The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

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    Lightbulb Need help fleshing out a world

    I'm planning a campaign set in a homebrew world that has been a bit of a pet project for me these past few years. The best way to describe my creative approach is "pseudo-historical"; basically, I'm attempting to make a semi-realistic world by looking at a fantasy setting through a historical lens. Of course, doing this means twice as much work, since I can't (or more accurately, won't) just say "this is the way things are." I have to explain why this particular country has X form of government or follows X religion, even more so than a normal campaign setting. As a long-time lurker, I know this forum has some great creative minds who could help me iron out some of the kinks.

    The campaign itself is set in a generic desert area that's half Egypt, half Arabia, plus a little bit of random unrelated lore thrown in for good measure; I dislike settings are just real world cultures, but with dragons. The main city in this setting, Jubail, is loosely based on pre-Islamic Mecca: a sort of pilgrimage site for all religions. Unlike a standard D&D setting, this world has no definite proof of the gods' existence, much like our own world, so religion is much more varied.

    The reason behind the Egypt-Arabia mashup is two now-defunct empires: Aboukir, which is the vaguely Egyptian half and fell thousands of years ago, and Al-Khutt, which is the slightly more Arabian, although it still has a strong pseudo-Egyptian flavor, since it was actually a splinter group that gained power after a civil war caused by an uprising of a dragonborn prophet who stirred his enslaved people into action. I also decided that the ancient elven empire, called Sharazur, fell due to part to the mechanisms of the first king of Al-Khutt, who pitted them against the orc kingdom, Tabrizar. Both kingdoms fell thousands of years ago, while Al-Khutt fell only recently. Both the orcs and elves are now nomadic; the elves are referred to as the Lashadur people (or, both incorrectly and offensively, Lashadurs), after the name of the captial of Sharazur, Lashadea.

    Okay, information dump over. I have a lot more random thoughts and ideas in my mind, as well as the names of the other places like the kingdom of the dwarves and halflings, but I'm not entirely happy with them, and I don't want to make this post too long. I want to make my setting unique, while still keeping the races and classes familiar.

    I need help with connecting the dots of this setting and making it feel alive and real. I'd be happy to answer questions and brainstorm with anyone who'd like to help. Ideas, even crazy ones, are very welcome!
    Last edited by MossyMeow; 2019-09-08 at 12:35 PM.

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    Wizard_Lizard's Avatar

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    sounds cool!
    what about the nondesert cultures thougj?
    Current characters:
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    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    sounds cool!
    what about the nondesert cultures thougj?
    The most prominent nondesert culture would be the dwarves, since both the elves and orcs are nomadic travelers in the desert and the halflings live south of the main desert area in my vague map. The working name of the dwarven homeland is Parida (pronounced Pa-ARE-ri-da), which is a collection of nine different, currently unnamed, city-states. Theyíre probably the culture Iím struggling with the most, although Iíve recently been thinking of making them OOTS-inspired, with an honor system and afterlife similar to the dwarves in OOTS, only due to the lack of definite proof or plane-shifting magic, they believe *all* people have to die with honor, not just dwarves. Because of this, Iím thinking they perform death-by-combat executions, which makes them seem barbaric to the other cultures. Thatís about as much as I have for them at the moment.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Well, first remark, you cannot have just a desert environment since there won't be any resources that a civilization be built on. Egypt has the Nile as it's backbone, the Arab peninsula is mostly desert but its most important settlements were in not in the most desert-like part but in the coastal areas around it (Yemen, the Hejaz, Persian Gulf coast). And immediately outside these parts, but still in the overall Arabic sphere, the most important cities were again at the more fertile fringes of the desert (Fertile Crescent). Also even if more desert-like zones, like the Hejaz or Yemen had important settlements, as an urban centers they were way behind cities such as Cairo, Damascus or Baghdad, all located in the more fertile zones of the fertile crescent.

    Second remark: you might also turn your sight more westerly for some inspiration with the medieval Trans-Saharan trade between the Maghreb and the Sub-Saharan kingdoms on the river Niger.

    And if you insist on a more pure desert environment, then you going to find some other reason why a civilization that's more than a loose collection of nomad tribes would rise in such a environs (such as sitting on a juicy trade road). Or otherwise maybe environmental change has brought disaster and this is one reason why your ancient empires are not around anymore and the current situation is of much smaller towns and political entities interspersed with the much larger remains of formerly glorious settlements half covered by sand dunes.
    Last edited by Corneel; 2019-09-11 at 11:39 AM.

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    DruidGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corneel View Post
    Well, first remark, you cannot have just a desert environment since there won't be any resources that a civilization be built on. Egypt has the Nile as it's backbone, the Arab peninsula is mostly desert but its most important settlements were in not in the most desert-like part but in the coastal areas around it (Yemen, the Hejaz, Persian Gulf coast). And immediately outside these parts, but still in the overall Arabic sphere, the most important cities were again at the more fertile fringes of the desert (Fertile Crescent). Also even if more desert-like zones, like the Hejaz or Yemen had important settlements, as an urban centers they were way behind cities such as Cairo, Damascus or Baghdad, all located in the more fertile zones of the fertile crescent.
    Jubail (the major trade city and current seat of power in the region) is sandwiched between two rivers, the Rumalilah and the Sakakah, both named after goddesses, so thereís a little bit of Mesopotamian flavor there. The halfling kingdom is located in a river delta to the south, near the ocean. Iím still unsure of the exact imports and exports of Jubail, but the area around both of the rivers is very fertile and serves as the bread basket of the region. Since this is a fantasy setting, Iím leaning towards the rivers being more capricious than the aforementioned Nile, so priests and wizards and the like can have a prominent role in controlling the floods.

    I have a vague map on my tablet; Iíll post it later today if I can. Itís not very detailed, but it shows a rough version of the mountains and coastline.
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    DruidGirl

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    Here is the aforementioned map. Like I said, it's pretty vague, and not very precise, mostly because I chose the colors for aesthetic purposes more than anything else. Still, the sand-colored area is the desert, the pale light green is light forest and grasslands, the bright green is deciduous forest, the darker green is evergreen forest, and the grayish-green is rocky, mountainous terrain with some vegetation.

    Spoiler: Map
    Show


    Like Star Wars, ponies, and/or unabashed silliness? Check out my YouTube channel, Nothing In Particular, for a healthy dose of absurdity. It's just what the doctor ordered!*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corneel View Post
    Well, first remark, you cannot have just a desert environment since there won't be any resources that a civilization be built on. Egypt has the Nile as it's backbone, the Arab peninsula is mostly desert but its most important settlements were in not in the most desert-like part but in the coastal areas around it (Yemen, the Hejaz, Persian Gulf coast). And immediately outside these parts, but still in the overall Arabic sphere, the most important cities were again at the more fertile fringes of the desert (Fertile Crescent). Also even if more desert-like zones, like the Hejaz or Yemen had important settlements, as an urban centers they were way behind cities such as Cairo, Damascus or Baghdad, all located in the more fertile zones of the fertile crescent.

    Second remark: you might also turn your sight more westerly for some inspiration with the medieval Trans-Saharan trade between the Maghreb and the Sub-Saharan kingdoms on the river Niger.

    And if you insist on a more pure desert environment, then you going to find some other reason why a civilization that's more than a loose collection of nomad tribes would rise in such a environs (such as sitting on a juicy trade road). Or otherwise maybe environmental change has brought disaster and this is one reason why your ancient empires are not around anymore and the current situation is of much smaller towns and political entities interspersed with the much larger remains of formerly glorious settlements half covered by sand dunes.
    two words "create water".
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    two words "create water".
    Three words: "No system mentioned"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    two words "create water".
    I see, so you advocate creating a powerful theocratic state.

    I mean this is what relying on magically created water would do. To paraphrase Dune, he who controls the water controls who lives or dies.

    I'm not saying that this doesn't work as an idea, I've used it myself in fact, but it places all the power in the hands of temples.

    Oh and you do end up with a very tight population bottleneck.
    Last edited by Evil DM Mark3; 2019-09-12 at 06:50 AM.
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    DruidGirl

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corneel View Post
    Three words: "No system mentioned"
    The system is D&D 5e, FYI; I didnít mention it in the first post because it wasnít terribly relevant. :)

    Although, come to think of it, I like the idea of a desert population controlled solely by a powerful priest who is the only one able to create water. I might add that in as some sort of cult. Could make a fun villain.
    Last edited by MossyMeow; 2019-09-12 at 09:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MossyMeow View Post
    The system is D&D 5e, FYI; I didnít mention it in the first post because it wasnít terribly relevant. :)

    Although, come to think of it, I like the idea of a desert population controlled solely by a powerful priest who is the only one able to create water. I might add that in as some sort of cult. Could make a fun villain.
    Now THAT's a genuine, organic, moral dilemma. I look forward to hearing of the long trolley problem based arguments that result Which is another way of saying, maybe there should be another theocracy nearby or possibly someone able to divert a river...
    Last edited by Evil DM Mark3; 2019-09-12 at 10:05 AM.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by MossyMeow View Post
    The system is D&D 5e, FYI; I didnít mention it in the first post because it wasnít terribly relevant. :)
    Then the create water thing is largely irrelevant. It requires 5th level cleric or higher and they're not sufficiently ubiquitous to provide water for all the needs of a desert oasis community.

    I've taken a look at your map, and while I get a hang of the overall lay-out it's not quite clear what the white and blue-grey lines are. If the blue-grey lines are river systems, then their course is a bit bizarre, and they're only in the desert?

    You'd also ideally have some transitional zone (steppe) between the forest to the north and the desert so that might mean you'd have to shift your desert zones a bit southwards or sacrifice a bit of both forest and desert for the transition zone. The types of vegetation (evergreen forest and deciduous forest) also indicate a more temperate climate than what is implied by a setting that resembles the Middle-East but then again, I don't know what scale we're talking and your desert could reach from more temperate zones in the North over subtropical to tropical zones in the south.

    Here are some further ideas:
    - Salt was an important substance, so maybe there are some salt mines/flats not too far from Jubail that it controls and contribute to its importance, but far enough form it that that control is always tenuous and can be challenged by desert nomad tribes.
    - There are things in the north that south doesn't have, and vice versa. While overseas trade is possible, the sources of both lie rather inland so an overland trading route makes sense, of course passing through Jubail, ao to pick up salt, again adding to its importance and maybe making it the Great Bazaar of the lands in addition to a place of pilgrimage.
    - I'd imagine that the principal land in the north would Parida and that this corresponds to the green grey zone of forested highland in the northwest. The fact that these are dwarves, not generally known for their love the sea, might be another reason why overland trade routes are privileged.
    - Maybe the halfling lands are a bit like the Swahili coast and islands with disparate small states that share a culture, but influenced by the older empires. Are they in the lands to the southeast? A coastal area of light forests and jungles with many smaller islands could be a nice setting for Sinbad like adventures.

    That would leave the north east woods and the large area of grassland and light forest (savanna?) to the southwest. Then it would depend whether you want more humans or more (and other) non-humans.

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    You mention being dissatisfied with the dwarves.

    May I ask why?

    I need some specifics of what you want from them.

    Because from what you have so far, they seem like the perfect faction to launch raiding parties against both each other, and the desert-dwelling peoples.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Also another question, does Lashadea still exist or is it a Lost City?

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    Thank you all for the feedback. Youíve given me a lot to think about. To answer your questions:

    The blue-gray lines are indeed river systems- since the desert area is the main focus, I only drew them into that particular area. I do agree they have a very strange curve to them, one Iím not very happy with. The white lines are the mountains/coastline; I chose white instead of the more standard black to make it easier to distinguish from the ocean.

    I agree there should be a transition area. I only showed the most distinct environments (such as forest vs. desert) on the first draft of my map, but Iíll definitely add it in for my second.

    I like the idea of salt being an important resource, especially since there isnít any sort of spell able to summon it (at least, not that I am aware of). I actually previously entertained the idea of Jubail being located on the site of an old lake where the two rivers converged in a less dry era. Maybe instead of being an old lake, Jubail is located on an old coastline. Iíd have to alter the curve of the mountains a bit, but Iíll be redoing the rivers anyway, so it wonít be a problem.

    I actually LOVE the idea of the halflings being Swahili-inspired, in large part because Iíve always preferred the 4e lore of halflings being adventurers and explorers rather than renamed hobbits, and I love to envision as sailors (which, come to think of it, is pretty ironic- werenít Tolkeinís hobbits pretty hydrophobic?) Perhaps the halflings are being to unify for the first time in thousands of years, which is threatening to the other cultures. I imagine halflings being stereotyped as junk dealers, often peddling trinkets made from seashells in major cities like Jubail. Maybe the stereotype of them being prolific eaters comes from them expending so much energy though swimming, so they need to eat much more food than average to compensate.

    As for the dwarves, I mostly have few creative ideas for them. Of all the standard fantasy races, they are probably the hardest to elaborate on, at least for me. Thatís why Iím considering taking inspiration from OOTS, which in my opinion has one of the best interpretations of dwarven society in modern fantasy.

    Oh, and Lashadea is a lost city. The elven tribes refer to themselves as Lashadur in honor of the ancient city.
    Last edited by MossyMeow; 2019-09-12 at 12:23 PM.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    For inspiration for your dwarves, maybe also look to some of the "mountain people" of our world. The Caucasus is full of honourbound clannish cultures with well, somewhat dwarvish sounding languages, Armenians and Chechens among the more well known. Even the Swiss Confederation, certainly at its start can be an inspiration (and the reputation of the Swiss as quite fearsome mercenaries). Or further east there's Afghanistan with its reputation as the graveyard of empires and again a bevy of warrior like clannish cultures.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corneel View Post
    For inspiration for your dwarves, maybe also look to some of the "mountain people" of our world. The Caucasus is full of honourbound clannish cultures with well, somewhat dwarvish sounding languages, Armenians and Chechens among the more well known. Even the Swiss Confederation, certainly at its start can be an inspiration (and the reputation of the Swiss as quite fearsome mercenaries). Or further east there's Afghanistan with its reputation as the graveyard of empires and again a bevy of warrior like clannish cultures.
    Thanks for the tip. Iíll be doing some research on those cultures later today.
    Like Star Wars, ponies, and/or unabashed silliness? Check out my YouTube channel, Nothing In Particular, for a healthy dose of absurdity. It's just what the doctor ordered!*

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    Wizard_Lizard's Avatar

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    This is looking great!
    also... ...what about gnomes?
    Current characters:
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    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    This is looking great!
    also... ...what about gnomes?
    Gnomes I think will be related to halflings, at least distantly, and will also be an ethnic miniority. I imagine them traveling a lot and selling their inventions. Thatís all I have so far.
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    Once great forests defied the desert sands, but when the elven empire fell the clerics who maintained the irrigation systems vanished and sand covered the woods. Now only scrub oak remains clinging to the down-wind sides of the dunes.

    Or so the common folk believe.

    The scrub oak shrubs which poke their tips out of the sand are actually the branches of ancient forest giants buried in the sand, and elves have delved burrows using their roots as support beams and hollow trunks as access to the surface.

    These villages thrive in the most hostile parts of the desert, and wandering elves use them as refuges from sun and storm. An enemy wandering into such a place will find itself suddenly surrounded by elves who emerge from the sand. Very few are the survivors of such encounters. Most folk simply assume the elves make good use of their camels and their sand- colored tents to evade and hide from foes, and that the desert is a dangerous place for anyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    Most folk simply assume the elves make good use of their camels and their sand- colored tents to evade and hide from foes, and that the desert is a dangerous place for anyone.
    Thereís a lot of amazing lore here, and I want to reply to all of it in full, but I first want to get this off my chest: According to legend, elves are half camel.
    Last edited by MossyMeow; 2019-09-14 at 12:19 PM.
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    For inspiration on Jubail, you might also look into the histories of Samarkand and Timbuktu.

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    Bansom staggered through the endless loose sand which slid away from every step then clung to his boots every time he lifted a foot for the next step. There was no shelter from the merciless morning sun which had burned him so red that patches were beginning to peel, and its hot, dry breath could be felt deep in his lungs with every ragged inhallation.

    The desert had eaten his adventuring partners. His friends. Over the last few days they had succombed to thirst, or madness. Orly had simply laid down in the sand and given up. Bansom had staggered on, doggedly determined to survive. But he had seen no sign of shelter, no sign of water since the illusion that had Merca drinking sand before she died.

    Then he saw camels in the distance. On the heels of his memory he was certain they were illusions conjured by the desert, but they gave him a direction to go in the vast emptiness.

    And they didn't fade away as he staggered toward them. What looked to be blowing sand flowing over them resolved into a loose woven cloth set on a dozen thin poles, and the camels wore curious white blankets and matching caps adorned with tassels that waved in the breeze. And they were bridled with colorful woven cords.

    They stood around a bale of rough browse no horse would have even sniffed, chewing their cuds and taking an occasional pull from the grey-green pile.

    Then Bansom saw the tent. It was five tents, really, joined end to end as they climbed the leeward face of a dune. The lowest was open on the downwind side, and within a half-dozen men sat, their heads just below the sand-colored roof.

    Two of the white-robed men crawled from the tent and came to him in easy, graceful strides over the loose sand. Their clothing was all white save for multicolored, similar-but-different belts of woven cord about their waists and brows.

    He realized they were elves, and his momentary panic gave way to resigned acceptance. He could not run, nor could he fight. This was the way the desert had chosen to kill him. So be it.

    The taller elf sang something, but Bansom could make no sense of it. The elves came to either side of him, but instead of drawing knives they took his arms and lead him into the open tent.

    An old elf sat on a plush cushion at the rear, and he was flanked by others whose sun-wrinkled faces spoke of many years in the desert. The elder sang something and the others responed, as if some kind of ritual was being recited. Then a porcelain houka was produced and the elder lit it with a straw dipped into a small iron braiser far too small for cooking.

    When he had taken a puff he passed the tube to the next elf, until one by one they passed it to him. The smoke expanded in his wind-burnt lungs and he coughed. Then the tent began to spin, faster, and faster.

    He woke, or dreamed he woke, to the intense pain of a cool, moist cloth dabbing softly on his skin. But a pair of green-brown eyes wordlessly told him to sleep. He did.

    When he woke again he was alone on the windward face of a dune. In the near distance the discordant harmony of a shalm could be heard, along with the coarse laughter of humans.

    Bansom realized he was lying on a thick blanket looking at the stars which filled every dark patch of sky except where the glare of the full moon outshined them. He sat up and saw the glow of a fire on the undersides of the date palms he could see above the curve of the dune's crest.

    He stood and gathered up the blanket, and realized he was not thirsty. His dried, split lips had healed, and his exploring fingertips found no scabs or peeling skin on his sunburned face. Then he saw his moonshadow and he turned to look at it.

    When he had staggered through the desert night a three-quarter waning moon had dogged him. Now it was full. Three weeks and some days. Almost a month had passed.

    The bleat of a goat got his attention and he began to walk along the face of the dune with unconscious grace. But a thought plagued him: how many full moons had passed since he had dreamed of haunting green eyes?

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    What about a culture of tieflings?
    In standard dnd, tieflings are very much a minority, but I could imagine a tiefling city, or maybe at least the ruins of one....
    Current characters:
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    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
    Kazaharad Akaztkl (Goliath Barbarian)
    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    Where a sea used to be there is now a salt pan many miles across. Few, even among the salt miners who brave the scorching sun and salt-tolerant monsters to chip away at the layers of mineral salt, are aware of the sea of reeds which thrives in the shallow salt-saturated lake in the center of the pan.

    To humans the water of the lake is toxic if consumed, but other than drying out the skin and burning painfully in the shallowest of cuts, it is not harmful to swimmers.

    It is pink from the salt-fixing algae that feeds clouds of brine shrimp which in turn feed billions of wading and diving birds in addition to many insect species which thrive in and around the lake.

    Around the perimeter of the lake a miles-thick belt of reed marsh supports an ecology of great diversity. One of the most impostant parts of this ecology is a pervasive reed which filters salt and stores fresh water in its hollow tube. Birds and other small animals poke small holes then drink the mildly sweet watery sap. Larger herbivores chew tender young reeds, and even predators gnaw woody stems for their moisture.

    While scorpions are common on the salt pan, spiders dominate the reeds. They range from the miniscule gnat-catcher to the massive night hunting ambush spider which can weigh more than a large human.

    Among the inhabitants of the reeds are goblin tribes which build reed huts on reed rafts and tie them together to form villages. They usually clear the vegetation to have open water like a moat around their village, and they weave canoes of dried straw for their hunters.

    Spider silk and venom are commonly used by the goblins, who make use of every material the marsh, salt pan, and lake have to offer.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2019-09-22 at 01:03 PM.

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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    So, in summary:

    Spoiler: Elves
    Show
    So far we have elves as a nomadic, desert-dwelling culture who are feared as savage warriors, but are willing to nurse injured travelers back to health. They make their homes in the branches of deceased forest giants, and are able to survive both above and below the sand. They wear white clothes with multi-colored belts, which I imagine have some sort of cultural meaning - perhaps only the men wear belts around their waists, while the women wear similarly colored sashes instead.

    Spoiler: Goblins
    Show
    Goblins live in the reed marsh by the small lake in the center of a major salt pan. I can see them as being both resourceful and somewhat territorial, feeding stereotypes of them being the nasty little bandits you see in other settings.

    And as for tieflings...yeah, I'm not sure. I actually forgot about them for the longest time, which is funny considering I'm one of the few people who loves the default 4e setting, which features them prominently. They probably be some sort of minority, though. Any ideas?
    Last edited by MossyMeow; 2019-09-24 at 10:17 AM.
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  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Wizard_Lizard's Avatar

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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    Quote Originally Posted by MossyMeow View Post
    So, in summary:

    Spoiler: Elves
    Show
    So far we have elves as a nomadic, desert-dwelling culture who are feared as savage warriors, but are willing to nurse injured travelers back to health. They make their homes in the branches of deceased forest giants, and are able to survive both above and below the sand. They wear white clothes with multi-colored belts, which I imagine have some sort of cultural meaning - perhaps only the men wear belts around their waists, while the women wear similarly colored sashes instead.

    Spoiler: Goblins
    Show
    Goblins live in the reed marsh by the small lake in the center of a major salt pan. I can see them as being both resourceful and somewhat territorial, feeding stereotypes of them being the nasty little bandits you see in other settings.

    And as for tieflings...yeah, I'm not sure. I actually forgot about them for the longest time, which is funny considering I'm one of the few people who loves the default 4e setting, which features them prominently. They probably be some sort of minority, though. Any ideas?
    for goblins, areall gobinoids lile that or do bugbears nd hobgoblins have a different culture?

    Fpr Tieflings; Ddep within the vast wastes of the desert lies the city of ruby. It is from there that the tieflings originate. Many aeons ago, a group of ancients made pacts with the demons lf the desert to grant thsm leniency from the harshness of the sun (reistance to fire) the demon obliged but in return marked them and their descendants so that all men may know of their pact. Their descendants founded a legendary city, the city of ruby, and there their civilization thrives....
    Current characters:
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    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizard_Lizard View Post
    for goblins, areall gobinoids lile that or do bugbears nd hobgoblins have a different culture?

    Fpr Tieflings; Ddep within the vast wastes of the desert lies the city of ruby. It is from there that the tieflings originate. Many aeons ago, a group of ancients made pacts with the demons lf the desert to grant thsm leniency from the harshness of the sun (reistance to fire) the demon obliged but in return marked them and their descendants so that all men may know of their pact. Their descendants founded a legendary city, the city of ruby, and there their civilization thrives....
    I imagine that the other goblinoids are similar, but have slightly different cultures. For instance, the hobgoblins are more militant.

    I like your tiefling origin story, though Iíll probably tweak it when I have time to make it a little more vague- make the pact more of a myth than a historical fact to complicate the issue.
    Like Star Wars, ponies, and/or unabashed silliness? Check out my YouTube channel, Nothing In Particular, for a healthy dose of absurdity. It's just what the doctor ordered!*

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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    one of the things you have to decide is how much magic is available, because enough of it shapes a civilization.

    if there is little magic, then perhaps powerful wizards rule with an iron fist, as nobody is able to oppose them. if magic is commonplace, then wizards are just another professional job.

    regarding rivers and mountains, i could drone on about plate tectonics (long story short regarding maps, mountains tend to be parallel to coastlines) and rain shadows and how those shape where rivers are.
    however, a fantasy world may not be subject to plate tectonic, and it may have sensibly altered atmospheric circulations. it may have unconventional water sources, like magical springs.

    One thing I suggest is that in a fantasy environment you don't have the normal constrains of water and soil fertility. it is fully possible to envision a magic-driven envornment.

    For my campaign world, I took that turn with the goblins, and perhaps you can take some inspiration from it.

    goblins live in caves under the desert, and they eat plants that grow in the caves. in the real world it wouldn't work, because plants don't grow in caves, but those plants feed off from the background magic radiation. water comes from deep underground aquifers (fed by rain on the mountains surrounding the desert).
    goblin population is strongly limited by food availability, though, and it doesn't bode well for a population of explosive breeders. So, goblins have taken drastic measures to limit their population: once goblins reach adolescence, they are judged. A lucky few are deemed useful for the goblin people as a whole; those showing skill at a craft, or - even better - at magic. the others are cast out into the desert, sent out to die so they won't be a drain for goblinkind's limited resources.
    there is a catch that after two years a goblin can come back (if still alive) and challenge a warrior; if the outcast warrior wins, he is readmitted into the nation. Still, very few outcast goblins survive for long; less than 1% come back. most of the goblin population is made from those that were chosen in the first place.
    This is why goblins live in a crappy desert and raid caravans and nearby towns, ending up dead most of the times. those that do are the outcasts, and they've really got nothing to lose. they fear not death, as they consider themselves already dead.
    those few who come back make up the backbone of the goblin army. which is half the reason goblins haven't been annihilated despite being a nuisance for everyone around - the other half of the reason is that cave fighting is nasty business, especially when you're too big to move comfortably in the cramped space and your opponent is not.

    goblins have a strong sense of racial identity and a lot of xenophoby, both resulting from their conditions.
    they ended up living in the crappy desert long ago as a result of a long period of wars with other populations. the goblins are smaller than anyone else, and this put them at a disadvantage... until in the desert being able to survive on less food and water was an advantage, and being small was good for fighting in caves, so they were able to establish a hold there. they still resent the other races for having kicked them out of the fertile land, and they think everyone is their enemy and would destroy them given a chance. since their outcast bands routinely attack everyone else, that's mostly true. goblins have a saying to that: "there are three kinds of things: the goblin nation, the enemies of the goblin nation, and inanimate objects".(During my campaign, against all odds and expectations, the party managed to befriend the goblins. the goblin leadership gave them letters where they were officially declared "inanimate objects")
    goblins are social darwininsts, if it wasn't clear from the way they condemn most of their younglings to death. life is hard for them, and they have a short life span even if they manage to survive everything else. hence, goblins have little sense of entitlement. they work hard, ask for nothing, and shrug off losses. A goblin complaining how hard life is for him will generally get answered with "what are you complaining about? you're breathing, and that's already more privilege than most goblins have".
    their hard, squalor-ridden lives are the last part of what makes them so tightly-knitted: while the individual goblin lives fast and dies often young and without accomplishing much, the goblin nation survives and thrives. goblins take comfort in feeling part of something bigger than them, and would gladly sacrifice anything for it.

    the goblin nation is rules by "heroes", which is quite a vague concept. basically, the more a goblin distinguish himself, the more he can sway people. those more distinguished are naturally pushed at the top - it's often the strongest ones, the most skilled with magic, but it's not done by coercition, simply by the sheer respect of other goblins. doesn't matter much, because there isn't really anything to "rule". there is no foreign politics, as goblins are, by default, at war with everyone. there is almost no crime, as goblins woulnd't ever do anything to harm their own people. and for those few who do, there are already laws enough (though generally the mob suffices). there are no power struggles among factions, because there are no factions, because goblins are fanatically devoted to the goblin nation. and there are no reforms to be made; goblin society has reached an equilibrium that ensures its survival in a harsh environment surrounded by enemies who are stronger and richer than they are, and they are more concerned with keeping that equilibrium than with anything else.
    the goblin nation is kept functioning by the work of middle managers, and the leaders mostly inspire the people or hold conclaves whose deciisions basically amount to "let's keep going on as we always did"
    Last edited by King of Nowhere; 2019-09-29 at 03:12 PM.
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    Default Re: Need help fleshing out a world

    Quote Originally Posted by MossyMeow View Post
    I imagine that the other goblinoids are similar, but have slightly different cultures. For instance, the hobgoblins are more militant.

    I like your tiefling origin story, though Iíll probably tweak it when I have time to make it a little more vague- make the pact more of a myth than a historical fact to complicate the issue.
    thanks. I knew it needed some tweaking, it was just a concept.
    Current characters:
    Drakirr (Blue Dragonborn Warlock)
    Alyfyldyr Hyalythki (Rock Gnome Wizard)
    Harilidir (Half-elf Bard)
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    Luft (air-genasi druid)
    And of course Lizard Wizard (Lizardfolk Sorcerer)

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