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Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

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Har Megidon's picture
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Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

Basically, there was a god. A really powerful god, who wanted to create a world. Pretty normal so far? Well, his ideal world had no negative energy. You see, the god didn't like petitioners, but still wanted worship. So he is making a world without death, entropy, destruction, all that stuff. And the Doomguard are very angry about that. And so they unleashed negative energy monsters on the half-completed crystal sphere. I'm planning for my players to go there and stop the corruption, because the god cannot find the source of the monsters. Any advice or reccomendations?

ripvanwormer's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

I would definitely make the Doomguard the good guys in this situation. Too often they're cast as villains, when they're just another faction with a legitimate point of view. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase a situation where they're right, to explain why sane people would even join the Doomguard. A god builds a world with no entropy? That's insane, that's supervillain-level stuff. That kind of shenanigans always goes wrong. There's a reason all other worlds have negative energy on them.

So the god builds his perfect world. First problem: positive energy continues to build up with nothing to counter it. If this keeps up, the whole sphere is essentially the Positive Energy Plane, with all matter exploding from too much life. So what does the god do? He has to channel off the excess energy somehow, so he reroutes it into neighboring worlds. It's like a factory illicitly dumping its pollution in a residential neighborhood. Things start coming to life that shouldn't, people start growing tumors and mutations and weird infections. Plants grow out of their eyes and nostrils and stomachs. Something is very wrong, and the PCs or another group traces the excess positive energy back to its source.

Second problem. Nothing changes. Nobody dies and no one is born (or there'd be runaway overpopulation). Things seem utopian at first, but it becomes clear it isn't. You get a gerontocracy ruled by the oldest people, the same people who always ruled. Nobody below the age of 500 gets a say in anything. There are no new ideas and no social change in a world ruled by immortals with no term limits. Everyone fights the same ancient feuds and tired arguments they've had since the dawn of time. Childish fancies that infants only a few centuries old come up with, like giving women the ability to divorce abusive husbands, are dismissed out of hand because change is bad.

Other problems. No heat from the sun, because energy doesn't disperse from its source without entropy. No light, either. Nobody can clean themselves because that involves destroying layers of filth. The world is barren, volcanic rock because without destruction rock doesn't become sand and sand doesn't become soil. No one can digest food without destroying it, so no one eats. No one can even chew. The god solves some of these problems by raiding other worlds and stealing energy from other planes. Other worlds suffer. You can't get something for nothing, so the god gets his perfect world by making other worlds less perfect. Something has to be done. This is the reason the Doomguard was founded. They can be a little overzealous at times, but there's always some asinine demiurge or archmage who thinks their world is so special that it's okay to keep it going long after it should have passed on, even if it means subsisting vampirically on the life of other worlds.

Har Megidon's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

Yeah, basically it results in a sadistic choice: Does the party ally with the Doomguard and doom an entire world, or do they remain working for the god and thus create a stagnant, vampiric world?

ripvanwormer's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

Another thing that might be interesting is to actually let the PCs visit a number of "previous attempts" by the same god, worlds that failed due to unworkable attempts at eliminating negative energy from them. A world where everything exploded, a world where no light or heat could leave the stars, a world where everyone is covered in cancerous tumors but can't die, a world of runaway overpopulation where undying bodies squirm in a massive pile completely covering the surface of the world. All these worlds still exist, though the god has abandoned them.

Also, worlds flooded with too much negative energy, as the multiverse balances itself out. No negative energy on one world means more on others.

There's probably no problem the god can't fix with enough power (for example, adding a repulsive force similar to gravity to make starlight leave the stars), but the power has to come from somewhere.

Quote:
Does the party ally with the Doomguard and doom an entire world, or do they remain working for the god and thus create a stagnant, vampiric world?

Is the world necessarily doomed, or does it just become more natural as people finally start to age and die? The world might be so artificial by now that it can't survive without the god's active support, but bringing new gods and races into the closed world would help. With time and effort, it might be rehabilitated - the mortals might learn to reproduce again, the starlight might stabilize, and all might become as well as it is anywhere else.

Har Megidon's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

ripvanwormer wrote:
Another thing that might be interesting is to actually let the PCs visit a number of "previous attempts" by the same god, worlds that failed due to unworkable attempts at eliminating negative energy from them. A world where everything exploded, a world where no light or heat could leave the stars, a world where everyone is covered in cancerous tumors but can't die, a world of runaway overpopulation where undying bodies squirm in a massive pile completely covering the surface of the world. All these worlds still exist, though the god has abandoned them.

Also, worlds flooded with too much negative energy, as the multiverse balances itself out. No negative energy on one world means more on others.

There's probably no problem the god can't fix with enough power (for example, adding a repulsive force similar to gravity to make starlight leave the stars), but the power has to come from somewhere.

Quote:
Does the party ally with the Doomguard and doom an entire world, or do they remain working for the god and thus create a stagnant, vampiric world?

Is the world necessarily doomed, or does it just become more natural as people finally start to age and die? The world might be so artificial by now that it can't survive without the god's active support, but bringing new gods and races into the closed world would help. With time and effort, it might be rehabilitated - the mortals might learn to reproduce again, the starlight might stabilize, and all might become as well as it is anywhere else.


Basically, the Doomguard are sorta devasting the world with huge armies of negative quasielementals. They view it as mercy-killing, though. Maybe the god, when he saw his previous failures, destroyed the world and started off from scratch? In the deep underground there would be ruins, and the few survivours from the last "Great Cataclysm". Twisted from many years simply growing Positive Energy without growing Negative Energy to balance it, they are to life what life is to undeath. In constant pain, they help Doomguard allied pcs so that they could end their suffering. The players will then learn this is the eventual fate of all life in this world. Maybe the world would become normal as you say if the Doomguard win, but it will come at the cost of many lives.

Archdukechocula's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

I think this is a really interesting idea, and I especially like Rip's expansion upon it, but I do have a cosmological question. What happens to a God that actively denies their followers death? Wouldn't they suffer a loss of petitioners coming into their realm, and consequently the power associated with that, or are petitioners not really relevant when weighed against raw belief? I sort of have the impression that being a petitioner is about more than just receiving your reward (or punishment) for your faith in your God, but perhaps I am wrong about that.

Also, another problem I might point out is that eternal life may well start turning people away from faith in their deity. After all, if life really is endless suffering as things grow out of control, many people might consider their God to have forsaken them by denying them a life with possibility.

Other things to consider: With life running rampant, the entire planet would eventually be filled with growth of one sort of another (unless as Rip suggests you decide that reproduction is not even possible on a cellular level, which means no babies, no crops, no new plants sprouting from the ground and so on). Perhaps things would grow indefinitely large, thick jungles and forests may crowd out space for other life, what little light does reach the world may be blocked out by the thick canopies, with everything striving towards the top of the heap where that small sliver of open space still exists. Cities may literally be built upon the backs of the poor. Violence and imprisonment may become the norm, as the zero sum game of the world forces people towards ever more serious competition to remain free from the prison of life below. Violence not causing death may result in it having little social stigma, meaning incredible brutality is simply being considered the norm rather than an evil aberration. Instead of being a world of light and goodness as presumably the God intended, it becomes a twisted world of darkness, choking life twisted into cavernous prisons for the unwary and unfit and endless suffering and brutality.

The Doomguard would absolutely want to set this mess straight, and frankly I agree with Rip, this is one of those occasions where their philosophy should shine, as this is exactly the sort of thing they are rallying against. One of the fundamental forces of the planes has been removed to catastrophic effect and while restoring balance may cause incredible amounts of death, that's half the point. There is no balance without death and decay. What is eternal life if it is filled with endless suffering and imprisonment after all? Frankly I think this is the kind of idea that makes Planescape so great. It turns a simple idea into a major philosophical and moral quandary, forcing the players to challenge their own preconceptions and maybe if you are lucky, causing them to think a little bit more about death, which while perhaps frightening ultimately makes what life we are given that much more meaningful.

Har Megidon's picture
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

Your ideas are all very very interesting.
Okay, here is my current draft of the plot:
The pcs are hired by the God's proxy, to help end the Doomguard attack. Their negative energy magic and elementals are the only things that can kill in this world. When they reach the world, they just see all the lush forests, the free sources of infinite food, all that good stuff. But when trying to find the Doomguard base, they enter the underground ruins of the old world. There, they find the Wretched, who explain to them how the past attempt of the god resulted in horrible things, and they were the only survivors from when the god destroyed and rebuilt the world. The pcs go through some tunnels to reach the capital city, where they see everything wrong with the lack of entropy. Overpopulation, thousands of criminals being used to carry around the Emperor's palace, infestation by vermin, and all that. They eventually find the Doomguard, and they are tasked with finding an artifact that can create immense portals to the inner planes, used by the God to drown out all negative energy by linking this world to the Positive. The pc's then go through a dungeon, defeat the god's proxy and corrupt churchmen via negative-energy based weaponry, and switch the artifact to the negative, beginning the process of unvitalising the world. I'll probably have my next setting being this world 10 years later, with the first adventure being shutting off the artifact due to entropy and life-force being perfectly balanced. Of course, I need an reason why the god doesn't intervene directly.

Jem
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Re: Idea for Campaign: The Deathless World

Well, gods typically don't. Given the amount of intervention he requires just to keep the world functioning in this bizarre state, he might be very busy anyway.

Presumably a god like this would refuse to kill them or destroy their equipment! Instead they might get repeated messages trying to warn them off. His intervention might take the form of alerting his churchmen about their activities, so that the Church is impossibly well-informed about the PCs' actions, even their future actions. No one said gods fight fair...

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