Here’s an extended summary …
Thirty Three years in the making (and now on our 5th edition), Cosmothea kicks off in the year 3057 AD, seven hundred years after the glorious Age of Wonder, in which the taager built the galactic communications network, spawned numerous amazing technologies, ushered in an era of peace, and then after several embarrassing blunders that threw the universe into chaos, shrank back into isolation and left others to pick up the pieces.
The universe is huge, with numerous worlds upon which are scattered the various species and cultures, some so unlike others that stepping through a stargate might bring familiarity or culture shock. On other worlds, technology runs rampant, and AI’s have been granted the right to vote; great ships leap across the vast emptiness of space to wage war on other galactic cultures; and in remote corners, some mortals have manifested super powers.
Here and there in hidden places across the vast ‘verse, are hidden labs where scientists experiment, attempting to build the ultimate weapon, or the next super soldier, sometimes such places are found abandoned and forgotten, and at other times, their horrible creations have escaped or lie in wait to be found.
But not all things hidden spell trouble, nor is a blade the answer to every confrontation. There are treasures to be had, useful secrets and wisdom to be gained, and the greatest rewards for serious adventurers can sometimes be found in their own personal growth, in forging alliances, guilds, ending tyranny, winning in tournaments, building a custom war wagon or carving a reputation as a gifted and powerful speaker, arbitrator or entertainer and other pursuits.
Traders, including Advisors, Advocates, Entertainers and Runari – leaders and knowledge brokers, can make a good living without even drawing a blade. Specialists, Archaeologists, Engineers, Technologists, among others, can develop new inventions and take special advantage of having such a diverse access to distant realms and rare antiquities. Indeed, the opportunities and magical and technological curiosities are many, and the places to go are as endless as the stars. No longer must one seek fulfillment in but a single world, or even a handful of worlds, when all of Cosmothea awaits those brave enough to face it.
Some species that once were great have now fallen into obscurity. Only recently have gnomes regained their knowledge of exotic technologies, but their greatest creations since the Fall, steam and clockwork technology, are mere shadows of their former achievements. On a few worlds, the gnomes are just starting to enter an Industrial age. In other areas, gnomes command huge mechs, but on most, their tech has been outlawed and they only dabble in secret, or fuss over their own ancient tech, trying to sort out how to make them work again.
Magic need not be mundane, nor predictable. Spells can take many forms, and are as diverse as the mages that cast them, and are limited by their own creativity. With little effort, a mage, or shaper as they are usually referred to, can alter the appearance and complexity of a spell, and later, even the very fabric of a spell, miracle or enchantment. Yet however handy, magic has a dark side as well, and should not be taken lightly.
Spell books are fragile, easily damaged tools long-since abandoned. Thousands of years ago, Shapers discovered the flesh-tainting side effects of wielding magic, and many fell to the Withering, before learning how to channel their power through floating templates. Arcane repositories that safely bare the bulk of a mage’s power, arcane templates store runes and formulas needed to shape magic, and enable their owners to customize and expand their options. Though mages have advanced to the point of being able to efficiently use magic, it is still an art form and there are many mysteries surrounding its nature.
Shapers may not understand everything about their craft, but they have learned useful techniques, including how to manifest guardians to ward their templates from hacking, or assault an enemy’s arcane template. With experience, they can bring to bear a variety of special attacks and defenses that take the concept of “wizard duel” to new heights.
Templates can become damaged on the battlefield. It isn’t uncommon for the victor to rush over after a battle and attempt to salvage a fallen shaper’s template before it burns out or self-destructs, depending on how it was configured, and how skillfully the shaper proceeds.
Magical scrolls, like spell books, are a thing of the distant past. Wands are wimpy, and therefore don’t exist in Cosmothea. Shapers rely on spell shards and exotic arcane conduits called racassas, to cast spells. Racassas, elaborate, hilt-like devices that feature a setting for attaching f’lantii – cubes of power, often include a light weapon mount.
When cornered, a shaper can rely on their backup blade for protection and never run out of maki, weak, but useful arcane tricks that help them in a jam. Their templates are floating works of art, and can be fashioned to resemble anything from a simple, ornate disk to a castle, smoldering skull, or some otherworldly terror, making shapers not only powerful opponents, but intimidating even before unleashing their power.
Quintessential shapers, as well as Conceptualists, Gun Mages, Street Mages and Technoshapers, pursue their own take on arcane magic, and for better or worse, have changed life across the cosmos, throughout time.
Miracle workers such as holy adepts, Annointed, elemental adepts, nature adepts and wild adepts serve a host of new and ancient gods and god houses, and know well that their powerful masters are not above intervention, though whether that’s a good thing or bad is not always clear.
Among the dimensions reside a great number of powerful beings, Gods and other colossal beings of legend struggle to keep each other in check, lest the universe tremble and perish in their quest for power and pleasure. More than once, their conflicts have reached mortal soil and forever tainted the land and creatures who dwell there, in ways that even the greatest shapers shudder to consider.
Nearly every world touched by magic has become either tainted, or stunted technologically because of it. Obsessed with magic as the easy answer to scientific roadblocks, and at times used irresponsibly, societies have evolved differently than on magic-rare worlds. This has resulted in a wide variety of cultures and unusual conditions such as the world of Nimara, an advanced civilization that lacks traditional technologies, but enjoys many of the same trappings, only powered by magic and constructs instead.
Recently, some of the more technologically sophisticated worlds have rediscovered magic, thanks to the Nexus Disciples, magic-focused warriors clinging to their ancient heritage. Magic has been labeled the new “green energy” and in some areas such worlds use it to power appliances, weapons and even starships. But on worlds where magical blunders and arcane wars have scarred the landscape, arcane-infused abominations run amok, objects have become fused with memories and a semblance of life, islands and sky ships float, magic-fueled trains roar across the landscape, colossal clockwork mechs and other oddities exist.
Prax, the homeworld of the elves and gnomes was destroyed thousands of years ago, during an epic war of magic and unimaginable technologies. Both species were stripped of their most dangerous assets, yet continued to hunt each other across the dimensions and galaxies for centuries.
Magic is frowned upon in some regions, while technology is severely restricted in others. Only in modern times have the elves and gnomes managed to settle their differences, more or less. While they have largely managed to tolerate each other as of late, the worlds they visited may never recover. Here and there are caches of ancient magic and technology, a treasure for some and trap for others.
Wealthy merchant houses, infamous collectors, adventurers and even simple farmers have come upon such ancient and powerful objects, and whether it be the wreckage of a gnomish battle barge crashed in a field or deep below the waves or in caves, the consequences of their presence has often been disastrous. And showing off such wonders may bring one notoriety or unhealthy attention.
Furthermore, the ancient, and mysterious Architects have traveled the cosmos, leaving behind strange machines and monuments as well as magical gates that provide access to the far corners of the universe, for those that can sort out how to activate them and are daring enough to enter. While some of the ancient gates have become corrupt and unreliable, there are always those willing to risk a chance to discover a new world, and new opportunities.
Empires built upon the remains of older, shattered empires, themselves resting on the ruins of yet older, have been known to reside just above forgotten dungeons and other places of dread. Morphing pits, products of a more chaotic era, still reside in hidden temples, forever changing those who dare enter their depths and learn their secrets. These and many more dangers and fantastic locations await in the Cosmothean universe.
Next up: A Sneak Peek at one of the many paintings we made for the game.