Friday, October 26, 2018

Fleshing Out Lord of Heaven

I've been thinking more about Lord of Heaven. I want space opera, but I want everything to feel mossy and overgrown. Yoda's planet, not the Death Star. Feudal politics a la Dune or 40k. The cruel Arthuriana of Lyonesse. Knights who pilot hybrid ship/mechs. Pendragon of Mars vibes. Art direction by Chris Foss, Moebius, Miyazaki, and John Blanche.

I'd been planning this campaign as my first foray into running an online game, hopefully recruiting a few DMs and players from the OSRosphere, starting a Google+ community page to organize things and everything. But with G+'s imminent demise, I guess I'm going back to the drawing board. I never want to have to say "MeWe" out loud, but I suppose I should check out its capacity to organize something like this.

To recap, this would be a big game of space Diplomacy with roving RPG parties for hire to tip the balance in specific sectors each turn. One major thing these parties should be able to do is to prevent fleets and armies from carrying out their orders - through intercepting communiques, assassination, sabotaging important places or equipment, that sort of thing. Therefore, there should be details about the fleets and armies on the board that allow players to make strategic decisions - things like the commander of player one's third fleet has a weakness for prostitutes, or that the order runner for player two's fourth army has a favorite watering hole on a certain planet that he always stops at. I'll probably make a "strategic weakness" table to roll on when new fleets and armies are built. These tables might have to be player-specific depending on the flavor of their empire.

Another thing they should be able to do is to perform espionage to discover other players' plans. They should probably also be able to recover artifacts that allow fleets and armies to do things they couldn't before - hide their presence, jump around the map, increase their strength, etc. I will probably use Warband to run the RPG missions, though I'm not sure what rules to use for spaceship combat yet.

Here are a few sample Lord of Heaven regional powers to give you an idea of the flavor I'm going for. The strategic-level players could inhabit one of these or invent their own.

Ice Lich of Andorrh

A being of pure crystalline nitrogen. Whispered to once have been a great witch of the Numinous Imperium, who now rules an empire of bone from the crystal forest moon Andorrh-13. Sends forth fleets of polished onyx prisms, inscribed with softly pulsating runes and ridden by (literal) skeleton crews. Can mine ice worlds and gas giants that no other power can touch and uses high volumes these of exotic compounds to power strange magicks. Her force of will can compel legions of skeletal soldiers across star systems, but for more far-flung campaigns she must employ the few lieutenants she trusts, all in various stages of lichdom.

Baron von Maw of Kurrg

Who is called Most Profitable, who is called The Balanced Ledger, who is called Honor the Contract. Chief executive warlord of the Kurrg Conglomerate, a cartel of furnace worlds that has made a compact to control the means of production throughout known space. Has launched a jihad against all independent industry and commerce, and will not rest until the Great Monopoly is secured. Constantly on the move between the various Kurrgan holdings on his pleasure barge Ys, accompanied by his harem of bureaucrat-concubines.

Ishtar Imperatrix

Supreme goddess of sex and death, eternal ruler of the Numinous Imperium. Never seen, though depicted as a radiant young lady bearing a brimming chalice. Supposed to live on Holy Nimue. Governance of her vast empire falls to her knights-errant:

  • Inu Ilati, or “Through-My-Eyes-Our-Lady-Sees,” master of spies, Ordo Oculos Domino
  • Pu Ilati, or “Through-My-Mouth-Our-Lady-Speaks,” master of priests, Ordo Os Domina
  • Qatu Ilati, or “Through-My-Hands-Our-Lady-Strikes,” master of swords, Ordo Pugnus Domina

The Horned King

Borealis rex of the Thorne Stars, whose realm is branch, shadow, and root. His elite knights of the Entropic Order of the Flesh Mutable have trained to achieve complete and total mastery of body, reaching down to the molecular level to overclock their own mutation rates. Appearance of a fleet of Entropic Order monastery-ships over a world is sure to portend doom.

The Geminix Twins Li and Go

Young brother and sister ascendent to the throne following a hunting accident that claimed the lives of their mother and father in the Hron Asteroid Field. They often finish one another’s sentences and are described as deeply unsettling to be around. Currently, their uncle Chiron acts as their vizier. Some claim that he himself has designs on the throne, but others whisper that he is psychically controlled by the twins themselves.