Andy and I were doing a Whitehack game, which was a bit doomed to fail, I suppose. Andy has never been a fan of DnD and I found that Whitehack’s world-building mechanics work better with more than… well… one player. So when I started talking with Andy about the Burning Wheel setting that I’ve been running in for years, he perked up. I threw my pitch for the setting Kakusaretta Sekai at him: at the center of the planet is an enormous blue flame, surrounded by water.
This flame is the source of all the goodness in the world. A long time ago the world had rejected this flame, and it went out. The God of this world came back, incarnated as each of the 8 races- human, elf, dwarf, orc, spider, roden, wolf, and troll. Each time He incarnated He was inevitably betrayed by those of His race, and was finally killed as a human child by an angry mob. Each time He was betrayed He refused to let go of the Flame He possessed by right. By refusing to reject Himself the Flame of the Earth was re-lit.
I then went and outlined the one continent I had played in the most, the northwest one: Helmi. This had two kingdoms in it: The Iron Kingdoms and the Argentum Empire. I had done most of my campaigns in the Iron Kingdoms, but had only ever done one short campaign in the Argentum Empire, and didn’t have much of a handle on the place. Naturally, Andy wanted to play there. Oh, and he didn’t want to play a human, the dominant race of the Argentum Empire, but a dwarf, who have their own things going on, below ground. So, y’know, Andy was being Andy.
At this point I revealed that I hadn’t really worked out anything else for anyone but the humans, mostly. Andy laughed and we began to get to work. We discussed the planet’s primary villains: the Inimicai, who are a being from each race who set up their own anti-Flames, against the Flame of God. Andy loved the concept… and was disappointed that I’d no idea what the dwarven Inimicai was like. In the my previous campaigns I’d centered around four Inimicai: the head Inimicai Eous, the elven Inimicai Kenodoxius (also known as The One in the Deep), the human Inimicai Golau, and the orc Inimicai Rahbarl, but when Andy asked me about the dwarven Inimicai I think he could hear me hanging my head and blushing in shame over the phone.
Some of the most impressive worldbuilding I’d ever heard just jumped right out of Andy’s mouth. He went off for a good long time, on and on about the Inimicai he named Leviathan. Unlike the other Inimicai, Leviathan had never been seen before, and in fact it was not known if he ever actually existed. It was rumored that, should Leviathan show up, everything would end. But even the other Inimicai scoff at Leviathan’s existence. And yet there are those who think it does exist.
You have to understand that I was in complete and utter awe, but we had to move on.
We decided to go with the Dwarven default of stone-listening, turned up to 11. Dwarves can interact with the Flame inside the stone, given they have the sufficient skills and magical aptitude. This, of course, has led to the folk tale that dwarves can talk to stones.
Andy’s character,a dwarf named Spar, decided to take advantage of this universal human ignorance. He took up a job with The Processors, a magical guild that got rid of the garbage in the Argentum Empire. He was hired by The Processors to snoop on the other guilds that frequented a neutral ground called Sabina’s Castle, which was on the very outskirts of Argentum Prime, the capital of the Argentum Empire.Spar, a greybeard amonsg the dwarves, took up the position of janitor, pretending to be a human named Jasper. While there Spar took a human earth mage known as Tara as a lover. She figured out pretty fast he was a dwarf and kept the secret. The tone of the campaign was intended to be a lighthearted, episodic, campaign.
Yeah, that went well.