lately I've wanted to put my creative juices to work and since the semester is over I have plenty of time, I've decided to make a setting from scratch to finish, hopefully I can eventually finish it and create a full-fledged world so first i need an idea
I’m horrible with all things crunchy, so this is all fluff. I might have others figure out the stats at a later date, but for now I’m just going to create a setting.
When I first started i had no idea what I wanted to make, just that it sounded like fun to make a campaign setting. I asked one of my friends a simple question “What do you want in a dungeons and dragons setting?” to which he gave a simple answer “I want dungeons and I want dragons”. This is as good an answer as any so my goal for this setting is to have two things dungeons, and dragons. So first I asked myself, what is a dungeon to me?
A dungeon is the place where the adventure happens, not on a large scale like an entire world, but smaller scale like a haunted house or underground tunnel. It doesn’t have to be indoors, it could be a forest trail. However in my eyes it has to have obvious boundaries and a sense of progression. An open field is not a dungeon to me, an open field filled with six foot stone walls forming a maze is.
Now when i think of dungeon, for some reason I always think of Indiana Jones, and those jungle pulp stories of the 30s. Now I’ll want a natural environment that can serve as a dungeon in its own right, claustrophobic feel, many hazards and traps, and hidden treasures. I think a jungle setting is perfect for this. I’ve always liked the way South American ruins looked, lots of step pyramids. I also might take some inspiration from Macchu Picchu, I mean no mortar or anything and yet the stones are so tightly built you can’t fit a knife between them is just marvelous. I like the feeling you get from these places, that maybe ancient ‘savages’ were actually far more advanced than us... but their whole civilization ceased to exist anyway, I like that.
All right the basis of the setting is a vast jungle, probably a huge amazonesque river basin, with tall thick growing trees hiding many ancient ruins filled with treasures, secrets, traps, and looters. These ruins were made by an ancient civilization who conquered the entire region and amassed all this forgotten wealth, but what wiped out such a great civilization? Let’s start thinking about those dragons.
In a story a dragon serves many purposes: guarding treasure, kidnapping maidens, a clever adversary, a fearsome brute, an ancient being of knowledge and power, and a mythical predator of legend. I want my dragons to have all these qualities but not be actual dragons per se. Aztecs had countless gods and demons, I want to feed off that but I want my gods to be different. There are countless gods and no ‘god of this’ or ‘god of that’ gods are simply powerful beings who long ago worked together to create the world (supposedly) and since they’ve settled nicely in this jungle. They are powerful but far from invincible or immortal, think tarrasque levels of strength, they can be killed, but you’re unlikely to ever meet someone that has. They are all unique in every way: appearance, intelligence, abilities, alignment, and attitude. None are truly good just like none are truly evil. They operate on another level of morality, they see us as lesser beings that can be annoying, amusing, or in some small way dangerous. They might act friendly but no matter what you do they will never consider your life meaningful, at best they might love you the way some love a dog, but a very tasty one. They can serve every role normally reserved for dragons. A few examples could be a Great serpent with red and gold feathered wings that haunts an ancient ruined city, a horse sized vampire bat that sneaks into towns and kidnaps the daughter of the chief, A scaly jaguar in a cave that will tell you anything you want to know... for a price, a ferocious lizard with knives for feathers that mercilessly kills any living being it encounters, a snapping turtle the size of a small island who knows all but always sleeps, or a reptilian predator that will stalk prey for miles for the thrill of the hunt. The tarrasque could be used as is and be a god. These gods aren’t anthropomorphized and don’t take human forms. They are ancient and alien and not to be trifled with... which is exactly why the ancient civilization was wiped out.
After so long worshipping the gods they started to question whether these were actual gods, are they really the creators of all or is the jungle just filled with great beasts of legend. They decided the latter, and rebelled. They slew many gods but they were hopelessly outgunned, every last man, woman, and child was completely destroyed. Leaving their great pyramids filled with treasure and and traps to protect them. Centuries past and the current occupants have set up homes of their own under the canopy and many seek to claim the jungle’s treasures but they tend to be guarded by traps and beasts, and the omnipresent threat of unsympathetic beings who could kill you in an instant.
These are the basic ideas my setting is founded upon, so in short: A jungle with ancient ruins and powerful beasts.
All thoughts, suggestions, criticisms or professions of love would be appreciated
Last edited by Deploy : 08-07-2012 at 11:37 AM.
Reason: for ease of reading
Paragraphs added for your viewing pleasure, thanks for your input.
I've built a world and now I'm trying to decide what kind of people live there. I want humans. They are divided into countless tribes, but almost all are under the power of a handful of empires that parallel the real world civilizations of the time, one empire's capital lies in the middle of a vast lake. Theyre primary pyramid is the lair of a powerful winged serpent god, this god lies dormant for years at a time, but even in his sleep his power gives power to empire A's (working title) defenses, but at a price. He only remains asleep while he is well fed on human blood. Empire A constantly conquers to fuel their patron god. All of their major cities are built on islands throughout various lakes,with most of their farmland planted on manmade floating islands.
Empire B is ruled from vast cities in the mountains overlooking the river basin, they have constructed massive roads throughout their kingdom to allow ease of transport both militarily and commercially. They don't tax the people in crops or wealth, but in labor. When they're time arises they must fulfill whatever need the empire requires them to. I plan to add some additional flavor as I red up more on Incan civilization.
I haven't planned empire C yet, but I will in the future, next I'll discuss Ideas for iguanafolk and goblins.
Suggestions for the empires and thoughts on what I have so far.
I totally forgot about their mummies and unique inheritance cycle.
Kingdom B uses the split inheritance system in which the chosen heir receives political powers and title whereas wealth is distributed amongst the remaining male heirs. The most powerful nobles can afford a complex mummification process that results in undeath, they continue to own all land and property and serve as advisors to their chosen heir.
The emperor of kingdom B is attended by over a dozen generations of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and occasionally an aunt. The surrounding area of B's Capitol are encountering a unique problem, for the first time more land belongs to the dead than the living. This has numerous implications and has stirred a lot of conflict in the region, many nobles heirs have no choice but to expand. This has led to their armies invading the edges of empire A's territory nullifying an ageold peace agreement.
I now feel like A and B are both interesting and unique, but for C I want to include a lot of the river and working closely with goblins, anyone got ideas.
Thanks Zale for the mummy tip, it really helped me flesh out kingdom B
in the giants new world articles he specifically tried to add lakes and rivers because they are often overlooked. Given the nature of my setting these will be very important features. My iguanafolk will be primarily lake dwellers with goblins living nomadic lives on the river.
Kingdom A builds cities in the centers of large lakes with floating gardens and temporary bridges in case of attack. Most of their cities also have a healthy population of iguanafolk. They are based on galapagos marine iguanas only adapted to freshwater rather than salt. They live in small huts on the lakes steepest shores and sleep their each night. During the day they spend most of their time underwater, hunting and farming, trading and stealing, exploring and conquering. It all goes on under the lake's surface. They often cultivate their own gardens on the underside of kingdom A's artificial floating islands. They also explore the many submerged ruins and tomb's like their counterparts above.
These ruins are prized by the iguanafolk because the passages often lead through the rock to the other side of the island or in some cases onto the mainland or even into other lakes. They can also contain sections with breathable air, when this occurs many start to build huts inside the ruins and using them as a place to surface for air rather than the actual surface. Some cities in kingdom A might not realize how large an iguana population they have because most never walk on the shore. These tunnels can be treacherous, lurking beasts or subterranean gods are terrifying thoughts when you sleep in pitch black.
The iguanas are also adept on land although not necessarily built for uniquely terrestrial challenges like sprinting. They have been known to settle the deepest areas of the rivers where they spend much more time aboveground and are very sociable with goblins and humans who live on the banks.
Now for a detail I think is very important, their language. I find it annoying when races with radically different lips can speak human languages when it shouldn't be possible. So my iguanafolk are incapable of speaking human or goblin languages. They converse amongst themselves through a language consisting of guttural calls. Very few mammals learn to understand it and it's impossible for them to speak it. Iguanafolk also rarely learn how to understand mammalian languages. They converse through a form of sign language all are capable of speaking. They differ from region to region, but so long as they are close in geography the sign dialects are compatible with minor adjustment. River sign is much more well-known and much more complicated due to river folk interacting more often whereas lake sign is often only spoken by a few members of each community, the ones who interact with each other most. However the Kingdom A's largest cities iguana folk often use river sign due to its prominence.
That's just a start for this race but its good enough for now, Im going to write up goblins soon. Thanks for reading, suggestions or comments on anything I've written so far will be appreciated, advice or ideas for things i haven't yet fleshed out (Kingdom C, goblins, etc) will be considered.
haven't yet fleshed out (Kingdom C, goblins, etc) will be considered.
Nomadic Goblins that live along the river and travel up and down it?
Or Goblin enslavement?
Or River lords that can divert the river between 3 directions or underground? If those play homage, they unblock the river to that area. I can go more into detail with that random thought, I just don't care to explain if you aren't interested in it.
Your idea about nomadic goblins is exactly what I had planned.
I don't know about goblin enslavement... their will be slavery in this setting for sure, but the way I've thought of it, the races interact with one another but they try to stay out of one another's affairs and expect the others to do likewise. Humans sacrifice and enslave other humans and goblins and iguanafolk do likewise.
That third idea intrigues me, I think the underground side is more suited for my iguanafolk, these goblins aren't really the "subterranean lair" sort, they would be more likely to just drape a blanket over the top of their canoe and sleep on the shore. I think I get the general idea of how this works, but explaining it further would be alright with me.
I think that the city idea, is Kingdom C. They are closer to a very influential city-state than an actual kingdom or empire. They never conquered anyone, people just came under their economic influence due to the huge center of commerce that kingdom C is. This city has a thriving goblin population who travel in and out and pay homage to the rulers of C. The city is built at a very deep part of the river and spans both sides with two islands in the middle. Iguanafolk live in these areas. Kingdoms A and B are openly warring with one another, but with C they must be more subtle because almost all goblins in the forest consider themselves a part of it and they themselves rely on its harbors. Because of this there are no large scale battles against C and the other two are forced to resort to diplomacy. However skirmishes often erupt when borders are crossed.
I think I need to do more with C but I don't have any more ideas just yet, so feedback and suggestions are greatly appreciated here.
I do have an idea for a specific stretch of the river that I want to make happen. The reason for the long delay between my last post and this one is because I was canyoneering in zion national park. It brought me back to the original choice of a jungle "the environment is just one big dungeon" and when your hiking waist deep in water with 2000 foot high walls 20 feet apart you feel like your in a hallway out of a fantasy game. I did some looking and found some canyons in Australia that are covered in a rainforest themselves.
link here for pictures.http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/20...er-photography
In my world a section of the river goes through a portion of sandstone creating these deep canyons.
These canyons are considered sacred in one of the goblin cultures and they will make an annual climb up the sheer rock walls to reach certain rocks. At these rocks they will dip their hands in paint and renew the handprints left by the prior generation. Each family has a certain rock with a few handprints left by various ancestors. whose handprint you place your hand upon in your lineage supposedly allows them to reach back out of the rock for that brief time and grant you some of their wisdom, knowledge, or strength.
Thats all I have for now, all responses will be considered and appreciated.
This canyon fits perfectly with my idea for river diversion. At the end of the canyon, the river would come to a waterfall into the lower lands. The land it falls in is cultivated in a way that the river can be fed in 3 different directions (think a large stone splitting the falls or canals). I'd say this is an area the goblins would be occupying anyway, since the canyon is sacred to them. They'd be keeping an eye on it to make sure other races don't go in. The rest travel up and down the river as we mentioned. Perhaps they rotate out? A LOT of water will have to be flowing from the canyon. Make the falls wide like niagra or some such. Maybe a series of stairs so that the water seperates as it gets lower, and spilways can be lowered or raised.
I think it would make things more interesting if the river diversion was owned by a clan of iguanafolk who are basically building into the cliff walls, this puts them in constant conflict with those goblins that consider the walls sacred. I like the idea that the water is very deep, it lets iguanafolk play a larger roll in the area. I also want some shallow slot canyons coming off the sides where you could walk through the water, although some parts might be very deep. I like where this canyon idea is going.
In my next post I'm going to share some god ideas I've had.
You should also think about having numerous tribes of humans, and possibly goblins and iguana-men, living out in the rainforest. They never assimilated into either empire, and they just basically carry out their own unique customs and traditions. They would be the prey for empires A and B, unless they sign some sort of treaty. Just as in real life, empire A probably would own numerous tribes living in and around the nearby forests and rivers/lakes, and would exact taxes of slaves, corn, and precious stones. Empire B, on the other hand, would probably use the tribesmen to form the vanguard of their armies. Or they would make them do the hardest and most dangerous work available. The tribes would occasionally try to rebel, but since they are all fairly unique and separate from each other, they would have a tough time reconciling their differences to allow them to pose a serious threat to either empires.
Synvallius the Elder
Inaction is support for the action you did not oppose.
Sorry for the long delay, I have once again been on vacationing. This time in Mexico and I will be sure to include something along the lines of the cave of swallows and other sotanos, here's a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_of_Swallows
Anyway, Im back now and I want to thank you for your input Synvallius, your idea makes sense and I had planned something similar, small tribes that are unique and still interact with the big players gives DMs an opportunity to create something of their own, a unique culture with unique people and leaders. I want to make sure this setting is open for others to get creative. Which brings me to what I promised in my last post, some god ideas.
Since the number of gods is infinite and no two are the same, DMs will be able to create their own and their's will probably be more memorable and interesting. These are really examples of how I'm creating mine.
First up is Ocotochtli
I got the name from the nahuatl word for bobcat or mountain cat
He's based off the real world Aztec deity Acolnahuacatl who was a black puma whose roar was so terrifying it kept the dead in the underworld. He is also occasionally called Cuezalli or the fiery thing, interesting.
Now this world doesn't have any knowledge as to the actual underworld if there is one and these gods are more local than universal like Acolnahuacatl was. And the gods are there to fill roles normally held by dragons. So here's my idea for Ocotochtli
There is a great pit found deep in the jungle, if one wishes to find it they need only follow the roars. They can be heard loud and clear for miles, echoing of the steep walls of the cave. This pit is Tialxicco the lair of Ocotochtli. A jet black puma as long as two men are tall (not counting its long tail) and whose shoulder would be a foot above either's head. His roar is so powerful that to be near him when he lets forth a bellow will literally knock the soul out of your body. Your soul will be further pushed away from your limp body. It is possible to drift back into it, however it will likely have been eaten by then or become possessed by one of the countless desperate souls trapped within Tialxicco. Ocotochtli can do more than just roar he can breathe fire and just being in his presence causes one to become stiff with fear. He us intelligent enough to keep the souls trapped and to tell you how weak you are. Those who live in the forest surrounding the pit say that he is being used by a more intelligent god to guard the pit's secret. These stories have drawn many adventurers to climb into the cave, few return.
I used many things to create this god, real world myth, powers normally attributed to dragons, and a dash of mystery to make a player throw themselves over the cave's edge. This is only one god, so please stay tuned for more and give feedback on this one. Oh and you might want to look up a nahuatl pronunciation guide if the names give you any trouble. Thanks to all who have posted and will in the future.