On a distant world, civilization struggles to hold back forces that would annihilate life. The Maelstrom, an abstract embodiment of chaos and destruction, threatens to expand from the south pole, and warps living things into hideous mockeries of their original forms. The Great Pattern descends from the north, seeking to organize and classify living beings out of existence, forging a realm of cold rationalism with no room for something as unpredictable as consciousness.
The city-states that remain used technology and magic to hold back the last convergence of these forces, but now the shields have failed. The Great Ark is missing, the vessel that carried humanity to this planet. Without it, only a handful of havens will survive the coming storm.
The planet's inhabitants can no longer afford to draw steep distinctions between nations and races, and will likely perish without a level of cooperation unprecedented in modern times. Heroes are needed to scour the world for the secrets of extinct civilizations if there is to be hope.
Ideologies clash. Faith is tested. Dangers abound, and for every threat to life and limb the player characters face, they are in equal danger of despairing of their purpose in a world on the brink. This is adventure on a knife's edge. This is the world of Lens
Lens is a world which uses the tropes and tools of anime, epic fantasy and science fiction to explore deeper truths about power, justice, the nature of communities and other concepts relevant to political philosophy.
Most major cities are based on a fantastisized version of a major philosopher or philosophy’s conception of the ideal political community. A colossal hydra watches over the Lizardfolk city of Shovani as a literal Hobbes Leviathan. Evergrace uses magic and technology to pass on memories and skills to each new generation, hoping to ensure the kind of social order described by Edmund Burke. In Autwon, the cold logic of utilitarianism reigns, as the golems connected to the cities central network seek to maximize society’s fortunes with little regard for the rights or dignity of those involved.
Drawing on the feeling of classics like Lord of Light, Neuromancer, Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time and the Kingkiller chronicles, the world's stylistic nature also nods to RPG sources like Titansgrave, Forgotten Realms, Call of Cthulhu, Conan the Barbarian and Exalted. Shows like RWBY, Escaflowne, Record of Lodoss War, Evangelion, Thundar the Barbarian and Thundercats are all influences, alongside films like Princess Mononoke, Nausica and the Valley of the Wind and Ghost in the Shell.
Lens is still under development, and the author encourages comments and suggestions. In particular, interesting ways to represent philosophical concepts using the above fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk elements are welcome, as well as ideas on crafting a tabletop rpg world where players cannot help but grapple with the ethics and challenges of various kinds of "good" societies in ways that make for entertaining tabletop gaming... and possibly provide food for genuine thought.