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Iron Age Mages & Cyborgs

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  • Iron Age Mages & Cyborgs

    Just fleshing out my new campaign, thought I'd share what I've got so far:

    The Setting:
    Shadowrun without the magical races and less magic. (One player said “I think I’d like to do something like Dr. Strange.” Another player said “I want to play a self-modifying cyborg and I loved Punisher comics as a kid.” Ok, grit, cyborgs and magic it is then!)

    The game starts at street-level. Most powers come from training, cybernetics, or magic. No one has the innate ability to fly without mechanical assistance. If any hero wears a cape, it’s probably in a pretentious way. The PC’s are all anti-heroes who have connections to a gang (what’s that quote from that Deadpool movie? Something about “We’re the bad guys that beat up the worse bad guys”?)

    Touchstones:
    • In movie terms, think Bladerunner meets Big Trouble in Little China
    • In RPG terms, think Feng Shui in the World of Darkness
    • In TV terms, think The A-Team meets the X-Files


    Street-level (what the players know):
    At the street level, state and local law enforcement agencies are rivaled in power by “corpsecs” - security forces hired to protect gated communities or as muscle for corporate interests and activities.

    Most magic-users eke out a humble existence, practicing their newfound abilities in secret, or working in communities as healers and modern-day shamans. One notable exception is the wizard appointed to the post of the mayor’s “Arcane Advisor,” a white-clad individual who goes by the name of Thaddeus Lightbringer.

    The city’s shipping business is controlled by XXXX XXXXX, patriarch of the Grand Order of Dagon. Sea travel has become dangerous business, and XXXX XXXX is the businessman who says he can get goods from point A to point B safely. Although he is cold and impersonable, he has a reputation for being reliable.

    Most of the city’s underclass is divided into a patchwork of warrens, each protected (or ruled) by a low-level gang.


    Backstory (players don't know this yet):
    Pre-history:
    The world was once soaked in magic, good and evil. Interdimensional horrors battled with Atlanteans for who would control the Earth. The Atlanteans wanted to protect and nurture humanity to somebody travel the stars; the eldritch Cthulhuian horrors merely wanted snacks and playthings. The Atlanteans were losing the battle, until, as a last ditch effort, they executed a massive spell to get the Earth “off” the grid - to close any magic portals, to make the ley lines fade, to make the planet wink out of existence at the magic-cosmos level. This greatly reduced their power, too, and they went into hiding, doing their best to steer humanity from behind the scenes.

    Recent history:
    Human technology advanced to the point that they began mining the moon. In the race to mine the moon, many companies found themselves receiving substantial no-questions-asked funding from shadowy sources. While some companies were searching for lunar profits, other forces were searching for ancient artifacts, ruins of once-mighty civilizations, and the ability to reactivate long-dormant portals.

    And they achieved their goals - someone [not sure if this is will be the Atlanteans or someone evil, like the Thule society] re-opened a portal and reactivated the ley lines on the moon, sending gentle waves of magic energy back over the Earth.

    However, the world has changed since the ancient days. Where there were once four elements, a tangle of steel and concrete now crawls across the Earth. Unknown to most (except those who pursue its strange powers), industrialization is now an element on part with air, water, fire and earth. This fifth element may complete a pentangle symbolic of Earth’s new age - or it may disrupt the comfortable balance of the four elements.

    Current world:
    Magic-users who once had been attempting to decipher ancient knowledge now find themselves able to tap on powerful magic energy, and many people with previously latent magical abilities now find themselves able to see the future, cast spells, and do more. Magic-users are generally regarded with wariness and no small amount of fear. Some have crafted themselves as celebrities, hosting talk shows and writing books on the “real” history of the world (though generally their guesses are as good as anybody else’s). Others ply their trade as neighborhood healers, psychics and . Some civic-minded mages work for the government, especially local police forces. Other, more profit-minded magicians, sell their services to the highest corporate bidder. And their specialized abilities can demand quite a price...and non-disclosure agreements signed in blood.


    Likewise, technology has advanced to the point that cybernetic modifications are commonplace.


    Factions, roughly in order of decreasing power:
    1. Corps - just like Shadowrun, corporations run the land
    2. Dagon Ex/Im - Shipping by sea has become incredibly dangerous...unless you are a client of Dagon Export and Import.
    3. Organized Crime - this is an Iron Age game after all!
    4. Cops - hey, at least they’re trying. Also, wizards can find full-time or consulting employment with local cops to help them solve any magic-related crimes
    5. Industrial Mages (still need a name for these guys) - they wear gas masks reconfigured to make their air *less* clean. They make golems out of bricks, asphalt and glass, summon electricity from power wires to zap their opponents, etc. The go-to bad guys.
    6. Thule Society - magic supremacists. Still lurking behind the scenes, but they will make a real power play, and if they succeed it will be bad for everyone
    7. Atlanteans - ancient guardians. Overwhelmed and trying to keep up
    8. Insect Shamans - loosely aligned with industrial mages, they can summon swarms of city creatures - rats, pigeons, cockroaches - and cast related spells. Also, some urban vermin totem warriors would be pretty sick (half human half cockroach all terror!)
    9. Crazed Lovecraftian Cultists - always!
    10. Retro Sapiens - urban primitives who have taken over an abandoned section of the city and reject all technology. Some are hipsters in it for the shrooms and the free love, some are fanatics and forces to be reckoned with. They don’t have much, but their corner of the city is impenetrable.
    11. LARPers - boy do they hate that name! A certain subset of society that figures if magic is re-emerging, we should go back to “ye olden days” when dragons ruled the land. (I think they’ll provide some comic relief...and also a recurring villian)




    Long-term plans - the players and I both want to start at street level and then go to space level. Given the tone I think it would be perfectly acceptable to make some sweeping changes to the setting, so:
    • The players help/get help from an Earth Elementalist Wizard who makes his home in the city’s central park
    • The Industrial Mages engineer a nuclear meltdown and then summon a kaiju-like Nuclear Waste Beast
    • The LARPers produce The Dragon, a recurring antagonist who is gradually transforming himself into a dragon
    • If the PC's resolve something especially high-profile, Thaddeus Lightbringer may call on their services now and again for issues to too sensitive he himself to be directly involved in
    • The younger sibling of an NPC close to the PC’s is in trouble - he has learned just enough about summoning to be dangerous. He was making some money by contracting out his services, sneaking into a rival’s turf, summoning an angry, destructive spirit, and then getting out quick to let the monster wreak havoc. Unfortunately, he summoned something he couldn’t handle and now needs help (from the PC’s of course). He’s being targeted by a magic monster, two-bit lowlifes, and maybe a *real* magician who thinks the kid is a loose cannon
    Last edited by TheDapperDM; 07-17-2016, 05:24 PM.
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