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

   
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Idea #7: Having a whole party with Vow of Poverty.
D&D & Pathfinder, most likely. I dunno about specific systems.

This idea is less than complete, but I thought I'd post a few thoughts on it anyway.

The thing is, if you have an entire party who operate under a vow of poverty, unless they're all from the same monastery/tribe/etc (improbable if they're all of different race and class), the most likely explanation for 'why' is because some region they live in (or is otherwise significant to them) has such voluntary poverty as a practice.

So, the question then becomes, in a high fantasy world, what would motivate a voluntary poverty subculture?
There's the obvious one; forswearing wealth while there are others in the world who need it more, poor farmers, slaves, the sick, et-cetera. There might be elements of penance in this as well, if the party or their ancestors committed a great crime long ago (tieflings of Bael Turath or anyone with fiendish bloodlines would work well for this), they might be giving the proceeds of their adventures to innocents who were once harmed by their actions.
There's also a different kind of debt; if a divine or some very powerful creature protects the land, the PCs might be part of an order dedicated to serving that patron, saving a bare minimum of wealth for themselves and using the rest to sponsor their patron's continued health and happiness.

Another possibility I thought of might be sacrifice, or something akin to sin-eating or karma absorption; the PCs and others like them might be wilfully enduring poverty and hardship, pain and suffering, hoping to draw spirits of ill-fortune and fury to them so as to stop them preying on family and friends.

That's all related to suffering for the benefit of others, though. What about PCs who aim for self-improvement?
Such as, perhaps, a devout cleric or druid or some other character, might seek to join the ranks of divine servants/spirits of the land, and start by detaching themselves from material possessions and luxuries.
A barbarian or other savage type might shun wealth as a trap for the weak, instead choosing to test themselves against the adversity of the wild.
A wizard or some other sage might have once been led astray by a desire for creature comforts, and may have vowed to never again let material wealth get in the way of their quest for knowledge or using their wisdom to help others.



Possibly more thoughts later, something about having all the gold and equipment to spare instead of using it, and the followers from the Leadership feat.

Idea #8: Writing contradictions into the Book of Vile Darkness
D&D/Pathfinder campaign concept.

It may not be SRD material, but you know how the Book of Vile Darkness works, right? Evil creature reads it, they get lots of experience points, anyone else gets hurt? Technically it only works for divine spellcasters, but still.

Once upon a time I came up with the idea of someone (good-aligned) trying to destroy a Book of Vile Darkness, by channelling a good-aligned outsider (3.5 Eberron had rules for that, I think), sitting in an enchanted throne of wisdom, wearing tons of magic items to boost their intelligence/wisdom/charisma/etc and protect them from evil influences, then using a blessed quill and a ton of reference material to safely go through the BoVD and carefully refute (with damning evidence, pun intended) every claim it contains as to evil's superiority.

But! While such is a nice detour from a campaign, helps make said campaign world better, and is a nice 'take this, you smug sonofa...' to bad guys, I just had a better idea.


So, you know how in Yooka-Laylee, you go into worlds inside books to put things right, collect Pagies from them and so forth (apparently; I haven't actually played it)?
And in Kingdom Hearts I/II, you go into the Winnie the Pooh storybook to do stuff there, and collect torn pages to fix it?
And in that old cartoon The Three Caballeros, Donald Duck visits Baia and Mexico through books?


Let's apply those two ideas to the Book of Vile Darkness, hmm?

Suppose a group of seasoned adventurers are invited to a grand temple of some Good god/dess, where they're greeted by the high priest, a friendly (and highly competent) fellow who informs them that he wants some help.
You see, the Book of Vile Darkness has just been found! In his city! And he wants the adventurers help in destroying it.

This particular Book of Vile Darkness is a bit nastier than normal; it's notorious for appearing here and there, often in the hands of evildoers and lost tribes and whatnot, luring the unwary into perusing its pages.
When it's opened, it doesn't simply act as a book, oh no; it contains a literal world of information, a demi-plane where conquerors rule, slaves drool, fiends roam the wilds and good guys finish last if they finish at all.
Anyone innocent (or just not wicked enough) who enters the book's pages soon finds themselves set upon and torn apart or tortured to death, but a rare few with blackness in their hearts find that the Book of Vile Darkness 'welcomes' them, using its denizens to drag the could-be villain away and indoctrinate him/her in the ways of evil, cruelty and malevolence, how to bend others to their will, master the martial arts and the most wicked of magicks.
More than a few mere kobolds have been ensnared and swallowed up by this Book, only to return weeks or months later as sorcerous overlords who wreak havoc and sow turmoil throughout the lands with their spells and armies.

...So, back to this high priest. He wants your group of adventurers to go into the book, armed to the teeth, and kick some ass.
Doing so, this priest believes, will create contradictions within the Book of Vile Darkness. After all, if its almighty Evil can be beaten within its own pages by a handful of interlopers working together, its claim of Evil's superiority and the value of the lessons within it are suspect, aren't they?
If enough of the fiends in the book are slain, if the slaves rebel and overthrow their tyrants, if darkness is cleansed from the book-world and natural life is allowed to flourish...well, the Book of Vile Darkness would be as good as destroyed, wouldn't it?
When the contents of its 'pages' are tested and disproven, all its claims as to how to be evil and its superiority shown to be nothing more than lies, its dark power will be utterly broken. And that means no more sorcerous overlords being made by it.

...So, the question remains; can your group of adventurers enter the Book of Vile Darkness and turn its Evil against itself, using their teamwork and compassion to undermine and contradict each and every line within it?

#8 could become really rad. If each area of the world within the book was based on a different story that was told within the book, you could have unlimited creative license to make each portion of the world completely different, and evil in unique ways.

One story could be about an evil wizard living in a tower of horrors, another story could tell of a dark underworld ruled by demons, and another story could tell of a city besieged on all sides by monsters, just to name a few possibilities. The heroes could go into any chapter of the book, cleansing pages 34-56, then move on to another portion of the book.

#9: Flat universe?
Worldbuilding concept for 4e D&D

Okay, so, who remembers this picture from the 4e DMG?

If you don't remember, it represents the basic cosmology of the 4e D&D world; you have the Material Plane in the middle, the Feywild (bright parts) and Shadowfell (dark parts) to the sides, and above it the Astral Sea with below it the Elemental Chaos.


Now, when I first saw that picture, it gave me an idea; what if the Astral Sea really was 'above', and the Elemental Chaos really was 'below'?

The idea basically goes as follows; rather than (or if you prefer, 'as well as') gravity being a function of greatest mass as it is in real life, it would be a universal force that pushes down towards a flat plane, or up if something is below the flat plane.
Mortal realms would be situated in the middle of this plane, with traditional overworlds facing up towards the Astral Sea, and with the Underdark open and exposed to the Elemental Chaos below.
Yes, they would be flat worlds; if you walked to the edge of a world, you'd be able to walk over the edge, and flip-over gravity-wise, from Overworld to Underdark.

And, the fun part, if you had a good set of wings or a flying airship or whatnot, you could take off from the side of the world and travel to moons or other planets; rather than falling into the Elemental Chaos or the Astral Sea or such, you'd just 'float' on the surface of the gravitational plane.
Like an archipelago on an ocean, a bunch of mortal worlds would sit on the gravitational plane's surface.

A couple more thoughts attached to this; I don't know how gravity would change the further out you go from the 'surface', whether it should get heavier (culminating in a 'ceiling/floor' to the universe), or if it should get lighter (ending up in a void, similar to our normal universe if it has regular gravity as well), or if it should just stay the same strength for infinity.

I figure, domains in the Astral Sea would be held up by gravity crystals, mechanical thrusters, or divine will; having any of these fail could make for a plot point, what if a god falls sick and their domain falls into the mortal section of the realm?

Why would the Underdark remain dark? I figure because, with it facing the Elemental Chaos, and the Abyss under that Chaos, now and then a demon or other monster could make its way through the elements and fall upwards into the mortal realm, hitting the 'underside' of a mortal world and settling in.

I figure, to let suns and moons rotate, and a bunch of other stuff, there could be gravitational tunnels, artificial or natural, where this flat-plane's normal gravitational forces are neutralised and some other rule of gravity applies instead.
So one gravitational tunnel in the shape of a ring might hold a moon in orbit (and anything else that enters the tunnel), one tunnel might be a pillar that extends upwards into the Astral Sea and let mortals (with Feather Fall) do epic jumps up into the heavens, one might be another pillar that points straight into the Elemental Chaos, serving as a 'bottomless pit' for mortals...

Mini-idea #10: Why are old magic items just lying around in tombs?

Because if some long-dead hero is resurrected by divine intervention, and they don't know what the heck could be outside (it must be bad if gods are interfering), then it's a considerable reassurance if they have some magic weapons and armour and even some preserved scrolls and potions to start with.

Consider Medievil, way back on the Playstation; that has your hero being accidentally resurrected by the bad guy as part of his undead-apocalypse, and you get to start with a life potion and a decent sword there.

Just something to think about. You could make a plot where, after evil ravages the world, ancient heroes are raised from the dead to set things right, with their magic items conveniently being buried with them in contingency for such an eventuality.
Heck, they could have retainers too (if they wanted the Leadership feat); willingly sacrificed servants who come back to life with them, or an animated terracotta army, or just regular commoners who took refuge in whatever necropolis the PCs were interred in.

#11: Professor Oak is a Wartortle
Campaign concept; I'm not sure what system this would be appropriate for.

A Pokemon Centre.
One of the Nurse Joys shouts from her computer; there's been a big explosion in Pallet Town, at Professor Oak's laboratory.
A mobile team is sent out from the Pokemon Center to Pallet Town, to investigate the situation and treat any injuries.

Something strange is going on, though; when they get there, Professor Oak is missing, as are various burgeoning young trainers who were going to receive their first pokemon.
What is present are the pokemon; several starter pokemon intended for those trainers, as well as...strangely enough, several spares.

Due to being dazed and disoriented, the pokemon at the exploded lab were delivered to the nearest Pokemon Centre, in Viridian, for a checkup and if necessary, treatment.
And that, is where the surprise began; these pokemon could speak human! Most of them, anyway. Furthermore, one of them, a Wartortle, claimed to be Professor Oak himself.

It seems Professor Oaktortle was able to shed some light on the mystery; before the mysterious explosion, he was receiving, from Bill, the latest data on a series of prototype 'Advanced Machines', improved Technical Machines with the ability to augment a pokemon's abilities far beyond their normal threshold; a tremendous boon for industry if they can be perfected.
He doesn't remember what exactly what was happening when the explosion occurred and knocked him out, but according to black-box data recovered from the laboratory, the file 'SuperMode.AdM', Advanced Machine data based on Ditto's (and Mew's?) transformation ability, began transmission from Bill's lab, via the Pokemon Transfer System, just seconds before the detonation occurred.

Speaking to the other talking pokemon indicates that they are other trainers, ones who were due to receive their first pokemon, who have been transformed.
Based on the evidence, the likely conclusion seems to be that attempting to transmit SuperMode.AdM somehow failed, releasing a cascade of particle energy that inflicted Transform-like symptoms on every living being within the lab.
Fortunately, there's a means of reversing the change; Bill's Cell Separation System, based in his laboratory north of Cerulean, likely has the ability to 'normalise' these trainers and the old Professor.
It's possible, but unconfirmed if the other Advanced Machine files have affected these trainer pokemon in some way, though.

...Bugger it, the Pokemon Transfer System is down (must have been major backlash from the explosion), so the trainers can't be sent to Bill immediately.
An Officer Jenny can escort them on foot, but therein lies another complication; Team Rocket is aware of the development of these Advanced Machines, and would like nothing more than to capture the affected trainers (and especially Oak) and extract the secrets of the AdMs from their DNA, or minds.

...Bugger again, speaking of Team Rocket, the Viridian Pokemon Center just came under attack! Dun dun dun!

Will these trainers succeed in returning to their human selves? Will Team Rocket claim the secret of the Advanced Machines? Why has Mew been sighted here and there and what is it planning?

#12: Sahir the Efreeti
Designed for Mutants & Masterminds 3e, Power Level 10
Character Sheet


I made this in Heromachine, but I think I mucked up the mouth a bit.
I based the design largely off this: (link)

Around seven decades ago, Omari Ghafur was an ordinary young nice guy.
He had a loving wife, and had a stable job as a customer representative at the bank.

And then, pulp fiction twist, he found a genie's lamp!
It wasn't on purpose. He was taking Yusra (his wife) on a trip to Siwa Oasis when he noticed a little glinting shiny thing in the sand.
Omari hopped out of the car, picked it up, gave the interesting little antique a dusting off...

~poof!~
"Oh, thank...who-whatever I'm supposed to thank! Free at last! You would not believe how many people have just driven past! I swear, all you humans are...wait, *cough cough*, tremble in fear, feeble mortal, for I am the great genie, Gyladabyr of the Lamp! But um, fear not? Because as a reward for releasing me, I shall grant thou wishes three! Or something like that!"

...Well, what would you wish for?
Omari, for his part, decided to fool around and ask for infinite wishes.
Gyladabyr shrugged, pointed his fingers, and gave it a shot.

~zzzap!~

And that was how Omari Ghafur was turned into a genie...well, technically, an efreeti. More fiery, more...ugly? It gave him infinite wishes, at least...

But anyway! Despite the sudden radical vanishing of Omari's humanity combined with his sudden new unfathomable power, this is not a sad story where Omari vanishes into the desert or becomes some insane evil overlord or something like that.
Yusra's a bit unnerved by this radical change in her husband's looks, but it only takes a little while for her to accept that Omari is still the same man she married on the inside.
They continue to Siwa Oasis, enjoy their holiday, with Gyladabyr tagging along to teach Omari about his new powers (starting with 'how to look like a human again').
And after the holiday, they head back home, and they live happily ever after.


...Fast forward 70 years or so to the present day.
Omari and Yusra lived a long, happy life; Omari quit his job at the bank and took up painting, and had 3 children (who at least look human), named Bassam, Elmira, and Irah...and those three had grandkids, too, before Yusra died of natural causes.
Gyladabyr meanwhile, ended up being freed from his lamp, and is off roaming the world someplace or other.

Omari himself...well, he's had a good long 'mortal' life, enriched by having magical powers. But now his wife has passed on, his children are all grown up, and he's lived for nearly a century...and he hasn't aged a day.
Which raises the question; he's lived a full happy and contented mortal lifespan, what does he do with the rest of his immortal existence?

Well. While he, and his family, and his neighbours, and the rest of the next generation that make up his community are all well-off, other places in the world aren't so lucky.
A ton of wars, a ton of violence, a ton of epidemics...and supervillains a plenty. It seems like a day doesn't go by without the news reporting on a super-villainous caper that was barely prevented by a superhero before it blew up a city or something.

Well, that's that then. It wouldn't be right to have phenomenal cosmic power and not use it to try and promote world peace.
Doing some thinking, getting some research done, Omari came to a decision; he found the local superhero team's phone number, rang up, and asked them:
"Can you teach me how to be a superhero?"



Omari, now going by the codename Sahir, is an efreeti, a red, horned, demonic-looking being who's basically made of elemental fire.
Despite his scary appearance, he's actually quite friendly; he tends to be relaxed and casual pretty much all the time, and tends to keep his serenity in all but the most dire situations.
When he's not tagging after another hero, learning how they operate and providing wish support when necessary, he tends to laze around, paint or draw, play video games and/or decorate and clean-up the surroundings.

Sahir isn't bound to a single magic lamp or ring or anything like that; rather, his power is sealed into something more immaterial; the short incantation "Nar Qusahr Rishah".
Whether inscribed on a ring, carved into stone, or even just printed on a piece of paper, the mere presence of these 'words' turns whatever object or surface they're on into a pseudo-'djinn bottle', which when in close proximity to Sahir (around 50 ft. or less) unseals his power and permits him to use the full extent of his magic.
Correspondingly, if Sahir doesn't have a 'djinn bottle', an object with his magic words written on it, in close proximity, he can't cast any magic at all, save for levitating a little; his powers are completely sealed.
For this reason, Sahir tends to keep his magic words engraved on the jewellery he wears.

The reason "Nar Qusahr Rishah" creates a 'djinn bottle' and not a 'djinn ring', is because Sahir can actually use objects marked with his keywords like a genie lamp, vanishing inside it and watching the world go by until he's called out again. But please don't call it a Pokeball.
A downside of having these 'djinn bottles', though, and a reason Sahir can't just stamp it on everything, is that if someone holds an object marked with "Nar Qusahr Rishah", like someone holding a regular genie's lamp could, they can compel Sahir to obey their commands. The risk that a supervillain could quickly enslave Sahir to their wishes in such a way is the single greatest vulnerability Sahir possesses as a superhero, and is a core reason why he rarely works alone; so that another hero can wrest control back.

Mechanically, Sahir is sort of 'Green Lantern'-ish with his ability to conjure all manner of things, throw various spells and missiles, and create various useful environmental effects and illusions.
As still something of a newbie superhero, his defences and accuracy are a little weak, but his sheer ability to manipulate any battlefield and provide a useful tool in most any situation makes up for it.
And his Phantasm power and Deception skill make it pretty easy for him to masquerade as a civilian, or even another superhero, making it harder for enemies to prepare for him.

#13:A party of polymorphed players.
Character concept or campaign concept.

In Norse myth, Fafnir was a dwarf who killed Hriedmar for his gold and fled into the wilderness; corrupted by his desire to hoard all his gold for himself, he eventually transformed into a dragon.
In the Voyage of the Dawn Treader book, this myth gets a bit of a call-back, when Eustace Scrubb goes to sleep on a dragon's hoard and wakes up as a dragon.

And in Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, anyone who enters the Dark World is transformed into a creature that reflects their heart. Link himself ends up as a cute little bunny.

Let's think about that for the moment. Transformations don't necessarily have to come from enemy wizards; they could be legendary phenomena, or a trait of a plane, or divine intervention, or who knows what else.

For example, your party might have just beaten a dragon, and are taking a good long rest before hauling the loot back home; but, the hoard of gold is cursed, and when the party wakes up they discover they've been turned into dragons by a powerful enchantment.
Or, perhaps an evil villain, after being foiled for the last time, casts a terrible hex on the PCs to turn them into monsters (though presumably a holy artifact on their persons would save them from brainwashing as well).
When a dimension of dreams becomes coterminous with the material plane, people across the world find themselves being turned into animals based on their personality.
A deity asks the PCs to perform a mission of great importance, and transforms them into celestial beasts in such a way that everyone will recognise them as divine heralds.


Really, the whole thing is little more than an excuse to play with some decidedly non-standard races for PCs, but it also supplies them with something of a motivation; to cure the curse on themselves, or to adapt to a form that reflects their true self, or just fulfill a holy quest while they have the visible authority.
It works to affect a whole party as the beginning of an adventure, or it could just be one PC's problem, to justify why they're playing a highly unusual race.

#14: Rising Water
Campaign suited to D&D settings.

So there was this one time that Tiamat decided to mate with a fiendish hydra to see what would happen.
A 5-headed dragon goddess and a 13-headed infernal regenerating reptilian thing, what do you think happened?

In this case, they got the Hecatoncephalus Catastrophe, a hundred-headed serpentine demigod who brought cataclysmic natural disasters to any material world it visited.
Thankfully, it was eventually felled by a group of mortal heroes, who, to prevent Catastrophe from returning, sealed its spirit away deep beneath the earth.

...A few thousand millennia later, followers of Tiamat's cult have, after a lot of digging and exploration, discovered the resting place of Catastrophe, a dozen miles below the rest of the Underdark. And, they're planning to free and resurrect Catastrophe in order to gain Tiamat's favour.
In order to get the magical power they need to break the seal on Catastrophe's spirit, they've decided to use blood sacrifices. A lot of blood sacrifices.

So that is where the PC party comes in; whether they were served drugged food and drink and kidnapped, or whether they were ambushed when pursuing a group of cultists, they've been captured and brought to the deepest depths of the Underdark to be sacrifices for Catastrophe.
Fortunately, evil cultists are dumb, and they didn't predict that bringing a whole bunch of captives together with not enough guards was a recipe for disaster. A handful of rogues slipping out of their bonds, a few stolen knives to cut everyone else loose, and boom, massive breakout while the head of the cult was halfway through his ritual.

Now, what happens when a ritual to free a demi-dragon-god is disrupted before its completion?
In this case, disaster; Catastrophe wasn't resurrected, but a hundred malevolent spirits, one for each of his head, escaped the seal and scattered throughout the Underdark, bringing blights and diseases upon underground crops, causing tremors and cave-ins, spreading toxic smoke, and flooding caves with water.

That last one is of major concern, because, well, you and the various other near-victims of the ritual to bring back Catastrophe are at the very bottom of the Underdark and, well, the water level is slowly but surely rising.



So, that's the justification for the plot (and why the PCs are at the bottom of the Underdark in the first place), but what would a campaign around this concept be like?
Well, a significant factor would be that with flood waters rising behind them, the PCs and whoever's travelling with them would have to keep moving ahead; staying above the rising floodwater, fighting or scaring away monsters in their way, navigating mazes and digging their way out of dead-ends, scavenging what food and fresh water there is to be found (or conjuring their own if they have the spell for it).
Dungeons would be on pretty strict time limits; the PCs wouldn't have much resting time before the water caught up to them, after all. But at the same time, cave-ins could let them bypass lots of traps, and it's entirely possible that enemies might have fled the dungeons ahead of time to avoid flooding water.

*is too worn out to finish this idea at the moment...*







 

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