Twilight of Gaia

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A setting submission by Random Goblin

Core Ethos Sentence: Twilight of Gaia is set in the Badlands, a ravaged, barren fantasy world where heroes use swords, pistols, and spells to fight monsters, defeat marauding gangs, and stand against the terrible forces of darkness.

Who are the heroes? Heroes in the Badlands include anyone brave (or stupid) enough to take up their sword, musket, or spellbook and stand up to the chaos and mayhem engulfing the world. Bran Barandorn, is a stout dwarven soldier who leads the town of Sunset Gulch, defending it from monsters and marauders with the help of the gnomish engineer Filbert Fimblefungers. Howls-like-the-wind is an outlaw wild elf shaman who believes that encoded into the songs of his people are the locations of the Six Amulets of Gaia. Finally, there is an enigmatic wandering swordswoman named Meshanna and her companion, a cowled figure known only as the Pistolier.

What do they do? The most serious objective is to thwart Black Rupert before his power-madness goes too far and the whole world falls under his terrible shadow. As his armies grow larger and more unstoppable, the heroes will have to unite the scattered tribes and settlements and enlist the aid of powerful magic. This includes recovering the lost Six Amulets of Gaia, powerful magic artifacts that date from before the Sorcerors’ War that hold the key to restoring the world to what it once was. But, Black Rupert also wants to hunt down the Amulets so that he can twist them to his evil purposes and use them to rule the Badlands forever.

Threats, Conflicts, Villains: The Badlands teem with monsters who lair in the mountains, scrub forests, and rocky wastelands. Gangs of orc, hobgoblin, and gnoll desperadoes run wild in the vast and rugged wilderness led by notorious leaders like Grodda the Unkillable, Broldak Ironfist, One-eyed Samuel, and Slidewinder, whose names strike terror into innocent peoples’ hearts. Evil wizards build towers on lonely mesas. Black Rupert, the infamous Warlord of the Mountains, rules his alpine kingdom, entices the bandit gangs to rally under his authority, and dreams of the day when the whole of the Badlands will belong to him. Behind Black Rupert stands dreaded Acliss, a terrible wizard of unknown origin whom few have ever even seen.

Nature of Magic: Although magic still functions as normal, it is rare, and most people are suspicious and distrustful of it. Everyone knows that it was magic that drained so much of the life from the once-lush world of Gaia and turned it into the wasted Badlands. Clerics and druids are more highly esteemed than wizards and sorcerors, but they’re rare enough that some people wonder if the gods even really care anymore.

What’s new? What’s different? The biggest difference is the addition of black powder firearms (muzzle-loading smooth-bore muskets and pistols, blunderbusses, and artillery cannons). Such weapons are prevalent enough to add a new flavor and dimension to the game, but not so common or advanced so as to overshadow longswords and crossbows. Advancing technology, mostly including innovations made by dwarves and especially gnomes, is one of the results of a reluctance to rely on magic. Elves, on the other hand, have by and large abandoned their high civilization, reverted to their primordial culture, and joined the grugach, or wild elves, living in nomadic tribes that wander the Badlands and often come into conflict with permanent towns and settlements.