The Realms of Rothaen is a dark pulp fantasy setting with a modern edge, densely layered with story hooks that will allow groups to tell amazing tales and shape the world. The books will be written for Dungeon World, but will have plenty of scope for adaptation to other systems.
The kickstarter is in its final week now. If it funds, I’ll be doing some of the writing. Many of you are familiar with my writing in the realm of cyberpunk, but here’s a taste of the kind of fantastica I’ll be summoning forth for this project!
The Taseki Empire
The tune Chantor Kilida-to-Gipoti was humming reached a natural pause as he crumbled the last carbonated pieces of the lilyroot into place to complete the circle. He made a sweeping gesture with both hands and almost fumbled his new tune as he remembered his lack of magical servants. Pause. “Keke-da!” Resume. His two assistants rushed forward out of their dozing to light candles and drip wax in the three pointed star formation. He sighed internally, careful not to disrupt the rhythm of his new tune as the spell started to take shape within the careful binding structures he has assembled. As he wrestled the magic inside the bindings into the shape of a viewing portal, the bead of sweat that rolled from his brow was not from the ambient humidity–he had lived in Taseki all his life, he was used to that. The sweat was fear. He could feel the air chill in the room as the curse siphoned off any residual magic outside the bindings, lacing its way with icy fingers through the extremities of his body. As it stopped at his diaphragm, and the bindings held, he grimaced, satisfied, and focused his attention fully on the luminous portal at the center of the three-pointed-star. “Por-tal!” he sang, “show me the da-ay, the em-pi-re fell.”
That day had been a long time coming, but for most of the Chantors and Song Magi of the Taseki Empire, it was sudden, shocking, and brutal. For centuries, the Song Magi of Kipata, the 1st city, had expanded their magical and political influence through Taseki-Kadi, the land mass that foreign scholars and sailors now call Murwata Island. Their society and government was collectively shaped by the magical chants, canticles, arias, and madrigals sung by generations of practitioners of the Taseki magical tradition. In time they came to be guided first by the leading Song Magi, and then by the Chantors of the Forty Cities. The island thrived, the people were content, the Song Magi grew prosperous… and divided.
As far as Taseki historians, arcanists and antiquarians have been able to piece together from sparse written evidence and the fragments of magical divination from the time before the curse, out, the Taseki magi-musical tradition (or Song Magic as it is commonly known) was based on the magical principle of the Harmony of Voices Unified. In essence, this principle held that by acting in magical concert, the magic of the song was amplified, and the different parts and harmonies of the singers would exert a cohesive influence on the whole spell. The particular styles and expressions of individual singers would weave together to form a stronger magical harmony.
Murwata Island is over 3000 miles from end to end. As long as the Chantors of the Forty Cities maintained their commitment to the Harmony of Taseki-Kadi, the Empire remained strong, but local divergence in tradition inevitably drew the attention of some Chantors away from the Harmony and it weakened. At least, this is the prevailing theory among the historians in what remains of the Taseki Empire. What is not debated is the Day of the Curse.
290 years ago, on the day of the Festival of Lights in Sogado, the 34th city, the Harmony failed and Taseki-Kadi ripped apart. Waves of magical energy resonated throughout the island, sundering the magical communications networks that kept the Forty Cities harmonized. Civilization as they knew it was destroyed. From the ashes emerged the Murwata Island they now know: the rebel republic of Wisgo, the poisoned lands of Malo (formerly Sogado and its neighbours), the lee-lands now called Chrysom, overrun by barbarians.
Now the Forty Cities exist in the archaic name of the Harmony only. The Song Magi of Taseki are divided under the yoke of the curse. Choral singing attracts demonic forces so the magi sing alone. The Harmony is broken. Factions within the remaining Thirteen Cities pursue their own goals. The Reunifiers plan to recover Taseki-Kadi by conquest. The Reharmonizers hope to resettle the Lost Cities and re-sing the Harmony. The Seekers focus their individual energies on discovering the origin and workings of the Curse and reversing it. For the Arians are united only in their belief that the Curse arose because the Harmony was too heavy; the way forward for each of the remaining cities lies in local variations of the Taseki traditions. The various factions use, abuse, and collaborate with the peoples and groups of Malo, Chrysom, Wisgo and beyond to serve their own vision for the cities of the former Taseki-Kadi, and their interpretation of the Harmony of Voices Unified.
Play to find out…
- What exactly happens when Song Mages sing together?
- How does the Curse affect mages from other traditions?
- How did certain Song Magi know to hide on the eve of the Day of the Curse?
- What gives the Songgrove the power to amplify the Harmonies?
- Were the volcanoes of the Lavaspine mountains active when the ruined cities in its foothills were built?
- Secretive cults from before the Curse still tend to the ancient mounds that dot the plains and jungles. What lore do they preserve?