Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Kernel of an Idea

The other day I was reading a prayer which listed a number of things that God has done for us throughout the history of salvation. One of these mentioned was that He shattered the gates of brass. This brought to mind a hymn the Orthodox Church sings during the Vespers of Pascha (Easter):

Today, Hades groaning cries out, “It would have been better for me if I had not received the One born of Mary, for He came upon me and destroyed my power. He shattered the gates of brass and the souls which I held captive of old He resurrected as God.” Glory, O Lord, to Your Cross and Your Resurrection!

This image comes from Psalm 107:16, "For He crushed the gates of brass and shattered the bars of iron.” Read in context, from the perspective of of Christ (justified by verse 20, "He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from corruption"), it portrays the lost souls from the beginning of time shackled in Hades freed from their bonds by the crucified Christ.

This got me thinking, since my mind has been on world-building of late, about how to translate this image into a fantasy RPG setting. My initial thoughts would make it an urban campaign, because the image of the shattered gates requires some kind of limited space. The city could be called by several names (all derivatives of Hades or Hell): Adys, Adoon, Uffern, Kolasy. The city lies on a plain in the Land of Nod, where demons freely roam.

Many years ago, a dead man, who was also the Living God was brought to the city and broke down the Brass Gate — the only way out of the city into the Land of Nod. Thousands, if not millions poured out of the gate and few have ever returned.

Those living in the city are lost souls who, out of fear, forgetfulness or coercion choose to remain. The city could contain all the classic urban fantasy tropes including a megadungeon beneath the city that promises vast amounts of wealth to those that dare to delve its depths.

Players would play characters that forget that they are dead and forget who they were and what they did. As they adventure, the Referee could leave clues about who these characters really are. Character death would be relative. Raise dead could be readily available for those willing to pay the price. The underlying goal of the game would be getting through the Gates of Brass. This quest could be accomplished via a classic sandbox campaign where the city itself is the campaign world, or for those willing to do the work, could be as complicated as remembering their real selves (most probably horrible people who have rejected God and his creation whole sale).

I don't know if I'd ever actually produce such a campaign world, but I enjoyed the kernel enough that I thought I'd share.

1 comment:

Matthew Slepin said...

That's a nifty idea. A cool variation might be living PC's who are based in the City of Lost Souls (probably in search of something). It might be cool to have everyone have to interact with the forgetful dead.