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Zovc
2012-12-17, 10:13 PM
I'm a tenderfoot when it comes to worldbuilding and game mastering. I'm hardly confident in my capabilities, and I get lost and distracted far more than I get inspired. However, inspiration came to me today when my friend was talking with me about fun stories from previous gaming sessions.

I had an idea for the foundation of all things divine in a campaign setting. The world that our campaign setting focuses on is adrift in the cosmos, orbiting a sun--much like our planet Earth. Deities are far more abstract than in most mythologies, they are up to interpretation, and they wax and wane. This is because cosmic entities (planets, stars, asteroids, etc.) are divinity. They may or may not have the personalities attributed to them by the various faiths and cults of the world, but their spatial closeness determines how much they influence things.

An example of this could be an astral body that, when close to the planet, causes rain. When far, there are droughts. But there are also more subtle and bizarre effects. Depending on how close the entity gets to the planet, it could start to cause unbearable sadness in the inhabitants of the planet. Furthermore, ancient denizens of the sea might awaken and wreak havoc on the surface because of the cosmic power's unsettling presence.

I've always wanted to run a campaign where ritual magic was a real thing, and this type of divine panorama provides lots of opportunities to give magic character. Ritual and pact magic could reach an annual, seasonal, or other prime during a given astral body's zenith. Furthermore, rather than every town having a cleric who heals wounds and does this and that, every settlement could consult hermetic oracles. Said oracles would make conjectures based on ancient behaviors and movements of the stars and their company. The twist on this tradition and wisdom is that certain special individuals are actually able to 'sway' the stars. By combining the right circumstances, those gifted could attempt to push or pull a given astral body they are able to commune with. Powerful characters may seek out those with the gift in hopes of influencing the world in one way or another. Perhaps they want to pull a body that is said to encourage war closer to the earth to raise tension between kingdoms?

That is most of the ideas I've had so far. Sorry if they're a little scatterbrained or vague. But, now that I've put them on the table, I'd like to ask a few questions:

Does this seem like a good/interesting starting point for world building?
How do you think this sort of divinity would affect the development of civilization?
Do you have any ideas for astral bodies?

And finally, do you have any questions for me?

Thanks.

the_david
2012-12-18, 04:11 AM
This is very interesting. The first thing that comes to mind is that the constellations really do influence everybody. (Don't use our zodiac, make up a new one) The second thing is that the moon would have the biggest influence, though size might be involved too. (I'm thinking Dragonlance, Night of the Eye) the planets and the sun would have their influences too, and the stars who are further away have little influence. Werecreatures get strongly influenced by one of the moons.

You might want to make a calender to mark the paths of the stars and planets. The alternative is that you improvise. The first month it takes the moon a week to circle the planet, the next month it takes a year. The same is true for the sun and the planets and the constellations. They just move as the story dictates.

Wow, that's brilliant.

Edit:
- If the days, months and years are irregular, how do people track time?
- You might want to use a geosystem instead of a solarsystem. (Like Greyhawk)

Zovc
2012-12-18, 11:27 AM
Thanks for your reply, the_david! :)


Don't use our zodiac, make up a new one
Definitely. Though I do plan on looking into our Zodiac a bit for ideas. Rather than having a bunch of open-ended conjecutres that can apply to any situation, I'll be able to make things focused and consistent.


The second thing is that the moon would have the biggest influence, though size might be involved too.
I was debating on whether or not I wanted the moon to be mundane--I was considering even revoking its gravitational influence on the tides. On the other hand, I could take the moon's mythological symbolism and run with it. Just now, with your werewolf suggestion, I had the idea to make the moon symbolize predators.

When the moon is especially close, those of weak will become drowsy. Those of week fortitude could become rabid and possibly even diseased(/cursed) with some sort of spreading werewolf or 'rage virus' thing.


(I'm thinking Dragonlance, Night of the Eye)
I believe my friend mentioned this to me when I pitched the idea to him. Is this the story where the bad guys teleport the entire planet so that good deities lose track of it?


the planets and the sun would have their influences too, and the stars who are further away have little influence. Werecreatures get strongly influenced by one of the moons.
Regarding planets, I had a few ideas. The first (and easiest) was that there simply are no planets, just the planet that the campaign setting occurs on and astral bodies swaying around it. The next, closer to our own universe, would be to have the planets effectively be different planes; they could or could not influence other planets, but they would have different proximities to the constellations in space. (This would also give me a lot more things to flesh out which has its plusses and minuses.) Finally, The planets are just other astral bodies, which have their own influence on the planet where the game takes place.


You might want to make a calender to mark the paths of the stars and planets. The alternative is that you improvise. The first month it takes the moon a week to circle the planet, the next month it takes a year. The same is true for the sun and the planets and the constellations. They just move as the story dictates.
I was planning on going somewhere in between these two ideas. At the start of the game, I would be sure of the entities and have an idea of their course. As things happen, those courses could be influenced (AKA 'become more clear to oracles'), and it'll usually be in players' interests to inquire about the movement of the stars before going about tasks. Finally, both players and NPCs could by trying to sway the stars.


- If the days, months and years are irregular, how do people track time?
Arbitrarily. Shadow clocks would still work, (provided there is one sun,) they would just not be consistent.

"Well, the sun is going down. I guess it's time to call it a day."
"I have gathered you all to declare that we have passed fourty days in the month of Hafsatu. In five days, we shall mark the turning of the month--we will have our first town meeting of Hafgethin on that same day. Taxes will be collected in ten days."

Perhaps it's up to some specific oracle to declare the month and/or season.


- You might want to use a geosystem instead of a solarsystem. (Like Greyhawk)
Please, could you tell me the difference between a geosystem and a solar system? Does 'the world revolve around the planet' rather than the sun?

the_david
2012-12-18, 12:18 PM
The Night of the Eye is the night when all the moons of Kryn are full and in alignment. In game, a Wizard of High Sorcery would get +1 to his caster level if the moon of his order is full, another +1 if it's in alignment with another moon, and another +1 if all moons are in alignment. (It happens every year and a half, and their years are longer than ours)

Yes, in a geosystem the moon(s), sun(s), planets and stars orbit around one planet.

Amaril
2012-12-18, 03:20 PM
This kinda reminds me of Shadelight, a setting I started working on a while back and gave up on because nobody was paying any attention. The planet it was set on had six moons, each one was a god, and their movements formed a zodiac that influenced everything that happened to mortals. I really like settings focused on astrology, both because it's fun to create the systems and because it allows the DM to implement star-devouring monsters as a big threat to the world :smallbiggrin:

the_david
2012-12-18, 04:31 PM
You mentioned oracles instead of clerics, does this mean you're using Pathfinder? If so, you could base your constellations on their mysteries.

Oh, and it would be awesome if a new Celestial body would appear during the campaign. I mean, that's what I would do to screw with the minds of the players.

Amaril
2012-12-18, 06:25 PM
Or (going back to my last post) if some of them started to mysteriously disappear...:smallamused:

Trekkin
2012-12-18, 06:40 PM
This sounds intriguing. As pedantic as it's going to sound, you might want to grab one of the many gravitational simulators/solar system sandboxes out there, throw your planet into it, and see what kinds of crazy orbits you can get for various bodies. You can get a lot more complex than simple unrelated cycles, if you want, and it might help with inspiration to see how the cycles interact.

One thing I would consider, just from the point of view of maximizing celestial variability, is making your planet a moon of a gas giant. It gives you more stable orbits to play with, especially for things like stabilizing Laplace resonances; they can space out the various cycles of magic nicely, if you like, and usually the orbits of those moons are stable enough that you can move them a bit in the way you describe without them suddenly deciding to slingshot around each other and fling themselves into the Sun or suchlike.

Then again, using magic to set up a massive colony drop would be rather fun..."More harvest rituals! We need to lower the Moon's periapsis!"

It might also help to have such a thing running just to keep track of where the stellar bodies end up as your players push them around.

the_david
2012-12-19, 01:07 AM
Or (going back to my last post) if some of them started to mysteriously disappear...:smallamused:

The mindflayers did it.

Zovc
2012-12-19, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the replies. :3


This kinda reminds me of Shadelight, a setting I started working on a while back and gave up on because nobody was paying any attention. The planet it was set on had six moons, each one was a god, and their movements formed a zodiac that influenced everything that happened to mortals. I really like settings focused on astrology, both because it's fun to create the systems and because it allows the DM to implement star-devouring monsters as a big threat to the world :smallbiggrin
Interesting ideas. Sounds like there is a decision to be made between Solarsystem > Geosystem > Planet with Moons (or other satellites--and I do really like that word). Regarding star-devouring monsters, I wouldn't really know where to begin with them, and I wouldn't really know how to make the players able to attempt stopping them.


You mentioned oracles instead of clerics, does this mean you're using Pathfinder? If so, you could base your constellations on their mysteries.

Oh, and it would be awesome if a new Celestial body would appear during the campaign. I mean, that's what I would do to screw with the minds of the players.
Nope, I'm going to run with a version of 3.5 heavily modified to my tastes and setting. It might be as simple as changing Cleric to Oracle, or using a Cleric retooling (I remember really liking D20r's Cleric (http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=D20r:Cleric) by Fax Celestis). Constellations may or may not have an effect on players' powers. Possibly only a beneficial effect for playability's sake.

'A new star being born' is definitely a really interesting twist. It also leads us to a very important question regarding this setting: How are stars born?


This sounds intriguing. As pedantic as it's going to sound, you might want to grab one of the many gravitational simulators/solar system sandboxes out there, throw your planet into it, and see what kinds of crazy orbits you can get for various bodies. You can get a lot more complex than simple unrelated cycles, if you want, and it might help with inspiration to see how the cycles interact.

One thing I would consider, just from the point of view of maximizing celestial variability, is making your planet a moon of a gas giant. It gives you more stable orbits to play with, especially for things like stabilizing Laplace resonances; they can space out the various cycles of magic nicely, if you like, and usually the orbits of those moons are stable enough that you can move them a bit in the way you describe without them suddenly deciding to slingshot around each other and fling themselves into the Sun or suchlike.

Then again, using magic to set up a massive colony drop would be rather fun..."More harvest rituals! We need to lower the Moon's periapsis!"

It might also help to have such a thing running just to keep track of where the stellar bodies end up as your players push them around.
I definitely like this suggestion. I'll attempt my google fu, but where can I find these sort of tools?

---
Here are new questions, and thoughts I have regarding them:

How are stars (and other bodies) formed?
Obivously, I can read an article and learn how this happens in our universe in like 30 minutes, and I will brush up on that, but I suspect the way stars form in this galaxy will differ greatly. The only idea I've had so far is for them to form (and later be influenced) by the overall psychological state of the world's population--this would lead to a sort of vicious cycle where times of great strife would pull bodies which cause tension closer, which make everyone more anxious, which makes...

If the population influences the stars 'as much as' (or comparably to how) the stars influence them, it makes it a little unusual for the stars to have created the planet and its populus, though.

Where did the planet and the life on it come from?
Drawing a blank here. I'm having a hard time figuring out how the astral bodies could have influenced this, since I'm trying to make them 'actually' devoid of personality (but attributed personae by the various oracles and cults).

Where do different races come from?
I have a weird idea for this one. Stars affect the world, they affect beings' psychology, and they can even make them mentally or physically sick. Perhaps certain bodies and constellations influence babies. (WHAT) In other words, for a bad example, when the a constellation that causes nature to thrive is especially overpowering other astral bodies, perhaps more elves are born than normal? To where humans, dwarves, halflings, and even orcs could give birth to an elf under the right/wrong circumstances.

Is this too bizarre? Does it smash racial identity too much?

Amaril
2012-12-19, 02:32 PM
Here's an idea for the birth of stars that plays on the real process without mimicking it exactly (and has a fantastical tone to it). Magical energy comes from the thoughts and emotions of living beings. The nature of this energy varies depending on the emotion or idea that gave rise to it. Although the energy originates from creatures on the planet, it eventually radiates out into space, where it attracts and bonds with other energy of the same type. Eventually, this collection of energy begins to pull in matter, which then becomes infused with the energy and radiates even more of it into the surrounding space. Once the proto-stars formed from these collections of matter grow big enough, they begin the chemical fusion that defines a proper star.

In essence, stars form pretty much the same way, except their initial growth is caused by psychic energy emitted by living beings.

Trekkin
2012-12-19, 08:08 PM
I definitely like this suggestion. I'll attempt my google fu, but where can I find these sort of tools?

---
Here are new questions, and thoughts I have regarding them:

How are stars (and other bodies) formed?
Obivously, I can read an article and learn how this happens in our universe in like 30 minutes, and I will brush up on that, but I suspect the way stars form in this galaxy will differ greatly. The only idea I've had so far is for them to form (and later be influenced) by the overall psychological state of the world's population--this would lead to a sort of vicious cycle where times of great strife would pull bodies which cause tension closer, which make everyone more anxious, which makes...

If the population influences the stars 'as much as' (or comparably to how) the stars influence them, it makes it a little unusual for the stars to have created the planet and its populus, though.

Where did the planet and the life on it come from?
Drawing a blank here. I'm having a hard time figuring out how the astral bodies could have influenced this, since I'm trying to make them 'actually' devoid of personality (but attributed personae by the various oracles and cults).

Where do different races come from?
I have a weird idea for this one. Stars affect the world, they affect beings' psychology, and they can even make them mentally or physically sick. Perhaps certain bodies and constellations influence babies. (WHAT) In other words, for a bad example, when the a constellation that causes nature to thrive is especially overpowering other astral bodies, perhaps more elves are born than normal? To where humans, dwarves, halflings, and even orcs could give birth to an elf under the right/wrong circumstances.

Is this too bizarre? Does it smash racial identity too much?

As for tools, MPL3D is free, but you can't move anything around--it does let you see a lot of weird orbits, though. Universe Sandbox isn't free, but lets you play with masses and axes and so forth. It's a dead certainty there are others I haven't used, though.

A. Perhaps they're formed normally, but they only influence things when people start noticing them and believing they do and focusing on them? I mean, there are far more stars in the sky than are taken into account in any real-life method of astrology.
B. Does anyone in your setting need to know? A bunch of unsatisfactory theories might be more interesting to play with than a concrete truth anyway.

C. I don't think it smashes racial identity that much at all, at least not if you synchronize the races to a zodiac with a roughly year-long cycle. It's not that uncommon in actual biology; just make it behavioral rather than physiological and it won't interfere too much. A pair of elves could have an orc; they just don't want to, and instinctively know how to prevent it chronologically. You could, then, have one-species societies that try to engineer births in a specific window of time (and exile the variant-species results of failure to do so, which allows as many cliche exile stories as you like), and multispecies societies that don't care and end up with everything. It could fit into an interesting thought on nature vs. nurture, now that I think of it.

Hanuman
2012-12-23, 02:23 AM
Spiritual closeness being the magic itself is Shadowrun, that's how the awakening manifests, a psionic net which manifests as magic, concentrated and focused by intentional and incidental mental/emotional investment.

That way things that are important to people actually are magical, by being a cult leader you actually gain magic power incidentally. Fun stuff.

the_david
2012-12-23, 06:47 AM
Instead of using races, you could let the players choose traits. There wouldn't be any dwarves, elves or orcs, but instead you'd get a customizable race.

For example, you could have a child of the night and a child of the day trait. Possibly even twilight or dusk and dawn. Then you could have one for the moon and the constellations.

Zovc
2012-12-25, 03:59 PM
As for tools, MPL3D is free, but you can't move anything around--it does let you see a lot of weird orbits, though. Universe Sandbox isn't free, but lets you play with masses and axes and so forth. It's a dead certainty there are others I haven't used, though.

A. Perhaps they're formed normally, but they only influence things when people start noticing them and believing they do and focusing on them? I mean, there are far more stars in the sky than are taken into account in any real-life method of astrology.
B. Does anyone in your setting need to know? A bunch of unsatisfactory theories might be more interesting to play with than a concrete truth anyway.

C. I don't think it smashes racial identity that much at all, at least not if you synchronize the races to a zodiac with a roughly year-long cycle. It's not that uncommon in actual biology; just make it behavioral rather than physiological and it won't interfere too much. A pair of elves could have an orc; they just don't want to, and instinctively know how to prevent it chronologically. You could, then, have one-species societies that try to engineer births in a specific window of time (and exile the variant-species results of failure to do so, which allows as many cliche exile stories as you like), and multispecies societies that don't care and end up with everything. It could fit into an interesting thought on nature vs. nurture, now that I think of it.

Fooled around with Universe Sandbox a little, got a few interesting ideas from it already.

A. That ties in surprisingly well with Hanuman's reference to Shadowrun magic. I'll have to spend some time thinking on that.

B. No, I suppose no one needs to know. I just would like to know, myself, so everyone can be at least a little right in their theories. :P

C. Good points. I'm going to spend some time thinking more on how stars could affect babies. lol


Spiritual closeness being the magic itself is Shadowrun, that's how the awakening manifests, a psionic net which manifests as magic, concentrated and focused by intentional and incidental mental/emotional investment.

That way things that are important to people actually are magical, by being a cult leader you actually gain magic power incidentally. Fun stuff.

Thanks for referring to that. This is a good thing for me to explore.


Instead of using races, you could let the players choose traits. There wouldn't be any dwarves, elves or orcs, but instead you'd get a customizable race.

For example, you could have a child of the night and a child of the day trait. Possibly even twilight or dusk and dawn. Then you could have one for the moon and the constellations.

I'm going to try to preserve racial identity *and* incorporate this. Perhaps elves don't like children being born when [Star X] is near, because orcish or goblin traits are particularly common under such circumstances. And maybe this is where "Half-Elf-ish" races come from, bad timing.

--

There are a few things I want to solidify before I start drafting out the world the game will take place on. I liked the idea of having multiple stars orbiting the planet (making this a "geo system" rather than a "solar system"). Here are a few ideas I've had (some of which are inspired by my playing in Universe Sandbox):

-The typical sun. It's the star that provides daylight. It's likely attributed to safety, clarity, good, and not doing things you would in secret.
-A small star which can provide some light at night. It sheds ultraviolet light and some of the brighter colors of light. It moves quicker than most of the other bodies in the planet's orbit, and its small mass causes it to weave in and out around other planets. It's associated with fleeting, fickle, and beautiful things as well as inspiration.
-A dim star which is generally pictured as opposite of the typical sun. It's orbit is faster, though, so they are sometimes near each other or even in the sky together. It sheds infrared light, and also some of the darker colors of light. It is said to represent secrecy, knowledge, and brief, lucrative opportunities.

One would expect there to be songs about true love at first sight when all the suns are in the sky. I'm sure there would be much folklore about the two lesser suns, as well. The stars in particular, the things that provide light for the sentient inhabitants of the planet, seem pretty important to their lifestyle. I imagine most activities would be handled during days of the large sun, but I'm sure there are other activities that could be performed when one of the lesser suns are high. When the two lesser suns are in the sky, I imagine it'd be pretty close to normal daylight as well.