Future Games, Dust

Posted on July 6, 2012 by


With the fourth and final arc of High Seas only a game away, I cannot help but start thinking about what come next.  True, my friend Tyler has a short horror game planned, we still have a few games of Space Marines left, Alex has promised us all an epic undead game, and I know that we’re looking at several playtests for D&D Next, but I just don’t feel like a proper DM if I don’t know what I’ll be running next.

I’ve decided on Dust, a fantasy western set in our homebrew campaign setting.  Needless to say, setting something like this in a traditional fantasy world is a bit of a challenge.  After all, I want fast-paced gunslinging action in a world that has barely discovered black powder.

Dust will be set in the Rathan Wastes, a wide stretch of red desert interspersed with marshlands located far inland from the Creswell region (described here).  A little over fifty years before the start of the game, a sinkhole collapsed underneath a halfling caravan that was passing through the region, revealing an ancient ruin filled with incredible artifacts.  When word of this discovery spread, adventurers and fortune-seekers came from all over in the hopes of striking it rich.

Now the original dig-site is the large mining town of Terrin’s Find, named after the caravan leader who founded it, and other towns have been founded throughout the Rathan Wastes by other treasure hunters hoping to find something of value, and while some do manage to find ancient treasures, many others leave empty-handed.  One of the settlements furthest into the wastes is the small town of Dust.  In Dust, law is hard to come by and trust is a luxury that few can afford.

The Rathan Wastes present dangers of their own for those who inhabit them, even above the Manticores, Ankhegs, Stirges, Owlbears, and other beasts who call the wastes their home.  For centuries the Painted Elves and Orcs who inhabit the wastes have been at war, fighting for the resources to survive.  While the Elves will usually leave people along that don’t invade their territory or attack their people, the Orcs are savage, leading raiding parties that leave nothing but ruin in their wake.

At the same time, the ruins present their own dangers.  Whatever people left them behind were extremely advanced magically.  Golems, Warforged, and other Automatons are common in the ruins, and while some of them can be salvaged and made useful (making them precisely the treasures that people are looking for in the first place) others are dangerous in their own right.

Of course, there is another treasure to be found in the vaults.  Spellguns.

While Spellguns may still be something that I’d like to work out mechanically, I’m in love with the idea conceptually.  Ancient mage-tech that allows me to run a pistol-slinging game without gunpowder?  Yes please.

I don’t want something like this to replace the bow, or crossbow, and I want them to feel special.  I want the player to feel the weight of their own personal arcane sixgun every time they pull the trigger.  While the weapons may start each day capable of firing six shots, I’d like for the players to be able to spend healing surges to reload the weapon.  Hopefully this will make each shot feel like it counts, without making them feel like resources too precious to use.

Time will tell, and mechanically there’s a lot of work to do yet, but I’m excited to run something so far from any other game I’ve ever been a part of.

Just not as excited as I am for the last season of High Seas.

Posted in: Dust, Game Talk, Gamecraft