Saturday, April 7, 2018

[EoK] Ethernet of Keys

For the longest time I've wanted to come up with a low magic setting. I think I've figured out enough details, and hopefully settled on a name for it, to put it up here. I do not intend to stop working on my high magic setting anytime soon.

Tokyo in near future, by iacocca

The Premise

Ethernet of Keys (abbreviation EoK) is a setting that's based in a modern world, with a focus on technology on our level. This world is interconnected by ethernet, people all around the world use smartphones, computers, tablets and other kinds of smart electronic devices, virtual realities are accessed, vehicles are driven and guns are fired. Unlike in the rest of D&D, magic has a limited presence in this setting to allow for greater focus on technology, as well as allowing there to be more mystery behind magic. With exception of an advanced virtual reality and a possible AI, the technology won't be developed much beyond what we have in our world, so do not expect perfect humanoid robots, giant mechas or cybernetic implants just for the sake of being better instead of using them as prosthesis.

My approach to cosmology for this setting will be a planar minimalism — I'll challenge myself to make as little planes as possible to keep focus of EoK on other things. As far as I can tell right now, I plan for there to be about five planes of existence, but that is just an early rough estimate.

I am going to also limit the races given in the setting, reworking the racial system as it works now. I plan to get rid of, or move into wilderness, of most classical fantasy races — elves, halflings, dwarves, gnomes, bird people, etc. — leaving myself only with humans and “humans with an arcane call” (replacing effectively the planetouched).

For all of this, I plan to modify the D&D 5th Edition. I doubt it's going to be an “improvement”, but it's something I wish to attempt for my home group, and for the opportunity to test out my game design abilities.

The Name

Believe it or not, the name was probably the toughest decision to make for me. Naming things is hard. Eventually, I settled on this name for the reasons I'll list below:
  • Ethernet. The name of this world's internet comes from the fact that humanity has figured out how to transport radio waves through the ethereal plane, where they go much faster than in the material plane, due to the lack of obstacles. It's a net that connects everything through the ether, thus the name Ethernet was born. Sadly, nothing bigger than an atom has been transported through the ether yet.
  • Keys. I did want to connect it to some symbolic object, and figured keys could do, because keys are used to lock things you don't want to share with others.
  • Whole name thus talks about the internet full of things you don't want to share with others, but share nonetheless, reflecting one of the core themes.


Here's a list of several themes I plan to build this world upon, written briefly with no further details for now. The dominant theme for this setting is privacy, but I made space for other themes too. Some of these themes might be expanded upon in future articles, some might be left out in the future.
  • Change versus escape versus adaptation
  • Faith versus doubt
  • Fate versus free will
  • Real versus perceived heroism
  • Individual versus society
  • Knowledge versus ignorance
  • Nature versus technology
  • Greed/power as downfall
  • Hierarchy in nature and in city
  • Identity crisis — inner, outer and virtual persona
  • Immortality and necessity of perfection
  • Isolation as destructive force
  • Lost honor and injustice(edited)

DELIRIUM - A Fantasy Short Movie, by Bogdan-MRK


In place of races, I have developed a system for giving out racial traits, allowing players to build themselves unique despite all being humans. I will use AeronDrake's Modern Handbook of rules and Modern Magic UA as major sources of inspiration. As I stated previously, I am going to leave out all the casters, half-casters and third-casters (with one exception), but I am going to fill the system in with new classes to allow for more unique characters, as listed below with their sources:
  • Barbarian (PHB)
  • Fighter (VF)
  • Inventor (PHB, Warlock that's heavily reflavored) 
  • Monk* (PHB, reworked to work as a non-magical class)
  • Pugilist* (Pugilist, if monk won't work)
  • Ranger* (YARV)
  • Rogue (PHB)
  • Scholar* (AiME, Sterling Vermin once it'd be finished, or another resource)
  • Warden (AiME)
  • Warmage (Warmage)
* not sure if they are necessary, in consideration until then
AiME - Adventures in Middle Earth
Pugilist - Pugilist class made by Sterling Vermin
VF -  Variant fighter made by /u/layhnet 
YARV - Yet Another Ranger Variant made by /u/ImFromNASA reworked to not use spell slots
Warmage - Warmage created by Middle Finger of Vecna

edit: Pugilist and Ranger are out, rangers are unnecessary in a setting that's focused on cities, and pugilists are unnecessary due to edits made to the monk

I plan to post the new racial system soon, may create some backgrounds in my spare time, and do some more posts in the future. Furthermore, it is possible I'll use one of the talent tree reworks of feat system that I saw circulating around /r/UA, and I will include most of the psionic talents from Psionic Handbook as cantrips in order to allow for a greater selection of cantrips, seeing how it's the only kind of magic available to players.


Most of these apply to any of my games, but I'm including them in this article to keep track of everything.
  • Anytime a creature falls to 0 HP, it gains one level of exhaustion.
  • Magic items must be experimented with and studied in order to discover their abilities.
  • No electronic radio, satellite or cellular communications work in areas affected by magic, this includes areas affected by spells, e.g. Silence cancels a phone's ability to text message.
  • Magic items can scramble electronic computer and TV screens temporarily while within certain radius.
  • Electronic devices that disrupt magic in an area are fairly common.
  • Due to the religion being a part of the supernatural world, the skill of Religion will be replaced with Technology. Technology reflects your ability to do some uncommon tasks using electronics in general such as understanding how unfamiliar device works, programming, doing tough worksheet calculations, setting up websites etc. Anything related to religion can now be rolled on with Arcana instead.
  • If players have companions and the DM allows it, players get to control them in combat until the DM says otherwise. That includes building their character out of combat. This is a houserule intended for my solo games, to make them easier and more engaging.

Worldbuilding and History

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to do much of this yet. I plan to do it in a near future, after finishing the racial system, seeing how the racial system could be useful for many players and not just for me. This should include a hex map and some rough outline for the world's history.

That's it for today. Next article should be about my new racial system for EoK. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Logo Credits
Font used: Dubstep heroes font, icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

No comments:

Post a Comment