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World building: Cascade

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Wicke's picture
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World building: Cascade

I'm going to use this to dump my thoughts and ideas. Feel free to make suggestions or point out conceptual mistakes I'm making!

I'm doing a bit of world building for a game that I'm going to be running. To be specific, the game is going to be evil sky pirate PCs riding around in an airship. It's going to be Prime based, but I'm going to leave myself plenty of opportunities to have the party go to the Planes, both inner and outer.

I'm calling the world Cascade. The upshot of the world is that it's experienced three different elemental-themed cataclysms: The Float, wherein chunks of land spontaneously lifted off the ground and remain afloat, as well as the boundary between the Cascade and Air has been blurred somewhat ("never lose sight of the ground" is a common axiom for the world). The Flood, wherein a series of permanent elemental links between Cascade and Water were established across the world, such that the world is slowly flooding. The third cataclysm is called the Thrust, wherein mountain-sized spikes of earth and stone erupted from the ground, throwing everything into chaos.

I toyed around with creating my own pantheon for the world, but nothing was inspiring me. After thinking about it for a bit, I figured the old classic pantheons never seem to get any love, and knowing that they're supposed to feature prominently on any number of different Prime worlds, I decided that the Greek gods would be Cascade's overarching pantheon. This led to a number of interesting results. Each of the cataclysms roughly corresponded to one of the three main Grecian gods: the Float - Zeus; the Flood - Poseidon; the Thrust - Hades. In my mind, each one also corresponds to the abandonment of the world by one of the Horae: the Float - Eunomia (order); the Flood - Eirene (peace); the Thrust - Dike (justice). With each cataclysm, the world descended further into depravity and vileness.

There are also a number of apocalypse cults that have sprung up. Namely, people who figure that the coming of a fourth and final cataclysm, this time in the form of a cleansing fire. As a result, Dionysus has picked up a strong following in Cascade, along with his attendant revelers.

Death is being handled as such: When somebody dies and then a Raise Dead is cast, an opening to the Underworld is created whereupon the PCs will have to descend and overcome some sort of trial or broker some sort of agreement/deal to recover their fallen comrade. Given that the PCs are all evil, anything they try to accomplish or negotiate will probably turn out horribly. I'm looking forward to this.

The opening adventure will involve the party being hired by a rakshasa to steal a statue. It was a parting gift from the goddess Dike to the people of a nation that kept their faith and through it their nation will be protected (or something along those lines). The thing is usually under heavy lock, key and ward but gets trotted out for state funerals. Once evil hands touch the statue though, whatever protection it afforded the country will be rescinded. I'm planning on having Nike appear on the face of every statue other than one stolen one and make the announcement that they are no longer under her protection.

I haven't decided the exact powers of this statue beyond this nebulous idea of protection, but one power I know it possesses is to make manifest any psychopomp present during the retrieval of a soul. If the psychopomp is defeated, the soul returns to the body and it's like whoever died was just knocked unconscious. I'm going to try working it so that the PCs have a chance to witness this power before the rakshasa gets its hands on the statue. The idea is to force them to decide to risk the wrath of a powerful fiend in exchange for something they'd be able to stave off death with.

Ooh! The party will start off with an airship. You can't be proper sky pirates without an airship! I'm cribbing a page from Eberron and making this thing powered in a similar manner, though instead of a bound elemental, this ship will have a bound fiend (I'm not sure what flavor of fiend yet). In order to keep the fiend cooperative and happy, the party will have to essentially plug innocents in to the ship. The fiend will suck the life energies out of the sacrifice and use that energy to power the ship. It's all rather depraved and evil, as befits the sort of game they're wanting to play. They've already talked about having an arrangement with a corrupt orphanage...

The current party make-up is: rogue Satyr slave-trader, a Succubus and an awakened Velociraptor mage. There are going to be two more players, but they haven't figured out their characters yet. It's all over the place, but I'm ok with it. This world is pretty messed up. We're doing a character creation session this Sunday, which should be fun. I'm planning on writing up a series of questions that I want them to answer for their characters. Stuff like:

Who do you owe debts to?
Who owes debts to you?
What lines won't you cross?
What do you covet?
What do you treasure over all else?
If the world were to end tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

If anybody has any other good questions to suggest, I'm all ears.

Umm...what else? I'm planning on having Zeus whoring around, as per tradition. At some point, I'm planning on having the PCs pursued by some love interest of his. Basically a flying woman wreathed in lighting who tries to blast them out of the sky. She may go down quickly, but she'll just be brought back again and again.

I'll need to do some deeper research into the pantheon, just to see what occurs to me as being interesting to include in the game. That can wait until the game is actually under way though.

Wicke's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

So this is the working pantheon I've developed, using Pathfinder's domains:

Gods who are still active in the world:
Ares (CN god of savage warfare and strife): Chaos, Destruction, Strength, War
Athena (LG goddess of wisdom, crafts and tactical warfare): Knowledge, Law, Protection, War
Dionysus (CN god of wine and madness): Charm, Chaos, Madness, Plant
Eris (CN goddess of discord and strife): Madness, Trickery, Luck, Chaos
The Furies (LE agents of justice): Air, Evil, Law
Hades (NE god of wealth and the dead): Darkness, Death, Earth, Repose
Hecate (NE goddess of magic, moon and ghosts): Darkness, Death, Magic, Trickery
Hephaestus (LN god of fire and smithing): Artifice, Fire, Strength
Hera (TN goddess of marriage and vengeance): Community, Law, Nobility, Protection
Heracles (LN god of strength): Strength, Glory
Hermes (CG god of travel, commerce, and thievery): Liberation, Luck, Travel, Trickery
Pan (CN god of the wilds and nature): Chaos, Charm, Animal
Hestia (NG goddess of hearth, home, and family): Community, Fire, Protection
Poseidon (CG god of the sea): Destruction, Earth, Water, Weather
Zeus (LN god of the sky): Air, Law, Nobility, Strength, Weather
Persephone (NG goddess of the earth and plants): Earth, Plants, Death

Gods whose time upon the world is fading:
Aphrodite (NG goddess of love, beauty, and fertility): Charm, Healing, Trickery
Apollo (LG god of prophecy, healing, and the sun): Glory, Healing, Knowledge, Sun
Artemis (CG goddess of wildlife, the wilderness and childbirth): Animal, Healing, Plant
Demeter (TN goddess of agriculture): Community, Earth, Plant
Nike (LG goddess of victory): Glory, Nobility, Protection, War
Tyche (CN goddess of good fortune): Community, Luck, Destruction
Asclepius (LG god of healing and medicine): Healing, Protection, Repose
Hypnos (TN god of sleep): Darkness, Charm

Gods that have abandoned the world:
The Horae:
“Behold what manner of race the fathers of the Golden Age left behind them! Far meaner than themselves! but you will breed a viler progeny! Verily wars and cruel bloodshed shall be unto men and grievous woe shall be laid upon them.”
—Aratus, Phaenomena 123
Dike (LG goddess of moral justice): Earth, Law, Good
Eunomia (LG goddess of order and law): Good, Law, Nobility
Eirene (NG goddess of peace): Good, Protection, Healing

I lifted a fair portion of it from the Pathfinder boards, but I've expanded it a fair amount. I'm planning on maybe eventually putting together a list of the titans and their associated domains and/or developing a few custom domains for some of the more specific gods/goddesses. Like I think I want to develop the Hypnos/Morpheus/Aergia trio and develop a good cult following for them.

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Re: World building: Cascade

This is pretty incredible. I love how you made the Elemental Planes relevant to the setting in a creative way.

I don't have much to add at the moment, but please keep us abreast of developments in your world building and the campaign itself!

-Sci

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Wicke's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

Thanks! I kinda go crazy with world building coming up with all sorts of oddball things, but this is the first time I've been able make use of it in an actual game rather than it being thought experiment stuff.

Regarding involvement from the elemental planes, as a part of the fallout from the Float, Cascade:

1) has less than standard gravity, so falling damage will either be 1d4 per 10' drop or 1d6 for every 20' drop (capping out at 10d6 at 200');

2) is populated by any number of flying varieties of sea critters including sky whales, and flying squid (the last was a direct request from one of my players, since you can't have a proper pirate game without being attacked by a kracken at some point);

3) back in ancient times, after the first cataclysm, the people of Cascade went about establishing a series of alliances and trade routes between their world and the different towns and emirates present on Air. Should the PCs ever find themselves slipping from Cascade to Air (I really want to contrive a way to make this happen), they'll be approached by a group of djinn who'll say something like "We still respect the old treaties. Welcome travelers." At that point, the PCs will have an opportunity to royally screw over their home world should they decide to behave badly towards their hosts. (I'm thinking their boat-demon will start pestering them to capture and "plug in" a djinn because "They look delicious and I'm hungry!") I'm kinda hoping they do, because it would be most excellent to have everybody trying to chase these guys down! ^_^

There are also a number of genasi/elemental-born throughout the world. Air types would be the most prevalent, with Water and Steam varieties next and just a handful of Earth and Lightning types. No Fire and no other quasi/para elemental types.

Right now, the world is just sort of a big mixing pot, with a lot of different elements tossed in together. I mean, I have an awakened velociraptor as one of the PCs which kinda implies that there are dinosaurs in this world.

Ooh! One other thing that I forgot to mention that I thought was completely fun to throw in: The elves, after having experience the trauma of three different cataclysms, have mostly gone off the edge. They've balkanized heavily into rival tribes, each one with a different fiend as their tribe's totem, and they've taken up the practice of cannibalism. Anybody who winds up lost in elvish territory usually ends up stuck through and roasted over an open fire. There are still some regular elves of course, but the bulk of Cascade's elves are savage demon worshipers.

I want to do something clever with the dwarves, but its hard to compete with that sort of awfulness the elves bring to the equation.

VikingLegion's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

That's all some very interesting stuff!

I see the dwarves as going in the opposite direction as the elves. Whereas the latter have descended into a sort of primal barbarism, maybe the former could be used as one of the rare "points of light" type device - a small patch of order in an otherwise chaotic world. It kinda fits with the gruff and practical mindset of a dwarf.... "All o' them humans and pointy-eared elves have gone nuts, it's up to us sensible types to keep order in this land!"

I see the dwarves as forming some type of paladin-like brotherhood dedicated to keeping a small semblance of order on Cascade. This organization could be called The Foundation. I like that name for a few different angles, both thematically and geographically, as the dwarves would be the ones to remain on terra firma while chaos reigns in the skies. The Foundation could become a major thorn in your PC's sides, and also give them some good side quests - raiding a Foundation stronghouse for an artifact or to release some of their friends who have been taken prisoner. I'm geeking out right now thinking about your PCs descending down on their skyship in a daring raid on a heavily fortified dwarven citadel, as the Foundation retaliates with their own artillery. Cannons fire, ballistae and trebuchet release their deadly payloads, fireball and lightning bolt spells go off from both sides, arial summoned creatures do battle against each other.... sweet.

Lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I've been working on a side project lately that has some Greek mythology themes to it, and I included a group of 3 cyclopses - Brontes ("thunderer"), Steropes ("lightning"), and ("bright") Arges. According to Hesiod, these guys are known as great crafters of artifacts, having combined their individual specialties to make the lightningbolt spears that Zeus used to overthrow the Titans. Later on they also made Poseiden's trident, bow/arrows for both Artemis and Apollo, and Hades' helmet. If your PCs need some high-level gear made for the late/end game, maybe these 3 could be hired, cajoled, bribed, or forced into producing something for your players.

Just a few thoughts anyway, take them or leave them as you will sir.

Wicke's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

It's not the most current map I have of the world, but here's the basic gist of what Cascade looks like: Map Link. It's roughly the size of the eastern half of North America, from northern Michigan down to Florida, from the east coast to the middle of the Great Plains. I'm not usually a fan of maps that contain the entire landmass, as I like to leave at least one edge that leads off to unknown/unexplored lands, but in Cascade's case, I wanted to emphasize that feeling of isolation. Maybe many thousands of miles away, there are other lands. As far as the people of Cascade are concerned though, theirs is the only land in the world.

The circle of mountains/spikes is where I've placed the origin of the Thrust. Some legends hold that at the center is the point where Nike took flight as she left the world. Other stories speak of the arrival and march of an army of earth elemental-types. Others still cite the casting of a devastating, world altering spell. Yet more say that it's the spot where the gods struck down the hubris of mortal-kind. Needless to say, the land is devastated. I imagine the place is positively crawling with dragons.

In a later map, the stretch of land above the Thrust origin is filled with a colossal forest, filled with trees that have been caught in a endless autumnal state (aptly named "The Autumn Forest"). It's filled with elves, but they're not savages. I haven't exactly decided what their deal is going to be, but it's a cursed land and nobody ever goes there.

@Viking Legion: I like that direction for the dwarves. Somebody on Cascade needs to stay sane and the dwarves make for a sound choice. I think I had already kinda been penciling them in as being somewhat stable civilization. The seat of the dwarven civilization as it stands right now is in the upper left corner of the map I linked to. There are likely to be outposts and citadels throughout that entire stretch of mountains.

The idea of the Foundation scratches an itch that I wasn't even aware needed scratching. They'll make for some fun antagonists. I could see an elite squadron landing on the ship and trying to either free whomever they have strapped in as a sacrifice or trying to break the bond between the boat and the demon.

Re: that battle scene you're geeking out about: Imagine all of that going on, then having a third party join the fray (like a dragon, a kracken or that aforementioned Zeus love-interest). Cannons blasting, trebuchets/ballistae flinging, etc. Then into the middle of it BAM, the horrific screech of some creature-that-should-not-be. Oh yeah, I do love cinematic staging!

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Re: World building: Cascade

A few more random things I thought about through the day (not trying to steer your campaign or anything, so please ignore if none of this fits for you).

The dwarves of the Foundation lay the blame for the elemental cataclysms on the humans and elves. They believe in their hearts that when those misguided races stopped acting sensibly and took to the air in their skyships and tamed griffons, they actually invited these calamities into their world. Their very flightiness/whimsy is what caused nature itself to rebel against Cascade. If everyone just stayed practical, kept themselves rooted - both physically and spiritually - followed traditions, honored their ancestors, etc. none of this nonsense would've ever come about. Among Foundation dwarves, if one were to tell another "You've got your head up in the clouds", this would be more than the lighthearted jest we know suggesting someone who is fanciful or easily distracted. It is in fact the deadliest of insults, invariably resulting in a duel to the death and perhaps even a Hatfield/McCoy type clan blood feud.

The Foundation dwarves, true to their practical nature, are enthusiastic crafters and workers in all materials. As a personal preference I (and my players) never like to mix magic with tech, so we draw the line at crossbows (no guns at all), but if ever I would consider it, these dwarves are just screaming to wield gigantic blunderbusses and have bandoliers of grenades strapped to them in a kind of gnomish steampunky manner. I can also see them utilizing clockwork men constructs as soldiers. Furthermore, their deep, religious affinity for the Earth element has them utilize summoned elementals frequently to bolster their ranks. They see themselves as the rock - that one stable, dependable component upon which Cascade can be rebuilt in orderly fashion. I'm kicking around some crazy idea of a hybrid creature that is a magical fusion between a clockwork man and an earth elemental. Either it starts out a clockwork as the base creature, but has layers of rocky shell and spiky protrusions all over it to enhance its toughness, or go in the opposite direction and use an earth elemental as the base creature that has willingly undergone clockwork grafts all over its body to increase strength and function. I can picture both prototypes in my mind, but I fear my artistic ability is not up to the task of rendering them.

Last note on the Foundation: because of the aforementioned reverance for Earth, it is a great point of pride among the dwarves to display some amount of elemental in their bloodlines. Earth genasi are revered and nearly always rise to positions of war generals or high-ranking clergy. This blood gets thinned over time and after 3-4 generations they lose most of their elemental traits, and they are regular dwarves for all intents and purposes (statwise). But at this time - we'll call it every 1,000 years, the high priest performs a ceremony that summons and beseeches elder earth elementals to seek union with the most worthy of Foundation shield-maidens - making the following generation full genasi. Perhaps this ritual is nigh in your timeline, and something the sky pirate PCs could interrupt, if for no other reason than to cause great angst amongst the Foundation.

I really like the fiend-totem elf tribes as well. I'm not sure how much you want them to interact with the PCs, or if they'll mostly stay to their own little territories. But if you did want them to mess with your pirate group, a pretty neat twist might be to have one tribe of elves that gave their griffon mounts over to their fiend patriarch to placate him. Rather than devour them, this fiend had a more far-reaching plan. He polymorphed into griffon form and impregnated all the females, creating what has now become an entire flight of fiendish griffons. His tribe is now able to create substantially more mischief, not being locked down to one specific region.

I'm trying to think of some inspiration for the chief of this tribe, and all I keep going back to is the Shrike character from Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. A real menacing figure wearing a full suit of nasty plate armor, filled with spikes and razor sharp protrusions. He might not even be an elf at all, but rather a bladeling that slew the last chief and assumed leadership of the tribe. Geez, I even like the name Shrike for him, since his tribe is an aerial based hit-and-run type group. He is a really loathsome, sadistic individual. If your gaming group doesn't shy away from adult themes, I could see this guy as having a very specific calling card in how he finishes off captured opponents. Think along the lines of uhhh.... errr..... the...umm "device" used in the movie Se7en to kill the prostitute. This "Shrike" could use something similar to kill his enemies (male or female, he makes no distinction) after they've razed another settlement to the ground. His tribe - I'll call them the Razorwings even though it's cheesy but just to give them a name - could be something of a rival pirate organization - always getting to the juiciest targets just a few minutes before your PCs and spoiling their plans. Eventually the Razorwings will grow strong enough to make an full assault on the PC's skyship, in an all-out arial battle to determine who owns the skies of Cascade.

Ok, that's enough rambling for now, feel free to tell me to shut up and stay out of your campaign! Smiling

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Re: World building: Cascade

So the current party make-up:

Succubus Rogue/Ranger
Satyr Rogue/Swashbuckler/Sorcerer
Velociraptor Cleric of Typhon (I figure, why not let somebody worship a titan?)
Creepy demon-child sorcerer (custom race)
Elf bard

The party is actually pretty well rounded.

Wicke's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

Didn't get any collaborative world-building accomplished today during the character generation session today sadly. But in coming back home, a thought came to me.

So, I'm planning on having a rakshasa acting as the PCs main point of contact for contracts and jobs should the group decide to be all passive and reactive to the game. It occurred to me that somebody as powerful and as well-connected as a rakshasa would probably have a number of groups that it would deal with and send out on various tasks. I was struck with a sudden vision of that scene from Mystery Men where Casanova Frankenstein invites all of the various gangs to his place for a big meeting, only all of the those different groups were replaced by various baddies from around Cascade.

I could totally see the Razorwings sitting there, looking impressive. Likewise with a troupe of rogue dwarves with their various flying contraptions. I could also easily see a group of we're-clad-in-black-and-so-edgy assassin types. A group of vaguely alien and sinister humanoid types. A group of wyvern-riding goblins and their alchemical explosives. Basically whatever occurs to me as being a good idea to include. And of course, at some later point, the party could/would find themselves coming into conflict with those groups.

Also, I had an idea about the dwarves. Well, more like a vision. Dwarven citadel, set into a mountain like what was described earlier. Large stone hangar-bay type doors, rolling open, then a series of dwarvish flying machines/bi-planes swarming out to attack the pirate airship. I think I'm totally going to do the clockwork/steampunk dwarves, as it's too cool of a thing to pass up. Plus, this world is already such a kitchen sink world, something like that would hardly be noticed. I'll have to figure out some sort of aerial combat system for running that sort of battle though...

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Re: World building: Cascade

Double post

Wicke's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

Ran the first full session today, sorta back story'ish. The party was a part of a raid on a town (they were positioned to rob a bank). The encountered some of the Foundation dwarves, subdued them (satyr played his sleepy pipes) and basically bluffed their way through the rest. In the vaults, they a decent amount of gold and found a bunch of different potential plot hooks (there was an old battered sword I've pegged as a gate key for somewhere yet to be determined).

In escaping, they were accosted by more dwarves, one of which broke out a blunderbuss that destroyed the captain of the ship while he was trying to climb the rope ladder back on to the ship. The dragged him up, he had an appropriate dying monologue and passed his ship on to the succubus. The velociraptor then supped upon the captain's body (in private, of course).

Then, after having a night of celebration of a successful raid and remembrance of the dead captain, they set sail off to Tortuga (you know, the city from the PotC movies?), though this Tortuga was built on a floating island. They asked around about the blunderbuss but didn't turn up anything. Failing anything else, they decided to follow one of the leads they found in the bank vault: an old set of scrolls from before the last cataclysm that detailed some ancient religious ritual that was tied in to the seasons. The idea was to head off to a city that had some research-oriented resources and see what they could turn up.

Mid-flight, one of the crew members set to keep watch in the crow's nest spotted something incoming: an angel that has been brought into the employ/control of the rakshasa. The succubus immediately says something to the effect of "I want that for myself!" and they start making plans to try capturing it. It flies around the ship outside of convenient attacking range, making a pronouncement from his lord and master and asks to land. The party accedes, the angel lands and gives them a spiel about how his master wants to hire them to acquire an object of value. He hands off a scroll and a map, then greater teleports away before the party can attempt any shenanigans.

They follow the map and discover a town and a grand palatial estate with fountains and a lot of visible wealth.

And that's where I left it.

Zimrazim's picture
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Re: World building: Cascade

Wicke wrote:
the game is going to be evil sky pirate PCs riding around in an airship.

Awesome!!!

Wicke wrote:
Death is being handled as such: When somebody dies and then a Raise Dead is cast, an opening to the Underworld is created whereupon the PCs will have to descend and overcome some sort of trial or broker some sort of agreement/deal to recover their fallen comrade. Given that the PCs are all evil, anything they try to accomplish or negotiate will probably turn out horribly. I'm looking forward to this.

The PCs are EVIL! They find some other guy and give him to the powers of the Underworld in exchange for their ally. Eye-wink

Wicke wrote:
You can't be proper sky pirates without an airship! I'm cribbing a page from Eberron and making this thing powered in a similar manner, though instead of a bound elemental, this ship will have a bound fiend (I'm not sure what flavor of fiend yet). In order to keep the fiend cooperative and happy, the party will have to essentially plug innocents in to the ship. The fiend will suck the life energies out of the sacrifice and use that energy to power the ship. It's all rather depraved and evil, as befits the sort of game they're wanting to play.

Lifejammer helms in Spelljammer are a bit similar, minus the bound fiend.

As an idea: the ship was designed by an arcanaloth whose class levels are in artificer rather than sorceror or wizard. It was actually built on the Prime Material Plane by a priest of Hephaestus that the fiend had corrupted. The priest got advice in the form of dreams, thoughts inserted into his mind via telepathy, and occasional possession, and may not have ever personally met the fiend who 'assisted' him.

You could also have the ship be a pet project of Demogorgon or one of his servants, or perhaps the ship came out of a baatezu R&D department.

If you happen to be a fan of the Wizardry series of video games, you might name the ship the Daedalus.

Wicke wrote:
an awakened Velociraptor

I laughed out loud when I read this! I love the idea of an intelligent velociraptor PC. (What's the level adjustment on that...?)

Wicke wrote:
If anybody has any other good questions to suggest, I'm all ears.

Suggest allies/contacts/enemies for all PCs. As long as they aren't all level 1, everybody gets at least one enemy.

Does your game have theme music? Alestorm comes immediately to mind...

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Re: World building: Cascade

Cannibal elves...

Dinosaurs...

How about cannibal elves riding dinosaurs??

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Re: World building: Cascade

Zimrazim wrote:
Cannibal elves...

Dinosaurs...

How about cannibal elves riding dinosaurs??

*facepalm*

I don't know why that didn't occur to me earlier, to put cannibal elves and dinosaurs together. It's such an obvious fit!

A scene I'm now going to have happen in this game:

Cannibal elves on pteradons vs dwarves in steampunk bi-planes vs pirates in an airship vs sky kraken or dragon

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Re: World building: Cascade

/Dr. Evil voice: Perhaps you might want to include some sharks with fricken' laser beams?

/end Dr. Evil voice
Actually, weren't there winged sharks way back in one of the old Monster Manuals or Fiend Folios? I think they were called terlen or tarlen (sp?) Not sure who would ride them, as you have elves on pteradons/fiendish griffons, goblins on wyverns, and dwarves in bi-planes. Maybe orcs are terlen riders, since they are both brutishly strong and prone to blood-frenzy?

Just found this MM entry on terlens:
http://www.lomion.de/cmm/terlen.php

but it wasn't at all what I was expecting. These guys are flying amphibians from Carceri, thought to be of shark, snake, or barracuda stock until they were altered/mutated. I guess that fits the bill of where I was going, but wasn't there originally a terlen back in 1st or 2nd edition that was nothing more than a shark with wings? Or am I not remembering correctly? Are these Carcerian terlen simply a facelift/update of the old terlen? Sorry for the derail.

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Re: World building: Cascade

Quote:
The PCs are EVIL! They find some other guy and give him to the powers of the Underworld in exchange for their ally. Eye-wink

This might work for one of the Underworld ventures, but certainly not all of them. I do need to come up with a handful of Greek Myth themed Underworld punishments/trials for the party to overcome though.

Quote:
As an idea: the ship was designed by an arcanaloth whose class levels are in artificer rather than sorceror or wizard. It was actually built on the Prime Material Plane by a priest of Hephaestus that the fiend had corrupted. The priest got advice in the form of dreams, thoughts inserted into his mind via telepathy, and occasional possession, and may not have ever personally met the fiend who 'assisted' him.

I like this. I could see some obsessed mad inventor type who's been made immortal in one way or another. Maybe he's been captured by/working for the Foundation and has been the main reason for the development of all of their steampunk stuff. He knows that his airship is out there. He wants it back and sees the dwarves as the only group that would be able to get it back for him (or him to the ship).

Quote:
Wicke wrote:
an awakened Velociraptor

I laughed out loud when I read this! I love the idea of an intelligent velociraptor PC. (What's the level adjustment on that...?)

Yeah, she's always coming up with crazy character/race concepts. She initially wanted to play an intellect devourer, but I said 1) you need a face and 2) you need some sort of manipulator appendages. I was trying to steer her into playing a gnoll, but I'm ok with the velociraptor.

I used the PF race builder and gave everybody a budget of 20 RP to make their race with. At level seven, that should roughly equivalent to the power of a standard race level 6-10 character. I have no idea if the rest of the party is overpowered or not, but I don't really care. I suspect this is going to turn into a bit of a monty haul game, but since everything else is going to be so gonzo I don't really mind. I've already promised them their own equivalent to Isla de Muerta so they can have a hideout to call home (but home bases do make for fun places for enemies to attack and raid, so I think it's a good thing to include).

Quote:
Suggest allies/contacts/enemies for all PCs. As long as they aren't all level 1, everybody gets at least one enemy.

Does your game have theme music? Alestorm comes immediately to mind...

Haven't worked this out yet. I meant to get my questionnaire out the to group before I got going, but I just ran out of time (life interferes). I have decided that, in addition to all the other madness, I need to include ninjas, since, y'know, pirates and ninjas hate one another.

And no theme music, sadly. Alestorm would make for a good choice though. I'll mention it to the group next time we get together.

VikingLegion wrote:
Actually, weren't there winged sharks way back in one of the old Monster Manuals or Fiend Folios? I think they were called terlen or tarlen (sp?) Not sure who would ride them, as you have elves on pteradons/fiendish griffons, goblins on wyverns, and dwarves in bi-planes. Maybe orcs are terlen riders, since they are both brutishly strong and prone to blood-frenzy?

No, it's an interesting suggestion. I've already established that there are flying versions of aquatic animals in this world (thank you Elemental Plane of Air), so flying sharks are fair game. Orcs riding flying sharks is too awesome to pass up.

Orcs on flying sharks
Elves on griffons and pteradons
Dwarves in bi-planes
Goblins on wyverns
Various contigents of flying air ships

This is getting both sillier and more fantastic as it goes. I love it!

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Re: World building: Cascade

I've figured out the goblins:

“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen. - from the Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Tinkers and alchemists and consummate traders. Goblin markets are *the* go-to place if you're looking for a magical item that you can't seem to find anywhere else. Paying out of pocket gold for items is probably prohibitively expensive, but they're willing to trade for exotica (the first word of an elven baby) or personal effects (a lock of your hair). The former is likely to either be hard to obtain or have some unforeseen consequences and the latter is likely to turn around and bite the buyer in the ass at some later point. I need to develop the idea some more, but I like this direction.

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Re: World building: Cascade

There might be some groups that believe there will be a 4th cataclysm, this time connecting to the elementar plane of fire ...

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Re: World building: Cascade

Oh there are certainly cults that believe a fourth fire-based cataclysm is at hand. They also tend to be ardent followers of Dionysus, complete with all the hedonism and revelry you'd expect. There will be fire festivals and other such events that call back to this belief that the end is right around the corner. However, while the end might come to the world, but I don't think it'll be by fire.

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Re: World building: Cascade

So the party raided a castle. This was part of a complex plan to force a wedding between the prince and the succubus PC posing as the daughter of the count of the castle.

Here's what happened: The daughter, Circe (I'm going with the with Greek themes here), was captured earlier after the party decided to follow her during a jaunt into the wilderness (she had a reputation for travelling on her own). They followed her to a wooded glade and interrupted a tryst between her and Zeus. Zeus merely got a quizzical look on his face, told her to go away and told the party that they might want to leave (which they did). The succubus PC doubled back and charmed/convinced Circe that the party was there to help and protect her. They then led her back to their airship.

From there, they did a bit of reconnaissance at the castle (they sent the bard) and decided to attack after disabling the castle's ballista. The descended stealthily to the castle walls while the airship hid high in the sky above the castle itself. The plan mostly went off without a hitch, with the PCs entering the castle unsuspected while the ship attacked from above after dropping flaming barrels of oil. Much confusion, shapeshifting and high bluff rolls led the PCs right into the "safe" chamber of the count, whereupon the slaughtered him. The bard swapped clothing and used some magic to look like the count, then went about issuing strange "fall back to an even safer spot in the dungeon of the castle" orders. Several stupidly high bluff and disguise checks later, the party burned the gathered castle denizens alive. There's more to it than just that, but that was the gist.

Meanwhile, they discovered that the count and other castle folk were secret worshippers of Hypnos, and they had an "old lady" stuck in away in a hidden dungeon, attached to an alchemy lab. The lady in question is in fact a Night Hag, and the count was using her to concoct some alchemical substance (I haven't worked out exactly what). The upshot is that the PCs rescued her, took her aboard their ship and returned her "family heirloom" (ie, her heartstone, something that came up as vaguely magical when they detected at it). She proved herself to them by taking out some revenge on Circe (stabbing Circe's eyes out and carving up her skin a bit).

I had originally thought that the PCs might end up getting into a fight with her, or that, if they took her aboard, she would attach herself to one of the PCs to cause problems for. Instead, they went directly to Toruga (lifted more or less directly from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), which should prove to be a much more fertile ground for a creature such as a night hag. She played it smart and laid low. She was free now and being delivered right into a den of inequity, no need to rock that boat.

Now the party has headed to the seat of power for the one still-good nation in the world. The plan is to have the succubus pose as a now displaced Circe. The story goes: she was gone when the castle was attacked by cannibal elf raiders, she was graciously picked up by this adventuring party, and the capital is the only place where she knows she has some sort of family. The end goal is to somehow force a marriage between her and the prince, which will draw out the statue that the party was hired to steal (I mentioned this earlier). It's horribly complex and convoluted, but should be fun if I can somehow keep all these moving pieces straight in my head.

The prince is of marriageable age and is currently being fostered/taught statecraft by the dwarves of the Foundation. I don't know exactly how they're planning on getting the him to return to the capital yet.

They sent the bard ahead and had him try to get in good with one of the noble families, the idea being that he try to sell his services as a wedding planner or something. I have no idea how that was supposed to work, but whatever. Meanwhile, the party arrived and "Circe" announced her presence to the castle, bearing all of the appropriate papers (which they reasonably would have been able to assemble after raiding the castle). Political buzz: "She's here to usurp the throne", "She's a fraud", "Such a tragedy what's happened to her family", etc.

Anyway, the bard got hired in as an accountant/clerk to a minor noble family with high ambitions and, after a few days of proving his worth to that family, was asked by the lady of the house to see if he couldn't make contact with the newly arrived Circe and introduce her to the lady's son. And that's where I did a fade to black.

Wonderfully convoluted!

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Re: World building: Cascade

I'll have to write up a proper update, but it's slowly coming out that the succubus captain and the velocipastor (so dubbed 'cause the character is a velociraptor and a cleric/religious-type) are very much of a "Hey, the Greek Gods are horrible and they shouldn't be in charge around here" sort of attitude. The cleric of Typhon wants the Titans to make a come-back and the succubus has a vague eye towards overthrowing the entire pantheon. The satyr and bard, on the other hand, are down with the pantheon and generally have no problems with their fickleness.

I also introduced the party to the Goblin Market. The succubus introduced one goblin to another goblin he had a crush on in exchange for something or other. This goblin is now going to be sending random suitors to the succubus, and I'm aiming for really awkward timing for the arrival of such. Also, in exchange for some moderately expensive magical items (in the 8-15k range) I got the cleric to give up a tooth and the bard to give up his fingernails (along with a modest payment of gold). Those exchanges will come back to bite them in the ass later (the Foundation dwarves will use those things in tracking down the party eventually). They also traded 23 mismatched socks taken from their ship's wastebin. This will haunt them later as they'll find random members of their crew will either be fatigued (their legs will be out late nights, partying) or they'll be down movement (their legs will be exhausted). There were some other trades (a dragon skull for a trio of softball-sized chime balls, an old pirate coat of the satyr's for something or other) and I'm not sure what if anything will come of those.

They also took on a goblin treasure-finder, who they're hoping will be able to identify oddball stuff that they'd be able to trade to the goblins. Don't know quite what to do with that yet, but no matter.

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Re: World building: Cascade

Wow, you actually convinced players to exchange that stuff (the tooth and fingernails)? About 15 years ago I was able to get my players to each part with several locks of their hair to a shady wizard type, and that is a mistake they would never, *EVER* make again Smiling

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Re: World building: Cascade

I want them to be a lot more cautious about who they get their stuff from. Yes, the goblins can acquire pretty much everything you could want, but are you willing to pay the price?

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