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    Default Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    A Vote, Good Citizens.

    Select one of these four options:

    1. Use normal classes, excluding Bard, Druid, Monk, Paladin (probably), Ranger (probably), Sorcerer, Wizard (unless you can think of good reasons to allow them)

    2. Use generic classes

    3. Some normal classes, some new classes - likely additions include some variants on: Prophet, Temple Prostitute, Charioteer, Guardian

    4. Use of generic classes, but rather modified to represent basically social classes (so, basically, would probably split the Generic Warrior into Hero and Wild Man, or something like that).
    Something which I've been thinking about recently is the rather jarring lack of campaign settings representing the Fertile Crescent - Sumeria, Babylon, Assyria, etc.

    So it's going to be my new attempt at a project. Problem is that, while I have some intriguing ideas, I need more, and that's the first bit of this. Below is my list of stuff which seems like it will need to be in the campaign setting. I'd really like comments on these things, thoughts on which of them you think should be most and least prominent, as well as ideas on what sorts of things come to mind when you think of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, and so on and need to be added. I also need some sort of title, and I have a distinct lack of ideas as far as that goes. So any thoughts, comments, or suggestions would be helpful and encouraged.

    The Big List of Things to Include:

    1. Bulls. Things like Shedu/Lammasu should be prominent, especially as gate-keepers.

    2. Ziggurats, These may be places of great power for priests, where they can draw closer to heaven then would otherwise be possible.

    3. Priest-Kings/God-Kings and High Priestesses as major figures of power. The favor of the gods should be eminent on them.

    4. A young world. Perhaps it is just me, but the Fertile Crescent seems to suggest an age when the world was new, when the first great civilizations are only now coming to power. The primary implication of this should be, in my opinion, gods active in the world - the gods here are not distant beings who act subtly, but rather beings only just beyond the mortal world, who shield their chosen ones and wield their empires and cities like weapons against each other.

    5. A combination of mighty empires and powerful city-states, with small villages and towns being scarce.

    6. Weapon changes - bronze and iron are most common here, and good armor is scarce. Chariots are musts in armies, and weapons are moderately restricted.
    Last edited by Thane of Fife; 2009-01-28 at 11:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    alright, sounds interesting, but by bulls do you mean more like Minotaurs or Bulls the animal. The place where powers are stronger is an interesting concept, i may have to borrow (a.k.a. steal) that. Your players wont have many choices in backrounds because if they want to be a spell caster they have to be ether a high priest/priestess or decended from royalty. Change it so then those two may have supernatural abilities, like what the drow have, but that is just my thought on the subject. Weapons will be easy to do because you can just change names of them, from like instead of normal have tin weapons, Master Work be Bronze and stuff like that would be my suggestion. Other then that, it looks like you are trying to have wars come up everywhere between diffrent cities which are guided by diffrent gods. Good idea, best of luck trying to get it to work, and if i may make a suggestion, for your players, have them go on side quests away from the main battle and have their actions decide how the battle turns out, like if they must kill two people and they both flee in diffrent directions, have them choose which one to follow and have that choose the outcome of the battle. Those are my suggestions.

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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Sounds like a pretty neat idea, to me. One thing you might take a look at first is any Conan RPG stuff you can get your hands on. I know there's a Conan d20 game out there, and there are Hyborian-related products for HERO System and probably GURPS and other stuff, too. The setting itself, to me, seems very Mesopotamian, and even if you don't use anything from it specifically, it could be a good place to look at for inspiration (especially with gods, priest-kings, and stuff). The Dark Sun campaign setting is also a possibility to look at for inspiration, and most of the 3.x-related stuff for it is available online at Athas.org.

    Also, one thing that I might suggest as a mechanics change is to use the Class Defense Bonuses system and the Armor as Damage Reduction variant, both of which work well (especially together) to make low-armor settings work. Classes don't HAVE to worry about armor because they get the defense bonuses, but any armor they do have also gives a pretty good bonus in the form of DR.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Sounds cool.
    If I were you, I would consider how the cultures view different magic sources. Are sorcerors considered blessed, or cursed? That would make some nice backstory either way.

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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    but by bulls do you mean more like Minotaurs or Bulls the animal.
    I had been thinking primarily of Shedu and Lammasu, with normal bulls and minotaurs possibly represented as well. Those two monsters will probably have to be written up (actually, they'll be two names for the same monster).

    Your players wont have many choices in backrounds because if they want to be a spell caster they have to be ether a high priest/priestess or decended from royalty.
    Possibly. I had also considered simply eliminating arcane magic altogether, turning it into a completely different sort of thing (I sort of had an idea of needing Tablets to cast spells, or of their being somewhat like 4e rituals), or of making it into a Conjuring sort of thing, where all spells are basically variants on the summoning of some demon or spirit.

    Change it so then those two may have supernatural abilities, like what the drow have
    That is potentially a very interesting idea - I'd been thinking that they might just be high-level clerics.

    Weapons will be easy to do because you can just change names of them, from like instead of normal have tin weapons, Master Work be Bronze and stuff like that would be my suggestion.
    I had been thinking of dividing weapons into Bronze, Iron, and Wood. A weapon might be modified if used against superior or inferior armor. Some weapons will simply need to go - I don't believe that long swords, for example, were used in Mesopotamia.

    [Conan] itself, to me, seems very Mesopotamian
    It's something I'd been considering. Parts of it do, certainly, but at the same time, lots of it isn't.

    The Dark Sun campaign setting is also a possibility to look at for inspiration
    I've actually been somewhat trying to distance myself from that, in that, while Dark Sun is great, it doesn't really have the feel I want.

    Also, one thing that I might suggest as a mechanics change is to use the Class Defense Bonuses system and the Armor as Damage Reduction variant, both of which work well (especially together) to make low-armor settings work. Classes don't HAVE to worry about armor because they get the defense bonuses, but any armor they do have also gives a pretty good bonus in the form of DR.
    Both good ideas which I had not considered. Armor as Damage Reduction could be an intriguing way to differentiate between Iron, Bronze, and Wood. The Class Defense Bonuses look a bit odd to me - why does a cleric get a higher bonus than a barbarian? That will need some work.

    If I were you, I would consider how the cultures view different magic sources. Are sorcerors considered blessed, or cursed? That would make some nice backstory either way.
    First, let me assure you that I'm looking. Second, near as I can tell, most magic here should be divine in nature. If anyone has sources which say otherwise, I'd love to see them.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    You might also want to check out the Vote up a campaign setting thread, because the campaign setting currently under construction there is being based thematically around the Arabian Nights, which is itself set nearby in geographical location- even if the emphasis is somewhat different.

    I suspect that certain conversions could easily be made (mostly involving the creation of iconic creatures and maybe a little bit of re-mapping and re-fluffing), to give you a reasonable approximation of your setting.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Mercenary Pen View Post
    You might also want to check out the Vote up a campaign setting thread, because the campaign setting currently under construction there is being based thematically around the Arabian Nights, which is itself set nearby in geographical location- even if the emphasis is somewhat different.

    I suspect that certain conversions could easily be made (mostly involving the creation of iconic creatures and maybe a little bit of re-mapping and re-fluffing), to give you a reasonable approximation of your setting.
    While the Hourglass of Zihaja is definitely something I've been keeping an eye on, a world based on the Arabian Nights should have a completely different flavor than what I want.

    Zihaja is a god who hangs out in the background and most people are unaware of; I want gods who actively protect and lead not only individuals, but whole armies. The Arabian Nights feature lots of genies and sorcerers and rogues, and most of those are things I'm not particularly interested in. I want a game of warriors and priests, with almost all magic coming from the gods. So, while I'm sure that the VUACS will be good, I don't think this will be as easy as a simple refluffing of that.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    I think I have seen a line of books about ancient times setting, with stuff like the Trojan Wars, bibilcal times, Babylon, etc. I just can't remember where (and I don't know anything about their quality).

    Have you read Gilgamesh? It is probably the oldest written lore we have access to, and it is full of babylonian mythology. Including undead things eating the living. And temple prostitution.


    With the code of Hammurabi, ou have the base for juridiction in your setting.

    Besides, there is a very comprehensive collection about Babylonian history somewhere on the net.

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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Sword & Sorcery's Ancient Kingdoms: Mesopotamia , perhaps?

    And Green Ronin has the Mythic Vistas series. Testament: Roleplaying in the Biblical Era is relevant.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    I've actually been somewhat trying to distance myself from that, in that, while Dark Sun is great, it doesn't really have the feel I want.
    you'll need to specify what things you don't feel are the right fit for what you want when you talk about conan and dark sun, because both of those fantasy worlds were heavily based on mesopotamia. dark sun has everything that you said you wanted on your list. it just has other things too, like cannibalistic halflings and stuff.

    be specific.

    i love mesopotamian settings. i've played a few in dnd, especially in dark sun, and also in white wolf games, using vampire and mage. any of these settings can be tailored to how you want them.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Satyr
    Besides, there is a very comprehensive collection about Babylonian history somewhere on the net.
    Thanks for the link - I've also been looking at Sacred Texts.

    you'll need to specify what things you don't feel are the right fit for what you want when you talk about conan and dark sun, because both of those fantasy worlds were heavily based on mesopotamia. dark sun has everything that you said you wanted on your list. it just has other things too, like cannibalistic halflings and stuff.
    Well, Hyboria, while it has a vaguely similar despotism style, is generally too secular for what I'm imagining, as well as making the supernatural rarer than I'd like.

    Dark Sun, on the other hand, is a bit harder to define. First, while wizards aren't exactly encouraged on Athas, they're still a core part of the setting, and I'm really considering just ditching them altogether in favor of a more priestly approach to magic. Second, I'd rather leave psionics out of this completely - they don't really fit the ancient feel I'm interested in. And perhaps most importantly, while Dark Sun is largely about a hostile landscape, with points of light dotting it, I almost want the opposite. While this setting won't be the most wonderful place to wander through the wilderness, I'd really like almost a Points of Darkness approach - the cities here are both the safe zones and the most dangerous places in the world. Monsters (generally) aren't just wild creatures looking for food, they're entities actively sent by the gods to accomplish specific goals.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    All sounds very well and good and interesting, except for this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Thane of Fife View Post
    5. A combination of mighty empires and powerful city-states, with small villages and towns being scarce.
    Basic economic theory will tell you this is impossible, particularly with low tech levels- it took at least 2 farmers to support 1 city dweller/craftsman throughout most of history. Small villages and towns were just less interesting because the middle-classes were almost non-existent- no important mid-level NPCs to talk to. But by your description, I'm guessing you want something mythical in the style of homer, so it's unlikely to come up much either way.

    What historical period do you want to base this off? As far back as Ancient Sumeria and the Epic of Gilgamesh, or as recent as the rise of the Achaemenid Persians and birth of Zoroastrianism?
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Basic economic theory will tell you this is impossible, particularly with low tech levels- it took at least 2 farmers to support 1 city dweller/craftsman throughout most of history. Small villages and towns were just less interesting because the middle-classes were almost non-existent- no important mid-level NPCs to talk to. But by your description, I'm guessing you want something mythical in the style of homer, so it's unlikely to come up much either way.
    I suspect that you're right, and that large cities will be more along the line of important areas than the only centers of population. At the same time, though, this is a fantasy setting and doesn't really need to follow real world economics. If the gods are sufficiently at war, for example, then it becomes more efficient to keep your worshippers in a city where you can protect them, and have as many as possible fed by magic, then to allow them to be picked off by enemy demons.

    What historical period do you want to base this off? As far back as Ancient Sumeria and the Epic of Gilgamesh, or as recent as the rise of the Achaemenid Persians and birth of Zoroastrianism?
    Much closer to the former than the latter, though I've been looking mostly at Assyria, and as far as that goes, I'd be looking mostly at the Old and Middle Assyrian periods.

    In all honesty, though, it will most likely end up as the traditional sort of mish-mash of stuff from the region, just like default D&D includes elements from the Dark Ages through to the early Renaissance.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane of Fife View Post
    I suspect that you're right, and that large cities will be more along the line of important areas than the only centers of population. At the same time, though, this is a fantasy setting and doesn't really need to follow real world economics. If the gods are sufficiently at war, for example, then it becomes more efficient to keep your worshippers in a city where you can protect them, and have as many as possible fed by magic, than to allow them to be picked off by enemy demons.
    I'd hope this would be the exception, rather than the rule, since feeding large populations would be pretty taxing, even for deities. Speaking of which- if you intend to have Gods intervening so directly in the lives of mortals, I would suggest being able to detail them as playable personalities unto themselves in some regard.
    In all honesty, though, it will most likely end up as the traditional sort of mish-mash of stuff from the region, just like default D&D includes elements from the Dark Ages through to the early Renaissance.
    True. Sounds interesting. The simplification of armour, in particular, opens up possibilities for a very different combat style.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane of Fife View Post
    Both good ideas which I had not considered. Armor as Damage Reduction could be an intriguing way to differentiate between Iron, Bronze, and Wood. The Class Defense Bonuses look a bit odd to me - why does a cleric get a higher bonus than a barbarian? That will need some work.
    To answer your question here, its because Clerics get access to all armor and shields, while barbarians only get up to Medium armor.

    And now I'll just randomly type my impressions as I think them.

    It may be a bit more than what you intend, but have you considered generic classes, with the proviso that spellcasters are all divine?

    From what you are saying, I'm getting the impression that a typical adventuring party is not going to be a band of grave robbers and mercenaries for hire; instead their primary patron will be their cities governing deity. Not the high priest, king, or chamberlain, Ishtar herself is going to meet the party in a bar with a map and a handful of gold coins, and probably have a beer with them while she's there. And that campaigns are, in the long run, going to revolve around advancing your god at the expense of others.

    In the matter of dungeons, with a setting this young, there aren't going to be too many "ancient ruins" and such to find. An abandoned city or two, where a century ago a city lost and a rival deity blasted it into smithereens, but that's going to be it, I think.

    Are the various races going to be represented? Because I think having elves around that have clear, adult memories of a time when no cities existed at all is going to be...disconcerting. On the other hand, their explanation of the rise of civillization might be insteresting.

    "The dwarves saw our little herb gardens and insisted on learning the technique. We taught them how to sow seeds, with wonder, because they'd never shown the urge to build before, only destroy. It wasn't until our wandering priests saw, in the tenth year after, the large fields of hops owned by dwarves but tended by human and halfling hands that it all began to make sense. From there they made silos for the grain, cool rooms for the beer, dedicated houses for the breweries, then temples; it was most intriguing. But it wasn't until the gnomes came up with distillery that we really began to worry."
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue_C. View Post
    "The dwarves saw our little herb gardens and insisted on learning the technique. We taught them how to sow seeds, with wonder, because they'd never shown the urge to build before, only destroy. It wasn't until our wandering priests saw, in the tenth year after, the large fields of hops owned by dwarves but tended by human and halfling hands that it all began to make sense. From there they made silos for the grain, cool rooms for the beer, dedicated houses for the breweries, then temples; it was most intriguing. But it wasn't until the gnomes came up with distillery that we really began to worry."
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Speaking of which- if you intend to have Gods intervening so directly in the lives of mortals, I would suggest being able to detail them as playable personalities unto themselves in some regard.
    Oh, there are definitely plans for something along those lines.

    To answer your question here, its because Clerics get access to all armor and shields, while barbarians only get up to Medium armor.
    Yeah, I figured that out, but it still seems wrong.

    It may be a bit more than what you intend, but have you considered generic classes, with the proviso that spellcasters are all divine?
    Generic Classes have, in fact, been considered. I'm still trying to decide whether I want to use them or not. Thoughts, anybody?

    From what you are saying, I'm getting the impression that a typical adventuring party is not going to be a band of grave robbers and mercenaries for hire; instead their primary patron will be their cities governing deity. Not the high priest, king, or chamberlain, Ishtar herself is going to meet the party in a bar with a map and a handful of gold coins, and probably have a beer with them while she's there. And that campaigns are, in the long run, going to revolve around advancing your god at the expense of others.
    While you would certainly be correct that the PCs probably won't be the traditional grave-robbing mercenaries, the rest I'm less sure about. While the gods may very possibly give them their missions, they probably wouldn't pay them that much - Ishtar, for example, would simply expect the PCs to say OK because she's a goddess. And if they refuse, she might throw a temper tantrum and have her demons attack them. And possibly the rest of the city. At which point other gods might say, "Hey guys, you started this. You've got to clean it up."

    If the PCs want payment, they'll be more likely to do work at the behest of their priest-king. War, for example.

    In the matter of dungeons, with a setting this young, there aren't going to be too many "ancient ruins" and such to find. An abandoned city or two, where a century ago a city lost and a rival deity blasted it into smithereens, but that's going to be it, I think.
    You would be right that ancient ruins probably wouldn't work, though there will almost certainly be some abandoned temple cities. There will also be places which are just odd and supernatural - 'at the top of that mountain lives the great king of the storm demons, Ipshu.'

    And deities will almost certainly not be blasting cities to smithereens. There will usually be rival deities protecting settlements. So war has to be fought through mortals.

    I envision wars in this setting having a few stages:

    1. The demon attack: The gods of one city basically unleash their demons on an enemy city, which is protected by its Shedu and other guardian demons (and possibly PCs).

    2. The battle: Eventually, both sides muster an army and meet on some big field somewhere.

    3. The assault: The winner of the battle attacks the enemy city. Because of the immense power of a priest-king atop a ziggurat, the defending city's ruler is basically what the battle hinges on. And now the PCs have something to do - fight their way through any unoccupied defenders and slay said priest-king.

    If you win, then you can start taking over and/or slaughtering the populace.

    Are the various races going to be represented? Because I think having elves around that have clear, adult memories of a time when no cities existed at all is going to be...disconcerting. On the other hand, their explanation of the rise of civillization might be insteresting.
    If I do include them, it will most likely be as non-PC races. I'll need to think more about it.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by DracoDei View Post
    So much truth and win.

    And the dragons with NO idea of what abilities they might develop next... (well, not unless they nagged their diety until he indulged them...)
    I hadn't considered the dragons.

    And while I was joking, many anthropologists believe that creating a steady supply of grain for beer was the impetus behind agriculture, and thus civilization. Granted, beer then wasn't exactly Bud Light, and contributed positively to a well balanced diet, but still.

    Generic Classes have, in fact, been considered. I'm still trying to decide whether I want to use them or not. Thoughts, anybody?
    The reason I suggested them is three fold. 1, the disconnect between classic 3.5 d20 classes and generic classes would likely make the weapon and armor changes easier to accept. 2, I think the generic classes may be a way to connect a PC with his character background: The nobility study magical arts, and intercede directly with a city's deity; their immediate servants and slaves fill all their temporal needs from tax collecting to bathing; and the lowest class work the fields and environs or fight in their god's army, as needed. 3, the spellcaster class lends itself more readily to the image of priest-kings and queens than either the cleric or druid classes, let alone something like a paladin.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    1, the disconnect between classic 3.5 d20 classes and generic classes would likely make the weapon and armor changes easier to accept
    Weapon and armor changes are probably not going to be enormous - some of the best weapons will be disappearing (most of the swords, certain bows, crossbows, etc) and the best armor will be rarer (but apparently they did, in fact, have plate mail and such in Ancient Mesopotamia).

    2, I think the generic classes may be a way to connect a PC with his character background: The nobility study magical arts, and intercede directly with a city's deity; their immediate servants and slaves fill all their temporal needs from tax collecting to bathing; and the lowest class work the fields and environs or fight in their god's army, as needed.
    Now that is intriguing. I had been considering making class into a race replacement sort of thing, but that sounds good, too.

    3, the spellcaster class lends itself more readily to the image of priest-kings and queens than either the cleric or druid classes, let alone something like a paladin.
    This is certainly true. Though I would probably want to modify the spell list a bit. Even if I kept the base classes, a large number of them would be disappearing.

    The other option, of course, would be to make new classes, but that would be a lot of work.



    General Rules and Stuff:
    These are things which I believe I'm going to want/need to represent.

    1. Bronze vs. Iron gear. This should be easy enough. Normally, they both function as normal, but get bonuses or penalties against each other = bronze armor, for example, may have decreased damage reduction against iron weapons.

    2. Divine Rules. Specifically, I'm considering rules which allow PCs to gradually ascend. I think that using the Reputation rules is probably the best place to start with this (it's not entirely in theme, but I think it's interesting enough and fits with the new world idea sufficiently to be worth including).

    3. Magic Items. Sort of along with the ascendance bit, I'm considering rules which will allow the PCs' gear to grow somewhat as they become more legendary. This will probably be connected to the divinity bit, if they're both included.

    4. Defense Bonus and Armor as Damage Reduction will probably both be used. I don't want armor to be too common, really.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Alright, here's one of the first creatures I've worked up for the setting - it's an Alu, which is basically a demon which attacks sleeping individuals, covers them 'like a sheet,' and suffocates them. Note that this is the creature's stat-block as if it were in a normal game. Comments and critiques welcome.

    Alu
    Size/Type: Medium Outsider
    Hit Dice: 5d8+5 (27 hp)
    Initiative: +3
    Speed: fly 30 ft. (perfect)
    Armor Class: 16, touch 16, flat-footed 13 (+3 deflection, +3 dex)
    Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+9
    Attack: Bite +9 melee (1d4+4)
    Full Attack: Bite +9 melee (1d4+4)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Suffocation, Improved Grab
    Special Qualities: Gaseous Form at will, Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
    Saves: Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +4
    Abilities: Str 18, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 10
    Skills: Spot +8, Listen +8, Hide +11, Move Silently +21 (+10 racial bonus), Open Lock +11, Disable Device +7, Sense Motive +8
    Feats: Improved Grapple, Iron Will, Great Fortitude
    Enviroment: Any
    Organization: Solitary
    Challange Rating: 4
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always Chaotic Evil
    Advancement: ??
    Level Adjustment:

    Suffocation
    Any creature grappled by an Alu is pulled into its folds and begins to suffocate. Any round in which the creature attempts to resist the grapple counts as 4 rounds of suffocation.

    An Alu is an odd creature which has little in the way of an actual shape. Typically, these demons are controlled by deities, who use them as silent killers. An Alu's preferred method of killing is to come across a sleeping individual and suffocate him.

    They are not natural creatures, and have no need for food or sleep. Almost always under the loose control of some deity, they generally have no desires or needs other than killing, and do not bother to collect treasure of any kind.

    Alu are often among the types of creatures used to attack rival cities prior to the start of an actual war.
    Last edited by Thane of Fife; 2009-01-23 at 11:09 PM.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Ne Plus Ultra stealth is generally reserved for ethereal and Epic creatures, unless there is STRONG support in the mythology, I think you should re-arrange the skill-points to include Move Silently, and then give it a +10 to +20 racial bonus to Move Silently.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Alright - the perfect stealth is gone now.

    On to more normal campaign world stuff: races.

    Elves:
    As mentioned, the whole ancient people thing doesn't quite work with the whole new world idea. So elves are out. Half-elves, too.

    Gnomes and Halflings:
    I don't think either if these races really fits - gnomes are too not human, while halflings are too soft for this difficult life. So they're both out.

    Dwarves:
    Dwarves don't really seem to fit in with the culture, but at the same time, I like the idea of tying them to bronze, somehow.

    Nephilim:
    First of the probable new races are the nephilim. I might use rules roughly similar to the Half-Giant rules for them. In essence, they're big, tough brutes.

    Winged Genies (Or better name):
    Essentially winged humans, these guys are somewhat divine in origin, and are often employed as the protectors of priest-kings.

    So that would come out to 4 races, 2 of which will probably need some sort of LA. Since I'd prefer to encourage humans, I might include some background to subtly discourage dwarves.

    Intriguingly, all of these races seem to lean slightly towards martial characters, which is good, I suppose.


    Looking over this, I'm beginning to pick out a background for the world - this is a new world, one which has not yet grown into the Great Wheel. As such, many of the races which populate most worlds have not yet appeared here. Further, this world is so far cut off from the most powerful gods - the deities of this world are, in actuality, fairly weak in comparison to most settings' deities, and only the strongest will survive when the connection with the Great Wheel is formed. Somewhat aware of this, the gods are obviously interested in increasing their power bases and hopefully ensuring their survival.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    A well-developed Hobgoblin culture (extremely militant, of course) seems like it would fit well in an Ancient Sumeria setting.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    I think a lot of those races could work with re-skinning to be honest.

    Gnomes never get any real fluff anyway that doesn't play them off to be silly comedic relief. So you could work in their own culture. Maybe make them merchants of "exotic" character that are found virtually everywhere you go. There's got to be a work alchemy and illusion into all that.

    Dwarves I could see working, with some changes. I'd keep them as master craftsmen to be honest. They have the secret of iron that nobody else does, that makes them great for contrast.

    Mind you, it doesn't even have to be steel-making yet. And they might still be limited in the kinds of weapons they can make out of them. (No greatswords made of steel.) And they may not yet have such advanced mining methods that would allow them to gather a large amount of ore. By this method, having a "dwarven sword" could actually be something to brag about, although nobody but a dwarven smith could really know how to repair one.

    I do like the bronze idea though -- so they might have a few ironwork/steel pieces here-and-there, but their average soldier is mostly decked out in bronze armor.

    Likewise, most magic might be aimed at nullifying the penalties inherent with bronze weapons. While steel or iron is simply the better base for making magic weapons.

    Maybe, the dwarves and gnomes are close trading partners. So you can see a gnome selling iron knives as "exotic" goods, although the dwarves will only stubbornly part with anything better.

    Personally, I'd prefer to see Djinn as wild and elemental creatures of magic. More inhuman and uncontrollable than anything else.
    Last edited by LurkerInPlayground; 2009-01-25 at 02:54 AM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    A well-developed Hobgoblin culture (extremely militant, of course) seems like it would fit well in an Ancient Sumeria setting.
    Hobgoblins. I knew that there was a humanoid race that would work well, but I couldn't think of it. I think hobgoblins would work well as a kind of outsider race, so they may be the equivalent of the young Persian Empire - just beginning to expand to the point where other powers are starting to worry. I might also make them a monotheistic culture, to put a bit more fear into the other cities.

    Gnomes never get any real fluff anyway that doesn't play them off to be silly comedic relief. So you could work in their own culture. Maybe make them merchants of "exotic" character that are found virtually everywhere you go. There's got to be a work alchemy and illusion into all that.
    The problem with gnomes isn't that they're comic relief or anything (I try not to use them that way in my settings), but rather that, like with elves and halflings, I don't really see any niche for them. As mentioned, I'm almost certainly going to ditch Arcane magic, which gets rid of everything that makes gnomes interesting. In short, the things that make gnomes gnomes are, in large part, things which I don't think belong in this campaign setting.

    You're right that I could use them as traders, but I don't really see any reason why humans and dwarves couldn't handle that.

    Dwarves I could see working, with some changes. I'd keep them as master craftsmen to be honest. They have the secret of iron that nobody else does, that makes them great for contrast.

    Mind you, it doesn't even have to be steel-making yet. And they might still be limited in the kinds of weapons they can make out of them. (No greatswords made of steel.) And they may not yet have such advanced mining methods that would allow them to gather a large amount of ore. By this method, having a "dwarven sword" could actually be something to brag about, although nobody but a dwarven smith could really know how to repair one.

    I do like the bronze idea though -- so they might have a few ironwork/steel pieces here-and-there, but their average soldier is mostly decked out in bronze armor.
    They will certainly not have steel - nobody will have steel. There will be iron throughout the world, though it will be rare - most people are still using bronze.

    I'm still struggling with just what flavor to give them.

    Likewise, most magic might be aimed at nullifying the penalties inherent with bronze weapons. While steel or iron is simply the better base for making magic weapons.
    There will, generally, be no penalties associated with bronze weapons - rather, bronze weapons will generally be less effective against iron armor, and bronze armor less effective against iron weapons.

    Personally, I'd prefer to see Djinn as wild and elemental creatures of magic. More inhuman and uncontrollable than anything else.
    I believe that you're thinking of Arabic-style djinn. These are not those. These are much closer to guardian spirits, and would basically be the equivalent of normal Aasimar, creatures inclined towards good and protectiveness. There is nothing wild or elemental about this kind of djinn.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    About your winged humans, there's a race in Races of the Wild that gradually gains the ability to fly as it levels, and is +0 LA. You may want to check that out. Also, I liked "Talos" as a name for the race.

    From what I understand, the primary force behind civilization on this world is going to be the resulting population boom and what it will do for a deity's power base, not agriculture like it was on Earth, yes? If so, you might want to include a counter-civilization culture consisting of creatures that reject the concept of cities. Human tribes could work for this, but it also opens up the door for one of the traditionally savage races, such as kobolds, goblins, or even drow. You have an idea of a monotheistic empire; this batch of people can be those that reject deities entirely, worshiping the four elements, the five energies, sand, whatever makes sense.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    From what I understand, the primary force behind civilization on this world is going to be the resulting population boom and what it will do for a deity's power base, not agriculture like it was on Earth, yes? If so, you might want to include a counter-civilization culture consisting of creatures that reject the concept of cities. Human tribes could work for this, but it also opens up the door for one of the traditionally savage races, such as kobolds, goblins, or even drow. You have an idea of a monotheistic empire; this batch of people can be those that reject deities entirely, worshiping the four elements, the five energies, sand, whatever makes sense.
    In a nutshell, this is what I'm thinking about as the 'major drive:'

    This is a new world, one which has not yet fallen into its place on the Great Wheel. It is populated by creatures native to it; it boasts no connections to the other planes. Even the gods and the dead from this world simply live in different places upon it. And yet, these gods are not gods in the same sense as on other worlds. These gods are merely the most powerful spirits/demons on this world.

    This will not always be true; eventually the world will be united with the multiverse. When this happens, gods from the outside will flood in, looking to secure new worshippers. The gods who live here currently will almost certainly be unable to compete with beings who can claim huge power bases on numerous other prime material worlds. They'll likely get shut out of worshippers and lose their divinity. Unless they can secure enough worshippers before that happens to be able to at least survive when the 'new gods' arrive.

    The gods know this. Mortals don't. The gods need to secure as many worshippers as possible or be destroyed. Some form alliances, others prefer to work alone. But they all desperately need worshippers, and they're willing to spend any amount of power to get them. These gods are active in the world because they have to be. This is happening at the same time that the first civilizations are being born. There's a sort of synergy between them - the gods help to protect the mortals, and the mortals help to spread the word of the gods.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Thane of Fife View Post
    Hobgoblins. I knew that there was a humanoid race that would work well, but I couldn't think of it. I think hobgoblins would work well as a kind of outsider race, so they may be the equivalent of the young Persian Empire - just beginning to expand to the point where other powers are starting to worry. I might also make them a monotheistic culture, to put a bit more fear into the other cities.
    You're welcome.

    The problem with gnomes isn't that they're comic relief or anything (I try not to use them that way in my settings), but rather that, like with elves and halflings, I don't really see any niche for them. As mentioned, I'm almost certainly going to ditch Arcane magic, which gets rid of everything that makes gnomes interesting. In short, the things that make gnomes gnomes are, in large part, things which I don't think belong in this campaign setting.

    You're right that I could use them as traders, but I don't really see any reason why humans and dwarves couldn't handle that.
    One idea I'm using in one of my settings is "merged" dwarves and gnomes. A single race, mostly like Dwarves, but smaller, and a little less gruff. Even though they're more like Dwarves, they're called "Gnomes."

    Perhaps whatever dwarf/gnome option you go with, a flavor possibility is to give them a bit of Egyptian. Mesopotamia and Egypt interacted a little bit starting very early on.

    They will certainly not have steel - nobody will have steel. There will be iron throughout the world, though it will be rare - most people are still using bronze.
    Note that, in real life, there were at least a few decades (maybe even centuries) when the Hittites had a monopoly on iron and guarded it closely. So the precedent is there for iron to be pretty exclusive to one culture.

    I believe that you're thinking of Arabic-style djinn. These are not those. These are much closer to guardian spirits, and would basically be the equivalent of normal Aasimar, creatures inclined towards good and protectiveness. There is nothing wild or elemental about this kind of djinn.
    Sounds cool. Is djinn really the best name for them, though? Because I think of "djinn" being rather exclusive to the Arabic interpretation.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    One idea I'm using in one of my settings is "merged" dwarves and gnomes. A single race, mostly like Dwarves, but smaller, and a little less gruff. Even though they're more like Dwarves, they're called "Gnomes."
    The thing is, I see no reason to bother. Dwarves sort of fit the setting. Gnomes don't. I did something vaguely similar to this with Ketemia, but it seems somewhat pointless here.

    Perhaps whatever dwarf/gnome option you go with, a flavor possibility is to give them a bit of Egyptian. Mesopotamia and Egypt interacted a little bit starting very early on.
    While I've certainly considered some Egyptian flavored cultures, I don't know that dwarves would work - the Ancient Egyptian mind often seems obsessed with death, and that doesn't seem too dwarvish. Perhaps humans, or perhaps some new race with animal heads.

    People interested in that idea?

    Note that, in real life, there were at least a few decades (maybe even centuries) when the Hittites had a monopoly on iron and guarded it closely. So the precedent is there for iron to be pretty exclusive to one culture.
    Looking into this, I find that they were indeed said to be more skilled at iron-working, which seems to fit with dwarves. So very well, dwarves can maintain their 'master craftsmen' bit.

    Sounds cool. Is djinn really the best name for them, though? Because I think of "djinn" being rather exclusive to the Arabic interpretation.
    Problem is that it's the right word. I suppose I could call them Fravashi or Faravahar.
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    Default Re: Mesopotamia -esque Campaign Setting

    For the Egyptians, you probably shouldn't use dwarves, though I don't see what else you could use. They certainly share the egyptians love for monumental stone architecture, but the rest, especially the prominent agriculture and the connection to the river and seasons, the focus on death and the worship of rulers as god-like doesn't reeally fit.
    Now, seeing as they are so focused on preserving their dead, maybe make them a really short-lived species? They believe that they only live, let's say thirty years at first, then being reborn in some remote place, which is better in every single aspect, but only if they were burried correctly? Given that this place would, given the basics of the setting, even be on the same planet, it would certainly explain the death obession.
    Also, if they believed, similar to the egyptians, that the more stuff they were burried with, the richer they would be in the next world, I can see them being greedy and gathering wealth to bury.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2009-01-27 at 03:37 AM.
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