The World of Aerde
This imaginary world is based on some concepts from Gene Wolfe’s New Sun series, Warhammer 40k, and old-fashioned D&D. What it boils down to is that Aerde is a backward, forgotten world far in the future. There are lost cities and fantastic ruins to explore, a dash of “magic” (in the form of psychic abilities and mutations), and fortified cities that are beacons of light in a harsh and brutal world.
Inspired by Warhammer 40k’s idea of “feral worlds”, I’ve decided that the planet Aerde has been settled (perhaps terraformed) and subsequently forgotten and cut off from it’s star-faring parent civilization. Similar to the New Sun series, the vast majority of the population lives a brutal and ignorant existence on par with Earth’s middle ages. High tech devices, often called Relics of the Ancients, are rare and wondrous things. Though these wonders may be seen with relative frequency in the cities, most of the knowledge needed to maintain or create such things has long been forgotten.
Aerde is populated by a human majority, though there exists several sub-species. These sub-species are the base of a strong caste system, and at the top: Homo nobilis, the genetically superior overlords of Aerde. Commonly referred to the Exalted Ones, they are tall, strong, beautiful, and smart. They are resistant to disease, live longer, and have a higher chance of being born with psionic ability.
There are several religions coexisting on Aerde, each with splinter groups, secret cults, and dissidents. The Ascendancy follows the teachings of the old king of Taer, Gavetellah, and is ruled by the Exalted Ones. Belief in the Ascension is wide-spread in the former lands of the Second Kingdom, though there are other belief systems as well. The many local gods and spirits worshiped in the Second Kingdom and the Out-lands are sometimes called the “little gods”, and form a personalized pantheon for each people. Much as Earthly Christianity grew to encompass some aspects of paganism, so does the Ascension adapt to fill out its ranks. The only other well-established religion is more akin to a philosophical system, called The Chant of Convergence. The Chanters focus on beauty and perfection in all things, and seek self-improvement and unity over all else.
There are a variety of fantastical creatures who were brought to Aerde (or stranded there), including all sorts of mutant humans, dormant stasis pods, and works of the Ancient that are worshiped and used with little to no knowledge of their inner workings.
A Snapshot of Aerde
- The tech level in Aerde varies from place to place, but is generally on a level with middle ages Europe.
- Generally, knowledge/use of energy weapons or firearms is limited to those in the employ of the Exalted Ones.
- There are tribes mutant cannibals and wild beast-men who live at the fringes of civilization.
- Synthetic humanoids and sentient killing sleep in the ruins of the Ancients.
- rare and mysterious psionic powers take the traditional place of magic in most fantasy worlds.
- no characters of divine or magical power. Though they may think (and be believed) that their powers result from an outside source, it is simply the mysterious mental powers developed by an extremely advanced society. Characters with a divine background may exist, but they are generally simple clergymen.
- A few airships exist. The most famous are the two gargantuan battleships of Taer.
- Several subspecies of humans exist along with some other, distinct playable species of indeterminate origin.
- Life is brutal and harsh. Slavery, war, famine, and disease are common. The sexes are not equal, and women are treated as property in some lands. There is no far-reaching law, and justice often takes the shape of the mob’s will.
- Knowledge of the Ancients is the highest form of currency, and there are many cult-like societies that try to control such secrets.
The Old Characters
I would like to convert/import the characters from the previous campaign, making adjustments and re-imagining as needed:
- Brian’s old psychotic rogue could be a former cannibal raider from a tribe living in the ruins of an old city (like the old game, when they found you in the rubble of Arn, which still exists).
Alternatively, the sorcerer/wizard you had could be a tech-priest serving as an Engineer similar to the society you came across in the Tower.
*Rin’s minotaur, Arkaze, could be a beast-man from a warrior-caste that has served mankind since the time of the Ancients, like the beast-men inside the wall of Nessus in Shadow of the Torturer.
- MacArthur’s dead power-hungry warlock, Lucius, could be resurrected as an escaped mutant psion and slave, hell-bent on finding the lost knowledge/tech of the ancients to increase his powers and exact revenge on his former masters.
- Duncan’s wandering, drunken cleric could be a wandering, drunken warrior-monk loosely following the code of the Chanters , who are aesthetes who live in the mountain highlands (which is what you were when your cleric was discovered in Arn in the D&D game: a traveler devoted to a foreign god).
Similar to the last game, I’m considering allowing each player to create multiple characters, though each will only control 1 per adventure. This all depends on what the players want. I would also like to include some communal henchmen that are selected and controlled by the players during combat. This all depends on the nature of the game as well as the group’s speed at playing combat encounters. To eventually get to the point where the main characters go adventuring with a host of foot soldiers, porters and experts would be cool.
I am going to use the GURPS system for this game, for several resons:
- The system is flexible enough to be modified to the exact specifications that the group wants
- Tons of supplemental material that covers everything: dinosaurs, alternate history, Venice, super heroes, post-apocalypse, steampunk, space opera, Watership Down… and Book of the New Sun.
- You can make just about any kind of character. It’s all point-based
- 4th edition includes rules for tactical, grid-based combat, and the Martial Arts supplements include all the details I need to make combat a character-destroying gore fest.