Tuesday 12 June 2018

New Setting in the Works

This has been in the works since the 80s. I'm inspired a bit by:
-Review I read for element masters RPG in 80s Dragon
-Clark Ashton Smith and Brian Lumley lost worlds and wizards
-My dnd setting ancient history (pre flood) time travel might happen
-some heavy metal covers (zebra girl one if you remember)

Will accompany my Xor, Psychon and Shadelport settings

No name yet but something like Kalax or Kargon  or Lost Age
(thinking of something like KODAK - short easily remembered meaningless word)

My current Shadelport setting will be the modern era 5000 years later
This setting is in the distant past in a new era of freedom
12 generations after the fall of the Necromancer kings
80 generations before that the world was ruled by the monster empire
There are still enclaves of necromancers and monster kings
Mighty wizards rule some areas from great towers
Elemental priest kings rule walled city states from mighty ziggurats
Barbarian hordes saved the world from the monster and necromancer kings
Barbarians see civilization, wizards and priests as despicable, decadent and weak
Barbarian tribes are kin to abhumans descended from beasts, trees and elements
Demihumans mostly hid for aeons but are now claiming wilderness areas
The world is mostly a wasteland, elves and nature spirits are repairing it
The seas were kept at bay by ancient magic which might one day fail
Great ruined monuments and forts built by wizardry remain
Elemental and beast symbols are commonplace
Symbols of death and demons are universally despised as evil
Dragons have taken over some cities
Bronze age with steel a secret of ancients or meteoric rarity
Stone is common with barbarians and crude cold iron is rare and thought of as magic

Barbarian Tribes are descended from Abhumans possibly created by the monster empire breeding experiments. Their own myths deny this possibility. Many have skin colours and patterns not found in civilised peoples. In a sense barbarian are abhumans but human looking. They regard their beastmen and abhuman kin as sacred ancestors, some by magic even revert to their ancient forms. Barbarian tribes with no connections to beast or elements are common also but looked down on as too close to civilised humans by the other tribes.

Elemental Tribes

Fire or Sun Tribes have red orange and yellow skin, hair and eyes
Water or Sea Tribe have green or deep blue 
 skin, hair and eyes
Air or Sky Tribe have white or cyan
 skin, hair and eyes
Earth or Rock Tribe have brown or green
 skin, hair and eyes

Other Tribes
Zebra Tribe have black and white striped fur and white hair
-horse tribe are often chestnut, sand coloured or piebald
Tiger Tribe have orange fur with black stripes and orange hair
-lion, cheetah, panther, jaguar, lynx, leopard and sabretooth
Lizard tribe have scaled skin and various colour schemes, some are kin to dinosaurs
Deer, Goat and Cattle tribes have various fur colours
Wolf, dog and jackal tribes
 have various fur colours
Bird Tribe have feathers instead of hair

Even if they look human barbarians are all abhumans and shun normal humans and character classes. Wizards are for killing and all barbarians hate them. Priests are not much better. Druids are fine but barbarian druids will have several levels of abhuman first.

Most humans will come from the city states each worshipping a single city god, some great cities will acknowledge other gods or have a triad, especially if they have absorbed smaller cities. Some cities are allied in loose trade configurations and acknowledge each others gods as kin. Soon a leader will arise to found a new empire and create the first pantheon to unite several cities. That's something that can happen in game. Siege weapons are forgotten so walls mostly keep out barbarians who don't have patience for a siege. Barbarians rely on surprise mostly. Dwarves and the monster empire do have siege warfare.

Dragonlords are cities where a dragon has taken over. In some cases the dragons might also support a elemental cult if it suits their needs. 
Some cities have fallen to evil cults and worship demons, devils, evil elemental lords and evil gods. Some cities pretend to be outwardly elemental but keep interests in necromancy or evil in secret.

In the frozen north from the city state river valleys there are necromancer kings in mountain forts who require corpses and souls for their black magic.

In isolated places remains of monster king surviving since their empire but now they are no longer united and fight amongst each other. They are often served by abhumans and evil barbarian tribes akin to the monster kings beast types.

Every decade a barbarian horde is assembles often unified with several tribes will assault a city state or necromancer king fort or a monster king fort. At least once a century barbarians take a city. Often the barbarians are assimilated and become one with their subjects and turn on the barbarian kin. There are usually the more human looking barbarians. The more non human looking barbarians are more likely to destroy the city and might enslave the people or kill them all. Those who keep civilised slaves often dilute their bloodlines and become more human.

A human barbarian might tolerate a priest or wizard for a time to kill more wizards and might lose their hatred of magic over time or at least tolerate some.

The elemental gods vary. In some places they will be great elemental nobles. In other places they have become more human and have come to resemble humans more. In some places taken by barbarians in the past beast lords are erected as gods and these too become humanised. Roughly the city state gods resemble Egyptian and Babylonian gods (but are mostly superficially). Priest of the humanoid gods destroy undead and the end of necromancy spread their human-centric religion ever since. Some elemental cults regard human looking gods as heretics.

Wizards are mostly elementalists in cities. Necromancers are hated and have harmed the reputations of all wizards. Summoners are also unpopular for dealing with demons and devils and are associated with monster kings. All wizardry and necromancy was learned from the monster empire or dragons at the end of the monster empire. Necromancers went on to replace the monster empire using legions of undead.

Civilised warriors use more armour and rely on finesse and missile weapons and chariots more than barbarians. Only a few barbarian tribes ride mounts. Cities use chariots and some don't even have wheels. All use pack animals and plough beasts.

Nomads are a new phenomena. Coming from fallen cities they have domestic beasts and some civilised arts like wheels. They are not like barbarians, wearing more clothes and using better technology but many are becoming more wild by generations. Nomads are tough and mostly move to void conflict. Occasionally they conquers a city and are assimilated to civilization.

Demihumans are rivals but did ally with humans against the Monster Kings and just Avoided the Necromancer kings. Dwarves live under mountains, gnomes under hills and elves in forests. Forests are expanding under the care of elves and spirit folk. Some spirit folk are infiltrating humans to guide their civilization thy have hope for.

Necromancers are hiding on the most extreme cold and desert regions where the living struggle. Monster kings hold pocket empires in ancient jungles and some forts in deserts. Deserts and tundra keep civilization and many barbarians away. Occasionally a barbarian horde risk it and exterminate them. Necromancer and monster kings only dream of returning power but this is the dawn of the age of Man. Many great wastelands will be flooded at the end of this age when ancient spells keeping back the oceans break.

Dinosaurs and Pleistocene animals are commonplace but in some areas near civilization have been exterminated or tamed. Some cities have dinosaur headed gods or sacred beasts. Dinosaur barbarian tribes are pretty intimidating.

The old gods from before the monster empire are distant and forgotten, the links to heaven shattered by evil who also over ran the underworld. When this age ends the new gods will flood the world and establish the ninefold alignment path and restructure the multiverse.

Alignment might be simpler in this setting with no alignment language. Law and Chaos are only just developing cults. Good and evil are more abstract. Neutrality is more common encompassing nature, beast or primal element cults. Dragonlords are neutral even if the dragons have more precise language.

Common is the slave tongue of old
Each barbarian tribe speaks a beast or elemental tongue
Skelos is the necromancer lord tongue
Each of the four elements has a language
Ancient is the monster empire language

Climate and Terrain

Most of the moist and forest lands are higher altitude. Most of the wastes and deserts are former seabeds cleared by the monster kings with black magic.

d10 Basic Terrain Types

1 Tundra - broken frozen waste and permafrost dominated by necromancers
2 Mountains - cold craggy impassable mountain barriers dominated by dwarves
3 Hills - hill country often barren but some with grass and forests dominated by gnomes
4 Broken - blasted broken rocky canyons, some volcanic, occupied by barbarians

5 Wasteland - rough rubble strewn hills and plains, occupied by barbarians
6 Desert - parched sandy mostly lifeless, with remains of ancient evil empires
7 Salt flats - dried plains of salt, some more boggy and marshy
8 Grassland - great grasslands of herds and barbarians, river valleys with cities
9 Forest - thick forests, many are new and dominated by elves
10 Jungle - thick dinosaur filled and ruled by monsters

d100 Terrain frequency

01-05 Tundra
06-15 Mountains
16-25 Hills
26-35 Broken 

36-60 Wasteland  
61-70 Desert 
71-80 Salt flats
80-90 Grassland  
91-95 Forest 
96-100 Jungle

City Cult

1 Single Elemental, hate other elements
Single Elemental, acknowledge other elements
3 All elements
4 Para or quasi elemental
5 Beast cult god
6 Elemental god
7 Triad of gods
8 Prime god plus loose coalition of allied city gods
9 Dragon lords
10 Nature or druidic
11 Faux cult (roll d6) secretly ruled evil cult as per 12* 

12 Demon, devil, necromantic, evil god or monster cult*
*Only powerful cities worship evil openly or barbarians and other cities attack

Project for this Setting

Gods and elemental cults and spells
City and cult generators
Expanded terrain tables
Priest variants (some turn elementals or demons)
Maps, replace sea with mostly land
Monster Empire and the old gods
-many demons deified beings from monster empire

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