Heading to Netheril...

Netheril: flying cities, ancient scrolls written on gold leaf, and just a little bit of hubris.

Heading to Netheril...

Postby Paladyn » Fri May 28, 2010 8:05 pm

... my group is. A session ago they finally learned what is behind some "inconsequential" facts the were bothered by. Basically the know thier home island belongs not to Toril, but to Abeir and acts as conduit and nexus between those to. It is not clear, which part is tied to which world and PCs know that i 10 years ahead a disaster of cataclysmic proportions will come: Wave will collapse, Spellplague will fall upon the world and Abeir will come back to Toril. (These are loose facts I burrowed from Fourth Edition Fogotten Realms, but use Pathfinder system and Third Edition timeline). So, heroes decided to seek advicce of sage and had an intriguing conversation with Elminster. He suggested them to speak to the greatest wizard of all time, Karsus. The know he was doom of Netheril and are keen to find way back in time. I'm fully prepared to it and look forward, but I'd like to ask for an advice.

I plan to show my group Netheril era as young and vibrant world, not weighted down by everyday blight. I want it to be an epic stage. Towers will be tall and slender, castles will fortresses, bridges will pan for eternity, forest will be untouched by woodsman axe etc. What I'm looking forward, is elements that define epic, what details will create an such atmosphere? Throw me some ideas, please.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Chimpman » Fri May 28, 2010 9:22 pm

Hey Palladine! We had a very similar discussion about how to represent Blackmoor at its height (not during the setting of the D20 Blackmoor era, but more toward the period just before it is destroyed). You might be able to troll the Blackmoor forum for some ideas there.

One idea was to take elements from some of the high fantasy/sci-fi tv series that are out there today - Caprica was specifically mentioned as being a good fit for Blackmoor. Ancient Netheril may actually have a lot in common with the Blackmoor of that period, so Caprica might work just as well. I'd also search the net for some of the older Tolkien artwork - Gondolin (elves) and Numenor (men) come to mind, as does Menegroth (dwarves). I think you could pull some really nice visuals from that art. Just do a Google image search for each of those names and you'll see what I mean.

If you have any Eberron material you might also be able to use some of the Sharn materials (City of Towers). That city has a pretty high magic feel to it and much of it could be modified to be floating rather than just crazy tall towers.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby night_druid » Fri May 28, 2010 10:26 pm

Get right down to it, could look at materials involving Atlantis. ;) Elric stories, too, are a good source.

Keep in mind that there were really two Netherils, not one. Low Netheril was the land now occupied by the big desert. High Netheril was the floating city-states of the two dozen or so nigh immortal arch-wizards. The two were vastly different places.

Low Netheril was very similar to the modern Realms. It was not too dissimilar to the Heartlands: rolling farmlands surrounding fortified towns and cities, with a somewhat higher number of wizards dwelling in towers. Cities were separated by open wilderness inhabited by magic-fearing barbarians, savage goblin-kin, and monsters. By the time Karsus was born, Low Netheril was all but a memory, the farmland consumed by the encroaching desert. Only the southern third or so was still fertile; the rest was in decline, was abandoned, or was destroyed by marauding orcs.

High Netheril was still thriving at that time, largely ignoring the plight of the people below. Netheril was certainly a realm of spendor and plenty, for the rich and magical. As I understand it, there was an enormous gulf between the haves and have-nots, symbolized by the separation of high and low Netheril.

Karsus, from what I understand, was a spoiled man-child. Really, if you want someone more a "shining beacon of Netheril", it'd be Ioulaum. And he was alive when Netheril was at its height, the Golden Age, instead of when it was in its death-throes.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Paladyn » Sun May 30, 2010 8:21 am

Thanks a lot for ideas, folks. You really helped me.

As for Eberron, I don't have those books, but will google some information. You mentioned Caprica, it is on my "must see" list, so I'll look for it. Quite surprising source of inspiration, but also interesting too.

What you made me ralize, it were those "two Netherils", night_druid. Thank you very much. For now my PCs are searching for Karsus, as he is most well known archwizard of Netheril. But soon they will find out, he made a great leap in knowledge after seizing an library and notes of his master, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. I hope his will lead them to search for him (in other words Ioulaum) and means to get there (or should I write than? :)). So with these I wll have an opportunity to present them low Netheril as you described it: rolling hills, grasslands, fields heavy with crops, untamed forest etc and present them glory of floating cities.

But for now, the were granted tenday in great library of Candlekeep and may begin search. I'll post session report shortly.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:19 pm

Palladine wrote:I'll post session report shortly.


I'm looking forward to it.

One of the things that has intrigued me about the Arcane Age Campaign Setting, was that it had a thing in it about casting spells that were "too high to cast" in later eras.

I've always wanted to see that converted to 3e. Maybe you could convert that to Pathfinder RPG rules and have the PCs see someone cast an "impossible" spell. It might also be good to put the PCs in a position where they can see an artefact being created (something also impossible in their own time).

In the 3e play era, there is a glass ceiling on spellcasting (because of the abuse of a Netherese spellcaster) but you could actually have the PCs do something that creates (or destroys) some sort of epic artifact that they may be interacting with in their own time.

I think that sort of thing might be useful if you want to allow the PCs to attempt to change the Spellplague. Imagine, for example, an object that could save the life of Eilistree. If the players could create such a thing, or alter something that was destined to kill another god, or move items from one part of the world to another part, they could start to destabilise the events that are going to cause the 4e timeline to happen.

EDIT: One thing that might be fun, would be to pick a random bit of "treasure" that the PCs picked up some time before this adventure and make one of their journeys into the past cause a ripple effect that changes that item into something a lot more magnificent. If you did something like that you could make the players believe that they "won" no treasure from an adventure into the past. But you could actually cheat and sneak a treasure boost (of equal value) into items they think they already understand. :twisted:
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby night_druid » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:34 pm

Big Mac wrote:One of the things that has intrigued me about the Arcane Age Campaign Setting, was that it had a thing in it about casting spells that were "too high to cast" in later eras.


You know, when I actually looked at the Arcane Age, 10th to 12th level spells, they really aren't all that. Stuff that you cast maybe one or twice a lifetime. There's really only maybe two that you would want to cast more than once. I think 3e actually came up with some better high-level spells than Netheril.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby AuldDragon » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:02 pm

night_druid wrote:
Big Mac wrote:One of the things that has intrigued me about the Arcane Age Campaign Setting, was that it had a thing in it about casting spells that were "too high to cast" in later eras.


You know, when I actually looked at the Arcane Age, 10th to 12th level spells, they really aren't all that. Stuff that you cast maybe one or twice a lifetime. There's really only maybe two that you would want to cast more than once. I think 3e actually came up with some better high-level spells than Netheril.


One of them had never been cast at all, actually (Mavin's Volcano). I think they existed more as DM tools than as actual powers PCs were supposed to get. The boxed set really needed some more genuinely *useful* 10th and 11th level spells, IMO, although I suppose you could port some true dweomers (from DM's Option: High Level Campaigns) and some Dark Sun psionic magics over.

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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Paladyn » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:00 pm

Report from last session is on my blog, but be warned, heroes are still in "present" times.

Really interesting high level spells were presented in Dragon Kings accessory, but to cast them you also needed to be psionic. But, one of them rise city, was idea behind scroll, the acquired in ape's city. Basically it can bring a hole city back to life for one night. From what I see, my heroes will try to communicate with Karsus (unless the find out it is Iolaum, they should reach to).

Heading back to the topic. Vision I have in my mind is:

A great plain, stretching from one side to the other. Horizon closed with shady and misty form of mountain. All colors are bright and most of them are blue, red, gold, tone pink. Forest are untamed and untouched by woodsman axe. Lakes are crystalline, silent and misty, valleys are green and shadowy but not sinister. Unicorns roam the forest, pegasi fly the skies, humans are just, polite and good. The work hard, live happy and are wise. Households are clean, brad and full of light. Cellars full of fine meats, bread, milk, wine and beer. Fields are full of crops and herding animals, quietly grazing down the gleaming stream. And one day a shadow falls, a huge floating city arrives to trade, to teach. It is a place full of magic, high towers, arching bridges, standards and flags, golden domes, paved wide streets, noble knights and powerful wizards.


While I know Netheril was not idyllic, I'd like to present it like this. Partially due to convention I run (I call it "Disney Fantasy"), partially to create difference between "good, old, glory times" and gritter reality heroes will face.

Big Mac you gave me a idea. Heroes will be presented with powerful artifact (or better, with information of his parts and they will have gather them). They will take it with them but it's magical power will disrupt time tunnel and throw them into the future, just before the Spellplague.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:21 pm

Palladine wrote:Report from last session is on my blog, but be warned, heroes are still in "present" times.


Looks like you had fun. Shame that one of your PCs died.

Palladine wrote:Really interesting high level spells were presented in Dragon Kings accessory, but to cast them you also needed to be psionic. But, one of them rise city, was idea behind scroll, the acquired in ape's city. Basically it can bring a hole city back to life for one night. From what I see, my heroes will try to communicate with Karsus (unless the find out it is Iolaum, they should reach to).


Well, I suppose, if you were setting things in the past, you could do what AuldDragon was suggesting and make 10th and 11th level spells that duplicate these magic/psionic spells while bypassing the need to know psionics.

You could even build some new spells that would be more useful to PCs (if they were going to stay back in the era of Netheril.

Night Druid thinks the spells are not so useful, but I was looking at Dragonlance (where the gods of magic brought in the Orders of High Sorcery to stop the "danger of magic") for inspiration and thinking that the "illigally high" spells could perhaps be ones that are potentially as dangerous as wild magic.

So you could throw game balance out of the window and add in some spells that do world shattering things*. :twisted:

* = And say that these spells only work before the date when magic changes.

Palladine wrote:Heading back to the topic. Vision I have in my mind is:

A great plain, stretching from one side to the other. Horizon closed with shady and misty form of mountain. All colors are bright and most of them are blue, red, gold, tone pink. Forest are untamed and untouched by woodsman axe. Lakes are crystalline, silent and misty, valleys are green and shadowy but not sinister. Unicorns roam the forest, pegasi fly the skies, humans are just, polite and good. The work hard, live happy and are wise. Households are clean, brad and full of light. Cellars full of fine meats, bread, milk, wine and beer. Fields are full of crops and herding animals, quietly grazing down the gleaming stream. And one day a shadow falls, a huge floating city arrives to trade, to teach. It is a place full of magic, high towers, arching bridges, standards and flags, golden domes, paved wide streets, noble knights and powerful wizards.


While I know Netheril was not idyllic, I'd like to present it like this. Partially due to convention I run (I call it "Disney Fantasy"), partially to create difference between "good, old, glory times" and gritter reality heroes will face.


It is your campaign. If you want to do a Disney Netheril, then that is fine. There is a difference between people pointing you at the correct canon and telling you that you shouldn't divert from that canon. It seems like the way you are changing Netheril will aid your story, so maybe that will improve your game.

There are a number of things that could be Disneyfied to look more "idyllic". The Red Wizards of Thay are pretty good at "regulating spellcasting", so from a "certain point of view"** they could be "sold" to players as a "force for goodness". (The same could be said - maybe with more cause - of Dragonlance's Order of the Black Robes. From a certain point of view, they prevent uncontrolled wizards from causing a risk to the world.)

** = I mean this in the Ben Kenobi sense. :lol: Darth Vader was under the belief that he could "end conflict and bring order to the galaxy". I don't suppose he thought that using Sith powers to attempt good deeds would fail. So you could always show a Disney Netheril, but give it a tinge of evil.

Disney Netheril actually sounds like it could be a lot of fun. As I said, I'd be tempted to go with a "dark Disney Netheril" (perhaps taking some inspiration from the Kingpriest of Istar - from Dragonlance). In Dragonlance, Istar went wrong because "good got cocky and decided to destroy evil". In the Arcane Age, I think that "wizards got cocky and decided to steal magic from the gods".

If I was fluffing out one of these "doomed places" I would be very tempted to look to 1930s Germany for inspiration for how beautiful architecture could be, how strong and fit the menfolk could be and how beautiful and graceful the womenfolk could be. I am not sure if I would go as far down that route as modifying these Jurassic Reich miniatures into fantasy dinosaur riders, but I'd drop as many hints as possible, that these people were sure that they were the chosen people of the gods. :twisted:

Palladine wrote:Big Mac you gave me a idea. Heroes will be presented with powerful artifact (or better, with information of his parts and they will have gather them). They will take it with them but it's magical power will disrupt time tunnel and throw them into the future, just before the Spellplague.
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Hmm. You have made me think of the film Twelve Monkey's now. You could actually give the PCs the ability to pick up Netherese things that are so powerful that they could be used to cause the Spellplague. There could even be a Netherese spellbook (or maybe even a scroll) that contains a spell that goes by that name! :twisted:

Maybe the cause and solution of the Spellplague could be found within one of the Nether Scrolls. Maybe you could even find a way to link in the sarrukh, as they are said to have created the Nether Scrolls and were involved in a big battle during the Spellplague.

Maybe the Spellplague could be a last resort "doomsday weapon" that would allow Sseth worshipers to destroy Set (or at least his presence within Realmspace). Something like that, might allow you to tie in 4e canon and Arcane Age canon and create a logic for creating something that mortals could use to start the Spellplague (and therefore give the PCs a chance to find and destroy that thing). The Nether Scrolls page claims that the scrolls can not be destroyed. So if you created a fanon "51st Scroll" then that would probably also be something that could not be destroyed. Maybe the PCs will need to do something else to "remove" the scroll from play.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Paladyn » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:33 pm

I still owe you one report, from the last week's session, but in short summarize it here:
PC who died was revived next turn ("Gods, I was sure I was dead! Was I wrong?") :)
My heroes are still in present time. The were granted entrance to Candlekeep library and searched for informations about Netheril and in the meantime discovered somebody is forging books. It is a grave sin in Library and potentially punishment could fall upon criminal and clerics, so the went to look after him. It quickly became obvious he is a Cyric's follower and from about 8 suspects (other scholars) they picked three to follow. Soon they meet with him in great hall during sneaky night escapade, fought him valiantly and defeated. All this while doing research! What they learned, that Karsus was most powerful but not wisest, he was like a spoiled child (thanks for nailing the coffin in right words night_druid) and acquired some knowledge of floating cities.

Now they would like to talk with Iolaum. The want to locate temporal gates (mentioned in Empire of Magic), and want to know who unleashed earth elemental upon Candlekeep.

Going back to portraying Netheril.First of all I will transport PC's to some lowlands. They will have to wait for floating domain. I think of battle with an orc horde (all time classic, they have not appeared in my campaign yet), where heroes will be leaders of defense. But there will be a moment of introducing netherese magic. One spell of that school heroes already have. It is a potent one, that can bring a city back to life for one night. It is inspired with R.E. Howard's "Devil in Iron" and resurrection of Dagonia. There are some really interesting high level spells both in Netheril: Empire of Magic and Dragon Kings (yes, I will remove psionic requirements, basically they are for NPC, afterall). But I don't want to restrict myself to spells only. I think of what makes a Netheril unique, outstanding and awesome. What are the key factors of epic, magical empire? What I mean, Arabian flavor is composed of: genies, bazaars, flying carpets, sisha pipes, evil wezzires and minarets, right?

So, what are key words for Arcane Age? I'm still struggling with naming them.

I have to read about sarruks ans Sseth but came upon upon interesting idea. Some Nether Scrolls are stolen and later other part. One part vanishes out of sight, so maybe PC will take them. Moreover, my heroes are very concerned with self-fulfill prophecy. They went little crazy and paranoid when read FR wiki and learned that Cyric and Shar killed Mystra (one NPC in my group, Avelon, claims to be Waukeen priestess, but there are many uncertainties in her history and she seems to be evil cleric, disturbingly close to Shaar), and that in aftermath of Spellplague Netheril city of Shade returned and claimed old lands. Now they are afraid it is their quest to prevent those tragedies will actually bring them to existence. With your ideas BigMac, I'm tempted to grant their wish...,

Sorry, if my post is little chaotic.
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Re: Heading to Netheril...

Postby Big Mac » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:46 am

I'm looking forward to the next instalment of this.

Palladine wrote:So, what are key words for Arcane Age? I'm still struggling with naming them.


I'm not sure what words you are trying to find, but if you can describe things in another way, maybe someone can work it out.

Palladine wrote:Moreover, my heroes are very concerned with self-fulfill prophecy. They went little crazy and paranoid when read FR wiki and learned that Cyric and Shar killed Mystra (one NPC in my group, Avelon, claims to be Waukeen priestess, but there are many uncertainties in her history and she seems to be evil cleric, disturbingly close to Shaar), and that in aftermath of Spellplague Netheril city of Shade returned and claimed old lands. Now they are afraid it is their quest to prevent those tragedies will actually bring them to existence. With your ideas BigMac, I'm tempted to grant their wish...,


I've played in plenty of games when the mutual paranoia of the players was a lot worse than the plans the GM had for us. :lol:

But if your players are getting that paranoid, maybe you should play this music during your game:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKKo1Q2h9w4

If any of the players have seen that film, they will think they have figured out some sort of secret. :twisted:
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