Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Taenarum 2.0 Player's Background

Wow.  It's been over a month since the last post.  I've been keeping super busy in the meantime, though most of it has been work related (I'll spare the details).  From an RPG perspective, I've gotten some experience running 5E games and been working with the system.  I installed mapping software on my 8.1 machine.  I got Taenarum reconfigured and ready for some 5E action!  Players are on the way this weekend, so I'm going to post a player's background here for easy reference.

Player's Background

Taenarum is the legendary entrance to the Greek Underworld.  Hades, the god of wealth and the underworld, covets the souls of mortal heroes, and his undead minions have created sprawling dungeons along the road of the dead, promising fantastic treasures and ready death.  Heroes from around Greece sojourn to Taenarum to test themselves against the death god's minions and the chance to loot Hades' wealthy vaults.

The great heroes and kings of the Trojan War have faded to obscurity, leaving behind petty city states and grasping kings.  It's a landscape ripe for a new generation of heroes , where a strong sword arm and a hefty purse can raise an army and allow one to start their own conquests.

The gods themselves are deeply divided.  Slights and insults from the war years have created rifts across the pantheon, rivalries that are echoed amongst their mortal followers.  When angered, the scornful gods send terrible monsters to punish disrespectful followers.  Apocalyptic oracles warn that the known world is on the verge of a new Dark Age…

Next are the maps I'm using for the world.  This view of the world came from the Greek historian Herodotus; if you google "Herodotus world map" you can see what I mean.  Imagine if the world really looked like this!  There are decadent and ancient city states in the lands beyond Greece, crumbling and corrupt centers of old civilization like Carthage, Memphis, and Babylon.  Somewhere in the far north dwell the bizarre and otherworldly Hyperboreans with their alien science and magic.  This map of the world is far enough away from the real world that it's easy to "fantasy it up" and place Mythic Greece at the center of it all.

Oikoumene, the Known World
Taenarum, in southern Laconia

Assumptions for 5E
I plan to run 5E using most\all of the core assumptions and keep it "by the book", interpreting races and classes through a mythic lens where warranted. Customization will mostly be new monsters, magic items, and artifacts.

The following core classes all work fine as is for Greek adventurers - Bard, Fighter, Cleric, Paladin, Rogue, and Wizard.  All the wild lands north of Greece are filled with Barbarians.  Druids and Rangers can hail from the Celtic wilds of Iberia, and Sorcerers and Warlocks can be from any number of the decadent civilizations to the east.  I'm sure the players will generate additional ideas, and I plan on taking in some player suggestions, too.

The dwarves of mythic Greece are forge-bound followers of Hephaestus; elves and the fey races are be outsiders from the wilds of Europe and the north - though keeping with the Greek theme, the natural world is somewhat split between the portfolio of Artemis (order) and Pan (chaos).  Keeping with the swords & sorcery vibe, Tieflings hail from the decadent east and demon-plagued cities of night, and perhaps Dragonborn are from some distant part of Asia (although there's also the mythic "Spartoi", the men grown from dragon's teeth by Cadmus).  I could go either way on Dragonborn.  I'm not a fan of Half-Orcs - there aren't any orcs in the game, they're "pig-men" instead - but perhaps the Half-Orc represents a human cursed by the gods - like Caliban from the cheesy "Clash of the Titans" movie.  A Half-Orc is made when a god takes a clay statue of a man, and warps it into something twisted and grotesque as punishment for a slight or insult.  I'm not 100% sure how the Drow are going to fit into the Greek mythos yet, I just know that I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Drow.