This is meant to function as a Primer for both players and just people who wanna know about my fantasy setting. The exact genre is probably up for debate (I'm catching a "weird anachronistic bronze-age middle fantasy" vibe from it) but this isn't really concerned with genre. Anyways, I'm going to write about a few core things and then move on to setting/game questions posited by different lists.
People of the World
The people of the world are split into two rough categories, somewhat anthropocentrically. There are other sapient beings out there but these are the things you can play. The Kin and The Kith. The actual real-world versions are given in parenthesis at the end for each of the Kith and Kin.
The Kin can all interbreed with each other. They may have differing traits and adaptations, but they are not far enough away for it to be weird. They are all "Human," Not fantasy people. In fact they are fictionalized versions of various archaic human species. Hence the differing adaptations, but capacity for having viable children with each other.
- The Alfun. Very small, often more dexterous folk. Three and a half feet tall average. Native islanders, and at least one of their cultures is a naval and economic superpower (the Cerulean empire, named for the Cerulean Sea and Cerulean Coast which it controls). Have a much more complex social structure and higher "Dunbar's Number" than other people. Their small size has given them an intense sense of honor. Best not to fuck with them outside of friendly teasing. Like most of the Kin, they have a sloped forehead and varying skin tone. (H. Floresiensis)
- The Naedr. Tend to be around the lower half of Five feet, with women being shorter on average. Protruding brow is prominent. Native to the northern peninsula, where they are most densely populous, but have just as much (possibly more) individuals in the Polar region. Adapted to colder climates, suffering less than other Kin in such areas, but suffer more in Tropical regions (including the Equatorial sea, the center for trade in the continents). Have paler skin than most other Kin, due to their climate. Stronger and bulkier on average than the other Kin. (H. Neanderthalensis)
- The Jada. Vary fairly wildly in height, but mostly taller than other Kin, at the upper half of five feet, even pushing into the lower half of six feet. Name means "Strider", both due to their taller form making them seem to stride everywhere and their mostly nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyles. Native to the Savannahs of the southern continent, but have a significant presence in the great Central Steppe in the northern continent. Voices are relatively baritone compared to other Kin. Their versatility is their strength but they pay for it with a higher rate of mutation. Jada sub-types are usually just people with dramatic mutations. (H. Sapiens)
- The Sova. Native to mountainous regions. Comparable to Naedr in physiology and appearance, but darker skinned. Capable of holding their breath for significantly longer than other species, due to requiring less air overall. While adapted for a mountain habitat, they do not particularly struggle outside of it, though many have a mild hydrophobia due to being physically denser than other Kin, though their ability to hold their breath offsets this somewhat. (H. Denisovans)
- The Adama. Archaic relatives of the other kin. While the Kin have diverged from their common ancestor culture, the Adama remain relatively unchanged from this base form, counting as a subspecies of that ancestral "Ur-Kin" rather than a descendant. Quite rare and mysterious, native primarily to isolated regions in the Southern Continent. Carry ancient wisdom and knowledge, they are favored by the Spirits of the World. Despite this they do not necessarily know Kinspeech, and must pay for it like any other language. (H. Erectus)
Other Kin exist, in isolated areas or in distant unheard-of lands. The world is vast, vaster than we may know, and many mysteries still abound.
The Kith are distant cousins of the Kin. The Kith are unlikely to be able to interbreed with each other or any other species. Kith vary wildly in sapience and sentience, though all are known to use tools and fire. Many cannot speak any form of Kinspeech, but can utilize sign language. There are many varieties of Kith but major intelligent ones are listed as follows.
- The Giants. Primarily Knuckle-walking dwellers of the forests. While on their knuckles they stand easily at 6 feet tall, and when standing to their full height they average out at 10 feet. Isolationists, but will often form covenants with rural communities to protect them, in exchange for food and materials that they are incapable of gathering or forming on their own. Native to the eastern section of the Northern continent. (This is gigantopithicus)
- The Goblinoids. A large variety of furry ape-creatures. Fanged, territorial and violent. Complex social structures but not at the levels of other Kith or Kin. Can be bargained with or pressed into service, but they are a violent and rowdy bunch. (These are baboons and mandrills)
- The Bugbears. Larger than goblinoids. Have figured out more complex structures and tool use. Often raid settlements, but can be driven off with a loud enough display of aggression. Doing so may even make them subservient or allied to the community. Though peaceful communities may willingly choose to work with local communities. (These are Chimps and Bonobos)
Yet more Kith exist, far more than the Kin for sure. These are simply the most well known and numerous.
Culturally the Kith and Kin are both varied beyond number, even within their own species. Their vast numbers mean any single culture cannot dominate their species consciousness. There is just too many and over too much space.
I'll do this once I can actually figure out how to draw a map.
Set the First!
- What is the deal with my clerics religion? Religions vary, but in general they are all derived from the basic core of "Living correctly." In terms of figures of worship, they can be spirits (ancestral, saintly, natural or otherwise), Godlings (powerful spirits, but not utterly overwhelming) or Broad archetypical beings that don't interact with the world too much, or if they do through vague means, such as omens. I'm probably gonna just make a post about religion.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment? You start with some pretty standard equipment. Most settlements on trade routes have basic provisions and things you can buy. More rare and advanced things may require you to go to an actual city.
- Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? Might be a bit of an issue, but a city smithery will probably be able to take custom commissions for extra pay.
- Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? This is difficult to ascertain. Wizards are just one group of mystical people, and power between them is mostly a matter of available resources and/or sheer cleverness, and willingness to sacrifice. If we allow beings pretending to be wizards, then at least one godling often takes the form of one to enact mischief in the mortal world.
- Who is the mightiest warrior in the land? Yet again, difficult to tell. Individual power is not as important as numbers and tactics. So in terms of this, perhaps a Jada Nomad-King. Raw individual power probably goes to a Naedr warrior somewhere. There are some spirits and godlings which take the form of warriors.
- Who is the richest person in the land? Emperor Akapa Lahma the Third, who rules over the Cerulean Empire in the east (named for the Cerulean Sea and Cerulean Coast, which it controls). The Empire began as a series of disconnected Alfun island-nations, and has grown into a Mercantile union/Protectorate system. The vast coffers of the empire are fueled by its control over maritime trade (and underhanded agreements with pirates).
- Where can we go to get some magical healing? Druids for explicitly magical stuff. Wizards could do it too, but druids have a specific cultural duty to. Herbalism can seem magical in what it can do, but it isn't considered magic by those in the world. Each town probably has a handful of local herbalists who can aid you.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? So in order.
- Poison: Many herbs are known to cure poisons, or draw them out. The Herbalism skill is probably one you want someone to have.
- Disease: As above. Some cures require strange admixtures and unfortunate experimentation. Depending on the disease, a Druid or someone else trained in spiritual healing can probably help.
- Curse: Gonna need magic for this one. Curses are powerful spirits or afflictions of the soul. Will vary. Some require hard fucking work to overcome. Some cannot be cured after a point. Some are placed by spirits and you will have to do something for them first.
- Level Drain: N/A. Levels aren't a thing here.
- Lycanthropy: A curse. Will have to make peace with the spirit that placed it or get a druid.
- Polymorph: Probably just wait. They usually aren't permanent. It may be able to be undone with specific circumstances that you will know about somehow.
- Alignment Change: Alignment isn't a thing like in other games. Closest thing is having a patron, which cannot be forcefully changed.
- Death: There's probably something you can do here. Ghosts can be summoned and bound to things. Magic can animate stuff but that doesn't bring you back to life. Im sure you can think of some way to basically reanimate someone, but problems will probably still occur.
- Undeath: Usually just wait for the corpse to drop dead again. All magic requires sacrifice and if it runs out then you're good. Some undeath is caused by a curse or a spirit possessing a corpse, which is far more difficult to unravel.
- Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? Its a prerequisite, actually. Sort of. Okay not a Guild specifically but initiation is required to gain access to magic. You probably have contacts if you know magic, even if they aren't Kith or Kin.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Depends really. For the given examples, most cities have them. But nomadic groups will probably know stuff that city folk don't about herbalism, spirits and foraging. Ask around!
- Where can I hire mercenaries? Big cities. Jada nomads will sometimes sell their service to someone with money, but those are for specifically warrior cultures.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? Openly carrying weapons in most public areas requires a license of some kind. Magic is looked down on in some cities and nations, but usually if people know you're a magic user they're just going to want to pay you to do shit.
- Which way to the nearest tavern? Just down the road! Got the big sign. Can't miss it.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? Spirits and cursed people are sometimes sufficiently monstrous that you need to put them down, though that won't often stick (especially spirits. they don't die.) There are other monstrous things out there that aren't just "spirits" or "cursed people." The Northern Peninsula is famous for its strange chimeric abominations that frequently require slaying.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? The Cerulean Empire is butting a lot of heads. There is usually at least one war happening in the Northern Peninsula, though its relatively localized to just that small part of that subcontinent. Jada nomads aren't all good guys. Some are maurauders or raiders.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Again, the Cerulean Empire has combat-sports. Most cultures have them. They aren't specifically arena-based and usually you're discouraged from killing your opponents but hey you probably weren't planning on doing that anyways, right?
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Sure. And they might have magic. Mystery cults are a type of religion (they aren't usually evil, just mysterious).
- What is there to eat around here? Depends! Lots of shit. Depends on the location or the culture.
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? Oh yes. Plenty. Many cultures have arisen and fallen over the eons. Adama may be isolated and relatively technologically limited now... But this wasn't always the case.
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? A lot of things are called "dragons." From spirits to animals to sapient creatures to chimeras and much much more.
Set the Second!
- Why were settlements founded here? Trade routes. Resources. Choke-holds. Holy-sites. Spiritual demands. The usual stuff.
- What are the local funeral customs? It varies based on culture. Cannibalism isn't common but isn't unheard of. Cremation, burial, excarnation, anything you can think of can be found in this world. Not following it usually causes a ghost to emerge, but worse things can happen depending on the person.
- How do settlements communicate with each other? Local settlements will slowly spread news through trade, courier or pigeon. Long range communication uses trade routes, but magic might be able to help.
- How dramatically does your campaign location change from season to season? Again, location dependent. The southern continent has wet and dry seasons, the northern continent does too but its far north regions have winter. The northern peninsula does as well.
- What are the three biggest local celebrations each year? The Festival of the Auroch is a common Kin celebration. Often accompanied by a manifestation of The Great Auroch. The Compact is also a common celebration, where dogs are thanked and pampered for a six day week. This is per agreement with the Wolf God. Lastly, there is a northern holiday, who's name translates to "Hearth-Consecration." Its celebration is said to consecrate the home on the darkest day of the year, to prevent it from being overrun by malevolent spirits. Farther north than that where the darkest day of the year is an entire lunar cycle, it is not celebrated in the same way.
- Where is the safest place for someone to stash a considerable sum of coins and treasure? The bank. They charge per interaction. Certain types of dragons run the most successful banks, which is pretty good insurance it will be safe.
- What is the local standard of medical technology in replacing missing bits and body pieces? Bio-alchemists can do wonderful things, but there may be side effects. Contact your bio alchemist if your arm begins to act on its own, spontaneously mutate, develop gigantism, atrophy or otherwise interfere with proper functioning.
- What are some local superstitions? Oh a great many. Mostly boils down to "don't insult the spirits" but it varies based on the culture, local animals and other environmental factors.
- What is the scariest local myth? The Jada have a great many, many of which are true. The Ghoul and its derivatives, the Demons of the Upper Air and other Dark beasties are all common. Of course, some Naedr worship/fear Bear spirits/demons, so it really depends on what you find scary.
- Who collects tribute and taxes for the Powers that Be? In the Cerulean Empire there are tax-ships. In other places, usually just a tax collector, who may or may not just skip some small locations if there's barely anyone there. Jada nomads are self-sufficient and don't pay tribute to anyone.
- What are the best places to get a drink around here? There are some larger enterprising taverns (especially in the Cerulean Empire), but every local area swears their drinks are the best. Its sorta just how people are.
- Where can you buy animals around here? Anywhere animals can be found, really. As long as who you're buying from values what you're offering. Barter is more common in Jada territory, but various currencies abound.
- What is the local settlement missing? Something is always missing, but not necessarily for long. Healers and herbalists tend not to live in most settlements, being that they often require natural environments that urban society does not provide.
- What is the local mascot of the town or region? Many areas do not have mascots. The Cerulean Empire has the "Cerulean Serpent" which may be an actual draconic being, or just a metaphor for the Imperial Families power. Many beings use Dogs of Bulls, for hopefully clear reasons. Pigeons are popular, but not often used as a mascot. They're simply an omnipresent backbone of society.
- Where is the best place to pick up a few hired Hands? People will do a lot for money, but not anything. Jada who are coming from nomadic clans and seek to settle in sedentary society will often be available for hire, but will not make significant sacrifices for it.
- What's the local take on the end of the world? Not really a concept that comes up. Its possible some ancient godling of immense power is waking up somewhere, but the end of the world isn't a threat that this setting will face. Not truly. Not yet.
- Is there a local hedge wizard, witch or shaman of no great power but one who cares for the locals who helps deal with their tribulations? Yep. Anywhere there are people who live in close proximity to nature there's bound to be at least one. In urban environments, it would be a hedge wizard, which is less common but not particularly rare.
- What games do locals like to play? Wrestling is a common way to settle scores or disagreements. People don't want to die, so duels to the death aren't common. Its also a popular spectator sport. Dice games and card games are also common.
- What crimes are punishable by death? Very few, but rape or murder are going to have it considered. Exile is more common, often with the addition of a tattoo or brand that marks you for your specific crime (and probably renders you unprotected by law).
- Have any great disasters destroyed local settlements? A Cerulean settlement was recently swallowed by a volcanic eruption. They are trying to figure out exactly what happened, and why the local volcano spirit did so.
- Where can you find maps of the local region? Cartographers are present in cities, and are sometimes present in towns if you're lucky. Local people probably know more about the "intuitive" geography of the place, so they could probably make you a map of sorts.