Back in 2006, I wrote this short post:
You know what I’d like to do?
I’d like to make up a really rough sketch background against which to play a Lexicon Game. Like: “The Wose War and Scandal of Eddings Barony”, “The Atomic Apotheosis”, or “The Parliamentary Assassinations of 2128″.
Get a group of people together and just… you know. Go to town. Play the game.
Then, when it’s all laid out, set a game in the setting everyone just created.
I think that would be fun.
Nothing came of that post, at least not immediately.
Then, in October of 2008, I had the PHENOMENALLY FOOLISH idea to play exactly that sort of lexicon game from start to finish from October 15th to October 31st, just in time to get everyone’s creative juices primed for NaNoWriMo that year.
Here were the guidelines we used:
- Basically Fantasy – more low fantasy and sword and sorcery in tone – with other fun bits bolted on. “A fantasy RPG, as GMd by John Cleese.”
- No specific rules of magic at a macro level, with many insular rules of magic at the micro level.
- Lots of different races.
- Anything that might qualify as science-fiction or the like should be of a clockwork/steampunk/Jules Verne bent; this would include any theories about how the world exists in the solar system, the universe, and everything.
- Other dimensions for weird crap to come from or leak out of.
- A long and storied history.
- At least slightly humorous, in the style of Pratchett/Discworld, keeping in mind that most of the humor of the books comes from wry, pun-loving voice of the NARRATOR and snarky comments by the main characters… not because the entire population is half-knowingly running a Monty Python sketch.
I don’t remember everyone I snagged to participate in the thing, but there were probably at least eight that made it through to the end.
And… unbelievably, it worked. I even set my story for NaNoWriMo in that setting.
That’s all about to change.
I wasn’t sure if we’d meet this week, but last night a couple folks got together and worked out what we’d like to do for a proper Burning Wheel campaign. Close to a dozen possibilities were proposed by yours truly, and as a footnote to one of those ideas, I’d added “we could even set the whole thing in Bodea-Lotnikk”.
Bodea-Lotnikk is the most populous urban area in Grand Duchy Of Kroon, comprised of no less than 86 distinct boroughs, assimilated townships, long-vanished villages, and subsumed hunting grounds. It boasts narrow streets laid out irregularly, clannish neighborhoods, and a vast collection of architecture marking the dying moments of any number of design eras best forgotten.
Oh my, but they liked that idea.
That provided a setting (and WHAT a setting), but it didn’t address the situation. I flipped to page 90 of the Adventure Burner and read this question:
What’s the Big Picture? What’s going on in this setting the makes it ripe for adventure? What’s changing?
What we decided on was this: the Grand Duke, as part of his continual effort to exercise some manner of order over the city, had established a City Guard, meant to investigate any ‘cross-borough’ crimes and enforce the laws of the city.
All of em.
For all 86 boroughs.
Complications will include stuff like contradictory laws between boroughs, hopelessly labyrinthine legal messes, questions of jurisdiction, and local law enforcement in each borough that just plain didn’t like the City Guard sticking their noses where they weren’t wanted.
The first session will (of course) open with a very public murder that will threaten the stability of the whole city.
We didn’t entirely finish characters, but we know that Kate’s playing a exiled dwarven noble by the name of Mika Harildsdottir, Tim’s playing an elven legal expert who’s positively thrilled to be out of the elvish Citadels and doing things with real people, and I think Chris is doing some kind of human criminal-turned-courtier. The Grand Duke’s decided they’re the ‘face’ of the City Guard, since they’re so multicultural and… *distracted hand wave* you know… things like that.
One of the other upsides to this concept is that it’s going to be dead simple to bring in other players on either a short- or long-term basis.
Another upside? It should be awesome.
I believe I’m going to call the campaign Burning Molerats.