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- Join Date
- Oct 2008
- Bottom of a well
My newest homebrew campaign world
This world has elements of Spelljammer, Eberron, the astral plane/elemental plane of air from default dnd, some traveller, and various fantasy stories I read as a kid.
The basic premise is that you have a vast, 3-d world of air, dotted with pockets of Earth and Water. These are respectively called Islands and Lakes, while the air is known as the Ocean. Gravity is local to islands and lakes, with objects within 500 feet of the surface of a body falling, and objects higher than that continuing in whatever direction they were headed until a force (such as friction from the air) changes that. For some reason these bodies tend to form dense groups, called cluster, separated regionally from other clusters. The typical cluster is considered to be 50x50x50 miles, and contain 25 islands and 50 lakes. Islands are not naturally conducive to life, and need constant infusions of water from lakes or storms. Each lake or island has at it's heart a gateway to the elemental plane of water or earth, ensuring an endless renewal of resources. The typical island or lake is 1 mile in diameter, though the record is held by Oshen: a lake so vast it is considered it's own cluster (75 miles in diameter). I'm drawing up a map of both core imperial space and the Imperial cluster in ]It's Full of Stars, with some changes to what objects represent. There is no sun, the sky merely brightens or darkens based on time of day
The last 6523 years have been dominated by the cyclic rise and fall of the Eternal Empire. The calendar is actually begun at the Declaration of Empire by Emperor Desmonan the 1st. Since reaching it's peak size in 1236, the Empire has occasionally decreased to as few as fifteen clusters, but always rises and reconquers its "traditional" lands. It currently holds a sphere of space roughly 1000 miles in diameter, with 63 clusters, and is once more on the rise under the leadership of Emperor Gozan XXII (note that the emperor only has one name, and the "-an" suffix is reserved for those of imperial blood alone).
Gozan, formerly Prince Goze Janlot, deposed the former emperor in a bloody civil war. Under the leadership of the Lich-lord Zathrunan the empire had been steadily declining. Upon his death its far regions immediately revolted, reducing it to 50 clusters. Gozan immediately stepped up naval production, and with the aid of the governors and admiralty launched both a populist movement to restore loyalty to the flag and a strong military movement to bring wayward clusters back into the fold.
The empire is predominantly human (65% human/half-humans,5% halfling, 7% elf, 10% dwarf, 7% gnome, 4% orc, 2% other). Humans, Elves, and Dwarves tend to belong to permanent settlements, while halflings and orcs tend to be travellers (Orcs in the military or as pirates, Halflings as merchants and showpeople). Gnomes split the difference, travelling far and wide early in life but typically settling down as tradesmen later on. The empire is for the most part tolerant of differences and does not officially discriminate, but unofficially encourages the separate races to keep to themselves, and society is quite amazingly harsh on half-breeds.
The economy is based on three fundamental pillars: The water trade, farming, and mining. The water trade is the most vital: without most islands could not support crops. Vast ships called Rainbarges regularly visit lakes, skimming the surface to collect as much water in their holds as possible before delivering it to communities. The rainbarges, and the water trade as a whole, were nationalized by Gozan as one of his first acts to prevent profit-hungry captains from denying people water in the hopes of higher fees. Farming is the next most vital, with most inhabited islands being communities of 500 or less, based around a central irrigation system. The necessity for so much land being given over to farming is a direct result of the cities. Most clusters have only one city, but it is usually a metropolis. It is not infrequent for the city to actually extend into the ground, honeycombing the firmament. Finally, there is mining. With metals being a necessity for the Imperial war machine (most Naval vessels are ironclads, the exception being messenger skiffs), the empire has demanded a ceaseless supply of ore. Food from the farmers is most often shipped to cities, which arose mostly because of the presence of "Iron nodes," a gateway to a region of the elemental plane of earth where the material is at least 70% high grade iron ore.
Nomads (those not living on an island) do not easily fit into the scheme of the empire. While in days past, they served as traders and intermediaries between lakes, farms, and cities; the nationalization of the water trade (with the beginnings of the same for the food trade) has left them without an easy source of income. In addition, society has always mistrusted travellers as being thieves, cutthroats, and simply something "other." Still, nomad populations have survived worse before, and will again. They make up some 7% of the total population in the empire, and rumors abound of larger populations outside the borders. While "civilized" people rely on ships made of wood and metal, the nomads have transportation of a different sort: they domesticate Soarwhales. Over time, these beasts become so encrusted with gondolas and attachments that they can triple in apparent girth, and the easy care of the beasts makes them cheap to run. Even when they cannot make substantial sums of money, most nomad clans can at least survive. Almost all of them have invested in an "endless sideboard," and can gather their own water unlike the people restricted to islands.
The empire is wealthy, with cash flowing readily even to the bottom of the social ladder. Wealth by level guidelines are tripled, and commoners can expect an income of at least 500 gold a year. Experts and artisans command salaries in the thousands, and the middle class is large and thriving.
The government is broken up regionally, with Governors appointed by the Emperor to look after a given cluster. Typically, the governor is also the head of the local city government, but not always. They usually also have some qualification that sets them apart and makes them particularly suited to lead the cluster in question. Local governments are the only places which have any semblance of democracy, usually only an elected mayor. Some islands lack even that, with a hereditary noble who owns all the land and lords over his "tenant farmers," little more than a euphemism for peasants.
The military consists almost solely of the navy, with the marines a distant second. The modern navy employs ironclads equipped with explosive or acidic ballistas for ship to ship combat, and "Fireships" which go unarmed but are capable of dropping large amounts of liquid (usually alchemist's fire) onto the surface of an island. The navy is said to be 5 million strong, but most of those are support roles. The navy also is in charge of delivering the mail, through a network of small, fast, single crew skiffs. Specialty ships exist, including the Imperial Wizard's Fleet, but tend to be deployed only when needed. The marines go in only when the navy fails to dislodge an enemy, or when the situation warrants very specifically targeted violence. In general the emperor and his subordinates prefer to use political means to actual war. These means range from diplomacy to assassination, but the threat of the Imperial military is most emphatically one of those means.
Slavery is both common and highly restricted: only convicted criminals who volunteer for it rather than face prison terms can be slaves, and individual communities (including all major cities) have outlawed owning slaves locally. The child of a slave is a freeman, and the owner of the slave is obligated to care for them until they are of age. Certain punishments are prohibited, in the interests of humanity. A runaway slave rarely makes it far. After all, they are used mainly in agrarian settings, where they have a few square miles to run around and transportation away is closely watched. It is considered by most to be a dieing practice.
SpoilerTBD: I need to design custom regional and background feats, and for that I need to finish designing the map and figuring out what bonuses each region might give.
All of core except for the druid. Good clerics tend to worship the emperor/spirits of emperors past. Evil clerics actually do the same, but with a specific one in mind: Zathrunan. There are also various "barbarian" gods, but they aren't state supported and tend to exist farther on the fringes than I intend to play. Artificers are allowed, as are ninjas, scouts, and swashbucklers. Factotum could be useful as a shipboard character. Other suggestions are welcome, but no psionics. To become a primary spellcasting class, you have to succeed an ability check equal to DC 20, and sacrifice 5000 gp from your starting total (this can give negative totals, which players have to pay off at a rate of 100 a month). Hey, that's what it takes to go to college, right? Prestige classes are on a case by case basis.
So it needs a lot of work, but that's what I've got.
- Join Date
- Nov 2008
Re: My newest homebrew campaign world
Are you currently using the Dragon-marked houses for anything?