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Friday, December 21, 2012

Cthon: my #dndnext pantheons


A quick (I hope) follow up to The Jester's (@DnDJester) blog post about deities, part of his ongoing series "WorldBuilding", spawned of course by the slow and steady rise of #dndnext.

As some of you know, I created my Cthon world/cosmology (actually a cosmology encased within a single material world!) dividing both planes and deities among three "ages", which actually give a temporal dimension to these often timeless parts of D&D and generically fantasy settings and worlds.

Since the whole point of Cthon that of also giving a spatial dimension to these ages, that is, not simply ending one to start another but stacking them into the vast underground of the planet, deities from the First and Second Age are not (all) dead, but simply "far removed" during the Third Age, which is the default age for playing.

A Third Age god, with its abstract, rational form, utterly unfathomable for mortals.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Own #DnDnext Cosmology - #5eplanes


So I've been writing a lot about a personal "remake" of mine of the whole typical D&D cosmology into something quite original, that still manages to feel "classic", at least to me, drawing a lot from real world mythology, with sprinkles of anthropology and geology notions here and there.

The problem is that I went a bit too far. Since I basically transformed the planes into various "Material Plane" places, not to mentions times, I basically was creating a campaign world along with the cosmology, and for the purpose of the "If I ruled The Multiverse" #dndnext Blog Carnival (#5eplanes on Twitter), it was a bit of an overkill, and I suspect it also made a lot of potential readers desist due to the amount of material, and the lack of clearness of my broad view.



So in this post I'll leave the most world/setting details aside and talk only about the classic planes and how they fit into my cosmology!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#dndnext: Optional Complexity


Breaking the writer's block a bit with this random thought about D&D Next design which I published on the D&D Next Facebook group, but that I wanted to make more "accessible" here.

It's a bit of  worry, something of a promise made by designers that I'm not seeing in the playtest, or not enough: optional complexity.

As of now I'm unsure that the design team remembers what was the philosophy in this regard at the start of the designing process. Maybe they focused on different things and simply left it for later, but given how this requires a solid framework behind, I'm unfortunately more of the opinion they forgot about it.

I'm talking about complexity by "nested choices", which wasn't called like that, but was more or less like this
(not actual quote, but I'm sure I can find the original)
"You can choose the basic Fighter and you have no choices to make, you just get these bonuses every 2 levels. You want more complexity, then you suddenly have to choose some things at first level and some more things at the other levels, IN PLACE OF the basic bonuses. You want to completely customize everything? Fine, but for adding maneuvers and other complex things, you lose a bit on the "fixed numbers" aspect to compensate your greater flexibility."
- This to me was the heart of D&D Next, the lesson coming from 4e Essentials, which demonstrated that you could change between AEDU and... AU, without making the two choices unbalanced, possibly demonstrating that a lot more differences could have been put into classes without losing balance.

Where is this design philosophy now?
I saw it here and there, for example with Signature spells (which are apparently going away), and the fact you can choose Combat Styles or Rogue Schemes, or you can make your own. But i this latter case, there's absolutely no difference. I don't want mechanical reward or disadvantage for complexity/choices, at all, but for example, they could have made the really basic form of the classes devoid of it, adding just fixed numbers or "pseudo maneuvers", showing that you can change the whole thing into the expertise dice mechanic and it's the same class, but with more complexity. A bad example maybe (too much difference), but something similar could have been achieved (a fixed default style/scheme embedded into the class for example).

Anyway, these are just small things. The philosophy entails much more, both in the simplicity direction and the complexity direction. 
Eventually, one should be able to play a "very simple wizard" (perhaps in the form of a re-flavored Sorcerer/Elementalist..?) or a "very complex fighter", in the same game.

I hope I'll be able to "remind" the developers of this philosophy with some feedback, because to have this "optional complexity/simplicity", the system must be tailored to support the whole thing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cthon: Second Age


The First Age of Cthon (at least, the first one to be recorded), was a world in which Life and Chaos dominated everything, with results that are utterly alien by later mortal standards. The proof of this is that the obscure and inhuman intelligent races of those times, later surviving in the Underdark, Abyss, and the other dark pieces of First Age that went underground, have such distorted morals, logic, and ideas because they are in tune with that world. A world that, fortunately for humans and demi-humans, practically auto-exiled itself, leaving place for a new world on the surface of the earth.

That new world is what later sages refer to as the Second Age World, sometimes also referred to as the "Golden Age".

The World of the Second Age


The incredible disaster that ended the First Age World literally ripped the earth and sky apart.
Immense volcanoes erected themsleves in a single, apocalyptic, and endless night. Lava erupted from them copiously, like blood gushing messily from dire wounds. The wounds which the very earth had been inflicted by the warring Elder Gods. Rain was like entire seas dropped from the sky, and waves were as tall as mountains.

The whole surface of the world was reshaped, even if for some obscure reason, many places survived, encased by the newly formed rocks as if some kind of invisible shield had protected them from the elements. Even like this, those places were now sealed by unthinkable amounts of solid rock, and the surface of the world was virgin, untouched.

During the earth-shaking disaster though, something incredible had happened, which gave to the new virgin world a new generation of powerful beings: the very elements that obliterated the First Age World had become sentient. And it wasn't a mortal kind of sentience: they were true gods.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

[News] Journal started!


Just a heads up for the blog feed, I started a Journal page (link in the red bar at the top) where I will update you on my current thoughts and objectives regarding the blog, and maybe not only that!

Since being a separate page it basically counts as a single post, you'll find new content by scrolling down, contrary to what happens in the regular blog section. Also, since the new content will basically just be an edit of the page, and since the page doesn't figure in the main feed, you might miss things if I don't always post here about the Journal updates; and it's something I won't do, so if you're interested and want to stay tuned, I will post from Twitter links to the updated page using the hashtag #lordarchaonjournal ... I know, it's long, but LA could also mean Los Angeles, so it must stay long! XD

Cheers!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Arcane Triad - Addendum


Addendum: This post was actually written before The Arcane Triad, but I'm posting it as an addendum to that post, with further descriptions of the differences that there could be among the three famous arcane casters, Wizard, Sorcerer, and Warlock.
Both posts were written quite some time before having playtest material, so they do not reflect the actual D&D Next context, but still a possible one, since two of the three classes are still very much under construction, and the Wizard could be subject to changes too!

I'm gonna be more focused this time, and quick too since all this #dndnext hype is robbing me of too much time!

There have always been classes that people (and developers) always perceived as too similar.
With 4e and its formalized Power Source and Role, they had a good chance to get rid of this problem, but pigeonholing the classes into just one role was too strict, and the "needless symmetry" they so much wanted to avoid returned in many cases IMO.
I think this is because of two things:
  1. They didn't have clear concepts of what REALLY differentiated classes, their true souls, and they instead went for pure combat roles differences mostly. They recognized this in part with Essentials, where they created sub-classes instead of new classes.
  2. They wanted to force every class under the same progression, power system and general mechanics. They recognized this flaw with Essentials with classes that were balanced with no dailies or fixed encounter or only at-wills.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Arcane Triad


I'm finally nailing my very own ideas about arcane casters and what would really differentiate them in a way that most players would find meaningful and fun in actual play.
My comments to this very interesting blog post about arcane magic in D&D Next by Ari Marmell managed to say more about the matter than all my previous blog posts combined, so I decided to reorganize my ideas in a new post.



Three Users, Three Sources.


Yes, it may seem a complication, but no, I'm not actually proposing to split the Arcane power source, just "sub-categorize" it in a meaningful way that helps differentiating the classes and making the basic assumptions about the D&D world richer and more mysterious and varied (IMO of course, but a lot could be discussed about this!).

Here's what I came up with, three subdivions, in order of "simplicity", more or less:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Dawn of Sorcery

I'm completely convinced that no class can or should exist with no clear place in the game world, distinct from that of any other class. In particular, when talking about the arcane triad of Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock, I'm of the opinion that extra thought must be placed, to explain why their magic is different, and ultimately what is the origin of magic itself.

I always had in mind some lore and cosmology when thinking about my version of the Sorcerer, and as always, it's not something incompatible with what Wizards told us, on the contrary.

I wanted to write the whole thing as an in-game legend, but I found it's really too complex as of now, so I'll just write down freely, explaining to you (few) readers my ideas...

Note: I wrote this long before creating my World of Cthon cosmology, and the assumed cosmology is basically that of 4th Edition D&D, although intentionally left without names so that it can adapt to different settings. I will however adapt a lot of this material to Cthon, with a few important changes here and there!

________________________________________

The origin of Sorcery, that is, channeling of raw magic, goes back to a time where the Gods were newborns, and the Primordials thrived. It is, in fact, the magic of the primordials, and arguably the first kind of magic, although certain Warlocks claim that strange and incredibly old entities mastered Eldritch Magic eons before.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cthon: Elder Gods


And it's the second post detailing my World of Cthon cosmology!

I'm happy to announce that, along with the previous post and the next ones, this series/project will be part of a "blog carnival" as of now titled "If I Ruled The Multiverse" (Twitter hashtag: #5eplanes), aimed at writing our ideal cosmology for D&D Next, but more than anything just at jotting our cosmological thoughts out!
An idea of Richard Green, of whom you can read the related blog post here, along with the rest of his very interesting blog, while you're there! Our great looking logo is instead made by Symatt!

As it is natural for this particular cosmology, which aims to be so "concentrated" that it inevitably also becomes a psuedo-setting , I'm going to start from the origins, talking about the First Age, dominated by the Elder Gods.

A note for those not wanting to read the first post first, even if this First Age is not the age in which games should be set (although it could be, at DM's discretion and players' will), the World of Cthon's peculiarity is that these ages, and the world they created, are not lost in time, but merely in space. This First Age becomes the Underdark of the Second Age, and goes even further down to constitute the deepest parts of Underdark and even the Abyss of the First Age, which is default age in which adventures are set.

About this post: all of this was once part of the previous post: "The First Age", but I think it was too heavy, so I decided to create a separate post for the Elder Gods, adding a bit more information to the previous post that would have been too much combined with all that we got here.

Cthon: First Age


Welcome to the first post detailing my World of Cthon cosmology!

I'm happy to announce that, along with the previous post and the next ones, this series/project will be part of a "blog carnival" as of now titled "If I Ruled The Multiverse" (Twitter hashtag: #5eplanes), aimed at writing our ideal cosmology for D&D Next, but more than anything just at jotting our cosmological thoughts out!
An idea of Richard Green, of whom you can read the related blog post here, along with the rest of his very interesting blog, while you're there! Our great looking logo is instead made by Symatt!

As it is natural for this particular cosmology, which aims to be so "concentrated" that it inevitably also becomes a psuedo-setting , I'm going to start from the origins, talking about the First Age, dominated by the Elder Gods.

A note for those not wanting to read the first post first, even if this First Age is not the age in which games should be set (although it could be, at DM's discretion and players' will), the World of Cthon's peculiarity is that these ages, and the world they created, are not lost in time, but merely in space. This First Age becomes the Underdark of the Second Age, and goes even further down to constitute the deepest parts of Underdark and even the Abyss of the First Age, which is default age in which adventures are set.

The World of Cthon



Hello fellow planeswalkers!

I've been quiet for a long time, and the cosmology as I had thought about it is actually quite done as it is, in that it is meant to be generic, a sort of "meta-cosmology", a template that anyone can use to make his or her own thing.

An idea has kind of sprout out of this loose project, something a bit more exotic and a bit less generic.

Update: This will be part of the cool "If I Ruled The Multiverse" #dndnext blog carnival started by Rich Green! Hashtag on Tweetter is #5eplanes and this is our beautiful logo by Symatt! :)


Real world / anthropological inspirations: three "classes" of gods.


The idea sparked while talking about the real-world inspiration behind the "trinity" composed by Elders, Primordials/Titans and Gods.

I tried to explain how in our world, all long-lasting cultures tend to have in their mythologies at least two "classes" of gods, the older and the newer, with some also remembering some beings that were pure chaos and that came way before even the first generation of "gods".

I tried to explain how in our world, these different generations of gods represent the level of cultural advancement of the culture that invented them.

The first generation of gods, the Elders: pure darkness and chaos.

The "Elders" would be chaotic and destroyers because the most primitive cultures that generated them basically viewed the whole world around them as an evil killing machine, that destroyed everything and everyone.