Creating a Chimera setting for solo play
Before I (finally) get C’mapalla’s Saga on the road, I want to draw up a quick setting. Nothing extensive, but enough to support the action and provide context for the results I expect Mythic  will provide during solo play.
Using the Chimera Basic Campaign Creation guidelines (CB/24-29), I come up with the following:
Genre & Setting
I’ve already created C’mpalla in a pulp sword & sorcery vein (and, will, as a result, draw heavily on Howard’s Conan and Moorcock’s Elric for inspiration and guidance). I levy my astounding powers of originality and name the world “Terrus.”
Technology & Powers
Terrus is a fantasy setting of largely Tech Level 2 barbaric peoples. There are civilised areas (small kingdoms and city-states, some of which are TL 3), but they are rare and aren’t necessarily much safer or refined than the barbaric societies they profess to outshine.
Powers exist in one of two forms: as spells cast by sorcerers (i.e., Occultist class) or as artefacts invoked by priests (i.e., Faithful class). Spells are learned formulae, involving rituals, pacts with dimensional beings, words of power, and the occasional sacrifice; artefacts are objects enchanted by a divine entity for the purpose of furthering its earthly goals (i.e., only a worthy mortal can use one). I see sorcerers as twisted, power-hungry opportunists always pursuing selfish goals. I see priests as self-deluded, power-hungry manipulators always pursuing ostensibly altruistic goals. Hmmm...jaded much?
Since I mentioned priests, I’ll thrown in my initial impressions of Terrus’ cosmology: Gods of Destiny and Freedom are venerated; the former advocate that worshipers take ordered paths to fulfil their proper roles in the multiverse while the latter encourage their followers to explore and cultivate their own individuality. Neither is necessarily good nor bad, but the respective tenants are easily oversimplified into dichotomies of Order and Disorder, Law and Chaos, Duty and Freewill. Given the binary nature of this belief system, adherents of either are easily manipulated into discrimination and violence against the other whenever life becomes less than idyllic.
The campaign hook (CB/25) requires a dice roll [3d12: 4, 1, 10] “Defeat an Ancient Evil,” “Extraterrestrials,” and “Secret Agenda.” I decide this means that a race of Neutrally-aligned beings [extraterrestrials] discover Terrus and decide to stop or contain the natives’ struggle between Law and Chaos [ancient evil]. Why do they do this?
Who knows? [secret agenda] Maybe they want to wipe out the pesky warring humans before colonising Terrus. Maybe they want to enslave the humans, but without their squabbling over Order and Disorder. Maybe they just want everyone to get along by promoting their own Church of Neutral. Either way, the extraterrestrials are Neutral, they’re working behind the scenes (secret, remember?) and believe the whole Law/Chaos thing has got to go.
Given this level of ambiguity, the hook will manifest in little ways here and there: perhaps a cult of Neutrality rising in the countryside or the destruction of a Lawful Church in a great city or maybe a vision of diplomacy granted to a barbarian warlord. In Mythic terms, this hook is “context,” and I’ll keep it in mind as the campaign progresses.
I do a quick check for cultures (CB/25) and end up with [1d6+2: 3] three; I also roll 1d12 to determine the disposition of each:
- [1d12: 4]: Producers (Neutral innovators, low population)
- [1d12: 11]: Dominant (Chaotic oppressors, high population)
- [1d12: 9]: Oppressed (Neutral slaves; low population)
This looks to be wondrously convenient. In a previous post, I mentioned a certain City State of Vynkar. Clearly, this is the dominant society, which I’ll call the Vynkar. Chaotic and cruel, lazy and rich (just like that indolent sorcerer Cav Duppor), they make the perfect masters for a caste of slaves.
Which, happily, also shows up in the die roll. I’ll call these guys the Kalv, and decide they’re also human, but of a different social station. These guys are Neutral only because they’re too deeply indentured to care about Law or Chaos or Destiny or Freewill—all they know is it’s important to be good slaves and do whatever the Vynkar ask. Given that mindset, it’s probable that the Kalv have no aspirations at freedom, implying that they are born into their lot (and have been for generations).
The third culture is a small tribe of Neutral innovators, which I’ll call the Makir. As innovators, they promote the extraterrestrials’ Neutral cult, which they “discovered” as the result of a shaman’s smoke-trance (actually a mental implant sent by the ETs, who have no desire to intervene directly). More on these folks later, but for now, I have a foundation for the so-called Church of Neutral.
I used the Hex-based Campaign Design guidelines to create the campaign map (shown at right). If you’re artistically impaired (like me) or short of time (also like me), I recommend using Hexographer and my own Hex Templates (like, um... me). Note that one hex equals 5 miles (the big hexes are 25 miles across).
Map features (i.e., Points of Interest) were generated courtesy of Hex-based Campaign Design Part 2. With the exception of the labelled features (Vynkar and Moko-Chaaka and the Weeping Plain), I have no real idea what these places are or who lives in each—they just came up in the random rolls and I placed them on the map. What I do know is that I’ll identify them as the adventure unfolds—and going forward, I’ll use the random Region Names table to label various areas.
In a nutshell: Vynkar wants to retain power, the Kalv are wretched slaves, and the Makir want to stir things up. The Makir work to promote the ETs secret agenda, to possible benefit of the Kalv (who are so indoctrinated that they really don’t care) and the certain detriment to the Vynkar (who absolutely want to crush this Neutrality nonsense).
Given Mythic’s open-ended structure, I think this is enough of a foundation to be going on with.
There’s Cav Duppor, for one (the sorcerer who hires C’mpalla), and probably a couple people to be found in Vynkar who C’mpalla will no doubt interact with and perhaps try to hire as a guide/porter/retainer on her journey to the Weeping Plain.
I’ll leave this open for now and generate NPCs when Mythic tells me to.
Ordinarily, I’d create some random encounter tables to flesh out the setting, but I’m going to let Mythic tell me when random things happen. I have a few ideas about what sort of monsters, creatures, and peoples dwell in the campaign area, but again, I’ll let Mythic nudge me toward their identification.
For now, the big hook is getting the Purple Ruby from the ruins of Moko-Chaaka in the Weeping Plain. Other hooks will no doubt follow, thanks to the results I expect Mythic will provide.
There’s the campaign in a nutshell. The last few steps have been glossed over only because I plan to let Mythic do the work that would ordinarily be my responsibility. Interestingly, you’ll note that as the campaign setup goes from general to specific, more and more results are dependent upon Mythic (or, rather, I put more of the development burden on the results I expect Mythic to produce).
We’ll see how this goes. Next episode: C’mpalla prepares to venture forth to the Weeping Plain.
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