Sunday, March 29, 2015

Maps, a possible name and an important question

So the last 24 hours have been full of inspiration and world building for me. I decided to create 2 starting world maps. 1 before the cataclysm, and one 200 years after.

My reasoning behind this was to create a world that looked like many other fantasy worlds, with borders and differing nations and cultures. Then, I looked at it from the view of the vengeful deities, and looked at what horrors I could enact to cause the greatest damage and suffering. I then looked at how the world, slowly rebuilt from the ashes would form, both in terms of topography, and changes to the nations and cultures.

The dwarven homeland was made so untenable in terms of survival, they were forced into a wide diaspora, signalling the end of unified dwarven culture. Other human nations were destroyed utterly, or forced into hard decision for survival. Several successor states arose to fill a power vacuum left by the collapse of some nations, and the borders between al nations radically shifted. All of this will be covered in the sections on races and cultures in the coming weeks.

I also needed a name for the horrific events that gave birth to this new world. "The Cataclysm" was already taken by events in the Dragonlance setting, and i didn't think the term "Apocalypse" applied to a world that survived.

A friend suggested "The Breaking", and I instantly felt that was the best I had heard or thought of since coming up with the setting. He also suggested the title "Broken World." I like that, but I may change it if a better name occurs to me. However, the working title is now officially:


The next areas I need to look at are:

1: Race.
2: Cultures.
3: Classes.

I need to put races and cultures together for simplicity, so  can show racial cultures at the same time as their respective races.

In that view, would you prefer to see Races and Cultures next, or Class discussions? Let me know in the comments if you have a preference.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Magic in the new world.

Having decided that this setting is going to have a focus on the psionic, i now have to consider what role, if any, magic will play in this new world. I has actually been harder than i thought, but i am leaning towards a particular solution. In saying that, another better solution may present itself that i will utilise instead.

Divine magic:

Divine magic still has a place in the world. Even though the gods have been abandoned, they still exist as echoes of their former power, and can still grant power to their followers. The drawback for divine casters is that people react with fear and loathing when it comes to divine power from a deific source. Druids are a more complicated issue, but we will deal with that in the class discussions.

Arcane magic:

Arcane magic was very much the harder to work out here. At first I imagined a setting with a few remaining arcane practitioners, but I realised without a concrete mechanical reason, I just couldn't imagine how psionics would have gained such dominance.

So I toyed with a drawback. The Scarred Lands setting dealt with it by having arcane magic generate intense body heat, enough to make wearing heavy clothes untenable whilst spellcasting and causing concentration checks. Though that seemed interesting, the setting didn't have an alternative, and it still wasn't enough to turn people away from magic in my mind.

The next idea was Wild Magic, adding seemingly random effects on certain spells or abilities. However, I have quickly realised how much tinkering that would take, as well as how much it could slow down play to add in chaotic effects via tables and die rolls.

The solution is clearly to remove Arcane magic entirely. This obviously removed Wizard, Bard, Witch, Magus and Sorcerer. It also has repercussions on other classes, but ones that I am willing to spend the time to have fixed.

If you have any suggestions of your own as to how to deal with arcane magic in this new setting, feel free to leave a comment below.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Alignment: Who needs em?


You know, for the longest time as both a player and a DM in D&D and Pathfinder, i was a big proponent of having them. Not only are they tied to several mechanics, but I always thought they provided guidance for role-playing your character. But is that a good enough reason to keep them in the game? Isn't it all just a little cliche now?

As a player, i would always look at actions that could be taken, and sigh because my neutral good character just shouldn't be doing something like that. I applied my alignment like a straight jacket for a character, rather than something that enhanced it. Sure, one can argue that it was my shortcoming, and that alignment is a guide, but it doesn't FEEL like a guide when mechanics are tied to it. As a DM, i fell into that lazy trap of putting helpless orphans in danger, and winking and nudging the good members of the party into action. It feels too lazy now.

It also reminds me of a time i was in a party with a player who was playing as a holy cleric. in one session, we were trying to determine which side to take in a conflict. He declared it was time for some "Detect evil, with prejudice..." and cast holy smite on the group. Those that were smote, must have been the bad guys, and that was the end of all the tension.

So, in a radical departure for me, i am eliminating the alignment system for this new setting.

I can almost hear the gasps from some people i may have played with previously.

I kind of want to explore the grey areas of morality and ethics, when good people occasionally do things they don't want to, because it is easier, or because a sacrifice needs to be made. When awful people do the right thing, but for all the wrong reasons. I want actions and thoughts to be the determining factor for how people treat you, and how you treat NPC's.

Removing alignment from the game sounds complicated, but here are my starting simple ideas:

1: Remove all alignment requirements from classes. Yes, even Paladin. Paladins are now incredibly rare, and i can see different ways to create a holy warrior, even dark ones.

2: Remove all alignment descriptors from spells/items. There are spells that are functionally the same, except one does lawful damage and one does chaotic damage. Just remove those, and spells still make sense. Domains and domain spells take a little more jiggling, but i have researched and brainstormed some ideas.

3: Replace any class or race abilities that directly tie into alignment. "Detect evil" for a paladin doesn't need to be there, and "Smite Evil" suddenly becomes much more versatile if it is simply "Smite foe".

4: No monster alignments for obvious reasons. They don't need them either. A vampire is hunted and destroyed because they are dangerous, not because they ping on the Paladin's "Evil-dar."

Already i can imagine a change. Players will have to drill deeper into what makes their character tick. Maybe they are gentle healers, happy to help the sick... but they cannot deny the thrill of pleasure they get when they murder someone. Perhaps they are a Telepath that rips secrets out of a politicians minds to blackmail them... so that the poor and disadvantaged get what they need.

Grey areas......

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Races: an overview.

So, I've been thinking of the Races that i would like to use in this setting. Some of the core races are in, some are out, and some variants will be added to the core roster. I'll go through each race, and show where my current thoughts are on each. I will later expand on each of the included races in subsequent posts.

Human: Obviously in. Humans are the base race in most settings, and i see no reason to exclude them. Whilst the idea of a world without any humans does come across as intriguing, it's not intriguing enough for me to take it seriously.

Elves: In. I LIKE elves, but I have some ideas for a different take on them. What i want to avoid is elven subraces. There is one elven species, but i do have an idea to seperate them culturally so they aren't the mono-culture that exists in many settings.

Half-elves: Out. I don't think half breeds really suit my feelings for the setting. If humans and Elves can interbreed, they must share a very recent common ancestor, and that just doesn't make sense considering the vast biological differences.

Dwarves: In. I don't see the dwarves in this setting living underground or in mountains, but i still see a place for them in this world as traders and craftsmen.

Gnomes: Out. Gnomes.... just don't work most of the time. The race often feels like a tacked on joke at best, and an annoying nuisance at worst. In some settings, changes or tweaks make them better, but I don't have the emotional attachment necessary to work to include them.

Halflings: Out. Halflings are a holdover from Tolkien that i have grown bored with. Whether Kender from Dragonlance, or the new lithe and agile halflings, I just don't see the need to what amounts to a race of shorter humans with some elven traits tacked on.

Half orcs: Out. See half elves for reasoning.

So that is the core races... with 4 being eliminated, that leaves 3. Let's face it, for many players, that just isn't enough options. Since i have decided on a setting with psionics, some of the psionic core races make some sense.

Dromite: since i removed halflings and gnomes, the Dromites fit neatly into the "Small" slot for races perfectly. They are insectile and genderless, and have castes and hives. I may tweak the race a bit, but there is definitely potential here.

Maenad: With the removal of Half-Orcs, Maened may have a shot here. They are controlled, but hide an emotional tempest that has echoes of Orc barbarians. But unlike Half-orcs, they fill more than one narrow option of raging warrior. I will have to tweak them considerably so that they aren't just "Wild humans" though.

Elan: I will be honest, at first i was going to dismiss Elan entirely. But then when i considered them as a secret, hidden race that few people even know exist, even as they live amongst them, i warmed to them. I will put some roleplay seeds in for them, making an Elan not only a race, but a de facto secret society. Definitely strong potential here.

Xeph: I like the racial abilities of the Xeph, but i don't like the "feel" of them. I have an idea on how to change them by changing a few abilities and radically changing the culture, but i have to spend some time here. This is the weakest of the "maaaaaaaybe" options.

Ophiduan: Lizard/serpent psionic peoples obsessed with perfection? That actually sounds pretty awesome in a setting with no gods, and only the one life to live. They are striving for perfection in their one lifetime, and with their nature make a good historical conflict race as well if needed. i might slow their fecundity and increase lifespan to a mid-range between elf and human.

Well that's it for now, but i will start work on expanding the races in the next post.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

General Setting ideas

So, here is my basic idea:

I am imagining a setting that involves a somewhat post apocalyptic setting. However, i don't want it post-apocalyptic in the way of the Dark Sun setting, or anything like Mad Max, Tank Girl or Waterworld. What i want is that the world was a standard, thriving fantasy world, and then something catastrophic happened that changed everything, but society has endured, recovered, and is back on the upswing. Post-apocalyptic, but without all of the baggage that comes with that term.

In that, i have decided that the Apocalypse was a war between the Faithful of the gods, and those that had turned away from their worship. The faithful lost, and as a final act of retribution, the gods called down a mass of catastrophes and horrors, deciding that if the world had turned from them, then it needed to be punished. However, once the dust had settled, the survivors picked themselves up, and began to rebuild society.

With that in mind, classes like the Cleric and Paladin, core classes and mainstays of Dungeons and Dragons as well as pathfinder would be far, far less common. In fact, most divine practitioners would be less common. They would probably still exist, but nowhere in the numbers they used to.

Instead, I am imagining a world where the Arcane and the Psionic are more common, with a leaning towards Psionics. Perhaps their was formerly a Deity of Magic, and for quite some time after the apocalypse, it was distrusted/unreliable, allowing psionics to become the dominant "Magic" type. 

I haven't made much decisions on races, cultures, and other core classes, but at it's core, these changes are what is going to try to make the setting a little bit more unique.

A new Blog

I have decided to create a Blog for designing a new RPG world using the Pathfinder Rules that are a continuation of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition. I am mainly doing this so i can have people chip in with ideas when i get stuck, or vet ideas that I am perhaps unsure of.

Feedback of a constructive nature is always appreciated.