Monday, 30 November 2015

Thyra Below (Or simply Below)

Thyra is like an iceberg, 70% of it is hidden Below. Starting as a series of bunkers and tunnels during the War, these were since then interconnected and now span the whole city and well beyond it. 

Some are as lit and airy as the streets above. Some aren't. 

Some are filled with trade and laughter. Some aren't.

Some are filled with nice sentient beings. Some really aren't.

And there's more. There are Passages down here. The shards of the Night were thrown in 3 dimensions, so they also went down. Some of the passages are known.

Some aren't.

Character: Clifton 'Midnight' Andrews

It would later be remembered as I-Day (Invasion Day). The thing about Passages is, one needs to step through one, from Tyra's side, to actually open it. Something to do with the direction the NighGem shards pierced reality. Once open, it is open both ways.

That was the day someone found Passage 66 and stepped through.

And all Hell broke loose. Literally.

Every time a new Passage is opened, there is some confusion on the other side. Rare are the Openings where there's not some violence (or attempted violence) when a lonely native wonders into downtown Thyra. Even with lovely Passage 5, a party of elves wondered through and nearly came to blows with street vendors.

Hours after some nameless person found and opened Passage 66, Hades itself came through. No one knows what they call themselves, but their kin has been in humanity's imagination for millennia.

Demons. Ghosts. Wraiths.

A huge collection of them came through, destroying and killing as they went. The city mobilised, it was very much a 'all hands on deck' situation. 

Clifton was in the front line, his guns spelling doom to the indescribable obscenities in front of him. American born, he'd been in Thyra for only a few months, as a hired gun.

2 things then happened in close succession.

A Weird Doctor's tank of liquid NighSerum (that was powering a beam cannon) exploded, covering Clifton in the gunky liquid. A second before, he had blown a demon apart, and its black ichor was still en route to his body.

The two substances met pretty much simultaneously. Clifton burst into green flames. And he has been burning ever since.

Somehow, the two highly magikally charged substances covered his body, turning his flesh into green flames. These are cold to the touch, and do not ignite materials further. Those that have seen him in fights describe a living skeleton, with emerald flames coruscating around him.

If anything, I-Day made Clifton tougher. He is now still alive but better. He is still a hired gun, and may the Heavens have pity on any Passage 66 creature that wonders into his path.

A simple (?) gunslinger. His magik flesh is tougher (+3 Armour), and he is silly agile (D8 climbing). Also his guns. Big ones. And he can fire both simultaneously. Yep.

Character: Maxwell 'Zap' Constantine

Max is a Thyran boy, born and raised. He saw the latter days of the War, and its effects. He was always facinated by machines, and became a mechanic, and a good one at that. He lost an arm and a leg (quite literally) some years ago to an explosion, but replaced them with mechanical substitutes the first time he could. He keeps tinkering with them, and they are now at least as good as the real thing.

His arm hides a nasty surprise. Using some contacts at The College (who wish to remain anonymous), his arm is powered by a ping-pong ball-sized NighGem core. Pushing this core to overload, Max can let the energy rip, producing fairly devastating lightening bolts.

He can also figure out most engineering problems with some ease, and build mad machines to do whatever he wants them to do. 

Only once.

They usually explode soon after.

My first Savage Worlds character build. Max has the Bolt spell (as part of the Weird Science Arcane Background Edge). He is also amazing at engineering and has the gadgeteer edge (if he has the parts, he can build in 1D20 minutes a 1-use only machine which will work exactly as he wants it to).

Character: Marko Sharpclaw of Windbreath Clan

Marko hails from Llaruundo, beyond Passage 5. His clan of airship builders (and pirates) have revolutionised Thyra's air docks. As they only had more 'primitive' technology to work with, their building techniques were extremely efficient, and are now standard throughout the land.

Born aboard an airship, it is joked that Marko only stepped upon solid ground for his coming of age ceremony, at around 11 Earth years. His race has a number on names, but they seem happy to adopt the Earth denomination of Orc.

A nightmare with his scimitar, he can pilot anything that he can get his hands on. It it moves, chances are he can command it.

Another standard character. Great at Melee (Str + D6), Good piloting skills and really agile.

Character: Mara 'Thermo' Howard

Mara was a student at The College. She was simply an assistant during one of the many experiments that were being performed on NighGems. In particular, how they were attempting to turn NighGems into a liquid, a serum, that could then be used as a more efficient fuel. 

There was an explosion, and Mara, along with two others, was peppered with shards of metal covered in NighSerum.

One of the students died, instantly, his body shriveling and smoking in moments. The other changed, electricity crackling around her, hitting everything around. She was eventually committed.

And then there was Mara. Her hands faintly smoking, but with no other apparent adverse effect. It would later transpire that she could now access the energies of the NighSerum by will alone, ad could generate spheres on intense thermal energy and project them at will.

She was the first confirmed success at wielding Magik.

Today, she teaches at The College, helping other Magik users with their own powers, but she works primarily as a hired gun, particularly after the discovery of Passage 66.

A simple character, with the Bolt spell. Smart, agile and flaming deadly.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

List of known Passages and connected Places

Passage 4 - Cordigan Land. Homeworld of the Cordigans, humanoid canines. Agricultural/urban, tech level slightly behind Thyra.

Passage 5 - Llaruundo. Similar to literature's 'high fantasy' world. Humanoid races, elves trolls, orcs, etc. Agricultural with scattered cities. Tech level well behind Thyra. Some trade in handicraft goods. Presence of Magik, source unknown.

Passage 11 - Hyperboria. Savage world, pre-medieval. Hardy human-like inhabitants, predatory fauna. Limited contact, some trade, usually in melee weaponry. 

Passage 19 - Gaia, Urban world, tech level similar to Thyra. Commerce in manufactured goods, some services and high grade metals.

Passage 20 - Odin's Eye, alien planet, toxic gases, no native animals or plants, respirator needed. Some gem mining.

Passage 24 - The Hive. A world covered in billions of alien Insectoid inhabitants. Mostly friendly, producers of organic-based goods, as Insectisilk. Extensive trade. 

Passage 33 - Unknown. No explorers have returned.

Passage 39 - Umbrous. Late medieval world. Feudal. Presence of Magik, source unknown. A dark, misty, swampy world.  Races and beasts take strange shapes, vaguely reminiscing of 'dark fantasy'. Limited trade. Limited contact.

Passage 42 - Futuristic city. Limited contact with only a few inhabitants. Tech level at least 200 years in advance of Thyra. City goes by the name of New Hades.

Passage 45 - Water Passage, The Billion Isles. Word-spanning archipelago. Tech level about 100 years behind Thyra, some limited trade due to extensive piracy.

Passage 48 - The Anvil. High desert, no habitation, animals or plants ever found. Temperatures are in the upper 50oC constantly, tidal lock with star, no night. 

Passage 54 - Uninhabited verdant world, Farmopolis. Some agricultural colonists.

Passage 59 - Water Passage. Terminus is half a mile off the coast of Khaemet, a desert continent, broken up into a myriad kingdoms. Vaguely reminiscent of Pharaonic Egypt. Tech level low, but extensive trade in jewels and artefacts.

Passage 60 - Persephone Sigma VII. Passage terminus is about 100 yards away from a trading post on an alien planet. No atmosphere, vacuum suits needed. Many different species, Tech levels range from millenia ahead to centuries behind Thyra.

Passage 66 - Hell.

Passage 72 - Water Passage. Pelagicus, water world. Extensive fishing and trading with the Gloor, aka Atlanteans, humanoid amphibian sea dwellers. Tech level about 50 years behind Thyra.

Passage 75 - Rru-Ssarr. World with radically different evolutionary path. Dozens of sentient species, most look like versions of what we would consider 'lower animals'. Tech levels differ between individual species, from about 50 years behind Thyra to about 50 years after. Extensive contact. Extensive trade.

Passage 90 - Koncorvire. Alien world. Hostile silicone-based life forms. Humanoid inhabitants. Sporadic contact, no trade.

Passage 88 - E'rth. An apparent alternate version of Earth. Extensive trading with local Hugh-min population. Tech level comparable to Thyra

Passage 92 - The Core. Passage opens inside gigantic, world-spanning cavern network. Many different native inhabitants, some trading with a selected few of them.

Passage 103 - Alternate futuristic Earth. Local name unknown. Some sort of environmental catastrophic event left this world devastated. Passage ends near the ruins of London. Limited contact. No trade.

Characters: Valeriya 'Riya' Klyk


Riya's family have lived in Thyra for the last 20 years. The Cordigans (Canis Anthropomorphus Sapiens) were one of the first non-human races discovered by Thyrans (through Passage 4)

People were shocked at these new peoples, but they were small, unthreatening, only interested in work or trade, polite and, once they learned english, well spoken. Within years, Cardigan shops were being opened everywhere in the city.

Cordigans are industrious, with a keen eye for business. They speak English well, but always seem to keep their original Cordiganese language (a selection of growls and whines, with some body language). Their world (Original name unpronounceable, Common name: Cordigan Land) is a pleasant urban / agricultural world, with a technology level slightly behind Thyra's. Passage 4 ends near an out of the way village, hence the first wave of immigrants, looking for work.

Riya has taken the family shop 'Klyk and Daughters Emporium' and made it into one of the best jewellers / curio shops / antiquarians in town. When around the corner you have no less than 3 Passages into other worlds, you wouldn't believe what flotsam and jetsam washes up to your door.

A bit of an adventurer, she has been known to take sabbaticals from the shop to go through Passages to try and find artefacts herself, or simply to feel the wind of a new world on one's fur.

A custom request, Riya is a humanoid dog. I gave her -1 to Pace (small legs), -1 to Visual Perception (not the greatest eyes), but +2 to Smell Perception. Also -2 to Charisma when not in New Hades, as people would find a humanoid dog odd. She has the Contact Edge (due to the shop), having real informants around town and beyond, and has a mean bite (Str+D6).


I wanted something real worldly to represent the NightGems. In fact it is a reverse cause-effect thing, I came up with the Gem first, and then backed up the story all the way to the Fall of the Night.

NightGems are simply obsidian. Volcanic glass.

If you're not prepared for it, it looks like a really unusual stone (it's not uncommon or even that precious). It looks of what it is, glass made by volcanic lava melting the sand and soil around it. It later shatters, like the glass it is. The impurities in the soil turn it dark (from blues to blacks).

Also its edge. Like 'normal' glass, obsidian gets really sharp edges and was used in fact as sacrificial knives by pre-Colombian civilisations, who never really cared for metals.

They come in a variety of grades: Alpha Grade are the worse and cheapest, most impure ones, little more than inert rocks. Gamma Grade are where the real power starts. The newest 4th Gen Core runs on Lambda Grade. Purest forms are being researched, as the shards that created the Passages are named Omega Class. None have ever been found....

NighGems, as I mentioned, are my gimmick for Thyra, a power source our victorians could only dream of. The reason they never developed flight, is that a steam engine is so big and heavy, it is impossible for it to lift itself. But with NightGems? Your engine could be 10 times smaller and 100 times lighter. Now, then, there is some potential here....

What IS Steampunk?

Over the past decade, Steampunk has branched, evolved, moved and spiralled, and to try and define it neatly would be a fruitless job, I leave that to people more eloquent and more knowledgeable of such matters.

For me, Steampunk is using the late 19, early 20th century aesthetics, superimposed over a more advanced technological framework. Like I wrote in the 'Welcome' post, the Victorian Era meets the Atomic Age.

Enter the NighGems. My gimmick. My McGuffin. An alien crystal, able to store vast amounts of energy (thermal, nuclear, electrical, who knows?)

Between that and the Passages, Thyra has one or two stories to tell....

The Passages (Portals)

My original design for Thyra can be summed up in one word: flexibility. I wanted a background that allowed players to move between campaigns, Universes and adventures on a whim. The GM's whim, of course. ;)

Hence Thyra. The fall of The Night pierced the fabric of reality and many worlds are accessible by simply walking through a Passage (a vaguely shimmering irregular shape in the air, like heat distortion). The first passages ever explored seemed to take explorers to more or less benign worlds. Other peoples and cultures were found, and trade is booming (the second reason for Thyra's wealth, after the NighGems).

Some other passages aren't really that good. The infamous Passage 33, from which no one has ever returned. Or passage 48, that takes you into a blistering hot desert, no shade in sight, a giant planet hanging above you, taking up half the sky.

And then there is Passage 66. Mmm. How to put it? It is somewhat outside of town, and it is nominally guarded 24/7. It is a passage to a realm.... Where the same laws don't seem to apply. There are things at the other side of Passage 66. Not the nice trolls of Passage 5. 


Some break through every now and again, creatures of fire and brimstone and death. Some are as ethereal as smoke, but at least as dangerous.

So then, here we have it. A steampunk city, in the mists of a gold rush, with direct links to dozens of places throughout space and time. Welcome. We've been expecting you....


Here it is, a map of Thyra. It is all centered around Crater Bay (ground zero for the impact of The Night). I'll adress the neighbourhoods later on, for now, I just wanted to mention the red dots. These are the known (catalogued) Passages into other Places (Universes). Some are empty.

Some really really aren't.


Magik is real. Well... Not quite. But almost.

It becomes a percentage game. About 2% of mankind have the right nervous system to manage and control high energies. Of these, about 70% end up being allergic to NighGems, and die horribly if injected with NighSerum. 

Well, some die.

Some.... Change.

The remainder, those 0.6% have access to enormous energies and can bend reality as we know it. Some can be taught to do it. Some can simply do it. Some fall victim to.... 

Things. Things from other Places.

If you've beaten the odds, congratulations, you can now wield forces and energies beyond the ken of humanity. If you haven't.... You are either dead, hunted or a Wight.

If you're lucky.

So, by introducing the NighSerum, I can have humans doing technology-based magic (using the Wyrd Science Arcane background). Also, I can have all sorts of creatures coming through the Passages.

Dramatis Personae

  • The High Ministerium (The Ministerium) – A council of representatives of all the important bodies in the city. Not the most effective of bodies but the de facto brains behind organisation and logistics in the city, as well as the Yellowstripes. Most organisations have one seating member (official or unofficial ones). Corrupt and power-mad, only the infighting of the members keeps it from ascending into full blown dictatorship. You wouldn’t trust them for a moment, but the contracts are valid, the water does flow, and the sewers still work. For most inhabitants, it is all they ask.
  • Walt Wilson Mining Consortium (WW) – The largest company in town. Everyone works or knows someone that works for WW. Growing up in Rattown turned WW into a ruthless, humourless man that rewards excellence and destroys incompetence with the same wry smile. Not necessarily evil, but ambitious and pitiless.
  • The College Of Physical and Ethereal Sciences (The College) – School, University, Research Institute and Engineering Plant rolled up into one. Its members expand the knowledge of NightGems, and its applications. The recent discovery of Magik (NightGem energy-powered reality manipulation) was made at The College. Its practitioners, nicknamed Weird Doctors, are not necessarily sane but are bending our knowledge of reality.
  • Order of The Wrench (The Order) – The union of engineers and builders that keep the city working. Most have ties to the Ministerium, some to The College, and some to no-one at all. The Order keeps very loose ties with its members by design, in a place like Thyra, no one would make money if everyone played by the book.
  • Freehold Miners League (The League) – WW only has control over the Wilson Mines, all other veins are explored by small companies and independent miners. They are nominally bound together in The League, but it is in reality a free for all.
  • Beggars’ and Thives’ Guild (The Guild) – Based out of Rattown, these keep their own peace, in alleys where even the Yellowstripes don’t venture. Rumours abound of ties to the Ministerium, of unofficial council members. What is known is, an unsanctioned murder today is a body floating in Circle Bay tomorrow.
  • Society of Lok (Brothers / Sisters) – The closest thing to active religion in Thyra. Of unknown origins, these men and women teach, heal, clothe and feed with the same quiet contemplation. Many a thief or evildoer ended up as a Brother or Sister. Although there is no organised cult, the Society House is filled with icons and statues of Gods of many of the Places reached from the city, for any believers to enjoy. They seem to have deep pockets, but use it only in the help of the needy.
  • The Clockwork Queen (The Queen) - a quasi-mythical crime boss, The Queen is a sort of bogey man for both state and crime people alike. Her existence is disputed, but on a number of occasions, the Guilds almost immediately deferred to someone else. Either a person or many or simply an organisation, someone pulls many strings around town. 


It was barely a pebble. In cosmic terms, it was a mote of dust, barely worth the notice. If it had been found in our time, in our world, it would have earned one of those long alphanumerical strings that only tell you on what catalogue to look for it.Only one thing made it unique. And the world found out about it on the 31st of December, 1858.

It would eventually be known by many names. But on that fateful dusk, as it ripped the sky, as it became the first big asteroid  to impact the Earth since men arose, its dark smoky tail hid the setting sun. The Night had come.

And then it hit.

And Humanity was still here.

The core of the asteroid was a dense crystal, dark, oily, the likes of which had never been seen. As it hit, it revealed it's greatest property, as it could store an almost infinite amount of energy in its matrix.

It should have destroyed the world. And it did. Sort of.

It absorbed 99.9999% of the impact energy. The place where it hit was now ground zero for mining the new rock, now know as NightGems. A grain of sand would heat a tea cup. A chunk the size of your fist would power a loom. 3 or 4, a locomotive. Some, of high purity, could punch holes in reality itself.

Magik is now real. It's all about energies, after all, and now we have it to spare.

Technology was transformed overnight. Victorian steam met the atomic age.

War followed.

For 30 years, the War of Sorrows burnt the Earth. It's now over, because there was little else left. NightGem mining has resumed. The main mining city is called Thyra. It is a beacon for all that wish to make a quick profit. 

It is also peppered with Passages into other Places caused by the fall of The Night. Some Places are empty. 

Some aren't.

It is the beginning of Spring, 1910, in an Earth you wouldn't recognise. Giant Mecha roam the streets, airships are run by analogical computers, steam machines are powered by crystals from the Stars. Magik is real. Deamons from other Places kill and maim.

Welcome to Thyra.

Thyra came about in a D&D game, I thought, wouldn't it be useful to have a hub, in the middle of the Multiverse, where you could access hundreds of different worlds, and have adventures in all possible environments. I know there are Savage Worlds supplements out there for all of this, but I find them.... Chunky. It's almost metaphysical, some of them, with Gods and Heroes.

I just want to have a City surrounded by gateways to other Places (with a capital P). So one week I can have my players wiping out cultists in a jungle temple and the next, fighting an invasion in an alien colony somewhere beyond the stars....

So in a word, simplicity. Not chunky rules, nothing too weird. Maybe some penalties if the characters try to interact with grossly different technology, but that's about it. I hope it goes well!