Wednesday, September 4, 2013

30 Days of Dungeons & Dragons Day 4

Day 4: Favorite Gameworld

This is a tricky one because my favorite gameworld is one of my own creation (The Realms of Chirak), but I assume the intent is to look at published D&D worlds. Hey, waitasec, my world is published...heh...

So the Realms of Chirak. It was spawned in 1992 as a Gamma World scenario which I had worked out, in which the daring heroes of some remote town had to reach the lost City of Eristantopolis by traveling through the badlands where a mutant lord named Gaminok Makrenz lurked, a region where the mysterious lost-technology robots of a factory called the Black Dome patrolled, and eventually to the sacred city where lost knowledge of the ancients would save the town. The Gamma World game was aborted, however, and never saw actual play.

Later that year I was inspired to do a Runequest campaign (using the 3rd edition Deluxe set from Avalon Hill) and I began constructing ideas for a new setting. As I pieced the setting together, I was aiming for a very low tech environment, and I decided that I wanted the gods to be extremely low key, something behind the scenes, primarily to contrast it with my Lingusia campaign where the gods were as active, if not more so, than your typical Greek pantheon. Then I got this idea: what it this was a fantasy land that had been annihilated by an apocalypse, and there were no gods anymore? It was the world after Ragnarok! I fished out the Gamma World material for ideas, and realized I could retool the scenario I had to fit a fantasy realm. This fantasy land had a magical epoch of greatness, in which the old Clark adage of technology being indistinguishable from magic was true, but in lost magical artifacts bordered on the technological, essentially. The idea of sentient golems, which I called animates, filling the niche of robots in a typical post-apocalyptic setting was appealing as well.

By the time I was done stitching together the thematic notions of a post-apocalyptic land with a low-tech godless fantasy setting I had created a short (about 20 page long) precis for an interesting campaign setting. I produced an elaborate map, and from then on I had a decent setting into which my planned Runequest campaign could go.

That Runequest campaign was short, lasting a semester, but it sparked many more ideas for me, as I saw a lot of unrealized potential in the concepts I had toyed with in Chirak. Later on in 1996 when I had moved to Seattle I revived the world, added in more Planescape tethers to it (the damage done to the world had left a great many planar rifts in the wake of the apocalypse) and began a new campaign that started out the gate with the theft of the Manual of the Planes from a sacred library in Barcen, where the powerful and ancient book was kept under lock and key. This campaign was powered entirely by AD&D 2nd edition, and it was the first of many, many D&D-only campaigns (although Chirak was revisited by later editions of Runequest in the future).*

In case you're wondering....if I had to pick a single D&D setting that was not written and published by myself, it would be Spelljammer. The core conceit of Spelljammer was just too great for me not to tinker with, especially when I was in college and studying the history and development of philosophy, science and astronomy, and the idea of a universe powered by Ptolemaic and Aristotelian physical properties was just too cool for me not to indulge in! Plus, Beholders and Mind Flayers in giant theme ships attacking asteroid colonies defended by gun-happy Giff hippo men....what's not to love?

*I should note that I also was really into the "Mighty Fortress" historical resource for 2E at the time, and had run some historical scenarios using that book. When I revised Chirak for the 1996 game I expanded on the island kingdom of Espanea, and turned into a strong cultural and technological analog to England (Mercurios), Spain (Espanea), and France (Esterehabau) during the height of the renaissance, complete with gunpowder and advanced sailing ships. The old low-tech campaign remained entrenched in Legoras, Syrgia and elsewhere....the idea was that at the center of the setting a new budding revolution was under way, but it was centered amidst a sea of forgotten empires, fallen kingdoms and barbarians risen from the ashes.


  1. I have had this on my wishlist for sometime. I really should go buy it!

  2. I've been working on a Pathfinder edition, which may see the light of day soon. I also plan on a revised version for use with 5E next year...assuming 5E looks worth the effort (which so far I think it's progressing nicely). The revision may have original art from Simon Tranter as well as a proper edit by a third party professional! There's also a conversion book I did which provides stats for OSRIC and C&C.

  3. Spelljammer is probably the setting I most wish I'd tried "back in the day".

    I really should see if I can pick up a copy.

  4. Forgotten Realms for me!

    Speaking of Realms, this Chirak seems interesting...