November 22, 2011

The World of Eli Monpress

Like most RPGers I like my fiction. I can get into a good sci-fi, fantasy or modern thriller book. Often there are things I can use in my own games, either for a one-shot adventure, or ways I can add to my own ongoing campaigns. And sometimes I like a book enough to want to play in that world as a campaign of its own. The books of Eli Monpress is one of those worlds.

If you are unfamiliar with the books of Eli Monpress they are a series of books (three so far) by Rachel Aaron. They are firmly in the fantasy genre. They take a wonderful and refreshing approach to the fantasy setting. And there is much to steal from the books for one’s own settings. I’ll outline some of the best parts…

The Magic System
Everything is alive; trees, the wind, a weapon, a rock, a door. This is the guiding principle of the magic system within the world and drives most of the setting. A wizard can “awaken” a spirit (normally it is asleep) and cajole it into doing something for the wizard. This form of cajoling can take the form of simply asking it for a favor, making bargains or forcing it to do something against its will (considered an evil act within the setting).

The thing I like about this “system” is that it can add another level of role-play to a campaign. When casting spells, it is not a matter of remembering a Vancian spell or rolling vs. Intelligence to cast a spell. No, this form of magic requires interaction with a sentient being and if any rolls are made it would involve Charisma. It is a relatively new approach to how to cast a spell.

Organizations
Most good campaign settings have various organizations and societal structures for the players to interact with. So does this series of books.

League of Storms- Demon hunters who will step on anyone and anything to accomplish their task. They also receive a single powerful gift upon joining the group, such as being immune to weapon damage or never aging.
Spirit Court- A society of wizards who enforce rules for interacting with spirits. As a class they would be able to start with a number of spirits that owe them favors or servitude.
Masters of the Sword- There is an undercurrent of master swordsmen wielding powerful awakened swords that seek each other out to fight in duels meant to prove who is the better swordsman. The book describes various combat moves that could be the basis of a specialized melee system.
Shapers- Wizards that create things, such as magic weapons and items. Their ability to create items could easily be a class unto itself.
Council- A overarching organization that works like a United Nations, but with more control over the individual nations. Some of the agents for the institution are rare individuals, such as the one that is invisible to magic. It would be easy to craft a class that relies on unique abilities as its base concept.
Demons- This is a loose organization in that their origin is singular and controlled by one entity. It is possible to be a demon seed, wherein you are a human with demonic taint. This taint also gives a character added powers.
Greater Spirits- Almost similar to Fey they are spirits that control other spirits and are of vast power. Spirits could be characters in and of themselves.

All of these groups would serve very nicely as character types. They would provide excellent backgrounds for characters and could serve as the basis for an entire character class. They also are great as either mentors or antagonists for a party.

The books do an excellent job of laying out the framework of the setting; its culture and general feel. Certainly enough to build a campaign around. They are also a fun read.
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