A while ago, I realized I ran most of my fantasy games like they were superhero games. I liked all my pcs to be superhuman badasses, I accepted that adventurers and the people and things they fought operated on an entirely different level from normal people and played with that. So, eventually, the realization dawned that I could just as well run my fantasy games using a superhero system. So I did! (Wild Talents, for the record).
And for the heck of it, I decided to make an appropriately super D&Desque fantasy setting to go with it. So, in case anyone cares, here it is!
I will probably run this on G+ at some point.
until recently, the world was rather an uncivilized place, according to
the new kingdom of the glorious emperor. No great kingdoms, no
organized trade,shamanic savages and uncontrolled magic running amok.
And then the glorious emperor showed up, uniting more and more people
and land under his rule with diplomacy and violence until, 160 years
ago, most of the continent was a part of the greater kingdom. It was
further divided into various smaller fiefdoms and kingdoms and tracts of
land owned by various men and women who had shown loyalty to the
emperor, bought the rights to land they'd previously owed or simply
conned, tricked, deceived and/or slept their way to it.
the glorious inner kingdom is more or less undergoing massive
urbanization. Lots of villagers and craftsmen are moving to it, trade
guilds are popping up, legislation is in full effect, a set currency
exchange value has been instituted and even a few banks have begun to
emerge. And, above all, the glorious kingdom has instituted a great deal
of bureaucracy, which works in strange and mysterious ways.
Politically, the Kingdom is a cryptocracy, with the real face and identity of the emperor unknown to all but his trusted inner circle and servants. When he appears in public, he does so in a golden mask and full body covering, his whispered words conveyed by criers.
the outskirts, things are moving slower. While the currency is still
universal, few if any know what the hell a bank is and life is more or
less going on like it always did. The influence and laws of the kingdom
is less than total, and many villages, especially the ones close to the
coast, follow the same laws they always did: their own.
is, legally, outlawed. Previously a common practice, roaming the
countryside slaying beasts for hot meals, saving maidens for coin and
questing for gold and riches in the name of the lord was the career of
choice for the divinely chosen, the magically gifted and the insanely
brave. Outlawed as a "barbaric practice" by the emperor and his kingdom,
adventuring in the inner kingdom is more or less gone, replaced by
"Sentries" who need to buy letters of the sword from a centralized
office, and the kingdom is owed sixth tenths of all wealth and items
acquired by these mercenaries "In the line of protecting the king's
lands". In short, you need to owe a license to loot and the Man takes
60% of all your stuff. Doing mercenary work without a Sentries license
is penalized with stiff fines and the confiscation of all your unearned
salvage in the name of the emperor.
from the core, the practice of adventuring is still in full swing.
While technically illegal, few lords enforce it. Partially because they
often find the need of their services and authorized Sentries are rare,
so having a reputation for taking the loot of the unlicensed means few
will venture into your country even if you send word. But mostly it's
because the lack of proper law enforcement means that trying to enforce
the Sentries law is gonna be you telling men who rip heads from
shoulders with their bare hands and women whose hearts beat with thunder
and lightning that they should give you all their hard earned pillage.
As such, in the outer realms, the practice of Adventurers halls is still
going strong, though they are no longer called such, due to laws
forbidding their existence. In essence over-priced inns, they earn their
more exuberant fees from having a reputation for being a place to hire
adventurers, acting as a sort of unofficial hiring hall. Well that and
plenty of dark, secluded tables, private rooms with soundproofing,
stronger ales, sturdy furniture and close proximity to various weapon
smiths, armourers and brothels. In fact, many of the more reputable ones
have, if not their own staff of midnight ladies, a wall to wall
entrance shared with the local brothel.
a rule of thumb, an establishment can be identified as an Adventurers
Hall by having a name like "The Shattered Spear" or "The Crushed Kobold"
without actually having a word like "Inn" or "Pub" anywhere on its
Arcane magic comes in three main forms.
intentionally study the practice of magic, using ancient tombs and the
techniques within to alter their mind so as to attune themselves to
patterns and the flows of the arcane. As such, most wizards are a bit
funny in the head, as a result of all that magic running around their
brain. They cast rigorously structured "spells" shared among one another
with ancient texts and confusing words, using predefined structures to
form arcane energy into specific forms, and are able to learn new ones
as long as they have enough understanding of the workings of magic and
enough "arcane flow" through their brain. (In rule terms, they buy the
wizard school of powers)
second form of magic is that of Sorcerers. Unlike wizards, sorcerers
gain their powers either through birth, the exposure to various arcane
artefacts or magical mishaps. Infused by arcane energies, their entire
bodies become channelling rods of arcane energies. They, unlike wizards,
simply channel and bend this energy to their wills on the fly, enabling
them to cast spells however they wish. The downside of this is that the
magic energy flowing through them degrades their body with use, and the
lack of structure means they are often besieged by arcane flukes and
surges of unpredictable magic. And, like wizards, their arcane nature
means they too are warped into more alien mindsets. Sorcerers, in
particular, seem vulnerable to wild, carefree personalities that thirst
for excitement and adventure, and most tend to live short, spectacular
lives before going out in a literal shower of sparks, fire and madness.
third form is that of the artificer. Some learn the trade of the
artificer, while others have a seemingly natural knack for it.
Responsible for the creation of magic items and having an understanding
of the inner workings and flow of magic, artificers really come in two
forms. The first, and most common, is those who know a few tricks, often
passed on from their parents, without knowing WHY these tricks work. A
blacksmith that knows how to make metals that rarely break due to
instructions passed down in his family is a perfect example of one.
These artificers follow recipes, unaware of why what they're doing works
how it works. These are relatively common, especially beyond the core,
and it's not uncommon for a village to have a blacksmith or healer who
knows a few arcane family tricks.
second and more feared form is that of those who actually KNOW why it
works. These artificers understand, either through learning or
intuition, how the magic they use works. Unlike their lesser siblings,
they are not bound to certain forms or expressions of their art, but are
instead free to craft whatever they want, long as their knowledge
allows them. Unfortunately, like with all magic, such knowledge has a
tendency to warp their minds, and "true" artificers are infamous for
having gained their arts in exchange for, if not their sanity, at the
very least their common sense. They often wander outside the core,
building evermore elaborately insane devices and testing them on
ferocious beasts of the wild or, more commonly, fuelling their desire
for more knowledge, more prototypes and more madness with the filthy
lucre that is the adventurer's reward.
much like adventuring, is somewhat frowned upon in the kingdom. While
originally banned altogether, the third emperor Solarius has seen its
uses, and various forms of magic has slowly begun to be allowed. Wizards
are legal, assuming they earn the right licenses ("earned" by hefty
initial fees and a yearly renewal cost "For the work required") and
don't do anything criminal. A wizard caught doing a crime always faces
the maximum possible sentence. They are also required to offer their
services according to a standardized charter for various spells and
effects, and it's a true sign of the wealthy to afford a display of
magic by a potent wizard. The outer rims, like always, has its fair
share of wizards who couldn't care less about laws banning their
knowledge. Considering these are beings who build giant towers and throw
fire by snapping their fingers, attempts to enforce these laws in areas
where the local militia is usually a man named Wentworth with a rusty
spear have so far not been attempted.
while not illegal, are required to be reported to and adopted by the
state, whereupon they are taken away to specialized institutes that sees
them trained and raised by the state in what is, all in all, rather
nice conditions. Upon reaching maturity they are all enlisted to a
specialized unit within the army known as the Sun Legions, a regiment
composed entirely of "magical" creatures. On the outer rims, sorcerers
are usually feared due to their unreliable gifts, and often shunned if
not exiled entirely. Needless to say, most end up as adventurers, if
only due to necessity.
magic is far more accepted, and works by the virtue of incessant favour
trading between a divine being and its chosen vassals. Most who become
members of a god's flock does so willingly, with most major churches
taking on those who are willing and considered worthy, who are then
educated for a year in the nature of their god before being presented to
their would-be lord in an annual ceremony that sees the god in question
accept or reject those who stand before it. More unusually, a god will
occasionally give its favour upon one who is NOT intentionally seeking
its patronage. These occasions are rare and usually only occur on the
rim, where institutionalized temples are less common and the potential
for glory and worship to be earned in the god's name is much greater.
is usually a title given upon those who, while able to call upon gods,
decide to spend their life healing the sick in temples and making
peaceful pilgrimages across the rim. Paladins are the ones who strap on
full-plate, pick up a sword and call down the wrath of their god for
honour and glory.
last form of magic is that of nature. Unlike arcane or divine, natural
magic is often considered primitive by "civilized society", and wielders
are feared in the outer rims and prosecuted in the core. In actuality,
it's more primal than anything, and comes in a multitude of forms.
Shamans are its most infamous wielders, men and women who are tied to
the wilderness, able to command plants to rise, trees to walk and make
animals do their bidding. The shed their skins in favour of other forms.
But they are no wise watchers of the woods, no tree hugging
philosophers espousing peace and communion with nature. No, shamans are
savage things, animalistic, alien beings who sleep in trees, wear raw
animal hide (and supposedly human skin, if rumours are to be believed)
and run down prey and eat it raw. While most are as intelligent as any
other human (or whatever race they may be) they all pay little heed to
society's laws, though some are less savage than others. Nobody quite
know how they come about. Some claim shamans are born to other shamans,
while some claim they kidnap children in the night. Rumours speak of men
who become mauled by animals in their beds, only to then have their
graves desecrated in the night and their loved ones tormented by wolves
that prowl outside their house at night or ravens that follow them on
rainy days. Shamans in general are victims of incessant rumours and
myths, which are particularly widespread at the rim. It's often claimed
they sleep with animals, and it's not unusual for centaurs, minotaurs
and other animalistic species to be referred to as "Shaman spawn" due to
claims regarding their origin. Shamans still exist in the woods and
wilderness, and the more social ones even adventure, though they often
work to keep their true nature a secret.
nature magic comes in countless other forms, with shamans simply being
its most well-known expression. Coastal towns often speak of the
Stormwalkers, beings who live in tune with the storms that often plague
the coasts. It is said that every beat of their heart is like the
thunderclap of a brutal storm, every crack sending thunder crashing
through their veins, and some even claim that they are the storms, their
flesh nothing more than black clouds and dark waves weaved into human
form. Then there is the mysterious hunters of the crescent lord,
alternatively claimed to be animals in human form and men in the skin of
beasts. They are spoken of in hushed whispers, and children are often
warned that they come for those who misbehave. It is said that they can
steal your skin and take your form, but that beneath lies nothing but
living weapons of bone and sinew, the most perfect instrument of their
dark lord’s thirst for savage bloodshed.
Plague Kings are cursed by every farmer or innkeeper ever to fall prey
to vermin. Said to be born when greedy men die of starvation or those
who spread sickness among the healthy fall victim to their illness,
Plague Kings are beings who carry vermin and disease within their flesh,
nothing but hollow shells of skin that spew forth plague-ridden rats
and ravenous swarms of locust.
meanwhile, are the mysterious beings worshipped by sailors everywhere.
Claimed to be divinely beautiful, they are supposedly the chosen men and
maidens of the lady of the sea. Said to swim the depths and bring the
will of their mistress to ships. Apparently their wrath brings forth
maelstroms that drag down the ships of those that displease the lady,
while their kiss brings eternal life to those who honour their goddess.
course, countless more manifestation and creatures wield various forms
of nature magic, because if nature is anything, its diverse.
Kingdom as a whole is roughly the size of Australia, with the inner
core being covered in craggy mountains and Mediterranean climate. This
area is commonly referred to as the Core, and is home to the Capital of
the glorious kingdom, which sits almost dead centre of the continent,
nestled within a chain of mountains. It is surrounded by numerous other
cities and kingdoms, interspersed with occasional farmland and a great
many mining endeavours.
out, the climate begins to grow hotter, giving way to both forests and
great rivers that turn the surrounding land incredibly fertile. Here,
cities give way to towns, farming is one of the most common professions
and the great amount of savage magical beasts, ancient fortresses, dark
dungeons and darker hordes leads to the main area of activity for
Sentinels, due to the kingdom having enough of a presence to enforce its
rules without being able to bring overbearing military might down on
its various problems.
out still, a bit over halfway to the coast, the rim appears. A more or
less circular 300 meter drop of craggy, rocky cliffs interrupted only by
the occasional angled canyon road creates a rather visible divide that
has in time begun to serve as a political as well as physical barrier.
Beyond the rim lies the outer rim, where the influence of the kingdom
becomes increasingly rare, apart from the many outposts that watch and
patrol the main trade roads. Here, Sentinels rarely bother to go, due to
the stiff competition they face from the far, far more brutal
adventurers that couldn't give a damn about licenses and first claim
rights. Unlicensed wizards, wandering artificers, rampaging sorcerers
and bandit hordes are common, and shamans and others of their ilk still
lurk in deeper forests. Monsters often attack settlements, and the
people of the smaller villages that dot the landscape quickly learn how
to repel the most basic of beasts, with plenty of ghost towns left to
tell the fate of those who don't. Cities once again appear, though these
large, walled bastions of military might have little in common with the
sparkling, clean cities of the core.
the east and south, what is known as the golden shores appears. Once
again giving way to golden beaches and significant, if concentrated,
kingdom presence, the golden shores plays host to the large harbour city
of Ankh, which serves as the main port for trade with the mysterious
eastern lands, from which exotic wares is imported in vast quantities.
To the west and north lies the dark coast, an area covered in marshes
and swamps, inhabited by fishing villages and what many suspects is the
strongest concentration of shamans on the mainland, to the point where
some even are rumoured to stay in contact with local villages, trading
them the aid of their forbidden magics in return for strong spirits and,
according to darker rumours whispered by noble ladies speaking of the
savagery of the outer rim, virgins both male and female. These shores
are often plagued by raids from corsairs attacking from the Reapers
field, any many adventurers make a more than comfortable living by
working to ensure such raids fail.
majority of shamans, along with many other nature magic users and races
dwell on an island commonly referred to as Reapers field. Originally a
large island off the dark coast, it earned its name due to the fact that
the entire island was one big wasteland, devoid of life, growth or
civilization. Before the rise of the glorious kingdom it was commonly
used as a penal colony, with many of the more coastal towns simply
deporting unwanted members to it via ship. Shamans, and others of their
more savage ilk were the most common victims to this treatment. However,
the practice experienced a massive surge roughly 20 years before the
kingdom, when a massive wave of draught, bad weather and animal attacks
saw death tolls rise and crop yield diminish. Shamans were blamed for
it, and mobs were commonly formed to deport suspected or would-be
shamans, and many smaller Lordships turned entire armies (and masses of
hired adventurers) to the task of capturing or even just herding natural
magic users towards the dark coast. Eventually, the majority of shamans
had been driven onto Reapers field, at which point they were more or
less left alone. The practice of exile to Reapers field was officially
banned within years of the kingdom's arrival, but like most of its
decrees, it holds little weight out in the rim.
Reapers field is a single massive jungle/forest, a gigantic monument to
the power of thousands of shamans working in unison. The entire island
is covered in verdant, lush, savage growth, inhabited by the most
ferocious of predator, cunning shamans and thousands of unknown beings
only whispered of in horror. The island is surrounded by a massive
makeshift floating city, composed of corsairs, pirates, criminals and
raiders who've been driven to sea like the shamans once were.
in the sea, various aquatic races live undisturbed by the surface, with
only the Sahuagin and the sea kin having any regular contact with land.
The kin to trade their scavenged treasures and exotic sea-creature
hides with the kingdom traders and then turn around and seduce their
wives. The Sahuagin to perpetuate their mysterious religious war with
the swamp dwelling lizardfolk and their halfbreed greenspawn bastard
kin, clashing with one another where the swamp meets the sea and
tainting the waters red as they break against one another for seemingly
no other reason than carnage for the sheer bloody sake of it.
the north coast then lies a group of islands, with Reapers field
nestled in the middle of this large stretch of tropical island keys.
Recently, the kingdom has discovered that these islands are host to a
plethora of valuable resources, including rare woods, rich veins of gold
and wide fields of tobacco, cotton and exotic fruit. As such, attempts
to colonize the islands have begun, with Reapers field quickly becoming a
cancer in their plans. From Reapers field, the shamans and their
piratical neighbours are constantly launching attacks not only on nearby
islands, but ships going to and from the Eastern kingdoms, further
hampering the kingdom's planned economies, and there are rumblings that
the kingdom is soon to begin posting truly ample awards for the
elimination of pirates. Itself not that unusual, since bounty work is
commonly given to Sentinels in the inner core. No, what's causing the
commotion is the rumour that such work will be exempt from license laws,
meaning that the dark coast might very well start to attract even more
unpleasant folk than it already does...
shadow gods: While previously common on the outer rim, they have mostly
fallen out of favour by the common man, though they're still regularly
worshipped on the Dark Coast, especially by those in dangerous or old
professions. Worshipping them is technically a crime, and quite a
grievous one if caught doing it in the core. On the rim, being revealed
as a worshipper is more likely to get one seen as a somewhat crazy old
timing weirdo than a monster, though you'll not be making any friends.
On the Dark Coast, actually talking about it is considered nothing more
than particularly bad taste, akin to mentioning sexual details in casual
conversation. Sure, everybody does it, but it's still not something you
Wanderer: A nameless deity of cunning and deception, he holds the
domain of artifice, chaos, deception and travel. A mysterious,
travelling god said to wander the earth in a million disguises, he is
the patron saint of thieves, con-men and adventurers. A trickster god,
he is said to deceive those he meets, taking those foolish enough to
fall for it for everything they got while rewarding those suspicious and
cunning enough to see through his ruse. His domains include shadows,
trickery, deception, lies and theft. His symbol is two parallel lines
crossed with a sideways line.
lady of the sea: The undisputed queen of storms and seas, she is the
worshipped by most Dark Coast sailors. Cold and swift, her storms are
said to aid those strong enough to use her savage winds while crushing
the weak beneath the dark tides. Her domains are Storms, Seas, winter
and destruction. Her symbol is a drowning hand reaching from the water.
always referred to as the Crescent Lord: The god of predators, he is
often associated with murder, theft and war. A vicious beast of a man
that manifests on every crescent moon and prowls through the night
looking for prey, it is believed that uttering his name draws his
attention, and so he is always referred to by his title. His domains
include death, war, nature, fear and night. His sign is a faceless
wooden mask adorned with antler horns.
Paragon lords: The shadow gods more virtuous reflections, they are the
deities of choice in the core and among the stout and good hearted men
and women everywhere. Worshipping them is also not a crime, which makes
actual worship far less troublesome.
the Wooden lord: A kind, good hearted god of life and nature, he is the
patron of farmers everywhere. Said to walk the woods in summer,
bringing light and life into it once more. He is also the god of
fertility and childbirth, and his image is often hung above the beds of
expecting mothers. His domains include Life, healing, nature, birth and
growth. His symbol is a gnarled staff covered in growth.
The INFERNO OF JUSTICE!: A goddess of fire and justice, she is said to
strike down the deserving and spare the righteous, leading to the
cultural association of fire with law. Though just, she is without mercy
for the guilty, and while her punishment is fair, it is meted out
without compassion. Her domains include Fire, Justice, Law, fear and
sunlight. Her symbol is a burning sword.
Warden. A god of death, the warden is both faceless and genderless. It
is compassionate but stern, kind but unyielding. It guards the
underworld, seeing through the trapping and deceptions of life and
assigning afterlives fitting to those who enter its domain. Criminals
and evil men suffer unspeakable torments for time eternal, while the
kind and the good enjoy paradise forever. Its domain includes death,
rebirth, law, mercy, night and imprisonment.
take the role either as licensed Sentinels arriving at the Dark Coast
or unlicensed adventurers already there. Being a Sentinel means you're
an outsider and get treated as such by the locals, but in exchange you
will have legal rights to claim bounties and the respect of any kingdom
officials or citizens come this way. Adventurers, meanwhile, are pretty
much the opposite. You're unlicensed and thus a legal underdog if some
Sentinel scum comes and tries to bully you off your share, but you know
the coasts and you've got the respect of the dark coast and outer rim.
can be tied to any one of the three magical sources, or simply be
potent fighters able to go take on entire squads of trained soldiers. In
the case of arcane magic, it's simply a matter of picking one of the
three "classes" within, while divine magic users simply need to pick a
deity. Nature magic users should work on themes, like one able to
command storms or one who can speak to animals or command winter.
Alternatively, you can elect to be a shaman or even a chosen one of
terms of race, the traditional races of elves, dwarves and hobbits,
ehm, sorry, "Halflings" don't exist. Shaman spawn do, and come in a
multitude of shapes and sizes, a few being established enough to have
societies and realms all their own. If you want to be one, go ahead. If
being one comes with powers and not just cool visuals, you buy them with
your power pool, just like you do magical skills and superhuman
abilities. A few more common ones include:
seakin. Needle toothed humanoids with gills, swept back ears and black
eyes, they live, as their name suggests, in the sea. They occasionally
trade with villages and towns on the coast, usually with strange hides
and beautiful pearls. They are known for their zeal for life, their
disturbing laughter, alien beauty and lust for humans. The racial
stereotype of seakin, which is rampant, paints them as hedonistic
barbarians out to trade because they're lazy and seduce wives because
they're horny. Most of the time, it seems rather accurate.
Massive, amphibious reptilian humanoids, covered in heavy scales and
armed with wicked claws. They dwell in the swamps of the dark coast,
cold-blooded, vicious and seemingly utterly unwilling to deal with
anything resembling civilization. All that most people know is that
they're all deadly warriors and they all wade into sea to fight some
senseless war with the Sahuagin.
The seakins vicious brothers and the Lizardkins hated foe. Akin to
sharks with legs, the Sahuagin are tireless, emotionless killers without
remorse or compassion. Massive, unstoppable and without mercy, they
occasionally conduct brutal raids on seaside villages and even towns,
wielding primitive weapons of bone and strange, multi-pronged spears,
slaying all they see and feasting on the bodies in the streets.