<Homebrew> The Port on the Aster Sea




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  1. #1
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    <Homebrew> The Port on the Aster Sea

    Any feedback is appreciated.

    Synopsis: the action takes place in and around a port city on the shores of a metaphysical sea after an end of the world.

    Setting: the world is a narrow band of mundane reality commonly called the Middling Lands, or by some, the Clutch, situated between the Aster Sea to the east and the Interior to the west.

    The Aster Sea (Astral) leads to other planes of existence, which the port locals think of as islands. To sail east on the Aster is to sail away from human understanding. It is dotted with islands populated by monsters of ever-decreasing comprehensibility . Sail far enough and you’ll reach Azazoth/pure chaos.

    The Interior is a vast primal land resembling a mythologized Australian Outback that corresponds to the psyche. Travelers in the Interior are frequently attacked by the things they fear the most; their personal demons. Travel far enough into the Interior and you’ll reach the Ultimate Self (first yours, then God's).

    History: the world was once a normal planet that got “unraveled” during the Calamity, which separated the World Before from the World After.

    This was either the result of an apocalyptic final battle between the Dragonborn and Tiefling empires, or the result of their apocalyptic cooperation in an attempt to halt Time and thus prevent the coming Age of Men.

    The Port: possible names: Port Saudade? Port Aubade? Port Worlorn?, Port Yesod? Port Tav?, Port Eschaton? Port Erewhon? Port Nowhere?, Port Meirion?, Penultima Thule?, the Port of Interzone?. [edit] maybe the port should be nameless? Or Nameless?

    • The port is ruled by a Governor. He in turn claims allegiance to the never-seen Duke Beyond the Sea, who might be immortal, dead, or the product of the Governor’s paranoid delusions. Portraits of the Duke resemble the Horned God in fancy dress.

    • The port lies in the delta formed by two rivers; the River Livia and the Ossuary Flow, which originates in the Interior. Strange things sometimes float in on the Ossuary; empty stone boats, giant infants in reed baskets, potential Messiahs.

    • In a way, the city is every port city of the World Before folded together into one; a riot of different architectural styles and eras. In some places this is the result of normal building on top of previous construction, in others it’s a parfait of folded, urban space-time, including bits of the future world yet-to-come. In the port you never quite know what you’ll find in someone’s basement…

    • The Preservation Alliance seeks to preserve historic architecture. Its secret mission is to recover ancient relics and future wonders.

    • The Oceanographic Guild attempts to chart the whole of the Aster Sea, which is the most dangerous pursuit in the world. It’s made up of mystics and suicides.

    • The Geographic Society attempts to map the Interior, which is the second most dangerous pursuit in the world. It’s made up of mystics and suicides who are afraid of water but like camping.

    • The fractious Guild of Revelry controls most of the vice industries. Rumor has it its masters seek a monopoly on the very concept of pleasure.


    The Sea and its Environs:
    • The Sea to the east has many names: the Aster, the Disaster, the Sea of Dreams, Quiddity, the Twilight Sea, the Sea of Shadows, the Sea of Means, the Sea of Ends.

    • Its water varies from day to day; from saltwater to fresh, from the consistency of bitter tears to the clear, cold of fresh regret. Sages say it’s always exactly what people need.

    • Despite governmental warnings, the poor, foolish and desperate swim/bathe in the sea. Parents warn their children not to put their heads underwater. Those that do sometimes emerge changed, or as Changelings, or as entirely different people. Some bottle its water for drinking.

    • The city beaches are full of romantics and suicides.

    • The Eladrin hail from the Blessed Isle, not far off the coast. They are originally from the ‘Waking Lands’. They insist the entire time they spend in this world is a dream.

    • The Elves insist that world was the dream, one from which they wakened after they heard the call of the Great Girding Forrest.

    • Various nearby islands are home to various mythological races; shapeshifters, minotaur, vampires, etc.

    • Somewhere in the Sea is the lost island of Mu, where the Men of the World Before are said to hail from.

    • Some people claim to be able to sea the souls of the dead departing in black boats from the coastline around the port. Worse, some claim to see the souls of dead coming back to be reborn.

    • Far to the north of lies the Unassailable North, home to hardy, free, savage peoples (think Fafhrd et al.). Beyond that lies the Frozen Pole.

    • To the South the lies the Snake States, home to drugged, corrupt bureaucracies. Full of slavery, eunuchs, lies and treacheries; lands crisscrossed with slow, swollen rivers and tarry black lakes full of poisoned water (think Conan-esque S&S or the snake nation from Eddings). Beyond them lies the Burning Pole.

    • West of the city lies the Great Girding Forrest and the Border Kingdoms, full of warring feudal states, knights, and magical forests, the kind of place where men hunt stag-gods, maidens and each other. Beyond the Borderlands lies the Interior.

    • The sun rises in the west and sets in the east, into the sea.
    Last edited by Mallus; Wednesday, 16th December, 2009 at 04:00 PM.
    "You should probably put your bandit hat on now. Personally, I- I don't have one, but I modified this tube sock." - Ash, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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    The Port on the Aster Sea
    Our 4e setting. It's a heartbreaking work of staggering genius!

  2. #2
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    Good lord, very nice. I'm not sure what to add. It has a lot of potential for specific adventures, though I don't see any driving underlying need for adventure (not that every setting should have that, of course, indeed most don't).

    Is the Interior all scrubland and/or rainforest, like the outback, if so, is there any way for it to have more varied terrain?

    I like Port Erewhon, but I'm a simple man.

    Reminds me a little of Exalted, to be honest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruin Explorer
    Good lord, very nice.
    Thanks.

    It has a lot of potential for specific adventures, though I don't see any driving underlying need for adventure (not that every setting should have that, of course, indeed most don't).
    It's meant for rotating DM's, so I tried to keep in metaplot/central conflict-free.

    Is the Interior all scrubland and/or rainforest, like the outback, if so, is there any way for it to have more varied terrain?
    Good question. It's supposed as panoramic as the Outback, vast under a pitiless sun, but not quite so uniform (hmmm, checking wikipedia, there's a lot of variation in the Outback, it's just all spread out) or empty. I see plenty of room for snow-capped mountains, rift valleys concealing lush jungles, enormous-yet-somehow hidden lakes. When you first enter it seems terrifyingly empty, later it seems terrifying full. I'm also pretty sure the landscape changes from journey to journey, but I'm not sure how to convey this in a way that makes mapping the Interior seem like a worthwhile pursuit/campaign theme...

    I like Port Erewhon
    It's a classic.
    "You should probably put your bandit hat on now. Personally, I- I don't have one, but I modified this tube sock." - Ash, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    The Chronicle of Burne, and Some Others of Lesser Importance: Updated 05-17-2009! Current episode: Flight of the Philip.

    The Port on the Aster Sea
    Our 4e setting. It's a heartbreaking work of staggering genius!

  4. #4
    Wow this is great. I may have to lift a few ideas from you.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alikar
    Wow this is great. I may have to lift a few ideas from you.
    Cool! I lifted ideas from lots of other people to make this
    "You should probably put your bandit hat on now. Personally, I- I don't have one, but I modified this tube sock." - Ash, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

    The Chronicle of Burne, and Some Others of Lesser Importance: Updated 05-17-2009! Current episode: Flight of the Philip.

    The Port on the Aster Sea
    Our 4e setting. It's a heartbreaking work of staggering genius!

  6. #6
    I did a similar thing once with My Blackport homebrew. Blackport was in proximity to no less than five stable "Nexus Storms" - rips in the frabic of reality that allowed parallel realities to cross - This meant that from Blackport a ship could sail into three entirely different worlds which had their own set of stable and unstable Nexus storms. Unstable storms moved and like real storms could come sweeping in throwing a ship into an entirely random dimension.

    The PCs were part of a Crew sent to chart the stable Nexus Storms and ended up fighting an island of Ghouls, Sky Pyrates and the Great Sea Dragon - unfortunately the campaign was never completed

    Anyway if anyone knows the game Pyrates where you guide a pyrate ship through various mazes (one of which features a dragon) thats where I got my inspiration from...
    Quote Originally Posted by IcyCool
    Man, given the average Int of an Otyugh, I can just see the boss monologue now...

    PCs: "Before we fight, why don't you tell us your master plan?"
    Otyugh: "I like poop."
    PCs: "Umm, what?"
    Otyugh: "Do you have poop?"

  7. #7
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    Very cool. I like the whole Ocean=Astral Sea idea.
    Originally Posted by diaglo
    Olgar Shiverstone or other new edition DM: so i've gotta wrap up the campaign..
    diaglo: we could play OD&D(1974) the only true game. All the other editions are..
    other gamer: i could run a campaign set in space with ninja pirates.
    other gamers: done. when do we start.
    diaglo:

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    Incidentally, there was a take in the Pirates Guide to Freeport that suggested a setup like this for Freeport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperialus
    Very cool. I like the whole Ocean=Astral Sea idea.
    So did I; my River of Worlds game, based on a take on this idea I first saw in FFG's Portals & Planes, is pretty much this concept.
    The Secret Volcano Base - My gaming blog, currently featuring Freeport & Fantasy Craft

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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mallus View Post
    The Port: possible names: Port Saudade? Port Aubade? Port Worlorn?, Port Yesod? Port Tav?, Port Eschaton? Port Erewhon? Port Nowhere?, Port Meirion?, Penultima Thule?, the Port of Interzone?
    Maybe Finisterre? Ok, it's a bit obvious, but it has a nice ring to it.

  10. #10
    Argh, you stole the setting I was working on right from underneath my fingers!

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