Etatia is an elective empire in the west of the Old World, north of the kingdom of Vaquero and south of the Staten.  It is a vast feudal nation that imagines itself the heir to a much older empire of the same name. Imperial Provinces The Empire is made up of over a hundred Imperial Provinces ranging in size from independent cities to counties, duchies, and minor kingdoms. The chief requirement is that the territory answer to no feudal lord other than the Emperor. Imperial Circles The Imperial Provinces are organized into half a dozen administrative Imperial Circles for the purposes of defense, gathering taxes,Read More →

We have our broad-strokes campaign setting, some history, fuzzy notions about incorporating the quirks of FRPG systems as setting conceits, but nothing we can actually use to play with. It’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of implementation. How exactly we do this has a lot to do with the kind of game we’re planning to run, so at this point we need to step away from the theoretical and make some solid choices about the game we’re going to be playing. Welcome to the Sandbox This Heroic Expeditions campaign is going to be a hex-based sandbox played in 5th Edition Dungeons andRead More →

Two-thousand years ago, our Heroic Explorations setting wasn’t too different from Earth’s own Iron Age, with the addition of nonhuman races, powerful magic, and active gods. There are a number of powerful empires, but nothing on the scale of the earlier Atlantean or Elven civilizations. There are powerful Dwarven kingdoms as well, but the Elves are still sequestered away, and the other races don’t organize above the community level. Atlantis Rises The ancient Atlantean wizard-kings had been sealed away by the Elves twenty-thousand years ago, but no spell lasts forever. Each had grown in almost unimaginable power during their exile, even compared to their earlierRead More →

The gangs of Chicago were uniquely situated to survive after the collapse of mainstream authority in the city. While their populations were no more spared the initial die-off than anyone else, they were more accustomed to the violence that followed, had organizational hierarchies to follow, had caches of weapon, and were psychologically prepared to take harsh steps when required. They acted swiftly to appropriate foodstuffs and supplies, which they used themselves and sold to what civilians could afford their prices. Over the next decade the gangs largely let old conflicts rest as survival took priority, and the die-offs brought plenty of elbow room. Survivors flockedRead More →

When we were talking about the setting’s magic and cosmology, we decided that the Gods had once been more active and communicative, but were no longer, and that’s one of the reasons why there are so many monsters running around tearing up the countryside. Let’s expound upon that a little. The History of History Just to be clear, what we’re dealing with here is what’s actually happened, not how it’s remembered. Remembered history, oral or written, is a matter of culture. Different people may have more or less accurate recollections of what’s happened. The Elves are probably the closest, though the Dwarves keep the bestRead More →

Before the apocalypse Chicago was organized into 77 community areas, each of which contained multiple neighborhoods. This division is useful to us in designing our version of it, because it allows us to parcel our information out in manageable chunks. As our PCs move through the city, we can use these areas and neighborhoods to tell them where they are, without having to track them block by block, street by street, building by building. That’s a lot of work. What’s in an area? We could just jump into our first area and start brainstorming, but there’s a better and more systemic way to go aboutRead More →

The way that languages are presented in a lot of FRPGs has always bothered me. Intellectually I understand that they’re playable abstractions, that the players usually don’t care, that it really doesn’t matter, but emotionally I’m still attached to the way that linguistics actually work, how mutable language is, and how they impact the very way we think. A Common Tongue Historically, yes, there have been pidgin and trade languages used by those who frequently interact with other cultures, but they’re a lot more limited than presented in fantasy gaming fiction, and they don’t really “solve” the problem… each pidgin is itself a language. IfRead More →

We have our Adventurers, and we have Dungeons for them to cavort around it. In describing them we’ve sort of implied a context for the rest of the setting. Let’s run through that quickly. Adventurers are a known and specific class of generally powerful individuals known to cause problems as often as they solve them. Anyone can potentially become an Adventurer, but few do, owing to the effort involved in uprooting your life and the general lethality of Adventuring. The landscape is littered with dungeons of great danger and potential financial reward. Many of these dungeons are ancient ruins. There was an ancient advanced ElvenRead More →

A setting’s magic and cosmology are usually tightly related. Let’s deal with that. Miracles are Everywhere The first question we should concern ourselves with is, “how common is magic?” Let’s say, “pretty common.” Not so much that everybody’s a wizard, but maybe everybody knows one. Everybody has an idea of what magic is even if they don’t know how it works. Powerful magic is correspondingly more rare, but so is high skill in every endeavor. We don’t want it so common that magic isn’t special, but nobody gets burned as a witch for lighting a candle from across the room. Magic helps a little withRead More →

The tradition of the Dungeon Keepers is an ancient one, at least as old as Adventuring itself, grown out of the tendencies for communities to grow around serving the needs of Adventurers. The Role of the Keeper Dungeon Keepers’ ultimate goal is to maximize the income Adventurers spread around their communities. Generally this entails: Attracting Adventurers to the Site The simplest way to attract adventurers is to simply send word to the local Adventurers’ Guild. The Guildmaster will generally work with the Keeper to make sure that the company sends Adventurers suited to the task. Skilled, but not so capable that they clear the siteRead More →