This is my second attempt to get a game going. My first was very theme specific and did not attract any players so this time I am trying a broader idea. Please don't be turned off by the size of my post, because what you have below is basically a campaign setting, as such it is much briefer than most.
In most fantasy games worlds are dominated by humans, elves, dwarves and other amicable races. This game turns that on its head and introduces a world where these races are in some cases slaves and in others endangered species and the world is instead dominated by those creatures who usually play the part of the 'monster' in other stories. Imagine a world where Goblin cities dominate the skyline, where evil dragons have become successful politicians, where Giants raise humans like cattle, and Beholder wizards operate universities of magic.
Players will have a choice between three types of characters. They can play humans, elves or dwarves who are slaves or outlaws. They can play as one of the many monstrous races including: goblins, giants, dark elves, vampires, etc.. Or they can play as a hero from the ancient times when humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes (now extinct) ruled the world. My only restriction is that at least one person takes the third option since the emergence of that hero figure is the driving force in the story.
General Game Info
Okay, I dislike rules because they bog down the game, however, some are necessary to give the player a feeling of immersion in the game world and sieve out bad players. So here they are.
1)Each player will submit a character sheet (found below)
2)No God-moding. Don't submit characters who are masters of all trades or have outrageous abilities. All character abilities should make sense in terms of the character's backstory.
3)Post only your characters actions. No writing another characters actions unless you have their permission. Writing outcomes to your characters actions is acceptable if and only if the written result is very likely. AKA. attacks against weak npcs, minor spellcasting, and standard actions.
4)Minimum one posts a week, maximum three posts a week. This rule is meant to maintain game pace and assure no one gets left behind.
5)This is a horror game with mature themes and such, so sorry no kiddies
Okay I think thats it. The only system I will be using is what I call an over-ride system. When creating your character you will choose one of two roles: Hero or Protagonist. Heroes have a number of Talents which allow you to post the results of your own actions under certain circumstances. Protagonists have a number of Fate points that allow the same under any circumstances. More about Heroes and Protagonists in a later section.
In brief the world is dominated by a number of monstrous species who are allied into different factions. Like our world preWWI the tenuous balance between these factions is what assures stability. I'll list the major factions and their member nations below.
The Bloodmoon- Symbolized by a red crescent the blood moon faction incoorperates Gnolls, Lychanthropes, Wargs and other sentient predators as well as some Vampire Clans. The realms of the Bloodmoon nations are entirely wilderness and their cities vast underground lairs. Since their member species are wholly carnivorous, they have a large stock in the 'flesh trade' by which humans, elves and other preferred live stock are bought, sold and transported. Lycanthropes and Vampires are particularly dependent because they need humans not only for sustanence but as hosts to pass on their 'condition'.
Since the fall of man, the predatory monsters have refined what was once cunning into a respectable strategic intellect. These are no longer mindless monsters though they do all still carry a hint of their former nature as a tendency to rage.
The Veil- The Veil considers all undead as members and sees those vampire members of the Bloodmoon as feral traitors. Liches, Vampires, and Wraiths are ruling members. Their territories include anyplace where the world of the living and dead overlap. Most notable are the haunted cities once the old metropoli of humans and elves which serve as their capitols. All members of the Veil nations need the energy of life to support their unlife, in this way they are dependent on the 'flesh trade' sometimes called the 'soul trade' by Liches and Wraiths who are more interested in the spiritual esssence of their victims. Of course, some lucky humans and elves are occasionally chosen to be given the gift of unlife. These usually spend some time in a cult like initiation before making that 'transition'.
Little has changed for the undead since the fall of man. Indeed it is the rest of the world that has changed where they still reflect the glories of ancient humans and elves. Indeed this is the cusp of much of their power for few monsters produce any magical items comparing in power to old elven and human artifacts.
Jotunheim - The 'Gianthome' is composed of all the Giant Nations (Fire, Frost, Hill and Cloud) and dominates the northern rim of the world. Cloud Giants in turn dominate the politics of the faction and rule from floating cities scuplted into the heavens themselves. Although Giants occasionally enjoy humans, elves and dwarves as a delicacy, they mainly utilize the 'lesser races' as slave labor. Ogres, also members of this faction, maintain slave villages at the foot of the mountains to fulfill these needs.
In the time since the fall of man, the Giants (Cloud and Fire in particular) have advanced the use of their psychic powers which stem from their oversized brains. By such methods can they build cities in the sky and craft longships that fly through the air as easily as over the waves.
The Deep Pact- The most feared faction is that of the subterranean monsters. It is also the most diverse and contains creatures as different as Dark Elves and Beholders. The Deep Pact nations dominate the flesh trade and untold thousands of humans, elves, and dwarves are bred beneath the ground for this purpose. One reason for their success in the grim industry is their mastery of mental magics and psionics. As a result many of their slaves have their free will as well as their freedom revoked be this through the sadistic enchantments of Dark Elves or the psionic domination of the Illithid. Such thralls then make for docile and easily transportable merchandise.
Since the fall of man, the Deep Pact has transformed the Underdark from a cavernous wilderness into a subterranean metropolis. Natural cave systems still exist of course but the activity below ground is dominated by vast cities sculpted out of stone or built out of the ruins of long forgotten humanoid settlements.
The Maglamark - A vast united realm at the center of the known world, the Maglamark is sometimes called the neutral faction. It is also sometimes referred to as the Green Faction by way of its most common member species: the Goblins. Few would have suspected the success of Goblins in the posthuman world, but succeed they have especially if success is measured in numbers. Millions of Goblins populate the plains and marshes of the Manglamark and millions more live piled atop one another in the bustling cities therin. What amount of goblin success has not come as a result of their breeding habits has resulted from their gregarious nature. Unlike other factions, the goblins are open to any and all visitors, especially merchants. As a result goblin cites are the centers of commerce in the new world. Particularly they act as meeting grounds between the surface and the underdark where goods and slaves are traded back and fourth at a frantic pace.
Since the fall of man, goblins have attempted and in some part succeeded in unraveling the secrets of gnomish technology. Though the gnomes went extinct at the end of the last era they left their technology behind and much of this was greedily hoarded by the goblins. Though their own adaptations have a tendency to malfunction explosively they have a solid grasp of both steam power and gun powder. This alone makes them a force to be reckoned with despite their puny stature.
The Nine Crowns- The Demons, kept at bay by elven and human clerics in the last era, have now gained a foothold in the world. They have erected a number of cities around stable portals into their realm. These portals alter the geography and weather in the surrounding area as well as giving a multitude of fiendish creatures entrance into the material plane. The combined result of many of these portals is a little piece of hell located in the southwest corner of the world. The realm is ruled over by a council of the nine most influential Demons, Demon Princes as they call themselves.
Since the time of the fall, demons have perfected the method of opening stable doorways between the Planes. The only other way they have changed is in their alliance which resulted from the perception that alone they could not hope to dominate the material plane, that of course being their ultimate goal.
Aegis Draconica- A loose alliance of the remaining elder wyrms protects the rights and realms of dragon kind. They dominate the southern rim of the world where they have hollowed entire mountains turning them into dragon cities. Many however call the Maglamark home following the smell of gold to this, the center of the new world's economy. Since pillaging is no longer an option, however, the new breed of dragon seeks wealth not through outright violence but other cchannels. Many have become masters of goblin law practicing legal defense for high paying clients. Others have moved into politics where their natural charisma helps to sway the mob of goblin voters. Still others operate in the criminal underworld, still using violent methods but with a subtler streak.
Since the fall of man, dragons have become a more civil race but they retain behind their urbane facade their essential aquisitive nature. As for the "good dragons" by all records they went extinct around the same time humans fell into slavery.
Yes, as you may have noticed, this is for the most part a D&D style campaign. The changes from traditional D&D (the union of Demons and Devils, the civility of Dragons etc.) have come as a result of the world's unique evolution. Therefore any natural abilities which monsters have in D&D they for the most part have here. If you're playing a beholder you'll gain access to all those lovely eye rays, if you're a demon you'll gain their immunities and summoning ability, etc. See the relevant books or PM me for more details on specific monsters.
Okay I have only one system in place and this governs when and where the player may detail the results of his own character's action. Of course when it comes to sapping an inept guard, casting a cantrip, or some other easily achievable goal, self description is fine (what is easily achievable is dependent on the character's abilities). But when it comes to actions with questionable results such as leaping off a building, dueling a vampire, or other epic feats I ask the player to describe what the character is attempting and leave the result to me. The system of over-rides allows the player to bypass this and describe the result him/herself. This is useful in situations where you really don't want to fail such as... leaping off a building.
There are two types of points which can be used for over rides. Fate points and Hero points. Which type you use is dependent on your role in the story. If you want to play the greatest swordsmen of the age or a master wizard, you'll be playing a Hero and you will receive a number of Talent points based on your character description. Heroes who are not so epic might also receive some Luck points to balance their weaker abilities. Now if on the other hand you would rather be a central character than a heroic archetype, then you'd be a Protagonist. Examples of protagonists include Frodo from LOTR or Luke in Star Wars IV. Instead of grandiose abilities they have a destiny. Some may have a few Talent Points in addition to their Fate points based on the player description and some may turn into heroes during the course of the story effectively trading in their Luck points for Talent Points
As I said earlier these points are spent to basically over-ride my role as the storyteller for one post. However when using them the player must remember that their post must reflect the point spent. If it was a Fate Point, chance, luck or some other power should intervene to assure the character succeeds at their action. If it was a Talent Point the specific talent involved should be the reason for success. For this reason TP are more limited and less game breaking than FP and this is done purposely as a way to balance the power gap between powerful Heroes and comparatively weak Protagonists.
Note, you do not give yourself TP or FP. Rather you describe your character and I will grant you the points I see as fitting based on your description. For example an apprentice goblin wizard might get:
Both Fate Points and Talent Points will reset at the end of each story arch (lasting roughly 2 weeks to 1 month).
The more detail the better and do not be afraid to add to the world when making your character this is one of the reasons I kept it so open.
Role(Protagonist or Hero):
**If you want to be a human, elf, dwarf or gnome from the old era, PM me for details about how you came to be in the new world. This entrance storyline will be the same for all such characters and I'm not posting it here bc/ I want to keep it secret from players who are natives of the new world.
**If you are from the current era you will be starting in the Goblin City, Gleech in the northwest Manglamark. Make sure that you include a reason for being there in your description (this shouldn't be hard since you can literally find 15 different monster species on the average goblin city block).
Posted on 2010-03-13 at 22:28:01.
Edited on 2010-04-10 at 02:26:09 by madscirat
Here are two examples which display the range of permissible characters and also detail of character description.
Example 1: Human
Role(Protagonist or Hero): Protagonist
Description: Ganna is a thin scrap of a girl. She wears little more than rags and sports a blond tangle of hair. Her blue eyes, however, hold a spark of intelligence within them that mark her apart from her fellow slaves.
Background: Ganna was sold away from her family to a struggling Goblin inn keeper when she was six. The Goblin, Glurk Kreedle, was looking for cheap labor to run his kitchen. Ganna soon learned she had a knack for cooking, but the goblin chef also in Glurk's employ made sure he got all the credit for her culinary innovations.
Equipment: A dagger she keeps to fend off the dire rats which are attracted to the kitchen's pungent aroma.
Abilities: Has a splendid sense of taste and also smell. Is a fair hand with knife having grown up in a kitchen and fought inummerable skirmishes with oversized rats.
Motivation: Ganna wants most of all to be recognized. After all it was her cooking that was really responsible for bringing business back to the Wizened Wyvern.
**I would probably give this character 5 fate points since she has no extraordinary abilities or skills
Example 2: Monster
Role(Protagonist or Hero):Hero
Nation:Obdibulon (one of the Eye Tyrant city states)
Faction: Deep Pact
Description:Zligex is a floating fleshy globe arranged around a central ocular orb. Numerous eye stalks many bearing jewelry trace out paranoid paths in the air around him. His only clothing is a short cape which dangles down where the neck of any normal animal would be.
Background: Zligex is a visiting professor of Transmutation at Greech's local Arcane University. This is his second semester teaching and he's gotten a bad reputation for turning students with low test scores temporarily to stone. He calls this his 'direct method.'
Zligex himself learned magic at the famed Academy of Eyes built by and for beholders, envy of all aspiring wizards of the new world. However, only the most talented and connected aberrants gain tenure there, prompting Zligex to travel to the surface looking for work. His lack of choice in the matter is probably the reason he spends much of his day muttering about the goblin 'learning disabilities.'
Equipment: Zligex carries several magical rings, it being a mark of beholder pride that their body can maintain more than two of these arcane devices at a time. One of these rings simply changes the beholders appearance for a short time. Another can open any non magical lock and the third gives his eyes the ability to look through stone should he activate it. His cape is also magical and provides him with resistance against magic as well as full immunity to weak spells.
Property: Zligex rents a small apartment in the aberrant district of the city which is basically a vertical shaft running up into a cramped room full to the brim with books.
Abilities: Zligex's main eye supresses all magic in a cone 60 foot wide at its farthest range. Each of his eyes also fires a magical ray 100 feet in range. Their effects are as follows:
1)disintegrate 2)mend object 3)telekinesis 4)flesh to stone 5)stone to flesh 6)animate object 7)fear 8 )weakness
Zligex also knows a great number of spells which he casts by moving his eye tentacles and manipulating components telekinetically. Most involve alteration of living or inanimate bodies, though he also knows the basics of every spell school apart from necromancy.
**Notice I changed the abilities here. I thought it would be more interesting if eye rays varied between individual beholders and reflected their personalities. This sort of alteration is fine, just try to stick to the theme of the monster. If your going to play a beholder however make sure they have a telekinesis ray for this is effectively a beholder's 'hands'.
**Also note I was somewhat vague about spells. There's no need to detail every spell a wizard or other arcanist can use. Just make sure there's some limitation and theme to the characters magic and that you stick to that in game.
Motivation: Like all beholders Zligex must consume creatures with some inherent magic to survive. Although this puts his students on edge none of them are really on the menu bc/ their magic is not innate. What Zligex must do however is pay exorbitant sums at local markets to assure meals such as fried cockatrice or leg of unicorn. Apart from survival Zligex's main apspiration would be to find a magical student worthy of his tutelage. Anyone would do.
**Here I added some more zest to the beholder concept. I also added a hook which could be used to connect Zligex to another character maybe even something as unconventional as a human wanting to be a wizard.
Since this is a powerful character I would probably give him five Talent points and no Fate points. Perhaps something like this
Saw this a while ago, thought I'd take you up on the offer and see where it goes.
I'd be interested in taking on the role of human from the old era, I think. Not exactly sure whether he'd be protagonist or hero, nor have I decided on whether he'd be more magically or martially inclined. I know this is free-form, but could you give me a rough idea about what the "level-equivilent" would be if this were a rule based game? Are we talking about 5th level heros? 8th-12th level? Or 15th-20th level? Just so I have a sense of just how powerful these characters are. Your character examples seem to be complete opposites on the "power-range". If they were in the same party, it would seem to me that either the beholder would be bored or the serving girl would be dead.
Also, is this a "heroic" type game, where the characters are looking to improve the lot of the humans, dwarves, and elves? Could you provide a general plot-line or teaser for the game? I like the idea of the setting, but am interested in hearing about what direction you hope to take the game.
I've got 2 concept floating about in my head for this, one monster type, the other, while monstrous, a human sympathizer of sorts (half human). The concept for the human-ish one seems to be flowing in my mind more than the other, but we'll see.
Great Questions everyone. When I first used this idea it was as an epic level 3.5 game. I wanted a world that would really challenge such characters so I got the idea to make one where the Monsters not humanoids dominated the world (I had not yet seen Samuri Jack so its not technically a ripoff ;P). In such a world, and this is still the case, nearly all monsters have some class levels stacked on top of their abilities bc/ they have acquired culture.
This is still my general plan.Epic level type is best for those returning from the old era though if you're very cunning and creative you might be able to pull off a less powerful protagonist from that time.The problem of course is that you'd be in direct conflict with the powers that be and when that power is a Frost Giant with an effective 10 levels of Cleric you might have issues.Again if u want to be one of these long lost heroes express interest or PM me and I'll send you their introduction plotline which explains HTF they got there.
For Monsters I would expect in most cases some training and skill, but nothing epic level.I want to portray the theme that much magic and science has been lost since the passing of the age of men and elves.Also Monsters have their abilities so giving them epic level type spells would be over the top (tho some NPCs, Demon Princes for ex., may have such abilities).
Humanoids of the current era would be the main fodder for protagonists.They should have very little training since their cultures are no more.Anything outside the sphere of rogue or barbarian needs major explanation.They are also better fit to pull off this role bc/ they know how to survive despite their limitations, otherwise they'd be dead. However, and this is important, there should be something special about such characters.This may be just that they are particularly aware of how Wrong the world is, or it may be something like a spark of sorcerous talent that transforms her into a hero or it might be something like being the descendant of a long lost line of elven kings that grants him a vital destiny.
The Power Gap
This is a serious problem for RP bc/ good stories usu. contain such a power gap btwn/ the characters.In fact I strain my brain to think of a good story that is just about a bunch of bad asses going around.The way Im hoping to make it work is thru 3 methods
1)Keeping storytelling somewhat free form. This allows me to write encounters and guide them in such a way that weaker characters aren't obliterated.
2)The Over ride points. Tho protagonists are less powerful they have the ability to alter any course of events in the game by use of FP where as Heros are more limited
3)Splitting.Tolkein uses this device in LOTR.I intend to split the party up at times so that players can face scaled challenges equal to their character's power level.
The story will involve the growing tensions between the Factions over various issues, notably the opening of new Hell Gates near the border of territory governed by the Nine Crowns.The Manglamark will be torn between voices calling for war and those straining to remain neutral.
It will of course certainly involve the plight of men and elves, but what the heroes choose to do about that is up to them.
Mainly I consider my role as GM to provide a detailed and objective world setting.The world will be full of conflict and opportunity but I will never force players down a prewritten plot. I appreciate active players who seek to make an impact on the world.I don't do story-driven games with players simply along for the ride.Rather when I do things right the players make the story.The reason is because unless I get posts from players where I think to myself, "WTF I didn't expect him to do that, s*** that changes everything!" the game ain't no fun for me
I will of course begin the IC forum with a long post that gives the players a detailed look at the Goblin City of Gleech as well as the wider world.In fact I'll start on it this weekend since it may be useful for character creation.Additional details will be added by both players and myself as the game continues.
Posted on 2010-03-18 at 03:59:02.
Edited on 2010-03-18 at 04:12:11 by madscirat
Sign me up for a Human Hero of the Old Era. I've got a martial artist in mind, a master of both armed and unarmed combat. Ninja-esque... though not specifically ninja, nor does he need to have a real asian flavour to him... but he could, if that works.
Feel free to use eastern themes as inspiration, but there is no eastern setting in the world ATM.The reason is bc/ I don't incorporate eastern themes in a game unless I'm willing to go all the way in restructuring magic, religion, mythical creatures etc. to reflect oriental cultures.In this game I think there's simply too much going on already for me to do this.
Also remember that the Heroes are primarily slayers of monsters where as ninja are primarily slayers of men.This doesn't preclude the use of the Low War (poisons, stealth, etc), but it may limit it (depending on your character's ideology) to use against evil.
Another route you could take is playing your character as a modern person.Perhaps you are part of a secret society which has passed down martial traditions in the shadows.One could imagine an organization like this becoming very much like the ninja in terms of both secrecy and methodology.
Sick ATM and have a Calculus exam looming on Tuesday so Probably won't have the first scene ready until Wednesday.Feel free to throw character sheets at me though, and ask if you have any questions about world details.
Since I've only gotten one CS so far Im holding back on doing a full intro. This however is the first scene and if I get enough players, I will combine it with several others to form an opening which will be the first post in the IC chat and introduce players to the world and the city of Gleech.
“I really wish you'd reconsider, sir,” the whiny voice pleaded. Unconsciously the goblin gripped the edges of the chair which towered before him, his clawed fingers trailing down its wooden back. The seated figure paid no heed to his remark other than the flick of a scaled tale, the only part of him visible, that lolled over the edge of the cushion. “The poles are very clear, lord Mayor. Most goblins...” here he hesitated, mind scrambling for a nonconfrontational way to structure his words, “..simply.. see you as to.. human..” Now the being in the chair turned into view presenting a face, humanoid in shape, but reptilian in character. Out of a straight combed head of hair slipped two curving horns almost beautiful for the way they traced the line of his powerful neck. “..looking, sir, human-looking is what I meant to say.” The goblin slouched back a pace adjusting his thick frames, the mark of his professionalism.
The dragon smiled showing rows of dagger shaped pearls anything but human. “Really, Norbet, I do think you worry too much about such..” the word slithered out, “superficialities.” He returned his attention to his broad stone desk and the scrolls stacked upon it. “After all vampires look far more human than I and they've proved nearly as successful in politics as Dragonkind.”
“But sir, I, er I mean, the public feels that vampires have no choice in the matter. Its not as if any monster would volunteer themselves as a host.”
The mayor laughed, “not many.”
“The voters know that you can shapeshift and so they ask themselves why you've chosen such a... humanoid form.”
“That's my business.” The fiery eyes traced through the wording of a report from the east. Hellhounds sighted in Verger Province, only one hundred miles from Gleech. He so hated when actual problems interfered with the true purpose of power. “Kradurn,” he called to one of the burly hobgoblin guards whose purpose was more symbolic than any. The large humanoid straightened with a metallic rattle, a threatening column of iron spikes in his goblin armor. A gauntleted fist collided with his chest before he asked, “yes, my Lord Mayor.”
The dragon smiled pleasantly, “please see that watch Captain Maldoroth comes to see me, at his convenience, of course.”
Another loud salute, “as you wish, sir.”
After he left, Norbert snuck close once more for a second attempt. “I really wish you'd consider polymorphing into something more.. goblinoid, even if only for a public appearance... Here I even brought some pictures I thought might be to your liking.” The little goblin fumbled at some sketches of his species in various noble poses, their prominent warts and yellow green skin portraying the ideal of goblin beauty.
The dragon did not turn, did not acknowledge the pictures, instead he let them slide from his desk and scatter across the floor. “If anyone considers me human let them come and dine with me. Now,” the firmness of his voice could only mean an order would come next, “I have a more important task for you. I want you to do an opinion poll on the Nine Crowns. If things keep going the way they are the council may soon consider hostilities. Before they do I need to know where the voters stand on the issue of demonic expansion... and Norbet, make it an accurate poll, use illithids if you have to, whatever it takes. I need to know what the voters think, and Norbet,..” He turned and let his eyes meet the goblin's. There in the Wyrm Scynarian's burning irises Norbet saw an intelligence without emotion or pity. A mind that had much more in common with the raw elements than anything living, “... don't fail me, or I might expand my palate beyond human virgins.”
Posted on 2010-03-24 at 19:38:55.
Edited on 2010-03-27 at 02:29:16 by madscirat
Just want to point out that I am still interested in joining, the character I am working on is following the template of the Unlikely and at time Unwilling Hero. She should be fun to play if you actually approve her..
The only reason its taking me this long to get anything to you is because I just got my computer back up and running after a massive HD failure.
Posted on 2010-03-27 at 05:41:04.
Edited on 2010-03-27 at 05:43:50 by Shield Wolf
What about an angel as a Hero from the Old Era? Could that work?
Let me know!
Posted on 2010-03-27 at 06:28:49.
Raven Resident Finn RDI Staff Karma: 68/3 980 Posts
Would you still have room for another old-timer? Two character ideas (without going through them in too much detail even inside my head) immediately came to me.
a) A dwarven hero from them olden times. A Warhammer slayer type of warrior. Totally fearless and excelling in skill and willpower over most humanoids and monsters alike, naturally (or unnaturally in this case, I believe) excluding demons, dragons and such. A bersekerin barbaric? fighter of sorts wielding weapons of immense power.
b) Another hero (preferably human) from the times long gone, but this one has been defeated and turned into an undead by some... say vampire? lord considering him a valuable asset. However the turning may have been a foolish idea in the sense, that the hero's will was too strong to succumb.
The heroes from the old world are meant to demonstrate to the oppressed peoples of the future that humans, elves, etc can do great things and were not meant for a life of slavery, As a result having them be supernatural totally misses the point. I'm already stretching this rule with another character so any additional heroes from the past need to be mortal. Sorry
I can't think of anywhere angels fit in, unless you want to play an Erhines (misspelled), one of the fallen angels, and roll as a monster. I usually imagine the planes as dynamic so the numerous gates to infernal dimensions implies a corresponding gap between the good aligned planes which would make visitors from these realms rare in the extreme.