It’s a difficult time for all of us at the moment. Like many of my friends and colleagues I have been made redundant due to the virus essentially shutting down the industry that I’ve worked in since leaving university and now find myself with far more free time on my hands than I know what to do with. I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to pursue a dream that I’ve had since I ran my first game of Dungeons and Dragons – publishing my own unofficial sourcebook. Wraxia: The Thawing Kingdom has plenty of fat that needs trimming and one or two bits that make little sense to anyone (in keeping with the themes of madness and twisted realities) so there is plenty of work to be done. It will be no easy task to compile the reams of notes that have piled up (physically and digitally) so in the interest of progress I’ll be posting snippets to this blog in addition to our usual content. I hope that you’ll join me on this journey that, if nothing else, will prove to be a welcome break from the reality that we currently find ourselves in. I’ve already written a post about the impetus behind the setting so be sure to check that out for a bit of context. Now, with further ado, here are what I consider the “essentials” of any game using the Wraxian setting:
- Winter is over. The unnatural winter that has entombed Wraxia for two years has finally subsided. The survivors emerge from their strongholds to discover that the world around them has changed considerably. Strange creatures stalk the wilds and otherworldly horrors lurk just beyond the campfire’s edge.
- The Kingdom has splintered. The death of King Roland has cracked Wraxia into seven fiercely independent Duchies. The Dukes’ halls are filled with warriors eager to earn their favour. War on the Isles appears all but a certainty.
- It is an age of heroes. Despite the scheming Dukes, Wraxia’s future lies in the hands of those brave or foolish enough to venture into its dark corners and confront horrors the likes of which no god-fearing man could hope to comprehend.
- New Gods emerge. Whether you follow the monotheistic Church of the Creator or the pantheon of the Raven’s Court there is no denying that the prayers of Wraxia’s faithful have fallen on deaf ears. The less religious Wraxians have cited this as evidence of the gods’ abandonment of the mortal realm. But what then has moved to fill the gap caused by their departure?
- The Age of Man is over. Humans are no longer the only race on the Wraxian Isles. The elves have returned from their self-imposed exile – do they intend to co-exist with the other races or reconquer their former colony? The oath-bound Dwarves emerge from the underworld. How will the humans of Wraxia react to their arrival and will any heed their call for aid against terrors that have infested the under-kingdoms?
- Shadows darken. The mortal races of Wraxia face a new threat far beyond their comprehension. In the darkness of the void their suffering burns brighter than any hearth-fire and innumerable eyes turn their predatory gaze towards the mortal plane.
To summarise: the players should not expect to be fantasy superheroes. The world of Wraxia has been rendered all but inhospitable by low temperatures and wildlife driven mad by overlong hibernation. To venture beyond the safety of the few human settlements that remain takes nerves of steel or a head full of rocks. That’s not to say that the players can’t expect to grow stronger over the course of the campaign, however. This is still D&D after all – the means to acquire power is just slightly different and will be covered more in a future post. I find that players welcome this change of pace. Many are used to spending the first few levels of the game fighting overgrown rats and extra-prickly plants! The horrors of Wraxia don’t conform to the “beat until XP falls out” trope – fighting a manifestation of the Flayed God as a first level party is only going to end one way but perhaps the means of banishing it can be found in the ramblings of a mad priest or an ancient tome of forgotten lore… It is a harsh world but one that will reward investigation and thinking outside of the box.
That’s it for the first post in this series. Next time we’ll have a look the earliest period of Wraxian history before it became an Elvish colony. I hope that you enjoyed it and welcome any feedback/queries in the comments or via an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! If you’re feeling particularly generous we’ve set up a Buy Me a Coffee page that can be accessed via the nifty button below – a donation of any amount is greatly appreciated and goes towards the upkeep and improvement of the blog. Until next time, have fun wherever you choose to adventure and stay safe!