11 December 2013

Campaign Setting Necromancy: A Mad God Rising

Inspired by +Reynaldo Madriñan and his posts on the origins of his campaign setting, I dug out an old campaign pitch for a game that didn't last near as long as I would have liked, although the reasons were unrelated to the game.
This was back in 2011, back when I was just getting into Pathfinder and thought it was just the bee's knees as it improved on 3.x in many ways. This was also before I was aware of the OSR movement, which is interesting because it was a setting designed around allowing lots of the cool stuff from 3.x/PF with justification for lots of dungeon crawling, in dungeons that were the remains of dead gods. Looking over it with some distance, I still like the concepts I used to mash some cool things form 3.x and PF together, but if I were to attempt to run it again I would probably use a retro-clone, and lightly hack the non-standard magic systems into it.

This world began as many things do, with the destruction of something else. In this world’s case, it was the destruction of the mortal realm, and the faerie realms.
                Long ago, the gods of the mortals and the faerie lords warred. It began with, like many things, something petty; some minor farming god groped the lover of a faerie lord. Or was it because a faerie lord wasn’t invited to a god’s wedding? In the end it doesn’t matter what actually sparked the war. The faerie lords began their invasion of the mortal realm. Their war stretched on for centuries, laying waste to greater portions of the mortal realm as time went on. Until one day several mortal heroes, or minor gods, infiltrated the strong holds of the greatest of the faerie lords and left powerful artifacts of cold iron and mortal death which tore open rifts between the realms funneling the very essences of the faerie realms into the mortal realm. The instability created by this nearly destroyed everything, had the funneling not been bringing the realms closer into alignment with each other, what proved to be final tipping point was the total mutual annihilation of the gods and the faerie lords. The resultant outpouring of divine and fey energies destroyed the remaining barriers between the realms, and their corpses formed the foundation of the new world.
                There are still pockets of the old realms scattered throughout the world, and out amongst the stars.
                Not all the old gods and faerie lords died, and not all that did die are gone. Some of those long passed are still reachable by the use of heretical pacts forged between them and the denizens of the world. Many powerful beings ascended to godhood after the wholesale destruction. More importantly the Well of Souls of All Worlds was cracked loosing the very stuff of souls, incarnum, into the world.
                But the most important thing to note is that when things that can’t die do not die, but linger on, growing mad, its madness can leak into the world tainting it.

                The races of the faerie realm were badly decimated; first by the wars and then by the migration into the mortal realm. The most numerous of them can no longer be truly called faerie. The elves and goblins were at one point the mightiest of the faerie races. Unfortunately they have both fallen greatly from their great splendor. The elves retained much their otherworldly faerie traits, only shedding their immortality and vulnerability to iron. Of course they are no longer preternaturally strong anymore either. The goblins, the poor goblins, the vast majority of their once mighty race of noble warriors have degenerated into savage cannibals. There are a few throwbacks to when they were doughty warriors, and the occasional elf noble chooses to dally with them, giving rise to cunning half-breeds and fearsome monsters. The elves have also been known to dally with humans, for reasons unknown. It is in some circles strongly frowned upon as it is seen as the further weakening of the elven race, at least breeding with goblins is breeding with another fallen faerie race. The final faerie race of note is the gnomes. Gnomes are in many ways the most fae like of the fallen faerie. They behave in ways that perplex their fellow fae and the mortal races. Their innate illusionary magics and unusual coloration further emphasis their strange fae heritage.
+2 dex, +2 int, -2 con
Descendants of the noble faerie lords
Core Rulebook pg 22
-2 str, +4 dex, -2 cha
Savage degenerate faeries
Bestiary pg 156
+2 dex, +2 int, -2 wis
Noble warriors bred from goblins

+2 to one ability score
Love-children of the elves and humans
Core Rulebook pg 24
+2 con, +2 dex, -2 str
Tricksters and lovers of a good time
Core Rulebook pg 23

                The mortal races fared much better, aside from the massive casualties, than the faerie. Those that survived the wars became stronger in many ways, physically, mentally and spiritually. The increased levels of divine energy, along with the additions of the preternatural energies of the faerie and the pure power of creation from the Well of Souls of All Worlds, made magic more readily available to all the mortal races.  The most notable mortal races are the humans, orcs (and the half-breed half-orcs), dwarves and halflings. Of them, the humans gained the most having been the least of the mortal races before the wars. Their natural adaptability increased several fold, allowing them to fill the power vacuum left by stronger mortal races. The orcs actually regressed further into savagery, retreating deeper into the mountains, putting them into greater conflict with the dwarves. The closest to how orcs used to be is surprisingly the result of interbreeding with humans, the half-orcs. Tempering the degenerated savagery of the orcs with the flexibility of the humans, the half-orcs are part of neither world, either too weak for the orcs, or too ugly for the humans. The poor halflings, once living in pleasant villages, now forced to live a nomad existence after the war caused some devastation. Generations after the wars they have grown accustomed to their nomadic lifestyle, living seemingly carefree lives. The least changed of the mortal races are the dwarves; seemingly as stout as the mountains they call home. Skilled craftsmen with metals and stone, their wares are widely traded and imitated.
+2 to one ability score
Curious and adaptable
Core Rulebook pg 27
+4 str, -2 int, -2 wis, -2 cha
Savage degenerates
Bestiary pg 222
+2 to one ability score
The near outcast results of orc raids
Core Rulebook pg 25
+ dex, +2 cha, -2 str
Friendly nomads
Core Rulebook pg 26
+2 con, +2 wis, -2 cha
Stout craftsmen
Core Rulebook pg 21

                The mystical arts we not unknown in the mortal realm and the faerie realms before the wars, of course due to the cataclysmic events that led to the new world, those arts have changed, spread and new arts have arose. The mortal races primarily had their magical might centered on the servants of their gods; arcane magic was not as powerful in comparison to the raw power at the disposal of the mouth pieces to the gods. Conversely, the magical arts the faerie used was both more widely spread, almost every fae had some manner of minor magic at its disposal, and was closest in nature to what is now know as arcane magic. Divine magic was almost totally unheard of as the closest beings to gods in the faerie realms were simply more powerful faeries, and not even the least of the fae would stoop to worship another faerie as a god. Still there were among the fae, those who worshiped the raw power of nature.
                After the wars and the forging of a new world, races discovered magics they had either never seen before, or had dismissed as weak. The mortal races discovered the new found power in the arcane, as the divine diminished, and some of the fae discovered the power in serving gods, all of whom were just as new as the world. In addition, many scholars of the mystical discovered ways to contact and gain power from the remnants of the old gods and faerie lords who had all perished and had their spirits banished beyond the Sea of Chaos. Many communities, churches especially, deemed such magic as foul and dark magics. The old gods were responsible for the destruction of the worlds in the first place was the common rallying call against binders and their pacts. Not all of the new found mystical arts were considered to be foul and heretical. The war and resulting destruction of the Well of Souls of All Worlds allowed the discovery of how to manipulate the raw energy of souls into soul melds and how to bind these soul melds to spiritual centers of the melder’s soul, called chakras.
Core Rulebook
Core Rulebook
Tome of Magic
Magic of Incarnum