Today, I’m going to look over what we know about the Gods of the Fall setting with the Cypher System Kickstarter, as well as what I personally hope we find when we get to open the book up and read it.
The setting book, as presently detailed, is about a world that presumably once resembled classic high fantasy – a world rich with magic and active gods, blessed with bounty and general recognizable from any Generic Fantasy Novel. It’s the kind of world that the average D&D game might have been run in – but then something happened. A war among the gods, some kind of outsiders, the rise of the children of the gods, we don’t know yet. Whatever the case, the usurpers killed the old gods, and the heavens fell to the earth in flames, smashing into ruins and taking the world into darkness with them.
The players, here, can become gods – claim a dominion, declare themselves to be a god of something like War, the Hunt, Fire, or whatever else, and strive to achieve their full potential through divine labors and trials. After that, apparently, they’re to take the fight to the usurpers and overthrow them and they overthrew the gods. It feels like something that might be circular; again, not something we know as of yet. Based on this tweet it sounds like the cyphers of this setting will be fragments of the heavens, left over from the fall and repurposed by the gods-to-be.
That pretty much sums up what we know about the setting so far. So what am I hoping for or extrapolating here?
Going by the artwork released so far, I am expecting something of a Nordic/Slavic vibe to this setting. Something about it simply has that kind of vibe; I can’t put a clearer wording to it until I see more. If true, I expect god-heroes who embody a nice mix of light and dark in their nature, with a heavier dose of fatalism than you’d expect from most fantasy gods. I’d be fine with this if it’s the case – if nothing else it’d be a nice change from the usual fantasy divinity fare.
I’d also venture that the setting will probably have a postapocalyptic vibe in some areas, possibly with things like pieces of the heavens smashed into the world like massive dungeons. The usurpers are probably going to be one of three things, although I won’t complain if I’m completely off-base here: an ambitious pack of mortals who stole the power of the gods, and in so doing stole the power that kept the heavens where they were; alien outer-god type monsters akin to the planetovores of the Strange and the Outer Gods of the Mythos; or the precursors to the gods, something like the Titans of Greco-Roman myth, who broke free and came to enact horrific vengeance.
What I’m Hoping To See
First and foremost, of course, are new Descriptors and Foci suited to let characters embody the essence of a god-to-be. I’m not too worried about this – even with the default Cypher System offerings you can outline a credible godling. Still, a few things like a Radiant descriptor or a few explicitly divine Foci wouldn’t go amiss. If any of my guesses as to the ultimate nemeses of the godlings are even remotely accurate, they could do with the firepower.
Second, I’m hoping for a lot of world-building. Again, I’m not worried – MCG is kinda headed by the man who wrote Ptolus, after all, and they’ve yet to let world detail skimp in their products. Still, I’d like some close-in focus on a few major locations in addition to the overview of everything, like they did with a few of the town in Numenera, but expanded out a few more pages. I’d also like it, if my conjecture about pieces of the heavens being scattered around is remotely accurate, if a few of the dungeon-ish locations were detailed. As might be surmised from my series of previous posts on dungeons and megadungeons, I kind of miss things like the Undermountain boxed set and wouldn’t mind seeing something to scratch that itch.
Third, I’m hoping we get a fairly detailed history – something that tells us what the world was once like, what the old gods were like, why the usurpers overthrew them (and how), who those usurpers are, and sufficient detail that we could arguably set a campaign during the events of the Fall itself. Apocalypse games can be fun, particularly when you know you can come back and play new characters in the aftermath with evidence of the actions of your characters.
Fourth, slightly touched on above, I’d like to get detail on who the usurpers are, what their motives are, where they dwell, and what they’re capable of. Who serves as their priesthood? What kind of mythic monsters do they have on a leash to turn against those who would rise against them? How do they interact? This is the stuff that you could use to build a solid campaign for a group of the more cunning and trickster-ish kinds of godlings – where they have to trick, deceive, and baffle their foes to drive them apart and weaken them enough to take on and take down.
Lastly – and, again, something I don’t think we’ll much have to worry about – I’d like to see a section on the journey from mortal to fully claiming the power of godhood. Something similar to how the Pathfinder Mythic Adventures book details examples of how characters can go from mortal heroes to near-demigods. While this isn’t vital – any GM worth their salt can concoct methods to let hapless mortals lay claim to godly might – having some examples of how the setting’s author thinks it should go down could be extremely useful.
All in all, I’m pleasantly excited to see what this setting book brings us; it won’t be a new Ptolus, but that’s probably a good thing; as streamlined as the rules are, the amount of additional material that kind of setting book would contain might never be able to be used across decades of dedicated gaming.