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  1. - Top - End - #391
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Well, your lizardfolk revolted from the naga, but there are several tribes. So there has to be a reason why the unified revolt broke apart into several tribes. That's an ancient story that could be told.

    And going from some other creatures on the barbaripedia:
    - Bronze dragons allied with Elven clans. Seems like a great story: dragons living in the water allied Elves living in forests near the water. Why did they ally? Did they have a common enemy or something like that?
    - Sahuagin, the fish people. Where did they come from? Why do they have a king ruling them when most other races are splintered and ruled by barbarian warlords?
    - Trolls/ogres: The barbaripedia says they roam the lands trying to eat the other races. It seems to me that when the first trolls came to the barbarian lands and started eating people, that gave quite a shock.
    When did that happen? What effect did it have? Was it an invasion or a migration?

  2. - Top - End - #392
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    In addition there is the story why the elves are not one people,
    gnomes and dwarfs, there's a story there
    and in general, it seems to me like you could totally rip off all of European history after the romans, take a look at the Brits, the French, the Spanish, and Germany (and probably a bazillion other places that used to tiny little kingdoms). It seems to me that the history of this world would mirror the history of Europe in that it is full of tiny little warlords and small kingdoms. Now I am not realy sure how to finish this, so... I always like to look towards reality for insperation, and then find its utter incoherence totally unsatisfying and give up on the no good vs. evil thing, so good on you for sticking with it! and real history.
    ps: thanks for starting this thread, I have really enjoyed it, and it inspired me to post for the first time, I have now discovered a play by post that I greatly enjoy

  3. - Top - End - #393
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    The Migration Period is obviously a major inspiration. That's where the thing with the human mercenaries comes from. I think I'll look up on that part of history, as I don't actually know that much about it.
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  4. - Top - End - #394
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Brainstorming:

    • I could imagine, at one point in history, a warlord attempted the old "unite all the tribes" thing. He/she obviously failed, but why and how? Also, I'm sure his ruined keep is hidden somewhere in the forest, full of treasure...
    • A cabal of warlocks once summoned a demon too powerful for them to control, that escaped and destroyed several towns and villages. Was it defeated? Did it mysteriously disappear? Is it still out there?
    • How about a major disease outbreak (I'm thinking The Black Death magnitude)? What happened, how was it handled? Did the spirits help cure it? Were the spirits perhaps to blame for it, because they were angry about something?

    I'm getting ideas for my own setting now, this is great!
    Last edited by Swooper; 2012-08-30 at 12:40 PM.
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  5. - Top - End - #395
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Lots of nice ideas here.

    I particularly like the one about uniting the clans. That one survives in memory as an example of how stupid that idea was.
    And has the added effect that it reinforces an out of character design goal in-setting. That's really nice.

    I am currently getting into Dark Sun, for the purpose of robbing it blind.
    One thing that could work really well are the Veiled Alliances. However, instead of being a lose association of good and neutral wizards and their friends who are sitting in the same boat of being hunted by the evil wizard-kings, it would be about warlocks. They don't have to cooperate or like each other, but the rest of society throws them all in the same bucket and any of their enemies are enemies of all of them. So lots of them are keeping in touch with each other and after all you need connections to get your hands on forbidden knowledge and rare substances. I wanted something like the Old Republic Sith anyway, but not as an Evil Empire, and this could be the way to go, with a few small well hidden accademies in remote places.

    Also: A Sixth Fundamental Truth about Life in the Clans.
    - All actions of a clansman reflect on the clan, and the clans reputation applies to him. It is treated as a given that clan chiefs and their sub-chiefs have to keep their subjects in line. When individuals of a clan step out of bounds, it is assumed that they are acting with their chiefs consent. Otherwise the chief is weak and that means that all of his subjects are completely unpredictable and unreliable.
    On the other hand, the good repuation of a clan is applied to all its members. When a chief is wise and strong and keeps order within his clan, than this is commonly accepted as a sufficient guarantee for all the clansmens honor and integrity. When individuals do not act according to the trust given to them based on their clans reputation, the chief has to show proof that this was not indicative for the people of his clan and that he has enough control over them to justify the trust in his reputation.
    Which can be to force the offenders to pay reperations, at least assuring the other clans that there is no economical danger in dealing with the clansmen, or may in severe cases mean exile or death. If the offended clan believes the punishment is sufficient, it will hold no grudge to the other clan. If the chieftain appears weak, the reputation of the entire clan suffers, and if he seems insincere, it is assumed the offense has his consent, which can mean war. There usually is no concept of substitute revenge against relatives and other clan members for honor, but there is little distinction between chieftains allowing a crime and ordering a crime and unpunished crimes are treated as acts of war.

    And an idea: Bronze weapon and armor can be normal or masterwork, but steel can only be masterwork. There is also iron, which can never be masterwork, but ignores the damage resistance of spirits instead of cold iron.
    All equipment prices are changed from gp to sp (or sp to cp), except for steel equipment, which is still in gp, but with no additional masterwork costs.
    Since weapons are dirt cheap in any editions of D&D, all characters can have steel weapons by third level, but it keeps the idea that steel is uncommon and not ordinary.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-08-30 at 05:06 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #396
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    pertaining to the bronze thing, I had an idea that adamant, mithril, and maybe other magical metals could be additives to bronze, rather than used in their pure state, sort of like bismuth bronze, except with fictitious metals

  7. - Top - End - #397
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I updated the main geographical overview page.

    http://barbaripedia.eu/index.php?title=Ancient_Lands

    Nothing really new here, but the parts about the Far North and the Fens and Lakes might be interesting as I am not sure how much of that I've already shared

    Instead of working with five main geographical areas that cover the whole setting, I've taken a good idea from many video games in the past years and instead changed my approach to focus on a few central areas that semi-contained and could almost be seen as individual mini-settings. Most of the setting is supposed to be unexplored wilderness anyway and I think this approach might help to focus on regional culture and politics rather than global ones. I even think that most campaigns should be limited to one of these clusters, as the things that matter to a single clan will almost all take place within the cluster and what happens in the other ones will have very little impact.
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  8. - Top - End - #398
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Do you have a name for the planet other than 'Ancient Lands'?

  9. - Top - End - #399
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    No. Because good names are really, really hard.
    Since there is only one continent, I probably can get away with using the same name for the planet and the continent, but names are always the very last thing I decide about for anything.
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  10. - Top - End - #400
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Some thoughts on family structure and social order I've been considering for quite some time, and I'd like to hear your oppinions and any ideas you can contribute:

    Wood Elven Society
    In most wood elven communities, all adult members of the clan who have lived through 32 summer solstices are of equal rank when it comes to voting for descisions. In practice almost all position of leadership are held by members of a small group of families, from which chiefs, sub-chiefs, council leaders, and captains are selected. People who show exceptional talent might get the attention and support of members of these highborn families, which greatly improves their chances to get selected for leadership positions, but against the resistance of the highborn its almost impossible. Most communities have an inofficial council of elders, which consists of most of the oldest members of the village who are engaged in the politics of the clan. They care a lot less about social status and being accepted into these groups depends mostly on whether or not its members find ones oppinions agreeable to theirs. When the elders publically declare their stance to an issue, large parts of the clan will fall in behind them.
    Since elves can live for over 300 years and show not much difference in age for most of that time, personal relationships are even more unstable and fluid than for other races. Even when people enjoy each others company for over two hundred years and they have the immense fortune that neither falls victim to disease, accident or war, it is still very likely that one of them is several decades if not even a century older than the other. Spending the end of ones life with the same people one grew up with is extremely rare for elves and the most common way to deal with it is to treat an elven life as a number of seperate lives following end on end. It is a common practice among elves to make a clear cut every 60 to 80 years and set out to start a new one, either alone or with one or two other friends who still remain from their last life. Usually this means joining another of the clans villages relatively far away from the recent one, but sometimes elves may join other clans or even take on a new name.
    The elven idea of a family is relatively small, consisting of just one or two parents and one to three children. Often they last for only 30 to 40 years until the children have left their parents home. With the potentially very great difference in age between siblings, elven children bond much stronger with the other children of the village who are of similar age. The everyday life of elves is centred on a shared home of families, couples, and individuals that may or may not be related by blood. Very often children who grew up at about the same time also end up sharing their first home after they leave their parents home. Some of these shared homes can last for centuries with some members leaving or dying and new ones joining to replace them, but occasionally smaller ones might disband completely when members feel the urge to start anew somewhere else at the same time. Elves who were born into highborn homes usually share homes with other highborn and the same goes for those born into clansmen families, with relatively few exchange between them. Since homes are owned cummunally and blood relatives often lose touch with each other over the decades and century, there is not much need for rules of inheiritance. As a result, there is no real legal concept of marriage and relationships are much more informal than in other cultures.

    Gnome Society
    In gnome society, each clan is again divided into numerous Houses or Septs. A house often ranges from some dozens to a few hundred gnomes forming a large extended family. Individual homes are tightly clustered together and have their shared common areas, and in cities carved into rock, they often have a single main gate that connects estate to the streets and roads of the town.
    In addition to the clans chief, and the villages sub.chiefs, each house has its own leader who speaks for all the families and individuals under him and has a vote in the town council. While every house has just one vote, the oldest, largest, and wealthiest ones still have most of the power, simply because the smaller houses depend on them and can't afford getting caught between the interests of the larger ones.

    Human Society
    Humans live in extended families that usually range from 10 to 20 individuals, including freeman servants and lowborn salves. Leadership often passes down from father to son, but there are no written rules on this and leaders might instead chose a nephew or daughter as the person he usually entrusts with taking care of the family in his absence or to fill in for him on important occasions, which is usually enough to establish them as the natural successors once he dies or becomes too old to lead. Effectively the leader of the family owns the land, house, and slaves and employs the families servants. But children can demand to be supported by the families of their parents, so marriage is still a very important legal institution to maintain clear records of genealogy. While children born out of wedlock still can make claims, these can be more easily denied. Unmarried parents are regarded as people of doubious trustworthiness as they are avoiding commiting to clear allegiance to one family or another.
    Man who can afford to support larger families can have several wifes, but this is usually confined to highborn men who are the leaders of their family and even in the most richest and powerful chieftains more than 4 or 5 is regarded as highly decadent and a sign of poor character.

    Kaas Society
    To outsiders, kaas society usually appears highly chaotic and completely unstructured. Children younger than 10 years live their mothers or are raised by another woman of their mothers home if the former is not possible, but any kaas older than that can pretty much live where they want to. The reality is however much more complicated and sophisticated. Inside a village or town, individuals tend to form groups of people of like mind based on mutual affection and a kind of kinship in spirit. Most young kaas live with their parents until their mid or late teens, at which point they start to get to know the other groups of the community better. As it is a very central part of kaas society, turning away such youths is regarded as highly inappropriate and very poor manners, but it usually becomes clear very soon when their personalties don't match. Having young members joining a group is a great source of pride for kaas and most are eager to welcome such youths as their guests. However, the harmony of the group is extremely important and new members will only be invited to live with the group if there is strong genuine friendship between them. Sometimes childhood friends start their own new groups once they become adults though these are usually lacking any place to live and have barely any income and depend largely on support from older friends and relatives or neighbors for the first few years before they can support themselves. While many of these new groups don't last and their members join larger established groups, those who do manage to get through the years of great poverty intact often endure for the whole life and gain a high reputation.
    In rare cases young kaas really are at home with the group they were born into and there is no rule against returning to ones former home. However, they are expected to live for some time with at least three or four other groups to gain other views and perspectives and to learn about the other groups of the community.
    There is no form of marriage or inheritance in kaas society. All kaas have to be supported by the group they were born into until they are 10 years old and after that the group has the duty to supply them with everything they will need in their new home, like clothing, a blanket, a knife, and a few bowls and spoons. In most cases, they are allowed to stay until they leave on their own and those groups who can afford it will give more than the bare neccessities to their leaving children. Huts, houses, and in some places caves, are owned communally by the group. As groups split and merge every so often, there are often some abandoned and empty homes to be taken over by anyone who makes claim of them or made an agreement with the former onwners before they left. With large homes in good conditions, the right to first claim is often sold for considerable sums, but since no group can lay claim to more tha one home at a time, this usually results in numerous homes and great amounts of coin changing hands over the span of a few days. In the end, there is always one home for which nobody will pay or is willing to move out of the old one, but these are usually the smallest and poorest ones.
    Kaas are extremely protective of their homes. Internal affairs of each group are completly left to be solved by themselves. The identity of a childs father is never asked and that of the woman who claims to be the mother never disputed. However, relationships between people of different groups are regarded as highly shameful. While they have no real concept of love that is different than deep friendship that binds together the members of a group, it implies conflicting priorities and an inability to control ones desires.
    In communal disputes, every group speaks with a single voice and it is left to them sort out who speaks on their behalf. Gossiping about the private lives of neighbors is one of the greatest and most dispised vices in kaas society, even if it is about things that are plain for everyone to see. On the downside, kaas are very reluctant to interfere with injustice if it doesn't happen in public places. Since harmony between members is at the center of every group, kaas usually do not invite guests into their home for more than a day or two. But when neighbors offer particularly badly treated individuals to live with them, there is nothing the other group can do about it, since the person is no longer their business. If it can be pulled off without making any implications about what's going on at the other groups home, such actions are highly admired by the rest of the village, as it means having taking care of an outsider until a new home can be found, which is regarded as a significant sacrifice.
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  11. - Top - End - #401
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I think maybe approaching the creation of castles and cities by starting with examples I like and thinking how I could include them in the Ancient Lands doesn't work out so well. I'm pretty much stuck at the same point for months.
    Maybe instead it will work better by first starting with the leaders and their clans and then coming up with interesting designs for their homes later. After all, purpose comes first and descriptions follows on it is the basic design for the whole setting anyway.

    Now does anyone have some hints for me where to look for interesting ideas for leaders and the communities they head?
    Morrowind and Skyrim would be two good examples, where you already have a lot of small communities in a complex network of relationships, and all of them having their own personalty and character. Mass Effect also has some really cool ones that I think would work well, particularly Aria or Wrex and Eve, and the Asari have lots of great example for evil elves. Any other ideas where to look for inspirations?
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  12. - Top - End - #402
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    New Race: Spiritfolk

    Spiritfolk/Aasimar were one my list quite some time, but now I think I've found a way to make a full society and culture of them instead of just individuals found in humanoid villages, or single clans that have fey blood in their ancestry.

    Spiritfolk are the descendants of shie and mortal humanoids, mostly wood elves, dark elves and kass. Since shie are magical beings, they are genetically compatible with many other creatures and it seems that half-shie are completely compatible with each other, even if their mortal parents are not. Sometimes this compatibility extends even to the children of half-shie and humanoids. Also there are some lineages that show features of oni and [charr/minotaurs].
    As a result the physical appearance of spiritfolk varies greatly. Most have the general body structure of elves and humans, which is also shared by shie, but often stand a full head over most humanoids. Most striking are the unusual colors of their bodies, with skin often being almost white or black, many shade of brownish oranges and greens, and sometimes bluish grey. Some have spotted patterns of contrasting color that appear to be unique to every individial. The colors of eyes and hair can be of similar unusual shades. Some have small horns on their foreheads and teeth that slow a slight hint of fangs.
    [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9]
    [A], [B], [C], [D], [E], [F], [G]


    Being quite rare, spiritfolk have few settlements and most are small villages or hunting camps. When traveling in the lands of other people, they usually wear sand colored clothing that covers the entire body and often includes hoods, but it is mostly out of tradition and won't hide their nature at closer distances when their height becomes apparent and their faces can be seen. Still people seem to react even much more uncomfortably when the full extend of their unusual coloration and other strange features is openly displayed, so they remove their cloaks and robes only when there aren't any strangers nearby.

    While of similar height as kaas, spiritfolk tend towards much more slender physiques, but the two races are different even more when it comes to behavior. While kaas tend to be somewhat reserved and restrain displays of their emotions, spiritfolk strongly lean towards much more passionate personalties. Many are of a calm demeanor and tend to be polite and highly intelligent, but a certain lack of restraint seems to run the entire race. When spiritfolk are happy or angry, it is usually not hard to tell and they are easily getting rushed which also tends to make them bit reckless. Becomming outright foolish and ignorant of danger is rare, but emotional outbursts are very common.

    Most spiritfolk that visit the settlements of other people are at least semi-nomadic, traveling the land for months or sometimes years before returning to their primary strongholds. While traveling, they sometimes let themselves be hired as mercenaries and make some extra coin by deciphering ancient writings or identifying fey artifacts. However the quality of their information can vary greatly, as it is a common misconception that they are still in regular contact with shie and other spirits. While this sometimes is the case, most rely on accounts passed down from their ancestors which are of questionable accuracy.

    Spiritfolk are not intended as a regular PC race, regardless of where the campaign starts. If they are made an option of players, it should be because of special considerations specific to the individual campaign.
    Spiritfolk will almost certainly have a lower number of class levels for any given level of character progress.
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  13. - Top - End - #403
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    Ghost Paint
    Ghost paint is a special kind of warpaint used by the dark elves of the Mahiri jungles. It consists of a white paste made from bone powder, chalk, and mud that is painted on the skin of warriors and enables them to channel the totem spirits of their clan. The complete patterns are only known to the high priests while apprentices learn only their most basic forms and are thought more advanced forms as they rise in station and magical power. When applied by a shaman, fragments of the totem spirits take possession of the warriors, granting them parts of their power.

    First level shamans can make level 1 patterns that provide a +1 bonus to all skill checks based on a single ability score. First level patterns take 1 minute to apply.
    Third level shamans know how to make level 2 patterns. These grant the warrior a +2 bonus to one ability score. It takes 10 minutes to create a level 2 pattern.
    Fifth level shamans can create level 3 patterns which can grant either a +4 bonus to a single ability score or a +2 bonus to two ability scores. Level 3 patterns take one hour to make.
    At seventh level shamans are tought the secrets of making the complete level 4 patterns. These allow the totem spirits to take complete possession of the subject.

    Ghost paint lasts for an entire day and ends when the wearer falls asleep. However, it is considered highly dangerous to sleep with ghost paint and all warriors and shamans who recieve it know the ritual to end the effect when it is no longer needed. Sleeping while the spirit is not yet dismissed is believed to allow the spirit to take permanent possession and devouring the soul of the subject. Simply washing away the paint does not end the effect and the ritual must be performed even if the wearer fell into water and no traces of the paint are visible.

    Level 1 patterns are applied to to temple guards and veteran hunters and scout every morning before they begin their tasks, usually those of a spirit that enhanced their awareness or skill at stealth. Shamans also often wear them once they have mastered their creation. In war, almost all warriors are given such patterns. (In the case of dark elf shaman NPCs, patterns can be treated as permanent magical items.)
    Level 2 patterns are reserved for high ranking shamans and the clans most seasoned veteran warriors. They are sometimes given to other scouts and hunters for special tasks.
    Level 3 patterns are only used for special occasions, like important rituals or to prepare high ranking warriors for important duels or great battles.
    Level 4 patterns are very rarely made and only in the most desperate time. Very few shamans know the complete patterns that allow the totem spirits to take full possession of a warrior or shaman. Except for very special cases, complete patterns are never removed and their wearers slain after the emergency has passed. Once someone has been completely possessed by a totem spirit, it is regarded as completely unpredictable when and under what circumstances the spirit might return and be a terrible danger to anyone in its presence.
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  14. - Top - End - #404
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    Default Re: Lands of the Barbarian Kings

    I think I found something where I can now very clearly put my finger on, why the setting still doesn't really seem to get off the ground and develop it's own dynamics. In those settings I really like, you just have to see two people encountering each other and just from their race or uniforms, you immediately know that this could explode at any moment. The greatest settings I've seen in recent years are Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and they both have that in loades. Dark Sun also has all kinds of combinations that won't end well.

    So instead of trying to get a good baseline of specific organizations and factions, maybe going a step back and defining a couple of general cultures first will get better results to get a world where plots almost grow by themselves, just by putting certain people together near each other. So far the races just have some differences in the culture of their daily life, but I think it's the differences in interacting with other cultures that are much more important at this stage.

    I got my map, I got my races, my monsters, and my technology. But I think in regard of how to place them in the world it's a good opportunity to go back to the starting point and first figure out the dynamics of the world. And then it will be populated with specific factions, people, and communities. What I have so far in that regard are predominantly just straight ripoffs that can be summed up in a single sentence, and I have a feeling that it won't go anywhere trying to flesh them out in the rather random pattern they are spilled over the map right now.
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