[????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

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Re: [????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

Postby Varg » Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:07 pm

Thanks for the welcome, Big Mac, and thanks for the links. I will check them out later.

So you live by Trafalgar? Hope you enjoyed the tree!

Blacky the Blackball wrote:1) The first humans appeared on a planet, and so did the first Immortals. Either could have come first - maybe some of the first humans achieved immortality or maybe some of the first immortals made the humans.

I like that it is not explained who came first. Maybe we can have the people of the setting believe that the Immortals came first while at the same time suggest that the opposite was actually the case? I think that would be a nice touch.

Blacky the Blackball wrote: 7) Although all the races have the favour of some immortals, humans are by far the most popular - as the majority of immortals were once human. Unfortunately, humans seem to be coming off worse as the other races are almost all more powerful than them. A large group of immortals gets together and hatches a plan. They create three races specifically designed to be co-dependent with humanity: Elves, who are naturally magical and can provide magical support to humans; Dwarves, who are naturally tough and magic resistant and can provide physical support to humans; and Halflings who are natural farmers and cooks and who can provide logistical support to humans. In order to make sure that these races cooperate with humans, each race is made without the ability to become clerics or shamans (but with the ability to be affected by human clerical magic such as "Raise Dead". Therefore the demi-human races need to work and trade with humans, providing their skills in exchange for the clerical magic that humans can provide.

I like how your idea actually incorporates the Immortals and how it fits in with the rest of you timeline, however I have a few problems with it: It doesn’t explain why other Immortals haven’t created races that can be raised or become clerics or magic-users, or why the Immortals who made the demi-humans didn’t just create a race of overpowered beings that instinctively always defended humans. Maybe we can combine this with the “soul” idea from my first comment (maybe the word “spirit” is more appropriate given that the word is used in Dark Dungeons?) to fill in the gaps?:

  • Having a soul is required to become an Immortal. When one becomes an Immortal their original body is destroyed leaving only the soul which is then given a new body. Creatures without a soul can therefore not become Immortals as they are nothing more than their bodies.
  • Under natural circumstances only a body that strongly resembles a human is a viable as the vessel for a soul. Immortals can use forms that are not humanlike because they are using their supernatural powers to keep that form. (The same goes for Polymorph Self.) This however comes with its own problems, namely the reliance on worshipers to remain stable.
  • Originally humans were the only mortal creatures possessing souls. During the fights over worshipers, in the time before the pact, there became an arms race among the Immortals. Not giving their creations a soul allowed the Immortals more freedom in how drastically the races they created was allowed to deviate from the human standard. Humans were thus abandoned by the Immortals in favor of the possibilities of stronger followers. Some of the Immortals however, seeing how the humans where being outclassed by these new races, feared that humans would soon be extinct as that would eventually mean the end of Immortals as well. For if humans were no longer able to survive in the world there would be no one who could eventually become Immortals. Thus they created the demi-humans. Like humans the demi-humans were given souls and could therefore become Immortals, but they were specialized as much as possible (within the framework of what is needed for a vessel that can contain a soul) in order to help both humans and each other to better survive against the soul-less races. The Dwarfs were made to be strong, the Elves were given a natural boon in terms of magic and the Halflings were made to be stealthy and good in negations. These Immortals may be the same as those who made the no-direct-intervention pact and may be its first guardians.

So humans are still given a special place among the races, but the demi-humans have a purpose beyond just assisting them. And the Immortal are given more motivation for creating demi-humans in the first place.

This doesn’t give an explanation for why demi-humans can’t be Clerics, but we can use cultural reasons for that. I’d imagine that the studies of the various types of magic must have large disciplines behind them and we can easily say that the demi-human cultures just never developed a tradition for the type of Clerics that humans have. (Dwarfs may even have religious bans against using magic.) Personally I actually prefer it like this because it gives more leeway to the players and GM. Say if someone really wants to use a (houseruled) Dwarves Cleric for example, then the GM can allow it, without having to go against the setting, if a reasonable excuse is given (like the Dwarf having lived with humans for a long period of time specifically to learn the Clerical arts.)

Does this sound logical to you guys or am I just making things too convoluted?
Blacky the Blackball wrote: Sounds good. Another inspiration could be from maps of prehistoric (or future!) Earth where continental drift means that the landmasses are in a different configuration. The setting of Mystara, for example, has a map that represents Earth circa 135 million years ago.

I have made a simple mockup map based on the one I linked to: (showing the division of landmass and sea)
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x60 ... 6/nttj.png
I sank the UK (sorry guys!) along with Portugal to make Europe look less recognizable and divided Eurasia in two while moving Africa a bit away from Europe to create a more distinct separation of the continents.
However your suggestion of using a future earth is tempting me to abandon this map all-together. I like the implication that this might be earth in the distant future and it is a fitting parallel to Mystara.
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Re: [????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

Postby Yaztromo » Sun May 14, 2017 12:33 am

Being the name of the game "Dark Dungeons", I think it would be fitting that the default setting is dominated by evil/dark/grim cultures and iron-fisted rulers to keep them in check, so that there is a kind of law and order, but it is a hard/oppressive one. Perhaps there could be integralistic government that pretend to follow to the letter the law of religion and to fight demonic infiltrations in all their aspects, but behind the scenes are the most corrupt and demonic. They may wage a kind of ideologic / religious "war" on adventurers, saying that they are actually demonic worshippers or similar.
The characters will have to start their careers moving mostly in stealth mode, trying to keep a low profile, rather than as traditional heroes, boasting their adventures, from day one.
This could be the underlying flavour of the default setting.
Last edited by Yaztromo on Sun May 14, 2017 3:19 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sun May 14, 2017 1:15 am

Varg wrote:I have made a simple mockup map based on the one I linked to: (showing the division of landmass and sea)
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x60 ... 6/nttj.png
Any chance you could upload the image file to a hosting service that I won't have to pay money to to be able to view files?
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Re: [????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

Postby Morfie » Sun May 14, 2017 6:39 am

Angel Tarragon wrote:
Varg wrote:I have made a simple mockup map based on the one I linked to: (showing the division of landmass and sea)
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x60 ... 6/nttj.png
Any chance you could upload the image file to a hosting service that I won't have to pay money to to be able to view files?


Even on the trial period the link doesn't work.. does it need to be made public or something?
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Re: [????] A default setting for Dark Dungeons

Postby LimeOdyssey » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:45 am

One of the appealing things to me about OD&D is how whacky, arbitrary and downright odd the world is, outside the original Avalon Hill map and Blackmoor town. Creating an entire planet from scratch before anyone has got there to explore seems to limit this sense of wonder. Later versions of the world's best known fantasy RPG had "settings" and increasingly seemed to leech the fun out of discovery by plonking everything down there from the get-go.

For my OD&D stuff I am taking the approach of gaming circa 1977 where it was a crazy quilt of whatever could be found, which in some ways is also how the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon did it, despite the occasional maps shown in the show or its support material like the sticker books.

In terms of a default setting for Dark Dungeons, it would be possible to take the same approach that Wayne Rossi took for OD&D and work backwards from the encounter tables for wilderness, types of hex and so on to see what the "default" ecology of the world might be. One look at the tables in Dark Dungeons gives us a summary of the type of wilderness that exists, and it is noticeably more Earth-like than say the early OD&D with its Martian creatures and so on. Likewise castles are not detailed, there is no random chart for castles or their inhabitants. This implies castles are a lot rarer, and may also indicate that in the Dark Dungeons world population is even lower than in OD&D, in that we're rolling random sites where a castle could be, but in fact does not (yet) exist.

It starts to sound more like the REH Conan the Barbarian type prehistoric Earth with more mythical critters, or like a Harryhausen type world. A lot of the encounters are with fabled things from Earth as opposed to utterly alien monsters. Also the transport types including steeds are all Earth-like. There are no riding tigers or flightless bird steeds, no riding lizards. If there are significant numbers of people who ride flying animals for transport or military purposes they are also not detailed in the encounters and due to the much lower castle count than OD&D quite likely warfare and trade doesn't include flight by default. This is excellent because it makes the world dramatically less overpowered than many other early OD&D derived worlds. Worlds taking the full Gygaxian path almost uniformly have tremendous amounts of siege engines and flying attackers, and this affects everything else. Dark Dungeons defaults to a world with a lot fewer castles, therefore fewer Magic-User lords casting Quest on you and fewer Evil High Priests maintain strongholds full of undead or humanoids. There are however a lot of humanoids, and humanoid types include a lot that are somewhat organized in terms of their lifestyle and behaviour, as reflected in the numbers of shamen and sorcerors their races include.

With an emphasis on water travel there are also likely a lot of rivers and even streams that the smaller water craft are used to travel along. This fits Dark Ages Earth and the early to high Medieval Period. It also means piracy will not be restricted to open oceans or seas but will be a threat wherever any water channel is deep enough to let raiders sail or paddle or send smaller craft for raids. Truly safe places and towns will be near enough a river to use its water but far enough away so that raiders don't constantly attack it or loot it. Perhaps towns commonly have a separate adjacent port, or there are fortified bridges, canals and locks. Or perhaps a secure river town needs a local hill on which to build a redoubt against times of trouble.
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