My game world

Started by Drul Morbok, December 24, 2016, 02:27:23 AM

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Drul Morbok

It was not my initial intension, but reading all over the forum again after years of glancing at most, I just realized HOW much I also used it as some storage room for unfinished ideas...In my posts I found ideas, story hooks, prototipical society description and all the like I had already forgotten or ,,invented again" since then, albeit slightly different. And of Course I also found very valuable feedback to it ;-)

But wow, I finally reached what I might call a playable game world! So this time, rather than presenting raw ideas or joining/starting a somehow theoretical discussion, I want to contribute what I intend to keep as persistent world for roleplaying and maybe future narration (dreaming of writing stories playing within this world). Exact numbers might still change, and the world and many parts of it are yet to be named (names seem to either come first or last in my creative process...).

My game world is definitely not Khoras, but I would not hesitate one second to call (including the forum) the most important and valuable source of inspiration at worldbuilding. Hopefully, you will see what I mean ;-)

The physical world:
More than 98% oft he world's surface is covered by steppe, where the soil ist rather viscous – you do not sink in when walking on it, but stones lying on the ground would, within some hours, depending on size and density. The ground is not perfectly flat, but appears to be wavy – well, it actually IS wavy, and the ,,waves" are moving. If watched in fast motion, it would appear like one of those huge plastic swimming pools after you give a punch to one side at ground level – at first, the waves spread concentrically from above impact point, but then they bounce back from other walls and start interfering. Some waves might cancel out each other, some might add up, some might create vortices. Well, that kind of pattern, but al LOT slower. Still fast enough to make it hard to recognize terrain after a year, and impossible to create anything like maps. You also could not build any permanent structure, especially not made of stone. The movement reaches deep, it's not just on the surface, but you would not easily know or notice this within the game world. But it can result in some kind of rogue waves that appear like huge wandering dunes, with a rather steep ,,slip face" in direction of movement, which can be as fast as several meters per day (about 100 times as fast as normal ,,waves" would).

This might give the impression of dunes in a dessert, but they are not shaped by wind or water, and the effect is not being based on fine-grained material but rather on kinetic energy of the mass oft he ground moving. So the wave analogy is a lot more accurate than the dune analogy – well, actually it's more appropriate to think of the steppe as an ocean, for physical analogy as well as for gaming purpose, as follows (side note: there is even at least one ship-like vessel travelling around in the steppe).

The rest is terra firma, resting on a floating fundament (OK, so it's not that ,,firma", but for lack of better word) - or rather about 100 separated ,,isles", to stick to the ocean analogy as well as ingame terminology. They are about evenly distributed within the steppe, making them rather isolated from each other, since not only physical aspects of the steppe greatly hamper exchange between themSmaller ,,isles" might be about 10 square kilometers, huges ones seveal 1000, but those are extremes. Most are between 50 and 300 square km. Average nearest distance between neighboring islands is about 50 kilometers, although more isolated ones might be as far as 200 km from the nearest neighbor.

Travelling between ,,islands" is possible mainly for organizations, of which there's few, and some soldiers of fortune and the like. The main reason is the Barbarians in the steppe, who attack anyone entering. Their reputation as bloodthirsty, aggressive killers however is mainly the result of cultural misunderstanding and ignorance. For example, if you wave your empty hand to a Barbarian as a greeting along the lines of ,,I'm not armed", the Barbarian will understand it as ,,I do not consider you a warrior", in turn reacting along the lines of ,,I'll show you WHO's not a warrior around here"...which in the past has wept out many a group ,,coming in peace".
For groups of up to five people, the Barbarians will send a scouting party of youngsters, intending to start a fight. If the scouting party is utterly destroyed by the entering group, the Barbarians will consider the group harmless and let them pass without further incident. Their logic is simple: Up to five is no invasion army itself, and if it was the advance party of an invasion army, they would have left one survivor to tell the news. Knowing this, especially the player's party should be able to navigate through the steppe without far as the Barbarians are concerned, that is. Of course there's more danger out there.

To be continued...

Metagame section:
I have to admit...the setting of the physical world is far away from the Khoras setting. Maybe surprisingly, maybe not, I'd compare it to Star Trek :D
Of course, Star Trek features planets in space rather than ,,islands" in a steppe, but than again, most episodes I remember that involve visiting a planet take place within an area that doesn't seem (or at least does not have) to be larger than my ,,islands". To put it short: I want a world full of smaller worlds. The smaller worlds are rather monolithic and consistent within themselves, and quite often rather isolationist, either by decission or dictated by circumstances. On some islands, they might not even know about or believe in other islands, others might be pre-industrial or even futuristic when compared to our history, using their technology to seal them off from the rest oft he world. In any case, most islands are rather unique in appearence, and their inhabitants quite often larger-than-life (not sure if this expression really matches what I mean) in their attitude.
The principle of territorial expansion is rather uncommon, islands do not tend to invade or conquer each other. Apart from the fact that the Barbarians hardly would let pass such an army, it would be a major challenge to organize occupation. That does not mean that islands do not dominate over other islands, it's just not militaristic.

To be continued....

David Roomes

Interesting concept. I like it. If travel between the islands of firm ground really is that difficult, then yes I can see individual island nations developing very differently from each other in cultural and technological isolation. That would make for a fascinating campaign if the players were travelling around, seeing new island nations for the first time. Just like Star Trek, each one would be a totally new experience.

The barbarians are interesting too. I imagine if they live out in the steppes, then they have developed some way of building homes that don't sink into the sand. Sort of like ultra light structures, lightweight building materials. Maybe even buildings that move with the waves... a hybrid ship/building? Maybe their villages migrate with the waves like groups of ships... That would be cool. Anyway, just thinking out loud.

Very interesting world concept!
David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras

Drul Morbok

I announced the game world to be continued, and here we go...

I used the setting for some one-shot adventures. I introduced a Mercenary Guild that sent the players to different "islands", and I keep the concept for later sandbox games...the Guild would have something like a "mission board", with missions and rewards on it. Players can have different characters and select which one they take for a mission.
There could be more players than go on a single mission - whenever enough players announce a date to gather around the table, they select a mission beforehand and I prepare the adventure, which ideally should take just one session, although 2 or 3 sessions might be ok.

But for my next long-term campaign, I intend to advance the setting some centuries.
Now there is a "World Government" that reigns over all "islands" and which is represented by a clerical caste.
The setting I described above is more or less the official doctrine of what the world was like before it was "civilized" by the World Government.
Nowadays, the (former) islands are stationary and are more like ordinary hills or mountains, the steppe is more like ordinary plains or grass-/woodland, and the barbarians are gone.

Still (what is considered) civilization only exists on the hills that once where called islands. Those hills feature a fountain, lake or spring in the center, with villages or cities around it. The water is running down the hillsides in a system of both water supply and sewerage, and runs down to irrigate surrounding fields and farms.

It is believed and taught that those hill-cities are the natural (or rather God-given) way to live for humans, so people do not ask many questions about how this actually works or who built it.
The clerical caste is maintaining the water system, any interference is harshly punished, and there is no way to enter the caste.

People stay within the cities and almost never travel between them, so while the world is kind of unified, people live as isolated as before.

There are facilities outside the cities, like lumberjack villages or mining communities, and people started living there as families.
It is accepted that some people live outside the hill-cities completely on their own, like self-sufficient fishing villages; this is considered a weird choice rather than heresy.

Humans are the only humanoid race - with a world-defining "but", which I elaborate below.
Typical fantasy races like orcs or elves are somewhere between a myth and a story from the past, before the World Government. In any case, they never coexisted with Humans...there was a cataclysmic event that wiped out those old races and brought Humans to the world (according to the doctrine), this event might be worth a post of its own.

So here comes the "but" about Humans:
The whole thing about phenotypes is working slightly different: Bodily characteristics are defined by the surroundings rather than by the parents - once again, this is the doctrine, but undoubtedly, real-world genetics like Mendel's could not explain bodily characteristics of Human children in the game world.

Children born within the hill-cities look "normal", which goes well with the doctrine that this is "normal" human habitat.

Outside the hill-cities, ome children bear characteristics of the old races - they resemble elves when born in the woods, dwarves when born in mining communities, orcs when born in military camps.
This is considered useful, but has a taste of "working class".

Things are different fo children born close to the shore in the fishing villages: They will likely have webbed feet and hands, or a second set of transparent eyelids. First generation children tend to have only some of those characteristics, but second generation children's characteristics converge towards having all such characteristics.

But there are no hill-cities close to the shore, and people only started to move to the shore recently, so this phenomenon is rather new and not much is known.
People in the hill-cities tend to see it as further proof that living completely outside is not natural - if they know about it at all.

However, word is spreading about horrid mutations among third generation "shore children" which are born with scales and a stench of rotten fish. They have bulging eyes, gills at their necks and narrow hard lips unable to cover a protruding semicircular mouth with first needle-like teeth.

Those news are really recent, they came up in the hill-cities closest to the shore (which is still about 20 kilometers) during the last few months.
People are really upset, and the general opinion is that living outside the hill-cities should be outlawed, and all such communities should be wiped out.

The World Government is not above such hard measures, but by doing so they would admit that allowing such settlements was a mistake in the first place - which they would never do.
They would prefer some kind of "self-inflicted tragedy" that befalls the settlements - and somehow, the player characters come in as the ideal source of "self-inflicted tragedy"....

David Roomes

Interestin concept. Evolutionary changes happening at a breakneck pace. That has a LOT of story potential.
David M. Roomes
Creator of the World of Khoras

Drul Morbok

Yeah, I often build my fantasy worlds around the idea of introducing one change to mechanics as we know them from Earth, thinking about what It might have changed in Earthen history, and than build the fantasy world around it.
I like calling it the "Star Trek approach"  ;)

For example, I think many things about racism, colonialism, slavery....would have occurred differently if invaders/settlers/colonists/abducted slaves/refugees/... looked the same as the native population after two generations...

I'm not saying it would be a "better" world, i.e. more tolerant ore can be guessed by that fact that I intend to introduce the players to the world with a mission to slay costal population because of rumored mutations, which might be an affliction they can't really be blamed for...


very interesting...

have you ever read the lost regiment series by william forschen? its a steppe world too...
come see Kramxel at