Thoughts on Cirsova as a Setting

Cirsova was initially cooked up as a setting for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. I was using 3rd ed rules, mostly because I really liked Red Blade’s Free Character creater, which I used as a DM to cook up almost all of my NPC foes. Even in games I ran wit a large contingent of green-skins, I tended to treat them as leveled NPCs (why should an orc warrior be more of a mook than a low-level half orc? Make em NPCs and adjust accordingly), so it was great for making stock bandits, pirates, brigands soldiers, etc. But anyway, I was thinking about how bloviated Dungeons & Dragons and gaming in general has become, and I was wondering, “What about creating a system specific to Cirsova?”

After some brainstorming, I found it would be problematic. There are certain expectations which Cirsova would upend if it were being used for a D&D setting that would have to be omitted from any core rules that were Cirsova specific.

Was there magic in Cirsova? Yes, but a long long time ago. Most, if not all of it is gone. Clerics would pray prayers that would go unanswered, or at least answered so subtly as to not resemble a “spell”. Mages would be seen as shunned mad-men; they could learn spells and spell progression as normal, have their material components and spellbook and such… but would their spells do anything? Probably not! “Real Magic” would be performed, more likely, by charlatans and alchemists, who’d trained to fool the eyes and minds of the common folk. These were meant to be challenges to work with WITHIN a system that made allowances for such things and to serve as exceptions to the gaming norm. And imagine the player’s surprise when a character, who’d seemingly wasted their time and skill learning useless spells, find themselves somewhere that magic IS real? This twist would be lost if Cirsova were given its own setting specific system.

The twist, as was written up in my notes from years and years ago, was that when using Shuul, players could go on more fantastic adventures in which magic WAS possible. In the dreaming world, players would substitute their Intelligence for their Strength and Wisdom for Dexterity, and any spells a magic-user had learned could be used as normal. Why? Because their belief and imagination made them powerful dreamers! Because Shuul was as much ancient magic as it was drug, actions in the dreaming world COULD have effects in the waking world. The further north, the stronger the ancient northern magic. Ironically, I don’t think I had read Garth Nix’s Abhorsen yet when I’d concocted this idea… but one could think of Cirsova as something like Ancelstierre with the magic Old Kingdom either gone or destroyed, its fate a mystery for archaeologists and scholars to discern.

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