Sunday, February 15, 2009

Athanor in a Nutshell

1. This is an Old-School Game
This is definitely an old-school gaming experience. I will be using the Swords and Wizardry White Box Edition as the basic rule set. That doesn't mean the game will be focused on hack-and-slash combat or that it will be all about dungeon crawling. Rather, the game will be a free-wheeling experience where the rules are just a backdrop for the real experience of the game rather than the physics of the game world.

2. Think Howard and Leiber not Tolkien or Jordan
Think of Robert E. Howard or Fritz Leiber rather than J.R.R. Tolkein or Robert Jordan. This is pulp fantasy, with shady characters with gray morality rather than shining heroes of epic fantasy. Big influences on me will be Robert E. Howard's Almuric , Edgar Rice Burroughs' “Barsoom ” and “Pellucidar ” novels, and Mike Grell's Warlord comic books from the 1970s.

3. Athanor is Strange and Alien
This is definitely a game of Weird Fantasy influenced by pulp conventions. Most animals in the world are dinosaurs, other reptiles, or arthropods — birds and mammals are rare at best. Where supernatural monsters appear, they will often be strange and either rare or unique, and often linked to specific places. Magic items will be rare, and are often powerful but limited in their use.

4. Athanor was Once Much More Technologically Advanced
Once upon a time, advanced technology was the norm. Something terrible happened ages ago, driving the world to the brink of oblivion. Some remnants of the past —technology, monsters, architecture — still survive, but few remember the origins and meaning of these ancient items.

5. It's All Humans and Monsters Here
Humans are humans. Monsters are monsters. There are no near-human and demi-human creatures, so dwarves, elves, halflings, goblins and orcs do not appear in the campaign. Instead, there are many nationalities and ethnicities of humans. Inspired by Burroughs, the different peoples of the world have different, extreme skin colors — Zamorans are brick red, Alemanians are hairless and ice–blue, Dumani are ebon-black, Mal-Akka are nut-brown, and Khitai are lemon-yellow. The barbarian Throon tribes are ochre-skinned, and the cannibalistic Ghuls have colorless flesh, and only their bones and eyes can be seen.

6. Urban Adventure
The City is where you adventure, and the game is a very urban setting where you lurk through the streets and find adventure and danger in the midst of the alleys and political machinations of the urban setting. However, the City also dates back to before the Great Disaster that made the seas retreat and left Athanor dying. Under its broken dome, much of the city has turned to ruins and dangers fill the sewers below.

7. Power Corrupts
The government is corrupt. The churches are corrupt. The guilds are corrupt. Even the Tower of Wizards is corrupt. You can't trust The Man because the Man is part of a web of conspiracy and lies deeply ingrained at almost every level. It's every man for himself. Even more importantly, magical power corrupts and shapes those who use it, as does some Ancient Technology, exacting a price for its power too.

8. Ancient Evil Waits to Return
Once, strange and horrible things walked the world, unleashed by great disasters and terrorizing the land. For some reason or other, those ancient evils went to sleep. Now some of that evil may be waking up.