For Jesse Schell’s Game Design class, our prompt was to create an original tabletop role-playing game world and then run a session (about 3 hours) of the world. The world could tell any story but needed to feature a puzzle of some sort.
I created the original world of Arlantha, a mystical kingdom where different types of animals coexist and live in harmony away from humans. The set-up to the RPG is as such:
At the center of Arlantha is the Forest of Vardis – its greenery and forest life is powered by the Allcrystal, a sacred stone that sits at the Heart of the Forest and connects out to all its trees and brush. Arlantha exists as a realm outside the Human World, and there are Doorways scattered around the globe that act as gateways into the forest. The Doorways can be opened from the Arlantha side and are kept open for a very short while, as there is a great fear of Humans coming into Arlantha.
At some point in the recent past, Aardvarth, a favoured stallion of House Emory of England stumbled upon one of these Doorways that transported him from the Human Realm into Arlantha. Unlike the rest of the animals, who have one name and a numerical designation for their generation of name, Aardvarth has two names, signifying his outsider position as “one of the humans.” Years ago, animals freely passed into and out of the Doorways, but in recent decades, there is minimal travel across Realms. Now, basically all the animals are born inside Arlantha, and animals coming from the Human Realm, like Aardvarth, are deemed dangerous.
See, because back in the day, animals possessed sentience and could communicate mentally with each other and with nature. However, this sentience is slowly dissipating from Arlantha, to the point that only a select few have it. Malinda IV, a cat, possesses this skill but, in order to retain the trust and respect (she has a reputation as the mother of the forest) of the other animals, tries not to use it.
Many animals believe that the loss of sentience signals that the Allcrystal is dying off and are trying to come up with ways to make a new one. Others believe the filth of humans has been leeching over into their realm and believe that they should close the Portals so no one can enter and exit. Many animals also believe that the new way of living, WITHOUT sentience, is better because it is more private (basically a lot of animals want there to be more privacy and isolationism and less dangerous.
Soon after Aardvarth entered the realm, the most Ancient of the animals, the Ja’rak, who are directly descended from human animals and the oldest in the forest, had a member of their tribe go mad with his sentience, killing another animal. This led to a vote of having the Ja’rak banished, which they resisted. The ensuing fights (known as the Ja’rak Rebellion) left much of the Ja’rak killed. Aardvarth fought alongside the other animals and was key to winning this fight. The remaining Ja’rak, including their leader, Jakar, were then banished from the forest, forced to roam the more barren wastelands of Arlantha.
At the time of their banishment, they were experimenting with how to make new crystals to power the realm, should the ancient Allcrystal be destroyed. Nowadays, Aardvarth has the respect of some animals, mainly those who fear sentience. But several, including Bores III, the de facto leader of the animals due to his strength, still do not trust him and see him as an outsider. Malinda, however, has taken a kindness to Aardvarth.
Soon after this set-up, humans are spotted in the realm and the adventure begins. Players can play as Aardvarth, Bores, or Malinda as they try to figure out how humans could have returned to their world and if something even more sinister is at play.
My full-scale documentation can be viewed here (turn to page 9 for the Adventure):