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Old 07-17-2022, 10:45 AM   #31
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Magical Dawns

Contemporary: Starting on December 21st, 2012, Earth's mana level started rising very slowly. It is now a decade later, and mana has reached a new stable level at High. Many of those born since the event have latent Magery 1-2.

But, magic is completely unknown. The exact method used is anything you like, but presumably is narratively something like "words, gylphs, and gestures help focus the visualization of desired effects in the mind of the caster." But even the most basic theoretical principles simply don't exist. As a result, magical events are extremely rare -- the consequence of already sensitive people in extreme circumstances and most likely in altered states of mind.

Your PCs are a VERY odd mix of neurologists, philosophers, spiritualists, and cranks who have by circumstance and investigation come to realize that there is something real going on.

The upcoming generation of mages will do things that the PCs can't even dream of, but it will likely be people like the PCs that define the principles the new mages will use.

Enlightenment: The 1456 arrival of Halley's Comet was marked with a great and firey aurora never seen before or since; the light persisted through night and day. Some speculate that it suffused the world with quintessence, or perhaps was merely a sign of God's favor, though at the time it was seen as an evil portent. Whatever the case, it had almost been forgotten -- but now, the prophecies are coming true; an age of miracles, or of doom.

The year is 1478. Mana levels are now Normal. While anyone can perform basic rites -- once nearly-forgotten rituals to the old gods -- Only the favored are exploring the heights of what magic can accomplish. The Church has decreed that anything supernatural which is performed by non-saints is witchcraft. This has immediately caused a storm of controversy, as folk saints may hold vast sway in their homelands while being, technically, enemies of the Church. But that is just in Europe... Other faiths have been more open-minded about the new power in the world...

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Old 07-17-2022, 11:32 PM   #32
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Here's a few interpretations of "Mana comes from life."

Forest Mana: Plants increase the local mana level. Deserts, glaciers, and mountains above the treeline are No Mana. Grasslands, shrub, and so on are Low. Most forests are Normal. The densest parts of rainforests reach High Mana.

Settlements are complicated. Anywhere under the cover of a tree which is itself part of a major forest has that forests' mana level. Artificial structures that overwhelm the natural character of an area lowers the mana level by one. Taken together, no major settlements have High Mana.

Oceans are unpredictable. Kelp forests and plankton blooms count as forests. Coral reefs are effectively rainforests and can have High Mana. But traveling the surface of the ocean doesn't help you very much.

All mana is plant aspected.

Blood Mana: Life stores mana, and it accumulates as you go up the food chain. The baseline effective Mana Level sits at Low. Magery includes Energy Reserve (which can only be used for Magery) and this reserve only recharges via a number of magical processes which largely revolve around the use of fresh blood. The higher the trophic level, the more effective it is.

Feudal Mana: To swear allegiance to annother is to grant them a portion of your power. In an otherwise Low Mana world, each step up the rank of feudal hierarchy is a level of Magery, starting with Knight.

One more general one:

Mana Islands: Mana is alive. It flows, its wellsprings move. They die and are born. At any given time, there are about 20 mana springs. They are High or Very High Mana zones anywhere from a few miles to 50 miles across, with concentric rings of lower mana where each band is about 100 miles wide. These regions move at a rate of about 100 feet per year... usually. Sometimes they move more than a mile per year, and occasionally much more. The rest of the world is No Mana.

Despite their tendency to last only decades in a place, the High Mana zones are natural places for cities. At least, they are among the more adventurous types.

Bonus:

Sparks Some beings are sources of magical power. They radiate it out, imbuing their homes and surroundings with power. The basal mana level is Very Low, but the presence of these sources can dramatically raise the level of mana. Sources take many forms, often (but not always) in proportion to their power. Wisps and faeries usually produce a gentle, localized magical field. A mighty giant elk or leviathan may raise the mana level for miles. These boosts combine in a complicated way (sources of the same type don't stack, but differing ones do).

Sources are never mages, and groups which can include mages are never sources.

Another!

Aurium The transmutation of metals is the key to all magical workings. At the bottom of the chain is coal or soot, with light and soft alumwhite being the next material up. The chain of magical power continues upward through ilmonite, iron, cobalt, copper, tin, and a number of others before reaching scented silver, platinum, gold, and quicksilver. Each step up the chain involves an investment of magical power, and each step down releases it for use...

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Old 07-19-2022, 03:11 PM   #33
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

"And an Owl at her door as a sentinel stood."

Sir Issac Newton not only revealed to all the laws of motion, he opened the door to a new Alchemy! What was once mere rumor and speculation is now proven. Magic is now taught at Oxford and Cambridge. But more than that has happened. Students have tried to summon the gods of Olympus to England. Visions have appeared but something seems off. Other scholars have made the assumption that maybe the Greek Gods aren't really suitable for English folk to contact. So the gods of the Celts and the Norse have also been summoned. Again visions appeared, but seemingly little else.

Seemingly is an appropriate word here. The gods are at no one's beck and call. But the summoning did allow something. The gods once again can touch the British Isles.

Each group of Gods, the Greeks, the Norse, and the Celts are seeking followers. Throughout the British Isles. They have wakened and strengthened the fay. They have spoken to the Cunning Folk in their dreams. The British Isles are far more changed than the scholars of Oxford and Cambridge know.

It's a twist on a hidden magic campaign. The world is not as the PCs were taught to believe. Can they survive to become reeducated?
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Old 07-19-2022, 07:03 PM   #34
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
"And an Owl at her door as a sentinel stood."

Sir Issac Newton not only revealed to all the law of motion, he opened the door to a new Alchemy! What was once mere rumor and speculation is now proven. Magic is now taught at Oxford and Cambridge. But more than that has happened. Students have tried to summon the gods of Olympus to England. Visions have appeared but something seems off. Other scholars have made the assumption that maybe the Greek Gods aren't really suitable for English folk to contact. So the gods of the Celts and the Norse have also been summoned. Again visions appeared, but seemingly little else.

Seemingly is an appropriate word here. The gods are at no one's beck and call. But the summoning did allow something. The gods once again can touch the British Isles.

Each group of Gods, the Greeks, the Norse, and the Celts are seeking followers. Throughout the British Isles. They have wakened and strengthened the fay. They have spoken to the Cunning Folk in their dreams. The British Isles are far more changed than the scholars of Oxford and Cambridge know.

It's a twist on a hidden magic campaign. The world is not as the PCs were taught to believe. Can they survive to become reeducated?

Another rather interesting idea. Though I still prefer your Little Rascals meet Cthulhu. I still say you should run that.
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Old 07-19-2022, 07:44 PM   #35
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
"And an Owl at her door as a sentinel stood."

Sir Issac Newton not only revealed to all the law of motion, he opened the door to a new Alchemy! What was once mere rumor and speculation is now proven. Magic is now taught at Oxford and Cambridge.
Newton’s Cannon by J. Gregory Keyes and sequels A Calculus of Angels, Empire of Unreason are more or less this. The title comes from the crater where Paris used to be.
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Old 07-19-2022, 11:24 PM   #36
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Inward:

It is said that in the Hall that is the Heart of the World, there is a once-great Emperor. His name has long been lost, but his hubris lingers. He was granted three wishes, and so asked for himself to outlive his castle, his castle to stand after his city had fallen, and his city to last forever.

Perhaps apocryphal. But what is known is that as one grows closer to that terrible city, the arrow of time flies more slowly. It is a sweeping and subtle thing, most likely the work of the gods. From the perspective of the traveler, day and night, heartbeats, the seasons -- they move normally. But one could easily travel away for weeks and return to find that years have passed at home. It is said that should an assassin visit death upon that king, the spell will be broken. None have yet returned from such a quest.

Outward:
They call the mountain the Hearth of the Gods. It is the primordial source of all motion, all matter, all heat. The lands around it are scorching black deserts dotted with sand-weathered obsidian monoliths, a badlands which forbids entrance to the God's domain. As one moves further, the climate cools, but that is merely a side effect of the nature of the Hearth. Time only flows in proportion to your nearness to that volcano. Adventures to the inner jungles may take years, but the traveler returns to find only weeks have passed.
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Old 07-20-2022, 03:45 AM   #37
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A world where you have fae underhills, brigadoons, pocket dimensions, places bigger inside than outside, magical protections on areas ranging from "that doesn't look interesting" to invisibility to Harry Potter fidelius. So no one actually knows how big the world is, how many cities there are or who lives near who. Add flying cities, floating islands, giant turtles that have accumulated enough dirt to look like an island etc.
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Old 07-20-2022, 12:35 PM   #38
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World Building Sketch - this is a rough less than first draft, expect spelling errors and cruddy formatting, sorry.

The Imperium was TL 5 (industrial revolution, old west) or 6 (pulp era, WW2) when it collapsed. Today, the most advanced cities are late TL 8 (modern day, almost cyberpunk), but some remote or war-torn areas of the region are stuck at TL 7 (Cold War). Alchemy and Book Rituals (Effect Shaping, Magery optional, Magery adds to Rituals) are the magic systems of this setting, not counting supernatural creatures and spirits (which magicians can exploit). People are human, more or less, not counting the Strangers (who are humanoid). The region's terrain is mostly temperate woodland, grassland plains, freshwater rivers and hills - exceptions include a swamp to the north, some mountains, a jungle to the south, an ocean coastline and occasional dryer steppes. The region's size is about as big as Western Europe.

When the Imperium fell 250 years ago, its territory and subjects were left to either pick up the pieces and form smaller nations or else become No-Man's Land. Leftover regime personelle became warlords, petty rulers, crime lords and mercenaries bosses.
The worst fallout came when a great alchemist of the Imperium, The Strange Journeyman, created the Strangers (custom bioengineered alchemical lifeforms) with his magi-tek cloning labs, as part of his many intricate plans to conquer life. Sometimes, the creator magically body surfs into a Stranger, using it as a custom-built physical shell. Unfortunately, the Strangers who have been left to their own devices are sentient. They became their own people, their own "race" of sorts. And they had decidedly mixed opinions on the creator, life and everything. The Strangers quickly multiplied and got out of hand when the Strangers began to question the Journeyman or take sides on various political issues. Strangers have Unusual Biochemistry and Social Stigma (Second Class Citizen).
A civil war between two factions of these custom bioengineered creations has devolved into a quagmire of warlord-ism, looting, raiding, mercenary work, petty rivalries, grudges, and power plays. The two Factions are The Sacred Profane and The Dream Storm. The Journeyman is nowhere to be found.

Racism between "normal" people is not an issue in this setting; people do not really have a social construct for race. Skin tone, hair colour, facial features and so on - these things are not given special cultural weight. From our point of view, the people of the region are "very mixed race" - thanks to alchemical tampering, they even have phenotypes not natural in our world (for example, a person with dark skin AND red or blonde hair AND blue eyes AND thick lips is not unusual). (The Black and White cultures have nothing to do with African/dark skinned or Caucasian people.)
Sexism and hetronormality is less of a systemic problem in the setting. Prejudices between people are more along the line of cultural baggage and stereotyping ("They CREMATE their dead rather than giving them the proper sky burial! Savages!") or classism.
Strangers, alchemically bio-engineered artifical people, are discriminated against as dangerous renegades [Social Stigma (Second Class Citizen) - a sort of racial Bad Reputation] by "normal" people thanks to the bloody and destructive "civil war" they have tainted the region with.

Contact with other continents or regions has been cut off for over 300 years, nothing is known of their current status or existence. People of the region refer to a hypothetical culture outside the region that they have not encountered as "Grey" or "the Greys". Going beyond the borders of the region means travelling through the northern ice glacier, the wild rough ocean, or the southern deep jungle - all of those options are very risky, so much so that most people write it off as currently not worth it. Maybe in another century or two, when the wild mana storms have calmed down.

Black
culture of the five northern swamps,The Great Chaos Swamp is the largest
communal swamping culture, hates and fears the giant misquito
Most to the south are riverfolk, working and living on barges
Northern from swamps is mountainous and rocky plains where few live, even more northern is an ice glacier
Stereotypes: hardboiled and communal (positive), creepy and accursed (negative)
Typical Rituals: necromancy, curses, spirits

White
culture of the Theocratic City-State "The Holy Kingdom"
Kinda like the Byzantines or Papalcy? Ruled by priest heirarchy
Consider themselves the successor to the Imperium (inspiriting jokes similiar to ones about The Holy Roman Empire)
located at center of the temperate plains and grasslands
Stereotypes: just honest and determined (positive), paranoid religious fanatic (negative)
Typical Rituals: protection, spiritual warfare, medical, anti-magic

Red
culture of tip of southern jungle and plains/steppes, was not part of the Imperium
venerates fire and lightning, strong warrior culture, like Mogols or Headhunters?
No full nation of their own but villages and towns in southern light jungle and clans/tribes on the plains
Stereotypes: brave strong and deadly (positive), violent uncultured berserker or mad bomber/arsonist (negative)
Typical Rituals: fire, thunderbolt, war/hostile, wounding/painful/deadly curses

Orange
culture of people in large cities of center plains, used to be numerous Imperium citizens
happy-go-lucky, optimistic, urban, popular, cosmopolitian urban, superstitious
No full nation, just city folk with roots in the temperate forests and grasslands
Stereotypes: lucky witty and friendly (positive), overconfident lazy streetrats and degenerate gamblers (negative)
Typical Rituals: luck - blessings, scrying/knowledge, gambling

Yellow
culture of ruling class of old Imperium, live in most big cities
old money and aristocratic, descending from Imperium nobles, like Victoran era English upper class or French kingdom before Revolution or Roman Empire nobles?
the high status citizens of biggest city-state and remanent of Imperium capital, ruling biggest nation
Stereotypes: sissy fey snob bully and elitist (negative), educated and cultured natural leader (positive)
Typical Rituals: mastery over forces and nature, time freeze, omnitongues

Green
culture of southern light jungle villages and nomadic horseclans on the plains and grasslands, most live at edges of old Imperium territory, was only sometimes a part of the Imperium
Like Mogols or Vietnamese? Experts on wilderness survival and travelling
no full nations but plenty of villages and travellers around the grasslands and other countryside
Stereotypes: ultra tough outdoorsman and spirit wrangler (positive), glutton addict/drunk and uneducated nature/spirit weirdo
Typical Rituals: enhanced health, hasten mounts, animalism, spirit fetishes, endure elements, enhanced senses, simulacrum

Blue
culture of riverfolk and seaside people
curious, sailors, dreamers and psychics, venerate water. Like the Polynesians or Age of Sail caribeanan or liberal Scandavania?
no full nation, culture people found all around the rivers and along the coast
Stereotypes: hippie space cadet (negative), compassionate thoughtful accepting (positive)
Typical Rituals: water and mist, dreaming, empathy/mentalism, spirits

Indigo
culture of heavily industralised city folk
materialistic and atheistic people who pioneered Imperium industry, computers, modern weapons, vehicles, material sciences. Like Germans or Soviet Russians?
some nations taht are big technologically advanced city-states, found in all other cities
Stereotypes: neoliberal technocrats and souless urbanites (negative), brilliant progressive scientist-engineers (positive)
Typical Rituals: machines, metal melee weapons, unlimited ammo

Violet
culture of tricksters, mentalists, urban types, entertainers, con artists
distrusted and hated by most of old Imperium, considered an "enemy within" or as secret police, no nation, spread out disliked minority
Stereotypes: scummy lusty fey liars and thieves (negative), social butterflies and cool glamourous rebels (positive)
Typical Rituals: mind control, mind reading, cunning illusions/disguise, shapeshifting, esctasy afflictation, animalism, spirit binding, deception

Each of the nine cultures above has its own Language. Multilingualism and multiple CFs is common for people in this setting.
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Old 07-20-2022, 11:28 PM   #39
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

Folk

Standing about 5 inches tall, the Folk live on a peaceful, untouched island marked by wildlands, rich forests, and rocky promontories, with a cold maritime clime. The Folk themselves are human-shaped, but have any number of strange changes, from unusual coloring to bird feet to many glowing eyes to extra, spidery limbs.

Their world is very small, and the issues they face are also reduced. They argue over the distribution of berries, the order they take in ceremonial processions, how to award purely reputational prizes in baking competitions. And, sometimes, they face more serious issues, such as control of invasive bullfrogs, response to heavy snow or wildfire, or poor harvest of the glowing mushrooms they rely on for light.

Basically, Icelandic village life in the context of tiny magical beings.
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Old 07-21-2022, 05:35 AM   #40
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Default Re: New Fantasy Setting Seeds.

The Mother Country

After Doctor Gulliver disclosed the location of Lilliput and Blefuscu several ships from England came to collect samples, including our ancestors. We were pets, freaks, and novelties. We are descended from those who escaped.

The last we knew of Lilliput and Blefuscu was that a plague of English rats infested our ancestors lands slaughtering thousands.

However, we survive, and hidden in the cracks we even thrive. Now that technology has advanced as it has we can commandeer a boat and use automation to sail it to Lilliput and Blefuscu. We shall rediscover and if necessary rescue our ancestral homelands!


Basically, the Borrowers crossed with bold tales of exploration. The fantasy elements in this one are rather light, mainly just Lilliput and Blefuscu are real. A good alternative campaign in this framework would be simply escaped Lilliputians trying to survive in England. This would cross the Borrowers with Mistress Masham's Repose. The Lilliputians could meet the remnants of the fairies and become allies, see Lastborn of Elvenwood.
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