Friday, August 12, 2011

Terra Incognita -- lettercolumn

I have received two comments regarding the plot of Terra Incognita's first adventure, one e-mail from @anonymous and one Blogger comment from @Kelly (both of whom I know IRL, by the way -- I know there are some lurkers here. Comment! I'd love to hear from you!) The comments are as follows:

@anonymous says: "Of your two drafts of them getting to the island, I like the gypsy version better because it seems more plausible (I realize this is not terribly important in fantasy), and because I like that character. I don't get why the faerie would want to get revenge on Atlantis."

I find, oddly enough, that I agree. I removed the gypsy witch character from the character roster because a Fae princess was more interesting from a dramatic standpoint. The thing is, her presence radically shifts the entire nature of the story, and skews the game balance badly towards supernatural characters -- which, as noted, I am largely against. This leads into our comment from @Kelly: 

"I like the idea that the PCs are specifically being sent to this island to find the Eye of Polyphemus. It might not necessarily be that the Queen knows the Atlanteans are on their way--it could be that the Atlanteans and the Queen's advisers have the same sources, or the Atlanteans have been tipped off that the English are on their way. The nice thing about that is that it gives the PCs good reason to be exceptional, and maybe even (if you're willing to have these sorts of PCs) a bit supernatural. If this is just some random ship, it would really strain credibility if your PCs end up as, say, an expert in ancient languages, a priest with True Faith, a half-fae, and a gypsy hedge wizard. But if this is a mission to Polyphemus's island, that makes perfect sense."

He has several very good points: most notably, he points out that a diverse group of heroic experts like a PC party is much more believable as a group gathered together for an important mission than as a random ship's crew. So if we remove the Fae and reorient the crew as a group of specialists, I think we have some ideas on how to set things up: 

Let's say that Polyphemus has learned how to use his Eye, or possibly some ancient Cyclopean magic, and found a way to protect his island not only from the mundane world, but also from the Atlanteans themselves. However, once every hundred years, or when there is a particular astrological alignment, or whatever, the island is accessible. Both King Azaes of the Atlanteans and Queen Elizabeth's astrologer John Dee predict this event and send a group to Polyphemus's isle to fetch the Eye during the brief window they have. In this group, there will be soldiers, sailors, diplomats, explorers -- and even a few men and women who claim knowledge of the magical arts. That is to say, I've decided, based on my resounding 0 votes either way on my poll, to allow low-level magical characters into Terra Incognita: Only half of a True20 character's levels can be in the magical Adept class, and a FATE character can start with no more than 2 stunts' worth of supernatural abilities (maybe 3).

Excuse me, I have an edit. Since I wrote the previous paragraph yesterday, I have actually gotten a massive sample size of two (2) (II) (dos) votes! Both for... restricting magic entirely to the mythic realm. Hm. Now my life is complicated. I thought I had come to a decision, thought I knew what folks would want, based on my own hunches and past history. And apparently, my hunch was wrong, at least for these two people.

I shall have to ponder more, it appears. Perhaps we can use the same "John Dee sends them" premise, with either him deciphering an ancient forgotten text or getting a visitation from "angels" (he was all about angels), whether said angels are Fae, rogue Atlanteans, or... actual angels. Hell, it is a fantasy campaign where all the myths are real. Who's to say Enochian isn't really the language of angels? Just cut out the PC wizards.

Anyhoo, we're going to be all over the map with this project from now on (as if we weren't before). Next time, we'll start the actual writing of the adventure, examining the behind-the-scenes as we go, and going off on tangents as necessary. Allons-y!