In the Heart of Clockwork: Factions and more for Alza’um

Typical Mayhem in the Streets…

The smoke bomb, particularly the toxic vapor.  Only one group could produce something like that in such short notice, the Chymists!  How desperate someone must be to turn to terror, such inadequate rubble will be eliminated from the city in due time.  Mark my words, the Consortium shall rightfully reign over the future. – Gelzeer, Assistant Lead Mechanic for the Consortium of Machine, at Primus Security Foundation HQ

Despite splitting off from the world above, internal politics breeds their own issues; whether in the splendorous city proper or its bayside proxy.  Various guilds vie for dominance, whether through honest or underhanded means.  That’s not to safe that attempts at sales within the market can’t be a front for devious sabotage and spying… if not acts far worse.  Some could argue that those who protect the city from these biased extremists are biased and extreme in their own right, favoring a repressive status quo and neutrality that inhibits both progress and tradition alike.

Even before these new issues had arisen, turmoil stewed within the city since early days.  Wicked cults that twist the worst of ancient tradition, cruel slavers and exploiters masquerading as market movers and shakers and general violent madmen.  None the less, the city boasts quite the strange history for one that is otherwise pretty young.

Author’s Note: I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, create a timeline as well as faction related stuff for my mini-setting.  Plus, maybe an extra monster or two in an update.  Also, the factions, alongside the monsters, can easily be repurposed for a more steampunk-oriented setting.  Though, there’s no need to have the setting a dark and gritty urban setting deep within the ground.

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More Creations of Alza’um!

Camel, Augmented!

Ever eager to innovate and create, the artifice city marches onward with all sorts of strange ideas.  However, many prove to be quite practical.  Whether to ensure the city runs like clockwork or to keep the peace in some regard, Alza’um provides in many strange ways.  Even in Bashar, there are many marvelous sights to see… and some significantly less so.

Author’s Note:  Pardon the extreme lateness.  Job hunting and other things have held me up.  Simply put, I can’t afford to dedicate too much free time to what I love until I find some kind of job in the meantime.  That said, I’ll try to keep some stuff moving along.  Plus, I have a project that I want to start up soon, inspired by one of my patrons on Patreon!  Stay tuned for all sorts of magic and mayhem.  In the meantime, hopefully some steampunk-y goodness will suffice.

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The Mechanical Bits of Alza’um

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While Alza’um secludes itself in secrecy, the land is still quite populous.  While the population is predominantly made of humans, gnomes, dwarves and even ratfolk; it’s still bristling with its own unique vibrancy and charm.  Much like the machines that operate on clockwork, so do the denizens.  Life is a chaotic schedule balanced under the facade of order.  This insular technical revolution is made under the assumption that the outside world isn’t ready, but they’re more than enlightened.  Whether this is truth or unaware foolishness hasn’t been determined yet.  Either way, strange adventures and even stranger locals await those granted the proper access.

Author’s Note:  It’s a pun!  But seriously, I felt like I was leaving out a lot of goodies.  At some point, I’ll want to flesh this out for say an OGL product or something, once I can get help with maps, layout and artists eventually.  In the meantime, here are some underground dwellers of this outlandish city of high magical technologies.  Of course, many can be repurposed for more steampunk oriented games.

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Alza’um, Land of High Artifice Part 2. Alza’um City

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Welcome. Please, step into the elevator chamber at the end of the hallway.

Alza’um, the true city beneath the smoke and mirrors. Life is far more controlled than in the port city of mysteries and merchants. However, that doesn’t make life any easier. Only the lucky and the blessed get their way in, without tricky maneuvering. Stowaways and thieves don’t make out too well. For those who make it? It’s a long way down the ladder and back up. Life in the city is a climb towards excellence. Of course, too many refuse to let others into their station.

In the beginning, a large caravan of outcasts, tinkerers, mages and artificers came together with a common goal.  They wished to craft and hone their abilities in peace, trading and sharing knowledge within their enclave.  For a while, it was a place of common ground and unity.  Racial differences of these sages and inventors mattered little, but rather their devotion to their creations and the quality of their work.  An ideal lead to a city, which fled underground after conflict with the outside world.  This racial harmony ideal lasted… until the denizens of the darkness below found themselves in inevitable conflict with the city dwellers.

Author’s Note: Part 2 continues with the namesake city! In addition, I might make some extra crunch bits soon too. Needless to say, I’m having tons of fun with this.

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Threshold Magazine – The Egg be Dammed

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Return to the dark mirror that is Returned Blackmoor!  While issues remain in more populated lands, an ancient conspiracy has been unearthed in a zone far detached from prying eyes.  The Cootsbane Dam, a derelict turned military grounds, has had rumors of weird activity and stranger trespassers.  Investigate into the dark secrets and keep them from being unleashed upon the world at large!

Check out the current issue and “The Egg Be Dammed” Here!

Author’s Note: I wrote an edition neutral adventure for Threshold Mystara.  Admittedly, this was because I didn’t know what version of the game to tackle and Threshold tends to focus more so on BECMI, which I don’t have too much exposure to (outside of reading setting information of The Known World and beyond.)  I might update things for 5E or AD&D, maybe ask for a hand with BECMI for the next issue.

Alza’um, Land of High Artifice Part 1. Bashar

scifi desert landscape by Bawarner

Just a normal colony, nothing to see here…

 

Bashar.  It’s a city of splendors!  A glowing beacon amidst sloshing sea and dead desert.  Beyond it?  A wasteland riddled with pillaged tombs, booby traps and a rare village or two.  Those who do make the voyage are treated to a gathering place of delights and fancies.  The bazaar attracts and sells some of the finest wares in the world, as well as domestic items beyond words.  It is here that new forms of magic have been unveiled as well as incredible forms of technology dubbed “magitech”.

However, life in this metropolitan hub is not what it seems.  While a paradise for the discerning buyer or the exotic seller, a sinister shadow is caste upon those who live within the dusty streets and winding alleyways beyond the market.  Few care or look out for each other.  While backstabbing is rarely literal, there isn’t much trust between neighbors.  Help is looked upon with a sense of dishonor and ascension up the social ladder is rife with self-sacrifice or betrayal.

Your ship is closing in fast to the docks ahead.  Greetings traveler, welcome to the Bazaars of Bashar!

Author’s Note: I’m back at trying my hand at world building once more!  And like always, I bend things away from typical pseudo-euro high fantasy and towards other genres and ideas.  I’ve always been fascinated with massive urban hubs, even in fantasy fiction.  One of the earlier cases of this was the setting of many Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, which provided a level of inspiration.  Beyond Lankhmar, Planescape’s Sigil, Conan the Barbarian, Arabian Nights and Magic the Gather’s Ravnica have proved to be fair resources for ideas.  Anyway, this is what I have so far!  Enjoy!

 

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Divine World Building – Arothe

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Say hello to the “Overgod”

The RPG Blog Carnival for January 2019 is more or less concluded, but I wanted to return to it once more with my own home setting.  I’ve talked about tons of aspects of the world already, but not too much in terms of “the divine”.  Though, to be fair, that’s a bit of an odd subject for my universe.

Similar to Mystara, deities are much closer to the “Immortals” of that world.  Heroes train, prove themselves and ascend beyond the prime material.  Out of a pact with other “Ascended”, interaction with the mortal plane is rare and only in dire emergency, where it can’t be helped.  Upon ascending, they become the embodiment of the ideals that they believe in, empower those who follow such beliefs and ethos.  Unlike the traditional D&D worlds, believers connect on a level of domains and ideology.  Those who try to directly connect to an Ascended usually go insane, as they’re unable to comprehend the sheer power and form that such beings wield.  Most religions of the world have adapted to fit this harsh truth.  In fact, most religious revolve around various metaphysical concepts as well as ideals.  Like with other traditional worlds, one could still see various religious groups inspired by a cause.  However, this world will not have them tied to a deity, unless they’re a mad cult.

But, what came before the ascended?  And what helps them move beyond mere mortality?  To answer both questions, one must look at what came before.  Arothe was created from an experiment on another world, trying to use transdimensional technology to create a wholly new universe.  The same laboratory reached out to countless realities (including a few versions of Earth).  Something terrible resulted in multiple malfunctions in the experiment at once.  Multiple old realities collapses and folded on themselves, while being absorbed into the new one.  A strange energy was discovered thanks to the experiments though, psychic power.  The power preserved the millions of minds of the victims, binding and bonding them to a single entity.  The mad hivemind eventually formed into a chaotic and discordant entity within the new universe.  Basically, a psychic powered Azathoth that’s too confused and lost to be fully aware of what it does.  However, this doesn’t mean that the Ascended escape its wrath.  Those who ascend are tethered to this mighty being.  And, in the off chance that they are slain, they can be eaten by this star horror should it desire more power and minds to sustain itself.

As for reality building itself anew, the hive at the center of the universe mostly shaped things from afar.  Terrain shaped itself naturally, as forces and energies of life spurred on evolution.  However, the hive itself influenced sentient life forces through subtle implanting of thoughts to outright bizarre visions.  As much of the hive is composed of former Earth humans, subjects of the world are slightly pushed in a direction similar to Earth’s many cultures.  Some mortals feel that they’re being manipulated by something, but few can ever prove it.  Many take the visions, strange dreams and signs as their own creations and go from there.  But all along, distant thoughts from Earth from equally distant sources find their way into the life of this strange, but oddly familiar world.

So there you have it, a little insight into how divinity works in the weird world of Arothe.

IMAGE CREDIT: Azathoth – Andy Tantowi