Peace and quiet. It’s something this Gassy Gnoll doesn’t get much of these days. It might be that his family is running a million miles an hour in different directions. It might be that he himself his spread a wee bit thin on a few fronts. But either way it’s a rare occurrence.
Of late, I’ve discovered small islands of the stuff in strange places. A park tucked away, hidden from view by buildings. An atoll of trees and grass surrounded by the busy noise of modern life. A park bench in the shade near a few flowers. I’ve found that it doesn’t take much these days to get a taste for the natural world if you look hard enough.
But it’s made me wonder about our gaming worlds a bit. Most fantasy worlds exist in a pre-industrial state where it’s islands of civilization surrounded by wilderness. PCs go on grand cross-country journeys through a wild, untamed land teeming with creatures fighting for survival. Plenty of food for a wide variety of random encounters.
What happens when you have a modern campaign that exists in a world crowded with people in an industrial or technological age? I’m thinking of worlds like Coruscant from the [shudder] Star Wars prequels where nature has been conquered so completely there’s no green left in a landscape of chrome and plastic. Where is the nature there? In such a setting, how do you bring in random encounters to hint at the wildness of such a strange land?
I’m thinking that just like with our world, there have to be islands of nature left in such places hidden from prying eyes. Imagine an area the size of New York’s Central Park tucked away beneath layers of modernity and nurtured by sun lamps and sprinkler systems. If left alone long enough, could some sense of the wild return to creatures long domesticated?
Could characters who rely on nature as part of their very being survive in such a setting? A modern druid maintaining such a park might only rule a small domain but could be fluent in plumbing, electronics, and any number of other modern skills to keep the systems in check to keep their flock alive and healthy.
How would such an individual treat intruders? Would they simply become a meal for hungry carnivores or would they become compost to feed the trees and flowers? To what lengths would such an NPC go to keep their realm secret and undiscovered? And what would prompt such a person to ask for outside help when needed?
Peace, quiet, and a bit of space to commune with nature in whatever form it takes could very quickly become an obsession, don’t you think? What would you do to protect that?
Have you explored any such obsessions in your campaigns? If so, how?