The broken worlds campaign, an extreme alternative campaign setting
Stats - to keep power levels relatively even, we will be using an array:
Races: 3.5 standard races, plus.
The broken world campaign is set in an alternate multiverse where there are no alternate planes,
the prime consists of parts of different worlds that have been broken
into fragments, and float as islands on an ocean of chaos.
Sun(s) and moon(s) raise and lower somewhat randomly, and the occasional radiant glyph of power raises
and falls as well. The sky is otherwise starless.
Each fragment of the world has its own rules. The sun(s), moon(s), gravity,
oxygen and air quality, magic level, tech level, time stream, and
original technology level of its inhabitants, if there are any, all vary.
Random climate, terrain, gravity, time zone, tech level, background culture,
racial mix, how long ago was the event (if there was one), what happened
to the survivors, do they even know they are in a different world?
Less intelligent species will adapt to the new environment without questions
Middle intelligent species will keep the stories of their home planes as legends
Idyllic backdrop, stereotypically pastoral, with some interesting twists
A chaotic area, dangerous, business staff their own lookouts and guards.
How much farm land does it take to support a person?
Area: The lands of high summer
Cows, pigs, deer, venision, fish, grain, nuts, berries, apples, beer, wine, cheese
Stone and wood, daub and wattle
Orcs as the peasant class, farmers and field workers, infantry in armies,
tribes from the jungles of Chult
Elves, as meliboneans, as romulans and vulcans, as overlords, as the ruling class
Humans, mercantile classes, pang tangians
Klingons, Samurai, Warrior class, Vikings
Initial scene - lost in fog, hidden horrors in the mist.
Order apperation by wisdom (at this point, it takes an effort of will to
extract yourself from the primal chaos).
Emphasize the island nature of the world. There is a shimmering interface between
zones, if the weather is different.
Event: Zone Dissolution - whole zone
The new sky, the new sun, the rusty desert expand and contract, fade and return.
Then a cracking sound, and with each fading, you are left alone amid a white
nothingness, light coming from everywhere.
Event: the storm of dissolution that erase reality
A wind comes, gentle at first, a mass of dark clouds building. The sound
thunder, ceaseless, the smell of rain. A great wall of rain advances as a steady
line, front like a sheet of glass. only the dimmest of features can be seen
behind it. So much lightning, like a monstrous insect with
hundreds of shiny legs. And behind it, things grow distorted. Changing shape.
Flowing. Melting the world, or stamping away its forms.
Area: In the fog
For a moment it is like riding into fog, only brighter. There is absolutely
no sound. Then you are falling... (leaving the fog)
Then comes a grey and white landscape, like the surface of the moon. Colorless.
Dusty, dry, windswept plain, low hills in the distance.
Sandy ground, uneven terrain. Canyons and dry river beds.
Sun shines through a break in the clouds.
Sandstorms during the day.
Storms at night.
Area: Desert Inn
The players will need an initial base of operation, and the classic is an inn.
A wind mill outdoors, attached to millstones indoors.
A distant sound of singing.
Cloth covered windows keep out the sun and the dust.
Several small tables.
Indoors, candles for light, outside paper lanterns.
The inn seems to be run by thieves.
A man named "Meaner" guards the money box.
A pair of female body builders as bouncers.
A cook, goes by the name "Chow", looks to be a handy man with a knife. Mumbles to himself a lot.
Spicy meat buns on the menu.
A bowl of wine is 3 taels.
Medicine for wounds.
Constantly mumbles to himself.
A group of roudy warriors in heavy chain. Their leader is a muscular, bearded
fellow who will pull out a stack wanted posters, yellowing papers with faces
drawn on them, and he will compare the images to the faces of travellers.
A group of heavily armed traders.
A group of rough customers, probably thieves.
A bathing room.
Rooms upstairs for rent, a steep stairway leads up to a shadowy hall that connects
Each room has a stone fireplace, the walls are plastered wood.
Golden Jade runs the inn. Hair piled on her head, wrapped in a green
scarf. Willow darts. Expert pick pocket. Her upstairs room has a secret chute
down to the kitchen. She will ask "How many rooms do you need?"
Somewhere in the inn is a hidden tunnel that leads well away from the structure.
Combination location, it contains a tavern, a bath house, a resteraunt, as well as an inn.
Serving wench is a witch, as is her mother and grandmother.
Thugs, orcs, ape men, neanderthals...
Guards look like orcs, act like guards, have stats like ogres.
Area: Food vendor
Outdoor location, shaded from rain and sun, long benches, a cook with a large fire, and an iron
wok, cooking to order.
Boundries - walls of fog, seas of chaos, islands of terror
The misty borders of Ravenloft, chaos hidden by sheets of white
Domain lords keep a section of the realm together through power of magic or
A story of people surviving the end of the world.
The cold dark sea
Islands - some larger, some small. Each its own zone / world, with its own rules.
Drifting on the sea of chaos
Problem of water, sunlight, seasons, plant ecologies, angle of connections
What if the flat earthers were right?
Different possible background worlds and times (Kyrndia, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms,
Dark Sun, etc)
Memory of the white storm (storm & fog descriptions)
Track weight and carrying capacity, time and food. Camping details
Best of imaginary places
Wild magic and magic surges
Dark forest - Worgs and sentient trees, shifty trails
Great desert - Dark sun
Inn (Dragon Inn) wooden construction, secrets and thin walls, propritress
Grain - dark Dermeter
Meat - cows, goats, deer, ?
Fish - Sitleft revisited (sailors sailing over
a wild and bottomless sea)
Drink - alcohol (maybe review The Witcher for ideas)
Gambling? Not so much
General store - specific limited tracked inventory. Keep track of items, rates and
Convince the characters that the danger is real (obvs ultra dangerous
The world is different (interface effects, shimmering)
Time and distance, on foot, and on horseback. Storms as a serious problem.
The Ambush in the Inn
Sojourning swordsmen need to eat and sleep too. So what better place for their enemies
to get frisky with them than at a tavern in the middle of nowhere?
No Damsel in This Dress: Cheng Pei
Pei is a heroine disguised as a man, sitting coolly while surround by enemies in
Scene:Hero orders small dishes
(xiaocai). Ugly customers around glower, preparing oversized weapons under
the table. Hero eats coolly. A particularly fat and ugly enemy pugilist comes over.
Food is over turned and wasted.
Note:The inn must be spacious and split-level,
so assailants can leap from the upper floors and rearrange all the furniture in
In those pre-modern days, any heroine worth her sabre has to disguise herself in
men's clothing as she roams the jianghu, in order to avoid suspicion and
trouble. Despite this, the audience can always tell that she is a woman. The doe
eyes and willowy figure are huge giveaways to all except the hero she fancies.
A woman dressing up as a man is a good thing: she is the heroine out to avenge her
brother/father/shifu (master). A man dressing up as a woman is bad news.
He is the evil castrato, with high-pictchked voice and terrible make-up.
The Mark of the Enemy
Sometimes, heroes do not recognise that the pugilist who spring at them is from
a rival sect, until a sign is given. It could be an actual mark, like claw-like
imprint which won't wash off. Or it could be a particularly devilish series of leaps
and thrusts. Whatever it is, when the realisation dawns on the hero, there is a
pause, followed by throbbing music and an exclamation such as "So you are from Wudang
Poisoned darts are a favourite. So is the xie dizi - a flying, wide-brimmed
hat that decapitates victims. But the most covert, and effective, move must be knowing
exactly which pressure points to strike, so immobilising your victim in mid-kick
and making him look stupid. An inspiration to acupuncturists.
The Dirty Beggar
Or dirty street-side performer. Or dodgy medicine man. Whoever he is, he always
turns out to be a skilled pugilist who helps the hero out or challenges him.
A dark cave, cut off from the world, is a source of great revelations for a hero
who has fallen off a cliff and thought to be dead. Invariably, he finds a secret
manual, or something which imparts him a new and powerful skill. He spends the next
few years learning it in seclusion, and emerges from the cave transformed.
Couples are never shown making out in wuxia movies. So how do they get some action?
The sinister way is to drug the girl by plying her with lots of fragrant wine. The
sporty way is to have the couple come to blows with each other, ostensibly as enemies,
and get the sexual tension out through headlocks and much rolling on the ground.
The literary way is to have the lovers writing calligraphy together on a scroll,
the man standing behind the woman to guide her.
Heroes are married to the job and its code of honour. More often than not, the chivalrous
dude will rescue the girl from lascivious brigands but never once lay a hand on
her. He may, subsequently, hover around her house and spout poetic lines comparing
her to peony. Intrigued, she will pine for his touch and give him her handkerchief
as a parting gift when he returns to the jianghu. Sigh.
It is amazing what a dying person can tell the hero while gasping for breath, before
his limbs stiffen and a trickle of blood rolls down the side of his mouth. His revelations
may include the identify of his killer, disclosure of a spy, incredibly detailed
instructions on how to get a secret manual - or all of the above.
He is the disciple of a well-known master and has to live up to his master's name.
He almost always does the right thing, except when he meets Miss Right - and lets
her down. Examples: Chen Jialuo of Romance of the Book and Sword; Li Mubai in Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Zhuo Yihang in The Bride with White Hair.
He is a bit of a bad boy who shocks polite pugilistic society by dating his teacher
or hanging out with babes who bare their legs in the public. Example: Yang Guo in
Return of the Condor Heroes; Linghu Chong in Swordsman (Xiao Ao Jiang Hu aka State
The Real Deal
A man's man who personifies hao (gallantry). He can outwit, outfight, and
outdrink his peers, and he loves truly, madly and deeply. Examples: Hu Yidao in
Flying Fox of Snowy Mountains; and Qiao Feng in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, who,
alas, kills the love of his life by mistake and comes to a tragic end.
The Brainy Beauty
Or the girl who has everything. She is pretty, well-versed in martial arts, and
brighter than her man. Sometimes, she goes to his rescue, too. Examples: Huang Rong
in Legend of the Condor Heroes; Zhao Min in Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre; and Ren
Yingying in Swordsman (State of Divinity).
Men find his fighting skills deadly. Women find his charm deadly. Examples: Chu
Liuxiang in Chu Liuxiang; and Duan Zhengchun in Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.
An otherwise excellent man obsessed with such trivial pursuits as music, chess,
calligraphy, painting and food. Sometimes, he takes time off his hobbies to mentor
the hero. Examples: Beggar-gourmet Hong Qigong in Legend of the Condor Heroes; and
swordsman-minstrel Mo Da in Swordsman.
He never masters martial arts. He never becomes a better person. He breaks all the
rules known to polite pugilistic society. But he is the best friend you never had.
Example: Wei Xiaobao in The Duke of the Mount Deer.