The lands of Io are savage and mostly unsettled. Isolated city-states and tiny serf-doms dot the landscape with civilization, and witches and trolls wander the wilds. Entertainment for folks in far-flung settlements can be hard to come by, and lowly farmers and woodsman will pay good coin to relax. Like-wise, in the few scattered big cities, crowds of people gladly give away their hard earned money to be entertained. That's where the
Cirque d' Io comes in. The Cirque d' Io is a traveling circus that features exotic animals and freak shows, trapeze artists and magicians, and a myriad of other entertainment.
The campaign will be run using the standard Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition rules in a world that will be defined partly by character's backgrounds and in game actions (two other groups of adventurer's have already begun to influence the world of Io. Their adventures so far can be found here).
The Cirque d' IoThe Cirque d' Io has performers, helpers, etc., from all over the continent of Io. Some of these places include
The Black Forest is home to elves, eladrin, and gnomes, as well as more sinister creatures. Those who wander off the well trodden paths quickly find the woods to be full of deadly predators and bizzare fey. Most humans avoid the Forest, though lumberjacks seeking a profit find that the timber of the Forest sells well in the cities... if they are able to get it back. The Black Forest,
Blood flies are the least of a traveler's worries in this waterlogged wilderness. The Blood Fly Marsh borders the Black Forest, and is renowned for its swarms of blood-sucking insects. The vast wetland includes dark swamps in ancient stands of trees where the sun never truely penetrates the canopy, dangerous bogs were one mis-step can entrap a hapless traveller, and hot fens and marshes where the sun beats down and saps the water from anyone foolish enough not to bring a fresh supply. The Great Brown River meanders through the Blood Fly Marsh, and is full of fish for those brave enough to stay. The only "civilized" people to be found regularily living within the Blood Fly Marsh are kobolds, though some bands of goblinoids are known to make their homes near it. The Blood Fy Marsh,
Home to most of the human settlements, the fertile Amber Grasslands are perhaps the most hospitable lands in Io. Even so bands of marauding Gnolls are known to patrol the lands. Gnolls are especially gleeful when they come across a small human farmhouse, far from help. Because of this, most farms tend to stay close to the cities. Trolls, witches, and other dangerous creatures also wander the more remote areas of the Amber Grasslands. The Grasslands border the Black Forest as well as the Blood Fly Marsh, and the River Mead, home to many halflings, runs through it. The Amber Grasslands,
Io's Spine is a chain of tall mountains and their foothills that border the Black Forest and the Amber Grasslands. Dwarves make their homes under the hills and mountains, and many Dragonborn make their homes on the hills and mountains. The mountains are also home to many goblins, orcs, drow, giants and ogres. Both the Brown River and the River Mead start in Io's Spine. For those souls foolish enough, there is great wealth in gems just waiting to be taken in the deepest depths of the caverns that criss-cross these dangerous peaks. Io's Spine,
Once home to great empires, the Great Wastes are now a desert to the south of the Amber Grasslands. The environment ranges from dry and rocky with great stone pillars to dry and sandy with evershifting dunes. There are still a couple of cities that have managed to survive these harsh conditions. Most of the civilized inhabitants are Dragonborn and Tiefling, though others are not unheard of. A dead river, now known as Lorado Canyon, runs through the Great Wastes that floods once or twice every hundred years. The rest of the time, the Lorado River is usually dry, or a small stream of dusty, muddy water at best. It is rumored that a floating, mobile city of glass cleverly refered to as Mirage exists within the Great Wastes. The Great Wastes,
The Lorado Canyon (when it has water), the River Mead, and the Brown River all empty into the Stormwater Sea. As it's name suggests, the sea is often wracked by terrible storms. Few dare set sail to see what's on the other side, but the weather is predictable enough that ships regularly sail along the coast, either for trade, or transport of troops. It is rumored that distant lands lie hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away that are filled to the brim with riches and resources, and free of dangerous creatures. Small islands dot the coastal waters of the Stormwater Sea, and many of them have cities on them. The Stormwater Sea Because the Cirque d' Io is such a large circus, they employ a myriad of guards, architects and engineers, accountants, etc. in addition to their regular performers. They often employ some of the locals in towns where they set up shop, but most of the employees of the Cirque d' Io travel with the circus on a more or less permanent basis.
RacesAll of the races from the players handbook exist in Io, and their descriptions are more or less the same for this setting. PCs can be any of the core races
Gnomes (from the Monster Manual) primarily make their homes in the Black Forest, and are an acceptable race for PCs, using the rules presented in the Monster Manual.
Dopplegangers, or changelings as they are known in Io, blend themselves in with other civilizations, rather than making their own cities or kingdoms. Changeling are acceptable as PCs, using the rules presented in the Monster Manual for Dopplegangers.
The traditional monstrous races (kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, gnolls, and even bugbears and minotaurs) live throughout Io, though certain types are more concentrated in certain areas (i.e. - most kobolds live in the Blood Fly Marsh). Of course, most civilized people in Io are, at best, scared of or, at worst, violent toward, many monstrous creatures. They are, after all, monstrous. These races are acceptable PC races using the rules provided in the Monster Manual, but they will likely have a rough time (at least at first) getting along in social situations with most NPCs. The most common of the monstrous races employed at the Cirque d' Io are
many as acrobats, others as accountants and the like Goblins,
who do quite a bit of the heavy lifting and security detail orcs, and
who share a lot of the heavy lifting and security detail with the orcs minotaurs.
Drow are listed seperately from the other "monstrous" races, because they are not typically "monstrous" in form. Even so, most drow are "monstrous" in function. Groups who are familiar with them are suspicious of drow, but people further away from Io's Spine (especially humans) who've never seen a drow, probably just think they're another elf or eladrin (who many humans lump together anyway). Drow are acceptable for PCs using the rules presented in the Monster Manual or the Forgetten Realms Players Guide. Inside a circus, at any rate, Drow are likely to find acceptance more quickly than in some other areas.
Warforged (known in Io as Vitartus or Vitari) are extremely uncommon. Most make their home in the Great Wastes with Dragonborn and Tieflings, and are rare, self replicating remnants of a long-ago war that was fought between the two races. In other regions of Io, a cantankerous wizard or two occasionally get their hands hands on some ancient rituals for creating Vitari. Vitari are acceptable for PCs using the rules presented in the Monster Manual, or in Dragon Magazine #364. It's possible a couple Vitari have found gainful employment at the Cirque d' Io,
Longtooth and Razorclaw Shifters exist throughout the lands of Io on the fringe of other societies. Outwardly, shifters appear to be another medium humanoid race (human, elf, dwarf, or even dragonborn), though this is only an outward appearance (and it does not change for an individual shifter. Longteeth and Razorclaws are half lycanthropic hybrids of the race they resemble. As with Changelings, shifters are more tend to live within or on the edge of other centers of civilization. Longtooth and Razorclaw shifters are acceptable for PCs using the rules presented in the Monster Manual, though the character should also note the race they resemble (the race they resemble determines their second language known at first level, but no other game mechanics).
Genasi, Githyanki, and Githzerai do not exist throughout most of Io. That said, the Cirque d' Io has a long tradition of favoring the exotic, and people would pay well to see such creatures who've ended up in Io through freak accidents, such as rifts in planes. It is rumored that the Cirque d' Io has even traded exotic creatures with other continents where creatures such as these may exist. That's all hearsay, though... Or is it?
Shadar-Kai exist in Io, though they are somewhat different from those described in the Monster Manual. They come from a plane of dreams, rather than of shadows. This does not change any in-game statistics, just the name of their shadow jaunt encounter power (call it dream-step, or something else equally dreamy if you want). As creatures of dream, they are born in areas of civilization (usually to non Shadar-Kai parents), and resemble the creatures they were born from (though more pale, and slightly sickly looking). Shadar-Kai are acceptable for PCs using the rules presented in the Monster Manual, but as creatures of dream, rather than shadow. Players should note what race they resemble (as with shifters, this also determines the second language they know).
ReligionThe standard pantheon presented in the core books will be used for this setting.
Alignment SystemFor those of you familiar with the 3.5 alignment system, you can feel free to use that. For everybody else, don't worry about it, the 4E alignment system works essentially the same. To the fans of the "true neutral" and "unaligned" alignments out there, I'm letting you know now, that I will consider "unaligned" different than "true neutral." "True neutral" will represent a dedication to neutrality and balance, while "unaligned" will refer to a lack of commitment to an alignment.
ClassesThe core classes presented in the players handbook, the Barbarian and Artificer playtests are fine. I'll think about accepting things from the FRPG (i.e., the Swordmage and Dark Pact Warlock), but those are not definite, and may not be accepted (especially if there are plenty of non FRPG applications).
Source MaterialThe Players Handbook, The Monster Manual, and some of the material from Dragon Magazine up to and including the Barbarian playtest (anything from Dragon #367 or earlier, plus the Barbarian from #368: i.e., illusion spells, the Warforged, Gnoll, and Dragonborn articles) will be allowed. I'll think about equipment from the Adventurer's Vault (specifically alchemy), though I don't have it yet.