Icosa: Patchwork World
In an effort of full disclosure I want to list some of my sources of inspiration for environmental aspects this particular vision of Icosa:
Elric is one of the primary inspirations to this campaign. The world Elric inhabits has a close relationship with elementals. By elementals I mean not only the four classics (earth, wind, fire and water) but also the animal elementals, those primal beings that are the epitome of their type. These beings are powerful entities that are called upon to do various things for those summoning them. Included under this heading are the demons that are summoned as well. These otherworldly elementals are fearsome and a powerful tool of any sorcerer.
Another staple of the Elric stories that I’m particularly fond of is the concept of many and varied planes of existence. This concept goes to the heart of the Eternal Champion stories. The planes take many shapes and forms. These were no doubt the inspiration of the inner and outer planes of AD&D.
Finally, a central themes of the Elric saga is the constant battle between Law and Chaos. These two forces are personified by various Lords of godly power.Their push and pull causes the friction which turns the wheels of the worlds and keeps things in motion. In re-reading these stories I find I like this as a backdrop.
I think the seed of Icosa was first planted after reading through Monte Cook’s d20 Call of Cthulhu. The last section of the book was deticated to incorporating these horrors into an existing D&D campaign. It painted a facinating image of dark Druids and evil Clerics devoted to these mad gods of cosmic Chaos. I was hooked.
Coupling Cthulhu with Elric seemed natural after reading Moorcock’s eerie description of Arioch, Duke of Hell in his natural form: a roiling mass of pure Chaos that would do Shub-Niggurath proud. Perhaps Elric’s Chaos Lords were simply the Mythos in another guise.
While I’ve never read this series of books by Jack L. Chalker, the premise has always stuck with me. I remember hearing about these books when a role-playing game based on the first book was released in 1985. The world, an experiment of a long lost race of advanced beings, is divided up into 1500+ hexes. Each hex is a self-contained world with unique life forms that would be used to seed life on new planets throughout the universe. This idea of a ‘world full of worlds’ has been lurking in the recesses of my mind ever since.
A fellow gamer and friend from high school, Don, once proposed a campaign setting in which the mountain walls were impassible and that life was limited to the valleys formed within these granite ‘bowls’. Here, the dwarves held sway over any passage between valleys, but have long since closed their doors, cutting off each valley from it’s neighbors. This, probably more than anything else, was the seed that is developing into Icosa.
Moria, as James Maliszewski points out, is probably the best example of a megadungeon in fantasy literature.
The reclusive dwarves of the Dragonlance setting are yet a further refinement of the archetypal image created by their Moria cousins.
Rose of the Prophet
These books by Hickman & Weis detail a fantasy setting where there are 20 deities who are actually facets of one greater deity. The organization of these deities around a vertex of a icosahedron are more support for the faceted aspects of Icosa. While I don’t plan to have exactly 20 deities (I’m actually not sure how many deities there will be), I would like to play with the idea that the aspects of the lines and vertexes Icosa’s mountain ranges can add thematic spice to each of the 20 regions. In this way, neighboring regions may have particular themes in common.
And last, but certainly not least…
The humble and instantly recognizable d20 is a symbol long associated with fantasy role-playing games. ’Nuff Said.
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