How this world is different.   Posted by Dungeon Engine.Group: 0
Dungeon Engine
 GM, 4 posts
Mon 30 Apr 2018
at 15:48
How this world is different.
While I haven't gone to the effort of creating an entirely new "world," it's not a completely generic setting, in that it has one key difference: dragons are much more common and they have driven civilization almost to the brink of obliteration.

So, when thinking about your character and their backgrounds and what goes on in the world and what opportunities there are, bear in mind that the status quo is for people (i.e. most of the PC races) to be barely hanging on, no matter where they're from. Almost everything about the "generic" D&D worlds is present - churches, merchants, nobles, caravans, hunters, actors, thieves, taverns, blacksmiths, etc. - but in a "lesser" form than usual.

This thread is about those differences, should we feel a need to delve into them. I'll put down a few key ones, and players are encouraged to add to these.
Dungeon Engine
 GM, 5 posts
Mon 30 Apr 2018
at 16:49
Features of the world
Towns tend to be small and secluded, the better to escape notice by dragons. People usually don't usually live in large cities, unless those cities are ruined and largely abandoned, with folks living in the shadows.

The Starting Location:
A small, just-barely-held-together, group of people and living/working arrangements. There are some free-standing artificial structures, but a lot of living and working occurs in semi- or fully natural dwellings, like caves, overhangs, and fallen trees. There's a nearby river, and sufficient (but not sumptuous) food from hunting, gathering and some small farming and gardening.

There are other towns, and some trade occurs between them. The roads, such as they are, are generally not safe for a large, visible wagon, let alone a caravan. Small groups of riders or walkers or rivergoers are most common, but even these are rare and many who set out are never seen again.

The best land, woods, mines and other resources are all in the grip of one dragon or another. What is left for the people is what the dragons don't bother with: spent mines, scant forests, tiny bodies of water, paltry herds or tiny animals. Smiths, builders and other artisans must make due with small amounts of inferior and recycled material.

The "typical" religions from the PHB exist, but their followers are scattered. The one exception if the church of Tiamat, which is thriving and has at least a small altar in every civilized enclave. Tiamat's followers tend to be zealous and apocalyptic, and to oppose any disrespect of or opposition to the dragons who make this world what it is.

Much knowledge has been lost: destroyed by the deliberate or heedless actions of dragons, or taken and hoarded by them. Some schools remain, and magic remains an inherent aspect of life, but with trade and travel diminished it is difficult to collaborate and build up much real knowledge and power.

Sadly, even in a time of such oppression, crime is still a factor. On the other hand, those who can sneak around and take advantage of opportunities are able to thrive (relatively speaking) in such a dangerous world.
Dungeon Engine
 GM, 9 posts
Mon 30 Apr 2018
at 21:05
Features of the world
Warlock Pacts:
Given that someone is considering playing a hexblade, a word about pacts. They're typically understood to be made with "powerful" beings of fey, aberrant, infernal, shadow or "vestigial" origins. In this setting, dragons are highly dominant, to the point that one would be hard pressed to find a being that wasn't itself wary of dragonkind or some particular dragon. So, "powerful" is relative.

The upshot is that one's pact-holder is not necessarily in contention against dragonkind. They're not necessarily "scarier" than the dragons of the world.

Divine powers:
Along the same lines, while there are gods, part of the mystery of them is that they don't seem to have dominance over even mortal dragons. One might imagine that this is due to some conflict at the divine level between Tiamat and the other gods, something keeping the wide pantheon at bay.

In other words, dragons don't have an intrinsic fear of any gods. They have little enough reason not to regard themselves as gods. By the same token, it's not necessarily common for anyone to believe that their god has the means to face down dragonkind. One result of this is that it's rather heroic to hold faith in one's god or gods in the face of the draconic scourge.
Dungeon Engine
 GM, 19 posts
Wed 2 May 2018
at 16:36
Why the world is the way it is
There's a long post below about the out-of-game basis for this setting, but after writing most of it, I realized that it comes down to this:

The point of the setting is to make it reasonable and plausible that the PCs will have to and want to deal with and confront dragons.

So, the answer to any question about what the world is like is going to be one that would make the premise (dragons getting in the PCs' faces and vice versa) more reasonable and plausible.

If we can't see an answer that maximizes that, then most answers will do.

I have had some questions about the history of this world. I sometimes have to be reminded that in a game with races that are immortal and nigh-immortal, "history" can be very immediate to some characters.

First of all, the point of the setting from a "fun game" point of view is to make it so that dragons are common enemies to encounter, not ones that don't make an appearance until the end of a long campaign and then only occasionally. The Monster Manual and other books offer dragons for almost every party level, and I want to make use of them before I stop playing this game.

To make it more plausible that characters would want to face off against dragons, I decided that dragons have made the world all but unlivable for PC-type races. In other settings, dragons are there, but they don't make so much of a nuisance out of themselves that a fairly stable, normal existence can't be arrived at. A dragon might prey on a region and need to be dealt with, but not all regions are like that, mainly because the game designers want to highlight other monsters in different places. Here a dragon, but over here orcs, and over here drow. In this game, there are other threats, but I want dragons to be front and center. Not every fight will be with a dragon, but the possibility of a dragon showing up at any time should be on the minds of PCs and NPCs.
Dungeon Engine
 GM, 32 posts
Thu 3 May 2018
at 21:20
Why the world is the way it is

The domination of the dragons and the failing of the civilized races happened hundreds of years ago.

Many of the longest-lived races felt the brunt first. Perhaps they were less adaptable to the changes. Perhaps they were, due to one thing and another, particularly fragile. Perhaps they were deemed as more of a threat. It's unclear how organized the draconic scourge was.

Organized or not, it was still devastating. With the scattering of the eladrin, dwarves, elves and other long lived races, a great deal of the knowledge and ability upon which civilization was based was suddenly lost or out of reach. Humans, ever adaptable, stepped up, carrying the torch and making great strides not only in the rescue and preservation of the old ways, but in the development of new ways. There was a brief flourishing of magical and technological innovation that no one had realized humans were capable of, including themselves.

It looked for a moment as if the tide would be turned. Many dragons fell, and despite the huge cost for each victory, the moral of the civilized races built higher and higher. That's when the betrayal came.

The records, such as can be found in these days, are very unclear. Witnesses to the events that broke the of the back of the resistance were, it would seem, killed to the last soul. The bastions were crushed, the achievements and the records of them lost, and the surviving humans and the other ally races scattered.

It's not a story of hopefulness. But there remains a strong thread of belief that the tide can be turned again, that whatever led to the death of the resistance can be averted, if only the scattered sparks of civilization can be fed and fueled to rise up against the dragons once more.