Thursday, March 1, 2012

NPCs in Atlantasia

Before he turned it into a role-playing game, John Holland intended Atlantasia to be the setting for a series of novels he wanted to write. (With the profits Holland gleans from sales of the game, perhaps he can hire Alexis to ghostwrite the novels. How fantastically awesome would that be? I'd pre-order the first gem right now.) So, it is hardly surprising that some of Holland's literary concepts manifest in certain portions of his The Realms of Atlantasia: The Game Master's Bible. Holland describes several non-player characters who doubtless would have played prominent roles in the Atlantasian epic.

Foremost among the Atlantasian NPCs is the 'enigma' of Par-Traxx. (I believe that the second 'x' is silent, but I am not certain; Holland does not provide a pronunciation guide.) Par-Traxx is believed to be a Moon Elf who became the first Dragon Mage by melding with the Demi-god Chaos Dragon Traxx-ell-rann-brer (p. 229). While this is certainly true, Par-Traxx is much more than that. Page 169 tells us that “he is actually the avatar of the original creator of all the known universes and dimensions.” As such, he “cannot be touched physically, mentally or magically. ” (I think Holland means 'attacked' rather than 'touched', but I could be wrong.) Par-Traxx also owns an artifact called The Staff of the Cosmos; on page 169 it is “6' high” but on page 229 it is “5' tall,” so I guess it's collapsible.

Par-Traxx is a living plot device. Holland tells us on page 170 that “Par-Traxx can be used to insert quests into a group (he is famous for this).” Par-Traxx has a listing on both Special Encounter Charts; this means there is a (slight) chance to encounter him randomly in any environment (except water) and at any time (except plains during the day). Par-Traxx is also useful as a deus ex machina. According to page 170, if one of The Riders of Destiny defeats the player characters, “Par-traxx will appear before any in the group dies and then the rider will disappear.” Thanks Par-Traxx!

I don't know why anyone would want to attack Par-Traxx (he isn't worth any Experience Points), but Holland carefully describes the escalation of force Par-Traxx would use if violently confronted. As a last resort, Par-Traxx...
...will scatter [the offender's] atoms across every known plane of existence and dimension, allow those atoms to retain all the knowledge of the plane of existence/dimension they were in. Then he pulls the atoms back together using the line knowledge is power and all you seek is power so that is what I have given you; ultimate power
There is a 99% chance that this event will kill the offender. “Par-traxx cannot destroy anything or anybody (after all, he is THE creator),” so I guess 'killing' isn't exactly 'destroying.' This seems extravagant to me. Why not just control the offender's mind or teleport translocate the offender to an iceberg? (Oh, did I mention that Par-Traxx “knows and can use ALL forms of magic”? Well, he does and he can.)

Remember the Spies' Guild? My theory is that Par-Traxx is the leader of the entire guild. I mean, someone has to be the leader; it might as well be Par-Traxx. A description of an NPC named Mysh-yll-daenka begins on page 183.* Par-Traxx saved her life, gave her a cloak of invulnerability, and convinced her “to join the spy's guild [sic].” Why would Par-Traxx recruit for the Spies' Guild? See what I'm sayin'?

Before concluding this post, I want to mention that it is possible for player characters to encounter a “soul mate” by virtue of Special Encounter Chart I. Soul mates are not Atlantasian creatures that no one has ever seen before, so I assume Holland uses the term in its traditional sense. You shouldn't get your hopes up, however, because it is thrice as likely you will encounter a “deranged fighter.” Who knows? Maybe your soul mate is a deranged fighter.

*  Mysh-yll-daenka is a mountain elf but she was born to moon elves. I have no idea how that works.


  1. He can't be touched physically, mentally, or magically, eh? So his feelings can still be hurt then?

    I'm beginning to think the ultra-powerful and conceptual ridiculous NPC is a facet of the crazy idiosyncratic rpg model. Of course, that might say something about the Forgotten Realms..

  2. The Staff of the Cosmos; on page 169 it is “6' high” but on page 229 it is “5' tall,” so I guess it's collapsible.

    This made me laugh out loud.

    Par-Traxx sounds like some of the characters I've seen "rolled up" by teenagers. You know the sort of thing, 25 in ever attribute, massively high levels in every single class, etc.