Which of my concepts are totally tacky?


Homebrew and House Rules


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!

CONCEPTS

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.


Blargh so many ideas!

1. Politics makes for great gameplay. You just need to make sure the PC's are integral to the plot somehow and that their adventuring fits in somewhere.

2. I think the sorcerer pharoah is a great idea. I'd like to see this culture obsessed with beauty and magic (with their pegasus chariots for starters) but who are all beholden to this all-powerful evil magic-user.

Perhaps I'll get back to you on the rest of 'em!

Moox


1 - Low-magic, political, and war-torn campaigns are always fun; I like it.

2 - Possibly interesting. I dislike desert locations, but a decent story makes this irrelevant.

3 - If your players don't seem all that excited about it, mix and match the cultures and see if they wake up. Egyptian culture meets arctic wasteland, Vikings in Hawaii, Greek warrior society thriving underground, and Celtic villages in jungles farming with domesticated dinosaurs.

4 - I'm biased, I hate elves.

5 - See above.

6 - I see no problems, the concept blends well.

7 - This is very close to how I usually handle orcs, so I like it. Again, more bias.

8 - A nice change. I've seen similar approaches, but never with the nomad-wealth-hoarding tag.

9 - I see the reverse too often for my tastes (repressive matriarchal society), so this cliché feels like a breath of fresh air.

10 - I tend to avoid this in fantasy campaigns, but I really should try it out. Thumbs up.

11 - Slavery has always been a part of human history, a GM should never shy away from this issue.

12 - I haven't seen a lot of this; at the least it sounds interesting.

13 - No opinion.

14 - A decent plot device, no strong opinions one way or the other.

15 - I tend to draw out locations on graph paper when absolutely necessary; usually my players don't need maps.

16 - I've done this before; offer a "tutorial" on the world (vague, but still informative) and level the players up in the process. Afterwards, present them as "elite" in comparison to common troops, craftsman, etc. This way a simple fireball makes a wizard feel godlike.

17 - This works for me (I tend to drop alignment when I feel like it) and I like using typically "evil" creatures as long-term allies. Try out the espionage early and see how the players react; if they're annoyed or bored play it down.


CONCEPTS

1. It's always fun to be part of something new, and have an opportunity as a player to shape the world. It would make a good PC nation and also work well as villains.

2. It's been done a lot. Sometimes that's good, it provides the players with a sense of familiarity, and other times it just seems like.. oh, this again. I'd try to make sure there was something radically different about him to catch the players interest, like he ritually kills himself every year and has his priesthood reincarnate him, and what he comes back as determines the nations luck for the next year.

3. I've done this quite a bit and it works real well. The key is to switch things up enough to keep it interesting.

4. In some ways I get real bored with non-human races and I don't use them much. They definitely suffer from the been there done that feeling. You have to give them some kind of fundamental change to peak the players interest. Making them not aloof is not enough of a change, in my opinion. Blood Elves from Earth Dawn had thorns poking thru their skin and were always in pain, Drow had midnight black skin, and were evil (although they've been done to the point of nausea since then). Those were different Elves.

5-9. See 4. I think you need big changes to capture interest. Stuff they haven't seen before, Like Orcs have a complex system of honor like Japanese samurai, only they still are fighting against their bestial nature, so ritual suicide due to loss of control occurs semi-frequently. (Not the best idea, but you really want to turn things on their ear, or the players are going to say: Oh cool, Orcs, what else is in your world.)

9. I'm not a big fan of beating people over the head with moral messages. Unless you have something to add to this I'd shy away from it. Just my opinion.

10. Fun stuff, terrorists make good bad guys because they believe what they are doing is right, which always makes for more interesting villains. Just remember the difference between terrorist and freedom fighter is usually what side you are watching from.

11. See 9. Unless you are interested in exploring the entirety of the issue, like the slave that didn't want to be freed because he loved his master (now that is evil). I'd either keep it a footnote or stay away from it.

12. Meh, nothing new with dragons.

13. If you know and apprecaite the culture it will be an interesting addition.

14. I'm not familiar with it, but it sounds different and interesting.

15. We use miniatures and maps. It helps.

16. I'm not a big fan of low levels, too much is determined by the randomness of the dice, but to each his own.

17. Intrigue is one of those things that players either love or ignore. If you think your players will get into this sort of thing, then go for it. Otherwise use it sparingly until you see some interest. It can be a huge waste of time to invent plots no one tries to explore.

Well those are my thoughts. Good Luck!


Amazing feedback, thank you all!

I was amazed by this, I posted a massive wall of text and you took the time to read it and offer salient advice.

The key theme I see coming back here is to try things, then watch how players react and adjust accordingly. In other words, make your home brew development an iterative process. Note what worked, what didn't and then adjust accordingly.

I also liked the advice of taking ideas that have been done to death and tweak them somehow to give them a little more distinctive flavor.

Solid stuff all around, I knew I could count on role players to provide intelligent, constructive and honest feedback, cheers!


DofC wrote:
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.

I'm already working on something very similar, and have it hosted on the web already if you'd like to use it:

Panakos

We're about half done with detailed regional world development right now, but we've got all the gods statted out for domains, for a bunch of pantheons, and we've got the individual writeups for the Greek, Babylonian, Norse, Native American, Aztec, and Chinese areas done. The world concept is an ocean that stretches between each of the four elemental planes, and each island chain within the ocean contains a different old earth pantheon. So you can sail from the greek area to the celtic area to the Aztec area / etc. We've also built in some limitations on things like scrying and teleport, to restrict their use within your current area, which forces inter-island trade to travel via boat. And then, of course, there's pirates.

Feel free to use whatever you like, or to just drop your players into our campaign. If you want to write up a couple of areas as well, I can add you to the contributor list and host your articles on the site.

Anyway, give it a look. Pay particular attention to the World Overview section, third tab on the site. Might be something you can use. Most of your ideas fit easily into our framework, and we already have it mapped, which might save you some time, and we've got 130 some odd real earth gods figured out for domains, which is a huge headache when you're starting a campaign out.


beej67 wrote:


I'm already working on something very similar, and have it hosted on the web already if you'd like to use it:

Panakos

Awesome!

Lots to read here, one thing that really caught my eye on first glance and would work really well for me, are Andrew's Gilganeisan Islands. There were several elements to that area I really enjoyed and would like to use.

I wanted a series of islands that were inhospitable with extreme temperatures and nasty mythological beasts. I particularly love the idea of an ancient place being "protected" by abyssal basilisks and undead, it has a "Sinbad" feel to it, which is something I'd like to capture.

And having it all revolve around Babylonian-style culture and theme seems perfect.

I am sure there's much more here I can exploit, so thank you for sharing that out.


DofC wrote:

I wanted a series of islands that were inhospitable with extreme temperatures and nasty mythological beasts. I particularly love the idea of an ancient place being "protected" by abyssal basilisks and undead, it has a "Sinbad" feel to it, which is something I'd like to capture.

And having it all revolve around Babylonian-style culture and theme seems perfect.

I am sure there's much more here I can exploit, so thank you for sharing that out.

The thing about our campaign, is that it's not just a mirror of old Earth cultures, it really is old Earth cultures, stripped from Earth and transplanted into the Panakos sea, so there's real historical figures and real Earth locations in it.

Andrew has stats for Sinbad, for instance. Ran him as an NPC about eight months ago in our primary game. (there's several games working in this world right now, of old RPers in our area) Follow the forms and whatnot and I'll add you as a collaborator and I'll get you his contact info.

Also, Hamurabi is a lich. *shrug* That Andrew, he's crazy.

Group is in the Norse area right now, after a two month (real time) stop in the Native American area looking for the Fountain of Youth. One of the neat things about setting a campaign up to draw on real Earth history is that Wikipedia becomes your source material.

Silver Crusade

I need to stop by the home brew forum more often. I like most of your concepts and have nothing to add beyond the advice given already.


I checked out more of Panakos, some great ideas there.

I don't want to go so far as to strip Earth away to a new location. I like the idea, but I just don't want to go there.

But I do see concepts and ideas in here I'd like to borrow and bend to suit my needs. I'll summarize what I took and how I used them in the weeks ahead, so you can review them and make sure you are okay with what I borrowed and how I used it. It's a courtesy thing, I want to make sure they way I was inspired by your work here, suits you.

My wife wants to play today and my home brew isn't close to ready, so I am coming up with a quick adventure scenario to play. I'll set it in my campaign world and post how it went in a separate thread.

It will be my first ever playing with Pathfinder rules.


DofC wrote:

I checked out more of Panakos, some great ideas there.

I don't want to go so far as to strip Earth away to a new location. I like the idea, but I just don't want to go there.

But I do see concepts and ideas in here I'd like to borrow and bend to suit my needs. I'll summarize what I took and how I used them in the weeks ahead, so you can review them and make sure you are okay with what I borrowed and how I used it. It's a courtesy thing, I want to make sure they way I was inspired by your work here, suits you.

My wife wants to play today and my home brew isn't close to ready, so I am coming up with a quick adventure scenario to play. I'll set it in my campaign world and post how it went in a separate thread.

It will be my first ever playing with Pathfinder rules.

Use whatever you like, my panties aren't easily wadded. I wouldn't mind reading how you're adapting it, but don't feel like you have to please me or anything. I demand a cut if you ever make any money off of it though. :P

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