The most exciting thing (to me) about the Deck of Many Worlds is that you can shuffle up and deal millions of different worlds to prompt multiple galaxies’ worth of ideas. But for this blog, I wanted to show off how even just one of those millions of possibilities can provide plenty of different ideas, all on its own!
To that end, I’ve asked folks from all over Paizo to take a look at the world below and, using the system included in the Deck of Many Worlds, fire off some ideas about this world and what’s happening there. The attributes of this world (as determined by the cards) are: it has Earth-like technology, low magic, its residents get along relatively well, it’s got a neutral evil vibe, and religion is influential. Each author put their own spin on this combination, leaning on or subverting various aspects to tell their own story.
Of course, I’d love for you to chime in down in the comments with your own ideas and interpretations!
(And for the record: while I picked one of my favorite terrestrial worlds, the rest of the cards were drawn completely at random.)
—Joe Pasini, Starfinder Lead Designer
A habitable world with no known sapient lifeforms to compete with, was tempting on its own, but the addition of the strange continent sized pool of magic spilling out into the galaxy made Hwatroth irresistible for hanakan explorers. Hoping to quickly settle the area around the magical anomaly, they perhaps did not study the local ecology as much as they could have, missing the presence of the vicious and unpredictable mountain eels. Several of the hastily established settlements have been decimated, and more are in danger as their defenses are inadequate and the eels are congregating around the sudden bounty of a new food source. Division, rumors, and insurrection are running rampant within the hanakan population, with factions pushing for different defensive or offensive strategies. Recently they started offering bounties on mountain eel carcasses and a mysterious sect of verthani have begun cashing in. However, the bloodbath may have attracted more than just opportunistic hunters.
—Sara Marie, Customer Service & Community Manager
On this world, a planet-wide society of hanakans have determined that a minor event of the past—two people meeting, the previous extinction of the once common mountain eels, a particular engineer becoming ill—caused the rending beacon to destroy the majority of a continent. They’re fairly sure, based on their calculations, that sending a small team back in time to prevent what appears to be an unrelated event will cause a butterfly effect that will prevent the catastrophe hundreds of years later. This means that anything else changed could lead to something much worse or change the entire layout of the society by the time the team returns to the present. We might even draw another card out of the deck to determine how else the world was changed if the team successfully completes their objective, or they accidentally cause any other changes!
—Samantha Phelan, Customer Service Representative
The world of Toriax has changed drastically since the day the beacon of eerie purple light burst forth from the continent of Maties. Even before the earthquakes stopped and the dust had settled, it was clear that something was wrong. Magic users have been unable to access their powers since that day. While it was initially thought that the earthquakes were responsible for the planet-wide tech outages, not even the most brilliant scientists among the survivors have been able to bring those vital services back online. Ships are grounded, communication with other worlds seems impossible, and those who thrive on taking advantage of chaos have wasted no time. Soothsayers who once claimed to see the future despair at this unforeseen emergency, and plead to their gods to restore a modicum of normality. Until the source and cause of the beacon is discovered, Toriax is a wounded planet in need of help.
—Katina Davis, Webstore Coordinator
An ecological research team from the Pact Worlds was recently granted access to this uninhabited and protected world in the Ash’Akan system to investigate concentrated energy signatures typically found only on the moon Hallas. But the team made disturbing discoveries once they landed, finding eerily silent forests scattered with the crystalline forms of wild creatures, and entire towns filled with the crystal sculptures of Hanakans going about their daily life. The guards have skirmished with a large Mountain Eel once or twice, but little else on this planet moves. But a faint purple light builds on the horizon and with each passing day, the research team has started to see more signs of life as large amorphous forms dance through the sky and shadowy figures dart through the forests. One day, one of the figures, a hanakan attendant, emerges from the trees with a message: help.
—Joan Hong, Customer Service Representative
Not native to the planet Sevestere, the verthani are an offshoot of the Pure One sect that left Verces millennia ago to establish a home free of invasive magic and technology. Here, they’ve established a capital city of hundreds of thousands, all working together toward a peaceful—yet controlled—society free of the bonds of magic and tech. Near the equator is a massive, stationary cyclone of energy 1,000 miles wide known as the Clashenmere, the only area on the planet where magic functions. Within the vortex, life is destroyed, and ships are torn apart. A 20-mile wide rim of dark clouds and lightning-filled skies circling the Clashenmere marks the territory of the hanakan, a race of magic-using creatures that are survivors of a failed teleportation several hundred years ago. They seek to build a magical craft capable of departing the planet or a portal that will return them to their home world; their disdain of technology-powered ships has kept them marooned here. The most well-known danger on Sevestere are mountain eels, which in addition to residing in the numerous mountains of the planet are also numerous around the Clashenmere. The most dangerous creatures on the planet are rumored to be the hallajins, though their purpose for being here is as mysterious as ever.
—Jim Butler, VP of Marketing & Licensing
Strange bedfellows, the magical hanakans and the technological verthani, yet they made their peace on the world of Herris deep in the Vast. Grudging acceptance of each other’s talents allowed both civilizations to flourish briefly on the sedate and resource-rich planet, but ultimately their incompatible natures meant that they could not come to each other’s aid when the hallajin arrived. The hallajin seemed to be trying to make contact, but any such contact caused tremendous psychic pain and usually resulted in the one contacted losing their mind. The hallajin prevented anyone from leaving the planet, though it isn’t known whether or not doing so was with intent. The last joint act of the two societies on the planet was to erect a beacon, broadcasting both magically and technologically, warning all who approach to stay away. Some may choose to ignore the warning, but at their own peril.
—Glenn Elliott, Program Manager
Not every civilizations attempt at drift implementation is successful, and this world is a living example of the consequences of failure. Regardless of the claims on how the accident began a massive storm now rages around the world's initial drift experiment. Pockets of reality are consumed by the storm as creatures from beyond imagining spill forth in their place. Of the expeditions sent in to shut down the experiment, only a single group has returned. The team confirmed that their world is being siphoned into the drift, but also had stories of a fiery hellscape erupting around them during their exploration. This only served to reinforce a recently popularized theory: the planets core itself is slowly being phased into the drift as its mantle destabilizes.
—Erik Keith, QA Engineer
In the early days of verthani space travel a group of Pure Ones settled this world, where they could be free of technology once they dismantled the ship that brought them. No one knows if the beacon summoned them, or if they found it, but for generations it provided for them. Eventually the hanakans came, claiming a voice they worshipped for as long as they remembered told them it needed them here. And finally, the storms began. Strange lighting bombarded the beacon for days and ghostly beings flittered around it. Then everything stopped, the storms, the beacon, the creatures. For a short time, things returned to normal. But now the land tears itself apart as it moves, shifting to form itself around the beacon. The stars and constellations move in the sky. The past and future collide in temporal distortions. And the beacon sits at the center of everything.
—Diego Valdez, Customer Service Representative
Two separate expeditions have been dispatched to investigate this odd world, dubbed “The Font”. Its namesake physical feature is an enormous fountain of ionizing radiation shooting from the core of the planet directly away from the system’s star, into deep space. A contingent of hanakans are currently en route via their new experimental “Gate-Thrower” magical vessel. The hanakans have lodged an official complaint indicating their belief that this planet is home to their legendary “Ssssithhh’sssthek Temple” and is forbidden to all other species. However, a verthani science expedition recently arrived with intentions of investigating and possibly harnessing the fantastic power output of the Font. They reported bizarre and ancient alien ruins riddled with mountain eels. As they got closer and closer to the font itself, the reports became more and more fantastic, erratic, and nonsensical, before ceasing entirely.
—Cosmo Eisele, Sales Associate
Hanakans and Verthani have worked together for centuries, combining their innate magical ability and advanced cybernetics acumen towards all manner of legendary magitech that propelled their shared culture to new heights. In a great college, their brightest and most capable worked tirelessly on a new invention - a magitech vision portal that would permit them to see the future and change it to suit their whims. Unfortunately, their invention backfired and exploded, consuming the college and its occupants and opening a massive trans-dimensional rift to all corners of the galaxy. Hallajin, mountain eels, and many other dangerous creatures immediately began pouring through the rift, and within a few short months the planet was largely overrun. Now, the remnants of the once-proud hanakan/verthani civilization are locked in a desperate struggle to survive - and just maybe to figure out a way to reverse the portal that remains open to this day.
—Brian Bauman, Software Developer
Clearly what we have here is an advanced magical society that foresaw a future in which the planet's oceans were decimated, proactively created a complex planet-spanning arcane apparatus to preserve and protect them, and inadvertently triggered a global cataclysm that forced the world's aquatic and land-dwelling life to switch habitats, obviously resulting in mass extinctions for any species not already living near a coastline. Unless you're trying to tell me "mountain eels" were already a thing.
—Andrew White, Front-End Engineering Lead
A World of Many Worlds
Friday, January 03, 2020