TVTropes builds a campaign setting!:

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1 Exelixi7th Nov 2011 04:39:06 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
There are several "building a system" threads here, but I haven't seen one like this. I aim to start a collaborative troper project, the eventual goal of which is to create, possibly use, and probably show off the most excellent campaign setting we can.

To avoid general schizophrenia, we will work under the assumption that the setting will be fantasy; however, whether this means traditional high middle ages fantasy, steam/clock/punk punk, urban fantasy, or whatever we may wish, is up to those participating.

Now has a trope page.

Attention. Read the entries under the page, at the very least, before posting in the thread. People jumping in saying "hey, have you done X? 'Cause I have an idea completely unrelated to anything else. . . " will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.

edited 22nd Feb '12 8:26:42 AM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
2 Sijo7th Nov 2011 05:36:23 PM from Puerto Rico
I think we need a little more information here. Like, what is the goal? Just creating an original setting? With its own rule system? And will tropes be invoked?

Personally, I like my RPGs to be balanced in between Rules and Flavor. The rules shouldn't be too complex but should cover most situations that will come out in the particular setting. Think BESM second edition (the first was too simple, the third too complex. IMHO of course.)

But more importantly, Flavor: details and events that make me *want* to play in the setting. Right now I'd go for a Science/Fantasy combination. Think SpellJammer. Also leaning towards the idealistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. No Sugar Bowl necessarily but definitely no Crapsack World.

edited 7th Nov '11 5:39:35 PM by Sijo

3 Exelixi7th Nov 2011 05:41:40 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
My appologies, I thought I clarified in the OP, but apparently I did not: It's all flavour, all the time. Rules systems should be mentioned as little as possible. A campaign setting shouldn't require a whole new system to go with it; the end product should be reasonably playable with quite a number of systems, perhaps with a little tweaking towards the end (after most of the work has been done).

the goal I did clarify: "the eventual goal of which is to create, possibly use, and probably show off the most excellent campaign setting we can."

As for tropes, tropes are what this site lives and breathes. Invoke the hell out of them if it feels right.

Also, agreed on the "no crapsack" thing; I like a little darkness in the world, but there's definitely a line where it stops being interesting and becomes laughable.

edited 7th Nov '11 6:58:51 PM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
4 Kayeka8th Nov 2011 12:12:50 AM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
Well, as much as we don't want any rules in here, it might be a good idea to figure out for what system we are doing this. There is a distinct difference between a world that runs D&D and a world that runs Dark Heresy.
Friend code for fun, profit, and smash: 0130-1781-6865
5 Sijo8th Nov 2011 07:59:11 AM from Puerto Rico
[up]I'd say that only applies to settings that have elements that MUST be described as they don't really exist eg. magic. But otherwise, things like nature or society doesn't need rules to be explained (though reference sources might help.)

(Potholes can help with that. ;) )

edited 8th Nov '11 8:00:59 AM by Sijo

6 Exelixi8th Nov 2011 02:40:05 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Kayeka: Suffice it to say that any system which cares about itself as much as Heresy does isn't what we're doing, then?
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
7 Kayeka8th Nov 2011 02:52:29 PM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
I'll just think of a fantasy setting then. Makes things a lot easier. Now what other elements do we need?

  • First of all, I'd say we need to ensure that we have an Adventure-Friendly World. That means precious few points of civilisation, with lots of wilderness in between. Also, Precursors of sorts to leave all sorts of awesome ruins.
  • Cosmology. Figuring out where gods came from, who they are, and what the heck they want with us.
  • A few cities with some common history.
  • Some races to populate them. Anything that can be described as 'Elves, but...' is banned. you want elves, just use Elves, 'mkay?
Friend code for fun, profit, and smash: 0130-1781-6865
8 Exelixi8th Nov 2011 02:58:24 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
  • Tech level.

  • Interracial relations.

  • World history to some degree.

  • How common magic is and how people react to it

  • A few big threats to base adventures/campaigns around

I'd personally like for it not to be too. . . Generic. We're tropers, it's our domain to make something a little subversive.

edited 8th Nov '11 3:01:56 PM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
9 Kayeka8th Nov 2011 03:12:44 PM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
We're tropers, it's our domain to make something a little subversive.

Huh. I'd say we got our first disagreement, then. I like to think that 'We are Tropers, it's our domain to use tropes as awesomely as possible'. Subversion for the sake of subversion doesn't mesh well with fun. Great clichés, on the other hand, can be insanely cool, as anyone who played a slightly cheesy game can tell you.

As such, I was thinking more along the lines of something that is Troperiffic.

edited 8th Nov '11 3:14:27 PM by Kayeka

Friend code for fun, profit, and smash: 0130-1781-6865
10 Exelixi8th Nov 2011 03:34:25 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
I may not have used the right word. I didn't mean specifically subverting everything to hell. It's possible to play things straight in a clever way, as things like Mass Effect and The Princess Bride show. I suppose self-awareness is what I'm after.

edited 8th Nov '11 3:35:40 PM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
11 Kayeka8th Nov 2011 03:38:37 PM from Amsterdam , Relationship Status: Brony
World's biggest wannabe
Perfect. Then we are on the same page here.

I'll be back for serious brainstorming tomorrow or something, It's late here.
Friend code for fun, profit, and smash: 0130-1781-6865
12 Exelixi8th Nov 2011 03:48:21 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Alright. As for now, the first two questions that need to be answered (as they will determine a lot as we proceed):

What is the general "tech level" of the setting? Ancient Rome? Dark Ages? Early modern, with muskets and the like? Personally, I'm leaning towards the latter; guns aren't very common in tabletop RPGs, but they could be loads of fun, allowing acess to character archetypes that bows and arrows won't cut (like, for instance, Musketeers). HOWEVER, the choice is up to the group as a whole, not just myself.

Secondly, magic. How widespread is it? Are magical artifacts and inclinations so rare that your average peasant isn't likely to see one in his life? Do the wealthy have regular access to magical items? Does every city have a local wizard? Perhaps the noble bloodlines, if such things exist, are determined or directly tied to tendency to produce magical offspring?
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
13 Sijo8th Nov 2011 04:15:17 PM from Puerto Rico
Ok, time for specific choices. My votes:

The setting: A semi-alien world, mostly Earthlike but with things like weird sky phenomena or lands in the sky.

Races: Humanoid, but Petting Zoo People would be OK.

Technology: Steampunk, with zeppelin-like airships.

Magic: Element-based (which elements is TBD.)

More later.

edited 8th Nov '11 4:16:03 PM by Sijo

14 Bluespade8th Nov 2011 09:29:52 PM from Fort Worth, Texas , Relationship Status: I only want you gone
I've been thinking lately about re-interpreting basic fantasy races (yeah know, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc.) and I came up with some. If you guys are interested in using some elements of these feel free:

I'll start with Orcs cause I'm the most proud of them. Orcs have a culture primarily based around two things: farming and warfare. Orcs of both sexes traditionally spend "tours" as mercenaries for several years at a time, then return to their family farm for a few years of peace. Orcs themselves basically never go to war with each other, they consider warfare an invention of the other races, but are quite happy to make a living as soldiers for hire. Instead of warfare, Orcs traditionally solve disputes through a series of one-on-one duals, to the death or dismemberment. If a person on the losing side is not satisfied, they can step forward, and therefore very serious conflicts can involve battle between hundreds of Orcs, but they do it two at a time, and there are rules to be observed.

Orcs are very laid back and easy going, and generally get along very well with anyone, not having particularly strong values or opinions on most things. They don't care much for rules and regulations and don't really recognize the sovereignty of kings or governments. They tend to be sort of grimly optimistic, in that they consider the world to be pretty fucked up but still a fun place to live. Orcs are also extremely well known for their sexual appetites, happy to have sex with just about anything willing and are extremely upfront and unembarrassed about it. They have two phrases used as common greetings: one is formal and polite, while the other is simple and casual, the Orc equivalent of "hi." The casual greeting basically means "Hey, wanna fuck?" However they have an old superstition that a child conceived by rape will be cursed to a life of misfortune. Because of this, many Orcs actually consider rape to be worse than murder, and treat rapists accordingly. Though they will gladly proposition any person they take a liking too, they are generally polite about it and perfectly fine taking no for an answer.

TLDR Version: Chivalrous Pervert Chaotic Neutral easy-going mercenaries.

Elves: I've always had a problem with typical fantasy elves because I could never understand why they didn't take over the whole world, considering most of the time they are both extremely long-lived (if not outright immortal) and considerably more empowered than other races. So I tried to justify that:

Elves age 3 times slower than humans, physically, but also somewhat mentally. Thus a 30 year old elf would appear roughly 10 years old, and have the mind of a 10 year old as well (though obviously they will have had considerably more lifetime experience than an actual ten year old). Young elves (those younger than 100 or so) are very curious and excitable, with analytical minds that want to know and experience everything they can. They often travel the world for the sake of wonder and adventure. As an elf gets older though, they become more and more introspective and philosophical, becoming more and more entranced with the theoretical and less interested in the world around them. This often leads to adult elves who have to hire human servants to handle their daily needs, since they themselves are so spacey and withdrawn that they forget to eat or take care of their house. Since elves live so long, most of them end up with the funds to maintain such a lifestyle.

Elves are almost entirely asexual, so that only maybe 1 in 10 elves ever bothers to have children, which prevents them from being so numerous that they take over the world.

TLDR version: Really 700 Years Old Asexual adventuresome Cloud Cookoolanders.

I had some ideas about dwarves and such too, but their not that interesting so I'll leave off.
Totally Not A Doctor
[up] Same here, I like your Elves and Orcs. Your elves sound a lot like what I've been toying with, except they also had a background similar to the infamous Halfling origin in Dark Sun.

This is my take on Dwarves in an attempt to not create Scottish midget coal miners.

Dwarves: Dwarves are a proud, self-reliant race. Independence is one of the defining traits of their culture, along with a focus on resourcefulness and practicality. They consider themselves apart from other races, acknowledging their beliefs but not sharing them. Dwarves principally follow an animalism/ancestor worshipping religion, they build considerable "Tombs" for their families, but do not bury their dead in these places, instead life sized statues, precisely detailed, stand in honour of the deceased. Due to an earlier period of nomadism, the body of a revered ancestor is holy and cannot be simply left where thieves could rob it.

Dwarves practice scrimshaw, skinning and in cases where the oldest of a clan dies, cannibalism. They believe that by carrying with them every day the parts of their dead family members the spirit watches them and provides guidance. Such is their respect for the dead opposing factions will gladly turnover the bodies of their enemies to ensure that the spirit of the ancestor is not bound to haunt them, burning or destroying a body is the most unforgivable act in their society and will result in the offender being considered an abomination disguised as a dwarf. It is customary to take the skin as a sign of victory. The wearing of a Dwarf skin is a mark of respect for one's enemies as the wearer is choosing to shield themselves with something they trust to protect them. The respect accorded to a skinned enemy is such that wearing it when interacting with the deceased's relatives is considered to be one of the highest compliments one dwarf can make to another, to own a dwarf skin and not wear it when facing its kin is a grave insult.

This obsession with the body parts of kin is fanned by what is referred to as "The Curse", a degenerative disease where a dwarf is born with some or in the case of several rare bloodlines, all of their limbs unformed. As the dwarf grows up, muscles, tendons and nerves that belong in that limb form but the skin and bone does not grow. In some cases this could simply be a missing digit, nose or ear, but in extreme cases the dwarf could be born a head and torso with genitals, but lack most of the features of their face. The curse also denotes are high degree of pain resistance and propensity for magic. These 3 traits of the curse are the cause for the commonality of clockwerk prosthesis in Dwarven society. The ability to endure pain and the magical aura allow for better construction, manipulation and maintenance of dwarven prosthetics.

Dwarven settlements are either permanent, in the case of their cities and giant farming collectives or temporary such as the mines and various timber camps that exist to feed the industrial development of the Dwarf cities. Several underground cities exists but they were founded by breakaway factions and outcasts of mainstream dwarven society. Dwarven trade is aimed at making the most amount of profit for Dwarfkind. Amongst themselves this results in an honest conduct in commerce and stabilized economy, when dealing with non-dwarves this results in complicated contracts stipulating very specifically what the dwarf is and is not providing the customer eg the fulfilment of an order for 3 tons of smelted steel, but not the delivery of the steel to the customer.

Amongst the farming collectives, mines and timber camps that exist to feed the factory filled cities, this meticulous approach to commerce is often waived in lieu of maintaining good relations with groups that could potentially raid the settlement. Rural dwarfs don't care about what coloured skin/scales/fur their neighbours have, just as long as they can be made dependant on dwarven products and dwarven goodwill.

Although the mainstream of dwarven society is oriented towards ancestor worship, an animism religion is quite common amongst rural dwarves that will offer praise to various animal spirits in addition to "Those Who Stood Before". This sect is treated with respect and tolerance as its leading figures still acknowledge the primacy of the ancestors and that most rural workers are either adherents or sympathize with sect, alienating them might result in civil conflict which would leave the cities dangerously close to famine, both in terms of food and raw materials.

Dwarves speak a variant of common they claim to be the origin of Common, from their intense interspecies trading. It is almost similar however the speaker's voice rises at the end of their sentence as if they were asking question. Swearing is common and considered a skill for one to develop, it allows for peers to determine superiority by dint of who is capable of the most explicit swearing. Dwarves will often bestow nicknames on each other, the most common being the shortening of the dwarf's first name to the first 3-4 letters ending on a vowel and the adding of -zza, or ending on a consonant and adding -o.

TL;DR Steve Irwin impersonators who are profit driven and have a bizarre fetish for their dead, and many of them are cyborgs.
16 Sijo9th Nov 2011 07:51:20 AM from Puerto Rico
[up] and [up][up] Those are some interesting retakes on the Tolkienian race molds. I like how they're basically the same except you took them in unusual directions.

It just occurred to me that, instead of just mentioning random ideas (like I did tongue) we should start at the beginning- literally. As in: the mythology and backstory of this World. I often find myself wondering "why is that like that?" when I read about a new setting. If we start all the way from the very creation myth, and then work from there, we'd make sure everything is coherent.

So: how was this world created? Having a Supreme Being do it is the usual thing, but I'd like to explore a semi-scientific setting where the forces and elements from a primal chaos just settled over time forming everything, except that shards of that primal power still exist and are the source of magic.

edited 9th Nov '11 7:57:07 AM by Sijo

Totally Not A Doctor
I like the idea of setting the "Gods" a bit back from the starting point of the setting. So many settings start as Gods or the guys who make the Gods create the world, then if its the latter, the Gods are made as children/droppings/etc. That sits for about a millenia, then a rebellion against the creators, or a civil war if the Creators aren't being used, then if the latter the creators sleep/imprisoned/exiled to another dimension and the Gods stamp a big finger on it, they always throw one of their own into hell for being the Token Evil Teammate and then do sweet f*** all. If the Gods actually made the setting, then the rebellion is because Gods are assholes, again throw into hell etc...

I know the above sounds bland but I've heard it so many times, I want it to either be completely removed from any books published, or someone has a Crap Sack World subversion where the primordials won and existence is living on a rock floating over nothingness like the 4th Ed Elemental Chaos, as opposed to living on a rock over nothingness like Earth is currently doing. Having just typed that I think I just pulled a Mind Screw on myself.

Its not really contributing but thats my $00.02 about the fantasy genre in general dealing with the birth of reality.

PS: Now that whole rock over nothing thing is really weirding me out. I'm not suggesting we use it, unless its possible to do a lighter and softer version, I'm just saying that I'm now shit scared gravity is going to stop working.
18 Exelixi9th Nov 2011 08:37:10 AM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
[up][up][up][up] and [up][up][up]: Are you gentlemen actually going to be working on the project, or are you simply depositing your two pence on racial reinterpretation?

Either way, I really like the Dwarves; cyborg dwarves, in fact, would fit in perfectly if we decide to go for a punkish approach (which is likely to be the case unless Kayeka strongly objects.)

[up][up]Well, here is my pitch. It's a bit strange, yes, but I thought I'd put it out there.

EDIT: Bleh, screw it, there were plotholes. In any case, it was similar to your own; elements just sort of collided to make a series of increasingly intricate things, ending, after many aeons, with sentient life.

Also, I like the idea of people not actually knowing for sure if there are such things as gods, for several reasons, one of which is that more than one competing religion existing is a cool idea I think. That or Gods Need Prayer Badly and a lot of people know that, so unfavoured gods frequently cease to exist and there are various orders competing to increase the power and influence of their particular god or gods.

edited 9th Nov '11 9:19:25 AM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
19 Sijo9th Nov 2011 04:12:04 PM from Puerto Rico
[up]I've never liked the "Gods Need Prayer Badly" trope; because then, how did they come to exist in the first place? Did someone invent a religion and then so many people believed in it that it became real? That's too Meta for my taste.

Instead, going with my naturalistic view of creation, I'd say the "gods" were the first sentient beings who found remains of the Ancient Power, when it was still raw and strongest, and therefore became powerful themselves, and looked divine to mortals, who then started writing stories about them (real and otherwise) on which their religions were based.

Note that while the Power has been "dwindling" from the immortals' POV, there should still be plenty of it left for adventurers to master or villains to hunger after. Also, exactly what you can do with it depends on the Element involved, for example "Anti-Life" would be the power used for necromancy, but could be used for other things, it isn't necessarily "evil" by itself.
20 Exelixi9th Nov 2011 04:26:16 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
On the first point: Apotheosis is a fairly common fantasy trope.

On the second: Sounds like it works pretty well. We'll wait until Kayeka reports back in to decide anything though.

Also, wouldn't "Antilife" simply be death, or perhaps more poetically, decay or withering?

Also also, why would power be dwindling? If you want something naturalistic, the Laws of Conservation would apply to magic, no? Actually, "The Law of Conservation of Magic" makes me think Sufficiently Analyzed Magic. . . We can discuss that in a bit.

edited 9th Nov '11 4:28:52 PM by Exelixi

Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
21 Sijo9th Nov 2011 07:29:46 PM from Puerto Rico
[up]I said "dwindling from the POV of immortals" maybe as they see the universe settle into form they perceive it as the Power they once tapped dwindling, but it's still there, just latent, as the heroes will discover.
22 Exelixi9th Nov 2011 07:45:33 PM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Ah, gotcha.
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-
Totally Not A Doctor
God Needs Prayer Badly could be interesting if followers were aware of this, it lends itself to election style antics between deities. Its odd because so many settings use this, and yet the Gods act like God Needs To Be An Epic Douchebag Badly.

What scale are we talking in terms of the geography, see a single continent makes things easier, ala Eberron, but whole world building is difficult, IE the mess of FR.

On a continent we would have between 1 and 3 ethnic groups of Dwarfs, in an attempt to continue the tradition of original Dwarfs, then I would say we stay away from the Badass Pacifist, Blood Knight, Omnicidal Maniac Good Bad Ugly pattern most authors create.
24 Sijo10th Nov 2011 05:52:56 AM from Puerto Rico
Not all religions are based on faith, though. Some are based on fear, as in You Pathetic Mortals Better Worship Me Or Else!! (Example, the Mayan gods were for the most part a hugely cruel lot, to the point the only good one, Quetzalcoatl/Kukulcan, was a rarity and was in fact, exiled in the mythos.) Somehow this people became convinced that Human Sacrifice was the only way to ensure that they would get rain, good crops, no hurricanes etc.)

edited 10th Nov '11 5:53:24 AM by Sijo

25 Exelixi10th Nov 2011 07:08:30 AM from Alchemist's workshop , Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
So, are you two gentlemen (is it gentlemen?) joining our little escapade?
Mura: -flips the bird to veterinary science with one hand and Euclidean geometry with the other-

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