02 June 2009

Shadow Gates: NA pt III

Further thoughts on the CSA, SG:NA, and post-apoc. in general.

The Confederated States in this setting are obviously intended to be the great power of the North American continent, but lets look at what we mean by that. In a post-apocalyptic setting (especially this one), even the great (human) powers struggle to survive. Nor should one consider the CSA to be a monolithic, or even fully settled society. It is feudal in nature, and much of the territory claimed is still untamed wilderness or crumbling ruins. One of my problems with many Post-Apoc games and stories is that they are quickly filled with so many new powers and principalities, each a modern nation-state, that adventuring in a good ole' frpg sense is almost impossible. I'm trying to avoid this with Shadow Gates, and leave even the major player on the continent barely controlling its own territory and no more centralized than the Holy Roman Empire of the Hapsburg's.

Unlike its first main inspiration (the Coalition States from a certain other game) adventuring is quite possible in Confed territory. The local lord doesn't have the man-power to waste sending search parties after the beast rumored to be attacking his Vaki's livestock, nor search the ruins for rumored artifacts. And the State Guard and Confed Army units in the general area have much more important things to do. Also this Confed isn't quite as automatically murderous towards 'undesirables' nor as obviously inspired by the worst excesses of the early twentieth century with its gulags and einsatzgruppen.

This Confed. is willing to give 'demi-humans' a chance. What are 'demi-humans'? Any vaguely humanoid entity that the local, on the scene, authority decides to tolerate. The more you look like a base-line pure human the more likely you are to be tolerated, especially if you can provide a useful service to the local community. Obviously this varies greatly, Le 'estate du Nord is the most open and tolerant, while Little Dixie is much less so. Anything with tentacles, rotational symetry, or an odd number of appendages is likely to be shot on site wherever you are in the Confed. Psykers are also tolerated within the confed, as long as they are members of either the Confederate Army Psi-Corps, or the Mentalist's Guild, and don't get on the wrong side of a vengful feudal lord when on his property, or get lynched as a wytch by superstitious vakis...

Magyck is a special case. Unlicensed magyck, which is to say virtually all of it, is punishable by death. Magyck is equated with contact with ruinous powers, and the Confed is mostly right. Although not all, or even most sorcerers have dealings with vast an alien intelligences, all forms of what humanity ignorantly labels as magyck are inherently hazardous to human health, spirit, and sanity. There is not much functional difference between a a sorcerous rampage on behalf of hidden masters, or one brought on by sheer murderous lunacy.

There are some forms of magyck that are more controllable however. Non-Euclidean Meta-Physical Engineering, aka tekno-magery is one. Another licensed, bonded, and guilded path to the mysteries is Para-Combinatorial Chemistry, also known to the layman as Alchymy. Additionally, clerics of the Elder Gods of Man, and even the servants of Apostolic Palace, have been known to exercise gifts and boons of their lords, creating effects quite similar to that of a rogue sorcerer, but with tacit approval of the Confed. Emperor Rothschild isn't concerened that a Catholic Theurgist or a Cleric of Mars uses techniques similar to sorcerers, only that they have shown no threat to himself or his people.