View Full Version : Ephasion - PF Campaign Setting (Working Title)

2013-02-17, 03:58 PM
'Allo Playgrounders.

I'm working on a Pathfinder-based campaign setting that I'm calling Ephasion for now and wanted to soundboard some stuff off of an experienced bunch like the Playground has. To describe the setting in a sentence: A steam-punk world with low, but increasing magic, huge variety in people (not referencing my notes, but probably around a score or so of playable races), and that is becoming a battleground for planar forces long absent now trying to gain supremacy in the world. I also plan on posting a lot of my setting stuff here as I complete it (thus the reserved posts to follow this one). For the time being though, I am merely looking for people's initial impressions/interest in such a setting.

A Basic Synopsis of the World's Recent History:

Material Plane #X (the setting does not postulate merely a single one) awakened and tried to assert itself as the dominant "deity" (in a somewhat panentheistic sense). As part of this, it tried to shut off magic, and close the plane to outside influence. The result was that magical, religious, and various planar influences all declined greatly. Magic still existed, but its power had been so severely weakened that it declined as much from impracticality as anything else, as even the most powerful casters in the world could barely cast 4th level spells, only declining as time went on.

In the ensuing several hundred years, technology thrived, as it does in places without magic to develop in its place. A thriving steampunk society rose out of the tattered remains of the previous magic-based regimes. What were once bustling metropoli by the standards of the previous times with mere tens or hundreds of thousands, developed into megacities with millions of inhabitants. The world prospered technologically & economically, but there was other damage done.

The more "savage" races of the world were heavily affected. Creatures like Orcs did not adopt the new technology and were virtually wiped out by armies with firearms. Those that survived were faced with a decision: face cultural or physical genocide. Of the four great tribes that remain of the original 37, two have integrated themselves with mainstream society, while the others are largely left to fight each other over gradually shrinking territory. Similar or worse fates awaited goblins, kobolds, and other races.

The inherently magical races were generally the worst afflicted. Fey became truly the stuff of faery tales, as most went into a hibernation-like state. Dragons found themselves bereft of many of their great abilities; most found that they could not even fly as they aged out of infancy, if they could even then. They still had their size and strength, but against cannons and firearms, and without the magical protection infused into their scales, that did little to avail them. The metallic dragons generally sought to integrate as best they could, and though the population of truebreeds dwindled as a result, the number of half-breeds and dragon-kith skyrocketed. The chromatic dragons were not quite so lucky. The ones living in the generally inhospitable places, like the whites and the blacks, were increasingly relegated into smaller areas due to land reclamation, but still had strong territories. Blues managed as well as if not better than the metallic dragons, as their habitats and habits needed virtually no alteration to handle the coming changes. Greens, however, were almost completely eradicated by the elves and their allies, and the reds only fared slightly better against the dwarves and theirs.

Even the "civilized" races did not come out unscathed. The elves and other long-lived races found that without the sustaining power of magic, that they were aging and dying more quickly. The last generation of elves to die of old age had barely broken 200 years of age. In addition, the rapid cultural changes brought a great deal of difficulty to many races; the dwarves became increasingly xenophobic, and the elves increasingly militant about preserving nature in the face of deforestation, land reclamation, and so on.

All of this is rapidly changing however.

Some fifty years or so ago, a number of extra-planar factions (Heaven, Hell, the Abyss, a number of deities, etc) all began to move to re-open the plane. After some 47 years of plotting, manuevering, sending divine emissaries and powerful artifacts to the world, the various entities made their various moves. To heavily simplify what all was done, the consciousness of the plane was sealed away. The result of this is that magic flooded back into the world, and the plane was thrown wide open to planar access. In the four years since the sealing of the planar consciousness, much has happened. With magic once again so abundant and the people increasingly bourgeois, virtually everyone began to study magic to some degree or another as a matter of fashionabilitiy. Religious faiths that had been reduced to tiny cults thought deranged by the majority of the populace began to swell in ranks as faith became commonplace as the power of these entities had been made physically manifest for the first time in a very long time.

However, the recent changes are not always positive. The makeshift ceasefire implicitly agreed upon by the various factions to re-open the plane of course collapsed the moment that the planar consciousness was sealed. While most planes have fallen into a state of balance with regard to outside forces, a newly opened plane meant opportunities to tip the scales. The end result is that the plane has become a political and military battleground for the various extra-planar forces. Creatures like dragons started gaining much of their power back and are striking back from previous wrongs with a vengeance. And behind the scenes in all of this, a growing faction is seeking to release the planar consciousness to reseal the plane and again shut off magic from the world.

2013-02-17, 03:59 PM
Playable race list (detailed versions to follow)

Traditional Race List:
With the advancement of technology, the gnomes' natural predilection for such things has actually elevated them to a level of dominance rivaled only by the humans. Gnomes are fairly likely to be any of any class.

By default, gnomes do not have the hatred, illusion resistance, nor gnome magic racial traits (though may give up the following suite of abilities for these normal ones). In place of these traits, they receive the Master Tinker alternate racial trait (and receive both Knowledge(Engineering) and Disable Device as class skills no matter their class) and once per day may take 10 on any one skill check when they would otherwise not be allowed to take 10; if they would be allowed to take 10 in the circumstance, they may instead take 13. The gnome must decide whether to use this ability before and in lieu of making an actual roll. If the check fails, the ability is wasted for the day.
The elves were hit hard by the loss of magic in the world. Their lifespans got shorter and shorter (towards the end of the Silencing, there were elves dying of old age by the age of 200 or so), and the rise in technology posed a bit of a problem for the elves who by and large wished to keep to their ways in tune with nature. The result was something of a comprimise for the elves; they would integrate in with normal, technological society, but they would use their talents to try to mitigate scientific and cultural progression away from the natural. Many did not agree with this approach, though, and took the new technology and used it to fight back hard against the encroachment. While everyone is striving to learn magic since its reintroduction to the world, no one feels this urge more keenly than the elves, who are highly unlikely to pursue any class that doesn't use magic extensively.
The dwarves, like the elves, have been suffering shorter lifespans with the loss of magic; with the overall shape of society changing, this has also been a major cultural struggle for the traditionalist dwarves. As such, the dwarves have become increasingly isolationist culturally. Most dwarves are not permitted to travel out of dwarven lands, or even to have extensive contact with other races. The dwarves do still maintain extensive trade relations with the outside world via subterranean layers under strict security, and there are also a number of dwarven contractors hired out to various other locations, often for architectural projects. Dwarven adventurers are usually either outcasts or runaways, but the most common training for the dwarves remains as either a fighter or as a cleric.
Of the traditional major races, none have suffered quite so dramatically as the orcs. In the face of increasingly sophisticated weaponry, the orcs primitive nature saw them largely exterminated in their wars throughout the Silencing (ferocity does little good against cannon batteries). The orcs were forced into increasingly large groups to survive. At this point, only four of the 37 great tribes remain (though in greater numbers than any of the old 37 could muster); two have attempted to integrate into normal society where they are slowly gaining acceptance, to the point where current popular conception is that they are still brooding, violent, and perhaps a little sadistic, but that they generally won't harm you if you avoid them. Orcs are, as always, first and foremost warriors, so fighters & barbarians are most common, but orcish rangers, monks, and even paladins are becoming more prevalent.
Half-elves have perhaps benefited most from the loss of magic. As their lifespans have gotten slightly shorter, they are much more easily able to fit in to human society, as a half-elven child growing up with a human child will reach physical maturity just a couple of years after the human. This greater ability to integrate has meant that half-elves, while still neither quite human, nor quite elf, have largely been treated as simply human. With magic's return, and half-elves living longer again, it remains to be seen whether this will be maintained.
Half-orcs have largely benefitted from the societal changes of the last several hundred years. As people have witnessed the full-blooded orcs "civilising" they are beginning to think better of the half-orcs and that such being may have what it takes to join society. Furthermore, with their full-blooded cousins around, to say nothing of races like the minotauroi, people have bigger concerns of stereotyping to attend to.

Rare, but established races:
Mer - Mermen/mermaids
Catfolk - What it says on the box (though both sexes vary between full anthropomorphic catpeople and nekomata)
Grippli - Frogmen

New Races:
Kliks - Clockwork robots
Harabas - Tauric crabmen
Dullahans - Headless horsemen
Lamia - Tauric snakemen
Minotauroi - The (traditional) half-bull half-humans
Vecrei - Humanoid hornets
Hlorb - Goo people

The hlorb are what you might call slimes, or goo-people. They are essentially to oozes what the Warforged are to constructs. While they are friendly towards virtually everyone, they are alien creatures with a strange psychology that can have trouble relating to other races.

While few realize it, the hlorb actually originated from the demon Jubilex. This being, only half-sentient, sought to purify itself, though what it was trying to excise would be the purer parts of itself. One particularly concentrated part that was ejected from the abyssal behemoth would even grow into the first hlorb slime core.

Physical Description: A hlorb, being an ooze, is a very mutable creature. With ready access to fresh water, a hlorb can shift many of its features, though to maintain the stability of their forms, they tend to be between 4 and 6 feet tall, with builds that on huamns would not generally exceed 200 lbs. They tend to come in a number of different colors, especially blues, purples, and greens, though reds are not terribly uncommon and many other colors exist in small quantities as well. The hlorb are technically genderless, but many of them who dwell with species with more delineated genders will generally assume one of those genders and doesn't much tend to stray from that gender. However, generally their features are completely mutable.
Unlike most oozes, hlorb do have a weak point. Within each of them is a baseball-sized item called a slime core. This is the equivalent of their brain and while its presence gives a hlorb far greater mental abilities over their common brethren, it also leaves them vulnerable to attacks that would not affect those generally lesser creatures.

Society & lands: The hlorb are an odd bunch. Unlike most races which see themselves as individuals who perhaps make up some sort of loose collective, the hlorb view their entire race not wholly inaccurately as being a single being with many disparate parts. Most of them have a hard time grasping the notion that another race might not be this way and this is often source of many of the conflicts a hlorb might have (A hlorb, particularly one that has not spent an extensive amount of time among other races, is liable to take revenge for wrongs on virtually any member of the same race).

Relations: The hlorb are a generally cheerful sort and do not generally have any animosity with other races. They tend to have excellent relations with the dwarves (who were the first to discover the hlorb and were able to set up mutually beneficially relations with the hlorb. While it does not translate to outright hostility, the hlorb are generally uncomfortable with planetouched such as aasimars and tieflings. With all of that said, however, the hlorb psychology is so different that it can be a major disconnect between themselves and other races.

Alignment and Religion: Hlorb tend towards neutral or neutral good alignments, though evil members of the race do certainly exist. Most hlorb are not particularly religious, mostly if anything just venerating the original core from which all hlorb originated.

Adventurers: Most hlorb adventure simply because they believe that doing so would be advantageous to the whole of hlorbdom. Renegade hlorb do occasionally exist, but such beings are exceedingly rare.


Ability Scores: Hlorb are resilient and intelligent, but are cumbersome and alien. They gain +2 Constitution and +2 Intelligence, but lose -2 Dexterity and -4 Charisma.
Size: Hlorb are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Base Speed: Hlorb are slow creatures for their size, like dwarves and thus have a base land speed of 20 ft. that is never reducced by armor or encumberance. They have a swim speed of 30 ft.
Type: Hlorb are oozes with the hlorb subtype
Automatic Languages: Common. Bonus Languages: Any. A hlorb is culturally able to learn virtually any language.
Amphibious: Hlorb are amphibious.
Ooze traits: Hlorb have all traits of the ooze subtype with the follow exceptions. Hlorb are not mindless, nor are they blind. Hlorb have Darkvision 60 ft instead of blindisght. A hlorb is subject to critical hits and precision damage but has a 20% chance to negate the extra damage.
Formicae - Tauric ant-men
Garuda - Harpies/Tengu
Piricsae - Fairies
Sahuagin - Shark people
Arachnea - Tauric spiderfolk
Gnomics - Half-gnome, half-humans
Gnells - Half-gnome, half-elves
Dragonkith - Descendants of true dragons at least two generations removed


2013-02-17, 04:00 PM
Reserved Post 2/3

2013-02-17, 04:01 PM
Reserved Post 3/3

2013-02-17, 04:12 PM
This is a pretty cool idea.

2013-02-17, 04:20 PM
One thing I've never understood - why do people reserve posts, rather than just edit the OP?

Also... very nice, seems a little bit like a reverse Arcanum. All I can say is flesh it out more, and really nail down whatever themes/larger stories you want the world to revolve around. Maybe expand on the particular mortal factions, how they're reacting to the extraplanar forces, etc.

2013-02-17, 04:50 PM
One thing I've never understood - why do people reserve posts, rather than just edit the OP?

Also... very nice, seems a little bit like a reverse Arcanum. All I can say is flesh it out more, and really nail down whatever themes/larger stories you want the world to revolve around. Maybe expand on the particular mortal factions, how they're reacting to the extraplanar forces, etc.

Arcanum...I'd seen that game before but didn't know anything about it until I looked it up just now.

While my introduction kind of digresses about how the lack of magic and development of society changed the world, it both is and isn't a focus. As I mentioned, the current state of the setting is just 4 years after the return of magic, and so many of those changes are still in effect. The big story though, is what the fate of this world will be: a normal material plane where the great powers are basically balanced and can pursue only small plans to tip the scales in their favor, will one side or another win out, or will that one faction release the consciousness of the plane and once again remove magic. And trust me, I have a LOT of material, just most of it is either A) on my currently dead computer and I don't feel like salvaging my hard drive until my new Power Supply arrives; or B) hasn't been commited to paper or a drive in a format sufficient for posting.

As to the reserved posts thing, for me it's just being able to divy things up a bit. The OP is supposed to be kind of a basic introduction and from there the following posts can be dedicated to a particular theme, like one of them will be crunchy race lists and archetypes, and so on, one will be history, one will be modern setting. Or something like that.

2013-02-17, 05:07 PM
And trust me, I have a LOT of material, just most of it is either A) on my currently dead computer and I don't feel like salvaging my hard drive until my new Power Supply arrives; or B) hasn't been commited to paper or a drive in a format sufficient for posting.

I know how that is... my setting (The Planets of Magic one) has been kicking around my head for years, so I have reams of information on it, but it's gone through so many changes and revisions that just collating the information is a project in itself. So much typing...

2013-02-18, 12:32 AM
So I misremembered...there was not twenty races I had originally laid out, there was 33. Ayup. I'll be putting up the racial blurbs I have created a little later.

2013-04-03, 08:41 AM
Updated with racial information for the hlorb. As always, PEACH.