I’m going to have a slight change of pace. This one has been floating in the aether for a while now, if only because of a bunch of scattered memories tied to facebook posts from ages back. Well, digging a mix of scattered campaign notes, FB posts and then some. So, let’s dive into the past and observe the passage of time within what started as a small city and expanded into its own thing.
Since I started D&D, I’ve almost always incorporated my very loose and zany ideas within the game. Among them was a “setting” which later became a setting and then its own universe. When I was a kid who barely understood D&D back in the AD&D days (well, 2e), I came up with a few places based off all sorts of cliches; a place for pirates and swashbuckling, a place for knights and castles, a place for horror monsters, a place for weird sci-fi stuff, a place for faeries and wizards, you get the idea. I accidentally created an over simplified Mystara or Ravenloft, lol.
As I grew older, I wanted more out of these ideas. I even gave one of my locations, the aforementioned Richardsport, to one of the DMs for the earlier days of 3E. This was the swashbuckling coastal city from my childhood… and the start of something more. Most of the game took place there. Angry merchant families and pirates duke it out for control of an ideal trade port, also sea magic! It was great fun, a proper mix of Tolkien fantasy and Errol Flynn movies, hehe. By the end of the game, other areas had popped up. They were, of course, unnamed, but they had their share of neat identity. There was a colony about a day’s journey south that was a mix of medieval Spain, later Spain and early American colonies, with an imperialistic overtone… complete with an animated windmill that slew knights! In a follow-up game for 3.5, the colony had received contact with their motherland over the growing concern of piracy in Richardsport. The players aided the royal navy in the fight against piracy, ultimately seizing the port town and capturing/killing most of the pirates. We ruled it that the old players-turned-NPCs escaped to somewhere and gave up a life of piracy. Soon after, new lands popped up. Vesspuccia was the entire country surrounding Richardsport, Averandor was the faux-Europe continent across the puddle, Molikonoko was a journey south and Tien Xu Provinces to the east (which funny enough, predates Tian Xia from Pathfinder!) These names, in retrospect, might not have been the best… but I was still pretty young and whatnot…
Eventually, this naval port town in expansive territory would face a new uprising… artifice! Thanks to Eberron and D20 Past, the setting began to have a tech revolution. Richardsport was buckling under a pirate trade of incredible artifice goods and order fell apart. Merchants seized control and established a council revolving around capital. Reports of more fertile land with better opportunities for sailing resulted in the old city being largely abandoned (save for a few settlements). Not long after, new tech innovations allowed for this small empire to expand and break free from their roots, siding with somewhat French and British inspired regions. The Frontier town of Cactus Sting evolved into its own sprawling Wild West while New Richardsport became its own New York City. Eventually, the world had its own “Pulp Age”, mirroring the stories from pulp magazines, adventure radio broadcasts and the like; leading into Raygun Gothic and straight up futuristic thanks to D20 Future! These changes allowed for a living world that advanced between games with games that ranged from Age of Exploration pirates to wild west cowboys to Noir-infused Pulp heroes a la The Shadow to Atomic futurism a la Pre-War Fallout. But, we eventually hit a bit of a road block. We weren’t intending to push things so far into Sci-Fi and most of the table wasn’t too interested in Dragonstar (even it is an awesome setting and I recommend checking it out!) So, like Fallout, the world experienced its own big boom.
The finale for that age was right before switching over to 4E. It seems that all of this rapid innovation had attracted alien slavers and warlords to try to seize the planet for their own ends! The ensuing war destroyed the world and stranded much of the alien life. Many “aliens” within lower ranks that weren’t killed quickly defected and wanted to aid in rebuilding, despite a lot of understandable racism. Sadly, much of my old table moved away and I found a new group via Organized Play. This lead into 4E, as my means of introducing the new takes on the Dragonborn, Eladrin and Tieflings that were made core. The next game took places ages after this apocalypse. Alien gods existed among the deities of the world, strange creatures from parallel dimensions stood on the same ground as similar creatures (i.e. Dragonborn -> Dragons), the world had regressed to a prior age with remnants of old world tech as magical items that few knew how to use. After a year with that game, 7E Gamma World (and later Amethyst) came out and the team got to explore the vast wastelands, as well as settlements that retained their old ways. Now in their later paragon paths, the heroes went on a mission to clear the blighted horrors and evils of the wasteland. These mini games were basically boss rush with a hint of segments in between. All of it was very Heavy Metal movie and/or Thundarr the Barbarian, with a hint of Samurai Jack. It was a great time, as the table preferred Gamma World (and the amended house rules to more “epic levels”) to 4E.
As society got itself back in order, a new evil arose. Out of game, the D&D Next playtest was announced and half the table (myself included) grew tired of 4E’s systems, only sticking as long as we did to please the other half of the table. Things shifted to Pathfinder as well as the Next playtest, as a whole list of new monsters were opened into the game. Plus, Modern Path allowed for a more modern take on the game. In game itself, a cult was on a mad mission to reboot the universe, using planar and temporal magic. The party played direct descendants of the previous game. This time, they were long established heroes that carried on the glory of their ancestors. Or rather, a higher level game to start. The ruins of Old Richardsport lead to a series of dug out catacombs created by those who survived the attacks all those years ago. They became bitter after burying their dead here, using it as a meeting place to discuss revenge. This is where the cult was born from, everyone even fought a fair number of cultists! From there, they found themselves in the “old world” which I used in other games, in a place inspired by your Transylvanian Gothic Horror. In this case, it was a castle occupied by a mad scientist working for the cult. The group had succeeded into making a rift within space and time! Naturally, the party crashes the place and jumps in after fighting off much of the cult army. Inside the Rift, it’s kinda like that one aerial fight from Bayonetta. Cultists and the leader square off against the party, with one shocking revelation… anything that dies here no longer exists. The fight cost three of the players and all of the cult. The remaining two were shocked as they were deposited into a new universe. Their friends had become nothing more than tall tales, as did the villains they faced. They looked heavily out of place in a weird heavily anachronistic (think the classic Thief games) version of West Averandor (basically Britain), before trying to settle down and offer to help however they could, keeping their friends alive through the stories that circulated.
This leads to 5E! I realize that the game was rebooted in full with a new timeline, but it marked the start of a new one. With the release of 5th, I started a new game in this universe via Lost Mines of Phandelver. In this reality, the “aliens” never invaded, but technology progressed at an inconsistent and slower rate. None the less, one of the most advanced places, “The Phindorum Mines” was hijacked by bandits and monsters. The dwarven artificers of the region requires heroes to help take it back. Thanks to my desire to homebrew, I did a quick one shot in an urban fantasy take on Alt Universe New Richardsport with all sorts of modern and sci-fi inspired goodies. This quick murder mystery had a few nods to the Lost Mine. Plus, many of the stories from previous games remained as easter eggs (via pulp magazines, books and even film.) Recently, I ran a game set in this universe called “Strange Things in Bloodied Wyvern Peaks”, set not long after the mine incident. Turns out history repeats itself somehow, as a hijacked ship crashes into the mountains of a settlement not far from Western Averandor. The game sadly never got too far for a variety of reasons, but it was fun to go back to that universe. I haven’t had as much time nowadays to run a game, mind you.
So, there you have it. A trek through Richardsport and beyond over the years, through my long winded and incoherent ramblings! I hope you enjoyed.
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Lost Mines of Phandelver and The Forgotten Realms are property of TSR/Wizards of the Coast. Richardsport, and by proxy the Arothe setting, are creations of Doctor Necrotic. Created by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media. All rights and copyrights belong to respective owners.
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