Monday, June 29, 2009

On History


The backstory goes way back. Not sure how much the players need to know, but here's the first draft...

In the beginning...

The Creator spoke and the worlds came into being. The servants of the creator, angels/devas/spirits, were given care of this young universe.

These angelic beings squabble
A war breaks out in heaven
Many rebel
Some repent
The rebels are cast out and become demonic beings - some are imprisoned, all are diminished in power
The repentant are cast down (Exiled) and become caretakers of worlds
The Exiles have children (the Firstborn) who are mortal
Some Exiles rebel again (Children of the Sun)
Succeeding generations of Exiles/Elves live shorter and shorter lives

When humanity appeared on the shores of Daen-Ral, the Exiles welcomed them. The first humans to colonize Daen-Ral were worshipers of the Old Gods - powerful elemental beings (demoic). The Exiles drew many people into the worship of the Creator, the Church of the True Path, though worship of the Old Gods remained. Eventually, minor religious wars force the worship of the Old Gods underground.

Only Exiles were Faecrafters (magic-users) at the time. When humans discovered the power of Fae, they demanded to be taught the secrets. The Exiles began to share their knowledge of Fae (magic) but soon discovered that humans learn more quickly and adapt more readily than they anticipated. Soon there were ultrapowerful human archmages carving out empires in the Midlands and enslaving Exiles for their own ends.

A great war was fought in which the Exiles (Children of the Moon and Children of the Sun - along with the Dwarvanna and the N'Daer) allied to purge Daen-Ral of the taint of the human invaders. This time was called the Great Storm and most of the archmages were killed or imprisoned and humanity was forced to flee Daen-Ral for the continent of Baroth. This began a long dark age for humanity, wherein all technological and magical knowledge was lost. This was a barbaric time of slavery and warlords, of empires rising and falling in a sea of blood and steel.

After centuries (eons?) of barbarism, a great warlord appeared. He drew chieftans and peoples from across Baroth, conquering all who opposed him, absorbing minor kingdoms and peoples into a great empire and settling peace on Baroth for generations.

With peace came a quest for knowledge, trade and advancement. Roads criss-crossed the continent. Ships began to ply the coasts. Traders and explorers moved into the unsettled and unknown regions.

Eventually, human explorers go across the sea and "discover" (actually rediscover) Daen-Ral. The Exiles and Dwarvanna are very cautious of these settlers/invaders. In fact, an incident sets off what the humans of Daen-Ral still call the Landings Wars very early on.

After the Landings Wars, humans settle relatively peacefully in the Midlands. The Exiles hold the secrets of Fae very closely, though some humans discover magic use anyway. Two of the imprisoned archmages manage to escape. A brief battle with the Exiles forces them to flee the Midlands for the "Old World" where they begin carving out their own kingdoms in the empire. Apprentices grow in power and begin to challenge their masters and the Faewars of the Old World rage. Humanity flees (as many as are able) as the Old World (Baroth) is overrun by elemental and horrific creatures raised as armies by the archmages to battle one another.

The Exiles establish the Barrier, a great magical shield that separates the Old World from Daen-Ral. The only way through the Barrier is via a magical gate on an island in the middle of the ocean - protected by fierce and deadly guardians.

NOTE - at some point the Dwarvanna contracted a disease, possibly carried by humans, that nearly wiped out their people - thus there are many dwarvanna ruins around, and they are secretive and distrustful of humans especially.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

On the Nature of Worshipped Beings

Okay - here's a first pass at gods and the like...

In the Midlands, the primary church is the Church of the Path (or the Church of the True Path). The God of the Path is the Creator of all that is and the revealer of the way to paradise (thus the God is also associated with Light and with Truth and with Life). From the Western Alliance (I need a new name, since I think this was used in Mystara or somewhere...sigh) to the Frontier, most people worship this God, and simply call him God.

As the Church of the Path is a relic of the Old World, there is no center of power, no uniformity of doctrine or practice. Thus, while all the faithful base their beliefs on the same holy books, their expression of that belief is varied. The oldest worship center is actually in the South - at the Fortress of the Knights of the Crescent Moon - from before the Great Storm.

Other gods are worshipped - notably, the Old Gods - elemental forces (often of evil) as well as demons and devils. Many ultra-powerful creatures are worshipped and are able to confer their power onto their servants (see below). Lesser local gods are also worshipped.

Druids are also present in the Midlands, keepers of nature and balance, they at times draw power from the old gods, sometimes from nature. Druids all have Neutral as a component of their alignment, though they may be good or evil, lawful or chaotic - often opposing one another.

Powerful beings can bestow their power on their servants. When the being who is worshipped is dwelling on his/her plane (the Abyss, the Elemental Planes, etc), he/she is able to grant spells & abilities in a fairly unlimited fashion, though each prayer or miracle actually draws on the essence of the worshipped being. Since the cost to the being/creature is actually very small, generally they are granted without any notice. If a servant displeases the being/god whatever, the power can be intentionally withheld, essentially stripping the servant of any powers.

However, if the powerful being is present in the Prime Material Plane, he/she is limited in power - even if only an avatar of the being is present and not the being itself. Then, the god/demigod/power or whatever grants its powers at the cost of hit points (one hit point per spell level granted). Such hit points are regained at a rate of 1d20 per round. If a worshipped being is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points while on the Prime Plane, the being is rendered powerless for a round and can be effectively trapped in a statis or sleep if the proper (dangerous) incantations are known and the proper (even more dangerous) rituals are followed.

Trapped gods/beings can still be tapped for power, but with the restrictions indicated above (they are trapped on the prime plane so they are limited in how much power can be drawn from them, though generally they are unable to withhold that power, since their consciousness is, in essence, numbed). Thus, the incredible irony of the more followers of the trapped gods try to use arcane means to free their god, the less power the gods have. Releasing a god/being from this stasis is equally complicated and dangerous.

Thus, the Old Gods are all trapped in this Stasis, though their followers can still draw on their power. Likewise, a number of powerful demons and devils are trapped, though they, too, have worshippers.

Clerics, then, draw on the essence of the being/god they worship for their abilities, prayers, miracles. However, they also expend their own spirit (fae) in much the same way magic users do. As clerics get more powerful (higher levels), they can actually become more powerful than the beings they worship. Thus, the gods/beings/etc often feel threatened by their most powerful followers and may choose to withhold their power from them or challenge them. The followers, however, may be of sufficient power to defeat the being/creature and may choose to take its place (and thus the worshipped becomes a worshipper) or to become a power of his or her own (demigod, if you will).

Friday, June 19, 2009

(More) Stuff I Want to Get Done...

...sooner rather than later. REPOST, sort of...

A Gazeteer of the Jacob's Well area. Some notes and a couple maps here and here

Adventures in the works:
Goblin House - Notes on a One Page Dungeon Template
Grave Robbers - Set up and outline Done
The Curious Disappearance of Silian Jass (Ettercap Ambush)
Darkness at Hope Cross Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Village Map Outdoor Map Dungeon Maps
A Question of Balance - Set up and Notes
Three Billygoats Gruff
The Silver Mine
Attack on the Homestead
To the Aid of a Heartache (the swamp adventure with dragon, druid and sorceress) - Partially Fleshed out and Notes
To the Aid of the Witchwoman
Tears of the Gods
The Dwarven Hammer
Shadow Stalker
Beneath the Wizard’s Tower
The Three Part Map
Quest for Primordial Fire (and Water, and Air, and Stone, and Darkness)
Servants of the Forgotten King
The Five Temples of the Elements - Notes and Outlines
1 The Mudpits of Krallan
2 Palace of the Water Spirits - Notes and Maps
3 Tomb of Air or Tomb of Aestharal
4 Dragonhall
5 The Pit of Souls
The Temple of the Elder Elemental Gods – with 5 NODES (yeah, kind of ToEE)
The Point of No Return

There are others, of course...

I have a continental map - it's huge (30"x48") - though I digitized it at one point, so once I track it down maybe I'll post it.

Regions to be detailed include:

The Spires

  • Griffonspire
  • Crystalspur
  • Demonspire
  • Godspire
  • Pillars of the World

Fortress and city of the Knights of the Crescent Moon and the Southlands (at least the caravan route)

Kingdom/Empire of Hamlin

Barrier Crossing

Kingdom of the N'Daer

Great Oaks Forest

Eversnow Mountain Region (in conjunction with the five temples and the coming darkness series, at least).

  • Chalias Zanhithee
  • Whitestone Hall
  • Durdam's Tomb
  • Torgoth's River Canyon
  • Engorwash Swamp
  • Emfram's Crossing?

Smoke Mountains/Ring of Fire (new name?)

Grey Hills & the Grey Watches


The Great Valley (where Jacob's Well is located)

The Frontier

The Jungles

The Ice Empire

One new concern that I have is that this is a pretty generic world - nothing really makes it stand out from, say, Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms. Dragonlance had an identity. Yeah, it was marred with adventures that demanded a specific plotline (kind of like running the Lord of the Rings or the Wheel of Time or whatever - if the world is driven by a particular story-line it can be crippled into having the PCs become simple observers rather than drivers of the plot...) - but draconians and no orcs and no clerics and money being weird and - yeah, it had enough "generic" to make it accessible but enough "unique" to make it interesting (IMO). So, what makes a world interesting? How to make Daen-Ral unique yet accessible? Well, I'll just keep going...maybe it won't ever be interesting (to anyone but me) or unique...

Working on a Player's Handbook. Have a draft of the Monster Manual. Trying to decide races/cultures/etc. to include...

Elves/Exiles - Children of the Sun and Children of the Moon

Human cultures....


Dwarven/Dwarvanna cultures...

Gnomes? Halflings? Others?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jacob's Well Map preview

Jacob's Well Map WIP.

Numbering this thing is going to be a bear... Still not sure if I'll detail everything, or just the important features and allow the details to be filled in as more adventures are written... Probably the latter, leaving it way more open and useful - with some guidelines.

Anyway, Jacob's Well is a town of about 2000 people (almost exclusively human) situated on the top of a 1000' tall plateau/tor/mesa inspired by Civita Bagnoregio. Jacob's Well is where the local governor rules a roughly 10 mile radius of the Empire (though in practice he is responsible for more than that - pretty much everything on the Jacob's Well Regional Map, to the Fen in the south, at least...).

This is a frontier town, kind of the last major civilzation this side of the mountains and north of the great plains. Several adventures are being prepared that are set in the Jacob's Well environs.