View Full Version : An Unlikely Stew: New Campaign Setting

Q. Flestrin
2012-12-18, 05:28 PM
This campaign setting was inspired by the following post:

A starting point is to mix [a standard race] with a generic culture and see where it goes. Like Viking Elves, (cannibal) Halfling Bushmen, Inca Dwarves, Indian Hobgoblins, Polynesian Orcs, and so on. Doesn't even need to be historically accurate, just use it as a first concept to develop into a unique culture.
So what I'm doing is this:

Dwarves – Japanese/Chinese (I’m just saying that dwarves lend themselves well to bushido. And the whole dwarves-live-in-clans part also works quite nicely.)

Elves – Nordic (Elves, some of which go a-viking, wielding ice magic gleaned from the highlands, shadow magic from the deep forests, and fire magic from the thermal springs… And axe-wielding elves are pretty far between.)
Spoilered due to length:
The elves are more detailed: the Nordic elves (collectively the alfur) have three subraces, the Lämpalfur, the Jäänalfur, and the Varjalfur. (Finland, Iceland, please don’t sue: I fully acknowledge that I stole the Icelandic word for elf and the Finnish words for heat, ice, and shadow.) The Lämpalfur live near the hot springs and volcanoes, using the magic of the world’s heat; the Jäänalfur live in the far north, using the magic of the glaciers and snows; and the Varjalfur live in the deep woods, using the magic of the deep shadows. The Lämpalfur are probably the kindest, while the Jäänalfur are probably the cruelest. The Varjalfur are somewhere in between, but none of the alfur are particularly friendly or warm-hearted. Tere are two other elven races. One lives underground in the Caverns of Crystal and Light (which also have some stuff like mithral and cold iron): the Svartalfur. The other lives in the Mountains of Cloud: the Liosthalfur. The Svartalfur are renowned as mage-crafters and wielders of earth magic, while the Liosthalfur are renowned as mage-artists and wielders of air magic. Strangely enough, probably because the Caverns of Crystal and Light are directly below the Mountains of Cloud, the Svartalfur and the Liosthalfur get along splendidly.

Goblinoid – Indian (The three breeds of goblinoid would probably be specific castes, though I might need to add more breeds to fill out the other castes. And goblins with scimitars and kukris and monkey gods would be awesome.)

Gnomic – Inca (Gnomes + khipu = awesome.)

Halfling – Celtic (Think about it: little halfling druids with golden sickles running around bolstering and commanding the proud blue-painted plaid-trousered halfling warriors. Who probably ride boars.)

Orc – French/Roman Republic fusion (Okay. Just let it sink in. Cultured, elegant, wine-sipping, snail-munching, aqueduct-building, proudly debating, republican orcs. I would add “beret-wearing”, but that would be far too silly. Originally I was going to have the halflings be hobbitty and French, but then they turned into Celts due to my bizarre thought processes, so I’m turning everything upside-down and having orcs be elegant, civilized, and epicurean, and halflings and elves be from the periphery and somewhat uncultured. And now that I think about it, I’m going to have the Orcish empire keep trying to conquer the halfling lands.)

I also found a way around racial monolithicity: the place where the PCs adventure is relatively small, and so these are just the few nations there are, which happen to be along racial lines (of course, there are also non-racially based nations where, say, the gnomes are not based off the Inca, and there are minority groups in every nation; it’s just that these combinations are the cultures of the racial nations). DMs can add other continents with other cultures if they want.

[Edit]: Herpity derp derp. I completely forgot to add: your input is welcome. Please tell me what you think of this.

2012-12-18, 05:52 PM
You've got some very interesting ideas going here. Now, you should figure out what you're going to do with them.

I'd start by drawing a geographical map of the world and then a political map. Figure out which resources go where and keep in mind the sort of cultures that would develop there. Also, consider how certain civilizations would interact with their neighbors.

I'd also advise against settling on any hard lines on what races are present in certain civilizations. For example, the size of the orcish empire means that they've probably assimilated many cultures, and so half-breeds of every variety would live within its borders.

Finally, read summaries of the history of each civilization. I wouldn't recommend actually reading any textbooks, since you'd likely get stuck in a quagmire of details. All you need to know is the highlights.

Q. Flestrin
2012-12-19, 03:50 PM
I've been getting some pretty interesting results with a continent generator I found here (http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/TheScratcherOf2012/1594449) (I'm really bad at coming up with shapes for continents).

One of the shapes that has stood out most to me is one where the continent is mostly isthmus, and there are two huge inland seas. A couple areas are larger, so I imagine that they would be the main seats of civilization... Think it would work with these societies?

2012-12-19, 04:15 PM
Keep in mind that this is your project, not mine. :smallwink:

Still, that sounds like a good start, but keep in mind that the variety of cultures you're trying to incorporate didn't grow on a single, Pangaea-like continent. So, you may want to consider compositing several of these continents onto a single map.

2012-12-19, 04:59 PM
Actually, why not have them all have developed on one supercontinent? It's your fantasy world, I see no problem with that being the case.

2012-12-19, 05:09 PM
Actually, why not have them all have developed on one supercontinent? It's your fantasy world, I see no problem with that being the case.

I'm merely taking historical precedence into account. :smallsmile:

After all, isolated cultures develop because, well...they're isolated.

Morph Bark
2012-12-19, 05:21 PM
Interesting cultures you picked for each race. Myself, I made one of my dwarven subraces into a kind of Huns/Mongols, the latter which had similar social structure as the Chinese/Japanese, but still looser primarily because they were nomadic.

A way to easily get these into the same place is by having some of them be extensions of greater empires. For instance, China and the Roman Empire were pretty vast, as was the Indian Empire. The vikings sailed pretty far with their boats and made settlements and colonies elsewhere. The gnomes and halflings might even be the only real original peoples of the region of the continent your setting primarily takes place at.

2012-12-19, 07:38 PM
Well, if you want an isolated culture in a world with one main continent (which I almost find is preferable, since it's simpler to work with) there are other ways to separate them from outsiders. You could, for example, have them confined to a valley bordered by mountains that are very difficult to traverse, as the Giant himself did with the Valley Kingdoms in his world-building series. You could have them live on a small island off the coast, which allows significant separation without really adding too much more geographical area to cover.

Point being, if you're making a setting within particular guidelines and want to include a specific concept, you can more often than not find a way to do it.

Anyway, Ranting DM, if you want to have multiple continents detailed, by all means. I'm merely thinking of ways to make things a bit more manageable.

Q. Flestrin
2012-12-20, 07:30 AM
Gosh, I feel so giddy:smallredface:. Thank you for all your input; I had no idea this would be taken seriously, especially because I have cultured, elegant French orcs.

What's really interesting is that everybody's thinking that most of these civilizations would be isolated. While I understand that the Celts, Incas, Nordics, and to some extent the Sino-Japanese were isolated, I don't see why in this world, they have to be. Obviously I'll put the gnomes in the high mountains (and Small gnomes can ride Medium llamas, by the way, which is awesome); and my continents usually have a smaller island or at least a relatively isolated blobby bit to put the halflings in; but I can easily imagine a Nordic civilization without the Baltic Sea; and if I make the dwarven kingdom on the mainland like Rokugan, remember that the Silk Road existed in 200 BCE.

In any event, I do think that it's going to all be on one continent, and I realized that I can make the continent larger because this is an Age of Empire.

2012-12-20, 07:37 PM
If you really want the Orcish Empire to be different from the stereotypical Orcish Empire, you should make it so that, by principle, they are strictly pacifistic, only resorting to violence in self-defense. That way, you could make it so that the little Celtic Halflings and the Viking Elves are the thorn in their eye; they could easily destroy both groups if they really wanted to do so, however, that would mean betraying their own principles, which they would be loathe to do. They could maybe even do what the Byzantines did in later years, pay vast amounts of gold to the barbarians at the gates to keep them off their backs. Just a random suggestion if you're interested in going Beyond the Pale of normal worlds and ideas.