World Tree is a role-playing game set in a world where several species of mostly-anthropomorphic beings (the primes) are the norm. It was created by Bard Bloom and Victoria Borah Bloom and released in 2001. It was nominated for Best Anthropomorphic Game and Best Anthropomorphic Published Illustration in the 2001 Ursa Major Awards.
World Tree's focus is species and civilization. It is not by design a "hack'n'slash" RPG; although combat plays a part, intelligent role-playing is likely to get you just as far (or further) in most campaigns. Similarly, the creative use of spontaneous magic - available to virtually everyone, including all eight prime species - can be a deciding factor.
World Tree civilization is not unlike human civilization - there are cities, guilds, merchants, schools, and even prostitution (with a twist). However, the pervasive nature of magic, the lack of abundant metals and the diversity of species on the World Tree necessarily dictate a few changes.
World Tree is set (naturally) on a gigantic tree, with branches tens of thousands of miles long and hundreds of miles wide. The main trunk itself is two hundred miles in diameter - the area of the topmost nine branches is called Ketheria, and is the home to prime civilization. Lower branches become progressively colder, bleaker, and more monster-ridden (for increasingly terrestrial definitions of "monster" - the prime definition is "not a prime"). It is not known if there is a root to the World Tree, but if so, it is likely to be hundreds or thousands of branches down.
The World Tree (along with all its inhabitants) was created by seven gods (the Verb gods), who are assisted in running it by twelve other gods (the Noun gods). They are the source of magic in the world - the appropriate verb gods are invoked for the action to be performed by the magic, and the noun gods for the things it is to operate on. For example, a Creoc Pyrador spell to create heat or flame would involve Virid and Flokin respectively.
It is an accepted fact that the gods exist. They are mostly seen only through their magic; some occasionally take a more active role in the world.
Most inhabitants of the upper branches of the World Tree are members of one of eight prime species, each created by a different Verb God (with one exception):
- Cani are doglike; fiercely loyal, with a love for hierarchy. They were created by Reluu, Verb God of controlling.
- Herethroy are cricketlike, with hard shells and usually placid natures. reated by Virid, Verb Goddess of creating.
- Orren are otterlike; water-loving, carefree, and prone to wild rushes of activity. Created by Pararenenzu, Verb God of divining... in his image.
- Rassimel are raccoonfolk; obsessive, yet social (with those who share their obsessions). Created by Mircannis, Verb Goddess of healing.
- Khtsoyis are crude, levitating cephalopods, with a penchant for violence and petty crime. They were created by Accanax, the Verb God of destroying.
- Gormoror are bearlike; rough and honourable to a fault - think Klingons, but furry. They were a joint creation of Reluu and Accanax, after the latter's rushed creation of the Khtsoyis.
- Sleeth are non-anthropomorphic felines, about the size and temperament of panthers. Created by Gnarn, the Verb Goddess of changing... in her image.
- Zi Ri are rare, elegant, oft-feathered, immortal, dragonlike hermaphrodites. Created with great and painstaking care by Hren Tzen, Verb God of sustaining/maintaining.
Herethroy, Cani, Orren and Rassimel are the most numerous species, with Khtsoyis, Gormoror, Sleeth and especially Zi-Ri being rarer. Cani, Rassimel, Khtsoyis, and some Orren prefer the cities, while Herethroy, Gormoror, Sleeth and the lazier Orren tend to stay outside.
The World Tree book includes artwork by more than twenty artists
- World Tree review at RPGnet
- World Tree at Wikipedia
- A Marriage of Insects by Bard Bloom, is a novel set on the World Tree. ISBN 1-890096-36-9
- Sythyry's Journal by Bard Bloom (edited by Vicki Borah Bloom) is a "chronicle of Transaffection, Adventure, and Doom" based on the misadventures of a young Zi-Ri. ISBN 978-1451562934.
- World Tree RPG home page (temporarily down due to hacking as of February 2013) - purchase - ISBN 1-890096-10-5
- World Tree LiveJournal community
- Sythyry's Journal - a LiveJournal written by a young Zi-Ri (Review in Strange Horizons.)
- The Journal of Stickseed - adventures of a Herethroy guard
- Chronicles of the Calamitous Cani
- Mharreff's Journal - the quill-scratchings of a city-Sleeth
- Sleeth Named This - the adventure journal of Dzhani, Eddy, Luxlead, Wintermint, Raspberry and Neyorra