Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The Age of Strife: an example of what sort of madness a long-running campaign can get up to
The Age of Strife is a delve into the sort of madness that only a three decade old fantasy setting can inspire. My world of Lingusia has gone through so many incarnations and so many campaigns over the years that it has evolved into a weird sort of beast, one which spans nearly two thousand years of history over two revisionist timelines. Every game I have ever run in this setting has been sequential, and always built on what came before. No dungeon was ever recycled without also being revised at a later date to reflect what sort of madness was introduced in prior games. No plot line was ever conceived that didn't account for what had come before. In the last few years I even ran a campaign that turned into a time travel fiasco that led to a fundamental change in the setting's history, leading to a sort of "timeline reboot" which is what this new Age of Strife campaign is all about. Sounds a lot like Star Trek, except the only one's to worry about chronology and consistency are myself and the handful of players who have been gaming with me for ages....and they just love a campaign where they see their own handiwork in it's ultimate design.
Anyway, I wanted to write that by way of explanation for what follows. The precis for the Age of Strife is dependent on a lot of information that will likely seem baffling or questionable....but that's okay! It's designed to keep me aware of what I'm doing. An "official" edition for use by others would need to consider the fresh perspective of an outsider. What I'm doing here is jumping down the proverbial rabbit's wormhole......
If you happen to be familiar with the Keepers of Lingusia setting I published for Castles & Crusades and OSRIC/AD&D a few years ago, or the Empires of Lingusia and Warlords of Lingusia setting on this blog, here's how the following all fits in:
Keepers of Lingusia Tome: this book covers a historical overview of Lingusia in the original campaigns I ran from 1980-2006, roughly. It focuses specifically on roughly 2,460-2,500 AW (After the War). The KOL book was a rewrite of a vast amount of material I had compiled with covered the timeline from 1,950 through 2,500 and an attempt to consolidate it all under one timeline. After I published it I ran a campaign set in 2,600 that dealt with the events of "The Great Deluge" that I don't think has seen print anywhere. This led into my Pathfinder era for the game, up next...
Warlords of Lingusia: published on this blog, the Warlords Era dealt with the world in 3,500 AW when it's clear something has gone horribly wrong and the threat of the Skaeddrath (called the Kraken in the KOL period) is imminent, and the world's end is not far away. The campaign in this period ran from 2008-2012 and led to a lengthy campaign exploring this dark future of the world. It concluded with a campaign arc leading to the adventurers becoming agents of time for the god Huuarl, and going back into the past on two occasions, creating permanent changes to the future: the first was to stop the events of the "Prophecy" events from KOL, and the second was to stop Unarak and the Shadow Gods from going back and time and murdering their enemies' ancestors before they were born, then achieving divine power well before they were supposed to, leading to a Dark Age and collapse of the old Empire of Hyrkania too soon. The heroes succeeded, and that entire campaign ended with the time agents (chrononauts), having righted the wrongs commited by the Shadow Pantheon, settling down to enjoy the new timeline.
Empires of Lingusia/Ages of Lingusia: This era deals with events around 1,952 to 1,960 AW following the timeline reboot. It was a "revisit" of the original timeline of my earliest campaigns when I first started running AD&D in 1981-1984, and a fresh reimagining of the era from my modern eyes. It's also when the key "alternate history" event spin off to create the new Age of Strife. I ran a few campaigns in this era, the last one using 13th Age, but no single campaign had an over-arching metaplot or anything.
The Age of Strife: this is the current new campaign era. It is a revisit of the most famous period in my campaigns of Lingusia, which ran in real world time from 1989 to 1998, roughly. In-game this was from roughly 2,086 through 2,115 AW and concluded with the "reckoning" campaign that spun off from the "Prophecy" super-plot that was extinguished by the timeline reboot, allowing me to fix a lot of issues I had in retrospect with plot choices I had introduced back then....
After 1998 I had advanced the timeline foward four hundred years to start with a fresh era of history using the D20 system but the entire experiment never really "jelled" for me due to the problems with moving a campaign that was very consistently built on AD&D principles into the D20 era. I later revamped that time period into C&C and then also returned to AD&D, but Lingusia wouldn't really get a proper reimagining until I devised Warlords of Lingusia for Pathfinder. That was a great campaign....but towards the end I really missed the "classic era" and thus why the reboot worked out so well for me.
The new Age of Strife is my revisit of the best era of Lingusia gaming, cleaned up and modified to reflect the new timeline; removing my old "prophecy" stuff that led to some unfortunate decisions which made the campaigns of that era interesting at the time but problematic for the long run.
I guess another way of looking at it is like this: I learned a lot from running Realms of Chirak after 1992, specifically that keeping the entire setting in a narrow timeframe (all games from RoC 1992 to the present have taken place over roughly the same 20 year in-game time frame, for example) makes for much, much easier campaign management.
Every time I jumped the plot and timeline for my Lingusia campaigns ahead a decade or three it outdated older campaign material and made me do a rewrite. I've done so many rewrites for Lingusia that I am, honestly, tired of it and don't want to do any more. The new era of the Age of Strife will be where I set all my Lingusia games going forward. While this rewrite takes into account the particulars of the 13th Age, I am gearing it toward an assumption that I will also use D&D 5E at some point.....but ultimately, this will be the absolute LAST era of the Lingusia campaign. I think there's more than enough "stuff" to milk out of the Age of Strife that I ought to be able to run games in this era for the next twenty years until I'm old and doddering and my son has theoretically taken over the mantle of DM.....!
Next: the actual precis for the Age of Strife, now with context!