View Full Version : [3.5/4e] Penumbra

2013-02-25, 05:28 PM
The world began in darkness.

Long ago, far across the Astral Sea, a goddess was cast from Her home. This goddess, once of two natures, now had only one, the other lost to the catastrophic event that led to Her expulsion. In her flight, She happened across the pit of darkness in the Astral Sea, and with curiosity born of innocence, used Her powers of light to explore it.

Innocence gave birth to a world within the darkness.

And with that innocence, She set to the task of creation as readily as a child given a block of clay. From the darkness She sculpted the world into a vast ball. Great cliffs and rivers She carved, mountains were sculpted, as if in memory of the world She had left behind. The light of Her innocence hardened the world as She worked, until it was set firmly to Her liking.

And with the remaining darkness, She set to the task of creating life to populate this world. The goddess set to the task with vigor, diligently shaping small fragments of the darkness into Her image. Wings, tail, arms and legs and hands and head... and each time, to Her frustration, the detailed figure would dissipate back into black vapor.

Perhaps the figures were too detailed, She decided. Her next attempts lacked wings and tail, were created without claws on fingertips and sharp fangs in the mouth. They returned to darkness just as quickly, if not faster. Frustrated, the goddess threw down Her tools.

She could shape darkness, it seemed, but not the breath of life itself.

She could create a world, but not the creatures She desired to live within it.

And, with that pure innocence, She decided that if She could not make things to dwell within Her world, She would borrow them instead. With that plan decided, She left a violet star to keep Her world illuminated in Her absence, and in Her eternal innocence left to find other worlds from which She could pluck the creatures She so desired.

Innocence created this world. Innocence brought creatures - beasts and humans, elves and dwarves and goblins, all things essential to the nature of divine creation - into this world. Innocence created a sun to light the world for them.

There is nothing so cruel as innocence.

The goddess, in Her haste to leave and fetch forth beings to populate Her world, left the sun to illuminate only one side of the world, which did not turn. Parts of it melted, creating water that soon flowed about the world. But soon, the water on the side left facing the sun evaporated. That which flowed to the other side soon froze.

The goddess, heedless of this, returned to place Her finds on the sunlit side of the world, to watch them play and work in their new home. They languished in the heat, suffered from the lack of food and water. The goddess, who disliked the idea of being unable to care for them properly, did not allow the new beings to leave the harsh light of Her sun, preferring them to stay where She could see them easily. Soon, however, She decided that She must leave again to find them food and water and, to safeguard Her peoples in Her absence, She labored long and hard to place minds into shards of light and especially into Her sun, so that they could protect the peoples She had taken so much effort to find.

These beings of light, every bit as innocent as their creator, were perhaps the cruelest torture She could have devised.

Fortunately for Her peoples, the goddess's activities had drawn the eye of other godlings, who descended to their rescue. The mummified bodies of those who had fallen rose again to distract the beasts of light. A line of storms swept in, protecting the people as they made their way to the unmoving line of twilight, guided by the mummies of their fallen.

The peoples were gathered onto a high cliff, swept upward by wind and the endurance of powerful undead guardians. There in the dusk they found flowing streams and edible plants, guided now by the Grey Maiden and her beings of darkness, so unlike the beasts of light they had fled. The grigori, she called them, would help them find and build proper shelters and places to live on the continent-sized plateau they had been brought to.

They would also watch for the creator goddess and Her asuras, to protect and shepherd the peoples as the goddess did not know how.

When the goddess returned and saw Her peoples had gone, had spread out along the line of twilight that She had forbidden to them, She went to take them back. The new godlings had since gathered other allies, divinities of fire and earth and steel, protectors of the people who now lived comfortably in the eternal dusk. They blocked the creator goddess's path, swatted aside Her hands when She attempted to reach beyond them to take what was Hers.

And the Grey Maiden spoke: "They were not Yours, for You had taken them from their homes and their parents. You did not protect them. You did not shield them from Your harsh sun. They are not Yours, for You had doomed them to die in the ashlands Your sun has created. We have found them respite. We have found precious water in Your world, provided food not dust, and manna from the blessed darkness You have neglected."

Replied the goddess: "This world I have created. You are intruders and unwelcome. The people require my light, light that I will not cede to you!"

The Grey Maiden merely smiled, and spoke a soft syllable to the sky. There a red moon shone, floating across the line of dusk to reflect the light of the sun over the night side of the world.

And the Grey Maiden replied: "There. I need not the light of Your sun, for I have created a moon to reflect it. The people will survive, for they have Us to protect them, and they will return to You only through their own choice."

This rose the goddess's fury and, as a child is wont to do, She raved against the Grey Maiden, bringing to bear all the radiant fury She could muster. With a word, the Grey Maiden was protected from Her fury.

Another word bound the goddess in tarry shackles of darkness.

A third brought the remaining godlings to her side, and together they threw the goddess back to Her ashlands.

With the innocence of a child, the goddess had lit the darkness and shaped it into a world for Herself. With the innocence of a child, that same goddess had gone to find new toys with which to enrich Her play. With the innocence of a child, that same goddess raged at the more responsible godlings who attempted to show Her how to properly care for Her new pets.

And with the innocence of a child, that rage transformed the goddess into a demon.

2013-02-25, 05:33 PM
...Okay, this is kinduva seedling idea, but the general gist is that this is a world in which light is not good. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LightIsNotGood) Granted, neither is darkness (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DarkIsEvil), but the latter is definitely the lesser of the two. :smallredface:

The creator goddess is pure CE. She's associated with light, creation and the sun.

The Grey Maiden is N. She's associated with creation and civilization.

The local god of undeath is LG, associated with protection as well as death.

Most of the crunch I'll make for this setting will be for 4e, so I'm leaving some clay out for other people to play if they want. :smallbiggrin:

2013-02-25, 08:56 PM
This is a severely cool concept for a setting. I will continue observing.

2013-02-26, 02:25 AM
Full stream of consciousness incoming.

Time is reckoned by the moon, which takes twenty-four hours to make a full revolution around the world. Thus, twenty-four hours to a day, seven days to a week. Longer periods are a bit trickier; the moon is used for daily time instead of the sun, and not many stars are visible from the livable areas. Probably some plant or another function might be used to track a month, but this might actually be a bit less "MUST HAVE NOW" for it.

The way the world is set up, the day side can effectively use most rules from Sandstorm, while the night side makes use of Frostburn. The farther you go either way, the hotter/colder it gets, peaking out in the unearthly bands for both. In addition, the day side blasts you with positive energy/radiant damage as you get farther from the safe bands.

To add insult to injury, the day side would be a rocky badlands, if not for the fact that the creator goddess first placed her mortals there. What looks like sand is in fact the ashes of millions of displaced beings.

On the subject of magic: This should be pretty average for D&D. Eladrin live in storm clouds on the dawnward side of the livable area, human cities on the duskward side set up fake suns to light their settlements, and so forth. Generally speaking, magic that creates light and heat is frowned upon by most, while skillful control of cold and darkness are marks of divine favor.

New fiends should be designed around a theme of light, while angels are done in darkness. Undead are also generally seen as good; becoming a mummy or death knight is a high honor for most. The exception to this is undead that must feed upon the living, such as ghouls or vampires, who are to be destroyed ASAP.

...I still have no crunchy bits for this. Hoping to get a map/atlas thing done soon. :smallbiggrin:

2013-02-26, 05:41 AM
This is really cool. Really quite cool. And not just for the ice ball areas.

Things to consider or that jumped out at me: With no axial wobble or anything, from the sound of it, there would be no seasons or the like. And the polar regions would be a "dead zone" of ice and snow compared to the rest of the ring of habitable land. Which means people on the Eastern Hemisphere temperate ring have no direct, dependable route to guys on the Western Hemisphere temperate ring. Even 4th edition ritual magic can't really replicate it as I think the longest range on stuff like Sending or Magic Circle Teleport and such is measured in 1000 miles rather than distances likely to matter on a cross global trek. MAYBE have a "highway" across one of the poles consisting of some set up magic circles that teleport. So people just have to have the wealth and means to cast the ritual several times cutting a journey of Months into Days.

This also is a very fragile set up prone to letting the Demon Goddess and her minions disrupt it. So adventure fodder.

For 4th edition there isn't too much "Crunch" you'd have to change I think. Maybe rework it so Lawful Good/Good/Unaligned divine characters use Necrotic, or Cold based damage on their powers compared to Radiant and Fire, and Evil/Chaotic Evil use Radiant Damage and Fire damage. I mean yes, that's a lot of powers to "Fix" but the rule is easy enough that it's not a huge bookkeeping task. And changing the "Channel Divinity" powers on some classes from Rebuking/Abjuring/Turning Undead. Not sure what to replace them with. Probably a Bolster Undead thing. Like using the Channel Divinity to give all Undead in usual turning range a bonus until end of turn. MAYBE allow a "Dominate Undead" thing to allow clerics of the Good undead god to be able to reign in Undead who go rogue and are touched by madness.

Probably the biggest area to change mechanically would be some of the Monster Themes/Templates. Things like Disciple of Demogorgon would, and should, be dropped. I'm not sure if you necessarily use them. However, so that's not a huge concern.

I suppose the other quasi-crunch concern is how the various races actually relate to one another now that they are in the temperate zone? Do Elves, Gobbos, Orcs, Shardminds, Gnomes, Humans, Tieflings, Minotaurs, etc, etc, etc all get along in one happy community? Are they fracturing off? Is it something where, due to the original crisis and need they were united but now that they are at peace, of a sorts, they are starting to wear thin? Still together but in danger of infighting at any time?

2013-02-26, 03:34 PM
Channel Divinity powers would just have their target keywords changed. Instead of targeting undead, they would pick on demons/devils/asuras/whatever I decide Her minions are. Same deal as the colorchanging, really. :smalltongue:

For the rest, expect a bit of shakeup in most racial relations. Tieflings, though, are practically unchanged; they're descended from people who chose to seek out the goddess and her asuras. Only difference is, tieflings in this world would be associated with radiance, rather than fire. :smallbiggrin:

2013-08-10, 11:35 PM
...Gah, I've been neglecting this. :smallannoyed:

Working on the next section now, mostly detailing how the usual (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LightIsGood) tropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DarkIsEvil) are flipped around here, by the natives' reckoning. As a side project, also kicking around ideas for a weird frozen tomb-city as one of the major population centers. :smallwink:

2013-08-11, 01:55 PM

With very few exceptions, the mortals brought to this world - named Eos, for the only habitable area is the line of twilight - ascribe virtue and holy powers to the shadows cast in the light or the dark of night itself. Time is marked by the passing of the moon, which passes across the sky perfectly along the center of the firmament. Generally speaking, most people prefer to sleep while the moon is not visible in the sky.

Similarly, while most are apathetic at best toward the idea of dying, the undead are revered. They're seen as the "proper" gods' chosen soldiers and scholars. A small town might gladly release their children into the care of a frozen lich each moonrise for their education, while troops of dessicated mummies are thanked earnestly for guarding against the asuras on the dawnward cliffs. Bodies are always interred when possible, oriented along the moon's path through the sky. Memorial slabs are always faced with the inscription toward the night, so that the gods might look favorably upon those who died in their gratitude.

The worst insult one can do toward the dead is to dismember or otherwise destroy the body, or else face their memorial toward the day and the attentions of the sun goddess.


For all that She created this world and brought its inhabitants to their new home, mortals have nothing but fear in their hearts where the sun goddess is concerned. The light of Her sun is harsh and unforgiving, and while Her followers claim that Her violet light carries Her love for this world and its mortals... the mortals disagree fervently. Where the darkness brings comfort and the promise of survival, the light can only bring death without the promise of eternal unlife.

The creatures who inhabit the ashlands under the sun are often resistant or immune to its deletrious effects. Most employ radiant magic of their own. Such adaptations are necessary for survival beneath the sun's baleful glare, even more so than food and water.

There are, of course, mortals foolish enough to eke out a living under Her gaze. In olden times, those fearful of Her wrath would perform as the Grey Maiden promised, and seek out the goddess to deflect Her ire. In return for their souls and their fealty, their lineage was corrupted by the light and transfigured in Her image. Their descendants are known as lucefuges, and alone among Eos's mortals they bear a natural resistance to the sun's hateful light.


As the violet sun remains fixed in the dawnward sky, the mortals of Eos reckon time instead by the crimson moon's passage. From moonrise to moonset, the day measures twelve hours, and it is twelve hours again before the next moonrise. This twenty-four hour period is referred to simply as a "moon," perhaps in reference to pre-Migration lunar calendars. The hour can usually be told simply by looking upon the moon, whose face is illuminated by the sun during its passage.

In deference to the early days of their settlement, and perhaps in fearful homage to the goddess who brought their ancestors to Eos, seven moons mark a week. Each moon is named for a color, a concept known only in the light. The most dawnward villages maintain small community shrines to mark the days, each made up of a clear crystal lit by magic. Each moonrise, a different colored light is shone upon the crystal, until the seventh, when it glows white, a sign for families to fast at home lest the asuras appear.

Finally, there are thirty passes of the moon to a month, and ten months and a day to a year. On this last moon all lights save timekeepers are extinguished, fires are banked, and homes and workplaces are cleaned and repaired under the shadow of the gods in preparation for the new year. The elven races consider this last moon to be particularly auspicious.

Due to the odd way this world works, compasses and navigation tools brought along on the Migration are little more than novelties. An Eosian compass, called a "lightfinder," points toward the sun, or "dawnward," while the nether end indicates "duskward." In deference to pre-Migration terms, these are analogous to "south" and "north," respectively, when maps are drawn.

2013-08-20, 12:48 AM
This is a wonderful concept and I look forward to seeing it further evolve.

I suggest looking into Pelor, the burning hate, at some point. One theory goes (in which I based the Thrall of Pelor (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=298006) PrC on) that Pelor is actually a Demon Lord.