Yeah, right there in the NaGa DeMon rules: an RPG has to have a setting as well as rules. Hrm. Well, since we’re designing something generic, it’s not too much of a stretch to come up with one – in fact, it’s useful if one is trying to sell a generic system to have some pre-created support material for people to use, as-is or hacked, or even as a benchmark for crafting their own.
I want to hold onto the previously discussed premise for use, and I think for right now I’m going to flesh out a fantasy backdrop. My tastes in fantasy gravitate towards the baroque; I like the feel of cosmopolitan fantasy places like Sigil or New Crobuzon, which are kitchen-sinky but not too much so. Any setting in which magic and weirdness are treated as technologies, and societies have adapted them in the practical ways that actual societies tend to do, appeals to me. The Secret of Zir’An and the Iron Kingdoms will probably also be a bit of an influence for the same reasons. I want a bit of the feel of pulp swashbuckling action, but not as jaded as pulp tends to be: I want a sense of wonder and grandeur like Tolkien, but imagine that Tolkien had read a lot of Howard and replaced the songs with fight scenes.
An interesting idea occurs to me: what if this is a meta-setting, and not necessarily a stand-alone? I’ve always liked the trope of traveling to another world from a starting location for some important reason: shades of the Narnia series, perhaps, as well as Thomas Covenant. Let’s not have the method of travel be arbitrary and out of the players’ control, though: anyone who knows how and is willing to make the trip can get there. I have the image of a very large gate in a far-off frontier that you can go to in order to access this place – something suitably magical and epic, like “a month’s journey south from the southernmost land”.
So what do you find there? I think the place should be reasonably self-contained; it’s not a whole world, but perhaps a very large island, big enough to contain a number of different cultures and societies, but not so big that it becomes one of those settings where you can just stay in one pocket of the map and don’t have to interact with the overlapping cultures. (Creation, I’m looking at you.) The kitchen-sink element comes from the fact that the gate to get to this island basically appears anywhere the conditions are fulfilled: go to the southernmost edge of civilization and then strike out for a month, and on the dawn of the appointed day, you’ll turn around and see the two obelisks, as far apart as ten strong men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, through which you can pass into Viridian.
Okay, more on this once I start writing it down. 🙂