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[Brainstorming] A New Campaign Setting

MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizardRegistered User regular
edited September 2016 in Critical Failures
wbLCg5d.jpg?1

So I have come up with the basic cosmology map above. I will get into more descriptions of what it shows as time permits. This is for Pathfinder as it stands right now.

Basic World Building
  • Classic Fantasy
  • Medium Magic, on a Decline from High Magic
  • Interplanetary Travel contained to the Solar System
  • No interplanetary ship travel. Travel done by gates. (Perhaps the High-Magic tech of the ships has been lost?)
  • Umbra and Lumina Overlap the Material Plane, Crossover Possible
  • Umbra is your classic Shadowlands Scenario (Shades and Wraiths)
  • Lumina would be the Positive Equivalent (Most Ghosts and Spectres, perhaps)
  • Dragon God Aspects aligned to Seasons
  • Main Planet (haven't decided name) is significantly bigger than Earth, but much less dense balancing out to normal (as we know it) gravity.
  • "Birthing Moon" is a Water Moon (Origin of Aquatic Elves, original Elven race. Elves on main world are offshoots)
  • "Harvest Moon" is a thin atmosphere Wasteland Moon. (Source Goblinoids - Live in underground cave/hive networks. Subsistance on sub-surface fungus cultivation and fauna like giant worms/bugs/etc.)
  • "Cold Star" is a Brown Dwarf in the system. Has a handful of habitable and non habitable moons. The Winter aspect birthed the Dwarven Races on these moons.
  • "Golden Sun" is the main system star.
  • Humans, Halfings and Orcs are native to the core planet.

That's all I can think of. I will expand this as I can. Any comments/suggestions/ are welcome. Even like names of kingdoms, planets, the dragon gods, etc are more than welcome. General bouncing and brainstorming. There are no BAD ideas.

One of the main cities/kingdoms is going to be "Arcadia" just because that's kind of a recurring thing I do in games.

BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
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Posts

  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    I feel like I've heard this one before. Like when someone retells a story you've heard.

    What if humans were something other than "eh, we have those here."? Perhaps humans are renegades from the season system, living primarily as nomads. Humans have actually spent much of their existence migrating in the real world, and to an elf it would appear we are always on the move.
    Another thought, humans are constantly linked to elves and dwarf in fantasy, what happens when they befriend orcs first? What would happen if you used ancient Persia or Aztec or Mongols as the baseline rather than Not-Europe?

    Could dwarfs be from the dwarf star because pun? Maybe they fell to the world on the back of an asteroid/spaceship, and their mining obsession is in search of enough pieces of their gem based technology to return home.

  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited September 2016
    I like both of those Ideas. Even so much as making the Harvest Moon the source of Goblinoids alone while Orcs. I just finished listening to the Hardcore History series on Persia, so that is very fresh in my mind.

    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • FaranguFarangu I am a beardy man With a beardy planRegistered User regular
    Summoning the Settings Whisperer @Straightzi

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    this seems pretty rad. it reminds me a lot of the Death Gate Cycle cosmology by Weis and Hickman

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Is there any particular reason for the cosmology, except insomuch as you like it of course.

    Anyway my "process" as it were with regards to settings is to go in order.

    Zeitgeist -> weltanschlung -> truth.

    Zeitgeist is the "spirit of the age" and it's going to define the setting more than anything you can do with regards to organizing the planets. Is it a hopeful time of expansion? Is it an empire in decline? Is it an empire fallen? Is it industrial or horror? Exploration of survival?

    From there the question is "how do people view the world". This seems similar to the first but this is more of an ideological structure. Are they scientists? Traditionalists? Reactionaries? Mystics? What is the prevailing structure? This is going to encompass how they view the seasons and the stars and the planets(if they know about them!)

    From there you get to answer how the world works. IE are the people in 2 wrong? Are they hopeful scientists when they out to be depressed religics? Ideally this should be be pretty vague. If you lay exactly how things are out there is no mystery and little space for grand meta plot. The purpose of a setting is to put adventures in them so unless the setting is intended to be very grounded the inability to be flexible here makes it hard to work with.

    Here is an example from what you've given me.

    1) reverent humans. Depressed elves. Industrious Orcs. Crazy dwarves.

    The humans are tribal, small towns at most, few craftsmen. They believe in the old myths. And will often war among themselves over spare resources. They cover most of the know world. Think pre-US natives before the Iroquois and many of the associated stereotypes.

    The elves are shattered. Brought low by a calamity that destroyed their empire. Those that lived to witness it are long dead but the echo still haunts the survivors. They are bitter and defeated but not destructive (to themselves or others). Elves are largely lone wanderers, getting by doing odd jobs but not taking an interest in people's troubles. Most elves would have quite a story to tell if they were interested in telling it. Younger elves may be more orclike, but still feel the weight.

    The Orcs are ambitious. They don't care for the old myths and the failed empires they want to forge their own destiny. They are the craftsmen and laborers, happy to toil for the good of the sentients. They're open and friendly but only live in a few large cities. They would be the medieval castle builders if there was anyone to build a castle against. If they continue to expand they will be there eventually. They have domesticated ogres as a primary beast of burden. And so can build and produce easily... But no horses so travel is difficult. They expand like suburbs snake out from a city. Their reproductive rate is measured. It would not be surprising to see human traders or eleven drunks in an Orc city.

    Dwarves are territorial and preppers. They saw the aftermath of the elves and have shut themselves in. They're avoided and distrusted because they will respond violently to people near their holds, convinced they're there to take their fortress for use against whatever it was that got the elves. Any dwarf you see outside of his or her hold is likely an outcast.

    You might describe the feel of the campaign world overall as "looking up at the sky over the smoke from a campfire as the sun sets behind you"

    2)

    Humans still believe the old myths, which go like this: In the beginning there were two great dragons "sun" and "void". The void was envious of the warmth of the sun, and when she was sleeping, stole her light. Thus the stars were born.

    The sun was furious with the void and her rage birthed autumn from the flames upon her head to scour the world and take back the warmth that was rightfully hers. The void saw this, that others would not get to experience the warmth of the sun and was sad, from his tears came spring, who absorbed the warmth of the sun and gave it away to create new life. The cycle continues to this day, which is why you are here on this earth.

    The elves think this is baloney. There there are no dragon gods and there is no loving father who just wants us to be warm. They say their ancestors visited the gods and saw that they were simply rock and fire and water. Their ancestors created magic, which we can study and it still works even if we don't know how. Surely this means there are no gods and we are all so existentially alone.

    The Orcs do not care one way or another. If it was autumn that came to crush the elves let us at least leave a good corpse. If it was not then we will prosper. The orcs see only that which they can create. Ideally through their own hands. There are some magicians and scholars who get magic from the elves but few and far between.

    The dwarves think autumn came to destroy the elves but they don't know precisely what autumn is. They never bothered to look up to the sky because what was under their feet was much more pressing. To this end they have righteous men who will stand against the tide. And additionally they exile anyone who shows innate magic talent.

    Humans are likely to be barbarians, Rangers, monks, and Druids. Elves likely to be rogues, bards, or wizards. Orcs are likely to be fighters, Paladins, or wizards. dwarves likely to be clerics, and sorcerers.

    3)

    Maybe the elves are right. Maybe the humans. Maybe there are five dragons? How does magic work? Why are there dwarven sorcerers?

    So on so forth.

    wbBv3fj.png
    Cythraul
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Is there any particular reason for the cosmology, except insomuch as you like it of course.

    I made it during a conversation with some friends about making a new setting. So it's the base of the whole mental exercise.
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Anyway my "process" as it were with regards to settings is to go in order.

    Zeitgeist -> weltanschlung -> truth.

    Zeitgeist is the "spirit of the age" and it's going to define the setting more than anything you can do with regards to organizing the planets. Is it a hopeful time of expansion? Is it an empire in decline? Is it an empire fallen? Is it industrial or horror? Exploration of survival?

    Had to think about this one for a while. I think it is a time for Expansion for the external races. The Elves, Dwarves and Goblins are expanding their presence on the main planet. The Elves are wanting to expand their holdings and empire. The Dwarves are wanting to exploit the resources, metals and gems from the main planet. The Goblinoids from Harvest Moon (still need a name) are simply spreading like a wildfire.

    Humans, Orcs and Halfings (the Natvies) are being bullied because their tribal (orcs and humans) or generally passive (halfling) nature have kept them from forming a cohesive group.

    I have been thinking that the Gnomes might be a race associated with Summer and the Golden Sun. And not be a major player in the world, as of yet, being caught up in their own dealings. Perhaps their entire civilization is devoted to the creation of a Dyson Sphere or Ring around the Golden Sun to harvest it's energy. They could be the only civilization that still has ship-based interstellar technology.

    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • Endless_SerpentsEndless_Serpents Registered User regular
    How about... Hot Star, Cold Star, Burnt Moon, (Frost)Bitten Moon?

  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    MagicPrime wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Is there any particular reason for the cosmology, except insomuch as you like it of course.

    I made it during a conversation with some friends about making a new setting. So it's the base of the whole mental exercise.

    [...]

    Sweet. So you've got two primary zeitgeists and 5 "factions" as it were. The zeitgeist for the non-planetary races is "conquest of the new world"* or the "age of colonization". The zeitgeist for the planetary races is maybe "oh my god we're getting conquered" and or cautious guests. Now if you flesh out how those societies think you've gone a long way to getting your setting going.

    *If we are going for expansion we will need a reason as to why they did not expand before.


    My only caution is that, if people are playing this, there isn't much room for uhh diverse adventurers. Well, rather, there are, but you wouldn't expect dwarves and elves to work together and you similarly wouldn't expect humans or orcs or halflings to be much help to either of them. So a group of elves and a guide kind of works.

    wbBv3fj.png
  • StraightziStraightzi Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, To reign is worth ambition though in HellRegistered User regular
    Farangu wrote: »
    Summoning the Settings Whisperer Straightzi

    Speak my name and I shall appear.

    How long ago did the dwarves, elves, and goblinoids come in from their respective moons? From the sounds of things, it's fairly recent, so they're an invasive species at best and are straight up aliens at worst. Like, abducting humans to use in experiments sort of aliens (which sounds like the sort of thing elves would do anyways, and given the mythological resonance of the fey to aliens, I think the analogy can work nicely). They will likely be treated as such by the inhabitants of this world - look at the way D&D settings typically treat, for instance, tieflings. That's a pretty similar ideal, I would think.

    Second, what exactly do you mean by medium magic in decline? How high was their high magic? Typically high magic has certain connotations of highly civilized, which from the sounds of things, your humans, orcs, and halflings are not. Were they harnessing this magic, or was the magic typically used more by the elves and the dwarves (who presumably built the gates from their worlds to the main planet)?

    Both of those are leading questions, for the record, and I have some places I'm intending to go.

  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime FiresideWizard Registered User regular
    edited September 2016
    Kind of a Reply to both these questions:
    Straightzi wrote: »
    Farangu wrote: »
    Summoning the Settings Whisperer Straightzi
    Second, what exactly do you mean by medium magic in decline? How high was their high magic? Typically high magic has certain connotations of highly civilized, which from the sounds of things, your humans, orcs, and halflings are not. Were they harnessing this magic, or was the magic typically used more by the elves and the dwarves (who presumably built the gates from their worlds to the main planet)?
    Goumindong wrote: »
    My only caution is that, if people are playing this, there isn't much room for uhh diverse adventurers. Well, rather, there are, but you wouldn't expect dwarves and elves to work together and you similarly wouldn't expect humans or orcs or halflings to be much help to either of them. So a group of elves and a guide kind of works.

    Even from the first reply in here these thoughts are very flexible and shifty but:

    Originally my thinking was that at the "High Magic" time all the races had space-fairing technology, and that the Main Planet was really your typical European Fantasy kind of world. With the whole solar system almost having a Treasure Planet kind of atmosphere. We are talking a few millennia ago, at LEAST. And either due to outside interference/calamity/war 90% of that technology was lost and the Dwarves/Goblinoids/Aquatic Elves were separated back to their respective worlds. So whatever amount of Elves/Dwarves that were on the core world were stranded and eventually turned into what we know as your vanilla High/Wood Elves and typical Mountain Dwarves.

    (This is magic-based technology, not actual rocket-ships and such)

    Perhaps the ruling class from the Harvest Moon, aka Hobgoblins, were quickly devoured by their small Goblin underlings once they got hungry and realized there was no way for more bosses to come from the Moon and tell them what to do anymore.

    This leading perhaps, that even the racial offshoots that exist now on the core world are so separated physically and culturally from their source counterparts that they wouldn't even identify with them anymore.

    So the denizens of the Core World have over the centuries devolved back into a tribal/town/some small kingdom kind of lifestyle. So you take that with small to medium tribes and and maybe a handful of very small kingdoms or city-states suddenly being invaded by the original races. Almost as if the Trojan Horse was an ancient ruin in the middle of Troy that had been there for two-thousand years and suddenly opens up and starts spewing out angry imperialist water nymphs.

    The hows/whys/etc of what happened, how it happened, how it connects to the dragon aspects, etc. is all very much up in the air - blanks to be filled in.

    I like the idea of keeping the current civilization status of the core-world residents small. For sure no major world power type kingdoms or empires.


    MagicPrime on
    BNet • magicprime#1430 | PSN/Steam • MagicPrime | Origin • FireSideWizard
    Critical Failures - Havenhold CampaignAugust St. Cloud (Human Ranger)
  • StraightziStraightzi Here we may reign secure, and in my choice, To reign is worth ambition though in HellRegistered User regular
    I would encourage you to go bigger than the "tribal" level, I think. You don't need to have continent spanning kingdoms, but if you're looking to create a vaguely functional quasi-European world, I suspect smaller fiefdoms and towns may suit you better. Even with the standard fantasy conceit of much more travel than realistically most cultures experienced, tribal implies a certain level of insular and walled off, culturally speaking. Which is typically less than ideal for RPGs.

    What were/are the motivations of your various extraterrestrial races? If they had previously achieved a sort of high fantasy equilibrium, what were their goals back then when they first came to the core world? Were they intending to simply colonize, or did they have some other reason they were expanding their reaches? With the newly reopened portals, how have these motivations changed? Or have they changed, for that matter? Do they want to simply reestablish the equilibrium of before for some reason?

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