From Burning Wiki
Iron Aflame is an ongoing game with three players caught in various intrigues within the jungle colony of Strand. Some of the answers here are keyed to the first "Scenario" as created by starting beliefs, instincts, traits and relationships and may be changed when the second one becomes the focus of the campaign. (Iron Aflame is run by Jjarro.)
The characters as they were at the beginning of the campaign:
See all PCs here.
What's the Big Picture? What's going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure. What's changing, evolving, declining?
Imperator Blain wants to be Emperor. For years the ambitious general has cast about for some next step, some way to claim the throne, empty now for generations... and at last, he has found one. The last Empress ordered an expedition on the sea, and a half-dozen large seafaring ships such as the world had not seen in a thousand years set out into the unknown... never to be seen again. At first, magical contact was maintained, but then that grew sporadic, and stopped – and that was nearly a hundred years ago. The expedition carried with it a perpetual Imperial office, that of Exarch; the office represents one of the few remaining legal paths to the Imperial throne, which has sat absent since the last Empress refused to appoint an heir. Imperator blain has learned of the Exarch's charter, and intends to become Exarch of whatever is left of the colony so that he may proceed legally onto the throne.
One problem: the colony is alive and well, and has its own rulers and problems.
Three cities in a bay valley on a vast jungle continent make up the Imperial Colony of Strand. And Strand hasn't had an Exarch for years, overthrowing him decades ago in a nearly bloodless rebellion provoked by his increasingly mad rule. Now, power is divided between Colony Commissioner Maeldun, with his endless bureaucracy, and Colony Commander d'Essoms, with his veteran troops. The two work together for the continued survival of Strand on a hostile continent, but each would love to absorb the function of the other, or gain clear control of both power structures. Headquartered in the two major cities on either side of the Bay of Sorrows, they plot. The arrival of a new fleet, and with it contact with the old world, represents a crisis in the long game of power.
Further, two other factions in Strand chafe under the rule of the C&C – the merchants of Diajore lament regulation and taxation, and slaves throughout Strand yearn for freedom – and bolstered by the longstanding army policy of freeing slaves after they serve in the military, they may be in a position to take it. They too see the arrival of Imperator Blain and his fleet of warships as a key moment in history.
What's the world's culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.
The culture is similar to ancient Rome, especially back in the Empire. Eanos, the land from which the Imperator set sail, is very European in some respects, and Strand has healthy doses of the New World colonies of imperial powers in the 17th century, with the twist that the black slaves are native, not imported. Originally taken as war trophies, the blacks come from a jungle culture that is focused on three related cults: Spider, Blood and Bone. These cults remain viable in slave culture. Colonial religious life focuses on Illumia, the religion of the mainland. A blind prophet that helped the colony through its founding years and then sacrificed himself to destroy an army of Xea-Nar is elevated as the True Prophet in certain colonial strains, and just respected as a great servant in others. Ennos the Blind can be a divisive name in tavern discussions of religion.
What's the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What's wrong?
Colony Commander Childric d'Essoms plots to use the arrival of the Imperator and the political upheaval he is bound to create to become Exarch himself, according to Imperial Law long ignored in the established bureaucracy of the Colony's twin governments. In a conspiracy with prominent members of the civil government, Childric has set up a series of events that he believes will lead to his elevation to Exarch in a time of crisis – and among the first of those events, he has run afoul of the characters. An arranged marriage, a minor functionary offering a lethal insult, an elevation of an ally at the cost of his well-connected brother... and now, Childric has new enemies, who must prevent the conspiracy's fruition in order to preserve or restore their own lives and interests.
What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, place?
The Jungles of the Southern Continent, charmingly called Xi'aka by the locals and "The Shitty Jungle" or more formally "Xea" by the colonists. Rivers run through haunted trees, predators more horrible than ever imagined in the Old World lurk as if the world were young, and a great haunted sea capriciously swallows ships. Ruins from a forgotten age dot the landscape, hiding ancient secrets that call to the hearts of men. Within the sheltered valley of the Reach mountains, Strand's colonial farms and communities have started to tame the land... but they still don't go outside at night. In the cities on the bay, however, walls, lights and guards keep the lit paths relatively safe to stroll, even when the sun has gone down... unless one has made enemies, of course.
What's the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital or any dumb shit like that, but THE PLACE where all the action goes down? Diajore, City of Rivers, is in many way the heart of Strand. Though the other cities host their competing governments, the waters of Diajore are the lifeblood of the colony, and often run red with the same.
What's the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about? Eanos, the Old World province representing the height of civilization and urbanity, and home to Blain's sailors. Terruna, the old capital with its regimented streets and vast monuments, home to Blain and his soldiers. Courark, the northern hinterlands from which many of the original colonists were drawn after a civil war left many restless and with nothing to loose. Ounar, where scholars and sorcerers govern with benevolent demons and their skeptical watchers, whence both expedition's cartographers, scientists and sorcerers were born. In short, the distant Empire of Eternity, with its vastness, history and diversity.
Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters? While initially the characters will define the leaders and champions of other factions their enemies, all too soon they will discover a greater danger that they must stand side-by-side their old enemies to face.
Imagine all of the characters are standing a room/ruin/field with the antagonists or their minions. What do the antagonists want from that meeting? What do the characters want from that meeting?
In a court of Law, the characters stand against one of d'Essoms' allies, battling over the disposition of an estate belonging to one of the characters, but being transferred to his brother, who d'Essoms regards as his pawn. In a courtyard outside, another character duels a Captain of the Army over a night spent with the officer's wife... an important (but maritally faithful, if politically promiscuous) informant on the lower levels of the conspiracy!
Alternately, imagine the characters standing at the scene of some great disaster or calamity clearly caused by one of the antagonists. What's the disaster? How did it happen? What are the characters going to do about it right now? The disaster is a town burning after a slave insurrection grew past even its architects' control when d'Essoms' plan to sweep in and restore order merely contributed to the chaos. The characters are going to put a stop to the violence and discover d'Essoms' connection with the insurrectionists.
What type of magic exists in this world? Sorcery and Abstraction are old and dying arts, practiced by a secluded but respected few. Magic is unstable enough in the hands of man that those who master its dangers generally bear the mark of its chaos, either in body, mind or soul. Enchanting is in many ways safer, but more and more the intricacies of the art fade into the past. Faith and Blasphemous Hatred burn in the hearts of men and their twisted cousins, and effect the world in small ways... and with the occasional undeniable miracle. Summoning is the province of the faithful, binding demons seeking redemption in the name of a forgiving god, and calling faithful angels to aid holy works.
What character stocks are in play in this world? Which are restricted and why?
Humans are the only civilized race in the world... or so they would tell you. The brutal and corrupted ex-humans and their descendants who roam the haunted jungles to the north would claim that they, the Xay-Nar, are much greater than their puny cousins the Nar, and the Ogrhe tribes throughout the world would point out that, as a self-maintaining race of modified souls, they are perhaps even more civilized... but neither are playable, yet. (Xay-Nar use the Orc lifepaths, and the noble Ogrhe will be monster burned, should I ever get around to developing that side of things. As the campaign advances, in an old tradition of mine, I will likely allow players to burn characters of races they have established close allies among.)
What cultural traits apply to the characters of this game world? Pick three character traits for each culture.
Eiebi (Native): Superstitious, Stingy, Pious, Brown Skin
Eiebi (Bound): Superstitious, Veneer of Obedience, Folksy Wisdom, Brown Skin
Imperial Civilian: Educated, Urbane, Homesick
Imperial Noble: Ambitious, Sense of Entitlement, Learned, White Skin
Imperial Navy: Superstitious, Red-Blooded, Adventurous, White Skin
Imperial Army: Brave, Dutiful, Disciplined, White Skin
Nar (Native): Great Stature, Fanatical Devotion, Tradition-Bound, Black Skin
Nar (Free): Great Stature, Proud, Honorable, Black Skin
Nar (Bound): Great Stature, Silent Hatred, Dutiful, Black Skin
Strand Civilian: Practical, Independent, Dedicated, White Skin
Strand Bureaucracy: Formalist, Humility In The Face Of Your Betters, Resigned Ambition, White Skin
Strand Army: Brave, Grim, Tolerant, White Skin
(The "Free" Eiebi, such as they are, tend to retain the traits of Bound, revert to Native, or pick up the Free Nar culture in the military.)
What's your Resources cycle? 1 month, seasonal, 6 months, annual? What's the game world's currency? Who collects the taxes? What do people do for work? What's the major economy?
A seasonal resource cycle. The coin of the realm is the old Trader's Moon, a one-ounce silver coin bearing a mark of purity that can be split for ten Stars, smaller silver coins bearing the same mark. Golden Suns trade for ten Moons. The Imperials bring with them a newer currency struck in bronze, but Stranders just aren't interested.
Taxes are collected by the properly commissioned Taxmen of the Colony Commissioner, and levied by his Treasurer as needed to fund commissioned projects and expenses... and the tiresome obligations of the Commander's military, too. Still, they come in handy when a dispute comes up...
Many Stranders are homesteaders, growing bountiful crops and raising good stock. The land of the bay valley is fertile, and anyone who can improve a given lot of land is entitled to work it and take it as their own, so long as no one else has claimed it... but the jungle isn't safe at night, even in the protective shadow of the mountain ranges that separate Strand from the truly primal, and the more cautious citizens of Strand stick to the cities with its workshops and shipyards, or work in established homesteads.
Material world: What weapons and armor are available? Are some weapons and armor restricted to certain cultures or character stocks? What property is available? Are resources and gear otherwise restricted?
Stranders consider carrying a knife a prerequisite of manhood. Swords, while an expensive luxury, are very highly regarded - especially those from the original Imperial Legion that accompanied the founding expedition. Heavy armor is considered borderline insanity in the tropical moisture and heat, and lighter armor is donned only for battle. The military of Strand is based around bows and spears, though the officers stick to the swords and shields of their Legion predecessors.
Conversely, the arriving Imperial Legion soldiers are clad in mail and brigantine, all bear swords and shields, and stock halberds and bows in addition. The heavy loads they are used to hauling can be a problem; they're used to working under the temperate conditions of central Terruna and breezy coastal Eanos; these bear little resemblance to the oppressive heat and humidity of Strand, however.
The native Nar fight nearly naked, using traditional weapons of wood and mystical obsidian called Beastkiller Spears and Manslayer Knives. Nar treasure their weapons like they treasure their limbs. The free Nar of Strand's military tradition fight, talk and act largely like other veterans of the Colonial Amry, and are similarly equipped.