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Bloodshadows: The Fantasy Noir Reality

Posted: Jan. 22, 2005

Back to Rule Bites.

Bloodshadows, the D6 Adventures sourcebook, began its life as a worldbook for the MasterBook system. This supplement detailed Marl, a dark and magical world where gangsters and hustlers rub elbows with demons and mages, and the millenia-old Godswar is being fought in the shadows and on the streets. Marl is a world of fantasy noir- the society and trappings of 1930’s Film Noir movies, blended with a dark fantasy world.

From the time I first read it, Marl seemed perfect for adaptation into a Torg cosm. Like many of the original cosms, such as the Nile Empire or the Cyberpapacy, it melded two genres into a unique setting. However, West End Games has announced that there will be no Marl sourcebook for Torg 2.0. In order to rectify this oversight, I am presenting my interpretation of Bloodshadows as a Torg cosm.

Note: This article assumes that you have access to the MasterBook version of Bloodshadows. The details below are, of necessity, somewhat sketchy and depend on the worldbook to flesh them out. The page numbers referred to are for the MasterBook worldbook. The MasterBook version has mechanics that are compatible with Torg, so require little translation.

The Reality of Bloodshadows

Axioms

Magic 18: Marl is a highly magical world, even more so than Aysle. Sorcerers from this cosm have access to all magics available in Aysle, as well as some unique magics, such as cantrips and “permanent” duration spells. Marl’s magic is heavily influenced by the World Law of Arcana (see below). In addition, the Law of Darkness ensures that magical creatures from this cosm are dark and forboding.

Social 19: Society in Selastos and Galatia shares common slang and social structures from 1930’s Earth, such as police, elected officials, newspapers and the like. The base Social axiom for Marl is 19, allowing for the existence of economics and psychology. The Law of Darkness acts to limit the Social axiom, however, making it effectively a 13 for most other purposes. This means that Marl has no nations or extensive bureaucracies, and is far more “medieval” in its social structures than Core Earth.

Spirit 1: Marl is the site of a massive Godswar, orchestrated by the eternal and transcendant forces of Order and Chaos. Cults of both Order and Chaos exist, but there are no priests, no religious congregations, and no evidence of miracles. Instead, the cults gain their powers through magic.

The cosm’s Spirit axiom of 1 allows for the concept of, and belief in, Gods but spiritual energies cannot be called upon. In game terms, the faith skill is available to denizens of Marl, but focus is not, and using it is a contradiction.

Tech 21: For the most part, Marl evinces technology typical of Tech 21: Tommy guns, motorcars, pistols, and so forth. However, Marl seems to have no knowledge of airplanes or aviation. These inventions are possible, but no one has yet to develop them, as airplanes are of limited use in the cities and flying over the Wilderness likely a hazardous or lethal activity.

World Laws:

Law of Order and Chaos: The Godswar between Order and Chaos rages in back alleys and city streets. No one can escape this covert struggle, and choosing one side over the other may bring safety or all new dangers.

People can have one of five alignments: Order, Chaos, Oathbreaker-Order, Oathbreaker-Chaos, and “none.” Choosing an alignment affects a character’s relationships with the various factions and also affects their ability to use certain magical spells (per the Magic chapter, pg. 90, The World of Bloodshadows).

All cults of individual “deities” are also linked to the various factions; gaining an add in faith in any cult automatically gives you an alignment with the faction backing that cult. Having an alignment indicates your character accepts, implicitly if not explicitly, the tenets of their alignment. Allegiance and alignment are discussed on pg. 16 of The World of Bloodshadows sourcebook.

Law of Darkness: Despite the outré environment and oddball denizens, Marl society resembles film noir movies. Femme fatales exist (many of which are vampires and succubi) as do mobsters and detectives.

This is a “color” World Law, which enforces noir genre trappings. Betrayals are common, nobody is really pure, everyone has secrets, and so forth. Look to a good discussion of noir movies and the genre for ideas.

This World Law has another effect. Marl has a high Magic axiom, and so supports a variety of magical creatures. However, Marl’s supernatural creatures are not leprechauns and fairies. Instead, they are undead, ogres, and various demons and demon halfbreeds.

This World Law has affected the magical creatures native to Marl, in order to mold them into terrifying and unnatural shapes. In play, entities are by far the most common Marl magical creatures. Elementals and enchanted beings are very rare and those that exist are twisted in some dark and threatening way. (Hey, if you want pixies and fairies, go play a nice fantasy campaign.)

In addition Marl denizens, despite their knowledge of psychology and economics, have a functional Social of 13. For most interactions use a 13, for psychology and economics use a 19.

Law of Arcana: This World Law is what gives Marl’s magic its distinctive feel. Under the Law of Arcana, magic is divided into many schools, each with its own theme and idiom. The four magic skills are limited skills on Marl (much like the science skill is), each limit corresponding to a specific school (such as divination: necromancy). Each spell corresponds to a specific school, and the schools are limited to effects that match its idiom.

Instead of taking Mental stun damage from Backlash, Marl’s mages suffer weird side effects from Feedback (which can, as an example, cause the caster or others to begin vomiting nails). Spell designers use the MasterBook SFX system to create spells (instead of the rules in the Aysle Sourcebook). Cantrips and permanent duration spells are possible and Aysle’s Arcane Magic chart is unknown. For those who wish to go that far, Bloodshadows even offers a new magic type- Summoning (although it’s just as easy to use Torg’s magic types instead.)

Marl has an odd Arcane Knowledge (dimension) that relates to extradimensional worlds, like those demons are summoned from. Gamemasters can either keep this as an idiosyncratic Arcane Knowledge native only to Marl, or they can replace it with true knowledge.

Updated: Jan. 1, 2007
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