OK, this is just a teaser. I'll have more soon. I haven't given the game a name yet, but here's the general idea...
Basically, it's an Eberron Campaign with a sort of Steampunk element mixed in... (Magepunk if you will) Very gritty, lots of corruption, political intrigue, crime and generous amounts of gratuitous sex and violence.
Since the end of The Last War, more than 10 years hence, the Thirteen Houses have turned their attention from making war, to making profits. Where once the ship yards of Zilargo produced warships and powerful weapons to do battle over the five kingdoms, they now produced massive galleons and cargo vessels that could swallow those other ships whole. Kundarak Banks, Sivis Message Stations, and Ghallanda Hostels exist in nearly every city.
The moving city of Argonth conducts its age old circuits, but not for military readiness. Now it serves as a mobile market, conducting trade on a vast scale along the kingdom's borders. House Orien, the masters of overland travel, have controlled the city for the last decade, and the prosperity of those living on the moving city are nearly legend.
House Lyrandar plies the skies in ever larger airships, some requiring three or four elementals to get off the ground. These monstrous ships can carry nearly anything, and often do, traveling between the continents to bring the wares of Khorvaire to the far reaches of the known world, and return with trade goods from the same.
Magic and Artifice has permeated every aspect of modern life. Even in the most modest of homes one can find elemental bound ovens, water-makers, air-movers, and other devices that provide convenience and comfort. And no place has more magic and artifice at work than Sharn, the City of Towers. Skycoaches, airsleds, airships, and countless other flying machines fill the skies in and around the great city, bolstered by the Syrania Manifest Zone. Constructs of every shape and size roam the streets performing jobs that would cost the city more to hire workers to perform. In the hazardous conditions of the city sewers, foundries, and deep in the poisonous air of the Cogs, more constructs labor tirelessly to keep the raw materials of the artifice guilds flowing. And this allows the manufacture of magical goods on a vast scale. The simplest ones can be purchased for very reasonable prices.
This overdependence on magic has given the Dragonmarked Houses, and their powerful guilds vast influence on government, laws, economics and social structure. The people are divided in their views, with some seeing magic and artifice as beneficial, an example of their advanced culture and development. Others see it as destabilizing society, making the people weaker as magic does more and more for them. Some view artifice as a dangerous presence, with the memory of war too fresh in their minds to ignore. Some see magic as a mitigating factor, offering balance and equality for everyone, while others view the gap between the haves and have-nots as expanding, separating them into ever greater levels of classes.
Whatever the view of the individual, there is no denying the overpowering presence of magic in everyday life.
And as minor magics have insinuated themselves into every part of the average citizen's life, the Houses have restricted more powerful spells and items to themselves or those with enough money to buy dispensations. The most advanced magic and artifice is far too expensive for the average citizen, and so only the very rich are able to afford these. And then there are the most powerful items that are so rare and so valuable that only the elite, the dragonmarked houses themselves, or nobility can posses them.
The Watch keeps a close eye on magic use, cracking down hard on any public displays of harmful magic or public uses of enchantment effects. For the public good, they say, but the rich can buy licenses which allow them to cast as they will in spite of the laws, though good taste and decorum tend to discourage such blatant uses of magic.
Mundane weapons are still legal for the public as a whole, as are minor enchantments, but powerful magical weapons and items require proper licensing or at least a fair bribe to the watchman who stops you on the street.
The Watch itself has grown even more corrupt as House armsmen gained more power outside their enclaves. The average House scion or soldier is all but exempt from Watch arrest, as the Houses police their own, but the Watch is all the more brutal with the average citizen for having to stand by and watch as the dragonmarked and their kin flout the laws.
The Houses themselves have stepped beyond even the authority of the city itself. Rather than relying on, and being subject to, the City Watch, they have formed private armies they call 'House Security'. Within their enclaves, which have spread widely throughout the upper levels of the city, the House Security are the law. City watch, constables, garrison soldiers, even the kings own men, are trumped by the House authority within their own enclaves. They are treated like embassies, exempt from kingdom law within the perimeters of their holdings.
Most laws in Sharn are enforced with an eye to the pocketbook. If you have enough money to buy off the Watchman you are almost guaranteed to get away with most any minor crime. Major crimes- those that threaten to bring public scrutiny from the press, that is- tend to be investigated with fervor no matter the social standing of the suspect but money again shows its power when the crimes come to court. But by then the newshounds have moved on to some other sensation and generally miss when the rich man arrested for some heinous crime is quietly released after being found not guilty.
House Cannith – University District, The Cogs
House Denieth – Most of Upper Tavick's Landing, Copper Arch
House Ghallanda – Harreth's Folly, Hope's Peak, Cornerstone
House Jorasco – Harreth's Folly, Hope's Peak, Cornerstone
House Kundarak – Korranath, Korran-Thriven, Highhold
House Lyrandar – Highest Towers
House Medani – Everbright
House Orien – Terminus, Tavick's Market, Cogsgate, Wroann's Gate
House Phiarlan – Shae Lias, University District
House Sivis – Den'iyas
House Tharashk – Clifftop, Warden Towers
House Thuranni – Sharn's Welcome, Dragoneyes
House Vadalis – Skysedge Park
All Houses – Dragon Towers
All Houses – Skyway
Some general guidelines for creating your character.
1) The aristocracy have become an oppressive and dominating presence in the world, and the most aristocratic of these are not from nobility, or even royalty. The highest ranked of society come from the 13 Dragonmarked Houses. That said, if you take a dragonmark, expect to be treated harshly by those not of high society... so pretty much everyone.
2) The common folk are more or less living in a lulled existence of suppression and subjugation. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is increasing, and they don't see a practical way out.
3) There is a small resistance among the oppressed common, and they are increasing in influence, power and popularity. Many think a conflict between the ruling elite and the resistance is inevitable. Some look forward to it, others are terrified.