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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?