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Author Topic: How do you guys set the tone for your settings?  (Read 313 times)
Straight Outta Johto
Giff
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« on: February 17, 2017, 03:15:24 AM »

So I'm becoming friends with this group of nerds, and we all like/want to play Dnd. I recently pitched my "Yankee in King Arthurs court/1632 by Eric Flint" setting, and they said they would be down for it. Interestingly the other DM in our group has a setting where magical characters from other universes come into our universe. So it's sort of vice versa, and we agreed to share a continuity together.

My main thing is this. I have finally settled on a map, basic geography, and general nature of the world. Magic is highly unstable after the age of dragons comes to a violent, cataclysmic end. Religious and mystical institutions have put a bar hold on the most destructive and chaotic forms of magic, but magic is still everywhere. It's a very meticulous and hard thing to control, and so only low level magics are available to humanoids in this world. To cast greater magic requires teams of sorcerers and resources to perform. Basically E6.

My gripe is I don't know what the tone should be. Grimdark doesn't feel right, but neither does typical DnD flavor work either. How do you guys gauge tone when coming up with stuff?
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Giff
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2017, 10:21:30 AM »

In Plaguelands, which is years old and which I never really got back into, I wanted something dark and epic, gory and gritty, but on a small-scale geographically. The invasion of aliens, be they demons or else, was a key element which I wanted to underscore. Then followed the obvious desperation of man and all that brings; madness, love, hate, valour, honour, decadence.
How I went about creating the epicness and making the setting look dark was to setup the whole story in a geographical environment that wasn't entirely man made, that was awful. Then, to explain the awfulness and how it came to be I setup a few ''dark lords''; living -or not- entities that represented the different sin of men as described in the bible and which brought upon their environment and everything living in it their twisted vision of a perfect world. Then I added a little twist to make something stand out and further enforce the gory-ness, grittyness, darkness and cruelty (ie: pick your dark words) I tried to vehiculate with a perverted version of the Seven Wonders, which I called the Seven Horrors. From the comments it got that part of the setting seemed to stand out the most. Finally, the story was based around invasion, so there had to be a ''last settlement''. I think I called the city Rampur or something, and there it was, humans living alongside ''ghosts'' and fighting the invaders. It's a setting I'd like to revamp at some point, if I ever have time. The original imaging and inspiration was, I think, really good.

In Primeval, I wanted a setting in which mankind is making its first steps into actual civilization; where kingdoms and empires and city-states are created for the first time. Where peoples meet others and react according to the vast palette of human emotions. Yet, I wanted an element of low fantasy, like dinosaurs and some form of magic which can be seen more as rare biblical miracles than common fire-slinging sorcery. I'm currently rewriting this setting, but if you look at my Primeval 2.0 in my signature, you'll get a good idea of what I want it to be. What I intend to do to share the imaging going on in my head is create a detailed geography and detailed peoples and their cultures, as well as a few characters that will stand out and ultimately shape the unfolding history of this setting.

In the end, I think the best way for you to get an answer to your questions would be to read the creative content offered in the Homebrew section of these forums. The things that stand out are usually the things that set the tone.
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