View Full Version : Spitballing about a new world, part 1

2008-04-08, 11:41 PM
At some point in the next year or two I expect to put run a campaign for a few friends of mine. I'm in no rush as I will be waiting until the campaign I am currently playing in winds down, and there is no reason to believe that will be any time soon...

Anywhoo, I figured I should put pen to paper (metaphorically) to help organize my thoughts on the world I have in mind. Writing it out in a forum allows me to work on it wherever I have a computer, and will result in some feedback. I'll try to edit the posts a few times to keep them legible, but will mostly be writing down thoughts as they come to me and organizing them later. Please feel free to read and comment on any/all of the aspects of the game.

I'm not sure if any of my prospective players troll this forum, but if you are currently playing a member of the Dosier family I would thank you to stop reading now.

Onto the world:

General concept
Here are some of the ideas that I am trying to meld together into a playable setting.

The world being lived in is totally void of magic. There are only a few sentient races there, humans being the focus of the campaign. Mirroring this existance is a magical realm full of magical beasts of all kinds, the fantastic is a everyday occurrence in this reality. No creatures from either reality know that there is a second plane of existence. On a semi-regular basis the magic will build up in a small arcane 'eddie' in the fantastic realm and there will be a brief portal to the mundane realm. Sometimes when this happens a creature will be transported from the magical to the mundane realm. It is through these creatures that magic finds it's way into the world and ultimately to the sentient races.

A very long time ago Halflings started to figure out how to use various parts of magical beasts to make magical items. There will be a set number of creatures in this world, each that has a set number of items for which they are a component. After thousands of years of making these magical items, their close proximity with these magical sources has allowed halflings to be casters themselves. In my mind I have some sort of cross between radiation poisoning and metachlorians. The other races, and most halfling believe that they could always cast magic, so the evolution human society is facing is a surprise to pretty much everyone.

Humans can't do magic. If a character is a wizard, the most likely way that they 'found' their powers was through the reading of a particular fiction series. For now we'll call it 'The grand adventures of Wizzy Wizardo'. Think Harry potter. Imagine someone, after having read Harry potter, picking up a pencil and exclaiming 'wingadiam leviosa' and to have the spell work. That person then finds that they can, with practice, in fact mimic many of the fantastic things described in the Wizzy Wizardo books.

The reasoning behind all of this will be essentially: Halflings have been able to do magic for as long as they can remember. 300ish years ago they shared their knowledge of crafting magical items with humans. In those 300 years human civilization has prospered with this new knowledge. The very proximity to all the magical sources needed to make these items has started to rub off on humanity. Halflings can cast magic now, and have been able to for as long as most of them can remember. Those in the know though understand that it wasn't until halflings had made magical items for many generations that magic users started appearing in their population. This same transformation is starting to present itself in the human population.

Magic, coming from a human source, is first seen as some sort of trick. Merely the use of magic items that are well hidden. This skepticism is in general going to be followed by fear. People will mistrust the few that seem to be conduits of magic, something everyone assumed was out of the reach of human kind.

The world will mostly be populated with mundane creatures. In most cases even though a magical creature may be able to out perform the mundane creatures of the area, they won't find a mate. In a few cases of random chance a particular creature will have found enough members of it's species to populate this mundane realm, but in general these magical creatures live solitary lives and are either hunted for their magical properties, or die of natural causes. Some magical creatures will even be farmed for magical items. Picture pseudo-dragon farms for sleep dust.

The characters will have something in common, they can all cast spells. This fact will result in their capture by (a very paranoid) government, and they will likely be sold (under the table) to some unsavory character who will undoubtedly underestimate them. The main plot lines will likely involve:

1) If there is a wizard in the party, they will rightly suspect that the authors of 'Wizzie Wizardo' are actually human wizards. This line of inquiry will lead to 3 wizards, one of which (hardest one to get to) is up to some badness.

2) Magical creatures have started appearing quite regularly. Humans don't understand that the magical creatures come from another plane, so they are quite shocked at the numerous accounts of fantastic creatures showing up out of thin air. The government sees this and the sightings of humans casting magic as potentially related, and have started rounding up all those found guilty of true magic. Some involved in these apprehensions are 'sweeping them under the rug' in a reasonably LE fashion. The truth behind these magical creatures appearance is that one of the wizards that was an author of 'Wizzy Wizardo' is developing a device to summon creatures to this realm en masse. This is likely going to be the main milestone that I plan the campaign up to. The players can certainly avoid this line of inquiry if they would like, but the magical creatures will start becoming quite numerous if they do.

3) Hrm, #2 was long enough for more than 1 point really... oh well. Other quests will involve redeeming yourself in the eyes of the public through thwarting goblin raids (some of whome will be using magical creatures as mounts to great effect), as well as putting down rampaging magical creatures in general.

The races
Human: tried and true, nothing particularly different here except for the fact that (up until recently) humans couldn't directly control magic. More on this to come.

Halflings: Halflings will be taking over the roll as older/wiser/magicusing race of the world. Seeing the humans as a reasonable peaceful race (compared to the goblins) that they can associate with, they have taught humans how to make many different types of magical items to assist them in daily life. It is largely due to this assistance that humans have 'risen above' the lesser races of this world, namely the kobolds and goblins. Halflings can be magic users of all types.

A note on halflings and humans: They get along, but their societies are still quite separate. Very few halflings want to spend their life in human lands, and halfling towns and cities are both very far away and poorly suited for human life.

Kobolds: Live generally in small communities spread throughout non 'civilized' lands. They share those lands with goblins, who they continually war with. They are quite intelligent (perhaps moreso than humans), but are very nervous, bordering on paranoid. This paranoia limits community size, and all but eliminates cross-race trade. Some of the most adventurous Kobolds have tried to join human society to learn how to better their own people.

Goblins: A crude, stupid race that is significantly stronger and more savage than the Kobolds, which is likely the only reason they haven't been wiped out. They are mean, they fight in number, but they are quite dull. They live in nomadic tribes anywhere they can hold their ground against the other races, as they will surely attack anyone else nearby.

I know the goblin thing is a bit uninspired, but I'm not interested in introducing moral dilemmas when killing goblins, they will have plenty of that killing other humans.

Magic items
It might seem a bit odd to give magic items their own section (so early) but they are somewhat central to some driving forces for the plot.

Magic items require no caster, their magic is derived entirely from material components harvested from magical beasts. (section on this to come) The secret to making such items was taught to humans about 300 years ago by the halflings. As a result the humans quickly went from a tribal people fighting off the goblins to a dominant race with established society. Because the items are created from special components, their use isn't exactly 'focused'.

You can't make whatever you want, because many of the magic components may be extremely rare (and anyone who has visited the halflings can tell you that they haven't taught humans all they know by a long shot). The general idea will be a society that uses magic wherever it can, with many of the applications merely being convenience or even novelty.

I'm thinking law enforcement are all trained with (and issued) sleep dust and a healing potion. Interrigators will have access to truth serum, and 'Ms. Dash' seasoning will be a prestidigitation wand. Not everyone will have the absolute best magic item for their particular vocation, as they are limited by knowledge and by availability of magic reagents.

Humans will have more technology then any of the other races, but it will still be quite limited. Halflings have found magical solutions to most of the problems that technology would assist them with, and the Kobolds/Goblins don't have the time or resources to develop anything particularly sophisticated. In the renaissance age that humans have been granted due to the magical tools the halflings have given them, humans have developed many technologies to fill in the gaps that their magic tools currently leave.

Magic items will also be found in the 1 time use variety quite frequently. Think the back of a 1960s comic book. Buy Xray goggles (that last 5 minutes after you open the package), a paper headband that allows you to climb up any tree you want (1 time use) and so on. I'll have to make a list of items and make sure they aren't TOO broken, and there will undoubtedly be negative effects of using a whole stack of such a magical item.

Currently I'm thinking along the lines of: 2nd time you use a healing potion in a day, make a DC15 fort save or feel nauseous and throw it up. Every potion after that increases the DC by 2.

Well, looking at the sections I've put down, they are a bit out of order and there is a touch of repetition, but I think that this will do for now. I invite you all to critique any sections you wish. I would especially appreciate you asking me questions if you don't understand something I put down. I might be a case of poor wording, but I expect explaining what I mean, then rewriting the section in question will help me solidify these ideas.

Part 2 to come when I next have an hour to kill!

2008-04-09, 12:10 AM
So far this definitely sounds like a world I'd be interested in joining. The way magic works seems to make sense, and it seems like it would be fun and challenging to role play.
The main questions that I have is how is technology facing up to all of this? Is magic basically replacing technology? What is the technological status of the various races right now? From the sound of it, Halflings had nothing to do with their development; it was due to circumstance that they were located near these intermittent portals. Is that what you want?

I'd ask more questions, but I feel I should give you a chance to expand your development further before I do.

2008-04-09, 12:25 AM
So far this definitely sounds like a world I'd be interested in joining. The way magic works seems to make sense, and it seems like it would be fun and challenging to role play.
The main questions that I have is how is technology facing up to all of this? Is magic basically replacing technology? What is the technological status of the various races right now? From the sound of it, Halflings had nothing to do with their development; it was due to circumstance that they were located near these intermittent portals. Is that what you want?

I'd ask more questions, but I feel I should give you a chance to expand your development further before I do.

I've got a fair but more in my head, just don't have the time to get it all down atm. There will still be a fair bit of technology, filling in the gaps that magic doesn't. There will be a finite amount of magical items that humans can create, and even fewer will be of practical use.

I plan to make the halflings pretty much 100% magic item use, no technology. Humans on the other hand have (in the past 300 years) found themselves in a renaissance age due to the edge the halflings gave them. As such they will have a few hundred years worth of technology (having been a tribal society themselves up until recently) to fill in the gaps for the jobs magic can't do for them.

The interaction between humans and halfling will be reasonably sparse even though they get along just fine. Even though they have shared some of their secrets, not many halflings want to spend their life in human society, and halfling towns/cities are both far away and ill suited for humans.

I want them to be peaceful, friendly even... but not integrated.

Not sure if I answered your question fully, hope I did.