When “Fringe” and “Torchwood” influences 4E…..

I’m about to go quiet for a week or two as I’m about to start moving to a new house; so I figured I better post something that could be inspiring to a gamer out there….

While I have no intentions of ending my current 4E campaign, I have been wanting to start up an alternated D&D campaign that fits more with the default cosmology than my butchered interpretation of it. Mostly, my world was designed with outer planar travel not being a big part and trying to keep the players within the world. Although I will confess sending them off to the Shadowfell and bits of the Feywild….but still, I keep everything tied to their home plane of existence in a pretty intense tolkien-esque (or wannabe tolkien-esque) epic.

For my alternate campaign, I wanted to do something a bit more cut loose and dealing HEAVILY with the multiverse. And my friend Amanda’s request to want to run a halfling chaos sorcerer just makes me want to brew something awesome up more. Today, while trying to maintain sanity (or insanity?) during a very long shift at my job, I had a brilliant idea:

Using my two favorite TV Shows at the moment (Fringe and Torchwood) as inspiration, I believe the first brainstorm that came to mind was “His Majesty’s Imperial Agents of Extra-Planar Affairs.”
Right now these ideas are very loose, not concrete, and a work in progress. But man, it has potential for some awesome!

Premise:

  • Players are member of a secret royal “agency” appointed by the Emperor of Europa on a VERY alternate Earth. We’re talking an Earth whose native inhabitants are Humans, Halflings and Dwarfs.
  • The world is at its version of the “Age of Reason”;  Arcane Magic exists as a very, very fringe science. Primal Magic is considered barbaric, and sometimes even heathen by the more “civilized” cultures. Druids, Shamans and the like are often feared, misunderstood, and perceptions are skewed based on the popular literature of the time.
  • The Empire, as well as The Holy Europan Church, is trying to keep Magic and knowledge of the Planes under wraps from the masses.  There is a two fold reasoning for this: One, it’s a dangerous element that the powers that be would prefer to keep within the elite and control of the Empire and the Church. The second reason is due to xenophobic fears of Outsiders invading the world, and possibly posing as a threat to Europa.
  • These fears aren’t necessarily unwarranted. Rifts to the Shadowfell have been opening mysteriously and in frequent numbers lately, causing frightening horrors to escape into the “real” world and threatening its inhabitants. Also, mysterious beings known as “The Fey” have been appearing and it’s believed they have actually been conspiring an invasion to this reality.

The Characters:

  • Players are allowed to roll up the native races, as well as Tieflings and Half-Elves. These additional two races are rare to the world and usually results from “visits” from the parallel planes. Generally, the Church or the Agency manages to track down rumors of these children. Contrary to popular belief, they are not killed. Instead, they are generally taken in and raised to become highly trained Agents in the fight against Extra-Planar entities.
  • The Native Races — Dwarfs, Halflings and Humans — are all considered races of “Man.”  They can be found across all cultures and races, although the Dwarfs are generally found amongst the more mountainous and cavernous regions and Halflings are more common in valleys and lower lands. In Europa, Dwarfs are almost always considered aristocracy and are almost always considered high ranking citizens. Halflings are almost always considered the more commoner class with many scoundrels, and Humans generally cover the spectrums but seldom achieve royal status. Outside of Europa, however, social class distinctions may vary.
  • Characters are allowed from the Martial, Divine and Arcane classes.  Martial characters are generally treated as members of the Imperial Guard; Divine members are obviously trained within the Church.  Arcane roles are tricky, as there are no formal schools of magic. Wizards are probably the rarest; generally self taught and slightly mad.  Sorcerers are the most common amongst the Agents. Warlocks hold a decent presence, but usually begin their practice prior to the Agency, and were forced into membership and are generally distrusted.  This is due to Warlocks generally pacts with the forces that Agents oppose frequently.

The Campaign:

  • Heroic Tier — Players start off investigating “supernatural events” throughout the Empire.  Reports and rumors come in of strange activity, with the general public panicked. Tall tales start spreading, and the characters are dispatched to put  a stop to the “true” sources of these events. For instance, tales of witches kidnapping children in the night may be due to an Eladrin conspiracy to abduct possible new slaves for sinister activities or even to take back to the Feywilds. Or perhaps stories of a cursed hamlet where the dead are rising from their graves is actually the result of the Shadowfell bleeding into this world, and the Agents need to find a way to rebuild the barrier between the two worlds.  It also may be requested of the heroes to seek out powerful artifacts and relics to bring back to the Agency. This is rarely a case of dungeon delving, and actually more a scenario for plane hopping into the parallel worlds to retrieve the item.  It’s also possible that an outworldly threat or powerful entity poses a threat and the heroes are issued a powerful item in order to handle the situation. Failure to return the item or to lose it to the enemy could result in some terrifying plot developments….
  • Paragon Tier — After growing in skill and successfully serving The Agency, the characters are “promoted” to a higher order of service for Europa. While the struggle versus the threats of the Shadowfell and Feywilds continue to grow, it is requested that further investigation into the nature of the Planes is explored.  The PC’s might be assigned tasks to explore other planes of existence and other worlds for possible new secret weapons and artifacts to assist Europa in its dominance in the world. Another possible quest line idea is exploration for the purpose of possible reconaissance for new lands for Europa to possibly spread its Imperial rule over.  This could easily lead to the PC’s becoming disinterested in the affairs of Europa and more inclined to explore the multiverse. An alternative could be more larger threats to the world of Europa, such as a possible crossfire in the continuing battles of Devils vs. Demons.
  • Epic Tier — This is kind of where my brain goes flat.

Additional Game Running Ideas:

  • Come up with new backgrounds related to Europa, especially dealing with The Church and The Guard.
  • Run it in a “pseudo” high-speed fashion: Don’t keep track of XP.  Level up at the end of every adventure, or two gaming sessions. This way it doesn’t feel like combat is the best way to gain levels.
  • Treat magical items as rare; keep away from Parcels and deliver rewards based on mission completion and deliver package options from The Agency.
  • Keep away from “Dungeon Delving” experiences.  Make it more about the investigation and adventure. Less Dungeon Crawling, more World Hopping.
  • Don’t make the Feywild and Shadowfell “misunderstood” cultures and the Empire “the bad guys” that think they’re right. In this world, the Fey really are frightening.
    Eladrin and Elves seem like a sinister, menacing race conspiring against the Prime realm. Shadar-Kai might be worked in to have a “truce” with the Europans, but it’s agreed
    that trespassers on either sides of the realms will be hunted by the other.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Leave’em below. I’ll answer as I can 🙂

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