Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And So the Tales Begin...

Storm in the Mountains by Albert Bierstadt
"Storm in the Mountains" by Albert Bierstadt (1870)
“Hey, we should co-GM something. It’ll be half the work for each of us and a lot of fun.”

It started over lunch last fall, just a simple idea to collaborate on a tabletop rpg. The ground rules were straightforward: nothing too large, no huge campaigns. We bounced ideas around over the next few days and settled on a contained megadungeon idea: a dilapidated vault of witch-king tombs, located on a high moor, in need of sound management by the player characters (someone has to restock the dungeon when the owlbears escape, amiright?). Slightly farcical, it fit the tone of our gaming group and our mood at the time, immured as we were in our own long-term and prep-heavy dramatic campaigns.

And then it just sort of exploded.

This joint blog is a by-product of the creative explosion that transformed our megadungeon idea into an expansive, collaborative rpg campaign setting. We could lie and say that through this expansion we were guided by a number of principles or a singular vision of some sort, but there’s no need to blow such smoke. Hrimgate has simply grown organically, as new ideas beget newer ideas which sparked digressions that spawned even more ideas, not to mention the inevitable inclusion of older ideas as well. What was once a limited concept has morphed into a shared campaign setting yoked to no single rpg rules set that we hope to campaign in for many years to come. And we will share as much of it as we can with you on this blog, time and discipline willing.

Despite having no coherent origination, Hrimgate has found itself anchored to a few core ideas. First, Hrimgate is a nonlinear early medieval-esque setting that cycles through periods of disruptive chaos and imposed order, as represented by the rise and fall of mighty witch-kings. Being individuals of unique power, focus, and prestige who in one way or another seized the mantle of power, witch-kings emerge only once per age to tamp down the chaos and to bring order and stability, for good or for ill. However, when witch-kings recede or fall from power, primordial chaos seeps once more into the bones of the world, and the pendulum swings back in the other direction. Second, Hrimgate is a setting suffering under the strains of severe ecological distress. The primordial forces that threaten Hrimgate manifest as persistent storms, elemental flooding, advancing glaciers, or berserker rot from the deep core that wrack and devastate whole regions of the world. It takes everything for people to survive, but survive they do.  

Welcome to the Tales of Hrimgate.