Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Found some magic...

I called my blog Searching For Magic for a a few reasons. Part of it was creating anything, when it's good, always feels like magic. By committing to a blog I was committing to creating every week and looking for magic in the inspirations that bombard me constantly. Another part of it was that I thought it sounded cool.

I found some magic today.

I never expected the thrill of seeing the feedback and watching the hits roll in as a post that strikes a chord with someone else is shared. I even love seeing people argue about whatever it is I'm saying in G+ threads because the questions force me to refine my idea and show me how to improve for the next time. The speed at which this all happens is amazing and so much fun!

This evening I watched my page views tick over to 1000.

When I started this journey on September 21st I had no idea what to expect. I thought I'd be putting stuff up there for a handful of people who already knew me and maybe as I hit the right notes eventually people would go back through the archive to check it out. I thought that I was writing for myself and an audience that might one day find me and get something out of my ideas. Hitting a thousand so early is a wonderful surprise!

I am grateful to all of you who take the time to check out what I have to say. I'm definitely going to keep going. I was planning to keep going even if no one read so the response is a fantastic encouragement. If anything, I need to squeeze more time out of my schedule to write more! 

I used to wonder how some of my favourite bloggers managed to put something together almost every day. I wondered how they had time for it? I get it now. There's a rush when you hit it, even in the small way that I have, and I love it! The clarity of thought and wild energy that I have after I post is intoxicating. You can all count on more to come.

So thanks for joining the Search. Road trips are always better with company.

Monday, 27 October 2014

A (sort of) new Class for your LotFP game, or how to get rid of those pesky elves!

I'm not a fan of elves. Not the tolkienesque ones we get in D&D at least. I like my fantasy elves as scary monsters that kidnap people and take them out of the world, only to get bored and return them after everyone they know has died. I like elves as evil bastards that can't make anything for themselves so they wrap themselves in illusions and steal what they can't craft from our world. This version, while completely awesome, is not really practical for player characters.

Elves as PCs in most games tend to be super-humans with all the timeless grace and beauty of old Hollywood.  They aren't really very different from humans, just prettier versions that are immune to ageing and charm. So what's the point? You can choose your character's age and appearance so the advantages of elfdom are few and not terribly interesting.

One of my favourite versions of "the world's most popular fantasy role-playing game" compounds this problem by placing its adventures in the early modern era of the real world. Lamentations of the Flame Princess has seven classes, one of which is the Elf. To play a human-only game would mean giving up nearly half of the payable classes. That means some reworking of what is there. Some of them are easy, the Dwarf class could be turned into a Barbarian just by replacing the Architecture skill with Climb and allowing them to be taller.

The Elf as a class is a lot more involved. It can fight well, cast magic, it has weird immunities and it's not quite in step with the world as it is. The best way to get all of these things and be human is voluntary demonic possession.

I like the idea of a Diabolist. A person who invites demons to share their bodies in exchange for power is pretty much the opposite of the idea of the elf while explaining all of the elfy class abilities. 

The way it would work is the character knows a ritual for summoning creatures from a dimension that borders on ours. Creatures that can't physically manifest but can inhabit willing and unwilling hosts. While they ride the edge inside a host they can interact with the world in some special way that looks a lot like the spells of other classes. It is a dangerous trade-off for power. Also, sharing a body with extra-dimensional beings would have a few side effects.

These side effects would explain most of the class abilities and add some flavour. Some of these side effects are positive. With all the extra voices in their heads, Diabolists notice more than the average person so they get an enhanced Search score. As the Diabolist advances in level the voices multiply and the control of them improves so the Search skill improves as shown for the Elf class. This same hyper-awareness makes them difficult to sneak up on, resulting in a one-in-six chance to be surprised instead of the regular two-in-six chance. Charm and Sleep would also be ineffective against them because it would be impossible to target the host's mind amongst all those others in there. As a possessed creature and the host to extra-dimensional beings bent the destruction of our reality the Diabolist is of Chaotic Alignment, is detectable as such and can be turned by a Cleric.

These demons hate our reality and our world. The reasons are unintelligible to us as their goals are so alien. Exposure to that hate makes the Diabolist aggressive. This aggression makes them fierce combatants and allows them to use all the martial manoeuvres available to Fighters (Press and Defensive Fighting).

Elfs look different, with exaggerated features, strange eye colours and pointy ears. Diabolists tend to look different from the average human as well. If they're lucky, they'll have pointed ears. The presence of demons in a body is going to cause some pressure, especially as they manifest their power. Diabolists are in a constant fight for possession of their own bodies. This internal conflict leads to changes in the Diabolist's appearance. Part of the inspiration for this class was this image I first saw a few years ago. The obvious loss of humanity in exchange for power needs a mechanical expression for LotFP. Tying it into the acquisition of spells and the option to push things a little too far is the cherry on top for the Diabolist Class.

(Update: Thanks to Zach Marx Weber and Wayne Snyder who let me know this awesome image was created by Doug Kovacs for the Dungeon Crawl Classics core rulebook. I'm going to need to check that out! You can find more of Doug Kovacs' art here!

For this I need a random chart. I don't have it yet, but I plan to put together a chart of mutations with three progressions for each roll of any single number. After three, repeated results mean two more rolls (which can just keep going if a player is particularly unlucky). An example of the three entries could be horns. The first time the horns would be relatively small and not difficult to hide. The second time they'd be grow to be larger and curl upward and possibly outward. Not impossible to hide, but certainly more difficult. The last result for horns would give the PC large horns like a big ram's that curl around the head and are virtually impossible to hide. Eyes could progress from strange colour, to glowing in darkness to glowing bright enough to show in the daytime. The farther down the line they get the more likely the PC will be burned as a witch. To get a good number and fit the situation I'd go with a D666 table. Using 3D6 with each die as a hundred, ten and single digit. So three ones (111) would be one-hundred-and-eleven. That gives 216 possibilities, which seems like plenty to me. Obviously three different colours would be useful, but a single D6 could just be rolled three times in a pinch. 

The only problem is the spells. Sure they could just sacrifice some little creature every morning for each demonic presence (spell) to prepare a spell in the same way a Magic User memorizes a spell from their book. That falls short of what could be done with the class though. A Diabolist should be a different sort of caster. With their own method of learning spells, their own spell list and custom descriptions to turn up the weird on the class. Diabolists are bad people. They have sold their souls for power in the worst way. Diabolists still need to concentrate to harness the power of the demons inhabiting them though, so all the regular limitations of spellcasting apply. Except that it doesn't require the intricate movements that Magic User spells do, so a Diaboist can cast spells when heavily encumbered and with only one hand free.

A Diabolist starts with three randomly assigned spells/demons and a random mutation. For every level a Diabolist gains the PC can use a ritual to add a new spell/demon. They don't have to use it right away. They can wait until they are higher levels in hopes of attracting a better class of demon and having more high-level spells, since they can only summon a demon with an ability of a spell level that they can cast. When they cast the ritual they need to sacrifice an innocent creature. Any animal will do. It is painful and likely to be loud so the PC will need some privacy for the process that will last the whole night. The player chooses the spell level. Fifty silver pieces per spell level needs to be spent on materials for the ritual as well. At the end of the night the player rolls a save verses magic minus the level of the spell. If they fail they get a random mutation but they also get a randomly rolled spell of the level they chose no matter what the result of the save. If they roll a spell they already have, they get to pick one.

If a player is ruthless they can use a human sacrifice to automatically pick the spell they want or roll for two spells of a given level. The extra anguish provided by a person allows the PC to have more control of the ritual and its results. It also means an automatic roll on the mutations table. The Referee should make sure these kinds of murders are recognizable and cause more than a little uproar in a community when discovered. Players should also keep in mind that the weird guy with the glowing eyes is definitely going to be blamed when people start mysteriously disappearing so there are plenty of good reasons to avoid this option.

Casting spells is the other departure from the regular rules. Diabolists would use the spell progression table for the Elf to get a total for spell levels that can be cast safely in a day. A first-level Diabolist would only have one spell level, but a fourth-level Diabolist would have six (1x2 and 2x2)! Diabolists don't need to prepare their spells, they can't forget with those demons bouncing around in their heads, but coaxing their passengers into doing what they want takes concentration and gets difficult the more often they access any one demon's ability. The first time in a day the PC casts a spell is costs as many levels as it is. Each subsequent time it is cast in a 24-hour period or without at least six hours of sleep its cost goes up by one spell level. 

For example, a fourth level Diabolist (let's call him or her Bob) has six spell levels per day. Bob casts Spider Climb (a level-one spell) and it uses up one of Bob's potential spell levels for the day, with five spell levels remaining. Bob casts it for a second time and it's harder, using two spell levels and only leaving three of Bob's total of six daily spell levels. That means Bob can cast Spider Climb one more time using all remaining spell levels without getting into trouble.

But what happens if the spell levels are just slightly over the daily allowance or the Diabolist wants to push their demons beyond the safe number castings in a day? That's where the 216 entries on the mutation table become important. If the caster has too few levels to cast a spell safely the PC can simply cast unsafely. They will receive a random mutation and must save verses Magic at a negative equal to the difference in levels or take 1D6 plus that difference in damage. Even if they fail the save the spell is cast successfully. For example, if Bob only has two spell levels left and wants to cast a spell worth four spell levels Bob needs to make a save against Magic at -2 or take 1D6+2 points of damage. If the caster has no spell levels left and wants to cast they take a random mutation and save against Magic or take the spell levels in D6s damage and the spell fails. So if Bob tries to cast a spell that costs three spell levels when he has no spell levels left it means risking 3D6 points of damage. A desperate move with no guarantee of success.

That's the basics of how I use the Elf class in my LotFP Early Modern Era Campaign. I'll add the spell list with custom descriptions later this week and maybe whip up the random mutation table too if there's enough interest.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Plans for Carcosa...

Geoffrey McKinney's latest version of the controversial D20 RPG supplement called Carcosa was published by James Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess back in 2011. It's had plenty of reviews so you won't see that here. The publisher is all out of Carcosa books and there's only a handful of new copies to be had now anyway, so a review would be kind of pointless. This post is all about how I plan to use this book of weird stuff.

You might think my timing is odd since it's three years later and the thing is at the end of its print run. That's true, but today I came across the information that McKinney is close to half-way finished a companion to the first Carcosa book that has a bit more detail on how the world of Carcosa works. He still has it arranged as a hex crawl, he's just providing a lot more information in each hex. All of that information together would allow the GM and players moving chacters through them to build a better picture of how life on Carcosa actually works.

This new development got me thinking again about what I wanted to do with this book that I've had on my shelf for a few years now.

Carcosa is an awful place full of amoral peoples, cultures and creatures. It's a cruel, nasty world that is moved by horrific rituals and covered with dinosaurs and shambling creatures out of H.P. Lovecraft's nightmares. It should be a something of a shock to players who are used to more traditional fantasy and science fiction settings. I think that's where the fun of the setting can be found and developed.

I think the best party to have in Carcosa would be explorers from our world or a close approximation of it. The first time I read this book I thought it would be cool to trap a team from earth in it like the film Stargate. A team of specialists from modern times (anywhere from WWI era to right now) could go through an ancient gate to the world of Carcosa. The timing for this trip would be bad and they would enter during some kind of event that destroys the gate on the Carcosa side before they can figure out how to return through it. Now the party has a simple goal: Find a way home. They could chase rumours and technology all across the map.

Since attrition is a natural part of the game and the Player Characters from earth would need to be replaced by locals when they died, the party that finally found the gate back to earth might be entirely Carcosan. It's only natural that the party would find locals to help them as guides and translators. These people would naturally want to leave Carcosa for the amazing land of Earth where they need not live in fear of terrible creatures or dying as a sacrifice in some horrific summoning ritual. A place where food is plentiful and people live and work together in what would seem insane luxury would be an impossible dream for the humans of Carcosa. I picture what would eventually become a party of mixed-colour Carcosans speaking English and wearing bits of earth-made kit as they cross Carcosa looking for clues to get to the promised land.

I'd play everything in Carcosa pretty much as it is written. I'd even use all the nutty dice conventions, at least for a while. I'd have everyone roll for psionics the first time they encounter a minion of the old ones like a shoggoth or a psionic-using creature. That's the easy part. My biggest decision would be deciding on a system to use and the modifications to the classes for their modern interpretations.

I've thought it through with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird Fantasy RPG System. For anyone unfamiliar with LotFP, it's a D20 RPG based on the Basic/Expert books of the early 80s with some innovations and changes that push the tone of the game towards exploration of the unknown and horror. Carcosa is designed to be played with those rules so it would be fairly easy to have a group roll up a bunch of appropriate fighters and specialists. I'm playing a lot of 5e D&D lately though, and I can see how well the conventions in the Carcosa rules could work with 5e D&D. It is tempting to make some adjustments and use the new D&D rules to play. NOTE: at the time I'm writing this post the 5e DM's guide is not yet available. It may have advice on running in a modern setting like earlier versions did.

Making a list of kit that everyone has like E-Tools (folding shovels), canteens and ration packs is not a big deal. It could even be fun since things like solar charging units and laptops are not out of the question. Firearms need to be addressed though.

The firearms rules in LotFP could be adjusted for faster rates of fire and loading. For automatic weapons a long burst (full mag, minimum 20 rounds) could do two dice damage in a cone area of affect with a save verses devices for half. A short (or long for that matter) burst on an individual could add +1 to hit for every round used beyond the first. So holding the trigger down for a five-round burst would get a +4 attack bonus. This would need to be declared before the roll to hit. Anyone other than a fighter would a die six and add the even number rolled divided by two and subtract the odd number rolled to the desired amount of rounds used. For 5e the long burst as a cone would work the same but the short burst on a single target would be 3-5 rounds (D3+2) and would give the attacker Advantage on the roll to hit. Grenades could just use the Carcosa grenade rules. I'd give everyone five full 30-round clips and maybe include a box or two of ammo for the group.

The thing I like about 5e in Carcosa is the healing in 5e is based on Hit Dice. That means players could recover lost Hit Dice after a rest and have them to roll for the next encounter.  It just fits so elegantly into the system and solves the problem of healing slowing down a party in Carcosa. The unpredictable dice conventions of Carcosa and general lethality of 5e mean the stakes in any given fight will be high regardless.

The players would need to build a team. Such a group would be hand-picked for certain skills and trained together as a unit. The fact that they would likely have an expert on antiquities/ancient technology/cultures/myth since such a person might have been needed to get the gate up and running in the first place means the modern party could contain a wizard. Everyone would be human. In 5e that means feats would be available so at least one of the party would need to take the feat that allows for extra languages and talent for linguistics (like Daniel Jackson in the aforementioned film Stargate). It's possible this character would be a 5e bard who is a lore specialist and would be included for the first contact team for cultural adaptation and communication. In LotFP it would just be a specialist with the languages skill. The team would also include a medic so LotFP could add the Medical skill to the specialist skills and the 5e player could take the Healer feat. A sniper in 5e is just an Assassin but in LotFP it could be a Specialist with Stealth, Sneak Attack and pips for +1 attack bonus with a rifle. A close-combat specialist would be a fighter in LotFP and possibly a monk in 5e.

Some classes for 5e would need to be removed. Paladins, Clerics and Druids just would not fit. Sorcerers, Rangers, Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters also don't work well with the setting material, having no real place in either world. I'd remove them as well. Warlocks with an Old One as a patron fit well but the other patrons would not be available. In fact, I'd be tempted with a 5e game to remove the Carcosa Sorcerer class and rework the Pact of the Tome to be the ability to learn and cast the Carcosa list of rituals. That would mean all the NPC Sorcerers listed in the book would be Warlocks. Wizards could stay the same but would be extremely rare, super-scientist types.

It would make for a long and satisfying campaign. Especially if the party actually succeeds in returning to Earth with a pile of alien technology. Players could play in the gonzo sandbox that is Carcosa and I could ramp up the evil nature of the setting while the players played PCs with a positive value system totally out of whack with the world.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Retro-Speculative: D6 Star Wars, What Is It Good For?

West End Games' D6 Star Wars is by far my favourite version of the game. It did exactly what it said on the tin. It gave our group a cinematic gaming experience in the Star Wars universe. Granted, the first game was a lot of roleplaying into situations where we could use quotes from the movies, but after that we had some grand adventures as part of the Rebellion.

A couple of things have pulled me back to my shelf to have a look at my well-worn Star Wars RPG books. I've seen the WEG D6 System attached to a few projects for RPGs based on different intellectual properties lately. I wondered at the choice of this open system instead of the others out there? And why not design a new system? All these questions had me itching to take these down and read through them again, but there's only so much time in the day. Then I saw the pilot for the new Rebels animated series and started wondering how the game holds up and if it might be worth running some old Star Wars?

I think the last time I played Star Wars was in the late 1990s. Reading through it now is extraordinary! Not only does the game hold up for Star Wars, but it just might be the best Sword and Sorcery RPG ever written.

The game is beautiful in its simplicity. The majority of the rules are in the first 24 pages! The pulpy action this RPG emulates is the same pulpy action George Lucas was copying from the wild adventures of speculative fiction from the early 20th Century. With these things in mind it should hardly be a surprise that there is so little adjustment needed to bring the game full circle and use it to run a Sword and Sorcery game.

I'm a different person now than I was when I first encountered this game. It didn't occur to me back then that you could reskin a "sci-fi" game for another genre. I hadn't read the same breadth of material in the Sword and Sorcery genre that I have now either. This time I had all that and a pile of extra RPG hacking experience riding my shoulder and whispering in my ear while I turned the pages.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, character creation uses templates of different character archetypes. It works because it takes a player minutes to customize the template to fit their own preferences for play but still gives a wide variety of choice with the 30 odd templates in the core rules. Each template comes with a description. You get basic equipment and starting money. There's also a typical background, personality, a quote to show the flavour and a possible connection to the other players. Any of these can be changed, but they are a great starting point. After that the player only needs to pick name, write a physical description and assign seven dice to the skills.

The templates are where the majority of the work of conversion is going to come from but it's a fast way to deliver setting information without cramming it down the players' throats. Players are not going to read your world setting document but they will definitely read the descriptions of all the character classes (at least until they find one they like).

The skills need to change.

It's fairly easy to switch out the sci-fi references like "blasters" and "planetary systems" to something more appropriate like "bows" and "lands and kingdoms." The technical skill under Knowledge could be swapped out for Arcana or Magic.

The Mechanical section can keep its name and just change to things like navigation, charioteering, catapults, handling small watercraft, sailing ships, etc. Beast riding can stay though.

The Technical section has to go. It could be renamed Arcana and could include things like rituals, ancient technology, magical creatures, the old ones, wards and sigils, etc. Medicine could stay in this section since effective medicine relies on knowledge typically gained from cutting up cadavers. Something which is often frowned on.

That leaves the Force.

Things like Force Points can easily be reskinned as Fate Points. Heroes are often fated for great deeds so it fits the sword and sorcery genre. The Dark Side works well with S&S too. When a character commits some heinous act of evil, dark forces take notice. This interest is represented by the Dark Fate Points. Instead of rolling to lose the character because it turns, you could roll for a dark gift and have a table of hideous mutations. As soon as the character mutates the Dark Fate Points are set back to zero as the nameless extradimensional entity or ancient intelligence moves on to other pursuits. The sorcerers would be able to make use of the Dark Fate Points when casting just like Jedi do, but the fluctuation and the stream of mutations would make evil sorcerers unpredictable and grotesque.

Magic can pretty much stay as it is. The force powers Control, Sense and Alter are wonderful, low-magic ways to express magical ability. Call them magical disciplines and you are good to go. The list of force powers in the book make a fine starting point for common spells. You could also have powerful summoning rituals for terrible creatures and spirits with all sorts of requirements as part of the magic system that would make great seeds for adventures.

It's starting to come together, but we have all these space-opera templates. A Pirate is a Pirate in any genre but it might be harder for the others. Let's take a look at the first three: Alien Student of the Force, Arrogant Noble and Armchair Historian.

The Arrogant Noble is another easy one. There are arrogant nobles everywhere and it looks like the skills can all stay where they are. No problem. The Alien Student of the Force could be a Mysterious Foreign Sorcerer. I would probably drop the Strength down to 2D and bump "Arcana" up to 3D as well. The Armchair Historian presents something of a problem since it doesn't fit the new genre. Looking at the stats though we could easily reskin this one as an Indiana-Jones-style Relic Hunter.

The text on the back would need to change to match the setting. The short list of equipment fits Sword and Sorcery well but it would need to be altered to work in the setting (no blasters for you!). The credits could just be removed or turned into coins after a couple of zeros are knocked of the total. The backstory for the Arrogant Noble fits multiple genres. There's not much work to do here. The Alien Student of the Force needs a major rewrite but the focus of the character is still to seek magical knowledge in a place far from home. That is likely going to take the background text in a similar direction. The Armchair Historian is a total rewrite, but since we are using a well known character as a reference for our tomb-robbing Relic Hunter the text should come easy. Just think, "What would Indy do?"

I'm liking this reskin better than my other options for sword and sorcery. It's more simple than ZeFRS(TSR Conan) and more robust than Barbarians of Lemuria. As much as I love the other options I may dig into this sometime over the next few months.

Maybe I'll return to this one with some developed templates and that random table of mutations.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Still Searching... and the Mash-Up!

My first couple of posts came really close together so the time since may have a few of you thinking that I've given up on this whole blogging thing already. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

First of all, I hope to get a post out at least once per week. To me that means any time in a seven day period so it's possible to have as much as 12 or 13 days between posts. Don't panic! And don't worry, this isn't just a "hey I'm still here" post. I'll include some actual content in this post too.

Speaking of content, I've been thinking about what I want to have up here. Obviously I want it to be interesting and that may be enough when it comes to some of my choices. When it comes to the things I write about gaming  though, I'd like it to be interesting and useful. That means this thing is going to be an eclectic bucket of random gaming goodness. Sure my tastes run toward the old school set, but I am a polygamerist at heart so you might see just about anything up here. The one thing you can count on is if it's here, it's something I want to use at my table.

For the next post I'm going to try out an idea that I may use again, depending on how much fun it is and the response. So stay tuned for the Retro-Speculative! I'll be tearing up an old game from the days of yore and reapplying it to a different genre.

But for now, the Mash-Up!

I love a good mash-up! Mixing together two intellectual properties has a lot of advantages when it comes to creating a setting for play. It wipes the slate clean as far as what the players know about the world. If you've only read three Conan short stories and want to use it in a game because it's so cool and one of your players has read every Conan story ever written by all of the authors that took up the character after Howard and has maps of Hyboria on the wall, you might run into some issues with the player knowing more about the world than you do. The easiest way to fix that is to add more cool things! So you like the theme of the value of the barbarian over civilization that runs through the Conan stories, but you also enjoy the fatalism of Vance's Dying Earth? Perfect! Smash them together and make something new and even more fun to play in. Instead of the world being new, it's impossibly ancient and more decadent than even the most noble Hyborians could have dreamed. Still, such a place always has its frontiers and wild places. Untamed lands will still produce men and women like Conan.

I say it's more fun for the players as well because that blank slate gives everyone more room to roam. All the stories belong to the players. There are no principal characters to cast shadows over the campaigns. There are also no characters with script immunity walking around (unless you put them there).

What I love about the mash-up is how good it can go if you put together things that seem like they could never fit. The process of roping together opposites in a way that makes sense and is compelling can give you something better than either of the two things you started with. For instance, mashing up Firefly and Farscape is kind of pointless because they are both science fiction about a small group of criminals on the run from powerful governments who just do their best to make ends meet and keep moving. One has aliens, the other has cowboys. Not much of a gap to bridge with new ideas there.

You need friction between the two settings to get that creative spark going. The farther they are apart, the more original the new setting will feel when you have it.

I've been mulling over one of these "impossible" mash-ups over on G+ for a while now. Some smart people have chimed in and I can see it growing into a setting that might see some play in the next few months. What I'm talking about is my idea to put together Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom. It turns out melding a desert world with an archipelago is not as hard as I thought it would be.

Luckily I had the forethought to hashtag the posts with #Barsoomsea so I can share part of what I have so far:

The Archipelago could gain the same fatalism of Barsoom by having the water raise instead of recede. If the trackless sea replaces the desert then it only needs to rise to consume the world the way the drought does on Barsoom to convey the sense of doom that hangs over those stories.

I picture fishing villages where the docks and piers are built onto the roofs of the houses the sea claimed as the villages build on higher and higher ground every generation.

The green men could be replaced by a race of amphibians who live in the sea in between the islands. They fight with the humans because they need the land to lay and hatch their eggs. A process that takes years.

Some intrepid folk might sail out beyond the relative safety of the Archipelago searching for more and higher land. They might even find the ruins of lost empires half swallowed by the sea, with only their greatest forts and towers remaining on the cliffs and mountaintops.

In rare and exciting times a volcanic eruption might bring a new island to the surface. All such islands carry terrors from the depths that must be tamed. Some of these mountains are surfacing for a second time, covered in the ruins of buildings from a forgotten age. These ruins could have anything inside but who is willing to go and look?

The slow loss of the world has left the populace of the Archipelago with a strange mixture of half forgotten science and sorcery saved or recovered from the past while ordinary folk toil as they always have, fishing and farming while clinging to the land that remains.

People fight with the sea, the amphibians, each other, and the results of their own schemes or vanities. There should be plenty of room for adventure in such a place.

With no set mythology, all kinds of things can find their way into this new Archipelago. Islands on the backs of ancient turtles? Flotillas of boats lashed together and surfaced with dirt to make floating farming communities? It's all on the table because there's no expectation or history to disrupt. And even if we just start with the premise above, what we have feels similar to both settings but doesn't copy either of them.

What do you think? Should #Barsoomsea have some kind of airships gracefully travelling from one island peak to another? Do you have a better mash-up?