member, 300 posts
Thu 28 Jun 2018
at 15:21
IC: A Grand Pilgrimage through Post Apocalyptic Fantasy
This got a bit longer than I anticipated..TLDR at bottom.

Been a little out of the GM game for a while so to speak, but I've got a new game idea I'm very excited about! I was wondering if there was other people interested in a fun concept that I had, and if they could provide some feedback/answers to things I'm trying to figure out right now. The idea is listed below!

The Grand Pilgrimage: The Empire was once a grand and mighty civilization. Grand monuments were erected to honor the gods, the citizens were kept safe through its valorous legions, and great advances were made in civics, scholarship, and the arts. Man grew rightfully proud of their accomplishments, but with pride came arrogance, with arrogance came decadence, with decadence came decay. The Empire forsook the gods, while their once vaunted progress came to a screeching halt. As the crumbling Empire shatters into war and chaos, plagues and corruption run rampant. To many the signs are clear, the end of days approach. But there is yet hope, a grand pilgrimage, once conducted regularly, provides a path for saving the world. As most descend into savagery, the last embers of the church gather what heroes they have to conduct the pilgrimage. But will they be enough? And as the world crumbles around our heroes, will there be anything left to save?

The Grand Pilgrimage is a game that contrasts the faith and hope of its protagonists with the terrors of the post apocalyptic landscape. As the game progresses, so does the apocalypse, with each step forward bringing new dangers and urgency to completing the pilgrimage. The road may be filled with blood, sweat and tears, but at the end salvation awaits. Below I have a few discussion points/things I'd like to have clarified. Feedback and opinions would be greatly appreciated!

  1. System: I was thinking of running the game in the Shadow of the Demon Lord system. It's one I particularly enjoy, and is built for more apocalyptic settings. That being said, I'm willing to consider other options that might be interesting for this game. Either way I would definitely not require ownership or knowledge of any ruleset. I'll consider even running it 'rules-lite' although given the adventure element a stronger mechanical basis might be useful.
  2. Characters: I'm thinking of having all characters be attached to the church/gods in some way. This would provide a clear link between the characters and a fun religious theme to their quest. Characters can be of nearly any class/role of course, and I don't intend there to be too much inter faith or faith vs science conflicts or anything like that. Is this acceptable? Is the idea of a religious theme misguided? Similarly, should I aim for a more specific faith to drive characters together, have multiple faiths, or have something in the middle with the church worshiping a pantheon?
  3. Setting: I was thinking of going with a homebrewed setting, although I'd definitely consider the default Shadow of the Demon Lord setting or a few others. Having it take place in an alternate history of earth could also be interesting, although also strewn with lots of touchy religious subjects so I'd prefer to avoid it.
  4. If there are any other thoughts on the matter I'd love to hear them!

TLDR: Religious themed fantasy heroes complete grand pilgrimage during the apocalypse. Unsure on a few aspects

This message was last edited by the user at 15:25, Thu 28 June 2018.

 member, 4 posts
Fri 29 Jun 2018
at 16:32
IC: A Grand Pilgrimage through Post Apocalyptic Fantasy
Hi Abi. ^_^

So here are a few thoughts:

1. I think each of the grand monuments should reflect one of "The Pantheon's" major greater deities. The theory behind this is that back in ancient times when the monuments were first erected, the monuments were just channeling a fundamental truth: the world was held together by the gods of "The Pantheon." By the combination of gods, and their influences interweaving and acting in concert. This together created a network of faith that held back the decay and entropy of outer forces, the anger of the gods, or whatever else is responsible for slowly wearing away at the world.

So for example, one monument site could be dedicated to Thelisandra, Goddess of Life. It would be brimming with life - lots of animals, large green plants, fruit trees, sparkling ponds, etc. Another could be to Arodath, the God of Fire. This would be a pretty hot and metallic place, although not so much it was inaccessible to the faithful. And there could be say...10 such unique pilgrimage locations, one for each of the 10 major gods of the pantheon.

2. Another idea is similar to idea #1, but instead of dedicating each monument site to a specific god, all 10 of them are dedicated to "the gods" as a whole, although they do apprear cosmetically different from one another. The whole point, though, is that the monuments together create a faith-network that helps hold the world together. However, over time it does need to be "Recharged" by these pilgrimages, but it's been hundreds of years since a true pilgrimage has been conducted. Especially since the gods (and the monuments) know when true faith is involved or if people visit just for lip service.

3. What is decaying the world? One idea is that it is the "Deeper Dark," or sinister chthonic outer forces who have had their sights on the world for millennia, but who could not encroach due to the power of the gods. But a god's power is generated at least half through faith as much as innate might. And with the world's faith waning so much...the gods' power has waned and it is causing instability in the world as dark powers leak in.

Another idea is that it is the gods themselves causing the chaos and decay. The gods are punishing the world for its impiety, although they always respond well to true faith. And it's not like the gods just started acting up one day - the gods started out slowly, and gave mankind hundreds of years of signs and omens and gradually-escalating decay to try and let them know. But know how arrogance goes, and man was blind in its hubris. So now, the gods have had enough (but they still favor a handful or two of faithful here and there, hence the pcs and similar npcs existing as needed). This would be a race to re-establish the web of faith using the monuments.

4. As for the PCs themselves, I like the idea of there being a pantheon of gods rather than "one true god," however it is a pantheon where all gods are associated with one another. A "one true pantheon" if you will. The focus of the game shouldn't be about who's religion or god is right - they all are right. It's more about man vs god, faith vs faithless, and salvation versus damnation as players make their pilgrimage to the different monument sites to try and stabilize the world.

This also justified the different concepts, classes, and powers/abilities the players can have, since there's "one true pantheon" rather than a single dominant religion. The gods together as a whole are what mankind needs to direct faith at.

5. Now let's talk about the world. The PCs should absolutely be "true faithful" or "chosen" of the gods, and overall favored and touched by the gods in many ways to boot. I'd even go do far as to say that not just anyone can do the pilgrimage - it takes special people touched by the gods to do it. Think of Yuna from Final Fantasy 10 - not everyone could summon and commune with the faythe, as well as dance to put the souls of the dead to rest. She was semi-unique in that regard, escorted by a group of friends and guardians. In this game, I'd expand it so that each PC is like Yuna - specially favored by the powers that be, and anyone else with the group are friends and guardians.

Now what about everyone else in the world? They are important too...just because most people cannot activate or work the monuments, and thus do the pilgrimages, the monuments still are receptacles and beacons of faith. And the VAST majority of the world's faith is generated by the masses as a whole. So while the PCs are important in that they can calibrate and activate the monuments, as well as contribute their own enhanced faith to them, the monuments are still beacons or receptacles of the world's faith as a whole. and while the world is far less faithful than it used to be, there still is a large chunk of faith in the world. Especially in the light of the end times - it's hard to deny the divine when the world is falling apart. But the PCs role is to catalyze the scraps of faith left in the world by doing the pilgrimage.

Some NPCs should probably be truly faithful and chosen like the PCs but as a group this should be extremely rare - maybe there's 20 such people in the world at any one time, and the PCs are the largest concentration of this potential, but I think we'll see things like factions warring with one another, factions trying to curry favor from the players, factions trying to work against the players (or a bit of both in some cases), and so on so forth. Not everyone should be an enemy - some governments, people, factions, etc. should be neutral or even friendly to the pcs. But there should be others who either are neutral in a standoffish way, or opposed to the pcs in that they want to use them directly, try to manipulate them for their own uses, or even a few factions may want to try and stop them. The interplay of allies versus enemy factions is important.
 member, 301 posts
Fri 29 Jun 2018
at 18:08
IC: A Grand Pilgrimage through Post Apocalyptic Fantasy
Very well written thoughts! I'll respond to some of them, albeit more briefly than I might like to otherwise. Regardless it's useful to get thoughts, ideas, and clarifications!

1. This was part of the plan actually, although I'd probably have a smaller number of gods to accommodate for storylines in between and around the purification rituals. Part of the mystery aspect of the game will be figuring out how the purifications are supposed to work, since the rituals have been abandoned for centuries and records are increasingly lost. So figuring out what you are supposed to do and earning the favor/purification of the gods both remain important.

2.  Same as above pretty much. I haven't dedicated for certain whether they're more generalized holy sites or ones dedicated to the gods entirely, although I'm leaning towards the latter since it could give each holy site a very particular theme and mythology.

3. The social decay is partially just the 'natural' social entropy that occurs in society, although the nature of the actual apocalypse will actually be one of the main mysteries of the campaign. Although on a slightly spoiler-y note it's unlikely to be the gods themselves since, well, the players would practically feel like they're serving the bad guys in this scenario. There'll be a bigger focus on human/mortal apathy and social erosion than mere faithlessness.

4. Pantheon is a pretty good approach yeah. I'll probably lean towards that.

5. Admittedly I'll be aiming for a bit of a different feel than that, although the general point on friendly and enemy factions will definitely stand. I'd rather avoid this game being about the heroes being naturally blessed by the gods or fated to do great things or something like that. Chances are they will be blessed by the gods and such by the end of the campaign, but that will be more out of their actions than any sort of birth given superpowers or divine destiny. They are not heroes due to having miraculous abilities, but because they see the end of the world and are willing to do something about it. The rituals and the other things needed to upkeep civilization and the world were not unfulfilled because society didn't have the right holy supermen, but because of corruption, greed, selfishness and cruelty winning.

Rather than humanity banding together to survive the end of days, most either try to ignore the situation entirely or are too lost in petty feuds, greedily hoarding for themselves, or trying to secure power and influence. There are those trying to do the right thing, but they are outnumbered by the power hungry warlords, desperate bandits, apocalyptic horrors, and apathetic citizens. This apathy and cruelty will, however, be heavily contrasted with the heroes who (while quite probably far from perfect) are seeing the future, do have hope, and seek to aid those around them. On their quest they will most likely begin to turn the tide, although it will be difficult and there will be plenty of resistance from various groups who have profited off of how the world has gone. Keeping up faith and hope in a cruel heartless world might e hard, but faith vs faithlessness is a theme of the game after all ha ha.

Happy to discuss more, and would love to see if there's some more interest before I dive too deep into world building or planning.
 member, 302 posts
Sat 7 Jul 2018
at 18:54
IC: A Grand Pilgrimage through Post Apocalyptic Fantasy
Hm...doesn't seem like there's much interest in this concept. I'll probably put it on the backburner for now and run it some other time. Thanks to everyone who commented, and feel free to close the thread!