Do you know what happens when you go too long without playing a role-playing game? That’s right, you start working on your homebrew setting. The one that you started in college and that mostly consists of a bunch of arrows drawn on graph paper describing the theories of magic… not that I have ever done that.
In my case, the world spins out of a setting that I started working on at the height of the d20 craze but never really did anything with because EVERYONE was working on their d20 world at the time. It would probably never have been more than a blip on the gaming radar anyway but now it might be fun just to take for a ride with some players.
The setting was originally called ‘Isla’ but then transformed into ‘Wyrdstrands’ because of emphasis I had placed on ley lines. Those have faded but it still has a few features that make it unique:
1. Cosmology – Originally I had planets that corresponded to the planes but I have become more enamored with the idea of single plane realities where ‘Heaven’ is really up in the sky and ‘Hell’ is really underground. In this case, all portals to ‘Other Realms’ are in fact gateways to the other planets in the system. The main world, subtly named Lunaris, is one of several moons around a water giant. This makes the Moon (called Oceanus) a prominent figure in the sky. It also adds power to the Werewolves (more on those later).
2. Theology – I have been rather fascinated with the Ugaritic Pantheon and much like seeing Heaven and Hell as real places I’ve wanted to see the gods be closer to the ground. The gods of the world live in the world and are primarily god of their city. Each city has its own god and only under rare (see below) circumstances will their power range out past the surrounding suburbs. Though I had the idea, I hadn’t until recently dealt with the specifics. The 13th Age world map is perfect for this if I just transform the Icons into gods. Each has his or her own base and portfolio. This also ties in with the ley line idea because so much of the magic of 13th Age ties into the Icons, perhaps it is the power that flows through the ley lines that makes each Icon a local deity. Also, if the power of the god is separate from the person of the god then it should be relatively easy to put a new person on the throne… like when Christmas specials trade out Santa Clause.
3. The Races – Half-Elves and Half-Orcs have long bothered me. If humans can breed like that then aren’t Humans, Orcs, and Elves all the same species? The answer for this world is yes. The 3 Primary races are Elves(High magic-y types), Orcs (Closer to Half-Orcs in demeanor), and Dwarves (as you’d expect). Humans are what you get when you mix Orcs and Elves and both races often wish they hadn’t gone there. This means there are no more Half-elves and Half-Orcs. Gnomes come from Dwarf/Elf pairings… these are gnomes of a more fey nature. Goblins come from Orc/Dwarf couples and are basically greenish halflings who really have earned their reputations as thieves. All together these are the ‘pure’ races and while there are other humanoids… things have gone horribly wrong with them. (See Below)
4. Where things went wrong – An age or two ago the god who corresponds with the High Druid in 13th Age decided that it was time to expand. A deity with expansion on their mind needs an army. The first time this happened resulted in the creation of Undead and the one time God of Law and Magic becoming the Lich King. This time the High Druid enlisted the aid of the Dragon God and they began to breed an army. In pretty much any other D&D based setting, dragons and humans can intermarry with just about anything. In Wyrdstrands this became weaponized and the Great War that ended the last age was won when the Gods finally banded together and defeated the Dragon God and the Lord Druid.
Of course now that I’ve written this… it sounds like it would be much more fun to pit the PCs against the combined forces of the Dragon God and the High Druid and let them slowly uncover the armies of half-dragons and werewolf minions. Let them fight against the elite Medusa forces. Although the left over taint of the war could be interesting as well.