D&D Caldera

edited September 2010 in Story Games
This is a thread for me to discuss the setting I'm working on for 4E. More soon.

Comments

  • edited September 2010
    Posted By: Adam Dray in the Autumnal Games threadI finally got players for Caldera, which is my D&D 4E setting colored with cyberpunk tropes. Millions of people squashed into a stacked, six-level city. Why? Because the senate won't let them leave because they figured out that magic is created by people's creative energy. Caldera has magical tattoos, residuum (magic powder) mines, a custom gargoyle race, castes, mirrorrunning, and monsters borne of the city's collective conscious. When you dungeon-crawl in Caldera, you're just down in the dark streets of the lower levels, and there are people there, trying to live their lives. Anyway, with the two players who could make it (and without two or three more who will eventually join), I kicked off an intro game last Thursday and it ROCKED. I'm looking forward to running that more.
  • Posted By: Chris GardinerThat sounds fantastic! What is mirror-running?
    Mirrorrunning is an idea I invented about ten years ago. It was going to be a 3E supplement for Mongoose, actually. A mirrorrunner can use a ritual to open a mirror and step in, taking his friends with him. They enter the plane of reflection, which is a weird fun house universe that us reflected, reversed, and sometimes contorted. The PCs upon entering switch to "avatars," a totally different character they made up for mirrorrunning. In fact, a player can have a stable of these avatar characters. Each avatar starts at 1st level and advances independently of the main, "prime material plane" version of the character. So a 10th level wizard might open a mirror and step in as a 1st level warlord, level to 2nd as a warlord, and then come back out to his wizard-10 self. The next time in the mirror world, he might decide to create a new avatar, a 1st level rogue. Players can make avatars that suit the "jobs" they have in the plane of reflection.

    Obviously, the mirror universe is a D&D analog of virtual reality, the matrix, the 'net, or whatever you want to call it. It serves the same story purpose as it does in cyberpunk lit: it's a means to gather information, spy on people, and get access to places that are normally unreachable. Some differences, though. A mirrorrunner doesn't leave his physical body behind. He literally enters the mirror. He can step out of another mirror somewhere--as his avatar!--and get access to other places, but this is limited. The avatar can't explore stuff that the mirror could not "see" when he stepped out of it. He can take things with him back into the mirror and back out to his old self, though.

    My current group doesn't yet have a mirrorrunner, but I think Daniel is making someone who can do it.
  • Adam, that sounds really interesting!
  • residuum (magic powder) mines, mirrorrunning, castes
    Goddamn...goddamn you. Those are a few of my keystones for the setting/game I'm working on.

    Whelp, nothing original ever existed, eh.
  • Sorry, Gregor!

    Mine is particularly aimed at 4E. The conceit of the setting is that all those people pressed into cramped quarters is creating magical energy. Some of it forms into arcanite, magical ore that can be smelted into D&D's residuum. The rest of it flows through the city, changing stuff.

    All PC levels and abilities are considered magical (even the martial power source). If a 3rd level Warlord leaves Caldera for a day or two, he'll start losing levels until he's a regular joe with some combat-oriented feats.

    The collective consciousness of the city spawns all kinds of interesting things. It creates the plane of nightmare from which terrible monsters enter the city. I thought of this stuff before I saw Inception, but let that movie guide my thinking a little, too.

    The cultural part of the setting is heavily influenced by my readings of the Roman Republic--especially the "SPQR" series of ancient Roman detective novels by John Maddox Roberts. Toss in a dash of flavor from the Iranian class system and liberally season with ideas from cyberpunk, and that's Caldera.
  • Hey, don't apologise, it's all in good fun. I like what you're doing with this.
  • Can you run through any reflective surface or just mirrors? As I understand it, high quality glass mirrors were actually quite rare in ancient times. If mirrorunning is an analog to VR/Net, then the reflective quality of the surface you run through could be the analog to the quality of your tech gear.
  • Posted By: DanielSolisCan you run through any reflective surface or just mirrors? As I understand it, high quality glass mirrors were actually quite rare in ancient times. If mirrorunning is an analog to VR/Net, then the reflective quality of the surface you run through could be the analog to the quality of your tech gear.
    That'd be sweet!

    Then stepping back into reality might take a DC10 skill check if you entered through a clean mirror (allowing the "take 10" rule).
    Stepping back if you entered through an imperfect mirror or another highly-reflective surface might take DC15.
    If you entered through simple glass, maybe DC20 or a skill challenge.

    And of course... failing to step back through the mirror means that you face a higher-level mirrorworld encounter. Perhaps with some kind of weird, symbolic mirror-logic monster.
  • Posted By: DanielSolisCan you run through any reflective surface or just mirrors? As I understand it, high quality glass mirrors were actually quite rare in ancient times. If mirrorunning is an analog to VR/Net, then the reflective quality of the surface you run through could be the analog to the quality of your tech gear.
    Mirror tech in Caldera is pretty good, and not historically accurate. I defy you to put a real world analog date on typical D&D, anyway. You're right though: historically, silver-backed glass mirrors of quality were very difficult to make. The secrets to them were guarded with people's lives.

    You can run through any reflective surface. The quality of the mirror does matter, but I haven't figured out what mechanics it influences. I hate to splash a "-1 on all actions" thing on the game.

    I don't want to make it hard for people to return to reality without it being a plot hook. It won't normally require a skill check to get back, though you will have to find your portal of entry. It's not like you can just shut off your modem, cuz you don't have one.
  • That's cool, I wasn't really using history as a reference point for D&D, but a potential source of interesting choices. I have these visions of runners being chased through alleys, then jumping into shallow oily puddles as a desperate entrance into the mirror world. One of those "it'll have to do" moments.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayThe PCs upon entering switch to "avatars," a totally different character they made up for mirrorrunning. In fact, a player can have a stable of these avatar characters. Each avatar starts at 1st level and advances independently of the main, "prime material plane" version of the character. So a 10th level wizard might open a mirror and step in as a 1st level warlord, level to 2nd as a warlord, and then come back out to his wizard-10 self. The next time in the mirror world, he might decide to create a new avatar, a 1st level rogue. Players can make avatars that suit the "jobs" they have in the plane of reflection.
    I want to play a socially withdrawn, 0-level Mirrorrunner who lives in his mom's basement and works in a cubic residuum farm, but has a 30th level Mirror world avatar.
  • Totally do-able in this campaign I'm running, actually. You'd just do telepresence stuff to role-play when you're not in the mirror being awesome.
  • I think this a great campaign setup, rife with potential plot hooks.

    I was toying with the idea of using the Mirrorworld as an excuse to try out higher-level play / alternate-characters by booting a new avatar, but that might become too much of a minigame or make you too disconnected from your avatar.
  • So, what happens if you die in the mirror universe?
  • I think you get summarily ejected from it, back into your old body. I like the idea of the virtual reality being a safe place to do crazy things. I can always add a damage type that transfers to your non-avatar character as a special rule.
  • Posted By: Adam DrayI can always add a damage type that transfers to your non-avatar character as a special rule.
    Dealt by Black Glass, I should hope.
  • I don't get the reference. <=(
  • Cyberpunk - Black ICE is anti-hacker software in virtual life that can kill you in real life. Since it's mirrors instead...
  • Pretty cool ominous slang term, gotta say.
  • Yeah, I like it. I knew about "black ice," but didn't make the mental shift to black glass.

    I play tonight but no one is playing a ritual caster--well, Daniel is but he isn't coming tonight--so no mirrorrunning. It's not the main focus of the game world, though.
  • One thing about the mirrorrunning: why is the "step out of another mirror to spy" function ever useful? If people knew about this, I think most would deem the option of looking at your reflection in the bedroom less valuable than denying skilled spies a viewing hole there. I mean, even if I did drastically need a mirror for vanity purposes, I'd keep it in a room of its own. Assuming I was anybody important, which is kind of a given if anyone wants to spy on me.
  • I think that's where the "any reflective surface" becomes much more powerful.
  • Locking up your silverware becomes doubly important. Also silver mirrors should be high quality so a mirror runner could be happy he got his hands on some silverware.
  • Jonatan,

    I think generally, people don't realize that their mirrors make them vulnerable. This is new magic.

    And mirrors are useful for more than looking at yourself. They are communication devices and tvs, too. How many modern people refuse to give up shopping online because someone might steal their identity? Some but not most.
Sign In or Register to comment.