Talispire

I wrote up a sample world for Grand Adventure called Talispire. It’s supposed to be a Standard Fantasy Setting on the surface, but with more depth if you look closely. So what am I proud of about its design?

The Ancient Magitek Empire

The Cirrus Empire is the Precursor Empire that produced all the fantastic magitek in the game. But they were also responsible for the creation of the two nonhuman races, and most of their magitek has caused grief and hardship to people. Their city now orbits the planet in outer space, a cold and desolate museum, with only repair robots keeping stuff busy. The citizens themselves died screaming and are now frozen monuments to their leaders’ hubris.

Zelves and Gnomads

Every fantasy world needs elves and dwarves. Okay…

Elves are magical beings with beautiful features, old, in harmony with nature, just better than humans at whatever, blah blah. My elves were invented to be vessels for Cirran souls to project into. You want your clothing to be stylish and comfortable, so of course you build them to look nice, be graceful, age well, and so on. They’re the living computers and memory banks of an ancient race. So of course they know a lot, because that knowledge leaked through. They have fragments of the Cirrans’ own memories, too. As a race, they’re undergoing an identity crisis, which is why they are reclusive forest-dwellers instead of out conquering the world.

Their name is a hint to who they are. “Zelves” - the Cirrans’ artificial “Selves”.

Gnomads are a Dwarf/Gnome hybrid. Dwarves are depicted as dour, warlike, industrious underground-dwellers. I gave the dwarf love of tinkering to the Gnomads, but generalized it - they’re good at repairing anything, including relationships and broken hearts. As a result, they’re much more friendly, social, and outgoing than traditional dwarves. They travel underground, through tunnels their people know about, but they travel, because the world is amazing and there are stories everywhere.

Dragons and Saints

It’s popular in JRPGs to use a Crystal Dragon Jesus type religion. I introduced “Dragons” and “Saints” as warring concepts, hearkening to St. George and the Dragon. I further cast these two things as the Id and the Superego of Freudian psychology.

“Dragons” are also the generic primal spirits of the setting, not specifically winged, fire-breathing lizard-like things. This means you can have magma dragons, vine dragons, cloud dragons, and whatever, and it can all make some sort of sense.

In some sense, fighting a dragon is all about challenging an out-of-control or destructive impulse. In this world, those impulses are given shape and form through magic. In “The Hobbit”, Smaug may be able to communicate with Bilbo, but what are his motivations? The most basic: arrogance, greed, selfishness. Smaug doesn’t need to do anything but install fear to dominate Erebor. There’s no subtlety or sophistication to his plans, he just likes sitting on gold. Dragons in Talispire are equally elemental in their drives.

It’s not really stated in the text right now, but I also took a shot at the Princess and the Dragon trope. “Woody” is a sample character in the game. She’s a ranger who is actually the princess of a nearby kingdom. She ran away from home and has been living in the forest for a few years. Deep at the heart of the forest is a Vine Dragon, growing from the trees and roots. In the story that’s in my head for the game, Woody isn’t its captive - she’s the one who kills it, ending the threat to her kingdom.

Archetypes

I was able to include Archetypes like the Bard and Princess in the game. Because of how Words and Actions work, they are 100% as effective overall as any other type of character. The Princess’s “Befriend” move can do as much ‘damage’ to a Challenge as the Fighter’s “Attack”, and her “Kindly” modifier lets her wield Charm on any other roll. Princess synergizes well with Bard and Scoundrel, creating a royal character who can both win hearts and run scams. Of course, you can play a male Prince if you prefer!

Because of how Archetypes work, you can create a Badass Princess by mixing in the usual combat archetypes (Fighter, etc.), or play around with archetypes like "Beastmaster" to give your Princess woodland pets (like a hunting cat or bear). Consider a shapeshifting Princess/Beastmaster/Druid who wields an animal army in defense of her homeland. You can create this sort of character with only three advances.