VAL KARTH, Xóthún & a Faerun-Kara-Tur Update – REVISED

Greetings, I know things have been spotty on the blog front of late, as I am in a much better mood (sans the aftereffects of the 2nd Vaccine shot) I’ll be getting back onto my posting schedule. In this missive, I will be discussing my VAL KARTH TTRPG/Setting project, my Xóthún – Adventures in a World of Portals setting for use with 5e D&D and 5e Hardcore Mode; plus, a bit on my Faerun-Kara-Tur setting for 1e AD&D/OSRIC.

VAL KARTH is going to my first Adventures Grim & Perilous System powered TTRPG. As I hinted in my last post, AG&PS will not be a separate TTRPG but the core system powering a number of TTRPGs that I’ll be publishing over the next several years (I hope). VAL KARTH owes much of its essence to the decades long influence of the Talislanta TTRPG, as well as 2000AD comics I read in the 90s, the Heavy Metal film, comics in the Heavy Metal Magazine; as well as the Metal, Punk and underground/Hardcore Hip Hop I love.

As my previous missive stated I’ll be using the classic three alignment axis and unlike in the older and current editions of the most iconic TTRPG, alignment matters. On Twitter I have shared the first drafts of the core realms of VAL KARTH, three of the four City States that dot the Kangmor Peninsula are tied to Law, each representing three main expressions of Law in the setting – from the benign Law of Ord Ghatha, to the just but strict Law of Ord Zhoreb and lastly, the cruel and tyrannical Law of Ord Yrcanós. Ord Dhákós is the sole city-state aligned with Balance, though it shows a darker expression of it.

Another aspect of VAL KARTH that is inspired by Talislanta is that there is no “traditional” Tolkien-esque “D&D” fantasy races. Also, though various kindreds do exist within the setting, VAL KARTH like all TTRPGs powered by the AG&P System using an archetype system instead of races and classes. These Kindreds were once humans but altered by a process of magical bioengineering by the Old Imperium. These Kindreds developed their own distinct cultures after the fall of the Imperium centuries ago.

Magic and technology are often indistinguishable from each other and technology is often powered by magic. That being said, though magic is prevalent in the setting much of it was lost, or hoarded by the surviving Magi and old Imperial remnants. These technologies and magics are often restricted to the wealthy and aristocratic spheres of society, though they may impact the common people in various – often utilitarian fashions, such as magically powered “trains”, airships, broadcasting devices and the like.

VAL KARTH is a Gonzo Science-Fantasy Post-Post-Apocalyptic setting; thus, it has airships, technology, wonderous creatures and geographic wonders unlike a lot of more “traditional” fantasy TTRPGs.

Now onto Xóthún – Adventures in a World of Portals, the setting for use with 5e D&D and 5e Hardcore Mode. I have been working on and off on one iteration of this setting since mid-2018 and finally found the inspiration to move forward on its development again. The main inspiration to dive back into it was seeing the lovely “anime-styled” art of Becca (Twitter link here) thanks to a post by their GM the Cedar Forge (Twitter link here).

I have been a fan of non-traditional Fantasy comics/art my whole life, from Aircell’s Elflord to Drew Hayes’ Poison Elves (RIP Drew & Barry Blair). So, taking inspiration from Becca, other anime-styled artists (RoninDude – Twitter link here) and comics like the Rat Queens is just natural for me. As you can tell from both VAL KARTH and Xóthún list of inspirations I have an eclectic and varied set of tastes both in art and music. As such I tend to utilise the best visual and aural inspiration for a given project.

With Xóthún – Adventures in a World of Portals I draw inspiration also from anime/manga I love such as Naruto, Fairy Tail and even Dororo. I like the fusion of “modern” technology with a fantasy milieu, as Science-Fantasy IS my favourite kind of Fantasy.

Becca’s art (at least for the Amber Wars campaign) is a perfect blend of “Modern” and “Fantasy”, which speaks to Cedar Forge’s wonderful imagination and GMing skills to inspire Becca in her art. Becca’s art has so much character that it was bound to inspire me.

Enough gushing about Becca’s art, I am supposed to be discussing Xóthún aren’t I?

I hate to toss the word Gonzo around, and yet it seems to fit most of my project ideas, so, Xóthún – Adventures in a World of Portals is no different. Another unlikely inspiration for this project is Warhammer Age of Sigmar, though it won’t be overtly apparent. Lastly, a non-art-based inspiration for Xóthún is the Craft Sequence series by Max Gladstone.  

In Xóthún, though designed to be far more dangerous than bog standard 5e D&D, since it is being developed with 5e Hardcore Mode in mind – it is STILL a 5e rooted setting. Yet, I wanted to still have the “wide-magic” and “magic-tech” that I want to be a core aspect of the Xóthún setting.

I’ll post further updates on the Xóthún – Adventures in a World of Portals as the development process warrants them, as it is still in the early brainstorming phase. Now onto the update concerning my Home-brewed Faerun-Kara-Tur setting project.

Much like the above Xóthún project, the Faerun-Kara-Tur project has gone through a variety of iterations over the years – in this case since mid-late 2014. Much like in my last iteration of this project, (I had even created a short-lived blog for it) it will be rooted the 1987 Forgotten Realms Campaign setting Grey Box set. Unlike my previous iterations, I will be faithful to the canon lore as PRESENTED within the Forgotten Realms Box set; and only then I will build upon that foundation as I homebrew my own version of the setting.

I need to discuss the Kara-Tur portion of the Faerun-Kara-Tur project…it is NOT rooted in the Quasi-Asian cultures of the 1e AD&D Oriental Adventures or its FR supplement – Kara-Tur box set. I want to stay away from overtly real-world cultural cognates, at least as they were presented in OA and the Kara-Tur Box Set. Instead, I’ll be utilising Korean, Mandarin, Japanese and Hindi Languages to simply influence the design for MY personal take on Kara-Tur. Much like I utilise the Anglo-Saxon, German and Old Icelandic languages as inspiration in a few of my 2020 “Covid-Era” maps, I am doing the same with these languages.

I’ll tread carefully and be respectful to the cultures whose Languages I am drawing upon for this project, as I have a deep love and respect for them.

Well, I’ll end this missive so I can publish and share it before I prattle on even more. Please take care and be kind to each other. Fin.

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