How to make a early 1900's setting in Pathfinder?


Homebrew and House Rules


Here's the setting idea I have in mind:

-Technology level and general setting is immediately before the first World War. It's almost like a post-industrial revolution fantasy world with some anachronistic stuff like WWII-era tanks and advanced medical sciences. If you've ever watched (or read) Fullmetal Alchemist, it's exactly on that level.

-Most nations have advanced forms of governments, like parliamentary republics and federated states. The only absolute monarchy left in the world is an isolated, North Korea-esque nation that has had its borders closed for centuries.

-Magic is not ubiquitous, and it is rare and dangerous. Magic item shops only exist in the largest cities, and even low-level items like cure light wounds only exists in large towns. Divine power is rare as well, as the gods have become increasingly distant over the centuries.

-Fantasy creatures in general are much more uncommon than usual. Humanity is the dominant race. Elves are a dying race after the War of Extermination against them. Orcs, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes are reclusive. Like the gods, the more fantastical elements of the world has been slowly fading away, while humanity continues to rise.

-The only allowed PC classes would be the core races.

As I see it, having a setting in Pathfinder where the setting level is just before World War I is impossible. Many classes would be simply obsolete, and the general rarity of magic and divine power also creates their own problems.

Basically, as I mentioned before, I'd like to run a setting that has the general feel of Fullmetal Alchemist: early 1900's technology, low supernatural/fantastical elements. Can it be done without massive overhauls to the system?


Take a look at the anachronistic adventurers classes from super genius games.


Dot


I was wondering on the restriction to core only classes. For me This would a good time period for the alchemist to shine, and even WW1 had a Calvary. witchcraft could still be prevalent in Eastern Europe (heck it IS still prevalent in Eastern Europe). Not too mention gunslinger just makes sense period-wise.


+5 Toaster wrote:
I was wondering on the restriction to core only classes. For me This would a good time period for the alchemist to shine, and even WW1 had a Calvary. witchcraft could still be prevalent in Eastern Europe (heck it IS still prevalent in Eastern Europe). Not too mention gunslinger just makes sense period-wise.

Ack, that's not what I meant, my bad. I meant restricted to core races only. Gunslinger would definitely be allowed.

Seems like this is the kind of setting that Pathfinder really wasn't made for, which is fine I suppose. It's been suggested to justify 1900's technology in Pathfinder with magic but that's not what I'm going for. The arcane and technology, in this setting, would be completely different from each other and utterly incompatible. The only exception would be Alchemists.


In a couple of months there will be something like this made official...

Spoiler:
Book 5 of Reign of Winter, Rasputin Must Die¡ visits Russia just after WWI. There sure will be something interesting for you there


easy. D20 Modern, but use the supplement D20 Past. Meld with Pathfinder as you see fit.


Alaryth wrote:

In a couple of months there will be something like this made official...

** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, I heard about that, and it'll definitely be a start. Still, I don't think it's going to provide material that offers running an actual campaign in the early 1900's rather than being a one-shot thing like this one is. Or maybe it will, Paizo has surprised me before, usually for the better.


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I would limit casters to partial casters, and make firearms common.

I would start in 1916 - 1918, Tanks did not hit the battlefields until 1916.

Cavalry was still in use and were very successfuly used in Palestine and Syria, by the Australians, New Zealanders, and British against the Ottoman Turks and Germans.

Look up the Vrill Society, the Thule Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, there are also mesmerists, faith healers and other occultists.

You could throw in HG Wells' Martians and their death rays.

You could have the once and future king and Merlin return at Britain's hour of need, with Baba Yaga and Rasputin working for the Russians and Vampire lords rising in the Balkans.

Grab D20 past.

Grand Lodge

Shadowrun retro-ed down?


Helaman wrote:
Shadowrun retro-ed down?

Hell yes!


The 8th Dwarf wrote:

I would limit casters to partial casters, and make firearms common.

I would start in 1916 - 1918, Tanks did not hit the battlefields until 1916.

Cavalry was still in use and were very successfuly used in Palestine and Syria, by the Australians, New Zealanders, and British against the Ottoman Turks and Germans.

Look up the Vrill Society, the Thule Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, there are also mesmerists, faith healers and other occultists.

You could throw in HG Wells' Martians and their death rays.

You could have the once and future king and Merlin return at Britain's hour of need, with Baba Yaga and Rasputin working for the Russians and Vampire lords rising in the Balkans.

Grab D20 past.

Yeah, I'm gonna see what I can do about D20 Past. You do bring up a good point about cavalry. I do know that they were used effectively (big WWI buff here), but one of the anachronistic things about the setting would be that tanks would be as advanced as they were in 1944, albeit in extremely limited quantity and still being tested for their effectiveness. Tanks vs. cavalry will be kind of important to the story is why I'm doing this.

But what do you mean by "partial casters"? Do you mean things like not allow pure spellcasters like wizards or sorcerers?


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Check out Gothic Earth Eternal for a PF rules reboot of a horror RPG set in the early 1900s on Gothic Earth.


Neongelion wrote:
The 8th Dwarf wrote:

I would limit casters to partial casters, and make firearms common.

I would start in 1916 - 1918, Tanks did not hit the battlefields until 1916.

Cavalry was still in use and were very successfully used in Palestine and Syria, by the Australians, New Zealander, and British against the Ottoman Turks and Germans.

Look up the Vrill Society, the Thule Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, there are also mesmerists, faith healers and other occultists.

You could throw in HG Wells' Martians and their death rays.

You could have the once and future king and Merlin return at Britain's hour of need, with Baba Yaga and Rasputin working for the Russians and Vampire lords rising in the Balkans.

Grab D20 past.

Yeah, I'm gonna see what I can do about D20 Past. You do bring up a good point about cavalry. I do know that they were used effectively (big WWI buff here), but one of the anachronistic things about the setting would be that tanks would be as advanced as they were in 1944, albeit in extremely limited quantity and still being tested for their effectiveness. Tanks vs. cavalry will be kind of important to the story is why I'm doing this.

But what do you mean by "partial casters"? Do you mean things like not allow pure spellcasters like wizards or sorcerers?

Yes no pure spell casters. It limits the wacky high power spells.

Why do you want 1944 tanks - cavalry v WW1 tanks would be brutal.


This awesome free product is my go to book for world design. Sean K. Reynolds knocked it right out of the park. If you're reading this and not building a setting, download it anyway.

It's a quick and fun read, and if you follow the architecture you'll have a setting prepared in no time.


D20 Modern has a lot of classes and spells for limited spellcasting. You might want to take a look at it as well. The only downside is that multiclassing is expected, so your players would be well advised to restrict it to as few classes as possible.

Also, you can give the skills section the Pathfinder treatment, and thus reduce the number needed for sensory information (Spot, Listen, Search etc) and other skills.


DARK MATTER


dark matter is a sci fi setting, not magical.


Neongelion wrote:

Here's the setting idea I have in mind:

{snip}
-Magic is not ubiquitous, and it is rare and dangerous. Magic item shops only exist in the largest cities, and even low-level items like cure light wounds only exists in large towns. Divine power is rare as well, as the gods have become increasingly distant over the centuries.
{snap}
Basically, as I mentioned before, I'd like to run a setting that has the general feel of Fullmetal Alchemist: early 1900's technology, low supernatural/fantastical elements. Can it be done without massive overhauls to the system?

Ouch. Please, Unless you're running Dark Sun, Athiesm in Pathfinder and D&D is usually a bad idea. 1900's Industiral Revolutionary settings to work even better when there is religion involved.

You want a small coven of gods based upon nature and primality (As the gods of witches and druids who are considered blasphemous), and one-two gods based upon Advancement and technology (Machine-gods for bonus points)

In essence Get the the Advanced Combat book.
Firearms archetypes for every class just about.
And it gives you a few tips on running campaigns with high-gun prevalence.

Magic should not be rare, especially if you're aiming for full-metal alchemist. I would say it should be every were in a "Lost Odyssey" style "Magitech Revolution" (Mana-powered horseless carriages, the works.)

The Alchemist class itself would be (ironically) POORLY suited for this game however, since they tend to have a focus upon "Flesh-magic" and having talking tumor familiars, three-arms and being a half-mummy don't seem to fit that very well, beyond Human Transmutation (which as we know never works as intended in FMA)
Where as the Sorcerer, Wizard, Magus, Paladin, Cleric, Inquisitor, and Witch classes would be fitting VERY well, so long as they describe their casting as inscriptions of circles and such.


The professor sensed something was wrong seconds before the dust skipped up from the sand and rocks around them.

The loud cracks of riffle fire followed a fraction later.

"Ambush" hissed the English Army Captain that had been accompanying them as he dived for cover.

"No s&&~ Sherlock" grumbled the Australian Light Horseman, he had already shouldered his Lee Enfield and sent four rounds in the direction of the Turkish and German soldiers, forcing them scatter and giving everybody-else time to get into cover.

"The problem with Australians is they are the most balanced people in the world.... they have a chip on both shoulders" muttered the English captain in his cultured accent. He began priming various Mills bombs.

"Blow it out your pommy arse" snarled the Australian as he thudded down beside them, a hail of bullets ricocheting off the rock they were crouched behind.

The Light Horse Trooper grimly fixed his bayonet, "twelve of them, sixty yards away behind the big outcrop".

"Madame its probably not the best time engage in your studies", the Englishman breathed as the professor scanned an ancient papyrus.

The woman glanced up "You be ready to attack them when I give the signal" her eyes glowing an eerie blue.

Her beautiful Southern accent changed and deepened as she began to chant, hieroglyphs materialized and floated around her hands as she traced intricate patterns in the air.

The professor cast her eyes in the direction of the ambushing Turkish and German troops... "shenew" she whispered the word rushed from her lips growing louder by the second filling the gullies and bouncing off the boulders and outcrops, it became a crashing roar of broken sounds that rolled over the enemy throwing them into fits of nausea and confusion.

"Go.. go.. go... " Shouted the Australian his pointed ears and fine features at odds with his rough voice and attitude, firing as he zigzagged towards the big outcrop.

The English Captain glanced at the professor, she had already begun to chant something else, he charged forward hurling his bombs, bursts of electricity arcing over the enemy as his bombs exploded....


Piccolo wrote:
dark matter is a sci fi setting, not magical.

There are some ideas he can use, Arcane FX, necro, voodoo, ghosts. extradimension/possession, telekenetics (Carrie).


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Definately look at the super genius games products Anachronistic advnetures. They give a line of classes that would work in this setting better then the standard ones. And the bonus, none of them are really spell casters.

Next, take note of the fact that anachronistic adventures classes all get archetypes. There are archetypes in each product, but they could also be from the super genius games archetype line of products. Specifically there are arcane and divine archetypes, which will add some, but not alot of magic to your game. If someone takes the wise archetype from divine archetypes, they could handle at least some healing (more or less a requirement in pathfinder) but they ONLY have the healing and condition removal spells, and not the full divine list.

The rest of the archetypes that grant spells are similarly limited in scope and power. So it would fit very well with your low magic, low fantasy setting. Plus there are rules for progress levels and firearms.

In addition there is a line of feats called 'avoidance' which is meant to allow players to go unarmored. Since I assume in this setting unarmored is the norm in your setting, I would just give everyone the feat line for free. Or maybe give avoidance to light armored classes, improved avoidance to medium armored classes and superior avoidance to heavy armored classes.


The 8th Dwarf wrote:

The professor sensed something was wrong seconds before the dust skipped up from the sand and rocks around them.

The loud cracks of riffle fire followed a fraction later.

"Ambush" hissed the English Army Captain that had been accompanying them as he dived for cover.

"No s~$* Sherlock" grumbled the Australian Light Horseman, he had already shouldered his Lee Enfield and sent four rounds in the direction of the Turkish and German soldiers, forcing them scatter and giving everybody-else time to get into cover.

"The problem with Australians is they are the most balanced people in the world.... they have a chip on both shoulders" muttered the English captain in his cultured accent. He began priming various Mills bombs.

"Blow it out your pommy arse" snarled the Australian as he thudded down beside them, a hail of bullets ricocheting off the rock they were crouched behind.

The Light Horse Trooper grimly fixed his bayonet, "twelve of them, sixty yards away behind the big outcrop".

"Madame its probably not the best time engage in your studies", the Englishman breathed as the professor scanned an ancient papyrus.

The woman glanced up "You be ready to attack them when I give the signal" her eyes glowing an eerie blue.

Her beautiful Southern accent changed and deepened as she began to chant, hieroglyphs materialized and floated around her hands as she traced intricate patterns in the air.

The professor cast her eyes in the direction of the ambushing Turkish and German troops... "shenew" she whispered the word rushed from her lips growing louder by the second filling the gullies and bouncing off the boulders and outcrops, it became a crashing roar of broken sounds that rolled over the enemy throwing them into fits of nausea and confusion.

"Go.. go.. go... " Shouted the Australian his pointed ears and fine features at odds with his rough voice and attitude, firing as he zigzagged towards the big outcrop.

The English Captain glanced at the professor, she had already begun to chant...

Is it wrong to get chills from reading that? Awesome!


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I think you could do it. Here's what I do for my low magic games. I'd look at Words of Power for a somewhat lower powered magic style with some good flexibility. I personally like it. I also have an E6 campaign where after 6, players gain levels a bit slower. They get their class abilities as feats. Since I'm using Words of Power, I disallow boosting a spell that would make the word level 4 or higher, but allow other meta words to be used. If you are using the normal spell system, you can ban spells at level 4+ (but see below), so casters can use those spell slots to prepare metamagiced low level spells. As for level 4+ spells (real spells, not WoP), I've used the Unearthed Arcana rules for Incantations to act as Rituals for the caster and friends to cast. That way, they can still scry places or commune, but it takes longer and more effort, and matches some of the feel of harder magic you see in a lot of books you're talking about. I also get a bit of a 1910's mysticism feel from it. I modified this a bit to remove the XP cost and fix the skills a bit, but overall, little changes to it.

I think these rules would definitely be something to look at for your campaign. Minimal rewriting, especially if you skip WoP and stick to normal casting, and it should capture that feeling of lower magic. If you're keeping a closer eye on magic items, I'd be careful with what you throw at your players. You don't want them getting murdered because they are undergeared. Also, I'd suggest not lowering the Wealth Per Level, but instead encourage PCs to buy things like keeps and stuff (which will come out in Ultimate Campaign :D). Good luck!


This is also something I was interested in, although instead of making the campaign darker by making magic and religion rare, I chose to make my world darker by sucking the wonder out of them. Magic is used in everything just as we would use electricity today. It has been studied and calculated to its fullest and now it is dry of surprises. Religion is still prevalent, but the atheists believe the gods only exist because the people worship them and all the science leads to that result. The priests preach to a dwindling crowd, the stuff of miracles is being exploited to do everything from heat coffee to flush toilets, and world war is about to bear down on this world like a tsunami.

I'm excited to see what you do with your campaign! Shoot me a PM if you wanna bounce some ideas back and forth. Good luck!


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I've seen pictures of people from around that era. Have mustaches count as light armor.


Some things to take into account with your world building. You are starting just before the Spanish Flu Pandemic. 50-100 million people died there. USA is 40+ years out of the Civil War, Prohibition is on it's way to the States(magic wielding gangsters?)

8th Dwarf had some great ideas about the various folk heroes coming back in their country's hour of need. If magic still exists, have USA/Native American relations akin to a Cold War, with the NA keeping some territories... This is eerily similar to Shadowrun...

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