If I could turn back time…

Well, originally I wanted to make another post in which I put out some ideas about what to do with the „Abbey of the Crusader Goddess“ in my own setting, but as that could get kinda confusing I think it’s better to talk a bit about the setting itself, especially about where I started with it and where I landed at the moment. Because in fantasy worlds, you sometimes can turn back time and that’s what I did while mulling ideas in my head over and over again.

So where did it started ? It kinda started with this sentence I found in the 3.5 Eberron Campaign setting: If it exists in D&D then it has a place in Eberron. What a bold and impressive statement that was. And given that I was an avid reader of all things D&D at that time and that I tend to get a lot of ideas just by reading things, I immediately thought that it would be awesomely cool to make that statement my own and build a world containing all the ideas I found in the books or magazines I was reading (with the additional caveat that it should all make sense and still feel like a cohesive setting).

From that point I developed the idea of a world created by dragons, shut up from the rest of the universe in a closed demi-plane [insert long cosmological background here]. Dragons would have gone extinct on that world, and as they were the universal bearers of magic, magic would be all but gone as well. Until the barriers between that demi-plane and the surrounding material plane started to dissolve and magic crept back into the world (and with the magic the dragons would return), though that was planned to be the theme of the adventures to be played in that setting. By the way, I think the dragon theme was inspired by Eberron as well, as Tetheril (the setting’s name) was literally the ancient time dragon that created that world.

Now, the reason for the slow dissolution of the plane’s barriers was intended to be a big cataclysmic event that all but destroyed the continent on which the human race had developed. So I developed the idea that in a future age, humans would return to that continent to resettle it, eventually finding out what the mystery behind that cataclysmic event was. I’m not totally sure about the timeline, but I think that at that time, Pathfinder’s Kingmaker AP was published and I thought that hexploration was a good way to introduce players in a setting totally unknown to them. By exploring the continent, they would not only learn about the general setting, but they could also delve into the human race’s history and learn about past events as those started to shape the present and future.

In the meantime I had suffered a severe case of GM burnout and basically stopped doing anything roleplaying-related. I probably would have totally given up on the hobby, if not for Johnn Four, publisher of the Roleplaying tips, who started an adventure workshop in which he let me (and other interested people) take part in his design of an adventure and invited us to develop our own adventure parallel to his. I have to admit that I didn’t succeed with that, but it renewed my interest in the hobby and it brought some new inspiration. And this is where the first time jump comes in. Because when originally I had planned to start with the landing on their old/new home continent, the adventure I had planned for the workshop was intended to be a prelude to that, basically explaining the reason for why the humans wanted to go back to the old continent. (in short: after the cataclysm they had found refuge with the elves that lived on another continent, but because of old enmities they were basically living in a golden cage which is nothing human nature is suited for.)

I didn’t went through with this idea and again, things kept simmering in my stew pot brain, until I got (again) an email by John, in which he announced a second walk-through through his workshop, only that this time, he went from a messageboard to a homepage-based format. I started again, but in the meantime, another idea had formed in my head. And here comes another time jump back to the past.

Because in the meantime, I had found out for myself that one thing that I really don’t like in campaign settings, is that more often than not, that there are big-world-shaking events that you never get to experience first hand because the campaign starts well after those events took place. Think Golarion, where campaign play starts 100 years after the death of the god if humanity, think the Realms‘ Spellplague, that was a major shake-up between the editions, only that 4E started the campaign when it already was over (again, 100 years later). Contrary to that, Eberron really clicked with me because there the campaign started directly in the aftermath of such an event (the destruction of Cyre resulting in the end of the Last War), so the direct consequences of that were point and center of campaign play in that world.

So why not start directly after the destruction of the homestead of humanity (I would have started with it, but that would have meant explaining the mystery around that event) and the rest of humanity finding shelter with the elves. The idea was that the elves would allow the humans to settle an abandoned elven city located on an island before the coast of the elven kingdoms. So I could still have exploration of a new setting, but I could also explore what the loss of their old home and the reliance on what they used to consider an enemy would mean for the human survivors.

And this is basically where I am now. A huge elven city in ruins (think Myth Drannor) to be explored and to be settled by the PCs, maybe finding new allies (and enemies) in the process. That does not mean though that I’ve given up on all those other ideas I had before. In fact, wouldn’t it make for an awesome chronicle of the world of Tetheril, if I could succeed in developing the different parts throughout time and space and make them into a coherent hole?

Guess I’ll better start soon, because I’m only human and my life is finite.