View Full Version : Campaign Setting - Brainstorming from Broad Themes

2018-01-19, 08:39 PM
Feel: recently post-apocalyptic; now again on the upswing.
Inspiration: ~850 CE
Medium Fantasy - there are powerful wizards &etc, but they're quite rare. ~Eberron for levels, but higher skew towards non- or low-magic classes.
Key features: Post-apocalyptic within historical time, but solidly on the upswing. Humanocentric magocracy destroyed by [magical catastrophe] ~500 years ago; other civilizations less or not particularly affected. For instant flavor points, the main setting of the campaign is in the Southern hemisphere; therefore South = cold and North = warm.

Historical Anecdotes:
The Empire of Aprad (denonym: Apraddian) was a continent-bestriding titan ruled by mage-lords and bound together equally by terrible Infernal oaths and by fear of their summoned demons, where the two were separable. It is unclear what caused the Scourging but common theories include: attempt to bind a Prince of Hell and resulting revenge; direct divine retribution; accidental opening of a very large, unsecured gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Some of the mage-lords are thought to have fled to extradimensional sanctuaries where time flows differently when the end came, and may yet be working to return. An Apraddian assault force sometimes consisted of a single mage-lord, which was generally more terrifying than a full legion. One of these went against Auhua, and even a thousand years later it is a blasted demon-haunted ruin. Adventurers sometimes venture there, looking for lost riches, but generally only end up adding to its count of undead hazards. A remnant of Aprad clings to life on the edges of the Concordat, but their few remaining mage-lords can command but a shadow of the power of the old Empire.

The Concordat is a multi-species federation with a heavy focus on divine magic; the Lord Convoker may or may not actually be a minor god.
This very diversity tends to limit their outside action, though, and much of the ruling clerical class is consumed in doctrinal squabbles that sometimes degenerate into outright fratricide. Outside the Lands of the Concordat, starpriests roam the world spreading the truths of the Lord Convoker (messianic religion advocating unity under the Concordat and magical power to the Lord Convoker in preparation for apocalyptic battle against demons).

One major dwarven kingdom, Udril, has sprung up in the former Apraddian territories north of Aprad itself. There are also lots of self-contained city-states (called Citadels, usually), especially around the gigantic rift canyon known as the Scar.

Elves are organized around feudal lords, usually wizards or paladins, with no great king over them. Each Elf-lord holds some great fortress and the surrounding lands and they do not generally play well with others, including most other elf-lords. Elf-lords make heavy use of illusion, to the point where judging their actual numbers is completely impractical - there are at least as many false Lords as there are Lords who hide their entire demesnes, i.e. Also Conjuration and Transmutation. If an unimaginable horror from beyond the stars ever tries to eat you, rest assured an elf is behind it - they 'can imagine quite a bit.'

There are two orc-ruled kingdoms, one surrounding Auhua in the North (and constantly fighting off its denizens when they emerge from their icy fastnesses), and one on the Western plains organized around warg-mounted heavy cavalry.

There are lots of small human kingdoms round the edges of these nations, mostly small/primitive/otherwise NBD.

The Concordat, Udril, and Aprad-in-Exile have cash economies (Udril and Aprad gold-based; Concordat uses crystal chits with magic emblems for denominations). Rest is more Anglo-Saxon gift-giving oriented. Elves trade favors; some elves have libraries full of journals recording who owes them what.

Basically, I'm going for something resembling a real-world level of developmental diversity and complexity. I like the early Viking Age as an inspiration, because it offers that - the Dark Ages (I know, but bear with me) weren't dark at all for the Eastern Roman Empire or Persia; humans are not uniquely suited for being the 'main' race; that sort of thing. Thoughts? Suggestions? Things I should have thought of? I'm wedded to none of this; if you dislike anything from the sound of the names to the specific inspirational decade, let me know.