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    Default Ixtlan, the New World

    So I've had a campaign setting idea cooking in my head for quite a while, but I'm rather unhappy with most of it, so I'm scrapping all but the parts I like best.

    I'd like critique for what I have so far, and suggestions to help me figure out the rest of the game world.

    Right now, all I've got is part of the continent Ixtlan figured and a small bit on the Orcs and the Couatl/Couatlkind.


    Ixtlan: The Orc name for the massive continent to the West in which they inhabit, as well as their own people. A patchwork realm of kingdoms, priestly domains, and mysterious forgotten fortresses, little of Ixtlan has been mapped by explorers, and various secretive groups are known to even the Orcs only in legend. The largest Orc dominion is ruled by the God-Speaker Zitec, a fanatical blood-priest of Iztil, God of Sacrifice.

    The Orcs are, just like their cousins in other worlds, strong and hardy. However, these Orcs are devoted followers of their deities, and venerate them above even their war-leaders (though the war-leaders are a close second). The shedding of blood is seen by the Orcs as a holy ritual, especially when done in battle.


    Couatl and Couatlkind: The powerful and honorable Couatl used to exist in fairly large numbers in Ixtlan, but their time is past. An unspecified disaster hundreds of years ago caused the Couatl to leave this world forever, except for infrequent summonings by their "little children". These "children" are the feathered half-serpent, half-man beings known as the Couatlkind. These lesser offspring of the mighty Couatls are loosely organized into tiny city-states, and are mysterious even to the Orcs, who occasionally lead raids into Couatlkind territory, but are always repulsed by powerful arcane magics wielded by the snake-men.


    I need more on both the Orcs and the Couatlkind, more specific details (especially various factions and nations within Ixtlan, as I don't want these two races to be one solid block each), but I've having a hard time thinking them up. I also need an explorer-style nation/race/whatever that discovers the Orcs and Couatlkind.

    I think I might want a Slavic/specifically Russian-style nation in the world somewhere, but I'm not sure of how to fit it in.

    EDIT: Changing the title, as I no longer need help with this setting.
    Last edited by RationalGoblin; 2011-09-17 at 12:27 PM.
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    This is a really cool idea! I was actually doing something eerily similar, so I hope you don't mind if I use some of this myself.

    Since Ixtlan sounds like Aztlan, I'm assuming you're going for an Aztec flavored Orc. From what little I know about the Aztecs, they were a collection of city-states that held sway over many varied people, using fear and military might to maintain power, not unlike early Rome. Boom! Conflict with with various subjugated tribes, some Orc, some Goblin maybe. One reason the Aztecs were conquered was that the Spaniards got all the other local peoples together and reminded them the Aztecs were poo-heads and that they should team up against 'em.

    The Couatlkind sounds like the Inca to me. I think the name needs a change, since "-kind" seems too English for my tastes. Maybe Couatltek? I can't find a decent translator for Quechua, so that's just an idea. The Inca believed in the duology of the universe, that there was always two sides of a coin. Add a touch of Zoroastrianism, or a splash of YingYang for variety and we're good.

    I'm curious as to how they keep throwing the Orcs back. If the Orcs keep going back to invade them, it means they found something of value, be it good land or resources, maybe just slaves, who knows? After a few such ventures the Orcs are gonna learn at least a little about the Couatlkind. There's no way the Couatlkind could have spotted and repelled the Orcs instantaneously with near Stone Age technology. So it's more logical to assume the Orcs have a pretty good idea about the Couatlkind, at least the edges of their territory.

    Also, why haven't the Couatlkind retaliated for these occasional attacks? Are they so powerful that the Orcs don't even register? Are they so weak that they have to throw everything they've got at once, creating an elaborate show of force to scare away the Orcs? Picking one of these, or coming up with another, could give you a jump-off point for developing the Couatlkind psyche further.

    And on a last note, the Conquistador/Explorer types should be Dwarves. Hairy foreigners with advanced, steampunk tech.

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    I think an important first step is to decide what the setting is for and about. Do you have any ideas what kinds of adventures or campaigns would take place in this setting? A setting about political intrigue would be very different to a setting about a hundred year long global war, or a setting about nomadic tribes creating the first large cities and kingdoms of the world.
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    And on a last note, the Conquistador/Explorer types should be Dwarves. Hairy foreigners with advanced, steampunk tech.

    I talk too much.
    Maybe not quite steampunk, to keep the tech level a bit more level. How about great caravan trains, with towering multi-level carts pulled by the hugest tamed beasts in [world name here]?
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    This is a really cool idea! I was actually doing something eerily similar, so I hope you don't mind if I use some of this myself.
    Thanks! My idea has been cluttering around in the back of my head for a while, but I suppose it's not completely unique to only me.

    Since Ixtlan sounds like Aztlan, I'm assuming you're going for an Aztec flavored Orc. From what little I know about the Aztecs, they were a collection of city-states that held sway over many varied people, using fear and military might to maintain power, not unlike early Rome. Boom! Conflict with with various subjugated tribes, some Orc, some Goblin maybe. One reason the Aztecs were conquered was that the Spaniards got all the other local peoples together and reminded them the Aztecs were poo-heads and that they should team up against 'em.
    Aztec flavor was exactly what I was going for, I don't how why I didn't just come out and say it.

    I've got a few Orc factions in mind besides the Ziteca (Zitec's followers), and I suppose I could have these factions be subjugated by the main faction.

    I don't want to use Goblins in Ixtlan, but I have a few ideas for where they could fit. Goblins as a Mongol-esque (or, if I have them in this fake-America, Comache-esque) force, maybe?

    The Couatlkind sounds like the Inca to me. I think the name needs a change, since "-kind" seems too English for my tastes. Maybe Couatltek? I can't find a decent translator for Quechua, so that's just an idea. The Inca believed in the duology of the universe, that there was always two sides of a coin. Add a touch of Zoroastrianism, or a splash of YingYang for variety and we're good.
    Yeah, the Couatlkind are essentially Inca snake-men. The problem with Couatltek is that it sounds too Aztec. Couatlinti, maybe (Inti being the name of the Incan sun god)? Your thoughts about the duology thing are interesting, but I wanted to put a bit of Couatl-worship among the lesser snake-men. Their greatest desires are to become full-fledged Couatls themselves. Maybe there's a powerful monster I could have for their "Yang" to the Couatl (Ying)?

    I'm curious as to how they keep throwing the Orcs back. If the Orcs keep going back to invade them, it means they found something of value, be it good land or resources, maybe just slaves, who knows? After a few such ventures the Orcs are gonna learn at least a little about the Couatlkind. There's no way the Couatlkind could have spotted and repelled the Orcs instantaneously with near Stone Age technology. So it's more logical to assume the Orcs have a pretty good idea about the Couatlkind, at least the edges of their territory.
    The Orcs raid the Couatlinti for slaves, mostly, but also for generic loot, like food and riches.

    Good point about the Orcs knowing a bit about the Couatlinti; still though, would they know a lot about each other if their only contact is occasional trade and frequent raids?

    As for technology, I was thinking that the Couatlinti have slightly better technology than the Orcs, bronze armor instead of cloth, perhaps?

    Also, why haven't the Couatlkind retaliated for these occasional attacks? Are they so powerful that the Orcs don't even register? Are they so weak that they have to throw everything they've got at once, creating an elaborate show of force to scare away the Orcs? Picking one of these, or coming up with another, could give you a jump-off point for developing the Couatlkind psyche further.
    Hmm... I'm not sure in what direction to take them. Their defining attribute is that they want to be like full-fledged Couatls, in mind and body, and I'm not sure whether they'd be enormously powerful or very weak. In either case, they'd be exceptionally well-organized, though.

    And on a last note, the Conquistador/Explorer types should be Dwarves. Hairy foreigners with advanced, steampunk tech.

    I talk too much.
    Actually, that was one of the ideas I had that I decided to drop, but haven't entirely junked. Dwarven Explorers/Conquistadors was one of the main thoughts I had, but I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to use them or not.

    And how would Humans fit in?
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    I don't want to use Goblins in Ixtlan, but I have a few ideas for where they could fit. Goblins as a Mongol-esque (or, if I have them in this fake-America, Comache-esque) force, maybe?
    This Fake-America seems like a monster-heavy continent, so Goblins would fit in thematically. As well, the Goblins as Comanche nomads and horse masters would be a great contrast to the Grand Unified Couatlinti Empire and the fractious-but-organized Orc Kingdoms.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    I wanted to put a bit of Couatl-worship among the lesser snake-men. Their greatest desires are to become full-fledged Couatls themselves. Maybe there's a powerful monster I could have for their "Yang" to the Couatl (Ying)?
    It seems like the Couatl are their own Yin/Yang. You've got a Serpent (a strong symbol of the earth) and the bird (one of the heavens) in one being. In a way, a part of the allure of the Couatl to the Couatlinti could be the Couatl's combination of these two forces. The Couatl could represent Enlightenment to their “children” by the fusion of Yin/Yang.

    Because of this, finding some sort of spiritual opposite of the Couatl might be difficult. You could always reason that since the Couatlinti are so organized:

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    Their defining attribute is that they want to be like full-fledged Couatls, in mind and body, and I'm not sure whether they'd be enormously powerful or very weak. In either case, they'd be exceptionally well-organized, though.
    Naturally their nemesis would need to be something chaotic, or possibly mad. Congratulations! You have a perfectly legitimate, story/plot-based reason for having Cthulu in the setting!

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    The Orcs raid the Couatlinti for slaves, mostly, but also for generic loot, like food and riches...Good point about the Orcs knowing a bit about the Couatlinti; still though, would they know a lot about each other if their only contact is occasional trade and frequent raids?
    You said it yourself: Slaves. Who are the Orcs enslaving if not Couatlinti? And as every group of people ruling another realizes, Orcs must have realized it's easier to control their Couatlinti slaves if they can speak to them, and so must have learned some of their language, at least enough to teach the Orc tongue to the Couatlinti slaves. After a while, some Couatlinti may have let a few facts by from time to time. The Orcs may not trust all they hear from their slaves, but what lies they're told can tell them just as much as the truth about the Couatlinti.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    As for technology, I was thinking that the Couatlinti have slightly better technology than the Orcs, bronze armor instead of cloth, perhaps?
    Good idea. In H. Rider Haggard's “Virgin of the Sun”, a book that deals with the Inca fighting a Viking (I know, right?) the writer describes the Inca using bronze weapons. You could extend that to armor. It gives a better explanation for how the Orcs keep losing, anyhow.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    Dwarven Explorers/Conquistadors was one of the main thoughts I had, but I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to use them or not...And how would Humans fit in?
    I wouldn't bother with humans at all. The Dwarves fill the European niche, and there really aren't a whole lot of other groups you could involve without losing the Conquistador/Mesoamerican vibe you've got going. There's also the added bonus of your campaign feeling like one of Tolkien's stories about the Wars of Moria where the Dwarves had epic battles against their foes. It lends a mysterious quality to the story.

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    This Fake-America seems like a monster-heavy continent, so Goblins would fit in thematically. As well, the Goblins as Comanche nomads and horse masters would be a great contrast to the Grand Unified Couatlinti Empire and the fractious-but-organized Orc Kingdoms.
    They'd probably ride wolves or some other non-horse creature, but it makes sense, yeah. The separate, tribal goblin cavalry lords. Hunting purple worms and other such creatures.


    It seems like the Couatl are their own Yin/Yang. You've got a Serpent (a strong symbol of the earth) and the bird (one of the heavens) in one being. In a way, a part of the allure of the Couatl to the Couatlinti could be the Couatl's combination of these two forces. The Couatl could represent Enlightenment to their “children” by the fusion of Yin/Yang.

    Because of this, finding some sort of spiritual opposite of the Couatl might be difficult. You could always reason that since the Couatlinti are so organized:
    The enlightenment idea was actually exactly what I was thinking, and I had the idea that "enlightened" enough Couatlinti transform into full-fledged Couatl, and are forevermore worshiped as demigods (in an ancestor worship sort of way) by the remaining "children".


    Naturally their nemesis would need to be something chaotic, or possibly mad. Congratulations! You have a perfectly legitimate, story/plot-based reason for having Cthulu in the setting!

    You said it yourself: Slaves. Who are the Orcs enslaving if not Couatlinti? And as every group of people ruling another realizes, Orcs must have realized it's easier to control their Couatlinti slaves if they can speak to them, and so must have learned some of their language, at least enough to teach the Orc tongue to the Couatlinti slaves. After a while, some Couatlinti may have let a few facts by from time to time. The Orcs may not trust all they hear from their slaves, but what lies they're told can tell them just as much as the truth about the Couatlinti.
    Makes sense, actually. I suppose the Orcs closest to the "border" of Couatlinti/Orc lands would know the most about the "snake-men". Some of the more independent-minded and forward-thinking Orc kingdoms could have adopted Couatlinti weapons/armor and a bit of culture, perhaps. Those could be a good force for any PCs to "ally" with.


    Good idea. In H. Rider Haggard's “Virgin of the Sun”, a book that deals with the Inca fighting a Viking (I know, right?) the writer describes the Inca using bronze weapons. You could extend that to armor. It gives a better explanation for how the Orcs keep losing, anyhow.
    Bronze weaponry and occasional magical defenses could help, yes.

    I wouldn't bother with humans at all. The Dwarves fill the European niche, and there really aren't a whole lot of other groups you could involve without losing the Conquistador/Mesoamerican vibe you've got going. There's also the added bonus of your campaign feeling like one of Tolkien's stories about the Wars of Moria where the Dwarves had epic battles against their foes. It lends a mysterious quality to the story.
    Hmm... What if humans are from a land beyond the Dwarves (since the dwarves are cut off from most directions by ocean and a mountain range), and there is a small, but thriving human diaspora/refugee region within the Dwarven lands? It would give the image of the Jewish/Muslim diaspora that existed in medieval Spain that way.
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    They'd probably ride wolves or some other non-horse creature, but it makes sense, yeah. The separate, tribal goblin cavalry lords. Hunting purple worms and other such creatures.
    Gotta love the wolves!

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    The enlightenment idea was actually exactly what I was thinking, and I had the idea that "enlightened" enough Couatlinti transform into full-fledged Couatl, and are forevermore worshiped as demigods (in an ancestor worship sort of way) by the remaining "children".
    How would that work? Would the newly “Enlightened” Couatl ascend beyond this world, like their ancestors? Would they remain on the physical plane? How do the Orcs react to having these dragon-like monsters flying about?

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    Hmm... What if humans are from a land beyond the Dwarves (since the dwarves are cut off from most directions by ocean and a mountain range), and there is a small, but thriving human diaspora/refugee region within the Dwarven lands? It would give the image of the Jewish/Muslim diaspora that existed in medieval Spain that way.
    That's an interesting idea. The humans are a heavily discriminated minority, with lots of nasty rumors and stereotypes applied to them, as well as some amount of segregation. The only real chance for advancement for a human is by signing up for military service, hence why they're so common in Ixtlan. This is paralleled by Basque mercenaries in the Spanish Conquistador armies in our world, hence why there are so many Basque names in Latin and South America.

    I would ask though, what made humans live as a minority among the Dwarves? Surely they would be better treated in their homelands? Are the humans in Dwarf lands due to political persecution? Was their homeland conquered by an enemy? Does their homeland still even exist (a la Atlantis)?
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Awhile back I built up a few empty spaces on the Abeir-Toril maps (and wrote over a bunch of others, but that's a different story) with materials based on South and Central America. I did some college coursework on the Aztecs and Incas, so I have a lot of materials lying around. Here's things that I latched onto for world-building purposes.

    Teotihuacan.

    Built approximately 200 BC and occupied until 650 or so, it's a fascinating place...multi-ethnic, clearly a trading hub, probably a military power. More importantly, it was a place of mythic significance to the city-states that came after its collapse, not just the site of an old empire. The name Teotihuacan is Nahuatl, and glosses as "birthplace of the gods" and was a place of pilgrimage. More than that, city-states devoted a lot of propagandic energy to linking themselves to these ancient people: sort of like the ancient Greeks and the more annoying elf varieties, the various Mesoamerican cultures found a Golden Age in the past.

    Ulamamaztli, the sacred ball game

    Not much to add here beyond the linked Wikipedia entry. I personally think the proliferation of the ball-court culture...from Arizona down to Nicaragua...is absolutely fascinating, and have built it, or other such transcendent cultural images, into multiple world-builds. I particuarly like the image of it as a symbol of the action of the cosmos; I actually nicked that idea for some stuff I did on Slaadi.

    Sacrifice

    Human and animal sacrifice, as well as ritual self-harm (self-sacrifice), have been a component of the Basin cultural complex for a very long time. It is generally felt that this is the product of the shared metaphysics of the Basin: while regions and city-states might elevate specific deities or have their own regional variants, there was a common metaphysical principle: the energy of life is not infinite. The gods gave of themselves--blood, flesh, energy--to create the world, weakening themselves greatly. Via sacrifice the Basin cultures gave energy back to the gods so that they could perform their deific functions. And the substance of human life...which is powered by the consumption of lesser lifeforms...was the richest food for the gods.

    Specific gods had specific times they were propiated through the calendar year, generally by individual sacrifices prepped by complex rituals: it wasn't all yanked-out hearts. One of the most fascinating describes a man--carefully chosen by criterion of height, health, and attractiveness--who is designated the god Tezcatlipoca for a calendar year. During that year he lives a lush life...but on the appointed day he is sacrificed in an elaborate ritual, flayed, and his skin worn by a high priest.

    Tzitzimime

    Perhaps the most grand variant of the "gods need food" tale is that of the Aztec sun, who required human hearts to continue his sky journey: like the Egyptian solar deity Ra, ever night the sun combats the forces of darkness. But in the Aztec version, every star in the sky is a demon-goddess trying to devour all life. In the breadth of my readings, the Tzitzimime remain the single most frightening image of the firmament I've ever encountered.

    More generally:

    • There's an ongoing discussion of whether the increasing scale of Aztec human sacrifice was a religious innovation of a "young" Basin culture, or if it served the practical purpose of limiting resistance--through both intimidation and depletion of males from their client states.
    • Tezcatlipoca is an interesting god. A good starting place if you're wanting ideas for a thematically-apt magic god.
    • Mesoamerica gods often have two or four "aspects" that are themselves treated as discrete gods--it occurs often enough to be formally described as "unfolding," and is often multilayered--and some systems propose all deities as being unfolded emanations of the primal creator Ometeotl. With a scant few sources to work with, it's hard to tease out what this means, but the general sense of that Mesoamerican divinity was more abstract and philosophical than animistic.
    • Mesoamerican ritual incorporates a lot of transformation imagery--men into animals, body parts into plants. There were rituals where priests...or sometimes sacrifices...would be dressed as gods and play the role. Somewhere in there is some wild ideas for clerics and shamans.
    • Mesoamerican culture created some of the most efficient agronomy systems in the world, had highly developed aquaculture, and sufficient understanding of botany to create dozens of the chile varieties we still eat to this day. Their developments were nothing short of genius given the dry, agriculture-unfriendly environment they dwelt in.
    • Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, encapsulated both the agronomic and architectural genius of the Mesoamericans: in building it the Aztecs turned a swamp into an artificial island. At its height its population was 250,000 someodd. It's all very druid-y.
    • Aztecs really like poetry, and composed a lot of it. I actually rather like the work of Nezahualcoyotl--I also found him interesting enough to incorporate into a Planescape game.
    • Xipe Totec and the flayed man ritual: either good background or the start of a very creepy PrC for druids.
    • Take a few Nahuatl lessons, if you care to.. If nothing else, the noun, vowel, and affix lists provide fodder for naming.
    • You might want to consider the Mayans as a resource either to diversify your orcs or the Coatl (who are, after all, originally Mayan as best anyone can tell); while there's crossover with the northen cultures of the Basin, the Yucatan is a rainforest environment, and the Maya culturally distinct. Also, they reshaped people's heads to indicate their social status--that alone merits a bit of attention. Unlike the Incas and Aztecs, I'd have to look them up as opposed to having the info available on recall.


    There's some similarly cool stuff regarding the Incas that might inspire ideas, but it's late.

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    I strongly advise you to look for prehistoric (and current) Northern-American creatures in the Creature Collection and D&D Wiki. Populating a setting with unfamiliar creatures goes a long way in making the wilderness look strange and unexplored. The munchkins who know the stats of wolves by heart will fear a strange creature with never-before-seen powers.

    This also allows you to change farms and militaries by picking and choosing which strange critters are tamed and which aren't. Wolves (and coyotes) do not run a manner that is comfortable for riders, nor do stags and their like, so you can decree that only a small subset of animals can be used as mounts. Perhaps some of them are too timid for combat, or too slow for fast cavalry to work, or too weak to carry heavily-armoured people? This will create, remove or change options as desired.
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    I dunno if you've thought about the coutlinti racial features yet, but their arms could be feathered wings with a glide/flight progression like raptorans and dragonborn.

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    I would suggest several castes, basically (sub-)races themselves. The commoners are basically reptilian people slighty similar to theropods, with pretty feathered crests and feathery arms. The society is stratified primarily by one's likeness to the Couatl - those with shorter legs and more winglike arms are venerated even as they become more useless when it comes to actual work. The high nobles can hardly grasp items and must slither to move, their legs basically just helping balance the body.
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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    [QUOTE=Ninjadeadbeard;11152291]

    How would that work? Would the newly “Enlightened” Couatl ascend beyond this world, like their ancestors? Would they remain on the physical plane? How do the Orcs react to having these dragon-like monsters flying about?
    Well, I'm planning for the Couatl, "Enlightened" and otherwise, to either not be on the physical plane (in the case of the old Couatl), or to leave almost immediately after they gain their new form (in the case of the Enlightened Couatl). I suppose they'd be off to another plane to fight that chaotic, Cthulu-esque monster you mentioned (who I'm actually writing up right now in my campaign setting Word file).

    The Couatl would only manifest on the physical plane if a powerful enough sorcerer/priest summons one, and even then, not for very long. The Orcs would probably know some of the philosophy of the Couatlinti, but would not believe in the Couatl themselves.

    That's an interesting idea. The humans are a heavily discriminated minority, with lots of nasty rumors and stereotypes applied to them, as well as some amount of segregation. The only real chance for advancement for a human is by signing up for military service, hence why they're so common in Ixtlan. This is paralleled by Basque mercenaries in the Spanish Conquistador armies in our world, hence why there are so many Basque names in Latin and South America.

    I would ask though, what made humans live as a minority among the Dwarves? Surely they would be better treated in their homelands? Are the humans in Dwarf lands due to political persecution? Was their homeland conquered by an enemy? Does their homeland still even exist (a la Atlantis)?
    I'm thinking exactly that sort of minority status, yeah. I plan for the humans to be grateful to the Dwarves for providing humans with a sanctuary, but resentful towards them for the stereotyping.

    As for why they would flee, I'm thinking a massive plague, and/or invasion by a slow, but relentless force, allowing flight from the human lands, but also letting a few traditional human nations to barely survive (for the time being). Maybe an undead plague/invasion? Or a Mongol-esque conquest by say, Ogres or Giants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    I strongly advise you to look for prehistoric (and current) Northern-American creatures in the Creature Collection and D&D Wiki. Populating a setting with unfamiliar creatures goes a long way in making the wilderness look strange and unexplored. The munchkins who know the stats of wolves by heart will fear a strange creature with never-before-seen powers.

    This also allows you to change farms and militaries by picking and choosing which strange critters are tamed and which aren't. Wolves (and coyotes) do not run a manner that is comfortable for riders, nor do stags and their like, so you can decree that only a small subset of animals can be used as mounts. Perhaps some of them are too timid for combat, or too slow for fast cavalry to work, or too weak to carry heavily-armoured people? This will create, remove or change options as desired.
    Hmm... I'll have to check those sources out. Thanks for the advice though.

    The Goblins won't be heavily armored; at best they'll probably have leather armor. So that broadens the choices for mounts. Wolves and Coyotes probably won't be strong enough, no. Stags wouldn't be comfortable. Perhaps Boars could be used; they're strong and aggressive enough for combat, even if a bit slow.

    I could probably delve into the d20 SRD for some of the more fantastic, but still not overly magical mount choices.

    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    I would suggest several castes, basically (sub-)races themselves. The commoners are basically reptilian people slighty similar to theropods, with pretty feathered crests and feathery arms. The society is stratified primarily by one's likeness to the Couatl - those with shorter legs and more winglike arms are venerated even as they become more useless when it comes to actual work. The high nobles can hardly grasp items and must slither to move, their legs basically just helping balance the body.
    Well, I created the Couatlinti originally because Wizards of the Coast doesn't have the Yuan-Ti stats for free, and I wanted a good-aligned (well, good-ish, anyway) Yuan-Ti race. The Yuan-Ti have a basic caste system, so it makes sense that my Couatlinti would too.

    I like the idea of veneration of Couatl likeness, it's a very evocative idea (even if it seems to be stealing a bit from Warhammer Fantasy and the Slann).

    Of course, this defeats the "enlightened" bit of the transformation into the Couatl if only the nobles can become full-fledged Couatl. Hmm... perhaps the nobles are "gifted" with the greater chance of becoming a Couatl, but if they don't become one, they instead transform into a massive, somewhat unintelligent feathered snake loyal only to the Couatl/Couatlinti, and used as a heavy troop in the Couatlinti armies?


    And what about the Dwarves? I don't have much on them, only that they're explorers/Conquistadors. I was thinking that these dwarves are a naturally curious race; and that they explore the ancient ruins dotting their homeland just as easily as they explore Ixtlan.

    I'm unsure whether to make the dwarves united, or divided into a few main kingdoms. If I divide them though, the human refugees will live in the largest and most prosperous kingdom.
    Last edited by RationalGoblin; 2011-06-07 at 11:45 AM.
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    Another possibility for the dwarves is that they did have a single kingdom, but the influx of humans as well as other political disagreements lead to rebellions and splits, and now there are many states with different perspectives on the outside world. It could also support Duergar.

    Also, what are your plans for the other main races. Are there going to be Elves, Halflings, Drow, Gnomes, and/or Kobolds. What about other intelligent races? How diverse do you want this setting to be?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omeganaut View Post
    Another possibility for the dwarves is that they did have a single kingdom, but the influx of humans as well as other political disagreements lead to rebellions and splits, and now there are many states with different perspectives on the outside world. It could also support Duergar.

    Also, what are your plans for the other main races. Are there going to be Elves, Halflings, Drow, Gnomes, and/or Kobolds. What about other intelligent races? How diverse do you want this setting to be?
    Humans being a political conflict makes sense; it would also provide a ready-made dwarven opponent for encounters. Perhaps even dwarves within each dwarf nation have differing opinions; a racist dwarven noble could be a good kind of non-violent conflict for human PCs.

    I might have a renamed Duergar as one of the cultures/nations of the dwarves, but I'm not quite sure.

    As for elves, halflings, and etc, well, I honestly don't know where they could fit. This is a conquistador/Journey to the New World-style setting, and I've already got several New World races, along with the requisite "conquistador" race and a unique spin on the ever-present humans.

    I want this setting to be fairly diverse, but I honestly don't know where to fit other intelligent races except in the New World, which is already filling up with (mostly "monstrous") intelligent races.
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    I am nearly always in favour of civilizations with several cultures and nations, so I do recommend .

    In regard to 'only nobles get enlightenment', this reward should probably not be random, at least not very much so, what with being related to an inherently lawful type of being. Nobles have a better starting point and better resources, but anyone should potentially be able to follow (a) certain path(s) to become a Couatl. Of course, the paths should by no means be easy, with at most one or two people reaching enlightenment per generation.

    As for dwarves, why not try and go for a highly developed nomadic civilization? Not often done, offers plenty of exiting plots, ties in well with their exploratory background. Perhaps the dwarven homelands are in a wasteland which supports little life, and while some nations of settled dwarves and associated peoples are within reach, most dwarves are part of large mobile (maybe resource-stripping? Not malicious, but do not think it a big deal since, after all, they can move on, why can't everyone?) caravans. While most humans try and live in the safer nations, others seek their luck with the pretty much independent nomadic factions, where they act as scouts, messengers and cheap labour. Some roaming factions might be more environmentally conscious, some might treat humans worse or not include them at all and one or two might be planning the very first steam/magipunk railway connecting their favorite hunting spots and trading sites.
    Last edited by Icedaemon; 2011-06-07 at 04:03 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    I am nearly always in favour of civilizations with several cultures and nations, so I do recommend .
    Same here. It's why I like your setting so much. You've got multiple cultures/nations that are differentiated from each other, but they don't seem gimmicky. The problem though, is that you're mainly dealing with humans, and it's harder to make humans gimmicky. It's easy to make dwarves, even unique dwarves (as well as the unique orcs and goblins I have) seem gimmicky, which is partly why I have such a problem thinking of new nations for several of the races.

    In regard to 'only nobles get enlightenment', this reward should probably not be random, at least not very much so, what with being related to an inherently lawful type of being. Nobles have a better starting point and better resources, but anyone should potentially be able to follow (a) certain path(s) to become a Couatl. Of course, the paths should by no means be easy, with at most one or two people reaching enlightenment per generation.
    Well, I suppose that nobles could have better resources for enlightenment, but I'd prefer that nobles don't become enlightened more than the commoners. I'm thinking that exceptional acts of self-sacrifice may be the best bet for noble or commoner to become a Couatl.


    As for dwarves, why not try and go for a highly developed nomadic civilization? Not often done, offers plenty of exiting plots, ties in well with their exploratory background. Perhaps the dwarven homelands are in a wasteland which supports little life, and while some nations of settled dwarves and associated peoples are within reach, most dwarves are part of large mobile (maybe resource-stripping? Not malicious, but do not think it a big deal since, after all, they can move on, why can't everyone?) caravans. While most humans try and live in the safer nations, others seek their luck with the pretty much independent nomadic factions, where they act as scouts, messengers and cheap labour. Some roaming factions might be more environmentally conscious, some might treat humans worse or not include them at all and one or two might be planning the very first steam/magipunk railway connecting their favorite hunting spots and trading sites.
    Well, I already like my stationary dwarves, and part of the whole point of humans in this setting is that they're a stable, if second-class minority in even the most accepting of dwarf cities. Making dwarves into a mobile raiding force would defeat that idea.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    I'm thinking that exceptional acts of self-sacrifice may be the best bet for noble or commoner to become a Couatl.
    Since the idea of Enlightenment (typically the Buddhist interpretation) carries with it the concept of detachment from the world, I would advise a similar tact here (those Couatlinti who achieve inner peace through decades of strict study and meditation would tend to "Enlighten" first) due to the Couatl's already established "separateness" from reality. Their children seek to rise above this plane, and thus detach themselves from the worldliness around them.

    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    Well, I already like my stationary dwarves, and part of the whole point of humans in this setting is that they're a stable, if second-class minority in even the most accepting of dwarf cities. Making dwarves into a mobile raiding force would defeat that idea.
    Making them mobile might also take away from the uniqueness of the Goblins.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RationalGoblin View Post
    Well, I suppose that nobles could have better resources for enlightenment, but I'd prefer that nobles don't become enlightened more than the commoners. I'm thinking that exceptional acts of self-sacrifice may be the best bet for noble or commoner to become a Couatl.
    While the main requisite being the said self-sacrifice is a good idea, given how the Couatl are capable of casting spells and psionics, some magical or psychic skill should also probably be part of the required skillset, methinks, not only one great act. While most might believe that one needs to become as much like the Couatl in body and soul for enlightenment, becoming like them in terms of thought processes and somewhat similar in power would suffice.
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    This looks interesting so far, but why would orcs enslave couatlinti? They are weaker, slower, and more prone to developing magical powers and melting their owners' brains. As sacrifices they make sense due to their alien nature, but it seems like the orcs wouldn't know much, if anything about their culture, as they would be restricting their activities to grabbing farmers on the edge of their city-states.

    Also, if orcs generally revere power, wouldn't capturing a strong warrior (like another orc) bring more glory (and be less terrifying) than going up against a magic-wielding snake?

    Elves could fill in for the wildlings. In the modern day, there are tribes in the Amazon with whom we have never spoken. Elves could be similar, hiding in the deep jungles and wielding powerful nature magics and subtle poisons.

    How do the Outer Planes interact with this realm? The couatl could be fighting to keep their world isolated from the rest of the cosmos.
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    Castes represent the advancement of their entire race. They would believe nobles to be reborn saints from a lower caste who didn't quite make it to couatl-hood but were rewarded with a second try. Whether the castes are actually real or not is up to you, they might be simply genetic.

    Perhaps the castes are practically indistinguishable until sexual maturation? The noble's bodies would broaden and elongate considerably with their legs shrivelling somewhat, shed their plain forest coloured feathers for a brilliant rainbow plumage, and develop arm musculature and form more appropriate to flight. Lesser castes might gain sturdier legs and arms, and colouration more fitting of their habitat.

    For halflings, they'd be adventurous enough to be first to colonise the lands newly conquered by the humans. It would be stupidly dangerous, but that's kind of what they do. But yeah, I do agree that if you can't find a good reason to include them then don't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjadeadbeard View Post
    Since the idea of Enlightenment (typically the Buddhist interpretation) carries with it the concept of detachment from the world, I would advise a similar tact here (those Couatlinti who achieve inner peace through decades of strict study and meditation would tend to "Enlighten" first) due to the Couatl's already established "separateness" from reality. Their children seek to rise above this plane, and thus detach themselves from the worldliness around them.
    I suppose I could combine "inner peace" with extreme self-sacrifice; the aspiring Couatl would have to have no other emotion left then to protect something.

    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    While the main requisite being the said self-sacrifice is a good idea, given how the Couatl are capable of casting spells and psionics, some magical or psychic skill should also probably be part of the required skillset, methinks, not only one great act. While most might believe that one needs to become as much like the Couatl in body and soul for enlightenment, becoming like them in terms of thought processes and somewhat similar in power would suffice.
    Good point; but I don't want the Couatlinti to be entirely saturated with magic; I don't like the "magic is more common than horses" Tippyverse high fantasy.

    I suppose the study of magic could help, however. I could make most of the Couatlinti familar with magic, but only a rare few (mixed between the noble caste and commoner caste) actually being able to cast arcane magic. Divine magic (at least low level versions of it) would be a whole lot easier to cast, but wouldn't have the same ability to enlighten, maybe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bibliomancer View Post
    This looks interesting so far, but why would orcs enslave couatlinti? They are weaker, slower, and more prone to developing magical powers and melting their owners' brains. As sacrifices they make sense due to their alien nature, but it seems like the orcs wouldn't know much, if anything about their culture, as they would be restricting their activities to grabbing farmers on the edge of their city-states.
    Well, I'm thinking of making magic a bit rarer than usual, so the Orcs wouldn't know if a given Couatlinti has magical powers or not. They could probably identify a Couatlinti Cleric, and would simply kill such a character, but otherwise, they wouldn't be able to tell, and they'd probably be safe.

    Like I said, I don't know how much the Orcs would know about the Couatlinti culture, but even with simple farmers, they'd probably be able to get a fairly good summary of the basics.

    Also, if orcs generally revere power, wouldn't capturing a strong warrior (like another orc) bring more glory (and be less terrifying) than going up against a magic-wielding snake?
    Hmm... You've got a point. Perhaps I should subdivide the Couatlinti again, into not just nobles and commoners, but a commoner soldier caste as well?

    Elves could fill in for the wildlings. In the modern day, there are tribes in the Amazon with whom we have never spoken. Elves could be similar, hiding in the deep jungles and wielding powerful nature magics and subtle poisons.

    How do the Outer Planes interact with this realm? The couatl could be fighting to keep their world isolated from the rest of the cosmos.
    Elves as a lost Amazon tribe? Hmm... Perhaps. I'd prefer not to use Elves at all, though, because even the "savage elf" is a bit cliche.

    As for the Outer Planes, I suppose that could be the reason that the full-fledged Couatl have left the world; keeping threats from beyond the Material Plane from invading the world.

    Aha! Building off the idea of a chaotic, supremely evil Cthuluoid dark reflection of the Couatl, perhaps this aforementioned horror nearly breached the gulf between this plane and the Outer planes, and shattered much of the barriers doing so? And the Couatls are trying to stop a constant invasion of the Material Plane?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
    Castes represent the advancement of their entire race. They would believe nobles to be reborn saints from a lower caste who didn't quite make it to couatl-hood but were rewarded with a second try. Whether the castes are actually real or not is up to you, they might be simply genetic.
    I was thinking that the castes would be more genetic, but truthfully, I'm not sure if I want castes at all. Interesting Hindu-esque idea you've got there, though.

    Perhaps the castes are practically indistinguishable until sexual maturation? The noble's bodies would broaden and elongate considerably with their legs shrivelling somewhat, shed their plain forest coloured feathers for a brilliant rainbow plumage, and develop arm musculature and form more appropriate to flight. Lesser castes might gain sturdier legs and arms, and colouration more fitting of their habitat.
    That might be an option, yeah. Fits with the "lawful good Yuan-Ti" idea I've got going on. Perhaps, though, there's mixing with the castes, regardless?

    For halflings, they'd be adventurous enough to be first to colonise the lands newly conquered by the humans. It would be stupidly dangerous, but that's kind of what they do. But yeah, I do agree that if you can't find a good reason to include them then don't.
    I was actually thinking that in this setting, halflings are the product of a union between dwarves and humans, and for some reason, they're wildly different from both. I'll think over it a little bit, and if the halflings=half-dwarf/half-human doesn't fit, then I'll drop it.
    Last edited by RationalGoblin; 2011-06-08 at 11:48 AM.
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    * Enlightenment is a term and can be used differently if so desired here.

    * Magic need not be common to still be a requisite. Acquiring sufficient magical skill should be a great hurdle, perhaps as great as developing the sufficiently selfless personality to be a candidate for a being of pure law and good.

    * What do the clerics worship? Do the Couatl grant divine spells? Why should divine magic be more common than arcane? Why not have the couatlkin be the sole civilisation which can develop wizards, but not have clerics at all - their mages fill in for most priestly roles.

    * If there is social mobility, it is likely commoner <-> soldier and soldier <-> noble - in a pre-reneissance setting, peasants do not have ways of actually becoming noble, but powerful warriors can rise to be influential and a peasant might join the armed forces.

    * How are halflings so different from humans and dwarves, really? Humans and dwarves are practically identical in most respects, closer to different races of the same species than two different species. That said, given how for example a Liger is bigger than a tiger, while a Tigon is substantially smaller than a lion, some hybrids being tiny is completely normal.

    *The Couatl are 9HD beings. Are you going for an Epic 6 - E12 world? If the Couatl are less powerful than PCs, there is little OOC desire for the players to become enlightened.
    Last edited by Icedaemon; 2011-06-08 at 12:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Icedaemon View Post
    * Enlightenment is a term and can be used differently if so desired here.

    * Magic need not be common to still be a requisite. Acquiring sufficient magical skill should be a great hurdle, perhaps as great as developing the sufficiently selfless personality to be a candidate for a being of pure law and good.

    * What do the clerics worship? Do the Couatl grant divine spells? Why should divine magic be more common than arcane? Why not have the couatlkin be the sole civilisation which can develop wizards, but not have clerics at all - their mages fill in for most priestly roles.

    * If there is social mobility, it is likely commoner <-> soldier and soldier <-> noble - in a pre-reneissance setting, peasants do not have ways of actually becoming noble, but powerful warriors can rise to be influential and a peasant might join the armed forces.

    * How are halflings so different from humans and dwarves, really? Humans and dwarves are practically identical in most respects, closer to different races of the same species than two different species. That said, given how for example a Liger is bigger than a tiger, while a Tigon is substantially smaller than a lion, some hybrids being tiny is completely normal.

    *The Couatl are 9HD beings. Are you going for an E6?

    *Fair enough. Enlightenment will have a different meaning than the usual.

    *Good point; magic could be quite rare, and part of the Couatlinti path of enlightenment.

    *Hmm.. What about a form of arcane clerics, or at least incredibly devout wizards? Of course, either would be very uncommon, but that would be useful for differenating the Couatlinti from the other races.

    *Originally, I was thinking that the Couatl would grant low-level divine spells, and that enlightened enough/high enough level clerics would transform into Couatl, but now I'm not sure. If I have Couatl grant divine spells, it'll be the Couatl as a collective race, not any individual Couatl being worshiped (though Couatl ancestors of any given Couatlinti would be venerated)

    *For the commoner-soldier-noble idea, I like the idea of any commoner becoming a soldier, but I don't know about the soldier-noble relationship. Perhaps skilled enough soldiers are chosen to be mates to nobles, and any Couatlinti with even a bit noble blood in them is automatically a noble? So if a female Couatlinti soldier has a child with a Couatlinti noble, the child is a noble, and if a female Couatlinti noble has a child with a male Couatlinti soldier, it's still a noble?

    *I still have no idea on the halflings, I'll get back to you on that.

    *Essentially yes, I want a E6, not neccessarily level 6 as the cap, but somewhere around level 10 or so. Also, the Couatl are CR 10, so it fits. There'll be higher than CR 10 threats, but those will be the most dangerous ones.

    *By the way, I've figured out the divisions (who they are and why they are divided) of the Dwarves:

    -Back a few decades or centuries, there was a king of a United Dwarven realm, say, King Alvaro IV (Spanish/Italian names for the Dwarves, of course).

    -In the last years of Alvaro's reign, Humans flee en masse from some unspecified threat.

    -The leader of the humans, say, Lord Pyotr (I like the idea of Russian names for the humans) asks the ailing king for shelter.

    -Alvaro dies before responding, and as he did not have an incredibly specific succession law, Alvaro's two sons each demand the throne for themselves, while a wily old uncle seeks to take the throne for himself.

    -Each of the contenders has a different opinion on the Humans; the sons despise the humans, and drive any humans out from their lands, while the uncle sees the potential in the humans, and invites them into his territory.

    -A war ensues, and eventually, each side is exhausted, signing a peace that makes the borders between the three sides the legal division of the land.

    -The uncle, grateful for the human's assistance but still horribly racist, grants Lord Pyotr as leader of the humans a somewhat poor territory within his lands, and gives them preferred status for some occupations, while restricting them from most.

    -All three kingdoms, unable to fight each other (though the brothers still often squabble over small strips of land), soon look to the West for expansion.

    -When Ixtlan is discovered, each of the kingdoms claim a third of Ixtlan for themselves (though no one really pays attention to the division), and each set up a colony on islands near the mainland of Ixtlan.

    -Humans, restricted from most occupations, join the uncle's dwarven fleets to forge a new life in Ixtlan. In the other kingdoms, all but a few humans that are allowed to live there are made into eunuchs, to prevent the "filthy humans" from spreading.
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    If the humans are subjugated that badly in two of the kingdoms, there would definitely be a resistance movement. Many would want to topple the government, but others, probably including sympathetic dwarves, would simply want more rights. Every movement has its extremists and its moderates. There might even be an underground railroad to get humans out of the Brothers' lands and into the Uncle's.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omeganaut View Post
    If the humans are subjugated that badly in two of the kingdoms, there would definitely be a resistance movement. Many would want to topple the government, but others, probably including sympathetic dwarves, would simply want more rights. Every movement has its extremists and its moderates. There might even be an underground railroad to get humans out of the Brothers' lands and into the Uncle's.
    Well, again, I was thinking of more of an analogy to the Jews and converted Muslims in Medieval Spain. They were definently second-class, and certainly oppressed and kept to only a few occupations, but they didn't really revolt or have a resistance movement. And in real-life, a lot of them (mostly after they publicly converted) went on expeditions to the new world. I want to have that sort of idea for the humans.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Icedaemon's Avatar

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Omeganaut View Post
    If the humans are subjugated that badly in two of the kingdoms, there would definitely be a resistance movement. Many would want to topple the government, but others, probably including sympathetic dwarves, would simply want more rights. Every movement has its extremists and its moderates. There might even be an underground railroad to get humans out of the Brothers' lands and into the Uncle's.
    Once again, there is someone who is thinking (far) too much in the terms of modern-world values and situations. There is no long-distance communication that anyone less than a high noble could afford. Hygiene is a luxury. Education, likely withheld from the humans. They are in a worse situation than serfs in terms of progression, but while there is probably some resentment, they did flee to the dwarven lands from something that would have spelled certain doom. They probably expected a paradise and were quite disappointed, but they can hardly find a better place to live. The vast majority of humans are not likely to know much of what happens in the next town over, never mind a different nation across the sea.
    Brewing a new setting (3.5 ed D&D). The setting is complete and ready to play.
    Indeed, here is the recruitment thread for the first run.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Omeganaut's Avatar

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Well, I still feel that many humans would resent the Dwarves, especially in the lands of the Brothers, where they seem to be treated as servants and slaves. There were significant anti-slavery advocates as early the 15th century when slavery became popular in the colonies (look up Bartolome de las Casas). The underground railroad could not openly use the telegraph system, and mostly organized through churches. Plus I can't imagine the dwarves not having relations with the humans beforehand, leading to some respecting the humans. I will admit the idea of unified resistance is ridiculous, I was being too idealistic. I will also admit that the level of organization in the Underground Railroad was far above what humans could achieve. However, I do remember some steampunk being mentioned, and with that level of technology comes printing, resulting in more reading and education, resulting in more freedom and a knowledgeable middle class that could influence the government. However, there would be resistance, much like slaves in the Americas. They would hang on to their culture in secret, and many would oppose their captors in small ways. A few would plan larger revolts, and they would seize any opportunity they could grab. Before someone claims that there weren't such activities in Europe, there were uprisings of both the lower and the middle classes in England, the latter being successful for 10 years, and the serfs hadn't had a history of having rights. Whatever human society existed would have the humans knowing that life could be better, and fighting for it. Granted, many would try to do it within the current establishment, leading to humans leading colonization.
    I have returned, and plan on focusing on world-building. Issues are being dealt with.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RationalGoblin's Avatar

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    At best, I'll probably have a few isolated nationalist humans seeking to re-create their old nations in the dwarven realms, with the vast majority simply staying loyal to their king (probably the uncle), or leaving for the New World. Would that work?
    Rational Goblin Avatar by C-Lam. Thanks!

    Ixtlan, World of Exploration, my campaign setting. Currently on hiatus.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Omeganaut's Avatar

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    Default Re: I need help with developing a game world.

    Yeah. That's the gist of what I was trying to revise my thoughts to.
    I have returned, and plan on focusing on world-building. Issues are being dealt with.

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