The Setting

Big Picture

Feel free to suggest additions or changes here.

What’s the Big Picture?

  • Campaign Setting and Style?
    Where do you want to play? In an Urban, Pastoral, Mountainous, Archipelago, Seafaring, Subterranean, Arboreal, or a Hellish milieu. What does the world look like? Idyllic pastures, or dark, brooding metropolis?
  • What’s going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure? What’s changing, evolving, declining?
  • What’s the world’s culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.
  • What’s the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What’s wrong?
    The Co-Emperor was recently elevated to the position this spring. Ancient artifacts from the Old Empire have been turning up lately.
  • What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, location?
  • What’s the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital, but rather The Place where all the action goes down?
  • What’s the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?
    The Old City, lost when the Old Empire collapsed. Elfin Babylon, and points beyond. Dwarven Carthage, under siege by the migrating gothic orcs.
  • Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?

Things to Consider

  • What is the prevailing Climate? Is there more than one?
    Desert, Tropical, Rain Forest, Temperate, Arctic, et al.
    The City itself and the nearby area has a Mediterranean climate.
  • What is the weather cycle like?
    Static, Seasonal, Random, or approaching crisis.
    The City is on a Mediterranean coast, and is subtropical, with hot summers and wet winters.
  • What is the technology level of this area/world?
    Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Dark Ages, Middle Ages, The Renaissance, Age of Discovery, Modern, etc?
    Late antiquity/early middle ages.
  • Which Character Stocks are allowed? Which is dominant locally? Globally? Which others exist?
    Man, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Troll, Great Wolf, Spider, any others?
  • Do monsters exist? How? What kind of myths and legends exist?
    Are there.. angels, demons, zombies, vampires.. bullworks? What kinds? Is it common knowledge? Are the myths and legends real?
  • Does magic exist, and how?
    Is magic prevalent in the setting? Does it exist at all? How about divine and demonic powers? Are the Gifted and Faithful Traits allowed?
  • Which cultural analogies exist to our own world (for reference)?
    Anglo, Arabic, Japanese, Aztec, Germanic, French, Roman, Mongol, Slavic, Norse, Afrikaans, etc.
    The City is based on Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. The Old Empire was overrun by the Gothic/Viking Orcs. The Incan/Carthaginian dwarves on the other side of the Sea are still dealing with the fallout of the collapse. The Persian/Babylonian Elves are standing aloof from it all.
  • What is the dominant local government like?
    Monarchy, Republic, Theocracy, Democracy, Mercantile, Anarchic, Occupied Territory, Colony, Military Rule, Mageocracy, etc.
    Emperor and co-emperor, with a mostly ceremonial Senate. The co-emperor was only elevated to the position this year, having closely advised his uncle the Emperor ever since the days when the Emperor was only the General of the Guard.
  • Are there factions that should be prevalent?
    Minority Races, Cultures, Religious Cults, Criminals, Mageocrats, Mercantile Guilds, Criminal Guilds, Military, Rebels, Slaves, Conspiracies, etc.
    Two major political/religious/sports-team factions dominate the city’s politics: the Whites and the Greens.
  • What’s the local situation like?
    What’s going on? What is the conflict that the protagonists and antagonists are fighting over? Who are the main players in this situation?

    Relationships, Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits definitely help you iron out these details, but you must come up with a situation prior to character burn.]

Mechanical Questions


  • What type of magic exists in this world? Pick one or two of the magic systems: Faith (and Blasphemous Hatred), Sorcery (and Abstraction), Natural Magic, Spirit Binding, Summoning, or Enchanting.
    Faith and Sorcery are used. Sorcery is less common than it was in the Old Empire, and magic-users are automatically induced to become one of the Chained Ones
  • If Sorcery is used, what’s its idiom? Does it require speech? Gestures?
  • If Sorcery is used, what spells are available? Which spells are inappropriate to the game world?
  • If is Faith used, what is the Faith idiom? What are the religions? Is Faith universal or does it only affect believers?
    In the city, there are two main, related religious/political/sports factions, each a part of the same religion but with severely different interpretations on one key point.

Character Stocks

  • What character stocks are in play in this world? Which are restricted and why?
    Currently PCs are only human.
  • Will you allow only character burns or will you allow monster-burned characters as well?
  • If monster-burned characters are used, what are their common Traits?
  • What Cultural Traits apply to the characters of this game world? Pick three Character Traits for each culture.


    • What’s your Resources Cycle? 1 month, seasonal, 6 months, annual? What’s the game world’s currency? Who collects the taxes? What do people do for work? What’s the major economy? What’s the black market economy?
      I think a seasonal resources cycle will be balanced.
      The currency is the gold Solidus, and is the sole payment accepted for the Emperor’s taxes.
    • Material world: What weapons and armor are available? Are some weapons and armor restricted to certain cultures or character stocks? What property is available? Are resources and gear otherwise restricted?
  • The Setting

    City and Sea (Polis kai Thalassa) ijk ijk