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

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    Default Babylon Prime [Setting]

    Designer note: I have become disillusioned by some of the fundamental logic behind DND3.5 and this setting is an attempt to resolve some of the logic problems that I have and create a balanced and fun setting.

    Premise: The forces of "good" and "evil" are in conflict with each other and are waging an eternal war. These "good" and "evil" forces are actually extraplanar in nature and while they can technically bring the battle to each other on those planes, there is so much of a disadvantage of doing so that it is basically a suicide mission. Thus they fight on the Prime Material plane, specifically on a world called Babylon Prime.
    ---------------------------------------
    Logical Problem #1: Alignments are not well defined and there is so much argument going on as to what a "Good" person would and wouldn't do that I need a method of objectively defining alignments without impairing the roleplaying fun and decision making capacity of the Players.

    Solution #1: "Good" and "Evil" (I may call those "light" and "darkness") are extraplanar factions... Likewise so are "Law" (which I'm calling "Order") and "Chaos". If you are a member of one of those factions then you are of the appropriate "Alignment". Most people, however, are NOT aligned as such. This is the nature of over 90% of Babylon Prime. People don't do stuff because they are good or evil, they do stuff according to their motivation.

    Solution #1a: The exception to this is when people form pacts with these extraplanar forces. Usually, these pacts grant power to those that accept the pact in exchange for allying with said faction. Most common Pact takers are Paladins, Clerics and the Non-OGL Warlocks. When you accept said pact you gain the subtype according to your faction.

    Solution #1b: As such, Alignment based spells and abilities only affect allied people.

    Solution #1c: Pacts will each have very specific actions which will immediately sever the pact. Usually something along the lines of betraying your faction for another faction. And they will also have a code of conduct in which violations will result in a hearing/trial/whatever to determine if the violator is guilty and how the violator will be punished. As such, Pacts are both a source of power and a leash.

    Solution #1d: The alignment planes derive power from the actions of the people on Babylon Prime. This is handled in a completely statless way. i.e. entirely story driven. However, the general idea is that if people on Babylon Prime are relatively good, then the forces of good have more power. If they become more corrupt, the the forces of evil gain in power. The end result is that the individual factions attempt to coerce the unaligned into actions that will benefit their faction. They will also attempt to enlist people through pacts.
    -------------------------------
    Logical Problem #2: Epic Level characters should not be bartenders.

    Solution #2: As people gain in power, more and more influence is placed upon them to join in the war and pick a faction. As a result, about the time Plane Shift becomes available, those capable of it are drawn away from Babylon Prime.
    -------------------------------
    Logical Problem #3: Where are all these goblins coming from? From an ecological point of view, goblinoid hordes don't make much sense.

    Solution #3: The various goblinoids are part of the "evil" faction and going back to the mythical roots, they are in fact spirits. Goblinoids were originally used as cheap shock troops and mercenaries imported from the "evil" planes to wage war on Babylon Prime. As called spirits, they were tasked with spreading evil and in payment, they were told they could keep the spoils of war. Thus they essentially stay on Babylon Prime indefinitely, causing havok and looting and plundering as a means to further the ends of 'evil'. What's the point? It gives PC's a foe that they can kill with no compunction about alignment ramifications. Killed goblinoids actually vanish as their spirits return to their home plane (thus not actually killed). Any loot left behind clearly wasn't theirs to begin with and thus is free to be claimed by adventurers.


    Solution #3a: Note that Orcs are NOT goblinoids. The very fact that Half-orcs exist indicates that Orcs are in some way related to humans. As such, they fill the role of savage killing machines that you still have to consider before killing.
    -----------------------------
    Logical Problem #4: Accidents should have killed off elves WAY before they become fertile adult age. I have some logic problems with the way races are all 'different' yet they are all the 'same' sexually speaking.

    Solution #4: Elves are ascendant Humans. As some humans attempt to become more in tune with nature and magic, their affinity manifests itself in a physical change into elves. The intermediate step is the half-elf, literally half way to becoming an elf. You are not born an elf or half-elf, you are born human and eventually grow into an elf. This is not an easy process, but a long tedious one. Impatient people use lichdom as a shortcut to immortality.

    Solution #4a: Half-orcs are descendant humans. Raised in an environment where strength is important, humans mutate into orcs. This may be encouraged by some sort of evil influence. Half-orcs have been 'rescued' from this fate before the final transformation.

    Solution #4b: Halflings are just short humans. Pigmies, migets, dwarfism... whatever you want to call it, in the past, there was a need for little people. As such they were bred to favor this recessive gene. They have also formed a culture unto themselves and typically associate mostly with themselves.


    Solution #4c: Gnomes... "Was it something I said?" Gnomes are getting stuffed back into the Fae category and thus removed as a player race (until I can find some justification or distinction.)

    ------------------------------
    Logical Problem #5: Dwarves aren't actually well suited to the underground. Why do they need that gold? Why are they all alcoholics?

    Solution #5: Some Dwarves are in fact just short stocky humans.

    Solution #5a: True dwarves are forged, not born. Dwarves are essentially a partly earth elemental clone beings that were forged in the distant past by the forces of good to counter the evil influence that caused the creation of orcs. Eventually, the dwarven nations managed to seize control over their creation forges from their Creators and now act autonomously. Dwarves are capable of extracting nutrition from virtually anything, particularly metals. However, part of their diet requires alcohol as a catalyst. The dwarven creation forges also require a great deal of precious metals and gems to form a dwarf. While dwarves may appear as both sexes, they are in fact sterile and only reproduce by way of their creation forges. They do however engage in pair bonding with is part of the step to creating the new soul to inhabit newly forged dwarves. It is generally in poor taste to inquire about the sexual habits of dwarves and those that have asked have been left with a dark twisted spot in their brain that they wish they could extract.

    ----------------------------
    Logical Problem #6: PC's like to apply modern physics to the magical world. This usually results in Physics goes bonk!

    Solution #6: This world has a greater power controlling magic. She has an appearance similar to that of Bes in Egyption Mythology and has technologically sensitive beings known as Feluxi. Attempts to mix technology and magic results in the Feluxi getting ill, which displeases the greater power. The greater power, in an attempt to maintain the balance in the world, promptly removes the irritation by bringing the offending character into the great war.
    -----------------------------

    OK those are some of the basic changes I've made...

    Opinions before I proceed with more specifics.
    Last edited by Citizen Joe; 2008-04-15 at 02:00 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Caewil's Avatar

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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    It's good, very good. I did something similary myself when I was creating a Psionic world. Which leads up to my next question: Where does magic come from, and does twiddlig your fingers in a certain way and speaking certain words perform it - If so, why? And where do Dragons and Psionics fit in (if at all)?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    Some interesting world and setting design.

    Don't really like what you did with elves, but it is well done nonetheless.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    @Arachnid: I'm trying to keep this game world as mechanically the same as core DND as possible. So, as much as I dislike the memorization method, I'll probably keep magic pretty much the same. I will be tweaking the fluff around it. I will say that magic, by definition, breaks the laws of nature/physics/etc. Thus, it inherently doesn't play well with physics. Psionics will be available, mechanically standard, but there will be an extended theory that applies to it. I believe I will be using Dragons as guardians over the boundaries between planes. This is what keeps the forces of good and evil from simply pouring through and what keeps the balance in Babylon Prime.

    @Kizara: I have applied insurance actuarial tables which the insurance agents use to estimate how long a group will survive based on various causes. When you take out all the diseases and preventable stuff, that presumably elves could avoid, and only count the accidents that immediately kill you and you can't avoid, like natural disasters, slip off a tree branch, wagon runs you over, etc. The end result was that by about age 100, 90% of people would have died anyway. Since elves don't start until age 120+, that means that at least 90% of the elves they have ever known have died. Additionally, if that is the starting age of fertility, and middle age is the end (like with humans) then it ends up requiring each female elf to produce like 40 children in their lifetime. That seems... inappropriate... so I needed some way to explain the time period before the start. I had 2 other options, 1) Elves are plant spirits and spend the first 100 years as trees, 2) elven children spend their first 100 years in Faewyld where death is not permanent. Both of those had problems with the interbreeding with humans though, so it loses the existence of half elves.


    On gods and powers: In Babylon Prime, there are gods and Powers. A god, although VERY powerful, is one of the extraplanar beings that usually heads up one of the factions. Some gods are more like lieutenants. But they will be statted and technically they are 'killable'. Gods gain strength from believers and followers.

    Powers are different. They are the primal rules and laws of nature. They are not statted, you cannot really interact with them, they certainly are not killable. However, through understanding, research and practice, you may borrow their powers, and manipulate existence. I'm working on about 5 different powers.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Kizara's Avatar

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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    RE: Elves.

    Pretty sure I've read that elves physically and sexually mature at the same age as humans, just mentally and emoitionally hit adult hood at the indicated ages.

    Source: Book of Erotic Fantasy and Races of the Wild.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Citizen Joe's Avatar

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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kizara View Post
    RE: Elves.

    Pretty sure I've read that elves physically and sexually mature at the same age as humans, just mentally and emoitionally hit adult hood at the indicated ages.

    Source: Book of Erotic Fantasy and Races of the Wild.
    OK, then that just makes it illogical from the sense that it takes a hundred years to learn what a human does in five. Anyway, I'm sticking with the ascended being model to help tie back into the Great War (I really need a good name for that).

    I'm starting to lean towards making gnomes ascended halflings, but there are no descended halflings because that direction requires strength that small creatures don't have, thus, descended halflings have died off before reaching sufficient numbers to become a 'race'. Actually, Belkar would probably be comparable in the hafling -> descended halfling as half-elves are on the human -> elf spectrum.

    There is a glimmer of a thought of making kobolds the descended halfling race (which explains the animosity between gnomes and kobolds), but I want to reserve their reptilian nature for other aspects.

    Moving on...
    ------------
    As promised a bit more about powers and an overview of the Cosmology.

    The five Powers don't actually have names, but they are referred to with many terms.

    1. The Lifestream
      This power governs over life and death, genesis and entropy. The energy planes, positive and negative aren't separate planes but rather terminal points along a continuum. Life (and other things) is created at the positive end, then travels along the lifestream, and eventually decays into the negative end of the continuum. Undead have been pulled from the lifestream and act as a sink for life, consuming it to keep from being drawn back into the Lifestream. Strong positive energy can force them back into the lifestream (and essentially down the negative drain end). Being undead isn't technically evil, and using the positive and negative energies aren't either, however most undead that do stick around have ulterior motives that are generally evil. Being undead and/or using positive and negative energy is however unnatural and has its own detractors.
      Note that falling into the negative end isn't really an end, either. Entropy disassembles the dead with the physical being reduced to component parts and getting dumped into the Natural Plane (see below) while aligned souls get dumped out into the Philosophic Planes (see below). Unaligned souls fade into the ethereal. So, what we consider the negative end of the spectrum is actually the positive end for the other planes.
    2. Aeon
      Master of time, travel and change. Presides over and is part of the Astral Plane.
    3. Threshold
      Master of the gateways between realms. As such, also controls the flow of magic. By breaking down the boundary between the physical and the mystical, magic can be used to bend the physical world to the will of the user.
      The ethereal is the primary embodiment, but the shadow and mirror plane (umbra) are a portion of that as well. Shadows represent the threshold between light and darkness and thus provide a portal to other realms. Mirrors do the same thing.
      Note that magic does not play well with physics, so mixing them produces detrimental effects, usually along the lines of rifts being torn in the fabric of the universe and sucking away those that abuse the magic/physics equilibrium.
    4. Gaia
      Maya, Mother Nature, etc. She governs over or is the embodiment of the natural world. The elemental planes blend seamlessly through her Realm from the lava down below, to the earth, to water above and the ice floating on the water, to the air above, the lightning of the storms and finally the fiery sky. Throughout is a verdant wonderland of animals and plants.
    5. Sapiens
      What puts Man above the beasts is his ability to have conscious thought. With that comes like minded individuals and those with conflicting views. Eventually, individual thoughts become philosophies, adopted by many. These philosophies become realms in themselves, where the belief in a philosophy gives power to that specific plane. These are what you would normally consider the alignment based planes.


    Next up: How/why magic works...

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen Joe View Post
    @Kizara: I have applied insurance actuarial tables which the insurance agents use to estimate how long a group will survive based on various causes. When you take out all the diseases and preventable stuff, that presumably elves could avoid, and only count the accidents that immediately kill you and you can't avoid, like natural disasters, slip off a tree branch, wagon runs you over, etc. The end result was that by about age 100, 90% of people would have died anyway. Since elves don't start until age 120+, that means that at least 90% of the elves they have ever known have died. Additionally, if that is the starting age of fertility, and middle age is the end (like with humans) then it ends up requiring each female elf to produce like 40 children in their lifetime. That seems... inappropriate... so I needed some way to explain the time period before the start. I had 2 other options, 1) Elves are plant spirits and spend the first 100 years as trees, 2) elven children spend their first 100 years in Faewyld where death is not permanent. Both of those had problems with the interbreeding with humans though, so it loses the existence of half elves.
    At 1% death rate, over 100 years:
    63.4% dead
    At 2% death rate, over 100 years:
    87% dead
    At 5% death rate, over 100 years:
    99.4% dead

    Assuming 50 years to sexual maturity, 50% females, and a birth every X years, and 3% death rate, the female population is as follows:
    22% make it to sexual maturity
    Then, each X years, 1 - .97^X survive, producing 1 child.

    50% of those children are female, and that child has a 22% chance of making it to sexual maturity.

    If each sexually mature female produces, on average, one sexually mature female, the population is stable.

    Let K = .97^X.

    Then each mature female will produce:
    K chance of >= 1
    K^2 chance of >= 2
    K^3 chance of >= 3
    or:
    T(K) = K+K^2+K^3+K^4+K^5+...
    total children.

    We need 1/A children to generate 1 sexually mature child, where A is the chance that a child reaches sexual maturity.

    As it happens
    T(K) = -1 + 1/(1-K)
    due to some medium-advanced math tricks in the range of Ks we are working in. :)

    So we get, with Y year maturation and X years between births on average:
    1/(1-.97^X) - 1 = 1/(.97^Y)

    Setting Y = 50, we get:
    1/(1-.97^X) = 1 + 1/.22 = 5.55
    or 1-.97^X = .18037
    .97^X = 0.81063
    X = 6.8926 years

    That isn't that crazy, and it allows for elves that never grow old.

    Elves that die after 100s of years ... well, that doesn't change things that much, because the number that make it that long really don't count.

    At 3% death rate per year among the females, that's a damn high rate of dieing compared with any modern civilization.

    Double checking.

    At 6.9 years between births, 81% of the elven women live between their first and second birth, etc.

    81% produce >= 1
    66% produce >= 2
    53% produce >= 3
    43% >= 4
    35% >= 5
    28% >= 6
    23% >= 7
    19% >= 8
    15% >= 9
    12% >= 10
    10% >= 11

    90% produce <= 10. Of these, they produce on average 3.75.

    Total produced:
    .9 * 3.75 + .1 * (3.75 + R) = R
    3.75 = .9 * R
    R = 4.17 on average
    Of those, 22% make it to maturity, or 0.909. That's pretty damn close to 1: but I probably made a minor mistake somewhere.

    At an average of 6 years, 83%+ make it. 5.88 children are produced per mature female. 1.29 make it to adulthood. Massive population growth.

    Gah! I forgot to divide by 2 for females only.
    1/(1-K) -1 = 9
    1/(1-K) = 10
    1-K = 1/10
    K = .9
    0.97^X = .9
    X = 3.46 years between children on average.


    ...


    If you want 100 years to maturity, things can get tougher.

    At 3% death rate per year, only 5% make it to maturity. So you need each mature female to have 40 children.

    1-K = 1/41
    K = 40/41
    .97^X = 40/41
    K = 0.81 years average between children

    Drop the death rate to 2%, and you get:
    13% make it to 100.
    15+1 children per mature female for replacement
    .98^X = 15/16
    X = 3.2 years between children

    Add in an average birth size of 2 (say 36% 1, 34% 2, 25% 3, 4% 4, 1% 5)

    Add in 25% of elven females aren't having children at a given time.

    Result: the elven females having children have kids every 5 years or so.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Citizen Joe's Avatar

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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    Next, compare the population of elflings to the adult population. It's like ten to one. Could you imagine a society where every adult has to take care of ten children? What's worse, it is probably the females doing those chores so it is closer to 20 to 1.... And yet, we never see elven children in movies. And supposedly that have a low birth rate. There is just some sort of division by cow error in there someplace.

    The notion of ascended humans allows us to bypass the whole logical problem.

    If elves are 120 years old to start, why aren't they impossibly powerful? Because the metaphysical change takes much time and meditation. During that time energies are being focused into becoming an elf, not growing in power.

    Hypothetically, a character could change from human to elf, but that is really beyond the scope of a campaign. One important thing that any elf character should remember is that they will have already lived lifetimes and have already seen 90% of the people they have ever known, die. That has a way of affecting your psyche.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    I said sexual maturity, not adult hood. :)

    Let's suppose the elves are careful with their sub-mature children: 0.5% die every year. Now 61% make it to sexual maturity of 100.

    In adulthood, the vast majority of elves don't die, and when they do they are resurrected. 1% per year die.

    1/(1-K) -1 = 3.28
    1/(1-K) = 4.28
    1-K = 0.234
    K = 0.766
    X =~ 26.5
    one birth every 26 years on average.

    And in this model, kids do not massively outnumber adults.

    This does, however, require a pretty damn careful elven society. Resurrection and healing magic might be dirt common.

    The problem with the meditation model is that it seems pretty damn cheesy. :) That, and you'd think that a century of meditation would produce some skills or applied knowledge...

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    You can't just say they are more careful with their children. If elves can be careful, then everyone can be careful. Which means humans suddenly have an enormous population problem. Elves would need to have some ability that no other races have which makes them less susceptible to accidents, but their low constitution would actually make them MORE susceptible.

    Anyway, a hundred years of meditation does yield lots of knowledge... a huge wealth of knowledge... of course, none of that knowledge is applicable in combat or adventuring. The objective of the meditation and study is to become 'immortal' or an elf. Think of the long hours studying and experimenting with various creatures to determine what aspects make them longer lived, then try to imitate that yourself. But in the end, studying a human family for five generations to see if diet has some effect on their lifespan doesn't really help much when an Orc is about to stab you with a sword.

    From a more game mechanic point of view, that meditation is what grants the various special abilities of elves, the low light vision, the detection of secret doors, the resistance to sleep, etc.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    smile Re: Babylon Prime [Setting]

    /shrug, not that it matters at this point, but different societies have massively different death rates in the real world. Like hugely different, sometimes by orders of magnitude.

    So yes, you can be "more careful", and it has a huge impact.

    Especially when you have "bring back from the dead" magic and healing magic, and 100 years per parent to build a nest egg before you start having children. ;)

    On top of that, sexual maturity at age 50 reduces the problem hugely.

    On top of that, "the elves have a large number of children" is a far smaller change than "elves are just really mellow humans".

    But it doesn't matter: your decision has been made before ya read this post. :)

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