Describing my setting in broader terms.

Homebrew and House Rules

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At the moment, I feel like it is a good time to talk about what I want my world to feel like in terms of visual and storytelling themes, rather than describing specific nations, territories, history, or what have you. In essence, I want to talk about the overall purpose of the setting. This is a roleplaying game setting, which I designed with a modified version of the Pathfinder system in mind, but which could be ported over to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5. As such, this setting is designed for long term use over multiple stories with many protagonists, and the rules of the game do influence my worldbuilding choices.

I suppose I should start with the overarching theme of the world. Since this is a roleplaying setting, the most important thing is what the player characters are doing. The role of the player characters can be summed up in a quote I am quite fond of, whose author is unknown:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

As I build my world, I am noticing that I have a definite tendency to create a setting that is optimistic, and in many ways a place I would enjoy living. This is quite at odds with the need to provide a plethora of problems for adventurers to address, and the solution I came upon is to not have adventurers. I do lean towards high technology levels and centralized governments, and the police aren’t necessarily fond of vigilantism. I also imagine that a centralized government which exists in a world where spellcasters, demons, dragons, fae, sea monsters, kaiju, the undead, and various other magical things exist openly would have people trained to deal with them when they pose a threat. Otherwise, the world wouldn’t be a particularly pleasant place to live. This is a perfect role for the player characters, as it provides instant and unlimited motivation for conflict. They go out and fight monsters because they are the government agents tasked with doing this. The world seems so pleasant because brave men and women stand ever vigilant, constantly fighting, bleeding, and all too often dying to keep the dark side of the world contained.

As to the cultural flavor of the world, I am used to most of my fantasy being Western European or perhaps East Asian, but I wanted to move beyond those roots while still embracing them. I do this by taking a lot of inspiration from my native California. I based the terrain of my most focused-on country on the US West Coast, along with a lot of cultural elements of the setting. I really like a California/Cascadia focus as opposed to the standard Western Europe or East Asia focus, because California easily accepts Western European and East Asian themes at the same time, whilst leaving room for more. Mixing British, Mediterranean, East Asian, Southeast Asian, South Asian, American Indian, Latin American, Polynesian, Middle Eastern, Germanic, and African themes together in something highly reminiscent of California feels completely right to me. The idea of California based fantasy does suggest a high degree of multiculturalism and a mostly immigrant or immigrant-descended populace, and the variety that provides is wonderful. I do include a much greater East Asian, especially Chinese, influence than real life California had, to the level that people speak a creole language based primarily on English, Chinese, and Spanish with influence from several other languages, notably Italian, Japanese, and Greek. There isn’t a majority racial group at all, with Western Europeans and East Asians being neck and neck as to who is a plurality of the population, and a significant portion of the population is neither.

When it comes to technology, I bundle it together with art. I do this because I tend to decide my technology based on what looks cool, making it in effect a matter of artistic desires. As such, the prominent visual artistic elements and the prominent technology are somewhat interrelated to my mind. Though I prefer a very high technology setting, based largely within 20th Century technology as opposed to Medieval technology, I have about as much an eye towards avoiding anachronisms and accurately depicting the time period my setting is based off of as Dungeons and Dragons has. A lot of technology is heavily used because I thought it looked pretty and no other reason. For example, I like trains. The dominant style of train is based on the early EMD F series, such as the F3. This is because the F3 is downright gorgeous:



When I think of transportation in my setting, that is one of the first things I think of. As an urban planning student focusing on transportation, I think about the subject a lot. I really like public transit, so, while my setting most certainly does have automobiles and airlines, trains, streetcars, subway, and busses are all big. And the old PCC streetcars aren’t exactly bad looking:


My setting most certainly has these. Even a 1950s Greyhound is a looker:


Yet another thing for my setting to borrow. A pattern is forming with my choices of vehicles, of course, and it continues with cars:




A clear image is coming along, in which is is very much a 40s-60s setting in terms of technology. Might as well match that with popular culture. That means early rock & roll and surf rock. Elvis and the Beach Boys are obvious inspirations, though I imagine some East Asian elements have crept in. Also major Mexican inspiration. This boils over to food, too. Modified versions of Chinese and Mexican cuisine are not just ubiquitous, these modifications form a recognizable national culinary tradition. This is still very much in development, however. I’m trying to put a lot of thought into what an Anglo-Sino-Latin creole should look and feel like, and most of the research isn’t done yet. Pop culture needs to be much more than just Elvis and surfing (That isn’t even any sort of innovation, really.), and actually have some unique aspects to it that real life California lacks, and it will when I’m done. I have decided that redheads do face serious discrimination and that ginger is a serious slur. There something a tendency to assume anyone with red hair must be a Tiefling, and Tieflings are not treated well.

Airplanes, and here is where I started doing weirder stuff. All aircraft use propellers or rotors, because I think propellor driven airplanes are sexy in a way jets just aren’t. Especially the Corsair.


I love it so much, I wrote dragons in such a way that the most effective way to fight them is a spellcaster piloting a fighter. Dragons versus wizard fighter pilots in Corsairs. Yes.

I also really like hueys. So we have helicopters kinda like that. Also flying boats:


I love Catalinas. Great if you have a bunch of widely spread out islands that aren't heavily developed. Which can be worked into the whole California concept. No reason we can't have a huge offshore island chain that is so rugged that the population is very dispersed. Can base off of Hawaii, but way bigger.

Weapons-wise, assault rifles, shotguns, and such are pretty ubiquitous. Tanks are about mid-50s level.

On the subject of magic, I wrote it in such a way that enchantments have to constantly be recast, because they don’t last. This makes maintaining magic items extremely difficult. For government agents who themselves have some knowledge of magic (even a Fighter knows something about ki, which is inherently magical) and the resources of the government, this is not an insurmountable problem, but in industrial capacities magic is used to do things in the moment, not to create items that are themselves magic. Enchanted items are the playthings of the rich, who can afford to maintain them. In fact, wizardry itself is the province of the rich and powerful, because they can afford the necessary instruction. Sorcery is inborn spellcasting ability, and do to the law of numbers, is associated with the lower income masses. It is also dangerous, with the modern day being the first time Sorcerers were more likely to survive to adulthood than blow themselves up during puberty. Needless to say, people find them scary. Sorcery is as old as civilization, but wizardry is fairly new. Potions last far longer than enchantments, which gives them a far bigger role in society. Alchemists are more common than actual spellcasters are, and it is common to see a nonmagical object powered via magical alchemy. There are also divine spellcasters, who practice a magic passed down from the long disappeared old gods to their priesthoods. Those who practice this magic outside the priesthoods are witches, and while they aren’t executed anymore, historically they were, as practicing such magic without proper sanction was a grave offense indeed. Raise Dead, Resurrection, and Reincarnate are all outright banned, except for the Reincarnate Druid's class feature (Reincarnate Druids don't die when they reincarnate, though. Their soul is too slippery for Death to grasp, so they go back into the world. Seriously considering a Rogue version of this, because flavor. "I'm so quick, sneaky, and agile, not even Death can catch me!".). The basic idea is that once Death takes a soul, this is literally nothing anyone can do to ever get it back. It is far beyond the power of mortals. However, it takes a few minutes after the heart stops before the soul departs. If you can get the character's HP above the death threshold in that timeframe, their heart will start up again and they will survive. This has to be done with one spell, not multiple spells. Since every minute is 10 rounds, which is a lot in this sort of emergency, a fallen PC is much more likely to be revived than lost permanently.

Religion in this setting is complicated. At one point there were gods, yes, but people don’t know where they went. They were replaced by the Celestial Bureaucracy, who took control of the priesthoods as the so-called children of the gods. This organization was headed by these demigod figures and their angelic armies, and kept humanity (elves, dwarves, magni, orcs, and others are all subspecies of human) safe from demons, dragons, fae, and other threats in exchange for service and obedience. The especially loyal were taught the secrets of divine magic. Though it kept humanity safe as best as it could manage, the Celestial Bureaucracy was a totalitarian organization that saw people as pawns to be used to acquire power, had massive factionalism and infighting issues, did not seem overly concerned with getting thousands of humans killed in wars between demigods, was hard into racial determinism and not into giving people freedom to choose their own destiny, gave the churches of individual demigods a massive amount of control over people's daily lives, and was absolutely brutal in suppressing any form of dissent. Eventually these shenanigans went too far, and the Celestial Bureaucracy was broken, most of the demigods were killed, the angels were stripped of their powers and forced to live as humans, and humans were left ruling over themselves. For the first century and a half, the demons and fae lacked the power to be too much of a threat do to how long the Celestial Bureaucracy had spend grinding them down, but they've had time to regain their strength with the organization destroyed. Which is exactly why the player characters are needed.

With the fall of the Celestial Bureaucracy, the priesthoods maintain faith in the old gods (it is known for a fact that at some point they were real, after all), and many people do continue to worship, but agnosticism and lack of faith that the old gods will ever return are common, as well as questions about whether their return would actually be desirable.

As it stands, Elves and Gearforged are the races I have put the most work into by a wide margin. With Elves, I really wanted to touch on the whole forest living aspect, but I also love the idea of bohemian city Elves hanging around coffeeshops being hip but more reasonable than their effete reputation gives them credit for, so I took on both images. Since my friends and I are mostly LGBT, we do tend to bring those themes into our games, which is why I put so much thought into Elven sexual mores. I wanted them to not be totally accepting, because bigotry means story fuel, but I wanted them to be bigoted for different reasons.

Elves are the children of the Sun, open and energetic. They are sociable and full of ideas, and their art is characterized by bold, broad strokes, brand new ideas, and bright colors. If you look at their treetop cities, they show little planning or subtlety. Elves throw up what looks cool and what is nice to live in, and have a thing for bold architecture. Elven social interactions are pretty direct, and elves can be considered somewhat flighty. As a race with magic in their veins, they are more likely have the blood of a sorcerer than any other race except the drow, and sorcerers make up the majority of Elven arcane spellcasters. With the advent of industrialization, urbanization, explosive population growth, and technology such as trains, running water, and cars, Elven cities have proven quite inadequate to housing a modern population. The rich can keep their cities as they traditionally have been, at the cost of shutting the poor out to slums that aren't even able to provide the poor quality of life one could find in slums in non-forest dwelling races. This has led to a big rift between those who get to live in the beautiful tree cities and those who don't, and massive numbers of Elves are leaving the slums for the cities of the Magni, Dwarves, and Drow. Hence there is a split between Aboreal Elves and City Elves. Elven society preaches environmentalism, though City Elves would say that Aboreal Elves don't know the first damn thing about environmentally friendly city design and that forest cities just aren't sustainable and can't be the basis of Elven society anymore, whereas Aboreal Elves would concede past mistakes and talk about the need for smaller populations and a less technologically reliant lifestyle while deriding the places City Elves live as wasteful, concrete Hells with no connection to nature. Elves value education, but not formal schooling. They like their learning in pieces the size of their attention spans.

They are commonly considered promiscuous by other races, which doesn't fully reflect Elven sexual mores. Elves do attach a degree of importance to sex, but they don't restrict themselves to one partner, even though they practice monogamous marriage. Elves feel that love naturally comes in a spectrum, and your spouse should be that person you love above all others. Having sex with someone other than that spouse is both acceptable and perfectly normal (in fact, it'd be seen as unjustly controlling and a sign of an abusive relationship for an Elf to demand their spouse not have sex with other people), but giving another partner more love and attention than your spouse is adultery, which is an extremely serious offense that will ruin not only a marriage, but one's friendships and other romantic relationships. Divorce has a huge social stigma attached to it. Gay sex has no almost no stigma in Elven culture, as Elves don't see any problem with a man having a male lover or a woman having a female lover, but being exclusively homosexual leads to a lot of anger and ridicule from other Elves, and gay marriage is considered downright ridiculous. Many Elves do not accept the fact that some people do love others of the same gender as much as one loves a spouse. Other Elves don't understand why a gay man wouldn't just become a woman. If a child is born to the union of an unmarried partner and a married partner, the married partner gets full custody and their spouse is considered the opposite sex parent of the child. Elven society teaches that spouse should raise the child as their own without stigma, though society's rules aren't necessarily always followed. The unmarried partner has no parental rights and is not considered related to the child in any way. If both lovers are married, one must get full custody and the other will not be considered related to the child at all. Traditionally the family with fewer children will get the child, with the mother's family getting the child if both have the same number of children. If that arrangement is somehow unworkable, the two sides either come to an agreement as to who's child it is (joint custody would be considered unacceptable) or it turns into a court fight. If both lovers are unmarried, they either get married or the child is taken away and given to a suitable family. A gay couple would never be allowed to raise a child.

Male to female or female to male gender transition has little stigma, but Elven culture does not understand the fact that somebody can be born with the body of one gender and the mind of another. To an Elf, a person who transitions is changing their gender (which most Elves don't see as bad, just weird), not bringing their body over the gender of the mind. Elves do have poorly defined gender roles, as feminine acting men and masculine acting women aren't stigmatized, but they have a feeling that everybody needs to identify with one or the other, even if they can't explain exactly what feminine or masculine is.

Elves are a bit shorter than Magni (think Earth people), and only have body hair on their scalp. Their ears are noticeably pointed, and actually droop or perk up slightly based on emotion. They are light skinned, with red, pink, brown, blonde, orange, green, blue, black, or purple hair and blue, green, brown, orange, or purple eyes. Lighter hair and eyes are more common than darker hair and eyes. Faint colored stripes or spots are not uncommon, though not in the majority either, and can come in any color.

In contrast to their elven cousins, Drow are more methodical about things. They have the same artistic bent as Elves, but spend more time on small details. Their artwork uses fewer strokes and colors, focusing more on high levels of detail, relationships between all the elements, and deeper meanings. As a race that is largely urban, they are known for helping produce a lot of fine, meticulously planned architecture, but don't work with big and bold unless they are decorating something the Dwarves built. Drow and Dwarves as groups tend to get along relatively well, with a long history of cooperation. This can be said of Magni to a somewhat lesser degree, whereas relations with the Elves tend to be rather neutral at the group level, despite the obvious connection between the two races. They like things moderate and functional, but elegantly attractive. They aren't so direct in conversation as Elves, but aren't horribly secretive, either. They have the same slant towards sorcerous blood as Elves, but their more meticulous brains tend to lend them to the path of the Arcanist. They are of Elven height and have the same lack of hair besides that on their scalp. They have black or very dark grey, blue, or purple skin, white, silver, or pale blue, purple, or grey hair, blue, grey, silver, or purple eyes, and the same large, sharp, and expressive ears as Elves.

In my world, to animate a construct with actual human emotions, one needs to consume somebody's body and use the energy to wipe the soul clean. This creates a soul that lacks any memory of its previous life and personality, but because the body is consumed it needs an artificial one. The soul needs to be instructed as to how to act, much like a child, but grows far, far faster, reaching adulthood within a year or two. Whether a Gearforged retains traces of its past personality or not is a matter of much debate. It is known that if a murderer becomes a Gearforged, the Gearforged will probably not become a murderer, but some believe little traces of past personality remain. Good luck proving it, though.

The nation of Vendalia, along with a couple other nations, create almost all the Gearforged in the world. They do so out of a heavy distaste for the death penalty. These governments have come to the belief that it is more humane to use a murder or rapist to create a new life with potential for good than it is to just hang the condemned. The Gearforged are schooled in the basics of moral life for a year or two, then released out into society as free individuals, hopefully to contribute more than their forebears.

Gearforged start out with a very basic skeleton for a body, and add parts as they "grow up" and decide what they want to be like. Gearforged usually have a gender (in that they tend to gravitate towards either a masculine shaped or feminine shaped body, and think of themselves as male or female), but they aren't created with one. Why they tend to have a gender is up to debate, especially since the gender of a Gearforged is not connected to the gender of the condemned that created them, and there are Gearforged who do not fit within the gender binary. A Gearforged cannot be used to create another Gearforged. After about 80 to 100 years, the soul will die.

I do think the existence of the Gearforged brings up some very interesting moral questions. The existence of Gearforged basically stems from the idea that it is better to use a condemned criminal to create a new person with potential to fit into society than it is to just execute said criminal. If this idea is accepted, how far does it go? How bad does a person have to be before it becomes better to create a new person than to try and reform the existing person? There is some pretty big potential for egregious abuse there. What about people who think that maybe the mentally ill or disabled should be used to create new people with more potential? I would call such thinking completely reprehensible, but if someone in power likes the idea, some really bad things could happen. On the face of it, the idea of creating new life instead of just hanging someone may sound more humane to those uncomfortable with the death penalty, but it can be horribly misused. There is also the argument that the process is still an execution, just fluffed up to look like it isn't, since the condemned ceases to exist. All of this is excellent story materiel, of course.

There are also some societal issues. You raise a Gearforged to adulthood and let them into the world, but now what? They have no family. They can't have children. Their community is their fellow Gearforged, so they have to support each other. Since they come from criminal stock, many distrust them (though others look at them with hope that a better way to deal with violent crime now exists). What do they do with their life? I imagine a lot join the military, because it's a way to find purpose in life, have a steady income and a place to live, and feel appreciated by society (soldiers are relatively well respected in Vendalia), and because the military actively targets them in recruitment efforts (Reduced sleep needs, durable frames, immunity to disease and poison, don't get fatigued easily, and don't need to feed them? Army's definitely interested. The fact that a lot of them are lost and searching for purpose, and therefore easy for a charismatic recruiter to talk into enlisting, is icing on the cake.). When a Gearforged fresh into society hears everything the military is targeting directly at them, it has a tendency to look rather attractive.

On the subject of Dwarves, I am thinking of them as a race known for their hospitality and general approachableness, and hold their arguments and grudges behind a veneer of politeness (Not to say that all Dwarves are vindictive, secretly malicious, or unable to let things go, because that's an outright falsehood, but those that do have beefs conspire in private rather than bringing them out in public. Dwarven politics can get extremely nasty without the quarreling parties ever seeming anything but friendly towards each other to an outside observer.). On the one hand, Dwarves are always welcoming to a guest, and the key component of measuring one's level of wealth and success is how much one can afford to spend on gifts and feasts. They are a race known for building big things, but outside of grand sorts of projects they don't have a reputation as scholars. When it comes to arcane magic outside of Alchemists (the most common magic user setting-wide, because potions last in a way enchantments don’t), Dwarves lean towards Wizardry (fits their grand works style of creating things, as Wizards have more sheer power than Rune Mages or Divine casters), and aren't any less likely to produce arcane casters than anyone else. Dwarves do mine plenty, but don't actually hail it as the, or even primary, way of life, and the majority of Dwarves aren't miners.

The Magni are most common race in the world. Make up the majority of the population in Vendalia by a large margin. They are of a wide range of heights, and skin color generally depends on ethnicity. They are noted primarily for not having their own culture, but rather being split into countless different cultures. This is extremely rare, as races such as the Elves, Drow, and dwarves have just one or two cultures, even across multiple ethnicities and languages. This makes it almost impossible to generalize about Magni, other than that they are a bafflingly diverse people who can’t seem to live a few hundred miles apart without forming an entirely different culture for no reason the Elves or anyone else can figure out. The one generalization that can be made is that they do tend to have a lot of endurance and very good senses of direction, traits that allow them to expand wherever ambition takes them. This in turn has led to some Magni feeling their race is obviously superior to others, using their global spread as evidence. Some governments use this idea to form policy, which does not lead to good things.

Seraphim are the descendants of angels forced to live as humans. They are about 5’10” on average for males and 5’6” on average for females, and tend to be sturdily built. They have well tanned skin, metallic or jewel colored eyes, brown or black hair, and magnificent feathered wings, usually white or brown (other colors are not unheard of). Each wing is about as big as the Seraphim is tall. Seraphim used to be able to fly, but the demigods stripped that ability from them during the fall of the Celestial Bureaucracy, while leaving the wings to remind them of what they lost. Now, their wings are heavy and don’t curve enough for proper lift generation. Many have turned to magical and technological solutions to this problem, but have only found solutions that work for rare and very skilled individuals, not something that can be applied to the race as a whole. As a people, they tend to do their best to integrate into society, though their appearance makes them stand out. They usually live in cities, and there is a high cultural emphasis on work. Do to their wings, they tend not to do factory work that requires fitting into small spaces. They are commonly scholars, engineers, lawyers, alchemists, or wizards. A lot of them find the idea of becoming a pilot extremely attractive, to the point that a lot of people on airfields or aircraft carriers quip that you can’t swing a stick around without hitting a Seraphim in a flight suit.

There is also the phenomena of people so interbred that they have no discernable race, which is becoming increasingly common. These people have a character “race” they can select that makes them the most versatile of all races (even the Magni have fixed stat modifiers at +2 Con, +2 Wis [no race has a negative stat modifier]). There are Orcs (not an evil race) and some other races I haven’t got to yet. There shall be Catfolk.

A demon is an emotion with a physical form. Just one emotion. A succubus feels only constant lust, and nothing else. A rage demon only ever feels anger. It's why demons can't really be called evil, despite being a constant threat. They literally cannot comprehend how to be anything but what they are. They can fake emotion, and do spawn with humans, but they don’t actually feel or even much think. They do as they are programmed to do without being able to consider why. In fact, humans don’t know why they do what they do unless a human spellcaster or other magical being dominates a demon. Don’t even know why they want half-human babies. A fae has more emotional depth than a demon, but is still narrow in what it is capable of feeling. They do tend to be rule driven, but their rules can seem rather chaotic and perplexing, and some fae seem to follow rules that encourage chaos. Some are relatively benign or even helpful, but dangerous if crossed, while others are just bad. There are some that steal children. Like demons, fae are usually made, not born (with several exceptions), and therefore have a much more fixed personality than a human (a gnome will act as a gnome acts, because gnomes are made and lack any sort of genetic variation). Incidentally, the argument has been made that the Celestial Bureaucracy's problem was in trying to treat humans as if they were fae, which, if true, would be problematic in that humans differ from each other and fae do not. It would explain why the Celestial Bureaucracy believed in racial determinism so much, as such an attitude could work if you were dealing with fae instead of people. People don’t know what dragons are, just that they have been around longer than anything else except possibly the gods, have a deep wealth of knowledge, possess powerful magic in true Dungeons and Dragons style, and they are easily provoked. Most of them aren’t immediately hostile, just aloof and largely isolationist, but there are a lot of dragons in the mountains, and enough of them try to exert dominance over humans to make dragonslayers a necessity.

So, there is some of the basic theme and flavor. Do ask questions. Questions are great. They provide ideas by making me think about stuff. Need ideas for what to write next, and whether there are some broad themes I haven’t hit yet or if I should start getting into specifics.

Liberty's Edge

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Kickstarter this, Patreon this, crowdfund this. Publish it. Make some $$$ off it. Because this deserves it.

If you did, this would be the first Kickstarter I'd ever back (because I was lazy and missed out on Reading Rainbow Is Back and Blades in the Dark.)

I'm too much of a haggard college student to put faith in an ability to meet deadlines. Or organize anything around publishing, really.

Should have more info on the setting in a few days as long as my professors don't pull any surprises.

After more thought about the overall themes of my setting, I hit on a big one, and it’s rooted in the history of the world. The old gods who existed before the Celestial Bureaucracy were not only incredibly powerful, a lot of them were one mortals who ascended to mythic levels of power. These gods didn’t create the world itself, but they created a lot of the terrain of the world. A lot of volcanoes exist because gods were ripping boulders out of the Earth to use to build stuff or chuck at people they didn’t like, or were breaking mountains. Some valleys are the scars of divine battle. The flying islands of the world (yes, we have those, and people live on them) exist because an earth god was fighting an air goddess, and she halted the rocks he threw at her in midair, where they remain today. Most of this isn’t myth or legend, but rather historical fact. Most of the world’s terrain didn’t get to be its current form from natural processes. During this era, people relied on great heroes (in the vein of so much mythology), usually of some sort of divine or royal blood, to keep the threats of the world at bay.

The Celestial Bureaucracy changed this. The gods were driven away by their so called children who claimed to speak for them, and to this day the old gods remain unable to access the world as they once could, with no mortal able to approach their power and become a god as was one possible. Divine magic was attached to the churches of the demigods. At this point in time, people were kept under a very rigid government and relied on the Celestial Bureaucracy for protection.

So, what we have is two different systems where the masses don’t really have agency, and rely on the powerful few to protect them. This isn’t exactly unusual for fantasy. An extremely common trope is a great empire which falls and leads to a decline in society. My setting has the fallen great empires, but not the societal decline. I can’t speak for all the nations of the world, but our California/Polynesia-esque nation, the Republic of Vendalia, is a parliamentary democracy with universal adult suffrage. Agency is very much in the hands of the masses, at least from the point of view of the law. Elected officials aren’t exactly immune to the influence of the powerful, after all. People have freedom of speech, the right to fair trial, the right to petition the government, freedom from racial, ethnic, gender, sexuality, religious, or other unfair discrimination (well, the government bans such discrimination, but that doesn’t exactly prevent it), and other such rights. Physically and mentally fit adults from any background are allowed to serve in military or law enforcement, barring criminal records (some stuff can get waived, but it depends heavily on what you did and whether there is an impression that you wouldn’t do it again) or other security concerns and subject to the personnel needs of those services. The security forces that do all the demon killing, monster hunting, and dangerous mage control are typically military or law enforcement veterans (usually military) , so the elite warriors like the PCs are drawn from the masses and chosen chiefly based on past security experience and physical and mental fitness, not on their pedigree. Plus, we are fully industrialized, with the attendant massive rise in healthcare standards, plentiful food, disposable incomes, and the like. You can’t exactly call that societal decline. The masses are now responsible for handling threats themselves, and with the industry they invented they probably can, even without the epic magic their forebears had.

Basically, a big theme of the setting is that, despite all our flaws, humans can protect and provide for each other without needing some divine being to come and do it for them in exchange for servitude.

Okay, I just got every D20 Weird War 2 rulebook. Should have a ton of rules content I can use for this setting, including air, naval, and tank combat for more military focused games, plus more monsters.

Also had the idea that hunger demons take the form of corpses to intimidate and sicken humans. They look like zombies and eat people, but are stronger, faster, and more cunning than any zombie would be. In fact, hunger demons are a more likely enemy for the PCs, because zombie attacks can generally be contained and eliminated by local law enforcement and the Army. They aren't tough enough to require elite troops. Hunger demons, on the other hand, sometimes are.

Small arms typically used in the Republic of Vendalia. A lot of rules are taken from the D20 version of Weird War 2, and I have yet to write formal combat rules, so some portions of the table won't make sense yet. I will explain penetration value. A vehicle's armor gives it damage reduction. Penetration value takes away from a vehicle's damage reduction or, if negative, adds to it. Some vehicles, such as civilian cars, don't have an armor value, in which case penetration value is irrelevant and any bullet that hits is assumed to penetrate (a car door will not stop 9mm rounds). If you take cover behind an object that cannot stop the bullets being fired at you, you only get half the defense bonus from cover (what you do get represents being partially concealed or bullet trajectories being warped).

What I need help with is creating the 4th Ranger Division, so that I have a well fleshed out organization for the players. Rangers kill spellcasters, demons, dragons, fae, sea monsters, kaiju, the undead, and various other magical things when the pose a threat, and are split among several infantry units and air wings. 4th Division is distinguished from other Ranger infantry units by the fact that they specialize in aquatic, coastal, and island based operations. This means that their education on the monsters of the world focuses on threats that come from the water, all members are trained divers, and they have the training to do water insertions where that poses an advantage. They can also clear out ships that are infested with something nasty, navigate on the ocean or through an island jungle or mountain, operate in a coastal mountain range, and so on. They don't just know about the ocean, they also know about lake and river based threats. If they aren't busy killing something that came out of the water or handling missions where a water insertion is necessary (something 4th Division is quite good at), they take on "standard" missions, though they almost never operate very far from the coast or islands if they aren't dealing with a lake or river borne threat.

So, those are the basics on 4th Division, but is it enough? I need some details on squad organization (how many people to a squad, who is in the boss, who is that persons’ boss, and so on), a nickname (I originally had "Shark Hearts", but I don't like it), and more details about training. We’ve established that they know how to do aquatic things, but aside from being trained divers, what does that mean? What other tasks need they be proficient in? What other details would players need to know? Can you ask me questions to make me think about this stuff more? Give me ideas?

12 people to a squad. One sergeant, two corporals and the rest as privates. They could easily be split into two six man fire teams that way. As a nickname, how about the Mantas? I imagine this force would make heavy use of the cloak of the manta ray wondrous item.

As for other things they could be trained in how about Hazmat training? There is a lot of poisonous and deadly things in the ocean and perhaps Rangers could be first responders to oil spills or terrorist attacks that cause severe enviramental damage. If aboleths are a thing in your setting, training or equipment to resist mind control is a must.

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