As I was writing up the starting adventure outline I realized that this is likely going to morph into a cyberpunk like urban setting for a fantasy game. Not a combination of those two elements, that is firmly in the hands of Shadowrun. The tropes and style of cyberpunk but in a definitely fantasy setting. I do have Blade in the Dark and it hits some of those notes but I want a little more emphasis on the fantasy. Something that could be used for D&D even if I’m using it for Fantasy Age.
Thankfully TV Tropes has a wealth of Cyberpunk tropes that I’m going to mine and put a more fantasy oriented spin on. Like rather than AI, perhaps ghosts of sages past. Rather than combat drugs, alchemy potions. See how much technology could be replaced by magic while still keeping within the realm of the setting. Magic computers, for example, would be a cheat. Finding the tropes that are essential to the feel without betraying that it’s a fantasy game, potentially even a high fantasy game.
Going from that list let’s try to look at three tropes to start with – Corporate Warfare, Mega-City, and The Future is Noir.
Corporate (Guild) Warfare
This one is pretty simple, aside from the various gangs etc. in the city, Guilds make a lot of sense. Like many games, Fantasy Age uses classes so that gives very clear basic lines for a guild system. Three basic classes and thirty-five specializations gives a lot of leeway. Guilds can be based off a base class (A Rogue’s Guild) or a Specialization (Dungeon Delver’s Guild) and the organization rules allow the GM to pit those guilds directly against one another, or have them hire adventurers to act indirectly against one another. Under this sort of thing the previously designed organization The Council would be “rebranded” as a merchant guild. I’m already envisioning a Healer’s Guild that charges something akin to insurance premiums but gives access to magical healing, maybe even with a high level plan that means they’ll come get you in the city and provide on the spot assistance.
One of the hallmark tropes of the genre is the Sprawl and that means moving away from my initial idea of a smaller town to a much larger urban environment of which The Claw is but one small part. I absolutely love the Night City sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020 and if I model this fantasy sprawl off anything it will be that. Clear distinctions between the haves and the have nots, seedy taverns and aristocratic restaurants, make space a premium in the low income areas and let the nobility have estates. Could even be something like the lower class areas have lots of handmade shacks etc. and the higher class areas use magical construction means.
Future Fantasy is Noir
Rain slicked streets (which means keeping that in mind when I’m looking at the weather/seasons), down on their luck heroes (drinking problems optional), low lighting, fog and all that. More of a feel than mechanics but adventures should play into heists, murder investigations, frame up jobs, moral ambiguity, corruption and that sort of thing. Standard fantasy fare like saving the Prince/Princess, the rise of the ancient evil, the long lost artifact, the one true hero born in poverty etc. won’t have a place here really. Not without some sort of noir spin on it.