View Full Version : Elivo: the Reflections

2008-02-02, 05:53 PM
Greetings one and all, to a very special new setting of mine.

This is cross actually posted over on the threads (http://zodiacffrpg.proboards74.com/index.cgi?board=worldbooks&action=display&thread=1201795964) for the Zodiac Final Fantasy RPG (http://www14.brinkster.com/zodiacrpg/). And it is made for use with that system, but it might be flexible enough to promote any fantasy system with minimal changes.

Before I get to the GM and player material, lets take a look at what kind of world my new setting is. (I need to come up with a name, can somebody help me?)

This world was born from one of the things that always bugged me about how deities are presented in 3rd edition D&D. This is best described at the bottom of this post. Just ignore the other stuff...except where the guard and thief get held up by gods...:

in this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3840742&postcount=74)

Also, if gods are really both active and omnipotent, than whats the point of fighting religious wars? Clearly, for your heroes' actions to mean anything their needs to be an inverse relationship between divine power and interference. The gods need to be either distant or weak. Their is a third option: they need to get along like two peas in a pod. None of this opposing alignment crap. Its unknown if your heroes actions will still mean anything in a world were the Gods are united, active, AND omnipotent; but at least it doesn't have quite the problem if mortals are nothing more than pawns entangled in the agendas of warring gods.

The glorious, but now dead (or at least his site is) Uncle Figgy made a similar argument. Basically, if your hero gets orders from his god to go attack this castle, which is protected by another god, then the enemy god will protect the castle and smite the crusader. Unless the hero's god also protects him from the other god...its just too much of a headache. It just benefits simplicity if violently opposed Gods are not be All-seeing, all-powerful, and all-reaching.

But then, if you nerf them too much, then they are no longer Gods.

Then I thought: lets embrace that.

The Gods, if they exist, do not feel inclined to interfere. But there is one very intolerant religion (complete with Magic-wielding Clerics) that is actively slaying "Demons" and converting pagan peoples to the worship of their "God." Not truly a god, he is nonetheless the source of their magic, which seems to justify worship of him over the various idols and totems and locations of other religions who have no magic. But, he is not the only such being. Defaming all other magic-givers as demons to be destroyed, he advances his plan to rule everything through the work of his followers.

These "magic-givers" I collectively will refer to as "Spirits". At the bottom of the post are 14 notes about Spirits and how they give magic to mortals....and how giving mortals magic is a very dangerous thing for a Spirit to do.

Let's get back to the "God" of our Spirit-hunting religion. His alias' are: Stardark, The fire of the river, Golaron (actually the true name of a dead spirit), Oscillating Stone, and other oxymoronic, contradictory names. His true name is....wouldn't you like to know? (He would NOT like you to know. Especially if you are another Spirit. Read the notes at the bottom to discover why.)

His worshipers only know him as God (I might change this, have his followers give call him by a title, but not a very specific one...), but that is because while they are able to commune with him, he doesn't feel compelled to give them a name. He has a handful of aliases he gives other spirits, but he likes a particular aura of mystery to surround him when talking to his worshipers. The idea of something existing unidentifiable, but simply "is" might very well seem much more menacing to the spirits, and besides, if the other Spirits knew who he was, it would be bad for him. You can never be too paranoid. :smallbiggrin:

But let's call him "Light" for the purposes of this thread.

Basically, casters are divided up between Shamans (those who made a pact with a Spirit), Wizards (those who uncover True names themselves), and Clerics (Which are really shamans, but they worship "Light" and are extra hostile to outside magic use)

How this translates into D&D classes is something I will touch upon next post. For now here are some notes on Spirits.

Scroll down for notes on Spirits its been moved to another post

2008-02-02, 06:01 PM
Special notes

1-All magic comes from the spirits. The Spirits are not truly gods, but they can grant magic to mortals.

2-Despite having magic themselves, spirits can not influence the world of mortals directly. However, they can communicate with mortals.

3-To use a spirit's magic, it must first tell you its "magic word." The magic word only need be used once in a ritual to gain the spirit's powers, and indeed the Spirit forbids the magic-user from ever uttering the word aloud again. Spirits are very protective of their words. And the largest barrier to using its magic is not finding a Spirit, but gaining its trust.

4-However, before revealing their "magic word", the Spirit will usually insist that the human to recieve its magic give him or herself a second name. The vast majority of those Spirits that haven given magic to humans refused to proceed before receiving a name from the human. Few humans know why this is so important, and the Spirit isn't telling. Such humans are called Shamans.

5-Spirits can fight each other with their own magic, but it tends to be messy. No spirit can even ambush another one without it turning into a long, bloody afair that leaves the victor greatly wounded-trying to kill another spirit through force will likely end in either needless failure or pyrric victory. If a Spirit learns the true name of another Spirit, they may kill the spirit with but a thought. All Spirits instinctively know their own true name.

6-A spirit's true name and "magic word" are one in the same. A Spirit that gives a human magic has also given that human its deepest, darkest, most dangerous secret! When a human creates a new name in exchange for the spirit's "magic word", he is in truth giving himself a "true name" the spirit can use to kill him as if he were another spirit! The ritual described in note #4 was in truth an exchange of lethal "True names" between the human and the spirit! Many human beings that enter a pact with a spirit have no idea....

7-Human that use a Spirit's magic become an extension of the Spirit's power. It is conceivible that a spirit may very well give magic to a human in the hopes of influencing the human world throught them. One consequence of humans making a pact with a spirit is that the they suddenly become vulnerable to spirits in way that weren't true before. Besides the dangers associated with giving the spirit a name, the caster now exists in both the Human and Spirit worlds simulataneously. Casters can be attacked by any spirit in the world, a vulnerability that didn't exist before...

8-Besides a spirit telling you their name, there is a secret cabal of wizards that can accurately uncover a spirit's "Magic word" by simply looking at details about the spirit (where it was born, what is associated with, does it have horns or scales, etc.) and correlating them with the Spirit alphabet. These wizards can therefore use a spirit's magic without its knowledge, against its purposes, and without giving the spirit a name to kill them with! Althouth human beings cannot kill the Spirits themselves with their names, Spirits that learn of the wizards' existence are not very happy about it. Wizards are completely oblivious to this, because they don't understand how they threaten the spirit. Wizards hide their identities even in societies that might be open and understanding...on the chance that there might be spirits watching. And since Wizards are now magical, they can be attacked. However, spirits observing mortals cannot pick out casters from the rest of them. As a safety measure, the cabal has decreed that all wizards are forbidden from using magic in public.

9-Magically active mortals can also attack spirits (any spirit!). With Sword or with Sorcery. There exist strange folk out there who are capable of taking and returning blows from spirits, despite never acquiring magic or a true name at all....

10-Peculiarly, there exist parasite monsters that live in the mortal world that can prey upon spirits, and ethereal monsters that can attack mortals. They can only be attacked by those that live in their native world as opposed to the world they prey upon. Or by Casters, that exist in both, if you recall. These monsters behave very differently from others, since the physical monsters can be attacked by spirits, and the ethereal monsters can't be attacked by non-magical humans. Its so unfair, its almost like its done on purpose....

11-Humans that don't use magic don't neccesarily have to worry about any of the above save note #10. However, there are rumors of special places called "Spirits' Domains" that are links to the spirit world. There the native spirit manifests in the physical world and can use its magic on any invaders. These Domains can be wondorous or nightmarish places (or both); Forests that ensure you will never find your way out, Sactuaries from monsters, Bottomless swamps, Caverns filled with giant man-eating insects, beautiful gardens you never want to leave....ever.

12- When a Spirit dies, noone may use their name for magic any more. Their Spirit's Domain will collapse, but the magic will not truly disappear. The energy of everything the spirit was and everything it could have become over its existence may become compressed. But how will this power manifest? And can it be exploited by Man, Spirit, or Beast? Spirits slain by the parasites listed in #10 slowly have their energy stolen by the parasites, and if enough of them swarm the spirit, it can be a long, slow, horrible death...

13-Theres rumored to be a way for a spirit to expand its Domain and potentially cover the entire world, but it has never been confirmed. Nor disproven....

14-Somewhere out there, their exists a religion hostile to the Spirits. They use magic that comes from their "God", and claim that all Spirits are devils. Extremely intolerant of magic outside of the church, they have destroyed many casters and Spirits in a giant witchhunt. Nobody knows if the source of their magic is truly a God or not..... (Actually you do because I told you)

Grey Paladin
2008-02-02, 06:10 PM

Beside Wizards invoking Spirits through sacrifice this sounds *exactly* like my old homebrewed setting

2008-02-02, 06:21 PM
Character creation:

I've covered the Zodiac rules at my

Technically, there are two ways to get magic from a Spirit. I haven't quite decided how I want to deal with the divisions of magic. I could simply say that all magic from Spirits are divine, therefore arcane spellcasters are those who don't have magic. Or maybe "Shamans" use divine and "Wizards" use Arcane. Or maybe either type (Wizard or Shaman) can pick up levels in divine or arcane, and the distinction between wizards and shamans is their relationship with the Spirit world.

Perhaps there is no distinction between divine and arcane, its just that some classes' magic is more compatible with armor than others. I like this one best.

However the DM decides it works, there are three types of characters in this world; Normal, Wizard, and Shaman. If you as a player want to be a spell caster, you should tell your DM before hand which type you are.

Normal: Can not take levels in Spell casting classes. But they aren't involved with the politics of Spirits. Pro: Spirits can't do jack to you! Con: No Magic

Shaman: Your Spirit is on friendly terms with you, but you can die instantly at the Spirit's behest. So keep 'em happy. Pro: Can interact with Spirit society freely Con: Spirit partner might be bossy/needy.

Wizard: Wizards look like they got a good deal. Just pass yourself off as a Shaman and nobody need know you aren't one. Besides, the common folk probably don't appreciate the depth of difference between Wizards or Shamans (in fact neither do the Wizards, truly). However, Wizards are strictly forbidden by their guild from performing magic in public, by the guild. This is a safety measure. The Society of Wizards suspects (correctly) that the Spirits will not be amused by their existence. Also, you might be labeled "a threat to the guild" and killed by your fellow wizards, if someone discovers your identity. You also might be giving subtle tell-tale signs to observing spirits that you are a Non-shaman using magic without even knowing it. Right now most Spirits are in the dark about wizards. But if they ever found out....

If "Loyalty" is the Shaman's watch word, than "Subtlety" is the Wizard's.

Pro: You got your magic for free! Con: You might end up being hunted down by angry spirits or angry wizards for any number of reasons you may very not even understand!

2008-02-02, 06:32 PM

Beside Wizards invoking Spirits through sacrifice this sounds *exactly* like my old homebrewed setting

Hey! I resent that remark! Seriously, though, it can't be exactly like your setting. I sent days devoted to thinking this up...

Care to expand up this?

2008-02-03, 01:14 PM
Well, getting back on the topic, I've finally come up with a name, complete with a renamed topic (it was called Setting Name Pending: a new look at active deities). The setting's name is now Elivo (Ee-leave-oh): the Reflections. What are the reflections you ask? Whatever you want them to mean! What? you thought I was actually thinking this stuff out? :tongue:

Anyway, while posting this setting at Zodiac, I had some GM material. Some tips and some stuff on Monsters and Spirits. The stuff about monsters was important for me to include because the Zodiac system, while it has a good monster creation method, has no established monsters, meaning the GM has to make up all the monsters that enter his campaign. This isn't a problem for D20, since you have the monster manual. However, I'll still post my piece about monsters and their (apparent) lack of sentience in my world for completeness' sake. Just ignore the bits about blue mages, I had to add them over there because Zodiac has rules for blue magic (Blue magic is the art of copying abilities that are used by monsters in various Final Fantasies)

Now we're going to talk about how to run a campaign in this world!

These first few rules are simply how to deal with people who try to abuse knowledge of the setting detailed here. But the principles detailed here might be useful later.

Q. Help! A player says he's going to abuse his Wizard alphabet to blackmail spirits and found out "Light's" true identity.

A. Well, first of all, there is generally no way his character can know that a spirit's "magic word" is also a "true name" or that Spirits can kill with those. Simply never tell him what the word is because "Its not important." Besides, there is a hundred times as much misinformation as *sparse* information about "Light." If pressed say "Well, okay, the word was mumblemumblemumble" "Hey whats that mumbling?" "Oh, thats just my heavy 'Wizardese' accent pronouncing a Spirit word." 8-)

Q. Well, now my idiot wizard just said he's announcing in public all the "magic words" he knows! Whaddo I do?

A. Drop a cow on him and Ban the player from the game. Okay, seriously, for an in-game justification. Politely remind him that the Wizarding guild mandates secrecy, and this is a major breach if he goes through with it.

If that doesn't stop him. Let it happen. The few nonskeptical townsfolk who actually try magic will likely fail for lack of study (Do they even know any spells?). Perhaps with disastrous results. Point is, end the day negatively, and downplay whatever show the wizard was expecting. But you're not done. Have the Guildmaster give him an earful, possibly throw him out of the guild. Have the village indiscriminately attacked by paranoid Spirits (since only the people who tried to use the Spirit's name for magic and the wizard himself will be hurt, only the wizard might actually survive.) Have every Shaman in the area die because the Spirits fear they told the tattle-tale PC their names, then have the (surviving) villagers mad at the wizard over all the magical services the Shaman used to provide for them. And of course, Spirits will hound the wizard for the rest of his life. Basically, have HUGE consequences...for not a lot of impact. And suggest to the player that there were Spirits or concerned Shaman watching if he gets uppity.

If a wizard did it (A wizard did it! Sorry I couldn't resist) in "Light's" territory, have any Spirits who aren't "Light" or his allies (if any) die (and the shaman/wizards lose their magic), and have Clerics bust down his door faster than you can say "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

Now, if a Shaman does the same, they only know one name, and it might be much cleaner. If not immediately, then at the next possible moment, as publically as possible have the Shaman dissolve into a pile of dust at the Spirit's behest. Then have the angry Spirit threaten the entire village to secrecy and never to attempt magic again or else they will suffer a similar fate to the Shaman. Since the villagers never gave the Spirit a name, this is an empty threat, but they don't know that.

Q. ...Holy crap how did you come up with that last answer, that was amazing!

A. In truth, I seem to be amazing myself a lot a lately. It hasn't been a week since I started coming up with this setting and I've already made this much progress. For a second there, I was worried that "I shouldn't have given up the concept of blackmailing wizards. Thats a good reason to not blurt out True names to the unwashed masses." But then I started thinking about "Wait, what if its not so bad? Maybe theres a limitation" And as I thought on it, I realized that it was through and through, not just a plot-disrupting idea, but actually a really, really stupid idea.

But in general, as a GM, You have to think fast. Whenever you're presented with a stubborn party or a comedian who wants to have a laugh at the game's expense, its up to you to:

- give the players another clue to the mystery they can't solve
- move the plot forward even though you honestly have *no* idea what to do now that all the NPCs are dead. (good luck with this one)
- move the entrance of the Troll cave from the scary-looking mountain that frightened the party away to a tunnel coming from the basement of the friendly-looking tavern that the party went to, but turned out to be -gasp- abandoned and ransacked!
- Drop a cow on him and Ban.....nah. nevermind.

Point is, don't cling to your plan, when it might very well work out if you just take the player's idiocy and run with it. Also remember: if curiosity doesn't get the players into the haunted house, try greed (Peasant: Hey, isn't that old man Grubbian's house? Some folks say that he kept a lot of money/magic items/spell books in there.) If that doesn't work, you could try the most ham-handed motivation: fear (a giant monster/storm basically corals them into the house a la the first Resident Evil. May result in accusations of railroading).


A. Weeeell, have you tried taking a moment at the end of the game asking the players to share their thoughts about where the plot's going or what they think is going on? If you take notes, you might get some ideas from their speculations.

Monsters and Spirits in your games

Most monsters exist between the Spirit and Mortal worlds. Like Casters, they are simultaneously Physical and Astral. The numbers of sentient monsters are few to none. However, it is unknown if the monsters are lesser Spirits, natural birds and beasts that evolved to adapt to a magical world, created by spirits in a similar process to shamanism, or any combination of these. However, most monsters demonstrate the following statistics:

-Slower breeding than "natural" animals. The big monsters that exist dominate their local environment.
-Spirits are generally more powerful than monsters, and can attack them. An area with a dearth of monsters might indicate the presence of a Spirit. Ordinary humans and animals may thrive in the territory of even a very belligerent spirit without ever knowing.
-Some Spirits do keep monsters in their "Spirit's Domain". But then, thats just another thing that makes Spirits' Domains more like dungeons.
-Certain Monsters have access to magic. It seems there is a secret cult of Mages (who might or might not wear blue) that try to acquire these monster's magic by becoming Monsters themselves! There methods elude outsiders, but it seems to involve "Assimilating" parts of the monster into the Mage somehow. ;)
-Very few monsters seem human, and those that do don't seem to have anything else in common. Their language, if they have one is made up of noise easily mistaken for bestial snarls and growls. Using saliva in the throat as much as the tongue to talk. Very little tool use and other signs of intelligence. There is one instance of a monster that might have displayed empathy towards a human, but it wasn't a very uplifting story. Its on the next post if you're curious.

Spirits, when or if the players fight them should be considered Bosses. They are powerful, but not invincible. Also, Normal humans will not be able to fight them unless they are in the Spirit's Domain. There are ways to ward a house or building against a spirit if your wizard, (blue) mage, or shaman gets attacked, and there is always the option of running away.

Spirits, when or if the players fight them should be considered Bosses. They are powerful, but not invincible. Also, Normal humans will not be able to fight them unless they are in the Spirit's Domain. There are ways to ward a house or building against a spirit if your wizard, (blue) mage, or shaman gets attacked, and there is always the option of running away.

When a Spirit's Domain collaspes:
-Certain monsters will die or leave immediately.
-The energy starts to collect at a single point, where the Spirit fell. Certain people have learned how to create powerful items and tools from this nexus. "Light's" inquisitors simply seal it with an unknown ritual. But that magical energy can't just disappear! Where does it go? :mad:
-The Spirit, if still alive can self-destruct a Domain and build elsewhere. This can only be done from outside the domain. Of course, closing a Domain this way is much more violent, and it would be bad if someone was inside and couldn't get out in time.... :biggrin:
-A self-destructed Domain will not leave a nexus. However, some Spirit's have a Domain that they cannot destruct.
-The energy nexus that is left behind emits an eerie, ethereal glow. It exists in the Spirit realm, but it could be manipulated and moved with a magic circle painted on a surface of some sort...
-Its believed that there exists a Spirit that has the power to rule all other Spirits, but that he is imprisoned deep beneath.....deep beneath.....maybe it was within....ah, I forget.

2008-02-03, 02:01 PM
Sentient monster sighted?

The most optimistic report of human-humanoid monster relation was of an Oversized Sasquatch-creature that kidnapped a child from the village and spent most of its time in its featureless cave with the captive purring while stroking the child's hair like a pet's. The villagers did manage to track down the creature and in reaction to seeing this many humans, it dropped the child in a rather irresponsible manner and fled in a rather cowardly one. The boy was unharmed, but was horribly sick from the "food" provided him. He would've died if kept under the monster's "care" for much longer. This incident became the basis for many fairy tales (portraying the monster's fictional intelligence and personality wildly different from story teller to story teller), but brought civilization's understanding of monster's mental capacities very little.

What this means for the DM running a game in this setting

The story about is the closest story of a monster that was actually smart. What does this mean if you use the standard D&D monster manual? Lets take a look at the monsters by type and how they might fit into this world:

Animals: unchanged. I don't see how I could change them too much.
Vermin: ditto.
Magical beasts: They exist, but they live in a very different world from humans. They don't share a language, they don't understand signs with hands (probably because must of them have none) and while they may be smarter than humans give them credit for, how will people ever see past the fact that they live as animals? Because the life of an animal is what they are best suited for in the first place?
Abberations: Same deal as the Magical beasts, but perhaps even moreso. More than having an alien intelligence or living in an alien world, they are totally alien to everything else in the human experience. If you plan to use human-esque abberations, see the section on humanoids.
Plants: Unchanged. Yes, even the Trents.
Oozes: Unchanged.
Elementals: Well, they exist in another part of the multi verse entirely. Either present them as Spirits or just as things Casters can summon. Otherwise, they are just going to hang around their respective elemental plane not
Outsiders: Depends on the outsider in question. See either Magical Beast, Humanoids, or Elementals, or possibly even Undead (Just because the BBEG is Vampiric doesn't mean he didn't rise as a demon.) Or you cast them as Spirits.
Dragons: See Magical Beast, but feel free to jazz them up as you see fit. Dragons are probably exceptional monsters.
Humanoids: Humans are the only known sentient beings in the mortal world. There might be others, but they are elusive or distant or both! Then again, I don't have a real image of Spirits in my mind.
Monstrous Humanoids and Giants: You could make them the product of Lycantrophy (fun). But you also read my section on humanoids. Either that or you take away the Humanoid part an embrace the monstrous. With Natural weapons and armor (including fur to protect against the elements), they don't really need to develop fancy things like clothes or armor or weapons. Minotaurs gore, Gnolls bite, and Harpies claw, but very little signs of sentience.
Giants: I'm not sure what to do with giants.
Undead: Well, since there are humans, and those humans die, unchanged! But one thing that bothers me is how undead interact with spirits...