During my college years, I ran a Fantasy HERO campaign in a setting that took a lot of elements from Tolkien, but was in the early stages of an Elizabethan-style era. There were still elves (mostly in seclusion), sorcerers, and the occasional troll or magic sword, but there were also flintlocks, fencing schools, and enormous hoop skirts (among the right crowd). The richest district of the Big Campaign City even had gas streetlamps. Magic was generally not something the players mucked around with, as it tended to be pretty Lovecraftian in nature.
It was a bit of a mess, but I thought it was a pretty interesting setting. 7th Sea came along later and did some similar things, although I felt they kinda went overboard with the “This nation = England, that nation = Spain” thing. (If you’re going to have that thinly-disguised a real world connection, why not just go historical?)
Anyway, after my mini-rant about steampunk yesterday, my brain was apparently chewing on the matter, because I woke up with an interesting germ of an idea that involved taking that particular setting, ratcheting it forward a few hundred years, and bringing to the forefront a minor motif that I always thought warranted more attention but never really managed to do much with. Of course, there are problems: as I say, the setting was a bit of a mess and I’d want to clean it up, and the motif I have in mind is something that is wearing a bit thin these days, even if this is a relatively unique spin on it. (Sorry for the vagueness, I just don’t want to show my hand too early if I decide to go with it.)
The biggest problem of course, is my old enemy, “Premise without a plot.” I don’t have a main character, I don’t have a storyline, all I have is a background and a few supporting characters who need heroes to support. I sometimes wonder if thirty years of GMing roleplaying games has trained me to think this way. In the early days, I kept coming up with characters and wanting to be able to play them — leading to the dreaded “GM’s player character” syndrome — so I deliberately taught myself to think about everything but the hero. These days, trying to come up with both a hero AND a story seems to make part of my creativity balk.
Ah well, into the file of story ideas it goes, at least until something more comes to me. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to keep focused on the projects I’ve already got going, unless this one starts being interesting enough to knock one of those aside. Honestly, I’d like for any of my current projects to excite me that much. I’m having a serious problem with “Meh.”