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The Mists Of Avalon
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saxifrage00
This is an outline for a campaign setting that popped into my head as I looked out over the sea of fog blanketing the runways at YXX. It's by no means complete, but it was sufficiently intriguing that I dashed it off in semi-point form before it could escape me. It's been said that people feel better when they are being productive and creative. Apparently, my craft lies in world-building and in relationships. Yes, I do feel much better for having written this sketch of a world out. Maybe I should do this here more often...

The Mists of Avalon
A Campaign Setting Sketch

People live on the islands of scattered mountain peaks separated by an
eternal fog lying througout the world.

Below the fog is desolate and unnavigable.

Boats are crafted by the people out of available materials. They can float
upon the cloud sea at the cloud-surface interface. To do this, the hulls
must be immersed in amble.

Amble is a corruption of an ancient acroym, NB, which stands for the
then-generic term Nanite Bath. Amble imbues the specific ability, via the
nanites, for a construction to repel a volume of suspended water droplets of
a sufficient density to be called "cloud." It is a silvery amorphous
substance with similarities to mercury, including high density. It is
self-reproducing under the proper circumstances. The supply of amble is
jealously guarded by a guild of wizards, which charges a high fee for the
service of hull baptism.

Nanite baths were used by the ancients for a variety of purposes. Other
ambles may exists, but are not found in the known world. One possibility is
an amble that enables a construction to anti-gravitate, thus allowing for
the possibility of airships being introduced to a campaign.

The dominant culture of the central campaign area is of a technological and
social level akin to the agrarian culture of the medieval ages. Children
become adults at reproductive age, and life expectancy is short. Disease
wages a constant war of attrition on the populace. Whether social
organisation is semi-autonomous city-states and homesteads or heirarchical
feudal states depends on the part of the known world.

Any suggestions, comments, critisisms, or other thoughts are welcome. I know there are a bunch of role-players out there, and I'm keen to find out what you think of this sort of thing.

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The Mists are around you

Hey, that is a very neat sounding world you are generating. I love developing that sort of thing, although I tend to develop historically accurate game settings. I have been working on First Crusades (1100 CE) Jerusalem/Palestine for at least 4 years. :)

Might there be a mystical relationship of the people to the Mist or is it more functional/matter-of-fact? Is this possibly a post-accident on a far-off planet and a new human society has developed (like in Larry Niven's The Integral Trees/The Smoke Ring series)? Or is it an alien-like society where human traits/expectations may not apply.

In this world, does anyone descend below the clouds? Are there myths and legends of horrible monsters below?

Just a few ideas/questions for a very neat idea.

Re: The Mists are around you

I'll answer those one at a time.

Might there be a mystical relationship of the people to the Mist or is it more functional/matter-of-fact?

It's a little of both. The relationship people who live and work on and near it is somewhat similar to that of fishers to the sea. It is a practical part of life, yet treacherous and invested with an anthropomorphic yet alien spirit which is to be feared and respected.

I'm toying with the idea of something that can be harvested from the shallows of the mist sea, maybe something rare that thrives only in the twilight below several meters of mist, and requires daring individuals to risk their lives by descending on lines from their ship to harvest it in the gloom.

Is this possibly a post-accident on a far-off planet and a new human society has developed (like in Larry Niven's The Integral Trees/The Smoke Ring series)? Or is it an alien-like society where human traits/expectations may not apply.

The idea has just grown organically in my mind, so the past is filling in only slowly as pieces are needed for the modern setting. Even so, I know that it's a post-technological human society. Whether it's on a far-future Earth where something has gone horribly wrong with the environment, or (more likely) on a distant planet once colonised by spacefaring humans, I've yet to decide.

The focus in theme is more on the "fantasy" aspect, where the technology, sufficiently advanced, stands in for magic in the minds of the people. In that way it takes more inspiration from LeGuin's Earthsea series than Niven's Smoke Ring world. There are elements in Integral Trees and Smoke Ring that I've always liked and wanted to integrate into a game setting, though, so I might re-read those for inspiration.

In this world, does anyone descend below the clouds? Are there myths and legends of horrible monsters below?

In this world, descending into the clouds is an idea so associated with terror that land-bound people would never consider the idea without suddering. The reality is that it is so barren and unnavigable below the clouds that anyone wading in at the shore will soon find themselves unable to find their way back, and will eventually die of thirst, starvation, or exposure. To those on the shore, people unwise enough to short-cut through the mist between islands on a regular basis one day simply don't return.

Tales and stories feature shadowy creatures who live in the mist and lure unwary shore-dwellers to their deaths like the sirens of ancient Greece. There are other legends of terrible creatures with claws and fangs and soul-stealing breath. These stories are more myth than reality, but despite this there are things that live in the gloom that are inimical to human life. There is a property to the mist that makes it chronically poisonous to humans, and this same environmental property allows creatures that never shared biology with humans to thrive. This alien ecology is, with a few exceptions, barren so far as any human is concerned. At the same time, however, it makes what might otherwise be a commonplace annoyance into a life-threatening hazard, such as when a chance brush with a predatory vine results in a leathal injection of digestive enzymes.

On the flip side, there are also legends of a golden land below the cloud sea. Whether this land lies beneath the layer of clouds, or exists in a faraway place where the land is clear of mist, varies from story to story. The source of this legend is the goal of some of the few rare adventurous souls who leave home to wander the world upon the mist sea. A few adventurous souls have tried to explore or map the land below the mist -- most never return, and those few that do have returned empty-handed after a trial in near-zero visibility. A few of these adventurers become local heros and are respected in awe by their fellows, but they also sicken more easily and die earlier, and this is taken as an warning to those who would follow them in their folly.

Head in the clouds

Onc eyou find your way out to this end of the world we should get together and talk about this world. I like how you've started it and it sounds like it would be a lot of fun to play with/in! :))

Re: Head in the clouds

I would love to get into a roleplaying group, and I'd love to see one of my worlds breathe... The trouble is that I've just gotten so burned out running games that I don't think I'm up for running another soon.

Talking about this setting with people has got me thinking about a form of RP called Collaborative Roleplaying, in which the responsibilities of game-running are spread among the participants rather than concentrated in the hands of one person, the titular GM. I love building worlds, but I'm not good at running them, so collaborative RP is getting more appealing the more I think about it. I'll be making a post about this soon.

Meep... that sounds so amazing, Kynnin... I'd do anything to roleplay in a world like that, it sounds so original.

Anything? Two things would be necessary: creative input into the world on your part, and some way to get to Vancouver.

Oh, I didn't mention... Erin and I are moving to Van in the next month or two. Hopefully in the next month.

Oooh, Vancouver... coolies. Hope the move goes well with you, and everything. =) Hope you like it in Van, most importantly. =D

I've lived there before and much enjoy the city, so I know I'll like living there. The only thing I won't like is the commute back here for work, but that can be dealt with...

Yes, I do feel much better for having written this sketch of a world out. Maybe I should do this here more often...

Yes, you should. And when some campaign comes together out of it, you should also let me in, dammit! ;-) I'm dreaming up characters, perhaps prematurely...

I read a novella recently that dealt with the theme of technology that was 'lost', such that it still existed and was in use but was essentially magic to all but an elite few who guarded the secret to preserve their own station. It's a very nifty concept.

We had a conversation once about whether you're creative or not, do you remember that?

Yes, you should. And when some campaign comes together out of it, you should also let me in, dammit! ;-)

But of course! After all, how am I supposed to pick a favourite if I wasn't sleeping with any of the players? ;-)

I'm dreaming up characters, perhaps prematurely...

Dreaming up characters is half the fun of rp -- just ask greenstorm! And if you come up with some interesting stuff, we're closer to having the material pool that a collaborative game needs.

I read a novella recently that dealt with the theme of technology that was 'lost', such that it still existed and was in use but was essentially magic to all but an elite few who guarded the secret to preserve their own station. It's a very nifty concept.

I've seen this theme in a few places. The Foundation series by Aasimov comes to mind, at least in the much later books that touch on the mystics that tend the failing technologies still used by the Old Empire. Another is the SNES game The Secret of Mana, which features a technological pre-history that almost consumed the planet and eventually doomed the world to a long dark age. In that, the bits of technology which survive are inexplicable relics, and the player races to thwart the Empire in its quest to ressurect an ancient flying fortress of legend. There are others that don't bring themselves to mind at the moment.

So, I'm not being entirely original in creating a medieval world which features technology so old and so advanced that it's indistinguishable from magic. I've been exposed to plenty sources of inspiration floating in all my years of consuming sci-fi. :)

Oh! Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is an excellent example of Clark's Law and an excellent book. The first two I cited don't feature a class of people using the tech to maintain their station, but this one fits that mold to a T. I'll lend it to you sometime.

Now I *really* wanna play!

But of course! After all, how am I supposed to pick a favourite if I wasn't sleeping with any of the players? ;-)

Ummmm.... sleep with ALL the players! (mouse alters dice bag design to accomodate digital camera)

Seriously, though, that campaign I played with my fellow drama nerds (actually, let's be honest -- we were just nerds: we were drama nerds, but also simultaneously math nerds and band geeks and enthusiastic physics students, and at least half of our verbal communication was in the form of Monty Python references... I haven't changed much, have I?) was GMd by my boyfriend. It was stable for around two years, and the fact that the cleric was sleeping with the GM didn't seem to bother anybody.

Re: Now I *really* wanna play!

Oh, I don't think there's anything wrong with a player being involved with the GM. It's just such a stereotype that a GM will show a partner favouritism that I was amused enought to comment on it. That sort of thing only tended to happen in immature, dysfunctional groups anyhow.

Re: Now I *really* wanna play!

Interesting. Any time I've been in a situation involving a lover in some real or imagined position of authority, they've been *harder* on me than the rest of the group, probably in an effort to remain above such criticism. This includes that roleplaying group, and a band I was in... I'm sure there are more examples.

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