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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Arzanyos's Avatar

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    Default Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Hey guys, here's my first attempt at building a setting. Here's an overview, I'll get flesh out stuff like the cultures and more of the history soon.

    Eldralar, the World without War
    A great wall divides the realms of the gods from the Material Plane. Forged long ago by agents of the inner planes, led by the Celestials, the Barrier all but stops the gods from exerting their will over mortals. Now, their only influence is that which makes its way through cracks in the Barrier, to the clerics waiting below.

    The Celestials have guided the path of mortals ever since the Barrier was forged. In their mind, without the destabilizing influences of outside forces, the Material Plane will carve itself into its proper shape; an orderly, peaceful utopia, where the righteous live in harmony. For now though, those given to order exist in a continent wide cold war, with alliances held by strings amongst each other. For the free spirited races, it is an even harsher existence, pushed to the edges of civilization, scraping by by the sweat of their brow.

    In the west, the human lords squabble over land in the north, while the dwarves and kobolds fight an open war to control the ancient dragon spawning grounds in the south. The eastern shore is a blighted land, life’s hold on it shattered by the long ago death of a god. A grand necropolis has risen, the only thing that can survive there. In the eastern mires, where the land still clings to life, the proud hobgoblins wait endlessly for a holy war that will never come. The other races are pushed to the edges, the orcs and elves in the southern fields and forests, the ogres warring to reclaim a lost kingdom in the northeast, and the halflings, farther north than any dare go.

    Tidehollow
    One landmark is known above all else in Eldralar: Tidehollow, the Black Fortress, the Gate of Acheron. It was forged in ancient times by an Empyrian, The Son of The Stars. Corrupted by the lower planes, he traveled to the Material Plane, seeking to take it by force. To this end, he built Tidehollow, a fortress built of equal parts fiendish stone and divine magic. Its foundations are sunk into the Shadowfell, and in its core is a dark portal, anchoring the fortress to Acheron. Fiends streamed from the eternal battlefield to serve this greatest of masters, but eventually, he was slain, his army scattered. Now, the fiends patrol the stronghold, maintaining only a grudging presence in the Material Plane. They cannot destroy the portal, but they also cannot let the Celestials fight them at the site of their final
    deaths.
    Last edited by Arzanyos; 2016-01-30 at 06:19 AM.
    ke palulu o ka pono, ka ihe o Ku
    I'm building a campaign setting! Latest update: Gnomes!

    Hobhekili credit to linklele.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Races of Eldralar

    Spoiler: Dwarves
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    Born of stone and iron, the dwarves are solid, sturdy folk, set in their ways, and laden with ancient tradition. One of their greatest traditions, thus, is the worship of the god Temora. Unique among the races of Eldralar, the Dwarven Pantheon includes but one god, Temora. According to dwarven legend, Temora forged the world upon his anvil, creating alongside it all the races it now holds. That this story makes Temora the creator of all the other races gods as well is a fact that several dwarves never fail to mention in negotiations. This idea of dwarves being the oldest race gives them a sense of superiority, as in their minds, the old ways are the best ways, and they know all the old ways.

    Although all dwarves worship Temora, the millennia since the Barrier have brought about three relatively distinct sects of dwarven religion. While not all dwarves subscribe fully to one of the sects, there are very few non-religious dwarves.

    The Seekers of the Anvil

    Strongest among the dwarves of the high mountains, the doctrine of the Seekers of the Anvil dictate that Temora foresaw the Barrier’s creation, and although he deigned not to stop it, he gave his children the tools they would need to flourish without his direct guidance. Namely, they believe Temora hid the anvil he forged the world upon somewhere in Eldralar, deep within the core of the mountains. Since they cannot spend all their time on a quest for a mythical artifact, the Seekers also act as the de facto master craftsmen of the dwarves. A settlement will usually have Seekers in charge of the forges, even if they are not the majority, because for them, smithing is a sacred calling. All dwarves respect the art of shaping metal into useful forms, but most will never reach the skill of a Seeker of the Anvil. In the great forges of the seekers are records of every inhabitant of the settlement, their measurements, their family, and their preferences. Every single item that leaves the forges is custom designed for an individual, and, if need be, their next of kin.

    Outside of dwarven lands, the few Seekers that interact with other races are usually found in mercenary companies. These dwarves are those burnt out by the long search for the anvil. While gruff and jaded, they nevertheless fight wholeheartedly for whatever cause they are hired to fight for, and can usually be convinced to take a cheaper rate for exploring ancient ruins. Non combatant Seekers are usually on mining expeditions, checking if maybe, just maybe, Temora got confused and left his anvil in a non-dwarven area.

    In combat, they are walls of steel, clad in heavy armor and favoring hammers and shields. From among their battle lines, clerics keep the warriors in the fight by healing them and casting defensive buffs. To fight against a dwarven squadron of the Seekers of the Anvil is to be a cliff resisting a wave. No matter how matter how long it takes, you will be ground down, and they will be none the lessened for it.

    The Keepers of the Spark


    The Keepers of the Spark, a doctrine followed mostly by the dwarves of the hills, look to at Temora’s forge, but his creation instead. They cite the legend that sparks from Temora’s hammer would fall down into the world as he worked on it, each one bringing fertility and invigorating nature where it struck. Since Temora appears to beat his hammer no more, the Keepers posit that it is there job to cultivate the wilds, and keep the places of nature healthy. As such, they are the lawmakers of dwarven society. They decree how much a fortress should hunt, how many trees should be cut down by its loggers, and even which fields should be farmed, and which should lie fallow. As well, the Keepers go out into the wilds, to help maintain the delicate balances of the forest, guiding their inhabitant elsewhere if need be. To this end, a sizable portion of the Keepers in lieu of training as clerics, become druids, able to commune with the beings of the forests, and even the mountains and underground caverns. Unlike human druids, dwarves have no problems shaping the wilds to their benefit, arguing that nature can be compacted, saturated. Those who trespass in the woodland pockets between dwarven settlements would agree; what they lack in size, those groves definitely make up for in savagery.

    Keepers of the Spark are the dwarves most people who live outside dwarven lands think of when they think of dwarves. It is not uncommon for a Keeper to leave their home and live among the other races, bringing the dwarven way with them. They are not evangelical, but they are just so dependable and solid in their beliefs, that oftentimes, “Find a dwarf, he’ll know what to do” because the solution to most situations. After all, the Keepers believe that even as nature must be cultivate, so must civilization. For if there is no civilization outside of the wilds, then they are not nurtured and cultivated, but merely overgrown.

    In combat, Keepers unleash the savagery that they otherwise seek to contain. In the words of a survivor of an assault on a Keeper’s forest, “We thought they were trying to tame the wilds. We were wrong. They’re just giving it direction.” Druids call predators to aid them, taking the forms of venerable beasts themselves. Ordinary warriors succumb to the fury as well, becoming berserkers, who crash into their foes with deadly force, whirlwinds of rage and steel.

    The Hammers of the Overgod


    The last sect in Temoran worship is the Hammers of the Overgod, practiced almost exclusively by the Duergar, the subterranean dwarves of the Undercity. Born partially out of frustration about the web of chaos and danger and literal webs that is the Undercity, The Hammers of the Overgod teaches that the forge Temora left for his children was more metaphorical then literal. It is up to dwarfkind, in their teachings, to finish shaping the world, even if it has to be done with chain and sword, one person at a time. The Hammers mount frequent forays into non dwarven parts of the Undercity, aiming to bring order and stability to them. Or, at the very least, dwarvenness. Sometimes it works, and the area is transformed into a hub of efficiency and trade, suitable for visit by surfacers. Other times, all that is gained are slaves, those who resisted, in the Hammers’ minds, the “right way of doing things”. Such slaves are put to work, mostly mining out the metals under Eldralar’s surface, and other tasks that require more manpower then skill. Other dwarves see this as a necessary evil, as although forced labor is a bad thing, the work needs to be done, and there aren’t enough dwarves who can be sacrificed to do it. The last service the Hammers provide, besides raw labor and gentrification, is information about the rest of Eldralar. As the Undercity stretches under most of Eldralar, the Hammers have put into place a network of spies and outposts, in case a large scale pacification was needed, on the order of an entire country. Or, put simply, a war. In the absence of such a need, the network mostly relays trade information, allowing the dwarven settlements to adjust seamlessly to the ever changing needs of their trading partners.

    Outside dwarven lands, the Hammers of the Overgod are mostly seen managing their outposts. They are notably not seen trading slaves with other slavery inclined races, as to the dwarves, slavery is not a business, it is a consequence. That the consequence can sometimes before crimes as simple as not being a dwarf of glossed over. Hammers also pop up in the odd mercenary company, but they always hang together in groups of their own. It is theorized that some such companies are not mercenaries at all, merely parts of dwarven militias on loan.

    In combat, the Hammers have adapted to the kind of dirty tricks used by other Undercity inhabitants by using some of their own. Their warriors control battlefields with well-placed strikes, maneuvering opponents into prime position to be smited by spells from their clerics, or executed by blades from their rogues. One identifying feature of warriors of the Hammer is their affinity for swords, unlike many other dwarves. Demonic historians theorize that, living in the Undercity, the Duergar wanted a weapon that was just a weapon. Devilish dwarfologists posit instead that the preference for swords was compensating for lighter armor, stemming from a lack of refined metal in the early days of settling the Undercity. Dwarves just say they’re useful.


    Spoiler: Orcs
    Show


    Orcish culture is an interesting oxymoron. On one hand, no one can doubt that it exists, and is as rich as any other races, but on the other, there is much to doubt about why. Orcs prize eloquence, cunning, and guile, traits that they vast majority of them, to put it bluntly, lack. It is not enough for an orc to simply be strong, as strength is rather a defining trait of orcs. No, to rise above his peers, an orc must make his strength sound legendary, his deeds sound pure heroism.

    Orcish Gods

    Religion is not nearly as organized in Orcish cultures as in others. Instead of choosing one deity over the others, most orcs elect to follow the entire Orcish pantheon, directing their prayers and rites at individual gods when the need arises, and all in general when they don’t. This holds for all but the most devoted shamans as well. To orcs, it’s not that different to pray to one god for rain and another for sun than it is to pray to one god for spells and another for rain. The four most well-known gods of the Orcish pantheon, those the high shamans are willing to devote themselves to, are Garatog, Eye of Fire, Gorsain, Who Stalks the Night, Thegra, Who Tills the Earth, and Taithrus, Who Tells the Tale.

    Garatog, Eye of Fire

    Well known among the non-orcish races, Garatog has the unusual distinction of being possibly the only god of Eldralar to have changed their realm of influence. Once the chief war god Garatog, Who Slays the Weak, he lost most of his battle prowess when the elf king Cailas Alerin entered his divine realm and sundered his eye apart in a duel. Though he could aim his mighty bow no more, Garatog’s rage sprung forth, given direction towards the wizards who had managed to tear open a foothold into the realm of the gods. In one divine gaze, he stole their strength, magic infusing his very being, a new eye of pure flame burning away what remained in his useless socket. With one spell, he reflected all their hubris back onto them, shattering the spell, the casters, and the great elven kingdom, and leaving their greatest hero, Cailas Alerin, to burn away his mortality, trapped in the divine realm. Changed, Garatog unstrung his bow, taking the caster’s staff as his new symbol. From him, all orcish arcane magic is born. By his rage, orcish fighters weave axe and fire into one. Sorcery wells up in orc blood, bursting out in deadly blasts. And still, there are orcs who remember the old songs, the old god. Though he is no longer the war god he once was, those who feed the old fires with bone and iron will still find their strength bolstered, their ferocity stoked. Orcs pray to Garatog before raids, when they work with magic and enchantment, and lay their oaths of wrath at is feet.

    Gorsain, Who Stalks the Night

    Orcs may be crude, violent, and even evil, but they are at their core, orcish. Their malice comes from their own nature, and they will have none to do with the malice of others. It is Gorsain who protects orcs from evils of beyond the Material Plane. Her spear holds back demons, shatters the undead as they rise from their crypts. The great beasts of the night, who feed on fear as much as flesh, are but mere trophies to the greatest hunter of all orcish legend. In honor of Gorsain’s nightly hunts, it is customary to leave one portion of food out during the night whenever a fire is lit, in case she should seek respite by it. Even though the Barrier stops this from being a possibility, it is still tradition. Although not a god of battle per se, Gorsain is also associated with valor, especially in combat. It is common for orcish berserkers to carve marks on their skin dedicated to Gorsain, so when they rage, all the fear emptied from their bodies will flow through the tattoos and out into their foes. In more mundane settings, a prayer to Gorsain is the most common orcish way to dispel fear. Littering the northern outskirts of the Orcish lands are rough-hewn shrines to the huntress, where travelers place offerings to ward off the undead. Gorsain also holds the distinction of being the only Orcish god to accept Paladin Oaths. There are few orcish paladins, not only because of this, but because of the cost Gorsain demands alongside the oaths. To become a paladin of Gorsain, you forsake your right to tell your own tale. You vow to slay the creatures that would plague the orcish race, be they undead, devils, or any other unnatural spawn of the night. There is no glory to boast of, for a paladin of Gorsain. Only the eternal hunt, the endless vigil.

    Thegra, Who Tills the Earth

    Orcs are not a long lived race, especially when compared to the likes of dwarves and elves. They burn bright during their short lives, but even the oldest will return to dust before they ever reach a hundred years. As such, they breed, swelling their ranks so even as they die, to age and blade alike, they grow. It is Thegra who decrees this to be so. Orcs must cover vast stretches of land to feed their ever-growing hordes, in the absence of such an amount of land, they hunt it clean, and then farm it fallow. Thegra ensures that even as her children do so, the boar spring back during the winter, the fields bloom once more. Orcish farmers look to her to guide their plows, eking far more out of the ruined lands they are forced into than they have any right to. It is because of Thegra that orcs have such an affinity with the boar, her sacred animal. They hunt them for meat, train the giant boars as mounts, and hunt her blessed dire boars for ivory, as well as glory. The songs say that Thegra is also responsible for the reconciliation of the orcs and the elves. They say that while Garatog was regaining his strength after their duel, Thegra led Cailas Alerin away from Garatog’s hall, showing him how to cultivate his own divine palace. To repay her, Cailas commanded what was left of the elven kingdom to help the orcs stem an advance of the humans from the east. In the wake of that battle, the first of the Facine were born. They still honor Thegra to this day, by adorning their clothing with her symbol, the boar’s tusks.

    Taithrus, Who Tells the Tale

    Considered the de facto leader of the Orcish Pantheon, Taithrus was there when the world was created. His record of the events is passed down through every generation of orcs, to every shaman, and even those who are not shamans, as the Song of the Eldest Days. It is from Taithrus that the orcish love of song springs. He is the great tavern keeper of the gods, knowing every song, every tale of valor, and every name of every hero who has walked Eldralar. Orcs strive for glory, knowing that if their deeds are memorable enough, their tale will be told in Taithrus’ great hall, and no matter where they end up, their valor will be preserved there forever. A compelling case for this is the curios phenomenon among orcs known as the Elder Song. Even through the Barrier, every orc is born hearing a part of this Elder Song, Taithrus’ history of Eldralar, the tale that the one who tells the tale tells. Even if a part of orcish history is lost, it will crop up eventually in the mind of some young orc, and so be returned to the taverns and the meeting fires of the Material Plane. For some, though, the Song is not so gentle. Those that are chosen for especial greatness might hear their part of the Elder Song not as a tune drifting in their mind, but as a rhythm pounding through their bones. The orc who will one day slay a greatwyrm might be all but consumed by the story of the dragon’s rampage in his mind. Their song is both a blessing and a curse, a road to valor, yes, but on the same path as that to madness. Aside from patronage of bards and drunks, Taithrus is also called upon during funeral rites. There, a reenacting of the deceased’s tale is performed, offered up to Taithrus, so the dead can be remembered in their finest hours. Most often though, Taithrus is not given prayers, but actions. Every step an orc takes to further their tale is an eventual offering to the eldest of the orc gods.

    Other Gods

    As stated above, there are many other gods in the orcish pantheon, who are entreated for a variety of different things. Notable among them, however is the entirety of the Elvish pantheon, on a technicality. The Court Exquisite is not given prayer or offering, existing in the pantheon only by virtue of their divine realm being a subset of the orc gods’ realms. However, orcs will offer a pray to the Elvish Pantheon’s leader, Cailas Alerin, in one case. A single fire is lit, and a gift of the askers own blood offered to Cailas, in exchange for his protection, when one intends to defy the will of the gods.

    Orc Life

    Orcish lands are the plains in the east, fine land, except for the massive Necropolis, blighting almost all of the northern plains, leaving the orcs only the southeastern savannahs, a far cry from the massive western ranges of old.
    Orcs arrange themselves in small tribes of about thirty to fifty individuals each. Semi-nomadic, they build their homes out of tents and wooden fortifications, able to be packed up and taken with them when they move to more fertile lands. Meetings with other tribes are usually brief affairs, either a bit of trading, a collaboration for a raid, or a fight to establish dominance. However, for reason or another, many orcs live outside orcish lands, either as mercenaries, brigands, or citizens of the various undercity gangs. Even among the tribes, warriors will raid outside of orcish lands, looting spoils from elven conquests, driving back the reach of the undead, or, most often, causing trouble for one human lord or another.

    Because of the scarcity of resources out in the plains, namely metals, most orcish equipment is either scavenged from other races, or crafted from bone and leather. Such expendable gear is held at little value, especially scavenged things. However, just because metal is rare in orc lands does not mean there are no orcish smiths. Far from it, orc smiths are highly respected, given honor along the order of the tribe’s chieftain or high shaman. Orc tribes will carry their anvils with them in chests as they move around, and are able to scrap together a makeshift forge that performs admirably at its task, given the need. Orc-forged weaponry is held in entirely a different regard than the weapons of other races. An orcish blade has its own tale, one that is the weapon’s, but also its maker’s, and even its wielder’s. As such, and considering the uncommonness of such blades, they are some of the most dependable weapons on Eldralar. While an orc may die easily within fifty years, his sword may last five hundred, with a legacy greater than any warchief. Orcish weapons are not buried with their owners, instead being passed down among the tribe, for to let such a blade rot within the earth is to dishonor it, to dishonor its owner, even to dishonor the orcish way.
    Other facets of orcish culture include their peculiar stance on literacy. Most orcs know the orcish numerical system, but are all but unaware of the written system of orcish language. Those who can write orcish use the skill only for bookkeeping, recording deals and inventories. For the average orc, he need only a reminder of the price. Particularly, it is considered heresy among the orcs to put song and tale to paper. In Orcish tradition, the spoken word has life still in it, while the written word is dead, good only for the writing of dead things. Trading deals are bound by writing, the supposition being that writing the terms down kills them, preventing them from being altered further. A tale should not be bound to such a weight of reality, in the orcish mind. Aye, it is considered the great prize for a fallen orc, the he may have fought with more valiance after death than he ever did in life.
    Although orcs are noticeably lacking in the fields of government, architecture, and infrastructure, they are considered some of the finest cartographers in Eldralar. Orcs can cover ground quicker than most other races, and, being nomads, have considerable need for maps. Orcish maps differ from most in that they are set on a grid, with each line up and across assigned a number. It is not uncommon for orcish raiders to hide caches in other parts of the land, marking the position somewhere else, by sign of the grid square it is hidden in. To anyone else, it is just some meaningless orc graffiti. To an orc, who would be able to check the numbers against a map, it could end up lifesaving.

    Orcish Subraces

    If orcs are proud of anything, it is their orcishness. In their minds, the ideal orc is a paragon of orcness, not given to the silly tricks of the other races. “Non-orcish” things are regarded with suspicion, and openly mocked. Nevertheless, the three main orcish subraces, the Orogs, the Half-orcs, and the Facine, are generally accepted by the “true” orcs, as long as the prove themselves dedicated to the way of life that is orc.

    Orogs


    Both stronger and smarter than normal orcs, Orogs seem like the ideal leaders of orc society. However, while they are readily capable of holding sway by their martial and tactical prowess, few can get other orcs to truly trust them. A big part of this is that nobody knows how and why Orogs come to be. They don’t breed true, instead being apparently born at random from orc pairings. The prevailing theory is quite light on details, but involves demons heavily. For their own part, Orogs tend to stick together, creating little enclaves within tribes. Unlike the rest of orcs, Orogs are keenly interested with the politics of the rest of the world, especially in human lands. While it is commonly accepted that orc raids in human lands are bought by the human lords, this is not strictly true. The Orog’s watch the lords of Eldralar proper dance their subtle dance of control, and sometimes decide to take matters into their own hands. A caravan is waylaid along a border. A sudden siege causes a lord to miss one of the regional council meetings. A favored courtier is assassinated. Little things, but each one putting the lords a little more at each other’s throats.

    Half-Orcs

    Orcs do not technically hate humans, instead merely resenting them. Their main grievance is that the humans stole the west when their east died. But really, the two races are quite similar. Short lived, full of ambition. An orc may come to respect an individual human for their valor, even to the point of forging a bond with them. From these unions come the half-orcs, descendants of orc and man. Half-orcs who live among orcish tribes are given no grief for their parentage, but plenty for their physiology. While they can be as strong and tough as any orc, half-orc’s are less suited to life on the plains, not being as swift of foot, and needing more protection from the elements. As well, half-orcs actually have different diets than normal orcs. While both are omnivorous, full orcs subsist mostly on grain and plant matter, supplemented by herd animals when on the move. By contrast, half-orcs inherit their human parents need for meat as well as plant.

    Facine

    Cousins to the half-orcs, Facine are born from the union of orc and elf. Such unions are an ancient tradition, dating back to the peace brokered between the races after the fall of the Elven Empire. Facine are interesting sights to say the least. Standing about as tall as a human, they are somewhat lanky, but corded with muscle, their faces combining the orc’s bestial form and tusk with the elf’s timeless beauty, a predator’s face, wild and yet full of grace. In a humorous twist of biology, the combination of the short bristles that cover orcs and the long hair of the elves cause Facine to grow a shaggy coating of long fur over most of their bodies. Facine who live with orcs let their hair grow wild, hoping it will distract others from their “elf strength”. While good fighters, Facine are more given to weapons of finesse and cunning, not proper orcish weapons. Some even dare to carry wooden bows, a sure sign of elven cowardice. Fortunately, such derision can usually be halted for a time by a display of efficiency. Surprisingly, given the two’s similarly enhanced intellect over the common orc, Facine and Orog do not get along. The Orgos resent that Facine have the one gift that for all their strength, for all their smarts, they can never achieve. The gift of more time. Facine will, ignoring the very likely possibility of a death in combat, outlive the rest of their tribe by more than double.

    Orcish Archery

    One last notable facet of orcish culture, namely martial culture, is the stigma surrounding use of the bow. In one breath, an orc may curse the use of such weapons, calling them the perfect example of “elf-strength”, what you use when you lack real strength. In the next, he may remind an elf that it was Garatog who first nocked arrow to bow, ages before an elf ever did. Nowadays, the only archers among orcs are Facine who have just stopped caring about appearances, and followers of the old ways of Garatog, back when he was still the war god. Full orc archers form a sort of guild of their own, crossing tribal lines. To be inducted, one must be taught by an existing member, than go out and slay a great elephant singlehandedly, gathering their ivory to make the orc’s greatbow. From then on, the orc makes his bows, massive ivory affairs, his own arrows, everything. While rare, such warriors are devastating to behold, raining death from ranges far beyond what is reasonable for an orc attack.



    Gnomes
    Last edited by Arzanyos; 2016-05-14 at 05:20 AM.
    ke palulu o ka pono, ka ihe o Ku
    I'm building a campaign setting! Latest update: Gnomes!

    Hobhekili credit to linklele.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Devil

    Join Date
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    In the mountains.
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    This looks very interesting. Admittedly, I don't know much about the structure of the DnD world, so I can't speak about planes and barriers and such.
    To begin, it does seem a little odd to have your subtitle be "The World Without War" when there is infighting among humans, dwarves warring against kobolds, and hobgoblins gearing up for a holy war, etc. Is this a metaphorical peaceful time, or perhaps ironic? Not sure what to think about that.
    As for the dwarven lore. I REALLY like this. I like the direction of three different interpretations of the same mythology/pantheon. I also like that the Seekers seem LN, the Keepers seem LG, and the Hammers are LE. It makes for an interesting dynamic, and fits well with typical dwarven culture. I also just like the wording and specific myths within the religion (specifically the sparks of Temora).
    I'm assuming you will continue to post about the other races, so I look forward to seeing what you have for them.
    Let me know if my feedback is helpful and if there is anything else you would like me to comment on.


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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Arzanyos's Avatar

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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Thanks for the feedback, man. Yeah, the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer. It mainly refers to how the Dwarves, the Humans, the Hobgoblins, and the Undead are all at peace with each other. The world in general is in kind of a giant cold war. Okay, really, it's just that "Eldralar, the World Without War" is a lot catchier than "Eldralar, the world split along the Law-Chaos Axis instead of the Good-Evil Axis." And yeah, I'm planning to do a writeup for all the setting's major races. I'm working on Orcs next.
    ke palulu o ka pono, ka ihe o Ku
    I'm building a campaign setting! Latest update: Gnomes!

    Hobhekili credit to linklele.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arzanyos View Post
    Thanks for the feedback, man. Yeah, the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer. It mainly refers to how the Dwarves, the Humans, the Hobgoblins, and the Undead are all at peace with each other. The world in general is in kind of a giant cold war. Okay, really, it's just that "Eldralar, the World Without War" is a lot catchier than "Eldralar, the world split along the Law-Chaos Axis instead of the Good-Evil Axis." And yeah, I'm planning to do a writeup for all the setting's major races. I'm working on Orcs next.
    I think the subtitle is actually the thing that's bothered me the most as well. It seems like the focus (at least in your present write-up) is on the sections where there's a lot of war type things. Which I think is kind of sad, since there are a lot of games that have frontier and border skirmish type things as a main setting feature, and very few games that include tense cold war type things. I think that if you shifted the focus a little bit, you could really easily set fantasy Tom Clancy style spy thrillers in it. Which is something you don't really see much in games or novels.
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Yeah, I see what you were saying. My thought process is that you need some fighting, or else the world gets kinda niche, and I emphasized that in the initial writeup so that people wouldn't look at it and say "Everybody's at peace? Whatever".

    In other news, designing orcish culture is a lot harder than designing dwarven culture. Probably because orcs don't have a lot already, where as dwarves are sorta all the same no matter where you look. So, the orc writeup only has the intro and the gods right now, but I figured I should put it up anyway. Next up is more details about orc life, orc subraces, and orcish literacy. (Spoilers, they're a lot better at writing numerals than words.)
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Quote Originally Posted by Arzanyos View Post
    Yeah, I see what you were saying. My thought process is that you need some fighting, or else the world gets kinda niche, and I emphasized that in the initial writeup so that people wouldn't look at it and say "Everybody's at peace? Whatever".

    In other news, designing orcish culture is a lot harder than designing dwarven culture. Probably because orcs don't have a lot already, where as dwarves are sorta all the same no matter where you look. So, the orc writeup only has the intro and the gods right now, but I figured I should put it up anyway. Next up is more details about orc life, orc subraces, and orcish literacy. (Spoilers, they're a lot better at writing numerals than words.)
    That actually might make it easier to do Orcs, you can look at various "barbarian" or tribal cultures and pull inspiration from them. Typically Orcs are some sort of brutal tribe, but you could certainly expand their culture a lot. Maybe make Orcs a lot like Commanche, so that warfare is considered their recreational activity, or something like that. Although Orcs as oppressed Native types has been done a few times, so you may want to stay away from that particular thing. I would just take inspiration from nifty cultures around them.

    The words than numbers thing reminds me of the Mayan culture, who had complex knot systems to communicate numbers (although that may have been a different culture than that, my South American stuff is fairly rusty, and I'm only going from memory). If the Orcs are better at writing numbers than words, you need to figure out why? Is math particularly important to them? It usually isn't to wandering tribesmen... so if it is then that means something about their culture. Are they deeply into astrology or watching the stars? Because that requires some mathy stuffs? Are they accountants or wandering traders, because that requires similar aptitude, or wandering mercenaries, who sell themselves to the highest bidder.

    Actually having the Orcs as wandering mercs might be really intriguing, you could have them be experts at contract law and finances, since that's the most important part of their culture, you could also have them be experts at understanding legal loopholes, they basically ravage for money (or don't ravage for money, a la protection rackets).
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Quote Originally Posted by AMFV View Post
    That actually might make it easier to do Orcs, you can look at various "barbarian" or tribal cultures and pull inspiration from them. Typically Orcs are some sort of brutal tribe, but you could certainly expand their culture a lot. Maybe make Orcs a lot like Commanche, so that warfare is considered their recreational activity, or something like that. Although Orcs as oppressed Native types has been done a few times, so you may want to stay away from that particular thing. I would just take inspiration from nifty cultures around them.

    The words than numbers thing reminds me of the Mayan culture, who had complex knot systems to communicate numbers (although that may have been a different culture than that, my South American stuff is fairly rusty, and I'm only going from memory). If the Orcs are better at writing numbers than words, you need to figure out why? Is math particularly important to them? It usually isn't to wandering tribesmen... so if it is then that means something about their culture. Are they deeply into astrology or watching the stars? Because that requires some mathy stuffs? Are they accountants or wandering traders, because that requires similar aptitude, or wandering mercenaries, who sell themselves to the highest bidder.

    Actually having the Orcs as wandering mercs might be really intriguing, you could have them be experts at contract law and finances, since that's the most important part of their culture, you could also have them be experts at understanding legal loopholes, they basically ravage for money (or don't ravage for money, a la protection rackets).
    When I said harder to design, I really meant harder to write. I have lots of ideas, they just aren't commiting themsleves to paper right now. The writing thing actually came from reading a conversation on here about whether a culture could survive without writing. My idea is that the average orc doesn't need to know how to write, because of the massive cultural predisposition to spoken word. Meanwhile, that orc still might want to go shopping, thus he would need to know some numbers for pricing. That said, shopkeepers and quartermasters would probably need to know more writing than the average orc.
    As for wandering mercenaries, well, let's just say that orc raids have been known to happen in the human lands at the most inconvenient time, even though the orcs live on the other side of the continent.
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    Default Re: Eldralar, The World Without War (Critiques/Advice welcome)

    Well, the next race write-up isn't quite ready, but I do have this in the meantime. Should give a general overview of some of the different gods and stuff like that.

    The Beginning of the World

    The dwarven doctrine that Temora created the world is a half-truth at best. While Temora did forge the world on his anvil, that is a more literal description than you would think. Populating said world was a task divided between all the gods of the time, those who would become the heads of their pantheons. Temora Forgemaster, of the dwarves, Taithrus, Who Tells the Tale, of the orcs Kal, Commander of the Eternal Legion, of the hobgoblins, Telcoran, Primal Spirit, first among the dragons, Werchala, representing the kobolds, The First Thane, of the halflings, Beren Makru, of the humans, and the twin gnomish gods, Javrin and Levram.

    Looking down upon the world Temora had created, the gods drew straws for their turn to claim a part of it for their race. However, even with such an impartial decider, there was conflict. Temora laid claim to the mountains, but Werchala called the caverns below them. Beren Makru and Taithrus almost came to blows over who got the plains, with Javrin suggested they split the lands. Beren took the eastern plains, and Taithrus the west. For his part, Telcoran claimed all the places wild enough to sustain a dragon. When Javrin and Levram tried to call all “the ends of the earth”, the First Thane responded with “farther north than any of you can handle.”

    Such heated arguments had an unexpected consequence. All that divine power, all that creative energy, and all that frustration was starting to bleed off from the gods, coalescing into something quite unexpected. The final straw was Kal. The hobgoblin laid claim to the forests of Eldralar, but when he looked down to plot his first settlement, he noticed it was already inhabited. When Temora was making the world, when the vegetation bloomed from his hammer sparks, it brought with it the first race, the elves. Even as the gods divided up the world, the fledgling Elven Empire was forming. Though young, it spanned most of the forests already. Enraged upon seeing this, Kal leapt at Temora, accusing the dwarf of cheating him, trying to pawn off the spot that was rightfully his.

    With that outburst, the coalesced pile of divine energy and rage took on its own form. Like a hobgoblin, but smaller, less refined. The image of Kal in his worst moment. Its mind, however, was entirely unlike the hobgoblin’s. Scheming, needling, skulking, it was. Matrugal, it called itself. The Lord of Goblins, or as it was more commonly known as, the God who Shouldn’t Be.
    After the gods had each claimed their piece, the world was set aside for the fiends to add their own touch to, and the gods set about crafting what would become the first of their mortal race. Each chose a material for their template, instilling through it the virtues that would guide their race. Temora carved his dwarf out of stone, unyielding and solid. For Taithrus’ orc, ivory was chosen, wild and laden with memory. Beren’s human was shaped of clay, malleable, yet resilient. Werchala besought Telcoran for one of his own scales, and used it to make the first kobold, ever the lesser image of dragonkind. The Primal Spirit elected to use diamond for his dragon, nigh unbreakable, and terrifyingly brilliant. Ice was Kal’s chosen medium, his hobgoblin sharp and cold. The First Thane wove a halfling from pure silk, a highborn material, much tougher than it seems. Javrin shaped his gnome out of magic-laiden quartz, while Levram attired it in unassuming moss. For its part, Matrugal shaped a goblin in secret, out of sand and fire, a glass vial of flame, outwardly fragile, inwardly ravenous.

    Matrugal revealed itself when the gods set to place down their figurines, throwing the little glass goblin upon the highest peak of Eldralar. Although it shattered from the impact, each shard became a sire of goblinkind, ensuring this new, unexpected race could not be wiped out. Each god then set down their effigy in their chosen land, and the races sprung forth. Alongside them, the divine races, were those summoned to the earth by the fiends, or twisted as such from ordinary creatures. Yevalhag, demonlord, raised up packs of hyenas into her Gnolls, ravenous humanoids bred for the hunt. A demon who’s name is all but lost created the mighty ogres to challenge the might of Eldralar, reigning until his death as their godking. Trolls sprang up, vicious and profiteering, a cruel joke by the devils. Llolth, Lady of Spiders, even dared to appeal to the elves, casting promises of power boundless through her cult. And so on it went, ensuring the divine races would never run out of foes.

    Finally, the world was finished, populated by all manner of creature, and the gods returned to their own divine realms, watching their people grow, and their pantheons expand, as new gods joined the old.
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