GURPS Fantasy: A Barebones Setting Idea

"By decree of King Krail II, all lands east of Frostharrow, from the Gray Marshes in the south to the Granite Halls in the north, and as far east as the Broken Coast are to be reclaimed and purged of bandits, brigands and any fell creatures of The Blight. Any person who can carve out a portion of this land for him or herself and hold it against the forces of chaos and predation for a period of one year shall be granted possession of that land, for him or herself and any future heirs, in perpetuity, with appropriate title bestowed by the will of the king, with all rights and responsibilities attached thereto."

Fliers went up in every city and town in the kingdom as messengers fanned out from the City of Glass to take the will of the king to all of his subjects. Every person with a spirit for adventure, from the lowest gutter rat to the most valiant of landless knights, made preparations for a journey to the heretofore sleepy village of Frostharrow.

The sudden influx caused an immediate boom, and soon a second, third and finally fourth inn were opened, the latter a hastily-built longhouse of rough-hewn logs, with a rustic flair and a distinct scent of fresh pitch permeating it. Moneychangers, money lenders, and all manner of merchants descended upon the town, keen to separate the adventurous from their loot in as expeditious a manner as possible. Sutlers and other suppliers of gear needed for those intent upon trekking into the wild set up shop, and soon the town held far more people that it was ever intended to hold. Shops, houses and the like started to be set up outside of the town, hugging the walls but outside of their meager protection.

The first batches of these adventurous souls returned from their forays with tales of hard fighting against all manner of creatures, some simple robbers out to make what living they could on the fringes of society, some mindless animals, touched by The Blight and infected with the chaotic and destructive nature it brought to the world. Few had made enough of a dent in things as to claim any land for themselves, and those that did quickly lost it, forced to fall back to Frostharrow for a resupply and to gather more men.

Lord Aberdeen, envoy of King Krail II, has taken up residence in Frostharrow now, there to settle disputes, and to manage all claims to land and title. He also has some specific quests that the loyal can undertake in the name of the king, though few have yet attempted them.

I'm foreseeing this as a very simple backdrop against which to run a sandbox style wilderness campaign. While inspired by, and with ideas liberally stolen from, Dungeon Fantasy, it will almost certainly deviate from that excellent series of books.

The setting will primarily be TL3 - removing any hint of the possibility of gunpowder and most fencing weapons from the game. Looking at something more akin to the way D&D was played in the beginning that way, without so much focus on moving the technology ahead - your ultimate armor was a combination of mail and plate, not the full plate suits of the medieval knight.

Also, as I like a little more gradual slope upwards, characters will start out heroic, but not quite superheroes, at 150 points instead of the already-world-striding 250 that DF assumes. 

Races will be limited to the traditional quartet from early fantasy gaming, with elves, dwarves, halflings and humans all a part of the same kingdom, separated not by their species, but by the traditions and trappings of their home - be that the big city or the rustic countryside.

And, of course, many of the optional rules from the Basic Set, Martial Arts and Low Tech will be in play, but will also be considering some of the cinematic rules, especially Flesh Wounds for those who are trying to avoid grievous hurt.


  1. A brand new world is born!

    I was tempted by the blogger dynamic interface that you just turned on. I think that it works nicely but it screwed up my layout and reverted. I'm so old.

    1. Indeed! And I think it's elastic enough to allow a pretty broad range of play. I could take this world and put down some players who want nothing more than to to kill some monsters and take their stuff, and they'd be satisfied. Or I could set up a game akin to the Kingmaker AP from Paizo, where a team sets about reclaiming land, draining swamps and cutting down trees, and generally settling the territory with the same ease.

      As for the blogger template, I stumbled onto it when I realized the original I had chosen was a little frilly for my tastes. It's definitely modern and minimalist to suit me.

  2. I'm going to repost this, as an example of a one-paragraph intro that underpins all kinds of great setting- and genre- level assumptions in a way that just works.

    1. Thanks. It's my favorite style of writing, and has been since I first encountered Glen Cook's The Black Company back in the mid-80s as a very impressionable teen, and was dumped, unceremoniously, into that world in the first few pages. He made some assumptions about just what and who you knew, with the understanding that he didn't have to explain it all away right away, but could lead you to that level of understanding with time spent in his creation.

    2. And here it is:

    3. I wrote a follow-on, which you've probably seen already.

    4. Oh, indeed I have. I've yet to turn off the automatic G+ notifications on my phone, so I must look like a stalker to some folks...


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