Age of Orion
Season 1 DM Commentary
Contains details from Season 1 explaining my thought process and design as the game evolved from a thrown together game to a full fledged campaign setting.
It started as a thrown together game with who ever was there on Wednesday Night shortly after DnD 5e came out. I had little plan and simply showed up with a basic idea, make a super deadly short campaign with a Dark Souls 2 feel to it, it’s what I was playing at the time. So instead of a direct rip of the Dark Souls 2 script, a lot of the names were lifted and influence drawn from the series dark story tones. And the game diverged from this as time went on, but there will always be influence from outside media.
Maps and towns
The island setting was picked to keep the players on a small map, and allow them to travel and see new places without having to deal with a massive continent. On top of that, it’d give me time to develop a world outside the island as the game continued. The choice to make the island sparely settled was more so to give myself some time to get use to the new system, and to try to flesh out every NPC I created, eventually I abandoned this with the rise of The Landing and the Glade of the Crescent Moon, and let background characters simply be, developing a few well detailed ones as time went on.
The Dark Sign
Used simply as a way to draw people together, everyone is marked with the curse and drawn together to try and “solve” it. As the campaign went on, I further developed what it meant and why it existed, settling on the idea of it being a source of power, allowing for the crystallization of the soul and the collection of the dead’s power. This would let certain enemies be insanely powered from killing and collecting the power of those marked with the Dark Sign, as well as award players with the dark choice of absorbing the powers of those they defeat. It wasn’t extremely well used looking back on it.
The Pilgrim Portals and Time Travel
The Pilgrims were an adaptation of Dark Souls 2’s “The Pilgrims of the Dark”. However unlike the game, the Pilgrims in universe are keepers of lost history, and adventurers looking for knowledge. They have portals to specific moments of the past, and forged rings which let them navigate these unstable regions of space and time. Most Pilgrims use them to observe the past, but some have tried to change things, only to learn that it usually ends poorly. I like the idea that this could be used to grant players further choice as well as a challenge of trying to guess what had happened before if they want to keep things as they are. It was also a great way to interject chaos into the world, go back in time, change something, come back and see what happened.
I always like messing with player perceptions, especially using NPC’s. Lady Von Strauß and the Glade of the Crescent Moon were both designed to this end, using the classic villains as intractable characters, Vampires and Lycanthropes. Lady Von Strauß was designed as the Vampire with a Heart, so use to dealing with adventurers set only on violence, she goes a bit overboard on disabling heroes to have to chance to try and talk with one instead of fight, especially when one of those party members despises the undead. As for the Lycanthropes, they’re a classic monster, unable to control themselves they’re ticking time bombs. How does one deal with that issue? My answer was community, those who had control over their affliction assisting those who had yet to control it, as well as making it a place where Shifters would be accepted as well. Of the two, people are a lot less worried about a Lycanthrope who can control themselves than a Vampire, as they’re seen as duplicitous, manipulative, and generally evil.
The Mirror Universe
This is the trope of tropes for a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Mirror Universe where things are similar yet different from your own. I honestly can’t remember how it came about in game, but the idea was bumping around in my head after seeing the Restart to the web comic Radioactive Panda. A Mirror that shows your reflection in the other universe, if you touch it and your copy touches it, you swap places. This started the whole mirror universe fun mess, which is how I see it. It was a dense level of complexity but it added so many awesome elements to play around with. Got to imagine everyone’s alternate self, play a lot of standard tropes like the gender swap, the dark mirror, altered past, and the unchanged.
Mirror Rain & Brent: Both tied for my favorite mirrors to write. Rain was the Altered Past trope, the same as Rain except her mother survived and brought her into the fold of The Keepers. Mirror Rain has Bloodroot in her system, and while not as strong as her mother, had become an Assassin for The Keepers, before her mother passed on a mission. Brent Embers on the other hand was a member of the Keepers as well, except he was an up and coming general. Brent was going to play a bigger role in Season 2, but that season shifted focus and Brent and the Mirror Keepers faded from the plot… for now.
Patron was originally introduced as a demi-god of the arts, meant to be a snarky critic of the players choices and how events unfold. He was inspired a decent amount by Q from Star Trek, great powerful being who enjoys meddling in players choices. Some of my players saw it as DM self interjection in the story, and while not the intention, Patrons commentary tended to be quite close to 4th wall breaking communication. Patron was as close to a DM character I had during Season 1 and Season 2. He evolved as time went on, slowly becoming more involved in the world instead of just watching.
All those loose ends
There’s a lot of loose ends, and that’s kinda the way I like it, most are left in a position where they could just lay dormant and be considered finished. But they’re always exploitable, and could return at any time.
Mirror Universe: Both the Prime Universe’s Mirror and the Mirror Universe’s Mirror are both in working condition, so there could always be a return of the Mirror Universe characters, although the problem becomes divergence. Mirror Rain is dead, so a Mirror Gilly wouldn’t exist, but it provides that interesting question of what’s that world like?
The Pilgrim Portals: The time travel these provide could easily be accessed by just coming across one of the Pilgrim rings.
The Noble: While Season 2 spent a lot of time with The Noble, and more was revealed about The Noble, however it’s a timeless title that could be awarded to others.
The Mansion: There’s a Brent Embers sitting at the steps of The Mansion waiting for strong enough souls to venture inside with…