Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Return of Zaan

I'm happy to formally announce the development of the heavy metal fantasy setting Zaan is back on the to-do list. The three base classes (Hero, Magus, Skeleton) are complete, and the rules are complete enough to begin playtesting. Here is an excerpt from the Zaanual about the setting:

The World of Zaan
            Zaan is dying. Once, long ago, it was a prosperous world, filled with men, elves, dwarfs, and other fantastic races. Grand mages raised lonesome fortress-towers, and warlords did battle for her forests, plains, and seas. No more. The Cosmic Devoid, an emptiness in the sky, threatens to swallow the Nine Moons of Magic. The very fabric of reality ripples and tears by accident, allowing demons from the Other Realms to spill in and colonize the face of Zaan. The dwarfs, a race obsessed with the consumption of gold and precious minerals, have eaten themselves to death and their halls are filled with Gobelins, Ratlings, Orcs, and Ogros. The End is coming.
            The Orbidium of Zaan is suspended between two realms: the Elemental Planes, from whence the things that make up Zaan were once drawn, long ago, by the now-dead gods, and the Other Realms, which crawl with chaos, madness, demons, and darkness. Things devoted to both Law and Chaos can be found in both of these places, but by and large, the Elemental Planes have a vested interest in the continuance of Zaan, while the beings of the Other Realms would be only too happy to see Zaan come to a fiery, apocalyptic conclusion.
            The Nine Moons. Zaan was once orbited by nine magical moons, from which the first life came. They dusted her face with spores and seeds; from these grew men, elves, dwarves. The Nine Moons projected a mysterious network of force around Zaan, which was the basis for all magic. Magi of old were star-gazers and moon-watchers, carefully plotting the positions and eclipses of the Nine Moons to increase their power.
            Now all of that has been thrown into the trash. When the Cosmic Devoid opened up, the Nine Moons were pulled from their orbits. Over the centuries, they have begun to descend toward the Devoid, which will eventually swallow everything like a titanic drain in a bathtub. The Nine Moons now orbit the Devoid, their gemstone colors swirling around that particularly awful patch of night-time heavenly darkness.
            The moons are named Myrdus, which is the Moon of Madness; Festus, the Moon of Life; Barghul, the Moon of Death; Zofres, the Moon of Mysteries; Huruk, the Moon of War; Gharr, the Moon of the Wild; Loshor, the Moon of Magic; Vingor, the Moon of Tides; Ashka, the Moon of Fire.
            It is possible to reach some of these moons, and indeed many powerful Magi have done so in the past. It is rumored that there are abandoned libraries of lore, ruins of powerful wizards, and other such remnants left on the moons… but being so close to the Cosmic Devoid, there are a number of dangers to consider: time dilation and the inability to get home without being shredded by the Devoid’s gravity and magical radiation, to name only a few.
            The Cosmic Devoid. This immense tear in reality is one of the many signs of Zaan’s ending. Cults have sprung up to worship the Devoid, and others hoping to close it. The wise know that the Devoid will someday devour all of Zaan… but not for many generations, yet. Its presence is a constant reminder of how tiny, impermanent, and doomed all of Zaan’s inhabitants are.
            The Blue Sun. The star Ginwulf is a huge, bloated, blue fire in the heavens. It rolls slowly across the sky, like a lazy overlord, fat and dying. Perhaps Ginwulf will be extinguished before the Devoid swallows Zaan. Perhaps it is the final doom coming to the Orbidium: an explosion of such magnitude it engulfs the world. Perhaps it is simply a flickering, dying star. Rumors say the Elves once enacted a great spell that tore the heavens and drained Ginwulf, making the Devoid and turning Ginwulf blue. Whether that is true, we will leave to the sages.

Places in Zaan. Central Zaan is dominated by the Grand City of Despair, the Kingdom of Murdendor, and the Elf-City of Althunax. Most adventures in Zaan will begin either in Despair, or the surrounding Plain of Torment, where the wreckage of a lifetime of Zaanite civilizations gathers rusts beneath the nine moons.