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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I like the late Bronze Age, I like ecology, I like scavenger worlds, and I like alien fey creatures. I've been playing with individual aspects of these broad fields before, but I am not really a big fan of big urban culture and politics in fantasy, really hate the typical "pure evil raider" archetype that is typical to post-apocalyptic settings, and I am not really interested in making a horror setting. So I always stayed quite superficial.

    But somehow I only now had the sudden realization that there is a really cool way to properly combine those four fields into a single whole:
    One of the biggest things the Bronze Age is famous for is that is collapsed very suddenly and almost completely, with only Egypt surviving and never returning anywhere close to its old greatness. General consensus tends to favor the theory that it was caused by environmental changes leading to disruptions in food production, so there was less money available to buy imports, which meant less income from selling exports, ...and then the whole international economy crashed. Whole populations got up searching for greener pastures, invaded other countries, and then historical records pretty much disappear for the next couple of centuries until the start of the Iron Age.

    I used to look mostly at the middle Bronze Age for reference, but having a setting based on the very end does hit two birds with one stone for me. First, there's no longer huge urban societies with complex international political relations. And second, the production of new bronze is completely dependent on international trade for the component materials while old bronze is highly recyclable, which makes for a perfect scavenger world. Unlike iron, bronze does not simply rust away into nothingness. The total amount of bronze in existence does not really go down (except for what is filed off when sharpening blades). During the chaos of the collapse, many bronze tools, weapons, and ingots had to be abandoned or were forgotten when people fled from falling cities, but its all still around waiting for someone to find it. So scavenger world it is.

    Usually post-apocalyptic scavenger worlds are barren wastelands because that looks more destroyed, creates bigger food shortages, and therefore more misery. I'm not a fan of misery, despair, and ultra-violence, though, and as a horticulture student interested in eco-systems and sustainable food production, I am much more interested in how quickly plant life can drastically change whole environments. Not at a speed that is visible week to week or even year to year, but over decades and centuries, a forest can erase almost all traces of civilization. And nature can be very adaptable. An environment that can not support large human societies does not at all have to be barren. On the other hand, humans are really bad at adapting to environmental changes and don't really do anything to prepare for it until it is already too late.

    So the my idea for the backstory is that the part of the world that makes up the setting just went through a period that was really beneficial for agriculture for 500 years or so. Small kingdoms were able to grow into big city states and decently sized empires and it created a lot of trade and wealth. When that period ended and the environmental conditions changed again prosperity started to decline, but everyone in power was only trying to fix the holes instead of making big changes that would allow their kingdoms to survive in the future environment. Smaller towns on the frontier were abandoned and fell into ruin first, but one or two don't seem like much cause for concern, and by the time the 20th is gone everyone has gotten used to that being a perfectly normal thing to happen. Eventually the first kingdoms started to go down, but that is something that can happen at any time for countless different reasons. If the neighboring kingdom collapses, that must have been caused by internal mismanagement, and has nothing to do with our kingdom so we don't need to worry about it.
    200 years later, eight of the twenty old kingdoms are gone and the remaining twelve have shrunken down to only moderately sized city states. And still, in the twelve palaces, nobody really understands how that happened or thinks there's a bigger problem. As all the kings and their advisers are concerned, this is normal. And in a way, it is. This wasn't even the first time civilization had a boom period during a time of beneficial climatic conditions and then shrunk back to its more ordinary scale. Which in this world is pretty small.

    Environmental changes in this world are not driven by natural phenomenons and human activity, but are controlled by forest gods. The environment looks like the forest gods want it to look and they change it all the time. Just very slowly. And mortals just have to suck it up and either adapt or get crushed. The forest gods don't care. They aren't even really aware of civilizations existing. Civilizations don't clear land for farming or grazing. They only discover areas that are currently suitable and use them accordingly. And when the forest gods decide to make a change again, the party is over and the mortals simply have to move.
    It is not like nature is angry and punishing mortals for their destruction of the environments. The gods literally don't even notice what civilizations are doing and just plant their forests and swamps on top of them. All the things that mortals to to the environment simply doesn't matter and has no lasting impact on the scale at which the forest gods exist. Disasters only happen because mortals are too stubborn to realize when they have to get out of the way.
    The only real options mortals have to make any impact and slow down the inevitable is to build big temples and pray to the gods to not flood their lands or destroy their harvests with parasites, or to use powerful magic to protect their cities from the environment.

    In a way, the idea for this setting is Dark Sun, just without deserts and instead thick jungles. Iron does not really exist as a material for tools and weapons for whatever reason. Maybe just nobody thought of a way to make useful iron yet. Bronze is really expensive and needs to be conserved, so people use mostly knives, spears, axes, and shields and little metal armor. (Maybe have arrowheads made of really cheap and fragile iron.)
    The city states are surrounded by lots of ruined towns that are in various states of being overgrown by the forest, but there are also much older ruins that precede the currently ending civilizations. Scavengers go there to search for bronze, that sells for very good prices in the remaining city states. And while they are poking around in the ruins, they often also come across hidden vaults, tombs, and sorcerer lairs that have been opened when their roofs collapsed. And of course all kinds of supernatural monsters from deeper in the forests have come to make their lairs in the ruins.
    While most people from the abandoned towns and cities fled to more prosperous regions or tried to settle new areas that have recently become suited for farming as the environment keeps changing, some stayed behind and went to live in the forest, either joining barbarian tribes or creating their own new ones, and worship spirits and magical monsters.

    That's about as much as I have really thought about so far.
    I do happen to really like snake-men, fish-men, and aboleths, and I think it would be cool to have them included in some way. Actually, I should reread the old adventure Dwellers of the Forbidden City again, which is where yuan-ti and aboleths appeared for the very first time, and it is about an overgrown ruined city deep in the jungle.
    Something I am very uncertain about is if this setting should have demons of some kind. Demons and such are cool of course, and I could see sorcerers trying to make pacts with demons to protect their cities from further decline. But the setting does have a strong focus on forests and nature spirits, and if aboleths come into the picture there could be room for many more very ancient alien creatures from past aeons. A big part of the whole concept is that time marches on and on with nature not caring, but civilizations rising and falling. Having some fallen inhuman civilizations in the very ancient past could be quite cool, and adding demons to the picture might muddle things up.
    As another side note, I think it would be cool to base the environments on prehistoric pangea instead of the modern world. No specific reason, I just think it looks cool.
    I also don't want the crumbling civilizations to be magi-tech in any way. They used to be much bigger and wealthier and simply had the manpower and money to build really big and fancy and import luxuries from far away, but they didn't have any special advanced technologies that are now lost.

    Some works which I think might make for good references to go from here:
    Princess Mononoke
    Nausicaa
    Dark Sun
    Xen'drik from Eberron
    Dark Souls
    Annihilation
    Fury Road
    STALKER
    Metro Exodus
    Dune?
    Kalimdor from Warcraft 3?

    Any thoughts or idea welcome.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    That's so cool.

    I'm actually playing around with a Bronze age setting myself!

    I just love the scavenger aesthetic and the whole fall of great nations theme.

    A few things you could add:

    -The use of gold, iron and gold rings as money instead of coins. The ability to create coins was only developed very late on.

    -The use of Ghouls instead of demons or more European undead. I just love Ghouls but I also think they fit perfectly with this kind of setting, walking corpses devour the remains of the dead is a perfect foil for scavengers defiling the remains of dead civilization in search of riches and treasures, just make them less animistic and more cunning and occult.

    -Make demons the result of human action rather than a natural evil, int he older religions, demons were spirits that were born out of human action, these disturbed spirits were born out contamination and impurity and are not naturally evil but misguided and angry. (Think about the Chaos flame of Dark souls or all the spirits from Ghibli movies).

    -If iron pops up somewhere make everyone dismissive of it at first, since people hardly embrace new technologies easily.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    The traditional Western Bronze Age Civilizations and the Collapse that occurred did not happen in a forest dominated environment, to say nothing of jungles. If anything they were crushed by insufficient precipitation and vegetation, not the reverse. The basis you want is Southeast Asia and Indonesia, where too much rain could ruin the rice crop (rice needs a certain amount of dry time to ripen, the island of Java is so phenomenally fertile because it occupies a sweet spot in the monsoon patterns that meets this need almost perfectly), and too much in-growth of the jungle could poison the water supply - the later reason seems to have been why the Cambodian civilization at Angkor built giant reservoirs into their city design.

    This sort of jungle-mediated environment also makes if very difficult to build and sustain roads - because the monsoon turns everything to mud for months on end - which means river and sea travel is prioritized. The Mekong River was (and to some extent still is) the heart of Southeast Asian civilization because of its ability to function as a corridor for trade and travel. A massive, turgid river system (the lower Mekong and similar rivers move slowly and a very wide) is an excellent habitat for snake people, fish-people, or aboleth like entities. In the Angkor Cambodian civilization the King was believed to have sexual relations with a serpent spirit each night as part of an essential religious duty.

    SE Asia also has the sort of ethnic fragmentation that I think a world like yours would produce which the Bronze Age Med largely lacked due to extensive sea-based trading between a relatively small series of culturally linked city-states.

    In a way, the idea for this setting is Dark Sun, just without deserts and instead thick jungles. Iron does not really exist as a material for tools and weapons for whatever reason. Maybe just nobody thought of a way to make useful iron yet. Bronze is really expensive and needs to be conserved, so people use mostly knives, spears, axes, and shields and little metal armor. (Maybe have arrowheads made of really cheap and fragile iron.)
    The ability to produce iron in a reliable way is dependent upon reaching a specific temperature threshold in furnaces. A society could be quite advanced without having reached this, especially in a very damp environment where drying wood and producing charcoal is extremely cumbersome. This is particularly likely if effective secondary materials are available such as easily worked stone or abundant ivory (elephants and large crocodilians are an effective source). In a SE Asia inspired setting you can also make armor from the very thick hides of elephants, rhinos, and crocodilians, and you can make scale armor from pangolin scales.

    Some sources I'd suggest:
    The Lotus Kingdoms, by Elizabeth Bear - this is a fairly low magic fantasy set in a fictionalized version of India, but I think it hits the correct thematic points.

    A Record of Cambodia, the Land and its People, by Daguan Zhou (translated by Peter Harris) - this is essentially the only first-person primary source of historic Cambodia that exists. Written around 1300, it is contemporaneous with Marco Polo. Though short, fragmentary, and with all the biases attendant to a dynastic Chinese scholar visiting a 'barbarian' civilization it paints of picture of a civilization living surrounded by jungle that might be unique.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I love this concept! The idea of gods as uncaring forced of nature is one that I like playing around with; I was trying to think of a way to fit demons/fiends into the setting in a way that doesn’t distract from the world’s core ideas, and it led me to a question: is there a distinction between nature magic, divine magic, and arcane magic in this setting?
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Nature magic and divine magic would certainly be the same thing. I really like the idea that the universe just is. The physical environment and the realms of the divine are all a single whole. Bit of a hindu/buddhist approach there.

    One possible idea is to have arcane magic be demonic magic, like it is in Warcraft. I could see people looking outside the natural-divine world for alternative powers to fight back against the influence of the gods. That does open up the possibility of having some ruined cities that were destroyed in attempts to protect them with demon magic. Those areas then could be classic irradiated wastelands haunted by undead. One problem with this is that it creates redundancies with having ancient eldritch horrors living deep beneath the sea and the earth. I think there should be either one of these groups of powerful creatures or the other, but not both.
    Having the ancient eldritch horrors giving access to a unique type of magic to counter the forest gods could work, though. But if they are part of this world, I am not quite sure how they would have access to other forms of magic. Perhaps have it that the "demon magic" simply exist in The Void, but there are no actual demons. Instead the ancient beings discovered how to use the magic of the Void, destroyed their own civilizations with it, and now can teach humans the same secrets. That way the Void Magic both comes from outside of Creation, and the ancient beings are part of Creation.

    I made this up as I wrote, but I actually quite like this idea.

    Pointing at southeast Asia for reference is a good call. The other historical period that really interests me beside the late Bronze Age is the Hellenistic period where Greek generals colonialized the the Persian-Indian border regions (among others), leading to really fascinating new cultures. It's a good example of Mediterranean and South-Asian cultures meeting in the middle and combining into something new. I actually never looked at how the environment is shaping the culture in South-Asia, but that seems like the perfect place to get some reference information to work with.
    South-Asia also happens to be where snake-people originally come from.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    A post-apocalyptic game where the society was bronze age. That's very cool.

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    One possible idea is to have arcane magic be demonic magic, like it is in Warcraft. I could see people looking outside the natural-divine world for alternative powers to fight back against the influence of the gods. That does open up the possibility of having some ruined cities that were destroyed in attempts to protect them with demon magic. Those areas then could be classic irradiated wastelands haunted by undead. One problem with this is that it creates redundancies with having ancient eldritch horrors living deep beneath the sea and the earth. I think there should be either one of these groups of powerful creatures or the other, but not both.
    Having the ancient eldritch horrors giving access to a unique type of magic to counter the forest gods could work, though. But if they are part of this world, I am not quite sure how they would have access to other forms of magic. Perhaps have it that the "demon magic" simply exist in The Void, but there are no actual demons. Instead the ancient beings discovered how to use the magic of the Void, destroyed their own civilizations with it, and now can teach humans the same secrets. That way the Void Magic both comes from outside of Creation, and the ancient beings are part of Creation.

    I made this up as I wrote, but I actually quite like this idea.
    That sounds great! Perhaps fiendish entities (like one a warlock would make a Pact with) were originally mortals that were completely corrupted by this Void magic from outside creation? I’m not imagining as typical “red devil with horns,” but there are some cool fiends that could fit as Void-corrupted beings.
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I really quite like the idea that undead are mortals corrupted by dark alien magic. They are not animated by the energies of divine nature, but by something alien that has no place in nature. This makes them warped, twisted, and insane beings that resemble their former mortal forms, but are not really alive in the normal sense anymore.
    In that context, the main forms of undead would be ghouls and wights (and perhaps liches, but I think they are redundant if you have wight sorcerers), and I really like shadows and wraiths like the ones in the Witcher games. (Not really different from D&D wraiths, but with a more solid appearance and parts of their personalities intact.)

    My main reference for the ancient sorcerers are aboleths. I would say they were always naturally aquatic beings with no similarities to humanoids (because they are so much more older), but their current appearance is partially caused by slight corruption affecting their race for tens of thousands of years. Mind flayers could also work, but I hesitate a bit about those because they are iconic specifically to D&D and I want to maintain a more open ended approach that isn't following in the rut of established lore for other worlds.

    Serpent people as sorcerers using dark ancient magic is always cool and goes with their classic style. I could imagine them as being at the halfway point between the ancient races and the current mortals. They still seem relatively normal and comprehensible to humanoids and appear to be roughly similar in form, but their minds are much weirder than that.
    I think I might have to read Worms of the Earth by Robert Howard again (which actually is about snakes and not worms). That's as classic as it gets and there's a clear corruption and mutation theme going on.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    My main reference for the ancient sorcerers are aboleths. I would say they were always naturally aquatic beings with no similarities to humanoids (because they are so much more older), but their current appearance is partially caused by slight corruption affecting their race for tens of thousands of years. Mind flayers could also work, but I hesitate a bit about those because they are iconic specifically to D&D and I want to maintain a more open ended approach that isn't following in the rut of established lore for other worlds.
    One way to concretely separate Aboleth (or their facsimiles) from humanoids and other sapients is to make them actually part of some other phylum (mollusks via cephalopods is the classic approach, but they could also be Lobopods or something else equally unusual). Consequently, their divergence from the 'humanoid' sapients would be over half a billion years in the past. You could even go further and have them be from an alternative tree of life entirely, such as another carbon-based one with alternative chirality or that uses different base nucleotides or amino acids. That makes more sense if they're aliens rather than native to the planet.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Perhaps a way to bring in Aboleths is having cycles of civilization in addition to cycles of nature. Bronze age civilizations are on coasts and in river valleys. So have the Aboleths live in the oceans. As long as mortal civilization is strong, they drive them away from the coasts and rivers, but when kingdoms collapse, Aboleth civilization surges, they once again come to the coasts and up the rivers. Aboleths like their slaves, perhaps give them a siren-like ability to lure the weak-willed into the sea. It could play into the collapse of civilization: once mortals no longer are able to guard their coasts and rivers, they also begin to lose popualtion as their peasants are turned into fish-people and go to work under the sea, never to be heard of again. (Very vague idea: tie aboleths in with rivers flooding and Chaos Serpent myths?)

    What could be a nice magic to lean into could be Vestiges, as per the Tome of Magic. Not mechanically, necessarily, but in idea. It could even play into bronze age ideas: vestiges would be either Great Heroes that sort of echo on after their death (even reverred in shrines, maybe), think Herakles, or they could be (more closely inspired by their Tome of Magic interpretation) those punished by the gods for hybris. So you could have two competing schools for binders: those who ritually channel heroic individuals of the past, accepted by the state and the official religion, and those who secretly call up forbidden souls from dark corners of reality for knowledge and skill. Call up Arachne for weaving, or Tantalos to steal from the gods, or Niobe to make an infertile couple have children.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2020-03-17 at 07:15 AM.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Civilization cycles are definitely something I would want to be part of this world. Knowing that civilization has declined in the past and will return and then decline again in the future gives the current decline a stronger sense of inevitability. And it also humbles the humanoids of the current age in making it clear that their civilization was nothing special and that the current decline is not a big important event or extraordinary tragedy. As the phrase goes, for the Forest Gods "it is Tuesday".

    I'm not personally fond of periods swinging back and fourth between humanoid and inhuman civilizations. That makes the inhuman ones not really "ancient" and long forgotten. I think their time really should have been past by now. Their original great power is gone and its not coming back.

    However, I can very well imagine some serpentmen thinking that they still have a shot at making at least one more comeback. They see the environment changing to something that the humanoid civilizations are not suited to and that they are unable and unwilling to adapt, but the changes might have more resemblance to the time when the serpentmen ruled this part of the world. Thematically I really like the idea that that's not actually going to happen and their attempts to rise back to power are futile and doomed to fail. But that doesn't stop some of them from trying and can make them great temporary threats for the areas close to their territories.

    And just right now I did remember the quori of Eberron. I always thought Eberron is much too overloaded with too many different things to be a focused setting, the quori have always been one of the most fascinating parts of it. Their backstory is that they are dream spirits and their native world has regularly turning phases of dreams and nightmares. At the end of each phase they are all completely annihilated and then reincarnated to fit the new phase, losing all their memories and personalties in the process. The current quori dread the next switch that is coming soon and try to stop it, so they will forever continue to exist in the nightmare state. And they do that by manipulating the dreams of mortals and possessing their ruling aristocrats. That's a really cool motivation for demons trying to mess with mortals and doing horrible things with their strange powers.
    And unlike most demonic races in D&D, the quori use psionic magic. And they happen to have something to do with the fallen empire of giants on the wild jungle continent Xen'drik in the ancient past.
    I always wanted to do something with quori, but I never did. This seems like a perfect opportunity. If I want to have them side by side with aboleths or merge them together into a single thing I don't know yet, but this really is something I want to look into further.

    But looking at a completely different aspect of the world, something that I always find really compelling about societies existing in the ruins of civilizations are the new rules for how life works. Like how some resources now have very different values, or how some relatively ordinary things are not considered to be very dangerous. Special tools to deal with new problems, and other things of this kind. Probably best to not make it too complex and keep things relatively familiar. I want to focus more on new problems and challenges that arise from the old established institutions failing, instead of having new supernatural phenomenons suddenly pop up. But no specific ideas in that regard yet.
    Though one related idea I got is that it would be cool to have one last big tin mine in operation, that is the only source for newly created bronze. I think the king who controls it would be the most powerful and richest of them all, which he is because he has this one mine. But everyone else also wants to have it. So it probably should be in a remote location far away from the capital and the palace, where it is more vulnerable to invasions from other kingdoms. Not really familiar with the geology of tin, but some kind of mountain highland could be cool, like Tibet, Afghanistan, or Sierra Nevada. Apparently Peru and Boliva are very major tin producers today, so that would be geologically quite realistic.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Well, as regards Aboleths and Quori...

    Cthulhu is famously dead, but dreaming. So the two could be connected, in an Old One sort of way. Great, slumbering Aboleth lords, with powerful psionic dreams which manifest as weirdly alien dream creatures in a psychic outer dimension.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I'm actually really surprised by the amount of replies this got, and how long they are. This is really helpful.

    I've been thinking more about how the environmental changes are specifically affecting the lifes of people. And I feel a good combination of destructive climate change and lush forests would be to concentrate mostly on an increase in tropical storms. More frequent storms with stronger wind and a lot more rain.

    Immediate dramatic effects that I can see are coastal erosion, which makes old cities crumble into the sea, and rivers spilling over, turning farmland into marshes. And with grounds getting soggy, you can also have castles starting to sink and tilt dramatically. And landslides destroying towns.
    With a generally warm climate, having more wetlands breeds more tropical diseases, though I am not sure how that could be well integrated into a game.

    Since the landscape is now covered in castles that are literally breaking open, ancient hidden chambers like vaults, tombs, and sorcerer lairs are opened up for looting.

    With trade already declining, there would be fewer effort to keep forest roads clear of plant growth, and to repair mountain paths destroyed by landslides. Bridges that get destroyed in floods are never repaired. River predators could make those places their hunting grounds to prey on caravans trying to use fords or rafts.

    Another interesting feature of such a setting I can see is towns switching from having a castle for defense to fortified caves that can also protect them from storms. Wooden forts on top of hills would likely be very unpopular by this point.

    And of course, aside from the many side effect, you can always have adventurers getting caught in a storm, in situations where finding shelter and staying put for a day seems like a really bad option. I like the idea of big storm beasts that come out only during storms and might attack villages.
    And kuo-toa could come to the surface during storms, raiding coastal villages while the people are unable to see and hear them coming.

    However, I also want to have a sub-artic region, similar to say Iceland. Increases of storms are directly related to a warming climate, since more water evaporates and you get areas of warmer air to create stronger winds. Which I think might not actually feel like a pressing problem to people in cold climates. Warmer weather and disappearing glaciers doesn't sound so bad. Changes in fish population could be bad, but its not terribly visible and I think without industrial fishing fleets coming from far away countries that impact would actually be that big for the locals.
    However, more moisture in the air can mean more snow in winter, which would lead to more melt water in spring. That would be quite bad. I don't intend to make a full world map, so wind patterns and ocean currents have a lot of leeway before looking nonsensical to people who know a bit about them. If its still cold enough for sufficiently long parts of the year, could an increase in snowfall and glacier growth be plausible while tropical storms increase further south?
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    A smaller-scale effect of enhanced forest growth is bush encroachment. Which is a problem for farmers, but more so, probably, for herders. It's currently happening in the subarctic and its' quite interesting.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I don't have anything to add at the moment, but I just wanted to say I highly approve of this setting and am thoroughly tempted to steal it.

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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    However, I also want to have a sub-artic region, similar to say Iceland. Increases of storms are directly related to a warming climate, since more water evaporates and you get areas of warmer air to create stronger winds. Which I think might not actually feel like a pressing problem to people in cold climates. Warmer weather and disappearing glaciers doesn't sound so bad. Changes in fish population could be bad, but its not terribly visible and I think without industrial fishing fleets coming from far away countries that impact would actually be that big for the locals.
    However, more moisture in the air can mean more snow in winter, which would lead to more melt water in spring. That would be quite bad. I don't intend to make a full world map, so wind patterns and ocean currents have a lot of leeway before looking nonsensical to people who know a bit about them. If its still cold enough for sufficiently long parts of the year, could an increase in snowfall and glacier growth be plausible while tropical storms increase further south?
    Increased warming and wind and rain are highly unlikely to increase glacier growth, but they could still cause a great deal of damage to a sub-arctic environment. Major storm systems with regular high winds can strip away vegetative cover and ravage the soil, making agriculture nearly impossible, and volcanic areas like Iceland are particularly vulnerable to this sort of soil loss. There are places that are quite wet and even highly vegetated where no humans can settle and grow anything because of the soils. Places like Tierra del Fuego, Graham Island off the BC coast, or the western half of Tasmania might be good comps.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Always grateful for pointers like these, as sources for ideas I don't really know anything about.

    A new idea I just got is that people would have changed the way they rebuild their houses that were destroyed by floods and storms. In low areas that see frequent flooding, there would be more houses build on stilts. A very extreme cast I know about is in the Amazon, where in some places the river floods so massively that is grows 80 kilometres wide and something like 10 meters deep. What is normally forest turns into a flowing lake that has the tops of trees sticking out of the water. And houses build on very high stilts.
    In the northern regions like Iceland and Patagonia, people build their houses very low or even partially into the ground, to keep them getting blown away by extreme winds and help with heating in winter.
    Cave villages like in Turkey and China would also be guarded against wind.

    I remembered I had not talked about my ideas for gods yet.
    Using D&D as my reference (for now?), the most common religion has three gods of the Fields, the Herds, and the Home that are served by Nature-clerics. There are also popular mystery cults of Knowledge-clerics worshipping the Moon and Trickery-clerics worshipping the Darkness of Night and Caves. There also is now very influential religion of Tempest-clerics who worship a Storm god and claim people need to appease it to avoid its wrath. If destructive storms still come, the people are just not making enough offerings yet.
    The barbarian foragers in the wilderness have Druids as their shamans who are mediators between them and nature spirits. They are concerned about keeping peace with the spirits and might occasionally appeal to them for help, but don't exactly worship them like in the civilized religions.
    And finally there is a cult of fire warlocks who use the Fiend-patron abilities. I like the idea of these being a very regional power mostly confined to one kingdom.
    Also, some kings are very powerful warlocks with Old Ones-patron abilities who claim to be divine themselves and are served by lower level warlocks who believe they get their powers from their god-kings (though they don't).
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Any thoughts on tying the old one god kings in with the Quori? Prophetic dreams are a staple, too, for kings.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I am seriously considering making them and their top priests Inspired. Though I am not quite sure yet how to keep them really alien and mysterious when they are in such prominent positions of power where they can do what they want.
    I think instead of completely replacing the mind of the Inspired, the spirit exist simultaneously, blurring together into a single insane identity. When they are killed, the mortal dies, but the spirit returns home and can always come back to try with another body later. It probably would be a good idea for the mind being destroyed when the spirit leaves early. Having people return to normal when the spirit goes hopping into another body feels just too neat and convenient to me.
    It's been ages since I watched Stargate, but I think the alien overlords are pretty similar to that idea.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    I wouldnt' make them inspired. Maybe something mechanically similar, but not fully replaced. I agree that makes them too directly involved.

    Perhaps something more like a familiar spirit or divine connection? With the throne, the rituals and the worship of the priesthood comes a direct line to the gods, like, say, the Egyptian kings claimed to have. The longer you sit on the throne, the more you get prophetic dreams, and whispered advice, and strange thoughts that try to steer you in a certain direction... to the point where old kings, who have sat the throne twenty years or longer, are getting so distant from Earthly affairs and... mad.. that the priests have to keep them apart from the court as much as they can.
    "Après la vie - le mort, après le mort, la vie de noveau.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Oh yeah, that's great. Like Bloodborne. "Grant us eyes, grant us eyes."
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Actually, I still haven't played Bloodborne. Or any Dark Souls, more than a few hours. Maybe I should try it again, but they might just not be for me, as tasty as the world and lore look.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Something I somehow had not really thought about is that with large areas of farmland turning into swamps, there would be a great increase in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. Not quite sure how to that could be incorporated visibly into a setting. Diseases like these probably wouldn't be transmissible between people causing traditional plagues, and I believe the main impact of malaria is increased infant mortality, which just doesn't tend to come up in practice.

    Malaria is the worst the first time you catch it. After the body has beaten the parasites, it remains highly resilient against the symptoms for several months. People who are exposed regularly because they always live around mosquitoes are doing relatively fine if they survive the first infection. But people who go into swamps on an irregular basis, like probably most adventuring types, would get hit pretty hard each time they catch it. As I understand it, malaria medicine does not cure the disease but reduces its symptoms while you have it, and the main chemical compounds to treat malaria today come from the bark of plants that have been known for a very long time. Probably not as efficient as synthetic drugs, but it still should make a real difference. I like the idea that people who plan to go exploring or scavenging in a swamp would go collecting the bark and take it regularly to avoid getting terribly sick while out on an adventure.
    The special rules people have to follow to survive in the environments of a scavenger world are always the most interesting aspects about these for me.

    Another thing would probably be that people learn early on how to read the clouds for indications of storms. That's probably something I should research.

    Another new idea is that people being forced to flee after they homes have been destroyed could attempt to move into nearby ruins. That wouldn't help with the food situation, but it could be an option once the local population has already gone down enough to be able to mostly sustain itself by foraging and hunting. Locations that previously were unattractive due to lack of usable soil for farming could provide good shelter for small groups who don't rely on crops. And with dozens or even a few hundred people staying in large ruins for prolonged time can lead to the discovery of previously unknown passages and chambers with adventure opportunities.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Something I somehow had not really thought about is that with large areas of farmland turning into swamps, there would be a great increase in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. Not quite sure how to that could be incorporated visibly into a setting. Diseases like these probably wouldn't be transmissible between people causing traditional plagues, and I believe the main impact of malaria is increased infant mortality, which just doesn't tend to come up in practice.
    Turning farmland into swamps, especially large contiguous waterways would actually probably reduce malaria incidence. Mosquitos require stagnant water that is largely devoid of predators to breed and multiply (mosquito larvae and pupae are a major food source for any number of aquatic predators), and Anopheles in particular prefers clear water not covered by vegetation. Agriculture, especially primitive agriculture in wet environments, tends to create lots of small stagnant puddles in the form of irrigation and drainage ditches, livestock feeder troughs, wallows, and so on.

    Also, agriculture increases population density and the humans:large mammals ratio, which increases the presence of anthropophilic varieties of Anopheles. The lower the density of the human population compared to other large animals, the more likely the mosquitos will preferentially target something other than humans, which lowers malarial incidence. Malaria incidence can also be reduced by sleeping under mosquito nets (Anopheles species are either crepuscular or nocturnal) which is a tactic that dates back to at least dynastic Egypt, albeit it was probably done simply to mitigate mosquito bites generally.

    So malaria risk (and to a lesser degree the risk of other mosquito-borne illnesses you might choose to include such as yellow fever or dengue) would actually be highest in densely populated city-states toward the later end of their existence cycle - especially if they're struggling to survive following regular flooding events that create abundant stagnant pools - not among adventurers or wilderness dwelling foragers.

    It's actually possible that malaria might be one of the major triggers of city-state destruction and might also be regularly confused - viewed from afar - for mismanagement. Malaria, and most other mosquito-borne illnesses, don't usually kill adults, but they lead to prolonged periods of sickness that obliterate productivity. A major increase in malarial frequency, which could easily be triggered by people abandoning outlying settlements to retreat to the central city state and thereby spiking population density and reducing collective hygiene, destroys overall economic productivity on the local level, which can trigger a downward spiral.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    Apparently the malaria causing species of the parasite has evolved to require humans for its life cycle. Which means it wouldn't be found in unpopulated areas. Density of human population is one of the main factors that increases its spread.
    So it probably would have been a factor that contributed to destroying the cities when rain became more common, but wouldn't be much of a prominent issue once the population is mostly gone. Probably still a problem in those cities that are still around, but that doesn't seem of much interest for adventures.
    Not a big loss, though. It's not really that much of an interesting feature.

    But there still should be plenty of nasty swamp parasites that are around even without people.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    And you can still have plenty of other mosquito-borne illnesses.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    You've got a lot of cool ideas here, and aboleths and quori are two of my favorite Big Bad races, so I'll be following this thread with interest.

    A few comments on various things:

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    One possible idea is to have arcane magic be demonic magic, like it is in Warcraft. I could see people looking outside the natural-divine world for alternative powers to fight back against the influence of the gods. That does open up the possibility of having some ruined cities that were destroyed in attempts to protect them with demon magic. Those areas then could be classic irradiated wastelands haunted by undead. One problem with this is that it creates redundancies with having ancient eldritch horrors living deep beneath the sea and the earth. I think there should be either one of these groups of powerful creatures or the other, but not both.
    Having the ancient eldritch horrors giving access to a unique type of magic to counter the forest gods could work, though. But if they are part of this world, I am not quite sure how they would have access to other forms of magic.
    I really quite like the idea that undead are mortals corrupted by dark alien magic. They are not animated by the energies of divine nature, but by something alien that has no place in nature. This makes them warped, twisted, and insane beings that resemble their former mortal forms, but are not really alive in the normal sense anymore.
    And finally there is a cult of fire warlocks who use the Fiend-patron abilities. I like the idea of these being a very regional power mostly confined to one kingdom.
    You could combine these ideas without making redundant demonic and tentacle-y magic by having two varieties of ancient Lovecraftian horror: the Horrors Below, beings of water and earth living in the darkest depths of the seas and caverns, and the Horrors Above, beings of air and fire living in the stars and nebulas of the night sky; the former are all about scales and tentacles and ooze and drawing too much on their power gets you a flooded and eroded city full of fish-people-formerly-known-as-humanoids, the latter are all about claws and eyes and blood and drawing too much on their power gets you a burnt and irradiated city full of undead.

    Associating both flavors of Horror with darkness and far-away-ness gives them a shared origin, and having two different flavors lets you emphasize the cyclical fall of civilization by if the second-to-last fallen civilization tried to call upon the Horrors Below to deal with the forest gods, that went terribly terribly wrong, the most recent fallen civilization said "We're not dumb enough to do that again!" and tried to call upon the Horrors Above to deal with the forest gods, that went terribly terribly wrong, and now the people feel like they're out of options.

    And finally, having those two broad groups of Lovecraftian horrors lets you roll up all the warlock patrons into a single source of power without having to introduce actual demons or the like. The Fiend, Hexblade, Great Old One, Seeker, and Raven Queen patrons all fit the Horrors Above with their fire/stars/death themes (as do the Celestial and Undying, if you want to add a dash of "healing at a cost" and "died and came back wrong" flavor to things) while the Archfey, Kraken, Lurker in the Deep, and Noble Genie (marid or dao) patrons all fit the Horrors Below with their water/madness/hunger themes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    In that context, the main forms of undead would be ghouls and wights (and perhaps liches, but I think they are redundant if you have wight sorcerers), and I really like shadows and wraiths like the ones in the Witcher games. (Not really different from D&D wraiths, but with a more solid appearance and parts of their personalities intact.)
    Liches aren't necessarily redundant if you think of them as a "more advanced" (older and more alien) form of wight like wraiths are to shadows. Add on vampires as a more advanced form of ghoul and you have a nice division between ghouls/wights/shadows and vampires/liches/wraiths, where the latter are basically more self-aware, cunning, and fearsome versions of the former.

    Plus, you can break down most undead into being either zombie-like, skeleton-like, or ghost-like, and those three pairs cover those categories nicely. Instead of having bunches of different kinds of undead roaming around you can really focus on those three sets to, ahem, flesh them out as part of the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Using D&D as my reference (for now?), the most common religion has three gods of the Fields, the Herds, and the Home that are served by Nature-clerics. There are also popular mystery cults of Knowledge-clerics worshipping the Moon and Trickery-clerics worshipping the Darkness of Night and Caves. There also is now very influential religion of Tempest-clerics who worship a Storm god and claim people need to appease it to avoid its wrath. If destructive storms still come, the people are just not making enough offerings yet.
    The barbarian foragers in the wilderness have Druids as their shamans who are mediators between them and nature spirits. They are concerned about keeping peace with the spirits and might occasionally appeal to them for help, but don't exactly worship them like in the civilized religions.
    If you're not already aware, a major recurring theme in ancient religions is the concept of the triple deity, usually taking the form of a triple goddess most associated with the Maiden, Mother, and Crone archetypes and strongly linked with life cycles and the moon and/or a triple god most associated with the Holly King, Oak King, and Willow King or Green Man archetypes and strongly linked with seasonal cycles and the sun.

    As civilizations ended up with more gods and arranged them into pantheons, they tended to split them into three groups or generations corresponding roughly to "really old nature trying to kill you," "nature that isn't hostile but isn't friendly either," and "that newfangled civilization stuff." Sometimes they came one after the other like the Greek pantheons (the primordial Protogenoi including Tartarus/Gaea/Uranus/etc. were overthrown by the natural Titans including Oceanus/Mnemosyne/Kronos/etc. and were in turn overthrown by the civilized Olympians including Zeus/Ares/Hades/etc.), while sometimes they coexisted like the Norse pantheons (the primordial Jotnar, natural Vanir, and civilized Æsir all coexisted and fought with one another without any one of them getting destroyed), but the pattern is generally there.

    I bring this up because you have elements of both in your suggested gods here: Field/Herd/Home corresponds to the agrarian/civilized god while Storm is primordial, and the triple goddesses of the mystery cults resemble a triple goddess. So how about you mix things up a bit to convey those themes to players (even subconsciously) and further emphasize the themes of the setting?

    You have three "civilized" goddesses: one of the moon (a Maiden archetype, themed around mysteries, magic, and change), one of the hearth (a Mother archetype, themed around folk wisdom, family, and stability), and one of caves (a Crone archetype, themed around secrets, death, and endings). You have three "nature" deities: the Field (crops and farming), the Flock (livestock and husbandry), and the Forest (wild plants and animals); the latter isn't one of the ineffable forest gods causing all the trouble, but a somewhat "closer" and more approachable god, like the difference between a good of coasts and sea travel vs. a god of the deep sea. And you have three "primordial" gods: the god of storms, the god of rivers, and the god of swamps, which respectively are worshiped to stave off road-destroying precipitation, city-destroying floods, and farmland-destroying swamplands.

    Not only does this evoke ancient religions, but it also reinforces the themes of the Horrors and the forest gods, with the civilized goddess all having a "light in the darkness" theme and they and the storm god all being deities of the sky to connect with the Horrors Above, the primordial gods all having a "water that wants to kill you" theme and they and the cave goddess being deities of the depths to connect with the Horrors Below, and the hearth goddess and river gods connecting nicely with the three nature deities to show different aspects of agrarian society that get displaced when the forest gods act up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I am seriously considering making them and their top priests Inspired. Though I am not quite sure yet how to keep them really alien and mysterious when they are in such prominent positions of power where they can do what they want.
    I think instead of completely replacing the mind of the Inspired, the spirit exist simultaneously, blurring together into a single insane identity. When they are killed, the mortal dies, but the spirit returns home and can always come back to try with another body later. It probably would be a good idea for the mind being destroyed when the spirit leaves early. Having people return to normal when the spirit goes hopping into another body feels just too neat and convenient to me.
    It's been ages since I watched Stargate, but I think the alien overlords are pretty similar to that idea.
    To add a layer of mysticism, you might want to look at Absentia, a drug in Sharn: City of Towers. The overt effect of taking the drug is visions and sleepwalking, but it actually lets a quori possess the user even though they're not willing. Posit something like that for the rituals of their religion--say, special incense that when burned "brings the celebrant into communion with the gods" and allows the quori to speak and act through them, so anyone can experience for themselves proof of the gods' glory and power.

    The quori thus have to be more sneaky and circumspect because they can't just possess the leadership all the time, though there might be a handful of priests who they can possess as normal; they can be working towards developing more potent versions of the drugs that last longer, and releasing that substance into the water supply can be an equivalent to performing a grand ritual to possess a whole town at once. Plus, anyone possessed for a long time and then freed wasn't just unconscious while the quori is in charge, they've been seeing rapidly-changing uncontrollable visions for days or weeks or longer and may believe their new freedom to be just another vision, which gives you the lingering aftereffects you were looking for.
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    Default Re: Bronze Scavengers in Fallen Kingdoms and Eldritch Forests

    If farmland turns into swamp, the rate of malaria will go down because the farmers will leave and there won't be anyone to get infected.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Another new idea is that people being forced to flee after they homes have been destroyed could attempt to move into nearby ruins. That wouldn't help with the food situation, but it could be an option once the local population has already gone down enough to be able to mostly sustain itself by foraging and hunting. Locations that previously were unattractive due to lack of usable soil for farming could provide good shelter for small groups who don't rely on crops. And with dozens or even a few hundred people staying in large ruins for prolonged time can lead to the discovery of previously unknown passages and chambers with adventure opportunities.
    I love the idea of a small village of ramshackle wooden huts built within the overgrown ruins of a decaying stone structure. It seems like it would be a fantastic setting for an adventuring party to start in, as they could be the villagers given the task of either leaving the ruins to hunt and forage or exploring a newly-discovered chamber.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam113097 View Post
    I love the idea of a small village of ramshackle wooden huts built within the overgrown ruins of a decaying stone structure. It seems like it would be a fantastic setting for an adventuring party to start in, as they could be the villagers given the task of either leaving the ruins to hunt and forage or exploring a newly-discovered chamber.
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