Morning Coffee Blog: Neverwinter Chronicles 2

Almost at the stage in working in the NWN server for the O:P community that most of the mechanical infrastructure is built and I can start thinking about story and quest plot lines.

This will, of course, be the video game world The Oracle came from, and you can bet he will feature prominently in it. It’s also a version of a D&D campaign setting I’ve been tinkering with for well over 20 years, so there’s a lot of history there. Plus, since this is all tied in with The Oracle there will be a healthy dose of fun, goofy humour. Being such a huge Pratchett fan and having a history of writing fantasy humour, I’m looking forward to digging in.

There’s been a trend in Fantasy role playing over the past few years where we’re rethinking the old Tolkien-like tropes of various “races” in a fantasy setting. It is, ultimately, a very outdated way of thinking. There is also, underneath that, a more archetypal and primal structure. Kill the monster, get the treasure. We’ve mapped fantasy “races” on to that and that’s where it gets ugly. But it really should come down to context.

I want the world of Ruunholm (the name of the world The Oracle is from, revealed here for the first time!) to reflect a more modern sensibility. And yet core to the experience is “kill the monster, get the treasure”. How do we bridge those things?

The problem, ultimately, is where we’ve decided that the various monsters in fantasy are “races”. It’s a poorly chosen, loaded word, full of context it shouldn’t, and doesn’t need, to have. It’s much better to think of fantasy monsters in a Jungian model — they represent impulses and ideas. Orcs are avatars of brutality and violence, goblins of greed and cowardice, etc. In defeating them, we’re defeating the idea of what they symbolize. There’s quite a lot of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy in that approach, but maybe we’ll save that for another blog.

This is how I want to contextualize the core loop of “kill the monster, get the treasure” in Ruunholm. How exactly that will play out mechanically in a video game based loosely on 3rd Edition D&D is something I’m still thinking about, but it’s this sort of background that gives a fantasy world depth and gravity. Making sure it’s still light and funny along the way will be a bit of a challenge, but with The Oracle to guide me, I’m sure I’ll find a way.

Now I’m off to the Cobalt Kobold tavern for some strange beverage they call… coffee?

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