Roleplay Clubs - The Game Master’s Guide
The Universe is the world of your roleplay and everything inside of it. This is where the characters will be interacting with one another.
When creating your world, you need to be careful not to make it too complicated. If we are going with the heroes and the princess example again, and you are providing the players with skill options for their characters, you need to be careful not to give them too many to choose from, otherwise they will have a hard time deciding. So complete freedom within your Universe may come back to haunt you and, ultimately, work against you. Have some structure in place for the players to follow, like only having a set of ten skills from which they could choose.
You also need to make the genre of the Universe very clear. With our example, our main genre is that of a Medieval Fantasy adventure. This gives the players a starting point to create their characters around. In such a genre, they are unlikely to come up with a cyborg character that can pilot ships; it just doesn’t fit within the genre. Also keep in mind that the Universe with its world and lore must tie in with not only the genre but also the premise and the plot. The Heroes and the princess probably would not suit in a Sci-Fi genre which takes place on a space station. Having these elements fit together helps make a good, detailed, and more importantly, a believable Universe.
Once your premise, plot, and genre have been decided, create the world in which the roleplay will take place. For this roleplay, I would limit it to the size of a Kingdom. I would plant down various locations as well as the scale of the landscape and the layout of the country. While having a large world can be fun, try not to make it too large otherwise the characters will become lost within it and the story might not ever progress. Try and put down as much detail as you can, like the name of the princess, the name of her town, the name of the dragon guarding her, and the name of where she is being kept. Name the towns, the villages and the recognisable landmarks such as mountains and rivers. Decide the kind of environments that your world is, whether it is a lush rainforest or a desert. Your extra information can serve as a means to give the players a rough idea of your world and how it works; sometimes even using things like maps will help.
Once you have the main environment, you need to begin to populate it with people. For some roleplays, simple humans will suffice, but in our example we can expand it to include elves, fairies, dwarves, and other mythical beings, intelligent or otherwise. With a dragon about, it’s not unreasonable to think that there are also Unicorns or Griffins. You also need to consider whether or not you will allow players to introduce a new species that populates this Universe. Think about the kind of societal structure there would be within your Universe. In my example, there would be peasants, serfs, villagers, townsfolk, cityfolk before moving up the social hierarchy to include the richer middle class, and the elite class.
You also need to consider what impact the characters can have on the Universe that they have been placed into. If they are not allowed to have any impact, players might feel a little discouraged. Allow them have some power over what happens in the Universe such as being able to kill non-essential NPCs although try not to have every NPC non-essential. The only things that should shake the Universe on a large scale is predetermined plots.
Lore is extremely important to the creation of your universe in almost all cases. It is the backstory, nay, the very backbone of your universe as it stands today. How detailed you want to get with this could be dependant on the story you’re crafting, and the skill level your roleplay is set to. It could be from everything at the start of a main protagonist’s life to the moment just before you start roleplaying it, or it could be from the first moments, and first recorded history of your universe’s creation. It can be complicated, or it can be very simplistic. Who? What? Where? How? Why? These are the five questions you need consider when making Lore. Because you need to think about the depths of the universe, and answer the questions.
Using the example of the saving the princess again, we’ll explore the five questions piece by piece so you have a rough understanding of the type of questions you need to ask. This is only a guide; you may have more questions, or completely different ones, depending on your roleplay.
Now we’re going work though the questions and show thought processes and such; this is to give us an idea of how this universe works, and to see how easy it is to break the construction of our universe down, so you can build it bit by bit. Whilst the core questions will be the same, the individual questions likely won’t be. Together, we will attempt to reverse engineer a back story from the information we know from our example: ‘Fantasy style, rescue of the princess from the dragon’. It’s a simple concept, so let’s try and make it interesting.
For this section, we’ll be looking at the characters. We’ll briefly touch on their relationships, how they’re connected to each other, and so on. To look at this with a questioning eye, we need to examine some basic questions before we can proceed. Let’s assume that your character is the main protagonist, after all - this is your roleplay. The others are coming along for the ride, and enjoying your character’s company. We already know what the basic theme of this roleplay is: it’s a bunch of heroes saving a princess from a mean old dragon. From here we can start building a lore.
Some questions we can start asking are:
Who is the main protagonist?
- Who are his/her friends?
Did the protagonist grow up with family?
- If not was s/he raised by a pack of wolves, or something?
- Who were their role models?
- Were they born into a rich family or a poor family?
What race is the person?
- If non-human and growing up around humans - did they ever have issues with racism, being directed towards them/projected towards humans?
- What do they like?
- What do they treasure the most?
- Who do they love?
And so on… As we stated, how deep down into this person’s private life we go is entirely up to us. It’s important to establish these things and think about them as we’re answering them, so we can build up the kind of society that he or she came from. Ideally we can try linking these things with movements of the plot. For things we want to leave up to pure randomness, if there are two potential answers, we can flip a coin, or roll a die. Sometimes it helps if we come up to fork in the road and we like each idea equally. So let's make up some stuff and answer the question.
The protagonist isn’t a single person; it’s a group of people, with varying backgrounds, personalities and temperaments. The ‘leader’ of the group, if you can call her that (as she prefers to go at things with a more equal footing), is a woman called Na’tey. Na’tey had to leave her friends behind when her city fell during a war two decades ago, ever since she joined the Guild of Arcadia and swore an oath to uphold the rights of the individual to defend their freedoms with honour. She did grow up with family; she loved her father very much, and helped her mother wherever she could. Unfortunately they lost their lives in the very battle that destroyed her home city. They were never rich, but they were never poor; until the war they were comfortable. She never had issues with racism, even considering that she was a Tarzamox; a type of purple skinned elf-like species which aren’t too common. She likes good music, good entertainment, and drinking with good friends. She treasures her mother’s pendant, and she loves, well… No one. She’s dedicated to the guild and it’s virtues and values. Her mother was called Shen’yae and her father was called Holt’zal. She is not religious, as her ‘God’ died when her parents perished.
So this could be the opening for the roleplay; her having some kind of religious or moral crisis, as she may have had before. That’s pretty much it: we had some ideas of what we wanted with the story, and we fit it into her personality. Noticed the underlined words? That’s because we’ve not mentioned them yet, and there’s a bit of a question as to what they are. Nothing is set in stone, and things can change, especially considering this is just brainstorming session.
Now we’ve briefly examined the main protagonist and gotten a bit of background, let's look at the other characters in the roleplay. We know already that we are off to rescue a Princess, and this opens up some more questions such as:
Who is the princess?
- Does she have any siblings?
- Who is her father (the King)?
- Who is her mother (the Queen)?
- Who is the dragon that has taken her (the douchecanoe)?
Just like our character (Na’tey) is sum of all her past experiences, so too are the royal family that we found you dealing with. Let's find out who the people who she’s getting involved with really are, shall we..? Just for fun, let's throw a little plot twist in there, and see where we end up.
The Princess is a woman by the name of Leyf, who is the daughter of King Temiaal and Queen Atreyu. She has four siblings: a brother called Jahaal, and three younger sisters called Ryvaar, Fyre and Aeyr. All the women in this bloodline carry the sacred letter ‘y’ in their names, which is a tradition handed down for at least fifty generations. The Temiaal Royalty rules with absolute power over its own citizens who are, in fact, slaves under the royal family. They’re forced to do all kinds of unpleasant work for no pay whatsoever. They also live in poor conditions, and the Princess is well known by these people as her father’s daughter. She’s a nasty piece of work indeed, and once ordered the execution of one-fifth of the neighbourhood, because poor productivity caused her to just fall short on getting ‘something’ she wanted on her eighteenth birthday. The dragon is unknown at this point.
So there is some background on the Princess, as well as her despicable sounding family. We now we have more than a few questions, like: if the Guild of Arcadia are sworn to uphold the rights of the individual and to defend the freedoms with honour, then why are they asking us to help a King who has subjugated his people into slavery? Also what is this ‘thing’ that was so important? We’ll answer that in a moment, in the ‘What’.
Notice how we avoided thinking about the dragon? Just to buy more legitimacy to the plot we need to put a pin in this and work it out later, as we don’t know enough about the lore so far to say what type it is, why it does what it does, or whose (if anyones) dragon it is.
We’ve now looked at the parents, as well as the princess and main protagonist, but we’ve put a pin in the dragon for now. Now we’ll move onto the bigger picture so we can answer:
- Who are the people who inhabit the land?
- If there are other kingdoms, who are they ruled by.
We’ve got a vague idea that the land is some kind of mythical fantasy, perhaps with elements of survival and/or adventure.
I suppose that was obvious by ‘dragon’; sure, some might argue it’s hardly creative. But then, we’re not trying to be original, if there even is such a thing; we’re trying to be somewhat unique with an unoriginal idea.
So we can probably populate the land with other mythical fantasy type things, such as: beasts, monsters, orcs, dwarves, giants, maybe some type of vampire or werewolf as a rare (perhaps random) encounter, some fairies, pixies, sprites, witches and wizards, and some trolls (for keks).
As for the next question, we’re going to pick a number at random to generate a number of cities; in this case it was twelve so, picturing a rather blank looking map, we put down twelve cities. Then we do it again for a larger number than before, to get the towns that will be scattered across the map, which is twenty. This is just one part of the world, one country even, so we shouldn’t be too worried about having all of the possible inhabitants there. Some of these cities and towns might be one species only, some might be mixed species. Another reason why we might not include every one is evolutionary biology - maybe this a warmer climate and some of the species that adapted for cold might not live here, because it’s too warm for them.
Now we can see just how we started with “Who”, we’ve started building the world and the universe it inhabits - and we’ve not even started roleplaying yet. In the next section of this chapter we’ll be looking at answering new questions.
We have a few questions from the previous section that we need to answer before we get cracking on with the next set of questions. The first set of questions we need to answer is:
- What is the Guild of Arcadia?
- What is this ‘thing’ the Princess wanted?
- What drove the royal family to commit such heinous acts of oppression?
The Guild of Arcadia is a seemingly unaffiliated group of ‘heroes’ (to lack a better term). They’re ‘racially diverse’, which has caused some friction within the guild from time to time, but they agree on a core principle of beliefs; that everyone is entitled to individual rights, no matter what species, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Quite frankly they’re not interested in ‘identity politics’; they know these different species are different, that they’re not equal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be treated with the same core rights as everyone else. What the Guild is more interested in is using these differences to gain a tactical advantage over their enemy. To win wars; not to start them, but to finish them, victorious. The Guild is built on a solid foundation of honour, and they rarely get involved with everyday politics. They take contracts and weigh them against their core beliefs; it’s debated on by the Elders of the group, the wisest, once recruits who have won and worked their way up to the top, like natural selection: weeding out the weak and those unfit to rule. This is why they’re good, usually. Every now and again a rare contract comes up; perhaps like this one was, the contract is just ‘save the princess’, perhaps the contract holder with the intention of just bringing his daughter back home… But perhaps the Guild has taken it to mean something else; ‘save the princess’ isn’t a lot to go on. The mission is indeed to save the princess… To bring her back to the guild so she can face justice.
So basically this is where ‘good people’ come from. During this time period ‘good’ will definitely be highly relative; meaning it’s the best of the bad set of apples. Perhaps it was a rare contract. Perhaps there was an ulterior motive behind actually accepting it. Would the Guild of Arcadia actually agree to return someone in their custody, knowing what she did? After all, the contract said nothing about bringing her back, only stating to save her from the dragon; which, it seems, is in both their interests.
What is this thing the Princess always wanted, and what drove her to killing those people just because she didn’t get it? We could go for one of two options here: either come up with a reason that is so grand that it might try and explain away the slavery; after all ‘Good’ is relative here. Or we could go with a slightly easier way out by going for something that would make the characters think bringing her to justice isn’t such a bad idea after all, so some worthless mundane excuse or other. Both ideas have potential story lines, one adds a dimension of complexity, however we just want to keep the Princess somewhat simple for now. This is a good one to flip a coin on; after all, wanting a bit of randomness is awesome. So we’ll flip a coin on this one, and we ended up with the simpler one, so let’s say that it was going to be a diamond encrusted sword, and all she needed to do was wait one more week past her birthday.
Maybe the character feels like the dragon is where she needs to be right now, eaten and just left to her own devices (or rather digestion). Or (more likely for the sake of a plot), she might be more dead set in bringing Leyf to justice, and is probably more than happy to bring in Leyf’s good for nothing father, too.
As for what drove them into this: perhaps war. Fighting for so long with so many people, the royal family turned to their population and enslaved them to keep the hungry war machine powered. Unfortunately, there is perhaps not much of a military anymore, which is probably why the King hasn’t sent his own forces to the dragon, and instead had to rely on a contract to someone else. Maybe he’s running yet another failed communist-esque dystopia? That’d be a cruel little unexpected twist in both the genre and format, which contrasts strongly with the heavy emphasis on individualism from the Guild. It’s possible the two sides either dislike one another, or are actually at war with each other. We need to look at ‘How’ Arcadia got the contract in the first place, and how did it get handed down to you.
In the brain storm we’ve answered the question of what the politics of the Royal Family are. They’re some kind of hyper-authoritarian, communist-like enslavers. But what would be the obstacles of the quest? Obviously if the Royal Family found out that the Guild has taken the contract, it could spell trouble, as the Royal Family have no intention on paying the guild even if they returned the princess safe and sound. It’s far more likely the King would offer a slightly higher sum to some assassins to take your group out (giving us an enemy to be wary off, or even defend ourselves against). There could be other obstacles you could face, similar to side quests in video games, where we need to get better armour, better weapons, to gain ‘exp’, and ‘level up’. They could get progressively harder with ‘beasts’ and ‘monsters’ we have to fight. Chances are our characters will be visiting some of the other villages and towns (in which case repeat from above to generate our soon to be canonical lore). They should have their own backstories, and it doesn’t need to be anything complicated; after all they’re just a ‘break’ from the main quest. But if we wanted to go full Bethesda, then by all means we can add as many little details as we like, just bear in mind we have to keep on top of it (maybe keep a document of information about each location).
What are the risks and rewards? The dangers could be as many or as a few as we like; as such it’s already very risky, in that the Royal Family has apparently taken out a contract for the assassination of our characters… It’s likely that they will only try to assassinate your character after they’ve gotten the princess away from the dragon, so they can risk their lives so the assassins don’t have to.
This again fits; If battles get progressively harder the further away from the Guild you go, then that means they’ll get progressively easier as you head back to the Guild… Which is going to be boring. This is where the assassins appear, once we have the vain princess.
Remember earlier when we started out with a blank map? Well now we’re going to start filling in that map. Thanks to our trusty random number generator we’ve already added twenty towns and twelve cities. We know one of the cities was destroyed ‘a couple of decades’ ago, as this serves as the protagonists original home city. We know that one of the cities is run by the oppressive King, and there’s an undisclosed place on the map where the Guild is. For the rest of them, we should flip some coins for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ places, and randomly dot them about for now; we might not use them all now, and we shouldn't dwell on them too much, as we’re mainly going to focus on the areas the protagonists will be visiting enroute to the mountains. As for the others, we will repeat these questions with later, fitting them into the current lore. There is nothing stopping us from adding these now, although... Personally I’d try to go more in detail about them later, as the first quest is my sole focus right now.
For our dragon: we’re going to want somewhere with a lot of airspace, unlikely to be touched by man, and where the dragon can make a lair. A cave on top of a mountain is as cliché as any, and why not? It’s two more obstacles to overcome. Where is it, and how do they get up there? To add some survival elements in, and knowing what geography is typically like, these mountains are likely to have rivers coming off them; places where our heroes can get a drink, or make rest, at a camp site. There might be fish in the river, or other game to hunt nearby, for food. There could be possible dangers within the mountains, such as large creatures that have been known to tear giants in two, or even other dragons. The heroes will have to either fight, or avoid the creatures.
As for where would the quest start, perhaps the Guild of Arcadia would be a good place to start. Probably a reasonable distance away from the mountains, perhaps six days by foot, if they went straight there (which they’re probably not - Side Quests, after all). Others in our group might wish to be from neighbouring kingdoms, either through guild outposts in any of the towns, or from the guild itself, given the quest by one of the elders. We’re also going to withhold some of that information, so they don’t know about reasons until after they get back.
You’ll see why, when I go over the summary.
Now we’re on to the hows, such as: how does this world work, and how do the protagonists complete the main questline? How does the release of information play out over time, as we don’t want everything to be revealed from the get go. Other questions we’ve got to consider are:
- How good are lines of communication?
- How did the princess get taken, and what were the sequence of events that lead up to it?
- How did the Guild get hold of the contract?
- How was life here before we got started?
- How do the species get along with each other?
How common are dragons?
- How do they usually respond to dragons?
- How common are dragon related kidnappings?
Whilst it’s not set in stone, the idea that it isn’t a high-tech society is good as a limitation on the plot, a non-physical barrier for our protagonists to adapt to. So there might be some physical messengers that walk around; this would very slow compared to radio communications and, with the dangers, nowhere near as safe. So chances are the players won’t know why they’re being attacked by elite groups of assassins on the way the back.
Though the lines of communication to and from remote locations are poor at best to nonexistent at worst, this lack of communication is not a bad thing; it’s a plot driving device, and could end up becoming the sole focus of a questline much later on to improve the network of communications around the area, as long as we can find something else to become a plot driving device. But this would depend on the popularity of the roleplay; if it’s very popular, then after the main quest is done we should definitely do so, to form a new quest. If not, when the main quest is over, and if there’s no desire to continue, then the story is done and we can go on to make another, using what we’ve learnt to make the next story better.
The princess was taken when she was just outside of a city or town that she was returning from, perhaps if it’s on the route of their journey, our characters can ask at the city or town when they pass it, to get more information. There was some kind of battle between her guards and the dragon, and the dragon was injured slightly, but her guards were decimated in the attack, and it took the Princess. As to physically how? Perhaps it just picked her up with its talons and flew off. There’s no need to get complicated with it, and that answer is sufficient for the purposes of the storyline. This would also suggest that the dragons here are Wyvern-like, in that they have wings as well as dexterous appendages that can be used to pick things (and people) up.
The guild got hold of the contract by buying it of a contract trader in an undisclosed place. It isn’t too important right now for the story, but perhaps these ‘contract traders’ are something to touch on later; they take contracts to sell at a lower price to more gullible parties. They could either be friend or foe, or most likely - neither. They’re all about that cash money gold currency. This contract, through these means, ended up with the Elders, who debated it before giving it to this group of heroes to do in the form of the order: ‘Save the Princess, and return her here, to the Guild, alive.’ This stops us from giving too much away, which we’ll cover in the next section in the ‘why?’
Life here was pretty typical for the time; people hate certain other people, and there is friction between some of the species, although not everywhere. The more species involved, the more complex relationships have to be. Take, for example, if there were just two species: Elves and Humans. At the best of times they try to work together, but at the worst of times they distrust each other immensely. Adding a third species into the mix: the Tarzamox, who are almost elf like; perhaps these get on better with elves than they do humans because their share a similar mis-trust, or maybe it's the other way around. The orcs are probably on their own side, smashing any notion of a dichotomy, and we can build upwards to get the rest of the relationships with species they’re likely to meet. This helps determine the history between the groups: say if the fairies are universally hated, then has there ever been a war between them and the other groups? Did any sides band together to help them win the war, and going back to what - what was the outcome? These will be questions you’ll answer when you repeat the cycle. For now, I’m going to say that whilst some groups did band together, it was very much a war that the fairies had to fight from all sides. Such a thing decimated their forces, and as such they’re quite rare in this area, and any that do exist are probably ‘domesticated’ or otherwise ‘pacified’. This could spell trouble for a later plot, like if fairies from other regions or countries, far from this one, find out about this, and decide to liberate them or get revenge.
To answer how they could get along with each other is simple; mutual interests, trade, and cooperation. Perhaps, in this universe, this will only go on for so long before the old frictions start grinding the fragile peace and uneasy truces down. How long this ultimately lasts for is unknown at this point, but for the duration of this particular quest - it’ll last long enough.
How common are dragons? At this point we should try to refrain from putting certainty on it, but what we will say is - in this region at least - that they are very uncommon to downright rare. But that doesn’t mean to say it’s the same elsewhere. It could be that many people simply do not believe in this ‘nonsense’, and will laugh you off before walking off. This might make the residents of the city or town that she was kidnapped outside of skeptical about telling outsiders about what happened after being laughed at and ignored. It’s possible some see it as a fairy tale (which here could have a double meaning due to the fairy war), and/or that the city or town are covering something up; this is certainly possible. Because they’re so absurdly rare, not many people believe in them until it’s too late, and dragon related kidnappings have never been heard of before. Which begs the question...
Now, we’re going to finish answering the questions to tie the whole thing together. After this is where we’d go back and fill any holes, if we needed to, by repeating the core questions, who, what, where, how, when, and why, with new questions relating to that species. This is where we dot the I’s and cross the T’s; so we can present the Lore, and tie it into the plot, and build the environment in which the universe lies. The questions we have so far are:
- Why was the princess taken?
Why did the quest fall on our main protagonist
- Why was our main protagonist of all people asked to do this?
- Why do you do what you do?
- Why is the Guild getting involved? What do they get out of it?
- Why did the King rely on a contract to get his daughter back?
- Why was the Royal Family so tyrannical?
Now this being EcchiDreams, we’ll want some kind of ‘kinky’ plot-twist. The dragon isn’t stupid; it’s intelligent, and able to be reasoned with, especially if you have a dragon speaker on your team. Now, this is something that’s probably either rare, or these dragon speakers have a set of abilities can be used for other things (Like Skyrim and how you can ‘Fus-ro-Dah’ your enemies.) The reason the dragon has kidnapped the princess is because... wait for it… it wants a sexual partner, and it’s chosen the princess to be its love glove.
At this point, the main protagonists might either be too horrified or too awed to do anything but sit and watch; hell, by the time they finally come across the dragon, it could be cumming across the princess. The dragon may be aware of their existence, but does nothing to stop them so long as they do nothing to it, almost welcoming them to watch… What? This is EcchiDreams after all.
At this point, the protagonists might decide that this is a fitting end for a slaver, and just turn around to go back and tell the Guild what has become of the princess. But, for the purposes of the plot, we will leave what happens up to the players; they can either kill it, or return back. The reality is the same, and this could just be an illusion of choice. Whatever it is, it isn’t the job of Lore creation to decide, but from that we can tell, sometimes these dragons like to have sex with other species, and why not? It has an impressive specimen of a sexual organ, and the Princess seems to be enjoying it at the very least.
What the dragon might have in its cave could be an insight into how dragons work, from gold and jewel collecting, to ‘love glove’ collectors. They’re intelligent enough, so maybe a dragon speaker can understand the motives; perhaps there’s a method to the randomness. Like this dragon (who one would assume was the evil one in this), could be ‘good’ (relatively speaking), and it only takes those that it deems guilty, or maybe it’s going to make love gloves out of our characters too. Either way, the protagonists may not try to reason with it, and instead attack it. Again, that’s up to the story. You could settle for a boss fight here; or, if you decide to continue the quest, the boss fight could be the King. Many people might thank the guild for that.
The quest fell on our characters because they were either brave or stupid enough to take it; or, using already established (although not set in stone) lore, the elders decided you were best suited for the task; your character, after all, could be the one who is the dragonspeaker, that would make sense.
But perhaps the abilities haven’t manifested themselves because you’ve not encountered a dragon before, much like in Skyrim, with the Dovahkiin. This would answer our question of why her of all people. The team mates were likely to be assigned to her too, so there is a chance for personal character developments between the team members. This could show how the Guild of Arcadia do things. Yes, sometimes there is friction, but it’s the common objective they focus on; they fight alongside each other and look out for it each other. Perhaps this bonds them together, and lets them see that they’re not so bad after all. If this is the case, then the Guild of Arcadia would be shown to have some wisdom behind its ideology; especially if this works without the characters killing each other before the quest is finished.
The guild are getting involved because they saw an opportunity to do so, and they saw a chance to start putting the royal family in question on trial. Perhaps they already know how militarily weak the kingdom is, and are trying to overthrow the king to give the city to the people (we can decide on the long term consequences of that later, and can be used as another plot). They might have no interest in money or politics, and that’s not what is motivating them; perhaps they earn money elsewhere anyway, and their own politics is good enough for them. This, therefore, allows them to focus on their overarching mission: to fight for individuality. This is probably their primary motivation.
The King relied on the contract because his military has been grinded down. Over time his population have been suffering from gene pool problems; the meek and submissive had been allowed to breed, whereas everyone else would have been purged. What’s left of his military now polices the slaves and make sure they do what they’re told; he can’t spare these, as they’re needed to reproduce and replenish his own military. The dragon came in at the worst possible time for the King too, as what was left of his military was wiped out during the Fairy war. They simply do not have the manpower to take on the Guild in a fight, and the Guild are using this to to their advantage to spill as little blood as possible. The King knows he has enemies out there, and has been maintaining a bluff with them to stop their attacks. If the King goes down, this will expose a power vacuum which could have serious consequences in terms of destabilisation, but perhaps that's inevitable.
The Royal Family is like this after generations of war; their resources, units, and willpower have been severely depleted. They’re opening in debt which they’re having problems digging out of. The enslavement happened way before the economical problems however; it started when they needed manpower to make the tools of war, and so on. They employed the power (or rather enslaved every man, woman and child who wasn’t fighting in the war) to provide for the war instead of being ‘lazy cowards’; after all it’s for the greater good of his community that they win. Because of this, their economy went into turmoil; although since then the slaves no longer manufacture but are forced to mine or farm, to get the country out of debt, and to sexually serve the ‘Police’ there for reproductive purposes. As for what they can do to get out of it, the King’s only two options at this point are to continue and get worse, forever trying to achieve a utopia that simply will not happen, or to surrender himself; if that means his life to the sword, himself to their custody, or his mind to insanity, that is again up to you later on.
We’ve been able to blend a lore into the plot and story, giving us a semi-elaborate tapestry to work from. We have a back story now to our roleplay; because we worked it all out, we can start building on it. From everything above, we now have this as the back story:
The story takes place in a mythical fantasy realm, within which there are many factions and species. These various species don’t always get along with each other, but there is a barely maintained peace at the moment that’s keeping them all from war. That said, they have been capable of banding together against a common enemy. There are the orcs, beasts, monsters, dwarfs, giants, maybe a type of vampire or werewolf as a rare - perhaps random - encounter, some fairies, pixies, sprites, witches and wizards, and some trolls. Some of these species have sister-species, like the elves and the ultra rare Tarzamox - a type of purple skinned elf.
Some of the above mentioned species are incredibly rare in the region; the dragon, as far as Arcadia knows, is one of a kind. Most people in the region don’t even believe dragons to be real. Fairies, Pixies and Sprites are pretty rare too, especially after the other sides won the Fairy War a couple of decades prior to the beginning of this story. The King (the father of the Princess) is a hyper-authoritarian, communist-like enslaver, as is the whole royal family. They’ve enslaved their population for generations to feed this war, but now they’re on borrowed time, and the Guild of Arcadia has come to collect; all they needed was the right time.
That right time came when the Princess was kidnapped, and early reports suggested that she was kidnapped by a dragon. Although the Guild’s scouts didn’t come by this information easily, off closer to the mountains there stood a town from which the woman was taken after her guards were killed. The town’s people had outright avoided the whole truth with the King, saying that she left the town safe and sound and headed back to the kingdom. In truth, they saw a dragon fighting and were too scared to stop it, so they cowered in their homes hoping the dragon wouldn’t notice them. When the dragon flew away, they tried telling other people the truth; however they’d get laughed at, and told to stop making up stories - no one believed them. One yarl could have made reference to moonshining, or shrooming the water supply.
This contract was taken from another guild and traded through a system of contract traders, before ending up in the laps of the Guild of Arcadia; our characters are from this guild. The Guild of Arcadia are a seemingly unaffiliated group of heroes, to lack a better term.
They’re ‘racially diverse’ which has caused some friction within the guild from time to time. But they agree on a core principle of beliefs; that everyone is entitled to individual rights, no matter species, gender, sexual orientation, and so on. Quite frankly, they’re not interested in identity politics, nor are they interested in politics. Their core beliefs focus entirely on individual rights. They know these different species are different; they’re not equal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be treated with the same core rights as everyone else.
What the Guild is more interested in is using these differences to get a tactical advantage over their enemy. To win wars; not to start them, but to finish them victorious.
The Guild is built on a solid foundation of honour; and they rarely get involved with everyday politics. They take contracts and weigh them against their core beliefs. It’s debated on by the Elders of the group, the wisest; once recruits who have won and worked their way up to the top. Like natural selection; weeding out the weak and unfit to rule. This is why they’re good, usually. Every now and again a rare contract comes up, like this one ‘save the princess’, with the intention by the contractor to bring his daughter back home… But the Guild has taken it to mean something else; ‘Save the princess’ isn’t a lot to go on, but the mission is indeed to save the princess… To bring her back to the guild so she can face justice for her crimes. She is a piece that Arcadia want to take out of the game, so they can go after the royals and free the people from bitter enslavement.
A Tarzamox is critical to this storyline; our character is an incredibly rare dragon speaker... Unfortunately, she is very rusty with this skill; she doesn’t even know she possess it, and the first inkling she’ll get is if/when the dragon speaks to her. The dragon will tell her some history that her species has with it’s own. They weren’t just dragon speakers, but dragon riders. It’s a very old dragon, and knew her mother intimately (and perhaps ‘intimately’); this is why it didn’t attack. She learns of a ritual that will help the others on her team to become a new generation of dragon riders - and this particular dragon thinks the goals of the Guild are noble and honourable. However the dragon won’t be allying with her any time soon, as it needs to consult with the others. The sex is something it does to prevent it from going insane, as they suffer from a neurochemical imbalance if they’ve not done so for too long. Instead of taking it out on innocent people, it finds the most guilty and uses them. But with it’s unique shaped sexual organ driving even the hardest of souls sexually insane under it, it’s not really much of a punishment. If allowed to live, it will go and seek out more of its kind and try to help Arcadia later. But this is dependent on how the characters will act.
The World is a rather large place, and most of it is yet to be explored; the same is true about the region our characters in. To the west they have the Mountains of Akzen, in which the dragon resides in the far southern edges. To the north-east, the Kings kingdom, and to the south-west, between the Guild HQ and the mountains, is the town from which the Princess was taken. In the south, heading from west to east, is a rather large river and fertile soils. It’s the farmland owned by the farming guild who have no interest in politics, just economics and food. The Guild of Arcadia is allied with them, in exchange for food they get very real defence. The river goes by the town they need to head to, and is a great place to fish and even get relatively clean water.
The town in question is full of suspicious people, and the mayor seemed to be a little insane (wonky tophat and everything). They’re fearful of the dragon, and a quasi-religion has formed around it because of the dragon’s sightings, although this was never our dragon’s intention. No one believes them, and they’ve become reluctant to talking about it with outsiders, for they grow weary of ridicule. Perhaps doing some quests for them will help them open up to the protagonists? They have a few problems and could do with a hand. Maybe then, finally, someone in the group can convince someone that they will take them seriously. That person opens up in front of our protagonists, and the group will watch, observing their actions, which determines how much they open up with.
This is a low-tech society; to get messages between places, physical messengers have to deliver news and letters, which isn’t always reliable due to the beasts and monsters out there. These people keep their only primitive lines of communication open.
The quest fell to our characters because they have a Dragon Speaker - or rather, Rider; the guild somehow know this, perhaps through the use of mages and such. Na’tey is assigned a team (the other characters), and she has to work to sort out potential internal conflicts as well as external ones. She leads with her team, not from behind them. But who is she, exactly? She is called Na’tey, and is the daughter of two dragon riders called Shen’yae and Holt’zal, who died when their city was destroyed in the Fairy war. But it wasn’t just the Fairies that destroyed the city; the city was in the crosshairs of all sides involved. Our leader character doesn’t specifically hate everyone for it, but she does subscribe to a ‘better way of handling things’, which is why she joined the Guild of Arcadia. It doesn’t pay well unless you complete a job, but it does put a roof over our protagonists heads, gives them comfortable beds to sleep in, and work to do. The Elders are seen as benevolent and, in this realm, they probably are.
The Elders are made up of people who used to be teams; they work they way up in rank and, as they age, they come off the battlefield to train recruits, new and current alike. They become leaders, and somewhat rightfully so for this militaristic guild; after all, the strong survive, and this world is the survival of the fittest, smartest, and best.
The Princess is… Or rather, was… A spoiled little brat. Just because she didn’t get the present she wanted for her eighteenth birthday, she threw a hissy fit that saw the the end of the lives of one-fifth of a section of her father’s people; all because she had to wait a single week longer to get what she needed, because production was slow. In the end, she just made the situation worse for herself, and had to wait a few more weeks. When she did get the money, she went to a city somewhere near the town she was taken from to get her Diamond Encrusted Sword, which was returned to her father as it was dropped at the site she was kidnapped from.
The reason she passed through the town was to pick up supplies for their two day trek back home with their horses. Of course, she never returned home, because the Dragon assaulted her party, killed the guards, and took her off to the mountains to be its sexual play thing so it could prevent itself from going insane. The Princess, Leyf, isn’t to be taken back to the King; instead she’s supposed to be taken back to Arcadia, as those were the orders. There she’ll not be returned home, but put on trial.
At some point, the King finds out that the Guild of Arcadia has the contract, and sends out assassins to come and get the princess, and kill our characters for their troubles. We meet the Mercenary Guild, something that the Assassin’s Guild would take a very disapproving view of. The Mercenary Guild will kill for anyone that pays them enough and unfortunately, as the King has no intention on paying Arcadia, and Arcadia have no intention on returning the princess unless she’s found innocent (which she isn’t), the King has used the money to put a contract out on their heads; they won’t know about this until the mercenaries start attacking, and even then they have no idea as to why until they get back.
This is just a summary using the ideas we built up before. So, now we have our lore, we might be tempted to just write it all up and post it in the extra information-... Whoa! Slow down there buddy! We don’t want to give it all away before it’s even started (unless it’s established, and we’re doing a fanfiction roleplay). Instead, we should scatter the Lore throughout our universe, and engage the players to pick up its bits and pieces. We shouldn’t just tell them. We should show them. Like we did above.
As said earlier; how detailed we make it is up to us. There are other things to consider such as:
- Day/Night Cycles and Temporal measurement. - If this isn’t on Earth, does it follow a different amount of hours in a day? How many days make up a week? How many days and weeks make up a month? How many days, weeks and months make up a year? So on.
- Unique flora to this universe. - Similar to Nirn in The Elder Scrolls games, do you have plant life that is ‘alien’ outside of the fantasy realm?
- Unique animals to this universe.
- Different coloured sky (Eg: crimson sky)
- The stars, the moon, and the night sky.
- Landmarks, Ruins, and Temples.
- Other things unique to your universe.
We’ve established a fairly deep lore now, and we have an idea on how the universe operates and its driving mechanics. This only took a few hours to write, and was considerably easily to do once it was thought about. Once the ball started rolling, the ideas just flooded out onto the pages. For the purposes of what we want for now, this is pretty good to start a roleplay with; coupled with a premise, a plot, and a story, of which it would be entwined heavily with, it’s a solid backbone Lore, waiting to have more information made for it.