View Full Version : Campaigns / Adventures My Homebrew D&D Campaign Setting
01-09-2012, 04:03 AM
I had started work on a homebrew D&D campaign setting a while ago. I kinda set it on the backburner for a while, as I found the entire project fairly overwhelming. However, I figured I would share with all of you what I have done so far. Perhaps I can get your input on where to go from here. Or maybe you'd like to take my idea and run with it. Whichever, feel free to post your thoughts and suggestions below.
My campaign setting is a postapocolyptic Earth, thousands of years after our world had been destroyed by nuclear war. In the beginning, the world was very much like in the Mad Max movies. People all over were fighting for survival, competing with each other over natural resources. As the knowledge of how to turn crude oil into gasoline began to disappear, people began to rely more and more on animal transportation. Similarly, the knowledge of gunpowder began to disappear. And as fire arms became more and more rare, the use of bows, spears, swords, and axes for war and self defense. The glass towers and vehicles of the technological age were scavanged for anything of use. Man's civilization slips back into the dark ages.
The radiation left behind by the bombs causes all sorts of mutations and birth defects, in animals and people. Some of these birth defects die out, as many of these mutants were born sterile. Others cause evolution to jump into high gear. Many people are born with dwarfism, suffering many of the physical problems associated with being born small. Some of these people die out. Others develop new attributes, as they evolve into the personifications of the little people of high fantasy (dwarves, gnomes, and hobbits). Others are born with giantism. These people's descendants grow larger and larger, evolving into mythological giants and giant kin (hill giants, frost giants, fire giants, etc). Still others mutate and evolve in other ways, becoming goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, and the like.
Humanoids of myth, legend, and high fantasy which physically resemble animals (such as gnolls, flinds, minotaurs, etc) were once simple animals. Generations of mutations had caused them to evolve into sentient humanoids. Orcs, for example, were once domesticated pigs raised for slaughter. Before they developed humanoid bodies, they first evolved mentally and intellectually. It wasn't until they had achieved sentience that their bodies began to evolve to match. The humans, gnomes, elves, dwarves, and hobbits that were farming them didn't seem to notice the changes. Or perhaps they didn't care. In any case, as the pigs evolved and developed more and more humanoid traits, the pig farmers built larger and more complex pig pens to keep them in. One night, the mutant pigs broke free of their pen. They gathered any weapons they could find and massacred the farmers who were raising them for food. They then went to the next farm and liberated the pigs there, killing the farmers. Then the next. Then the next. Now, centuries later, they still tell the tales of the "evil (demi)humans who murdered and ate their ancestors". Thus their hatred of humans and the demihuman races. The name 'orc' is actually a bastardization of 'porkers' (first shortened to 'orkers', then to 'orks'). Because they are still pigs, orcs cannot crossbreed with humans (ie: no half orcs).
Magic is also a result of radiation, genetic mutation, and evolution. Much like in Marvel Comics, people developed unusual powers. Eventually these people evolve into sorcerers. There are no wizards in this campaign. Much like in Harry Potter, you're either born capable of casting spells or you're not. No amount of studying tomes about arcane rituals will allow you to wield magic.
The deities of this campaign setting are the deities of Earth's ancient past. The Greek, Roman, and Norse pantheons, among others, are all rekindled. The gods of old reborn were all once human. Their ancestors were among the first sorcerers. One generation of sorcerers were born like any other (level 0, then with practise and experience becomes higher level). Then their offspring are born more powerful than they were (level 1 instead of level 0). Then their offspring are born more powerful, and then theirs are more powerful than the last. Eventually one is born the equivelant of a 20th level sorcerer. His child then eventually sheds his physical form and becomes a being of pure, sentient energy (ie: a god). The gods of the technological age are dead. Their followers, in their blind faith, would seek out and try to destroy anyone who developes these 'unnatural abilities'. Much like in the book The Chrysalis, or in our own bloody history (The Spanish Inquisition and The Salem Witch Trials). Now with more 'tangible' gods available to be worshiped, no one wants to bother worshiping a powerless imaginary figure. And with these new found powers, The Old Gods Reborn are capable of granting powers and abilities (ie: spells) to their clergy.
Even people born without special powers have been altered by the residual radiation. The electromagnetic energy that makes up who we are, our souls as it were, had become iradiated. Once The Old Gods Reborn had learned to control their newfound divinity, they learned that they can take this energy, the souls of their faithful, at the moment of their deaths and grant their consciousness everlasting life. These sparks of consciousness, these souls, then become the celestial beings in service of the good deities, or the demons and devils in service of the evil deities.
Many of the old empires have been resurected. England is now ruled by a king and his knights. Italy has devolved into The Roman Empire. Many Greek kingdoms have been resurected. Germany is now simply called "The Barbarian Lands" as the German people had reverted to their ancient tribal ways. Other lands have utterly changed. France is now called Fey, and is populated almost entirely by elves. Australia has been renamed Amazonia, and the women there are significantly larger and stronger than their men, who are (at best) second class citizens. The coastal lands, where Australia's major cities once stood, are very "modern" (in that they are lands with castles and strongholds, rather like England and Scotland in this reality). In central Amazonia, where Australia's outback once was, is the continent's Barbarian Lands. This is where you find the more primitive, less civilized Amazons.
This is about all I have figured out so far. Please feel free to post suggestions on how I can improve things, or use this as a basis for your own campaigns. And if you do use my ideas, please let me know how things turn out.
01-09-2012, 07:45 PM
I believe you have tackled one of the hardest of the two things in campaign world development - the history/theology. I understand it, it's easy to grasp, and Joe Average Adventurer won't have a clue as to the who/how/why, but the PLAYER will get it. To me, you have tiger blood here... WINNING!!!
Now, the next hard part. Geomorphology.
First question: What kind of nukes were used? Neutron bomb type (lots of short-term radiation and little structural damage) or old-fashioned dirty fission/fusion bombs that left stuff dirty for a LONG time and destroyed large areas? Figure this out, and you can start to make changes in the geology. If London was hit by several "dirty" bombs, it may be a lake, now, but Bristol is pristine after being hit by neutron bombs. How many areas are STILL too radioactive to visit, and get specific about exactly where they are and what happens with things that visit.
Second question: How long ago was this? Did the nukes get the continental plates to shift? Did the resultant radioactive cloud create a new ice age? The Ring of Fire may have created whole new land masses, and entire mountain ranges may have been suddenly created by the sudden movement of plates. Other ranges may have been ground down to nothing by resulting ice-sheets.
Last question: Are there ANY pockets of pure HUMANITY left that are untouched? How might they react to D&D-land encroaching on their lives?
All in all, I REALLY like what you've done. Keep it up!!! Oh, and keep us POSTED!
01-10-2012, 01:16 AM
To answer your questions:
How long has it been since the nuclear holocaust? Undecided, but it is in the thousands of years. It took several generations for the mutation of sorcery to evolve. It then took several more generations for some sorverers to evolve into The Old Gods Reborn (the latter takes at least 21 or 22 generations). I can tell you that it has been so long that there are very few, if any, remnants of the technological age.
Are there any pure humans left who are 100% untouched by the residual radiation? Not really. As mentioned above, the radiation in their blood is what allows The Old Gods Reborn to turn their followers into celestials, devils, and demons. Humans are a very adaptive species. If we spend enough time in virtually any type of climate, we become used to it. So long as radiation doesn't leave us sterile, we would likely adapt to that as well (that's the pseudo-science I'm using in my backstory anyway).
What types of bombs were used? Both neutron (clean) bombs and fusion (dirty) bombs, depending on who launched them. There are several geographical changes to the new world map (new continents, mountain ranges, etc). I haven't worked out exactly what or where yet.
01-10-2012, 02:46 PM
For the time-span, as long as you have a semi-firm date in mind, you are golden. It just gives you a starting point.
All in all, I think you are doing VERY well here. I officially give you my stamp o' approval for what you have accomplished. Keep it up, and DEFINITELY keep us posted!!
01-19-2012, 02:41 AM
sounds like the shanara series by terry brooks, or perhaps the Mahabharata and what it claims to be earth's actual history (http://s8int.com/atomic1.html). (not the best source perhaps, but perhaps inspiring of more campaign ideas....)
i must object to the comment regarding (and i paraphrase) 'dead, imaginary, powerless gods of the technological age' juxtaposed with a post apocalyptic world based on our actual earth. having been both on the receiving side, and on the channeling side, of a particular god of both ancient and modern age, namely the one called Jesus, i must assert that my god is not in any way powerless, nor imaginary. (misunderstood, and falsely claimed by many, granted, but then humans are not always the best of beings.)
having said that, your game, your rules, your beliefs... and i'll respect that; i just feel compelled to bring up my opinion at least once. thanks for reading.
01-19-2012, 03:45 AM
I was trying to convey how survivors of The Day After might view the modern deities after the bomb, not start any theological debates. Look at our world's recent history. In Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants (Christians all) have been murdering each other in the streets for decades over which version of Christianity is the correct one. Yet your God, who supposedly is powerful enough to create the entire universe and all within it in only six days, has yet to materialize and say "Hey! Didn't you read my book? I said 'Thou shalt not kill'! Now knock this s#!t off before you really piss me off!"
Allah, who is supposedly every bit as powerful as your God, didn't manifest in the cockpits of those planes on 9/11 and tell those Muslim extremists to turn the planes around and stop perverting his teachings.
The Jewish God didn't do anything to prevent His children from being slaughtered in death camps during WWII.
So after the bombs, when over half of what's left of the world is a radioactive wasteland incapable of supporting life, people are most likely going to rethink their beliefs. And several generations later, when one person in Norway sheds his mortal coil becoming a superpowerful being of pure sentient energy and says "I am Odin reborn" people are going to be far more inclined to worship Odin than Christ. In Greece, when one person sheds his mortal coil to become a superpowerful being of pure sentient energy and says, "I am Zeus reborn" people are going to be more inclined to worship Zeus than Allah. And so on and so forth.
Also, as the mutation which is the beginnings of Sorcery begin to manifest, the remaining Christians in the world do as they have always done. Seek it out and attempt to destroy it (ie: The Spanish Inquisition and The Salem Witch Trials). They do not look upon those born with special abilities as being blessed by God, but rather being in league with Satan (like how Connor MacLeod's fellow clansmen reacted to his apparent resurrection in Highlander). Thus, in this reality, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all other "modern" religions die off in favor of more "tangible" deities.
And yes, I do realize that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all thousands of years old. But the Norse, Greek, and other pantheons were all thousands of years old when those religions were no more than tiny struggling cults. That is what I mean by "The Old Gods Reborn".
---------- Post added at 03:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:36 AM ----------
By the way, my largest inspiration for this campaign world was actually the animated series Thundarr The Barbarian (1980-1983). Only real difference is in mine, none of our modern buildings are still standing thousands of years later. Well, that and there are no wizards in my world, only sorcerers.
01-19-2012, 06:15 PM
To be honest, your world actually sounds a bit like mine... at least the physical part. My campaign world IS Earth - many billennia in the future (about 100,000,000 in the future). My deities are homebrew according to my world's creation myths, but to help a good gamer-friend out (who was a devout Christian, but wanted to play a Cleric), an ANCIENT tome was found in a magical time capsule that starts out, "In the beginning was the Word..." This particular cult is very small right now - and they have the audacity to worship only ONE deity (go figure!) - but it's some good scenario fodder.
Like your world - no "modern" buildings, and no wizards, only sorcerers.
01-19-2012, 11:54 PM
I chose the pantheons of Ancient Earth for simplicity sake. It's tough enough creating a whole new campaign setting without creating a whole new pantheon as well.
And since many of the world's societies had reverted to earlier stages of development (socially, politically, and economically if not entirely technologically) it made sense that the deities be of the same time period. For example, Italy becomes The New Roman Empire. Historically, the Roman Empire rose to power during the Bronze Age, thus their weapons and armor were made of bronze (the most advanced metal alloy available at the time). In The New Roman Empire, while the weapons and armor are designed to copy those of ancient history, they are made of steel. And their Gods are Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, etc.
Money is made of copper, silver, gold, and platinum coins. Greece is made up of several smaller kingdoms, such as Sparta and Athens. England has reverted to the days of Arthurian legend. Scandinavia has reverted to the ways of the Vikings. Germany has reverted to the barbarian clans that the D&D barbarian class is so heavily based. And so on and so forth.
01-20-2012, 02:11 AM
actually, judaeo-christianity predates those religions by quite a margin. if you use the creationist-based calendar, by thousands of years. if you use other calendars, then by tens of thousands. furthermore, most of those and other pagan religions got their mythos from corrupted bits and pieces of the judaeo-christain mythos, combined with various local historical events. as a side note, i happen to have thor and odin in my family tree, the actual originals, that is, who eventually became the deified ones. as another side note, the radioactive dating methods in use today are becoming more and more discredited. some recent research indicates that they may be off by as much as 99%. so the calendars might not be as far off as many think.
i wonder if i can put the next thought simply enough to be short. the atrocities mentioned have nothing to do with god, but are rather people exercising the ability to choose for themselves in atrocious fashions, and dragging god's name into it. he cannot prevent such things from happening any more than he can commit sin. he gave humans the ability to choose for themselves, and cannot take it back.
however, i need to stop derailing your thread. sorry about that.
you make some good points as to how humans would likely react to the circumstances as given and outlined. having living powers, minor and/or major amongst the crowd would certainly start cults, and eventually religions. though i may disagree with some of the particulars, i see your chain of logic. though, it also occurs to me that it would be just as likely for someone to claim to be any given deity, not just ones from particular eras, barring other circumstances such as notably similar characteristics and so forth.
how will you be handling the native american mythos? that is another area i'm likely to get particular on, especially since there are so many errors in transcription from the native tongues and stories into the englisized versions. i can recommend an interesting source written by a archeologist and egyptologist, if i recall her resume correctly.
01-20-2012, 05:47 AM
As I said, I don't want to get into a theological debate. But since you insist on discussing it . . .
Judaism is a very old religion, I grant you, having been practiced for aproximately 3000 years. Which puts its earliest recorded practices at about 1000 BC. Christianity began as an offshoot of Judaism, sometime during the middle of the First Century (that would be aproximately 50 AD) and didn't break off as its own religion until sometime later (several decades at least).
The earliest writings to describe the religious practices of Ancient Greece that have survived the centuries date back to aproximately 750 BC. The actual religious practices of the Ancient Greeks dates much farther back then that, as those scrolls weren't written until long after worship of The Olympians was common place (a process which, back then, took hundreds if not thousands of years).
The early Norse people had no writings, but their religious artworks date back to aproximately 9000 BC. Granted, their religious artworks depicting Odin, Thor, Loki, and the rest of the Norse pantheon didn't begin to show up until roughly 1000 BC. They didn't even come into contact with any Christians until they began the raiding and pillaging that made the Vikings so famous. That didn't occur until about 700 AD.
So I'm sorry, but your claim that the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse, and all other pagan religions are based on Christianity is a bunch of, as the Drow would say, gol iblith.
And I know that my examples of the evils men do in the name of God are the choices of men, not their deity. My point was, and is, that a deity who professes to be a being of peace and love (which every Christian and Muslim I've ever met claims that that's what their Gods are all about) would take offense to such actions. And if He's powerful enough to create an entire universe and all that's within it in only six days, surely he can slap some sense into a few idiots killing in His name. Christians (and Jews and Muslims for that matter) call themselves the children of their Gods. Well I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes children need a stern lecture, sometimes they need a time out, and sometimes they need to take a trip to the woodshed. Any "father" who would let his "children" misbehave as mentioned above either doesn't care, is powerless to stop them, or simply doesn't exist.
But to get back on topic, about your question of the Native American Mythos. My main source for all the mythos I've mentioned (well, the D&D versions of them anyway, not this ongoing "Chicken Or The Egg" debate we keep dragging on) is the 1st Edition AD&D book Legends & Lore. I know there are 2nd & 3rd Edition versions, but the 1st Edition version has deities and pantheons in it that weren't included in the later editions. Anyways, I will be using many of the deities listed in there for the North American Natives. I may also make some up, as I understand each tribe/nation had its own spiritual beliefs. Perhaps they'll worship ancestral spirits, as well as nature and animal spirits. If I remember my Native Studies from elementary school correctly (granted, that is a VERY long time ago), I believe that was a big part of the Canadian Natives spiritual beliefs.
And about your observation that a person developing godly powers could claim to be pretty much any deity, not just the ones from whatever region they live in. That is true. However, as I mentioned before, especially with the monolithic religions (Christianity and Islam in particular, as they're the only ones to have a "boogyman" to blame all evil on) people who begin to exhibit such powers are shunned, even killed. So no one claims to be the "Second Coming Of Christ", or "Allah On Earth", because neither religion will "suffer a witch to live" (although I believe the Muslims say it differently, it's the same sentiment). Again I point out The Church's history with the unknown, The Salem Witch Trials and The Spanish Inquisition. Also in literature, like The Chrysalis, where anyone "not born in God's image" was rendered infertile and then left in the woods to die. Remember how they reacted when they learned that certain members of their society could communicate telepathically. Imagine how the remaining Christians would react when their children begin to develope "unnatural abilities". While other communities embrace their members with special abilities, these Christian communities destroy theirs. So when one day these powerful people become so powerful that their human forms can no longer contain them and they become gods, the Christian communities begin to die out. Can you imagine if the Christians decide to march to war against the communities who embrace their sorcerers because "they're in league with Lucifer"? During The Spanish Inquisition and Salem Witch Trials, any true witches who were executed didn't put up a fight because witches are pacifists who are taught to "do no harm". Besides, true witchcraft isn't like in the fantasy novels, D&D games, and Hollywood movies. It can't harm anyone. But D&D sorcerers who can hurl fireballs vs a bunch of angry Christians with spears and axes? Who do you think's gonna win?
I chose not to have anyone become "The Second Coming Of Christ" or something similar because I find the pagan gods much more interesting, with their human vices and their constant struggles within their pantheon's heirchy. You have Ares conflicting with Athena. You have hera conflicting with Zeus (mostly over his wandering eye). You have Thor conflicting with Loki. You can even have conflicts between pantheons, Roman vs Greek for example. Far more role playing choices than that of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish gods.
01-26-2012, 03:55 AM
i like many of the points you bring up.
i will mention that the judeao-christian belief system dates back to a minimum of 13000 years, even by creationists' calendars. more if you go by non-creationist calendars. (i am aware that this comment is not popular with almost everyone.)
a god who wants children to grow up and become like him rather than automatons, has to allow them to learn from their own mistakes sometimes. also, the ability of free will is a law that god cannot break. he follows his own laws, after all. i do mean the higher laws that were rescinded from humanity after certain events caused them to be given a lower law, more famously known as the ten commandments. i'm trying to think of a short simple way of describing the concepts involved, but i may have to get back to you on that. i don't do simple very well as an individual. besides, going around and blasting people doesnt work for convincing, actually. history shows that. plus it violates one of the lessons that is attempting to be taught, namely that of faith. god has good reasons for not leaving obvious tracks.
anyhow, i fully agree that there seems to be lots more material for rp and interaction in a poly-theistic setting. certainly a lot more justification for blatant interaction and interference, also for surviving said contact on the part of the pcs. ^^
01-26-2012, 05:07 AM
I'm sorry, but I'm more inclined to take the word of a historian (whose job it is to be completely impartial) than that of a priest who claims that Christians existed 13000 years before Christ was born (a statistical impossibility, unless they happened to have access to Doc Brown's Delorian from Back To The Future).
And while sometimes children need to learn from their own mistakes (I'm sure the Muslims who flew the planes into the WTC are burning in Hell wondering why Allah has forsaken them), sometimes they need to be put over daddy's knee. And by the time some demon is shoving a trident up your butt, it's a little late for life lessons. The modern Gods (Christ, Allah, etc) all either don't care enough to make their presence known, don't have the power to make their presence known, or simply don't exist. To quote a D&D player's profile from another gaming website "Was the creation of Man God's biggest mistake? Or was the creation of God Man's?"
But enough of this babble. As I said, I'm not here to debate theology with you (or anyone else). I needed an explanation as to (a) Why are the Ancient Gods being worshipped over the more modern Gods, (b) Why are they able to grant their clergy magical spells now when they couldn't even back when they were the world's dominant religions, and (c) Where were they for all these centuries. The answer: (a) The Christians and other religions died out due to a refusal to accept the evolution of sorcery, (b) They're able to grant spells to their clergy because unlike their predecessors, they are actually tangible beings, and (c) As The Old Gods Reborn are not truly the Old Gods, there need be no explanation as to where they've been. They are, or were, worshipers of The Old Gods (Neo-Pagans you might call them). But unlike the surviving Christians, Muslims, and Jews, they embraced their members who had evolved into sorcerers. And as their descendants evolve into immortal beings of pure sentient energy, they accepted them as Zeus, Jupiter, Odin, Ra, Anu, Dagda, Quetzelcoatl, Shang-Ti, Ukko, Indra, Amaterasu Omikami, and Enlil, to name a few. Then as others evolve they become Ares, Mars, Thor, Bast, etc, etc, etc, they embraced them too. Once the Old Pantheons have been "refilled", the Old Gods Reborn blocked the humans' ability to evolve to that level of power any more. The Elves, Gnomes, Dwarves, Hobbits, Orks, Giants, Goblins, etc, all create their own Pantheons the same way (although the human pantheons might have evolved sooner, as these other races all have to evolve first before their race's members can evolve into Gods).
Not sure if I had mentioned it before, but Half-Orks aren't available as a PC race in this world. As the Ork race are humanoid mutant pigs (hense the change in spelling), they cannot interbreed with humans or demihumans. Same goes for other humanoids who are the evolution of lower life forms, like gnolls and minotaurs. However, goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, etc), and giants (especially the smaller giant kin, like verbeeg, fomorians, firbolgs, voadkyn, etc) are descendants of humans, and can therefore interbreed with their human and demihuman cousins. So while a Half-Ork isn't a valid PC race, a Half-Hobgoblin or a Half-Bugbear, or even a Half-Ogre, might be.
01-26-2012, 04:38 PM
Regarding the religious commentary - we REALLY need to tone this down, because the community guidelines restrict this speech on here.
Tony, as for your questions and answers, there's other answers that you may not have considered...
(a) Why are the Ancient Gods being worshiped over the more modern Gods
Converts are ALWAYS more devout than second-generation worshipers - it's been proven time and time again in studies of religions. ALSO, when the Old Gods returned, they had power - which wasn't readily apparent from the "new gods". In an "My deity can kick your deity's butt" argument, if my deity grants me powers and yours doesn't, then I win - every time.
(b) Why are they able to grant their clergy magical spells now when they couldn't even back when they were the world's dominant religions
Perhaps they could and we just don't remember it. Perhaps their personal philosophy changed and they are NOW granting powers when they didn't before. Any deity can change its mind... hey, it's a DEITY!!
(c) Where were they for all these centuries.
Perhaps you think too "manlike" and want immediate gratification. Consider the scene from "The Two Towers" (book or movie) where the ent, Treebeard, returned to Merry and Pippin after several DAYS of conversing with the other ents to announce that they have decided that the two weren't orcs. Can you imagine how long it would take for them to decide something HUGE like going to war? Perhaps the Old Deities were focused elsewhere and were busy - or were involved in DEITY stuffs... and now we got their attention. Perhaps in a few millennia they will again shift that focus and the clerics will be left high and dry yet again!
Now - as to orks... that's the only thing you've done that I don't care for. Why are THEY evolved pigs and not hybrids or mutated humans? Why are hobgobs, bugbears and ogres mutated humans?? Why would a PIG evolve to look so stereotypically HUMANOID? Why don't they still have cloven hooves and two digits on their hands (with modified toe to form an opposable thumb so they can manipulate things? Your biology escapes me right now.
01-26-2012, 06:53 PM
In regards to the religious commentary, I keep saying I don't want to debate theology. It's others who keep bringing it up. I keep trying to put the conversation back on topic.
As for your comments regarding the Old Gods Reborn, I agree with some of what you said. The whole "My God grants me powers and yours doesn't" argument is a large reason why there are so many converts to The Old Religions. I believe I mentioned this in my opening post, though in a less direct way.
Now as for your comments about The Old Gods taking a hiatus and then returning After The Bomb. I am going for a quasi-realistic/pseudo-scientific campaign setting, in an X-Men/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kinda way. The myths and legends depicted in The Iliad and The Holy Bible are just that, myths and legends. They are no more historical accounts than The Lord Of The Rings is. It's only After The Bomb, when man and other life forms begins to mutate and evolve, that the works of The Iliad begin to look less like works of fiction.
As for your comments about the evolution of Orks, they are hardly the only species to evolve from lower life forms. The Gnolls evolve from mutating hyenas. Kobolds evolve from mutating lizards, as do lizard men and troglodytes. Sahuigan evolve from mutated barracudas. Lycanthropes all evolve from their primary animal species (wolf, rat, bear, boar, etc) to be able to assume human and hybrid humanoid form. And I never said that Ork hands didn't have two fingers and an opposable thumb due to once having been cloven feet. In fact, that IS how I picture their hands evolving. Remember, one of the inspirations of this setting is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Any D&D species that can be recreated with the TMNT RPG, then that (more or less) is how that species evolved in this campaign setting. The reason I wrote so much more on the backstory of the Orks is because as a generally non-predatory species there needs to be a reason for Orks and the humans & demihumans to constantly be at each others throats. Something other than "The books say orcs are evil so that's why they are". I wanted there to be more to them than "they're in this world for your PCs to kill". Thus the elaborite backstory. Plus, from basic D&D up to 2nd Edition AD&D, orcs have always been illustrated as looking like pig men. In the 1st Edition AD&D Players Handbook, the illustration of the Half-Orc had them with a pig-like nose and tusks. Thus, mutant pig men who took their name from the word "Pork", makes logical sense. And with them passing down stories, generation after generation, of the "evil humans, dwarves, gnomes, and hobbits, who murdered and ate our people even as we begged and pleaded with them to stop", well . . .how do YOU think they would regard the "good" races.
Now, in regards to the goblins, hobgoblins, ogres, etc. There are certain races in the D&D game that don't exactly look like a mutated humanoid version of any particular animal. The goblinoid races are a prime example. Thus, like dwarves, elves, gnomes, etc, they are descended from humans. They may even be descended from the same areas that birthed these other "good" races. Now think back to what life was like in elementary and high school (I'm assuming you are old enough to have graduated). Remember how the fat kid was treated? The kid with the thick, Coke bottle bottom glasses? The kid with the stutter? How about a kid with a birthmark covering half his face? Could you imagine the nicknames and torment HE went through?. Now imagine the world After The Bomb. What kinds of physical deformities children would be born with. Can you imagine how the "normal kids" would treat these mutants? And sometimes outcasts group together for mutual protection. What if these outcasts were to break off and form their own community? How would they regard the "normals" who rejected them? Remember, being the victim of a bully can be a catalyst for becoming a serial killer. Imagine an entire community of people who were bullied for being "different". Again, I'm building a backstory for why the evil races are evil other than "The PCs needing something to kill".
The GM of the Pathfinder game I've been playing in since last spring did a very similar thing with his campaign. Adam sat down and reasoned out "Why" creatures behave the way they do in D&D games rather than just say "Orcs are evil because the books say so and you kill them because you're heroes and that's what heroes do". He looked at several humanoid races to try and figure out why they are classified as "evil". The hobgoblins have no real reason why they're evil other than "the books say so". They have no penalties to any of the 6 character stats, have a strict military type heiarchy, yet they live in tiny little clans. While their smaller, weaker, less intelligent cousins, the goblins, can live in communities which number in the tens of thousands. So he changed things a bit. He determined that the reason so many hobgoblins are evil is because they are raised worshipping an evil deity who tells them to do evil. However there are a few small groups of hobgoblins who made the choice NOT to be evil. Some of them live in harmony with humans, where they work mainly in their military, others live in their own communities but are at peace with the human and demihuman communities around them.
He also looked at the ogres. First, he noticed that in the 3rd Edition D&D Monsters Manual, ogres were drawn to look like gigantic goblins rather than huge primitive humans. Thus he decided that ogres were goblinoids. Then he read in their description that ogres are "always ravenously hungry". He determined that they killed and ate human and demihumans more because they HAD TO than because they wanted to. They're bodies are so huge and so musculat that their metabolism has to work overtime in order to fuel their enormous bodies. Therefore they are ALWAYS hungry and ALWAYS need to eat. And they will eat damn near anything, sentient or otherwise. They'll even eat their own kind. The GM determined that part of their rationalization for their eating sentient beings is spiritual in nature. They're honoring the dead by eating them and making them a part of themselves (a phylosophy shared by many actual cannibalistic cultures). He also had one of the kingdoms in his homebrew world domesticate ogres. By working them hard doing heavy labour and keeping them well fed, they found that the ogres would be quite docile. The ogres seem to enjoy their domesticated existance. All they have to do is lug around some (to the humans) heavy loads and they get a comfortable place to sleep and all the food they could possibly want.
My phylosophy on creating this world is much the same. Not just say "these creatures are bad and you have to kill them because the books say so", but say "these creatures don't like you because of the way your ancestors treated their ancestors, so now they want to kill you". That just seems to make for much more interesting storytelling, IMHO. And the cool thing is, a GM can choose to start his campaign anywhere in the history of the world (well, anytime After The Bomb anyway, before that wouldn't make for much of a D&D/Pathfinder game). Imagine being around to witness the birth of the new races, or the birth of The Old Gods Reborn. Perhaps the PCs might influence events in your version of this campaign setting. Maybe they convince a group of future goblinoids that not all humans are bad, and that they should try to make peace with them. Perhaps there is a Holy War between two factions in Scandinavia, where two powerful sorcerers are claiming to be Odin Reborn. Maybe the die hard Christians are after the PCs for defying Christ by harboring a witch. Perhaps the players decide to play Inquisitors, hunting down and slaying witches and other "Abominations to Gods will" (ie: mutants). The possibilities are endless.
01-27-2012, 01:59 AM
hmmm. i can see many flaws in your counter arguments. however, while it was my intent to challenge some of the basis of your homebrew in order to better understand your logic, and also bring up a few points that are almost always shot down, despite the evidences to the contrary; it is not my intention to anger or inflame you, nor to greatly derail the thread. cosmology IS rather the place to debate, well, cosmology after all. i'll pm you anything else that is more theological then.
04-04-2012, 01:05 PM
I have been working on a similar setting so I'll talk a bit about how magic occurred in my world.
All magic actually works in the same way. It is all based on ESP and unlocked potential due to genetic engineering. However, people learn to wield the power in three primary ways - Divine, Arcane, and Psychic. The difference is not so much in the way magic works but in the way the spell caster BELIEVES that it works.
I did this for a non-d20 system so bare with me. I chose to divide these three beliefs into different attributes that modified their magical abilities. Arcane was based on Intellect + Willpower. Divine was based on Faith + Willpower. And Psychic was based on Empathy + Willpower. This made sense for my game world's theologies while not directly tying divine ability to an actual living "god". It also explained why some people had the ability and others did not as they needed high scores in each of these attributes to have the ability to cast spells. A lot of people have the attributes, but have no skill.
Anyway, hope that helps. And if any of you are interested in doing some play-testing I could use some help. The link below is to my scribd account and the RPG rules that I've been working on that help define how my game world dealt with magic:
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