Generations of industrial espionage mean that the technologies available to Allusia and Rain are quite similar. In Bridgend and Bastion, electrical lights flicker and early motor cars transport supplies to the front. A high ranking officer may have a new telephone connection, backstopped of course by the reliable telegraph connection. Powered flight is still a few years off, but hot air balloons might be used by enterprising players. Within the Fens, technology tends to be a bit more backward, but the characters will encounter steam engines, revolver toting thugs, and phonographs playing the latest tunes.
A few technologies unique to the Fens are described below:
Marsh Carts: Small, steam powered boats with a circular central paddle and a galvanized rubber hydrofoil. Not sneaky and prone to bogging down in the tighter channels of the central swamps, but commonly used in its outer areas.
Diving Bells and Suits: While most of the waters in the Fenlands are shallow, that isn’t true everywhere. Enterprising scavengers and treasure hunters have repurposed diving gear from the Salt Sea. It requires a trusted friend on the surface to hand-crank its oxygen supply, or the user will soon find themselves suffocating in the deep.
Bounders: Clockwork land mines scattered liberally by balloon across the Fenlands. When triggered, they spring upward and explode into a cloud of grapeshot. Many have been replanted by the inhabitants of the Fens to deter unwary intruders.
Lumin: A bright, bioluminescent paint derived from the glands of a frog common to the Fenlands. Often used by smugglers for marking caches in the persistent smog.
Barges: Wrecked steam barges are strewn across the eastern portion of the Fenlands, relics of a failed Allusian offensive. Some have been converted into floating encampments by the inhabitants of the Fens, while others may still hold treasure.
Brushblack: A lush moss found nowhere else in the world and colored so deep green that it is almost black. It grows in the deeper parts of the Fenlands. When dried and smoked, Brushblack is psychoactive, highly addictive, and growing popular in Rain.
Magic in the Fenlands
As late as the start of the first Rain - Allusinian war, magic was, although uncommon, not unheard of in either country. A court magician might know a few rituals to call rain, speak across far distances, or throw fire. Older, more potent magics were typically imbued into artifacts and jealously guarded by its owners. In a hundred years of conflict, however, they became scarcer, as the fires of war consumed magical items and magicians alike. Even spells carefully recorded against the ravages of time grew unreliable, weak and sputtering before ceasing to function altogether in the modern era.
While the reasons behind the decline of magic are for the players to investigate, the average dweller of the Fens accepts that it is somehow linked to the rise of modern technology. A more uncomfortable argument might point to the profligate use of an already scarce resource during the fighting. A few of the artifacts that players might encounter in the Fenlands are below:
Reanimator: A black metal amulet in the crude shape of a human heart, commonly found inside a destroyed corpse. When installed into the chest of a recently deceased person, it brings them to temporary life as a howling, psychotic warrior, lasting until their body is dismembered.
Thorns: A bag of small, silver hooks, packed in a rawhide bag along with a beaten metal compass. The reverse side of the compass carries a ritual that causes its needle to point toward a properly prepared hook, no matter how distant it is.
War Golems: More often retrieved in shattered pieces, these seven foot tall, peat encrusted clay figures were used by both sides of the conflict. A complete Golem, especially with its activating instructions, could be worth killing for.
Players entering the Fenlands will engage with three primary plot arcs, each of which has the potential to affect the others.
Whispers of War
A new war leader, Ala Thunderspeaker, has ascended to the head of the Rain League. Pressured by declining tax revenues, he looks to choke the illicit trade running through the Fenlands. But as his personal operatives flood into the Fens seeking smugglers, they risk upsetting the delicate balance of power that has evolved over the last twenty years. And with the Allusianian Army just over the horizon, any new instability in the Fenlands risks sparking a larger war.
As smugglers are pushed into the southern Fens by Thunderspeaker’s forces, newly discovered magical artifacts begin to hit the markets of Bridgend. Scavengers whisper of rich salvage in the tidal flats, while the Bureau of Magical Recovery openly recruits for a southern expedition. Some of the recovered artifacts bear the marks of long immersion in the Fens, while others appear almost newly made. Has the ocean uncovered a remarkably well preserved cache, or has someone at last unlocked the secrets of artifact production?
After months of tensions, the Fendland Liberation Front declares open season on the Borderers. In the reed beds and waterways of the Fens, a quiet, brutal war erupts, pitting brother and sister against one another. Seeking freedom from Borderer taxation on its smuggling, the Fenlands Royal Trade Concern runs guns to the FLF. Meanwhile, fearing that the FLF are little more than a front for brushblack trafficking, Rain’s First Frontier Company secretly offers support to the Borderers. What began as a small frontier struggle risks spilling over into a proxy war between the Protectorate and the League.
@SerasStreams I have to say you and I seem very like minded I almost submitted my own hero world for the contest but felt to test the water with Meta-breeds instead but I've always had this dream of one day making a ttrpg system for superheroes that everyone could use and then use those stories they played and incorporating it all into a massive comic book world that other could read and also be a part of love this Idea
ideally the game would be thriller T for teen First person VR visual novel. Each playthrough should be able to complete in 1 or 2 sessions.
Replayability and story-driven players are the target. Twitch Roleplay streams and Speedrunning community is a secondary target.
a frame of reference might be elements of the Myst Series, Nancy Drew, escape rooms, FNAF, and choose your own adventure novels.
randomized and procedurally generated dungeons to explore and puzzles to solve. Each playthrough is unique in both design, and in decisions made.
the full story is for completionists. The goal being to play through several times (or from save points), unlocking new secrets from different characters.
the player acts as a spirit medium and empath, with a secondary specialized skill and personality traits which they choose. This explains the audience's ability to see or learn about memories of the past, and unlock NPCs secrets. It also adds other factors for the player, such as a sensitivity to the supernatural, making objectives for the player more spiritual than physical. The player is NOT a combatant, however, some crew members are, and their fighting ability would be used in puzzle-solving situations of which the player directs. The chances of the fighter surviving are based on how well the player knows each character's abilities for specific situations. This is learned by talking to NPCs, paying attention to their side chatter, and player knowledge from new game plus.
these custom feats allow the player to build relationships with different NPCs each playthrough. It may also be feats that are duplicated in other crew members, making some crew obsolete compared to others.
As the story progresses, crew members begin to abandon Fellyne, new people join the party, or crew members turn on each other. It's the player's job to be a peacemaker, and make the tough decisions on who to comfort into staying, and who to aggravate into leaving. There is no one right way to complete the story, but each decision changes the dungeon navigation based on party ability, and each decision opens new and interesting conversations allowing players to unlock hidden secrets from compelling characters to understand the entire scope of the lore and story. Each crew member also has a certain set of skills, and losing them at the wrong chapter may make the game more difficult.
gameplay outside of dialogue and crew management minigame consists of hide-and-go seek mechanics, scavenger hunt, puzzle solving, escape rooms, time challenges, maze navigation/exploring, and roleplaying. A blend of them all may be required to progress each new section of the dungeon.
The equipment a Champion uses in their previous incarnations will pass down through the ages. As the ages progress, new materials and processes become available, as well as new designs and types of weapons.
• Advanced Alloys become Common
• Advanced Composites become Common
• Folded Steel becomes Common
• Lancewood becomes Common
• Pattern Welded Steel becomes Common
• Titanium becomes Uncommon
• Crysteel (Rare Material)
• Diaphene (Rare Material)
• Focused Plasma (Legendary Material)
• Magitech Array (Focus)
• Paracausal Matrix (Icon)
Once the Final Age has been reached, no further advancements in materials or items can be obtained.
Upgrades & Inheritances
Probably one of the biggest mechanics players will be engaging in is upgrading their equipment, coming up with newer and more powerful enhancements to increasingly archaic weapons which somehow manage to keep pace with or even outpace "present day" counterparts. Probably the fastest way display this would be a color-coded system. It's common enough in other RPGs at this point, and it would speed player understanding. A chart for weapon/armor qualities would probably run something like this:
• Gray - Junk (cannot be upgraded) - Low quality material, shoddy workmanship, one step above an improvised weapon
• White - Basic (cannot be upgraded) - Average quality material, low to average quality workmanship, nothing remarkable about it
• Green - Good (Capable of accepting Minor-quality upgrades) - Good quality material or average materials worked by a skilled artisan, clearly of better craft than the typical example
• Blue - Excellent (Capable of accepting up to Major-quality upgrades) - High quality materials or good materials worked by a highly skilled artisan; if it's not a bespoke piece or commission, it's the next best thing
• Purple - Superb (Capable of accepting up to Grand-quality upgrades) - The highest quality materials, or "just" high quality materials worked by a master artisan; likely a one-off creation which carries a lot of prestige to it
• Gold - Masterpiece (Capable of accepting up to Legendary-quality upgrades) - The best materials shaped by the greatest of artisans; once-in-a-generation pieces, the stuff that legends are made of
The actual number of upgrades a piece could carry might either be randomly generated or part of a specific scheme of segments (e.g. hilts, pommels, blades, guards for swords).
With regard to the upgrades:
• Green - Minor - Small boosts to damage (weapons) or damage reduction (armor), low order effects (elemental or poison damage), or small debilitations to targets (brief stuns, slowing effects)
• Blue - Major - Modest boosts to damage or damage reduction, medium effects or debilitations to target, duplication of effects from early-tier spells
• Purple - Grand - Significant boosts to damage or damage reduction, large effects or debilitations on target, duplication of mid-tier spells
• Gold - Legendary - Boosts to damage or damage reduction doubled or tripled from their base value, damage effects or debilitations on target equal to or greater than base weapon damage, duplication of late-tier spells
There will undoubtedly need to be some system for "reforging" gear to accept new enhancements.
Fundamentally, Reliquarian is a roguelike writ large. There's a lot of ways this could ultimately evolve. It could be a classic isometric ARPG (akin to the Diablo or Torchlight series), which could have potential issues relating to procedural generation. It could be done up as a "loot shooter" (or "loot slasher" in a lot of spots) similar to the Destiny series (if going FPS) or The Division series (3rd person over the shoulder). However, it might be better to keep better quality weapons behind quests, give players a reason to explore and seek out august personages. Yes, it might be a fetch quest, ultimately, but it's one that will genuinely benefit the player instead of sending them to get ten rat ears because reasons.
None of us work in a vacuum. All of us are undoubtedly swiping small mechanisms and notions from other works. These were some of the ones that influenced me the most while working on this beast.
• Michael Moorcock - What can you say? The man's a legend of fantasy fiction. The "Eternal Champion" books were a major infuence.
• Red Aegis - This is a very weird TTRPG that I've never really had the chance to play. Designed by Brian R. James (with writing assistance from Ed Greenwood of Forgotten Realms fame), this had you playing not as a single character, but an entire clan across generations and ages, from the earliest days of recorded history to the other planets of your home star system and beyond. Definitely a very different perspective.
• Exalted - Terrible TTRPG systems, but always a compelling setting. Larger-than-life heroes equipped with relics of a bygone age that shatter mountains or cut through a soul like it was paper, all while fighting even more over-the-top villains. It's hard not to be excited by insane wire-fu coupled to ridiculous anime weapons.
• The Cthulhu Mythos - When you look at the Mythos as a whole, when you see the scope of it all, it kinda melts your brain a little bit. It's easier to focus in on certain periods like Robert E. Howard's "Conan" stories or the original stories from Lovecraft himself. But then you kinda want to connect the dots, trying to figure out how you get from Conan of Cimmeria to Nephren-ka to Charles Dexter Ward.
• Buffy The Vampire Slayer - This series (along with the spinoff Angel) did an excellent job of mixing urban fantasy with horror. Not simply in the visual side of things, but also in the characters and storylines. It's kind of a master class in how contemporary characters handle anachronistic equipment and knowledge.
• Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem - Probably didn't think this would be the big video game influence, did ya? Sanity Effects aside, the structure of the game's plot and its emphasis on bringing characters back to the same places ages apart, and their effects on the world, is subtle but so well executed. Also, it serves as the other big "Things Man Was Not Meant To Know" influence besides the Mythos. The Strangers are very much an homage to both this game and Lovecraft.
@Saint-Scipio Thanks! I have a few other race/setting ideas that i thought of adding, but i was worried the post would be too long. Unfortunately, i'm not the best artist, but im going to see if i can rope in a friend or commission art.