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View Full Version : Laying foundations for a new D&D world ("Ethros")



OttoVonBigby
2012-12-13, 01:08 PM
I seek ideas, critiques, and other feedback on a D&D setting (planet, really) I'm developing that fits into my preexisting cosmology but offers some new peoples/places/types of challenges... and gives me an excuse to do some fresh mapping :smallcool:

My "mission statement" is to get away from some of the more pernicious fantasy tropes/cliches, and to throw in a bunch of the more "weird" and nontraditional stuff in the various WOTC books. For example, I'm using the adu'jas and t'kels from Dragon #317.

However, I'm not going all Spelljammery with this world; it won't be integrated into the multiverse (i.e., commoners don't KNOW about other planes, even if they develop theories and myths).

It's also probably worth mentioning that I plan for it to be a psionics-heavy world, and I'm strongly considering disallowing wizards and probably a few other classes too. (It's a pretty Early Iron Age world; not more than like 6 true cities.)

I will start with my actual questions and then proceed to some further background; feel free to offer answers to the questions and/or comments about what follows them.

1) I'm leaning towards having Ethros be "inverted" from Earth and many typical fantasy worlds with respect to land/sea proportions. What I'd do is have about 70% of the planet's surface be land, and only about 30% be water (inland seas, roughly North America sized and smaller). What would this plausibly mean for climate? geopolitics? tides? mythology? planetary mass?! and that kind of thing. I don't need absolute scientific realism, but I'd like to have the setting be fairly naturalistic & plausible; no sky-islands or planet-sized turtles or whatever.

2) I plan to have two moons with erratic orbits. One will be brighter and less intimidating to look upon than the other. Obviously this will impact some of the inhabitants' religious development. What other cool influences/hooks have people used (or thought of) regarding two difficult-to-predict moons? Would having two erratic moons make the weather more chaotic on a 70%-land world?

3) I don't know much about the gith, but I'm leaning towards there being a significant illithid presence under the surface; is there any reason there shouldn't be gith cultures here?

4) I'm considering working in the kalashtar but I'm afraid I just don't understand them. They're two beings in one? but they reproduce like other creatures? I think I'd need them explained to me by someone who's used them and who "gets" them. The books are too full of woo.

More background:
A- I do not want elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, or orcs. Ethros won't even have goblins, except the bhuka.

B- The terrain will be rugged: lots of mountains, jungles, deserts. Fertile river valleys will be prizes to be fought over.

C- There'll be quite a bit of unclaimed wilderness, inhabited only by monsters and tribal peoples.

D- Most civilized peoples will be aware that the world is spherical, because any sufficiently motivated/equipped expedition can in theory circumnavigate the world on foot.

E- The dominant races will have their own regional, political, religious, and linguistic divisions. (Among the races I'm going with are humans, goliaths, dromites, lizardfolk, thri-kreen... stuff like that.)

F- Giants have their own civilization and you don't want to go there. I'm keeping dragons too.

G- There was a cataclysm in ancient times and none of the existing cultures has history/memory that precedes it. I might use the marru from Sandstorm for this.

H- Only a few of the cultures will worship the true gods directly. Most cultures will worship invented gods, or concepts, that align with aspects of the true gods. (In my setting, the gods don't especially care.) As a consequence of this, I plan on celestial and fiendish outsiders and influences being relatively pronounced--but not exactly "common." This is one of the things I'm still in the early stages of pinning down. One thing: cultures will have wildly divergent creation myths and none of them will be very accurate.

I- My players will have access to most every WOTC book except Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic. My players are almost as far from min-maxers as one can be.

J- Also there are dinosaurs.

tvremote
2012-12-13, 08:19 PM
I think the inverted earth idea sets the stage really nicely for a sort of nomadic steppe people centric world. When you think of classical history it is often from the Mediterranean civilizations perspective, who are beset by steppe nomads "barbarians". A world like yours might in fact be the opposite, where the nomadic travelers are the brave souls willing to step away from those tiny pools surrounded by cowards.

Also look up Tengrism for ideas of what a steppe-type religion would look like.

Domriso
2012-12-13, 11:50 PM
One thought I immediately have with an inverted world (which is awesome, by the way) is that the arctic regions should be interesting. I assume (though I have no background in geology, so I could be wrong) that they would essentially be vast cold deserts, because the lack of water would prohibit the formation of glaciers. Combine that with the fact that most of the world would probably have contact with said landmasses, and the idea becomes even more fleshed out.

Being in the process of forming my own atypical campaign setting, this intrigues me. Very much looking forward to it.

OttoVonBigby
2012-12-14, 06:32 AM
tvremote: Yes, I had been planning on lots of steppe peoples. I look at maps like this one (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/World_500_BCE.png) and I can't help but notice that even the vastest "nations" and empires are a comparatively quite small proportion of the total inhabited land. I will look into Tengrism--it appears intriguing so far.


One thought I immediately have with an inverted world (which is awesome, by the way) is that the arctic regions should be interesting.Yeah, I was going to go for a warmer world at first, but then I kept realizing I wanted a lot of cold adventuring! So I'll probably just go with extreme climatic differences--lots of cold and hot and only a couple narrow temperate bands. I suppose that might mean it should have extreme axial tilt? maybe? or maybe LESS extreme than ours? (I'm no geologist either.) Which brings up a new question:
5) What effect would a different axial tilt have on things like growing season, the calendar, etc.?


the lack of water would prohibit the formation of glaciers.Cool, this is exactly the sort of stuff you can't easily get answers to on Wikipedia. :smallbiggrin:

One more question:
6) Has anyone experimented with a fully, or largely, barter economy in a D&D setting? I suspect players would find it frustrating; what I wonder is whether it has advantages that might mitigate that.

NothingButCake
2012-12-14, 08:07 PM
One thing oceans do is moderate coastal climates; I am not a meteorologist but I'd imagine lack of oceans would create more extreme seasonal changes.

Domriso
2012-12-14, 11:43 PM
I actually have played with a barter economy! I find it fascinating, for one major reason: it makes the players think.

Now, I should preface this with the note that there are probably many ways to perform a barter economy, but this is how I did it. I still gave things a price, but I didn't make a gold standard and I didn't tell the players. Instead, I gave them basic ideas of what the local people would want (or need) and let them choose what they wanted to take. The real fun comes from giving them incredibly expensive things (like amazing works of art) and then sending them to a new location where the people only wanted food because they were starving. It makes things much less about grabbing all the expensive loot, and much more about thinking what might be useful in different circumstances.

In short, I support it.

OttoVonBigby
2012-12-15, 08:33 AM
One thing oceans do is moderate coastal climates; I am not a meteorologist but I'd imagine lack of oceans would create more extreme seasonal changes. I'm pretty sure you're right. That certainly adds to the "world of storms" feel I'm going for :smallbiggrin:


Instead, I gave them basic ideas of what the local people would want (or need) and let them choose what they wanted to take. The real fun comes from giving them incredibly expensive things (like amazing works of art) and then sending them to a new location where the people only wanted food because they were starving. It makes things much less about grabbing all the expensive loot, and much more about thinking what might be useful in different circumstances.Domriso, that sounds just about perfect for this setting. In general I dread the scenario in which PCs become basically just jewel thieves and the game world becomes their fence/mall...but I'd especially dread it in an early-Iron-Age style setting!

Did you have/develop any specific charts or tables to assist you in determining what each market demands?

Domriso
2012-12-15, 05:40 PM
Hm, let me look around to see if I still have any of the files still around. My players ended up getting lost in the wilderness a lot, so they rarely actually bartered (choosing to forage or steal to survive), but I did make some basic ones.