Friday, May 4, 2012

Wörld of Metal

This wouldn't be the first RPG setting which tries to capture the tone and style of heavy metal lyrics and artwork. But my Wörld of Metal (the umlaut doesn't affect pronunciation, of course) is a bit different to your standard 'heavy metal setting'. The idea here is that each region of the world corresponds to a different subgenre of metal. If you have any friends who are metalheads, you probably know that the easiest way to send them into a rage is to imply that all metal sounds the same, or that it all consists of shouting or growling into a microphone. The truth is that metal is one of the most diverse and varied genres of music! Or so they tell me. Sadly, I don't actually enjoy metal music very much, I just like the pictures.

Land of Power Metal

This volcanic region is constantly troubled by earthquakes and eruptions. Over a dozen warring city-states are built in the mountain crags, each fighting all the others for control of the harsh land's natural resources. The victors claim the prizes: vast fissures of molten gold, veins of iron and reefs of arcane weirdstone. The central location of Fyrotherre means that it is host to a variety of strange beings, ranging from bloody-bearded dwarves and cruel dragonborn to robotic warriors, minotaurs and berserkers. 

The mightiest of Fyrotherre's kingdoms is Destromon, a mountain fastness ruled by the warlord Zaugardan from his throne of fire-bleached skulls. He seeks to conquer Blood Mountain, a wild place in Fyrotherre's harsh interior, inhabited by terrible monsters and rumoured to contain relics of an ancient empire.

Some few mines in Fyrotherre have tapped into deposits of Power Metal, a bronze-coloured metal with the power to absorb and release energy. A weapon or shield crafted from Power Metal can absorb flames, electricity, magic and other such energies, glowing brighter the more power is absorbed. Then, when the weapon is swung, it releases the stored energy in a burst capable of tearing through solid rock.

Sounds like: DragonForce, Demons and Wizards, Manilla Road.

Land of Viking Metal

North of Fyrotherre are the cold mountains of Vikrölsandr, where the snow-warriors ride forth on mountain stallions to do battle with giants, trolls and ice serpents. This land of heroes has no ruler, yet its warlike peoples have time and again repelled invasions from the south. On the high passes lie ancient fortresses of fallen kingdoms, while the warmer valleys shelter a series of small but hardy village communities. To the west are the coastal towns, who send out Viking expeditions to raid the borders of Fyrotherre and steam-shrouded Harthrakken.

In these mountains, the humans coexist with dwarves, who dwell almost exclusively underground. Dwarves are violent, capricious and deceptive, but they are among the finest craftsmen in the known wörld. Many a man has lost his life or worse in trying to bargain with the dwarves to his advantage; but a few clever souls have indeed come off better in their dealings.

Every three years or so, the great and terrible Mournwind blows in from the far northern glaciers, and every man and beast must hide away behind closed doors or in deep caverns of the earth, or else be frozen to death.

The mining towns of Vikrölsandr are known for their production of Viking Metal, a dull iron ore that inspires madness and frenzy in those who behold it. A warrior who draws a Viking Metal blade will be sent into a berserk rage, unable to control himself until he has slaughtered every last one of his enemies. A Viking Metal shield can inflict its madness upon the enemy: depending on the design of the shield, it may cause those who look upon it to suffer terrible fear, confusion or dizzying nausea.

Sounds like: Bathory, Thyrfing, Týr.

City of Metal

Once known as 'Freehold' for its refusal to swear allegiance to any king, this suppurating sore of a city is now ubiquitously called by its less flattering name. Situated on the southern coast of Fyrotherre, it is the largest and most squalid city in recorded history. Anything can be bought and sold in Freehell, so long as you don't mind that it has lice on it. In the city's thousand and one narrow alleys, fleabitten pot shops and poxy bordellos, the unwary traveller will be killed quick if he's lucky, or slowly by pestilence if he's not. A cloud of soot hangs over the day, while lanterns burn all night, leaving Freehell in a constant haze of half-light.

Nevertheless, the denizens of this godforsaken place know how to enjoy themselves. Elves, dwarves, halflings and lizardmen drink and fight together every night in the taverns, while bawdy theatre is performed on streetcorners and bookmakers place odds on anything they can get their hands on.

Despite its disorganised political structure, Freehell has proven time and again that it is well-defended against invasion from the north, partly because of the geography and partly the might of the heroes who call it home. The one time that an army from Fyrotherre managed to conquer the city, they were subsequently wiped out by a plague to which the city's natives had already developed an immunity.

Sounds like: Nothing and everything, really. Freehell isn't based on any particular genre, it's a just a central staging-ground for the PCs to explore the rest of the wörld.

Next on Wörld of Metal Gazetteer: the Dead Lands to the East.

(Edit: Changed Vikrölsandr from Black Metal to Viking Metal, which fits better.)

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