A spin off from a spin off ...
While working on the Kamarg and the Sanctuary settings I did read some of Moorcock's novels,
and in one of them the Eternal Hero and his companion visited a barren plane of the Multiverse,
one which had not yet been settled by humans.
Well, how do the humans of a fantasy universe settle such a barren plane of the Multiverse, al-
most without any technology for terraforming and colonization ? - Another one of those ideas I
did not get out of my mind, and so I began to make notes for yet another setting ... a barren
plane named Phalanos, a world of mountain ranges with active volcanoes and of vast deserts,
with few small oceans and without breathable air and native life.
Without starfaring scouts to discover and explore new worlds, the magic users of the universe
are likely to become the explorers, because they are the only ones with the means to travel be-
tween the worlds. In this case the discovery was made by a certain Barouk, a diviner who used
his art first to locate Phalanos, then to create the artefacts required to survive there, and final-
ly to visit and explore the new land.
Sharing the fate of many other explorers, Barouk did not return from one of his voyages to Pha-
lanos. His friends and colleagues waited a long time for his return, but after four years they de-
cided to break into his laboratory. They found Barouk's journal with a description of Phalanos and
the magic he used to travel there, and also some of the artefacts he had created for his visits to
the barren world.
Soon after six of the mages came together and founded a covenant, the Covenant of Phalanos, to
search for the missing Barouk on Phalanos, but also to build upon his work and to continue it, by
exploring the new world and by bringing life to it, in order to prepare it for a future settlement by
With this background story I began to think about the kind of magic I would like to use for such a
setting. It should fit into my preferred game system, the Cthulhu system with added BRP options,
and it should be "scholarly" magic, not the "flash-bang" variety. In the end I decided to design a
new, mixed system with elements of Harnmaster Magic (the convocations and the basic magic sys-
tem), Ars Magica (the covenant and many of the spells) and Hawkmoon (all spells create material
items, like artefacts or potions, which cause the magic's effect - no purely verbal magic here).
Then I began to make notes for the spells needed for such a setting, for example a transformation
spell / artefact which could transform common plants and animals into species able to survive un-
der the environmental conditions on Phalanos ("magic genetic engineering" ...) or a divination spell /
artefact which could be used to explore Phalanos ("magic aerial cartography" ...), and so on.
Up to this point all this was just a funny thought experiment, but meanwhile I have begun to make
the notes required to turn it into an actual setting, with lists of professions, skills and equipment,
details of the Covenant of Phalanos and its members and resources, and all that. The player cha-
racters of a short series of adventures, perhaps even a short campaign, could be apprentices of the
covenant's mages and their friends, or specialists hired by the covenant for a mission to Phalanos.
It is basically a theme I have often used for my various science fiction "colony settings", but I think
it could make an interesting and playworthy difference to try this once more with magic instead of
high technology - the same general task, but with completely different tools, and therefore hopefully
also a completely different "feel".
Well, I wonder where this one will take me ...