Of all the ages in Kronocalypse, the Steam Ages has undergone the most evolution during the design process.
I started just knowing I wanted steampunk.
So what images does that conjure up? First the superficial images: clockwork, top hats, goggles. Digging a little deeper, I think steampunk is about the bright side of technology. The telegraph lets us instantly send messages to people across the country, mass production allows us to buy all kinds of new consumer goods, and steam engines enable us to travel around the world in eighty days. Anything us is possible.
It all started with the cavemen.
As I fleshed out the eras in Kronocalypse, I decided that humans of the stone age have not developed reading or writing. In Savage Worlds terms, this normally translates into the Illiterate Hindrance. I thought briefly about adding a caveat that while cave people don’t start knowing how to read and write, unless the heroes selects the Hindrance, they learn quickly to do so once they are exposed to written language.
No, I decided. Too complicated. Let’s just give all cave people the Illiterate hindrance.
While I was playtesting Broken Earth, the players let me know that they sometimes had a hard time separating their real world knowledge from their character knowledge. It was even harder than in a standard fantasy game, because Broken Earth was set in the real world. For instance, what would somebody born 50 years after the apocalypse make of a robot drone flying overhead? Would want to rebuild a ruined hydroelectric dam?
There’s a lot of details in the Broken Earth book about the various cultures that the heroes might come from, and I could write a lot more. Some players are really into reading these histories, but others just want to show up at the table and roll some dice, so in the end I put together mindset lists for the three communities that the heroes are likely to start in. The bulleted lists highlight the core ideas of what the community are and what somebody from the community believes. Continue reading
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about what gives miracles its own flavor in Kronocalypse. Today we’ll take a look at miracle’s sister arcane background: magic.
Like miracles, magic is available to characters from the stone age and iron age. Rather than harnessing the spirits, however, mages study arcane spells and rituals to manipulate the world around them.
Time travel is a common plot device throughout science fiction. Just about everywhere it appears it follows different “rules.” Sometimes you can change the past, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can change the past unless it’s a “fixed point.” That sort of thing.
Early on I decided I needed to codify some rules for how time travel worked in Kronocalypse, and to do that I needed to decide what the point of time travel was. In no particular order, here are some of the things I wanted to do with time travel.
- Allow for a range of different hero archetypes from different ages.
- Create fun mash-ups like cyborg dinosaurs.
- Create time travel puzzles.
- Tell an epic story that stretches across the ages.
At the same time I knew I did NOT want time travel to do the following things. Continue reading
Through the ages, many sapient races have appeared on Kron. One early design goal was to include different iconic races for each age. The stone age was easy with its dinosaur people. The iron age was even easier with its elves and dwarves.
When it came to the steam age, the first thought was clockwork automatons, similar to Block in Ug See Big Thing that Fly. Automatons are still in, but as I continued to develop the setting, the steam age also developed major colonial themes. The far off continents unknown to the humans of the iron age could have been populated with just another brand of humans, but in the end I decided to create two new races to inhabit the far-off lands. One is a species of humanoid plants called treefolk. (It’s a working name, let me know if you have a better one.) Continue reading
In a previous design blog I talked about how one design goal for Kronocalypse is that each era could be a compelling setting on its own.
While the settings could stand on their own, another important design goal is for the different eras to feel connected and seem like the history of a living world. Continue reading
There are plenty of Arcane Backgrounds in the Kronocalypse setting, including Magic, Miracles, Weird Science, and Cybernetics. One of our design goals is to give each of those backgrounds its own distinct feel.
To that end we’re creating both mechanical and story differences between the backgrounds, something more than just spell lists. Just as the general premise Kronocalypse is partly inspired by a certain Japanese console RPG, the final inspiration for the Miracles background came from JRPGs. In this case, however, it came from the Final Fantasy series, and in particular Final Fantasy X.
The priests of Kron are summoners.
The Kronocalypse plot-point campaign is based on traveling through time to four different eras. But we also want the setting to be more than just a time-travel gimmick. One major design goals for Kronocalypse is that each era can stand on its own as a compelling and viable campaign setting.
Each of the four eras takes place on the world of Kron, a place that has many similarities to Earth, but also many important differences (like the existence of magic, and the fact that humans and dinosaurs lived side-by-side). We’ll go into more depth on the various settings in future blog posts, but for now here is a quick overview of each era.
The earliest era in the Kronocalypse setting begins at the dawn of man. Humans have only recently mastered language and fire. They eke out a meager existence hunting dinosaurs or woolly mammoth. The saurian, humanoid dinosaurs, are slightly more advanced, having developed basic metal working and discovered how to channel arcane energy to cast powerful spells. The two species frequently clash, and a cabal of saurian spellcasters seeks a way to exterminate the human threat forever. Continue reading
Welcome to the first Kronocalypse design blog. I plan to put these out every Tuesday and Thursday at least through September. For the first one, I figure I should start at the beginning and answer the basic question, “What is the Kronocalypse?”
Say you’re a caveman out hunting dinosaurs…
Or you’re an elven wizard tracking a band of orcs…
Or you’re a sky pirate boarding an enemy zeppelin…
Or you’re a cyborg mercenary on a job for a shadowy corporation…
…when the meteor strikes. Continue reading