's happily in dynamic balance between the types of magic and the world is basically uninhabited by fleshly intelligences--only the bodiless beings of pure energy known as djinn (or demons, or a bunch of other names I haven't figured out) have intelligence.

    Then a high-tech colony ship crashes through the barriers between universes on accident and makes a forced landing. These humans use technology (which, as something of Order and consistent laws, is not all that compatible with magic) to create barriers around their crash site. These barriers (in the form of gigantic monoliths spaced some distance apart) act as breakwaters, making magic in the area "tame" and in fact basically passive. As they try to expand, creating a second set of barriers, the world (and those who have been exposed and changed by the wild magic) strike back and prevent full deployment, leading to somewhat of a stalemate.

    So you'd have a core of "true humans" clustered around the crash site, those not touched by magic. They'd have high tech, but be unwilling to venture out, lest they become "contaminated". Then you'd have people living in the middle zones, where magic is around but isn't dominant. They'd be mages and more "humanoid" changed beings. On the outside of the barriers you'd have the wild magic and those who have fully been "lost" to it. Different balances of elemental forces would result in different creatures.


    As I said, I don't have any plans for these worlds. And none of them are fleshed out very far at all. They're just...there. Stuck in my brain. And now sloshed out to yours.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Laserlight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    I have a novelist acquaintance who had a contract for Book A but his muse was stuck on Book B, and he had to write B so he could get it out of his head and write the one he actually had a contract for. (Fortunately he can knock out of novel in about three weeks of nonstop typing, and Book B made him a pile of money).

    I don't have that problem, in that I don't get a whole novel. I get one image, usually, that demands attention. Most recently, Bright Face: a rift valley bordered by cliffs six thousand feet deep, of which one section, glistening with water, flashes when the sun rises on it. Of course, to get any use of that, I have to figure out who's in the valley now, who used to be in the valley before them, same for the highlands, is there a route up the cliff anywhere, and so forth.
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah cain't abide no murderin' scoundrel."

    Tactical Precepts: 1) Cause chaos, then exploit it; 2) No plan survives contact with...(sigh)...my subordinates.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    The web of worlds isn't just a campaign setting - its several campaign settings. The way that you've set up the dissonance mechanic, many of these settings will never intermesh. A character from Ubiquity will never end up in (or never last long enough to matter in) the Faerie realm.

    That means that you're doing a lot of worldbuilding word that players might never see.

    Personally, I'd tone down the dissonance mechanic and make it more of a resource-management thing than a hard barrier. Characters can spend time in any world on the web, but they can't stay there for long and there are certain basic things that they can't do, like eat or sleep. This has the benefit of creating coherent and interesting explanations for why certain tropes hold, and I really like that. It's a common trope in fiction that people who are transported into the Faerie realm suffer terrible consequences if they eat anything at all while they are there. It's an ancient trope that this holds true for the underworld. In the web of worlds, eating something from another world means taking part of that world into yourself - and if you can't handle it, that's bad. Travelers from another world would be like astronauts - running off internal supplies, and in serious trouble if they loose any of their equipment or are stranded.

    I'd tie the ability to range further afield into the leveling-up system. What I wouldn't do is just say that higher-level characters can travel further afield because they just get more resistant to dissonance somehow (and that, arbitrarily, all classes get this resistance at the same rate despite getting HP/saves/etc. at different rates). That's too easy, and kinda boring.

    It'd be much more interesting to make it the other way around: characters grow more acclimatized to a world through adventuring in it, and that this causes them to become more powerful. By analogy, travelers from another world are like an invasive species. They can be extremely vulnerable because they have no natural resistances to the threats present in this world, or extremely resilient because they have no natural predators. They can be extremely weak because they are not adapted to their new world, or extremely strong because nothing in their new world is adapted to them. Novice travelers are like weak invasive species; that are an (almost literal) fish out of water. Experienced travelers can rock-paper-scisors to victory; they'll adapt to deal with everything in their new world, and learn how to optimally exploit the fact that their new world isn't prepared for them.

    You could tie this advancement into character classes. Artificers might derive part of their strength in Drakona from the fact that they can "bring" a bit of the essence of technology into a world that is unprepared to deal with it (even though they may have never traveled to a technological world). Then, when an artificer travels to Ubiquity, they get a different advantage: automatic reduced dissonance at first, then some other passive boost once they acclimatize. In effect, classes get an offensive boost on worlds that are "foreign" to their theme and a defensive boost when they are at "home".

    This leads to some very interesting consequences for the arc of a campaign:
    • The players will naturally start in one world. They'll grow stronger facing the threats of their own world, then once they are strong enough to do so, venture into nearby worlds. Nearby worlds are basically like high-level dungeons at this point, with further-away worlds being like higher-level dungeons. The universe is structured in a way that allows for an endless series of balanced encounters.
    • However, unlike a game where the challenge rating of each area ramps up as players radiate out from their starting point, players are growing in breadth as well as level of power. A party who starts in Drakonia, travels to and grows to thrive in Tir Na Nog, then establishes themselves in the Faerie realm, then sets their sights on Holy Terra . . . is still going to be on the struggle bus if they ever venture into Bastion.
    • Players may eventually grow to be more powerful in a world other than their homeworld than they are at home. This could create some interesting dramatic decisions. Maybe they get trapped far from home, barely manage to survive, acclimatize, grow in power, spread out and grow in power in nearby worlds, become mythic heroes . . . but when they find a way back to their homeworld, they find out that the majority of their adventures took place too far away to give them any off-worlder benefits. They can go home, or they can stay heroes, but they can't do both.
    • The greatest threats that players will face are travelers from another world. The most effective way to counter them is to travel to their homeworld, learn their ways and their weaknesses, and then come home to confront them. That's a really cool campaign arc, and it's built into the world rather than being something that some DM needs to homebrew!

    There's also, I should note, no reason why any of these worlds can't just be an existing campaign setting. You could recycle a lot of existing DnD material to make the three worlds in the magic/matter quadrant. You could even have the web be something that players discover as they grow in power in an existing campaign, if your setting happens to be similar to one of those three worlds!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    I don't see Web of Worlds as a campaign setting at all. The closest mechanical system might be something like Torg, but not really. It's much more narrative. But as I said, I don't have any plans for either setting. They're just...bundles of metaphysics. I'd expect that most of the narrative would be in the inner worlds, with a possibility of searching for the (mythical?) center world, where everything is in balance. So a Ubiquity person and one from faerie might meet on one of the inner worlds in the middle.

    I certainly don't have any ideas about mechanical implementation for either of the two worlds. Certainly not D&D--that makes way too many assumptions about the nature of reality.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-04-06 at 11:12 AM.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    Very interesting!

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Most normal people, regardless of the world of origin, can handle 1-2 dissonance and no more. 10 is the normal limit for "superpowered" people. Only those of supreme power can start from an outer world and maintain themselves in another outer world, even in an adjacent quadrant, and no one except __________ has ever been recorded to have managed the trip to an opposing quadrant and that effort caused a massive Ego Break once __________ caused Paradox.
    It would seem more natural and interesting to do the reverse, since powerful beings presumably derive their power from the rules of their world and will struggle when those rules change. Godlike AIs can't function if the laws of physics don't support intensive computations or break down entirely, and fairy queens find it unbearably restrictive when reality insists on behaving consistently instead of bending itself to their whims, but lesser beings can adapt to a broader range of circumstances. In particular, this would mean that superbeings need relatable human-scale protagonists/PCs to do their dirty work for them. Is there a reason you decided more powerful entities should be more mobile?
    Spoiler
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    Do you surmise it's wise to have laser beams emitting from your eyes?
    -They Might Be Giants, "The Lady and the Tiger"

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    Quote Originally Posted by PirateMonk View Post
    Very interesting!



    It would seem more natural and interesting to do the reverse, since powerful beings presumably derive their power from the rules of their world and will struggle when those rules change. Godlike AIs can't function if the laws of physics don't support intensive computations or break down entirely, and fairy queens find it unbearably restrictive when reality insists on behaving consistently instead of bending itself to their whims, but lesser beings can adapt to a broader range of circumstances. In particular, this would mean that superbeings need relatable human-scale protagonists/PCs to do their dirty work for them. Is there a reason you decided more powerful entities should be more mobile?
    I was less thinking of powerful than mentally strong/sturdy. Which is a slightly different, orthogonal scale. Since the pressure is mostly on your sense of self...I was thinking more in terms of something analogous to "class levels", so a seriously-stubborn entity with a supreme sense-of-self could go quite a ways, even if their overall "powers" aren't that impressive. More that ordinary people in each world struggle to even perceive or deal with the true nature of the world.

    A godlike AI would have to pour itself into a "human-scale" body just to move at all (since walking the web requires actual physical movement and you can't really keep a channel open to your home plane, so you have to be self-contained), where a high-power dragon would have to do something similar, but mainly due to paradox backlash (a dragon flying is going to get rejected pretty fast, or at least draw a lot of attention). Which puts decided limits on what those entities can do, but is mostly contained in the increased outer->inner difficulty.

    But yeah, this is still kinda nebulous and not fixed.
    Dawn of Hope: a 5e setting. http://wiki.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ever had a world stick itself into your head until you wrote it down?

    Oh yeah, like that one that I haven't named but is a galactic sized setting where the story mostly takes place in one solar system. Its mostly technology based but magic is... everywhere but usually not noticeable. Except for FTL which uses links between two planetary spirits to teleport between them. (You can also use solar spirits, but that isn't as useful.) The highest "office" in the setting are the small group of people who have access to true instant communication.

    The starts with a cyborg police officer as they find an intellectual biological superweapon. After the officer disappears the superweapon spreads their musings (the officer's, the superweapon is a he) around and ends up starting several religion-like organizations that become the go-to experts on a new form of magic that drives you insane if you think about it in the wrong way. The story ends as they all get together to stop a demon from taking a hunk out of reality to get at something that might be god. There is also a really important family run hotel in there.

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