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    Default 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Over the course of time, the Tears of Blood setting has become gradually more and more well-defined (a good thing) and a lot more inactive (a bad thing). I've attempted a couple times to start a new one, but it had the disadvantage of lacking a broad base like ToB in its early days. Since the release of Fourth Edition to the general public today, I feel this is the best time to begin anew. Another major flaw was the lack of a clear direction early on in both those threads. As such, this thread will be for discussion of themes, the key setting elements, and so forth until (or if) a significant amount of discussion has happened, whereupon it will be put to a vote. These elements really helped define the ToB setting early on and gave it a concrete vision.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    If a settin is to be anything beyond a collection of idiosyncratic preferences, it needs a guiding Tone (and/or Theme). I propose we establish such a theme so that our varied efforts feel thematically whole when combined.
    Topics of discussion:
    How common should magic be in the setting?

    How powerful should magic be in the setting?

    How close to the historical real-world should the setting's politics be?

    What themes and setting elements should part to the setting, and what ones shouldn't?

    I have a list of tones/themes/setting elements that could be used, though I'm certain that I've missed plenty. Feel free to make further suggestions, or offer more specific versions of current suggestions (a new ice age for Apocalypse, fallen empire for Change, a cabal of vampires are in charge for Underdogs, et cetera)
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    Grim: Day-to-day survival is a question, death is common, and societal infrastructure is frequently malicious.

    Safe: Beyond the occasional scare, the average citizen is well protected and secure in their livelihood.

    Unknown: The world at large is an enigma. Either the humanity has never bothered exploring it, or it has lost knowledge of its contents.

    War: There is a war on between major powers, and while it may not strike at the homes of the average civilian, it certainly provides a backdrop for adventure.

    Enemy Within: Though humanity may be well fortified (or not), there are many who live within its borders and want to destroy it.

    Cold War: Two nations are in conflict, but have not engaged in open war due to its inherent risks. The possibility of an open war is always in the air, and the players can easily get wrapped up in something much bigger than themselves.

    Morally Ambiguous: Villains are common and powerful, and they are frequently indistinguishable from "heroes".

    Apocalyptic: The world is ending, or has ended. The old methods of life are outmoded, and change is necessary to survival.

    Morally Clear: Villains are insidious and obvious by their mindless malice, skull-adorned clothing and nihilistic suicidal tendencies, the heroes are clear and the good guys always win.

    Underdogs: The heroes are up against the status quo, with villainous leaders. They may be rebels, or they may just be looking to survive.

    Change: A major, world-altering change has happened fairly recently, and the world will never be the same. It might be a political change (revolution, breaking of an empire), a scientific or industrial change (the discovery of arcane magic, the development of the assembly line) or a religious change (schism, death of a god). This change need not directly effect the whole world - just where the cradle of adventuring (like how the Industrial Revolution of Iron Kingdoms has only really effected the human kingdoms in Western Immoren).


    My personal thought is that an interesting Change would be that until very recently, humanity has been organized into tribes and bands, and then the Grand Empire (human, undead, elven or whatever) came along and absorbed all their tribes and bands into itself.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    My vote goes for arcane magic being uncommon, but much more common than divine magic.

    Magic shouldn't really be all that much more powerful than other things, but it should focus on doing really different things.

    No vote on the historical politics thing. That could work any way at all.

    Some themes I would be all for are Safe, War, Morally Ambiguous, Underdogs, and Change.

    Building on that idea about tribes you mentioned, the new empire is recruiting a few youths at a time from every sufficiently large village. The youths supposedly go off to fight a 'brutal war'. Apparently, most of them die. Though everyone knows someone who knows someone whose son has come back and told about how terrible the war is, no one knows any of these kids personally. Everyone agrees, however, that the men in charge must know what they're doing, and the children are certainly fighting for a good cause. Maybe they'll be back in a few years or so. More likely, though, is that they'll give their lives 'fighting the good fight'.

    Why are the leaders of this new empire demanding war? Where are the kids going when they get recruited? And who, exactly, are they fighting against?
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    My votes go for:
    Magic is rarely powerful, but low powered magic is pretty common (not to Eberron levels or anything - it's still "magical," and isn't treated as something commonplace or "normal;" it's special and deserving of respect).

    Low-to-no fidelity social structures. Devils, undead, dragons and mages can be in charge, but portrayed in a reasonable way.

    In terms of themes, I like Grim, Unknown, Cold War, Apocalyptic, Change.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vadin View Post
    Building on that idea about tribes you mentioned, the new empire is recruiting a few youths at a time from every sufficiently large village. The youths supposedly go off to fight a 'brutal war'. Apparently, most of them die. Though everyone knows someone who knows someone whose son has come back and told about how terrible the war is, no one knows any of these kids personally. Everyone agrees, however, that the men in charge must know what they're doing, and the children are certainly fighting for a good cause. Maybe they'll be back in a few years or so. More likely, though, is that they'll give their lives 'fighting the good fight'.

    Why are the leaders of this new empire demanding war? Where are the kids going when they get recruited? And who, exactly, are they fighting against?
    I don't know... feels too much like an over-arching mystery. I mean, in plenty of settings there are mysteries (what happened to Cyre? What slew the elven gods save Scyrah and Nyssor?), but this seems pretty damn central to a campaign. Hard to imagine much of a campaign set in the area that doesn't spend some significant amount of time on the subject and it is a setting rather than a single campaign, so you can't really build much around it.
    Last edited by Cyclone231; 2008-06-06 at 04:25 PM.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I have several ideas that you might find interesting.

    1. A world where rapid progress is taking place, either technological or magical (in the end, it is the same thing). Something like... today.

    2. A world where absolutely everyone can use some magic.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    Hard to imagine much of a campaign set in the area that doesn't spend some significant amount of time on the subject and it is a setting rather than a single campaign, so you can't really build much around it.
    Yes, I see. Its the kind of thing that could fit into a world where powerful beings run societies, too. It could happen in a small kingdom recently taken over by powerful vampire lords. But yeah, thats a campaign thing, not a setting thing.

    So...yeah. Powerful beings rule the less powerful races, but not offensively so. After it happened several times, the dragons and demons realized that, while they might ultimately win, massive rebel uprisings were really just too much trouble to deal with.

    Also, Aztecan eladrin. It totally works. I can see eladrin as a race split between the Fae Empire loyals and refugees who oppose their brutal tactics, cast out of the Empire, left alive to spread tales of its horrible deeds.

    Also, semi-unrelated, but are elves half-human, half-eladrin? And does that make half-elves quarter-eladrin?
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Vadin View Post
    Also, semi-unrelated, but are elves half-human, half-eladrin? And does that make half-elves quarter-eladrin?
    Here is another suggestion: setting with realistic biology.

    All races are actually one species with a huge dispersion of the gene pool. Hence, everyone can mate with everyone, and no such stupid terms as half-carrot exists. If human mates with a dragonspawn, the child can be any one of the millions of possible combinations.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Mau I point you to another idea of mine: Monster Ghetto.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    How common should magic be in the setting?

    How powerful should magic be in the setting?

    How close to the historical real-world should the setting's politics be?

    What themes and setting elements should part to the setting, and what ones shouldn't?
    Magic should be rare, but very powerful where it is encountered. It should mostly be represented as relics of a past era that is long past.

    The setting's politics should be original, but loosely based on historical events, so that believable reactions can take place (example: king dies without an heir -> squabble for the throne among the nobles -> civil war -> part of the nation conquered by opportunistic barbarians).

    As far as themes, here's a chiched concept, with an interesting twist:

    Decades ago, a massive disaster nearly destroyed the world. Nearly all sentient life was wiped out (non-sentient flora & fauna were unharmed). Only tiny pockets of sentients remain, protected by powerful anti-magic obelisks. These obelisks (which emit antimagic fields 1d10X500' in diameter) originally were built by a massive empire to mark the borders of their domain. The empire was wiped out in the Cataclysm, but their obelisks remained, saving the lucky survivors from certain death.

    The Human pocket has thrived & prospered since the cataclysm, but its growth is now spreading beyond the edge of antimagic protection; their leaders have commissioned explorers to seek out other surviving zones. The nearby Elven pocket is in turmoil: their obelisk is failing, & although the Cataclysm was a one-time disaster, they still fear the lack of protection, & so they too seek shelter elsewhere.

    No one remembers how many obelisks there were, or if other means existed to weather the Cataclysm, or what caused the disaster in the first place, but for those who dare to brave the wilderness, the answers lie hidden in shadows...


    This is a typical "after the fall" kind of campaign concept, but there are a few twists on the idea: the survivors don't need to struggle to survive, the pockets are few & far between, the land between has fallen into ruin, but life still thrives everywhere so mostly the old cities are affected, & there is a strong incentive to explore & leave the safety of the obelisks. Also, magic is non-existant within the safety zones, but is possible elsewhere, so low-magic campaigns are enforced by the separation.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    My take on how the setting should be:

    1) Magic should be common. Very common. MAYBE not to the "magic is cheap" level of 3.5, but people who haven't lived in a tupperware should have heard of it and seen it, and arcanists and clerics are respected and accepted members of society.

    2) Magic should be as powerful as presented in the new PHB, no more, and no less.

    3) As close as it is necessary. Which is to say, the setting should have it's own politics, divorced from those of the real world. Whatever similarities happen should be coincidences.

    4) The themes should be Safe (There is law enforcement made of reasonably high leveled characters, and the rulers who didn't inherit the throne should be off the charts in power, as fits someone who made it to the top), Cold War (But not among ALL the nations, just a few), Change (We could use it to introduce the Dragonborn as major players, or to explain the rise to prominence of the tieflings), and my own little theme, Practical. A world with Practical would be one where the rulers actually looked at what magic can do and said "Hey, why are we wasting so much land on farming? We could mass produce items of food creation and eliminate famine forever!", for example. It's ridiculous that the governments never try to get some use out of magic, when anyone reasonably intelligent will have noticed what can be done with it.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Here's some suggestions:
    Monotheism All divine powers come from a single god. Other gods are worshipped, but they don't exist and don't grant powers. Characters with divine power can't fight each other.

    Civilisation All the productive parts of the world are under the control of a handful of large, highly organised states. There are wildernesses and lawless areas, but only in very unproductive areas like the interior of jungles, deserts, and tundra. Of course there's plenty of crime and intrigue inside the states.

    Monsters are rare. The civilisations have tried very hard to exterminate monsters within their territory, and mostly succeeded.

    Behaviour matters. Several classes require codes of behaviour from the characters. Violation of the codes stops the class powers from working, either temporarily or permanently.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I like Zeta Kai's idea, with a few twists and ideas.

    1. Sentient life wasn't destroyed outside the obelisks, just twisted. Doing the following:

    Humans were twisted into Orcs
    Elves were twisted into Drow
    Halflings were twisted into Goblins
    Dragonborn were twisted into Kobolds

    Need to find more matches for the other races though. Drorcs shouldn't exist though.

    2. While the monoliths protected the people inside the antimagic, their power was undone by the cataclyst.

    3. The old empire was a magocracy, as such, people fear magic was to blame for the cataclysm. Magic is feared and distrusted.

    4. After the cataclysm, the gods didn't help the people, making worship of them much rarer.

    5. The twisted races are much more numerous than the 'pure' races, however, they battle eachother and are unorganized too much to have any interest in doing more than half baked attempts to conquer such small plots of land as the save pockets.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I agree with Zeta Kai and Gezina, but somewhere in between. For example, some life was twisted and some just killed. But I like the idea that eve though its a after the fall world, most of the major cities are still inhabited.

    Let this world become gitp's next Tears of Blood!


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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Gezina View Post
    I like Zeta Kai's idea, with a few twists and ideas.
    Good counter-thoughts, Gezina; very creative notions. I just have a few notes:

    1) I think the twisting, idea that you have. That's brilliant. Although I do agree with Sequinox that the Cataclysm should have been largely fatal, & those few (1-5%) who actually managed to live through the hellish storms became warped into evil fiends. Perhaps a simple template could be devised for transforming a pre-Cataclysm creature into its fiendish counterpart.

    2) I like the idea of some obelisks being damaged by the Cataclysm, but I'm not sure if they should have been utterly broken by it. Otherwise, what would the incentive be for the survivors to remain within their anti-magic influence while they rebuild? Fear of the fiends outside & a possible second Cataclysm may not be enough.

    3) A magic-infused Old Empire is exactly what I had in mind. Tons of magical items & artifacts would be left behind, along with many wondrous locations which could slowly be falling into ruin. Magical libraries & crypts could even hold secrets, which could in turn provide clues to what caused the Cataclysm (or bring about a new one if uncovered).

    This also provides a rationale for the obelisks: they were placed on the borders of the Old Empire to keep their equally magical enemies at bay. The Cataclysm could have been caused by a war between magocratic states, or an epic magical accident, or a terrorist act out of control. Think of the entire continent like the Mournland in Eberron, but without the healing suppression.

    4) This is also a great idea. This prevents divine magic from filing the power vacuum left behind by the fear of arcane magic. No magic works within range of the obelisks, & the people fear magic of all sources. The gods didn't save the people, nor did the arcane might of the Old Empire; simple fate did. And so magic won't be trusted in any form.

    5) I dunno if the fiends should be more numerous than the Survivors. They should of course be far more dangerous, & I agree that they should fight each other as much as (if not more than) the Survivors, but I feel like the Cataclysm loses its punch if so many creatures live through it (no matter how twisted).

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    2) Magic should be as powerful as presented in the new PHB, no more, and no less.
    Well, obviously, but what power level should be the typical mage? Is the typical mage an aged arcanist with access to ancient secrets and a challenge to a level twenty party or is he a young professional who can get beat up with ease by a handful of hoodlums? Is the typical magic item an ancient weapon touched by the gods themselves, or a mass-produced piece of mystical junk?

    On the "post-Cataclysm" idea, how about there being surviving external (though distant) civilizations? As in, while the Empire was vast, it wasn't the only civilization around.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    On the "post-Cataclysm" idea, how about there being surviving external (though distant) civilizations? As in, while the Empire was vast, it wasn't the only civilization around.
    Well, I suppose that'd be fine, as long as they were distant enough to avoid major intervention & frequent contact with the human/elven/etc Survivors. Too much contact would dilute the "Rebuilding the World" theme, & major intervention would probably beg the question of why the unharmed civilization hasn't tried to conquer &/or plunder the devastated former empire.

    Distant untouched civilizations would add a nice variety to the setting, radically different from the tone of campaigning on the main continent. That's a good thing, as long as it doesn't adulterate the main themes. Why? What distant civilizations are you suggesting? An island of Raptorans? A mind flayer slave nation in the southern seas? An Oriental Adventures type continent on the other side of the globe? A fae-folk land of mists & shadows?

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    Well, I suppose that'd be fine, as long as they were distant enough to avoid major intervention & frequent contact with the human/elven/etc Survivors. Too much contact would dilute the "Rebuilding the World" theme, & major intervention would probably beg the question of why the unharmed civilization hasn't tried to conquer &/or plunder the devastated former empire.

    Distant untouched civilizations would add a nice variety to the setting, radically different from the tone of campaigning on the main continent. That's a good thing, as long as it doesn't adulterate the main themes. Why? What distant civilizations are you suggesting? An island of Raptorans? A mind flayer slave nation in the southern seas? An Oriental Adventures type continent on the other side of the globe? A fae-folk land of mists & shadows?
    I was thinking more along the lines of distant dwarven isolationists in the far eastern mountain range or gnome sorcerer tribes in the harsh north. Something that might not feel too off as a main civilization/ethnic group in another setting, but one of those ones that doesn't interact much with the mainlands other than occasionally spitting up a couple adventurers/villains.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    Good counter-thoughts, Gezina; very creative notions. I just have a few notes:

    1) I think the twisting, idea that you have. That's brilliant. Although I do agree with Sequinox that the Cataclysm should have been largely fatal, & those few (1-5%) who actually managed to live through the hellish storms became warped into evil fiends. Perhaps a simple template could be devised for transforming a pre-Cataclysm creature into its fiendish counterpart.
    Would certainly be a good possibility.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    2) I like the idea of some obelisks being damaged by the Cataclysm, but I'm not sure if they should have been utterly broken by it. Otherwise, what would the incentive be for the survivors to remain within their anti-magic influence while they rebuild? Fear of the fiends outside & a possible second Cataclysm may not be enough.
    I wouldn't mind the obelisks having some effect, as long as players will be able to use magic inside the obelisk's influence, otherwise nobody will play a magic user.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    3) A magic-infused Old Empire is exactly what I had in mind. Tons of magical items & artifacts would be left behind, along with many wondrous locations which could slowly be falling into ruin. Magical libraries & crypts could even hold secrets, which could in turn provide clues to what caused the Cataclysm (or bring about a new one if uncovered).
    Exactly my idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    This also provides a rationale for the obelisks: they were placed on the borders of the Old Empire to keep their equally magical enemies at bay. The Cataclysm could have been caused by a war between magocratic states, or an epic magical accident, or a terrorist act out of control. Think of the entire continent like the Mournland in Eberron, but without the healing suppression.
    I like an epic magical accident (details to be worked out)
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    4) This is also a great idea. This prevents divine magic from filing the power vacuum left behind by the fear of arcane magic. No magic works within range of the obelisks, & the people fear magic of all sources. The gods didn't save the people, nor did the arcane might of the Old Empire; simple fate did. And so magic won't be trusted in any form.
    Except for magic not working, my idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeta Kai View Post
    5) I dunno if the fiends should be more numerous than the Survivors. They should of course be far more dangerous, & I agree that they should fight each other as much as (if not more than) the Survivors, but I feel like the Cataclysm loses its punch if so many creatures live through it (no matter how twisted).
    Let's say 1% of the empire's inhabitants lived near the obelisks. And there was roughly a 5% chance to survive the cataclysm. That means there are roughly (not precisely) 5 times as many fiends as the people of the standard races.

    5% chance to survive, on a large scale, is massive.
    Last edited by InaVegt; 2008-06-07 at 09:37 AM.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone231 View Post
    Well, obviously, but what power level should be the typical mage? Is the typical mage an aged arcanist with access to ancient secrets and a challenge to a level twenty party or is he a young professional who can get beat up with ease by a handful of hoodlums? Is the typical magic item an ancient weapon touched by the gods themselves, or a mass-produced piece of mystical junk?

    On the "post-Cataclysm" idea, how about there being surviving external (though distant) civilizations? As in, while the Empire was vast, it wasn't the only civilization around.
    The whole range. The typical arcanist is probably someone studying in a wizards guild, climbing up the ranks and learning many arcane secrets with no practical use. The beginners are weak and could be messed up by hoodlums, but the freelance advanturers who have seen it all are suitably epic.

    Also, I'll throw an idea for a distant civilization: A mindflayer empire that has found a way to get brains without having to make cattle out of other races.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    The 'massive war, large areas uninhabitable, life twisted into strange and terrifying forms' really reminds me of the setting of "This Immortal" by Zelazny. Basically, on a future earth, every major landmass has been nuked, and humanity is living on the fringes, mainly untouched coastlines and islands (and also as second-class immigrants on other planets). Any place that doesn't consist entirely of radioactive mud is populated by mutants, either animal in origin or not-quite-human. Strangely, some of these mutants resemble mythical creatures, to the extend that mainland Greece is filled with fauns and pegasi and stuff.

    Now replace 'nuke' with 'magical obelisk'. The obelisks were designed to protect the empire, but something went wrong and they warped the surrounding lands, or just blew up. Humanity is safe outside of the field of influence of the obelisks, but once they come too close something unpleasant happens, even if it's just being attacked by warped creatures. Maybe one obelisk shifted a city to the elemental plane of fire, while another simply exploded and scattered 'radioactive' chunks of magic crystal/metal/concrete across the countryside, and yet another plunged a large island into the ocean. Maybe there are still 'warp storms' raging around the larger obelisks. Humans affected by the obelisk are not necessarily evil, but most are rather 'off' compared to untouched humans, and are maybe more than a little distrustful towards the people that made them that way. Others are really just out to kill you, and others aren't really human but are just pretending to be, again, to kill you. Then there are the huge amounts of warped animals who are just really, really hungry. Possibly, most magical ability is a direct result of being exposed to the magical obelisks, and 'pure' humans are not natively able to do magic, and, somewhat rightly, fear it. Some newly established (island) nations simply refuse to allow anything magical to cross their borders, while others have little option but to endorse it to defend against magical enemies.

    So we have humans living in remote areas, being disliked by the majority of the demihumans, hunted by monsters and fearing magic. Most of the continent is really dangerous, or outright lethal. Adventurers instead seek out these dangers to get their hands on magical items and arcane secrets. It sort of goes along with the 'points of light' shtick of 4E, but it goes a little deeper than 'outside is scary, there's, like, monsters and stuff'.

  20. - Top - End - #20
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Gezina View Post
    I like an epic magical accident (details to be worked out)
    One possibility: As the empire grew decadent, residuum and magic items were taxed away from the outlying territories as brought to the capital city. Here, they were used to make extravagant magical wonders for the corrupt nobles, or else simply horded by a miserly emperor. Eventually, however, the large amount of magic (in items and residuum) reached a critical mass, and the capital became a sort of powder keg. There could be one particular event that triggered the Cataclysm (say, magic in the area simply became more dangerous--though magic items remained perfectly safe--until someone launched a very large and nasty spell at the capital, which wound up getting amplified a thousand fold), or it could just be that one day everything simply ended.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    One possibility: As the empire grew decadent, residuum and magic items were taxed away from the outlying territories as brought to the capital city. Here, they were used to make extravagant magical wonders for the corrupt nobles, or else simply horded by a miserly emperor. Eventually, however, the large amount of magic (in items and residuum) reached a critical mass, and the capital became a sort of powder keg. There could be one particular event that triggered the Cataclysm (say, magic in the area simply became more dangerous--though magic items remained perfectly safe--until someone launched a very large and nasty spell at the capital, which wound up getting amplified a thousand fold), or it could just be that one day everything simply ended.
    Hmm...reminds me of Rifts.

    Hey, THAT would be an excellent idea for a cataclysm. Taking what you said, let's imagine, for example, that each hamlet had an arcanist or cleric, even if it was a low leveled one. One day, in the capital or some other population center, an experiment with residuum went horribly wrong, turning the residuum into a really powerful bomb. The explosion caused a chain reaction, which swept across the countryside.

    However, that was only the beginning. The areas where a residuum bomb went off acquired some...properties. Possibly, staying long enough in them snuffs the life out of people, or they're dead to any kind of magic, or, etc.

    Of course, this would limit the effects to a single continent. So, what happens to the survivors? Do they emigrate into an island or a new continent? Do they stay and try to survive in the magical wasteland?

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Eerie View Post
    Mau I point you to another idea of mine: Monster Ghetto.
    I guess I'm a little late (6 months) to say so, but I like it.

    On the topic of this thread, I think I like the idea that the Obelisks (originally to guard the Empire's border) protected the people from a worldwide disaster, rather than the Obelisks or a Residuum chain reaction being the disaster.

    Remember that the culture that has grown up around the Obelisks in the post-apocalyptic setting would be started by the kinds of people who would have lived near the Empire's borders before. Mostly pioneering farmers and adventurers (some of them criminals), with a few soldiers too.

    I'm in favor of the Obelisks still having some kind of anti-magic powers remaining. It will be difficult to make sure spellcasting PCs aren't too weak for parts of the campaign, but IMHO it's worth it because it makes the setting so distinctive. I've never before heard of an otherwise high-magic (i.e., normal D&D levels) world, where large areas of important locations were in Antimagic Fields. That would certainly prevent an Eberron-esque "magic as technology" society from springing up! And it would give spellcasters, including PCs, a strong motivation to get out of civilized lands and adventure (and to be careful to avoid violent conflict when they do have to go into the Obelisk-centered communities).

    In fact, I really like the idea that the few arcane academies and temples that have been (re-)founded since the Cataclysm would have to be founded outside the "safe zone." They would have to be veritable fortresses, constantly on the defense against the monsters that now roam these territories. And the casters' isolationist tendency could further explain the normal people's distrust of magic.

    Maybe, in some communities, the spellcasters have even managed to conceal the fact that they can't do magic near the Obelisks. So they are under a constant quest to keep that a secret and intimidate everyone into thinking they are mighty casters with no weaknesses. I would love to see a tyrant Warlock who rules his town solely on the basis of his arcane might ... but has to hide the fact that he has to leave town to use any of his magic power.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I have a gripe with the developing setting: more or less every setting I have ever seen is either in decline or post decline. Ebberon, Forgotten Realms (about eight times over), assumed 4e setting, and ToB. It's just not realistic, and it's rather cliche. I propose a setting in all its glory, at full power, with several large nations and countless smaller ones, with wars and strained alliances the world over, and magic in its various forms about half as common and twice as feared as the arts of martial combat. I think this is quite a bit more original than yet another post decline setting.

    Or, to be more productive, we could use the ideas for the developing setting, but progress it by several generations, where there are several relatively powerful nations in an arms race to acquire the old nation's magic, and several dozen small colonies.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Moff Chumley View Post
    I have a gripe with the developing setting: more or less every setting I have ever seen is either in decline or post decline. Ebberon, Forgotten Realms (about eight times over), assumed 4e setting, and ToB. It's just not realistic, and it's rather cliche. I propose a setting in all its glory, at full power, with several large nations and countless smaller ones, with wars and strained alliances the world over, and magic in its various forms about half as common and twice as feared as the arts of martial combat. I think this is quite a bit more original than yet another post decline setting.

    Or, to be more productive, we could use the ideas for the developing setting, but progress it by several generations, where there are several relatively powerful nations in an arms race to acquire the old nation's magic, and several dozen small colonies.
    +1'ed. Riftslike settings are nice, but when they're not pulled off with tons of style they're very cliché. Meanwhile, adventures in a place where everything is okay, nice and clean, and not GRIMDARK just to follow the leader would be a very refreshing concept, and it would have an air of Reconstruction.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    How common should magic be in the setting?
    Common and rare. The common type of magic are things you can buy in the ol' magic shop (healing potions and such) that is run by a low level, middle level retired wizard. Rare things are world shattering apocalyptic prophetic ritual things (like the Gate or Planar Binding line spells) that need special places/time/sacrifices in order to activate.

    How powerful should magic be in the setting?
    For the common side part of magic, things that imitate technology: lighters, etc. For the apocalyptic line, it's multiverse chaos and carnage.

    How close to the historical real-world should the setting's politics be?
    Depends on the theme, but since people will be always people, some closeness to RL politics could be nice.

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    Grim (it's iron-dark ages), Unknown (for the vast majority of the common folk and even some famous adventures), War/Cold War (because it must), Morally Ambiguous (same as before, but more common in the upper end of the politics), Underdogs THEN Change.

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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Moff Chumley View Post
    I have a gripe with the developing setting: more or less every setting I have ever seen is either in decline or post decline. Ebberon, Forgotten Realms (about eight times over), assumed 4e setting, and ToB. It's just not realistic, and it's rather cliche. I propose a setting in all its glory, at full power, with several large nations and countless smaller ones, with wars and strained alliances the world over, and magic in its various forms about half as common and twice as feared as the arts of martial combat. I think this is quite a bit more original than yet another post decline setting.
    How about this for an "incline" setting: The Grand Empire (or empires) comes in, spreading its civilized ways into once-savage lands. Could be something akin to the European Age of Discovery, or to the Roman Empire's expansion or something else.
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I like both ideas that are being used right now, and whoever-it-was had a good point: decline/post apocalyptic are overdone. Stephen King did it right in the Dark Tower: How about the areas in the obelisks range are fertile and permit only low leveled spells (if they exist in 4e. Stupid Amazon for not getting me the books yet...) and out of the range of the obelisks are dead lands with cracked, dry soil and the ruined cities are like Lud from the Dark Tower 3. Without the dead bodies on lightposts. Or a suicidal train. Actually, we could do that: A train that goes to Topeka (a city on the other side of the world that didn't get affected by the Cataclysm) but will kill the party in a suicide gone wrong unless they beat it in a riddling competition?

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    And the evil inhabitants of the cities are the twisted races (duergar, drow, kobolds, etc.) and the humans evil opposites are humans? But very evil and twisted?

    And for the magic, how about done in secret in towers or dungeons run by guilds of wizards/clerics/other casters?

    *phew* that makes two megaposts in one day...


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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    I like both ideas that are being used right now, and whoever-it-was had a good point: decline/post apocalyptic are overdone. Stephen King did it right in the Dark Tower: How about the areas in the obelisks range are fertile and permit only low leveled spells (if they exist in 4e. Stupid Amazon for not getting me the books yet...) and out of the range of the obelisks are dead lands with cracked, dry soil and the ruined cities are like Lud from the Dark Tower 3. Without the dead bodies on lightposts. Or a suicidal train. Actually, we could do that: A train that goes to Topeka (a city on the other side of the world that didn't get affected by the Cataclysm) but will kill the party in a suicide gone wrong unless they beat it in a riddling competition?

    Spoiler
    Show
    By telling it the one about the dead baby stapled to the chicken


    And the evil inhabitants of the cities are the twisted races (duergar, drow, kobolds, etc.) and the humans evil opposites are humans? But very evil and twisted?

    And for the magic, how about done in secret in towers or dungeons run by guilds of wizards/clerics/other casters?

    *phew* that makes two megaposts in one day...


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    The SECOND member of the fanclub!!!

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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Azerian Kelimon View Post
    +1'ed. Riftslike settings are nice, but when they're not pulled off with tons of style they're very cliché. Meanwhile, adventures in a place where everything is okay, nice and clean, and not GRIMDARK just to follow the leader would be a very refreshing concept, and it would have an air of Reconstruction.
    Yay, I'm not crazy. Maybe we should start a new thread to avoid hijacking this one?
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    Default Re: 4E GitP World-Building: Basic Setting and Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Moff Chumley View Post
    Yay, I'm not crazy. Maybe we should start a new thread to avoid hijacking this one?
    Please. It would be interesting to have two successors for Tears of Blood. One with an upbeat tone, and another one to be a bit darker.

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