Monday, May 25, 2020

Jojiro's Hot 20: Mesomergos

Answering these questions for Mesomergos.

  1. What is something that players can interact with that inspires wonder in your setting? The capital city, flying around on a cloud of cicadas, is a random encounter. So are bronze birds that launch their feathers like knives. 
  2. How does one religion in the world work? What rituals and observances are involved, and how does this religion play with other religions out there? Are gods real? Gods are real. One of several faiths in the area is called Noryism, and it is dedicated to a god exiled from his previous pantheon when he slew his wife. He is associated with laws, vengeance, creation, fire, and eroticism. It is at odds with the worshippers of Fisochol, a member of the aforementioned pantheon that rejected Noryawes.
  3. How does one get access to goods and services in the setting? Will items always be available, will trade routes be jammed up by bandits, are their commissions for things, are magic items sold in regular stores, are hirelings available for hire or do we have to find them in the world? The land is cursed and you never know what will be available beyond the very basics. Palaces are almost always stocked with what you need, but the wilderness between cities is just stuffed with weird nonsense. A city will always have some goods on offer, and a couple hirelings eager to find their fortune.
  4. What are some examples of people and creatures a commoner would be wary of in-setting? What are some examples of people and creatures a commoner could trounce without worry? What are some examples of people and creatures a commoner would trust? Commoners are wary of goblins, eunuchs, Pulphogamanian "barbarians," donkeys, and foreign partisans. They could handle a literal gnome, a two-headed snake, and most birds easily. They would likely trust a sworn, a priest, or a member of their local partisan group.
  5. Name a heroically slain dragon, or something comparable in threat. How was the creature slain, according to stories? How was it actually done? Was it a fluke or a well-executed slaying of a monster? It is said that Mesomergos was the ground of the slaying of a great Aurochs by the god Pigudix in a wrestling match. The horror LoraŹ’al was slain by a fellowship of seven sworn who managed to overcome its kleptomaniacal aura. Neither of these things could have happened on accident.
  6. How do people who adventure (if there are even such people) get jobs and contracts in this setting? If you are sworn, you answer to an oathkeeper and are expected to Right Wrongs as they come up. If you are part of the Brotherhood of Messengers, letters are distributed to you by your chapter brothers. If you are just stumbling through the wilderness, weird things will find you. Most common people have plenty of problems requiring help, but cannot pay in money.
  7. How do people convey their station/caste if such things exist? In particular, what intersections do station/caste have with the adventuring lifestyle (whatever the players are in the setting…guards, tomb raiders, bounty hunters, etc.)? Fineness of clothing. The use of a weapon more bougie than a spear. The exquisite painting of a sigil on a shield or armor. The giving of gifts and the sharing of wine.
  8. How does the world view LGBTQ relationships and race relations? What privileges or prejudices exist? Mesomergans have novel ideas about what things like a "man" or a "woman" are, but they are pretty inflexible. Marriages are usually heteronormative and of the same species, but more casual relationship are accepted. Gnolls face minor enmity for their ancestors' service in wars against mesomergans. Eunuchs are looked down upon. Various disabilities are looked down upon. It's kind of a mess.
  9. What is the distal view of the political system? Is it feudal, is there a suzerainty, do we have a triumvirate, etc. This is a primitive, precarious palatial feudal system. 
  10. What is a more proximal view of the political system? Who are local nobles or leaders that should be known about, and what are their reputations? Most people interact with their local chieftain and revere the emperor's memory. You should know the reputation of the nearest oathkeeper.
  11. Do your players even need their rations and torches? Usually just torches.
  12. How do you become a ruler of many? The easiest way is to use your personal charisma to take over the local partisan group and go from there. You can also marry into an important family if you're clever.
  13. Are there social consequences for necromancy or other forms of forbidden magic? Do these consequences differ in the view of the common man vs. other people? The deceased are revered, so animating the dead is gauche. There are otherwise many specific taboos, but they do not universally apply and you will hear about them as they come up. 
  14. What is the common man’s capability to distinguish the following things: a werewolf’s tracks vs. wolf tracks, a manticore attack vs. a lion attack, a demon attack vs. a gargoyle attack? Estimated 50%, 20%, 75%.
  15. What is the social position of rogues, within both history and in the current day? Within both thieves’ guilds and within the world at large? People with the lot of the thief can be found in all levels of society. If you are a literal thief, you can access discrete black markets in major cities, learn thieves' cant, and one day meet the king of thieves. If a community at large knows you as a thief, the standing order will be to detain you on sight.
  16. What is the role of dungeons within the world – are they a place where MacGuffins have been hidden, ruins of lost civilizations, unexplored caverns extending deep into the earth, Zelda-like puzzle dungeons that are more a player challenge than something that makes sense in-world, or something else entirely? Dungeons are likely to be mostly sensical archeologically significant locations that strangers and strange things have a penchant for inhabiting. Puzzles are few, but expect a riddle or two.
  17. How common are dungeons, how deep or large are they, and how much treasure might be expected within their depths? There's usually one within five day's walk. They are usually less than 30 interesting rooms, and there is usually enough treasure to make one person filthy rich, plus some significant artifact or magical item.
  18. Explain, if you could, the differences between magic-users in the world. For instance, how would wizards, sorcerers, miracle-workers, warlocks, witches, medicine-men, stage magicians, and the like differ from each other? Do all of those categories even exist? Everyone is trying to do their own thing. Ventriloquists, augurs, necromancers, baboonists, hermits, etc. The two major magical disciplines are dreaming and drugcrafting.
  19. What are two examples of food culture in the world? Even if food isn’t a part of play, what dishes are people consuming in the world around the players, and what messages can be conveyed through food and drink? Bread and beer are super important staples, and sharing beer means you are promising not to harm each other. Non-fish meat is a rare treat. Non-pomace wine is a foreign delicacy.
  20. What is the internal logic of the game world you are running, as far as players are concerned? When the players act and the world reacts, what principles do you hold to? I am dungeon master and referee both in this game of chance and skill. I want to help keep things interesting and challenging without negating your actions. I want to let your characters fail and fail hard. I will introduce themes and opportunities to advance.

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