This is the second part of a series outlining a new, “all-ages” fantasy setting for Old-School gaming. If you’ve come to the blog for Ghastly Affair material, don’t worry – I’ve definitely not turned my back on Gothic Romance! I’m just stretching my creative legs a little. Perhaps this will turn into something more serious down the line, perhaps not. Right now I’m just enjoying myself.
Read part one in the series to learn what precipitated my current foray back into fantasy.
What follows are four lists that I provided to the players in my new Old School campaign, printed on the fronts and backs of two blank, 4″ x 6″ index cards. Also, each player was given their own map of The Ultimate West (shown above). The condensed, index-card format was well-received by the players, and I recommend it to all GMs. The idea of a “Top Ten” list is already quite well established, and in my experience information provided in that format tends to generate immediate interest. Also, I think the the physically small size of the index card helps to make whatever information is on it feel more manageable.
Ten Things to Know About Panzoasia
- 200 years ago the Five Peoples of Panzoasia lived as tribes and clans who had not yet learned to make steel, had only the most basic forms of magic, and had built only a few cities.
- The lands of the Five Peoples were colonized by Monsters that invaded from the Underworld and Wasteland. They relentlessly plundered, and despoiled nature.
- At the time of the Great Invasion, many of the intelligent Monsters (especially the Hobgoblins) possessed better technology than the Five Peoples .
- While the Monsters reigned, they were aided by Clerics of evil Chaos called “Depredators”.
- The Reign of Monsters continued for two generations before the Immortal Heroes and Heroines were born. They discovered better technology and magic (which they spread throughout Panzoasia), and led the Five Peoples to eventually overthrow the Depredators and Monsters.
- The Immortal Heroes and Heroines are referred to by poetic titles – never by the names they bore before becoming Light.
- Panzoasia is situated “at the ends of the Earth”. It is possible to deliberately travel between it and Earth (and even more fantastic lands), by sailing the Ocean in the correct direction, in the correct manner, and at the correct time. Objects and people from Earth are sometimes lost in Panzoasia – and vice versa.
- The realms of Panzoasia are grouped into four regions: The Ultimate West, The Ultimate East, The Ultimate North, and The Ultimate South. Each was liberated by a different group of Immortal Heroes and Heroines.
- Each region of Panzoasia has its own Common Tongue created by the Immortals. A person from Corthis can understand someone from Ydez, but neither can understand someone from the Ultimate East.
- Even now, colonies of evil Monsters and Depredators persist in many places – especially the Underworld and Wasteland. The treasures they have stolen wait to be reclaimed.
Ten Things to Know About the Five Peoples of Panzoasia
- The universal symbol of the Five Peoples is a pentagram with the point upwards, while the upside-down pentagram symbolizes the evil Monsters and Depredators.
- The Five Peoples (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Gnomes) originated in the Terrestrial Paradise, but left it for Panzoasia thousands of years before the Monsters came.
- Humans native to The Ultimate West usually have pale to olive complexions, with any color hair and eyes. Northerners tend to have pale complexions, with light hair and eyes. Southerners usually have complexions ranging from dark brown to tan, with eyes and hair that tend towards dark colors. Easterners tend to have complexions that range from pale amber to deep tan, also with a tendency to dark eyes and hair. Many Easterners have uncreased, almond-shaped eyes (especially in Amikura, Hian, and Xidu), as do some Southerners (especially in Tezaca).
- Because they are all one race and freely immigrate, Humans from any region of Panzoasia can actually have any possible complexion, eye, and hair color.
- The Elves of Panzoasia can have hair, skin, and eyes in any shade of any hue – including pink, purple, green, and blue.
- While Elves can live for a thousand years or more, they can only remember the last 70 years (or so) of their own life.
- Dwarves tend to share skin and hair tones with nearby Humans, but use body paint made from clay earth pigments, chalk, animal fat, and charcoal on their skin and hair. Their jewel-like irises can be the color of any gemstone.
- Because of their eye colors and body paint, there is a popular rumor/joke that Dwarves are made of earth and stone.
- Halflings tend to have the same skin, eye, and hair colors as the majority of the local Human population, although their complexions tend to be ruddier in all cases.
- All Gnomes tend to have deeply tanned complexions, with gray or white hair; and blue, green, or gray eyes.
Ten Things to Know About alignment & Religion
- In addition to being Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic, Players can also choose to indicate if their PCs are also Good or Evil, by writing it in parentheses after their main Alignment.
- Most people pray to the Immortal Hero who freed their realm, but there are ten greater powers who are actual Gods.
- The cosmic patrons of those who are purely Lawful are the Lord and Lady of Destiny, who are King and Queen of the Archons, and reside in the The Perfection of the Celestial Spheres.
- The cosmic patrons of those who are purely Chaotic are the Lord and Lady of Chance, who are King and Queen of the Daimons, and reside in The Whirl of Limbo.
- The cosmic patrons of those who are Lawful (good), Neutral (good) and Chaotic (good) are the Lord and Lady of Light, who are King and Queen of the Angels, and reside in The Refuge of Heaven.
- The cosmic patrons of those who are Lawful (evil), Neutral (evil) and Chaotic (evil) are the Lord and Lady of Darkness, who are King and Queen of Demons and Devils, and reside in The Outer Darkness of Hell. Note that the Chaotic Demons and Lawful Devils hate each other.
- The cosmic patrons of those who are purely Neutral are the Lord and Lady of Life, who are King and Queen of the Fairy Folk, and reside in The Harmony of the Summerland.
- The Immortal Heroes and Heroines who freed the Realms of the Five Peoples were all Good and served Heaven. Most were Lawful (and aided by Destiny), but The Clever Lady was Chaotic (and succeeded by Chance).
- In the Ultimate West, the holy place of pilgrimage for those who are (or aspire to be) good is The Sacred Isle of Albelon, while The Cursed Island of Nerolan is the most unholy site for the Depredators (and other evil beings).
- The Depredators who aided the Monsters were aligned with evil (rather than pure) Chaos, and served the Outer Darkness.
Ten Rules Modifications
- Magic Users start play with their choice of either a random minor potion, or a scroll of one random, 1st level spell.
- Magic Users can make an Intelligence check to know some bit of arcane knowledge, identify a Monster or obscure creature, translate a scrap of lost language, or discern a general idea of what a magic item does.
- Fighters can make an Intelligence check to identify a strange weapon or piece of armor, discern the workmanship of arms & armor, or identify their materials.
- Thief Abilities are all 66% at 1st Level. They increase by 1% each Level. Alternately, the character instead receives 8 additional percentage points each Level, to be allocated among their Thief Abilities as desired.
- Thieves can make an Intelligence Check to quickly appraise items, or know how many coins are in a hoard without needing to count them.
- Thieves who successfully appraise will be told the information privately – they can choose to lie, or honestly share what they know.
- Clerics can make an Intelligence Check to remember lore relating to the Immortals, the Gods, or the entities that serve them.
- Clerics can promote Law, Chaos, or Neutrality as abstract concepts, instead of serving a specific spiritual entity.
- Druids are all Neutral in Alignment, but they can be Neutral (good), and be aided by the Angels of Heaven; pure Neutral, and be allied with the Fairies of the Summerland, or Neutral (evil), and serve the powers of Hell.
- Gnomes are a playable Class.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting the lists of “Ten Things to Know” for each realm shown on the map of The Ultimate West.