A lot to read here, hope you have some time on your hands.
(Permission to post given by LadyPSerenity)
Title: Still to be decided
The idea is to take a generic fantasy world with limited exploration of the depth of its lore and expand on it as we role play in it. The actual thread will be framed around a small but swiftly escalating conflict that will eventually envelope the world. What the characters do, where they go, and how their actions affect the “big picture” is completely up to us, as are the nuanced details of the world at large. I hope that this will work out as I picture it, with a fascinating fantasy world that is nuanced and deep without being a radical departure from the core elements of the fantasy genre.
So let’s break it down.
Technological Setting: One of the most important things when determining just what the genre for a role playing setting is the level of technology available. It goes a long way further than placing a label such as “Fantasy,” “Science Fiction,” “Post Apocalyptic,” or whatever you might see on it. For this world I’ve decided to choose a setting I feel is largely unexplored, a dynamic world where the traditional fantasy setting is slowly evolving in a steampunk themed future. Basically stated, it’s the world is on the threshold of crossing the line between fantasy and steampunk. New technologies, such as steam engines, gunpowder, and more are being researched as the story goes along. As the story matures we may see characters possessing the first firearms, riding the first trains, or captaining the first airships. To be honest, I see this as possibly the core conflict of the world, the conservative devotion of some races and nations to the old ways of sword and sorcery combating the progressiveness of others who favor the development of new, world changing technologies. This conflict is cultural, economic, and perhaps, eventually, even coming to literal war.
Races: The sky is the limit here as to what we want to add to the game, but I’ve taken the liberty of placing five staple races into the setting for basic use. If we want to add tiger people, or lizardmen, an avian race, or anything else you can think of, including made up races, into the setting, by all means feel free to put it in. At any rate, I feel the five should suffice to form the foundation of the fantasy world we’re starting with.
Humans – An obvious choice, and as usual they are the predominant “civilized” sentient species. The Great Empire, where the story will begin, is a humano-centric nation. Humans are a flexible and diverse race, as well as an extremely competitive one. The various cultures of humanity, as a rule, strive to optimize and enhance themselves, and further establish their role as the dominant race in the world. Physically humans stand between 5 and 7 feet, where variation depends largely on the individual’s origins, and live an average of 65 to 70 years.
Dwarves – Another fantasy staple. Dwarves are similar to humans, but culturally they are almost universally a great step in the direction of conservatism and traditionalism. Dwarven culture demands the utmost respect be given to one’s ancestors, and places a much greater emphasis on wisdom than intelligence. While dwarves are traditionally portrayed as living in a subterranean environment, in reality they are perfectly fine living both above and below ground. In fact, without their surface settlements they would be deprived of a great deal of natural resources that would make life difficult, if not impossible, below ground. Dwarves are typically between 4 and 5 feet in height, and live, on average, to the age of 180.
High Elves – Elves in the world are split between two groups, which are referred to by humans as light elves and dark elves. Though the actual derivation of the terms “light” and “dark” elves has more to do with complexion than anything else, with even these factors muted at best, the common tongue of humanity has the unfortunate condition of associating the word “dark” with “evil.” In the case of the elves, this has led to stereotyping and ostracizing of dark elves, though if anything they are more similar to humans than their light elven cousins. The difference between light and dark elves is primarily cultural. Light elves are hedged into traditional, fundamentalist ways of thought that some would even classify as outdated, while the dark elven culture subscribes to a more progressive, diverse array of ideas and thoughts. Physically, all high elves, whether dark or light, fall under the same species. They are typically slightly taller and thinner than humans, and have longer ears that vary widely in length and shape. They age very slowly after the first 25-30 years of life, and typically live to an average of 400 years, though some claim ages of nearly 600.
*I specify these elves as “high” elves because I realized there is sufficient basis for “wood” elves or other variants that can be included during the course of the story, and I would prefer not to make blanket statements.
Orcs – Culturally speaking, the orcs are very likely the most diverse group included here. Though all orcs are focused around the clan, the cultural values of each individual clan vary widely. There are civilized orc clans that have ingratiated themselves with human, elven, and dwarven nations, clans that subscribe to the traditional lifestyle of the noble savage, eschewing the progress and achievements of civilizations and tending to isolate themselves from them, and cruel, kratocratic regimes dominated by short-term warlords and bloodthirsty warriors who seek to pillage and destroy. Physically, orcs vary widely, with skin tones ranging from green to brown to gray, but they are typically 6 to 7 feet tall. They have slightly shorter lifespans than humans on average, but individually speaking the difference is almost non-existent.
Minotaur – The last of the races I’ll place in here is the minotaur. They are the most uniform of the races culturally and physically, mostly due to their comparatively limited numbers and limited diversity within their populations. The standard minotaur, one who has subscribed to the beliefs and values taught to him by his tribe, has respect for his ancestry, an appreciation of nature, and a strong sense of honor. Minotaur typically stand in excess of 7 feet in height, sometimes, but rarely, as tall as 10, and the color of their fur varies between a number of earthy shades. Minotaur have a lifespan between 80 and 100 years.
Magic: Magic exists in the world, of course, and is divided into its two traditional types, arcane and divine. Arcane magic is studied scientifically, and wizards are trained to manipulate the ley line energies that run through the world. Divine magic is a controversial topic, and is cited by clerics and other users as being derived from the grace of their god or gods. Arcane scholars, particularly those who question the existence of any god at all, call divine magic’s authenticity into question and have offered the alternate hypothesis of soul magic, which is magic derived traditionally through the ley lines and molded into individual spells through the willpower and faith of the caster. Ergo, detractors of divine magic say, the cleric channeling soul magic is able to heal a wounded man because he has enough faith in his religion to believe his god will grant him that blessing, which translates into the actual production of a healing spell. Whether or not divine magic is derived from heavenly beings or from one’s sense of faith does not affect the fact that it exists and is just as potent, if not even more so, as arcane magic.
Religion: I've developed religion among the basic races fairly extensively. There's the official religion of the Empire, the worship of a large Pantheon, but the number of people who subscribe to its beliefs has dwindled in recent years. The most common religion among humans is Gyaalism, a recently developed monotheistic worship dedicated to the god Gyaal. Durodan is the traditional god of the dwarves, the great forger of all things, and he is widely worshiped among them. Like the traditional pantheon of the humans, the dwarves also have a small pantheon. The traditional worship of the elves has been of the sun and moon, a dualism that has evolved over the ages. The sun and moon are seen today (respectively) as representative of a valkyrie goddess of wisdom, war, and nobility and a trickster god of cunning, magic, and the arts. They are both nameless, being referred to as either the celestial objects themselves or simply the God and Goddess. Orcs have abandoned the concept of a god and traditional worship for a spiritual harmony with the elements, and shamanic manipulation of the primal forces is a field of some interest for academic scholar-mages. The religion of the minotaur hybridizes traditional religious worship with the spiritual harmony of the orcs, with their primary god/goddess being an asexual earth mother-type divine being with myriad forms, which range from the sun to water to the world as a whole. This very abstract religion, the nature of which requires deep immersion in the culture of Manaos for many years to understand, calls its divine being Masavaon which translates to the common tongue very roughly as "Giver." Additionally, there are a number of cults within all races and religions, though these are more common among humans, dwarves, and elves.
If you want any more information on the individual gods of the dwarven or human pantheons, or the religions in general, feel free to ask.
Geopolitical Structure of the World: The world is divided into nations, of course. I’m going to leave this section largely unexpanded so that we can add countries whenever and wherever we please. Since I’d prefer to stay away from the traditional conventions of Good vs. Evil, I can imagine politics and relations between the various nations will become very important. Here are some of the more important nations:
I have an assortment of maps that can be used, I plan to put it up to a vote on which one would be used.
The Empire of Humanity – This is the classic realm of humanity. It’s the Gondor of Middle-Earth, the Cyrodiil of Oblivion, and so on and so forth. The Empire is ruled by the Emperor, Claudius Lex IV, from the spartanly named Imperial City. Emperor Lex rules over a massive domain that includes an expansive coastline, green tracts of some of the most verdant, fertile land in the world, vast woodlands in the north, and iron, silver, gold, and copper-rich mountains in the south. The population of the Empire is primarily human, but representatives of all races can be found in some number or another. With respect to naming conventions and the general culture, I see it as a hybridization of France, Britain, and Germany throughout the High Medieval Period.
The Kingdom of Corusc – To the direct north of the Empire is another humano-centric kingdom, the Kingdom of Corusc. Corusc broke away from the Empire some eighty years ago and is a highly militarized nation, with one of the largest and strongest armies in the world. Coruscan are not known for their hospitality.
The Northern Orcish Clanship – The Northern Orcish Clanship is an alliance of the honorable orcish clans that have remained aloof and independent of the ever expanding nations of the neighboring humans.
The Underkingdom – The Underkingdom refers to the domain, but above and below the surface, of the dwarves, located against the southeastern borders of the Empire. While the Empire may produce the largest food surpluses in the world, it is barely able to scratch the surface of the Underkingdom’s manufacturing capabilities.
The City-State of Dartmouth – The largest city and most influential port in the world is none other than Dartmouth. Dartmouth is such an economic powerhouse that the mere threat of it declaring war on the Empire and shutting down the exchange of commerce between the shipping capital of the world and the Empire was enough to secure its freedom and its status as an independent city-state. Dartmouth is nestled deep within Imperial territory, and still serves as its largest port.
The Elven Princedoms – The Elven Princedoms refers to the scattered and disorganized duchies, princedoms, and baronies of the elves, all under the ostensive leadership of a single king. The title “King of the Elves” has not been held by a secured ruler in several decades, however, and any cooperation between the princedoms that would classify them as a unified nation has ceased to exist for some time.
Manaos – Manaos is the minotaur word for “nation,” and refers specifically to the nation of the minotaur. It has held on to its lands for centuries upon centuries, but as humanity’s Imperialism peaks in the coming years it may be the first to go to war against the Empire.
Alright, there you have it. A crash course in the framework of the world I’ve created. As you can see there’s a lot of unexplored material, which I hope we’ll get to fill in the blanks for as we go along. Now that we have the world-at-large out of the way, I’ll detail where we’re starting.
Fordleigh is a small Imperial town home to some twelve thousand citizens. It is located some six days journey from the Imperial City by horse, due to the indirect route required to cross several rivers, various valleys, and partially circumnavigate a thick forest with a rather poor reputation. Its inhabitants, which are rumored to be anything from goblins to werebeasts to treants to ghouls and geists, have proved inhospitable when the citizens of Fordleigh have entered. Grossly inhospitable. Fordleigh is primarily an agricultural center, though they have a variety of services including a small blacksmith and a bazaar selling a wide range of goods found exclusively in the northern empire and smuggled imports from Corusc. Of some interest to our protagonists may be the small crime ring, the Priyet Vos, that operates in Fordleigh, which is pervasive enough to have influence within even the highest level of the government.
And there you have it. Anything that I haven’t included in here can be added as we go along, though if you feel I’ve left out something important by all means point it out and I’ll add it in.
Name: Something vaguely appropriate. Common sense should serve you fine, so long as your common sense doesn’t tell you “Kesha” is a good name for a minotaur.
Appearance: a picture or description would be fine. If you decide to describe your character, please be detailed. Don't just write, "Brown shoulder length hair and green eyes. Average build and height." That doesn't help much at all.
Skills: A short description of what your character can do. This can be expanded upon as we move through the RP, but not in an absurd way. I’d prefer if you didn’t add psychic powers to this half way through the story on a whim.
Biography: The length is up to you.
Just a few rules for character creation and the story itself:
1. Keep your characters reasonable – Don’t give your human horns and skin of molten rock because he was blessed by demons. Please. I don’t want to have the awkward “I know I said it was sandbox but this is slightly ridiculous” conversation with anyone.
2. Keep your characters’ personalities realistic – By this I mean that your character should be deep and multidimensional. Think about your personality – no one really has a one-track mind, so there’s no reason you should make a character like that. Characters should have personal conflicts, doubts, fears, thoughts, and ambitions that make them less like words and more like people.
3. Keep your consequences realistic and present – If events call for a character’s death, please don’t defy the odds and come out on top. At least not too often. We all want heroic characters capable of cheating the Grim Reaper by a hair’s breadth, but if your character decides to challenge a dragon to face-to-face combat, at least have the courtesy to write an awesome death scene to read. Those posts are sometimes my favorite to read. Remember, you can always create another character.
Sample Character: (Not my character)
Name: Edorf, son of Odorf Bronzepick
Skills: Edorf carries an oddity among the Dwarven people. His skills lay not in combat, forging, or even in magic a rarity for the Dwarves, instead, Edorf’s talent lies in the area of ‘engineering’, a very unsure subject for the world. He understands clockwork and a little of the steam technology that the Dwarven Engineering Guild is researching into. Besides engineering, Edorf is very handy with a crossbow, and is even researching ways to upgrade it and make it more powerful or even create a repeating one. Edorf has also been known to make a mean traveller’s stew.
Biography: Edorf is the Odorf Bronzepick, a mine worker who earned his surname years earlier when he was mining and ran into several goblins. Odorf managed to slay all of them, using only his pick as a weapon, after returning to the mining camp and telling his tale, Odorf was given his own surname. When Edorf turned twenty, the customary age for a Dwarf to choose his trade, he did not choose to be sent down to the mines with his father, nor did he choose a ‘normal’ master, instead he chose to be apprenticed to an engineer. Edorf was surprised to find his father did not object, but Odorf was on good terms with the Dwarven Engineering Guild, whose projects mostly revolved greater efficiency and safety in the mines.
Not all of the family were happy with Edorf’s choice. Edorf’s uncle, a well known and respectable smith, was horrified at his nephew’s choice. This led to a division between him and Odorf, and even Edorf’s grandfather, disowned Odorf in shame. Nothing truly affected Odorf however, who continued to allow Edorf to continue his education as an engineer. Edorf was accepted into the Dwarven Engineering Guild, who were eager for more members, and after working in their mining projects for almost twenty years, Edorf was given a new task. He was sent out of the Underkingdom and into the Empire of Humanity, to research and discover the forms of engineering used by many people. Edorf has recently made his way to Fordleigh to partake in the celebration of Felling Night, and visit the local bazaar for any objects that may help the Guild.
I've been gone far too long. To make up for it, I post this idea, anyone interested?
It still needs to be fleshed out, hence why this is not a sign up thread. The players shape this world, not just me.