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    Default Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H



    Preface
    Everything is peaceful and calm on the star isles. People make their way in life as fisherfolk, crabbers, farmers, herdsfolk, even traders. They are good and honest people for the most part and live well together. Sometimes a beast comes out of the deep or from one of the dark and unexplored forests on the larger islands and the local people have to fight it off but these are rare events that have the isles gossiping for years.

    Beyond the isles there is nothing but open sea. There is a story, often told to frighten the children around their camp fires, of a brave man who sailed into away from the isles for a year and a day. He returned with wondrous treasures that can still be seen on the homes of the very wealthy and stories of fearsome giants and wicked beasts. The isles are safe and nobody bothers the people who live there.

    At least until now...

    One day in the northern isle of Star Point giants landed. They were shaped like the simple fisherfolk around them but were twice the size and had steel skin and coarse hair on their faces. They carried away the people who they found and burned their boats. They left on huge floating islands with weapons on all sides that spat fire and death at the free folk when they tried to rescue their friends and family.

    Who are these monsters and what do they want? How can the small folk fight them when they have powerful magic at their disposal? What happens if they return?

    I'd appreciate feedback:

    Social structure:

    I want an island society made up of halflings or another small race that is largely peaceful. They are being invaded by human slavers with superior technology and magic. Hardly any halfling advances as an adventuring class in the isles and even those who do rarely get past fifth level. Access to healing is in the form of potions and scrolls from the priests and druids who support the various independent islands. More powerful magic and magic items are almost unheard of though a few weapons and such exist from long ago where a few adventurers left the isles and returned with their treasure. These have been handed down through the generations or acquired by collectors.

    There is no centralised ruler for the isles. Each isle has a between one and dozen leaders with various titles from mayor to king. They rarely wage war on one another so they've had no need to band together for protection or to build large walled cities. Life is good and peaceful which is why they are so poorly prepared for an attack.

    Language

    The natives islanders only speak their own tongue. I can't see a reason why they would need to speak any other. I suppose a priestly language like Druidic could exist (as well as Druidic) and possibly a language of higher learning or magic, Draconic. Rarely the small folk might trade with intelligent sea creatures so I could make Aquan available and I could even introduce a seaborn race like the water genesai but ideally I want to keep the introduction to a single race.

    Gods and Goddesses

    I imagine that a simple pantheon revering nature, the sea, home life, fertility, etc. The priesthood is made up on men and women who interpret the signs, keep a record of births, deaths and marriages, arrange foster care where required, collect and distribute alms for those in need, arrange and hold holy days and festivals and perform largely social functions within society.

    There are some minor miracles that the priesthood is able to perform, some healing for injuries and help in labour, the creation of water and food for those who come as supplicants, etc. The sort of thing an adept, cleric or druid of 1st to 3rd level could perform. They also patrol and defend the isles from sea monsters and the occasional wild animal attack. They also protect the isle of the dead from the curious.

    Geography of note

    There are a few key features:

    The Isle of the Dead is a sacred site where the dead are interred along with the possession that they'll need in the afterlife. Some food, a spear or fishing rod, clothes, perhaps a favourite pipe or mug. The priesthood patrol the isle to protect the dead from thieves but also to protect would be thieves from the dead who sometimes become restless and wander the mists in search of the living.

    Old Alk is the largest and most central of the islands dominated by an active volcano known as the Angry Mother. The volcano itself sometimes puts out a gout of smoke when the Mother is angry or a spills a stream of lava when making a new isle. She has not been violent (or angry) is centuries. Old Alk is a fertile island and the centre of crop production and civilisation for the small folk. Major festivals are held at the capital, Alkton, a town of some 5000 permanent residents.

    *The Concept*

    The game should be one of defending against the incursions of a powerful force, rescuing those stolen, retrieving lost items of power, either from their owners through negotiation or by finding their way to the Isle of the Dead to recover something from the undead there. There should also be monster attacks and quests. The humans come every 4-5 months for more slaves. There is an opportunity for players who want to play other races to be escapees or turn cloaks from the slavers or even just honest traders caught up on the wrong side of the slave trade and looking for a way out.

    Classes

    A lack of rulebooks on my part limits the classes to core but there is no reason why someone couldn't play almost any class. Flavour wise Monk and Paladin don't really fit and Barbarian is a bit of a stretch. Artificer doesn't fit at the beginning of the game though I can see how it could be introduced later. Psionics could certainly exist but it would be as rare as magic. If someone really wanted to play a psychic warrior\monk then it is always possible to fit in a strange hermit on a distant isle who could have trained them.
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    Barbarian - Some halflings prowl the jungle isles or embrace the raw power of the sea. They are rare and often distrusted.
    Bard - Bards are always popular among the islands. They carry news from place to place, act as repositories of obscure knowledge and provide entertainment that makes them welcome anywhere.
    Cleric - The Order of the Mist is the largest clerical denomination. They worship the pantheon of gods the same as the druids but also care for the ancestors of the islanders who reside on the Isle of the Dead. There are other factions too and players are free to build these as they see fit.
    Druid - The Order of the Sea is the largest Druidic sect. They worship the same pantheon of gods as the clerics but alse revere nature as a force in itself.
    Fighter - There is a tradition of slingers and rock skippers among the halflings as well as guards, hunters, defenders of the faith and other cobat focussed roles that fit fighter well.
    Monk - Monks do not really fit the flavour of this game but if someone really wanted to play a monk then it is always possible to fit in a strange hermit on a distant isle who could have trained them or even a small monostary.
    Paladin - Affiliated with the Order of the Mist, paladins are nevertheless a rarity. Few things threaten the isles and the need for a holy warrior is slight.
    Ranger - Relatively common and usually part of the Order of the Sea, rangers act as guides between and through islands and protect the forests and lands and those who live there from the few threats that nature sends their way. Favoured enemy will typically be undead, animal, vermin or plant. Given the nature of the campaign I'm happy for any rangers to hold back their first favoured enemy until after the first few encounters.
    Rogue - The small folk like nothing more than demonstrating their skill at silently sneaking up on someone, clambering up a steep slope or tree or just playing hide and seek.
    Sorcerers & Wizards - Both are rare. Wizards spend long years studying a few moldering scrolls, typically alongside the Order of the Mist or independently if they are wealthy. Sorcerers occur more spontenously and powers often emerge from birth or puberty. Recently the number of sorcerers born has increased though noone knows why beyond the fact that this power tends to run in families.


    Equipment & Magic

    The Isles are relatively primitive. They don't make much use of metal armours which are impractical and downright dangerous for a seafaring race. Gunpowder is unknown but the slavers bring it with them so I imagine that it will quickly become known.

    Similarly magic and magic items are almost unknown in the isles beyond a few tricks and things to make life a little easier. The slavers are equipped with powerful offensive magics and area of effect spells like colour spray and sleep that are useful for capturing slaves. The islanders should be able to obtain these fairly quickly in their own defence.

    Economics
    Both the slavers and halflings use the standard gold, silver, copper for money though they mint the coins differently. The slavers have proper coins with the head of their king on one side as their only means of payment. Not that they pay for anything on the isles. The halflings use something called hacksilver for day to day transactions. Hacksilver is simply banded silver or bracelets of silver that are broken or cut for weight. Expensive goods are paid for in gold or platinum strips or in worked gold that has a higher value.

    Cosmology

    I think that standard D&D cosmology will suffice. It's not that great a variation from normal D&D and nothing requires a different cosmology.

    Skills

    Nothing leaps out at having to be different to standard.

    --

    Lovely playgrounders, where should I go next with this? What flaws or faults do you see and what appeals? What doesn't appeal? What have I missed that I should have included and most importantly what could I do better?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by hoverfrog; 2012-09-09 at 07:47 AM.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Map of the region, Star Isles:
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    Key of map:
    The large island in the south east is Old Alk with the red blob for the Angry Mother. It is about 20 miles across north to south and 30 east to west. It's about 4 or 5 miles to the nearest large island. Alkton is on the north western half of the island on a fertile plain surrounded by farmland.

    Just over the horizon to the west and north is the Isle of the Dead (with the perpetual mist) which is the second largest island in the isles. The mists can be seen on a clear day from most of the surrounding islands.

    The large islands to the north are known as the six sisters collectively. East to west they are: Small Sands, Big Sands, Pale (for the unusual lack of colouration of much of the wildlife in contrast to Plume), Plume (named after the vague bird shape of the island and the preponderance of avian life), Eastlyn, and Westlyn.

    West of Small Sands is the remote island of Shark's Luck. Most of the other islands have small isles off the coast that natives use to rest and island hop in their small boats. Shark's Luck has nothing for 10 miles except fish and what preys on them.

    North are the Twain islands which mark the northern most populated islands of any significant size. These are North Star and Brother Star but most people just call them the Twains.

    Just south of the Isle of the Dead there's an island (Dead South), and south of that are two very small islands (Tiny West, Tiny East) collectively known as the Tiny Islands. On either side of those two small islands there's a pair of somewhat larger islands (Small West, Small East ).

    I haven't yet named the other islands to the south or included all the islands so if you want to select one and provide some details please feel free to do so and I'll incorporate them. There are other islands, some are smalls, only a few miles across and some I just haven't added because I haven't thought what to do with them yet. The reports of slavers come from the furthest islands to the north, the Twains, over a hundred miles away from Alkton. Those who have travelled that far have island hopped along the six sisters, gone around the Isle of the Dead and made their way to Old Alk. A journey of several weeks.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Beyond the Isles

    To the North the nation of Feyloch prospered until its neighbours, the human Stonefall and the dwarven Ashcrest began to fight. Both nations fought over land, resources and honour with the elves often getting caught in the middle. After centuries of neutrality the elves had had enough and turned their powerful magics on their warring neighbours. Having swiftly defeated both sides they took control of them to prevent them from further slipping into war again.

    Unfortunately the power they gained from this corrupted them and they began to conquer other nations. For their own good of course. Centuries later the Empire has dominated the main land and is setting its sights on other lands, building a vast fleet to travel the world and taking slaves to build their expanded nation.
    Last edited by hoverfrog; 2013-12-21 at 03:24 AM.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Religion

    The Isle of the Dead forms the basis of most religious life in the Isles. When they were first colonised by the halflings the Isle of the Dead was found to contain ancient undead creatures. The clerics of the settlers contained them and as people died added the bodies to the island in homage. It is the case that among those who die in the isles have a small chance of rising as an undead of equivalent level to that which they held in life in 3 to 10 days after death. There are rites that can delay this that the priesthood are able to perform.

    Rather than destroy the bodies of the dead it is deemed better to contain them on the Isle of the Dead within the mists where they will be able to “live” in peace for ever. Though the undead state is known among the folk it is seldom spoken of and many people are unaware of it at all. DC10 Knowledge religion or local.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Bridge

    Bridge is a small island south and west of the Isle of the Dead. It is named after the one town there that is built up on stilts that have bridges connecting the various towers and platforms.

    It is ruled by a merchant council, a group of traders and self appointed lords. Chief among them are:
    Lord and Lady Muddlepond, an older middle aged couple who trade in all kinds of goods. They are mostly retired and leave the business dealing to their sons. Politics is a hobby for them.
    Colonel Goldacre, a robust man on 60 who runs the local militia and customs operation. He dislikes smugglers and spends a lot of his time trying to capture them.
    Counsellor Ruby Bodger, an elderly woman with skin like aged wood who made her fortune trading furniture. She is the real power in Bridge.

    Former Lord Calkin Cotsman of Stilt Manor in Northern Bridge is currently awaiting trial for treason.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Shark’s Luck

    Shark’s Luck juts out of the sea like a black stone post. It rises 300 feet with sheer sides all around it except on the north and west beaches. Even there the land rises rapidly once you move in land. The island has three settlements, Shark, Luck and Bashtown.

    Shark is located in the north of the island between the rise and the sandy beach. It is a sprawling town that follows one long, winding road up the steep hill. Over the generations people have built their homes alongside the road or nearby and then made paths that lead to Shark’s Road. The town itself is a fishing and whaling community for the most part with the Flensing Beach seeing business most months of the year. Up the road, a common phrase in town, the people are farmers, mainly fruit. There is a lively trade in wine and ciders from Shark.

    Luck lies on the west beach of island. Situated on a low, flat rock it is occasionally surrounded by water on all sides. Like Shark in the north, Luck is mostly a fishing town though a number of people live here and work in the hills as miners. There are always prospectors looking for gold and silver here and sometimes they strike lucky.

    Bashtown is a strange place, a large village made up mostly of retired smugglers and pirates. Though without any formal law and made up of professional law breakers, Bashtown seems to thrive on the idea of honour among thieves. With residents there is almost no theft or fighting. Visitors are considered fair game though.

    Prominent citizens of Shark’s Luck:

    Gladys Rumblebelly - Mayor of Shark
    Gilberg Gluttonchops - known as the lonely wizard
    Shorty Swiftwrist - a prominent explorer and all round rogue
    Aberforth Longmeet - Mayor of Luck
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    If there's a settlement of retired smugglers and pirates there's rather more contact with the outside world than your intro fiction suggests. I doubt piracy would be a practical means of making a living purely within the Isles.

    Presumably the slaving Empire has dealt with resistance before. Why is their own most powerful magic not being turned full blast on the Isles? Do they have political problems at home, military problems, have they lost their mojo and need to recover it?

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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Good questions, avr. One day these will be revealed. From the players perspective (which is where this is coming from) this is what they know.
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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    You said a relatively peaceful culture right but you also mentioned fertility as important in religion. If they are fertile then they overpopulate quickly, even if they are island dwarfed. If they have population pressures then they would be more warlike.

    In real life the best example of peaceful islanders are the moriori who restricted population growth through castrating a large number of their male infants. With the limited resources of their islands they couldn't afford to be too fertile.

    Trobriand islanders got around the same problem accidentally, their staple crop of yams is a natural contraceptive, in fact it was by studying yams that we developed the first contraceptive pills. Their fertility is so low that they find the idea that sex causes pregnancy silly, everybody knows that you become pregnant when a dead relatives ghost, a baloma, enters a womans womb and starts growing a new body. They have lots and lots of sex.

    Of course I would say have the inland dwelling islanders be yam eaters with low reproductive rates, have the coastal dwellers castrate some of their males. Have different races live in harmony by dividing up ecological niches, nearly vegetarian farmers with low fertility living on flat volcanic plains on large islands, have castration practicing fishermen along the coasts of every island, have sex segregated hunter-gatherers tribes in the rough mountainous slopes where neither farmers nor fishermen have the skill set to thrive. The hunter-gatherers would control population by only meeting up with their other half during certain times of the year. Different races don't have too much conflict or invasions since the conqueror wouldn't know how to get along in the different environment.
    Last edited by Balyano; 2013-12-30 at 06:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Isles of the Small Folk P.E.A.C.H

    Interesting ideas Balyano, thanks. I think I'll avoid the castration idea and just have the fringe islands have more and larger predators. Halflings live about half again as long as humans so their fertile span is much longer. Why do humans reproduce so much more than the longer lives races? Perhaps it is simply that the longer lives races aren't as fertile, an evolutionary quirk for a stable population despite abundant resources. That would explain why we have half orcs and half elves but not half-dwarf\half halfling.

    In the end it really doesn't need to be explained. It's a fantasy setting after all. Maybe the gods have decreed that the older races are not reproducing as much for some unknown reason or there is some mystical element that reduces fertility and extends life.
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