Why design my own campaign setting I hear you ask? Well, if I’m being honest this whole thing started as a bit of thought experiment. My wife isn’t really a roleplayer, however, she has played a few games and enjoyed them, but with the same basic caveat. She doesn’t like high fantasy/overt magic. For example she loved Post Replica by RBM, but she has been put off playing fantasy games such as D&D.
This led me to consider a possibility. Is it feasible to reinvent a game such as D&D to the extent that you could completely transpose the fantasy element for a Sci-Fi one, whilst keeping as much of the original game in tact?
Now, my rational and commercial brain always tells me that if you are creating a unique setting, you should have a unique system to run in the background. However, as the idea grew in my head, it became a bit of a challenge to me that there had to be a way to do it without creating to monstrous a construct. And I do love a good challenge.
A recent article in Imagonem finally gave me the motivation do something about this and so, foregoing any reviews for the time being, my next few blog entries will be me trying to describe my vision and work through some ideas for my hybrid creation. To begin I shall explore the basic premise for my idea, and my thoughts on two possible systems I’d like to use for it.
What I essentially aim to create is a fantasy setting, but one in which all the magic systems revolve around ultra advanced technology rather than actual magic. It will be up to individual political groups/players to decide if they choose to believe it is actually magic or not. Now there are already some games that merge the fantasy and Sci-Fi elements. Shadowrun and Numenera to name just a couple, but Shadowrun has magic and science running in parallel which is not my vision, and I'm not a huge fan of the cypher system at the moment (sorry Monte), so I end up back at my initial challenge. How to make Sci-Fi D&D.
To elaborate a bit more, I am envisioning a setting where a group of advanced races, humans among them have developed, fought and found peace together and at some point settled together on a world where all the races could coexist. At some point however, the huge stellar empires fell and this world was lost, with its civilisation reverting back to a medieval society. The technology however, remains.
The most notable technological remnant being a planetary wide swarm of nanites, which can be controlled through various means to produce effects that many would now consider magical or miraculous. Now we have a technological basis for spell effects, magical healing and many of the other classic fantasy elements.
I won't dwell too much on any one aspect of the setting here, as I intend to do this through subsequent updates. Instead I will move on to a debate I wasn't expecting to have. Which system will I use to run the setting.
As I had already mentioned, I had initially thought about this setting for D&D 5th Edition. This formed the basis for many of my ideas that I will expend on later, such as technological explanations for spell slots, deities etc. However, I'm now very tempted to look at whether I want to actually use Shadow of the Demon Lord by Schwalb Enterprises. Mostly because I just love, love, love this systems so far, and also because I feel the profession and character development system as well as the tone of the original setting really inspire me.
As an example, the whole concept of the arrival of the Demon Lord fits it quite well with the fall of the interstellar empire. This could be a major part of his arrival as a interplanetary influence, not just on a single world. As for a technological explanations for this, I take inspiration from writes such as Lovecraft who combine horror with beings from other dimensions. I think it could be done.
As to which system I will actually use it remains to be seen, and my be influenced by any threats/encouragement I get from any of the official publishers. However, I hope to have a good idea for I get too much further into the design process, otherwise a lot of effort would end up being wasted.