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Bloodmarsh Classic

15 Kindahot, F.T. 2287

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Bloodmarsh is an unfortunate place where unfortunate things happen to unfortunate people. Pain is the norm, and struggle is a given. Maybe that's why nobody runs around with that "verge of disaster" mindset which gives the peaceful continents so many ulcers. The worst has already come to pass - tyrannical dragons, invading demons, pitiless slaughter, endless war - bedlam, in short, only relieved by very low tax rates. The humanoids of this peeled scab of a realm are the most hateful in all the Overlooked Regions, and it seems to be the most gods-forsaken landscape of bloody, muddy menace which the world has ever known. With all that already accepted, the people are understandably sanguine about the future. Things can only get better.   And, just for now, a yet and mightier power lives in the uncharted woods of the realm. Where the original trees remain unburnt, they tower like wooden mountains under evergreen skies. In the magically-charged twilight below still frolic the Chosen, the Immortals, the Special People of the gods - and they are pretty pissed with the Mundane Folk who have moved in and started stealing their birthright. At every opportunity, armies of elves, gangs of gnolls, cavalry centaurs, and legislatures of gnomes nip out of their sylvan strongholds to retake land, lives, and - most of all - gold. They slaughter towns in laughing revenge for their fallen trees, and then poke through every pile of ashes for the least ring or bangle. Their greed seems only matched by their resentment of what they consider to be the usurpation of their birthright - the entire land and riches of the entire world. Well, they'll just have to see reason about that.   Nobody is safe when they leave home. In this awful place, dirty tactics are the only tactics. Travellers should expect to be ambushed, fleeced, trapped, or ganked every time they relax their vigilance. It is important to maintain a blasé attitude toward violence, injustice, and death here. Do you know what happens to a little town that gets attacked by a dragon? Everybody dies. They know it; you should too. There's basically never a hero around. Heroes are the guys who wind up pressure-cooked in their armor. How do you slay a dragon? You collapse a mountain on top of it, and send people at it until it's been skewered with so many spears that it looks like a porcupine. The direct approach is for people with a death wish, especially when fighting the Mysties.  

Playing a Bloodmarsh Campaign

  The purpose of the Bloodmarsh setting is to set a consistent backdrop for the deconstruction of all your favorite fantasy game tropes. The game master should seek to keep the tone light and karma-free, but also ensure that encounters are complex and cunning. Players are encouraged to act as merciless murder munchkins. Everyone is encouraged to take every mechanic to the utmost extent of abuse and to push the envelope for maximum pragmatism and consistency. In fact, the practice of extrapolating every minor gameplay mechanic in Pathfinder rather underlies and characterizes the whole world.   The world is constructed to center on a few themes which ought to be played fast and loose.   The first theme is brutality as a strategy. There's no solution like a final solution, after all. There are forces working toward peace and understanding, but they're not only lame, but also short-sighted. With the Gods openly working against their progress, there is no room for hesitation for the Mundane Folk. Don't let yourself agonize over the value of life or the difference between de jure and de facto. Every authority is either de facto or in de nial.   The second theme is logical integrity. Every seeming inconsistency or mystery in our world and Bloodmarsh alike is the result of some secret history just begging to be discovered. It can be wearisome to have to listen to minutes of exposition to understand exactly why something is the way it is, but it's great fun for most players to get to the bottom of it themselves through investigation and deduction. Further, if you know why something is what it is, you might be able to make it be something else.   Getting to the bottom of a puzzling event is not only a satisfying sub-quest, but also a great exercise for the brainhole. This theme is best conveyed by dropping the players, briefly briefed on the state of the world, into the setting and explain nothing which their characters' senses couldn't pick up by mundane means. Players who become intrigued by something have to investigate by the normal means. If nobody's interested in detective work, then seemingly random or silly events going on around them will remain opaque, and they have no excuse to complain. The GM's "Secrets" pages provide plenty of such opportunities.