Fall From Heaven NES III: The Expanse At the end of the Age of Dragons the gods made an oath. Never again would their endless battles between darkness and light threaten creation. Man, however, made no such agreement. A thousand years ago during the Age of Magic, Ceridwen told Kylorin of a distant land cherished by the gods. In this land lay a dormant power that would destroy creation, and that there were beings who actively sought to use this power for such a purpose. Scouts were sent from Patria and in the distant land called the Expanse they encountered a new civilization. Among the awful wonders and disturbing horrors they saw, nothing scarred their minds more than meeting its people. They made their way back to Patria deformed…victims of fell magics. Kylorin led his empire to battle. His motives were unclear. Some say it was to defend Erebus from those who would destroy it. Others say it was to simply avenge the insult of harming a messenger. A very few say that it was to claim the dormant power and destroy Erebus himself, in an attempt to escape immortality and the endless suffering of being rejected by his wife with each reincarnation. Whatever the cause, a war was fought and the earth had not shuddered with such fierce intensity since the Age of Dragons. The nature of the dark magic the mages of both sides flung across the battlefield was so vile that the very nature of reality itself began to unravel. Portals to other planes appeared at random around them, above them, below them; in the midst of the battles being fought. The skies darkened but were alive with lightning crackling through the air. The earth crumbled beneath their feet. Great pillars of fire arose out of portals leading to other planes. Despite the utter chaos erupting on all sides, a stalemate had formed. Each side had suffered severe losses, but neither showed any sign of letting up. Patria and the civilization whose name has been lost to time fought savagely. Neither army showed mercy; they gave no quarter. Then at last the stalemate was broken. Patrian sorcerers – the devoted of Ceridwen – harnessed the extra-planar energies to seize the advantage. Victory was imminent. The only name to survive the forgotten nation was Kar’kaddan, the fearsome leader of Patria’s foul enemy. A powerful mage in his own right (perhaps powerful enough to rival Kylorin himself), Kar’kaddan brought the war to a swift and abrupt end. Having seen the devastation caused to his land, he knew that the planar instability would spread to the rest of his empire. Kar’kaddan had gathered his greatest sorcerers and led them in a ritual to save his lands. When the spell was done, tendrils of bright green energy exploded from the ground between the two armies on the chaotic planar battlefield. The energies rapidly rose high in the sky beyond the clouds; further than the keenest eye could see. They then intertwined into a great wall, and formed a ring of green energy around the nameless empire. The Shield of Kar’kaddan ended the war, and separated the mysterious empire from the planar wastes which came to be known as the Badlands. Unable to continue the fight or pierce the Shield in any meaningful way, Kylorin led his army home. Ages passed. The tale was handed down from generation to generation, growing ever more fantastic with each retelling as it became legend. The existence of the Shield and the Expanse lying somewhere in the Badlands’ center became myth. There were always those who would test the tale, and it has been tested many times throughout the centuries. Ambitious leaders sought to colonize this land for new resources. Religions sought to find this sacred place cherished by the gods. Explorers and treasure hunters entered the perilous planar wastes for fortune and glory. None have ever returned. Concept and Introduction Welcome to FFH NES III: The Expanse, a place full of ancient mysteries and ripe with intrigue. It is a land cut off from the rest of Erebus by a planar waste called the Badlands and a magical barrier known as the Shield of Kar'kaddan. Yet while it still holds all the things that have made Fall From Heaven what it is today, the Expanse is its own unique setting. You may find many things to be familiar, but things are not always as they seem. The founders of the nations residing in this area of Erebus were once all members of the civilizations we've come to know, though centuries - and in some cases even millenia - have made these stranded settlements into their own distinct empires. Within these alien lands will your stories unfold. The Expanse will be similar to the previous FFH NES’s in some ways (consider this nes to be our homage to FFH NES Ii), but will focus on a much more local level. Instead of playing civilizations you will be playing factions or groups called player organizations (POs). You will be running an organization of your own creation with your own agendas. If you’ve ever wanted to play an FFH NES where you’re a mage guild, a religious sect, knightly order, bureaucratic corporation, crime syndicate, or pirate fleet now’s your chance. You can play anything you can think of that’ll fit in the FFH setting. Each player is expected to be familiar with the Fall From Heaven setting and to have a theme for the organization you create. The theme you decide on in addition to the history of your organization’s founding (make it about one page long) will be submitted to me, and I will post it in the Mods' Group as we discuss it to make sure it will fit with the setting. Aside from that one restriction, feel free to come up with any idea you like. The most important criteria is that you’re going to have fun playing it. Since this is an NES, players are expected to write stories to enrich the game and setting. Any length is acceptable, and each player is expected to contribute at least one story a month. Keep in mind that you will be roleplaying a leader who is running an organization with a clear goal, whether it is simply to make as much money as possible by any means necessary to overthrowing the evil aristocracy and replacing it with a just government. Anything is possible. Seven seems to be the number of players everybody running an NES starts with, so we will too. Each moderator will take on seven players, for a total of 14 players. As time goes on and we feel that we can handle more players without compromising the quality of the game and story then we'll consider allowing additional players. This leaves the possibility of accepting new players in the future, and if we're looking for a big expansion we may even take on another moderator or two. If more than 14 players apply, preference will be given to players based on the history of the founding of their organization. These histories will be judged on three criteria in order from least important to most: familiarity with the Fall From Heaven setting, the quality of the story, and how different it is from the other applicants - in other words, originality. The maps will be FFH CIV4 games specifically designed in world builder. The basic unit of measurement will be squares as found in CIV4 maps. Each player will choose a square within set parameters of the map for their organization’s base. The map will be updated once a week with screenshots based on the actions of the POs and PCs. Each map will be a different area of the Expanse. MasterofDisasta will mod the East Expanse, with myself modding the Central Expanse. Each map is connected to the others, however travel between maps will be difficult. Each Player Organization after being drafted by a moderator will then get to choose a square within a predetermined area of the map. As organizations grow they will develop new resource options which will allow them to build new buildings, access new civics, improve their lands further and recruit new units. *In the original concept this NES would have been launched in conjunction with a D&D 3.5 Campaign entitled Rise From Hell. The idea was to create an interactive campaign world consisting of two very compatible games with as many players as can fit. One part was to be the D&D campaign in which there would have been eight player characters (PCs) who’d have been doing all the things that PCs do, adventuring in the Fall From Heaven setting, and in the mythical and mystical land called the Expanse. However, due to time constraints none of the current mods are able to run this part of the campaign. The good news is that NES will be getting all of our attention, because the main focus of this project is the NES. Although, if there's anyone out there whose interested in being an apprentice dungeon master, running an online tabletop campaign and knows how to use or is willing to learn to use a program like maptool, send me a PM and we can get working on this part of the Expanse. Creating A New Organization When creating your organization you’ll need to keep several things in mind. There’s a passage from a Star Wars sourcebook (The Force Unleashed) that gives an excellent guide to coming up with a concept for your organization. Since it’s so well written I see no reason to paraphrase it. So here it is with some slight edits: What are the organization’s goals? The most important question you need to answer is what the organization sets out to do. Most organizations are unified by their goals. Crime syndicates want to make money, governments want to keep order, law enforcement agencies want to bring people to justice, religions want to gain more converts, and arcane traditions want to expand their knowledge of magic. Decide what your organization works toward achieving and what they want to accomplish so that you have a better idea of why the organization works together. Who is a member of the organization? When you determine what kinds of people are members of an organization, you help define what a character is expected to be like as well if he joins that organization. If an organization is made up only of elven sorcerers, a dwarven cleric of Kilmorph might not fit in as well as that character would like. Along the same lines, an organization whose members are made up of many races/religions from all over Erebus would not be likely to accept a member from the Humanocentric Theocracy who is unwilling to abandon his racial/religious biases. Deciding what kinds of characters fit in well with an organization also dictates what kinds of characters are engaged with it. Who runs the organization? Ask yourself who is in charge of the organization in question. Is your wizarding tradition ruled by a council of elders who hand down assignments from their chambers? Is your noble house led by a charismatic senator or an unscrupulous bureaucrat? Does your business fall under the control of a single, powerful decision-maker, or does he in turn answer to a shadowy council of investors? An organization’s leaders are the ones who are likely to dole out assignments or award special recognition to characters/followers, and as such it is important to have an idea of who these people might be. Where does the organization operate? Defining an organization’s general area of operation is essential to determing its scale. Moreover, an organization might function only in a certain region of the Expanse, making it difficult for people and other organizations to get in contact with the agents of your organization. Additionally, many of the resources an organization provides can be obtained only within that organization’s domain, so choose your starting location carefully. What does the organization do on a regular basis? Figure out what kinds of routine tasks the organization undertakes. Do agents of your noble house travel to the government center every day to participate in politics? Does your paramilitary organization stage raids on Imperial outposts once a week? Does your pirate gang prey on passing ships every few hours? Regular and routine activities help define the organization as a whole and give the mods a better idea of what to expect that a member of the organization will need to undertake as a part of membership. Who would support the organization, and who might work against it? Aside from its members and leaders, an organization usually has third-party supporters. Nobles who support the cause clandestinely funnel gold into the organization’s treasury, and law enforcement agencies look the other way when a group’s actions are for the good of the people, if not necessarily within the letter of the law. By the same token, every organization has its enemies, and they usually work to stymie the group’s progress at every turn. Determining who works for and against an organization will help flesh out enemies and allies during the creation process. This will also come during play as you interact with other player organizations and NPC organizations ranging from the local temple to the Overcouncil.