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Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

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  • Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

    So I've had this idea for a campaign setting inspired by the likes of Shadowrun, Final Fantasy 7, InFamous, Gargoyles, and X-Men brewing in my head since this morning and figured this would be the best place to get feedback for it, so here you have it. Just bear in mind what I have is a little roughshod and will be gradually fleshed out further as time goes on.

    Everything takes place fifteen minutes into the cyberpunk future, with all wonderful little trappings that come with it. Multinational mega-corporations and smaller business ventures wield power nearly on par with governments. Personal freedoms have taken a back seat to national and economic security. Consumerism is rampaging out of control and many people dedicate their lives to the pursuit of a better lifestyle. To this end, most people have become heavily dependent on credit and as such, never really own the things they define themselves by. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and all that jazz.

    Further complicating matters is an event that has come to be known as the Surge (working name; I'm more than open to suggestions for a better term if you have 'em). About twelve years ago in the setting's timeline, magic arrived on this plane of existence with a bang, throwing the entire world into crisis. Monstrous creatures appeared seemingly out of thing air while various plants and animals mutated into terrifying new forms. A portion of the total population (still haven't settled on a specific number) experienced some manner of drastic physical transformation, the emergence of supernatural powers, or in some cases, both. Storms and bizarre anomalies the likes of which have never been seen wracked the world, portals to surreal pocket dimensions opened up at random points, and previously mundane materials and objects suddenly gained magical properties. Fun times were had by all.

    As far as the general specifics of the setting go:

    Technology: I'm using d20 Modern's “Progress Levels” as a frame of reference for technology in the setting – specifically Progress Level 6. Fusion power has been realized and has all but obliterated dependency on chemical fuel sources. Computing and communication technology becomes even more powerful, compact, and easily accessible. Augmented Reality has become commonplace and is a part of the daily lives of most people. Sophisticated Virtual Reality does exist, but is limited to niche entertainment and educational purposes. Robotics and automation have advanced to the point that nearly anything that could be considered a minimum wage job is now handled by a machine of some sort. Cybernetic augmentation is now possible, though those who choose to get them remain uncommon. Power armor and mechs have become a reality and the first energy weapons are starting to see active use. While there are still some hurdles and limitations to be overcome, there have been truly revolutionary advances in the field of medicine that have done much to combat the ills of the flesh...for those who can afford it anyway. Advanced biometrics are now the standard for security, identification, and monitoring the population at large. Because of the physiological changes mutation brings, more than a few mutants were left with out any means to prove their identity and subsequently forced to live off the grid as a result.

    Cybernetics: I've never been a huge fan of the cybernetics eat your soul trope, so any spiritual or magical problems that may arise from installing cyberware are temporary in nature. That being said, cybernetic augmentation remains uncommon. When you get right down to it, undergoing major invasive surgery and amputation is a pretty hard sell for the average person, especially when you factor in issues of maintenance and obsolesce.

    Magic: Magic remains a mystery to most, much to the frustration of the powers that be. While there are some common abilities that can be taught to those with the ability, the kind of magical powers people manifest vary heavily from individual to individual. It is possible to develop magical powers through training, but as it stands, no one has developed a method for consistently doing so. Coming up with a means to mass produce compliant magic super soldiers has become the holy grail for the ruling powers, right next to the refinement of technomagic.

    Technomagic, Enchantment, and Technomancy: It is possible create enchanted items like those featured in many a fantasy tale and combine magic with technology. Everyone is desperate to figure out how because the process always results in something far greater than the sum of its parts. Technomagical devices and enchanted items are nigh impossible to destroy, self repairing, and are not subject to decay from exposure or the passage of time. Furthermore, technomagical devices don't require a power source of any sort and can possess properties and functions that far exceed its physical make up (like being able to transform in improbable ways or be completely undetectable by conventional means). And yes, cybernetics can be enchanted. Technomancy is the ability to directly control technology though force of will alone (basically tech powers from power profiles). The ability is very rare and feared by many.

    Mutants and Adepts: Those who were physically changed by the Surge are commonly refereed to as Mutants (again, I'm open to suggestions for a better term) while those who display magical powers are called Adepts. I don't know what to call people with both mutations and magical powers – as always, suggestions are quite welcome. While its true that mutants in general can expect to face some form of prejudice at least once in their lives, the ugly reality is that mutants with human-like or “cute” appearances tend to get preferential treatment over those who don't. How adepts are viewed depends on the kind of powers they manifest. Adepts with healing, oracular, or any sort of enchantment powers are regarded with awe, sometimes reverence. Adepts with utilitarian or quirky, non-threatening powers are regarded as harmless novelties. Those with destructive or overtly threatening magics scare people, but as long as they don't casually manifest their abilities adepts with such powers can get by without too much trouble. Anyone with telepathy, technomancy, necromancy, or shapeshifting that allows the adept to mimic the appearance of others are widely feared and reviled. Adepts with such powers are subject to more restrictive, invasive registration laws and attention from nefarious organizations who would seek to put their abilities to questionable ends. All adepts are required to register their abilities with the proper authorities. Mutants are sometimes subject to similar registration laws depending on the nature of their mutations.

    Aberrants, Elementals, and Daemons: Aberrants are flora and fauna that have been mutated by the Surge. Generally speaking, the transformation has made aberrants bigger, meaner, monstrous in appearance and hyper territorial. Many have even developed magical abilities. A very rare few aberrants become sentient as a result of their change. Elementals are inanimate matter and energy that has been granted a semblance of life and motion by the Surge. Most are no more intelligent than insects save for the extremely rare Greater Elemental (better name pending), who possess human level intelligence and the ability to command lesser elementals. Despite their intelligence, the majority of greater elementals have proven to be alien in mind and near impossible to communicate with. Daemons are entities of pure magical and psychic energy that came into being during the Surge. They vary wildly in terms of appearance, intelligence, power, capabilities, and temperament but all share the ability to grow stronger by feeding off of human emotions. Daemons can spring up in any area rich in emotional resonance (graveyards, historical sites, battlegrounds, etc.) that experiences a spike in magical energy. Any adept with sufficient know-how can create daemons of their own, though the power and intelligence of such daemons depends on the skill and strength of their adept masters. Particularly powerful, intelligent daemons can also create lesser minded weaker daemons in their own image.

    Exception Zones, Touchpoints, and the Ethereal Lattice: Exception zones are areas where law enforcement agents don't patrol, leaving anyone stuck living in one to fend for themselves. Exception zones have become more common in the years following the Surge. Touchpoints are regions so saturated with magical energy that the environment itself has become enchanted. The Ethereal Lattice is a massive network of loosely interconnected pocket dimensions that exists congruent to the material plane. The Surge connected the two realms and roused the things that dwell there from dormancy. I haven't quite hammered out what the ethereals are going to be like, other than that they aren't exactly the nicest folk, have an advanced understanding of magic and are well aware of how valuable such knowledge is to humanity.

    There you have it. Thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

    I'm no big fan of the cyberpunk genre, but I like this idea. The role-reversal of having magic be the newcomer as opposed to high technology is very interesting. It's very well thought out, but not overly detailed, which makes it easy to get your mind around. (I feel like too many settings focus too much on the minutia that the big picture gets lost.)

    Also, your names are fine. They may be a bit simple, and not "cool" per se, but simplicity has its upsides. They're descriptive, easy to remember, and fairly evocative just as they are.
    SuperFerret's Shoebox of Solitude - My RollCall thread
    Savage City: Welcome to the Jungle - My Custom M&M Setting


    • #3
      Re: Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

      Sounds really interesting!
      Surge could be "Nebula," to give it a bit more mystique, if ya want.
      Mutant's fine, and Adept's just right. Hope that helped in some way.

      Edit: I, uh...didn't notice you'd already cited Shadowrun. Whoopsy doodles.
      Last edited by Bookwyrm 15; 30th June 2016, 06:27 PM.
      I've always said self deprecation is the purest form of humor. Probably why I'm such an awful comedian.


      • #4
        Re: Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

        Thanks for the feedback guys.

        I worked out a little more for ethereals. I wound up settling on a concept a little different from they way I initially imagined them. The term is going to be a blanket term for any creature native to the Ethereal Lattice. The majority of ethereals are non-sapient creatures that have little in common with each other save for the fact that they can only be harmed by magic or enchanted weapons. Given that they are naturally incorporeal and how life in the ethereal lattice operates on a fundamentally different set of principals than the material plain, ethereals are truly alien in mind and body. Only a small fraction calling themselves the Endless are truly sentient. From what humanity has been able to gather, the Endless are highly intelligent ethereals blessed with great power, an advanced understanding of magic, and immortality; if killed or captured, an endless will simply rematerialize within their own personal domain in the lattice. Their domains are, as of now, impenetrable pocket dimensions tailored to fit the needs and tastes of their masters. Other than the endless itself, the only other inhabitants of their domains are legions of magical constructs to serve them along with the occasional ethereal they keep as pets.

        Endless don't have much in the way of a formal government; aside from a few treaties and non-aggression pacts, each endless is a sovereign entity beholden only to its own will. Truth be told, they hate each other too much to work together in any meaningful capacity except maybe in times of crisis. There are three beliefs all endless, without exception, share:

        Oaths are sacred and must not be broken. To do so is to invite ruin upon oneself.

        Nothing of value is given freely.

        Only individuals of strength and conviction are worthy of respect.

        While exceptions do exist, the Endless are by in large unpleasant creatures. At best, they are self absorbed, arrogant, and inconsiderate. At worse, endless are sadistic malignant narcissists who revel in causing suffering and destruction. Before the events of the Surge, the endless had no idea the material plane existed, much less humanity. Since the material plane became open to them, they've developed an unhealthy interest in both. While there is much they don't understand about earth and its inhabitants, the endless do know they have a monopoly on magical knowledge and are in an perfect position to exploit it.


        • #5
          Re: Aftershock - Rough Setting Concept

          Been trying to work out some villain groups for the setting. Still trying to hammer out the find details on these groups, but I do have a few rough ideas:

          - a group of loosely allied super-powered tin pot dictators and crimelords who have established banana republics all throughout the pacific

          - various new gangs who have risen to the top of the criminal underworld thanks to their newfound magical powers...and in some cases, backing from nefarious supernatural entities

          - malicious daemons trying to increase their power and influence by forming exploitative cults

          - eco-terrorist werewolves (with apologies to fans of Werewolf: the Apocalypse)

          - the Department of Metaphysical Management; imagine if the most incompetent and corrupt individuals from the ATF were tasked with regulating all affairs related to magic and you'll have these guys pegged

          - and of course, megacorps. I know this is going against cyberpunk tradition, but in the setting the corps aren't all-powerful or untouchable. Don't get me wrong, they more power, privileges, and protections than they rightly deserve, and taking them on is a dangerous undertaking, but they can be brought down. Since the Surge, the corps have gown increasingly paranoid. Magic has proven to be a dangerous wild card which they have little defense against and in an increasingly cutthroat business world, such a vulnerability could very well end them. The corps are desperate to unravel the mysteries of magic and are more than willing to go to any lengths necessary in pursuit of that goal.

          I'll try fleshing these out when I'm able to. Work has been eating up most of my free time as of late.
          Last edited by The Quiet One; 18th July 2016, 02:02 AM.