Sunday, January 20, 2013
Worlds of Lore - Soulburn
Ki'lari Greenwood was a low-level necromancer in the human kingdom of Gorin, a prosperous coastal country on the planet of Font. During one of her regular experiments into the afterlife, Ki'lari managed to do what no-one else could. Out of the ether she had pulled a pure soul; not a ghost or a spirit, but a pure and refined soul. Appearing like a green slime writhing with wraith-like faces, the soul almost bristled with energy as it laid in the clay dish Ki'lari had manifested it in. Ki'lari set a flame to the soul, and it ignited like no other substance on earth. The heat and energy it gave off was monumental, the souls screaming and returning to the ether, corrupted. The flame from just one soul lasted two hours. Ki'lari knew that she was about to change the world.
Now almost 200 years later, the kingdom of Gorin and the entire world is fueled by these "soulburn" devices. Engines, carriages, trains, zeppelins, boats, weapons, electricity and more are all powered by giant glass tanks full of wretched souls. People have replaced missing limbs with soulburn devices, and huge robot suits, known as Aegises, help in every day life. Society itself has advanced as well; a class divide has appeared,
leaving only the very rich or very poor. Cities sprawl both upward and outward, giant metropolis of brass and stone powered by soulburn. Culture has become one of leisure, and styles of art have exploded in variety. Clothes are proper and flashy, and fashion and breeding are the height of importance.
Not all is well, though. Souls can only be extracted from areas where they congregate in high numbers, and kingdoms are starting to go through terrible wars for the resources. As a result, xenophobia and racism have increased tenfold. To further complicate this, the souls that are burnt through soulburn go back to the ether, but they are corrupted and no long produce power. When the souls eventually reincarnate, as all souls in Font do, their bodies are corrupt and evil. These creatures are known as the Wracked, and they are becoming more and more common.
Will people use this new power for good or evil? Will it lead a new path to a bright future, or will it become Font's ruin? And if the souls are becoming corrupt, then who knows what is happening on the planes?
Soulburn is Worth Killing Over: Gorin is right in the middle of an industrial revolution even larger than Earth's. Their resource, the pure souls of the dead, is precious since the entire kingdom would fall apart if they didn't have it. People are going to war with Gorin, and vice-versa, in order to gain the upper hand. Some other major kingdoms include the orcish desert kingdom of Blood Gorge, the dwarven mountain kingdom of Steelhome and the elvish jungle kingdom of Queensreach.
Soulburn is Destroying the World: This is not on a purely war based level, but rather on the appearance of the Wracked. Their were always monsters and creatures in Gorin, but none we are bad as this. Wherever the Wracked go, they spread death and destruction, poisoning the very land they walk upon. The more souls that are used, the more Wracked will appear, eventually swallowing up the land. Now, some guilds exist whose sole purpose is to hunt and kill the creatures.
It is Important to be Proper: Gorin society, and indeed Font society, is analogous to Victorian England or Gilded Age America. It is a more proper society where pomp and circumstance is the currency of the day. Balls, social gatherings, art galleries and concerts are all the realm of the good living. However, if you are not rich, you probably live in the sewer or something close to it. It's not pretty, but it's a fact of life.
Nothing is Ever Clear: Gorin is a land of moral grey areas. Is it right to use Soulburn? Are these wars needed? Is the class system fair? Everything can be debated and argued against, but no answer can ever be found. This extends to characters as well; many often have a hidden dark side, and none of them are two-dimensional in any way.
Outsiders are Savage: In a world of war and high breeding, people become scared of other people. Visitors from other kingdoms are always met with suspicion, as many believe they are spies or infiltrators. Half-breeds are almost universally looked down upon by society, as many think their blood is dirty and tainted.
Though the Soulburn setting is magical, it is not as highly magical as other B&T settings. Thus, very few extremely magical races exist in the setting. The most common races are Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Gnolls, Orcs, Skits and Lynx. Automotons are also a good choice if you wish to have a robot race powered by soulburn.
Most classes are suitable for a game of Soulburn, but not all of them. Most arcane casters are magic-users instead of sorcerers, and the world of Font is devoid of psionics. A new class described later in this book, the Engineer, is perfect for the setting.
Not long after soulburn was discovered, the churches of Gorin started to come under a reformation. What was once just a passing devotion to old pagan gods quickly became a widespread duotheistic religion. On one side is Polis, god of nature, light, animals, weather and other natural things. On the other side is Fumal, goddess of industry, darkness, death, knowledge and other "man-made" things. These twin gods are praised under one church, the House of Stars, but numerous sects and cults have branched off who worship one diety alone or even specific aspects of either god.
Aside from the elemental, ethereal, astral and shadow planes, the only other planes are the Grand Wilds, Evercity, and the Bleakness. The Grand Wilds, ruled over by Polis, is a land of extreme wildernesses and weather, full of beautiful sites of nature and destruction. The Evercity, ruled over by Fumal, is a giant brass city full of scholars, inventors and law. Both the Evercity and the Grand Wilds house celestial beings. The Bleakness is the barren land of the dead, a gloomy place where the trees are black and the ground is ashen. The Bleakness is the realm of infernals, the undead, and most importantly, souls.
Guns are Allowed: Guns in Soulburn are not blackpowder, but they are instead fueled by soulburn, making them the only commonly-made weapon that are powered by the fuel.
Magic Items May Be Technology: When a TK rolls up a magical item, he can instead say it is technological and powered by soulburn. A wand may instead be a gun, or a flaming sword may have a small soulburn tanks that powers the fire. This does not produce any different mechanical effect, but rather a flavorful one.
Aegises: Aegises are large, robotic suits that almost anyone can pilot. Standing about 10 feet tall, they are mostly used in construction and heavy lifting, though they have proven themselves useful in the numerous Soulburn Wars.
Any character can attempt to drive an Aegis. When they do, they for all intents and purposes "become" the Aegis. Their size grows to Large, if it's not already, and their AC increases by +4. Further, the pilot gains a +1 Strength bonus, not attribute increase, while in the Aegis (i.e. someone with 18 Strength would have a +4 bonus). The Aegis has a base movement of 40-ft, it grants darkvision to a range of 30-ft., and it can wield the same weapons, shields and armor that the pilot's class can, though armor must be fitted on the Aegis for a minor charge, usually 50 gp. If a character wishes to punch while in the Aegis, an Aegis' punch deals 2d4 damage. While in the Aegis, the character also gains a knack in Breaking Down Doors and Bending Bars. Aegises are airtight, and thus can be piloted underwater with little to no problems.
There are drawbacks to this; whenever a character takes damage in the Aegis, it applies on them, not the Aegis. If a character ever goes unconscious while in the Aegis, the Aegis shuts down. The Aegis also saps away the energy of the pilot; for every hour they are in the Aegis, they must make a Fortitude save. If they fail, they take one constitution damage. Some physical abilities, such as the monk's increased movement or the druids trackless step, may not work while piloting an Aegis, but it is up to the TK. Magical abilities, however, can be used while piloting, though there is a 20% chance that the spell will fail.
Aegises are extremely expensive, both to purchase and maintain. An Aegis costs 25,000 gp to buy, and they cost about 300 gp to maintain monthly in terms of repairs and fuel costs. TKs should be very careful when dealing with Aegises in a campaign.
Soulburn Augments: If a character ever loses a body part, such as an arm, eye or leg, some clever engineers out there have developed mechanical replacements powered by soulburn. These replacements usually cost between 500 and 2000 gp, but once they are installed, the function just as the old body part did. Further, the installation is so easy, there is no chance of failure. If you would rather augment your body with damaging weaponry, your character should the augmenter variant of the engineer class.
Explosive Soulburn: Soulburn is often housed in very strong glass tubes. Though they are strong, they are not indestructible If a soulburn container is ever destroyed, the soulburn explodes with blinding energy, dealing 5d6 damage and dazing (for one round) anyone within a 40-ft. radius around the canister.