Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Empire of Bone: The Power of Death

In the Empire of Bone, death (and undeath) is a tangible force that imposes itself on the world in various ways:
  • The Restless Dead – Once a living thing dies, they don’t always stay dead. There is a chance they will come back to life in an undead state: as a revenant, a zombie, a skeleton, a ghost, or as an animated “thing”. While many are quite civil about it, many also go about bothering the living with their undead state.
  • Death Rot – The world is awash with entropic energies, causing everything to warp and rapidly. Everything appears to be in a twisted and dilapidated state and drained of color.
  • Dead Sky – The sky has entered into a perpetual twilight, casting a pall on everything. The sun and moon both cast a dull light through the dead sky, with grey days giving way to a thick darkness on moonless nights.
This force of death can be controlled in various ways with those with the right knowledge:
  • Grave Gifts – Every restless dead possesses a special power when they come back from the grave. Usually it is related to the method by which they died.
  • Necromancy – Necromancy means “divination through communication with the dead”. Necromancers can do that and much more with the spirits of the dead.
  • Reanimation – Through creative surgery and applied necro-science, talented surgeons can create mindless undead servants.
  • Funerary Rites – The Black Church possesses certain powers over the dead, and indeed watches over the resurrection process.
This covers a fairly wide range of “dead powers” to work into story and player abilities!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Empire of Bone : The Big Bad

Back on the Empire of Bone project…
We have a defined setting premise: during the early Victorian era, there was an occurrence that changed the nature of the world so the dead came back from the grave. While some undead went about the nasty business of slaying the living, many were rather civil about it and took up their old lives again. Fast forward a few decades and you have a slightly altered mid-Victorian society where the living and the dead co-habit London.
This brings to mind a number of story possibilities, but the biggest is probably the hardest to answer: who is the “Big Bad” of the story, and why do the players care about it? Some ideas:
  • The Undead Problem – Aside from being a bit icky to the living, perhaps the whole world-transforming rise of the dead has a farther-reaching and more sinister element to it. Maybe it’s a pre-cursor to some manner of world-destroying nastiness associated with it – possibly something that was engineered and has yet to reach it’s conclusion. The real trick is making it so that even the undead players have a reason for wanting to stop it – since it could mean the end of their existence if they succeed.
  • Class Struggle – Things have really become upset since the dead rose, and are only really starting to settle down. Now that the living and the dead have gotten used to their new roles, how is it going to play out? There is an underlying class struggle in Victorian society – add the additional complication of the undead and it becomes an interesting tangle of politics to unravel.
  • Outside Threat – Perhaps there is a threat originating from outside the Empire itself - perhaps a foreign power bent on conquering and/or destroying the Empire. Maybe the Prussians have come up with a new manner of applied necro-science that has given them a combat edge and are pressing the advantage.
Of course, the answer could be “all of the above”, but I’m trying to narrow down the options a bit in order to nail down the plot points. Ideas abound!