Skies of Adventure
Floating far above the surface of the world, mysterious crystals known as escarnum await those bold enough to claim them. Infused with tremendous arcane energy, escarnum is the key to powering precursor relics—and developing new devices in their image. The crystals are amongst the most sought-after resources in the world, and various trade cartels wage daily economic wars for the right to harvest and sell them.
Gathering escarnum, though, is a challenging and costly practice. Funded by enterprising kingdoms or wealthy private interests, crews of daring sailors traverse the skies in whatever vessels they can acquire, hoping to strike upon the mother lode that will bring them fame and fortune. Competing with vicious sky pirates and airborne beasts—as well as each other—are your characters willing to brave the Skies of Escarnum?
The Ancient Future
Wherever they go, adventurers in Escarnum can discover strange relics that serve as the legacy of an ancient civilisation, the precursors. Far advanced in their knowledge of both magic and science, the precursors combined both to create incredible items whose secrets are now lost to the world. Most such relics are buried deep beneath the surface of the world, or concentrated on the continent of Aethys, and it was the kobolds who first began to discover and experiment with them.
Many relics are still a mystery to modern races, and more still are long-since broken. However, as engineering and magic advance once more amongst the peoples of Alm, their understanding of these powerful devices also deepens. As adventurers in the age of humanity, your characters have the chance to seek out and recover devices most people only dream about—and maybe even to be amongst the first to discover their true purpose.
Running the Game
If you are a GM in Escarnum, think of how you can pitch plot hooks at the characters’ individual motivations, rather than just offering treasure or fame as universal incentives. Involve them as deeply as possible; don’t let a plotline be something they can just walk away from.
Try to empower the PCs as much as you can. This doesn’t mean giving them more power in terms of game rules, but in the way the world and the story treat them. Run with their ideas when you can; reward them for taking initiative and use their own concepts to keep them hooked.
Use the world to treat the characters as their players envision them. If somebody is playing a gnoll because they like their character to be alienated, have NPCs draw attention to them or challenge their presence. If a player wants their wu-kan to be an infamous rogue, have them be recognised (for better or worse) except in the most backwater towns.
Strong characterisations can make or break a story, and a story is what you create in Escarnum. Work together with your group to make sure each character gets to be the person their player envisions, and the experience will be better for everyone.
If you are a player in Escarnum, you should think hard about the character you want to portray, whether you are planning their personality in advance or developing it as you go. Consider ways you can use your character’s goals and quirks to enrich the game for everybody—especially ways to cooperate and advance the story. Work together with other players, and be conscious of how much time you spend in the spotlight so you can make sure everybody else gets their turn.
In-character conflict is valuable when roleplaying, but make sure it doesn’t leave the game world. If you foresee a situation where your character might make things difficult for the group, conspire with your fellow gamers to keep them in check. Share your ideas, and be open to suggestions from other players. If you don’t let it become an obstruction, your character’s personality will be a powerful tool for adding to the story.
Resources, not Rules
The world of Escarnum is one that grew organically over the years. Factions changed, nations appeared or disappeared, and new races had now been there for ages—if it made for a better story. Alm grew in the shape of the group it served, and it’s presented here with the intent that it should do the same for your group.
If something here doesn’t work for you and your group, please ignore it! The goal of this setting is to support the story that the players (GM included) want to tell. We would prefer for you think about the world not in terms of what characters and stories it could produce, but to think of it in terms of how it could produce the characters and stories you want to see.
Your Escarnum is your Escarnum, not the Escarnum of its creator. We invite you to do what you wish, to make it yours.