Hi, folks! So I haven’t been managing to post freebies very much lately. Some of that has been that I’ve been reluctant to clutter this blog with the toxic negativity of #GamerGate, but another factor was that I was busy putting the finishing touches on a KickStarter campaign. Which launched today!
The Ruined Empire – a system neutral campaign setting and sourcebook. This book will contain: an original Final Fantasy-inspired setting, expanded commentary on Japanese cultural references, campaign hooks and ideas, as well as system suggestions and two custom hacks. Plus, I’m hiring Claudia Cangini and Brennan Reece to make this book SO. DAMN. PRETTY. Seriously, I’m so excited.
Is this the book for you? Well, ask yourself:
Do you like gonzo anime? Do you wish your tabletop experience had more cyborgs? Did you ever wish you could play a game where PCs could be ninjas, wizards, and mecha? Then this is totally the sourcebook for you.
Do you like social justice?: Did you ever want to play in a setting that is social-justice focused, that critically examines imperialism, income inequality, and human trafficking? (And really, who hasn’t?) Cool, ’cause I’ve totally got you covered.
The Ruined Empire was originally supposed to be a supplement for Tenra Bansho Zero, but when that fell through Andy Kitkowski (the guy who translated Tenra into English and ran the English language KickStarter) was kind enough to let me publish on my own. (Plus he answered a ton of questions and really this couldn’t have happened without him.)
If you’d like to read more about the setting and my thought process at the time I wrote it, you can read about my thoughts on the game this setting was originally written for, as well as an interview with Andy Kitkowski providing some really interesting cultural context and behind-the-scenes perspective.
Lastly, here is an overview of the setting, just to whet your whistle:
Once the land held many nations, but recent decades have seen two great empires arise, each locked in a struggle to the death for supremacy. In the east lies the Imperial Dynasty of Azumi, the Iron Empire. Expanding ever westward, it absorbs all nations that lie in its path as it hungrily devours the resources of the land to fuel the engines of industry. In the west lies the Jahga Republic of Enlightened Peoples. Expanding eastward, it seeks to bring civilization and self-determination to nations that have not yet embraced the principles of enlightened rule that govern their empire. As it stands, only a handful of resisting nations remain even nominally independent, forming a scant buffer between these two implacably expanding forces.
On Jahga’s doorstep lies the Rinden Kingdom, a provincial monarchy devoted mostly to farms and herd land. Fiercely jealous of its independence, its citizens struggle against an occupying force they have no hope of defeating. The Jahgan Republic’s occupational forces crack down harshly on the rebels whenever they can, frustrated by the resistance of Rinden’s citizens to the improvements that the republic has brought to the small, backward nation. The rebellion, however, seems undaunted in the face of monolithic opposition.
To the Kingdom of Rinden’s east, in the shadow of the Imperial Dynasty of Azumi, lies the Independent State of Horom. Horom is a wealthy trading nation, with cosmopolitan cities full of wonders from all over the world. Nominally ruled by the Grand Council of trade guilds that have ordered affairs in the small nation, the truth is that the Grand Council has no real authority. The Imperial Dynasty is the real power responsible for the day-to-day rule of Horom, with the Grand Council paying handsomely to be permitted to retain the illusion of sovereignty. In this way, the Grand Council retains its dignity and Azumi reaps considerable sums in wealth and resources as tribute.
To the south of Rinden and Horom, bordering both Jahga and Azumi, lies the ruined nation of the Dangoro Trading State. It was here that the armies of the two great empires met for the first time. It was a conflict great and terrible, one that eclipsed in scale anything yet seen in the land. In the end, the cities of Dangoro were left in smoking ruins. Its rulers were dead, its people scattered, either fleeing to the wilderness or to Rinden or Horom as refugees, and only a handful of her citizens remained. The great armies have since retreated, not wanting to spill further blood over a useless wasteland. The land is no longer known as Dangoro, for the people of the region now call it Nil, the Desecrated Lands. The Shinto priesthood has searched for anyone even marginally qualified to rule that would be willing to take on the rule of Nil, but as yet their search has been in vain.