A peanut butter and chocolate style RPG

posted by Lazer Vampire Jr. Original SA post

############ The Secret of Zir'An ###############

A peanut butter and chocolate style RPG

An example of the physical core rulebook. Remember this image, because this is what gets this game into trouble with consumers.


The Secret of Zir'An was released in 2005, during a time when White Wolfs Arthaus imprint was publishing stuff for small studios or other random projects which the guys at WW felt merited further investment. Production value wise it had some of the guys at UDON do their artwork, though sometimes it looks like all they paid for was a sketch on a napkin, its still light years ahead of its competitors.

Zir'An is what you might call post-cataclysm steampunk fantasy, where everything was amazing and great and then it all got broken and fucked and now slowly things are getting more advanced again but its different now. (Does this sound familiar? Yeah there are a few RPGs that follow this initial setting seed so these guys aren't incredibly original but there are some neat wrinkles).

Let's not dally, straight to the introduction chapter!

Chapter 1 Overview

We start off with some intro fiction about a writer who goes to the Periphery(basically ancient desert ruins on an island chain removed from most civilization), people show how tough they are to him, and then promptly die horribly, and he is one of the few survivors, now on the hunt for some ancient evil they released. Pulpy.

Then we have a page sized side bar with additional fiction that lays things out a bit more clearly.

The world of Zir’An is one of change, of destruction and
renewal, a world reshaped by war. Countless eras have come
and gone, countless empires have risen and fallen, destroying
themselves only to be reborn again. The ruins of these ancient
conflicts, these forgotten epochs, lie buried and silent in the
dim corners of the world. Evidence of the cycle of creation
and destruction, of mighty empires that once dominated the
globe, laid to waste by their own ambition. For despite all their
power they were not immune to the cycle. Zir’An suffers,
and Zir’An endures. It has in the past, and it will continue to
do so in the future.

But this epoch differs from all others that have come before,
facing challenges that defy all explanation. In past ages the
Seven Gods walked openly among their children. The gods
gave freely of their council and were a presence in the lives
of everyone, but that time is no more. Three millennia past,
when the Endwar spread destruction across the globe, the
image of seven empty thrones flooded the minds of every
living being. Its meaning was clear. Abandoned by their gods,
the world plunged further into darkness. But while the Seven
may have departed, their creations would live on, they would
rebuild, and the cycle would continue.

In the Modern Era, the world of Zir’An hangs in an uneasy
balance. It has survived countless hardships yet remains
plagued by dark powers bent on plunging the world back
into the mire of war and the annihilation of a new dark age.
Ageless tyrants of godlike power, the Fane, stand as a grim
reminder of the evils still loose in the world. Their fanatical
empires dream of the conquest and the degradation of their
enemies. But against them stand an alliance of powerful
Treaty Nations, who’s massed might are the only proven
match against the threat of Fane domination.

And this uneasy balance grows more tenuous with
each passing year. But in a world of great heroes, as the
cycle dawns anew, there is reason to hope. Many believe
each cycle is a test set forth by the goddess of Fate, a
test to the civilizations that have prospered in that time.
Will they endure? Or will they succumb to the evils they
have fostered? The forgotten ruins of ancient epochs have
testified to the failure of past civilizations, but each holds
a secret, a clue to the dangers facing the Modern Era. And
from this era will be born heroes, Fate’s Chosen, each
walking a long and perilous path of discovery. Witnesses to
great events, seekers of hidden histories, adventurers. The
key to the present lies buried in the past. For their world
to survive, they must discover its secrets.

-Yeah okay so your guys aren't just gonna be schlubs who happen to stumble across adventure, but big damn heroes or something.

Let's go to the timeline, which helpfully explains that the current setting is like..the fourth iteration of advanced civilzation that has yet to drown itself in blood and ruin. Great!

-2 p.d. (Post-Deity): The Endwar begins. War spills across all borders
as the Dhalman Confederacy and the Triune Empire clash. The conflict
spreads and intensifies over the next two years, finally reaching its apex
with the departure of the Seven Gods.

0 p.d.: The image of Seven Empty Thrones fills the mind of all living
beings. The Seven Gods depart this world. The loss of the Seven shatters
the spirits of the people, as well as their minds, and the war ends in a
final spasm of destruction.

0 to 100 p.d.: The Aftermath. Much of this century was a nightmare
of chaos and death, as the survivors strove against the years of darkness,
the long winter, and the plagues that followed. This era was characterized
by great migrations of people. Entire populations relocated.

100 to 600 p.d.: The Reconstruction. As the threats of the Aftermath
recede, the survivors begin rebuilding their cultures. But this was also
an era of conquest, as wars for consolidation swept through the known

600 to 1001 p.d.: The Post-War Empires. Civilization has returned
to the world and powerful Empires rule over a prosperous and promising
era of peace. A time of grand adventure, of famous heroes and villains.
Zir’An’s “golden age” before the nightmare that was to destroy it all.

1001 to 1050 p.d.: The Rise of the Fane. Seemingly normal people
suddenly find themselves endowed with incredible power, power that
corrupts them to evil. They manifest almost at random, spreading death,
destruction, and suffering to all within reach. Nations fall as Fane arise
among their populations.

1050 to 1100 p.d.: The War of the Fane. Fane battle Fane in the
war for domination. The Ianer and Dolonorri become pawns in their
battles and toys for their amusement. All civilization is in ruins, the
devastated playground of bloodthirsty demigods.

1100 to 1517 p.d.: The Second Darkness. The surviving Fane settle
into their domains, beginning the four centuries of torment suffered by
the survivors of the War of the Fane. Each Fane fashions their domains
to fit their twisted desires, crafting empires dedicated to torment.

1517 to 1624 p.d.: The Liberation. Many cultures tell of a coming
Savior, and that savior was Kah. His war of liberation spread slowly,
but grew greatly in strength with the death of each Fane, until the final
conflict that birthed the Hegemony and the Treaty Nations.

1624 to 3020 (present) p.d.: The Modern Era. The Treaty Nations
lead an era of uneasy peace. Though prosperity and the wonders of the
modern era promise a bright future, there can be no true peace while
the Hegemony exists.

Then there is a section about how Fate chooses people to serve Destiny and its basically there to say that there will be great heroes and great villains because all light casts a shadow and well you get the picture. Pulpy again.

This ends the chapter with a picture of some soldier citizens from a nation called Illestan, who we'll talk about later. They seem to be fighting tentacle monster,spiders, zombies, and summoning a magic dinner plate to help them out.

Next Time Chapter 2 The Rules- Oh boy, bet you can't want for our dice mechanics!