Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Imagine your character has been rotoscoped" - Phasic Vibes of Synthexia

One of my favorite examples of the OSR Hive Mind in action was the near-instantaneous creation of four hex maps by Gygaxian Democracy on G+ last summer. I’m pretty sure I added a few hexes to each (I might’ve slept on The Kraal) but the glory of this kind of endeavor is seeing your own voice disappear into it. They can be found here. The final products contain more good ideas and less dumb shit per capita than most products you pay money for. All of them are good, but the one I want to talk about is Synthexia.

Synthexia is a spaced-out 80’s Filmation science fantasy full of crystal swords and glitterdust. It feels like a bit of a red-headed stepchild of the other three (maybe because of the subject matter, maybe because the number of anomalies or artifacts in the extracted script leads me to believe that people were playing loose with the rules). The reason I bring it up is I’ve been reading a lot of Cosmic Marvel lately and I have the (probably misguided) urge to place some of that flavor into the 2e game my local crew started last Thursday. It took me a while to remember that this map existed, but having found it I can say that I think it serves my purposes pretty well.

Synthexia is crumbling into space. Ancient Synthexian sorceries (that is really fun to say aloud) struggle to hold the remains in place, but will not stop the ruined planet's decaying orbit eventually falling into a phasic sun. 

I also get the feeling that Synthexia is vaguely flat (or at least no longer spherical), meaning it has an underside which probably never sees the light of that phasic sun, and therefore every hex of this map has a reverse side. Nighthexia or Contra-Synthexia is were the Drow live and where that song Night City by The Sword takes place.

Typical Synthexian Adventurers

There are some entries I’d reskin, and a handful that don’t appear to make sense, and over all I think I’d make a lot of the Sci fi stuff conform a little closer to Clarke’s Law. But in general I like it enough to toss in Baron Karza and the Magus from Adam Warlock and bend the rest to my will. It's also a good home for ideas cribbed from that sixty dollar Numenera hardback I bought that one time I wandered into Guardian Games so stoned that I paid sixty dollars for a Numenera hardback.

2e seems pretty perfectly suited for this. It scraped in before the end of the decade (published in the final days of Thundercats and Jem and the Holograms,  according to cyberspace). And I mean it’s the Spelljammer edition so it’s not like 2e is a stranger to some Erasure-level fantasybullshit.

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