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Friday, 18 July 2014

Week of Synnibarr, Day Three: That old-time religion!


Right, we're back! It's Day 3 of THE WEEK OF SYNNIBARR and there's lots more looney business to explore. Yesterday we investigated the monster section and discovered all kinds useful foolishness. Let's see if we have similar luck in other areas. Today we're going to look at the setting and cosmology of Synnibarr.

Which is a hell of a mess, and is explained absolutely terribly. Seriously, once we're past the ToC and the forewords, the first page is deep, deep backstory:
In the beginning, 800 million years ago ... 
OK, squire, I'm going to stop you right there.

But seriously, it goes on for page after page, telling us about Aridius, The God of Hope and Command, and the Father of All, and Shadarkeem, the birth dimension of the Gods, and the creation of the Synnibarr worldship (it's the planet Mars, hollowed out to use as a spaceship and sent off to orbit around Shalom, the planet of peace. As you do) and Lord Midnight and the 72-headed chameleon hydra and the appearance of Sirius the Vampire Lord and and and ... it's not long as such, it's just crammed full of irrelevant sugar-high detail. It doesn't even get around to "What Kind of a Game Is The World of Synnibarr" until page 5.

Honestly, the idea isn't bad -- basically, you have this worldship, which is an environment which is self-contained but absolutely ginormous, and then all these different weirdoes running around on it and leaving behind ruins and artefacts and stuff, and then the worldship itself isn't quite working to spec. And this plague wipes out everyone, so no one really knows what's up with all these temples and labs and Great Reactors and Dark Lords and whatnot. It's kind of like Metamorphosis Alpha in letters ten feet high.

That's got some staying power, actually. I mean, basically it's not unlike Rifts, although more on the fantasy hackity-slashity side than the skiffy one.

The very first time I read The World of Synnibarr, I was with some friends, and we were reading the history section and deciding what to name our bands after. In my mind, "Lord Midnight and the 72-Headed Chameleon Hydra" is a great band name. Basically, you have Lord Midnight down the front in his tuxedo, and then each of the Hydra's heads has a different instrument. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Starlight Ballroom. I'm Lord Midnight and this is the 72-Headed Chameleon Hydra. Hey! Flyyyy me to the moooon....".

Other band names included The Purging and The Rebellion of the Drakes.

But the good names don't last into the deities section, no sir. The weird blend of things is in full effect again. Actually, Synnibarr doesn't have a blend of things, because the different sets of influences -- fantasy fiction and Marvel comics and cartoons and what have you -- often coexist kind of weirdly. I think the names of the gods suggest that to me. They include:


  • Alorius, Goddess of Prosperity
  • Amarasis, Goddess of the Amazons
  • Aragorn (!), God of Chi
  • The aforementioned Aridius
  • Black, God of Mutants and Mutations, who appears as a "cattar"
  • Blade, God of Heavy Metal, Cragons and Martial Arts
  • Cat, God of Thieves
  • Drakomere, God of Drakes
  • Joe Null, God of Nullification and Matter Control, 
  • Maximillion, the Immortal
  • Li'eel, God of Lies and Mischief
  • Killgore, God of Technology and Unarmed Combat
  • Tuch, Lord of the Ninja (distinct from the god of Martial Arts, who is a ninja)
  • Ringzazerakrazad, God of Death (let's hope his name doesn't come up much)
  • Schernoklasptetor, God of Wealth and Metals, called Xrra for short
  • Watchhaven Storm, God of the Weremen
That's about half of them and the others are equally bonkers. 

In total honesty, it is easier for me to believe that the God of Ninjas
plays the guitar in a heavy metal band than to believe that
he wears a necktie. It's like eleventy million years in the future.
In addition to the worldship and various surrounding planets (which is where you find the giant space mantas with 116 million hit points that I mentioned yesterday), there's also a Psychic Plane, a full set of Elemental Planes, Limbo (the Plane of Time), an astral plane -- wait, two astral planes -- and an apparently infinite number of other dimensions, with rules for randomly determining what types of magic work in them.

 I might design a sufficiently demented setting-equivalent for a PA game some day, but I have to say that today's reading has proven less fruitful than yesterday's ... 

3 comments:

  1. Maybe not all the gods, but a lot of them, were player characters who ascended to godhood (which you can do in the game, because of course you can) and sometimes their players got together and did god games, doing...god stuff, I guess? Whatever Raven ran them on. I didn't play enough to end up with a god or anything even close to it, but I did meet some of those people. Hence the weird names, because they were the wacky characters made by random gamers who were playtesting a wacky game.

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  2. Maybe not all the gods, but a lot of them, were player characters who ascended to godhood (which you can do in the game, because of course you can) and sometimes their players got together and did god games, doing...god stuff, I guess? Whatever Raven ran them on. I didn't play enough to end up with a god or anything even close to it, but I did meet some of those people. Hence the weird names, because they were the wacky characters made by random gamers who were playtesting a wacky game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I had a feeling that might be the case. It sounds like a fascinating experience; thanks for talking about it on the blog!

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