This week’s post is about restoring the world of Let Thrones Beware. Last week I wrote about hope vs. fear, and what I was aiming to accomplish with Let Thrones Beware. I feel absolutely floored by the discussion that post generated; I’ve never seen 280+ blog visits in a single day on a single post before! As always, I continue to welcome your thoughts and feedback – both here and on social platforms like twitter, and G+.
The Traumas of Let Thrones Beware
The last few weeks were spent talking about themes of trauma and hope. This week, I’m going to dive into exactly what I mean by trauma. To be clear, when I talk trauma, I don’t mean personal trauma. Setting Let Thrones Beware hundreds of years after the collapse of the Kingdom of Man was a design choice expressly made to allow players to avoid that sort of intimate and immediately personal hurt. In Let Thrones Beware it means two things: trauma inflicted on the world, and trauma inflicted on the world’s inhabitants.
Each of the five species in Let Thrones Beware has suffered at the hands of the Kingdom in a terrible and unique way. As you’ll see in the brief overview below, Man’s invasion has lasting repercussions on all the survivors.
Relatively uncommon, legend tells that the Cabeiri of Argohex were once immortal, but their immortality was lost when the Kingdom of Man wrenched them from the forests. Today, every Cabeiri born is afflicted with the Curse of Ash, doomed to wither away to dust on their 30th birthday
It is said that the Dactyls sprang from the very cradle of Argohex itself, earth given breath to defend the planet from the those set upon its surface by the gods. To be sure, were that the case, not only would it explain the brilliant metallic colour of their hair, the mottled, stone-like appearance of their skin and features, but also their affinity for the earth. Their skill in constructing fortresses and defensive works was so formidable that Man used terrible sorceries to alter the very nature of the Dactyl, and since then, stone and mineral have been like terrible poison.
Unlike the other denizens of Argohex, the Echthroi are not natural inhabitants. Instead, Man gave them life, wrenching them from the very shadows to rend the last defenses of the Ipotane in its conquest of Argohex. Echthroi avoid others of their kind where possible. The horrid magics that gave them life still course through their veins. As Echthroi congregate, their willpower recedes, and their more violent tendencies emerge. Given a large enough congregation, a group of Echthroi is little better than a raucous, brutal mob.
The great Ipotane republics were last to fall to the onslaught of Man, many thousands of years ago. Man created the Echthroi to crush Ipotane resistance. After the triumphed, their defiance was punished with the Vanishing. A single, horrible night in which Man’s vile sorceries tore the vast Ipotane metropolises from the very earth itself. The great columns and massive populations to never be seen again.
Before the coming of Man, the Myrmekes were as one, unified under the great hiveminds of Xzzryxy. Thinking as one, acting as one, existing as one, Myrmekes spread across the whole of Argohex. The vastness of their civilization made its shattering all the more tragic. Where there had only been one voice, suddenly a cacophony. The shock of sudden individuality was too much for most, killing many and driving others mad.
I mentioned two types of trauma above. The first, just described above, is intentionally designed as fiction. How (and whether) it affects each hero is up to the player. It’s not something I codified and enforce mechanically because people will have difference preferences about how deeply to engage with the theme. If players want to engage and explore this area, great. If not, that’s okay too.
However, that’s not true when it comes to the trauma of the land – which has deep mechanical integration. This trauma is primarily represented by the Primordial Forces of Evil, which I wrote about last week. While I’m still fine-tuning how they interact mechanically, these forces very much interfere with the heroes as they adventure. In combat, each of the four (Despair, Disorder, Greed, and Malice) have different effects that will alter the battlefield. The forces will serve to make adversaries more dangerous, alter battlefield terrain, and further complicate combat.
Restoring the World
Let Thrones Beware wouldn’t be a game about hope if there weren’t ways to overcome and conquer this trauma, especially when it comes to restoring the inhabitants themselves. With that in mind, we turn to a particular type of enemy – the Mythic Foe. I’ve mentioned this class of adversary on the blog before. These terribly powerful adversaries are more akin to an earthquake, forest fire, or tornado than they are to a regular baddie you face on the battlefield. Overcoming a Mythic Foe takes grit, dedication, and extensive research, as before the heroes can confront and defeat such a creature, they must undertake a series of trials to weaken it. They can only defeat a Mythic Foe after successfully accomplishing all of the related trials.
So what happens after the heroes challenge and slay a Mythic Foe? Well for one, hopefully the players feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment! Mythic Foes are complicated, treacherous, and more dangerous than any other encounter that Let Thrones Beware has to offer. More than that though, each Mythic Foe in the game has an explicit connection with a trauma inflicted upon the inhabitants of Agrohex. If the heroes end the dominion of the Mythic Foe Asag, the Curse of Ash is lifted from the Cabeiri; they are no longer fated to die.
That’s where I’ll leave things for this week. I’ll be back next Monday with another blog post, one that examines the principles of the game from a “what this game does and why you should play it” perspective. Until then, happy gaming!
Try it for Yourself
As always, you can download the playtest packet and try it for yourself. Visit drivethrurpg to download the beta and introductory adventure for free.