Relic Framework Concept: Rochambeau

When worldbuilding, sometimes you want to create a relic framework–that is, a set of rules and and concepts that guide how a specific type of important objects function and interact. This might be ancient rings of power (one of which binds them all in darkness), whispering keys (which perhaps have a special connection to one family line), conceptual stones that if gathered can change the entire universe, color-coded energy swords, alpha-class mecha no-one knows how to build anymore, or whatever.

This idea leaped into my head when I was contemplating such a set of relics, and trying to decide if I wanted to use them as narrative devices, McGuffins, elements of an RPG (ShadowFinders, maybe? Or my long-dusty StrangeFinder Modern ideas?), or whatever. But without knowing where I am going to put it yet, this has grown to be taking enough headspace I need to jot the ideas down so I can move on with other projects.

The Throws

Sometimes, the forces of the universe imbue an object with extraordinary power, thrown off from the normal processes of being a universe. Known as a “throw” the form of a throw may impact what it can do (a wasp trapped in a hunk of amber that can be used to summon a swarm of wasps), or might be utterly unrelated (a book of sonnets that teleports anyone hit in the head with it to a random bus station in Poughkeepsie).

Throws come in three categories.

Rock: Not always mineral, rocks are always unworked, natural objects, often stones but they could also be leftover plant matter, a liquid, a salt, amber, and so on. Most rocks are about the size of a child’s fist, though much larger and smaller exceptions exist. Rocks’ powers tend to center around raw creation or destruction on a powerful but crude scale. A rock’s powers are weak against a paper throw, and strong against a scissor throw. A rock is the only thing that can destroy a scissor, and a paper is the only thing that can destroy a rock.

Paper: Paper throws are always objects that hold knowledge, and are almost always manmade. A book, cassette tape, clay tablet, vinyl record, and knotted accounting cord are all possible papers, though in rare cases something like the cross-section of a tree showing the environments impacts on it over centuries could become a paper. Paper throws tend to have powers focused on evolution, change, and to a lesser extent knowledge. A paper’s powers are weak against a scissor throw, and strong against a rock throw. A scissor is the only thing that can destroy a paper, and a paper is the only thing that can destroy a rock.

Scissor: Scissors are always something created by the action of a living thing, but they are not all man-made. While tools, weapons, clothes, and furniture are all common scissors, so are bird nests, honeycomb, and beaver dams. Scissors’ powers are generally about applied force, ranging from destruction to heating, cooling, carving, and even assembling and forging things. A scissor’s powers are weak against a rock throw, and strong against a paper throw. A scissor is the only thing that can destroy a paper, and a rock is the only thing that can destroy a scissor.

So, this leaves us with a word where people seek relics for specific purposes, but every relic is also a potential weapon against one class of throw, and vulnerable to the other class of throw.

Now, what to DO with such a framework is a much broader question.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on December 22, 2021, in Writing Basics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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