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  1. - Top - End - #271
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I was looking around for a suitable image for the beginning of the inevitable Koss thread, and this is what I found:

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    Like I said a few posts up, their standard is actually a string of ten small flags, usually with one end tied to the top of a pole and other end anchored to the earth. The inspiration was Tibetan prayer flags, and it made me start to think that Kossians are probably very patriotic and deeply religious. Further, those two things are probably closely intertwined.

    I was a little hesitant about that idea, because Cerai is pretty much the same way, but then I realized that both of them approach the "church state" in radically different ways. Sure, both of them may have heads of state that also act as heads of faith, and sure, both of them may have complex dogma that demands the absolute obedience of their followers, and both factions are confident that theirs is the "One True Path." However, the Unified is monotheism with a huge focus on proselytizing. They believe that there can be only one True God, and they want to show everyone else the error of their ways, even if they want to do it gently most of the time.

    Kossian faith, on the other hand, is polytheistic, and they could care less what outsiders believe. Kossians are Kossians, and they don't think too highly of outsiders. They have a fervent belief in their own gods, but they don't feel the need to beat anyone over the head with them.

    I also found this image (hyperlinked because it's so huge):

    On the Edge by Blinck

    ...and it made me reconsider the placement of Winter, one of the two capitals of Koss. Originally, it was situated at the back end of a narrow valley, nestled in amongst the mountains. Now, I think it would be cooler if it was at the front end of the valley, on the edge of the cliffs that fall down into a much lower valley. That seems to enforce the cold, isolationist feeling that I have for that side of the Dual Kingdom.
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  2. - Top - End - #272
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I always try to keep things as simplified and elegant as possible with these settings. I'm not necessarily reskinning the standard fantasy races (especially since everyone is human in the setting), but it still might be useful to think about these races in terms of their standard fantasy counterparts, if for no other reason than to get ideas for how they relate to one another.

    The People of Genara
    Blackwood Folk are probably most similar to elves. They have a deeper connection to the land than the other races, and I picture them possessing a sort of serenity because of it. I don't think they're your typical aloof intellectuals--and they certainly trade goods and culture with the outside world--but they're proud of who they are as a people, and they try to maintain that.

    The people of Cerai are closest to your basic humans. They're cosmopolitan, imperious, and religious. In a fantasy settings, humans are typically the "catch-all" group, so there's not really a need to make Cerians different. While I'm thinking about it, "Cerai" is pronounced "sair-EYE," and "Cerians," is pronounced "SAIR-ee-ans."

    Kossians are probably most similar to dwarves. They live in the mountains, maintain a pretty strict isolationism, and are renowned for their many fine armorers. They are different because they are a deeply spiritual people, and build most of their culture around an affinity for their lofty home, rams and sheep, and the huge mastiffs they breed. I don't think they drink alcohol, nor are they known for being stocky or growing beards.

    Vindlanders from the Petty Kingdoms are probably most similar to half-orcs. Their culture may be sophisticated, but they don't care much for the laws of other nations, so when they travel abroad Vindlanders (especially warriors) fulfill a lot of elements of the Noble Savage/Barbarian trope.

    I didn't realize it at first, but the Sea Folk have a lot in common with halfings and gnomes. They have a generally transient culture, they're decadent as all get-out, and they may seem capricious to outsiders.

    What do you guys think about these comparisons? Does it give you a little more insight into how these peoples fit together?
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  3. - Top - End - #273
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I only skimmed it, but this sounds awesome. Keep up the good work.

  4. - Top - End - #274
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Thinking of dming this... what type eñemies would u face would ooze creatures work

  5. - Top - End - #275
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by RavagerofFells View Post
    Thinking of dming this... what type eñemies would u face would ooze creatures work
    You'd have a hard time justifying it, I think. Oozes are pretty awesome creatures (especially for a horror campaign), but they're pretty modern inventions.

    A general rule of thumb when considering creatures, NPCs, and plot hooks is to ask yourself: Does this seem like something that would fit in with a Grimm tale? Does this seem like something that would fit in with a wuxia tale? If not, then it probably doesn't belong in the setting.

    Best of luck DMing! I'd love to take a look at things once you get them started.

    I've been thinking a lot about the city of Span recently. I've got some very cool ideas for the dynamic of the city, and I'm excited to have a chance to explore it. That's probably what I'll be typing up in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled, everyone!
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  6. - Top - End - #276
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I just had some great ideas for RP in Koss.

    The Land of Winter and Summer
    In Summer,
    Champions advance,
    Merchants load their carts,
    Fathers tend their flocks,
    And Kings act with courage.
    All is in harmony,
    And Life swells with days of plenty.

    In Winter,
    Castellans bar their gates,
    Craftsmen bend to the forge,
    Gurus cast their eyes inward,
    And Kings steep themselves in counsel.
    All is in harmony,
    And Life recedes into days of rest.


    Summer is a time of the body. It is a time to shed clothing, and to labor in preparation of the coming Winter. Like the mountains, it is a time to train oneself in strength and discipline, to prepare for the hard times ahead. Kossians rely on their Summer Champions, who represent each village in the duels to win resources and honor.

    But then the snow comes. Crops fail, sheep die, and all must bid farewell the warmth of sunshine, and conserve themselves for Winter's cold.

    Winter is a time of the mind. A time to cease labor, to find shelter, and to contemplate the inner landscape. Like the stars of the nights when the heavens are open to the coldest winds of infinity, it is time to open oneself to the vast reaches of the sky. Every village treasures its Winter Gurus, who walk the Night Pathways, and bring back the wisdom of their travels.

    But then the snow melts, and the cycle begins again.

    All Kossians--even the simplest of peasants--try to incorporate the tenets of Winter and Summer into their lives. Balance of the forces is exceedingly rare, but it is highly-prized when it comes to fruition. Summer Champions and Winter Gurus are the exemplars of the forces of life in Koss, and they draw from the power of the warm earth and the cold sky. It is said that the Mountains will lead the path to the Heavens, and that the Heavens will shelter the Earth from harm. Each village has its Summer Champion and its Winter Guru, and the two often travel together, seeking serenity and perfection, and playing a large part in the political world of the Dual Kingdoms of Koss in the process.
    I picture Koss being ideally situated for two-person campaigns of exploration to places of great spiritual power in the realm. The Winter Gurus would be like wizard stand-ins, and they would make astral projection walking meditations to these locations to learn wisdom to teach to their villages. Meanwhile, their bodies walk the parallel steps in the mundane world, and they must be guarded from harm by the Summer Champions, who brave elements and dangerous beasts to keep their beloved Gurus safe. However, the Gurus may interact with the mundane world while on their journeys, and call great power down from the skies to aid the Champions that protect them. Together, they form an unbreakable bond between mind and body, braving the depths of dual wildernesses for the good of their people.

    How cool does that sound? A holy man making a mountain pilgrimage via planar travel and wielding giant whips and swords made of galaxies and nebulas, and the stalwart warrior who guards him from the beasts and hazards of the real world? A story that takes place in two parallel dimensions that have a certain amount of overlap? Gameplay would heavily feature moralistic storytelling. It seems like a cool way to represent a "high-magic" world to me.

    I drew inspiration from those colorful Hindu Paintings and the season 2 finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    Class Blurbs
    If I were to represent this in a lightweight system like WR&M, I'd make sure to describe the classes available to adventures. Probably by giving them an inherent ability, like this:

    Summer Champions: When they begin an Astral Quest, Summer Champions channel the very spirit of Summer. For the duration of their quest, Summer Champions walk in the height of a summer noon. They do not see, or feel the colds of the mountains, and even the fiercest blizzard becomes nothing more than gale winds at summer's height.

    Winter Gurus: When they begin an Astral Quest, Winter Gurus welcome in the eternal depths of Winter. For the duration of their quest, Winter Gurus travel through the clearest winter midnight. The stars suffuse them with perfect cold, and no wintry depths can oppose them.
    Last edited by Zap Dynamic; 2012-07-04 at 08:45 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #277
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    There is an eerie quiet in this thread lately.

    As much as I wanted to avoid it for the sake of myths, fairy tales, and the "fuzziness" they both take in terms of dates and times, I think I'm going to have to start hashing out a timeline for this world. I may not ever share it, but it's important to me that this world have some sort of internal consistency.

    Also, I've been thinking a lot about the nature of mythic geography. I didn't want this to be a world full of crazy wizards and Ye Old Magick Shoppes on every corner, but at the same time I think it's important for the world to be decidedly mythic. I don't think of this as revamping, necessarily, but my thoughts on how the world ought to be represented have evolved a little, and I think it's important to share them.

    Mythic Geography
    Mount Olympus is a great example of mythic geography. It was this place in the real world that people walked out of their homes and saw every day, and it also happened to be the literal home of their gods. They lived up there, watching over everyone and everything. Mount Sinai is similar; Moses went to the summit to speak to his own god, and came back down with divine lessons for his people.

    Examples of stuff like this abound everywhere, and I think it's right on par with what I'm trying to do with this setting. From now on, there will be places in Genara that are places of deep power and strange happenings.

    In the Blackwood, folk that wander too far from hearth and home become lost. The Wood becomes a tangled mess, and it is said that these depths are the home of elves, and the origin of the Wild Hunt. What is know is that trolls are attracted to the deepest wilderness, and folk that travel too far from settlements do not often return.

    In Koss, there's a mountain summit that sparkles like a star at night, though no one is able to make it to the summit. Legend holds that the Night Lady, a sister to the White Women of Koss and the Blackwood, has made the peak her home.

    In the Petty Kingdoms, Jorthond is the peak atop which Vald sits and watches the labor of humanity. He is guarded by Rond, his shield-thane, and observes the Fates weaving their tapestry. It is said that the spirits of all those who die come to Jorthond to be judged by Vald.
    I haven't thought of anything yet for Cerai or the Duchies, but this is the kind of stuff I'd like to implement.

    Maybe it's not even possible to reach by normal means. In Koss, one has to know the secrets of Winter and Summer, and can only read the glittering peak by walking the hardest road. In the Blackwood, maybe the only way to visit the depths of the wilderness and come back alive is by seeking out someone who's already been there and lived to tell the tale.

    It's fun to think about!
    Last edited by Zap Dynamic; 2012-07-06 at 04:50 PM.
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  8. - Top - End - #278
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    By the way, the Erlking I have Will worshiping is basically the leader of the hunt. Feel free to make up some fluff for him, it may or may not influence the idea I have for Will.

  9. - Top - End - #279
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
    By the way, the Erlking I have Will worshiping is basically the leader of the hunt. Feel free to make up some fluff for him, it may or may not influence the idea I have for Will.
    I wish I could comment on this. I would if you weren't playing in one of my games! I don't want to spoil the fun.

    Regardless, I will definitely take a look at what I've got and see what kind of fluff I could come up with. I've been meaning to write some fiction about Honest Eckhart, the old man that walks before the Wild Hunt and warns people of their passage. I'm picturing something that will be sort of similar to the Divine Comedy, in the sense that it's like a narrative tour through the cosmology of the setting.
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  10. - Top - End - #280
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Hey! I just added a new story to the Tales section of the OPs. Every civilized man or woman has heard this tale or something like it: something to warn of the surreal dangers of the wood after the sun sets.

    Terrors in the Night
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    Good children stay safe in their beds when the sun has set over the Blackwood. To rise at night and travel through the dark wood is to forsake all reason and to court folly. By the light of day, the Blackwood is a wild land without mercy for the foolish, but at night the magic in every leaf and stem, or brook and cave shines forth. Even the bravest hunters only take to the darkened Wood at great need, and they invoke all that their ancestors may provide to do so.

    Once, when I was a girl, there was a boy just my age named Georg. He was a vain and foolish boy, and all the children were wary of him because he was fond of going out into the Wood. He would journey out in the morning and sometimes not come back until well after midday meal. One boy saw Georg balancing on logs and climbing over rocks, and heard him laughing and carrying on like he thought he was an elf. Some people heard him say that he wanted to talk to the elves.

    Well one morning, the children were all playing on the village green when they we spotted Georg peering out from behind the village elder’s hall. His face was pure white, and he beckoned us to join him. One boy ran over to see what he wanted, and when he returned he said “Georg has a story to tell us. He says it’s important.” So we all ran after Georg until we had found a shaded spot behind a woodcutter’s hut.

    It was there that Georg told us his tale. The night before, after his parents had gone to sleep, he snuck out of their hut and went into the Wood. He couldn’t find the elves in the day, so he would try the wood at night. Oh, he knew the stories, but he thought that he knew the Wood well enough to walk it after dark.

    He told us that the wood twisted and turned all around him. Clouds covered the moon, and at every turn there was a raking branch or tripping root to waylay him. At one point, he had to crawl through a thicket he had fallen into, and just when he though he would make it no further, he stumbled out into a torchlit clearing. The sky was black overhead, and a great hall loomed large before him. Strange music could be heard coming from within the hall, and his courage led him to the door.

    A tall man with rich clothing and a strange face welcomed him inside. “You have entered Waldenhall, child. Come, and behold wonders!” There, Georg saw many thing that none of us believed. He saw great deer holding feasts at table, and squirrels fighting duels in the rafters. There were women with light in their hair, and tiny folk with greedy faces. They told him they were elves, and that he was welcome in their hall to make merriment and eat well. He sat at their table and shared their food and drink. He listened to their many fine minstrels, and laughed at the stories they would tell.

    In time, he came to notice a dark figure in the corner. He was squatting on a shelf, and looking at him was like stepping into a dream. The figure’s skin was an iron-heavy shadow, and his eyes were red like two wells of blood. The very walls seemed to slip and twist around him, and it was impossible to break his gaze. Georg didn’t move from the table all night, yet he felt as though he had been pursued through backwards corridors for hours. He escaped and made his way back to the village, but he only found his way after the sun rose. He had been awake all night, yet he could not rest, for fear of being pursued by the shadow creature.

    We all laughed at him and named him a fool, and went about our play. He remained there for some time, then sulked off to the cottage of his parents. They whipped him for going into the Wood, and sent him to bed with no supper. We all had fits in our sleep that night, and when we woke we found that Georg had died. His father found him stock still and blue as a deep pool. His chest was covered in bruises, like he had been crushed, and all the children recalled the image of the crouching figure in the woodland hall, and how Georg swore that it seemed like an unnaturally weighty fellow.

    Good children do not seek the wood after dark, and wise adults know why. Too often do they hold service for loved ones who tempt the tangled depths, and don’t even leave a body to bury. Be a good child, for your father’s sake and for mine.
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  11. - Top - End - #281
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I love the Witcher series. In particular, I love this intro cinematic from the Witcher 2.

    Wouldya look at those outfits? That's exactly what the nobility of the river would wear. Because there are no kings on the river, no one would dress as garishly as him, but everybody else is right on target.

    The magic in the world? Well... that video's way too much.
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  12. - Top - End - #282
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I was doing some thinking about the Sentinels and decided to write it down. There are the Sentinels themselves, the warrior poets who wander the land defending the innocent, but there are also a host of others who consider themselves part of the faction.

    Sentinels
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    The Sentinels are a confraternal chivalric order founded 480 years before the birth of Marian, First Father of the Unified. The Sentinels first began as the personal guard of the household of Elder Lord Claus, the Elder King's most devout defender. In a desire to protect the folk of the Blackwood from its darkness, Claus expanded his guard to thousands of warriors. He sent these guards to every corner of the Blackwood, tasked with roaming the land in search of wrongs to right. Pleas from the commoners are assigned promising Sentinels, and the most legendary amongst them are chosen for special quests. The latter of these is a popular subject for minstrels in every village.

    At the time of their creation, pagans were swarming into the Wood as they fled the expansion of the Kareid Empire, crime was on the rise in every city, and the elves meddled more than ever before. Lord Claus realized that only a concerted effort from the people of the Blackwood would ensure the health of the region.

    Sentinels wander the wood in small groups, guided by the tenets of virtue and courage to defend of the people of the Blackwood from anything that threatens them. They train in the ways of woodcraft, combat, and history to know the secrets of the Wood and how to fight them. They are seen as a shining light by the people of the Blackwood, and are freely welcomed to most every hearth.

    Sentinel Grove is the primary settlement for the order, though a Sentinel gathering places can be found in many other cities. It is home to House Claus, as well as the families of many Sentinels. The city lies within a grove of tall evergreens, and is dominated by an ancient fortification known as Pine Hall.

    The Nine Swords are the elite inner circle of the Sentinels. They contemplate the mysteries of combat and the firmament at Sky Pillar, a secure monastery in the Spires. The nine greatest among them are chosen to be the bodyguards and military advisers to the Elder King. The Nine Swords are wise, loyal, and deadly in equal measure.



    Organizations of like-minded warriors are known as Chivalric orders (called simply "orders") in Genara. They are a continuation of the military orders present in the Kareid Empire.

    Seeing the success of orders, merchants, thieves, scholars, and spies alike began fraternal organizations of their own. Called "misteries," these organizations usually center around the revelation of knowledge or skills only by initiation into increasingly select circles of people.
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  13. - Top - End - #283
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Am I correct in assuming the average guild isn't classy enough to be a Mystery? Making every single worker's union seems to cheapen the name. The Dockworker's Mystery would be funny the first time, but after dealing with a large number of similar orders the appeal would fade.
    Now, mind you, there should be some form of thieve's guild (preferably dealing in everything illegal), some form of spy brotherhood, and some sort of scholar's gathering. Merchants, though, just don't have the secrets needed. On the spy brotherhood, though, I'd suggest making it so that the organization as a whole is strictly neutral, especially when it's members are in conflict with each other. So two rival lordlings might have spymasters who are both part of the brotherhood, and while they can call on the brotherhood for most things, the brothers will do diddlysquat against another member.

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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
    Am I correct in assuming the average guild isn't classy enough to be a Mystery? Making every single worker's union seems to cheapen the name. The Dockworker's Mystery would be funny the first time, but after dealing with a large number of similar orders the appeal would fade.
    Now, mind you, there should be some form of thieve's guild (preferably dealing in everything illegal), some form of spy brotherhood, and some sort of scholar's gathering. Merchants, though, just don't have the secrets needed. On the spy brotherhood, though, I'd suggest making it so that the organization as a whole is strictly neutral, especially when it's members are in conflict with each other. So two rival lordlings might have spymasters who are both part of the brotherhood, and while they can call on the brotherhood for most things, the brothers will do diddlysquat against another member.
    As far as what they're called is concerned, I settled on the name thanks to wikipedia's article. I was concerned that a) proper guilds weren't around during the historical analogy I'm using (roughly CE 1310), and b) "guild" wasn't a Germanic term. Now that I've read the WHOLE wikipedia article, it appears that I was mistaken.

    It turns out that Germany had a "thriving" guild community by CE 1300, and they were in fact called "guilds." I'm fine with changing that. Howevah, my original idea was to have "misteries" in Cerai, because I picture things being more sophisticated, secretive, and bureaucratic (for lack of a better word) over there. I swear the last time I read that article they were spelled "misteries," but it looks like "mysteries" is going to be the way to go.

    So to answer your question, I picture every organization in Cerai being a "mystery," whereas every organization in the Blackwood would be a "guild." Chivalric orders are, obviously, their own thing. There won't be an organization for everything under the sun (dockworkers, for instance, are probably not skilled enough to merit their own mystery), but I think it's fine to have things like "Glassblowers' Mystery" and "Trade Mystery."

    The real-life equivalents were usually groups that held skills and knowledge in the utmost secrecy, and they were usually pretty mundane crafts. The Freemasons are a great example; their organization revolved around knowing how to lay stones properly (pretty boring all-in-all), and they kept it a secret because they didn't want any competition. However, just look at their portrayal in popular culture today, and you get an idea how carefully they guarded their secrets.

    Of course, the only guilds that PCs are likely to interact with (and thus the only ones I'll develop) will be the classic stuff that you mentioned, plus maybe a few more. That doesn't mean that really mundane things wouldn't also have their mysteries and guilds, though.

    Do you want to roll a cart down the street, crying out that you sell gently-used knives and kitchen tools? Go right ahead; your wife and children will accept what meager food you can provide with grace according to their station. But if you want to learn the secrets of true salesmanship, you must join the Mystery of the Most August Tradesmen.
    That's basically what I'm picturing. Also (in Cerai), I think it would be cool for every "shady" Mystery to have a legitimate front. For example, the Mystery of the Most Excellent Craft of Glassblowing would be focused on teaching its members the best way to blow glass for windows, chalices, vases, etc., and they'd be one of the biggest guilds since Cerai is nuts about glass. Master Glassblowers can create colored panes that dance with the sun's light, but the members of the most elite circles of the Mystery are said to know the secrets of manipulating shadows too. These elite are rumored to be master spies, capable of hiding in broad daylight and observing things from great distances.

    Whaddaya think?
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  15. - Top - End - #285
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Content dump!

    First off, I found a cool picture of High Hall:
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    It's got a very cool Neuschwanstein vibe, but it also looks like the type of place that would be terrifying if it were haunted. I also like that there's no implication of there being a settlement or anything nearby. For High Hall, I picture them being secluded to the point that all of the population lives in the castle, and the only out-buildings are things like hunting lodges scattered here and there. There would also need to be fairly large flower meadow somewhere, because High Hall is noted for its excellent mead.

    Next, I've got a little info about the seafolk culture. I typed it for someone who's about to join the game I'm running, and since I haven't posted anything on them yet, I figured I should.
    The Kareid diaspora is the wide range of cultures that survives in the wake of the Kareid Empire. It spans to all corners of the Central Sea, though only the Duchies carry on the decadent traditions of the old empire completely. Other cultures from the old empire vary, though all might be accused of decadence by outsiders. Most of them dye their skin every shade of the rainbow upon reaching adulthood. They often dress in garish colors, and are known for their women, who cavort in public, chests as bare as their men. Many of them love gold and jewelry, and they all seem to worship different gods.

    What is common amongst them above all is their affinity for the sea. They all claim they were born upon its breast, and there is no other race in Genara that produces such fine sailors.
    I've found that building a timeline is helping me out tremendously, even though most of it isn't anything more than dates and the names of various ages. Right now, I've got timelines spanning at least 3000 years for the West (Cerai), the Wood, the North (the Petty Kingdoms), the Sea (Kareid), and the Heights (Koss).

    A few months ago, I did heraldry for all of the major cities and factions of the Blackwood. Now that I've had time to let them percolate, there are quite a few that I think are terrible. However, I've uploaded the ones that aren't, so take a gander!

    Blackwood Heraldry (warning: image below is 700x1250 pixels. Image is hyperlinked in the title for ease of viewing.)
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    Sentry Grove: A golden lion on a black and white field.
    Sky Pillar: Three nine-pointed stars of pure white on a deep blue field.
    Freeport: A yellow ship on a blue river, with a red field in the background.
    Three Rivers: Three blue rivers from NW to SE on a yellow field.
    Span: Three black bars of a portcullis on a dark blue blue field.
    High Hall: A golden honeybee on a purple field.
    Summer: A white sun on a sky blue field.
    Koss: The heraldry of Winter and Summer marshalled together.
    Winter: A blue ice crystal on a snow white field.
    Cerai, The Unified: A golden sun cross. Often rendered in iron and colored glass.

    Whaddaya guys think?
    Last edited by Zap Dynamic; 2012-07-19 at 11:05 AM.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Why is Cerai's golden disc a golden diamond? Is it just too hard to cut glass that way (round) given the technology of the Blackwood?
    Quote Originally Posted by Zap Dynamic View Post
    I want to create a world that is full of possibility, and one of the best ways to handle it is by creating a bunch of stories that haven't yet been finished.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Did you make those heraldries yourself? Or is there a way to do those online? I love them, either way, and High Hall looks amazing! Immensely defensible, too, with only one approach point, really. I love that style or architecture and art..
    Guess who's good at avatars? Thormag. That's who.

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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Landis963 View Post
    Why is Cerai's golden disc a golden diamond? Is it just too hard to cut glass that way (round) given the technology of the Blackwood?
    Ahhhh... I meant to call it a sun "cross." I'll change it. To answer your question, though, I have no idea if it was too hard for the technology of the age. I honestly didn't do any reading on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyntonian View Post
    Did you make those heraldries yourself? Or is there a way to do those online? I love them, either way, and High Hall looks amazing! Immensely defensible, too, with only one approach point, really. I love that style or architecture and art..
    I did! And thanks! I use elements from the Inkwell Ideas' Coat of Arms Design Studio, then grab the shapes in photoshop and play with them there, since I like that system better. That also gives me more choices for color, and it lets me do that irregular look they have.

    At first, I pictured High Hall to be an "Edoras" type place. Then I saw that on deviantArt, and it's the perfect fairy tale castle! Ker-snagged.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Zap Dynamic View Post
    Ahhhh... I meant to call it a sun "cross." I'll change it. To answer your question, though, I have no idea if it was too hard for the technology of the age. I honestly didn't do any reading on it.
    It was well within the tech level of a city. It's actually easier to have a round bit of glass than a square one.

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    Ok, double post, but it's for a reason. So a while back, you could remember me talking about what the work wuxia means in this setting for me. I've been thinking about it, and I'd like to add to that. So while everything I said there is true, I'd like to point something out: pretty much all of it should apply only to heroic people. Now, this doesn't mean it should be limited to PCs or even the main figures in a plot; it should be something used to spice up people that would reasonably be that skilled, and best of all limit most heroic NPCs to having perhaps one thing they can do. Say you want the sergeant of the guard to be know as a very skilled fighter, possibly to train a PC. So have stories of how he fought off a band of orcs bandits single-handed. Perhaps you want a brute to be know for his strength. So say he managed to wrestle a bear and throw it.

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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
    Ok, double post, but it's for a reason. So a while back, you could remember me talking about what the work wuxia means in this setting for me. I've been thinking about it, and I'd like to add to that. So while everything I said there is true, I'd like to point something out: pretty much all of it should apply only to heroic people. Now, this doesn't mean it should be limited to PCs or even the main figures in a plot; it should be something used to spice up people that would reasonably be that skilled, and best of all limit most heroic NPCs to having perhaps one thing they can do. Say you want the sergeant of the guard to be know as a very skilled fighter, possibly to train a PC. So have stories of how he fought off a band of orcs bandits single-handed. Perhaps you want a brute to be know for his strength. So say he managed to wrestle a bear and throw it.
    I've thought a lot about what wuxia means for me in this setting as well, and I think our ideas are pretty much the same. In a lot of wuxia movies (I'm thinking of Iron Monkey in particular), the characters are not necessarily fighters by default:
    Spoiler
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    The main character is a doctor who moonlights as a Robin Hood-esque ninja, and the other major warrior is also known as a doctor, though he makes no effort to conceal his kung fu skills.


    In terms of this setting, I think there may be a lot of people who can do some pretty miraculous things. The wood has an effect on the people that live within it, and anyone that tests themselves in its depths will come away with some pretty serious gifts... if they survive.

    The thing is, most people either a) don't care to test themselves (because it is pretty deadly), or b) they don't have too much cause to use their abilities because most people are "normal." I want to create a world where there's no shortage of high-flying bad guys or strange elven magic at every turn, but a world that makes it clear that--even though it's common for the PCs--these are legendary abilities.

    As PCs, you can count on being exposed to some wild, supernatural stuff. You can even count on being able to do a lot of it yourselves. However, you can also count on people thinking you're either insane or demigods for doing it.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I think I'll be working on this setting for the rest of my life. It's going in a direction that I'm really happy about, and I think I can make it nuanced enough to give me something to do for a looooonnng time.

    So far, this has been a fun sandbox to play around in, but it's also been the most ambitious RPG project I've ever undertaken. I want this place to be as complete as I can make it.

    To that end, I've been working on a 4,000+ timeline for the various culture. I've started weaving together the story of the Cerians, the Blackwood folk, the Seafolk, the Vindlanders, and the Kossians throughout this timeline, with each rising and falling from power at different times.

    Here's an example for the Cerians. It's the only one I have finished at this point, though I'm sure I'll add more detail to it at some point. For each entry, I've included how many years the period stretches (BCE="Before Common Era," CE="Common Era"...I'll probably change these), what basic technology level (e.g. Stone, Bronze, or Iron), and I provide a short description of what's going on in that part of the world at that time.
    Timeline of the Westerners
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    Dawn-3200 BCE: Dawn of the Westerners (Stone)
    Humanity crawls up from the primordial ooze, adapting to a wide land of mythic plenty. They flourish, and separate into many wandering tribes. The develop stone tools, and have well-developed hunting and gathering traditions. Creation myths amongst the Unified state that the sun’s warmth made a paradise in the south of the world, and that this paradise was a gift to humanity, who were created to be the object of love for the sun itself.
    3200-1550 BCE: Gamar Empire (Bronze)
    The Gamar, a vast tribe, establishes permanent settlements in the realm of Naster. They develop stonemasonry, irrigation, writing, and the ability to smelt bronze. They were said to wield incredible powers from their gods.
    1550-250 BCE: Scattered Age (Bronze)
    A warlike tribe on the fringe of Gamar territory, the Cerai conquer the Gamar, denouncing them as demons and calling down the fire of the sun to turn Naster into the Gamar Wastes. Both tribes disappear from history, and the Scattered Age begins. The countless tribes of fertile Naster were left to fend for themselves in a vast desert, adapting over generations to thrive in the harsh terrain. Most of the wisdom of the Gamar people was lost during this period.
    300 BCE-480 CE: Western Tributary (Iron)
    The Kareid Empire expands to the Wastes, overpowering the scattered tribes and demanding tribute for fealty. Many of the tribes refuse, and they are killed. The tribes that agree begin adopting the traits of civilization. The thrill of life in a caravan doesn’t diminish from their spirits, though they settle into cities and begin to take back their heritage.
    1 CE: The Birth of Marian, First Father of the Unified
    480-914 CE: Western Dark Age (Iron)
    The Unified, a tribal cult revering Mareal Turi, chief of the Cerai that conquered Old Gamar, has established itself as a popular tradition at the start of this period. However, unrest in the Kareid Empire leads to revolt and collapse, and the tribes are fractured and scattered before the various cults could coalesce into an honest religion. This age is characterized by a great period of migration. The fertile lands of the south are no longer safe in the wake of empire’s collapse, so people moved north, to explore the wild lands of Genara. The tribes--now unified into a handful of peoples--oust the natives of Genara, and establish themselves into early kingdoms. Culture is preserved by priests of the growing Unified faith, whose monasteries dot the lands and whose reputation marks them for men who desire the protection of history and education.
    914-1120 CE: Sjaring Age
    In CE 914, the first ship from the Sjarings in the north raids the port of Sarby in northern Genara, ushering in the Sjaring Age. In this age, raiders come from the north to pillage and rape, gathering whatever goods they can and casting off for home. The raids continued for more than 200 years, eventually penetrating as far inland as the Central Sea. Then, almost as suddenly as it began, the Sjarings ceased their raids, and the north knew peace.
    Throughout the Sjaring Age, Unified monasteries are often raided and pillaged, but the Unified make a reputation nonetheless for being courageous, organized, and successful in their defenses. The battle knowledge of Priests becomes valuable, and is made available to any warlord or king who joins the faith. Unity-trained Cavalry is the surest way to respond to sea raiders in these days, and Unified generals are feared on and off the field.
    1120-1312 CE: Cerian Revival
    In addition to strategy and training, Unified priests also teach their faith to the people of Genara, and soon the entirety of the land is swept up into the Unified. Proof of the Unified’s triumph appears as early as 1121 CE, when the prophets of Mareal Turi raise Turi Cabu, the Glass Cathedral of Aduna, which lies on the edge of the Gamar Wastes. By this point, the nation of Cerai has risen, and expands via conversion until it occupies nearly all of Genara.
    Unified priests begin traveling into other realms during this period, encroaching in every culture but the northerners, who seem to have disappeared entirely. Toward the present day, Cerians are constructing a cathedral in Freeport of the Blackwood. Culture is transmitted at an incredible rate, and every nation prospers.


    My purpose for creating this timeline is twofold. On the one hand, I want each culture to have a history that can be uncovered by the PCs in a campaign. On the other hand, I want to create eras that would be fun for settings.

    I like the Pathfinder setting because it offers such a wide range of cultures and opportunity, but I think they fall short by putting them together in such a "contemporary patchwork." In my opinion, it's more realistic (and more engaging) to lay out these cultures on the axis of time as well as space.

    Do you want to tell a story like the rise and fall of Akkaddian city states? Setting your campaign in 2000 BCE gives you access to the Gamar Empire and the burgeoning Janni sea peoples, both of which are suitable for that kind of story.

    Do you want to tell a story about emerging from the dark ages into an era of education and political stability? Setting your campaign in 1200 CE gives you access to all of the cultures I've hinted at so far in the worldbuilding process, and the settings of this time period are tailor-made for exactly that kind of storytelling.

    Do you want to tell a story that's a mash-up of those two themes? Probably not, so why try to fit both in the same time period?

    All of this is pretty heavily inspired by a game I bought yesterday called Microscope. The reviews are pretty good, and I'm really enjoying my first read-through. I'm not sure how it would fare for PbP, but I'd definitely be willing to give it a test run with some folks.

    Just saw this. This is how I will be developing the Cerian capitol of Aduna. It will be on this forum.
    Last edited by Zap Dynamic; 2012-07-21 at 03:17 PM.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)


    Now give this guy a blackened lance made of twisted wood, and this is the Erlking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldest View Post
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    Now give this guy a blackened lance made of twisted wood, and this is the Erlking.
    ooooOOOOooooo!

    I had some friends over for a playtest of Microscope last night, and I really enjoyed myself. It's definitely going to be necessary to lay down some ground rules about tone (our game involved a zombie apocalypse caused by kittens with laser beam eyes, and a lesbian starting the First Blesbyterian Church of the All Powerful Shiny, which of course was the disembodied soul of a passive-aggressive Russian saboteur), but it's a perfect system for hashing out stories and fleshing out histories.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    I was combing the internet for random generation tables for fantasy stuff, and I came across a Random Noble House generator at The Welsh Piper. All you need is a d6, d10, and d12 to come up with all the juice you could hope for on short notice. I just used the tables to generate all of the noble houses for the city of Span, and I'm really pleased. Here's an example of the stuff I came up with (bear in mind, I haven't filled in any of the flavor yet):

    House 1
    “Words”
    Crest:
    Lawful
    Cautious middle-aged patriarch
    Influence: Nil (1)
    Appreciable Holdings (294 sq. mi.--14 hexes)
    9 powerful relatives
    Recently captured by outlaws
    Current ambition is to clear a stain on the family name.
    Currently under the enchantment of a sorcerer.

    If you're looking to come up with some cool stuff for noble houses, but don't have the time or energy to think up everything on your own, I'd definitely recommend giving this a look-see.
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    If I recall correctly, the dice roller doesn't work in this part of the forums...

    [roll]1d6[/roll]
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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    That is correct. Sadly. I like random dice rolls.

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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    So. Span.

    First of all, there's nothing worse than having literally thousands of pictures saved over the course of 5 years, and literally none of them are good enough to use as a location image. Sad day.

    The City of Span
    Stout walls and squat towers rise up out of river and wood, perched atop the many-storied splendor of the Great Falls. Banners of deep blue barred by purest black declare this the city of Span, though one need only watch the endless parade of wagons coming from the gate to recognize it for what it is: the most vital point for trade throughout the course of the Way.

    Built on the very edge of the ridge that forms the Great Falls, Span is a city that guards a vital portage between the Way's upper and lower courses. For hundreds of years, mercenary companies and trader's guilds alike have seen the city as an ideal location to call home. Because so much traffic passes to and from the city year-round, the city is known as a city of transients, and no other place in the Blackwood has so many inns.

    Span was founded in the mists of history by traders who couldn't sail directly from Grand Delving to Freeport. They carried their goods overland from the top of the falls to the bottom, and soon they began a permanent settlement. Swords for hire of every stripe came to the area, offering their services to guard the caravans on the dangerous trek through the forest.

    Today, Span is a bustling center of trade in its own right. It is infamous for its black market, a natural development when goods trade so many hands in such a small area. For as long as any record shows, one of the main duties of the High Lord of Span has been to safeguard the goods of those traders that pass through the city, though the office has known a fair amount of corruption through the centuries.

    Because the city is home to so many mercenary and security companies, Span also has a reputation for bloodsport. The city is home to several fighting pits, though none are so grand as the Arena of the Mists. This arena, arranged in a semi circle, seats 2,000 spectators, and is home to some of the most prestigious duels in the Blackwood. The floor of the arena ends abruptly at the edge of a 150 foot cliff, and the arena commands a stunning view of the Great Falls in the background.

    Nobility
    The city is home to seven noble families occupying more than 40 households in the city. Each owes fealty to the High Lord, and each house is involved in the city's politics and defense. These houses are permitted to display their heraldry in their own halls, though in public each is permitted only to adorn themselves with small badges.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sample House
    House Immerhoff
    "Ever Watchful"
    Crest: A Blue Tower on a Green Field
    Alignment: Lawful
    Lord: Sir Enderl Immerhoff
    House Immerhoff has always had a reputation for patrolling the frontier around Span. Due to an unfortunate string of deaths, they have recently fallen from glory. Though there are several influential family members within House Immerhoff, they do not have the same court influence that they did a decade earlier.

    Sir Enderl, a calculating man of middle age, recently came to the office of patriarch for the family after the death of his brother, though he has yet to inherit the title of Lord of House Immerhoff because of an ongoing investigation of reports of infidelity in his household. In an attempt to regain favor, he seeks to construct a signal beacon on the Lone Rock, a small island in the midst of the Way.
    Culture
    The High Lord of Span is in possession of 5 golden pendants, each bearing the crest of Span. These are given to his most trusted advisors, and are a symbol that the speaker speaks with the voice of the High Lord. The first is traditionally held by visiting dignitaries of the Elder Kingdom, and is thus the most often left unused. The second belongs to the Minister of Trade, who oversees the city’s vast shipping network. The Minister of Craft holds the third, and is an influential figure in the guilds of the city. The fourth belongs to the Minister of War, who acts as the commander general of Span’s military--a glorified mercenary company. The fifth belongs to the Captain of the City Watch, a hard-earned office.
    Last edited by Zap Dynamic; 2012-08-01 at 04:16 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zap Dynamic View Post
    So. Span.

    First of all, there's nothing worse than having literally thousands of pictures saved over the course of 5 years, and literally none of them are good enough to use as a location image. Sad day.
    Really? Any of the M:tG Ravnica islands might work (Currently trying to track down the one by Chris Moeller, will edit in spoiler when I find it), unless the trees are strictly necessary.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zap Dynamic View Post
    I want to create a world that is full of possibility, and one of the best ways to handle it is by creating a bunch of stories that haven't yet been finished.
    In my posts, smilies generally correspond to my expression at the time. As an example, means "huh?" and "Hmm..". Also, "Landis" is fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by blauregen View Post
    Now witness the power of this fully operational railroad engine.

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    Default Re: The Blackwood - A Folkloric "Mini" Setting (WIP, PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Landis963 View Post
    Really? Any of the M:tG Ravnica islands might work (Currently trying to track down the one by Chris Moeller, will edit in spoiler when I find it), unless the trees are strictly necessary.
    Yeah... I'm pretty picky. But don't let that discourage you!

    As far as trees are concerned, they are necessary, unless it's a tight shot:
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    ...in which case I don't care. I like the picture above, I just wish it were a touch seedier.
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