Posted by : David Guyll February 18, 2014
The players showed up on our scheduled game day, I gave them the high concept of the campaign setting ("It is kind of like Dungeons & Dragons if all the planes were blended together, with some Mass Effect and Spelljammer thrown in for good measure."), they rolled up some characters, I asked them some questions about where they came from and what their goals were, and we just started playing.
At the time I had no real concrete idea as to what was going to happen. I had not even put much thought into how the world would look or operate. How do people feed themselves when there is no sunlight or rain? How do they navigate the silvery mists of the Astral without landmarks or even constellations? What about gith? The Astral Sea is full of them, and they sometimes ride on big-ass red dragons (the most powerful of evil dragons). What about angels? What about devils?
I pretty much ignored all of that because I kind of assumed it would be a one-time experiment, and none of it was immediately relevant at the time. They traveled to a densely-forested island, fought some twig blights, and with the help of a treant found a ruined eladrin city along with metallic, insect-like golems scattered about. While exploring the ruins one of the golems activated and attacked, and after a pretty harrowing encounter they narrowly escaped to the moon with their lives.
That ended up being the start to, in their own words, the best Dungeons & Dragons campaign they had ever played, and probably the best that I have ever run.
As the campaign progressed I ended up settling on the clockwork horrors as an overarching threat (though there were other potential candidates), which became apparent when they flew into the Elemental Chaos in search of the primordial Autochton's armory that was sealed during the Sundering. They found it, opened it, and accidentally freed the machine responsible for creating and programming the horrors. I never gave it a name, only referring to it as Autocthon when it took over the primordial.
Before the campaign ended up getting dropped due to time constraints, they destroyed the infected Autocthon and were in the process of trying to unite the various island kingdoms against the clockwork horrors. It has a special place in my heart, so for A Sundered World I am writing it up as one of the possible Campaign Fronts, and also renaming it at Josh's recommendation. Let me know what you think.
Campaign Front: Antikythera's Armory
The armory was a vast, defensible structure constructed by Antikythera as a place where it could design, build, innovate, and store weapons and other devices created during the Dawn War. During its creation Antikythera gave it sentience and the ability to shape itself so that it could record information, advise, and even directly assist it in it's endeavors, and in time it grew to become more than a living, thinking instrument, but Antikythera's closest—some might have said only—friend.
It was built to withstand direct and prolonged assault from the gods themselves, in order to prevent them from destroying it or, perhaps worse, gaining access to Antikythera's creations and using them against the primordials. As an added safeguard, in the instance that the gods proved more devious than anticipated and were able to compromise the armory, Antikythera had imparted functionality that would allow the entire facility to shift between planes, thereby evading destruction or capture.
But the Sundering was destruction on a scale unfathomed. As a testament to Antikythera's skill the armory ultimately weathered the devastation, but much of it was lost as it tried to slip between worlds that were no longer separate. Eventually reality more or less stabilized and it found itself drifting through the chaotic bowels of the Maelstrom, where for countless eons its doors remained sealed, its halls silent, and its forges cold.
Danger: Antikythera's Machine (Arcane Enemy)
Impulse: To finish the war
- The legionnaires are released upon the world
- The machine sends specialized constructs to retrieve materials and information
- The machine creates more advanced and destructive weapons
- The machine lays siege against the island kingdoms
The "machine" is actually an expansive, dynamic, highly adaptable facility. It can detect the presence of anything inside it, and it is capable of altering its shape given enough time. This includes relatively simple processes such as opening, closing and creating doors and corridors, and changing their shape and course, to the more complex and resource-demanding task of constructing appendages or even fully-functional machines.
Since it cannot create something from nothing, it needs access to resources. These are difficult to obtain within the Maelstrom due to the instability of inanimate objects. Thankfully the barracks remained intact, giving it access to a number of constructs that it initially uses to provide it with the necessary materials to make repairs and begin work on more advanced weaponry.
The machine's ultimate goal is to win the war, and since the gods are dead it is going after the next best thing: their servants and creations. This does not necessarily mean destruction: complete dominion works just as well...unless it believes there is no other option.
Danger: Antikythera's Legion (Hordes)
Impulse: To serve Antikythera's machine
- Legionnaires are spotted near the Maelstrom
- The Legion begins attacking steadings near the Maelstrom
- The Legion constructs fortifications and satellite factories around the edge of the Maelstrom
- The Legion slowly expands outward, killing everyone and stripping down everything it comes across
The legionnaires were crafted by Antikythera specifically to fight and be easily replaced. They area fearless, can shrug aside injuries that will kill creatures of flesh and blood, and aside from the mithril lords and adamantine queens have no regard for self preservation. Their only weakness is that since they are not alive they are subject to the Maelstrom's fluctuations: if they remain inside too long they risk being transformed into another material, possibly even energy.
Initially Legion scouts are sighted by steadings closest to the Maelstrom, as they assess an island's size, defenses, and whether there is a ready supply of metal. If an island meets their desired criteria, they descend upon it, slaughter the inhabitants, strip away useful materials, and vanish. Eventually they establish hives beyond the reaches of the Maelstrom, where they can build more soldiers, repair, and attack with ever-increasing efficiency.
- How much damage will the Legion inflict before it is stopped?
- Can Antikythera's machine be bargained with or reprogrammed?
- Will the island kingdoms unite against this threat?
- Who will claim the ancient weapons within the armory?