Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ages of Lingusia: Prologue and DM's Ramblings

Note: What follows was intended as my original introduction to "Ages of Lingusia" from a year ago before I decided to discontinue work on it for PDF publication and instead cannibalized the manuscript for my blog.

Warning! What follows is a sort of editorial wandering that I feel is comparable to getting cornered in your friendly local game store by that guy who is going to tell you all about his 37th level half orc paladin that slew both Satan and Thor* on the same day from his high school campaign…except, in this case, it’s the thirty year old campaign world of Lingusia, and it’s an old gorgnard looking at the curious history of his hobby/obsession and how it has manifested creatively in this imaginary world-space. You have been warned!

*I was cornered by this guy. It was...terrifying.

   The world of Lingusia made its first appearance in 1980, effectively appearing with the first Dungeons & Dragons games I discovered as a kid, and it grew from there, as I added to the story with each adventure. The setting has survived numerous transitions into different game systems, including 2nd edition Runequest, 1st edition Palladium Fantasy, Tunnels & Trolls, GURPS and Dragonquest. It appeared in print for the first time in various issues of The Sorcerer’s Scrolls, a fanzine I published from 1984 through 1990, and a book entitled “The Keepers of Lingusia” first appeared around 1986, filled with alternate rules and ideas for the Tunnels & Trolls game. The original KoL was mainly a T&T resource, but it had some data and maps on Lingusia mixed in.
   By 1989 I was off to college and shortly thereafter managed to do a lengthy revision of the entire setting, transitioning it back in to AD&D 2nd edition rules where it would remain for a very long time, until the advent of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition. While pursuing a degree in anthropology (with a detour through a philosophy major for a couple years) I grew really interested in making Lingusia feel more organic, more real, and did a ton of writing for the setting to give it that air of authenticity (very little of which has seen print, being kind of boring).  Still, it helped clean up a fair amount of contradictory material, and the work during my college years on KoL and my weekly games were often the sole form of entertainment outside of work and school that I engaged in.
   In 1992 or thereabouts I began the seeds of another campaign setting, The Realms of Chirak, which has now seen print in a detailed manual for use with the 4th edition mechanics. By 2001 3rd edition was quite popular and Chirak made an easy transition to the new rule set; oddly, I had a hard time adapting Lingusia back then, as the world presumed a lot of tropes and features that were distinct to 1st and 2nd edition AD&D, and which were now missing or mutated with the newer and more liberal edition of the game. After a couple short campaigns set in the 2,476 period of the timeline, I put it on hold for a while.
   Eventually Lingusia got a revival. I ran multiple campaigns in 2nd edition AD&D and Castles & Crusades as recently as 2006-2008. In 2008 I decided to try this whole newfangled self-publishing electronic PDF format deal and tentatively released a new edition of The Keepers of Lingusia for use with C&C and old school systems. It was a fairly rough work, badly edited (okay, not edited at all!) and with faithful but sometimes hard to read scans of my original maps. This edition of KoL was almost pure setting, and condensed the reams of material I had written down to mere 350 or so odd pages. It focused on the setting in its latest incarnations, while hinting at the closure of my 2008 campaign arc, which left the setting in a strange lurch with an uncertain future: the gods were in exile, the “Engine of Creation” was destroyed, and the last surviving prehunates had somehow gained a pyrrhic victory. Where would I go from here? I ran a couple more campaigns dealing with the immediate aftermath of what was called the Cataclysm era, and then let it sit for a while.
   Cut to 2010. I needed to give Chirak a short rest; I’d been running weekly and sometimes twice weekly sessions in Chirak for many years now, and was running out of cool new plots and surprises. I developed a new idea: Lingusia, in the year 3,500, a thousand years after the consequences of the Cataclysm. The storyline evolved quickly and campaigns sprang forth. In the course of the new storylines, revolving around the previously barely-hinted at threat of the Kraken and the other Skaeddrath, an entire new subplot developed in which the heroes of this future realm of Lingusia had an opportunity to travel back in time, as agents of the god of time (Huuarl) and stop one key event in ancient history, the event which created a terrible ritual of prophecy that led to this dismal future where the primal chaos titans were about to awaken and devour the world.
   The 3,500 storyline continues, as the altered future shows that strange and uncertain things have happened in ways that no one could have predicted as a result of the heroes meddling with the timeline. As a byproduct of this event, I decided that it would be interesting to see exactly what the world of Lingusia looked like “way back when,” or more specifically, what the change in the timeline meant for the new “future” of the game world. As a result of this thought, a new campaign series was born, which I decided to call “Ages of Lingusia,” with a focus on the time period starting around 1,958 aw, called the Empire Era. Why this period? This is the nominal “start” of the timeline, going back to the first games I ran in 1980, as a ten year old kid. Now, at forty, I find that if there was one thing I got right about imagining the future as a boy it was that I knew this hobby was going to stick with me for a lifetime, and sure enough it did. It’s a lot of fun reimagining the fantasy realm of Lingusia from a modern day gamer/adult perspective, and this collection of documents is the end product.
    As this is not just an updated edition of the setting you will find that some of the details between this edition and the 2008 Keepers of Lingusia may not jive. I offer that the events in Lingusia detailed within KoL now reflect an alternate timeline, which did happen, but for which the future from 1,958 now looks uncertain; the time period after this era is vague and uncertain, and the future adventurers of 3,500 in what is now called the Warlords Era know only that shortly after the great war against the so-called Dark Pharaoh in 1,960-1,963 the Empire prospered for a short time before collapsing in to a long and terrible dark age. This Dark Age, during which must history has been lost, may look very much like the events that the alternate timeline “Keepers Era” depicts…or it might be quite different. Only new campaigns will be able to tell!

Next: History of the Ages Era

All Text copyright 2011 by Nicholas Torbin bergquist, all rights reserved

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