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Tag: game world

 Broken States: a Cyberpunk Future

I am doing the RPG Writer’s Workshop again this month. This is an attempt to break my writer’s block, among other things. This time around I decided to write an adventure for a system other than D&D for a change. This time I am working on a cyberpunk genre adventure for Modern AGE by Green Ronin. It is a system I wish I had more time to play.

As part of this adventure, I decided I needed at least a rough background. I am not writing this for an existing world, so I figured I should have some world information to put in the adventure. Just enough to have a starting point. I will also write up what the tech level is, as well, but I am trying to not overwhelm myself.

So here is the future history I produced.

Setting Project: Redefining Humanity for Ballad.

This is my second article exploring the world Ballad. I am going to dig into the thing that started me thinking about the setting in the first place. I started with the notion of a setting where humans were rare and treated with distrust. This would not be unlike how Drow or Tieflings were treated in other settings. What would that kind of setting look like? A thread started by my friend Rabbit over on Twitter certainly contributed to that line of thought. 

Before I dig too far in, let me address the history here. 

Setting Project: The world of Ballad

So, I have had a stressful life of late. I distracted myself by coming up with a new campaign world. Some people drink, I apparently come up with fictional worlds. 

Ballad is a high fantasy setting. It is leaning into a lot of mysterious magic rather than the notion of magic like technology that you find in Eberron or Ravnica for instance. I also started with the premise that humans were rare. The assumption in most settings is that humans are the “us” stand-in and not innately magical. They are the neutral default and all other races are alterations on the human base. This is problematic and should be discussed, but I will save that for a different post.

I started thinking about a world where that was not the case. Where all the sentient races were actually magical and the humans were the distrusted rare species. Sort of like how Tieflings and Drow are presented in several other settings.

Once I had that decided, I chose to go ahead and write some world rules. This would help me come up with a vision of what the world would look like. I had a vague notion but I need to define the edges of it.   

Other Than Gods

This post was inspired by a question I asked on Twitter. How do you explain clerics in D&D in a world with no gods? There were some excellent responses. I decided it was worth expounding on.

The cleric is one of the older ideas in Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of the cleric was originally a bit more like the priestly monster hunters from Hammer Horror films crossed with a crusader era European priests. The original cleric write-ups made almost no mention of individual gods. They were just nebulously holy in some manner and could cast spells as a result.

The Many Settings of Dungeons and Dragons part 4: Micro-settings

And we are here again. When I started talking about the many D&D settings it was a simple Twitter thread. I was trying to list all the official D&D published D&D settings.  I was trying to figure out what Wizards of the Coast might release next as a setting in 5e. They had already released a large amount for Forgotten Realms and had just announced Ravnica and Eberron books. I thought I could list them all off as I had been around for most of them.

I managed to get most of the big ones. The ones I missed were the sub-settings (subsets of the larger settings), meta-settings(settings that crossover to other settings) and the micro settings. Micro settings are small tightly contained campaign settings with little thought given to a larger world.

The Many Settings of Dungeons and Dragons part 3: The Meta-Settings

Alright, I took a little break for family holiday madness. It is time to resume my exploration of the many official settings of D&D.  My previous posts (found here and here) listed the more traditional settings. Today I am going to write about the meta-settings.

I suppose I should talk about definitions first. Up until now, I wrote about “settings” which can be defined as a fictional world in which the action of the story or game occurs. “Sub-settings” are small, thematically encapsulated settings inside the larger one. Thematically they are different enough to feel like a separate setting, even if they are still inside it. A “meta-setting” is a setting which is, by its lore and design, is intended to be a cross-over between multiple settings. This means it may have its own lore and geography, but much of its content is about how it crosses with other settings.


Setting = Forgotten Realms

Sub-setting = Kara Tur

Meta-setting = Spelljammer

A meta-setting is a multiverse setting, where tales can stretch across multiple worlds. Their origins are almost always shrouded and obscure, but they have clear ties to other existing settings.

That definition in place, lets begin…

The many names of spells and how to change them.

In D&D, spells have names. This is based on some fiction and some legendary sources so it didn’t start with D&D. The notion of names having power is actually pretty old. The concept appears in ancient Egypt and Greece by various terms. By naming the spell, they describe its power.


Most of the spell names in D&D are relatively innocuous if descriptive of their effect. A Fireball spell creates a big ball of fire. Simple and easy. Then there are some spells that have little more story to them. They not only describe the effect, but carry the name of the wizard who created it.


This has been a part of D&D since the earliest days. It is evocative tells you something of the world. If you know that there is a Tenser’s Floating disk, then you know that Tenser is an important figure in the world your playing in. He made a spell that is important enough that you learned it without meeting him. You might have questions about this Tenser person? or Bigby? or Melf?


So, what do you do if your world has no Melf? No Bigby? Do you just leave them the same or do you change the names to reflect your world? This will depend on your world.

The Way of the Grasping Hand: a Midgard “monastic” Tradition

I am writing this for use in the Midgard setting, but I should state upfront that this can be used for just about any setting. A grappling style Monk would fit in just about any setting that allows monks. I recently wrote a blog post about the weird misconceptions held about martial arts and how they shape their presentation in D&D. One of the reasons I wrote that was because I could see some specific archetypes for Monks in Midgard I wanted to make.

Non East Asian Versions of Monks and Martial Arts

So, there is an idea out there that monks have no place in a western European inspired campaign setting.  Settings like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk owe a lot to western European history, legends, and literature for their basis, and monks are not part of those traditions, or so the argument goes. This came to mind while looking at the Midgard setting and noticing they had many character options for the range of character classes, but not for monks. I asked about this and was directed to this blog post about monk weapons characteristics, which is awesome, but was also told there was not a lot of places for monks in Midgard to be from. That feels like something I can counter. Note: I love the Midgard setting and I am not offering criticism here.  I am writing this because I feel this is a common sentiment that maybe should be countered.

When Immortals Adventure

I proposed a question a while back. Are immortal PC’s a problem or are they workable? The consensus appears to be that they are workable. I decided to take a pass at setting up a framework for using it in D&D. Death is ultimately just a small challenge after all. Immortality offers a range of cool stories that make the PC’s feel special in the world, which is sort of the point.