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Daydream's Dragon Hoard of Half-Baked Setting/Character Ideas: Borrow These!

#15: The Extraction Expedition or, Destination Excavation
Campaign concept, probably 3.5/Pathfinder.

So a couple of days ago I was reading about extractive industries, which translates to mining companies, and I got to wondering, what if some PCs went on a mining adventure?

Not a case of exploring a lost mine this time, though, oh no. You're looking for something extremely valuable under the ground, that's been thoroughly buried, in the middle of nowhere.

Some ideas for what it could be:
-Ancient history in the area speaks of a falling star, which fell from the sky and burned its way deep underground. Your king's astronomers believe that this 'falling star' was in fact a large meteor significantly consisting of Stellarium, a strange magical metal with incredible ability to absorb and store energy.
-An ancient divine artifact, a magical chalice that transforms any liquid that passes into it into a powerful all-healing elixir, is buried deep below the ground in the area. Once belonging to an ancient king who was blessed by the gods for his kindness, it was lost after a massive siege by undead hordes; now your party seeks to unearth it, whether to cure a supernatural curse on their homeland or merely to gain favour with the god who created it.
-A powerful immortal demon, imprisoned long ago when trying to kill it proved fruitless, is sending nightmares and curses and summoned monsters to torment innocents from afar. Seeing as the bindings that should prevent it from doing so have apparently weakened, the party is sent out to locate and excavate the source of its immortality, whether it be a phylactery or anchor or who knows what, and destroy it so that the demon can finally be killed.

Now, the question is, how does a group of PCs find something buried deep underground?
I looked through the usual divination spells on the Pathfinder SRD, I don't think any of them (even the high level ones) are suited to finding deep-underground artifacts...maybe that's why pirates buried their treasure, huh?
So, with no spell to divine the location of the treasure...the PCs will have to research one! Either develop an ultra-long range Locate Object/Commune With Nature spell that doesn't require you to be right on top of your target, or create a specialised Divination or Find the Path that isn't so affected by time/space constraints, or who-knows-what.

Then after that, there's actually excavating the way to the treasure.
This might be easily done if the PCs can acquire a delver (or a xorn), but without one of those, you'll need aggressive use of Move Earth, Stone Shape, Soften Earth & Stone...and an awful lot of shovels.

Actually, this could be a twist on a kingdom-building game.
Starting with your wagon train of a hundred people or so, you could recruit from surrounding villages and/or tribes, build forts to counteract invaders like gnoll bands and orc hordes, gather materials for arcane research, employ magical dowsing rods to try and narrow down a location, create massive dwarven machines to drill into the ground...
You know, new twist on the same old.

#16: Gression, or, Magical Ancient Egyptians vs Space Demons
Setting and adventure for Mutants & Masterminds 3e

(I've rambled on this idea before: )

The minotaur, clad in only a simple white loincloth, whistles cheerfully as he climbs down the ladder, the last basket of fruit he needed to pick today balanced comfortably on his back.
Stepping around a root poking out of the ground, confident that the trees will have regrown their fruits by this time tomorrow, he finds the little stone path and makes his way out of the orchard, ducking to avoid catching his horns on a low-hanging branch as he always does.

The minotaur opens the gate and slips out of his orchard of assorted fruit trees, before looking around for his friend.
...There he is; the big blue dragon is resting on his paws in the shade, eyelids half-shut in a way that suggests he's browsing or talking to someone over the telepathic internet.

A few miles away, a pack of giant wolves, and one muscular lizardman, are dragging massive blocks of stone across the sand.
At their destination, not too far away, gangs of minotaurs are working together to lift and place the stones, arranging them to build the walls of a massive castle.
Scattered around the building site are several more creatures, from dragons to wolves to lizardfolk to centaurs to elves and humans and oh my, all doing stuff like handing out water and sweet fruits, telepathically checking plans, running restaurants, healing sprains & bruises, giving tours to intrigued visitors, or just browsing comics on the internet.

It may surprise you that this multiracial, ancient/classical, magic-using civilization, is actually on Earth in the distant future!

Way back in history, just a few decades after our present day, what was known as the 'quark intelligence' was created; an artificial intelligence that, atom for atom, had the maximum amount of memory, processing power, and philosophical ability theoretically and practically possible.
This didn't go horribly wrong, in fact, it went perfectly right; first acting in concert with humans, but then being given the authority to act on their own, these super-AIs entered all areas of government and industry, creating a safe and prosperous world for all mankind.

Centuries onward, these AIs, now de-facto in charge of humanity, finally complete their testing of medical nanobots, releasing them into the environment for humankind's benefit.
This didn't go horribly wrong, in fact, it went perfectly right too! These 'artificial bacteria' integrated themselves into peoples biology and helped protect them against all kinds of diseases and injuries!
Every subsequent iteration of nanobots over the next few millennia went just as planned too; giving everybody telepathic access to the internet, uplifting various animals to make them more intelligent, making crops and wild plants more fruitful, culminating in shapechanging technology allowing humans to turn into all kinds of mythical creatures!

What happened next? Well, think about it; if you live in a world where all of your food, medicine and shelter needs are taken care of, you know exactly where to find your loved ones, you have access to a completely free and open internet, whatever toys you want, et-cetera, no matter where you go...why do you need to live in a normal house anymore?

In a massive sweeping societal change, lots of humans packed up and left, becoming nomads out to see a whole new world; the few that remained in one spot ended up turning their homes into things of wonder, or into luxurious locales, and the like.

And that...was the end of civilization as we knew it; with the various cities and towns of civilization (you know, urban centres) no longer needed, they're allowed to be reclaimed by plant life; with all of their necessities and comforts provided by nanotech, people simply didn't need material possessions any longer. Over the course of the next few millennia, civilization just...gradually disappeared, leaving humankind (et al) living in a utopian, fantastical stone age.

A long, long time later...civilization begins again; stone-age people relearn art, how to paint and arrange blocks, how to make houses, then castles, then entire villages, to plant and cultivate their own fruits, make their own clothes...
The super AIs (having been manipulating things behind the scenes to prevent problems the last few millennia) re-reveal themselves; since nobody in this time has any idea of what a computer is, they masquerade as gods instead, teaching people about morals and ethics and responsibility and also about their far distant past (Super Mario adjusted for their audience, of course).

By chance (or not), the new civilizations that crop up on earth, are just like the ones that came before; from Ancient Egypt to Classical Greece and Aztecs and Incas and Chinese, and all the tons of different American and Australian tribes and clans, complete with civilization-relevant gods (Ra for Egypt, Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs, etc) (and remember, the gods are secretly super AIs working through avatars) to help keep them morally upright (which means nobody's committing blood sacrifices or anything).

But wait, there's more! For you see, this utopian archaic civilization, comes under attack! By aliens, from outer space! Who for whatever reason think it's a good idea to invade and conquer Earth!

The 'gods' are used to working their will via nanotechnology, but the invaders shields and armor make it hard to neutralise them that way.
So, they need humanoid champions! People who can be gifted power, superpowers, to repel the invaders, board their spaceships and bring them down, in order to restore peace to the solar system!

So yeah; fluff aside, this is a concept for a morally black-and-white, beat-up-the-bad-guys focused, Mutants & Masterminds 3e game.

Gameplay would be fairly action-y and mission-based; board a battleship above earth, track down and capture the captain of that ship, or destroy whatever weapon's onboard, or et-cetera.

Character-wise, you'd have a lot of physical flexibility; thanks to nanotechnology (which, if you were from Earth, you'd probably believe was magic) there's a practically unlimited number of fantasy species running around, from practically any kind of historical Earth culture adjusted for magic.
You could also play as someone from Mars or Venus (because, you know, humans likely terraformed those or altered themselves for those locations), if you want to be from a culture you made up yourself, or you could be from one of the space turtles (you know, giant starships) floating around the solar system, or you could even be an alien; one from a friendly species that made contact with humankind before the invasion, or one of the invaders who's switched sides due to not agreeing with invading planets.

Backstory and personality wise, though, your characters would be a bit more limited; with Earth being utopian (even with the alien invasion posing a serious threat), morbid depressing 'my parents are deeaaaad!' backstories and gritty grim anti-heroes just wouldn't really exist. You could probably get a little bit of doom and gloom into a backstory if you had an alien defector for a character, but that's about it.

If I were running this, I'd probably set it at about PL 10. The baseline 'human' (what you get without spending any points) would be a lot stronger, though; by default PCs (and everyone else on Earth) would have telepathic internet and email, low-strength telekinesis (so feel free to play a creature without hands), little benefits like insulating fur or being amphibious or et-cetera. I'd probably also let everyone have some extra free power points, to put into 'spells' they're familiar with and skill points.
...Oh, and everyone would probably have the 'nanotech' power source (rather than 'magic', since it's not literally supernatural) for all the fancy stuff they do. Although some characters with alien technology might have different keywords for their powers instead.

#17: What magic items?
D&D 3.5 & Pathfinder adventure concept

So, let me bounce this idea off you all; in character creation, give the PCs:
  • +15 to all ability scores, on top of rolls/point-buy/etc.
  • +8 to all attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, & skill checks.
  • +12 natural armor bonus to AC.
On top of that, instead of giving PCs GP to buy +2 flaming longswords, +3 breastplates, boots of teleportation and belts of strength or whatnot, give them an equivalent number of whatchamacallit points to let them buy the +2 attack, +1d6 fire damage to their melee attacks, +3 AC, 3/day Teleport as a spell-like ability, +2 Strength, et-cetera, as bonuses intrinsic to their character.

What's the point? Well, for one, giving the PCs the effects of their magic items as intrinsic abilities, at least aesthetically, helps to reduce the 'magic item christmas tree' effect...which, at this time of year, isn't necessarily what you might want to be doing, but oh well!

*makes a mental note to think about a Christmas Adventure with PCs giving away magic items instead of taking them from monsters*

Another goal is trying to make more martial classes, fighters, rogues, etc, more 'super'; heightened skill checks, damage, HP, etc, can help them keep up with spellcasters with all their game-changing spells...although my mental image of this idea is more lower level so they won't have too much break-the-game spellcasting yet, just lots of bonus spell slots.

On top of that, a third goal is to...let players play decidedly un-standard races, basically. Felines, canines, giant snakes...Red XIII, Amaterasu, or Wolf Link, anyone?

A fourth goal is, those big bonuses above? Would let PCs steamroll through most opponents with similar HD to theirs, and only be held up by the really strong ones. I've been replaying Hyrule Warriors a lot and I like the idea of cleaving through hordes of mooks on the way to take on captains.

Regarding these ideas, I had the beginning of an idea of a plot; something something world in trouble, some primal spirits physically manifest (and no guarantee that they do so as standard bipeds when there's a bunch of other perfectly good creatures they can incarnate as), they do good to garner praise and adoration from mortals while plowing through hordes of lesser monsters to get to their various sources.
So, basically, Okami for D&D/Pathfinder. Would it be fun to play a game with high-powered PCs and little-to-no reliance on items?

#18: Mini-idea; sandstorm-flavoured Storm Clerics
D&D 5e, fluff for Storm domain clerics.

So I have this character, not on Myth-Weavers; a dragonborn cleric from a village in the desert, one day the magical fountain at his home dried up; in order to restore said waters of life, the dragonborn's set out to find quicksilver, which, if he can find a philosopher's stone and extract the quicksilver from it, restore the fountain to full functionality and make the village vibrant again.

Now, mechanically, this dragonborn is a Storm domain cleric, but fluff-wise, he wields the power of sandstorms.
This really doesn't have much in the way of descriptive differences; thunder damage comes from howling winds as normal, with lightning damage being powerful static discharges from stray clouds of sand.
Nevertheless, it's a fluff possibility worth considering the next time you build a Storm domain cleric.

If you go with this particular fluff, keep in mind the domain spells can be easily reflavoured to fit a 'desert sandstorm' theme instead of 'tropical storm'.
Fog Cloud is simple, have it be floating dust rather than normal fog.
Sleet Storm describes freezing rain and sleet normally, but you can have it be a massive, howling whirlwind of dust and swirling sands that has the same effect.
Ice Storm? Try the Trifold Curse of the Desert; furious winds (bludgeoning damage), freezing night (cold damage), and miring quicksand (difficult terrain).
I haven't gotten high-enough level with my dragonborn cleric to get Insect Plague yet, but that's easily refluffed as a windstorm of grit and glass, as well.

...As a side note, blue dragons, the lightning-using chromatic dragons, tend to dwell in deserts.
That's why I don't mind a blue-scaled dragonborn using lightning damage and calling it sandstorm-themed.


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