When I got to thinking about building a campaign world a couple of years ago, when I was in Japan as a student and had lots of time on my hands to watch anime and play D&D, I was really interested in incorporating a wide and eclectic range of archetypal anime constructs into my D&D world. I had thought about Samurai, Giant Robots, Ninjas, both ageless and forgotten weapons and futuristic ones as well. But the hard part becomes: how do you incorporate all of theses disparate elements into a single campaign world without throwing the balance curve totally out of whack??? It is a good question and I hope that the solution I have come up with will help to illustrate one possible way to solve this problem.
My idea: Reinvent the wheel. Or, in this case, magic.
When people look at D&D from the traditional sense, you really only think of two different kinds of magic - Divine and Arcane. If you get into the Psionic thing, maybe you could say that is another, but then again, not really. With the new 4e way of doing "powers" from power sources, just about anything can become a power source, if you are creative enough. Arcane magic, divine magic both become power sources to help fuel character powers.
It seems to me what is needed is a new power source that can do something similar, but not necessarily for characters - the world needs a power source as well. In the Eberron campaign setting, the use of magical technology is quite widespread, especially when it comes to the world of transportation, but for me, I have always had a little demon on my shoulder who hated this kind of presentation, for one simple reason: my 3rd edition exposure to anti-magic spells and areas where anti-magic fields are present has scarred me for life.
So, my solution, as far as technology is concerned, was to reinvent magic, and make a new kind of power source for my world. This power source, I have dubbed...
(please note, the above is a working title)
Here is a little background for how "The Weird" has come to exist in my campaign world:
Milena ago, a meteor crashed into the material plane from the far realm. Some believe that this meteor crashed into the world after being pulled through a portal in the heavens, other believe it hurled across the stars for thousands of years before striking into the world. Its coming changed the entire face of the land, literally toppling mountains and destroying civilizations, but after Milena of rebuilding, the world has begun anew and is advancing at a much faster pace toward a new, much grander civilization; in part, the meteor can be thanked for this. From the epicenter, where the great rock came hurtling from the sky, a new type of energy began radiating and penetrating the world - this energy, which the people of the planet have dubbed "The Weird" has been found to have a myriad of strange powers, similar to our conceptions of divine and arcane magic, but different entirely at the same time. Harnessing this power, and discerning its myriad uses, has become the work of many of the most eminent scholars across the material planes; it may have even become the new interest of the gods themselves.
So, you might ask, how does this thing I call "The Weird" have anything to do with the Internet... well, that Is something you will have to wait for until next time, when I explain how "The Weird" works.