A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Sub-Prime Material Plane

    Post Seeking Feedback on Campaign Lore

    Hello, friends! I've been working on some lore for my campaign, and I've tried to keep it as accurate to the 3.5 mythos as possible. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to offer some feedback with regard to the campaign setting's compatibility with the canon and/or the quality of the world-building. It's a bit long, and for that I apologize, but I'm trying to set up several different factions and subplots the PCs could engage with without railroading them too much, and that necessitated a lot of thought about how the factions came to be, and what motivated them, and... well, here we are, haha. The players will probably never see half of this lore, but it's important for my own verisimilitude, if that makes sense, that the world make sense and have internal consistency of some sort.

    Spoiler: Lore

    The Crossover

    As the Feywild drifted away from the prime material plane, before the Spellplague snapped them back together, it grew closer to the Far Realm. The Feywild began to see incursions of aberrations, in small numbers at first, but with growing frequency and severity. The intrusive denizens were inscrutable in their form, but their motives were clear: they wished to consume, destroy, and corrupt. The Fey were nimble, clever, and strong, but casualties were inevitable against the unending surprise attacks, and many of the Fey began to dread the onset of the next wave. The passage of time in the Feywild is convoluted, so the measure of respite between incursions was unpredictable. For some, the creeping dread during a longer period of quiet was worse than the frenzy of battle. Many Fey fled the Feywild entirely via its natural planar connections to take refuge on the prime material plane, but still some aberrations pursued them through the gates and connections between the planes, wreaking havoc on the Fey and all others who lived there. They were becoming an epidemic. In desperation, the runaway Fey prayed for salvation from someone -- from anyone.

    Nadirech, god of trickery, cowardice, and luck answered their call. He spirited away the runaway Fey and several other refugee groups of various races to a sanctuary of sorts: an island. More specifically, a secluded plane or demiplane, as later investigation returned, that didn’t seem to allow any way to planeshift out of it. Moreover, no one ever entered, either; the more learned denizens of the demiplane speculated that entities outside the plane were being barred from entry, perhaps by some mechanism related to the Relics. Where ley lines on the island met, the landscape was warped to ecological and geological extremes, as ley lines tend to do on any plane where they are present, and in the midst of these junctions jutted mysterious, imperious monoliths bearing some sort of indecipherable script. As baffling as they were, the Fey didn’t look the gift-horse in the mouth, and left well enough alone; they were safe, and that was enough. The other races of refugees were far more interested, and investigated them much more thoroughly, building monuments and temples about them to honor their patron deity, but learned nothing new.

    Age of Strife

    Initially, the first generation of refugees got along rather amicably with their neighbors, or as amicably as could be expected. Some creatures were naturally consummate predators, and so naturally had tensions with other races, but the land was vast and bountiful, resources were plentiful, and there was little reason to squabble. Of course, this didn’t last; greed can only be suppressed for so long, and the racial settlements began to vye for territory, and squabble for power and rank amongst their own.

    Humans were particularly victimized in this exchange; as a result of poor inter-species politics and having fewer refugees to start, they were kept on the back foot, and often had to abandon farms and settlements to the ravages of pillaging and raiding. They splintered into several tribes, and any time their communities began to grow, they were subject to further pillaging, forcing them to war with one another over the remaining resources. Their communities fought one another, and were preyed upon by wandering monstrous humanoids and magical beasts.

    Age of Might

    After a few generations of this strife (about 500 years to be precise), a powerful mage emerged from reclusive study and called the tribal leaders to a summit. Some say it was by dint of power or diplomacy, and others claim it was by foul sorcery, but the mage caused each tribal leader to sign a treaty reforming the human empire. Under the guidance of the grand wizard, the tribes were able to rebuff the raids of the neighboring races’ communities and marauding monsters -- although it was not entirely due to the wizard’s leadership.

    As the centuries passed, the timeless Fey began to notice something peculiar. The new generations of creatures were… disappointingly average. They never seemed to reach any sort of notable power, or accomplish any great deeds; their offspring were often the weakest variety they could produce. What’s more, the Fey noticed the more powerful of the long-lived original refugees were… weakening. Spells and acts that were easy became harder and harder. The few dragons that had crossed over, while not immortal, withered away centuries upon centuries before their time, even before they could birth the next draconic generation. It was a very peculiar thing, so much so that the Fey gradually began to realize: Nadirech had exacted a terrible price without ever asking. Whatever effect sustained this plane, or kept creatures away, was using the creatures within as a power source.

    Unable to try to planeshift away, the Fey tried to return to the Feywild by another way: destroying the monoliths. The uncertain conditions there, they reasoned, were preferable to certain, inevitable decline and extinction here. Upon the attempt, though, the relics seemed to react violently to their presence in a way that they never did for the lesser races. Nadirech had played them for the fool for a second time. After they began to attack, touch, and strike it, a great force of aberrations began to break through into the plane. The Fey fought valiantly to drive them off, and did so -- but at great cost, as they were not as strong as they once were. Their numbers dwindled greatly, and many of the great fey remaining perished. Their folly was clear: the relics would not easily permit the Fey to touch them. Meanwhile, the other races took note of this incident.

    The other races were very suspicious of the Fey’s motives at this point, but humans had always been weak and malleable. The Fey decided to try diplomacy. They approached the human tribal council and grand wizard. They explained how the plane was sapping the strength from the world through the monoliths, so they needed to be destroyed for the good of everyone; the humans had presumably noticed the magical beasts and other elder creatures growing more scarce in recent years as a result of this, but the effects would reach all in time. Surely it was self-evident that this would inevitably lead to the death of all those who lived here.

    The humans were polite during the meeting, but privately had reservations about destroying the monoliths. Although paper records were difficult to come by as a result of the frequent raids and wars, oral history still carried tales of monstrosities, the aberrations, terrorizing the human lands in spite of their best efforts; why would they willingly return to that? Furthermore, if the plane was primarily harming the elder races, why should mankind intervene when it would surely not be their problem for many centuries more? From the sounds of it, life would only be better in this world for their children, and for their childrens’ children, and some progendy down the line could address the issue if the time came.

    After hearing the Fey’s tale, the grand wizard secluded himself in research over the monolith in their lands, and discovered something remarkable: by dint of effort, he could tap into the energies flowing through the relics. Among other things, he could use the relic to augment the creation of constructs to some effect, avoiding the experience cost. Using this boon, he quickly built a small army of effigy creatures. The Fey suddenly found themselves out-gunned and unable to force their demands upon the humans; the wizard insisted they leave. They had lost their opportunity to manipulate the humans. Furthermore, they were reluctant to share the truth with any other civilizations either, lest they, too, abuse the relics, and the races were already suspicious of them for the recent outbreak of aberrations. The Fey decided to wait out the humans. Their lives were short, as were their memories. They would forget the Fey’s request, and then they would be susceptible to deception. The humans, for their part, began to use their constructs to develop their land and society swiftly, as if making up for lost time.

    As the centuries crawled by, the humans did, indeed, forget about the meeting, as did most of the other races -- save for the Kobolds. The Kobolds, by dint of effort and egregious inbreeding since the initial refugees, had managed to produce a steady line of Dragonwrought Kobolds -- and, finally, produced a twisted sort of half-dragon. The long-lived Dragonwrought Kobolds retained history much more consistently than the other races, and passed it along to and the nigh-eternal Kobold-wrought half-dragon wyrmling. As the half-dragon grew older and absorbed the history of the world, it came to the conclusion that the plane adjacent to this demiplane must be overrun with aberrations, and something about the Fey’s plans for the relics must be weakening those barriers. Since that day, the Kobolds have acted with unbridled animosity towards the Fey out of dedicated self-interest.

    Age of Conquest

    The humans, after several centuries of urban sprawl and decadence (about 900 years since the initial refugees arrived), found the wooded glens of their lands… fading. Losing vitality. Crops failed; babies were born sickly; blights and sickness spread. The constructs they produced were weaker, flimsier, and less vigorous. They decided that they needed a new relic -- and that meant conquest. Their construct production increased many fold, and the neighboring realm of goblins, fierce and plucky as they were, eventually succumbed to sheer attrition. Meanwhile, the originally human realms had worsened dramatically as production increased. The land turned to essentially sludge and muck; much of the flora and fauna withered away. Undead began to stalk the wastes by night; some oozes emerge from the swamps and harass the local flora and fauna, too, much as an invasive species would.

    The humans recreated their settlements in force after a steady mass migration. Nobles leveraged their wealth to purchase more constructs, and use the constructs’ labor to generate still more wealth. The enriched nobles bought out much of the new land, whether for farming or leisure, and the price of land began to rise dramatically. Neighboring colonies of non-human humanoids sold their ancestral homes for what seemed like fortunes, but found the rising cost of living made their fortunes less robust within a few years, and they could no longer afford to repurchase those homes. A community of non-transients began to form, often harassed and pushed from place to place. Some non-human humanoids refused to sell; conveniently, it was often discovered they were hives of scum and villainy, full of bandits, brigands, and other such enemies of the state; their communities were purged, and the land sold off to the highest bidder.

    These nobles frequently squabbled amongst themselves, engaging in proxy-conflicts through trade wars, arena battles, and subterfuge to steal gold, trade secrets, and embarrassing fodder for blackmail. Meanwhile, righteous and fair-minded adventurers found rewarding work as monster-hunters, scouring the nearby wilds for magical beasts and monstrous creatures that would threaten the growing human communities. The tribal council founded a guild of heroes which posted news and rumors of these creatures, and paid out hefty bounties based on their danger, rarity, and urgency.

    Age of Luxury

    Several centuries passed in this manner (about 1100 years since the crossover), and while much has changed, much remains the same. The Fey remain, weaker than before, intermixed with elves, but awaiting the opportunity to turn wayward humans on the relics; their society grew fat and complacent, and the time was nearly ripe to convert some wayward adventurers. Would-be adventurers from the human lands often take pilgrimage back to the swampy wastelands that once were the human capital to earn some sort of fame hacking away at undead, or fortune plundering the ruins of their old society. So now are our intrepid heroes approaching a notorious, popular crypt.

    The only things without easy RAW explanations thusfar, so far as I can tell, are the undead largely only emerging at night (as it seems most undead don't care much whether it's day or night), and the relics.

    The relics I think I'll just have to make homebrew macguffins. At the moment, I'm imagining they function by siphoning xp/"life force" from creatures within their radius (more from more powerful creatures [i.e. over e6]). This weakens high-HD races over time, damages the environment, and leeches positive energy from the area, eventually just leaving it as a seething mess of negative energy-aligned landscape. The wizard uses it to waive the xp for creating effigy creatures, allowing it to be somewhat spammed, but fluff-wise traps the souls of creatures that passed away in the constructs, causing them to register as undead to spells and effects that would affect undead. Additionally, this prolongs the wizard's life to unnatural lengths. I don't think there's anything in the rules that would emulate that, but a custom effect created by a god using Alter Reality might be able to do that.

    So how do things look? Thanks so much in advance for any feedback folks are willing to offer! :)
    Last edited by Doctor Despair; 2021-09-21 at 08:23 PM.
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