D&D 5E Creating a New Campaign World Based on Hope & Optimism


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DarkMantle

Explorer
You said the the past and present is corruption.
But you also said that with the Gift of Hope, they experienced something in the past that gave them belief that the world can be changed for the better.
Maybe I took it too literally, but if the past is corruption, then why wasn't their past belief corrupted?

So I thought maybe Time itself (or the Gods of Fate/Past/Present) are being corrupted.

So past memories are corrupted, forgotten or distorted.
But with the Gift of Hope, the character's memories are untainted, so they can remember any joy and beauty in the past. That's why they have hope.

And in the present, most people feel corruption intruding in the moment, unable to appreciate the moment.
But the characters are able to see through the corruption to what lies beneath, appreciate the moment, seize the day and all that, and that's why they're able to create a brighter future.
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
Seeds of Hope

One of the central metaphors of the Amnesis campaign is the idea of Seeds of Hope. The world is corrupt, but if the characters plant Seeds of Hope, they will grow into a better world.

Characters carry Seeds of Hope within them; this is what makes them different than those who are corrupted or those who are hopeless.

Communities have Seeds of Hope, but they are tempered by the Rot of Corruption. It is an adventurer’s job to nurture or liberate the Seed of Hope by eliminating the Rot of Corruption.

Amnesis is home to many factions; without a central government, factions constantly battle each other for control of the realm. Each faction has a Seed of Hope and a Rot of Corruption. Adventurers can work to influence factions towards Hope, or use the Corruption to destroy the faction.

The Seeds of Hope are important when imagining what a typical adventure actually looks like.

In standard 5th Edition, an adventure might look something like this:
  • Arrive at a new location
  • Find out about a local dungeon
  • Explore the dungeon: kill creatures, find treasure
  • Return to town to collect rewards

In Amnesis, an adventure will look something like this:
  • Arrive at a new community, or encounter a new faction
  • Identify the Seeds of Hope and the Rot of Corruption
  • Work to nurture the Seeds of Hope
    • by exploring a nearby dungeon
    • by fighting bad guys
    • by retrieving a magic item from Vaulten Hall
    • by traveling to somewhere dangerous
    • etc
  • Use Downtime to secure the community and help it grow.

In order to mechanically support this adventure structure, Amnesis will use milestone levelling. Each community or faction will have a number of Seeds of Hope that will grant Milestone Experience. Adventurers can also receive new Gifts of Hope (magic items, feats, proficiencies, property, titles, etc) by securing communities through Downtime.

Here’s what that might look like:

Toadstone Hollow
Toadstone Hollow is a village in the middle of a steep, wooded valley flanked by tall mountain slopes. It has traditionally been a mining village, digging into the nearby mountains for masonry stone. Toadstone Hollow is well known for its tradition of folk songs about the mines, mythology, and magic of the mountains. Since the fall of Vaulten Hall, Toadstone Hollow has suffered from a corruption of its mines. Strange voices echo from deep within the tunnels, causing nightmares and madness in those who listen. Most villagers attempt to block out or ignore the voices, but some have formed a cult worshiping the strange susurrations and trying to appease it with blood sacrifices.

Seeds of Hope
Adventurers can return hope to Toadstone Hollow by…
  • Silencing the Voice in the Mines
    • The voice is coming from the cursed corpse of Doreah, a woman who the musician Jonas Goldenrod sacrificed deep in the mines in order to make a deal with a fiend.
  • Repair the Mining Equipment
    • The mining equipment was scavenged for parts during the war.
  • Disassembling the Whispering Wardens
    • This cult has been seduced by the Voice in the Mines, and have been sacrificing souls in order to gain infernal power.
  • Discover the Source of the Nightmare Melody
    • Jonas Goldenrod plays a haunting melody at night that gives his enemies nightmares.
  • Reestablishing the Folk Guard
    • These armed bards used to patrol the valley, but were broken up during the war.
  • Reopening the Toadstone Valley Trade Route
    • This trade route has been blocked by a band of ogres who demand a hefty bribe or an impossible contest of strength.
  • Holding a Music Contest
    • The folk singers of Toadstone Hollow used to gather for a contest every year, but it hasn’t been held since the war.
  • Returning the Blessed Stonecarving Tools
    • A local family of sculptors want to retrieve their ancestor’s magic stonecarving tools.

Once each Seed is completed, the characters would gain XP as if defeating an Easy, Medium, Hard, or Deadly Encounter (depending on how many Seeds there are, the pace of leveling, and so on). DM’s would also be encouraged to grant Milestone Experience for other tasks the characters choose to take on in order to improve the lives of the Toadstone Hollow villagers.

Rot of Corruption
Once the adventurers begin to spread hope in Toadstone Hollow, the Rot of Corruption will spread.
  • After the first day, Jonas Goldenrod will begin to sing his Nightmare Melody. During a Long Rest, characters will have to make a Wisdom Saving Throw DC 10 or suffer from terrible nightmares or visions while a haunting song plays in their heads, and will not receive the benefits of a Long Rest.
  • Once the characters enter the mines, the Whispering Wardens will attack the Stonecutters Guild Hall, taking it over and transforming the statues into gargoyles.
  • If Jonas Goldenrod is not caught, after three days he will start to curse the other folk singers with his magic. Jonas will corrupt 1d4 musicians the first day, and then 1 each day after. As long as one of the musicians is free and cursed, they will continue to play the Nightmare Melody each night.
  • If the Voice in the Mines is not stopped after a week, Jonas Goldenrod and the other cursed musicians will spread their music to other communities. Any community the characters enter will have a 10% chance of having a cursed musician, who will play the Nightmare Melody when the characters rest.
  • If the Whispering Wardens are not stopped a week after taking the Stonecutters Guild Hall, they will open a portal to the Nine Hells, summoning fiends into Toadstone Hollow.
  • If the fiends are not stopped, they will take over Toadstone Hollow and carry all the villagers’ souls to the Nine Hells. Toadstone Hollow will be an abandoned town, desecrated and smelling of brimstone, the sound of whispering carried in the hot, dry wind.

Gift of Hope
Once the Voice in the Mine is silenced, and the Whispering Wardens have been defeated, the adventurers will be asked to guard Toadstone Hollow while the Stonecutters Guild rebuilds Stonesong, an amphitheater used before the war. The characters will have to spend three weeks in Toadstone Hollow, during which they may complete Downtime Activities.

After three weeks, Stonesong will be opened. The amphitheater will provide a number of benefits:
  • Characters who attend a one-hour performance will gain the benefits of a Long Rest.
  • If the Folk Guard has been reestablished, bards from Toadstone Hollow will begin touring the realm, performing music celebrating the achievements of the adventurers. There is a 10% chance that any community the adventurers arrive in will have heard of their accomplishments. If so, the characters will have advantage on Persuasion checks made with citizens of the community.
  • If the Toadstone Trade Route has been reopened, music merchants will arrive and set up a market by Stonesong. They sell Masterwork Instruments that grant +1 to all ability checks made with them, and Bard Scrolls up to 2nd Level.
  • If the characters invest 500 gold pieces into the amphitheater, they will become owners of it. The chance of a community having heard one of the Stonesong musicians increases to 25%.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
You said the the past and present is corruption.
But you also said that with the Gift of Hope, they experienced something in the past that gave them belief that the world can be changed for the better.
Maybe I took it too literally, but if the past is corruption, then why wasn't their past belief corrupted?

So I thought maybe Time itself (or the Gods of Fate/Past/Present) are being corrupted.

So past memories are corrupted, forgotten or distorted.
But with the Gift of Hope, the character's memories are untainted, so they can remember any joy and beauty in the past. That's why they have hope.

And in the present, most people feel corruption intruding in the moment, unable to appreciate the moment.
But the characters are able to see through the corruption to what lies beneath, appreciate the moment, seize the day and all that, and that's why they're able to create a brighter future.
These are great ideas!

When I was talking about the past, present, and future, I meant the general themes of the campaign world, not absolutes. Even in a world of corruption, there are glimpses of hope!
 

There's a phrase popular in Central America "hay fe"
It basically means have faith. But it more thoroughly means there is hope.

Your world has this vibe. For in the darkest days hope still exists and the future that can be built is better than the present that we have.
 

You have to notice the bad guys always come back wearing a different mask.

My suggestion is to tell the bad guys won the propaganda war thanks learned helplessness and emotional manipulation apealling the shame and guilty feeling. Let's read some articles of psychology about toxic people and how these to be stopped.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Religion and Faith

The world of Amnesis has no known gods.

In the centuries before the war, the wealthy rulers of Vaulten Hall established a system of ancestor worship. Citizens of the realm were forced to honor the ancestors of nobility through prayer and tithes. It is said that named gods used to be worshiped before this, but any records were destroyed by those in power.

Now most folks worship the Masters of the Three Towers, the powerful undead, aberrations, and fiends that conquered Vaulten Hall. There are three such individuals commonly worshiped as gods in Amnesis, though it is debatable if they truly have divine power.

Masters of the Three Towers
  • Old Ironspike
    • Symbol: A barbed whip
    • Domains: War, Forge
    • Forms of Corruption: Industry, Slavery
    • Old Ironspike is a powerful devil, said to rule over the Tower of the Heart. He grants his followers knowledge of powerful machines, but uses that industry to turn their fields to dust and forge chains for their wrists.
  • Grandma Golden
    • Symbol: A skull with two golden coins for eyes
    • Domains: Arcana, Death
    • Forms of Corruption: Greed, Immortality
    • Grandma Golden is a lich in beautiful robes whose treasure hoard is said to fill the entire Tower of the Soul. She promises her followers immortality and a glorious afterlife, if they can pay the price.
  • Grinn, the Smiling Child
    • Symbol: A necklace of teeth
    • Domains: Peace, Tempest
    • Forms of Corruption: Pollution, Zealotry
    • It is said that the first aberrations sprung from the mind of a spoiled child who wanted more; this was Grinn, and they remain the child ruler of the Tower of the Mind. Grinn wants everything, and those who pledge themselves to the Smiling Child are said to be filled with an ever-blissful peace.

The Forgotten Gods

After the war, rumors of gods spread once again in Amnesis.

The rare few who can channel divine power call to the Forgotten Gods. Some say these are the true gods, granting their will to priests and prophets. Others think it is the land itself, the raw elemental energies of the earth and sky channeled through chosen individuals.

Worship of the Forgotten Gods is a dangerous task. The Masters of the Three Towers are quick to visit destruction on temples and churches, and paranoid townsfolk may be inspired to take matters into their own hands in order to avoid worse fates.

That said, the power of the Forgotten Gods often impresses those who witness it. Clerics, Druids, and Paladins who channel the Forgotten Gods can easily inspire hope, or intimidate those too far corrupted.

One way adventurers can plant Seeds of Hope is in restoring worship of old gods. Unfortunately, so much has been forgotten about these gods that the rituals and lore must essentially be built anew.

During some adventures, the characters will come upon powerful magic items called Holy Symbols. This might be a rune carved into a stone, a wooden statue, the sanctified bones of an animal, or a fragment of ancient text.

Meditating upon the Holy Symbol (or casting Identify) reveals the Divine Domains and Seeds of Hope associated with its nameless god. In order to restore its divine power, the Holy Symbol must be given a Manifestation and a Lore.

Example Holy Symbols:

An iron horseshoe, with two crossed swords in the middle.
Divine Domains: War, Tempest
Seeds of Hope: Triumph, Progress

A bear skull carved with blackberry vines and stars.
Divine Domains: Arcana, Knowledge
Seeds of Hope: Joy, Tradition

An owl’s face, carved into the white wood of a birch.
Divine Domains: Grave, Order
Seeds of Hope: Refuge, Purpose

Manifestation:

A manifestation must be chosen for the god. This might be done in a few ways.

  • An Intelligence (Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion) check may reveal local magical beings, folk heroes, or animals connected to the Holy Symbol.
  • A Charisma (Investigation) check can be used to gather information from locals about possible manifestations.
  • Casting spells such as Divination or Commune with Nature can reveal the manifestation.
  • The manifestation can be discovered as part of an adventure or granted as a reward.

Lore:

To create the Lore of the god, the characters must be able to answer four of the following questions, one for each Divine Domain, and one for each Seed of Hope.

  • Why is this god prayed to?
  • What is this god’s temperament?
  • When has this god appeared?
  • What evidence is there of the god’s power?
  • What offerings are preferred by this god?
  • What stories or legends are told of this god?
  • What are the laws or commands of the god?
  • What restrictions or rituals does the god require?

These questions can be made up with a successful Charisma (Performance or Deception) check, researched through Intelligence (Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion) checks, revealed by spells such as Contact Other Planes and Legend Lore, or revealed in the course of an adventure.

Restoration of a God

Once a god has a Holy Symbol, a Manifestation, and Lore, it exists in Amnesis. It may have a proper name, such as Greenbeard, or be named after an animal or natural phenomena, such as the Briar Bear or Shadow of the Moon.

Restoring a god plants a Seed of Hope, and should grant Experience Points equal to a Deadly Encounter.

Forgotten Gods of Amnesis

A few gods have already been restored in the realm.

  • The Beggar
    • Holy Symbol: A cracked bowl
    • Domains: Peace, Trickery
    • Seeds of Hope: Charity, Brotherhood
    • Manifestation: The Beggar appears as a faceless individual dressed in rags, holding out a cracked bowl.
    • Lore: The Beggar is said to walk the realm, in the guise of a poor man, woman, or child, changing their face with every sunrise (trickery). They are generous to those who give them charity, and vengeful to those who withhold (charity). Folks pray to the Beggar for luck and mercy, or in order to curse the selfish or powerful (peace). It is said there is a secret order of priests known as the Barefoot Brotherhood, who go about in the guise of the Beggar in order to visit divine justice on those who hoard their wealth (brotherhood).
  • The Storm Horse
    • Holy Symbol: Crossed swords in a horseshoe
    • Domains: Tempest, War
    • Seeds of Hope: Triumph, Progress
    • Manifestation: A horse with a body of falling rain, a mane of flowing clouds, and whose hooves spark lightning
    • Lore: The Storm Horse is a temperamental god, quick to trample their enemies beneath hooves of thunder and lightning (tempest). The Storm Horse is a weather spirit, and is prayed to for safe travel and gentle seasons (progress). It is said that in times of war, the Storm Horse would gallop at the front of armies, lending its might to the battlefield (war). Those who wish to win the Storm Horse’s favor should dedicate their triumphs to the god by placing a horseshoe at sites of their personal good fortunes, such as over a baby’s crib, on a post above a bountiful crop, or at the door of a newly built town hall (triumph).
  • Greenbeard and the Lady of Vales
    • Holy Symbol: A face cut into a leaf
    • Domains: Nature, Twilight
    • Seeds of Hope: Regrowth, Balance
    • Manifestation: Greenbeard appears as a man made of bark and leaves, with a wild green beard. The Lady of Vales appears as a woman made of stone wearing a dress made of flowing water.
    • Lore: Greenbeard and the Lady of Vales are sometimes said to be a loving couple, sometimes bitter rivals, and sometimes two faces of the same god (balance). They are worshiped for protection in wild places, or to help crops grow (nature). The two are gods of dusk and dawn, and in worship songs are sung at times of transition: the planting of a new field, the dedication of a spring or holy grove, the birth or death of loved ones (regrowth). At the same time, Greenbeard and the Lady of Vales are fierce guardians of natural places, especially against the corrupting influences of the undead, aberrations, and fiends (twilight).

Other Holy Symbols

Here are some other Holy Symbols that may be found during adventures in Amnesis.

  • Holy Symbol: a red ruby with living fire within it
    • Domains: Forge, Life
    • Seeds of Hope: Health, Rebirth
    • Possible Manifestations: fire; a smithy with a glowing heart; a shield guardian
    • Possible Name: Hearthheart
  • Holy Symbol: an owl’s face carved into white wood
    • Domains: Grave, Order
    • Seeds of Hope: Refuge, Purpose
    • Possible Manifestations: a great white owl; the moon; a hollow birch tree
    • Possible Name: Shadow of the Moon
  • Holy Symbol:a bear skull carved with blackberry vines and stars
    • Domains: Knowledge, Arcana
    • Seeds of Hope: Joy, Tradition
    • Possible Manifestations: a black bear with stars in its coat; a hermit wearing a bearskin cloak; a blackberry briar formed like a man or beast
    • Possible Name: The Briarberry Bear
  • Holy Symbol: a comet with a rainbow tail
    • Domains: Light, Death
    • Seeds of Hope: Light in the Darkness, an End to Suffering
    • Possible Manifestations: a comet; a hooded figure carrying a torch; a sparkling geode
    • Possible Name: The Torchbearer
 
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Savage Wombat

Adventurer
I love the idea, but something about my writing brain doens't like "Corruption" as the word here. I'd want a thematic word that better projects the antithesis here.

Nitpicking comment over. Keep up the good work.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I love the idea, but something about my writing brain doens't like "Corruption" as the word here. I'd want a thematic word that better projects the antithesis here.

Nitpicking comment over. Keep up the good work.
Interesting! To me, corruption is important because it is an active force. The adventurers can't just sit around counting their gold, because the forces of corruption are actively making the world a worse place. It implies that action must be taken to prevent corruption from occurring.

It also, to me, ties into the idea that a lot of building a better world is in strengthening communities. Corruption is what destroys communities (in my view).
 

Yora

Legend
There's a phrase popular in Central America "hay fe"
It basically means have faith. But it more thoroughly means there is hope.

Your world has this vibe. For in the darkest days hope still exists and the future that can be built is better than the present that we have.
As we say, Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt.

Hope is the last to die.
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
Interesting! To me, corruption is important because it is an active force. The adventurers can't just sit around counting their gold, because the forces of corruption are actively making the world a worse place. It implies that action must be taken to prevent corruption from occurring.

It also, to me, ties into the idea that a lot of building a better world is in strengthening communities. Corruption is what destroys communities (in my view).
Well, you could use something like "restoration" or "preservation" as the positive word to better oppose corruption, if one of them felt right. Another word with a connotation of "building faithfully" might work better than those.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
This sounds a bit like the background assumptions behind the game TORG. You might find something inspiring there.

P.S. I have no idea how much / little there is available on the Internet about TORG to search through.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Kind of straying from the topic, but this thread made me think that a fun campaign world might be one in which, instead of having a Big Evil to defeat, the Big Evil has recently been defeated. (Think 4th Age Middle Earth.). So everybody is happy, the world is sunshine and roses, and all that's left of the old regime is a few stray gnomes to be hunted down and summarily executed.

Except...people are jerks. While most people are looking forward to peace and prosperity, a handful see a power vacuum and want to take advantage of it.

And some of them, in an attempt to gain the upper hand over the common thugs, start messing around with things that should be left alone...

(Alternately, this would also make a good premise for a sci-fi campaign.)
 

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