A campaign on two levels. One the sea, the other a Las Vegas “big room”
I love me some pseudo-historical gaming, and I love some gonzo planetary romance, and they’re basically contradictory loves.
The first tends toward a world of firm rules and bounded horizons, where the PCs are likely to have their pasts catch up with them and where they have to do some growing up before they meet the prince. The second tends toward boundless horizons and all bets being canceled when you pull up the anchor and fly out of whatever mess you made pursuing the next shiny thing. They’re picaresque and opportunistic and not precious about their power structures.
I think my ideal campaign would contain both. The PCs would be enmeshed in the politics and atrocities of the life mercantile-piratical most of the time, and take occasional forays into… well. Faerie or Calyferne or Wakwak or the clouds and their inhabitants or the Land of Ukiyo–e. And they’d travel between these worlds, not reliably, but as stories travel between mythic levels.
And here’s the trick: I’d make cloud cuckoo fairyland a deliberate work of co-creation with the players. I’d get them to tell me about where their characters are from, write their own bits, maybe take over DMing. Because the trouble with fairylands is nobody wants to read them. Nobody wants to learn a totally obscure, new set of social and physical rules, and not knowing them, they won’t think of what they could do there that’s different from the world we all know. Unless they’re writing their own bit, and then they’d better respect everyone else’s stuff as they do their own.
And then what happened in fairyland could leak through into the “ordinary” historical world, somehow…
…I say this largely because of playing Call of Cthulhu + Dreamlands. Which was potentially exactly that, except the Lands of Dream were never quite foreign enough to really be dreams and never familiar enough that the players knew what their tactical potentials were.
Update: Babbling Bane has the same idea: everybody loves the sound of their own voice in a co-production.