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ringsnake
2006-02-25, 04:27 PM
EDITED TO REFLECT FEEDBACK

This is part thought experiment, part showing off, and part a need to get the silt out of my brain. I'm working through Rich Burlew's game world building methodology to see if I can create something half as interesting.

Purpose and Style

What the heck, I'm an optimist. We'll say I'm also going for publication here. I also agree with the point that Rich makes about the single overriding evil being a bad idea. I like a lot about the Midnight game setting from FFG, but the single overriding evil of that gameworld makes it difficult to attract players to it.

Since I also spent a few months of my life trying to get the Iron Kingdoms Campaign Guide done for PCGEN I'm more than a little burned out on steampunk. I have to agree that some themes have been done to death. Steampunk, grim dark and Frank Millerish themes, and worlds dominated by great evil are a few of them.

Rich came up with a single overriding theme, which was started from looking at the basic assumptions of the D&D 3.5 books and reworking them.

"I know what I hate, and I don't hate that" - C. Montgomery Burns

I'm going to plant my seeds with what I'm best at. Shades of anger ranging from mild dislike to psychopathic hatred. There are things about the D&D gameworld that I just can't stand. I made a list, but it covered a 9x12 piece of drawing paper with tiny handwriting, though I did mine some gems of things that I like.

Absolute top hatred: Doing a lot of work. I want to build my world without creating a lot of original rules content, or learning a whole new game system.

Some things from the SRD that I don't like:
* - Halflings, Gnomes, and Half-Breeds (Leaving me only Humans, Dwarves, and Elves)
* - Bards, Monks, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers (Though I'll make the last two into Prestiges)
* - Extradimensional and Outsider things, monsters, spells, and magic items (Just don't like em)
* - Easy Resurrection of the dead and common and easy healing
* - All the psuedo-asian equipment and cultures (Ninjas are so overdone)
* - Spellcasting as a common class feature (Paladins, Rangers, Assassins, etc...)
* - Commodity Magic Items (+1 sword, potions, scrolls, etc...)
* - Animating the Dead and Necromancy w/o consequence
* - Dragons as presented in the Monster Manual
* - Lycanthropes

Dang. If I just strip that stuff out I almost get the Iron Kingdoms without the steampunk. No wonder I like the setting. On the other hand, while I was building my mega-list of dislikes I found some things that I did like, and generated a few new ideas.

At least new to me.

Some things in the SRD that I do like:
* - Undead (but not the Vampires!)
* - The Savage feral Giants and Monstrous Humanoids
* - Most of the Aberrations and Magical Beasts
* - Each magic item as unique, and with a history (Like intelligent items for example)
* - Fey creatures (inc. Treants)
* - Late Mideaval culture and tech (Bother Cadfael)
* - Dungeon Crawls
* - Human dominated world

I'll need to munge around the basic concepts. I never liked the "guys living underground and in trees" notions of Elves and Dwarves. I was as surprised with myself as anyone that I found myself liking most of the monsters labeled as Magical Beasts and Aberrations in the MM. I may need to work one or more of those into an additional PC race. Just for the sake of giving players a bit of variety.

At this point I've formed an idea of a world recovering from cataclysm, but this is getting to be an old and tired theme. Midnight is built around the "Sauron Won" concept, but what about a "Sauron Lost" concept?

What if some century or few before game time the great legendary heroes of the previous age won against some great evil? The worlds on the mend and has a much more bright and optimistic future. It won't be slathered down with a heavy mass of gods and monsters like Forgotten Realms, unrelentingly grim and hopeless like Midnight, or steampunk like Iron Kingdoms.

However...

Would there still be evil in the world? Yes, there would.

Would there be all sorts of mutated monsters and feral humanoid tribes wandering the wastes of the great enemy's lost empire? Yup!

Would the geography be mangled beyond recognition? Indeed.

I also generated a few new ideas based on my dislikes:

I never like the idea of elementals as easy to summon. The idea I had was based on the notion that magic requires sacrifice. Elementals can be summoned, but you have to kill something (or someONE) to get one. This adds a bit of visual flavor to the elemental that I feel they lack. Instead of a pillar of flame it's a burned human corpse bound to a wooden frame like a wicker man all aflame.

I've also grown to like the idea used in many other worlds of the various humanoid monsters as degenerate forms of elves, dwarves, and humans. Whatever defeated great enemy (enemies now that I think of it) had created many different monsters.

Likewise, if the world's crawling with critters like the Aberrations and Magical beasts they must be the result of magical experiments gone mad. I'm starting to get a pretty good idea of what this lost and defeated great enemy was all about, and what his/her/its successors and legacies are all about.

The terrain of this world must be devastated. Earthquakes, floods, storms and massive upheavals. Armies of the dead devouring all before them and mighty Archmages ripping the skys asunder. This is not an overtly hostile world, but it's going to be roughly featured. There will be no vast tracts of fertile farmland or giant cities centuries old. What great cities there are will be built on the ruins of the old cities that aren't haunted and monster infested.

Though I love the psionics stuff I can't think of any way to keep it in theme with the world I'm creating. With great reluctance I'm going to scrap it.

I also care a great deal for the Clerics as they are in the players handbook. While I'm not fond of some of the Domains (Good, Evil, Law, Chaos) I like the rest of them. Further, why should I need to fool about with Druids when a god with the right domains works just as well?

I'd made a few comments about Rogues that I now regret, but I've also come to the notion that the leaders of this world must have groups of professional monster hunters and lawmen to deal with the wreckage of the great war. I'll probably wind up wrapping the whole theme of the world around this notion. Like a fantasy setting version of Texas Rangers.

Umbral_Arcanist
2006-02-25, 04:35 PM
Seems interesting, not sure what you want us to say..... its not really a world i think i would liek to play in, but i think your doing a pretty good job going about making it.

Renloth
2006-02-25, 05:28 PM
The Top Ten Hates in the SRD
1 - Bards, Monks, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers
2 - Extradimensional stuff, both monsters (demons and angels) and spells (teleportation)
3 - Resurrection and Easy Healing
4 - Monks and all the psuedo asian crap (Ninjas are so overdone)
5 - Spellcasting as a common class feature (Paladins, Rangers, Assassins, etc...)
7 - Commodity Magic Items (+1 sword, potions, scrolls, etc...)
8 - Animating the Dead and Necromancy w/o consequence
9 - Dragons as presented in the Monster Manual

I see a common theme in this. Far be it from me to interupt you, but I agree with the previous poster. What do you want us to say? You want a setting in which magic is a special thing, a full eight of those points say so. The problem is, DnD is high magic, high fantasy. Do what you wish, but I can't say I'd like to game in a world like you're proposing. It's a bit too morbid for me...

CaptainSam
2006-02-25, 07:54 PM
Hello there!

Erm, what? Now, I know we're all really supportive and stuff on these boards, But I found your post really confusing. Like U-A and Renloth, what is it exactly you are trying to say here? Or ask, even?

The word "copy" is not one I would use. Imitate is far more flattering. And plagiarise is one I would definately avoid.

endoperez
2006-02-26, 06:47 AM
He is thinking of doing a new world, and he is asking for alternate views.

As an alternate view, what better than an alternate system! Ars Magica, 4th edition of which is free (look for a link from Atlas games homepage), has powerful magic - but creating anything permanently consumes magical power, vim. Healing ALSO permanently consumes magical power. Vim is a resource rather than internal power. It can be collected from magical beasts. Most Vim is specialized, and can only be used for e.g. creation (healing, making magical items, making permanent mundane items, "summoning" permanent animals).

Magi are more powerful than any other human. They are weaker in the areas where faith in the God is strong, or where Fey or Infernal creatures have gained power, but still able to throw mere swordmen up and around. They can still die, and will succumb when assaulted in numbers. Because you don't want that, it might be easier to just collect ideas. You might also want to rework the rules no Magi can pass: they can't affect the past, they can't affect anything beyond solar sphere or affect the immortal soul of any creature, etc.


However, I think it might be better to clean up your list before you start. As another posted noted, you have mainly commented on magic and the way it has been described. They might be regrouped like this:

1) would be 1, 4 and 5 - different classes with magic being less common, and more restricted theme
2) extradimensional stuff - it would be nice to know why
3) no easy healing, cheap magic items, costless necromancy,
4) half-races, halfling, gnomes
5) dragons as presented in D&D
5-6) lycanthropes
If you don't like lycanthropes like they are in D&D but could e.g. have Berserkers who don furs and actually change into beast-men in certain conditions like being inches from dead, group this with 5. If shapechanging, druid's wild shape, etc is all out, they it's its own number.

That leaves in a lot of things to consider. You might also be able to sum up the good things a little, and add in a thing or two. As an example, should the Fey be radically different, as in elves being unable to use iron items and having to rely on Bronze, and dwarves totally unable and quite resistant to all forms of magic, and still able to create items with supernatural qualities.

You might want to check out Dominions II. The nations' descriptions are beautiful. Just don't try playing it unless you have a tutorial. And don't do THAT unless you have nothing better to do with the next three months.
The items and spell could also be interesting. Here are few items that are better than the trinkets:

Just Man's Cross - an undead-Bane crossbow
Snake Bladder Stick - poisons air around its user. Doesn't give any resistance.
Totem Shield - a leather shield that casts Curse. Targetted creature will suffer more wounds and afflictions (i.e. critical hits).
Eye of Aiming - It replaces an eye. Your ranged attacks get more precise.

Generally, if you want flavour, have lists of things for which magic items have been done. Those kinds of items can be found. If the PCs want special items, they must quest for it, either to take it from a current owner, or to collect the ingredients. Not to forget the price, the curses, etc.

ringsnake
2006-02-26, 10:50 AM
@ endoperez

Thank you! That was exactly what I was looking for!

A few points. I'm the full time caretaker of twin girls, so learning a whole new game system or dedicating much more than a few hours a week. I'm doing this as much or more to offload the silt that's collecting in my brain.

But who can resist showing off a little?

I said that the list was my list of dislikes, and I don't much like any of the monsters or spells that have the words "Outsider" or "Extradimensional" next to them.

EDIT TO ADD: I'm an old school Hero system player. I know that thing backwards and forwards and upside down. If I was going to shift it into an alternate game system it'd be that one.

As to the other comments:

I still intend to use most of the stuff out of the SRD. Mostly, I'm just deleting the things that I don't like, and then building a world back on top of it. Adding a few things that I do like.

I don't intend for the gameworld to be as grim as I've first portrayed it, but there does have to be evil. Otherwise the PCs won't have much to do with themselves eh? Since I'm also a miniature painter I wanted to also create something around a model concept I had and wanted to sculpt.

Hence the Necro-Elementals.

Brickwall
2006-02-26, 05:55 PM
About your view on rogues.

You're kidding me, right? Rogues only have a criminal emphasis because people like to interpret them as such. I have never seen a class ability that makes them any more adept at actual crime than any other class. Their skill selection and general flavor idea is all that there is. A rogue can be an explorer of the wilderness or the dungeons, a law enforcer (I have done this), or can multiclass for an even wider variety. Sneak Attack, Trapfinding, are all useful tools for numerous professions. The later class abilities offer some elements that apply to criminals, but they can be used for other things. Undetectable Alignment could easily get a religious servant undetected into his god's enemy's temple. Improved Evasion could save the dragon hunter's life. The rogue isn't focused on crime, you are focused on having the rogue do crime because it's a comon notion, and all but the most noble and virtuous and stupid of parties don't need/want a questionable act done for the greater good.

ringsnake
2006-02-26, 07:39 PM
About your view on rogues.

You're kidding me, right? Rogues only have a criminal emphasis because people like to interpret them as such. I have never seen a class ability that makes them any more adept at actual crime than any other class. Their skill selection and general flavor idea is all that there is. A rogue can be an explorer of the wilderness or the dungeons, a law enforcer (I have done this), or can multiclass for an even wider variety. Sneak Attack, Trapfinding, are all useful tools for numerous professions. The later class abilities offer some elements that apply to criminals, but they can be used for other things. Undetectable Alignment could easily get a religious servant undetected into his god's enemy's temple. Improved Evasion could save the dragon hunter's life. The rogue isn't focused on crime, you are focused on having the rogue do crime because it's a comon notion, and all but the most noble and virtuous and stupid of parties don't need/want a questionable act done for the greater good.

Detect Traps and Backstab don't have criminal overtones to your mind?

You're probably right though. I should just let that aside and cope with it if it presents itself as something that absolutely must be done.

Umbral_Arcanist
2006-02-26, 08:11 PM
Detect Traps and Backstab don't have criminal overtones to your mind?

You're probably right though. I should just let that aside and cope with it if it presents itself as something that absolutely must be done.

nope, detect traps i see as being more useful in tombs and dungeons rather than in house breaking, sneak attack is merely knowledge of how to hit where it hurts, stabbing something unawares in a weak spot is criminal in my mind, at least no more than stabbing people in general

ccelizic
2006-02-26, 08:59 PM
It's not backstab, it works with sap, how can you "stab" with a sap. *Sneak attack is it's proper word and it represents oppertunistic combat. *I mean I even see (anti)heroes of detective noire books as being "rogue" like. *It's oppertunistic combat, instead of whacking the guy repeatedly with a sharp object willy nilly, you take a few precise blows to places taht'll take the target down fast.

A rogue can deliver a sneak attack in a face to face fight, all he has to do is deliver a successful feint check, which can be easier said then done if the defender trained sense motive, but that's a story for another topic.

In fact every police force in a dnd setting NEEDs a few npc's with levels in rogue. *The class gives them a large array of social skills that can be used to interrogate *and search for clues. *Their open lock and disarm trap abilities allow them to bust into any place where they feel some law breakers are holed up. *Their sneak attack ability coupled with a sap allows them to deliver quick takedowns of suspects with minimal amounts of collateral damage because they minimized the length of the conflict. *This works real nice when they get the drop on the suspect, though in a lot of cases they'll probably ask the suspect to surrender first and hope a good intimidate check gets the guy in line, but if it does come to blows, a rogue can take something down fast.

What I don't like is people look at classes and only see a gross stereotype of the class, this goes along with bards rangers druids and paladins. *The bard alone can be taken in so many directions that I made a forum thread dedicated to extremities of bardic builds ranging from a full metal-clad battle tank of a bard to a mobilized "trauma unit". *In fact it's kind of metagamey to have a character just refer to themselves as their class. *I mean how much does fighter say about someone? *Do they truly wish to say that their purpose in life is ONLY to fight?

An example, I had a LG rogue who was being interviewed for a job. *Now the rest of the party had been asked their specialty and they weren't too creative about the jobs the ygave out "I'm a wizard" "i'm a fighter" "I'm a barbarian" (who'd call themself that really?). *It came to my rogue, and the guy asked what he does and he responded, "I am an expert on covert operations, stealthy intrusions and the dismemberment of intrusions countermeasures and an expert at hasty sedations."

That being said, complete warrior has alternate versions of the various combatative classes that does not include magic.

You can help the raise dead front if you keep control of your NPC's. Not EVERY priest wields the powers of divine magic, only ones who are particularly blessed by whatever diety. Now, you got to ask yourself if those clerics are going to just "sell" their gifts from god off like a commodity? Even then, level 11 is considered legendary by DnD reckoning. It requires a cleric level of something like 10 to cast "raise dead". And such a spell requires that 5000Gp component which does hurt your wallet. If a cleric can raise the dead, he's legendary.

To top it off that power is at the discretion of the gods, like all clerical powers. Most things don't impact the cleric a lot since they aren't huge matters, but raising the dead is something more drastic and I've seen GM's who might bar a raise dead on grounds that the Gods feel the mortal isn't worthy of a second chance. Of course they make such a discovery AFTER wasting the 5000GP worth of components to try the raising.

bosssmiley
2006-02-26, 09:48 PM
Hey Ringsnake. From what I understand it sounds like you're looking for a low-magic, dark-ish fantasy setting. The "Conan" and "Iron Kingdoms" d20 books might be a good start, along with the various incarnations of Greg Stafford's Glorantha setting("Runequest"/"Heroquest"). Another of his games which seems to fit your basic requirements might be "Pendragon" (5th Ed in the shops, but it's basically a straight reprint of 3rd and 4th ed ;) ).

Even if you stick with the d20 ruleset all those have great and flavourful plot hooks, organisations, mythos, etc. which are great brainfodder.

Good luck.

Brickwall
2006-02-26, 11:27 PM
Detect Traps and Backstab don't have criminal overtones to your mind?

You're probably right though. I should just let that aside and cope with it if it presents itself as something that absolutely must be done.

Even though Umbral already said it...

Trapfinding is actually quite useful to non-criminals. *Or maybe you are saying that an elf's trapdoor sense makes elves criminally flavored? *I think it's simply a dungeoneering tool.

As for Sneak Attack - not "backstab" - it's training/experience in fighting efficiently and being opportunistic. *It would behoove many rangers to take a level of rogue if they are focused on the "favored enemy" deal. *The barbarian is probably the only class that wouldn't use it well. *Knowing where to hit and taking time to aim at it is not criminal at all. *Now, if you were to actually backstab someone, your Lawfulness might be questioned, but...

ringsnake
2006-02-27, 11:00 AM
Kay, I've made several alterations to the start of this thread based on the feedback I've gotten so far.

Thanks much!

Leperflesh
2006-02-27, 06:44 PM
Some people said stuff to the effect of "I wouldn't want to play in that world", so I thought I'd counter it with my own opinion - I'd love to play in this kind of world.

I've played D&D for a long time, and when people say that it is 'high magic' that's pretty much true. I'd like to play in 'low magic', but not in the way most people mean.

I like a fantasy world where there is definitely some enormously powerful magic around. I just don't want magic to ever be mundane. I like a fantasy world where it is possible to raise someone from the dead... but a world where the priests down at the local church can manage such a thing strikes me as being, well, just too weird. I can't imagine how different a mindset towards life and death you'd develop if the only thing you really needed to ensure you could be easily raised, was to join the wealthy class.

I also like the idea of a world which is 'dark' in the sense that there are no shining, bright civilizations of ancient beuty and surpassing freedom and knowledge... but I'm turned off by the endless 'sauron' imitations, or the 'everyone is doomed' gothic woe is me all is dark and depressing thing.

So to sum up, I like your ideas. Actually in my own campaign, I've done much more lazy version of some of what youre doing, which is aided by the fact that my PCs are all still very low level. E.g., magic items in my game have unique descriptions and are special, and there is no such thing as a 'magic item shop'. I altered the raise dead chain of spells to make them harder (instead of ordinary diamonds, you need a specific and rare type of gemstone). But if a campaign setting existed that was much like yours, I might actually be tempted to buy one for once (I have never used a published setting before, and I've been playing D&D on and off since about 1987).

-lep

Matthew
2006-02-27, 08:50 PM
I've been playing on and off since the early nineties and I can certainly agree with that sentiment. I pretty much do the same thing in my games and am consequently fairly heavy handed with the rules. All tastes can be catered for if you can be bothered to put in the work, but the most important thing is that everyone has fun.
Publishing a campaign setting, though, is a quick way to lose creative control of it. It's also my experience that such worlds appeal to a much narrower audience than your average gamer. It's quite a challenge to keep a game, dark, gritty, serious and fun, but it's definitely possible. The best route is what is already being advocated: i.e. magic exists and is potentially very powerful, but it simply isn't manifest in very obvious and visible ways all the time. Characters are typically low level and magic items are low powered and individual. Often the race options are limited in order to keep their mystique, if they're included at all.
The key for me has always been in controlling the magic, which often invovlves overhauling the magic system, and making some of what is 'magic' by the rules appear mundane [i.e. for instance: Bless has no flashy lights or effects visible to the characters, so they don't know whether anything really happened. A Weapon +1 is a particularly well made weapon with a mythology or history around it, though variants are possible (such as apparently inferior quality weapons actully being great in certain situations). for the most part, I follow the system laid down in the 2.0 CFHB, where Fine Weapons do +1 Damage and Excellent (or Masterwork) Weapons grant both a +1 to hit and damage (these last are very rare); the cost involved is about double for fine weapons and ten times for Excellent quality and requires an extremely skilled Weapon Smith. Thus, when an Excellent Weapon is enchantedit makes barely any difference to its performance, except that it can affect creatures usually unaffected by normal weapons. The magic is therefore unapparent. I have also found it necessary to modify the equipment lists, especially when for the same price as one Long Bow, you can buy five Long Swords or fifteen Long Spears or seventy five Short Spears or (most staggeringly of all in my opinion) one thousand five hundred Arrows. Maybe that's a personal gripe, though...]

Jarawara
2006-03-04, 09:43 PM
Hi ringsnake, love what you have proposed. I've done alot similar with my game, though in many of ways I have sort of put of some hard fast decisions. (I don't like some types of spellcasters, but have never absolutely put my foot down in denying them, and several similar examples.)

In fact, to simplify things, let me just direct you to Leperflesh's post (two above mine), and I'll just sign my name to that.

D&D is not high fantasy, unless you make it so. I prefer low fantasy, and for 25 years I've had no problems keeping it so.

Good work and keep going!

Jarawara
2006-03-04, 09:47 PM
This is odd... the last three replies I've posted have all started new pages. Nobody wants me on the same page as them? :-[ I'm starting to get a bit of a complex here!