Tuesday, January 7, 2014

[Q&A] Michael O. Varhola (Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting)

[19:08] <+MichaelVarhola> My name is Michael O. Varhola and I have been designing games most of my life and professionally contributing to the game industry since the early 1990s.
[19:09] <+MichaelVarhola> In 2002 I founded game company Skirmisher Publishing LLC, (Link: http://www.skirmisher.com/,)http://www.skirmisher.com/, initially as a publisher of d20 products.
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[19:10] <+MichaelVarhola> Since then, we have expanded our portfolio, and now focus primarily on system agnostic supplements, such as our "Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting" and our "City Builder" and "Castle Builder" franchises.
[19:11] <+MichaelVarhola> We also co-publish and help run the multi-platform d-Infinity game supplement, online magazine, and weekly webcast; (Link: http://d-infinity.net/)http://d-infinity.net/
[19:12] <+MichaelVarhola> That is probably plenty to start with!
[19:12] <+MichaelVarhola> So, (done"
[19:12] <~Dan> Thanks, Michael!
[19:12] <+MichaelVarhola> (done)
[19:12] <~Dan> Would anyone like to start us off with a question?
[19:12] <~Dan> Actually, let's start with the basics...
[19:12] <+Abstruse> (Sorry, my name is Darryl and I write the tabletop gaming column for Ain't It Cool News and produce the podcast Gamer's Tavern with host Ross Watson)
[19:13] <~Dan> Can you give us a general overview of Swords of Kos? What sort of setting is it?
[19:13] <&Silverlion> What is unique about the setting?
[19:14] <+Abstruse> Oh, d-Infinity! How's the a la cart OGL store going?
[19:15] <+MichaelVarhola> SoK is what Gary Gygax used to call a "traditional fantasy campaign setting" when he and I were working on projects together. So, on the one hand it is a setting that is deliberately compatible with almost any fantasy, ancient, dark ages, or medieval campaign someone might be running.
[19:15] <+MichaelVarhola> A number of things make it unique.
[19:15] <+MichaelVarhola> Or at least exceptional.
[19:16] <+MichaelVarhola> One is that it is set in an ahistorical version of our own earth, the history of which begins to diverge from about 150 B.C. onward, which gives us a lot of nice history, geography, mythology, and geography to tap into.
[19:17] <+MichaelVarhola> A lot of campaign setting fall flat in one or more of those areas, e.g., because designers fall back on words the sound cool, not actual research, legwork, empirical observation, etc.
[19:18] <+MichaelVarhola> We have found that using the real world characteristics as a starting point immeasurably increases the depth and realism of the setting.
[19:19] <+MichaelVarhola> Also, even though the setting is centered on the eastern Mediterranean/Aegean, it is not a Classical age setting, and is much more dark ages.
[19:19] <+MichaelVarhola> It is also more swords-and-sorcery than high fantasy.
[19:19] <+MichaelVarhola> The main literary influences on it are Fritz Lieber, Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance, and the like.
[19:20] <+MichaelVarhola> Re. earlier question from Abstruse, the Bookforge project is moving right along! That is probably a subject for a show in and of itself.
[19:20] <~Dan> It seems like the way magic works is one of the key differences between swords & sorcery and high fantasy. How do you handle that issue in a system-agnostic product?
[19:20] <&Silverlion> So it builds from Earth History from the Bronze Age?
[19:21] <+Abstruse> Do you have iron and steel? What's the general technology level? You said it diverts, but does it advance from there and if so, how long?
[19:21] <+MichaelVarhola> If you had to put our Kos calendar in real world terms it would be about A.D. 600.
[19:21] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes, there is actually a lot of "lost" relatively high technology.
[19:22] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:22] <&Silverlion> What cultures are there?
[19:22] <+MichaelVarhola> Part of the back story is that the Minoan culture centered on Crete, etc., was not destroyed by the detonation of the Theran volcano in 1700 B.C.
[19:23] <+MichaelVarhola> So, Minoan culture thrived, established almost worldwide trade, prevented Roman domination of the Med, etc.
[19:23] <+MichaelVarhola> until 100 years before the campaign setting.
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[19:23] <+MichaelVarhola> Then, Thera exploded about 10 times worse than it did in real life
[19:24] <+GenoFoxx> So 'Atlantis' never fell?
[19:24] <+GenoFoxx> oops
[19:24] <+MichaelVarhola> tilted the Earth on its axis, reawakened magic, drove the old races up from their depths, etc.
[19:24] <+GenoFoxx> so a supervolcano is the cause for magic
[19:25] <+MichaelVarhola> No, Atlantis never fell, and we place it in the Atlantic, like Plato did, and associate it with the Azores.
[19:26] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, a supervolcano is the catalyst for global change. It does not create magic, it just causes enough changes that already existent magic -- of the sort we read about in ancient texts -- was reawakened and strengthened.
[19:27] <+GenoFoxx> so a megascale mana-bomb
[19:28] <+MichaelVarhola> Or maybe not. Some people believe that the eruption was just a sign of the Titanomachy, the war between the gods and the Titans, and that is the real root of the changes. That is just the back story and it does not really matter that the exact truth is. The net result is, in fact a world conforming to the characteristics of a fantasy campaign setting
[19:28] <+MichaelVarhola> existence of which was the point of the drill for us.
[19:29] <+MichaelVarhola> So, we created a mythology that could support that.
[19:29] <~Dan> So where were the fantasy species before the volcano?
[19:29] <+MichaelVarhola> Just as all mythologies more or less support the worldviews of their believers.
[19:29] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes, there were fantasy races.
[19:30] <+MichaelVarhola> Dwarves, Elves, etc., all of whom had begun to recede into ancient forests, subterranean vaults, etc.
[19:30] <+MichaelVarhola> Giants, Orcs, Ogres, are all believed to be "Titan spawn" and created during the war with the gods.
[19:31] <&Silverlion> So, how does tose things differ between folklore, D&D style stuff, and the like?
[19:31] <+MichaelVarhola> i.e., what we used to call Giant class humanoids in the old days.
[19:32] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, the biggest difference between those things and folklore is that the latter is colorful but can be inaccurate and contradictory.
[19:33] <+MichaelVarhola> Fortunately, we are talking about a setting designed for games which have rules, and these are the "reality" of the world and trump and transcend tales, etc.
[19:33] <+MichaelVarhola> Are there any questions I missed?
[19:34] <+MichaelVarhola> Sorry, not ignoring any!
[19:34] <~Dan> I don't think so. Anyone?
[19:34] <+MichaelVarhola> Just addressing them as I see them.
[19:34] <~Dan> You're doing just fine. :)
[19:34] <+MichaelVarhola> Someone had asked about cultures.
[19:34] <+Abstruse> Did you mention the technology level?
[19:34] <+Abstruse> I asked like four questions at once like a jerk ^_^;;
[19:34] <+MichaelVarhola> LOL
[19:34] <+MichaelVarhola> OK, cultures first ...
[19:35] <~Dan> (Oh, I'm not sure if you answered my question about magic, either.)
[19:35] <+MichaelVarhola> A composite culture that is basically Hellenic human and developed over the century following the Great Cataclysm is the default culture, and Greek is the Common tongue.
[19:37] <+MichaelVarhola> Beyond that there are Romans, Anatolians (which is evil human culture with a Goblinoid influence), Greek peoples like Spartans and Athenians, Mesopotamians, etc., plus non-human cultures and states.
[19:38] <+MichaelVarhola> e.g., real-world Sicily is the Grand Redoubt of Trinacria, dominated by Fire Giants.
[19:38] <+MichaelVarhola> Re. technology
[19:38] <+MichaelVarhola> Simple answer
[19:38] <+MichaelVarhola> and I think that is relevant and important
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[19:39] <+MichaelVarhola> is that if it is in the PHB or other default manual for your game then it is available here.
[19:39] <~Dan> (Howdy, Schadmobile!)
[19:40] <+Bigby> Do the non-human races like Elves and Dwarves each have their own monolithic culture, or do they have differences based on location and the cultures of the other races near them?
[19:40] <+Abstruse> So you go all the way up to early rennaissance? Rapiers and full plate armor and black powder?
[19:40] <+MichaelVarhola> Prior to the cataclysm, the Minoans had developed dirigible airships, advanced alchemical and mechanical weapons, etc. So, these things can still be found in the ruins, replicated at great expense, etc.
[19:41] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes, that is right.
[19:41] <+GenoFoxx> ((Romans with airships?))
[19:41] <+MichaelVarhola> We see rapiers as Elven weapons but, as with a number of other things, that is back story.
[19:42] <~Dan> (GenoFoxx: Yes, piloted by very strict gnomes.)
[19:42] <~Dan> (When you fly with them, you have to obey the Roman gnome air rules.)
[19:42] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, the Romans were a rump power prior to the cataclysm and the Minoans controlled the high technology. So, the campaign setting at 100 years after the cataclysm is right on the cusp of regaining things like airships, which can influence a lot of adventures.
[19:43] <+Abstruse> So the plot device handwave is different technologies that shouldn't exist coming from the magical races? Please don't take that as an insult, it's exactly what I was hoping for!
[19:43] <+MichaelVarhola> And I am not a big fan personally of black powder weapons. So, they exist on a micro level (i.e., for some adventurers with the right classes and training), but are not used extensively on the battlefield.
[19:44] <+MichaelVarhola> They are boutique weapons.
[19:45] <~Dan> Seems like there wouldn't be much of a call for their use, since black powder weapons were best used en masse.
[19:45] <+MichaelVarhola> No, technology does not come primarily from the magical races, but we do treat Gnomes as having particular skill with fine things like clockwork and Dwarves as being adept with metallurgy, etc.
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[19:45] <+MichaelVarhola> Right, exactly Dan!
[19:45] <&Silverlion> So very traditional. Cool.
[19:45] <+Abstruse> Are you focusing on the Mediteranian area for now, or do you talk about Asia, India, the New World, etc. as well?
[19:45] <~Dan> (The gnome ariship thing was just the setup for a bad pun, Abstruse. :) )
[19:45] <+MichaelVarhola> And one Dwarf with a blunderbuss is not a game changer.
[19:46] <+Jetrauben> A logical question
[19:46] <+Abstruse> (I meant rapiers being elvish weapons as the jumping off point for that idea)
[19:46] <+Jetrauben> Why include blackpowder weapons at all, per se?
[19:46] <+Jetrauben> Since they're well-known to be largely inferior to bows for much of their early history, outside of the institutional advantage of being incredibly easy to use (and risky, and disposable)?
[19:46] <+Jetrauben> Is it just to provide players who want the feel with a suitable item?
[19:48] <+MichaelVarhola> Mostly it is because we like to include things like explosives, rockets, etc., and it is hard to justify the existence of those things without theoretical black powder weapons.
[19:48] <+MichaelVarhola> But they actually never turn up in my own game.
[19:48] <+Abstruse> Cannons worked pretty well compared to arrows...
[19:48] <+Jetrauben> Fair enough, although greek fire might have suited well for that sort of thing
[19:49] <+Jetrauben> Sorry, didn't mean to keep the tangent going
[19:49] <+MichaelVarhola> Rockets are the direction weapons like that went in our world, along with Greek/alchemist's fire, repeating crossbows, etc.
[19:49] <+Jetrauben> So hwacha-style...things?
[19:49] * +Jetrauben may be spelling it wrong :(
[19:50] <+MichaelVarhola> Hmm? What is it?
[19:50] <+Jetrauben> A sort of early multi-rocket array
[19:50] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes, that sort of thing.
[19:50] <+BlasterKyubey210> Basically, a Chinese experimental weapon
[19:50] <+MichaelVarhola> But, as it has to all be hand made, it is subject to failure, expensive, etc.
[19:50] <~Dan> Oh... Need me to repeat my magic question, Michael?
[19:51] <+BlasterKyubey210> Not the most accuate but if you want to scare them off or make a mess of their ranks...
[19:51] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes
[19:51] <+MichaelVarhola> Dan
[19:51] <+MichaelVarhola> please repeat it
[19:51] <~Dan> Okay. So often, the difference between swords & sorcery and high fantasy comes down to the way magic works. How do you handle that issue in a system-agnostic book?
[19:52] <+MichaelVarhola> One way is through the sorts of adventures and goals we present for players, the storylines we create, etc.
[19:53] <+MichaelVarhola> In our swords-and-sorcery milieu, for example, the characters are not trying to save the world
[19:53] <+MichaelVarhola> they are trying to pay the rent
[19:53] <+MichaelVarhola> survive
[19:53] <+MichaelVarhola> Establish some little domain
[19:53] <+MichaelVarhola> etc.
[19:54] <+MichaelVarhola> So, at upper levels characters will certainly have more powerful spells
[19:54] <+MichaelVarhola> and these can influence the setting
[19:54] <+MichaelVarhola> but this has more of a Lankhmar than a Middle Earth feel to it.
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[19:54] <+MichaelVarhola> We also provide relatively low magic in adventures
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[19:55] <~Dan> How do you provide magic at all, lacking a system?
[19:55] <+MichaelVarhola> So, for example, in a recent 6th level adventure for five characters the magic haul was a Flaming Greatsword +1, Wings of Flying, and one other permanent thing, plus a bunch of potions and scrolls.
[19:56] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, no one is lacking a system
[19:56] <+MichaelVarhola> We have just created the setting so that people can use the system they want IF they are going to be using it for gaming.
[19:57] <+MichaelVarhola> The campaign setting materials are also the Bible/canon for the associated "Swords of Kos Shared World Fiction Project"
[19:58] <+MichaelVarhola> Having that available for interested authors motivated us as much as making it available for gaming.
[19:58] <+MichaelVarhola> We now post one chapter a week of fiction related to the Kos setting to d-Infinity, (Link: http://d-infinity.net/)http://d-infinity.net/
[19:59] <~Dan> Hmm...I'm a bit confused. If there's no system assumption, what does a "6th level adventure" even mean?
[19:59] <+MichaelVarhola> and have two published books, the novel "Swords of Kos" Necropolis" and the multi-author anthology "Swords of Kos: Hekaton"
[19:59] <+MichaelVarhola> A 6th level adventure means that I use the OGL rules and my adventures are set in the Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting.
[20:00] <+MichaelVarhola> Once the systemless setting is entirely available we will also publish system specific stuff for it.
[20:01] <+MichaelVarhola> For OGL, Pathfinder, and whatever follows for D&D and has a license, among other things.
[20:01] <~Dan> Is it fair to say that the setting is designed with certain D&D-isms in mind?
[20:01] <+Bigby> What about things that don't follow D&D?
[20:01] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes
[20:01] <+MichaelVarhola> It was designed with a lot of D&Disms in mind.
[20:02] <+Bigby> Is there a pretty big drop off in usefulness if you are playing something that doesn't stick with D&D/D20's basic assumptions?
[20:02] <+MichaelVarhola> But we nonetheless decided that we did not want it to be a D&D-specific setting.
[20:02] <+MichaelVarhola> No, I don't think there is a drop off in usefulness.
[20:03] <+MichaelVarhola> In the volume titled "Lands Beyond Kos," for example, we describe 16 nations and nine regions; (Link: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/123987/Lands-Beyond-Kos-%28Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29)http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/123987/Lands-Beyond-Kos-%28Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29
[20:03] <+MichaelVarhola> These can be used to provide color individually in any setting for an undefined area or together as part of the campaign setting.
[20:04] <+MichaelVarhola> But there is nothing in them that is specific to any game system. They would be as useful for Runequest as for D&D.
[20:05] <~Dan> But aren't the creatures mentioned D&D-specific, like fire giants?
[20:05] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, yes and no.
[20:05] <~Dan> (Not trying to sound antagonistic, btw. Just clarifying.)
[20:05] <+MichaelVarhola> No, not at all
[20:06] <+MichaelVarhola> Giants exist in a lot of mythologies. The Norse epics and the Bible predate D&D.
[20:06] <+MichaelVarhola> We say "Fire Giant" for the race of big people that live on a volcanic island.
[20:06] <+MichaelVarhola> If you play D&D, you drop in a Fire Giant out of the book.
[20:07] <+MichaelVarhola> If you play something else, you drop in or stat something else.
[20:07] <~Dan> Fair enough.
[20:07] <+MichaelVarhola> If your game insists that Giant cannot really exist, when the characters get to Sicily they won't find any there.
[20:08] <+MichaelVarhola> We were tempted to make the setting system specific, but decided that would put the system ahead of the world we wanted to present.
[20:08] <+MichaelVarhola> They system will coexist with and sometimes trump the world and story in system-specific products.
[20:09] <~Dan> That's true. The system is the physics of the setting.
[20:09] <+MichaelVarhola> The currently available volumes, BTW, are the afore-mentioned "Lands Beyond Kos," "Kos City," at (Link: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/123585/Kos-City-%28Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29)http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/123585/Kos-City-%28Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29
[20:09] <+MichaelVarhola> and a set of minis, (Link: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/124255/Heroes-and-Monsters-of-the-Necropolis-%28Cardstock-CharactersTM-Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29)http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/124255/Heroes-and-Monsters-of-the-Necropolis-%28Cardstock-CharactersTM-Swords-of-Kos-Fantasy-Campaign-Setting%29
[20:10] <+MichaelVarhola> We will be releasing "Kos Island" within the next week or so
[20:10] <+MichaelVarhola> and following with volumes "Lives of Kos," "World of Kos," and a set of encounter tables.
[20:10] <+MichaelVarhola> Then, we will compile them into a single book.
[20:10] <+Bigby> So is Kos City the "core" book?
[20:11] <+MichaelVarhola> Yes, that would probably be fair to say.
[20:11] <+MichaelVarhola> But once all of the volumes are done they will become chapters in a single Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting.
[20:12] <+MichaelVarhola> We just saw no reason to sit on completed, ready-to-go material while other stuff was still waiting for art, maps, etc.
[20:12] <+Bigby> So are Hekaton and Necropolis adventures?  Or just random locations in the world?
[20:12] <+MichaelVarhola> I need to break for five to give medicine to two cats. Please bear with me and I will be right back!
[20:13] <~Dan> No problem. I need to step away for a moment myself. brb!
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[20:18] <+MichaelVarhola> Back!
[20:18] <+MichaelVarhola> Thanks for bearing with me.
[20:18] <~Dan> No problem!
[20:19] <+MichaelVarhola> "Necropolis" is a novel.
[20:19] <+MichaelVarhola> (Link: http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/102196?affiliate_id=79547)http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/102196?affiliate_id=79547
[20:20] <+MichaelVarhola> "Return to the Necropolis" is its sequel, which is appearing in serialized form at d-Infinity Online
[20:20] <+MichaelVarhola> (Link: http://d-infinity.net/fiction/return-necropolis-prologue)http://d-infinity.net/fiction/return-necropolis-prologue
[20:21] <+MichaelVarhola> The title necropolis is an area described in the book we are releasing this week, "Kos" island.
[20:21] <~Dan> What (if any) assumptions do you make about PC-allowable races in the setting?
[20:21] <+MichaelVarhola> We assume that standard D&D races are acceptable; Humans, Half-Orcs, Elves, etc.
[20:22] <+MichaelVarhola> But if a system or GM did not want to allow one of those that would be fine.
[20:22] <+MichaelVarhola> But they are all described as being part of the world.
[20:22] <+MichaelVarhola> So, that is not a system-specific detail for us, but it is a setting-specific one.
[20:23] <+BlasterKyubey210> Indeed
[20:24] <+MichaelVarhola> But there is no value to a setting that does not tell what people inhabit it, of course.
[20:25] <+MichaelVarhola> Suffice it to say, I enjoy talking about this campaign setting, which represents a phenomenal amount of research, reading, writing, editing, layout and design, etc. It is a great work and we are very proud of it.
[20:25] <~Dan> How do you think the presence of nonhuman races affects the swords & sorcery aspect of the setting?
[20:25] <+MichaelVarhola> That is an interesting question ...
[20:26] <~Dan> (Insofar as humans-only seems to be a common element of swords & sorcery, I mean.)
[20:26] <+MichaelVarhola> In that many non-Human races have their origins in subterranean or other irregular areas, I think it helps the setting.
[20:27] * ~Dan nods
[20:27] <+MichaelVarhola> Part of what we try to do is examine the characteristics of non-Human peoples, who even in games get peripheral treatment a lot of the time.
[20:27] <+MichaelVarhola> To us, a Dwarf is not a short stout Human, it is something else.
[20:28] <+MichaelVarhola> e.g., our Dwarves are partially geophagous
[20:28] <~Dan> They eat rocks?
[20:28] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, real humans rely on a certain amount of mineral nutrition
[20:29] <+MichaelVarhola> Our Dwarves just have, and can withstand, a lot more.
[20:29] <+MichaelVarhola> So, they don't eat rocks. But they might be able to cook with mineral oil that would be unpalatable or toxic to humans.
[20:30] <+MichaelVarhola> We examine that in the Kos story "The Dinner Party" in d-Infinity Vol. #5
[20:30] <~Dan> Huh... Cool.
[20:30] <+MichaelVarhola> (Link: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/116379/d-Infinity-Volume-%235-Full-Circle?term=d-infinity+5)http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/116379/d-Infinity-Volume-%235-Full-Circle?term=d-infinity+5
[20:31] <+MichaelVarhola> I would, by the way, be glad to send some free stuff to anyone who is participating in the show tonight;
[20:31] <~Dan> Are there any interesting tweaks to your Elves as well?
[20:31] <+MichaelVarhola> probably a copy of "Kos City" would be a good bet.
[20:32] <+MichaelVarhola> Anyone who would like one can just email me at varhola@varhola.com, and/or send a friend request on Facebook to Michael O. Varhola and message me there.
[20:33] <+MichaelVarhola> We have got some interesting characteristics associated with Elves that are described in some of the volumes/chapters
[20:33] <~Dan> That's very kind of you, Michael! Thanks!
[20:33] <+MichaelVarhola> e.g., there are a lot of Elves in the nation-state of Amazonia
[20:33] <+MichaelVarhola> a lot of females of all races
[20:34] <~Dan> (I must be losing my mind. I first read that as "Elves in the nation-state of Arizona".)
[20:34] <+MichaelVarhola> And Elves are more likely to worship their own versions of the Gods and Titans and thereby bridge the divide between the opposed camps of Humans.
[20:34] <+BlasterKyubey210> (No you haven't... this isn't Dark Sun Dan)
[20:34] <&Silverlion> Well where else would they hide from the Gnomes of Zurich?
[20:34] <+MichaelVarhola> Wait, wait ...
[20:35] <+MichaelVarhola> We do, in fact, have Gnomes Zueri
[20:35] <+MichaelVarhola> of Zueri
[20:35] <+MichaelVarhola> aka, Zurich
[20:35] <~Dan> Heh. Cool. :)
[20:35] <+BlasterKyubey210> Whomp-wah
[20:35] <+BlasterKyubey210> But yes Dan, you haven't lost your head, and why Arizona, this isn't Dark Sun, that state's mostly Desert
[20:35] <+MichaelVarhola> That is one of the 16 states described in "Lands Beyond Kos"
[20:36] <+MichaelVarhola> And if anyone would prefer that to "Kos City" they should just let me know when they email or message me; glad to send either.
[20:37] <~Dan> How much of an impact do gods have on the setting?
[20:37] <+MichaelVarhola> Religion has a big direct impact on the setting
[20:37] <+Bigby> I asked earlier when culture was being discussed but it got lost in the shuffle.  Do the non-human races have monolithic cultures or are they pretty well integrated into the world with various cultures?
[20:38] <+MichaelVarhola> But the gods themselves much less so; granting spells and other boons is their biggest direct impact.
[20:38] <~Dan> Ah... so they're objectively real?
[20:39] <+MichaelVarhola> Re. non-humans, there are going to be racial characteristics that apply to all or most of the members, but the local culture will have an impact on them.
[20:39] <+MichaelVarhola> Re gods, there is nothing in the setting to prove there are or are not objectively real.
[20:39] <+MichaelVarhola> I personally assume there are,
[20:39] <+MichaelVarhola> But there is nothing dictating this has to be the case.
[20:40] <+MichaelVarhola> Re. non-humans, for example, Gnomes in Zueri control the armed forces, run the government, etc.
[20:41] <+MichaelVarhola> Their demeanor is going to be very different from that of the Gnome merchants, alchemists, and bankers who live in urbanized, Human dominated areas
[20:41] <+MichaelVarhola> or from those who live in isolated burrows in wilds lands.
[20:42] <+MichaelVarhola> In the setting, the gods can be read as metaphor, pure mythology, etc.
[20:42] <~Dan> How common are monsters in the setting, and how much of an impact do they have? For example, is a dragon a threat to an entire city?
[20:43] <+Bigby> Cool.  I know I personally much prefer that to the alternative (elves in every corner of the continent are exactly the same though humans in kingdoms 50 miles apart are drastically different has never really sat well with me).
[20:43] <+MichaelVarhola> But to me it is much more satisfying to have them operating behind the scenes and to be actually real, if still weakened, distant, and recovering from their cosmic battle with the Titans.
[20:43] <+MichaelVarhola> Dragons exist but they are very rare.
[20:44] <+BlasterKyubey210> How unlikely, as in "have to REALLY go out of your way to find one on purpose"?
[20:44] <+MichaelVarhola> We use a lot of chimerical monsters, creatures created, warped, and "mutated" by the cataclysm.
[20:44] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, one of our adventure hooks in "Kos Island" is about a dragon people have possibly spotted off the coast.
[20:45] <~Dan> So there aren't many (pardon the oxymoron) naturally occuring magic creatures?
[20:45] <+MichaelVarhola> And if someone really wants to sail to a tiny ruin-filled island to the south they may find a dragon there.
[20:46] <+MichaelVarhola> Well, as noted previously, a lot of the magical races had receded into the shadows prior to the cataclysm.
[20:46] <+MichaelVarhola> So, after its occurrence a lot were reawoken, some were created, etc.
[20:47] <+MichaelVarhola> The net effect being: There is a plausible back story for accommodating just about any monsters you want.
[20:47] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:48] <~Dan> How common are powerful magicians?
[20:48] <+MichaelVarhola> I tend toward lots of humanoid monsters, along with giant vermin, dire creatures, etc., and every other session or throw in something else.
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[20:50] <+MichaelVarhola> Depend what you mean by powerful; the most powerful in Kos itself will likely be 12th-16th level and you would have to go to the Magocracy of Mesopotamia to find more powerful ones.
[20:51] <~Dan> Do you see spells like Wish being available?
[20:52] <+MichaelVarhola> Sure, absolutely.
[20:53] <+MichaelVarhola> We have designed this setting to provide a colorful, interesting, multi-dimensional backdrop to the games people want to run.
[20:53] <~Dan> So... could the setting be called "high magic swords & sorcery"?
[20:54] <+MichaelVarhola> So, I personally prefer low magic, infrequent powerful magical monsters, etc., but there is nothing in the system to preclude and many things to encourage these things for the storyteller who wants to include them.
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[20:54] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Baelor!)
[20:54] <+MichaelVarhola> So, my Anatolian units might not include trained Hydras, the symbol of the Tetrarchy of Anatolia, but someone else's might.
[20:55] <+MichaelVarhola> Welcome, Baelor!
[20:55] <+Baelor> Hey Mike.
[20:55] <~Dan> Ah, a friend of yours?
[20:56] <+Baelor> Sorry, I don't mean to interrupt. I just saw your post and thought I would drop by.
[20:56] <~Dan> No problem at all!
[20:56] <+MichaelVarhola> He is a friend of mine, a contributor to d-Infinity, and a sculptor of. c. 300 miniatures. A friend to our industry, in fact.
[20:56] <+MichaelVarhola> You are more than welcome!
[20:56] <+Bigby> The more the merrier.
[20:56] <~Dan> Cool! Nice to meet you, Baelor!
[20:56] <+MichaelVarhola> People have been coming and going all night.
[20:56] <+Baelor> And you, Dan.
[20:57] <+MichaelVarhola> We are just talking about the characteristics of the Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting.
[20:57] <~Dan> MichaelVarhola: Just so you know, you're welcome to hang out here as long as you like, to discuss Kos further or just to hang out. A Q&A just means that you have the floor; authors are always welcome to discuss their products.
[20:57] <~Dan> That said, is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to bring up?
[20:57] <+MichaelVarhola> OK, thanks!
[20:58] <+MichaelVarhola> We have covered a lot and I don't want to beat it to death.
[20:58] <+MichaelVarhola> Last things I would say are:
[20:58] <+Baelor> Since I had no part in the creation of the setting itself, I feel I am free to say that it is a terrific blend of Howardian sword and sandal and the D&D esthetic, if you know what I mean.
[20:58] <+MichaelVarhola> * Send me a friend request if you are so inclined.
[20:59] <+MichaelVarhola> * Let me know if you would like a free copy of "Kos City" or "Lands Beyond Kos"
[20:59] <+MichaelVarhola> *And read the fiction and bonus material that we post at d-Infinity Online
[20:59] <+MichaelVarhola> (Link: http://d-infinity.net/)http://d-infinity.net/
[21:00] <+MichaelVarhola> As noted, a lot of passion and hard work has gone into this setting, and I believe most people who try it out will love it.
[21:00] <~Dan> Thanks, Michael! I'll go ahead and log the Q&A here, but again, there's no need for you to rush off.
[21:00] <+MichaelVarhola> And you are right about the REH influence Baelor.
[21:00] <~Dan> I'll have the link for you shortly.
[21:01] <+MichaelVarhola> Thanks for having me!

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