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Chronoscope: The Setting


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So, by-and-large, the point of Chronoscope is that there is no setting. No canon, no lore, no baggage to drag it down.

 

No one ever accused me of being quick to get the point. So, without further ado, Chronoscope lore!

 

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The Set-up

 

Our story begins in Paris. However, this is not the City of Lights. This is a city of smoke, and steam, and soot. It is the center of Europe's Second Enlightenment, and no group is more enlightened than the Académie des Lumières, an organization of the most brilliant minds in France.

 

Well, those minds blessed with the right, shall we say, anatomy. Women were not allowed, on the basis that a woman's delicate sensibilities would surely be offended by the naked light of progress. Or so said Georges Verne, the president of the Académie.

 

And so when he learned that Sasha Dubois, daughter of famed Natural Philosopher Pierre Dubois, had been continuing her father's work, he demanded that her equipment and notes be turned over to the Académie at once, sending his nephew, Andre Durand.

 

Andre had qualms about taking Sasha's work, but he was a dutiful nephew and member of the Académie, so he attempted to wrest the equipment from the young woman. In the ensuing battle, they were both flung through time and, they later reported, space as well.

 

Their adventures discovered the Milieus, different times and even worlds. Pasts that never happened, futures that couldn't be, even stranger lands where magic ruled. During their travels, they came to become friends rather than rivals, working together to return home.

 

But something went wrong. They discovered something that should not have been. Creatures that lived between the worlds, looking for ways to break through. Their travels had weakened the walls between realities, and the Darkspawn began to weaken them further, and Milieus began to leak into one another.

 

They found the last bastion of the once-great Bathalian Empire, fallen beneath the influence of the Darkspawn and their cultists, only one city remaining free. With the help of one of their newfound allies, whom they called Professor Kraken, they managed to return to Paris, where they told the Académie des Lumières of their findings and of the danger. Already, the Académie had seen the effects of the weakening walls, as vikings raided the shores of the Seine, and confused gray beings landed in the countryside.

 

They gathered the greatest adventurers of the known Milieus and founded the Time Chasers, who, using the science of the Académie and the magics of the Bathalians, set to work opposing the Darkspawn and setting the Milieus to rights.

 

The Milieus

 

One important note is that while each Milieu has its own rules, travelers bring their own rules with them, in a manner of speaking. So a mage can work his magic in a Milieu without magic, and a technologist's devices will work in a "fantasy" Milieu.

 

Milieu Verne

 

In this world, the Industrial Revolution took a very different turn. Steam technology advanced far beyond where our own did, and the science behind things like aether and phlogiston is well-founded, leading to advances that never happened, could never happen in our own. This is the home of the Time Chasers Andre and Sasha, as well as other "steampunk" characters, like Dr Charles Bennet or Decker Lugstampf. Think lightning-zeppelins and mechanical musketeers fighting over the skies of Paris.

 

Milieu Gygax

 

This is the homeworld of the Bathalians. They, and other races, lived in peace until the Darkspawn and their Cultists came, swiftly conquering the world. Only the shining Bathalian City of Khuldrath survives. The psionicist Professor Kraken hails from this Milieu.

 

Milieu Stoker-Voorhees

 

This is a world rather like our own, but with important differences. There is much less globalization, leading to a world where on the one hand you have modern high schools, you also have villages in Europe still effectively in the middle ages.

 

Magic works, but only a dark and twisted magic powered by darker powers, though most people in the more "modern" areas are skeptical, by-and-large dismissing it as superstition. Werewolves and vampires walk the nights. Immortal serial killers rise from the grave to kill teenagers. This is the world of horror movies. Heroes still rise to fight against these horrors, but their fates are rarely happy ones.

 

Dracula and the Wolfman can be found in the darker parts of Europe. Zombies rise from the graveyards from ancient curses. Serial killers stalk the streets.

 

Milieu Kirby

 

Four-colored battles between costumed heroes and mighty villains! Captain Griffon battles Crosswire in the streets of Schuster City, while Nova Security Agents fight the forces of Dr. Ervin Friedman.

 

Milieu Leibowitz

 

War... War never changes. Well, that's a lie. There's a whole lot more leather and chains involved in the 22nd century, after the bombs fell. Survivors roam the landscape scavenging what they can in the face of raiders, mutants, and other threats. Meanwhile, the last bastions of civilization attempt to find new homes among the stars, sending the Interstellar Marine Expeditionary Forces to find worlds to colonize.

 

 

Milieu Derleth

 

In this world, the forces of the Darkspawn have taken root in a world that could have been like our own. Cthulhu sleeps in R'lyeh, while shoggoths wait in the wings.

 

Milieu Spenser

 

Wizards and knights battle in a faraway land where dragons fly the skies. C'mon, they have more Dark Heaven figures than anything else. Why not add some traditional fantasy into the mix?

 

Milieu Hensley

 

It's... Okay, it's Deadlands. Look, they're Reaper minis, okay? And for added points, you can tie in the Darkspawn with the Reckoners!

 

Or you can just make it a standard Old West with cowboys and indians. I'm just sayin', you could have undead cowboys fighting Bathalians and superheroes. Why wouldn't you want that?

 

Adventurers

 

Now, you obviously will need some adventures to go along with all of this. The Time Chasers include heroes from all the different Milieus, using their particular skills to battle the forces of the Darkspawn. They find disturbances where the walls of reality are being weakened, and deal first with the immediate threat of contamination, and then with whatever plot the Darkspawn are setting in motion. Perhaps they come to a town in Transylvania where raiders from the 22nd century are firing lasers at vampires, only to learn that the Darkspawn are recruiting Dracula to their cause. Or they travel to the fantastic city of Everbright where the elves are being attacked by Ape-X, and the Darkspawn have started a cult.

 

The idea is to mix up genres, creating adventures that could never happen otherwise.

 

So, thoughts on other Milieus needed? Or characters that might be fit into Milieus already named?

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This is fantastic. The only thing I struggle to wrap my brain around is how the Bathalians are on the 'good' side and that they aren't somehow working to further the goals of awakening Cthulhu. Maybe the Darkspawn have run amok in their own world b/c of the failure of the Bathalians to awaken their sleeping God and have also failed to bring forth Cthulhu's mighty host?

 

I can easily wrap my brain around Professor Kraken being a good guy, but not the species as a whole.

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What if the brain-eating evolved as a way of keeping knowledge and power inside the tribe. A sacred rite where grandchildren ate the brains of their dying grandparents, a belief that no one is ever really dead and gone as long as they are consumed. And what if that rite and meaning later got corrupted?

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Well, I wanted to do something atypical with them. Why not have noble and advanced squid-people? I'm a sucker for weird and non-traditional good guys.

 

Of course, most of them are still villains, pawns of the Darkspawn. Imagine if all humans on Earth were drawn into a Cthulhu-worshipping cult, with just, say, London holding out as the last bastion of resistance. That's pretty much the situation for the Bathalians.

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What if the brain-eating evolved as a way of keeping knowledge and power inside the tribe. A sacred rite where grandchildren ate the brains of their dying grandparents, a belief that no one is ever really dead and gone as long as they are consumed. And what if that rite and meaning later got corrupted?

 

More to the point, what if it works?

 

Memories are not merely information, they are attitudes, feelings. They are never neutral.

 

When a Bathalian absorbs their third-parents memories of the Formalhaut schism, they are also absorbing that individuals viewpoint of those events, and will one day pass on exactly the same attitudes and prejudices to their hiers - Meaning the Bathalians as a whole will practically define 'long memories'.

 

While this ability could be an immense initial evolutionary advantage for the Bathalians, the effects on their society might well be conservatism to the point of stasis.

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What if the brain-eating evolved as a way of keeping knowledge and power inside the tribe. A sacred rite where grandchildren ate the brains of their dying grandparents, a belief that no one is ever really dead and gone as long as they are consumed. And what if that rite and meaning later got corrupted?

 

More to the point, what if it works?

 

Memories are not merely information, they are attitudes, feelings. They are never neutral.

 

When a Bathalian absorbs their third-parents memories of the Formalhaut schism, they are also absorbing that individuals viewpoint of those events, and will one day pass on exactly the same attitudes and prejudices to their hiers - Meaning the Bathalians as a whole will practically define 'long memories'.

 

While this ability could be an immense initial evolutionary advantage for the Bathalians, the effects on their society might well be conservatism to the point of stasis.

Until they start eating the brains of outsiders... what would alien (to them) memories and attitudes do them? Might it cause a type of insanity?

 

And how would the short-life view of normal humans look to them? Might it not invoke pity in some, disgust in others? And perhaps a sense of superiority in many?

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When I first showed my boyfriend the Bathalian Exarch, he got all misty eyed and said 'let me tell you of the days of high adventure'. He then launched fondly into his memories of playing the game Duris, and being hunted down across the virtual landscape by a guild of illithids called Clan Love Tentacle. The Bathalians look pretty scary... but I suppose nobility and intention are in the eye of the beholder. ::):

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Some good ideas going on.

 

Let me clarify and expand a bit on what I was talking about with the Bathalians.

 

First of all, it needs to be understood that the "good" Bathalians are in the minority. There is only one city left. The entire rest of their world was taken over by the Darkspawn cults. There's still plenty of room for villainous, brain-eating cultists. But I wanted to make them an aberration (pun not intended). I wanted to make them something that was once big and grand, and was then warped and ruined by the Darkspawn. The fear isn't just that these things are horrible monsters worshipping madness. It's that the same thing could happen to us.

 

I'm on the fence as to whether or not the primarch and exarch should be a natural stage of the Bathalian lifecycle or not. I'm leaning towards not, and making it a mutation sparked by the Darkspawn, which also points to lots of fun things that can be done with human cultists.

 

I'm liking the idea of the brain-eating being a way to pass on knowledge. Now, for one thing, it would make traditional Bathalian society very hidebound, which could have been one reason they lost the war. Also, consider that they may not have had training for a lot of jobs (particularly those where there's not much need for innovation). A youngster eats their grandfather's brain and gains the skills for the job. But what if grandpa's been eaten by cultists? Suddenly, that skillset isn't available, and they're not used to teaching each other the old fashioned way. Maybe you have older Bathalians sacrificing themselves because their brain can be used to teach multiple youngsters, a cerebral communion.

 

They should be different. Still with noble qualities, but with an ethos that isn't entirely familiar. A strong desire to honor the wishes of their ancestors (which they feel as their own), but perhaps with a highly altruistic pragmatism. A Bathalian will generally be willing to sacrifice itself for the group. They won't see death the same way (since a Bathalian will almost always "return" in the form of ancestral memories).

 

The Cultist Bathalians, on the other hand, have perverted this process. Normal Bathalians only eat brains as a way of honoring and cherishing their dead. Cultists eat brains to gain information, and to keep prisoners in line. They don't keep any memories beyond what seems immediately useful. This horrifies the normal Bathalians, because it's "destroying" the person. It's death in a manner that normally only happens with the worst catastrophes. You won't live on in following generations, you'll just be gone, forever.

 

Finally, here are some Savage Worlds stats for playing a Bathalian:

 

 

Bathalian

Outsider: Bathalians are strange sights in most milieus. They suffer a -2 charisma when dealing with non-Bathalians.

Dehydration: Bathalians have semi-aquatic ancestry. They must immerse themselves in water one hour out of every 24 or become automatically Fatigued each day until they are Incapacitated; the day after that, they perish.

Gifted: Bathalians begin with d8 Smarts and may raise it to d12+2 via normal advancement.

Natural Weapons: Bathalians can attack with their tentacles, making a single attack that causes strength+d6 damage.

Naturally Psionic: Bathalians gain 5 power points for use with Arcane Background (Psionics).

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And how would the short-life view of normal humans look to them? Might it not invoke pity in some, disgust in others? And perhaps a sense of superiority in many?

 

"The Bathalians are our allies,Chancellor, not our friends; That would require them to somehow see us as equals."

 

Well. . . . I must admit to drifting in the direction of 'arrogant elder race'. But that's mostly a matter of them simply seeing humans as yet another set of here today - gone tomorrow newcomers on the multiversal stage. And from what they know of humans, wouldn't caution be the immediate reaction? Given that from their viewpoint, humans are rendered incapable of seriously considering the long-term consequences of any action by their own biology. Humans might see Bathalians as static traditionalists, but they almost certainly see humans as unstable to the point of insanity, a species cursed with being forced to continually re-invent the wheel.

 

But yes; Pity, and probably no small degree of horror, are definite possibilities when they're confronted with the fact that humans just. . . End.

 

Until they start eating the brains of outsiders... what would alien (to them) memories and attitudes do them? Might it cause a type of insanity?

 

Possibly, that's if they can access them at all. The perceptions might just be too different for them to meaningfully intergrate them into the rest of their mentality, leaving them with information and perceptions they can't usefully access - Until, perhaps, a situation arises that does mesh with one of the crypto-memories, at which point they might find themselves knowing exactly what it's significance is, and what to do about it, without knowing how they know.

Think of a persistent blind spot in your mind; You know there's something there, but every time you try to examine it, your thoughts never quite find anything to catch hold of, and loop away elsewhere. . . .

 

Of course, it's quite possible that such a situation in itself wouldn't do wonders for the mental state of the bathalian in question.

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Arrogant, desperate elder race. They're in trouble, and they know it. They definitely see humans as less civilized, but they need our help.

 

I'm thinking that they can gain the memories of other species, but it's very... distasteful. Haraam. Forbidden. The cultists, of course, have no compunctions about it, but the civilized Bathalians would find it incredibly disgusting and wrong.

 

Then again, perhaps that's how Professor Kraken came to be so understanding of humanity...

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