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Advice for a new setting


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#1 Ashiruni

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 04:21 PM

Alright, I've been toying around with the idea of an entire planet that has been created as a neutral ground and place of commerce. Long story short, a group of mages got ripped off one too many times and made the planet as a place where they could mediate and moderate without the piss-ant nations of their homeworld getting in their way. Along the way a few other people of importance on their various home-planes spotted the potential and sent representatives until it got out of hand.

Add in the celestial and infernal/demonic armies fighting over almost half the planets' land mass (simple version, demons like chaos, and a place to negotiate wars peaceably is a thorn in their side; Angels like places to negotiate peaceably, and decided to defend it), and a few hundred years for the entire planet to come to a boil, and you've got a world that's perfect for an adventuring party.

Once we get past the more-or-less obligatory low level adventures, however, my ideas for an adventure hook are starting to fail pretty horribly. I've got some loose ideas on how the place has degenerated into a political nightmare, how the various nations are practically at war, and how the parties in the celestial/demonic war are trying to manipulate the other races into the conflict, but I'm not sure how far to take it. Hell, I'm not even sure if I should take it anyplace at all and just let the party build on the story within those very loose guidelines. Obviously, this is where I'm most in need of help >.<

Thanks in advance for any help you guys can give.

Just a couple of clarifying points: the system is a mix between the rolemaster and D&D 3.5/pathfinder rule sets (D&D skill system and character generation; RMFRP spell lists and weapon tables). The races are more-or-less taken straight out of the original lore they were taken from (elves are flighty, disease-immune, and immortal, gnomes are curious nocturnal fey mechanics/tinkerers, dwarves are surly smiths who have difficulty in the open sky, etc.) with a mild push towards the old Norse folklore. The setting is also very high magic: it's gotta be if a few dozen mages can build a planet from scratch.
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#2 undecided44

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:00 PM

--snip--

Add in the celestial and infernal/demonic armies fighting over almost half the planets' land mass (simple version, demons like chaos, and a place to negotiate wars peaceably is a thorn in their side; Angels like places to negotiate peaceably, and decided to defend it), and a few hundred years for the entire planet to come to a boil, and you've got a world that's perfect for an adventuring party.

Once we get past the more-or-less obligatory low level adventures, however, my ideas for an adventure hook are starting to fail pretty horribly.

--snip--


If you're thinking about high-level content, how much of the ecology are you willing to let the PC's change? The first thing that comes to mind is your world's equivilent to an Inevitable that the PC's come accross engaged in a campaign to collect on a contract made with one of the high level chaotic demons who thought it would get away without paying the contract price(maybe this was the bargain that allowed chaotic armies to enter this realm in the first place). Depending on the PC's interest this might lead to an endgame scenario where the PC's pick sides in the realm's final combat between law and chaos. Depending on how seriously your players take their alignement you may have intra-party conflict throughout the adventure, but with a final choice before them they may simply turn on each other.

A few steps below this sort of ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny (as 2006 as that concept may be) I would have trouble avoiding the WOW style REP quest grind moving the PCs up the ranks of trust among one side or the other, but one or two of these might get them feeling like they're making a mark on the world.

If you're looking for a bit more melodrama, you might consider giving the party a sympathy target. An outpost, village, quest-hub, chivalric order, monastery, guru, fair maiden, etc that they are initially sent to protect. If the group is good at playing characters with emotional connections, they would hopefully build themselves as heros "of" this place, rather than heros "around" this place. Then you have the option of threatening them through threatening their adopted home (the tides of chaos loom ever closer to here-ville), or if they need more of a plot hammer, just pull the whole rug out from under them one session by having them wake-up in hospital, and narrate the return of their broken memories of the siege (they finished off last week selling 32 dented shortswords and decide to put off planning their next move to this week's session, but when you sit down, don't bother asking them if they remember where the left off, just go into their newest head injury).

Of course this is the ultimate in railroading, and with anything but the right group it will be too silly, too desperate, or too "linear" to be taken seriously, and will end up as a campaign killer, though on the other hand it may get your paladin to swear an oath of vengence and your cleric to declare that a holy crusade is in order. If it does work out, and you are so inclined, you've given yourelf leeway to start monkeying with the personality and moral development of the characters. Can the group function as some of the PCs seek to continue an effort to defend law and order while others seek mercenary justice? Does engaging the forces of chaos in retribution reduce the net chaos quotient, or are they simply feeding the "war economy?"

That's about all the bad ideas I can come up with at the moment, but maybe there's something that may be useful, even as an "I'm glad I didn't think of that" sort of thing. Not sure if your interested in any other mechanics/ideas, but I'm certainly intrigued by your world concept. I've never been good at world-building (birdhouses and the occaisonal quest-chain maybe, but global settings: no way), and any time I hear a new world idea I'm always impressed. Not sure if you follow the YSDC podcast feed, but around the end of June, Paul posted a CON panel session run by Ken Hite about fundamentals of setting design. You might find a few tips in there to get your mind going. Best of luck to you and your new world.
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#3 Ashiruni

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 12:00 AM

Well, my goal is to come up with a loose quest line. Part of my difficulty in designing this is I'm not tailoring it to a specific group, so I'm planning it out as best as I can; mostly it's to figure out the names and faces they might encounter, potential paths they might end up on and the potential consequences of the generic alignment options presented. I figure I can always adjust the specific details around in accordance with whatever the group (which, at this point, I'm not even sure it's going to come together at all) ends up deciding and how much babysitting they need.

So far, I've got the typical piss-poor meeting excuse (ship-wrecked, in this case), and a basic 'explore the area' rig to get the group up to level five or so. After that quest finishes off they'll find a map and a port town nearby and that's about all I've got so far. The world itself has a number of potential avenues to take, countries to visit, etc., I just don't know how to make them available to the characters, or how far to develop any potential plot I come up with. At this point I am caught between bringing as many of the group I can get together at this point in on it to flesh some of it out, and just building the whole thing like a module/adventure path. :?
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