Fantasy Setting Design: ISO Critiques and Collaborators (+)


So, I'm designing a fantasy campaign setting called Atlán: Realm of the Gods set on the world of Erdeyn, a low-magic, high-damage world (think Tolkien-esque) with elements of ancient technologies and a war of machines in the Age of Dreams. There's a hollow-world within it called Orphalis, and between the surface and the Pellucidar-like inner world lies the Evergloom, my own version of the Underdark. This idea was sparked by two issues in Dragon magazine: 258 and 270, with their 'Sheen Mages and techno-wizards. I took that idea and ran with it.

The premise of the book is that it is a travelogue and almanac put out by the High Council of Wizardry, which formed three millennia prior to the current day as a result of the Schism and the war with the Protea, the clockwork machines infected with the evil essence of a god who obliterated himself when trying to manifest his corpus into the prime material plane. They are guardians of all things magical, and serve as a storehouse of wisdom and knowledge recovered in the intervening centuries, similar to how Tar Valon operated in the Wheel of Time, but not so tight-fisted with that lore. Their mission statement is to prevent the rise of powerful archmages who may use magic to cause wars or lay waste to entire kingdoms.

Looking for critiques on writing and style, as per normal, but I need to know what else to add to it that might be of use to GMs, with the caveat that I don't yet have an RPS, but was going to create a mashup of 3.5e with Friday Night Firefight/Interlok specifically for this game world. The idea was to make mages and magic use more rare and encourage players to use inventiveness and ingenuity to overcome obstacles and leave magic as a background element and used only when necessary. If anyone has ideas about traditions or cultural elements, or anything else, I'll happily add it in. I've used AI art for the most part as my pockets are nowhere deep enough to hire artists, but it really just serves as visual placeholders to sort of showcase my ideas.

I've detailed the first kingdom, and started going down the coast with cities and giving each an outline for GMs to sort of fill-in and add to as they see fit. However, I'm not sure what else I should be adding besides a few rough paragraphs of description, and a handful of personalities. Calculating populations (for figuring resources, city layouts, square mileage, etc) will be a trip as I'm not that great at math, but I will get to it. I've been more focused on laying the political and cultural aspects down so that the rest sort of self-generates on its own. Once you have a few plot hooks, more seem to naturally rise from those rough guidelines. I'm not even sure if I should detail all the cities on the one map I have in color (a blow-up from a larger overworld map I have drawn and have to redo), but I'm tempted to so that GMs have at least some notes they can pull out if the players randomly decide, "Hey, let's go there!" and the players, at least, will have an idea of why they want to go there (for some traditional celebration, for a local contest, for some famous tavern, etc). I'm up to about 160 or so pages (including previous chapters detailing the deities, the Evergloom, the High Council, etc), but the scope of my design is greater than the span of my reach so it's slow-going.

Thus, I toss my design to the court of public opinion in hopes of finding not only some feedback, but possibly anyone who has some ideas on how to expand it and make it even more detailed. @MNblockhead suggested I use this subthread so I have followed his advice, and hope to have this turn into a long thread full of inspirational ideas and feedback to improve and expand upon this. Feel free to ask any questions, and I'll do my best to elaborate and answer them!
Putting the screengrabs in spoiler tags so it's not a wall of images.


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Hopefully, that's not too much to fuss with. I know everyone has their own pet projects and doesn't really want to wade through someone else's as it's a lot of work. Anyone who wants to contribute, I'll gladly credit in the copyright page, though this is unlikely to ever be more than a vanity publication. It's sort of my reaction to the overly-enchanted worlds of Golarion and the like as it seems every game always devolves into players saying things like, "Well, let's go to the mage shop and buy magical items!" because the world is dripping with magical swords and wonderous items. I wanted to create a world where magical items all have a story for their creation and nothing is just randomly found. Magic items are rare and prized, and finding one invariably leads to discovering more, not only about the item itself, but about its history and leading to more adventures where other treasures that aren't solely magical in nature are discovered and won. I want magic to be...magical...again, not just a deus ex machina used by players and GMs alike, if that makes sense.

On top of that, I was going to turn this into a sort of generational game world for my children to inherit and build upon with their own children later on so that it continues to grow and be a source of wonder and compelling stories.

I appreciate any responses and help, and will say thank you here and now so you know in the OP that I appreciate it. To the moderation staff, if this is in the wrong sub-thread, I apologize and assure you I was attempting to place it in the right one in good faith as I'm still new to the ENWorld forum board. Feel free to move, modify or delete as you deem necessary to conform to the forum's rules.

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