Author Topic: Building a setting...  (Read 904 times)

Offline Prime32

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Building a setting...
« Topic Start: November 06, 2011, 08:18:37 AM »
Hmmm... not really sure where to put this. I'd appreciate ideas for kingdoms and so on.
First, fiends:


The two major planes in the setting are the mortal world and the underworld.

The underworld is divided into a number of intermittently warring nations inhabited by beings referred to as demons. Demons are not inherently evil and have a society similar to humans, though they are highly pragmatic.
Demons draw power from the suffering of mortals, though they can do this from their own world with no ill effects. A demon who enters the mortal world can feed directly on suffering he causes, but the longer a demon remains in the mortal world, the weaker it becomes, so that a demon can only gain any kind of benefit from this via mass murder (which is sure to draw attention). This degeneracy also has visual effects, most often cracked skin and glowing eyes - it is possible to guess at the length of time a demon has been in the mortal world from its appearance. As a result, few demons enter the mortal world who are not insane, and those are usually identified before they can do so. A summoning ritual counters the degenerative effects as long as it lasts, but can only be used to summon a specific demon. If the demon has increased in strength without the summoner's knowledge (see below), the circle may not be strong enough to contain it. Such a demon would be free to cause chaos without losing strength, at least until its summoning ends, and few would turn down such a delicious opportunity.

All demons conform to one of a few dozen basic archetypes, with little difference in appearance between members of the same species. Under specific circumstances, a demon may transform into a member of a different caste through a process known as the Changing. This is not a linear progression, with some forms only attainable by certain other forms. Some demons who seek to assert their individuality or who regularly interact with mortals often adopt distinctive clothing or body modifications (It can be particuarly confusing when a brave merchant encounters a demon who has undergone the Changing since their last meeting).

Devils are a subset of demons who are exempt from this homogenity. Each devil possesses a unique (most often humanoid) appearance and abilities. While the strongest devils exceed the power of the strongest demon castes, the strength of individual devils varies wildly (it is thought to be related to age). Devils are also known to have stronger force of personality than demons, and often take up positions of leadership. At least some devils can remain in the human world indefinitely, but few have reason to do so.

Hellbeasts are the animals of the underworld - in truth, they are a class of demon themselves, though it is not clear if a sentient demon can be transformed into a hellbeast or vice versa. Many breeds are domesticated, though demons running nightmare stables are likely to belong to castes with fire resistance and so on.

At the centre of the underworld is a great chasm called the Abyss. Explorers who enter the Abyss have returned driven mad or not at all.

All undead are inherently evil, and thought to come from the Abyss - they are as much a danger to demons as to humans. Skeletons, zombies, and similar mindless undead are in fact constructs, the result of human spellcasters binding an undead spirit to an inanimate vessel to provide a source of power (it may be possible to use other types of spirit, but if there is a method it is not widely known). The bodies of these constructs can theoretically be constructed from any substance, though corpses seem to work best for reasons sages are not entirely sure about. Most true undead are incorporeal - corporeal undead are either extremely powerful or the result of an attempt to create a mindless servant gone wrong.

SECRETS:
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All undead are inherently evil, and thought to come from the Abyss. Mindless undead are the result of human spellcasters binding an intelligent spirit to an inanimate vessel to provide a source of power (similar to a golem). Undead bodies can theoretically be constructed from any substance, though corpses seem to work best for reasons sages are not entirely sure about. Most undead are incorporeal - corporeal undead are either extremely powerful, or the result of an attempt to create a mindless servant gone wrong.
I'm not sure I'm following here. Are the undead basically like ghosts that are bound to a specific item? Or did you accidently switch corporeal and incorporeal?
I meant most natural undead are incorporeal - all constructed undead are the result of putting one in a body.
Can denizens of mortal world tell the difference of all those type of Demon/Devil?
Can denizens of mortal world tell the difference of all those type of Demon/Devil?
Individuals are hard to tell apart, but the various castes look completely different (one could resemble a kobold, while another looks like a 20-foot tall octopus/wolf hybrid that spits fire). "Type of devil" is meaningless.

I was thinking of adding some Hindu/Buddhist elements to the demons, to tie in with the fact that they can change between different forms, some of which are little more than animals (even if becoming a hellbeast because of certain actions is impossible, the demonic public may not believe that).

Offline Prime32

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Re: Building a setting...
« Reply #1: November 06, 2011, 08:20:10 AM »
Now for elves:

Elves are genetically identical to humans. However, shortly after birth, each elf has a symbiotic plant bonded to their head which alters their body as they grow. The first sign of this is an elongated head - the plant is attached before the child's skull plates have fused, and it pushes them into a different shape. In addition, this process causes any hair on the elf's body to fall out - the thick "hair" on an adult elf's head is a mass of vines extended by the plant.

The plant absorbs many of the hormones in the elf's body as it grows - as a result, elves are prone to depression, and their "puberty" has barely any effects. Elves are not without advantages, though - their skin gains a green tinge and becomes capable of photosynthesis, though their hair processes sunlight far more efficiently. Some elves have been known to shave their heads to prove their stupidity strength. The most impressive change granted by the plants, however, is without a doubt the elves' telepathic ability. Every elf can sense the direction of the nearest plantlife, and communicate with elves nearby (this distance is extended while in forested regions). This telepathy can even affect normal humans, though in a different manner - many a trader has found himself inexplicably agreeing to all manner of deals proposed by an elf, even dully nodding to comments about the inferiority of humans. Once the elf leaves and his mind becomes less clouded, he vows never to set foot in that accursed forest again.

Due to the effects of the plants, many elves are infertile. As a result, most elves are the result of the pairing of an elf mother and a human father, the elf leaving and taking the child with her after it is born. Some elves have two human parents, stolen away from their village at night.

Offline Prime32

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Re: Building a setting...
« Reply #2: November 06, 2011, 08:20:24 AM »
The dwarrow are an insular race who never suffered the collapse of civilisation which struck the rest of the world hundreds of years ago. As a result, their society possesses all sorts of novel things like "democracy" and "running water".

While small, the dwarrow's army is possibly the most highly-trained in the world. Each soldier is given standard equipment of scale mail, and an ornate axe for utility and religious purposes.

The key to the dwarrow's success is the great ranges of mountains which surround their lands. These mountains are rich in all manner of rare plants, animals and metals, which are mined to construct their great cities. Short miners are chosen so that they require smaller tunnels, and their isolation from the main populace tends to leave them reserved. Since many outsiders would wish to raid their mines or set up mines of their own, soldiers are set to guard the ranges and deny entry. As the purpose of the border guard is more intimidation than combat, it is common for miners to join their ranks after reaching a certain age. Since this is one of the few forms of contact that members of other races have with the people, an image has sprung up among the uneducated of a race of grim men who live in mountain caves and mine for gold all day, an axe and a suit of armour upon them at all times. The dwarrow themselves find this hilarious.

You handled the Dwarves pretty well, I must say.

You might want to move onto actual countries and continents. I wouldn't suggest going into too much political detail that can't affect the Player Characters. Some simple stuff like relative power, relative wealth, relative technology and the like could do. I'd be interested in how the Demons are moving around. Who's going to attempt to break into the mortal world en mass, who holds the power, etc.

Working with your undead would be cool. I'd like to see what level of civilization they've attained and how they are surviving in the underworld/mortal world. What their group goals are; that sort of thing.

Offline Prime32

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Re: Building a setting...
« Reply #3: November 06, 2011, 08:21:31 AM »
No one knows for sure the origin of The Hunger (though a number of religions offer conflicting explanations), and its spread is unpredictable. While its precise effects vary from person to person, infection generally follows a common pattern. The Hunger and the powers it grants are at their strongest during the full moon, and its influence over the victim increases fastest at that time; conversely, keeping the victim away from direct moonlight reduces its effects.

Stage 1
The carrier's body undergoes minor changes according to their subconscious desires. Generally this will result in an idealised version of their previous form, beautiful and with enhanced abilities. More major changes (such as transforming into a different type of creature) are also possible, but can only be sustained for short periods.

Stage 2
The carrier begins to display symptoms similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and paranoia, seeking out some item or experience in particular. This stage is sometimes referred to as "lunacy".

Stage 3
The carrier's lunacy worsens, and their body undergoes further changes in order to better seek out the object of their obsession. Common effects include digitigrade/unguligrade feet (for greater speed) and grossly extended limbs and/or necks. Some carriers even display additional mouths. As the condition progresses these deformities become harder to conceal.

Stage 4
The carrier's mind is almost completely broken. At this stage, their obsession is so great that they must physically consume the object of their obsession in order to sate their hunger. Carriers at this stage soon develop bloated bodies and tough, dry skin.

Stage 5
A carrier at this stage is no longer recognisable as human. Enormous and serpentine, their hunger is such that they gather and horde their obsession even while they do not consume it, often lying on great beds of it away from the moonlight. One feature of this stage is oddly common; in order to gather more "food" their flesh opens into great batlike wings.

Stage 6
Ancient writings have been discovered of a civilisation which knew much about The Hunger. However, though a sixth stage is mentioned repeatedly no records offering a description have been found. In some places it appears that the information has been purposely destroyed.

Offline Prime32

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Re: Building a setting...
« Reply #4: November 06, 2011, 08:22:34 AM »
Wow, I am absolutely going to use this as an inspiration!

If you go the route of 3.5, I have a mechanical advantage for a devil. The reason devil's are stereotyped as making deals for people's souls is because they do so with wild abandon. The reason for this is simple: That first time they bond with a human's souls is just to become a devil; however, they can still do the same ritual. Each time they do it, though, they gain a permanent boost to their CHA equal to 1/2 the creature whose soul they do it with.

Have their spell-like abilities linked to their CHA, getting higher DCs and perhaps more abilities as it reaches greater and greater heights, and you have an instant mechanical translation as souls=power!
Interesting...

I'm getting a feel of unease from this campaing,so to speak. It's not a horror campaign, but with baby-snatching eleves, demons walking upon the earth on a regular basis, plenty of ghosts, supernatural diseases, the players are going to be unerved.

With that in mind, here are my suggestions.

-Magic should be dark, and people's understanding of it clouded by superstition. For example, some people might believe that the only way to become an arcane caster is to sell your soul. To them, all non-clerical casters are irrevocably evil, wether the caster is a druid, or a wizard, or a warlock.

-Religion should be like it was in the dark/middle ages. Fire and brimstone all around, with a hearty dose of witch burnings. The only difference is that there's more than one principal religion, and they tend to fight alot...

-Speaking of the dark ages, I feel that this campaign fits there well. You talked about a colapse of society. The dwarrow would essentially be analogus to the eastern roman empire. There is still the question of what caused the collapse. Was it the Hunger, or something else...?

I also have an idea for at least one nation. At least one of the religions floating around teaches that the Hunger only affects those with magic in their blood. It's also believed by many pesants that the nobility is descended from a magocracial class from the bygone era. This resulted in a distrust of the nobility in this region, as the local lord may become a monster at any time. In this region/nation, the noble class was overthrown by popular revolt and replaced by a military dictator, Lord General Amathar (name in progress).

Amathar was a mere guardsman before the revolt, but he had a head for tactics and a voice for demagougy. He didn't start the revolution, but he jumped on the bandwagon quickly. His rudimentary knowledge of military strategy combined with his excellent sense led the revolution to several minor victories, which he promptly assumed the credit for. After the revolution was over and the king had been executed, the revolution set up a provisional government, with Amathar as its head. Amathar thanks his fellows, then tripled the wages of the government's soldiers and ordered them to eliminate the other leaders.

To this day, many of the peasents believe that the rebel leaders died of natural circumstances, and that Amathar's power is legimate. In truth, Amathat is no better, nor worse, than the nobles, and he has eliminated much of the brueacracy, lowering taxes. However, his need to pay his soldiers high wages has driven taxes to the normal levels.

Amathar distrusts magic, although not as much as most of the peasentry. However, his platform is built on the elimination of magic. Non-humans, especially elves, are heavily persecuted by Amathar's government, and witch burnings are common. The peasentry, however, remains unmolested, as Amathar's soldiers are far more disciplined than the nobles' armsmen.
-Magic should be dark, and people's understanding of it clouded by superstition. For example, some people might believe that the only way to become an arcane caster is to sell your soul. To them, all non-clerical casters are irrevocably evil, wether the caster is a druid, or a wizard, or a warlock.
Warlocks are the result of literal deals with the devil, and it's hereditary. The first wizards likely developed arcane magic by studying clerics and warlocks (and psions, if they exist). Sorcerers appear when someone with some wizard "formatting" becomes a warlock, causing their powers to manifest in a wizard-like way (usually a failed wizard making a deal to become more skilled).

Quote
-Religion should be like it was in the dark/middle ages. Fire and brimstone all around, with a hearty dose of witch burnings. The only difference is that there's more than one principal religion, and they tend to fight alot...
With heavy regional variation. One country has a heavy concentration of minor undead spirits, leading to a large number of spellcasters moving there. Skeletons and golems frequently wander the streets. While the commoners are wary around mages, they couldn't imagine what their culture would be like without them - by now many of their festivals include steps which can only be performed by a spellcaster, and a skeleton can make a great caretaker for the elderly.

From the outside, of course, it's the crazy haunted devil-country.

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-Speaking of the dark ages, I feel that this campaign fits there well. You talked about a colapse of society. The dwarrow would essentially be analogus to the eastern roman empire. There is still the question of what caused the collapse. Was it the Hunger, or something else...?
The dwarrow were intended to be quasi-Roman, yes.

Quote
I also have an idea for at least one nation. At least one of the religions floating around teaches that the Hunger only affects those with magic in their blood. It's also believed by many pesants that the nobility is descended from a magocracial class from the bygone era. This resulted in a distrust of the nobility in this region, as the local lord may become a monster at any time. In this region/nation, the noble class was overthrown by popular revolt and replaced by a military dictator, Lord General Amathar (name in progress).

Amathar was a mere guardsman before the revolt, but he had a head for tactics and a voice for demagougy. He didn't start the revolution, but he jumped on the bandwagon quickly. His rudimentary knowledge of military strategy combined with his excellent sense led the revolution to several minor victories, which he promptly assumed the credit for. After the revolution was over and the king had been executed, the revolution set up a provisional government, with Amathar as its head. Amathar thanks his fellows, then tripled the wages of the government's soldiers and ordered them to eliminate the other leaders.

To this day, many of the peasents believe that the rebel leaders died of natural circumstances, and that Amathar's power is legimate. In truth, Amathat is no better, nor worse, than the nobles, and he has eliminated much of the brueacracy, lowering taxes. However, his need to pay his soldiers high wages has driven taxes to the normal levels.

Amathar distrusts magic, although not as much as most of the peasentry. However, his platform is built on the elimination of magic. Non-humans, especially elves, are heavily persecuted by Amathar's government, and witch burnings are common. The peasentry, however, remains unmolested, as Amathar's soldiers are far more disciplined than the nobles' armsmen.
Sure, why not.