Syndecon is Conflict
Shattered by the gods, if they truly existed, or by geographic phenomena beyond human comprehension, the world of Argethen struggled for countless eons before the present. Legends of deified Warlords, walking Argethen like generals, and laying claim to entire continents… Ancient texts recording the many wars between races, countries and creeds… New contentions rising on the breath of dissatisfaction, prejudice and greed…
Despite the Great Nations of Ranosyrd and the Kaian Empire, and the High Collaboration Treaty that tenuously united their efforts, the strain of peace grows throughout High Kortenka. Syrdans fight against militant religious extremists from Grand Ilthace, who invade their country. The Empire continues to annex large sections of Mendralia and Kerchetzna. The Oasis Ordaros fights for survival against its own, horrific creations: arcanical blunders that twisted the laws of nature.
Elsewhere, there are other catastrophes that demand the world’s attention: the Rhasodok orcs, a volitile, highly adaptive creature, have grown to unimaginable numbers in Destalia; the Res’tavn have begun an ethnic cleansing in Gueressa while the mystic Uero elves continue to enslave creatures from any intelligent race they find; the Osers beyond the Trichous Sea feud bitterly among themselves, drawing in the Great Nations through trade agreements and contracts of convenience; and in Vremoar, the great terramorphic disasters called schisms, and the planar crossovers that alter reality itself, have rendered many regions of the continent nearly uninhabitable.
Cynics see the world tearing itself apart, while opportunities to either disappear or grow to power appear with each passing moment. Doomsday prophets hail these terrible times as the beginning of the end. They call it the Severance. The faithful cry out to their gods, “Do not abandon us!”
The History of SyndeconRPG™
Loosely translated, “Syndecon” means “the breaking apart of something that was whole,” and this setting is aimed at giving game masters and players a wide variety of conflicts to experience. From fights between small factions within a country, to geopolitical struggles that reshape nations, to the destructive schisms that literally reshape the world, progressive players can enjoy a highly mutable atmosphere and enjoy grand-scale events at any level.
At first, Syndecon was supposed to be a spin-off or subgenre of steampunk, but the addition of so many magical and supernatural forces really started to move Syndecon away from that idea. Also, steam was never going to be the most prominent source of energy, so I considered calling it a gaslamp fantasy setting. It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t right either. After careful consideration and a bit of research, I decided that the science fantasy genre fit Syndecon best. Syndecon’s genre is important because genre dictates, and helps describe, how magic and technology are involved. Both are similar sources of power, but they are obtained through completely different ways. There are divine casters, who draw their energy from the Positive and Negative Energy planes, and arcane casters, who manipulate the Welkin or draw from the Elemental planes to cast their spells. Technology has no connection to any other plane, and so relies only on the quality of its own construction to operate.
Politics, religion, supernatural horror, and diversity are all major themes in Syndecon, but that doesn’t mean exploration, action and adventure don’t play important roles as well. The availability of magic and technology in Argethen makes Syndecon a setting ripe with exciting possibilities, but not everyone enjoys the same luxuries. Many countries don’t have access to Ranosyrd’s advanced technology, for example, and most people lack the understanding of planar activity that the natives of Vremoar possess. Alternate rules are available to diversify the standard languages (Common, Elven, Dwarven, etc.), adding dialects to all of them. This additional boundary between regions can add significant depth to the otherwise unusually connected worlds you find in other settings. The many cultural differences between locations can take a campaign from one extreme to another, and gives game masters a wonderful pallet to paint their campaigns.
Chronology: An indefinite chronology sets Syndecon apart from many other campaign settings. While Argethen’s history is full of important people, places and events, there are large spaces left open for future campaigns to fill. Historical references are written as tangible documents from the setting, leaving such texts open for interpretation and contradiction. The difference between what people or historical texts say and what really happened is left for the Game Masters to decide. In Syndecon, it is the collection of “vetrine di tempo,” or, the small windows of time, that ultimately define the setting. The seven major regions that dominate Argethen: Destalia, the fields of pain; Gueressa, the heart of the hunt; High Kortenka, the seat of mankind; Central Kortenka, the Ascendant isles; Low Kortenka, the scarred lands; Osertania, the island dynasties; and the Deep, the world’s end; each have a unique history that marks the many changes in technology, politics, and cultural standards. These changes over time, and the setting’s mutability, are two of Syndecon’s stylistic focus points.
There are critical moments in Argethen that have reshaped the world’s economics, population demographics, and, many times, the world itself. New technologies being discovered, organizations shifting the balance of power in a region, and the terrifying disasters called schisms are all important moments that define the players’ environment. The Game Master should answer two questions while preparing a SyndeconRPG campaign before any others: “What has already happened,” and “What will happen throughout the campaign?” The answers to these questions will help regulate plot elements, control the pace of the story, and inspire certain events more than any others. Major events in the canonical histories of Argethen are left fairly open-ended and relatively detached from each other. Game Masters should feel free to take advantage of that. Remember that every major event in the world could have any number of critical moments leading up to it (or as a result from it), and players could have taken part in any of them. Making the players feel like they were part of the world’s history is a sure-fire way to connect them to your campaign.
This leniency in time also provides easy-access to down-time that many Game Masters find difficult to arrange for, and that players often feel they cannot afford in homebrew campaigns. Shifting between major events or critical moments can incorporate any period of down-time to allow would-be crafters and professionals to hone their trade. The goal of any such down-time is to pass it productively, quickly, and enjoyably, so the easy access to several future events is a great tool the Game Master can use. An event is finished, another event is set for several days or weeks away, and once the players are finished working on what they want or need to, they can get straight back to the action and entertainment of the campaign.