Thursday, April 9, 2020

Matching Systems to Settings - Worlds Posted on Realms of Chirak and the Systems they Work Best With

I've been scrutinizing other fantasy systems on the shelf with all this extra time spent in social isolation (well, not as much for me...I work in critical services for better or worse) but  it's turned into an interesting case of "find the game system that best fits the world." Or vice versa.

So far, here's where I am finding my campaign settings are landing:

World of Lingusia: With Pathfhinder 2nd Edition it's easy enough to convert any world designed with a D&D theme in mind. In revisiting some worlds, I've found that my Keepers of Lingusia campaign holds up as ever to the rigor of the D&D-esque mechanics and indeed, the more dangerous and low-key component of Pathfinder 2nd Edition gives the experience a somewhat old-school, high-risk tinge to the experience. So for the world of Lingusia, Pathfinder 2nd edition is a natural fit.

Enzada: When Pathfinder 1st Edition released I actually developed a whole new world for it: Enzada. The thematic behind Enzada boils down to these traits: non-western civilizations dominate; it's a world where there are too many gods for anyone, including the GM, to keep track of, and deep down nothing is really as it seems (but in a way that only lends to mystery rather than expose it). I did run some games in Enzada early on last year but alas while the fit is right, many of the non-western monsters and species of Pathfinder 1st Edition are not yet available in 2nd edition so it felt like a project to revisit at a later date. Sometimes a setting really needs its samsarans, catfolk, nagaji, vishkanya and other decidedly exotic races to make things work right, y'know?

Pergerron: this setting has convoluted origins. It started on the blog as a project to design a setting specifically using D&D B/X themes and monsters. In actual play I modified it for a Magic World campaign, and the thematics fit really well for what I wanted out of the setting. Later, when 5th Edition D&D arrived I ran a campaign for about ten levels which went fairly well, but by that point it felt a little off, because even though the starting intent was "a world for classic D&D" the result was something which benefits from the high risk, deadly nature of a BRP system like Magic World or Mythras. My last campaign in Pergerron was a short campaign using Mythras before it was retired, more or less. Could Pathfinder 2E handle it? Probably....but the idea of this setting's themes seem to mesh better with "risky, dangerous, sanity challenging fantasy," so I think BRP/MW should remain the system of choice.

Sarvaelen: Here's another one which was designed as a writing exercise for the blog, and as a result has a convoluted design history. At some point I decided to write up a setting idea for Tunnels & Trolls, but as it developed I started thinking of how this setting could work well with Magic World...Legend....Mythras.....then Fantasy AGE, which in fact became the first system I actually tried running Sarvaelen (that I can recall!). Thematically Sarvaelen is meant to be a dark, post-apocalyptic world facing a recent magical apocalypse, leaving a realm of haunted dominions behind, dominated by the concept of the Sullen Watch, rangers who protect against the badlands. Although my initial efforts with Fantasy AGE felt "off" I really feel like it's a system that could handle Sarvaelen well....if I take some time to really work on it. Time will tell....I recently picked up the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder's Guide and it's got some good ideas in there.

Realms of Chirak: okay so at last we come to this one, the Big Daddy and the namesake of the blog. Realms of Chirak has always been about some key inversions of D&D elements, including a post-apocalyptic fantasy realm in which the gods are dead, elves are extremely rare and no longer superheroes (remember, Chirak was devised in the early nineties when elves were seriously overdone in AD&D 2nd edition!), and the idea was that mysteries abounded. For whatever reason, I still feel like D&D 5E is a good system for Chirak, probably because it allows for thematic largesse well enough.....but I ran Chirak in Pathfinder 1st Edition for a good number of years....I just don't feel like taking the effort to do tons of conversion work to PF2E, maybe; especially when I am still trying to update it to 5E first! That said.....these days, thanks to time limits and general life complexity, I could probably do plenty of conversion on the fly if I felt like it; but much like Enzada, Chirak has a lot of moving parts, pieces and bits, all of which are better supported by robust systems right now. D&D 5E has all the content needed for this; Pathfinder 2E probably will soon this time next year, when we have a Bestiary 2 and 3 out, and some in depth guidelines (pleaaaaase Paizo) on an Advanced Race Guide to cover the many ancestries currently absent from PF2E. Maybe then I'll consider it.

Oddly, I did work on one area of Chirak for conversion: I worked out extensive campaign details on the Sabiri Lands in, believe it or not, Cypher System. I have to say....the concept of Chirak as a Cypher Setting really has me intrigued; I may run it some day soon just to see how it all flows.

Worlds I haven't mentioned largely because I haven't posted about them on the blog include Ensaria, a setting that works best with Cypher System; Altavir (which has been posted here), a setting I think I'd like to use with 5E, T&T or Savage Worlds at some point; Eridu, my ancient Mesopotamia setting which is very specifically designed for use with Mythras; and my as yet-unrecorded on the blog exclusive new setting Oman'Hakat, the First World setting I've been running all adventures in with Pathfinder 2nd Edition for the last six months. As campaigns in that world start to hit their climactic points and spoilers become less of an issue I'll start posting some of that content soon.


  1. To be honest, I've always associated Chirak with Runequest. It must have been that one vampire/Sabiri campaign.

    1. You're not wrong....I glossed over the fact that my original first campaign in 1992 for Chirak was set using Runequest 3rd edition, and of course that RQII campaign with the vampire, Lamashtu, etc. For me being directly rebellious against D&D has often included bouts of RQ!

  2. Not a bad system to rebel against D&D with. I still have my RQII book somewhere.