This one contains two parts, one big picture, and one flavor. Word of warning, this might be a long one:
ITEM: Exit Demons and Devils; Enter Furries
One of the bigger detractions from D&D in the game’s history is the presence of Demons and Devils. While they are not the same kind as the ones depicted in many religious texts you can see where the outcry in the 1980s came from. However, it is my fervent belief that, just like Rock Music and Heavy Metal, Role Playing Games can be used for Christian purposes. Hell, I’d love to make a D&D supplemental that will incorporate most Judeo-Christian trappings into your campaign world. Setting up a historical setting and having the proverbial butterfly take it to another direction, and then see where that direction ends? That’s a perfect fodder for an RPG campaign and has been done countless times before.
Of course, it should come to no surprise that I’d say something like that: I have Jesus Christ in Æthercoil, after all.
But with the Demons and Devils part, I actually see no place for them in this campaign world. Or at least, anything above a Tiefling-like race who is closer to Trickster Spirits and Bacchanalia than any soul-stealing spirits. More to come from there. As I continued to design the campaign world in my head, however, I find that the Demons and Devils of a classical D&D world have been replaced by a menagerie of sentient and intelligent animals in various stages of anthropomorphism and temperament. Some animals are more bestial and would still consider humans food, while others would resemble someone who walked out of Zootopia.
In other words, I replaced the Devil with Furries. The many new races alone would make up a good quarter of the Player Options section of the Campaign Guide.
While it would be clear that Æthercoil would cater to those in Furry Fandom that would like to RPG as their favorite critter, or even their Fursona, it is still possible for a more classical group of PC to play in the world and have some decent campaigns. They don’t even have to include any talking animals if they don’t want to; that’s the beauty of RPG design.
While I had this idea stewing in my head for some time, the thought didn’t come up to the forefront until Wizards started their Rage of Demons season. This campaign focuses on the Underdark and it’s Alice in Wonderland-ish theme. For the like of me I don’t know how I can see an underground Wonderland that has 12 Demon Lords driving everyone batty, but I can clearly see such a Wonderland without them. A sort of natural faerzress that covers the entire Underdark (which in Æthercoil would lie below all of Europe) that acts like a psychedelic mist that plays tricks with a person’s senses, perceptions, personalities and eventually their entire mental being until they become as madcap as the Disney movie. I just got A Red and Pleasant Land which will be a great inspiration for the Æthercoil Underdark, including a group of people, the Alices, who used to be surface people, but have become so list in the Underdark and assimilated by the faerzress that they have become their own class.
Also, I have already thought up a reason for this Underdark’s Existance.
ITEM: A brief history of the Æthercoil World’s Fall of the Mordern World.
“I will erase even the memory of Sparta from the histories! Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned. Every Greek historian, and every scribe shall have their eyes pulled out, and their tongues cut from their mouths. Why, uttering the very name of Sparta, or Leonidas, will be punishable by death! The world will never know you existed at all!” — Xerxes, 300
As I listed earlier, only 300 years has passed between the beginning of the end (The Cubs winning the World Series) and the start of the Æthercoil campaign. In that short time, the Modern World has regressed into an Old School Renaissance type world. A world more fitting for Game of Thrones or The Bastard Executioner. Scholars in this era look back at the history they knew with utter shock, not over the idea of the world you’re in falling down into nothingness, but that it has done so blindingly fast. It was almost as if something erased a good chunk of history.
They weren’t far off. The aforementioned Samson Option—which occurred in the following three months after the Cubs’ win—that reduced most of the middle east into an Ocean triggered a backlash that reverberated throughout the world. By the time the spring melted the snow at 1 WR (the following year, not even a half year removed) Europe, Africa, some parts of Asia, and the Americans were in war, most of it split on ethnic, religious, and cultural lines.
The United States was the first to fall. Not due to some outside forces, but from within. Democrats vs Conservatives, Progressives vs Libertarians, Christians vs Atheists, Whites vs Blacks, SJW vs Everyone they just don’t like. The downfall of American Society was caused by people not seeing another person and thinking of him or her as…another person, another being in this world, living their lives alongside of their own. Just another person trying to live their lives and make it in this world, just like them. Instead everyone saw everyone else as “The Enemy” and in many cities, the streets ran with blood.
By 3 WR, Modern Society has collapsed and the countries today have broken up into an assortment of governments. Most of them dystrophic. It was a crapack world combining images from Orwell’s 1984, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and others.
It was during this time when everyone started to do what Xerxes threatened to do with Leonidas, and proceeded to erase the United States from history. Records and documents were burned, historians who refuse to confess their ‘lies’ were slain, entire locations were burned or blown apart to the cheers of the public, and many inventions and devices that were created by this time were destroyed. Those who were in power declared the United States the enemy of the ‘real world’ and was regulated to Emmanuel Goldstein status.
It took all of a generation to wipe all memory of this Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, but by 45 WR, the time from 1450 AD to 1 WR has become a lost age. Those who read up on how this erasure was so effectively done in such a short a time consider it a tragedy. Everyone else didn’t know that there was ever a New World, or that the world was round, and orbits the sun rather the other way around.
This obviously had repercussions, especially if you know the progress America gave to the world. In the just under 250 years that the United States has existed, there has been a 5000-year leap in every sphere of human existence. Technology, Agriculture, Live Expectancy, Information, Commerce, Architecture; America has achieved more progress in their short time than the previous combined histories of the rest of the world prior, and it was because of what America was as a country and a concept.
With America gone, so went the leap. Humanity went backwards just as much—and in just as much speed—in these near three centuries. The world of 250 WR wouldn’t be much different than the world at 1000 AD, only without the Roman Catholic Empire. Almost all of the religions in the world were forgotten, burned up by the fire that took the US from the world. And without anyone having a concept of God or any other kind of moral compass, they behaved accordingly. Some would say that you don’t need to believe in God in order to be good. I can agree with that with one provision: That somewhere in the world there is a standard on what goodness, moral, and ethical is. Without such a standard, there is little to no inclination to actually be good. It was truly a dark time.
And it remained dark until the Princesses arrived. A dozen ageless ladies of magic and light, beauty and power. They appeared all at once, all over the world, less than 25 years prior. I’ll be describing those in both mechanics and flavor in a future post, but their arrival at around 275 WR took on the dark kingdoms there in a blitzkrieg that would make the Germans jealous, reclaiming most of the Crescent Coast in the process. Granted, there are still a bunch of area where the darkness still exists, but after almost 300 years, light, hope, and civilization returned to a world that was feared lost.
As the Princess formed their alliance with their twelve “points of light” to spread out to the known world, they discovered a shocking revelation: The Lost Ages were not completely erased. Some brave men and women spirited away the inventions and documents from that time and hidden it from those who wished it disappear from memory. Some can be found in ancient towers, or in long lost lands, or waiting in vaults in dungeons, crypts, or even the Underdark. So the call was made, for willing souls and able bodies, go out and find what was lost, and bring them back to where they were meant to be.
The call is met at 300 WR, and that’s where Æthercoil comes in.