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D&D 5E Help me design Fantasy Americas D&D (+)

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Ok, for now this what I have:

- A huge continent covering a wide array of climates: great glacier in the South, a great salt plain with a Nile-like delta in the east, a sea of grass in the middle, great sequoia forest in the the nort and treacherous mountains in the north.

- A land without Kings: there's no official kingdoms per say and the frontiers are quite fluids. Humans wander the expanse by forming Banners, also called Wandering Kingdoms, a mobile city composed of wagons that can be installed in a land for a short or long time. (think The Banner Saga, the video game). The Banner is protected by its own citizens, under the guidance of their Elders. The Elders loom threads made of cotton, beast furs and other material to create a huge banner-fresco telling the story of their ''kingdom''.

- Dwarves build city in the most inhospitable place, seeking materials as enduring as themselves. They own a few large citadels in the eastern arroyos and one fortress in a floating glacier in the south. They create huge dams to flood the vaults hiding their treasures.

- Elves are great fishermen, spear-hunting giant fishes in the rivers and sea and even Dragon-whales. The elven chainmail made of the silvery white scales of rare fish is a prized treasure for any adventurer.

be back after the job
 

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Ixal

Adventurer
- A land without Kings: there's no official kingdoms per say and the frontiers are quite fluids. Humans wander the expanse by forming Banners, also called Wandering Kingdoms, a mobile city composed of wagons that can be installed in a land for a short or long time. (think The Banner Saga, the video game). The Banner is protected by its own citizens, under the guidance of their Elders. The Elders loom threads made of cotton, beast furs and other material to create a huge banner-fresco telling the story of their ''kingdom''.

Why? What is the reason for them to stay as nomads instead of settling down? Especially when you have dwarves who did just that so it is not a unknown concept.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Two continents joined together with a mountainous and dangerous isthmus.

Empires that have outlived multiple ends of the world. Their calendars measure out fate itself.

A floating city in the sky over a great mountain lake, the largest in the entire world. Non citizens are restricted to the undercity, in perpetual shade.

Great plains dino-herders that battle each other for honour. The riders jump from one dinosaur to another, and attempt to count coup by painting the other rider. Dinosaurs are both so deadly and worth so much that warfare using them is way too expensive for fun.

They export dinosaur meat and bone. But their premium export is their mercenary cavalry, which is expensive and very very worth it.

A civilization that has replaced war with Sport, with bloody stakes. Not because war is wrong, but because they are so good at war they dare not engage in it.

A city in the clouds, so high that non-natives find it hard to breathe. A complex set of tracks and gears going up and down the mountain keeps trade costs low, but every pound of stuff imported is balanced by a pound exported. They export gold ... as ballast.

River valleys with immense bio/geomagical cities, grown from the mud. Their magic uses the life embedded in the river mud to make great golems, and their cities walk when the river banks do.

A frozen civilization built on astronomy, dire-wolves, bears and whales. They manage their excess population by sending their youth off to explore and raid.

Cliff dwellers who farm the skies on the wings of Eagles.

An invading horde of orcs from the other side of the sea, with necromatic plague mages attempting to trigger an armageddon.
 
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Undrave

Hero
I must say, even today with all our cars, GPS and good maps, the wilds of the Americas are huuuge. Just here in Québec, we have a barely occupied wild territory nearly the size of France! So even if the land is inhabited does not mean that it is tamed. I see that more of an American trope than a ''new world colonies trope'', myself.

In such a game, distances themselves are an ''enemy''.
As they say "Europe is scary because it's old, America is scary because its big."

In Europe, a 200 years old building is a new addition, in America it's probably haunted.
In Europe, a 2 hour drive is quite a trip, in America it's a commute.
 

TheSword

Legend
Definitely consider watching American Gods. Very cool show in its own right and some very clever themes you wouldn’t necessarily think it. A bit more modern than you would probably use but much could be adapted to go back a few hundred years.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
As they say "Europe is scary because it's old, America is scary because its big."

In Europe, a 200 years old building is a new addition, in America it's probably haunted.
In Europe, a 2 hour drive is quite a trip, in America it's a commute.
The low population density is a result of the diseases which killed large parts of the inhabitants and of the Europeans driving the rest away or straight up killing them. But when playing at the beginning of the the colonialization phase the country was far less empty than whats commonly believed. This empty country with lots of wilderness is a "new world trope" which I thought should be avoided?

Not to mention it does not apply to all Americas. Central America with Aztecs and Maya kingdoms were not any more or less populated than some areas in Europe.
Thats the problem when you talk about "Americas" when you actually mean a few selected regions from the North American coast.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
You mention "colonialism" as a time period frame, which makes me ask the question: are they actually going to be colonies? Is there an Old World power these folks still must answer to? What is the relationship between the two? Mutually beneficial? Extractive? Contentious?

Also, what is the relationship with the indigenous peoples of the New World? Is it friendly, or hostile?

Are there differences between regions? Have Fantasy Pennslyvanians befriended the local native populations, while the folks of Fantasy West Virginia wage bloody conflict with them? Does Altmassachusets maintain friendly relationships with their overseas overlords, while Notgeorgia clamors for independence?

And just as there ought to be a diversity between different "colonies", there can also be a significant diversity of indigenous peoples. There's roughly as much physical distance between the Crow and Seminole tribes, for instance, as there is between London and Baghdad. Historically, different tribes across the Americas had very different reactions to and relationships with Europeans colonists.

Are the other Old World powers vying for a foothold in the New World? What are their relationships with each other? Think France, Spain, the Netherlands, all of which came to the New World for very different reasons, historically. Studying up on the French-Indian War is a fantastic source of information, for instance.
 


Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
As for knightly orders, you'd probably have two different types: urban and rural. City knights are gunslingers and sheriffs, keeping peace and order within their cities. Rural knights are the wilderness folks; the trappers and rangers and mountain men (and women) (and non-binary folx) who sit on the fringes of "civilization" to protect it from all the monsters you'll probably have roaming about. I can imagine an established Order of Rangers out on the fringes made up of D&D!Rangers, Ancients Paladins, Druids, Scouts, etc, and an Order of Devotion Paladins with six-shooters who uphold the laws of the land.

I'm imagining magic/wizards to hew closely to the traditions found in Eberron. Evokers are Wandslingers; Transmuters run Crafting Guilds, Illusionists are entertainers, etc. Another great example are the Grisha found in the Grisha Trilogy and Six of Crows Duology (the books Shadow and Bone are based off of); the Grisha all have specialized powers that have roles in the army/society. Nina is a Heartrender, which is exactly what it sounds like on the tin, but when she finds herself alone in Fantasy!Amsterdam she starts working at a high-class bordello, not as a traditional prostitute but using her powers to provide a measure of soothing calm and comfort to high-strung merchant nobles with chronic anxiety. In the Old World, there will no doubt be wizards who insist on studying magic as a purely academic pursuit (the Liberal Arts Universities of Vancian Magic) but in the New World everyone is expected to carry their own weight, so your mages and sorcerers would no doubt be primarily tradesfolk.

Armor has become less of a thing at this point, historically. The way I see it you've got three options:
1) Armor is totally still a thing, and your sheriffs saunter around town in heavy scale mail;
2) "Armor" is hand-waved in favor of traditional garb. Dimension 20 does this a lot; people wear hoodies and tie-die shirts but they still confer the AC that they would normally have if wearing armor typical for their character;
3) Ditch armor all-together and utilize a Class Defense/Vitality/Wounds system, which is what I would do, but that's because I hate myself and love giving myself more work to do

In either case I wouldn't shy away from gunpowder weaponry. There's still nothing more reliable than a good sword or axe at your side, but if nothing else you'll have muskets and early flintlock pistols making the rounds.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
The low population density is a result of the diseases which killed large parts of the inhabitants and of the Europeans driving the rest away or straight up killing them. But when playing at the beginning of the the colonialization phase the country was far less empty than whats commonly believed. This empty country with lots of wilderness is a "new world trope" which I thought should be avoided?

Not to mention it does not apply to all Americas. Central America with Aztecs and Maya kingdoms were not any more or less populated than some areas in Europe.
Thats the problem when you talk about "Americas" when you actually mean a few selected regions from the North American coast.
Hence my attempt.

A vigorous, thriving continent full of civilizations, but a barbarian horde at the coast. They even have plague mages, who are attempting to wipe out the civilization.

So the "metaplot" is preventing the (initially small, local problem) from becoming a disaster. And how the various civilizations aren't really worried about the end of the world coming (in the form of plague magic and hordes of invaders), but are rather busy being awesome.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
You mention "colonialism" as a time period frame, which makes me ask the question: are they actually going to be colonies? Is there an Old World power these folks still must answer to? What is the relationship between the two? Mutually beneficial? Extractive? Contentious?

I'm not sure.

I love the idea from Symbaroum, where whole kingdoms moved to the new world (across the maintains in that specific case). So maybe 1 or 2 kingdoms from an ancient world who fell beneath the waves?

I have in mind of having ''colonies'' but no colonial powers, so no big empires try to steal stuff from our continent.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Why? What is the reason for them to stay as nomads instead of settling down? Especially when you have dwarves who did just that so it is not a unknown concept.
Following the herds. There will be small freeholds along the coast, making a like with fishing, but I have in mind moving villages that follows the herds of X beasts and avoid too permanent settlements to avoid getting the attention of mega-predators such as dinosaurs and such.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Don't forget that you've got all of Lovecraft country to throw into the Easternlands here, as well as Viking Raiders (ala Erik the Red) along the eastern seaboard, and Carribean pirates in the south.

For the west, you've got Spanish mission-forts to keep the undead hordes at bay and the French voodoo lords in the southern bayous to contend with.
 

Undrave

Hero
The low population density is a result of the diseases which killed large parts of the inhabitants and of the Europeans driving the rest away or straight up killing them. But when playing at the beginning of the the colonialization phase the country was far less empty than whats commonly believed. This empty country with lots of wilderness is a "new world trope" which I thought should be avoided?

There is still large swath of deserts, harsh mountains, grasslands that belong to the buffalos, the Great Lakes larger than certain Seas in the old world and lake-dotted tundra.

Modern day USA has a population density of 36 per km2, Mexico at 64,91 and Canada at a meager 4 per km2.

Modern day France has a density of 122.34 per km2, the UK at 281, Germany at 232, and Poland at 124.

There were more people pre-plague, but I doubt the population was spread out enough that large empty spaces weren't a thing. You'd have bigger cities and settlement for sure, but they would still be far from each other.
 

King Babar

God Learner
If you're not familiar with it already, there's a interesting blog that goes through various creatures from mythology and folklore, including the Americas. It should be a good ideas generator. The Inuit ones are particularly weird.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I'm not sure.

I love the idea from Symbaroum, where whole kingdoms moved to the new world (across the maintains in that specific case). So maybe 1 or 2 kingdoms from an ancient world who fell beneath the waves?

I have in mind of having ''colonies'' but no colonial powers, so no big empires try to steal stuff from our continent.
Well, the very nature of a "colony" is that its people came from somewhere else. Refugees from a lost kingdom definitely works, though that's a far different thing from "colonization" as a real-world historical concept. The relationships you'll have between your refugees and the indigenous peoples are going to be quite a bit different.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Well, the very nature of a "colony" is that its people came from somewhere else. Refugees from a lost kingdom definitely works, though that's a far different thing from "colonization" as a real-world historical concept. The relationships you'll have between your refugees and the indigenous peoples are going to be quite a bit different.
Yep, that's indeed what I'm looking for: migrant settlement without colonialism. Its a little hard to imagine because of our own history, I agree. That's one of the reason I'm not sure to even have ''colonies''.

I mostly wonder what would ''Medieval Fantasy Americas'' would look like, given that the Americas did not have the same medieval trope as used in the usual European D&D worlds.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Harry Turtledove’s Darkness novels are a fantasy version of WWII.

How is this relevant? Well, Turtledove is a historian by training, and he creates fantasy analogues of virtually EVERYTHING you know about that war, including esoteric stuff. The methodology of his “how” & “why” might help you figure out how to shape your campaign.
 
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John R Davis

Adventurer
I always fancied a game set just after " fantasy Vikings" land in " fantasy North America". Meeting up of cultures has gone very well as their gods are almost identical in outlook, passions, etc. Main threat is from the western coast where all the monsters and peril seem to arise
 


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