View Full Version : [3.5] I just ordered Dawnforge. What can I adapt from this for my low-magic setting?

2009-01-15, 01:42 AM
A while back a member here mentioned and slightly described the Dawnforge setting, and it stayed in my mind ever since. Today I got a coupon for Half.com, so I immediately ordered the core book.

I know this will sound odd, since it seems to go completely against the mechanics of Dawnforge that seems to focus on "epic" level play, but how can I rework it so it works as a low-magic type of world?

I love the premise of it. The whole playing in the "old age" which most fantasy settings/movies/books/whatever seem to have. Playing in a time where there are no/few ancient ruins for explorers to dig through, and no past legendary heroes to look back on, because you are playing in the times when said ruins are just being built and the "first heroes" are paving the way for future heroes to come. It's all simply brilliant in my opinion.

However, there is one thing that really bothers me about it though. If this was the "old age", before magic became "broken down and coded" so that it's everywhere, and there are very few epic items/crafter and NPCs, why is it even more high-powered than the standard "modern" age of D&D?

When I read it's original fluff it seemed to me like this would be perfect for the kind of world I enjoy. One where magic is rare and "epic", instead of every 5th NPC is a power Wizard. One where magic items are not a dime-a-dozen, but instead mythical things of a great power. Where it is actually a challenge for PCs/players to become "heroes" and high-level, instead of a predictable video game RPG cakewalk. However, even the standard races in this system are way more powerful than the "modern" counterparts.

If anyone(s) who have actually played this system please tell me how you think it would be possible to rework this for the style of game I am describing?

Would it be possible at all, or would it defeat the purpose of the setting/system?

Also, can any of the experienced DMs please give me any tips on how I can merge this into my existing homebrewed world? I already have it mapped out in Fractal Mapper, I already have most of the settlements on my "home continent" set, so I am not sure if it would even make sense to try this. Plus, I already had some basic history and time line for the world/sphere set up (see spoiler box below if interested), so I guess things would contradict each other?

Oh, and is/was this a popular system? Has anyone here even played it?! As a purely 3rd setting I am doubting it.

Some brief background on my homebrewed sphere and overall setting/cosmology/mutliverse if anyone cares *Warning, long, boring, and poor grammar read*:

The sphere has a number of worlds, with my "home world" named Origin being one of them orbiting around the central and larger sun.
At first it was pure and untouched. Most of the worlds could support life, and they had an abundance of animal life. However, there was no sentient life on any of the worlds, for this was a time when the first sentient races had just begun to appear on the Prime Material.
The first settlers to enter this sphere were the elves, who came on a "fleet of mythical ships which sailed the clouds" according to their descendants. These elves are no known as the "First Ones" by the modern generations of elves, and are believed to have come here due to the Seldarine and their elven children braking away from the Unseelie (make the elves no long true fey, and leaving them only ageless instead of truly immortal). Their crew contained members of every elf race known today, even the drow for they had not yet fallen from Corellon's grace.
These elves were the first sentient creatures to step foot upon Origin. Without any competition and few deadly creatures on this new world the elves quickly spread from their first colony (which still remains today, and is still pretty huge and highly populated). The different types of elves then began to settle in environments that suited them best.
For many ages the elves were alone, but one day that all changed when the first dwarves immersed from the mountains of the Continental Passing to keep them company.
The dwarves became friends, and lived in peace for millennia. The dwarves provided the elves with the bounty of the earth, while the elves brought to them the bounties of the land and seas.
This lasted until the first goblinoid were brought to Origin by their foul gods. There they quickly multiplied in a way that shocked the long-lived elves and dwarves.
At first the dwarves and elves tried to welcome and befriend the savager creatures, and although some did befriend the older settlers of Origin, a larger portion craved what the dwarves and elves had. This eventually led to the first wars on Original, and conflict which still remain to this day.
Two examples of these continuing conflicts is the bitter stalemate between an unmeasureabely large tribe of orcs and the high elves of the High Elf Forest, and the never ending war between the goblins of the planes and the dwarves of the Continental Passing.
However, some of the goblinoids were swayed by the good will of the dwarves and elves, leading to a nearly equal number of their kinds today being of either good or neutral alignment, with some even occasionally aiding the dwarves and elves.
Time passed, and other forms of sentient creatures began to emerge on Origin.
The first rifts from the Plane of Faerie brought the first centaurs to what would become known as the Centaur Hunting Grounds, along with their companions the pixies ridding in and exploring their new home on their backs. The other fey who would then spread out across Origin soon followed.
Then other creatures from across the planes began to slowly appear.
When the dragons came, and how long they stayed is unknown. Some even believe they existed on Origin before even the elves of the Elven Peninsula (the original settlements described above), but only the last remaining First Ones know the true.
Some elven communities also tell tails of an mysterious ancient race of vampiric creatures with their own flying ships that ambushed and attacked the First Ones as they sailed to this world, but the validity of this claim is uncertain.
A handful of the First Ones still remain locked away within the ancient city of the elves, but they are seldom seen outside their city's borders. When they are seen once more traveling across Origin, it usually precedes a great cataclysm, disaster, or other great threat to the entirety of Origin.
The first of the humans first appeared around three millennium ago. The "human plague" quickly spread to dominate most of the world for a short time, to the point that even the dwarves and elves feared their time might finally pass. These creatures combined the ambition and pride of the long-lived races with the brutality and shortsighted view of the short-lived races.
The humans managed to diminish the numbers of both the slower reproducing older races, and those of the savage ones. They managed to push the elves further and further back into their shrinking forests, to take many of the dwarven mountains for themselves, and even slowly rid the planes of the goblinoids and other savage races.
Fortunately, this plague eventually burnt itself out when the humans, having finally become the dominant force on Origin, began to savagely turn against themselves. During their last three centuries they thought war after devastating war. These wars would later be named the "Great Human Wars" by the other races. The last one ended 85 solar cycles ago, and was such a significant event that the other races decided to restart the world's calendar, using the abbreviation AF (After Fall) to signify the event.
The humans are now fading, and many believe their numbers are already beyond the point of recovery.
However, the humans not completely to blame for their current situation. After the Last Great Human War their numbers were so depleted, their settlements and economies so ruins, and what remained of their military forces were so crippled that they were in no way prepared for the slaughter that was to come from outside their own race. During the wars the older races amassed their forces around their borders to keep the human's devastation from spilling over to their lands, while the savage races grew ever richer and better armed as the humans spent their wealth enlisting them as hired swords. This left the nations of the other races in nearly pristine condition, while the human kingdoms were reduced to smoldering ruins.
The savage races were the first to attack, seeing this as the perfect opportunity to take back the planes from the weak humans. Seeing the initial success of the savage races the deep dwarves and mountain dwarves of the Continental Passing were quick to follow and reclaim their ancestral lands. Then came the gold dwarves out of their xenophobic isolation to lay waste to every human settlement they could find. The deep dwarves and mountain dwarves later managed to sway the other dwarf clans, claiming that it was their races last chance. Eventually even many elf kingdoms became convinced that there was no other option, that this was their "last hope", as barbaric and cruel as their actions must be.
Now nearly a century after the Last Great Human War the old balance of Origin has begun to return. The planes are once more filled with the younger races, while the dwarves reclaim their old strongeholds, and the elves are trying to slowly renew and expand their forests.
The dwarves and elves have begun to regain their former dominance and influence on Origin, and have renewed their friendly rivalry. Even the savage races will admit, although often grudgingly, that the Age of the Dwarves and Elves seems to be returning.

So that fluff above is what I have worked out so far for this world/cosmology. After just typing all that up I am getting the feeling it would not be compatible at all. Especially considering that I believe humans are the dominant force of the Dawnforge setting, and 90ish% of the setting, places, and locations seem to revolve around them in a Lord of the Rings type way. I am guessing all this in this thread was pointless, due to defeating itself. Well, at least I finally got most of my world's/cosmology's fluff down in writing...

Anyway, as always thank you al for any help and advice!

2009-01-15, 09:20 AM
Funnily enough, I believe I'm the only person on the boards who openly admits to knowledge of the setting.
You like the old timey, pre-ruins feel of it? Well, then, you'll love that this is a time before Gods existed. They're still trying to gain a following to rise in power. They're called Immortals, but they're really not. They're just tough to take down.
Also, if you get the supplement, you'll have all the races available to players, which includes 5 elves, 4 humans, halflings, gnomes, minotaurs, Yuan-ti Thinbloods, tieflings, lizardfolk... All sorts of things.

Here's the thing about the magic: Yeah, wizards are rare. I downright said no to wizards in mine. But, sorcerers and warlocks are extremely common.
The world is new, and the boundries between planes is still thin and weak. Many Elves and Gnomes can remember what Etheria was like. Magic literally geysers out of the ground, and is tapped into by anything near, whether they like it or not. Sorcerers are gonna have a tough time NOT being born with peculiar talents when the world is giving off visual magical radation. Plus, with the borders so weak, beings of immense power will just pop in from time to time, and walk among the common folk. Warlocks would be shooting up left and right.

Here's the big problem, though. No Clerics, Favored Souls, Druids, or Monks. They're all divine, and based to some degree around dieties. So, the setting remakes the 4 classes in the main book. (Really, they're better in most ways.)

Just give it a strong look through before you start announcing a switch. Your players are gonna get really strong really fast (Races get things as you level up, as well as classes), so, a switch may end up being detrimental to your campaign. If you're not starting with new characters, and just want to use the fluff... well, look into the supplement, cause that's where the fluff is.

2009-01-15, 09:52 AM
Well, I do not have a group to DM at the moment. Simple world building/world finishing I am doing in my free time at the moment.

And damn, for the fluff I should have gotten the supplement instead? What a waste. :smallfrown:

Again, I imagine that the "early ages" would be less magical and powerful, and I prefer low-magic to boot, so it kind of goes against what I am looking for.

But which of the supplements is the one you are referring to? I saw quite a few on Amazon.com

And why are you the only person who admits to knowing the setting? Is it that disliked?

But anyway, I am starting that it might not be possible to combine it with my current world. However, the fluff about magic seeping from the very planet got me thinking about an alternative. What if one of those natural flows of magic, or "weak boundaries" of the "young world" allowed for a gate or between time periods? Although, how that would be kept secret is beyond me.

However, I do have a large island in my world that is a "lost world", using the rules/suggestions from the Manual of the Planes it is an area where time is severely slowed down. I had already planned for it to have dinos and troglodytes, so do you think I can rework it to be a remaining/surviving section of the troglodyte continent/empire I read about in the Dawnforge's review? Perhaps a plot timetraveling PCs can discover is that near the "old age's" end they troglodytes maybe purposefully broke off a piece of the continent (I mapped the large island so it is close to the shore of my main continent, and looks like it used to be a piece inside a big gap in the continent) and purposefully slowed down it's time for some reason?

2009-01-15, 12:55 PM
Ok, I just ran a Google of it, is it from the same contest that brought Eberron?
Are there any other settings based on the results of that contest?

2009-01-15, 01:04 PM
When I think of low-magic I think of Lankhmar. Fritz Leiber wrote a world where magic exists but not for the common man. Yet Fafhrd the barbarian and the Grey Mouser went out into the world and found adventure, and found magic. But their magic, while no more powerful than in normal D&D, was by comparison quite powerful because there wasn't a lot to go around.

They fought some monsters once that (in D&D terms) needed magic weapons to hit. Oops, no magic weapons. Fafhrs I believe found a Cloak of Invisibility once and wore it until it was tatters and threads. These characters might be expressed as 10th to 15th level yet they didn't bristle with Potions of Healing and Wands of Fireball.

But if magic is everywhere and super-available, it seems like this "young world" is more like the freewheeling Norse mythos, vital and alive and liberated. It's not the magic of musty old books in a Wizard's study.

You might want to use a run-down world like Dark Sun for low-magic. Or a gritty setting like Warhammer RPG.