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D&D 5E Ideas For a World of Islands? (+thread)

GreenTengu

Adventurer
The only "only islands" franchise I know well is One Piece.

And one thing that One Piece does extremely well, other than having the clash between a centralized Lawful government against a bunch of Chaotic pirates and even having good and evil elements in both sides that causes clashes....

It is that every single island they land on practically changes the entire genre of the series. They can go from an island in the clouds with winged people and an ancient secret treasure to a spy adventure where the villains are hidden and they have to fight the elite secret agents of the world in a tower to a mobile island hidden in the fog that is filled with zombies and the heroes getting their spirits stolen and put into the bodies of other zombies...

Every single island is basically a whole world unto itself with internal logic that exists only for that particular island, but then you get to the next one and everything can be completely different.
 

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dave2008

Legend
Not sure if it has been brought up, but a world with a lot water suggests (but doesn't require) a world of higher average temperatures. Possibly the world is dominated by land going reptile-based creatures: lizard folk, crocodile-folk, turtle-folk, snake-folk, dragon-folk, etc.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Most races are Small, because of Insular Dwarfism.
Certainly a way to go, but I don't think it would feel right to most people, especially people familiar with Islander cultures.

Also, Insular Dwarfism isn't exactly universal, and Insular Gigantism is also a thing.

But if you wanted to throw off expectations by having the most common races be the Small races, that could certainly be fun.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
@doctorbadwolf, If you would like your pantheon to be a mix between Theros and Eberron, then how about actually tying the gods into the constellations as per both? How different cultures or peoples across the world view the gods may then differ both in an abstract sense but also in a real spatial sense of how different geographic locations perceive the constellations differently in the night sky. But this would then give you a relatively small set of major deities to work with, possibly 10-15 depending on how many deities or astrological constellations you would like. There may be different names for the deities depending upon the culture or location. You can tie in the importance of nautical navigation by stars to the deities. You can tie in Theros-like blessings and destinies to the constellations.

In this setup, maybe the Dragonborn actually perceive the constellations not as a group of different deities, but as a singular entity: Ouroboros, the eternal dragon-serpent that continuously wraps around the world.
I'm down with the constellation idea in general, though I don't remember that being a thing in Eberron anywhere, but I'm not really into the whole "this local god is just an aspect of pelor" thing.

I do like the Ouroboros thing, though. I'd make it tied to a culture rather than a race, but it could certainly be a culture whose largest contingent is dragonborn.
 


Certainly a way to go, but I don't think it would feel right to most people, especially people familiar with Islander cultures.

Also, Insular Dwarfism isn't exactly universal, and Insular Gigantism is also a thing.

But if you wanted to throw off expectations by having the most common races be the Small races, that could certainly be fun.
That might be fun. Small is Common, while Medium is Uncommon. It might have a Lilliputian feel.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think the suggestions there, a confused mix with a lot of duplication of aspects and multiple unconnected aspects, makes sense for an island world.
With no "real" gods, each island would have different patron gods, and even those with the same gods may assign them different aspects.
Hence explaining why there are multiple gods of war, navigation, and even lycanthropes.


Many islands may well have a Maui-like figure.
There's nothing confused about having multiple gods of a given thing, nor anything that needs any explanation. it's incredibly weird, to me, to imagine a world without such overlap. Especially a world where the gods are real, and their existence isn't dependent on worship. Why would they care if that other god who those other people worship is also all about navigation?
 

Does it? It benefits from it, but require? Nah. Just requires everyone bing able to fend off or discourage or avoid bandits, and seeing trade as better than the short term benefit of theft or robbery of a trade partner.

Anyway, this is a tangent. Trade certainly benefits from all involved parties being relatively peaceful and agreeing to common rules regarding trade and travel.
One thing trade does that you'll want to leverage - it creates spaces where a lot of different kinds of people interact with each other. You can't have the party meet in a tavern if all the taverns are only one-race (unless your plan is to only play one-race games, but I didn't see any evidence of that.)

Beyond where trade happens, you really don't need to specify anything else about trade structures (or lack thereof) to run a DnD game.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm down with the constellation idea in general, though I don't remember that being a thing in Eberron anywhere, but I'm not really into the whole "this local god is just an aspect of pelor" thing.
The major constellations in Eberron are dragon gods.

Not necessarily every god would need to be a manifestation of another. Again, if you say that every god is tied to a constellation, then there will be some constellations that are foreign to other geographic locations. So there could be more geographically specific constellations/divinities. Or even that other cultures may believe that their god Lathander isn't Pelor, but, rather, that Pelor is merely a representation of Lathander. But deities for the earth, moon(s), sun, or other visible planets may differ from those of the constellation deities.

But keep in mind that the Sovereign Host did do the whole "But your local god is just an aspect of Balinor..." which is one reason why the Sovereign Host was so ubiquitous and able to bring other peoples into the fold. Though in some cultures the gods of the Sovereign Host are rearranged into different configurations.

My own preference when having deities is to work with a manageable set, though I would likely include other religions outside of this pantheon, much as Eberron did: e.g., Silver Flame, Path of Light, Blood of Vol, Undying Court, etc.

I do like the Ouroboros thing, though. I'd make it tied to a culture rather than a race, but it could certainly be a culture whose largest contingent is dragonborn.
Maybe the Dragonborn Empire has a syncretist approach. Every cultural deity they encounter is mapped as a constellation in the heavens and a part of the larger Ouroboros figure.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The major constellations in Eberron are dragon gods.

Not necessarily every god would need to be a manifestation of another. Again, if you say that every god is tied to a constellation, then there will be some constellations that are foreign to other geographic locations. So there could be more geographically specific constellations/divinities. Or even that other cultures may believe that their god Lathander isn't Pelor, but, rather, that Pelor is merely a representation of Lathander. But deities for the earth, moon(s), sun, or other visible planets may differ from those of the constellation deities.

But keep in mind that the Sovereign Host did do the whole "But your local god is just an aspect of Balinor..." which is one reason why the Sovereign Host was so ubiquitous and able to bring other peoples into the fold. Though in some cultures the gods of the Sovereign Host are rearranged into different configurations.

My own preference when having deities is to work with a manageable set, though I would likely include other religions outside of this pantheon, much as Eberron did: e.g., Silver Flame, Path of Light, Blood of Vol, Undying Court, etc.

Maybe the Dragonborn Empire has a syncretist approach. Every cultural deity they encounter is mapped as a constellation in the heavens and a part of the larger Ouroboros figure.
Okay, i'd forgotten about the dragon gods. I don't really ever do anything with dragon religion in my Eberron games, so, fair enough.

I'm well aware of how the Sovereign Host works, and that's fine for Eberron, where I find the Host to be by far the most boring religion. I'm just not into doing the same thing in a new world, except perhaps as one culture's belief, like how Romans liked to pretend that other culture's gods were just differently named versions of their own, but most other cultures learned about foriegn gods and viewed them as distinct gods, sometimes adding them to their worship as distinct gods.

Anyway the dragonborn culture viewing all gods as part of the Uoroboros figure Io is fine and cool, but in general I'd rather have the various people's either share gods or have their own localized gods that are not ever treated as an aspect of anyone else. One Island might call Pelor "Belor" or "Pelkor" "Pell", but it's "Odin" and "Woden", not "Odin is Mercury" or whatever.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One thing trade does that you'll want to leverage - it creates spaces where a lot of different kinds of people interact with each other. You can't have the party meet in a tavern if all the taverns are only one-race (unless your plan is to only play one-race games, but I didn't see any evidence of that.)

Beyond where trade happens, you really don't need to specify anything else about trade structures (or lack thereof) to run a DnD game.
Absolutely.
 

Dioltach

Legend
How about some traditional D&D elements and how they change?

Logically, if so much of the culture is water-based, temples to sea gods won't be on islands. So underwater? Floating platforms? Just intrinsically holy parts of the sea? Sacred inlets?

I could imagine a wizard's tower floating in the sea, perhaps partially submerged. Or floating in the air. Druid groves could be coral reefs, or mangroves, or ocean currents.

What protections have evolved to protect ships and boats in combat? Given the prevalence of fire-based spells, surely every ship will have a permanent Protection from Fire at a minimum. Or maybe it's universally accepted that sorcerers and wizards are bad luck to have on board. Or ships have a water mephit on board for luck, the same way some ships insist of having a cat.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
How about some traditional D&D elements and how they change?

Logically, if so much of the culture is water-based, temples to sea gods won't be on islands. So underwater? Floating platforms? Just intrinsically holy parts of the sea? Sacred inlets?

I could imagine a wizard's tower floating in the sea, perhaps partially submerged. Or floating in the air. Druid groves could be coral reefs, or mangroves, or ocean currents.

What protections have evolved to protect ships and boats in combat? Given the prevalence of fire-based spells, surely every ship will have a permanent Protection from Fire at a minimum. Or maybe it's universally accepted that sorcerers and wizards are bad luck to have on board. Or ships have a water mephit on board for luck, the same way some ships insist of having a cat.
There are islands of various sizes, with people on them, so I think temples to water gods will be on land (in addition to underwater), while some will be in sea caves, etc.

More later gotta work lol
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not sure if it has been brought up, but a world with a lot water suggests (but doesn't require) a world of higher average temperatures.
Not necessarily.

You could have part of the world be set up like the far northern islands in Canada, where they're connected by ice in the winter and spring but separated in the summer and fall when the ice has melted.

There's some truly brilliant ideas in this thread so far. I've wanted to run a maritime-based campaign for ages but somehow it just never seems to come off; and I never really considered not having at least one major continent.

And I'm rather shocked that this opportunity hasn't already been snapped up by someone else, but in a setting like this what better PC could there ever be:

Dibs on playing Capt. Jack Sparrow!
 


vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Other idea:

A large mercenary fleet that do not actually sell its boats to fight in battle but to form boat-bridges from one island to another to move caravans or armies, whatever you want, as long as you pay the price. The Charon Syndicate?
 

dave2008

Legend
Other idea:

A large mercenary fleet that do not actually sell its boats to fight in battle but to form boat-bridges from one island to another to move caravans or armies, whatever you want, as long as you pay the price. The Charon Syndicate?
That is a really interesting and fun idea.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
A large mercenary fleet that do not actually sell its boats to fight in battle but to form boat-bridges from one island to another to move caravans or armies, whatever you want, as long as you pay the price. The Charon Syndicate?
Cool idea, though for it to work either the islands would need to be pretty close together or that syndicate is gonna have to have an awful lot of boats. :)

(I'm assuming "boat-bridge" to mean the boats are rafted together such that the army or caravan walks across from one island to another)
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
@doctorbadwolf what is the largest island you are considering? England, Ireland, Honshu (Japan), Taiwan, Sumatra, Borneo, Madagascar - these are all pretty large islands, wherein most of the time, you don't actually feel like you are on an island. Comparitively, Shikoku, Guam, Hong Kong are small enough that you can walk their perimeter in a week or less, in some cases a day. Have you considered an upper bound on island size? (Heck, some may say that Australia or Antarctica are "islands", since they are not connected to another landmass).
 

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