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Jayngfet
2008-04-20, 12:20 AM
I'm almost done with my world but I'm afraid it's too generic

the elves are the long lived guys who you find in the forest, but there ar lots of urban elves thanks to the recent chaos

the dwarves are dudes who live in the mountains, with slightly better technology

the drow are a bunch of evil dudes living in the underdark with a matrilinical theocracy(no CG drow)

I tried to give the orcs and goblins and hobgoblins a small empire but it's starting to look like WoW orcs

on the bright side my gnomes and halflings are secretive spider tamers on opposite ends of the earth and have different cultures, but the halflings are still nomadic

my dragons are a bunch of aloof guys who don't really care about what happens to the short lived races, but I think it's been done

technology is starting to increase, but guns are so few and expensive that you can't really count them, and medicine has only developed enough now that you don't really need a cleric unless you're fighting daily and often, thanks to a magic resistant plague and a plague of lycanthropy a few years ago, there are also lots of homebrewed undead with powers gained from experementation(one kind breathes fire, one kind

I have a renegade group of archons and devils fighting over a portion of the world, going mad with power (one round on their home plane lasts six years, so their superiors don't expect either of them back from war and are unaware of other planes, letting the archons go power mad and the devils run rampant) there is a rebel celestial group working against them

where there are no epic level pit fiends or wyrms to get in the way there are huge evil cults and necromancers to worry about

is it just me or does this seem very generic?

please help, I don't want my world to be generic fantasy land #10243

TehJhu
2008-04-20, 12:29 AM
It does seem generic.

If you want a fantasy world that isn't generic but can't come up with anything, just make everything reverse. Elves and murdering, wild fey in the woods. Dwarves a insidious people who collapse whole cities with their laberithyne caves. Noble orcs and clver goblins journey out to defeat this foul, soft skinned menaces.

And don't have drow. Please.

MammonAzrael
2008-04-20, 12:51 AM
Screw Drow.
Switch up expectations, but don't totally reverse racial personalities (i.e. dwarves still have a thing for forging, but prefer a different environment, Halfings are more like gypsies and generally despised, elves are savage and tribal (like what the English assumed the native Americans were), Humans are an evolutionary throwback generally pitied for their short lives and funkiness, etc)
Screw Drow
Create your own race or two, and try to not have it be a cookie cutter copy. Maybe meld a couple different aspects of several races together.
Seriously, Screw Drow. You don't need 15 billion different types of elves.


Initially I had a much stronger word for what you should do with the Drow, but i didn't want to risk angering the all-mighty Mods

TehJhu
2008-04-20, 12:56 AM
And if you do create your own race PLEASE don't do "half-human, half X" (where X is some sort of animal, probably furry)

Jayngfet
2008-04-20, 01:14 AM
It does seem generic.

If you want a fantasy world that isn't generic but can't come up with anything, just make everything reverse. Elves and murdering, wild fey in the woods. Dwarves a insidious people who collapse whole cities with their laberithyne caves. Noble orcs and clver goblins journey out to defeat this foul, soft skinned menaces.

And don't have drow. Please.

why not drow?

and my orc's aren't that bad, I thought about making the orcs plunderers because they live in the desert but I developed the world further and gave the orcs some plains and left the halflings in the desert, so it didn't work as planned and played up the undead and outsiders.

the problem with your dwarves Idea is that there are few large cities in my world where the dwarves wouldn't be instantly recognized and hunted don indescrimanantly

'fraid I already made the mistake of half x,okay it was elves and bats but still, and I made hybrids between goblinoids of various types and goblinoids and orcs

I did make two orc and goblin subraces.

and I only have three types of elves

endoperez
2008-04-20, 05:33 AM
You have generic races (dwarves, elves, orcs, D&D hobbits) and generic world-altering events (zombie plague, the apocalypse, good vs evil), so of course you get generic world. But you have an interesting premise. What will happen if the apocalypse ISN'T stopped?

Fire-breathing zombies? Most elves live in secluded forests? Take a different zombie movie for each forest. Mall becomes a mages' guild protected by powerful seals, a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere becomes a treehouse in the middle of nowhere, etc. Whether there is a strong resistance in a magically advanced city or whether only few elves survive the devastation changes from forest to forest.

The dwarves are dudes who live in the mountains, with slightly better technology - would their fortresses become steampunk cities entombed away from the outside world, empty cities filled with advanced mechanical and magical items or the last strongholds of living people?
Did they lock themselves in to save themselves from the zombies? Enter Fallout. "Our Decanter of Endless Water is malfunctioning. You must leave the Cave-city 13 and search for replacement. Here is your repeating heavy crossbow, Cave Dweller."
Could they keep the archon-devil war out? What about the drow? Who did they ally with - anyone, or everyone? Are their cities only for dwarves, or are all living people allowed in? Racism and gang wars, monotheism or polytheism, democracy or tyranny, free speech and trade or an omniscient big brother?
Cold War of escalating magical and technological power between the dwarves and the drow, supplies of food and wood growing ever smaller?
These are just few examples.

What about the orcd/hobgoblin empire? Can they withstand the undead? Well, maybe they have shamans, that's all right. What about the archons and the devils? Imagine current Azure City in OOTS, and fast-forward until the gate is torn asunder and unimaginable horrors enter the town. Human slaves and their once-masters may war against each other, or together against a common enemy. You could do a horror-campaign with the evil races being enemies of the REALLY evil races - or you could do almost anything else. In the apocalypse, nomad way of life could be the best option, so they could have been reduced to raiding once more; they could have strong cities still standing against the onslaught; again, they could embrace or shun the other races, faiths and cultures. At this point, the only thing that makes them different from humans is the fact that their culture is new, and thus they could have perfectly adapted to whatever they want, while humans would try to cling to the old ways.

What about the secretive spider-tamers? No-one knew about them. If they're dead, no one knows anything about them. If they survive, they don't want anyone to know about them - an utopian world amidst all the other horrors. If they ran away and met the other races, they might be treated as just another type of monster, or they might resent the loss of their culture while being productive members of the new world. Again, they can be anything from monsters to the heroes of the world.

What would the dragons do now that the short-lived races have mostly become long-lived undead? What will they eat? Will they lead or eat the remaining civilizations? Will they use their innate and hoarded magical power to protect themselves or others, to stop or control the plagues and the undead resulting from them? Whatever they do, I doubt they could be aloof.
What if the sickness affected dragons, starting from their young?
Or - their old?
How many survive, how many died, how did they die...

The archon-devil war could still go on. Their superiors would have noticed what's happening by now, but what would they do, what could they do? Could the disease affect them? Could it be made to affect them, to rid the world of at least one apocalypse? What if they thought the disease could affect them, and decided to destroy everything to make sure it can't spread to other planes? Would that be "good" or "evil".

xPANCAKEx
2008-04-20, 05:34 AM
*set it in a post war environment of unsease. The difference races should not nessicerily all get along, but they certainly don't trust each other... then dump the party in foreign land

*political intrigue - you don't need to make a whole world when one city (and a few minor satelite towns/villages) is enough. Im plotting out an adventure for a party to be that will have enough to keep them going without ever having to leave the city (drugs, political manouvering, trechery, a mad paladin sect, thieves guild, city watch etc etc). For that, all you really need is to say what each faction is trying to do in the campaign - draw up a little relationship chart if needs be - and then let the PCs hinder or assist as they so choose. There doesn't need to be much railroading and it can all be open ended...only downside is that, murphys law, once you've spent an hour or so working all that out, your PCs will probably say "screw that, we want to leave the city"

*the dwarfs trying to destroy a city could be fun, so long as you don't make it obvious what the PCs are trying to foil from the get go

theres a tonne of options - it just depends how mature your play group is and what they could handle having thrown at them

but no drow

KIDS
2008-04-20, 06:13 AM
Just reversing everything existing usually ends up as a poor practice and ends up even worse than the generic start. The point is to know why you are changing something and what it will gain/lose you, which requires some more forethought than just putting in the first opposite. In essence, since the believable details and not the theme make up the greatest part of any campaign setting or story, I recommend that you first seek out a way to add details to the existing 'generic' things and possible changes - the original ones that are remembered - will come as the part of that.

Regardless, good luck with all of it! It's not easy to believably change something, I know...


I tried to give the orcs and goblins and hobgoblins a small empire but it's starting to look like WoW orcs

That is basically a good thing, since (compared to the 'typical' D&D premise) WoW actually gives them a good story and elevates them above the generic marauder #259 cliche that D&D never really did. How did those orcs acquire their empires, did they drive someone out, how religious are they, do they serve any higher powers, are females respected and equal or opressed in their society...? Just some starting points...

shadow_archmagi
2008-04-20, 06:32 AM
Give elves mad racial abilities and LA.

bosssmiley
2008-04-20, 09:25 AM
It does seem generic.

If you want a fantasy world that isn't generic but can't come up with anything, just make everything reverse. Elves and murdering, wild fey in the woods. Dwarves a insidious people who collapse whole cities with their labyrinthine caves. Noble orcs and clever goblins journey out to defeat this foul, soft skinned menaces.

And don't have drow. Please.

This I like. Especially the idea of the Dwarven underminers holding everyone to ransom:

"Nice city you got there slim. I'd sure hate to see it suffering the effects of subsidence, especially with the annual Orc horde being due in a month or so..."

I think you forgot the cannibalistic halfling barbarians and the undead-obsessed goth-Gnomes of Moil (stolen shamelessly from Dark Sun & Tadalas/Planescape respectively).

Goblinoids you might want to differentiate from their 'orange/grey orcs' roots by playing them as their stats and abilities actually deserve. Look at their racial stats in the MM: these guys are as intelligent and (potentially) sophisticated as any of the PC races. Use them as a sophisticated but autarchic quasi-Japanese society that keeps everyone else at arms length. You can have Hobgoblin samurai and shugenja knocking swarms of half-fiend humans off the Kaui Wall, goblins as comedy peasants (or comedy Chinese pirates), bugbears as deadly forest ninjas (Why not? Hruggek loves "Naruto"!), worgs as an allied outrider culture...

And +1 "to hell with Drow". They're the most overused bunch of fanboi bait in the game. They're like the (*yawn*) Shadar Kai, but without the dubious advantage of novelty. Give the Duergar, Derro, Deep Imaskari, etc. some love instead!

Saph
2008-04-20, 09:46 AM
You seem to have the idea that making your fantasy world generic is a bad thing. It isn't - if anything, it's good.

See, the reason generic magic, races, classes, etc. are good is that if you make them generic, players will know what to expect. That means they don't have to spend hours of homework learning it all. Now, I know everyone who makes a fantasy world wants it to be new and different, but you should stop and ask yourself: are your players really going to care?

Learning a new campaign world and new races, along with their histories and relations and differences and countries and geography, is a huge amount of work. Most players are not willing to do it. They don't care that you've written 50 pages of backstory detailing all the ways in which your fantasy races are totally different from everyone else's fantasy races. All they care about is whether the game is fun, and that's mainly going to be determined by how good a DM you are and how good a set of players they are.

Now, a well-thought out game world can make a campaign better. But the ways it makes it better are: the feeling of immersiveness; strange and interesting things happening that you want to find out more about; depth; wonder; detail and mystery. You can get all of these things just as well in a generic world. Novelty is not a shortcut to generating them, especially not if the novel elements are buried in page 4 of your 20 page introduction that most of your players skimmed or didn't read.

This isn't meant to be discouraging - rather the opposite. There's nothing stopping your world from being a good campaign setting already. You don't need to beat yourself up about it being 'too generic'.

- Saph

seedjar
2008-04-20, 10:30 AM
I think Saph has a really important point...
If you pack your campaign to the gills with details counterintuitive to player expectations, then you'll certainly raise a few eyebrows at the start. However, once your players notice that the theme behind your campaign is "opposite day," it may lose it's novelty. Worse, as mentioned, it becomes a lot of new details to memorize.
The human mind notices things with contrast. Drow catch people's eyes because they're hard and dark and emo, unlike more traditional views on elves. Eberron gets attention because it takes the whole of D&D's magical fantasy content and recasts it in some weird modern existentialist realism. (Note, I dig Eberron but I totally understand why others don't.) But if you take the time to look, these popular deviations from the norm are just that; deviations. Drow aren't the opposite of elves; they're elves with a few of the conspicuous traits reversed. Eberron has a few new races and such, but it's really all fairly standard fantasy source material, just with more attention given to certain elements of the scenario (I'm thinking of all the politics in particular.)
If you want your campaign setting to be unique, then first and foremost, don't try to make it "feel" unique - that's what everybody first tries for. Do what you think is best and just don't be afraid to deviate from the norm when it feels appropriate. Have confidence!
~Joe

TheThan
2008-04-20, 11:56 AM
So you want to do something a bit more interesting than the typical fantasy world.
Ok good idea, but poor execution. Part of your problem is your describing everything as generically as possible. Just donít do that. Letís take woodsy elves for instance.

Which is more interesting:

Elves live in the trees.

Or

Elves are xenophobic creatures that live in their enchanted forests and protect their borders with a zealous fury rarely seen in other races.


The bottom one sounds way more interesting. Yet they are both the same thing: woodsy elves. The difference between one guyís fantasy world and someone elseís is in not only the details, but how those details are presented.

With attention to presentation you can take two identical worlds and make them unrecognizable by simply presenting the same things differently.

OzymandiasVolt
2008-04-20, 12:54 PM
You could be original and have all celestials be actually GOOD instead of just the other side of the coin that the demons are on.

Danzaver
2008-04-20, 01:48 PM
I based my world on Medieval Europe and justified the slight genericness of the races my tying them to medieval perceptions of various real races and peoples (I'd tell you about who is who but I'm afraid of being judged, because they ARE based on racial stereotypes. In medieval Europe stereotypes were viewed as facts, and I knew none of my players would have problems with that, but I don't know that any of you would be willing to let it go).

Then, just for measure, I made the secrets of wizardry jealously guarded and the wizards themselves burnt at the stake (translation: no one could start as wizards because there are no schools and few teachers).

Then, I banned Gnomes and monks as well because they are on the other side of the world and no one has ever heard of them.

Perhaps most significantly I eliminated all the Elven sub-races and made Elves a non-playable race to preserve the mystique, and made them more powerful (significantly) and made them like the medieval myths about the courts of the Fae. This meant making them particularly cruel, or at least callous, but hey. This is medieval Europe, it's not like the humans were much better in many cases.

Then, I banned Paladins unless you came from the Holy Roman Empire and were an incredibly powerful landed noble who usually was a count and sat on the council that elected the King of the Germans, to make it more historically accurate (read: Palatine).

Then, I knocked down the amount of Gods to about five and made most of the 'Christianised' world worship them as aspects of the one God. The first crusade is going on, and is reshaping the face of worship as we speak, gradually phasing out paganistic elements and hopefully I will eventually have the amount of Gods down to three, or one. Unless the players manage to affect this, of course.


In regards to your problem, I really don't think you can avoid genericness in dnd. There are always preconceived notions. It's just about presenting them in new and interesting ways. I don't have any suggestions becasue I don't know enough about your world, but feel free to steal any of my ideas.

Venerable
2008-04-20, 02:45 PM
the problem with your dwarves Idea is that there are few large cities in my world where the dwarves wouldn't be instantly recognized and hunted don indescrimanantly

That's a problem? Seriously, I enjoy all things dwarven, but this is exactly the kind of thing to consider if you're trying to make your world distinctive. Why not make dwarves a distrusted race? Break a stereotype or two!

To tweak the example above, say a dwarven excavation accidentally collapsed half a single major surface city six hundred years ago. Reprisal from the surface-dwellers was swift, leading to a long hit-and-run war fought for over a hundred years. In the centuries since the final truce, surface-dweller memories of the conflict have grown dim, but the distrust of dwarves remains. For the dwarves' part, they remember the conflict well due to their longer lives. To surface-dwellers the conflict is ancient history; for dwarves, it is a tragedy that killed their parents and grand-parents.

Playing a dwarf in this setting raises a bunch of questions for the player to answer. Why is the character venturing above ground? Would non-dwarf characters in the party trust him/her, and vice versa?

Bingo. (Almost) instant characterization.

Jayngfet
2008-04-20, 02:48 PM
in regards to the dwarves: they have some steampunk, but they try to keep it away from the other races, they can't do anything outright because they're outnumbered, so they overprice guns, explosives and such, their cities could have trains going from place to place and level to level.

in regards to the gnomes: they're fairly secretive and have their own base class available only to them and halflings, since their so secretive I banned them until higher levels

in regards to halflings: they live on the other side of the continent from most of the standard races, away from the archons and since they're desert dwellers no one ants their near barren territory, they're mostly nomadic with some towns, you cant play them at all in a current campane

in regards to orcs and goblinoids: up until fifty years ago they were all tribal, but then the devils and archons came and began allying themselves with the powerful wizards and cleric and in the devils case, cultists and necromancers, the goblinoids rule the same way humans usually win over elves, dwarves, and whatever else they have, they make up 60-70% of the population, and are theocracy and a monarchy, using an outsider that accidentally fell into a portal to this plane centuries ago and cant get back to decide their king via champions, they rarely take prisoners if they have to raid thanks to a bad crop and don't like the other races much, so there aren't many half orcs.

in regards to elves: They're basically fantasy racists, up until a while ago they all lived out in the forest, but recent events forced them to move into towns, they consider humans to be a bunch of children, and they don't work much with the other races so it's just distaste there, wild elves are seen as primitive idiots and drow are treated as the root of all evil

in regards to dragons: they're a bunch of guys who don't really care about the world so long as nobody hunts in their territory and they aren't bothered,
there may be a dragon city


comments?

Dode
2008-04-20, 05:55 PM
Hmm... you want to make the world a little less generic? Sounds pretty simple to me; pick an often-ignored race (as a people or their leader) and base an empire around them.

Off the top of my head - scrapping the standard Drow race, what about something really interesting like say an Aboleth Mage (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/aboleth.htm) (or Savant Aboleth from the LoM) who rules an submerged underground empire with an army of corrupted, unfeeling humanoids like Skum (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/skum.htm), and since Elves are 'uniquely pure', their corrupted form as opposed to Skum is a Drow. They serve as elite units to the amphibious Skum infantry. Also included are Shaboaths, Locathahs, and all sorts of creepy underdark aberrations in the army.

They deploy from an unseen underwater tunnel between their lairs and the ocean and assault coastal cities.

Throw in a Soul Eater from Magic of Incarnum or a Julajimus from the MM2. Far Realm invasion, Slaadi, etc.

But I think what your campaign, from what you describe, is most lacking is goals for all of these factions. What do these dragons do besides yawn at the short lived races? What do the dwarves do or plan on doing beside jack up the prices for merchandise and gripe with the elves over the drow? If the people around the characters are milling around doing nothing, adventuring parties tend to join in.

Jayngfet
2008-04-20, 06:58 PM
what's wrong with drow?

Dode
2008-04-20, 07:08 PM
In my opinion? They're a bit cliche and not particularly interesting or imaginative as bad guys in both flavor and game mechanics.

Icewalker
2008-04-20, 07:31 PM
It's alright to be generic to some extent. I want to avoid the long-lived elves because they don't fully make sense, so I put their life span at around twice that of humans. Also, my elves are Japanese. My Dwarves are still mountain dwellers, except for a smaller society of Desert Dwarves, and then another society on the other side of the map of Glacier Dwarves. Huh, I never realized how many Dwarves my campaign has.

Halflings are still nomadic. Gnomes have an underwater city which is falling apart at the seams because they are too busy with other things.

Eldariel
2008-04-20, 09:18 PM
One point that's often forgotten in world creation: If you intend for Humans to exist and be the 'versatile' race of the world (I personally prefer fantasy worlds without Humans, since Humans tend to create a sort of 'us and them'-mentality of a world of Humans and Human Spinoffs), make sure to make different races of them and have them be different.

One of the biggest plunders ever in D&D is the fact that Elves, the most heldback, careful and slow living race out of all the folks of Faerun just happen to also host the widest variety of different races including some totally ridiculous adaptations like underground Elves. If you want such, Humans is a good basis, or just use some race that doesn't exist above ground at all. For example, my idea of Gnomes has always been sort of semi-Earth elementals, so in my world, I'd have Gnomes only exist in an underground environment (or alternatively have all races with both, an underground variant and a surface dweller variant).

Citizen Joe
2008-04-20, 09:39 PM
You could make it so dwarves exploit all natural resources. So they are lumberjacks and miners... possibly they could also find fresh water sources underground too.

Orcs could either be competing resource exploiters or they could be claim jumpers or they could be naturalists that think that the Dwarves are ruining the environment.

Unless you have a very good reason for elves to be long lived, then just give them standard human lifespans. You could also make them analogous to the native Americans, perhaps one of the more peaceful, in tune with nature tribes. Meanwhile the Orcs could be modeled after one of the more aggressive tribes. That allows for a pre-existing age old battle between tribes. Meanwhile the Dwarves come in from distant lands (which they have probably stripped bare) and start to exploit the resources locally, which really just ticks off the locals.

Mewtarthio
2008-04-20, 10:33 PM
Also, my elves are Japanese.

Hm... that's a bit ambiguous. What, exactly, do you mean by that?

Your elves have a strong belief in tradition, a feudal system similar to that of feudal Japan, and a strict isolationist foreign poilicy?
Your elven women are geishas. Your elven men are samurai. Your elven weapon of choice is the katana. Anyone who trespasses in elven woods gets killed by awesome ELVEN NINJAS!?
Your elves are renowned the world over for their impressive technology and high scores on standardized tests?
In 1853, when Matthew Perry introduced the Japanese to the values of globalization with his invincible gunships, he had no idea the true extent of what he'd done. During their two hundred years of isolation, the Japanese had actually built a stable time bubble around their island. Once that bubble burst, Japan was split into two Japans: Normal Japan, and "Dark Nippon." These two Japans caused a massive tear in the space-time continuum, and were thrown out randomly into the multiverse. Japan eventually crash-landed in your setting safely, while Dark Nippon entered the atmosphere too steeply, creating a massive crater and penetrating down to the Underdark. Due to their reactions to the setting's magical atmosphere, the inhabitants of Japan transformed into elves, while the inhabitants of Dark Nippon transformed into the drow?*



Dwarves are still mountain dwellers, except for a smaller society of Desert Dwarves, and then another society on the other side of the map of Glacier Dwarves. Huh, I never realized how many Dwarves my campaign has.

You might want to check out the Unearthed Arcana rules on Environmental Racial Variants (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/races/environmentalRacialVariants.htm), just to spice things up a bit.


Halflings are still nomadic. Gnomes have an underwater city which is falling apart at the seams because they are too busy with other things.

Ooh! Was this underwater city founded on Objectivist principles, but now everything's gone to hell because of the increasingly draconian measures taken against smugglers and the abuse of a magical substance that grants great power but ultimately causes madness and degeneration? ...No? Ah, never mind, that was a stupid question anyway.

*I spent far more time on that than I should have. I should have just said, "Are they literally Japanese transported here from Earth?" Screw it; I'm not going to delete all that.

Matthew
2008-04-20, 11:58 PM
You seem to have the idea that making your fantasy world generic is a bad thing. It isn't - if anything, it's good.

See, the reason generic magic, races, classes, etc. are good is that if you make them generic, players will know what to expect. That means they don't have to spend hours of homework learning it all. Now, I know everyone who makes a fantasy world wants it to be new and different, but you should stop and ask yourself: are your players really going to care?

Learning a new campaign world and new races, along with their histories and relations and differences and countries and geography, is a huge amount of work. Most players are not willing to do it. They don't care that you've written 50 pages of backstory detailing all the ways in which your fantasy races are totally different from everyone else's fantasy races. All they care about is whether the game is fun, and that's mainly going to be determined by how good a DM you are and how good a set of players they are.

Now, a well-thought out game world can make a campaign better. But the ways it makes it better are: the feeling of immersiveness; strange and interesting things happening that you want to find out more about; depth; wonder; detail and mystery. You can get all of these things just as well in a generic world. Novelty is not a shortcut to generating them, especially not if the novel elements are buried in page 4 of your 20 page introduction that most of your players skimmed or didn't read.

This isn't meant to be discouraging - rather the opposite. There's nothing stopping your world from being a good campaign setting already. You don't need to beat yourself up about it being 'too generic'.

- Saph

Absolutely agree with this. Another point about 'original' concepts is that they run the risk of being 'not very good.' In my opinion, large sweeping changes are often much less interesting than the small 'devil's in the detail' sort of stuff. Take the Midnight campaign setting, for instance; the key difference from standard D&D fare is that the free people's are dominated by an evil Dark Lord. In and of itself, this concept is not even all that original, but the details that have been built off it certainly are.

The main benefit of having your own campaign world is not that it's completely different from everything else, but rather that it's exactly what you want it to be. If you want Dark Elves, include Dark Elves, if you don't want Gnomes, don't include Gnomes. Don't try and be original, just try and make it good.

SofS
2008-04-21, 12:34 AM
I agree with those that have said that a setting is not necessarily bad for being generic. I would say that the important consideration might be termed as the difference between generic in form and generic in content.

If your setting is much like several other settings, and a number of assumptions hold true for all of them, you might say that it has a generic form.
If the things that happen in the setting and the people that populate it are much like other settings, you could say that it has generic content.

I think that what you're getting at is more a problem with generic content than generic form. Indeed, I'd say that the secret to a good generic setting is interesting content regardless of form. If your elven rangers all act really elvish and seem like 500 copies of the same person, they'll probably come off as boring. If your elven rangers have different ways of behaving and talking, have different beliefs and priorities, and if one elven city is noticeably different from another, your elves won't be generic at all regardless of their leafy domain. People, on the whole, are both very much alike and utterly different, and capturing that will make the whole setting really live and breathe.

Pursuant to this, I would recommend that you leave yourself a good bit of room when running this. It doesn't need to be laid out in perfect detail before starting. As the DM, it's your prerogative to come up with whatever you like, whether or not it's in a book somewhere. Making stuff up is one of the best parts of the role (as you obviously know, having taken on the commendable task of making your own world instead of running another's).

Randel
2008-04-21, 01:16 AM
Weird quirks for different races:

1). Gnomes eat silicon-based material for food like rock candy, limestone pie, and occasionally gems. They are however very allergic to eggs, particularly chicken eggs which turn them to stone.

2). Halflings are nomadic and tend to travel through rivers, marshes and along the coastlines. They actually originated on an archipelago of tropical islands which were quite small but close enough together that they could sail or even swim between them. The halfling homeland sports a booming seafaring trade and exports lots tropical fruit and sugarcane.

3). Occasionally, there are groups of savage halflings in the deepest jungles who are said to use poisoned blow darts to knock out and capture people and cook them in big cast-iron pots. Some of the more racist individuals say that halflings descended from cannibalistic humans who ate all the bigger people until only the smaller ones were left... however this is constantly denied by savage halflings as utter nonsense because "we never even got cast-iron pots big enough to cook people in until the dwarves brought them over."

Savage halflings are usually much leaner than other halflings, those who get too fat are tormented by the others. Chants of "Kill Piggy! Kill Piggy!" can be heard during such unfortunate times. They frequently kill boars and stick the head on spikes to ward off evil spirits.

4). Dwarves have a collective distrust for small-sized humanoids. gnomes for eating their gems and tunnels, goblins for attacking their camps, and savage halflings for cooking up their explorers in big cast-iron pots. Surprisingly, they get along just fine with half-orcs and humans.

Jayngfet
2008-04-21, 02:19 AM
In regards to an above post: Why can' they eat zombies?

Tequila Sunrise
2008-04-21, 02:50 AM
please help, I don't want my world to be generic fantasy land #10243

There's no such thing as a truly original project. Really, ask anyone who knows anything about art; they'll tell you that projects which are praised as original are really just reworkings and combinations of past projects. So in a sense, your world is doomed from the start to be generic fantasy land #10243.

But keep in mind that unless your players are jaded crotchety farts, they're not going to be looking for an impossibly original fantasy world. I don't know your players, but most gamers I've played with don't have any particular expectations regarding game fluff. So I recommend just making your world however you like; if you want it to be particularly "original" read a new book or watch a new movie to get some ideas. Another thing you can do is to let your players help create your game world; every time a character is made the player has to write up a rough sketch of their race's/region's culture. You could even be somewhat demanding *gods forbid* and tell them "no default PHB cultures."

TS

Reel On, Love
2008-04-21, 03:33 AM
Why are you making your own world anyway? There's plenty already out there. If yours is turning out generic, maybe it's because you don't want anything specifically unique... in which case, a published world should suit you fine.

random11
2008-04-21, 03:59 AM
When I create a world, I find that the most useful method is repeatedly ask the question "why?".

- Dwarfs live underground.
Why? Why does a race limit itself to an area that naturally has less resources like food or wood?
Are They incapable of living in daylight? Maybe dwarfs eat rocks? What about a world disaster that forced them to hide underground?

- Elves live in the forest.
Why?
Maybe their magic is connected to the trees. Maybe the elves and a certain type of tree live in a symbiotic relationship and depend on one another. Maybe they are a hunted race, forced to hide deep in the forests where they can't be reached.

- The elven common weapon is a longbow.
Why?
How come a race that lives deep in the forest where the range is very limited, is famous of using a weapon best used on open fields?



Each answer will open up more questions, will force you to abandon some cliches, and will make your world richer and more unique.

Smight
2008-04-21, 04:45 AM
here is a tought.
get rid of Humans.
Or has that been done?

J.Gellert
2008-04-21, 05:33 AM
To heck with originality. One of my favorite settings is that of Warhammer - Civilized humans are good, demons are bad, orcs are scary green monsters that cannot speak, and legions of undead roam scarred lands. Also; I love the Lord of the Rings, which may have been original, but people will say "it has been done to death".

Really, these are cliche for a reason; they work. That is traditional fantasy. When Conan slays yet another evil sorcerer, I will definitely not say "Bo-ring!". And to get to the more important point...

...I prefer it 1000 times over original "Yes, the innkeeper is an Ogre", or original "The robot warforged greets you", or original "Yup, sorry, elves are all wild bastards that kill little fluffy animals". Traditional fantasy is traditional for a reason and too many changes really kill "the feeling".

So; to be original, change 20% of your world and you're done. Like get rid of the Underdark completely. Or kill gnomes. Or keep gods out of the picture (it's been done, but it's different than Forgotten Realms). You do not have to change everything... Most people like dwarf miners and elf rangers.

random11
2008-04-21, 06:16 AM
To heck with originality. One of my favorite settings is that of Warhammer - Civilized humans are good, demons are bad, orcs are scary green monsters that cannot speak, and legions of undead roam scarred lands. Also; I love the Lord of the Rings, which may have been original, but people will say "it has been done to death".

Really, these are cliche for a reason; they work. That is traditional fantasy. When Conan slays yet another evil sorcerer, I will definitely not say "Bo-ring!". And to get to the more important point...

...I prefer it 1000 times over original "Yes, the innkeeper is an Ogre", or original "The robot warforged greets you", or original "Yup, sorry, elves are all wild bastards that kill little fluffy animals". Traditional fantasy is traditional for a reason and too many changes really kill "the feeling".

So; to be original, change 20% of your world and you're done. Like get rid of the Underdark completely. Or kill gnomes. Or keep gods out of the picture (it's been done, but it's different than Forgotten Realms). You do not have to change everything... Most people like dwarf miners and elf rangers.


There is nothing wrong with classic fantasy. But there is a problem if cliches are used without thought or reason.
Is there really a reason for entire humanoid races that exist for the sole purpose of being cannon fodder while grunting "ARRR, we are EVIL!"?

Cliches are not limited to races, think about monsters. Nothing wrong with creating undead enemies in an adventure. But it simply doesn't make any sense that skeletons just pop out of graveyards without reason, only to give the clerics in the group something to do.

If you find a good reason and background for the elf ranger and the dwarf miner, by all means, use it as a classic. But if they exist simply because "that's what elves and dwarfs are supposed to be, that's not a classic, that's just a cliche.

hamishspence
2008-04-21, 06:19 AM
the Horrible Elves theme is older than the D&D one. Wild Hunt, changlings, stealing of humans, Terry Pratchett does this rather well. Maybe something to tone down in games, or make it area specific.

J.Gellert
2008-04-21, 09:09 AM
The "why" of elves loving forests and dwarves living in caves does not really matter in a game; maybe the little buggers just have an affinity for the earth. It can be explained in the Creation Myth of the setting, but it is not that important. What does it matter if Drow are cursed by the Gods, or victims of an ages-old disease? They are still unnecessary to the average setting (and done to death in D&D, really).

Either way, what I am saying is that it is not mandatory to, for example, turn the dwarves into excellent seafarers to do something unique. That is the "easy" way to do it. I'd have more respect for a high fantasy setting that has no dwarves instead.

random11
2008-04-21, 12:04 PM
The "why" of elves loving forests and dwarves living in caves does not really matter in a game; maybe the little buggers just have an affinity for the earth. It can be explained in the Creation Myth of the setting, but it is not that important. What does it matter if Drow are cursed by the Gods, or victims of an ages-old disease? They are still unnecessary to the average setting (and done to death in D&D, really).


It makes all the difference.
A good world must at least have some internal logic. If an entire race is restricted to an area with less resources for no actual reason, it simply makes no sense.
The players don't have to know the reason, at least not right away, but the DM does if he wants to create something good.

What does it matter?
Take two simple options for the Drows:
1) A race unable to move in the light.
2) A race that is cursed by the gods of the world, while the curse lasts, if they sleep above earth, they wake up weaker.

Each option opens completely a different game with different races the players can choose from, and possible potential plot hooks.
Most importantly, every detail you add makes the world feel more real.




Either way, what I am saying is that it is not mandatory to, for example, turn the dwarves into excellent seafarers to do something unique. That is the "easy" way to do it. I'd have more respect for a high fantasy setting that has no dwarves instead.

With that I agree.
Inventing a new green skinned savage race and calling it "Orps" is not unique. Replacing the names and characteristics of known races is just the same as leaving it as it was.

Yakk
2008-04-21, 02:29 PM
Back up a bit.

You are talking about the world, but you aren't talking about the point of a game-world: the players.

Instead of approaching it from the side of world-building, do some from the approach of "what adventures do you want to set in this world", "what feel do you want the world to have".

Then build the world to provide that feel and those adventures.

The world should still hang together once you have done this, but when building a world there are enough "free variables" that it isn't that much of a problem.

I can also dump riffs on you:

The Dwarves are forged, not born. A god forged the first Dwarf, who then forged it's own descendants. Dwarves study metallergy like Humans chase after sex.

Elves are grown. An Elf is a physical plant-spirit, awakened and brought into the world into humanoid form. The type of plant used doesn't seem to have that much impact on the Elf produced. To an Elf, every tree is a potential child.

"Drow" are just a clan of elves. They look like every other elf. They do live under the ground, and are often spawned from Mushrooms.

Goblins lay Larvae, which grow into Goblins. What the Larvae eat determines what form the adult Goblin forms. If the Larvae is fed a dead Goblin of a particular form, it grows into the same kind of Goblin.

Orcs, and many other humanoid-ish monsters, are a breed of Goblin.

Halflings and Gnomes are the same race. They generally avoid direct contact with the larger races, and many have the innate magical stealth abilities. They claim to not know how they reproduce -- even under magical interrogation, their earliest memories are as full adults with pre-existing social bonds, and attempts to Divine Halflings back to a source always fail.

Humans grow children inside of themselves as a parasite.

...

Note that the above doesn't require changing any game mechanics. The flavor of the races is quite changed, however. You could even toss out some "paragon"-like paths with origin-inspired abilities.

You could even do something crazy, like:
Elves: Elves cast as a Wizard or Sorcerer equal to half their level, rounded down, with 1 less spell/day per spell level. They also cast all Arcane magic at a caster level equal to their HD (not for the purpose of extra spells per level or known, however). In addition, if an Elf suffers arcane spell failure, they do not lose either the spell or the action, but cannot use the action to cast a spell. (Plus standard)

Elves may consume a feat to increase their "elven spells/day" level by 2, to a max of 3/4 of their character level, rounded down.

Dwarves: Dwarves cast as a Cleric of half of their level, rounded down, with 1 less spell/day per spell level. Dwarven Divine spellcasting is always at their HD, like Elven arcane spellcasting. In addition, they have Hardness equal to half of their level, rounded up. (Plus standard)

Dwarves may consume a feat to increase their "dwarven spells/day" level by 2, to a max of 3/4 of their character level, rounded down.

Gnomes: Gnomes can cast spells as a Bard equal to their level, with one less spell known and per day per spell level (-1 spell per day means you need 2 bonus spells to cast 1 spell of that level). As a full-round action at-will, they may go Invisible and Silent if nobody sees them as they do it. This ability does not work against anyone within 30' at any time. (Plus standard Halfling abilities)

Humans: Humans gain a bonus feat at level 1, and another feat every even level. Humans gain 2 bonus skill points per level, and 1 bonus HP per level. (Instead of standard human)

Orcs: Orcs have temporary HP equal to their constitution bonus plus twice their level, that refreshes 1 minute after they last take damage. In addition, they can Rage (as the Barbrian class ability) 1/day, plus 1/day every 4 levels. (Plus standard Half-Orc)

Orcs may consume a feat to increase their temporary HP by 2 per character level. This may be purchased once for every 5 HD, rounded up.

That is going pretty far, but it makes your races "more" than the standard ones.

All of these are from the player's perspective, rather than from the world perspective. Once you have that, you can build "what would the world be like"...

Illiterate Scribe
2008-04-21, 03:28 PM
Well, if we're sharing non-standardised stuff, the Drow in our group's world are Romany-style nomads who keep themselves to themselves, having self-exiled themselves from what they see as the decadent, quasi-fascist, racial supremacist high and wood elves, because they believe that they are in the end times, and are just waiting for the end of the world. Good times.

Jayngfet
2008-04-21, 04:57 PM
on the subject of players: I want them to start out small but grow quickly, they're only chosen here because the celestials, high level wizard, and mid level cleric, and local guard were busy, but after a few levels they distinguish themselves and get a big mission getting them to tenth level, at wich point the BBEG enters the picture.