Geos is a fantasy campaign world I've been working on ever since 1987. Initially, it was very derivative, based strongly on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings. Since then, other influences have settled mosslike on the gameworld; it's still highly derivative, but now I hide my sources better. I ran a game set in Geos for Harbourfront Day Camp in 1991 (and I got paid for it, too.) I've also run the gameworld under D&D 3.5. The history of Geos has changed radically as it has migrated through several different game systems, including GURPS and Ars Magica.
Currently (2008) I'm using a variation of Evil Hat's Fate 3.0. Major departures include the combat and magic systems.
In the beginning there was chaos - everything that could exist, existing alongside its own negation. After nameless time, this cacophony was shattered by the Word That Spake Itself. The Word then called into existence many servants and set about to construct the material world. The Word's most powerful servant, Lucifer, was given the job of overseeing this task.
When the world was done, the Creator gathered his subordinates and announced his intent to depart. As with everything the Creator said, saying it made it so - a shock that neither Heaven nor the world have fully recovered from.
Geos, then, is an explicitly deistic universe. Not everyone believes that the architect of the universe is gone, but it is a common trope among many religions that the ur-power is absent, fragmented or simply uninterested in terrestrial affairs.
The history and social dynamic of Geos closely resembles our own world, though with many changes, each of with far-reaching consequences. I chose this route to give players a sense of familiarity while retaining complete artistic license for myself. Some major departures from medieval Earth reality include
- As mentioned, God has come and gone. There is no Saviour, Eden or original sin. The dominant human religion is Deism, which claims that the Creator's servants are still active in world affairs.
- Magic exists, but there is much less of it around than in the Age of Creation. Magic works by inflicting meaning on the universe - ancient and divine languages can liberate more raw power, but modern magical theory is more sophisticated and flexible.
- As in our world, there was a great empire, now fallen. The Empire (the word has since become generified) spread civilization and swept away the faerie, who retreated to their own staunchly-defended enclaves.
- The world is in decline. In ancient days, great and terrible men did great and terrible things: Valius I built an entire city in one year; the body of the dragon Espergon became a volcano; out of spite Athantos cursed the world such that the dead might still haunt the living. The Ages of Myth and Man are long gone, and even the Age of Heroes is fading to a close: no single being can hope to affect the world so profoundly any more...at least, not without help.
An experienced roleplayer will notice several rules and background assumptions that make Geos different from the standard D&D-inspired world:
- Magic is truly unpredictable. A spellcaster never knows exactly what they're going to get when they start casting a spell. Magic is also less useful in combat than in other game systems - only the best wizards can toss off an offensive spell in the same time it takes to swing a sword.
- Magic is also expensive. Casting a spell requires the use of a limited resource, Fate points - the same things that keep you alive in combat.
- Dead is dead. Once the soul has passed on to its final reward, there's no way to get it back.
- Nonhumans are rare and alien. As a rule, they're not suitable for PCs. Elves are preternaturally capricious, halflings are insular and rustic, and no one is quite sure how dwarves reproduce.
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