I love to GM. I particularly love the prep work of being a GM. It is a significant reason I continue to game on paper.
I am now at the start of creating a new campaign, which is why I am new Pathfinder fan, (having only just purchased the Core Rules about a week ago).
So as I assemble notes and sketch out concepts for the campaign, I wanted to see which of these concepts you like or hate. Many of these ideas are tried and true (or perhaps tired and used), some are weirder and some are clearly derivative.
Feel free to rip these concepts apart, I want the feedback, if you need more info on them, please ask. And thank you greatly in advance, any feedback is greatly appreciated!
1. A growing empire. One that is new to power, but is quickly emerging as a skilled and dangerous threat to neighboring nations. One nation quickly forms an alliance to spare it from harm, but this has only made the other nations all the more nervous. Nothing earth shattering here, but have any of you put politics in your campaign and have it work? At first the war is just a backdrop, but later of course, it will become an integral part of the player's plight.
2. A Sorcerer who is also Pharaoh. Nothing new here! But I did want to explore an Egyptian culture that begins to rise in power in the late middle ages, rather than in ancient roots of the Bronze Age. The Egyptian cultural references will be loose (its really just a hint of flavor rather than anything) and there will be a heavy dose of Sorcery with this Pharaoh. I'll toy with magic here too, chariots that are pulled by winged Pegasi stuff like that. Does a hackneyed villain nation like this work, or does it just spoil the flavor?
3. Almost every culture in my campaign will be a nod to an ancient Earth culture in some way. Many of the mythological gods and culture of ancient times, will have mirrors on my world. The world is not Earth, but the Greek, Egyptian, Celtic and Norse gods thrive on it. This isn't a bold concept at all, but I wonder if any of you have feedback on how much you like (or dislike) worlds built this way.
4. Elves are not aloof, in fact they are very integrated with human society. With some exceptions the Elves in my world aren't aloof. In many nations in my world, Elves are largely integrated as a race, the mixture of the races is fairly prolific too. There are Elves who just a trace of human ancestry and vice-versa.
5. Wild Elves also exist. The idea of the "Wild Elf" the barbarian Elf will exist, nothing new here either, but in your experience is this an option players like to explore?
6. Gnomes have two distinct flavors. I am taking both the "fey" interpretation of Gnomes and the "gadget freak" interpretation of Gnomes. You can play either, although both Gnomes originate from different parts of the world and both Gnome derivatives are highly suspicious of the other.
7. Orcs are playable as a race. In fact, in one of the older empires, Orcs are a mainstream race. Those Orcs formed their own nation but made peace with a coalition of other nations that form the core of an old empire. Those Orcs speak common, are quite civilized and are even okay with Dwarves (although the civility doesn't always work the other way around). Orcs here have interbred with humans a fair bit, but not to the same degree as the Elves. Orc religion is shamanistic in nature and worships ancestors and animal spirits.
8. Gnolls as a playable race. Gnolls are not very civilized in my world, but they are highly intelligent. They tend to be nomadic, focused on the acquisition of wealth, not very well organized, but able to speak common and therefore playable as a race.
9. In one nation, women are completely subservient to men. So much so that it is illegal to teach them how to read. I like this as a plot device mostly, to expose the evils of sexism and to give a heroic cause for the heroes to fight against.
10. Terrorism. I think its an underplayed card in D&D campaigns, I intend to have terrorists, particularly radical religious groups in some of the large cities.
11. Slavery. It will exist and its cruelties will be part of the plot. Bad idea?
12. Dragons are considered holy by some and are connected to Druidism in my world. Nothing new here either, but would be curious to see thought on this idea.
13. Native American culture. I want a playable creed to be based on Native American culture, particularly the Salish culture. I'll throw in a bit of mysticism and shamanism for good measure. But the long houses, art, style and culture of the Salish fascinate me, so a small sliver of the western coast will host a rain forest where a Salish-themed race will live. This culture will be less technically advanced than its neighbors, but perhaps makeup for it with increased magical powers.
14. I am going to rip off the concept of "Ghost Rock" from Deadlands. Essentially the "inventor" Gnome race uses a form of coal, that the Salish-themed culture claims is haunted or cursed. The thing is, it is bringing great prosperity to the Gnomes. I am going to keep the steam-punk objects to a bare minimum, I'll do this by making the fuel source very rare and highly expensive. The focus here isn't the devices it can make, but rather the value (and dangers) of the arcane fuel source. Just how awful is that idea?
15. Miniature-based combat. No surprise here and these days it is rare people do NOT use miniatures. I am going to setup some maps BEFORE play begins on the table though. This allows me to tap into the Dwarven Forge pieces I have, (which really have to be setup before hand to work). Anyone have experience with this working well? Or not working well?
16. Start with nothing, but rise fast. This is standard MO for me, but I start all campaigns at level 1 with almost diddly in terms of armor, equipment or money (and in this case it will LITERALLY be nothing but loin cloths and a ragged shirt). But you rise quickly. I want to get the players to 2nd level in one session and to 3rd level in two and to 5th level in just a few sessions after that. After 5th, I ease the XP gain down and level it out to normal progression. Any advice here?
17. Spies...everywhere, secrets everywhere and knowledge and technology (and resources that fuel it) are highly valuable. I didn't like Eberron much at all, but one thing I did like was the nods to "Casablanca" scattered throughout. I want that kind of intrigue in one my central cities (which is at the aorta of the growing political strife). Does this kind of thing work? Or does it suck?
Sorry for the wall of text, but even if you just read a few and have feedback I'd love to hear what you think.