Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoilers

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Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoilers

Post by Big Mac » Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:57 pm

Colin McComb has worked on a number of campaign settings for TSR, Paizo and others, but now he has been building his own world for a series of novels called Oathbreaker.

I've been wondering how easy it would be to turn Oathbreaker into a tabletop campaign setting.

I've asked Colin a few things about Oathbreaker in his Q&A thread at The Piazza. See my question, Colin's reply, my next quesion, Colin's next reply.

Anyhoo, Colin has kindly provided a free download of his first Oathbreaker novel, called The Knight’s Tale, on his Fiction (Get some here!) page, so if you are interested in what the campaign world might be like, I suggest you surf over, download a copy and then come back here to talk about it. (The first novel is also available in dead-tree format and the second novel is also on sale now - but only in electronic format, so far.)

I'm hoping to get the time to have a read myself soon, but I've got to say that the premise sounds pretty interesting, and I'm looking forward to it.

BTW: We might post a few spoilers, if we dissect the novel to see the setting behind it. Please remember to use the "hide" tags for spoilers.
Last edited by Big Mac on Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting?

Post by agathokles » Mon Sep 24, 2012 3:57 pm

Uhm, if I were to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Oathbreaker setting as an RPG setting, I'd have to put the entire post within spoiler tags, since the setting is a key part of the book -- most of the character and plot drivers are closely linked to major setting elements, and a significant part of the book is devoted to introducing the setting itself.

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:37 pm

agathokles wrote:Uhm, if I were to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the Oathbreaker setting as an RPG setting, I'd have to put the entire post within spoiler tags, since the setting is a key part of the book -- most of the character and plot drivers are closely linked to major setting elements, and a significant part of the book is devoted to introducing the setting itself.
Ah. OK. Well, I guess you can just put a warning at the top of your post.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by agathokles » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:00 pm

Ok, so this post will be full of spoilers!


The Oathbreaker setting is a mix of fantasy and steampunk. It can be rendered as an RPG setting, of course, but there are a number of issues to deal with.

First, magic. I haven't read the second book yet, but in the first book magic is presented, appropriately to the steampunk setting, as at least in part being some form of technology (alchemy-style). Thus, it is not very similar to what you would expect from typical magic systems, and might need a specialized system.

Second, the knights. They are vastly more powerful than any other character in the book, at least in combat. So, either one takes a design approach where such powers are compensated by major psychological and/or social complications, or knights and standard people (including mages) cannot be used in the same party.

Finally, for now the book deals primarily with humans -- there are no notable monsters, as far as I remember. I'd wait until the end of the series to see how magical the world actually is, and what kind of enemies can be used beyond humans.

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Havard » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:06 pm

agathokles wrote:Second, the knights. They are vastly more powerful than any other character in the book, at least in combat. So, either one takes a design approach where such powers are compensated by major psychological and/or social complications, or knights and standard people (including mages) cannot be used in the same party.
What's the rationale for this? Just their training or access to equipment as well?

For instance, I think it could be interesting to see a setting where only knights are allowed to wear/wield Plate Armor and Longswords and other social classes are limited to less effective weapons & armor...

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by agathokles » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:31 pm

Read the book! ;)

Ok, if you really insist to get it spoiled, here you go: No, it's not primarily equipment-based, but rather a techno-magical enhancement enacted as part of the initiation, which makes them much faster/stronger/resilient than normal humans.

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Darkanth » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:49 pm

So, bit like a Space Marine then?

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by agathokles » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:09 pm

Yes, though on a somewhat less extreme scale. It is also more personal.

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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by BPIJonathan » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:07 am

Just tagging the post so that it lets me know when replies are posted. Now back to your regularly scheduled television.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Colin McComb » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:03 am

The setting is more technically a post-apocalyptic society thrown back approximately to the feudal era, with an aggressively expansionist empire overtaking the nearby republics, fiefdoms, and dictatorships that stemmed from the strongmen who arose after the Hundred Flowers (the nuclear holocaust).

I was thinking the knights' excruciations would be a little more like Wolverine, personally. My primary concern at this point is that I still have to introduce a third major player in the politics of the Empire: the Church, a largely patriarchal organization that has arrogated to itself researches into spirituality, the paranormal, and the occult, which will be uncovered through Book 3.

The monsters of the setting - at least those that most people would expect to encounter - would be other people: representatives of the High Houses and the Lesser Houses, representatives of the Empire, pirates, (if you're far enough west) the reavers, and (if you're far enough southwest) the Sjuri, a bunch of militaristic semi-hive-mind demon worshippers.

At the end of Book 2, we do see an actual demon summoned by a shaman of the Inland Sea as well as a display of magic that does not stem from a technological standpoint.

So depending on when the setting was pegged, it could play out as a struggle to build the Empire by allying with one of the Houses, as part of the succession battles between rulers, or in the approximate present day, with King Athedon attempting to hold together an increasingly fractious populace as rebellion sprouts across his holdings.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Big Mac » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:42 pm

BPIJonathan wrote:Just tagging the post so that it lets me know when replies are posted. Now back to your regularly scheduled television.
It is nice to know who is watching, but just so you know the bottom left side of the forum has three special links:
The Piazza wrote:Board index * Subscribe topic * Bookmark topic
The forum FAQ has three useful questions here:
It sounds like you have set the forum up to automatically subscribe you to topics, but you can use the above method if you want to keep track of something that really interests you. I would be very cautious about subscribing to an entire forum unless it is relatively small.
Colin McComb wrote:The setting is more technically a post-apocalyptic society thrown back approximately to the feudal era, with an aggressively expansionist empire overtaking the nearby republics, fiefdoms, and dictatorships that stemmed from the strongmen who arose after the Hundred Flowers (the nuclear holocaust).
Very interesting. I'll be looking forward to reading all three of the novels to see if there are any flashbacks to the pre-apocalyptic society so that I can see how that society worked.
Colin McComb wrote:I was thinking the knights' excruciations would be a little more like Wolverine, personally. My primary concern at this point is that I still have to introduce a third major player in the politics of the Empire: the Church, a largely patriarchal organization that has arrogated to itself researches into spirituality, the paranormal, and the occult, which will be uncovered through Book 3.
Without having read the first book (I'm chomping at the bit now) I think that the knights remind me a bit of the bionoids that the elves used to fight the Humanoids during the First Unhuman War in Spelljammer. If they are like that, I'm wondering how enhancements can be represented in game terms. I'm not particularly worried about "balance" as Council of Wyrms had dragon player characters and 3rd Edition had Level Adjustments and Effective Character Levels that allowed PC versions of various monsters. But there has to be some way to represent this stuff. I think it is do-able, with some thought...

...if only there was a game designer who knew the Oathbreaker universe well! ;)
Colin McComb wrote:The monsters of the setting - at least those that most people would expect to encounter - would be other people: representatives of the High Houses and the Lesser Houses, representatives of the Empire, pirates, (if you're far enough west) the reavers, and (if you're far enough southwest) the Sjuri, a bunch of militaristic semi-hive-mind demon worshippers.
There have been a few campaign settings that are mostly human. I've even seen ones that have no clerical healing. If things are very different in the Oathbreaker world it could make the game run differently.

Maybe the traditional fighter, thief, cleric, wizard classes would have to be modified or totally replaced. I'm looking forward to reading all three books now, so that I can work out how well I think it might play.
Colin McComb wrote:At the end of Book 2, we do see an actual demon summoned by a shaman of the Inland Sea as well as a display of magic that does not stem from a technological standpoint.
OK, I need to get my PDA running and get Oathbreaker 1 slotted into my reading queue behind the Maztica trillogy.
Colin McComb wrote:So depending on when the setting was pegged, it could play out as a struggle to build the Empire by allying with one of the Houses, as part of the succession battles between rulers, or in the approximate present day, with King Athedon attempting to hold together an increasingly fractious populace as rebellion sprouts across his holdings.
I suppose there is really only so much you can tell us before the entire trilogy is done, but once you have it nailed down, I'd love to see anything (like a timeline) that you are willing and able to share.

BTW: Colin, I can't remember if I pointed you at this, but you might want to check out Casey Brown's adventures with the Print on Demand publishing company CreateSpace. Casey is the guy that did the controversial Living Greyhawk: Bandit Kingdoms book and is also someone doing university research on publishing. He has put down his profit numbers for selling PoD and electronic copies via CreateSpace, Amazon (in the US) and Amazon (worldwide). If you need to do something on the small-scale this might help.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by BPIJonathan » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:20 pm

Big Mac wrote:
BPIJonathan wrote:Just tagging the post so that it lets me know when replies are posted. Now back to your regularly scheduled television.
It is nice to know who is watching, but just so you know the bottom left side of the forum has three special links:
The Piazza wrote:Board index * Subscribe topic * Bookmark topic
I read the links, and I still dont see it. I am just probably running on "idiot" today. :-(
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:16 am

BPIJonathan wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
BPIJonathan wrote:Just tagging the post so that it lets me know when replies are posted. Now back to your regularly scheduled television.
It is nice to know who is watching, but just so you know the bottom left side of the forum has three special links:
The Piazza wrote:Board index * Subscribe topic * Bookmark topic
I read the links, and I still dont see it. I am just probably running on "idiot" today. :-(
Maybe you are using a different board style to me. :?

Try doing a search (CTRL+F - CMD+F on a Mac) for the words "Subscribe topic". (They will show up several times on this page now.) The ones that are not you or I posting are the link to subscribe. I've got to admit that I generally ignore the text on the bottom of the screen now. I just mentally blank it out.
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by BPIJonathan » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:20 am

Big Mac wrote: I've got to admit that I generally ignore the text on the bottom of the screen now. I just mentally blank it out.
The reason I missed it is because its at the top for me. Thanks for helping out David. Maybe we can get back to discussing Oathbreaker now? :-)
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Re: Oathbreaker - Could it be turned into a setting? - spoil

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:29 am

BPIJonathan wrote:Maybe we can get back to discussing Oathbreaker now? :-)
:oops: Sure. :)

Maybe you could give us your opinion of how viable it might be to convert the setting.
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