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

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

Because if I posted all my ideas in Game Planning, they'd fill up the entire first page.


Idea 1: Alphome, the sealed Personification/Spirit of Order
Designed for Dungeons & Dragons, might work as a campaign element or just a warlock patron.

Somewhat inspired by Nayru from Zelda, Alphome is a powerful nature spirit, a personification of order and balance.
Though Alphome is benevolent and wise, it's not a spirit you want to have around; as the embodiment of order, its mere presence weighs heavily on the world, undoing the effects of chaos and random chance, extinguishing the free will of mortals and turning them into docile slaves, and generally suppressing the creative spark that makes people and civilizations grow.
Sort of like the equivalent of sitting on a fidget spinner; it's not going to spin while your weight's on it.

What do you do with a spirit/god/thing that's benign but squashing the world? Alphome's answer was to enlist the help of divinities unaffected by its power of law, in order to seal itself away; 16 crystal Pillars of Interdiction were created and placed around the world, and used to cast a spell to banish Alphome to a pocket dimension and nullify the spirit's influence on the planet.

End of story? Nope. The 16 crystal Pillars are made of valuable gems indeed, and several of them have been smashed and taken apart by mortal greed or just random chance; in the 'present day', only 7 Pillars of Interdiction are still standing (though the Amethyst Pillar is in the process of being reconstructed), and if all of the pillars are destroyed, the magic keeping Alphome's sheer power from accidentally-enslaving the world will fail.
Pretty much everyone agrees this would be a bad thing, especially the religious followers of Alphome, who are the main protectors of each Pillar when they aren't out doing nice things; that said, there's always a few loonies, like those who think the spirit of order will grant their wish if it's released, or that a world without free will would actually be pretty good, or whatnot.

And THAT said, in the event of an invasion by hell, or something else utterly ruining the world, breaking the pillars to get a massive primal spirit to come and fix things might actually be the best possible plan.
Which could lead to a kind-of-funny scenario where you have fiends protecting ancient holy artifacts (the Pillars) from PCs who are trying to destroy them in order to summon an elder spirit to enthrall the world.

Mini-idea before I go to bed #2: Of Thri-Kreen and textiles.
Fluffy stuff relating to D&D.

So, I did some ironing yesterday, with someone helping me to hold things and keep them stretched out so they didn't get creased, and I was thinking, having four arms (though only two of them were mine) really helps with the ironing.

And that reminded me; what race in D&D is notable for having four arms? No, not the girallion, they aren't smart enough. I mean Thri-Kreen, those psionic mantis thingies.
Normally, they're savannah/desert-dwelling insectoid humanoids with next to no technology or culture, who live short lives as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Between high dexterity and wisdom (at the cost of intelligence and charisma) and having four arms, they make pretty optimal rangers.

Now, where my idea springs from; if thri-kreen have four arms with good motor skills (and there's a sub-thought, maybe they have as big brains as everyone else, but more of it is devoted to motor control; centaurs also have an intelligence penalty, so...),
that means they could do all kinds of hand-eye-coordination-stuff with ease that'd be much harder for someone with just two arms.
Weaving, pottery, whitesmithing...and that's in very broad terms.

So yeah, suppose you had a setting where the four-armed thri-kreen were known for delicate craftsmanship, possibly using their psionics for even finer work.
Keeping in mind, they have pretty short lifespans compared to humans (and especially compared to elves and dwarves, the other races known for fine art); that, and really big works like Notre Dame in real life took centuries to complete.
How might that affect their culture? True masterpieces like grand tapestries and huge monuments and bardic symphonies might become the work of multiple lifetimes, becoming enshrined in thri-kreen history as generation after generation works to add their own contribution to seemingly impossible-to-complete great works.
Thri-Kreen PCs from this culture might not just adventure for wealth and power; they might look for the lost unfinished relics of the past, seeking them out in order to complete them or at least add to them. Can you imagine a quest to find a magical artifact, only to find that it was only mostly-constructed, possessing a little life-force from each of dozens of craftsmen, and having potentially any property depending on who does the finishing touches?

Outrageously Silly Idea #3: Catboys/Catgirls vs Rock & Roll Zombies!
Probably suited to Mutants & Masterminds or FATE or otherwise flexible modern-day-setting systems.

In a world, much like our own...except for the occasional mysterious creature surfacing and frightening tourists every few days or so, or some super-scientific breakthrough making it to the news but not really changing things in the long term, or one of a few world-famous robbers making off with entire art galleries...

You know, the world of a typical Saturday morning cartoon. Occasionally weird, sometimes spooky, but overall a pleasant and nice place to live-ZOMGWTFBBQ MUSICAL ZOMBIE ATTACK!!

Oh yes! Some scoundrel of an evil genius is trying to take over the planet! And to do it, he's unleashed his newest bioweapon:
Zeta-Omega Manufactured Bodies for Inducing Earth's Subjugation! Don't worry, they're not literally raising the dead.

But! This is nearly as bad! Because those Z.O.M.B.I.E.S. can dance! And sing (though it's mostly gibberish)! And perform elaborate choreographed musical numbers! And if they catch you, and sing a soulful note in your ear, you'll be hypnotised and forced to boogie along with them!
We already know what the plan is; whenever the Z.O.M.B.I.E.S. hypnotise an entire town, that evil scoundrel takes over the broadcasts there and puts on his own music, with subliminal messages in the lyrics to make mankind do his bidding! How maniacally villainous!


But all hope is not lost. Aboard a satellite high in Earth's orbit, scientists are working on a way to augment mankind to fight off the Z.O.M.B.I.E.S..
Using feline DNA, they've succeeded in creating a might-as-well-be-magical formula to give humans cat-like properties; the litheness and agility to out-dance the Z.O.M.B.I.E.S., adjusted hearing to help them resist their siren call, claws for scratching records, and of course irresistible adorableness, nya.

The cat formula's complete, all that's needed is-oh, no, there's been an explosion in the cargo bay! Oh NO, all the formula is falling to earth! Oh no, it's been scattered all over the world by now, who knows who it'll transform!?


Oh well, until more formula can be synthesised, the civilian catboys and catgirls are all we have. We can keep an eye on things from our satellite and give them whatever help we can and...wow, they're actually doing pretty good against the Z.O.M.B.I.E.S., maybe we can use information from them to improve the formula.

Idea #4: Why you can't make Divination a prohibited school in 3.5 D&D.
DMing idea for 3.5 D&D, as well as other games that use Detect X spells and have wizards.

So. By random happenstance, I don't remember what I was googling for at the time, I ran across this question, about how to handle a player character who's constantly using Detect Magic and Detect Evil.

I don't know about anyone else, but I ended up thinking of 'work it into the campaign'.
How? Have the PC's detect spells not just turn up 'evil' and 'magic', have them find all kinds of trace particles and energy flows and whatnot.
Get your PC who uses their detection spells a lot to start making Knowledge checks to learn fascinating minutiae about places; did the rituals the orcs performed in their camp leave faint traces of Chaos and Evil? Do the dwarves forging techniques leave currents of Law in their weapons and armor? Does the beautiful barmaid have a hint of Enchantment magic about her that points to her being a latent sorcerer or bard?
You could even have minor subplots, like that halfling actually being a kobold under the effect of Alter Self who doesn't want anything to do with his tribe, or that powerful Good reading coming from a couatl-disguised-as-human who's keeping a discreet eye on things, or the queen might be using a minor illusion to conceal a disfiguring curse.

I also figured, see title above, that this might be why wizards in 3.5, can't have Divination as a prohibited school; it's because wizards, as learned spellcasters, need to learn the basic divination cantrips, Read Magic and Detect Magic, and allow them to understand how magic flows through the world, and watch it while they manipulate it.

Idea#4 is a gm style. They get the info they need. The rest is what you give them. Or maybe they sense a slow burn but can't figure out where it comes from, there sure by round 2.

Idea #5: The Rokhs and their Plane of Air
Any high fantasy setting.

These are concepts I created during a god-game that seems to be winding up, I thought I'd share them.


Rocs are an anthropomorphic bird-folk (two arms, two legs, taloned hands and feet, bird heads and a big pair of wings sticking out from their backs), just slightly smaller (usually) than normal humans.
They tend to have a wide variety of different appearances, some looking like hawks, others like ravens or ducks or even big-beaked toucans; most have down in just a single color, but it's not unheard of for rocs to be two-tone, tricolor or even have rainbow feathers.
They're generally good-aligned and have friendly and peaceful personalities; though thieves and bandits aren't unheard of, there have been no recorded examples of true rokh villains. It's unknown if they can even feel hatred.

The first rocs were created by powerful elemental magic; woven from living grass and wood, they were brought to life using the power of water, wind, and sacred fire.
Having no connection to the earth element
You know all those creation stories about mankind being forged from clay? This isn't one of them.
*, the rocs wield magic as easily as breathing, but at the same time, magic affects them much more strongly than other mortal creatures.
Furthermore, their lack of 'earth' makes them lightweight and fragile; while their magic can heal and protect them from harm, most rocs who try to wade into a melee are likely to (metaphorically and literally) be sent flying.

Most rocs live in the Plane of Air (of a variety described below), leading a fairly idyllic existence of farming, arcane study, divine worship or just artistic endeavours.
A small few live in the cities of other civilised creatures on the material world; this usually happens when a rokh called by a spell makes friends with the local humans/elves/dwarves/etc and decides to stay for a while.

One of the rokh race's worst kept secrets is their capability for rokh-fusion.
An ancient magick created long ago and closely guarded by rokh arcanists and various summoner guilds in the material world, rokh-fusion allows a rokh to be converted into a spirit form and sealed within a living creature or other material vessel.
In this way, rocs can lend their tremendous magical powers to mortals without putting themselves in the line of fire, making rokh-fusion highly useful to adventurers and soldiers.
It's not without its risks, though; rocs sealed through rokh fusion have only limited control over how their host uses their magic, and if they're fused in an item that is later lost, it can be years before they're found again and rescued.
Summoner guilds frequently hire adventurers to track down and recover rocs whose vessels have been lost or turned to evil for this reason.


Hmm, maybe some of this could be adapted to 5e D&D. Anyway, terminology stuff.

Arcane Rocs: 'Normal' rocs, in a sense. They're used to using their magic to manipulate the world around them, and are commonly found in all walks of life.

Martial Rocs: Less common rocs who use their magic for self-improvement, or just let it build up, resulting in their becoming significantly larger and bulkier than other rocs. While they still can't match a mortal warrior for strength and endurance, they're extremely fast and agile, and tend to enjoy competitive sports and exploring.

Blessed Rocs: Rocs who receive a blessing from a patron, be it a god, nature spirit, or some other extraplanar being, tend to undergo significant aesthetic changes to reflect who they serve, as well as their magic becoming ever so slightly stronger. Obviously, most blessed rocs serve as priests or as cultists, though some found on the material world might be missionaries or shamans.

Taakh: The traditional pharaoh of the rocs; theoretically immortal (confirmed extra-long-lived) and a powerful magician, he has the strange trait of never casting a shadow (but he's not a vampire, we checked thoroughly). Most rocs don't serve him anymore (instead forming their own independent states), but he still owns his own great temple in the depths of the Plane of Air, being attended to by scores of devotees and followers.

Garuda: A title given to the most accomplished rocs, who have mastered some art or field of magic. Whether a master shapeshifter, master of song and dance or supreme ninja, every rokh garuda is unique, but most all of them qualify as heroes or alternatively, major boss fights.

Dark Rokh: An extremely, extremely dangerous kind of undead, created when a sufficiently powerful rokh is captured and has its life force extinguished via a specialised necromantic ritual. With a gaping void filling the hole where their soul once was, they roam the land, sucking the energy out of everything in their vicinity just by their mere presence, and leaving frozen wastelands in their wake. Only powerful holy weapons can dispel the ritual that created one and end its unlife.




Idea #5 Part 2! The Plane of Air (as promised)

This particular Plane of Air is...well, from a certain, metaphysical dimensional point of view, akin to a multiple-layered bubble.

The outermost layer of the bubble is Sector Theta; this layer of the plane is mostly a space-like void filled with a thin atmosphere, sparsely dotted by nebulas and floating islands; viable entry points from the Astral Plane (or Astral Field, or whatever space in between planes holds them together) tend to have 'space stations' nearby them, small settlements where native rocs monitor visitors to the plane and provide them with care and supplies where necessary.
As well as natural entry points from the Astral Plane, there are also natural warp portals scattered throughout Sector Theta; these all lead directly into the Cloud Corridors.

The structure of the Plane of Air interferes with dimensional teleportation; to enter deeper into the plane requires passing through the Cloud Corridors, a thickly clouded, stormy realm crackling with elemental energies that distorts and interferes with transportation magic...and a lot of other magic, too. Only a very few types of creature live here, mostly phoenixes and thunderbirds.
Despite that, the Cloud Corridors, while inhospitable, aren't too difficult to travel through; portals from Sector Theta almost always lead to tunnels of clear air that provide safe passage through the fiery, thunderous storm, ending at exit portals that allow passage into the Inner Layers of the Plane of Air. In a sense, it's sort of like a road network where everywhere off-road is walled off by high winds and explosive elemental energy.

The Inner Layers! First up is Cael Regna, a massive open expanse of shining blue sky, constantly lit by far off suns and stars and dotted by many gas giant planets.
Gravity is unusual in Cael Regna; the gas giants will pull in whatever's near them, but at the same time emit a repulsion field that stops anything from falling too deep into them, creating a sort of equilibrium point that might as well be called their 'surface'.
On the 'surfaces' of these gas giants is where the vast majority of rocs live, forming earthen matter into floating islands and asteroid belts
Do you like Super Mario Galaxy?
*, and then using those mini-planets/moons to farm, build houses, and otherwise form communities.

Arcana Regna is another of the inner layers; it has no suns or gas giants, instead the whole region is filled with dim, luminous fog, which can make it somewhat tricky to navigate for visitors.
Rocs live here too, hidden deep in the mists, having entire foggy cities or dungeons or wizard towers, pretty much guaranteed to not be attacked by invaders.
This is actually prime real-estate for ancient wizards and other powerful mortals who need a place where they won't be disturbed; a few anti-scrying wards and the natural fog ensure that nobody will find and bother them.

The last of the Inner Layers is the Garuda's Nest; unlike the other layers (Inner and Outer) with their wide open spaces and limited gravity, the Garuda's Nest is one great flat plane, with a universal up and a universal down.
The Garuda's Nest is pretty close to a mortal world, with grasslands and plains and oceans extending in all directions
Wondering what happens if you fly far enough up or dig/swim far enough down? You get turned around at some point; non-euclidean space stuff.
*...except, that, most of the plane's surface is covered in clouds.
Mountains exist in the Garuda's Nest, but are difficult to climb, due to each one typically being shielded by hurricane force winds and tornadoes and whatnot; nevertheless, the tops of these mountains poke above the clouds, and these mountaintops are popular places to rocs (and a few mortals) to live.
Another trait of the Garuda's Nest is that it has a clear 'center' of the plane; the biggest mountain, with the biggest hurricane circling its midpoint, with the top of the mountain featuring Taakh's own Grand Temple.

Beyond the Inner Layers are the Deep Layers; usually inaccessible, though powerful magic used in the Cloud Corridors can enter them.

The Grand Vortex is the first of the Deep Layers, and is an absolute maelstrom of elemental chaos; this part of the plane is responsible for soaking up stray magical energies and purifying them (if necessary) before releasing them back into the Cloud Corridors or compressing them into powerful mana crystals.
Living here is not recommend; visiting here is not recommended, unless you're a powerful wizard who wants to collect the aforementioned mana crystals; they make powerful spell components, you see.

The Bleak Abyss is the deepest, darkest layer of the Plane of Air; constantly drained of energy, magic and lesser matter by the Grand Vortex, it is a pitch black, frozen over void.
Very few creatures would be able to survive even setting wing into the Bleak Abyss, and even fewer (mostly divines) would be able to muster the magic required to escape it; this makes it a pretty good dumping ground and/or prison for the irredeemably evil, and dangerous artifacts.



Bonus mini-idea: Levitium!

Levitium is a kind of translucent mineral; it faintly glows and has a cloudy appearance, making a chunk of it look like a crystallised lightning storm.
It's got unusual properties in that it makes itself float. It's a floating rock. And it's pretty good at supporting weight.
For this reason, Levitium is useful for making archaic hovercraft and floating platforms, or in large amounts floating islands, without much or any magic being required.

Just so everyone knows: The compliment I want to hear the most is "I love this idea and I think I'll use it myself."


Idea #6a: Mizuchi
D&D/Pathfinder character motivation and/or overarching plot. I'm thinking of 5e in particular, though.

Time for an idea that I've been putting off since Idea #1.

You know the concept of a keystone species? It's a kind of species that is integral to the food chain and ecosystem. Rhinoceroses, for example, as megaherbivores, have the effect of keeping any one particular grass species from overtaking the entire African savanna. Parrotfish clean the Great Barrier Reef. Beavers are famous for creating dams.

My idea is this; a powerful nature spirit, that functions as a keystone creature for the local thaumasystem, that is to say, distribution of magical energies.
This creature, Mizuchi, is a powerful spirit in the form of a river serpent; dwelling in a overflowing spring in the depths of the forest, it gathers up toxic and harmful energies from the last (released by dark or poorly cast spells, undead, aberrations, etc) and breaks them down, transmuting it into water and life elemental energy that is then redistributed out into the land.
That water and life energy is integral to casting a wide variety of spells, mostly (as you might guess) healing and plant-growing and other such magic.


Idea #6b: Bolotnik

And now, the plot!
Remember that ridiculous idea from 3.5 where you could use some very specific metamagic feats and a bunch of ridiculous technicalities to turn the harmless Locate City spell into a spectacularly powerful bomb? Wightocalypse if you use Fell Drain as one of the feats?

Well, someone did that here. Not a total Wightocalypse, but someone managed to drop a big, wide-ranging burst of negative energy on the whole region. It killed a whole lot of grass and insects and smaller critters, and managed to paralyse a lot of bigger creatures (humanoids included) and rot a few trees, too.
So, ecosystem completely devastated, lots of people and animals are paralysed, there's going to be a famine next year if the farmers aren't revived and new seeds acquired...

Local druids and clerics are doing all they can to revive the region, but there's a problem; their healing and nature-restoring spells are losing power for lack of available magical energy. Whatever triggered the burst of dark energy caused Mizuchi to flee the region, and a twisted, foul, toad-like spirit called Bolotnik took its place.
And, far from consuming malign magical energy and converting it back into life/water force, it's instead soaking up what little water energy is left in the region, and producing its own toxic magic. Unless it's somehow destroyed or repelled, the region is doomed.
If only Mizuchi would come back and help to repel Bolotnik...but the river serpent spirit is nowhere to be seen.


Idea #6c: Tlaloc

Tlaloc is a lizardfolk (I like lizardfolk) from the same region as Mizuchi; his tribe are particularly reverent of the water serpent spirit.
Tlaloc himself, unlike you'd expect a tribal lizardfolk to be, is not very strong, or fast, or observant (middling strength, dexterity, wisdom); he's just not very good as a hunter-gatherer or a warrior, a fact that earns him considerable derision from the rest of his tribe.
He's very smart, though, and has a fondness for building things, which meant he ended up building and repairing huts, tools, and various other things. Not that this made the rest of his tribe treat him much better.

Now, even with a common interest in Mizuchi, Tlaloc's tribe is fairly isolationist and doesn't get along that well with the various other races in their cities and villages.
So, when a few missionaries-slash-adventurers came by to do some good and spread the good word, Tlaloc was fascinated; their clothes, their tools, their everything, it was made of 'metals' and 'fabrics' that he had never seen so much of before!
Tlaloc was so fascinated, in fact, that when it was time for the missionaries to leave, he decided to tag along, learning their language, how they live, where they get their wonderful toys, et-cetera.

So, that was a happy ending. In fact, with Tlaloc's natural knowledge of Draconic and his considerable intelligence and drive to know how things worked, he became a wizard! Probably a conjurer.

But then, the fell drain happened, and everyone got blasted. Tlaloc was one of the few still on his clawed feet after the impact, and he had an idea for how to help.
Gathering a bunch of adventurers to him with his story, he set out to find Mizuchi and get some of the serpent's healing water to help treat those who were worst affected by the fell drain, and artificially supply the various druids/clerics with enough energy to fix the local ecosystem.
...And that was how they found out about Bolotnik; rather than Mizuchi, they found a toad-like spirit sitting in the river-serpent's spring, and that spring, instead of sprouting healing water, was spewing horrible toxins.

Since then, Tlaloc has left the region, joining up with a new group of adventurers. He has a single, spectral scale that belonged to Mizuchi, and he hopes to scry with it and track down the spirit so that whatever's stopping it from returning and making things right can be fixed.

Funny thing, though...Mizuchi seems to be moving from place to place, magical site to magical site. Could it have plans of its own to take back the spring?


Additional notes:

If this were to be played in 5th edition D&D, I'd suggest using the stats of a Kirin from Volo's Guide for Mizuchi if it ever becomes important; many of its regional effects are rain and water themed. And perhaps a Froghemoth for Bolotnik.

Also, I imagine Mizuchi's Scale to be a neato magic item; it could possess a 1st level spell slot of its own, which can be used to cast Purify Food & Drink, Create or Destroy Water, or create holy water once per long rest...are there any other water-themed spells it'd be suited to?







 

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