While ORWELL is getting an errata and a pdf release, I'm playing around with a couple of setting books based on the ORWELL rules I might start developing here on the blog (since I'm taking a close look at those rules again right now) and eventually publish, if they get any traction at all (or it just manifests, as the last game did!). There isn't enough concept work on the blog anymore, and that has always been loads of fun. Lets give it a shot!
Legacy of Gyrthwolden (Pitch)
Betrayal was what had the wardings fail. The whole school rotted from the insides like oil poisons water once the magical protection had been penetrated. They had no chance, but some still had fight left in them. It just made the destruction worse. Demons triumphantly stalked the halls, a whole menagerie of beasts had been unleashed and was spreading terror in the dormitories and the east wing. Students had turned into indescribable horrors, their screams driving others into murdering frenzies and ultimately into madness. The most powerful one ended up building a quivering flesh throne in the Lost Cellars where now the mad and mutilated mimic and pervert the old traditions Gyrthwolden held up until it fell.
And that is not all.
Within the faculty, impartial observers would have found bravery, defeat, cowardice and old grudges turning bloody fast as the end drew near. The arch chancellor had made the most impressive exit, devastatingly altering reality from the Hanging Gardens of your Holy Lady Reneviere to almost the entire Dyrkterwoods in the west. No one knew he still had it in him. Almost brought a turn of events, too, but then a doom engine materialized in his stomach and made itself a new home in his body. Some say his soul is still caught in there, tormented towards eternity. Maybe it's wishful thinking. He wasn't liked much.
Eventually, Gyrthwolden fell. Eventually, the smoldering ruins left behind cooled down and while the rest of the world fell into the darkness unleashed at the school, evil started creeping all over campus, struggling with nature for residency.
There was one area all of that could not penetrate. One last magical stronghold created through the most beautiful improvised ritual in the school's history. Build on a whim, tapping into a not yet corrupted flux of Aether, it bloomed like a flower and enclosed a whole schoolroom, layering the most severe, and costly, layers of protection around it. The teacher who did that had to forfeit her body and burn her soul to weave it strong enough to have a chance. It distorted space and time so elegantly, it stayed untouched by the apocalypse. It wove itself into a future where it persevered. It just cost all within its protective stasis dearly.
In a final effort, as her soul burned through its last milligrams some decades later, Etherina Dinklethorne forced out of stasis among the students she had saved those she thought had the most promise in a desperate and mad gambit to save of the world what may still be saved.
You are those students. You are the Legacy of Gyrthwolden.
This is her last message:
We failed you, my dear children. Our corruption and greed have brought doom to the world you knew. You are save here in this room, but outside these walls, darkness reigns. You have within you what it takes to push back ever so slightly. And if you persist diligently, if you prevail and trust that there still is light and good in the world, you have a chance to overcome this evil curse. I know that in my heart. Go now, my children. I will sacrifice my last energy to extent the wards surrounding you. I know not what will be trapped then with you inside my protective veil, so be careful. Start with freeing the school, building by building. Unlock its secrets and power, everything else will fall into place then. You will see. And never forget ...
But then her voice flattens to a whisper and as it disappears, the mummy of her corpse, trapped in an intricate summoning circle, explodes into a puff of glittering smoke.
IDEA: the students are still connected to the stasis field. When they die, they may feed their souls back into the classroom and awaken another student. No one knows how many and which students Miss Dinklethorne saved. Or what the magic did to them, for that matter, so this can be considered to be an infinite pool of replacement characters (or limited, if the GM feels like making this part of the challenge).
All said and done, it'll be your basic goth horror wizard school versus the apocalypse anime experience. Harry Potter goes Tim Burton and everything died but you ...
The Game (powered by ORWELL)
Basic premise of ORWELL is that character development happens as the character is played (each character can develop up to 10 slots per "Level"). Characters come with a potential, and players activate that potential as the story unfolds. They might create gadgets or skills or contacts, as far as the original game is concerned. Everything else is up to the players. If it fits the genre and the group can agree with it, it is fair play. Want to play a conscious spell that just wants to be human? You can do that. A little Lizard Wizard? Sure ... A sentient rock? If you can make it work. This is about having fun telling stories.
I'd shift those paradigms a bit to fit the story, so players may invent SKILLS, SPELLS or MAGIC ITEMS. While ORWELL would have players now roll to see how well established that power is, LoG might expand on that by making it something that might need to be obtained as well. Basically it'd need two additions:
1) Rules for Rituals that might need to reach a certain level, special items and specific roles for characters to assume. That'd block a slot or two. Rituals will open new areas and solve general problems with the curse.
2) Assuming the students have some idea where is what at that school, it'll need an extension where they manifest the school bit by bit as they talk about and explore it. Some stuff will be provided by the GM, but nothing says it couldn't work like character development does.
It had to be as procedural as ORWELL is, but shifting the focus a bit from having a proper cyberpunk district to where to find crucial quest items and knowledge and what difficulties await a group to their way there.
So they might know that the library would be great to have access to. And it is easy enough to assume that there is one. However, while they know where the library was before the fall, they sure as hell know nothing about what happened to it and how to get there now. So the GM will have tools to create a path of obstacles that fit the story to anything he or the group may come up with ...
There you go ...
I'd have to play around with that for a bit, but that's what a blog is for. Other than that, I'm pretty sure people could work with the premise alone easily. Doesn't even matter that much what system you are using. I guess.
ORWELL will be a great fit for the setting, on the system side of things, and given that the DM part is mostly system agnostic anyway, this should work for all kinds of games, if that's what you'd want to do.
So what do you guys think? Would you play that?