Sunday, September 8, 2013
Setting Notes - Organizing My Thoughts On The World Of Hearth
First, there are some things I don't want to see in the world. This isn't going to be the sixguns & sorcery setting I also want to run, so guns are a thing I don't want to see. I don't want player nonhuman races - there may be elves and such, but not as playable races. Hardly as "races" in the sense of intelligent animals. More like spirits with bodies, maybe. Fey races with fey motivations. Goblins with fairer forms. Not to mention the goblins. I don't want clerics, or any proof of divinity in the world. All divine action should be "explainable" in terms of magic or such. Which doesn't mean that there won't be reasons to sacrifice at a roadside shrine, or to join the organized churches. Just that the sort of living saint that is embodied by clerics (or paladins, or druids) won't be in the setting. This also means no healing magic. Speaking of which, alignments will be discarded as the nonsense that they are, in favor of the "For King and Country" system found in an issue of Dragon magazine (so, with clerics and cleric spells gone, the only reference to alignment really left is the M-U's "Protection from Evil" spell, which will be redefined as "Protection from Spirit Beings", meaning anything native to other planes of existence).
So, the nonhuman, non-fairy/giant, non-undead, intelligent races. I want Minotaurs, obviously. I also want Githyanki and Githzerai, Mind Flayers, Kzaddich and Tsalakians, Lew Pulsipher's Timelords (Dragon 65), Artificers of Yothri and their Amphorons, the array of non-goblin humanoids (Orcs, Kobolds, Gnolls, Flinds, Ogres, Ogrillons, mainly), Kuo-toa, Locathah, Sahuagin, Beholders, Centaurs, Tabaxi, Aarakocra, Grimlocks, Lizardmen, Bullywugs, Yuan Ti, Galeb Duhr, Treants, Aboleths, Doppelgangers, Harpies, Merfolk, Neo-Otyughs and Otyughs, Ropers, Su-monsters, Troglodytes, Tritons, Neogi and Umber Hulks, Mi-go, Trolls, Thugtoads and Todawan Masters, Glurm (Zen Frogs), Crabmen, Dertesha, Draug, Formians, Ratlings, Mogura-jin, and Maun-Ge. This, as I said, does not include fairy and giant races, the undead, or entities native to other planes of existence (although, perhaps some come from other worlds). This is going to be the hardest to deal with, since as natural creatures they have to exist in places on the world, and I have to work out how they fit with the human nations. Some of them (Githyanki and Githzerai, Kzaddich and Tsalakians, Artificers of Yothri, Mi-go) live in other planes of existence, even though they do not originate there, or on other worlds, so those considerations are not so important. Similarly, a number of these races live under the sea or under the surface of the world, so they just need to be placed generally. But the humanoids, the Draug, and others have their own nations that need to be considered.
Religion is going to be twofold. That is, there are two types of religion: the Churches and the pagan gods (which include demons). The Churches will have a hierarchy that the PCs could get involved in. Those ideas will be similar to the way religion is handled in Flashing Blades. There might also be incidents of divine intervention in rare instances. The pagan gods will have shrines where they can receive sacrifices. They will be individual, powerful beings existing in a particular place. That is, there might be a "Zeus" (Zeus will probably not actually be one of the pagan gods in the setting) who lives at the shrine in Highgate, while another "Zeus" lives at the temple in Payn. The two, Zeus of Highgate and Zeus of Payn, are not the same entity, and don't share knowledge between each incarnation, though a person who has spent a lot of time learning about the "Zeus type" would have an advantage in knowing how to approach a new Zeus encountered at a different temple/shrine. There might, additionally, be slight differences between the two incarnations. The only real difference between the pagan gods and the demons is that demons only exist in one place at a time - there is only one Demogorgon in all the world, who will only be able to show up to one summoner at a time (well, also most of the demons do not necessarily have humanity's best interests at heart). In this sense, the Titans (for instance) are a type of demon. The same could be said for any number of other powerful entities (Bahamut and Tiamat, for example).
There are several competing Churches in the setting. I've written some versions of them on this blog before. There is the Tetradic Church which worships the four Elemental Gods, whose influence is transmitted from the Celestial World to the mundane world through the mediation of the twelve Zodiacal Beasts (the Church is firm that there is no truth to the heretical claims of a secret thirteenth Zodiacal Beast), each of whom has three Decanic Solars. Each Solar has seven Planetars through which the elemental forces are transmitted to the world. This one will be organized mostly like medieval Christianity, with a few significant differences. I'm thinking that they should have an equivalent to the cultus of Saints, but I'm not sure yet how I want to handle that.
Next up is the Fatalist Church, who worship the Lady of Fate, the Weaving Goddess. They have a fairly rigid code of justice which governs them. I base them loosely on medieval Islam, though, so they aren't fundamentalist about things.
There is the Path of the Veil, which is a Church whose holy orders are composed of Monks and Illusionists. They believe that the world is a veil of illusion pulled over the eyes of the inhabitants, who are themselves illusions. This will be a lot like Buddhism in organization. I may have it comprise several independent Churches, similar to the way that Buddhism has everything from Tibetan to Zen forms.
I'm not sure if there will be a Church of the One and the Prime, which would be worshipers of the Modrons. If I do, it will be the most rigid and fundamentalist of the Churches. A place for everyone and everyone in their place.
I don't yet know what the religion of the Homeracs (or whatever I end up calling the reskinned Paladins) will be like yet.
I started out making a huge map of the whole continent - a large affair nearly 5000 miles across and over 3000 north to south. Then I realized: I don't need that much space to start. Canning that large map will actually make the placement of the nonhumans a lot easier, since I can just add area when I get around to them. I still think that I should have a general idea of the layout of the continent, but it will be easier to make a rough map that is penciled in (subject to changes) than to set things down in stone (or ink) right now. That kinda makes me a little sad, since I'd like to have the detail of the World of Greyhawk right off the bat, with the populations and troop dispositions roughed out, but I can live with the more immediate necessities.
If you've gotten this far, I am impressed! Thank you for reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts.