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About this game
Welcome to Eschaton, the Vergent City, the City on the Precipice.
It is all that is left of the World That Was, a faint, flickering candle floating within an eternal night. The three heroes who saved this fragment of human existence became the Triumverate, powerful rulers of all within. In the three centuries since, they have become corrupt, ruthless, and terrible, casting down all rivals to their power - even the gods whose world was lost.
One of the three, now known to her subjects as The Philanthropist, claimed dominion the industrial slum called the Rookery. Home to thousands of slaves, laborers, and refugees, it is the largest Shard and also the most dangerous. Great mills and factories churn out thick pollution into the black sky, cutthroats lurk in every alleyway, and the Capistrate militia cruelly enforces the will of their mistress. Where there is great desperation, however, the powerful can also find men and women willing to risk their lives for a chance of escape.
Several such people can be found in the Rookery Gaol. Sentenced to execution, enslavement, or life in a rusty cage for a variety of crimes against the city-state, they are offered a last moment alternative; perform a job for the head of one of the Shard's trade guilds and they will gain their freedom, their crimes expunged from the records of the Capistrate's clerks. The catch? To finish this deed, they must descend into the depths of the Cromlech, the haunted Shard ruled by the dread Thanatope, the Mad Necromancer.
Will they survive this adventure and gain their liberty?
This is intended to be a relatively short dark Fantasy Craft game set in a homebrewed world. The PCs will all be recently convicted criminals who have been offered freedom in exchange for performing a dangerous job on behalf of a local benefactor. This involves traveling to a spooky cemetery and descending into an ancient crypt to find a relic, risking encounters with ghosts, ghoulies, and whatever else might lie within.
PCs will all be 1st level, human (none of the other Fantasy Craft races exist in Eschaton), and should have a suitable list of crimes to their name to merit their imprisonment. Note that Eschaton is essentially a dictatorship, so aside from the usual infractions such as murder and theft, you can also get thrown in the Rookery Gaol for speaking out against the powers that be or ticking off the wrong Capistrate. Also note that the practice of any kind of magic is unheard of; only the Triumverate and some of their servants are known to be able to cast spells and transcend human limitations.
Deadly Combat: Threat Ranges go up by 2.
Dominant Heroes: Heroes/Special NPCs automatically score critical hits with threats.
Dramatic Pacing: Durations and time restrictions are reduced/simplified.
Hewn Limbs: Critical injuries on 16-25 damage; Massive damage on 26+ damage.
Rampant Corruption: Incentives give more bonuses.
Rare Magic Items: Fewer magic items in general.
Style of play
The setting owes a great deal to 19th century horror and fantasy authors like Edgar Allen Poe, the Victorian London found in Charles Dickens' work, the city in the Thief video game franchise, the film Dark City, and assorted other grimdark dystopias. The Triumverate also share some things in common with Orwell's Big Brother, the Sorcerer Kings of Dark Sun, and historical heroes-turned-tyrants of old. I think there's some film noir, neo-expressionist cinema, and sword and sorcery in the mix somewhere, too.
Characters can be selfish bastards or noble paragons of virtue, but they should all have some incentive to survive the night in the Cromlech and gain their freedom from the Capistrates. Their crimes can similarly reflect their outlook and morality, but remember that the dirty double-dealing authorities could have you framed or trumped up on charges if they feel like it.
Recommended classes from Fantasy Craft include Assassin, Burglar, Explorer, Keeper, Sage, Scout, and Soldier. I'd be willing to include options from the Adventure Companion as well, if people want to try something setting-appropriate from that. I plan on having the adventure be a mix of steampunk dungeon crawl and narrative, probably with a spice of combat and traps. As such, it'd be good to have a well-rounded character who can handle social intrigue, exploring scary tombs, and fighting bad guys to boot.
It'll be the first "face-to-face" experience I've had with the system (I tried to play and run in two PBP games - neither got very far), so patience with myself and other players is advised if you're an old hand at it. Its also my first try at running a game on Infrno.net, so I'll be learning my way around the tools the site offers.
I can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to getting "feel" right, so don't take it the wrong way if suggest some tweaks to your PC to help fit him into the world. I'm open to the idea of creating PCs for players who don't have access to the rules or can't figure them out - I think its pretty simple, but the crunch can overwhelm new players - but I suggest having at least an inkling of a concept before you jump on board.