OK so this one wasn’t on the list, but I’m doing it anyway.
Just what is the setting of Fractured Lands?
Phase I: WWI Alien Invasion
When I first started working on Fractured Lands, it was an XCOM-styled game (Surprise, right?). I initially was going super heavy towards XCOM – base building, researching, fighting aliens, etc. This game was based in a First World War timeframe, because the idea of a Mark I Tank rolling through a portal with laser cannon sponsons just *looks* neat in my head. Problem was, that’s not an RPG. That’s an extremely complicated board game. I’m probably going to revisit that setting at some point in time, but it can’t be the primary setting. It doesn’t allow the greatest thing about TTRPGs – Creating your own worlds, telling your own stories, and so on. So I set it down for a while to figure things out.
Cue Phase II
Phase II: The Bronze Age
Once I came back to Fractured Lands, I thought. OK. What can it be? I want it to be a semi-fantasy game. You know, magic. Alchemy. That sort of thing. But Generic Middle Age is done, and a lot. So, what can be different?
It may surprise you, given the header, that I came across the bronze age as inspiration. It’s the age of myths – many cultures have stories of heroes in this time period. Fighting great beasts, or monsters, or demigods, gods, or even each other. There’s always potions and items and whatnot. Sounds perfect, right?
Thing is, it just ended up feeling like Slightly Less Generic Fantasy. Bronze age stuff is, when boiled down to game stats, basically the same as iron age stuff. Sure, you don’t get weapons like greatswords, and you don’t have full plate. But you have light, medium, and heavy armor. You have maces and swords and axes. You have shields. Without a significant visual component like you’d find in a video game, it just doesn’t feel that much different.
It was about that time that I decided to re-write the game from the ground up, going from a system that uses the D100 to one that uses the D20 as the base roll. And I decided to go in the other direction for inspiration.
Phase III: The Age of Exploration
In the 19th century, there were still huge regions of Africa that were unmapped by European powers. So, of course, they wanted to explore these “last” regions of the world. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of racism and colonialism and general awful european things going on, and I’m working to ensure that none of that ends up in the game. But the general concept of Mid-Late 1800s tech with places of the world still left to explore? That sounds awesome!
So, that’s what I’m going for. Highly developed regions, with transport by ship and by train relatively easily accessible and fairly quick. Guns that don’t require suspension of disbelief to use in “fast”-paced combat (Because let’s be honest, nobody’s going to load a muzzleloader, aim, and fire every six seconds). Regions where rumors and myths abound about what sort of creatures lie in the wilderness. New and interesting ways to die because you ate the wrong plant, but also new and interesting things to use the right plants on. With a little wiggle room you can get some airships as a rare treat, and it’s not outside of the realm of things to have a much larger land area to explore, too.
This time period allows a huge range of interesting things. You have repeating rifles, but also people riding on horseback, occasionally with lances and often with sabers. There’s just as much importance in being able to handle yourself in melee as there is in being able to shoot a gun. Medicine is pretty good, but it’s also pretty easy to get too far from help and have to rely on you and your friends.
It’s an interesting confluence of things, and I think it’ll be really fun to play in.
A world to play in
One of the things I want players to be able to do is create their own worlds. D&D does this extremely well, as it’s rules are very world-agnostic. While it nominally defaults to the Forgotten Realms, this is by no means a requirement and you don’t get a lot of this from reading the core rulebooks. I aim for just this in Fractured Lands. But, on the other hand, a lot of people don’t want to do the pile of work to create a new world, especially when trying out a new game. So, in addition to the rules for Fractured Lands, I’m going to be building a nice, basic world for it.
What’s this world called? Hell if I know. Haven’t got that far yet. But what I do know is that it’s going to be some sort of post-crash society. That is, society grew, expanded, got really big, and then sort of. Collapsed? I’m not sure if I want it to be apocalyptically so, but perhaps more like the fall of Rome. Except a bit later in technology. So the world now has pockets of dense population and industrialization, and can definitely make things like trains and ships and guns. But there’s also huge areas that have to be re-explored and re-found. There’s old abandoned settlements and castles and cities that few or no people live in. There’s places that there’s fragmentary information about but nobody really knows what’s real and what’s not. A colossal lake – No, a sea! – in the middle of that continent, but nobody we know has been there in five centuries so does it really exist? Is it really that big?
To go along with this will, of course, be adventures and such. I don’t think I’ll do much in the way of extra rules – That is, classes, abilities, and the like – because I want new people to be able to play easily and quickly. Grab the sourcebook, make some characters. The GM grabs an adventure and runs with it.