[Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

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[Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:47 am

I've been wondering what sort of game people could get out of Xaphan, the island of undead to the north-east of the land mass that most of Ghostwalk is based around.
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Since the cult of Neistrademos (Orcus in disguise) overthrew the peaceful island of Inuitea and the island has been renamed after the leader of the cult (Xaphan the Harbringer) the island has been transformed into a nation of undead. 95% of the population are undead, with only 4% of humans (Inuiteans, I presume) and 1% of minority races remaining. That gives us about 6,688 humans and 1,672 non-human races on the island (surrounded by 158,840 undead) and living like cattle on the lands of the undead lords that own the lands they live on.

That's a great idea, for a remote threat, but I wonder if anyone has actually thought about running a Xaphan-based campaign.

I'm thinking it would be a pretty dark campaign, darker than the Points-of-Light thing that Nentir Vale had, as the natives would be fighting starvation (and maybe even needing to fight off other natives who want to steal their food) as well as needing to find ways to stand up to the Council of Vampires. The write up on page 154 says that: "few people ever visit Xaphan, and those who do are usually very powerful or very foolish," so I am guessing that a campaign involving a journey to Xaphan would probably need to be a high level one.

I was asking about other books that might flesh out a Ghostwalk campaign and it seems to me that additional books would be especially important to make Xaphan work.

The write-up for the roles for character classes in Xaphan mostly explains what character classes undead resident's of Xaphan have. I was recently looking at the books published for the Green Races campaign setting and there is a book there called The Complete Monstrous Undead Compendium that seems to be a book that shows people how to play undead PCs. So maybe information could be raided from TCMUC and used to build up an evil Xaphan campaign, where the PCs need to travel off of their island and work towards overthrowing the City of Manifest. (It might also be possible to raid ideas from the Forsaken from the World of Warcraft Campaign Setting (either as a force loyal to Orcus or as a breakaway force of undead, who want to gain independence, from the Council of Vampires).

The Xaphan section also does not really explain what to do with human and non-human PCs who are alive. Are they oppressed survivors from Inuitea, who could maybe one day rise up against their undead overlords or are they mostly captured slaves brought to the island to replace the dead?

Xaphan's commerce might have a potential hook. They import iron, slaves and lumber (presumably the iron and lumber is mostly for ship-building) but they also export jewlery, marble, herbs, spices and strange magic items. Somebody is buying that stuff of of them. Somebody doesn't mind dealing with undead...unless the traders are using magic to conceal their identity and continue the merchant tradition they had while they were alive. :?

Has anyone got any ideas?
Last edited by Big Mac on Fri Jul 10, 2015 6:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue Jun 30, 2015 3:14 am

Big Mac wrote:Since the cult of Neistrademos (Orcus in disguise) overthrew the peaceful island of Inuitea and the island has been renamed after the leader of the cult (Xaphan the Harbringer) the island has been transformed into a nation of undead. 95% of the population are undead, with only 4% of humans (Inuiteans, I presume) and 1% of minority races remaining. That gives us about 6,688 humans and 1,672 non-human races on the island (surrounded by 158,840 undead) and living like cattle on the lands of the undead lords that own the lands they live on.

Has anyone got any ideas?
Hmm....interesting. This sounds like it might been an attempt to use Jakandor in 3E, but progressing the timeline of Jakador forwards a bit to allow for more of an island necropolis.

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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Jun 30, 2015 10:58 am

Xaphan's commerce might have a potential hook. They import iron, slaves and lumber (presumably the iron and lumber is mostly for ship-building) but they also export jewlery, marble, herbs, spices and strange magic items. Somebody is buying that stuff of of them. Somebody doesn't mind dealing with undead...
Neogi?

Probably the yuan-ti, though.

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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:01 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Has anyone got any ideas?
Hmm....interesting. This sounds like it might been an attempt to use Jakandor in 3E, but progressing the timeline of Jakador forwards a bit to allow for more of an island necropolis.
That is an interesting idea.

I thought that Jakandor was more of a "good necromancers" or "neutral necromancers" thing, with the undead being used to help the living do things. That kind of feels more like the undead elves of Aerenal, in Eberron than the undead humans in Xaphan.

This is a cult of Orcus taking over a peaceful fishing community and "converting" the living to dead via genocide.

But I certainly didn't think of the island aspect of both settings. I wonder if anything useful can be done with that.
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:05 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Xaphan's commerce might have a potential hook. They import iron, slaves and lumber (presumably the iron and lumber is mostly for ship-building) but they also export jewlery, marble, herbs, spices and strange magic items. Somebody is buying that stuff of of them. Somebody doesn't mind dealing with undead...
Neogi?
An external faction (like a Spelljamming race from "Manifestspace") would certainly be a way to hand-wave away the lack of obvious local trade partners.
ripvanwormer wrote:Probably the yuan-ti, though.
They do seem the most likely group to want to work with the undead and their masters.
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:56 am

Big Mac wrote:I thought that Jakandor was more of a "good necromancers" or "neutral necromancers" thing, with the undead being used to help the living do things. That kind of feels more like the undead elves of Aerenal, in Eberron than the undead humans in Xaphan.
Perhaps the more that undead saturate a society the greater the taint of evil spreads and has the potential to corrupt the living, thereby while not actively posing a threat their mere existence poisons the souls of the living making them more open and willing to acts of depravity and to moral decay.

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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jul 04, 2015 10:22 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I thought that Jakandor was more of a "good necromancers" or "neutral necromancers" thing, with the undead being used to help the living do things. That kind of feels more like the undead elves of Aerenal, in Eberron than the undead humans in Xaphan.
Perhaps the more that undead saturate a society the greater the taint of evil spreads and has the potential to corrupt the living, thereby while not actively posing a threat their mere existence poisons the souls of the living making them more open and willing to acts of depravity and to moral decay.
That is certainly a way that Jakandor could go. The barbarians are already convinced that the necromancers are evil (just as the necromancers are convinced that the barbarians are evil).

I'm not sure that necromancy was openly practised in Inuitea, before the Cult of Neistrademos started to preach that their deity would manifest itself on the island. But you could be onto something here. Maybe, instead of running a Xaphan game, a GM could go back to the start of the story and run a "Last Days of Initea" campaign, where the players have to try to find out what the Cult of Neistrademos are up to! :D
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 02, 2016 3:23 pm

There is an article called The Oligarchy of Mavet Rav that starts off with some suggestions for "Building a Necrocracy" which might help build up the city of Inilith.

I'm not sure that the example city in the article (Mavet Rav) could be used, as Inilith, as much of this port-city has been reduced to rubble (and I think that Mavet Rav is supposed to be a bit more cultured). Plus Mavet Rav uses Greyhawk deities, and Inilith was founded by Orcus worshippers.. But I think some inspiration could be taken from the article. :)
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Angel Tarragon » Sun Oct 23, 2016 4:49 am

Big Mac wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I thought that Jakandor was more of a "good necromancers" or "neutral necromancers" thing, with the undead being used to help the living do things. That kind of feels more like the undead elves of Aerenal, in Eberron than the undead humans in Xaphan.
Perhaps the more that undead saturate a society the greater the taint of evil spreads and has the potential to corrupt the living, thereby while not actively posing a threat their mere existence poisons the souls of the living making them more open and willing to acts of depravity and to moral decay.
That is certainly a way that Jakandor could go. The barbarians are already convinced that the necromancers are evil (just as the necromancers are convinced that the barbarians are evil).
It is important to remember that the undead thrive on "negative" energy, whereas the living thrive on "positive" energy. Negative energy damages the living. I think it is a safe assumption that a mass of negative energy, even though actively benign will have passive effects.

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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:46 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I thought that Jakandor was more of a "good necromancers" or "neutral necromancers" thing, with the undead being used to help the living do things. That kind of feels more like the undead elves of Aerenal, in Eberron than the undead humans in Xaphan.
Perhaps the more that undead saturate a society the greater the taint of evil spreads and has the potential to corrupt the living, thereby while not actively posing a threat their mere existence poisons the souls of the living making them more open and willing to acts of depravity and to moral decay.
That is certainly a way that Jakandor could go. The barbarians are already convinced that the necromancers are evil (just as the necromancers are convinced that the barbarians are evil).
It is important to remember that the undead thrive on "negative" energy, whereas the living thrive on "positive" energy. Negative energy damages the living. I think it is a safe assumption that a mass of negative energy, even though actively benign will have passive effects.
Sure, but there are non-destructive undead in D&D.

Ghostwalk split of ghost to be a different thing. Eberron called "friendly undead" deathless. Spelljammer had archliches.

I don't think that the undead of Xaphan are non-destructive. And I don't even think it is a matter of evil corrupting the living. I think it is that they have a desire to kill and eat the living. And I don't think that Orcus is going to suppress that desire.
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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Angel Tarragon » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:35 am

Big Mac wrote:Sure, but there are non-destructive undead in D&D.

Ghostwalk split of ghost to be a different thing. Eberron called "friendly undead" deathless. Spelljammer had archliches.

I don't think that the undead of Xaphan are non-destructive. And I don't even think it is a matter of evil corrupting the living. I think it is that they have a desire to kill and eat the living. And I don't think that Orcus is going to suppress that desire.
That's perfectly fine. I'm all for allowing GMs to express their creativity to whichever desire pleases them.

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Re: [Ghostwalk] Using Xaphan

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 29, 2016 1:07 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Sure, but there are non-destructive undead in D&D.

Ghostwalk split of ghost to be a different thing. Eberron called "friendly undead" deathless. Spelljammer had archliches.

I don't think that the undead of Xaphan are non-destructive. And I don't even think it is a matter of evil corrupting the living. I think it is that they have a desire to kill and eat the living. And I don't think that Orcus is going to suppress that desire.
That's perfectly fine. I'm all for allowing GMs to express their creativity to whichever desire pleases them.
Ghostwalk seems to be going with both ideas for undead, as it has both PCs who carry on playing after dying (which is more like the Deathless thing) and Orcus coming into the setting with world-changing plot to kill the people of an entire island and turn them into an undead horde that spreads across the mainland.

You do raise an interesting point that a GM who wanted to run an Inuitea campaign would need to think about.

One thing I had not really thought about was that if some Inuitean people were murdered, they could travel to Manifest, where they could try to rally support for a quest to send people to Xaphan to find the undead using their bodies and then recover those bodies, so that they could be brought back to Manifest so that the ghosts could be raised from the dead. So it might be possible to split some NPCs into two (a ghost version and an undead version). I'm not entirely sure how that would work. :?
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