Monthly Archives: February 2020

Enderra: An Age of Eternal Winter

Over the past few weeks, as I was distracted by a surprisingly busy real life schedule, I pondered what sort of world Enderra would be in its latest iteration. I was certain it would be a “points of light” style setting – a lot of wilderness with civilization surviving in the nooks and crannies of a dangerous world. The best real world match, I decided, would be post-Western Roman Empire late antiquity/early middle ages. The Dark Ages, as we like to call them.

While total societal collapse alone is all fun and games (until it happens to the country you live in), a civilization going out with a whimper and just fading away isn’t particularly interesting. And why are humans (and the other civilized races) not simply rebuilding?

The answer – as you presumably guessed from the headline of this post – is an added complication. The climate of Enderra has cooled dramatically since the days of the Menorian Empire. Summers are short and cold, and usually rainy. Winters are much harsher, with heavier snowfalls, frozen rivers and coastal waters. In some regions, the snow never really melts year-round.

The consequences are dire. Crops fail with regularity, where they can be grown at all. Many areas have reverted to hunting and gathering. Even fishing is hard when the ice extends many miles off shore. Even augmented by magic and the use of greenhouses, food production is nowhere near enough to support pre-collapse population numbers. At the same time, the harsh climate has made wild beasts and monsters all that more likely to prey on humans.

In short, Enderra is experiencing a harsher version of the Little Ice Age.

Iced Trees. Image by Jake N.

I’ve always loved winter imagery – you may recall that this site had winter landscapes as its headers for the longest time, and in 2014 I hosted a Blog Carnival about the Icy Embrace of Winter. Skyrim is one of my favorite video games, as is The Bard’s Tale – granted, there wasn’t much actual winter depicted in the original game, but it was still set in a city beset by ice and snow.

In practical terms, this means as little or as much as a prospective game master wants it to mean. You can, uh, embrace the concept wholeheartedly and add winter survival themes and mechanics to every adventure. Low visibility from falling snow, early nightfall and long nights add a touch of mystery to any environment. It helps explain why the adventurers might come across a relatively untouched Menorian ruin. In reality, old ruins were not only looted, but often quarried for the construction of new houses. It should even help keep the power curve flat, when a good fur armor’s protection from the harsh temperature becomes more important than a full metal plate armor’s better armor rating.

And if you don’t like snow all the time, set your adventures during a summer season. As the peasants emerge from the relative safety of their towns and hamlets to begin growing much-needed crops, monsters hungry from a long winter descend from the mountains.

I think a lot can be done with a not-so-little Ice Age, and little complications like this certainly make things a lot more interesting.

RPG Blog Carnival: Legends & Lore

Welcome to the February 2020 RPG Blog Carnival! Our topic for this month is Legends & Lore!

Legends are tales and stories that are, at least to some extent, grounded in historic reality. They are the realm of the could-have-happened, never entirely doubted, but they may include fantastic elements – such as magic or miracles. Of course, in a world where magic is real and miracles verifiable, that aspect may just be historic as well. A legend becomes a myth when it lacks historicity.

Lore consists of traditions or knowledge held to be true, often passed from one generation to another orally – which adds inaccuracies over time. In the context of fantasy and science fiction, the term “Lore” also often refers to any and all information about the background of the fictional setting.

Possible Topics

Legends & Lore can be mere “fluff”, background material that establishes your setting’s “sense of place” or adds verisimilitude, or they can be hooks for exciting adventure – or both! Some ideas to get you started:

  • Lost civilizations and ancient empires are the source of many of the ruins and dungeons our plucky heroes – be they treasure hunters wielding sword and magics, bull-whip swinging archaeologists, mutant raiders in the Nuclear wasteland, or the away team of an Interstellar Expeditions Corporation craft.
  • Kings and Queens (or other rulers, famous people, business executives, and so on), both benign and villainous. What did they do? Why do bards sing their praise – or mock their memories?
  • Wars. (What are they good for?) Who fought whom, and why? What effects of the war linger on and have an effect on your world, maybe even centuries later?
  • What caused the Cataclysm?
  • Lost cities, castles, and temples provide places to explore. Who built them, for what purpose, why were they abandoned, and what riches were left behind?
  • In a science fiction setting, there would be stories of lost colonies and abandoned space stations. Or maybe even legends of the fabled home world of our species!
  • Ship wrecks, both ocean-going and space-faring. What were they transporting, and why, and where were they headed?
  • Once upon a time, Dragons, Dinosaurs, Elves, and Damned Things roamed the world. What happened to them – and will they return?
  • Creation Myths or other exploits of your pantheon of gods. Their intrigues, their interactions with mortals.
  • Origin stories for monster. What caused the Zombie Apocalypse? How were Centaurs created? Who built the first sentient Robots, and how did that lead to the AI Revolt?
  • Player actions: Did your players ever do anything so notable that it became part of the history of your world?
  • How have you used legends or lore effectively in your campaign? What worked, and what didn’t?

The possibilities are endless!

January

January’s Carnival was Random Encounter Tables, hosted by Geek Native.

Contributing

To contribute, simply post an article on the subject on your blog, and post a comment with a link to your article below. (I do actively moderate all posts, so please allow 24 hours or so for me to approve of your post.) At the beginning of March, I will be posting a summary with all contributing articles.

If you’d like to see previous RPG Blog Carnivals, head on over to the archive. And if you’d like to host one yourself, sign up today!

I hope you enjoy February’s RPG Blog Carnival! I’m looking forward to reading from you!