Yeah, okay, so. Yesterday I mentioned my new game setting. Today I'm gonna tell you about it. It's becoming kind of an important thing for me, for reasons that I-
What's that? You don't care? Okay! That's fine. This post will just be about what, not why. Later I'll talk about why.
It's your Renfaire Europe, but with wizards and dragons and stuff. Queen Yldruun sits on the Rovainnian Throne, overseeing a decade of peace so far. Petty nobles squabble here and there, but it has yet to get too heated. There is no shortage of wilderness in and around the kingdom. Discovery beckons, great deeds must, adventure awaits.
This isn't stock D&D. It's a lot more like Excalibur and Legend had a baby, and it had Madmartigan from Willow as a nanny. A lot of what makes D&D into D&D does not immediately or easily fit into Rovainne, so it can't be a D&D game without doing so much changing about that it's really not D&D anymore. Ergo, it wants to go back to what D&D was before it was D&D, and in a sense, start over.
The setting is humanocentric, for one; wizards are scarce, and there are no clerics. There are humanoids, but you're not gonna play any of them, because they're strange and rare.
That's a whole lot of D&D chucked out, right there.
Many many years ago, I read the old Last Unicorn Games Star Trek: The Original Series RPG, and in it, friend of the blog S John Ross set down a trio of axioms about what makes Star Trek TOS Star Trek TOS. I will never hesitate to rip off S John, so after a lot of thought, I've come up with the three main things that make this setting what I want it to be.
Rovainne, as a game and as a setting, is always...
This is a fantasy setting, and that means that it doesn't mirror reality. It's the sanitized, Victorian storybook ideal of the middle ages: ladies-in-waiting with pointy hats, colorful pennants flapping at the ends of shining lances, suits of armor glittering in the sunlight...that kind of thing. Yes, it's based on feudal Europe, but it's not Europe, and it's the opposite of historical. Yes, there are nobles and peasants, but the former is not oppressing the latter. Most importantly,
THERE IS NO REAL CYNICISM TO BE FOUND IN THIS GAME.
That doesn't mean that it's a Pollyanna world. It just means that even when things are scary or they get heavy, it's not grimdark and grungy and shit. It's a fantasy. It can still deal with serious stakes, but it never stops being idealized and idealistic.
There's tons of wilderness, and that means dark forests and lost ruins. Magic abounds, but it's not commonplace - there are no magical schools or supermarkets, and wizardry is so tricky and powerful and rare that there are only six wizards in the entire realm. It's not hard to find a creepy tower or an ancient dungeon - just go to where the people aren't. Faeries lurk in the woods, and their magic is weird and mercurial - sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, never predictable. As a result, there's plenty of peril to go around. Which is a segue into the third axiom about Rovainne: that it's...
...Vibrant and Exciting
One of the goals of FKR play is to highlight and front-load immersion. Thus, it suits Rovainne well. This is a land of green valleys and colorful pennants, flashing swords and scintillating magics. Swamps brood, castles gleam, rivers dash, gemstones sparkle, and the dark recesses of the dungeon swallow up the light into an echoing, rumbling void. Even the most mundane of things must feel alive and visceral. Sometimes (in fact, pretty often) that viscerality is expressed as danger: monsters thrash at you, blades cut whistling arcs through the air, cliffsides crumble, swords clang against armor. The idea is to create and play in a mood, more than declare a set of rules and play at stats and numbers.
There's still a system, though. However, I'll discuss that in a separate post. But for now, let me just say two words to wet your whistle: