A dead country, sealed in a giant circle of death for generations, finally opened for intrepid adventurers to delve into its secrets.
One of the projects for 2022/23, The Broken Circle is a new OSR setting describing the ruins of an technologically and magically advanced country, dead and sealed for 800 years. Recently open to exploration again, the players will plumb through near pristine ruins for riches beyond their wildest dreams.
Rather than just a set dungeons, this fully imagined setting is a world where Magic-Users, Clerics, and other magical classes don’t exist, where magic is channelled by Transmuters who are just gleaning the art from scraps found within the circle, where medics heal with stolen and half understood learning, and mechanics try to revive the forgotten mastery of metal machines.
Here’s the excerpts:
It’s been 800 years since the country Amon Des died. In its place, over the years, a great circular desert appeared. Anyone who crossed the surprisingly hard line at its edge, died. Animals died. The fish that migrated through the circle died. Birds would rain their corpses on the soft sand every year at migration. Rather than decaying, everything within the circle just disintegrated into ashy sand.
Though the cataclysm has left living memory, paintings, stories, and songs live on. They all spin the events in their own way, but all agree on dark violet lightning, a great door in the sky, and a giant wrestling a great eye from within the doorway.
200 years ago, a great quake shook the land, and the birds stopped raining on to the desert. Grasses, and trees, began to sprout. Nature managed to put footholds into the sands, and the desert shrinks with every passing year.
Amon Des was a bastion of technology and magic – hoarding skills and knowledge from the rest of the world. Even with the promise of great riches and war assets within the ruins of their great cities – no one dared enter the circle for generations.
That has changed, and great expeditions into the ever shrinking deserts have returned with untold riches: precision tools, black powder weapons, and a method in which with great study and application, one may transmute the firmaments of the world itself.
You have answered the call and are ready to delve past the line of demarcation and into the heart of the desert itself. You are ready to find adventure within The Broken Circle.
This setting was designed with Old School Essentials in mind, but will work with any OSR system with minor modification. It would even work with the 5th edition of a popular role playing game, although it would not follow the expected balancing rules.
However, there are a number of changes to the base class lists that are restricted to fit with the feel of the Broken Circle – Referees, of course, can ignore these if they wish.
This settings is designed for humans only, and the base setting will not mention any demi-humans. Additionally, Magic Users, Clerics, and other spell casters are not supported, however the Transmuter class will fill the settings arcane niche.
Healing will be handled by the Medic class, and in certain situations, the Mechanic class.
Black powder weapons will be available as treasure, although ammunition will be hard to find unless certain artefacts are recovered and returned to a safe haven.
Players will be from cultures much less advanced than that of Amon Des, there will be certain things, like MechLimbs, adrenaline, aspirin, and antibiotics that will seem like magic to them. They are picking over the bones of a dead, but advanced, civilisation- who knows what horrors they may uncover.
While the lands within the broken circle were dead, there have been hundreds of years for beasts, creatures, and others to recolonise, the land will not be empty out of the desert.