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Please make OCs for Empyria. I will owe you my life.
Empyria is based on cheesy, over-the-top JRPGs, especially Namco's Tales series. It is optimized for telling stories about plucky young adults with ridiculous hair and even more ridiculous clothes, setting out to explore the world, do acts of heroism, and usually kill god at the end for some reason.
For things not covered in this brief guide, ask yourself: would this feel at home in a stupid JRPG? If so, congratulations! You've nailed this setting's flavour, and that's the most important thing.
- Toyhou.se World: for fancharacter community and inspiration
- Adventurer Generator: generate random adventurers, mostly for fun. Also has a shindan version.
Most important characters in this setting will be humans. You can read more about them on the humans page, but tl;dr: human appearances are heavily influenced by the background mana field. Regular old humans, elves, straight-up furries, & other weird guys are all considered humans in Empyria.
In-universe, a human's appearance depend almost entirely on where they were born. For the purposes of fan characters, feel free to design whatever you like, then invent a town and say that people from there look like that.
The hard requirements for humans in Empyria are:
- Bipedal body plan with an upright spine.
- Two arms and two legs. Additional small protrusions like fins, antennae, or insect wings are ok, but should not be as large as the main four limbs or articulated with bones and joints.
- One head at the top of the body, large enough to fit a human brain. All major sensory organs (eyes, ears, etc) should be on the head.
- One tail, but it can be vestigial like with real life humans.
- Internal anatomy similar to all other humans - e.g. even if your human has insect-like features, they'll still be a warm-blooded mammal with a humanlike internal skeleton and organs.
Other than that, you can basically go nuts! Play with fur, scales, colour, proportions, number of eyes, etc.
Humans are still supposed to be mostly plausible biological creatures, so odd physical features will have consequences. If a place produces humans that have trouble performing everyday tasks (humans with no eyes, restrictive armour plating, extremely distorted proportions, etc) people probably wouldn't settle there in the first place. A character with super weird features should have a matching weird backstory to explain how it happened.
For clothing, the fashion page has some general trends and examples.
Humans can have minor biological abilities beyond real life baseline humans, but they should be justified with a visible physical feature - heat-sensing pits, venomous spurs, superhuman bite strength, etc. Abilities that would require drastic changes to a humanoid body plan (e.g. flight) aren't possible.
Humans can do a limited form of magic called spellcasting. Barring rare genetic conditions or irreversible physical trauma to their magic organs, anyone can cast spells. Spellcasting is considered very mundane, and most people know a spell or two for everyday uses. There are also people who specialize in it, called mages.
Some humans are summoners, which means they have a hereditary ability to control monsters; there's more information on the relevant page.
First Age artifacts, created before most magitech knowledge was lost, can do basically anything; if there's a power you absolutely want your character to have but it doesn't make sense within the magic system, artifacts are the way to go. Artifacts are rare and coveted, though, so it's a good idea to think about how they got their hands on one - and the huge number of people who would try to steal it from them if they don't keep it secret.
Humans born outside the safe cities are cursed, which has implications for both their appearance and abilities.
- At least one random chunk of their body is replaced with monster flesh. These chunks don't necessarily match up with the body part they replaced - e.g. a cursed human might have a wing, a mouth, or just a glob of meat instead of an arm.
- All the monster parts on a single cursed person are the same color, and have a distinctive unpleasant veiny/wrinkled texture. There's always a clear divide between cursed flesh and untouched flesh; it doesn't fade in and out.
- Cursed body parts can have any features on them, including ones otherwise illegal for human designs. Extra limbs, facial features not on the head, etc.
- A cursed body part might give the person a thematically appropriate power, e.g. being able to see through solid objects with a cursed eye. These don't have to make biological sense - even someone with a single tiny wing might be able to fly. It's bullshit curse magic.
Essentially, a curse is a highly unpredictable birth defect. The vast majority of cursed infants die within a day of birth, and the few that survive to adulthood are plagued with health problems. They face social ostracization too, and are often abandoned or kept locked up by their guardians out of fear.
Roughly speaking, people in this setting are divided into those who travel on a regular basis (adventurers) and those who don't (civilians). Most important characters will be adventurers, but like, if you want to make a completely ordinary office worker in this fantasy setting full of magic and monsters, that would honestly be amazing. Go for it.
Adventurer jobs aren't limited to monster-hunting - travel between cities is inherently dangerous, so things like mail delivery would also be adventuring jobs. Some people even become adventurers to broaden their customer base for an otherwise mundane job - e.g. traveling merchants and bards and the like.
In terms of societal role, adventurers are basically D&D player characters: weirdos with extensive combat knowledge and way too much money who are honestly kind of dangerous but provide an invaluable service to society, so people just leave them alone and hope for the best.
Most people never leave the town they're born in, but important characters are actively expected to be exceptions to this rule. Becoming an adventurer or moving to another town are highly significant decisions in one's life, and it's a good idea to think about your character's motivations for doing so.
Empyria's technology level is roughly 2005-ish unless otherwise specified; more details can be found on the tech page. People live in houses with air conditioning and refrigerators and all that stuff, it's just powered by mana instead of electricity.
In terms of locations:
- Orlis citizens enjoy all the latest shiny tech, and they're never out of things to do. They also won a war eight years ago, so patriotism is at an all-time high. The weather is awful, though. Overpopulation is also becoming a problem; living spaces are tiny, and buildings are continually being remodelled to stack yet more apartments on top. There's also been an increase in monster attacks in recent years.
- Wywick towns tend to be quiet and slow to change. The abundance of nature makes for good food and great views. There's a big culture of spirit worship, and most summoners are from Wywick. They lost the war eight years ago, though, and many people are struggling to make ends meet.
- Nests are independent towns. They vary greatly in wealth and culture, but generally have a chaotic and spontaneous vibe. Nests can be welcoming refuges for those with nowhere else to go, but that also means criminals and unsavory types flock to them.
Empyria is mostly populated by real-life flora and fauna, with minor differences caused by the recent extinction event. The inhabitants page has more details about common pets and domesticated animals.
Summoners can keep monsters as mounts or for battle. Most people see summoned monsters strictly as tools, and treating them as pets would definitely earn you some weird looks. There's no real limits to monster design - as long as it can't be mistaken for a human (with the rules above) and looks like it could show up in a JRPG random encounter, you're good. They can have a handful of magic abilities too, but powerful monsters are much harder to catch. The average summoner's max capacity is around a dozen slimes or two unicorns.
You can also make a spirit, but they'll be dubiously canon since they're very very rare.
Pick two elemental alignments (air, water, fire, earth); your spirit will be able to do any magic, as long as it doesn't require the other two elements of mana. The specific boundaries of this are pretty loose and most magic doesn't have any element requirements, but your spirit shouldn't levitate without an air alignment or shoot fireballs without a fire alignment, for example.
Spirit magic is faster, more powerful, and more flexible than human spellcasting, but they use mana from their own bodies to cast it, so they can destabilize themselves and die if they overuse it.
- A spirit's appearance should reflect their elemental alignments in some way - e.g. a water-aligned spirit might be blue or have fins and scale patterns.
- Since spirits are just big globs of mana, they tend to be smooth in texture - e.g. your spirit can't have fur, but you can evoke the look of fur with tufts and patterns.
- The smallest spirit is Sylph (size of a pigeon) and the largest is Gnome (size of a two-story house). Smaller spirits are less powerful, but more flexible and better at shapeshifting.
Other than these points, they can basically look like whatever you want! There's no limits on limbs, body shape, etc. and all spirits can see and hear regardless of if they have any visible sensory organs. Your spirit could look like an umbrella if you wanted, though that would imply some strange things about their personality.
Spirits decide on names for themselves, so they can be called whatever. Some go without names entirely, and others get named by humans and just go with it. Most commonly, they choose short, snappy word names relevant to their theme; for example, Shell, Spark, Leaf, etc.
Spirits don't have families; they randomly pop into existence in places where mana gather, with a basic knowledge of language and their own abilities. They're less social than humans, and are less negatively affected by loneliness; those that enjoy socializing tend to treat it like a hobby.
In the absence of friendship or community, most of them take up "personal projects", like turning a patch of forest into a garden or protecting a particular village. Spirits generally avoid getting involved in human affairs, preferring to watch from a distance, but older spirits are more likely to break this rule.