Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Imagining Cha'alt


This blog post serves as a record for "session -1"... basically talking about the stuff there is to talk about before session zero.

Yes, I'm launching a new D&D campaign next month.  Why D&D?  Well, it's awesome and... you've got to go where the fish are.  Tons of people play D&D.  Comparatively, 5 people play any of the lesser known, old school, retro-clones or OSR off-shoots like Crimson Dragon Slayer (even though d6 dice pools are way cooler than d20).

Three guys talking about D&D, movies, concepts, influences, and the kind of campaign we'd like to see - nay, live in!  It went well; let's dive into the juicy stuff.

I've always had at least an inkling of science-fantasy post-apocalypse in my D&D games.  However, this time I wanted to go all-in.  Mutant Crawl Classics has been ordered from my FLGS (just found out the 1st printing is sold out, but the game store's distributors had a couple extra copies).

In creating the campaign setting/world called Cha'alt, I'm planning on drawing quite a bit of influence from MCC and Dark Sun, but also the following movies...

Mad Max: doesn't get any more post-apocalyptic inspired than that.  I also want to use Cyborg and Water World as inspirations.  A totally ruined civilization where survivors must scavenge to survive in a chaotic, untamed world!

Blade Runner and Split Second: not so easy to find the latter on DVD or blu-ray, but I keep trying.  Anyways, Shadowrun has always been mildly fascinating as a concept.  Fantasy + cyberpunk, so Cha'alt is going to incorporate that, too.

But how?  Well...

Zardoz:  A trippy, 70's favorite of mine.  Just like in Zardoz, there's two lands - one populated by the brutals where it's all savage and low-tech and the second populated by eternals - young and beautiful degenerate intellectuals who want for nothing and have elaborate social rituals.  The eternals use the brutals by way of the vortex (seriously, if you're dying to see Sean Connery's chest hair - just go see Zardoz).

Why not have two main realms?  One was shielded from the apocalypse, more or less, and is the dark near-future cyberpunk world we're familiar with.  Possibly a domed city or one of several, like in Logan's Run.  The other land (pretty much the rest of the world) got the full brunt of the apocalypse and are living in the devastated aftermath.

The PCs are opportunists, mercenaries, thrill-seekers, or one of the dregs of society who agree to travel between the two lands, carrying out various missions and/or independently seeking fame, glory, and treasure (gold, credits, magic, and tech).

How did the apocalypse occur?  Instead of going the usual route of nuclear war, why not dive into the sword & sorcery lore of Thundarr the Barbarian?  Yes, a mysterious comet passed too close to our moon, broke it in half, and shit went crazy!  Ok, it's not really "our" moon.  This is all happening on some fantasy world, which explains the elves, dwarves, magic, etc.

What about Gods?  Dragons.  Dragons?  Yes.  Dragons!!!

I was looking up my kids' Chinese zodiac signs last night and early this morning.  There was something in the description for Year of the Dragon that caught my eye.

In ancient times, people thought that dragons could control everything in the world with their character traits of dominance and ambition.

That sparked something in my imagination!  I started thinking about dragons as gods in Cha'alt.  All-powerful monstrous beings who influenced the people of that world.  Priests would pray to and worship dragons - fire dragons, water dragons, gold dragons, steel dragons, and so on.  As dragons fought amongst themselves, so would great armies - leading to the Dragon Wars.

Yeah, you could just keep going with that idea, from religions and cults to empires and customs - dragons are a huge part of everyday life in Cha'alt.  In fact, I'll most likely take another crack at writing a novel, one based on Cha'alt.

System-wise, I'm leaning towards the Basic Starter version of D&D 5e and adding bits and pieces from there, instead of saying everything in the Player's Handbook is legit and then having to go through it and take bits and pieces out.

It'll be old school.  O5R, to be exact.  And while the 1st session starts up in July, there's going to be an online version of the game people can play, too, via Roll20.  At least, that's the hope.  We'll see.  I still have to complete my latest Alpha Blue kickstarter!

Have an opinion, let me know.

VS