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Old Oct 15th, 2022, 07:02 AM
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Zar - From the ashes - World history

Hello everybody -

I'm working on a dark fantasy setting, inspired of my homebrew setting called Zar.

I was wondering if some of you would be interested to read what i did so far and give me feedback.

Here's the beginning of it, I kept it high level so that it can be consumed easily to get an idea of what the core history of the world looks like.

Thanks!
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File Type: pdf zarv4.pdf (3.44 MB, 4 views)
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Old Oct 15th, 2022, 09:01 AM
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I'm guessing anyone can write here - I hope i'm not mistaking... I haven't tried anything similar so far.

It's hard to comment on someone else's work - Feels easier to reply with ideas to specific questions of yours...

I tried to imagine what would think those who would play in your universe one day. These came to mind:

1. What do you think about adding a few stars names to Cosmology? Especially since the planets are gods. Why not have some other gods around? lesser perhaps. Gods aside, there could be a folklore related to the stars - material for the characters' beliefs. And, perhaps, night-time travel would benefit from a few sky marks.

2. Gods are mentioned in the Age of Awakening - Have you thought of the differences between them? Then... the gods are careful "not to disturb the gentle process of evolution", and in the Age of Ruin the only one acting to the benefit of the exploited ("after a couple of millennia") is the dark Xenobia - who takes vengeance on the whole Zar and all inhabitants...

3. I like that you have balance between details and overall matters, and that you covered a lot of history in a short text. It would help a future player organize her or his immersion in game world information. However, i noticed that there is little mentioning of particularities of life on Zar - of what makes it different from other games (races twists, customs, access to things). For tips on dealing with world definition - or just inspiration, i would recommend the work of this game's GM. Then again, you could just leave it to the players to come up with things of their own and then weave the variate stuff together as a story unfolds...

4. It was a light read, at the end of which the mind can easily recall there was mentioning of gods/planets, races, evolution, alien invasion, oppression, divine intervention, a giant monster, harsh consequences of an epic battle. Would you have liked the reader to have more in this general image?

There are many experienced people at RPGX. I just made an attempt at dealing with such matters.

Last edited by writelite; Oct 15th, 2022 at 09:43 AM. Reason: correction (of course)
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Old Oct 15th, 2022, 07:38 PM
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Thanks, this is useful.

About races, gods and details, this is going to be another section. Actually i have 30 years RL worth of material for that world, but this version is more renaissance high fantasy. I'm doing a spin-off dark fantasy in the earlier days of that world.

I have focused on the actors I needed for the campaign I want to run first such as what happened with Negamor, Xenobia and the fall of the empire. There are several continents and things that are happening during those eras, but if I described it in depth it would be a wall of text and i'm not sure a player would have the patience to read 20 pages of genesis.
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 12:53 AM
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Right! But i assumed you would split the wall into chunks (linked to a main page). Anyway, players would read if they can make direct (or quick enough) use of the information. If you would present it so that they can easily connect their character to it, i don't think the overall size would matter. That material which concerns them only as part of a quest stage, of course, is better served later on in the story; when needed. And, uhm... some handbooks divide information into essential and optional-read, using color and other formatting; although that might break the feel of reading a story...

Oh, so you plan an adventure that could serve as a legend to later generations. Nice - I can see how a genesis would have increased importance there, touching on all key aspects of the world. And speaking of actors: Who is that knight lady at the end?!

...I still think the mentioning of the races needs a bit of flavor - although i am not sure how exactly that should be inserted... As the history up there is - up to the Age of Renewal, at the moment - i feel the races can just have been any races, number and name... This is the last time i bother you about it!

glad it was useful

PS. I kept thinking about the gods. It's possible that they're just the shy, uninvolved, or harmless type - except that Xenobia who gets angry, occasionally. But, you know, i felt like at least in a game world we should have a little justice
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 12:59 AM
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Here is how i organized informations before.
https://www.rpgcrossing.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14380

Quote:
Who is that knight lady at the end?!
She is the main antagonist or ally of the game i have in mind.

Yes, races are important anyway for character creation.
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 01:42 AM
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Wow! That's a lot of information. Players would have their hands full... Some, like me, would need to sort through everything and organize based on priority - before using anything. A short story, like the one you presented here, helps a lot with that. It can be too much work to handle alone, for some people... I, for one, need to feel a connection before placing some information at its proper place. And if that's not possible, i need to feel comfortable dealing with things from an emotional distance. And having things put into order, properly boxed and labeled by the GM makes a great difference.

The reason i mentioned Phettberg's work is the wide range of detail looked into - at the same time things being kept as simple as possible. I got lost, eventually... But i remember how interesting it seemed to take the various societal and political aspects into account - as part of a character's buildup.
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 06:28 AM
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I added a bit about the age of renewal.
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 11:45 AM
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Fine structure - going into more detail that would matter to adventurers as the historical time spans (seem to) shorten, approaching present.

Speaking of particularities - one can already see some interesting stuff: 1) scarcity of resources - leading to communities being small and isolated (and, one might guess, unequal access to magic and technology); 2) races distributed to geographical areas (and more, to specific terrain) - while before they had only historical identity; 3) races are shown facing some challenges of their existence; 4) the comprehension of good and evil is challenged, the balancing of values at race/society and at personal level is made difficult by the different ways the races influence each other (and one can throw those mysterious and doubtful gods into the equation as well).

I see things falling into place, and information of general interest gradually being revealed. But seeing the turn things take, i feel i should wait before forming an opinion...

Incidentally, i wonder how it would be best to players to access everything - from specifics up to historical time, or as i was exposed to on this thread, or perhaps from some middle place, of general categories. I feel we've reached that here. It's a point one feels they can go both ways - back towards roots and gods, or forward towards names and localities.

One thing i cannot guess is whether the races will be somehow balanced. In standard D&D 5e for example, differences are minor - some races having Darkvision being one of the most important things, maybe... The rest is flavor. But since you touched on specific challenges here - like living in certain terrain, fending off monsters and aliens, the continued influence of the black quartz maybe - i see as a possibility the races having developed specific means to deal with trouble. And one wonders how these means could match against those of other races in contexts they were not developed for... Hope i'm not going too far here
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Old Oct 16th, 2022, 03:01 PM
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Hi MoonZar,

I would want to play in this World. I believe you have a good start. World Building is a huge time consuming and at times, energy sapping process. I also think when first starting out, it is better to leave only parts of the story or legends of how things came to be. King Arthur and Charlemagne come to mind. King Arthur and his Knights of the Round table are far more popular and entrenched in the media than Charlemagne and his Peers. I think one of the reasons is we know so much more of Charlemagne than we do Arthur and that allows more speculation, conjecture and interpretation of the stories.
Right now, your World is on the side of Arthur. As a player, I would have many questions(just like I do in RL) some are possible for me to answer, while others I may never know(true to RL as well). I think that sense of mystery, of possibility aids games and keeps players searching and growing their characters. The more they learn about the World, hopefully the more they learn about themselves.

1. I wonder if the orcs and lizard folk will ever have Empires or Kingdoms. How will the two groups get along? What will they do with the other races, like the humans, halflings, and rebellious elves?

2. I like that you have set up a World where Humans aren't the dominant species. As a human player character, how would you respond to that?

3. I like that you have created disharmony between the elves. One of the questions I always have about Tolkien's Middle Earth is what happened to all the other elves, The Avari? The Green elves, those elves in the East who never came West. What were they doing while the Noldor and Sindar made War against first Melkor and then Sauron?
Your World has started to give us a possible answer, and speculations about that.

4. I would like to see more than two deities involved for contrast. Alashra could become the Yin to Xenobia and Negamors Yang. There has to be some hope in all the darkness. Too much darkness and grit can weigh on players. Right now you have set up some harsh living for the players with the Githyanki, Illithids, Neogi, and Thri-Keens settling the World. These people, with their advanced skills and weapons could easily come to dominate the World. If you are aiming for a Dark Sun kind of campaign, that would do it.
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Old Oct 17th, 2022, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasgorn View Post
Right now, your World is on the side of Arthur. As a player, I would have many questions(just like I do in RL) some are possible for me to answer, while others I may never know(true to RL as well). I think that sense of mystery, of possibility aids games and keeps players searching and growing their characters. The more they learn about the World, hopefully the more they learn about themselves.
That's exactly what I wish to accomplish to be more on the legend and myth side, than detailed record of history. There's not a lot of book around with accurate records of the past. Most people living in the world and PC will barely have any knowledge of what happened in details unless they have a high score in history skills. They will know about Negamor, and the old empire, but there's going to be a lot of variation of what happened in folklore and bedtime stories.

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1. I wonder if the orcs and lizard folk will ever have Empires or Kingdoms. How will the two groups get along? What will they do with the other races, like the humans, halflings, and rebellious elves?
Good points. I planned to make a sweep in a section about race to talk about their culture and their relationships in the present days.

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2. I like that you have set up a World where Humans aren't the dominant species. As a human player character, how would you respond to that?
As a human, there's going to be tension with the other races, but the main priority of everybody in multi-cultural cities is survival. Sometimes this will makes all the races work together against the larger threat or kills each other for limited resources. So there's going to be a lot of gray zones and trust will be hard to come by.

Since there are not many well define territories and realms, and the world is not over populated, that help for everybody to live together and focus on surviving monsters and other problems in the world.


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Originally Posted by Rasgorn View Post
3. I like that you have created disharmony between the elves. One of the questions I always have about Tolkien's Middle Earth is what happened to all the other elves, The Avari? The Green elves, those elves in the East who never came West. What were they doing while the Noldor and Sindar made War against first Melkor and then Sauron?
Your World has started to give us a possible answer, and speculations about that.
I didn't know about that part of LOTR.

Actually for me it's new, usually all the elves were getting along in my campaign setting, but I'd like to create more gray zones and different points of view in how the elves think.

The imperialist still exists in that floating city, and they do not have a good relationship obviously with the land elves. The land elves think the imperialist caused the destruction of the world and the imperialists think the others are traitors that finished off the empire in the middle of the chaos. They are probably both right, but they won't acknowledge that anytime soon.

In elvish memories, the broken of the empire is still fairly recent but forgotten for most humans. Fixing old wounds may be a theme for future stories and campaign.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rasgorn View Post
4. I would like to see more than two deities involved for contrast. Alashra could become the Yin to Xenobia and Negamors Yang. There has to be some hope in all the darkness. Too much darkness and grit can weigh on players. Right now you have set up some harsh living for the players with the Githyanki, Illithids, Neogi, and Thri-Keens settling the World. These people, with their advanced skills and weapons could easily come to dominate the World. If you are aiming for a Dark Sun kind of campaign, that would do it.
Right, its one of the next thing in my agenda, explaining what the other gods were up to in the middle of all this and why they didn't try to stop negamor, or maybe they did help in their own ways.

Quote:
Right now you have set up some harsh living for the players with the Githyanki, Illithids, Neogi, and Thri-Keens settling the World.
Maybe I went too far about this part, the world doesn't need more chaos. I edited just now. I wanted to point out in that those races existed on the world. They don't have big cities or realms , they are just occasional visitors hunting for slaves and other things.

But the githyanki part is important, they are the main nemesis of the imperial elf on this floating island, this makes some balance in place because the imperial elves are still way more advanced than most of the world, but need to keep their focus on the githyanki and other problems from the astral plane. They also don't have high population anymore.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2022, 09:27 PM
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Posted some updates in the leading post. Thank you!
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Old Nov 4th, 2022, 05:20 AM
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I read it all again I think i noticed some little changes, but can't be sure about it - Forgot most details of the first version... Anyway, my attention was drawn to some matters that might need additional focus. I hope it helps if i pick on them...

The least of these is calling Xenobia a "villain". I am sensitive to the difference between a malicious god and one of dark appetite - which comes down to worshipers indulging in dark deeds to please that god, hoping to gain fame, power, or riches, versus worshipers trying to appease a dark force by some sacrifices*, in order to avoid harm in their lives. (Which can also take the more spiritualized and least harmful form of fasting.)

A more important matter perhaps is if the Elves turned Orcs hunt aberrations purely of necessity, or something of elven ancestry remains in their folklore and race consciousness. The episode of the great fight with Negamor seems to indicate that the elves more probable to get infected are those sent against the monster - the imperial forces. Their approach and vision, i expect, would be considerably different than those of land Elves turned Orc: seeking to one day regain dominion of the world versus submitting to a life of isolation and finding solace in their good deeds that also benefit, indirectly, the other races. Related to this matter, are a pair of affirmations that might need reconciliation: that Negamor was stopped "just in time", as it was about to reach the capital, and that the mountain of black quartz the corpse turned to is apparently found "deep in the poisonous swamps", where Elves became Orcs.

As a reader, i am left with a big "How?" in mind with regard to the Humans' survival - by adaptation, and the Lizardfolk's taming of the lands (while other surface races fled under rock and ground to escape the harsh conditions). I figure the blood of the Lizardfolk was better suited to the cold climate, but that's as far as i dare to venture guessing... The particular challenges these races met (aberrations threat aside) and the means to overcome them seem to have great potential of making adventures on Zar a rich and unique experience.

Of less importance, perhaps, are details of how the land elves, the anti-imperialists came to exist as a group. It might be of particular interest what common values they found with the exploited races, based on the latter's cultures and religions. I mean, it's clear they are driven by a desire for good, but it might be interesting what folklore form the good takes - This might give some color to the world, more things to play with in story posts.

I kept for the end something that may sound like a wish... Your description of how the world was in the beginning touched me each time i've read that passage. Are the gods still related to that purity? Can visions of that time appear to seers or particular characters in their dreams? Would artists try to depict that beauty in their works? Would people hope the planet returns to that state? And would that be their idea of paradise? You said you want a dark setting - but wouldn't some contrast with that pristine time make life interesting for the characters? It seems like something to wish for
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Old Nov 4th, 2022, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
The least of these is calling Xenobia a "villain". I am sensitive to the difference between a malicious god and one of dark appetite - which comes down to worshipers indulging in dark deeds to please that god, hoping to gain fame, power, or riches, versus worshipers trying to appease a dark force by some sacrifices*, in order to avoid harm in their lives. (Which can also take the more spiritualized and least harmful form of fasting.)
Can you please clarify that part? What do you think can be improved regarding Xenobia? Basically she was angry that the elves killed all her followers and destroy all the ancient god monuments and was seeking revenge and overdid it. While having dark appetite, she normally doesn't seek the destruction of the world.

Quote:
A more important matter perhaps is if the Elves turned Orcs hunt aberrations purely of necessity, or something of elven ancestry remains in their folklore and race consciousness.
They do it by necessity to survive as their territory are near the curse swamped where a lot of monsters are living in. I clarified in the text.

Quote:
The episode of the great fight with Negamor seems to indicate that the elves more probable to get infected are those sent against the monster - the imperial forces. Their approach and vision, i expect, would be considerably different than those of land Elves turned Orc: seeking to one day regain dominion of the world versus submitting to a life of isolation and finding solace in their good deeds that also benefit, indirectly, the other races. Related to this matter, are a pair of affirmations that might need reconciliation: that Negamor was stopped "just in time", as it was about to reach the capital, and that the mountain of black quartz the corpse turned to is apparently found "deep in the poisonous swamps", where Elves became Orcs.
So you mean, i should be more precise what kind of elves turned into orc? They were imperial elves contaminated by Negamor swamp, that's what i had in mind. I clarified in the text.
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Old Nov 4th, 2022, 09:31 AM
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Uhm... I think you understood my meaning I was trying to figure out the essence of Xenobia, in order to determine what of that might justify calling her a "villain". From your reply i conclude that she is aware of the consequences of her actions, and that she does not consciously seek the destruction of the whole world; although she might stand for destruction at a smaller scale. But does she enjoy harming or not? And more fundamentally: Is she a force or is she driven by a force? Is she in control of her actions, or not - and if she is, then in what measure? The answers to these questions would help me see if she is evil, or just mis-endowed (so to speak). If another opinion would help bring more light to my meaning, you may want to look at the range of definitions "villain" has at Dictionary dot com - where i suppose they are prioritized by strength. I hope i did not cause more confusion...

About the Orcs... well, of course it's up to you how much of their origin and race consciousness is meant to be important to the players. Then, naturally, creatures of any race might be infected by the swamps - but i had in mind "the first generation of Orcs". And in your reply you seem to have referred to the same But beyond that point in history, would the imperial elves turned Orcs end up as the majority in that race? And would that determine the overall approach to a destiny of the Orcs? Or are they mostly just hunters of aberrations, as to the exterior races? while in their midst there is as much room for bad and good social/racial tendencies. I think this might be interesting to know about. And now that i look at the matter again, another detail of potential importance comes to mind: The way the infected Elves separated from the other imperialists. I assume they did not turn into Orcs over night!?

I hope i did not sound otherwise than as trying to assist you Certainly i don't know much about anything. Just had some ideas to share
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Old Nov 4th, 2022, 09:08 PM
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Thanks, you certainly gave me a lot to think about.

Regarding Xenobia, probably that following the disaster, people workship her to appease her anger through dark rituals.

Anyway i have much to write about the races and gods.
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