I’ve written about five characters for Athanor, plus the relationship diagram and some general setting info. This is a difficult setting for me to write, partly because of the way I normally run games.
In my own games, It’s pretty rare for me to have an NPC who is really unreasonable. I try to make most of the characters relateable, with motivations and goals that are important but not so overwhelming that they’re, say, willing to sacrifice lives. Those motivations I leave for the villains.
Athanor is intended to be kind of a murderfest. However, you can’t just throw a bunch of Exalts into a room and say, “You have to kill each other,” and not expect them to break open the room yelling, “Who made you boss?” In order for the central conceit of Athanor to work, the NPCs need good reasons to be at each other’s throats. These need to be a fairly bloodthirsty group of characters with longstanding grudges and/or a lust for power. They need to think that one another are awful people, and it can’t be just a misunderstanding that’s easily cleared up. That, in turn, means that a lot of them need to actually be awful people.
In many ways, writing the previous settings was like creating a group of PCs, with some supporting characters and a couple villains. Athanor is more like creating a group of villains. On the up side, that makes it easy for people who just want to drop them into their own games and not use this setting. On the down side, it’s harder for me to write 34 pages about a bunch of people I don’t like very much.
I started this project looking for a challenge that would improve my ability to write good characters and settings. Looks like I’m finding that challenge.