Setting Idea: Wounded Gaia - Page 6
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  1. #51
    I'm thinking about a default setting for Wounded Gaia. Following the discussion in another ENWorld thread, the problem I have with the previously proposed valley is that it is quite restrictive, a bit too restrictive in fact IMHO for a true sandbox campaign. So I've been thinking about an island or a group of islands (three large and nine small), where the PCs can travel more or less wherever they wish between the islands with a small boat, but getting to the mainland would be difficult and require an expensive ship or strong magic, making the "box" a little confined for the lower levels.

    My main worry about multiple islands (rather than just one) is that it might be a little too ambitious for a project I do in my spare time. But on the other hand not every hex has to be detailed, and most of the large-scale map would be the sea between and around these islands.

    What do you think?

  2. #52
    The reasons I thought about multiple islands are twofold.

    First, breaking up the same amount of land into several smaller parcels separated by the sea means that the big overview map would have a significant portion of water. This would allow me to create a larger, higher-scale map without creating a too large landmass. I want the overall map to be quite large as I want more than one climate zone in it, from cold temperate (with a growing season) in the south, through subarctic in the middle to downright arctic (frozen year-long) in the north. I'm not sure if I can cram all of these climate zones into one island which is, say, 120-160 miles long; if I split up the island into multiple islands separated by sea, I can stretch the overview map to a larger size (say 540 by 540 miles for the very least), allowing for the integration of all of these climate zones into the campaign.

    Second, breaking the landmass into multiple islands would make things more interesting exploration-wise as you'll have to use both land and sea travel to get from place A to place B. It would also allow for naval adventures and for piracy (ARRR!).

  3. #53
    The Dawn Age, ending approximately 1,500 years ago, saw the rise and growth of three mighty empires: Kurnagor, Astasana and Tinarava.

    Kurnagor, Empire of the Forge, was populated predominantly by dwarves and humans. It was well-known for its miners and craftsmen (especially smiths), and its power was based on a well-disciplined, well-armed army. It was ruled by an Emperor, sharing his power with the Council of clan heads. Many of the Kurnagoran innovations in metallurgy, construction and weapon-smithing laid the foundation for the great advances in technology in the subsequent Age of Blossom.

    Astasana, Empire of the Wise, was predominantly human, though in its latter days it had a growing goblinoid population. It was famous for its mages and sages, and its power lay in the cunning and arcane knowledge of its wizardly scholars. While its titular ruler was the High Archmage, the true power lay in the hands of the heads of the various Mages' Guilds. The phenomenal development of magical knowledge during the Age of Blossom has its roots in the surviving teachings of the Astasanan Empire.

    Tinarava, the Empire of the Grove, was populated by many peoples, including but not limited to humans, elves, lerini, lizardmen and orcs. It was known for its devotion to the Mother Goddess, who seemingly granted it with many natural and agricultural boons; its power lay in its extremely fertile fields, feeding armies of a size unseen in its rivals. It was ruled by the High Priestess, presiding over the hierarchy of priestesses. The most important teachings of the old Mother Goddess religion originate from the Tinaravan priesthood.

  4. #54
    A little about the races of Gaia.

    Gaia was blessed by a large number of sentient species, many more than on most other plants. Some of that might be a natural by-product of the world's sentient, divine biosphere - the Mother Goddess; but in part it has to do with luck and with unearthly experiments conducted by mages in general and by Astasanan wizards in the Dawn Age in particular.

    Humans, Orcs, Ogres, Dwarves, Halflings and Giants are biologically related species, all belonging to the Homo genus. They are not, however, sub-species of the same species, and thus, generally speaking, cannot produce fertile crossbreeds. In rare occasions, however, infertile crossbreeds are possible, especially between humans and orcs or humans and dwarves. Like mules or ligers, these half-breeds tend to be quite strong, but cannot reproduce. But such cross-breeds are rare, and in many cases a pregnancy carrying such an offspring could suffer from complications and a difficult birth.

    Note that there are no gnomes in this world.

    Elves are feline humanoids, more related to cats than to humans. They are excellent hunters, well-suited to stalking prey in the forest; unlike the elves of other worlds, they cannot cross-breed with humans and they also have only two - no more - contemporary species (normal and Dark). They are not better mages than humans, but they are superb hunters, trackers, thieves and foresters.

    Goblinoids are distant relatives of Humanity, developing from a different branch of the ape family. The vast variety of goblinoid species, however is by no means natural. Until the Dawn Age, there was only one Goblinoid species: the feral Bugbears. But then the Astasanan mages conducted horrible breeding experiments on these monstrous humanoids, producing at least two new species: mighty Hobgoblins bred to be shock-troopers, and weak but rapidly-reproducing goblins bred to be manual laborers and foot-soldiers.

    Lerini, Kobolds and, more distantly, Lizardmen are related to Dragons. They are all worm-blooded reptilians adapted to different ecological niches: Lerini to warm forest-swamps, Kobolds to rough hilly terrain and Lizardmen to more open swamps. Kobolds are particularly related to Dragons, and, in one way or another, know this and take pride in this.


    Playable races include Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings, Orcs, Kobolods, Lizardmen and Lerini.


    [Note than in this world the biosphere came first and the gods and spirits second, its offsprings; the Mother Goddess had an active hand in this evolution once she has Awakened in primordial times, though]

  5. #55
    I have a decision to make about the default Wounded Gaia (sandbox) setting.

    One option I'm considering is a long, snaking mountain valley, with a less colder climate (i.e. snowy winter and a summer you can grow agricultural products in) in its lower parts and a progressively colder climate the deeper you climb with it into the mountains (up to a permanent glacier at its end covering a lost city). The advantage of such a setting would be its simplicity: a large town low in the valley, a few smaller tows upper into the mountains and a few more villages; beyond that there would be wilderness and difficult to climb mountains. The disadvantage of such a setting would be its limited scope as a sandbox, especially as the valley's relative narrowness would keep things somewhat linear; this might hinder the wandering-about part of a sandbox. An alternative would be a wider or more circular valley with more maneuvering space inside it and some branches going up to the mountains and up to the frozen lost city.

    The other option is a largish island (think Morrowind), with a cold-temperate climate on its shores and lower areas, but with mountains and a flat, high plateau in its middle where its is frozen year-long. The advantage of such a setting would be that this will give more wandering-around space for the sandbox and make larger-scale politics possible (with three or so city-states on it); being an island surrounded by a stormy, ice-choked sea would also confine the players to the island until mid-high levels. The disadvantages would be its scope, as well as the fact that being surrounded by a sea would keep the setting a bit limited (but this might also be an advantage).

    Any input would be welcome

  6. #56
    Defender (Lvl 8)

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    Block Quartz

    With regard to the fey, I'm not so sure that corruption is a good idea. They don't need to be corrupted to be hostile.

  7. #57
    I think the island is more manageable in some respects; flying doesn't allow the PC's to escape very quickly/easily as it does in the valley scenario. And you can have more nearby islands if need be, which can expand the setting slowly.

    The valley option (especially several valleys on the slopes of a mountain range, which are linked near the top) gives a campaign world which can grow suddenly whenever you choose. Either they find a route out of the mountains (an ancient collapsed tunnel, a pass newly revealed in an earthquake?) or they find a way to bypass them (flight is the one that comes quickest to my mind). By about 7th level the PCs can/should be able to find ways to fly, either by spell, by item or by shapechange, etc...

  8. #58
    in saying this I'm not saying that Quartz is wrong, but in order to have hostile fey you usually have to tick them off somehow, possibly there would be a misunderstanding that caused the fey to think that the players were doing wrong and a successful diplomacy check would bring them to their senses as to what happened. That could also apply to corrupt fey, that a diplomacy check will bring them back to normal, meaning indifferent or helpful for having saved them.

  9. #59
    I think I'll go for a largish island (240 by 180 miles in size) which I'll tentatively call Zagadur.

    The southern and south-eastern parts of Zagadur Isle will have plains and rolling hills, lightly forested in some places and generally arable; some swamps will exist as well. These sides of the island will be warmed by ocean currents coming from the south, making their climate bearable in the summer (the winter will still be heavily snowy and quite cold). Most civilized habitation of the island will be in these parts, though even they will be quite wild, with danger lurking between the isolated pockets of civilization.

    In the middle of Zagadur Isle will be mountains, and on their top a relatively flat plateau, which will be permanently frozen. A lost city from the Age of Blossom will sit in the middle of the plateau; an old white dragon will also lair in the plateau.

    In the north of the island, which will not be warmed by the ocean currents, will be dense taiga, the dwelling-place of various horrible beasts of the frozen north, such as mammoths, woolly rhinos, saber-tooth cats and maybe even dragons. The only inhabitants of this cold region will be nomads riding domesticated mammoths, as well as snow-orcs.

    The western and north-eastern coastal areas will be quite thin, with only a few miles between the sea and the mountains. These areas will have rugged terrain and will be generally non-inhabitable; some wildlife will still exist there, as well as (possibly) humanoids.

  10. #60
    A bit about the Zagadur's history.

    Zagadur Isle is rich in metal, especially iron, tin, lead and copper. For this reason, as well as to serve as a stopover in a naval trade-route, it was first colonized by Kurnagor in the Dawn Age. The Kurnagorans built a few settlements near what was then the coastline (and now is the foothills) - including digging the first mine in what is now Norin's Stand - and eventually established a Murdahaz, major mining town in the plateau up in the mountains where a rich Mithril vein could be found.

    Most of these settlements were abandoned early in the Age of Dusk, as trade dwindled during the Dusk War sunk many ships and ruined the major ports. During that time, goblinoid raiders from the south sailed along the ocean currents and established a foothold on the island, pillaging the nearly defenseless Kurnagoran settlements.

    In the 113th year of the Age of Blossom, Dwarven and Human settlers returned in force Zagadur and drove away most of the goblinoids and other beasts into hiding in remote mountain crags. They reopened the mines, rebuilt Murdahaz in the plateau and established several ports and fishing towns along what was then the coastline. Eventually, Murdahaz prospered and grew into a large industrial city.

    When Winter came in the 362nd (and final) year of the Age of Blossom, several ships loaded with refugees from the mainland fled the famine and chaos there to the relative safety of Zagadur. This illusion of safety, however, did not last long. As the Ten Years without a Summer came, the seas around Zagadur Isle filled with deadly ice, preventing further sailing from the mainland. A huge sheet of ice formed in the north, connecting the northern tip of the isle with the freezing mainland; many beasts of the North, as well as Snow Orcs, used the ice-sheet to cross the ocean and spread to Zagadur, attacking the remaining settlements. And Murdahaz itself, the Jewel of Zagadur, was choked by the ice, its fertile fields no longer able to bear enough grain to feed it. Famine set in, followed by chaos; civilization fell into barbarity.

    But, inch by inch, civilization recovered. The seas receded, revealing new arable land, which, eventually could be settled and farmed; and the much reduced population once again reached a state of equilibrium with the available food sources. In the year 72 of the Frozen Age, Igor the Iron-Fisted united some of the survivors living in the southern parts of the island, drove away a few of the resurgent goblinoid tribes, and became the first King of Zagadur. He established the town of Igorgrad - now the kingdom's capital - and engaged in a series of wars to reconquer more parts of the Isle. He also formed a crude feudal system, with his two greatest war-leaders becoming Counts, each entitled with the right to grant the title of Baron to their trusted underlings.

    Today, in the year 217 FA, the ninth year of the reign of Mira II 'The Wise', there are three Counties on Zagadur, each divided into three Baronies. The Queen also holds a Royal Domain in the richest agricultural region of Zagadur, and each Count holds a significant portion of his or her county as a Count's Domain. Barons typically rule frontier towns and villages where the Count feels that a strong guiding hand must be present.

    While the Queen is Zagadur's sovereign, and has the sworn fealty of all Counts, Barons and Knights of the realm, each noble has a great degree of autonomy. In fact, in some occasions one Count or Baron marches against the other in order to grab territory and resources. Mira II is a wise queen, and knows how to play one noble against the other to keep herself on top of the situation, all while limiting infighting to small border skirmishes.

    The greatest enemies of the realm are monsters, goblinoids, and Snow Orcs. The latter raid in the winter, coming from the sea in longships enchanted with foul magicks to cut through the ice as through butter.

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