Jump to content

New idea for bad guys


Mr. R
 Share

Recommended Posts

So as many of you have been following me in my quest to fix up a setting book I have for a campaign I would want to run using here

 

Thanks to Killer Shrike I have three types of magic

One a traditional learned form

One based on totem animals but again learned

One based on runes (for all those neat magic items)

 

Also an Alchemy system for the ubiquitous potions/ lotions/ salves/ oils/ etc

 

I was planning to make the bad guys giants, but I was in conversation with an old friend and I remarked about one thing I was disliking in Fantasy Literature.  The "being born with magic" trope.  Royal families and ruling classes that can control elements, shapeshift etc.  NOBODY seems to learn magic ie go from no magic to a study of it and gaining control of said force.  

 

IDEA

Make the bad guys those who have intrinsic magic.  They are the nobility because they have these powers.  But they have let it go to their heads.  They have gone from We have been blessed with the ability to protect them  to We are born to rule as we are superior and thus deserve their fawning obedience

 

 

But I have a few questions

When should I set the story? 

 

At the beginning when the new magics are coming out and people are now being given the tools to protect themselves?  ( this would have a very resistance like vibe, but without the England to help out)

 

At a point when the new magics are more established and have countries of their own as a base?

 

The old magics are at the periferies?  Deep in the mountains, far in the forests, island fortresses offshore, desert fastness protected by powerful magics!  This would be a more "Old People's" type game with ruins all over the place.  And them coming out of their strongholds occasionally to revenge themselves on the lesser people who has spurned their "gentle ministrations"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In general I dislike the "new" because I want to be introduced to the involved backstory of the world the GM has created.

 

If all the history is bland because all the interesting stuff just started happening now...that's really not where my headspace is when I'm sitting down at a table to play fantasy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a story-telling standpoint (and really a good RPG is just mutual story-telling), you want to have some history to help tie everything together.  It also helps establish norms for the world which makes it feel more 'real' and less like you are just making it up as you go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would take a cue from Katherine Kurtz's "Deryni" series of novels. Those with magic form the world's ruling class, and while they might have started out no worse than most nobility, over time have grown more arrogant and oppressive. But one or more among them have sympathy for the suffering of the magic-less, and teach or grant or steal magic for them, so they finally have a means to fight back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

I would take a cue from Katherine Kurtz's "Deryni" series of novels. Those with magic form the world's ruling class, and while they might have started out no worse than most nobility, over time have grown more arrogant and oppressive. But one or more among them have sympathy for the suffering of the magic-less, and teach or grant or steal magic for them, so they finally have a means to fight back.

 

 

I like this!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would also point out that the magical nobility need not have been born with powers. A talent for magic may or may not be rare, but they might still have to study it to attain any significant power. But it's been very common throughout history for certain classes or professions to jealously guard knowledge which gives them power in their society. Like our Dean Shomshak likes to say, "Knowledge is not power. Knowledge that other people don't have, is power." ;)

 

If magic is something that can be learned, then the highest crime among your nobility would probably be sharing knowledge of it with the commoners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

I would also point out that the magical nobility need not have been born with powers. A talent for magic may or may not be rare, but they might still have to study it to attain any significant power. But it's been very common throughout history for certain classes or professions to jealously guard knowledge which gives them power in their society. Like our Dean Shomshak likes to say, "Knowledge is not power. Knowledge that other people don't have, is power." ;)

 

If magic is something that can be learned, then the highest crime among your nobility would probably be sharing knowledge of it with the commoners.

 

 

True!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also keep in mind that the magic of the aristocracy may be a blend: IE, the raw power is inborn but you still need to study to use it effectively. IIRC this is the case with the Deryni, who are gthe only people born with the ability to perform magic but seem to channel and direct it through Hermetic-style high ritual.

 

Or the psionic aristocracy of Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" series. One of the "last" books in the series (by internal chronology... as of some decades ago, when I read it) had the aristos faced with problems on a planetary scale they are not numerous enough to handle. So for the first time in centuries (millennia?) they go looking for by-blows lost among the commoners and find that, um, there's rather a lot of them. Not of great power (in this setting, psionics can be concentrated or diluted by selective breeding or mesalliance), but since any number of psionic can combine their power, they are what the planet needs.

 

Oh, and speaking of selective breeding to increase power? Earlier in Darkover's history, the aristocrats found you can carry that entirely too far, generating offspring with terrifying, deadly levels of power they are too young to control.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for what stage in the progression (or regression) from new champions, to established aristocracy that still maintains a sense of noblesse oblige, to arrogant, entitled tyrants, to expelled and suppressed remnant... If the setting is large enough, different countries might be at any of these stages.

 

In one place, people remember the tyranny of the Old Lords whom they drove out at great cost, and fear their return -- and the remnant of the Old Lords still plot their return to power from their mountain keeps, driven by vindictive rage at their ancestors' humiliation.

 

In another country, the magical aristos still rule but have grown lazy, luxurious and decadent -- and their magical powers are weakening because few do the work to develop them, leaving the country ripe for revolution (the situation in Paula Volsky's Illusion.)

 

In another country, they are still effective tyrants.

 

In yet another, some of them still fulfill their duty as defenders of the country.

 

And maybe in one country, they are just starting out... whether as conquerors or heroes. Perhaps a PC who is of the magical lineage will become one of the heroes who saves a country from some great threat and is invited to become their Lord Protector... with all the temptations that come with such a role.

 

In setting design, when you ask a question about a society that can have many possible answers, the correct answer may be, "All of them." People are rarely simple.

 

Dean Shomshak

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...