Idea for Low Fantasy setting. Feedback welcome

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ScooterinAB
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Idea for Low Fantasy setting. Feedback welcome

#1 Postby ScooterinAB » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:39 am

So after spending a bit of time thumbing through the SW rules and some other material, an idea happened.

Before I get to the idea, I want to explain how it might have happened. I generally dislike Fantasy games. In my opinion, they are all the same, and very contrived. Again, that's just my own bias. They either focus so much on history and result in something somewhat boring, or the GM has created this contrived, incredibly detailed world that no one can ever hope to make a character in. Regardless, they tend to all feel the same (kill the monster, take his stuff, dark elves are cool).

End bitter. So this idea occurs. The idea is a Low Fantasy game. The catch is the world was High Fantasy until a bitter civil ar and a botched ritual devastated the land. The botched ritual resulted in magic being released from it's hosts, like air being released from a space ship, or moister being released from your body. Aside from depowering the world, the released magic also caused a number of storms and other problems. The world entered a length period where magic just didn't exist anymore. Suddenly, magic has started to resurface. A few mages here and there, a couple of magical items resurface...

Basically, the game is a kind of Post-Apocalyptic Low Fantasy. Rules wise, the idea is to use just SW, and maybe a few tweaks. The idea is, whether run at cons or in a campaign mode, access. Simle sit down and play, without too many rule variences or complexities.

Additionally, the reason for doing this in SW is image and notion (aside from wanting to try the game out). If I ran his in D&D, it would be a D&D game. If I run it in some other Fantasy game, it becomes that game. If I run this in SW, it is a game. Nothing more. I want this game to be as un-loaded and un-preconceived as possible, allowing each player group to shape their own game.

Now, my notes are a few chicken scratches and power words, so I can't say much now. But I am curious what people think so far.

Any feedback, tips, or thoughts are appreciated.

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#2 Postby starwars1138 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:28 am

mages could be like Jedi - hunted down due to suspicion and doubt.
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#3 Postby DerFinsterling » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:19 am

It sounds like you're trying to stay clear from the usual fantasy stuff - so I guess you should not use the traditional races (dwarves, elves, halflings).

I see two possible routes here: One, there's only one race left. The rest were wiped out during the civil war. Now, this could be humans - or it could be another one. Imagine there are only elves. Or only dwarves. Or only the cat people. You get the idea.

Or Two, use the "traditional" races, but add a twist. Maybe the "good guys" are the orcs. Maybe the dwarfs are like spirits from the Earth, jumping up from their traps and dragging young orcs down into darkness to devour them. Maybe Elves are lone hunters, like the medieval equivalent of the Predator.

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#4 Postby JackAce » Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:28 am

This reminds me of a similar idea I had a while ago. If you like parts of it, you're free to use it:

Originally, the world was very similar to the Middle-Earth from Lord of the Rings. There was this Dark Lord, who sought to conquer all the world, and to do that he summoned forth a huge black cloud of dark magic to cover the world and block out the sun. However, this summoning ritual went out of control and ended up draining all of the Dark Lord's energy. At this point the Dark Lord ceased to exist as a person; his soul dissolved into nothingness and his power bound in the black cloud of evil that continued to grow and cast the entire world into unholy twilight.

With the Dark Lord gone, his Leutenants started fighting among each other for dominion and previously subjugated poeples rebelled and strove for freedom. But even the Free People did not escape unscathed. From the black cloud, a fallout of Evil rained down upon the world, corrupting plants and creatures and slowly permeating the minds and souls of the people.

By now, the last strongholds of "pure" Good are a few valleys surrounded by high mountain ranges that the low hanging black cloud could not pentrate. The rest of the world is a twisted and corrupted place, and everyone who spends any time there will be irredeemably corrupted - the only question is how low he'll be able to withstand the Darkness within him.


As to the draining of Magic from the world, that was not part of my plan. But you could say that the catastrphic ritual caused a massive power surge to strike all Mages in the world, hitting them the harder the more powerful a mage was. The most powerful masters were simply obliterated by the feedback. Seasoned Mages were crippled or driven insane. The only ones to escape relatively unharmed were weak head-mages and apprentices who suddenly found themselves without their masters.

Thus, while the magic itself is still present in the world(and possibly more powerful then ever) most of the knowledge about magic and its mastery has been lost and the remaining joung mages need to rediscover many secrets that theri old masters had known, but could no longer teach them.
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#5 Postby ScooterinAB » Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:56 am

I think I'll keep the classic races. I might just note that they are fewer in numbers because of the war and the magic surge.

Most of the suspisous mages would have been killed already. However, I imagine that folks would be mighty uncomfortable with them now.

JackAce wrote:As to the draining of Magic from the world, that was not part of my plan. But you could say that the catastrphic ritual caused a massive power surge to strike all Mages in the world, hitting them the harder the more powerful a mage was. The most powerful masters were simply obliterated by the feedback. Seasoned Mages were crippled or driven insane. The only ones to escape relatively unharmed were weak head-mages and apprentices who suddenly found themselves without their masters.

Thus, while the magic itself is still present in the world(and possibly more powerful then ever) most of the knowledge about magic and its mastery has been lost and the remaining joung mages need to rediscover many secrets that theri old masters had known, but could no longer teach them.


Funny. I was actually thinking that. The original thought was that only the weakest mages "went unoticed" by the explosion, and that only certain kinds of magic items were left.

I think I will leave that vague for now. See how it plays out. The juggling act is how much magic I can take out. If I remove all of it, it is a mundane game with an interesting background. If I let too much back in, it becomes a High Fantasy game with an interesting background. If I let the right amount of magic surface, I get an interesting game.

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#6 Postby jpk » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:05 pm

While it's not a Savage Worlds product, you may want to take a look at Desolation. It uses the Ubiquity system from Hollow Earth, but it sounds very similar in back story to what you're thinking of.

Its subtitle, by the way, is Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying. Spot on to your plan.

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#7 Postby Jordan Peacock » Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:38 pm

This reminds me a little of a fantasy setting I tried to pitch to my players. I was kind of surprised that none of them were particularly interested. (I guess it means I'm not always "on the same wavelength." Alas!)

Basically, I wanted to run a fantasy campaign set in the sort of world that I had always <i>imagined</i> D&D was supposed to be like, back when I was a kid, and only the "older kids" actually played it. I imagined a sort of quasi-medieval setting that would be more-or-less like some generic European kingdom (as imagined by an American who'd never been to Europe), where monsters existed in yonder Haunted Forest, dwarves might live under the mountain, and now and then ghosts might pop up and dragons might capture damsels ... but magic wasn't ubiquitous, and superstitions might occasionally just be that: superstition. Wizards were rare, miraculous healing wasn't commonplace, and if magic items could be purchased, it'd only be out of the back of some gypsy caravan wagon, and you'd be taking a gamble on just how trustworthy that old fortune-teller really was.

I had it all totally wrong, of course: Any world filled with Tolkien-ripped-off hordes of orcs is a place where monsters are accepted as an everyday reality (feared, perhaps, but without all that much mystery). I think I was basing my perceptions more on fairy tales than anything. And I remember being a bit put off when I read some actual D&D modules, and magic was just casually thrown everywhere (I remember one that was rife with "magic teleporters" for wandering monster encounters - it seemed so video-game-like, only much, much slower).

Still, I think it'd be neat to run a campaign like that - that is, where magic is fairly rare, monsters are mysterious and largely confined to those areas of the map marked "Here There Be Dragons," and the PCs stand out.

There would still be trap-filled dungeons with the occasional monster, but if the party has a wizard, depending on how he plays his cards, he may either utterly wow the local peasants ... or incite a mob to come after him with torches and pitchforks. An Elf in the party might have reason to cover his pointy ears and try to pass for human, and try to avoid contact with any "cold iron." A Dwarf would probably draw stares. The PCs, even at Novice level, would be <i>special</i> - not just (yawn) another party of Adventurers.

My players, alas, thought it sounded like a recipe for lots of trouble for the PCs. Oh well.
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#8 Postby starwars1138 » Mon Nov 10, 2008 1:40 pm

DerFinsterling wrote:I see two possible routes here: One, there's only one race left. The rest were wiped out during the civil war. Now, this could be humans - or it could be another one. Imagine there are only elves. Or only dwarves. Or only the cat people. You get the idea.


Having races that were "thought" extinct can give all sorts of fodder for a campaign arc. "The dwarves have resurfaced... and BOY, are they HUNGRY!"
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#9 Postby WickedRoland » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:07 pm

Jordan, reading your little story about your first expectations of what D&D should be like had me thinking Solomon Kane the entire time I read it.

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#10 Postby Jordan Peacock » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:18 pm

WickedRoland wrote:Jordan, reading your little story about your first expectations of what D&D should be like had me thinking Solomon Kane the entire time I read it.


Yeah, I really like the Solomon Kane setting. :) Unfortunately, the same group didn't seem to be terribly interested in that, either. (We ran an oddball Pirates RPG campaign earlier, so I guess it came across as too similar - just a little earlier in history.) But some day....
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#11 Postby fanchergw » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:30 pm

[rant]
To be perfectly honest, I am so incredibly bored with the whole elves / dwarves / halflings / goblins / orcs thing. For some reason that I cannot fathom, people seem to believe that it can't be fantasy if it doesn't have Tolkien's races. The Lord of the Rings is great, but doesn't define the universe.

I would love to see someone use some real creativity and build a fantasy world (low, medium or high) with a completely different set of races that are still identifiable. (Personally, I get totally lost trying to make sense of the races of Talisanta.) For example, instead of elves / dwarves / halflings / goblins / orcs, why not something like the Drakon from Sundered Skies, the Ferren from RunePunk, Obsidimen and Windlings from EarthDawn, a couple others (centaur, gargoyle, satyr, minotaur, tengu?) and call it good.

I bought Shaintar and Sundered Skies, and those are probably the last "fantasy" products I'll buy until someone comes up with something a bit more creative.
[/rant]

I do like the idea of "fantasy appocalypse", ala EarthDawn and HARP's Cyradon, so I think that's a good place to start.

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#12 Postby Y'all Of Cthulhu » Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:17 am

It kind of reminds me of A Song of Ice and Fire in that it appears to be a world where magic once lived and you know that there are mysterious beings mentioned in the beginning, but never brought up again. The people talk of magic and dragons once being a part of the world yet you get the impression that those could be just myths which most accept but have never seen.

Then you get to the end of the first book and it's like, "Oh SNAP!!!!" :eek:

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#13 Postby ragboy » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:21 am

ScooterinAB wrote:


Funny. I was actually thinking that. The original thought was that only the weakest mages "went unoticed" by the explosion, and that only certain kinds of magic items were left.


This is a trivial detail, but maybe it was a disease that only affected "magic." So, low powered mages and magic items were somehow able to fight off the virus and become immune, but the more magic you have, the worse the disease.

Hmm. Anyway. I like the idea. Very classic SW campaign fusion.
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#14 Postby Tuesday » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:10 am

The people talk of magic and dragons once being a part of the world yet you get the impression that those could be just myths which most accept but have never seen.


Uh, dude, the Frozen Zombies make an appearance in the prologue.

So, while most of the world thinks magic is something that once existed, the readers know at least some of the truth right from the start.

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#15 Postby Averjoe » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:39 am

I love this idea. I've really wanted to run a low fantasy, non-tolkien type of campaignfor some time. Something that recaptures a sense of wonder and dread about what lies outside the PCs village in the deep, dark woods. Where the only thing they have to fight the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night with is bronze and balls.

I actually envision something along the lines of the Beowulf movie only in a fictional world. Something where the characters could be less defined by what they are and more by who they are.

However, interest among my players it low to non-existant. :( I can't figure out why either. I would love to play in this kind of campaign.

Ah well, maybe one day. :|

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#16 Postby jpk » Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:30 pm

Players often have their own opinions. It's a pesky problem.

Me, I drummed up a whole second gang of folks to try out the last idea I had in my head that I knew wouldn't go over with my regular gamers.

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#17 Postby Jordan Peacock » Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:43 pm

Averjoe wrote:However, interest among my players it low to non-existant. :( I can't figure out why either. I would love to play in this kind of campaign.


Well, the general vibe I got from my players was, "If it's not high fantasy, then we might as well play sci-fi." As in, somehow if there isn't magic all over the place, then somehow it's going to just be grimy-medievalish with all the inconveniences, but without all the cool spiffy magic stuff.

I guess it's hard for me to communicate exactly what flavor I mean when I try to position a "low-fantasy" campaign, if I don't have something suitable to point the players to as an example (e.g., a movie they've all seen that gives a good picture of the mood/theme).
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#18 Postby Y'all Of Cthulhu » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:31 pm

Tuesday wrote:
The people talk of magic and dragons once being a part of the world yet you get the impression that those could be just myths which most accept but have never seen.


Uh, dude, the Frozen Zombies make an appearance in the prologue.

So, while most of the world thinks magic is something that once existed, the readers know at least some of the truth right from the start.

Yeah I mentioned the "zombies" in my post where I described them as mysterious beings. They never make an appearance again and the time of the prologue is never really revealed if I recall so it cannot never be fully known whether the happenings at The Wall are current or happened long ago and Martin is just hinting at the idea that they're back. Also, the "zombies" are not magic. The setting is explicitly low magic and Maester Luwin (I think) makes a speech to the effect of "all the magic is gone" near the end of the first book. I haven't started the second one yet and it's been a good eight months since I've read the first one, so if the beings are zombies then thanks for spoiling it for me. Jerk! :wink:

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#19 Postby Tuesday » Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:59 pm

Dude, read the prologue again. The Others are clearly supernatural, from the first minute on.

They're not zombies. "Frozen Zombies" is just the common way of describing them in some of the palces where I hang out online.

But yeah. Get thee to the rest of the series. Now. It is good.

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#20 Postby Y'all Of Cthulhu » Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:14 pm

Tuesday wrote:Dude, read the prologue again. The Others are clearly supernatural, from the first minute on.

They're not zombies. "Frozen Zombies" is just the common way of describing them in some of the palces where I hang out online.

But yeah. Get thee to the rest of the series. Now. It is good.

Oh no no no, I understand that they're "not of this world" and all that. The Others have glowing blue eyes if I recall correctly and overwhelm the Watch. It's just that you don't really know when the prologue takes place so is this something that happened in the past and doesn't happen now or is this the return of something which once was? Not until Jon Snow's uncle goes missing do you get the hint that The Others might be at work again. The point is that there aren't any wizards or spellweavers or anybody remotely resembling a magic user plying his trade at any point, and there are no dragons anywhere... :wink: It just seems like a medieval Europe with a really bad ass winter where myth and magic were probably true, and, you're right, we know this because of The Others in the beginning. As far as I was concerned all the magic and dragons were gone, The Others never made another appearance at all, and Daenerys was going to set her self on fire there at the end. Dragon eggs. Pftt. :eek:

I'll tell you though, I love playing games with fantasy settings and I love the Elric books, but most fantasy fiction just puts me off for being too much alike. I reluctantly read A Game of Thrones and was absolutely blown away. This is serious storytelling for adults. Awesome stuff! :cool:


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