The Long Road To Cyrus

The Lizard ambassador from Cirro and his Ninja Cat companion. One of the biggest sticking points for completing the Silvervine Core Rulebook has been finishing the writing on the world of Cyrus. Cyrus was the reason that Silvervine got started in the first place, and it has always been Matt’s baby. Since I was tasked with writing it up as an RPG game world instead of a world that was the backdrop to his in-progress novel, I’ve always had an odd relationship with it.


On one hand, Matt isn’t your typical gamer and had lots of unique ideas for the world. Back in those days I hadn’t been exposed to a lot of the non D&D games that I’ve come to love today. Things that matt proposed for the world I always had a hard time integrating into my idea of what tabletop gaming was.  The more I did though, the more I came to embrace many of the more unique points of Cyrus.


On the other hand, Matt isn’t your typical gamer and never had as much exposure to what kinds of things have become cliche’ in games. A lot of elements that could be found within the World of Cyrus were cases of parallel development to concepts found in many other fantasy settings. I’d shake my hand at the heavens every time I would mention the latest thing to come out of a brainstorming session and one of my friends would tell me about how that was like a tribe of werewolves in White-wolf, or how a group of Elves in forgotten realms had similar qualities to a tribe of Elves in Cyrus.


When my friends introduced me to Eberron, I nearly cried. I had thought airships were such a damn nifty idea that hadn’t been done in a big game before. I knew there were games centered around airships strictly, but hadn’t yet learned of their inclusion into the newest D&D setting. So too did I sink into a bit of despair the more I read through Eberron. One of the most unique things I found about Cyrus in the early days was its mixture and inclusion of technology on a grander scale. While it wasn’t a purely steampunk world, it wasn’t a world that seemed perpetually stuck in the middle ages either. Technology existed, not just magical replacements. Eberron, a world setting that I love dearly – just to be clear, took the idea of magic and elevated it to the level of technology. It was a brilliant move by Keith Baker, and one that feels incredibly logical. If magic is around long enough, then it will become a tool of the people. In the real world, the room filling computer banks of the 50s have become dwarfed by our cell phones in terms of processing power. No, I loved Eberron the more I got into it, I just hated being beaten to the punch.


Still, for all the things that I was exposed to as we built Silvervine from the ground up, I realized there were incredibly unique seeds within the Cyrus that Matt described to me in those beginning days. There were things there that just couldn’t be found elsewhere when I looked at other games and stories. That is part of the beauty of the creative process. Even though it has probably all been done before by someone somewhere with a bigger budget and more skill than you, doing it yourself always creates something unique. Your fingerprints are always going to be on the clay you are molding with, and giving it the individual touch makes it something no one else has done before. Philippe-Antoine Menard once commented that Cryus had the full kitchen sink. A great compliment, considering he was looking at a crap version from WAAAAAAAAY back in the day. Years later and a whole lot of improvement, and I feel that is still true.  While Silvervine as a system has the capability to let a player make any character they want, Cyrus as a world has the capability to fit that character in. The sheer amount of character concepts that players at conventions have created is mind-boggling, the fact that they actually fit inside the world is even more so. Steampunk Iron-man, the Lobster Shaman, The Penguin Secret Agent and Ninja, The Academic Rifleman, The Human Possessed by An Imp, The Avatar of Death, The Many Versions of the Mechanical Thorgrim (or gorilldo as he was once interpreted), etc.


Cyrus is a world that sits at a lot of crossroads, by setting and by system. It is technological enough that a steampunk level of technology can simulate any sort of mechanical desire a character has. It is fantasy enough that any trope or concept from any D&D game can easily fit here. It has enough built-in world history and political strife that the most socially oriented character can fit into the spiderweb of A water dragon, not truly a dragon but one of the many dragon-kin that inhabit the world. interactions. It has enough parallels to real-world earth that the feel of a place can be determined by realizing what real world culture it feels like. It has enough hugely fantastical areas and elements that the biggest JRPG fan or anime buff can feel like they just stepped into the latest good Final Fantasy game (we don’t talk about FF13 in my neck of the woods).  Finally, the fact that Matt has always envisioned  Cyrus as a place bordered by spirit lands that connect to many other places means that there are limitless avenues for concepts to flow into Cyrus. The first game ever, ran with d20 rules that failed horribly at capturing Matt’s ideas for Cyrus, had an inter-dimensional traveler.


So the road to Cyrus has been long, with lots of changes and growth along the way. Today, I’ve finished putting the last touches on the outline for the final chapter. The first draft of what will be in the book,  if you will. Compiled from many brainstorming sessions, culled from lots of partial writings and jotted down ideas, and tweaked and turned as Matt, Rawlings, Alec, Ed, all the local playtesters, and I have grown as gamers and learned more about the world. I’ll be entering the final writing process soon, after I let loose the dogs of administration and get some stuff going on,  and I’ll be trying to post some sneak previews and tidbits here.

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