I’ve blogged quite a bit about game setting driving rule mechanics over the years, and one of the fundamental issues of Shadow World is how “magic” works in a world that exists in our own reality and universe. I expanded on our own views of Essence three years ago on this BLOG POST, but wanted to dive a little deeper now that I’m working on a few related projects for SW.
Ostensibly, the Essaence permeates Kulthea through a tear in our universe into another; the same universe from which the Orhanians originated. This is all well and good, but is really not much more than a hand wave that does little to ground the mechanics of magic in Shadow World. Plus, it raises an important question: where is the “source point’ of this tear? In my mind it needs to be on either Kulthea, one of the moons or on some artifact or techno-artifact somewhere in the system. Let’s examine the pros and cons of several of these options:
- On Orhan. This probably makes the most sense. The Gods live on this moon and being the choke point of this power helps explain their ability to channel to their followers on Kulthea–they basically control the well-head. We can than extrapolate that this fifth energy follows gravitational waves and therefore encompasses Kuthea’s magnetosphere as well.
- On Kulthea. Does it make sense to have the source of Essaence on Kulthea? The Pillar of the Gods would be the most likely location–it is a physical manifestation of the arrival of Essaence on Kulthea (via a wormhole/blackhole/etc) and would explain the power fluctuations around the region.
- Techno-artifact. I originally had the source of Essaence encased in some object (it was a mcguffin and I never identified it) at the Lagrange point of Kulthea/Orhan. This split the power between the planet and moon and allowed for a ebb and flow of power I use in my campaign.
However, I’ve been re-thinking my “Lagrange Point” solution and now am leaning towards #1. This still allows me to play with varying Essaence levels and solidifies the basis for the Orhanian’s “god-like” powers.
I’m pretty weak on orbital mechanics, but I understand that Orhan is on a ecliptic orbit and Charon is on a polar orbit. In my campaign this allows for a variance in Essaence (channeling) powers for followers of Orhan and the Dark Gods of Charon. Therefore:
- The Dark Gods are outcasts from Orhan. They were banished to Charon because it acts as a prison and limits their access to the Essaence.
- Charon only has normal access to the Essaence when it crosses the ecliptic–otherwise it has limited access to the Essaence elsewhere in it’s orbit. Thus the weakened nature of the Charon Gods and their powers on Kulthea. Channelers of the Dark God don’t have full access to their powers about 1/2 of the day.
- When Charon fully eclipses Orhan, then it is both ascendant with full access to the Essaence and it also disrupts Orhans connection to Kulthea. This is the “Night of the Third Moon”. Channelers of Orhan lose access to some of their powers. This makes the Night of particular relevance to Channelers all over Kulthea.
There are probably a few flaws in my approach, and while I don’t get the orbital timings exact during my game play it does add another strategic and narrative element to my SW campaign. It also creates a “moon magic” mechanic that meshes in with current RM spell law without the specific lists found in the RM Companion. It also adds another unique setting driven mechanic to shadow World.
Anybody else do anything like this?