The Campaign's Style Guide
This is the style guide for The Wyzard's Fantasy Trip campaign.
- Major sources of inspiration for the campaign include the Cthulhu Mythos (especially The King in Yellow), The Dying Earth stories by Jack Vance, Robert E. Howard's body of work (not just Conan!), some of the darker Western films, crime drama, and a wide variety of horror films, especially the Hammer Horror films. Generally speaking, the game world will play like Vance and Howard, and can be imagined to look like Hammer Horror and Harryhausen. If you want to know what the use of Magic looks like in my campaign world, watch the film The Raven, with Vincent Price. Yes, it looks exactly that cheap and cheesy when you cast a spell. Skeletons and other monsters are stop-motion animated or guys in rubber suits. If that really bothers you, picture things however you want. I'll never know the difference. You might also look into 70s psychedelia, like The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson. I want an occasionally otherworldly feel to things.
- The cosmic forces in effect in this campaign world are Law and Chaos. Good and Evil are human inventions, and civilization is usually a morass of selfishness and grey areas, contrasted with the savage amorality outside the settlements. However, the fact that good and evil are human inventions does not make them irrelevant. I expect the PCs to be generally palatable antiheroes at worst.
- There are boundaries of good taste in this game. Rape, torture, the cold-blooded murder of innocent non-combatants, and similar squicky subjects, are not intended to be a part of this campaign. It is certainly true that evil high priests might engage in human sacrifice, for example, but the tone of those incidents should be closer to a somewhat exploitative pulp magazine rather than SAW or something. There is also a fairly substantial gulf between what the players should expect to see from the worst villains of the campaign and what I should expect to see from the PCs. Basically, it should be obvious to the reader that you are the good guys and the enemies are the bad guys, at least in a very loose sense.
- Major game discussions, commentary, kibbitzing, etc. go in the Out of Character Thread. Comments or questions which are part and parcel of an In Character post go in an sblock.
- In Character Posts should make it clear what your character is attempting to achieve and how they are going about it. The occasional conditional action in combat is appropriate, but those posts should be even more explicit about what your character will attempt under what conditions. Do not make me guess as to what your character is doing, or if they are doing anything.
- Another aspect of this is that almost every IC post should include some kind of action, and its major contents should be things that someone watching your character could react to. If you post something like, "Gronan sits silently and considers what jackasses his fellows are," then I will punch you in the face over the internet. Firstly, you've made a post that accomplishes nothing. Secondly, you've insulted the other PCs in a really half-assed and obnoxious way. There are various other combinations of ways to express that which are appropriate. I generally want in-character conflict in the IC thread and OOC conflict in the OOC thread (or via PM, and I hope we don't really have any OOC conflict.)
- I also have a general preference in this campaign for posts that can show the author's wit through brevity. There are times and places when posts should run on into several paragraphs, but in general I do not expect every combat post to include the precise details of your armor's gleaming or flashbacks to the wizened master who taught you swordplay. I recommend reading Howard to see how to pack a lot of action and flavor into a low wordcount.
- The Campaign World is a land of weird fiction sword and sorcery. There is such a thing as magic and some weird science (and the dividing line between the two is not abundantly clear) but the vast majority of work is done by beast or human muscle. Strangeness is rare. Travel is difficult and time-consuming. The barbarians wear leather and fur and the cities are decadent and dangerous. People carry weapons as a matter of course. The gods are distant, inhuman, and amoral. The distinction between good and evil is a human creation, the difference between law and chaos is a matter of cosmic importance.
- The PCs are larger than life. They are highly competent and should be at least somewhat passionate about their goals. If you were wishy-washy, you'd have stayed home on the lizard-farm. Don't be afraid to hoist a fistful of gems at the heavens, draw your sword, and declare yourself king of the ground on which you stand. Furthermore, due to the Brevity requested above, it is often preferable to draw characters in broad strokes. Subtlety isn't disfavored, so much as I like to see every character take a turn gnawing at the scenery.
- Everything is mortal. The PCs are really mortal, and even the gods can be killed. Some things are more resistant to physical damage than others, but there aren't really critters that you can't hurt without a magic weapon. Sufficiently heroic efforts at stabbing, burning, and strangulation will kill almost anything in the setting. Adventurers need to keep a close eye on how to reduce the danger to their own skin. This is a game of high mortality if you aren't careful.
- The world has a long history. Very long. There have been multiple rises of civilizations and multiple apocalypses, and the game is set in the ruins of all of them. Most people who are even moderately educated are aware of this. One of the next major apocalypses, in which a giant wolf at the center of the earth will throw off its chains and destroy the planet, is scheduled to happen in ten thousand years or so. This produces a certain Dying Earth-esque lassitude amongst the people. There isn't a lot of drive to "advance society" or "improve things." Anyone smart and dedicated enough to build a Steam Engine is personally much better off learning magic or just getting some ancient technology going again. Why build some big thing to benefit Man when you can just sit up in a tower with a bunch of well-oiled slaves and some black lotus to smoke?
- I am not a Storyteller, Game Master, Dungeon Master, Director, Wulin Sage, or Hollyhock God. This is an old-school game, and I am a Referee.
- If people can find appropriate pictures for their characters, I would appreciate it. I intend to make slightly more use of maps, and I'd like to be able to make a kind of pog for each PC. If you can't find a good one, some sigil or symbol is an acceptable substitute.
- The sandboxy quality of the game, and the general character of the campaign, will not change.
- There are a fairly small list of things that I must ask you to never do on account of the fact that they cause me to twitch in an unseemly manner. Please don't try to loot and sell purely mundane items. Retrieving normal weapons, armor, and clothing from your enemies in hopes of turning some extra profit sends me loopy. It's not like I don't hand out substantial treasure. Secondly, please do not ask me if it's okay to put something on the wiki. The wiki is here for you to put things on it! Just make sure it's in the right place. That is, it doesn't interfere with anything already here or clutter up some vital existing page, it's categorized appropriately, and it's possible to find it. I have faith in your best judgment. If you must mention your intent, just let me know what you did and I'll tell you if it's a problem.