I’m running a new game for the same group I’ve been playing Numenera with for the past year or so. When our campaign came to an end, we discussed what we wanted to do and I decided to pitch Microscope as a method of us building a world together for one of us to run a game in. Everyone seemed interested, so we ended up playing Microscope and came up with a strange timeline indeed.
The setting for our new campaign would be one of an empire spanning multiple worlds through the use of naturally occurring portals, like stargates. There would be no alien life, but through magic, the original people of the first world would spread to other worlds, adapting themselves with magically driven mutations to become whole new species and peoples all across the stars.
Magic was ubiquitous, but not innate – anyone who travelled at least once via a portal would gain the ability to use magic, but it is still a phenomenon that requires a lot of training to use properly. Due to the early and ubiquitous introduction of magic to the culture of the world, many technologies were never developed. Things like the wheel were never invented, after all magic could be used just as easily to move things so there was never any need. Technology never really progressed above renaissance-era Earth levels, most things being done via the application of magic, rather than scientific understanding and manipulation of the mundane.
Many species exist, from Dwarves, Elves and Humans, and after toying with their magics, created a new artificial species to work with them – the Mechanoids, a species of animated machines. One day dragons also emerged from the portals. They didn’t come from any specific planet but from the energy of the portals themselves. As energy beings made of magic, they were very powerful, but they were friendly, having little interest in the material world but intrigued by the minds and people that lived there. The dragons, wishing to create a new species that could work with and help the existing species, gave life to new species of sentient puppets, but this did not go as planned. While the dragons meant only good and chose the most friendly, unthreatening form they could think of, many of the planets in the empire were appalled by the idea of these sentient, living puppets, especially when the dragons suggested they could help look after their children.
Eventually the timeline descended into war, much motivated by speciesist-prejudice. With the advent of tele-genetics, the ability to instantly rewrite ones one genetic code with magic at will, long-terms species adaptation was no longer required, making the war machine against the dragons even more efficient. The dragons were all but destroyed in genocidal war and with the dragons gone, the portals became unstable and dangerous to use, tearing a rift in the empire as whole networks of planets went dark, cut off from contact with their neighbours. This drove the development of teleportation magic as an alternative to portal travel, but this lead to an unforeseen tragedy. To bridge the inky void between planets, the mechanoids found purpose in becoming starships and transporters, they were the species that glued the universe together after the portals had become unsafe. Created to serve, and happy to be the backbone of the Empire, the advent of teleportation robbed this of them. Eventually, the race was consumed by ennui and after realising that there were no new frontiers that only they could explore, they chose to self-terminate en-masse.
Eventually, teleportation magic research lead to the discovery of how to recreate the portal system, safely, but the first experiment caused a terrible event, and all colonised planets were evacuated back to the homeworld. Overcrowded and all in one place, now was the perfect time for the puppets to unleash their plan. Subjugated, hated and shunned for hundreds of years, even the naturally happy, friendly disposition of the puppets could not survive. Hope soon turned to disappointment, then sadness, then fear, then anger. Finally, it ended in hatred. The puppets constructed a magical virus that stripped all sentients life of the ability to use language. Knowledge of magic, speech, reading and writing was lost and society devolved into chaos. It was hundreds of years and generations before society once again began to even approach what it once had been.
Slowly, telekinetic magics were redeveloped, but the doomed society could not last. Eventually, they came together to destroy the portals once and for all and the Empire slowly dissolved due to evolutionary regression.
Fate Accelerated Edition
So with that weird as hell timeline, we decided I’d run a game of Fate Accelerated Edition set a few years after the creation of the sentient puppet race. None of us have ever run or played Fate of any flavour before (well, I attempted to run a Dresden Files RPG once, but it died before it began). It should be an interesting experience.
Each of the players created their characters and we collaboratively came up with stunts and aspects. We ended up with a strange ragtag group of characters:
- Zelphar, a genetically engineered assassin who will go to any lengths, now hunted by his half-siblings from the Tamed Dominion
- Tickle-Me-Emo, a Puppet ninja who is soft on the outside, soft on the inside and politically correct to a fault.
- Mafrin, an otter-person and convicted mad-scientist, emphasis on the mad.
- Subject 9, an experimental human weapon created from fragments of the First Dragon’s DNA, a child who is incredibly magically unstable
- Ishpan, a self-taught witch-warrior monk with no arms and persecution complex about racism due to his mongrel mutant heritage
The game itself, based on the aspects and backstories the players came up with, seemed to emerge pretty easily. We ended up with:
- Mercenaries for hire, in order to survive
- Hunted by powerful forces
- Improving the world, one mercenary job at a time
I also decided the group as a whole should have some aspects for when they are working as a team, or something affects them as a team:
- Dark Pasts, Inc
- Not exactly stable
- Watching each others’ backs
So far, I’m light on details for kicking off the campaign, though we’ve decided they’re doing odd mercenary jobs to survive whilst laying low on a rimworld – a frontier world known as “New Lazurus” on the edge of portal-explored space.
I’m looking forward to it. Should be fun!