Colossus in the Playground
Join Date: Jun 2006
Adrift in a sea of woe.
This is where I'm gonna take all the stuff about my campaign world from my head and actually put it down somewhere solid.
Every now and then there'll be a bit I'm not sure about - I'll write those bits in purple
. I'd welcome any thoughts on those parts - and any part, really, but criticism of other parts is more likely to be ignored
If anyone fancies contributing a bit anywhere, you're welcome to throw something up, although obviously I get last word on what's "canon" for this place.
On the off-chance anyone happens to read this thread just for interest: don't expect regular updates. It'll be a lot of work, which I'm likely to be only sporadically up to doing.
Final (ha) note: to start with, this world was built in cooperation with one Goff. I can't remember which bits nor how much of his contribution remains, but consider it acknowledged.
And now, my campaign world:
Cakeworld is so named because of the delicious appearance of the planet itself. Few, if any, inhabitants of the planet would know what it would look like if you sliced it open like a tasty tasty baked treat, so this is not the in-game name for the planet - in fact, at this point there isn't one
. For the purpose of campaign-world-naming, though, it'll do.
But yeah. The planet looks like a cake.
I could go for a biscuit right now...
The planet as a whole is in the shape of a disc which is convex on both sides - or rather, two convex discs pressed together back-to-back. It has a cool upper crust which contains the Underdark, a hot mantle, and a liquid-hot core - similar to our own planet. However, the planet's oceans cycle through the planet itself: the waters flow to the planet's edge, over the side into the cleft that divides the two planetary plates, and through to the centre as the Hypogean Ocean.
As the water travels through the centre of the planet close to the mantle, it heats up to an amazing degree until it surges up the Pelagic Bore to the surface. This water is extremely hot, but cools down relatively quickly. The water directly over the Bore is far too hot for anything but the most extreme thermophiles to live in. The area immediately surrounding it is similar to those around volcanic vents in our world, and quickly around that it turns to more normal tropical climates and ecosystems. As the water heads for the edge, it gets cooler and cooler, producing first temperate and then, right at the edge, frigid climates - much of the water going over the edge is in the form of ice.
The area around the Bore is extremely volatile, volcanic eruptions being extremely common. These volcanoes are the primary source for new landmasses, as continents are gradually - over thousands or tens of thousands of years - pushed by the constant flow of water to the edge of the planet. There they fall into the cleft and are ground up and melted down into the core - or follow the water along as rocks and sand - to be eventually recycled by the aforementioned volcanic activity.
These volcanic areas could theoretically hide some extremely powerful magic items - they would have to be extremely powerful to survive the massive geological forces they would have been subjected to. On the other hand, they're more likely to turn up in the middle of a mountain than on a mountainside.
"This ancient map was found recently in a Cliffton archive. It is clearly several thousand years and much of it was apparently based almost purely on speculation, as we can see that several continents have shifted substantially since then - one no longer even exists - and much of it is innaccurate." - in other words, I did this map ages and ages ago and have since changed my mind about things. On the other hand, it demonstrates the way the continents slide off the side, and gives an idea of the overall layout of the place. Also I quite like the effect of it.
Cakeworld orbits around a sun similar to our own, and is itself orbited by a pair of moons much the same as ours. One moon is a little closer to Cakeworld than ours is to Earth, and the other is somewhat further away. They orbit the planet on quite different courses, but occasionally they line up in such a way as to have an impact on Cakeworld, including but not limited to more extreme tides and messing with lunar-linked creatures such as lycanthropes.
For the most part, the Cakeworld universe functions the same as ours: matter is made up of different types of atoms, gravity pulls things together, light is both a particle and a wave, planets orbit around suns, mutation drives natural selection which is the basis of evolution, and so on. There is, however, one major difference: magic.
Magic is a fundamental part of the very fabric of reality. It is like photons, like electrons and energy and the strings of string theory and maybe darkmatter. It is a basic fact of existence, and integral to its structure.
The impact of magic on the universe is at least at a glance quite simple: it makes things possible there which wouldn't be possible here. So, for instance, although Cakeworld is effected by gravity, it couldn't exist in our world - gravity would shape it into a ball. But in the Cakeworld universe... it doesn't. Because magic makes it possible.
It is because of magic that certain mutations which would cause an embryo to not even make it to term can even result in a new species which is completely viable. Acquired traits - such as those from a Wizard's experimentation - can be inherited. Animals can fly which should never be able to - at least not without incredible physical distortions. Some plants can move. Species - such as humanoids - which should out-compete one another into extinction are instead able to coexist for far longer than would otherwise be expected. Species which should not be able to cross-breed... can, resulting in an extremely complex tree of life. Particular body-plans, such as wings and anthropoid forms, occur much more often in a variety of genii. Geological forms which could not exist in our world, are almost common in Cakeworld. Because of magic.
In other words, all the normal functions and factors of reality are present in the Cakeworld universe. Magic simply distorts and blurs the edges of possibility somewhat.
(side-note: this theological system is vaguely inspired by Hinduism. If you know anything about the way Hindu gods work, you may have a head start in getting what I'm on about)
Far above the ordinary planes of existence are the Primordial Divinities
. These transcendent beings are equal parts the creators of, created by, and a part of the universe itself. They are immortal, omnipotent and utterly incomprehensible. Few, if any, know they exist, and even fewer would pray to them - it is highly unlikely that they would answer anyway. Instead, they create lesser versions of themselves in the form of gods - in a similar manner to that in which the gods in turn manifest avatars or spawn mortals.
There are nine of these Primordial Divinities
, each one attached to/a part of an aligned plane (it should be noted, however, that they are far beyond the concepts of Good, Evil, Law and Chaos):
- Father (LG): creation, protection, strength, masculinity, solar
- Mother (NG): creation, protection, birth, fertility, femininity, lunar
- Time (LN): death, endings, beginnings, renewal, the afterlife, cycles
- Trickster (CN): anarchy, change, underhandedness, deception
- Nature (TN): earth, fecundity, animals, plants, health, agriculture
- Knowledge (LE): information, intellect, magic, secrets, science
- Love (CE): romance, sex, friendship, jealousy, obsession, beauty
- Creativity (CG): technology, art, music, literature, invention, progress
- Violence (NE): war, murder, destruction, bloodlust, insanity
The gods themselves might be worshipped by whole nations, encompassing dozens of grand concepts and wielding massive power over a multitude of peoples... or they might be specific to one place, one time, one tribe and a few specific things. Or anything in-between. One Primordial Divinity might manifest itself in hundreds of gods, each representing a different aspect of itself, sometimes even in direct opposition to one another. In turn, a single god might be shared by more than one Divinity, representing some aspect or combination of aspects of each of them.
So, for example, the gods Loki and Kokopelli are both manifestations of the Trickster Divinity. Conversely, Garl Glittergold is an aspect of both Trickster and Father - perhaps a little more on the Trickster side.
Although they are "merely" aspects of a greater consciousness, the gods are all individuals with their own personalities, goals and sense of self. Whether they themselves are aware of the existence of the Primordial Divinities, whether they know themselves to be aspects of them or revere them as mortals do gods, is debatable
Partial History of the Gods
Eons ago, in the times after the multiverse first came into being, the oldest gods roamed freely in their true forms across all the planes. They inevitably came into contact with one another and, as they are wont to, quickly came into conflict as well. Arguments came to blows, blows became battles and battles escalated into war. Whole continents crumbled beneath their violence, and they were at risk of tearing the Material Plane apart.
It is not known who first noticed the danger, who pointed it out to the others, initiated the peace talks and actually got the agreements to stick. What is known is the results: no god walks the planes in their true form. Battles, if they must be fought, are to be fought elsewhere, on some other reality that can handle the violence, or else indirectly through influence and other methods. They may visit the Material Plane, but only for peaceful purposes and in severely reduced (if still powerful) form - usually an avatar.
When a god decides to visit the Material Plane, it is a time of both great trepidation and great celebration on the part of their worshippers: on the one hand, they may have an opportunity to meet and talk with their god personally. On the other, a trip to the Plane generally means a lack of metaphysical contact between deity and worshippers - in other words, divine spellcasters tend to lose the use of their spells for the duration of the visit, unless the god makes some arrangement beforehand.
Most of these gods have some personal item - usually a weapon or a piece of armour - that is left on the Material Plane. Between visits, it is often kept as a sacred relic by the god's worshippers, revered and treasured. One of the first things a god usually does in their trip to the Material Plane is to seek out and reclaim their item, and carry it for their journey. Often they return it to whence they took it before leaving, but just as often they don't.
The Gods of Cakeworld
Pretty much any god in any source book is likely to be worshipped somewhere on or around Cakeworld. There may be tweaks (no way was Hades Evil...), but chances are, if a player wants to worship a god, they can.
I have also, however, statted up a few gods specifically for this world. They are as follows:
Inti (based on the Incan God of the Sun)
Kokopelli (based on a native American God
Giver of Life, The Smiling Sun
A benign sun face surrounded by long rays.
Sun, light, strength, healing, life, protection, rulership.
Bards, rangers, druids, healers, rulers, nobles, guards, Good warriors.
LG, NG, LN.
Good, Healing, Life, Nobility, Protection, Strength, Sun
Inti is the Handia (South American - Inca) equivalent/counterpart to Pelor, with more emphasis on protection and authority. He is a strong, noble warrior in shining gold armour and his great shield. He is the defender of the weak and a bastion of justice. He is commonly worshipped by farmers who rely on the sun for their livelihoods, and by just kings and the defenders of good.
Inti is a stoic but kind god. He teaches that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak. Just as the burning sun nurtures the delicate seedling until it grows into a strong and sturdy tree, so too should his mighty followers bolster the weak to make them strong enough to stand on their own.
Clergy and Temples
Gold is the colour and material most favoured by the clerics of Inti. Their temples are often heavily decorated with the metal, and are usually wide open to the sunshine. The clerics are usually patient and protective, but have backbones of steel and hearts of diamond. They believe in strength and toughness, and in sharing those with the people without until they have enough of their own. They will defend those in need, but consider just as important teaching them to defend themselves.
Cleric/Fighter(or Warblade)/Paladin(or Crusader)
Wields the Vanguard of Inti.
Golden Vanguard of Inti
Golden Vanguard of Inti is a heavy shield made of polished ebony with a shining, benignly smiling sun – the symbol of the god Inti – made of gold on the front, with sharp spikes pointing out from the rays.
Nonlegacy Game Statistics:
+1 Spiked heavy wooden shield; Cost 1,025gp; Weight 12lb.
Golden Vanguard of Inti always feels very warm to the touch, as though left in the sun. It is a tower shield, but can be wielded as though it is a heavy shield.
When the god Inti visits the material plane, he seeks out the Vanguard as his own personal shield.
Two rituals are required to unlock all the abilities of Golden Vanguard of Inti.
Organise a festival in Inti’s honour. For three days you must fast, refrain from sexual intercourse, and have no fire lit in your presence. Then you must arrange feasting for the next nine days, all animals slaughtered for meat first consecrated to Inti and sacrificed in his honour. Cost: 1,500gp. Feat Granted: Least Legacy (Golden Vanguard of Inti).
Light a Dark Place:
You must assist an oppressed or endangered community by both freeing it from its threat and teach the people or establish something that will assist them in protecting themselves in the future. Cost: 11,500gp. Feat Granted: Lesser Legacy (Golden Vanguard of Inti).
The wielder must spend at least one hour in direct natural sunlight every day. Once a week, he must meditate in direct natural sunlight for one hour plus one for every 5 levels. These hours do not have to be consecutive (e.g. you do not have to start over if it gets cloudy half-way through).
Golden Vanguard of Inti can be wielded by clerics, paladins, druids, favoured souls and other devout military classes.
Golden Vanguard of Inti Wielder Requirements
Ability to cast 1st-level divine spells
Any nonevil, nonchaotic alignment
Base attack bonus +2
Legacy Item Abilities
|5th||+1 bashing spiked heavy wooden shield (1d8 damage and as +1 weapon when bashing)|
|6th||Shining Might +2|
|7th||+2 bashing +1 spiked heavy wooden shield|
|9th||Shining Might +4|
|10th||+2 bashing spiked heavy wooden shield|
|13th||+2 bashing brutal surge spiked heavy wooden shield|
|14th||Shining Might +6|
|16th||+3 bashing brutal surge spiked heavy wooden shield|
All the following are legacy item abilities of Golden Vanguard of Inti.
Shining Might (Su):
At 6th level, you are infused with some of Inti’s power, gaining a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength. This enhancement increases to +4 at level 9 and to +6 at level 14.
Luminous Brawn (Su):
At 8th level and higher, you gain a +4 bonus on the opposed Strength check made during a bull rush attempt, and you push your opponent back an additional 5 feet if the attempt is successful.
Golden Grandeur (Sp):
From 11th level, you are under the effect of enlarge person. This is constant, and can be suppressed.
Inti’s Brilliance (Sp):
Starting at 13th level, the golden sun can emit a beam of light equivalent to a daylight spell at will. Caster level 10th.
Asteleben, God of the Darker Side of Evolution
The Trickster, Coyote, Huehuecoyotl, The Joker
A humpbacked flute-player, a face of many expressions, a smiling coyote head. Symbols vary greatly among different worshippers, depending on the aspects upon which they focus.
Various, especially Chaotically-aligned ones. Unusually active on the Material Plane.
Trickery; Entertainment, music, art, jokes, humour, comedy, performance in general - both good and bad: Only mediocrity is boring; Fertility - especially when undesired: Special protector of its unwanted products, and of orphans, is often involved in designing special fates for them; Luck - good and bad, double-edged, and disguised; Theft and mischief; Thinking around corners, problem-solving, creativity - convoluted and complicated solutions are far more interesting than straight-line logic; Intelligence, wit, cleverness; Coincidence, irony; Justice - preferably fitting, personal and twisted; Ambiguity and confusion - half-breeds, hermaphrodites, individuals of confused or atypical gender, the insane, shape-shifters, polymorphed creatures, and the lost (literally and metaphorically), among others, are under his personal protection... and are his personal playthings; Opposition to mediocrity - if there's anything he can't stand, it's the ordinary; Drugs - especially hallucinagens, often an important part of his worship; Phobias, fetishes and irrationality; Time - especially "early" and "late", and the tricks time can play; Contradiction; Extreme emotions; Tears - of laughter and sadness; Inconvenience; Weather (local only, preferably dramatic, inconvenient and/or inappropriate); Noise, and the absence of it; Crowded, anarchic groups of people - battles, riots, cities; The Butterfly Effect, obscure causality; Double-edged swords; Deception - through both lies and misdirection, and creative application of the truth.
Worshippers: Anyone, midwives, rogues, bards.
CE, CN, CG, N
Chaos, Liberation, Luck, Madness, Transformation, Trickery
Wit. Failing that, improvised weapons.
Kokopelli is possibly closer to his Primordial Divinity than any other god. Worship, description and general nature of the trickster god varies between groups of worshippers.
Kokopelli is a mercurial and complex deity, and the beliefs and practices associated with him vary dramatically from place to place, or even between people of the same tribe. Generally, he teaches – sometimes cruelly – that life is unpredictable and capricious, and that it is better to be flexible and take things as they come than to try to plan for everything. He is of the opinion that it is far better to fail spectacularly than to be merely adequate, and encourages his worshippers to be exceptional in everything they do.
Clergy and Temples
The worship of Kokopelli is surprisingly well-regarded in many communities. His festivals are huge events, and many tribes consider him their personal patron or even an ancestor.
Few of Kokopelli’s clergy have that as their primary occupation – many double as midwives or entertainers, and a large number of his Clerics are also Rogues or Bards. He also has few fixed temples – most of his worship is temporally focussed, rather than geographically, especially at celebrations or important events such as a birth. Sometimes a small temporary shrine will pop up, usually nearby some peculiar feature or event, where people will leave small offerings. There are also a few travelling temples, caravans devoted to Kokopelli, that tend to follow local festivals – whether Kokopelli’s or to crash some other god’s. More often individuals will perform their own small rituals when, where and how it seems right to them.
Usually has a musical instrument at hand.
Thresher, Scourge of Infants, The Ordeal, The Improver of Lines, The Perfector of Species.
Nature, Death, Violence (in that order)
Two sickles attached end-to end.
Laboratory-Reserve in The Grey Waste
Evolution, natural selection, eugenics, social Darwinism, bigotry, racial anthropology, nature, ecology, predator-prey relationships, life, death, reproduction, survival of the fittest.
Rangers, druids, barbarians, eugenicists, believers in a “master race”, biological scientists and experimenters.
NE, LE, CE, TN.
Animal, Competition, Death, Destruction, Endurance, Life, Plant, Strength, War
Asteleben embodies the darker side of nature. He resembles an aging gardener or farmer wearing practical, well-worn clothes, the sort of man who would pluck weeds and throw them on the compost without a second thought, or who could pick out weak lambs from the flock to be slaughtered. He looks like an ordinary man who is both willing and capable of performing the grittier duties of keeping a healthy flock, except that his “flock” includes all living things.
Asteleben teaches that through the death (or failure to reproduce) of individuals the species as a whole is improved. The removal of the weak and undesirable elements strengthens the whole. It is both inevitable and necessary that the fit survive, and the unfit perish. It is the way nature works, and the way it constantly improves itself. As nature does in her forests, so Asteleben’s worshippers must do in their communities.
Clergy and Temples
The few temples of Asteleben that exist have a hierarchy based on merit, determined by, more or less, the ability to take and hold authority. The temples themselves often feature altars for the sacrifice of any imperfect animals or people, and sometimes facilities for experiments in breeding.
Most organised worship is incorporated into a whole society, the religious leaders often literally having the power of life and death over individuals. Such communities usually practice some sort of child testing and condoned infanticide, and imperfect individuals are rarely tolerated – if they are allowed to live or to enter the community, they are never allowed to breed.
Rulers desiring to rule a pure, superior people, more ruthless breeders of animals and plants, and druids with an interest in the evolutionary forces of nature are among Asteleben’s more prominent worshippers. His clergy tend to prefer dark earthy colours, such as dark green, brown or red.
Wields two sickles.
When a creature dies, their spirit leaves their body and moves onto the Ethereal Plane. It travels along this Plane, drawn to the nearest Gate.
The journey through the Ethereal Plane can be quite dangerous for a newly detached soul. In some places there may be spectral creatures who hunt them, or traps set by unscrupulous necromancers. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, many unknown, a soul gets lost on its journey: perhaps a piece of unfinished business or an overwhelming desire for revenge drowns out the pull of its gate, or strange magics distort it, or sometimes perhaps a soul just isn't ready for the journey.
Many different religions have their own beliefs and traditions for preventing these delayed journeys. Several quite old death cults, for example, place flags or rags along the path to Gates. These look like faded, frayed scraps of cloth on the Material Plane, but on the Ethereal Plane glow an intense and brilliant scarlet. These, it is hoped, will help guide wayward spirits to their afterlife. For some, their god of death himself will guide their path.
Gates are naturally occurring conduits between the planes. Physically, they can have any form: the opening of a cave, a gap between two trees, a canyon. When they occur in civilised areas, builders tend to unconsciously incorporate them into their designs. So they often also have the form of a gate through a fence, or under a bridge, or the great doors of some temple, or at the centre of a crossroads.
All gates lead to all the planes, but that is where their similarity to one another tends to stop. Some are open to all the planes all the time, while others cycle through the planes over days or months or even centuries. Most allow spirits to travel through to any plane at any time, while others require spirits to wait until the appropriate plane has its turn, resulting of a back-up of spirits loitering in the area. Some are accessible with no effort, or at certain times, or under certain conditions, or with a particular ritual, or by doing some small thing such as whistling the right tune or wearing the correct colour.
Often Gates are quite far apart. On the other hand, some places, for reasons unknown, have a dense concentration of Gates.
Until a creature passes through a Gate, it is relatively straightforward to resurrect them: all resurrection spells function as normal. However, once they have passed through a Gate, they may only return through one. This requires the use of the usual spells, and - as partially described above - some other factor. Most often, resurrecting a creature that has passed through a Gate requires the casting of a resurrection spell with substantial - sometimes expensive, sometimes dangerous - additional rituals, at the right time. This process can be quite risky, as there is no guarantee that the desired spirit will be the only thing to come through when the Gate is opened.
Gates are usually only permeable to spirits, gods and similar beings, although under some conditions or using certain magics it is possible for other creatures to pass through. The gate
spell, for instance, must be cast on a Gate.
Sample Gate Resurrection
When Ellywick, Sorcerer/Cleric of Garl Glittergold/Mystic Theurge was slain by a yuan-ti hunter, she passed through a nearby Gate to the realm of her patron deity before her companions were able to access resurrection magic. Fortunately, they were able to find a Cleric at the next city at which they arrived who knew of the nearest Gate, and - for a price - was willing to take them there and perform the necessary rituals to bring her back.
They had to wait several weeks before they were able to do this, however, as the gate could only be opened on the night of a full moon.
This particular Gate was in the form of a stone archway deep in a humongous and glorious gemstone canyon, where every layer of stone was a different semiprecious gem.
The eye-aching glamour of Rainbow Canyon of the Gate reflected the Gate itself, for it had a particularly strong connection to the quasielemental Plane of Radiance, and is usually partially open to that plane from both sides. Thus, sometime before, a radiant chaos dragon had made its way through the Gate and found itself a home nearby in the Rainbow Canyon. Before the Cleric could perform his rituals to open the Gate to the plane on which Ellywick's soul resided, her companions had to defeat the attacking dragon.
Once that was done, the ritual took several hours, and was effectively a more complicated, resource-heavy version of True Resurrection.
What happens to a soul once it has passed through its Gate to the afterlife depends on a variety of factors, including the religion to which they adhere, the god/s they personally worship, the manner in which they lived their lives and how it adhered to their doctrine, their beliefs, and so on. In absence of the above, the default is for a spirit to reside in the plane that matches their alignment. They may, instead, be reincarnated, or transformed into a denizen of that plane.
A True Neutral creature, or one who worships nature, will tend to be returned to the Material Plane when they pass through their Gate, but on a different level of reality. They are often reincarnated, or reincorporated into the material of the world. Sometimes they become new fey, or the spirit of, say, a stream or a mountain.
Last edited by Serpentine : 11-07-2012 at 09:58 AM.