Lore Lite Philosophy

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Here’s a quick post for everyone today about the Unchained Heroes philosophy on settings. Short version is that we don’t force one on you. The long version is below.

Setting Philosophy

I have played many games throughout the years and one overwhelming fact has always jumped out at me, I dislike the metaplot. Metaplot being the overarching setting content, stories, and universe that has already been made, in short it is the established canon. I rarely keep metaplots and if I do, it is only used as a reference point to tie my campaign to the greater universe. I don’t set my Star Wars games at the same time as Episodes 4, 5, and 6; I don’t build my Forgotten Realms campaigns in cities like Baldur’s Gate or Waterdeep; and I don’t build my Dragon Age campaigns to happen at the same time as the “Hero of Ferelden.” That mentality has heavily influenced Unchained Heroes. I personally love epic campaigns, but I don’t want to force my way to play them on anyone. That has led Unchained Heroes to be “lore-lite.”

The Unchained Heroes Fantasy Core Rulebook is set in the Floating Realms universe, but it can fit anywhere. The amount of setting related content is limited to 15% or less of the actual book. That means you have the other 85% for game mechanics and player options for a Fantasy Setting.

Everything you find within the pages of Unchained Heroes is going to be geared towards High Fantasy worlds. The names of Character Skills, Hero Classes, the Species, and the Magical Items reflect this. We talk about Arcanology where a science fiction game might use Computers instead. When we talk about using transportation we call it riding (riding a horse, a buggy, etc) instead of driving (driving a car, driving a bus, driving a plane), and so on. Hero Classes are described as Knights and Alchemists were in another game they may be called Soldiers or Chemists. The Hero Class names of Dread Knights and Paladins are especially suited to High Fantasy where magic is strong and technology is but a fledgling pursuit. The overall philosophy is to give you the minimum required to give you a feel for the Hero Classes and Species in the game while you build the greater setting.

This should give you a blank slate to use for any High Fantasy setting. The particular Species and Hero Classes in Unchained Heroes were chosen for this purpose with the exception of the Cerebrals and Ogres. Overall, they fit into many settings, so you can take them or leave them.

Using UH as a “Lore-lite” System

A “lore-lite” system has some challenges for first time players, specifically, there may be a difficulty in figuring out where the player’s stories will begin. If you don’t have an idea for your own setting, I recommend pulling out your favorite fantasy novel or swinging by your friendly local gaming store and picking up a copy of an established setting. The Lord of the Rings movies or the similar Hobbit trilogy are great movies to draw inspiration from as well. In the original Dungeons and Dragons there was a section called Appendix N to help you get inspiration for your games. It was meant to give you a list of movies, games, books, comics, and other media that might help you jumpstart your stories. There are many places to draw from, its just a matter of finding something that resonates with you. In future supplements for Unchained Heroes you can expect to see a lot more setting content, for now we keep it lite.

Even without a lot of setting content, the Core Rulebook of Unchained Heroes can help you with some of that as well, it is not as “lore-lite” as it seems. The Species Chapter 3 discusses various aspects of their lives and has nuggets of lore for you to build a campaign around. Alternatively, skim through the Hero Class Abilities and Talents and find a description that speaks to you. From that, you can form a campaign for years to come. The moral of this story is that we want you to feel empowered to create what is best for your gaming group without having to buy too deeply into our own lore.

Now if I were to use the suggestion I just gave of skimming through the Abilities and Talents for inspiration, picking the first Ability that comes to mind gets me the Cleric Ability Soulfire. Here is its description: You harness the very life energies of creation, as chaotic and powerful as any force in the universe, to enhance your healing or aid in the destruction of your enemy. Your powers enhanced with Soulfire are colored blue-white by the Soulfire within them. With that in hand you can begin to start asking questions and making up your own answers. Questions like: “who was the first person to wield Soulfire?”, “where did Soulfire come from?”, and “why is it a blue-white color?” are all good questions to ask that can start a very interesting story.

To answer these things I might say that Lilith the Firstborn was the first known user of Soulfire and that she used it to heal her wounded daughter after a fight with a rival. The origin of Soulfire is rumored to be born of the interaction between the Soul and the Anima Plane, the conflicting planes cause friction like static electricity. Some are powerful enough to harness it. Lastly, you could say that the blue-white color is a reflection of a person’s aura and that it is typically other colors that the blue-white described, yet the only accounts of it being used recorded it that way and it has stuck.

The Floating Realms Lore

Unchained Heroes is set in the Floating Realms, a world designed to be modular and multi-faceted from the very beginning. I wanted to be able to send a person to various “worlds” with an airship rather than a planar gate or a setting re-write. The Floating Realms is the name given to the various floating continents that once made up the world of Veerith before it was ripped asunder. It’s biggest strength is its ability to make an unlimited number of realms, so you can make any sort of story you wish. The ones most frequently used by me are the 7 Floating Realms, Elsett, and Eld. I designed those first and have the most stories to tell there. I feel comfortable with running those realms because they are mine and messing with them is not an issue.

My RPG-mates don’t like to touch them very much though, or they choose to use areas of the Floating Realms that have not been explored. They have also made Realms of their own in a fashion that fits the campaigns they want to run. They chose a chunk of floating land, drew their own map, and made it uniquely their own.

I encourage you to take advantage of the lore-lite nature of this system and adapt it however you wish to your existing campaigns and worlds. Maybe even plunk your world into a Floating Realm for fun. There are always great stories to be had when new and exciting places are discovered!

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