Building A World: Arkicite

When I started working on the setting I’ve been slowly building, Seliit, I had just rediscovered a great love of mine: Final Fantasy. I’d dearly loved the franchise as a kid, but I’d dropped off after Final Fantasy X and hadn’t played in a long time. Last year, though, I got back into the series and fell in love all over again. This had a noticeable impact on my setting.

One of the staples of the Final Fantasy series is the presence of four crystals. These crystals generally relate to the four elements, and they almost always have deep ties the world, the gods, or other lore in their particular game. I decided I wanted to work this into my own setting, as an… homage. (Okay, I just straight-up stole it–but everyone does stuff like that in their tabletop games, right?)

Thus, I inserted the Four Great Crystals into Seliit: enormous relics of elemental power, dating all the way back to the world’s creation. Contained in each crystal was the spiritual essence of one of the four primordial gods who shaped the universe from the elemental chaos. The four gods were Modinar, the dragon, spirit of fire; Dra’azieu, the kraken, spirit of water; Nylteoc, the roc, spirit of wind; and Zexelfaar, the unicorn, spirit of earth.

But I didn’t want to stop there. I also like the idea of small gems that could channel magic. That’s a classic trope–Final Fantasy‘s materia, RWBY‘s dust, and many more. However, perhaps the most influential version of ‘magic crystals’ for my setting was Dragon Age. The mystic mineral lyrium inspired me; I love the concept of dwarves living near veins of magic ore.

I didn’t want to just lift lyrium and dwarves wholesale, so I gave them a little bit of a twist. In Dragon Age, the fact that dwarves tend to live near lyrium deposits gives them a sort of immunity to magic; I decided to do the opposite. While Seliit’s dwarves also live close to veins of arkicite, it doesn’t imbue them with magical resilience–it instead heightens their own innate magical abilities. I really want to focus on the dwarvish bond with arkicite as I keep crafting Seliit; I think dwarves in this world have the closest ties to arkicite (and therefore the elemental/’natural’ world) of anyone save the wildfolk. I also love the concept of dwarf master craftsmen imbuing their weapons with arkicite to grant special properties.

Of course, the biggest impact arkicite has had on Seliit is the creation of the wildfolk. I knew early on that I wanted all of the ‘animal people’ (catfolk, lizardfolk, etc.) to share similar origins. Since arkicite is linked to nature, I though perhaps the four Great Arkicites could’ve influenced the evolution of certain animals into the wildfolk. At this point in Seliit’s construction I’d already decided that orcs would be from another planet, so I thought it would be interesting to have wildfolk arise as a sort of response to the arrival of extraterrestrials.

In my first draft, orcs were invaders who had arrived to conquer the planet, and the rapid evolution of the wildfolk was almost like an immune system response–the elemental gods were giving the planet a way to defend against the new threat. I’ve tinkered with Seliit quite a bit since then; after realizing the unfortunate implications of casting orcs as violent invaders, I backed way off of that plot thread. In the world’s current state, orcs still arrived from off-planet, but they didn’t come to conquer; however, for one reason or another, their presence did seem to kickstart the emergence of the wildfolk (exactly why is a mystery).

The four Great Arkicites are positioned to be very important parts of Seliit, and I’m definitely planning to incorporate them–and the wildfolk nations that defend them–into my campaign in a major way. I’m also excited to try to work out how the smaller crystal veins that run throughout the world could influence magic casting and serve as upgrades for weapons and armor. I’m always a bit nervous about homebrewing things with actual mechanical impact, as I’m worried that I’ll get the balance wrong, but I think it would be fun to create a system for using arkicite in my home games!

While it started as a shout-out to a beloved game series, arkicite has grown into a major part of my world. Hopefully this was an interesting read, and showed some of my thought processes (as well as how my work tends to be inspired by the media I love). I’d love to hear any thoughts or feedback anyone has about this, or any other parts of my (still-in-progress) setting!

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