Monday, October 16, 2017

Enchanters and Illusionists Rule the World

In a world with enchantment spells, can you trust your neighbor?  In a world with illusion spells, can you trust your senses?

Here's a setup for your next campaign setting:
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The more I think about it, the more enamored I am of it.  Probably the best selling point is that you can drop this into any campaign setting you please — just layer it over the rest of the stuff that's happening and let it run in the background.  (If there are canonical, potent enchanters and illusionists in your setting, they're villains now, protecting their own interests.  Otherwise, add a few puppet masters to your campaign setting.  Nobody's ever heard of them because they know how to cover their tracks.)  Low-level parties might get snapshots of the weirdness, with all the mainstays of conspiracy fiction: mysterious disappearances, unknown benefactors, sudden betrayals, characters whose memories have been altered.  It's only in the mid- to high-level range that you're likely to unmask and smash the conspiracy.  (Or join it.  Or initiate a hostile takeover.)

Of course, clever PCs might expose the conspiracy when they're low-level, and convince disparate allies to do something about it.  But that will always raise the question of how successful they truly were, and whether or not there's something greater at work.  (If your sinister mind-controlling cabal of immortal wizards started with the lofty and altruistic goal of fortifying human minds against Those Outside, well, maybe now the campaign setting has to deal with the aftermath of Lovecraftian entities from the Far Realm ripping through the world.)

2 comments:

  1. I really love this.

    I'm burning through The Southern Reach Trilogy, and the interplay perception, identity, reality, and hypnosis is a big part of it, and I've resolved that, at one point, a villain will just shout CONSOLIDATION TRASHCAN KUMQUAT LITIGATION, combat will stop and the game will pick up in some wildly disorienting place.

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    1. Another attractive feature of dealing with conspiracies and mind control and Manchurian candidates also lets the GM deal with player absenteeism in genre-appropriate ways, working it into the overall narrative. Hell, The X-Files did this, having Scully get abducted so Gillian Anderson could have her baby. I did the same thing in a World of Darkness game back in 2009, having a character experience missing time because the player missed a session, and leaving the PCs to figure out where she went for half a day until her mysterious return. It worked well.

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