Lifting Ideas from Random Sources

I’m working on laying out the table of contents for Xenomega. When I’m done (if that ever happens), I’ll have a complete game for anyone to use. I’m taking ideas from all over the place to make this work though. I’ve read a lot of books in my days, and been inspired by many more than I ever realize.

Xenomega was coined back in 2005 when I lived in Iowa. I used it as a handle on a forum, but the idea came from “The Strange End”. It was my effort to work on a Rifts-lite version that had the same feel, but wasn’t so gonzo. I wanted a world with magic, psionics, cybernetics, energy weapons, and alternate dimensions. It has evolved much since then.

If you’ve been reading the old posts, you can see I’ve gone back and forth a lot trying to find a rules system that worked for the setting. I wanted something simple and elegant, but complex enough to have different skills and effects that acted differently in the game. Eventually, I settled on d20 Modern. Its a game I’ve owned since it came out and I’ve run various campaigns set in both Xenomega and other modern settings using the d20 Modern rules.

But its also about 15 years old at this point and other games have come out that modified the d20 system, updated and upgraded, and overall made it better. So at the core, this is a d20 Modern game, but its been tweaked to the point that it pulls from many, many sources into what I hope is a robust and complete system. War Possum is all about post-apocalyptic gaming. Whether fantasy or future, the end of the world is what pulls the projects together. What happened to the world and how to do the players deal with it?

So at its core, I am using the d20 Modern base classes. They are pretty simple and can be used to create a large variety of characters. The base classes only go to 10th level, so multiclassing is required. When a player hits 3rd level, they can opt to take some levels in an advanced class that adds more options, more specialization, and unique abilities. I added all the advanced classes from d20 Modern, Future, and Urban Arcana since all those will be useful. Then I went into Pathfinder and added links for the classes in that game that will be converted into advanced classes for Xenomega. The list is long and will likely be trimmed and modified though.

Then I needed a skill list. d20 Modern has a lot of skills, though other games have a lot more. I wanted something more streamlined though, so I took the skill list from Starfinder. Its a modification of Pathfinder set in a space opera setting with magic and high tech and the skill list has everything I need.

I haven’t touched feats yet though and that will take a lot of time. There are a lot of feats out there for d20 Modern and Pathfinder/Starfinder, so I’ll have to trim out the ones that don’t apply at all, convert the ones that have been updated, and get rid of the ones that are used as Talents in d20 Modern.

Equipment, magic, and psionics need a lot of development as well. Equipment can be pulled out of d20 Modern pretty much as is, but I’ll have to figure out a pricing method. I may have to modify the Trade Units from d20 Apocalypse, but that isn’t open source so it’ll take some work and retooling. Magic might remain as it is in Pathfinder, but obviously much lower powered. Psionics will be taken from Ultimate Psionics by Dreamscarred Press because, well, I love those rules. Much better than d20 Modern’s rules. I’ve added a few classes from both Ultimate Psionics and Occult Adventures, but the key idea is that Psionics and Magic are not the same.

There is also the Combat Maneuver mechanics from Pathfinder that I am adapting. Most of the combat will likely be straight from Pathfinder.

Setting sources

Then there is the setting. Originally the idea was that the Veil between realities had been weakened from nuclear bombs going off and a final war that destroyed much of the planet. This tearing caused other realities to be forced into one Earth, so where the game takes place, Earth Prime, is now a combination of many Earths. but this seemed too much like Rifts. Then I had the idea to make it like the Matrix movies and have it so the other realities were actually places inside a worldwide computer matrix where things could change when crossing from one zone to another. This idea didn’t last long though. Finally, I came up with the idea of the Maelstrom which harkened back to my nuclear bomb idea, but changed it slightly.

The Maelstrom is an area in the Pacific Ocean that is covered in a massive Hellstorm. Before Day Zero, there were attempts to bring technology, people, and knowledge from other realities. One of those people was a gnome from a magitech world. I’m working on the details, but somehow that gnome opened a portal to Hell combined with the power of a nuclear explosion. This was borrowed and adapted from my Aerinwohl setting. The result of the portal opening was an influx of demons and other-dimensional beings. Traditional weapons were not effective against them, so nukes were dropped. Some countries took this opportunity to attack their enemies with the end result being a nuclear winter, closing the portal (but not eliminating the Maelstrom), and overall chaos across the globe. Bits and pieces of other dimensions and realties were juxtaposed onto Earth Prime. There was a time of anarchy where strange beings appeared out of nowhere, cities and nations long since vanished reappeared, gods were brought back, and the world was ruined.

The period of time between Day Zero and now is unknown, but probably a few hundred years. Some nations have regained their former status, but much of the world is empty wastelands run by brigands and raiders, with a few scattered city-states and small nations struggling to hold on. Yggdrassil tore through the Arctic and brought with it the elves and dwarves of Norse mythology. Asgard hovers somewhere nearby over Scandinavia. Mount Olympus is once again home to the Greco-Roman gods. An Egyptian pharaoh has claimed rulership and resumption of their ancient practices in the Middle East. The Aztecs have returned from a seemingly parallel world where they were never decimated.

The dead go wherever their gods determine. Norse worshippers go to Valhalla or Hel. Greek go to Hades. Those with no beliefs go to join the Collective, some strange place where time and space are meaningless and the souls join together into one great, confused, chaotic being.

I haven’t figured out what to with real world religions that are worshipped now. I may keep some, but I am thinking I should avoid anything that would be insulting to players. I’m aiming more at ancient religions making a comeback and modern religions just kind faded away or ignored.

Then there is the Cthulhu Mythos. I love HP Lovecraft so I’m going to incorporate some of his stories into this world. Cthulhu still slumbers in R’lyeh, but it has risen to the surface and is filled with all kinds of chaotic creatures from alien realms. The Deep Ones exist in the oceans as well, making it difficult for the humans on the east coast of the former US to make a foothold and expand. I have to find a way to incorporate the Cats of Ulthar as well, but I’m not sure how yet. Maybe it can be an alternate dream reality as described in the novella. Other things like Herbert West may be present, but I haven’t solidified that idea yet. The leaning is towards some of our scholars and authors to have been privy to knowledge not known to the rest of the world, so Lovecraft may have indeed been seeing and tapping into forbidden knowledge without even knowing it.

Others include Nikola Tesla who may still be alive somewhere. I’ve toyed with the idea of him not actually dying, but somehow escaping reality and coming back in the new present. The idea of Tesla being in a world with high tech and magic and combining the two into magitech seems right.

Then from China Meiville’s Bas-Lag series, I’m stealing the idea of a floating city in the ocean like Armada from The Scar, but in this case, it is Atlantis, wandering the Atlantic Ocean making it hard to find. It will be a city built of dozens or even hundreds of ships tied together into a floating platform. It will have some high technology, some magic, and be a place of freedom and independence. It is not the Atlantis from Plato’s story, but a new Atlantis that has adopted the name.

I have also been searching wikipedia and other pages for information about strange places in the world that I can adapt. There are a few mysterious triangles, some caves to the Abyss, places where people just disappeared with no trace. In some of those places, the missing have returned but in others they are still stealing the living.

In Summation

The world of Xenomega is broken and torn. There are a few nations, but they are limited in scope. Much of the world is in ruins and just now getting around to being rediscovered. There are wars and allegiances, but the old nations are gone. Creatures from myth exist, as do mutants and monsters that were built with genetics and experiments to look like monsters of myth. The Maelstrom still turns in the Pacific, demons still live in places, and aliens and fantasy creatures are now present. The world is damaged, but not unredeemable.

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