There is a village, surrounded by a sea of impassible mists. The only things the villagers can get to outside of the village are a mountain with a cave system beneath it, and the river that flows from the mountain. All of the players are from different families of this village, and each family is responsible for some of the things that sustain the whole village. Was there ever anything beyond the mists? There are tales of dreams, nothing more.
The reasoning here is that I'd like to experiment with making the world more accessible to players. I love what we've accomplished with DtD, and I'd like to see what the other end of that spectrum looks like. Scaling down to stakes that are immediate, visible, and quantifiable also has a lot of appeal. I don't expect that the whole campaign would stay at that level, but that's fine.In the village there is a Great Machine that has lain dormant for as long as can be remembered. When it sparks back to life, it brings change to the village, spouting instructions and teaching the villagers to use strange new talents. In this way the villagers begin to relearn the secrets of magic and science. Many adventures center on repairs or modifications to the Great Machine.
Ideally, there is also some kind of no-marshal-needed way to interact with and enjoy the machine. I've been very pleased that Martel's Table has given players something to look at and think about, but they can only do things when a marshal is present. The next step on the path of Interesting Stuff is to give it moving parts that the players can mess with and resolve without a marshal present.Several years ago I wrote this post about changing the scale of games. I'd be pursuing this idea, with the addition of a few more tasks - something that was like being nobility, but not. Maybe a "family of the Council Fire" - a few families that for some reason have a hereditary right to lead the village council. They're a priestly and judicial caste. These backgrounds are a big part of how the game sets its tone for the players. The more unorthodox version of this is a more formalized character history process, but I'd need to give that more thought. I don't know what kinds of dramatic events might have shaped this village, but I am happy enough with Historical Events that it would be tough for me not to repeat that trick. Some of the burden currently shouldered by Historical Events would instead rest on familial connections that Plot goes out of its way to help establish.
There are at least three options open as player races - that is, human and two others. I might go with something like elves (green highlights, pointed ears) and veytikka (gray skin, maybe black nails, claws; fangs optional), and further give each of them another distinctive skin tone option (maybe veytikka also sometimes have human-looking skin that is dappled with black, and maybe some elves are dark elves (but not evil as a result... they just look different, to make the point that non-humans have as much internal variation as humans). Also, new player races are very likely to become available over the course of play. Fortunately I am never going to have to implement this, so I can stop at the brainstorming stage. (It is worth noting that the earliest conversations that eventually became DtD were predicated on "never having to implement this.")
This setting seems like a perfect chance to have an all-humans campaign, but in working on DtD I've realized that makeup races are really useful in distinguishing two different characters played by the same person. It's easier and more memorable than making sure every single character you need to play has a distinctive piece of costuming. At the same time, I've never quite gotten on board with the huge numbers of character races seen in some settings.