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Backstory: World of Mirrors

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This is the start of back story for a design I started this morning. I did all the core mechanics, and much of the character system, first. It originally started as an exercise on making a simple RPG system, similar to those used in classic games. Now it's turning into a full fledged project, and I thought to get some feedback on the core creation story that backs the game, as well as the general focus of the main plot. Feel free to tear it apart on anything; it was written in about 30 mins, including brewing some fresh tea.
World of Mirrors Creation of the Universe In the beginning, there was nothing but the Void. The Material Plane yet did not exist, and the Planes of Light and Darkness strove against each other over nothing. Yet the Creator saw this need, and spoke: Let there be LIFE. And the Material Plane was born from the Word. First, the Song of Light was sung, which crafted the suns and moons and stars Yet the Lords of the Plane of Darkness saw this, and grew angry For they desired above all the power of Creation Second, was sung the Song of Earth. From which came all worlds, scattered around their suns And circled by moons. Third came the Song of Life, from which all manner of birds and beasts and fishes came to being And plants from which they drew sustenance. Upon hearing this Song, the Lords of Darkness plotted in shadowy gloom And they reconciled with each other, making treaty And scattered to the four corners of the Material Plane, each seeking the few worlds of Life And they sought to corrupt the Song of Life with Songs of their own And thus, the first monsters were born The Creator heard the Song of Discord, and began a new song The Song of Knowledge, from which all intelligent beings were formed And the Lords of Darkness sought to sow discord among the new Song and it's children And thus, monstrous creatures of great intelligence were born, cold and cruel and wise Yet this did not alter the plan of the Creator For He had forseen the Songs of Discord and ever knew their plans The Lords of Darkness were thwarted, the Children of Life died not at all Yet their own Corruptions, the Children of Discord had only mockery of life And the mightiest fell quickly. So they plotted anew, and began a new song One sang in dark harmony with the Songs of Life and Knowledge Yet one of mirrored discord; The Song of Death And they corrupted the Children of Life And estranged them from their Creator, all who would seek the Darkness And promised them powers of gods Whole worlds became consumed with fire and sword And Death came to the Children of Life, even though who remained pure. For the taint and corruption came through guile and blood. Knowing what was to come to pass, and all possibilities that may yet happen The Creator crafted with His hands a world Where all knowledge and history may be recorded This he placed in the River of Time, to protect it from the Lords of Darkness And there he placed the Prime Nexus, the Key to Worlds And built, with His own hands out of Stone The Great Library; Guardian of All Knowledge And upon this World, he placed two Races of Light Great and Mighty, to guard it Dragons, ancient proud, and mighty And the Giants, Lords of the Earth. Upon the Prime Nexus He placed a Mark A Mark of his Word, which sealed the World of the Nexus eternally None of the Lords of Darkness, nor those of Light, would ever be able to step past this Ward Nor would the World ever suffer for light and warmth, or the degradations of Time Yet the Ward did not seal against the Lesser Children of Light, Nor the Corrupted Ones, or those of the Corruptions. And the Lords of Darkness once more sang a Song Drawing from the Life they spilled in War And crafted 9 Terrible Beasts And sent them to assail the world of Prime Nexus And War came to the World Along with the Aspect of Death that had arisen And Famine and Pestilence followed with them. Four Gray Riders upon Pale Horses And the Beasts strove against the Giants and Dragons And slaughtered thousands upon thousands And the Beasts brought with them Hordes of the Corruptions Who swarmed the lands like locusts Yet the Giants and Dragons fought not alone For the Children of Light came as well to aid And battle their ancient enemies Men, Elves, and Dwarves all And others strove with the Locusts In the End the Beasts could not be destroyed And the Corruptions had grown too numerous to expel So one by one, each Beast was taken And sealed in a Crystal, deep within the bowels of a Tomb And as each Beast was lost, the Corruptions grew weary, and splintered And each went their own ways, never to unite again. Yet the Children of Light too had grown weary And distrusted one another Most of all, the Lesser Children hated and distrusted the Guardians So war came once more, between the Giants and Dragons, and the Lesser Children of Light And the Lesser Children prevailed, and cast the Giants out And drove them apart, and to far distant lands And thus the Giants were sundered, And became Giants of the Storm, Cloud, Valley, Hill, and Dale The Dragons fled as well, into deep hidden places that even the Giants knew not of And were sundered and scattered And became the Dragons of Stars, Flame, and Frost Yet there were those Dragons who remained And guarded the slumbering Beasts in their Tombs These became the Royal Dragons And they grew mighty and fierce, and the Lesser Children feared them And fought them not. The remainder of the Lands were divided amongst the victors Halflings took the lands and hills of the Northwest Closest to the Lands of Giants For they alone of the Lesser Children begged for peace The Elves took the great Southern forests for their home And grew complacent, for no Giants and few of the Corruptions had fled South The Dwarves took to the Mountains and Hills of the East Delving deep, and seeking secrets that long remained hidden The Race of Man, greatest in number of survivors, took to the central and western plains Building great Kingdoms, and fighting petty wars amongst themselves Mighty was the works of these Children And Mightier still their fall For they too became estranged from one another And made wars for the sake of wars And shed blood for the sake of blood Yet not all of the Lesser Children forgot their Purpose Dubbed the Dark Ones, they moved to the Great Library, and built a great City upon it's Island The Faithful toiled endlessly, aiding those few Giants and Dragons remaining in the Library in their task. And the world fell into an uneasy sleep, of thousands of years.
Clarifications The "Corruptions" are simply orcs, goblins, and other standard fantasy-fare bad guys. It's somewhat of a Tolkien reference, as in Middle Earth, Orcs were originally corrupted and twisted elves, and Trolls were twisted versions of Ents. The reasoning behind the Beasts being so powerful, is that they were born by the Lords of Darkness singing in concert with the Creator, not against like the weaker Corruptions. Initially, the good races were unkillable, as Death did not exist. After they were tainted, and begun to drift towards evil, then they as a whole weakened until they were just as weak as the original evil races. The Grey Riders are all four neutral entities, born from the war, and all it brings. They are not evil, and do not serve anyone. [Edited by - domhnall4h on March 13, 2010 10:31:34 PM]

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I think it explains pretty well how the people, monsters,
giants and dragons come about in the world and their roles.

You now have a grid of hostility and a treasure map
(the Nexus and the location of the tomb with crystalized

I think you should move on to define the main characters
by defining how the situation poses a challenge to each
of them.

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Well, the main characters will be a bit faceless. This is an old school design, the protagonists are created by the player. Unless you mean the non-player characters essential to the story. In which case, I wrote three pages just from the very first "quest" or section in the main plot. Not counting additional back story.

It's still all very early on. Originally, the idea was the built a rpg mechanic that was very, very simple. How simple? Most things are explained in 2-3 lines. Most rules are a single line. How everything works could probably fit on 1 or 2 pages (no classes, races, etc).

The thought is using an extremely simple game design to support a in-depth story. Thus, three pages of guessing what questions a player might want to ask the Seer at the start of the game.

One thing I am trying is having the in-game history differ from region to region. An example is a war between the town where you start, and a Halfling community to the north.


The Halfling-Templar Wars
This deals with the recent war between the City-state of Eden and it's Order of the Temple, or Templars, and the Halfling Empire of Sholl.

The start of the war came during a time of great difficulty for Eden. A drought in the farmlands to the east and south very nearly caused famine in the city, and did cause considerable panic. While the Halfling province of Eashire was also affected, they were able to import plenty of food in from their western provinces.

The issue started when raiders from Eashire started attacking farms and stealing food along the border. Due to the pressures from the populace, the Seer dispatched an army of 10,000 infantry to the border, which resulted in several minor skirmishes between Templar and Raider forces.

The war escalated when two sons of a wealthy and highly powerful Halfling Lord in Eashire were captured during a battle. Templars refused to restore the two youths to their father, demanding restitution for lost food and soldiers due to the raid and subsequent campaign. In turn, this Lord raised his local army, roughly 4,000 infantry and 1,000 light cavalry, and sent a call to other provincial lords for aid.

The first battle came three weeks later, as the still raw Halfling 1st Eashire Army marched across the border and lay siege to a fort where the two hostages were presumed to be kept. The fort got off a message quickly enough to the main Templar force, who arrived two days later and routed the much less experienced Halflings. They then fought two minor actions across 4 days as the Halflings retreated northward, and were pursued by Templar forces.

Pursuit was called off due to the exhaustion and lack of supplies that the Templars faced. The Halflings; better supplied, but equally exhausted and lacking in quality troops, camped out three miles north of the Templar position and waited for reinforcements. The Templar commander also sent work that he would need a larger army, as it was now total war.

The other 3 Eashire Lords in the meantime had raised their own armies, smaller than the first but still significant, and quietly begun training them. The 3rd Eashire Army attacked south immediately, destroying two villages and slaughtering the inhabitants; many of whom were Halflings. The 2nd and 4th Eashire forces joined with the remnants of the 1st, and attacked the Templars two days later. They won the field, however the 1st Army was all but destroyed.

Meanwhile, news of the war had inflamed the people of both sides. Both now blamed the other for the drought, and both begun to raise large armies to go on an offensive in the fall. The Templars struck first. Sending the Templar 6th Army to reinforce the original border force, the 11th and 7th Armies struck north, taking Eaport in two hours and carving a large slice out of the Halfling Empire within a week. They seized warehouses full of food and other supplies in Eaport, which were used as proof of Halflings' being the cause of the drought.

The arrival of the 6th Army pushed the Eashire 2nd and 4th back north, with heavy losses. However, the presence of the 3rd Eashire on their left flank prevented the Templars from pushing north in a counter attack.

At this point, the Halflings were in dire straights. Reinforcements were at the least two weeks away, and the 1st Army was gone. 2nd and 4th were down to a quarter of their original strength. Only the 3rd was still strong, and it was the weakest originally, with 1500 infantry roughly. They faced 5000 of the Templar 6th Army, and the Border Patrol retained about 5000 as well.

What's more, is the Templar 11th and 7th Armies rested on their own left flank, and had cut off their largest city and only major port; as well as a major source of manpower and a large amount of supplies. Most of it had been shipped to Eden immediately to feed her population.

The Border Patrol moved first, cutting off the 3rd Eashire and forcing it's surrender after a fierce battle in one of the destroyed villages. As payment for the slaughter of their people, the Templars executed the entire surviving army, including their Lord.

Arriving troops from the province to the north, the 5th Imperial Army, immediately attempted to push the Templars from around Eaport. They were shattered and driven back north, nearly completely destroyed. The 7th Templar Army then cut the northern route of retreat for the beleaugered Eashire forces.

Finally, the 6th attacked and defeated the remaining Eashire troops, capturing the 3 remaining Eashire Lords in the battle. They were placed under arrest, pending execution or end of the war, and the Templars sent demands for surrender to the closest Imperial Army, which was a week away still. The Halflings reluctantly surrendered, ending the war.

Eden retained control over Eaport and the surrounding area as payment for the destruction of several farms and villages over the course of the war. The two boys who were captured during a raid were publicly executed, in front of their father. The Imperial Treasury also paid 150,000 gold pieces for losses incurred during the campaign.

Post-war, the 11th Army remains the occupying force in Eaport, while the 6th and 7th have been recalled. The Border Patrol has been rebuilt, and now occupies a line of small forts across the new border.

This is Eden's (all names are subject to change, I suck with names) version of the history. While I have only a rougher outline of Eashire's version, it is drastically different in all accounts, save the final conclusion. And of course, the truth is different still, I'm sure (though I won't get into it, and probably will never know myself).

Notably, there is no "Halfling Empire"; Eashire is a independent city-state similar to Eden. And the unit designations for Halfling forces were made up to fit with Templar troop organizational policies.

There's also a more in depth look at the war between the Giants and the lesser mortals, again with conflicting accounts drawn up. As a student of history in the real world, I am making history a decided focus here. The only problem is I'm not necessarily showing the real events. So the player will have to shift through things to uncover the truth.

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