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Elexixi: Did you... read my post? The idea with the elf sub-races was they specifically have a magic environment adaptation trait that operates over generations.
Celestial vs Terrestrial Gods Celestial gods are sentient ideas that exist in another plane of existence. Terrestrial gods exist in the material world as manifestations of the environment. The term god is applied to being who benefit from worship and being the focus of spiritual devotion. Neither require it, Terrestrials are merely mighty elementals and will likely remain quite mighty, if less so, if they lost their worshippers, Celestials are ideas and will continue as long their idea propagates. Their are also Mortal Gods, mortal beings dead or alive bolstered to god-hood by sheer weight of belief.
Beast-Folk Furries. A wizard with plans of conquest made step 1 the creation of a nation and army as his base. He just made one, instead out of animated dead but uplifted animals, infusing them with humanoid essence to make the beast-folk. And this wizard was very prolific in his conquest, thus a lot of animals became the focus of his uplifting process. He is long since dead and the beast-folk have stabilized as a race.
Dragons vs Drakes Drakes are immense winged fire-breathing lizards. So are dragons. The difference is drakes are animals, so territorial that often they must be put down by legendary heroes for the continued propagation of society. Dragons are sentient, reasonable and tend to be very colorful aesthetically with elemental variation. This is because of a sort of an ancient cold war between a number of Terrestrial Gods who used drakes as weapons, developing them into dragons that were intelligent and alligned to their element.
Dragonborn Drakes uplifted by the beast-folk wizard.
I think an Age of Exploration-ish technology level would be interesting for this. Large boats and simple guns, but with magic and stuff. Seems to be an area not used much in literature.
edited 15th Nov '11 3:54:11 PM by Quantumawsome
An early to present modern fantasy based in a world entirely seperate of Earth where magic developed side by side with technology.
I do believe that has been the plan for quite a while.
I'm thinking maybe straight up 19th, 20th or even 21st century shenanigans.
Mmm. . . I was leaning more early nineteenth myself.
Well, we'll see.
How about we just ignore the idea of making a race and then shoehorning in sub-races entirely and simply attempt to create a race with 4 unique cultures, focusing on the idea of ethnic identity as a predominantly socio-cultural construct with some changes in physical appearance and not a biological offshoot.
I mean look at FR: it has soooooo many "species" of elves, many of which don't make sense, and often the distinction of being an Elf species is usually having been assigned one and only one hair colour, one and only one skin colour, often some power or interference from a given Elven God and almost no interbreeding. Take Sun Elves and Moon Elves, why the hell do they both exist as separate races when if we took two people from the same extended family, where say one is a redhead and the other has one grandparent from a Mediterranean region and both consider them to be the same bloody race - Human? And why do we use the term sub-race/species to categorize Elven cultures, its only applicable when the specific group being discussed is not capable of reproducing with other Elves.
I like more the idea many races, fewer cultures, nigh infinite sub-cultures. That is, the primary 'area' of the setting is a multi-racial empire. It's citizenry are united under the culture of the Empire but have myriad of sub-culture, racial just being the beginning. Elves can be highly variable within a sub-race (As opposed to one skin/hair/eye color which is dumb) and most sub-races can be mistaken for another unless outsiders know the subtle signs, a cultural landmine (Like mistaking Koreans for Chinese for Vietnamese for Japanese).
And mix in free religious state and add that to the cultural mix.
The problem with races in RPGs is that everyone always wants to make his or her own version of their favorite one which is why there are like a zillion Elves (at least the Dark Elves were based on actual Norse mythology, but once Drizzt became a hit everyone wanted his or her own Dark Elf character never mind they were pretty much Always Chaotic Evil.)
I suggest we come up with the (general) lifeforms of the setting first (both races and monsters) and then figure out their cultures as we go.
edited 16th Nov '11 4:07:13 AM by Sijo
Umm, aren't the dragonborn the result of getting Bahamut to bless you and you grow an egg and morph into one?
One issue is that if you have a multi-species empire, who is sitting in the big seat? Are we going for a nice 20th century democratic state, or a more tangible case of Roman Empire democracy but the only people who can run for office are only from the controlling race.
I'm not sure about others but I felt that the dragonborn weren't a good idea for a race in 4th because for group with those physical abilities and tendency towards violence, it doesn't make sense that they aren't running things.
Feudal societies run on the basis of who has the biggest stick calls the shots, if we have an empire why not have the Totally Not Dragonborn ruling over as a sort of benevolent dictators (in the Roman sense of a Dictator being First Among Peers), with a predominantly Dragonborn senate where say humans, being the most populous race in the Empire have a deciding vote in proceedings between various dragonborn factions. Only Nobility may run for senate, and in order to do so, one must be approved by an equivalent to the office of the Censors.
Also their name is lame, especially as they're not actually born from dragons, they're descended from drakes, also Wot C consideres them IP, so maybe we could just rework them to get a dragon/reptile-humanoid race that is distinctly original.
Drow I think can safely be left out. They really don't offer much other than being Elves who got their assigned racial colours round the wrong way. They're either Complete Monster types or *Shudders* Drizzt Spawn that spend all their time wangsting about having psychos for family and the rest of the world being rightly suspicious of you because every single other Drow is running for the endzone with the Villain Ball locked tight in their hands. I wouldn't mind if more people used them like Jarlaxle (Praise be unto the Pimp Lord), but its impractical to build a whole race of Jarlaxle types. A Race must be many things, and using a single or 4 characters to portray and flesh out a race+Culture results in a fairly dull to just plain unappealing product (Looking at you Wot C, those Spellscales amd the Dragonblooded from Rot D have me looking right at you), in other cases the original is displaced because a supplementary subrace supersedes it either mechanically (Strongheart Halflings vs Halflings) or thematically (does anyone find that halflings and gnomes overlap too much in the 3.5 PHB), or simply provides the right mechanics to fit with the original's background (Whisper Gnomes vs Gnomes, c'mon who uses Gnomes over Whisper Gnomes?).
edited 16th Nov '11 8:29:33 AM by Eyclonus
Dragonborn are amazingly system-specific. I don't think the inclusion of a race that belongs only in D&D is warranted.
Well, since I am basically just shoveling out of my setting (Sorry but it IS where I have dedicated a lot of thought), Drow end up... different. The Underdark is the untamed frontier, filled with crazy nihilistic dwarves (You can cut them out for the shamanistic dwarves from far earlier), other beasties and then also the drow who live like its The Wild West. Drow are cowboys, outlaws, bow-slinging vigilantes and sheriffs that all happen to have gender reversed roles. Surface drow tend to end up looking like the noir genre, the Drowish Crime Family drssed in pinstripe suits, smoking cigars, kissing the hand of the Godmother with 'good' drow being Dirty Harry cops or Punisher vigilantes. Also women.
And then normal drowish citizens happened to be stereotyped for the crazyness their racial culture has produced as being violent criminals. Their is actual racial tension but within a community that lives side-by-side with them, or at least a neighborhood away.
As for the emperor up top, well he is a human, which continuing from my other posts means he is a mongrel of every other race.
Aether The Aether is basically the Warp like from [[Warhammer40k Warhammer]]. It is the realm of magic, of thought, the soul, the celestial gods all at once born of the same stuff. Definitley not as crap sack as the Warp, as it is filled with as much benevolence and as much apathy as it is with malevolent entities.
Hm. . .
I know you're proud of your own setting, and I can tell you've put a lot of effort into it. However, that setting is yours and yours alone, your brainchild, so to speak. With as much creativity as you've shown already, I'm certain that, if you put your mind to it, it wouldn't be too difficult to contribute excellently to something designed from the ground up to mesh with itself, no?
I'm just throwing ideas out but I guess I am overwhelming this thread with prolificy and insistency and I apologize.
I sure hope I didn't kill this thread.
OK, here's what (I think) has been agreed to so far (someone correct me otherwise):
-This universe was not Created, it formed from a primal chaos that eventually settled down.
-The gods are really mortal creatures who gained incredible power.
-Each deity has his/her/its own idea of what their worship (if any) should be like.
-The traditional races (humans, elves, halflings, dwarves) exist here but their cultures are radically different from the usual.
-Magic exists but so does technology (level TBD).
Also, what/who will be The Big Bad? IF we have a Big Bad.
edited 18th Nov '11 3:58:01 AM by Sijo
Big Bads might be more appropriate, we can have:
a) A god that's gone batshit insane, but the only people who know this are branded apostates, maybe with a Path of Inspiration thrown in for good measure,
b) Demons/devils/you know what I mean, exist and invade the campaign setting in attempts to colonize it and drag it into their plane of origin,
c) Something existed before the Gods, its sleeping at the moment but even fragments of its dreams are dangerous to mortals, worse still if too many are destroyed at once The Sleeper may Awaken,
d) Sentient Plague resulting in a consensus based hive-mind of zombies that will stand still for days on end until a proper vote is taken within the Hive Mind, as opposed to the Hive Mind being subjugated by an individual, the Hive Mind could be the remnants of a dead God that is trying to enact revenge through the zombie plague,
e) Magic originated from a creature that existed before reality, and it wants its' magic back, it eats spells and actively works behind the scenes to cause wars between countries so the upstarts fall to each other and it can hunt magic users unhindered, using Foreign Assassins to cover its brutal work,
f) with the rise of machinery and magic, especially amongst the dwarfs, a new secret God is being born, one that intends to mechanize reality, turning everything into a hybrid of flesh and metal ala New Phyrexia,
g) if in doubt insert Liche, could have our own Tomb Of Horrors
h) If dragons exist, one of them will always be an Omnicidal Maniac, basic rule of dragons,
i) God Of Time is yet to be born, but because of the nature of time, his birth screams from the far future are being felt in the past, everyone can remember him, but he does not exist yet, by working to prevent his birth, causing it to be a paradox he may be removed from existence, or existence may merge with his conscience,
j) Cthulhu Ersatz,
k) The current Gods, being powerful mortals that tripped on some God juice one day, want to ascend to an exist that is so incomprehensible mortals fail to grasp it, but in order to do so they must collectively enact multi-millennium long ritual which is being perpetuated but also stalled by their minions who misinterpret the portents they receive or take a commandant from their patron beyond the point that the patron required,
l)Reality itself was the loser in a war with the gods and periodically it enters a state of great violence, with volcanos and hurricanes going off in the same city just as a Tsunami strikes, in order to stop it, the avatar of the reality must be slain when it has taken a host, which is almost always some warlord who would have Genghis Khan tipping the hat in respect,
m) something small and unobtrusive, bordering on comic-relief eg Goblins, are in actual fact an ancient race that took their current form as penance for some great sin, however some of the original transgressors hard-wired a back-up plan where some goblins might remember their heritage, magical power and technological advancement and step out to stop things, being channelled along the way by a surviving member of the species who has effectively been behind every single Goblin rebellion since the dawn of the age.
Ok so its a bit long, but take your pick, all of them at once would make this more crapsack then 40k and be quite messy as well as depressing to play, also I'm quite drunk as of this moment so I apologise for spelling errors (note that I use Australian English so I type Armour and Honour not Armor and Honor) and/or logic holes, although having several things that contradict each other would fit with the God Of Time pulling a Days Of Future Past on the whole world.
edited 18th Nov '11 7:50:40 AM by Eyclonus
A generally accepted maxim is "one villain is a campaign. Half a dozen villains is a setting." The setting should be able to be utilised by the same GM multiple times; ergo, many threats and plot threads have to be available, so as the gentleman above me said, several Big Bads would be better than one.
I'm really liking several of those ideas; we could come up with some more as well, and choose maybe half a dozen or so from the pool.
Hm. . . On tech, I say we take a vote presently. I think, really, that instead of a general tech level, we should divide it into functions:
And a general "feel" to it if you like.
I'd like to convey a steampunkish atmosphere, though not to the "modern/future tech, except with steam" extent.
edited 18th Nov '11 9:36:11 AM by Exelixi
I agree that a setting should have multiple menaces, it's just that the first impulse of everyone who reads a new setting is always to ask "so what's the problem here?" eg. who is the Bad Guy.
I like Eyclonus suggestions a, d, f, k and m for this setting. Especially K, the god's big unknown plan, though M should be a lot of fun too. And LOL at the variation on zombie plague!
As for technology, I like all the suggestions above except the telegraph one. Instant communication can ruin many adventures as seen in the "if movie characters had cell phones" meme.
I appologise for getting ahead of myself, but my ideas tend to disappear if I don't write them down somewhere. What do you all think of this?
Doppelgangers. Skinwalkers. Changelings. A great number of mythologies have in some incarnation the trope of the shapeshifter, something that appears human, but. . . isn't. Usually, these characters are hated and despised by the population, for rather valid reasons. I've played several RPGs that included shapeshifters, but with very few exceptions, they were just part of the scenery, used once in a blue moon when a mystery adventure was on hand.
I, personally, think the trope should be in full force, with as much space in the spotlight as other races. This may be difficult, considering that they're, well, shapeshifters, and thus blend in with other societies, but it can and should be done. My suggestions:
Operative name: Doppelgangers.
Appearance: Anything, obviously, this being their biggest racial advantage.
Best suited towards: Varies. Discussed below.
Traits and abilities: The race has one and only one innate ability: Shapeshifting. Rather than adapt to a certain environment over generations, they adapt to almost every environment, over, at most, days. There are two basic incarnations of their ability: Imitation and Modification.
Imitation is the much quicker and easier method of transformation. The Doppelganger gets a good look at a living being and, with a few moments of concentration, becomes a nearly-identical copy of them.
Modification is a more involved, long term process. It allows the Doppelgangers to alter almost any aspect of their bodies, with the exception that they are incapable of producing or shedding mass, averting Shapeshifter Baggage. This does not mean they can't grow or shrink, just that they cannot do so to either extreme.* In order to do so to some extent, they simply stretch or condense biomatter. Making a new modification is a very involved process, requiring both time and focus. After this modification is made, the shapeshifter will typically repeat it many times; each use makes it easier to pull off at a moment's notice, as is the case with anything else in the world. Note that, without some serious magic, elemental transmutation doesn't happen. A Doppelganger cannot, for instance, will themselves to be made of gold. As such, in order to keep their options open, resourceful Doppelgangers frequently consume things that others would consider downright odd, like scorpion venom or fingernails. As they mature, most shapeshifters develop some specialty or another, something that they're very, very good at morphing themselves to do; this can be anything from combat to gymnastics to cross-country ski-knitting.
Culture: Most Doppelgangers live amoungst other races, and adopt the culture of their homes to a large extent. However, there is a mostly underground shapeshifter subculture within most large population centres. Though most do not know it, there also exists a place called the Veil, though most Doppelgangers (and almost no-one of any other race) are unaware of its existence.
Homeland: The Veil is a city-state populated only by Doppelgangers, always located in an obscure place and always moving. Powerful enchantments have been placed upon every centimetre of the city enabling even the inanimate objects to transform into inconspicuous scenery at a moment's notice, preventing its location from being discovered.
Magic: A Doppelganger magician that isn't a Changeling (see below) is incredibly rare- perhaps one in a thousand natural Doppelgangers have the capacity for magic. When magic does manifest, it's usually as an extension of their shapeshifting abilities- they develop the power to change other things as well as themselves.
Changelings: Most Doppelgangers are born Doppelgangers, the manifestation of a recessive gene. Some, however, are created through use of powerful magic. A particularly powerful magician of the transmuting persuasion is capable of imparting the ability to shapeshift into a newborn human (only humans are genetically adaptable enough to be able to take on the proper forms) within the first week of its birth. Those touched in this way are called Changelings. Changelings make up roughly one-fourth the total Doppelganger population, and one-half their magical population, as the artificially-created beings are much more inclined to develop magical abilities.
Opinions on Changelings within the Doppelganger race, or, at least, within the Veil, are mixed; some perceive them to be identical to all other Doppelgangers, some see them as something different from a "true" Doppelganger entirely.
edited 6th Apr '12 4:55:16 PM by Exelixi
I have the same problem regarding my ideas, which is why I always write them down ASAP in everywhere from notebooks to this very site.
I like the concept of a race of shapeshifters; I don't think I've seen one done well. The Skrulls, for example, rarely ever seem to do anything with their power other than spy on foes, and otherwise no factor of their culture seems influenced by it.
Shapeshifting is one of those powers that invokes paranoia; with one shifter (I prefer that name to Doppelgangers) around you can never be sure if you're talking to who you think you are, and even your own identity could be stolen at any time. Even a friendly shifter (like Odo in Star Trek) should cause unrest just by his presence but again, you rarely see that addressed. This should extend to the shifters themselves unless they have some innate ability to tell themselves apart. What would a culture where you cannot trust your own eyes be like?
Overall I like your idea, but some comments:
-What do they actually look like? I mean if a spell revealed their true form, for example. Are they featureless humanoids? Humans with individual looks? Amorphous masses?
-Also when killed do they revert back to their true form?
-How far extends their power? Can they take nonhumanoid forms? Animal ones? Objects?
-Speaking of magic are there practical ways of detecting them (dogs maybe?) or are spells specifically tailored to them needed?
-What are their views on gender (assuming they can switch it at will.) How do they reproduce?
edited 19th Nov '11 9:36:49 PM by Sijo
Hm, I figure they'd have some way to determine others of their race's identities. A pheromone signature, perhaps?
In answer to your questions:
As a physical description, Mordekai are very tall humanoid beings just bordering on the next size category up but are also proportionatley thin. Their skin is uniformly gray and each is covered in unique marks, like slices in their skin but natural, that makes symetrical but abstract designs up and down their body. They have no eyes and instead have psychic vision extending sixty feet in every direction, as they are a naturally psionic race. When they speak, their lips move but their razor sharp teeth do not, remaining clenched. Only a small portion of their teeth are seen as they are fully as long as small daggers. They can unhinge their jaws, showing off a monstrous maw and neccessary for their racial language consists of long distance bellowing. Between sexes, the difference is like most humanoid, however most males have inward psionic powers, affecting their bodies, while most females are outward, affecting their surroundings, with common exceptions.
If they have another language beside yelling, it has not been heard as they adopt the language of neighboring cultures. It is joked that they have no other language of their own and merely get tired of shouting at each other from a few feet away. As well as language, they tend to adopt the other aspects of local culture. They will seek nearby allies and if they cannot they will not stay where they have no friends. They do tend to have several universal points amongst Mordekai, chiefly their form of theocratic government in which every possible career path is ruled by a uniquely titled expert and often he and his subordinates will be placed in charge when the applications of their talents are needed on a wide scale. The three positions noted as being the most powerful by outsiders is the President Administrator, the Head Diplomat and the Master General although the Mordekai themselves do not understand why they are any more important then the Supreme Farmer.
That's odd. What prompted you to make these?
They existed in my head and I had no where to use them.
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