A New Setting – Part 2: The Far-Realms

In my last post, I discussed the need for rich, unique settings that are labors of love in order to create an appeal to players learning about (and hopefully investing in) RMU. While I’m not sure how unique my setting is, creativity begets creativity, so enter my world…

🔸Introduction – The Far-Realms is a “middle-fantasy” world; the setting is roughly medieval-level technology, with most scientific advancement at a relative halt due to the global political landscape and the subtle presence magic. Magic is not completely unknown to most of the population, but is still treated with reverence and awe by the vast majority… it and its users are considered rare, and often distrusted. The reason for this distrust is due to relatively recent events in the timeline. Here’s a quote from my notes:

The effects of the War of the Magi still lie upon the land. Where once lush and vibrant forests stretched as far as the eye could see, now there are barren and blasted remains of mighty trees. Dotted intermittently across the landscape are wastelands where nothing grows, and that which does is sick or, in some cases, cursed. Dust storms periodically ravage the countryside as weather patterns work to reestablish themselves. Some of the grandest and most ancient cities from the Old Empire lay deserted and crumbling, victims of the devastating war and the passage of time. Those who travel to these places seldom return, and those who do speak of dark spirits and worse haunting the once populated avenues and passageways beneath the streets.

And yet it is a time of relative peace and healing. In the five centuries since the War, new centers of civilization have begun to spring up across the land and small areas of commerce have become bustling cities. In the wilderness, signs of life have started to reemerge in those places that were once laid waste, and not all of the untamed places of the world suffered during the conflicts of the past. In some cases, the land has become more beautiful, and more savage, without the presence of humanoids and their banal struggles. In short, it is a wondrous and dangerous world for heroes to emerge… or perish.

Some classic fantasy elements, with a bit of a post-apocalyptic flair and savage garden meshed together. So let’s get into the basic mythology…

🔸Mythology – I’ll try to make this brief. In the beginning, the Great Dragon created the universe, but it was simply pure imagination until he constructed the final element to give his imagination form: Time. When he bellowed and started time, the echo of his roar gave rise to the Demon, which creates the Balance necessary for reality to exist. The Dragon represents Balance, while the Demon represents Corruption. Note that Balance is not necessarily always in favor of good, while evil is not always aligned with Corruption.

The Dragon then curled around himself and began the Dreaming, so that his creation could have a home in the infinite void. His body became the earth and all magic, no matter how it is used, draws from the Dreaming and the infinite possibilities therein. From his Dream, forms of life began to spring up, and from the species of bestial, animalistic drakes, he empowered the race of dragons with intelligence and magic to serve as his agents, enforcers, and teachers of the Balance.

The dragons are arranged into seven different Dragon-flights, each representing a core element (fire, water/cold, earth, air/light, spirit, mind, and time). One of these flights, namely the Dragon-flight of Time, was corrupted by the Demon and its offspring twisted into demons as we know them now. While in ancient days all the dragons of time were destroyed, dragons periodically fall from the other flights and join the ranks of Corruption, aiding the demons in their pursuit of destroying creation.

As you can see, there’s a ton of DNA from literature and games here, but I’m trying to create a setting with some unique flavor to it. My dragons might seem similar in scope to Tolkien’s maiar, and the image and even the terminology of “flights of dragons” is inspired by the cartoon of the same name. The idea of Corruption being a pervasive element is something I want to explore in my world. I always liked the idea of evil turning on itself when a villain realizes he is being used for goals not his own, and the struggle to retain identity amidst the pursuit of power.

A dragon as a bastion of Balance facing the forces of Corruption

🔸Races – I was pleasantly surprised that Rolemaster is creating (or at least rebalancing for gameplay) so many races for its upcoming product. That being said, I’m bored of so many classic fantasy races and tried to whittle my custom races down to a handful that have some distinctiveness to them:

  • Hume – Humans. I don’t have any distinctions regarding “high” men or anything like that. I want them to be a baseline that other races are compared against with a lot of DP for customization. They are the most prolific race in the Far-Realms, having spread to most regions of the world. I do have a few custom cultures with some genetic variations (infravision, recurved musculature, etc), but nothing unbalancing in terms of stats.
  • Sidhe – At first glance they might be mistaken for some traditional fae race, but these magically adept people have a number of differences. They have no eyes, but have a form of ESP that allows them to sense different aspects of their surroundings based on their sub-species. They have two branches – the Woads, who are a feral, sylvan folk, and the Elurae, who have forsaken the wilds for pursuit of arcane lore. A key to their culture is preservation of the Balance and tend toward lawful alignments of every variation. If you ever read the Thomas Covenant series, they are inspired by the Waynhim.
  • Trols – Not much originality here, but think a combination of the World of Warcraft orcs crossed with Trolls from Dark Age of Camelot. A large, savage, yet noble race made from stone. They have a scattered nomadic culture because of a racial rage that builds over time as they spend time with one another. As such, they tend to function almost like ronin or mercenaries, serving lords and seeking combat to earn honor amongst their kin.
  • Saurians – In the Far-Realms, lizardmen are one of the oldest species, and have two additional sub-races as a result of selective breeding in their past. The main race (the Sauros) bred the mighty Varan (hulking, larger, and heavily scaled) as shock troops for their wars, and the diminutive Gilan (squat, frog-like and hardy) as a servant class. After millennia of service, the Varan developed a peculiar warrior code of honor and freed the Gilan. All three races have a complicated history and relationship to one another.
  • The Redeemed – When the first Dragon-lord of the Dragon-flight of Time betrayed her Flight to the service of the Corruption, their eggs were warped and turned into the first demons. Millennia later, a group of demons was spared and eventually cured, becoming the Redeemed. This race is uniformly good, as any deviation from the Balance inevitably results in their fall back into Corruption. They inadvertently are somewhat similar to the Draenei from WoW. Their culture is based around a crusader esprit de corps, and make excellent spell and semi spell-users.

🔸General Notes – For the most part, this world plays like a traditional fantasy setting, but am trying to build a sense of fatalism and savagery into the atmosphere. The world is harsh, and it may be too late to stop the world’s slide into ruin (eerily close to our own… hmm…). In this way it harkens to White Wolf’s original World of Darkness setting, with occasional flashes of epic fantasy where heroes actually make a difference.

The current timeline is set 500 years after the Old Empire fell and 50 years after the last of the survivor states fell defeating the Armies of the Demon-Kings. It seems as though Corruption was defeated, albeit at great cost. I am using the War of Magi as a mechanic to level the playing field; only a handful powerful individuals exist in the world as a result of the devastation, to the point that perhaps only one or two 50th-level people in each profession exist in the entire world.

Any thoughts? Trying to decide what exactly should be detailed in Part 3

2 Replies to “A New Setting – Part 2: The Far-Realms”

  1. I’m curious how your setting matches up with the RM ruleset? Have you made changes to the magic system or other frameworks?

    1. Good question… yes, this setting is fully compatible with the RMU ruleset, or really any version of RM. For the most part, I’ve left the concepts of the magic system untouched, but it can also suit the minor tweaks I’ve made to some of the magic elements (changing realms of certain professions, realigning spell lists into “Spheres” of influence, etc). Overall though, I don’t

      Some of the mechanics of spells might need some overall tweaking, such as how summoning works in my setting versus others, the dynamic of how planes relate to one another (where exactly demons and elementals come from), and how to differentiate certain abilities from magic. Also, I’ve reworked some professions slightly to better fit a “nondenominational” concept. For example, the Paladin has been reworked into the Champion, with changes to his base lists that can fit into a variety of alignments.

      Great suggestion and I’ll probably make this the topic of Part 3.

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