The game is one of exploration and adventure, in a lawless world, haunted by its past. The players are escapees, fugitives, and outcasts who find themselves in a land of opportunity and adventure. The game will focus on the players’ wanderings and exploration of the rugged wilderness of the Lyrian Highlands, a dark sci-fi/fantasy wilderness. It will be a “hex-crawl“, with the story building upon the choices made by the players, and will use the GURPS 4th Edition rules. The players will own their decisions. Death and misfortune are very real possibilities.
The game will start in the Lyrian Highlands, a wasteland rich with the Relics of an ancient forerunner civilization. The players are escapees/refugees of an expedition to the eponymous city gone awry, or else they are some other strangers in this strange land. Some possibilities include:
- A Pureblood Taeren warrior of the Palladian Orders serving as a sword of the Exalted
- An Bromian Engineer how has secreted himself into the expedition, eager to learn the secrets of the Ancients
- A Valnoran monk seeking to test his mettle against the famed dangers of the Poisoned City
- A human psionic “capacitor” from the court of the Exalted, experiencing the world without the sedation and psionic Domination experienced in Salavain’s entourage
- A human-like machine, possibly awakened by the Techno-Gods of the Ancients, the unwitting vanguard of an unfathomable intelligence^^
- A mutant Ular, escaped from the menagerie of Salavain. You must choose to hide your condition amongst the “smooth skins” or return to your life as a cannibal outcast^^
- A savage Olicanthe beast-man, feared and barely tolerated by humans, working as a guide to the furless weaklings
- A stunted Lowborn peasant from Taer, reluctant to return to the soul-crushing regime of the Second Kingdom. What you lack in smarts and size you make up with hardiness and determination
^^these player options should be carefully considered. Backgrounds like these are anathema to most humans, and may make your character’s story a short or difficult one.
Player characters will start with 70 points apiece. This puts them near the top of the “competent” level. This should resemble a typical “first level” build.
Generally, the world is at TL3 (Medieval). Most civilized communities get by on agriculture and lead lives similar to earthling peasants. In the rotting cities of the Ancients the Exalted greedily hoard the high-tech relics of the past. This is a world where the amazing science that survives from ancient times sits around TL10, and is a stand-in for the magic and monsters common in fantasy settings. Most of the ultra-tech is restricted to either ruins or the hands of the superhuman Exalted rulers down South.
GOVERNMENT, AND LAW
Technically, the Highlands are the realm of the Taerens, but the Second Kingdom has little reach up there. There is one Taeren stronghold up there, and the town of Arn, which has barely survived since the Great War ended with a bang. Whatever settlements and factions decide to take root here rule themselves. It isn’t Grand Theft Auto, however. The actions of the players will have consequences. The highlands is populated with mercenaries and tomb raiders looking for wealth and power. If the players slay too many villagers, they MAY find some of these NPC adventurers gunning for them.
Back story will be required in the form of a “pitch” that is two or three sentences long. For example:
“Grynn was a Pureblood barbarian captured while raiding the southern Taeren coast. Serving as a slave laborer with no prospect of citizenship, he found himself on the Salavain’s expedition to the Poisoned City Lyria before it fell apart. Following his nose for plunder and adventure, we walks the Lyrian Highlands looking to make his fortune.”
It doesn’t have to be in-depth; just enough to get a snapshot of the character and perhaps a hint of his/her personality. Each character must also come up with a connection to one other player, even if their ties only go as far back as Salavain’s expedition. After these snapshots are written, the best one will earn the author another 5 points towards character creation.
From that snapshot, you will write a short example of your character’s psychological profile. This will help your choice in perks/quirks. Is your character pious and merciful, or greedy and distrustful?
The game will revolve around a couple towns that can be used as a possible HQ for exploring the Lyrian Highlands. It is a new-again frontier that is home to terrible danger, ruins full of wonders. At the beginning, the Highlands are the limit of the play area. I want to create an atmosphere that encourages exploration, with a gritty feel and air of mystery.
The players must will have to keep track of their supplies, choose their path carefully, and take the initiative to discover adventure. Several areas will be sketched out from the beginning, and clues in the game world will lead to the next “dungeon”. There will also be secret locations that can be found only if the characters get a tip, find a map, or get very lucky.
It is possible to wander into an area that the characters can not handle. In this case, it is up to the players to continue or retreat. Death or even a total-party wipe is quite possible, as combat will be deadly and hit points (HP) and fatigue (FP) are precious resources. I recommend that each player create two or three characters at the start. This gives the players a large roster and skill-set to choose from when heading out on an adventure, to tailor the team for the expectations of the journey. Also, it will provide back-ups that already have a place in the world, in case of character death. Players will not control more than one of their characters at a time (though they may have hirelings that they command in battle).
Each game session will hopefully be an in-and-out adventure. It is my goal to have an episodic feel to the game. The beginning of each game will be the Journey to the place the party plans to explore, which may include random encounters and events, or the discovery of a new location. Travel will take place on a map of 6-mile hexes that I will have prepared. I will supply the paper and means to map out a copy for the players, but it is up to YOU to map out the land as it is explored. Maps may also be purchased in-game, but may be of varying degrees of accuracy and detail. While in the wilds of the Highlands, it is easy to lose one’s way, so I recommend that a designated person maps thing out to keep track of where the party has already been.
Next will be the Exploration part of the game, where the players get in and explore a location whether it is where they intended to go or an interesting side quest they stumble upon is what will make the game dynamic.
Afterwards will be the Return to town, where the characters will have a chance to recover, shop, train, and prepare for the next adventure. Points will be awarded for personal victories, good role playing, and contributing to the fun of the group. Players may decide then how their characters will improve between games.
Last is the Planning phase. A declaration of intent is required before the end of the game night. I don’t mind coming up with material based on the players’ decisions, but the party must decide on the next mission before everybody goes home, or a week in advance of the next game. This gives me some guidance as to what I should expect and have ready for the next time we play.
Adventures will have Down Time in between them. This is the time allotted for the characters to train, study, heal. I’m thinking of starting this off at two weeks of time simulated, depending on how the game goes. I will be keeping an in-game calendar and making small entries to this Adventure. I encourage the players to write their own versions or expectations on the Adventure Log, or eventually have a single player take over this duty. Having notes of the last adventure will help to keep the game world alive for the next time we play. There is also the Wiki that I have started for game-world information and background. If the players wish to add something to the Wiki, I’ll add it.
Lastly, I would like to play 2-3 times per month. If we can make it a weekend thing that works for everybody, that’s great. Due to the episodic nature of the campaign, hopefully we will be able to deal with any absences in a fluid way. If anybody wants to play on times we don’t usually meet (for example, two players want to go on a little adventure with their alt characters), I will try to be flexible.
I am doing a lot of prep and planning for this game. Hopefully everybody will enjoy it, get some use out of their imagination, and eventually contribute to a game world that will become a mutual creation. Also, if somebody else learns all the rules and give me a break from the GM role, that would be very cool as well.
Some of the names and terms used in this overview may change, and most of it is covered in the wiki