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Reltzik
2010-01-10, 10:08 PM
It's always fun to dream up a new and interesting monster. But I also like throwing my PCs into new and interesting societies, and I love crafting kingdoms, religions, and the like.

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In a game I'm running, a group of hobgoblins was forced to migrate by some sort of disaster that they don't talk much about, but involved some Great Evil on the ethereal realm striking them dead in waves and devouring their souls as they crossed into the afterlife. They crossed half the continent before settling down and vowing to launch a Great Crusade to retake their homeland whatever the cost.

They were contacted by a being they know as the Divine Spirit. This Spirit established itself as their god and taught them (supposedly) how to fight on the ethereal plane: By becoming worthy to be transformed into Ancestor Spirits.

When someone dies, embalming herbs are employed, certain arcane rites are spoken over the body, and they are then entombed in their armor and weapons. Their most powerful heroes then rise to the ethereal plane to fight as ancestor spirits, leading the rest of the dead in battle on that plane, which will launch at the same time as the hobgoblins begin their Great Crusade.

The still-living soldiers of the armies (which are the entire raison d'etre of the empire) go into battle with a variety of weapons and spellcasting components as standard issue... even though most don't know spells. They are taught to empty their minds in combat and be receptive to the guidance of the ancestor spirits. This has demonstrable results, with the soldiers often able to suddenly hurl meteor swarms or make heroic attacks with their weapons.

In actuality, the ancestor spirits are ghosts with PC levels, their purpose in undeath tied to the Great Crusade. When the armies go into battle, they hop from one soldier to the next, posessing them and using them as conduits to attack the living world. When not doing this, they spend most of their time training. Since ghosts aren't destroyed even if "killed", they get reliably advanced to epic within a few decades. Their tombs are peridocially visited as they gain in power, with more-and-more powerful magical items added to their collections; these in turn are then available to the spirits on the ethereal realm.

Life is extremely cheap in the empire. Strict population management encourages rampant breeding and huge families. Draconian laws, highly dangerous military training, religious lotteries, gladiatorial tournaments, and periodic decimation counterbalance that. The goal of the careful auditting and manipulation of population is not to hit some perfect equilibrium, but to maximize throughput. Each dead hobgoblin, thanks to the death rituals, arises as a warrior on the ethereal plane.

The Divine Spirit is, in fact, the big bad evil that drove them off to begin with. It manipulates the unwitting hobgoblins as their god, building a huge and devestating army for some unknown purpose. Most of the dead souls end up being consumed by it, though the most powerful ancestor spirits instead compliment the mortal armies. If ever truly threatened, it also has the power to animate the bodies of the dead... the ones ritually buried with weapons and armor. All of them.


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Anyone else care to share their cool concepts?

deuxhero
2010-01-10, 10:25 PM
A land where food is created by create food and water traps and the economy is run by bound genies being used to wish for everything.

Flarp
2010-01-10, 10:28 PM
A land where food is created by create food and water traps and the economy is run by bound genies being used to wish for everything.

I assume he meant to exclude any Tippyverse concepts.

Innis Cabal
2010-01-10, 11:01 PM
A land where food is created by create food and water traps and the economy is run by bound genies being used to wish for everything.

He said cool, not boring.

DragonBaneDM
2010-01-11, 02:39 AM
He said cool, not boring.

Well that's just mean.

Crow
2010-01-11, 02:46 AM
Well that's just mean.

But it's true.

Androgeus
2010-01-11, 08:10 AM
He said cool, not boring.

Isn't that a matter of opinion?

endoperez
2010-01-11, 09:13 AM
Giants living in the cold lands of the north, inspired by Gene Wolfe's Knight Wizard duology. Bonus points for making the giants Frost giants and calling the land Jotunheim.

These giants do not have bigger-than-normal cattle or bigger-than-normal crops. This means that
1) they'll have trouble with many common tasks associated with domesticated animals (milking, shearing etc) and harvesting and processing the crops. The jobs they can do (plowing, moving land/earth/stones, digging channels) won't be enough alone.
2) doubling in size quadruples the weight, so they need to eat four times as much as a human of similar size

Put together, this means that they'll need slaves. Lots of slaves, and any cattle and crops they can get, and even that might not be enough. They'll be raiding all the nearby human civilizations. If the humans try to attack the giants, well, can you imagine going against a castle built by giants to protect AGAINST giants?

The books had lots of nasty details like the giants blinding all the male slaves, half-giants, showing how far the desperate human nation(s) would go to bribe the giants so that they'd stop their raiding, etc. These giants should be scary, and dangerous, and cunning and evil.

TricksyAndFalse
2010-01-11, 01:01 PM
A couple years ago when running a 3.5 game, I wanted a cool theme for my goblin/hobgoblin empire. I decided they used giant vermin for their beasts of burden. So, when they invaded the kingdom the PCs hailed from, they had an aerial goblin cavalry on giant flying wasps, they used giant beetles to blitz into opposing ranks to soften them up, and they used colossal giant spiders as siege towers.

I named them the Emerald Horde (name inspired by the real-life Golden Horde). They sent a massive army out of their jungle home each generation to conquer more land for the Horde. In my mind, they swarm out like the army ant colonies you see in documentaries.

Crafty Cultist
2010-01-11, 03:31 PM
How about a mechanical city of warforged that expands up rather than out, with a city that reaches high out of sight?

Siegel
2010-01-11, 03:33 PM
I would like a society where every hard work is done by Skeletons and Zombies. They worship a deity with the Undead and Wealth domains...

Gamerlord
2010-01-11, 03:34 PM
Group of floating cities where wizards are kings, and warforged are mind-controlled to do all the fighting/labor/etc.

Swordgleam
2010-01-11, 04:30 PM
My current game is the first one I haven't set in 'generic fantasy setting X.' It's a post-apocalyptic world.

A little ways after our current modern times, humans used technology to try and become gods (my player came up with this bit - I had no idea why the apocalypse happened, not that he knows this). What they ended up doing was destroying most of civilization, and bringing the ancient gods back in new forms. So my game uses the 4e pantheon, only Ioun also answers to Taliesin and Melora sometimes goes by Artemis.

In addition, the apocalypse created magic. Humans started mutating in odd ways. So the traditional races are only beginning to appear - someone with the stats of an elf is a human with slightly pointy ears and a weird affinity for nature. Weird, because there isn't much nature left. Proto-dragonborn are considered monsters, since they're all scaly-like, and the villagers usually kill them at birth. (Naturally, two of my players chose dragonborn PCs upon hearing this.)

Oh yeah. The players only know of one village in existence. They assume there's more survivors out there somewhere, but all they know is the village of Candle and the surrounding wasteland.

Candle has an interesting view on religion - an elderly priest who still worships the monotheistic god and believes that the "new gods" are all simply higher angels, and a fanatical believer in Ioun who regularly gets visions from his deity and yet still manages to be polite to the priest. The gods in this world have far fewer followers to choose from and are all just starting out, so they interact with their followers on a daily basis.

Magic items are pretty rare, but some people are learning how to craft them. And there's plenty of magical creatures out there - they started appearing after the apocalypse. So no old and wise nature spirits - just young nature spirits trying to save the few forests that are left.

Crow
2010-01-11, 04:39 PM
I would like a society where every hard work is done by Skeletons and Zombies. They worship a deity with the Undead and Wealth domains...


haha...wageslaves.

Tale
2010-01-11, 04:45 PM
A Kingdom where the undead are employed as cheap and effective slave labor and take up all manual labor jobs. Intelligent monsters have equal rights.

Includes a city that's run by an enslaved Lich. The King has hidden the Lich's phylactery in the city walls in such a way that the Lich can't figure out where. So the Lich has to stay in the city and protect it from attack or risk his phylactery being destroyed. Even worse, the Lich has to try to be peaceful with other cities and nations because he can't risk any attacks on his city at all.

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Another idea I've been wanting to find a way to produce in a game is a city that fancies itself as heaven and hell on earth. Some guy ends up making a deal with devils to make himself king of a new land. The devils make him agree to let them have a place in his city. He agrees, eventually gets himself a Kingdom. Secretly, he makes a deal with divine powers to try to counter the devils. In come the angels.

Of course, it eventually blows up in everyone's faces making a fabulous plot hook, but it'd be neat enough for a while. And if not played overly seriously, you can have bars where angels and devils are drinking buddies.

The big plot hook I want to do with this one is that the King of this city, being the kind of guy who apparently enjoys ****ing with both the infernal and divine manages to somehow create the first half-devil/half-angel. Imagine the ****storm.

Randel
2010-01-11, 05:01 PM
A city of the dead.

Long ago a necromancer learned how to create sentient undead who retained all their memories and the souls of their former lives. After he became a Lich he started gathering the dead and animating them, letting them live forever as intelligent zombies or skeletons. They made an agreement with a neighboring kingdom of living people and now all the people who die in the living kingdom get to become undead and live in the city of the dead.

Its underground, a giant structure of twisting tunnels being dug out and reinforced like a giant dungeon. The air gets pretty stuffy and toxic further down so only the undead can 'live' there but it also keeps them well preserved without the sun shining on them (plus, the lack of oxygen naturally prevents them from rotting).

New arrivals are brought in during funeral rites where they are then animated by necromancers, they then have to pay for the spell components (either by spending money they saved up during life or by working it off). They basically have a huge city down there full of artisans and workers of all sorts who can trade with other cities. Some undead leave the city to seek their fortune out in the world (their bodies tend to decay outside unless properly maintained so after a while they are reduced to skeletions... but they don't need food so it balances out a bit).

There are ways to reanimate a destroyed sentient undead and they can just pay it off after several years of work (one of the laws of the city is to not allows interest on payments for reviving people since that could make them perpetually in dept, they do charge extra it just doesn't grow over time).

They also have plenty of soldiers down there who are all but willing to come out to aid their old homes in case of invaders. If people attack the kingdom of the living then generations of undead soldiers will rise out of the City of the Dead to repel the invaders.

There are some people who afraid of the undead but it varies, its a rule that says that the king of the living can't be an undead (to prevent them from ruling forever) and a marriage officially ends when one person dies and becomes an undead (some people try to carry it on after that but its really frowned upon and the issue of 'lovers suicide' to join their mate in undeath is one of those issues that constantly crops up.)

Zen Master
2010-01-11, 05:02 PM
Giants living in the cold lands of the north, inspired by Gene Wolfe's Knight Wizard duology.

Gene Wolfe wrote a Knight Wizard duology? Oh. Soldier of the Mist is among the best books ever written. I should likely locate and purchase that.

On topic, the 'Paladin ruler' thread made me think of something I find amusing:

Four generations ago, Fiercegrym the Vile - a warlock of foulest black - repented his sins, and swore to spend the remainder of his days bettering the world.

In the harsh and untamed wilderness of the north, he carved out a nation and named it Paladania. He begot a son, and named him Goodwin the Pure - and raised him to be both paladin and King.

And so Paladania was ruled by Goodwin I, who brought peace to all the land, and set down the Edicts of Good. It was ruled by Goodwin II, who gave the serfs their freedom, proclaiming that 'In Paladania, all men (and various subraces) are created more or less equal (except for halflings, who are born small).

And finally, recently, Goodwin III has acended the throne - with small feet, and big shoes to fill.

Paladania is a pillar of strength. It's military is a swift engine of righteousness, and none dare assail it's borders. But still, trouble brews.

Dating back to the days of Fiercegrym, the neighboring realm of Neutralia gave military aid to the warlock in exchange for a mining concession. Recently, the old contract has surfaced, and Neutralia demands mining rights to the Harrowfell mountains - full of gold, and since the final campaign of Goodwin II, free of marauding orcs.

Now, the contract is in old and barely coherent Legaleze, beyond the ken of the King himself. His advisors assure him that the contract can be legally viewed as A) out of date, B) binding only for Fiercegrym, C) does not mention any areas in particular, meaning Goodwin III could uphold the contract by giving Neutralia the rights to mine the lowland ricefields for instance.

All the mention of legal loopholes means Goodwin doesn't feel he can trust his advisors. On the other hand, the contract truly may no longer be valid. And finally, the gold for the mine is needed to fund Goodwin II's Peasantry Empowerment and Education Act.

And so on. A land of law and good - but pestered eternally by problems Smite Evil does little to resolve.

Bibliomancer
2010-01-11, 05:19 PM
In a mountain range that claims Everest as a foothill, there is a hidden valley hundreds of miles long, containing a nation where a great wyrm silver dragon rules as king.

Less than one in a thousand inhabitants are true dragons, and so only the best and brightest humans are groomed to be dragon assistants. Positions serving the royal family (the founding king and direct descendants) are especially coveted.

Half dragons make up one in fifty of the inhabitants, and the king has invented two new 9th level spells: Delay Draconic Heritage and Manifest Draconic Heritage. The first causes a half dragon to be born human. The second, traditionally cast at age 16, allows the half-dragon to choose one of four templates (Strongscale [normal MM], Soarwing [alternative template with Dexterity bonus and wings], Spellwyrm [charisma bonus, and sorcerer caster level boost], or Fireheart [completely normal appearance, boost to all ability scores, no other benefits]).

Strongscales and Soarwings make up most of the country's defense force, scouting neighboring valleys and peaks for signs of danger, while Firehearts often go out into the wider world on quests.

Magic items are more common, and especially promising younglings occasionally receive permanent stat boosts.

In the event of a war, the king and his family take to the air in mithril barding, carrying battalions of archers and lancers.

[Based on the personality of silver dragons explained in the MM, this seems like a likely extension of their interest in humanity.]

Thatguyoverther
2010-01-11, 05:28 PM
I had an idea for a weird quasi-nation that was a library. In a mountain somewhere there's a massive cavern system that contains billion upon billions of books. The Librarians worship a god of knowledge and routinely go on crusades to gather more information.

There are knightly orders dedicated to different aspects of the library like book repair, asset acquisition and fine collections.

It's mostly a nebulous idea I've had for a while. I might flesh it out as some point but there's no rush.

Bibliomancer
2010-01-13, 06:09 PM
I had an idea for a weird quasi-nation that was a library. In a mountain somewhere there's a massive cavern system that contains billion upon billions of books. The Librarians worship a god of knowledge and routinely go on crusades to gather more information.

There are knightly orders dedicated to different aspects of the library like book repair, asset acquisition and fine collections.

It's mostly a nebulous idea I've had for a while. I might flesh it out as some point but there's no rush.

Sounds like an Illumian Quill Cabal (from Races of Destiny) on a grand scale. Interesting idea.

Thurbane
2010-01-13, 08:01 PM
I'm working on a Karsite nation from my homebrew world.

It's a nation of Karsites (ToM) - humans gifted with SR, but unable to cast spells. To compensate for this, they enslave races able to cast spells (primarily Gnomes), and also have greater technological development than other nations (think early firearms).

They are Lawful Evil nation, bent on conquest and slavery (think a combination of Ancient Rome and Melnibone). Their ruling class are decadent, militaristic nobles. I haven't quite decided on their High King/Emperor, but most likely he'll be a high level Paladin of Tyranny (non-casting variant)/Marshal.

They have an alliance with an underground cult of devil worshippers (Dispater) and a cabal of rogue illithids, who they use as spies and saboteurs to infiltrate other nations. They will be laying the groundwork for an invading armada.

Plot hooks include:
Gnomish freedom fighters contact the party to warn of the invasion, and to seek help freeing their brothers
The cult of Dispater is assassinating and replacing nobles and rulers with Rakshasa impostors
Players skirmish with an advance scouting party of Karsites, and encounter firearms for the first time
The party stumbles across an underground stronghold of the illithids, and after defeating them, discover they have their own hidden agenda (Thoon!) and are planning on ultimately betraying the Karsites
After thwarting enough of the Karsites plans, the party are targeted by a duo in the employ of Dispater - an Astral Stalker and his Dogai partner

Armoury99
2010-01-15, 05:59 PM
What about Omelas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omelas), a seemingly perfect city of peace and prosperity, whose inhabitants are smart and cultured. Everything about Omelas is pleasing, except for the secret of the city: The good fortune of Omelas is guarrenteed by a contract with devils, which requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery somewhere in the city... and that all citizens should be told of this on coming of age.