ÆTHERCOIL Worldbuilding Blog #3

“It began with the Cubs winning the World Series, and it went downhill from there. The world we knew collapsed under its own weight in the manner of years, vanishing into memory, and then not even that. A dark time befell this world, with warlords and tyrants ruling over the people, until a bright light appeared in the East, heralded by the Princesses driven them all away.

It is 300 years since the old world fell, and the world stands upon the beginning of a new renaissance. A coalition of bright kingdoms now explore the world around them, searching lost civilizations and rediscovering inventions to progress civilization. But evil and chaos are still present, and they lie in wait for an opportunity to reclaim their power. Heroes are called, and adventurers present themselves, as they begin the Age of Rediscovery.”

I was, at first, hesitant on what would’ve been this entry on Æthercoil. It concerns Pantheons and Religions (Source: Part 1 and Part 2 ), and since this campaign world is set on an post-apocalyptic real world, it’s would be dicey. Especially with one particular religion, which I’ll elaborate a bit before I get to what I’m really want to put in here.

If anyone is going to set an RPG style campaign in a Real World setting, you are going to have to eventually deal with the real world religions here. And that means dealing with religions that can be more butthurt than a feminist SJW who’s menstruating. Granted, you can talk about Scientology, or any telepreacher, but in my mind the religion I find myself slowing down out of concern is Islam.

Yes, I’m talking about the “No Artwork of Mohammad” rule that causes people to go apeshit every time it’s broken.

And I’m the kind who’d love to put Mr. Peace Be Upon Him in the campaign setting. (Personal Note: I know that the phrase “Peace be upon him” is used by Muslims to pay respects to someone who died. But the phrase is spoken so many times their prophet’s name is mentioned, my brain assigned the phrase as Mohammad’s last name. It’s how the organ works, after all.) In fact, I have already put Jesus Christ, a deity and religious figure that never has this hang-up in the modern time, as a Deity in Æthercoil. I’ll mention Him in Entry #4, where I’ll talk about the drastic measure in dealing with the “No Artwork of Mohammad” rule: In Æthercoil, the Middle East is an ocean, and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam fell are left on the ash heap of history because of it. Keep tabs on this blog for how that happened.

Oh, and I’d like to ask some Muslim who won’t go into full-on beheading mode at a pin drop to assist me in how to properly depict Islam in an RPG setting, so I won’t have to throw out three entire religions and several whole countries along with it, because I would like to walk the streets without worrying about one of you sneaking up behind me with a knife, thank you so much.

But now I want to get at this month’s Unearthed Arcana from Wizards, the one that deals with Magic in a Modern Setting. I’ve looked them over and thought that, while it might not be permitted in my Forgotten Realms setting, it would be perfect for Æthercoil. Especially when the campaigns gets going and technology becomes rediscovered. This article and related PDF expands on this Behind the Screens article as well as pages 267-8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. (Note: Flintlock pistols, Revolvers, and long range rifles including a couple sniper rifles are a part of my Forgotten Realms.)

In Æthercoil, technology in the modern world is the goal of several campaigns, including electronic devices. At the start, most of the electronic items would be rare and small, probably a solar-powered calculator or a battery-powered flashlight. The kinds of trinkets that you can incorporate Numenera’s Cypher mechanic into the system. (Of course, you need to deal with developing batteries for them. Definitely the cause for a whole campaign that can take a character from levels 1 to 20 and beyond.) But even at the start, the three Magic archetypes can come into play, such as using the on/off cantrip to control some devices. As the search for tech progresses, and computer networks come into play, these archetypes will come more into play: Once an electrical grid is set up, and cities becomes networked, they will really come into play. Or they might encounter a location that already has the network set up, including the power grid, and they can use these archetypes at earlier levels. That possibility will be available for that as well.

I’m thinking on the fly, but that would be the basis for my first Æthercoil campaign, which is a conversion of Lost Mine of Phandelver. Instead of a Magic Font, the Lost Mine would instead be a still-functioning and still powered computer network—maybe the server where Wikileaks or Piratebay is located—and the mere discovery of this computer and the data it holds (maybe information on how computers and power grids are made?) would be the major rediscovery of Modern Technology that is what Æthercoil is all about.

One I get through some of the major world-building articles, going along with the Gamemaster’s Journey Blog in the process, (The pantheon-slash-religion article and the list of various races in the campaign world) I’ll go along with setting up a Sword Coast region (Hint: It’s Europe) and work on the first campaign.

And like I said, if it is entirely possible for me to properly portray Islam in this campaign setting without having fatwas issued against me, please any Muslim who knows how to do it better than I do, let me know. That input will be a big help in actually putting your religion into this world.

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