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Archmage of Nowhere
Seeker

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 29 Jun 2018 :  20:21:56  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
So for a while now I have been concocting a parallel material plane campaign. It was mostly done, limited to a really specific city given I had to reimagine the city half a dozen times and flush it out each time.

I recently had an idea that I really love, to collect a list of cities that other DMs have dramatically changed in a number of ways. It can be from a bird's eye view, politically, geographically it doesn't really matter. Any level of depth is appreciated as they can all be used in one scene or another throughout the campaign.

I really like how meta the concept of having my rendition of the "Multiverse" trope actually being other DMs reimagined worlds!

Thanks for reading, cheers!

Cyrinishad
Learned Scribe

300 Posts

Posted - 29 Jun 2018 :  21:14:25  Show Profile Send Cyrinishad a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Archmage of Nowhere

So for a while now I have been concocting a parallel material plane campaign...concept of having my rendition of the "Multiverse" trope actually being other DMs reimagined worlds!

Thanks for reading, cheers!



This sounds like a tremendous campaign concept... It makes me think of that show "Sliders" or perhaps a bit like the "What If?" Marvel comic-book series. Tons of Possibilities.

To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge. -Socrates

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. -Dr. Seuss
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Archmage of Nowhere
Seeker

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 29 Jun 2018 :  22:01:10  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Cyrinishad

Thanks! I've been pretty partial to this concept for a long time but I recently got really excited about it with this whole "Showing off other peoples neat stuff" idea, lol.


Actually I posted this in a few places and some feedback I got was to post what I had actually done. Currently I have six different versions of Neverwinter for this. What follows is one of those six and has a lot more detail work that I wont be going into for time and screen space sake.

So to kick things off!

Summary: The city has become the seat of power of a aristocratic elite group of Vampires who are known collectively as the Everleen. Led by a patricianly powerful Vampire noble Xavien and rest the Everleen work towards using the remnants of the city of Neverwinter to cement a base of power for themselves will simultaneously carving out a lifestyle that is mutually-beneficial in nature with the mortals of the Realms. Xavien being the architect of this plan sought out and acquired a powerful artifact from the fog of history known as The Eye of Amauntor. Previously used to keep the skis around one of the floating cities of Netheril clear and sunny, he corrupted the object, defiled its nature so that it turned the skis around into perpetually overcast and night. With this and the natural magics he was born with he easily subdued the remnants of the shattered city and used the immense wealth and connections of his long life to rapidity rebuild and revitalize Neverwinter and its community. Now the Everleen are seen as the rightful Nobility of the city and are honored by their citizen not out of abject fear but of respect.

Culture: The Everleen are seen as the rightful rulers of Neverwinter by the populace at large. They fundamentally represent something to aspire towards. Although the permanent night is off-putting to some initially, the city has gone through great pains to off-set this creating an almost perpetual festival like atmosphere within the city walls. The streets are lined with red papered lanterns that give off a warm orange-red color. These lanterns line the streets and adorn houses with personalized versions for individuals and families. There is a great sense of purpose within the city as well. It has been made known that those that distinguish themselves, truly demonstrate that they have the ambition, fortitude, and willpower to rise to greatness and that that greatness is useful to the Everleen they may be selected to join their ranks. The promise of everlasting life, social status, and the acknowledgement of the Everleen drives the ambitious to improve every aspect of the city, dragging the less ambitious along with them. For those without the drive to join the ranks of the Everleen the city is a bustling trade city with all the amenities, entertainment, and opportunity for work that comes with. Along with this comes security, as Neverwinter is one of, in not the safest city on the coast. The Dawnguard, the city-state's guard and military body are directly supported by the Everleen and ensure crime is punished swiftly and harshly.

Description: From a bird's eye view the city is a shining jewel in the night. The forest that surrounded the city and was subsequently wounded by the eruption of the nearby volcano and received a mortal blow when the primordial of fire imprisoned beneath escaped and wreaked havoc. Since it has never grown back, the blacked charred remains of the once mighty trees stand silently awaiting the sun that will never return. Yet the city itself can be seen, even on the horizon glowing like an ember in ash. The great lighthouse of Neverwinter survived its destruction and continues to guide in trade ships as they make harbor. Once within the city itself the reconstruction sparred no expense. The most prominent feature of the city being the Winter's Heart River bisecting, flowing down to the sea to the east. Great bridges of marble and mithril were constructed, criss crossing its entire length through the city before it flowed into the harbor. The roads themselves crafted of a pristine cobblestone and the general material of a large majority of the building being stone and a rich darkened wood gave the city a rich, sturdy atmosphere. Even the low-income neighborhood weren’t left to fall apart from neglect and represent a comfortable if spartian lifestyle. Great statues depicting workers, craftsman, and a menagerie of animals could be found throughout the city dedicated to the reconstruction efforts. One of the most breath-taking of sites was the Knights Crossing, a massive courtyard, large enough to muster the entire Vermillion Hearts, the knighthood of the Everleen, and have the space for crowds to gather and watch. Its center was dominated by a massive fountain depicting knights on powerful steeds and was in direct sight of Neverwinter Castle and the open sea.

DM Notes: For this town I completely redid the whole physical nature and origin of Vampirism in my setting. The town still functions without the change to vampires but will lose just a few really subtle implications. However Vampires in the setting are still always Evil in nature. This is a mutually-beneficial relationship, the culture of the vampires is one of strict adherence to the principles of nobility very much in the vein of Lawful Evil. However their nature as bloodthirsty monster doesn’t go away. It is a vampire's greatest shame to be caught in the act of over-indulgence which to them is simply killing the populace to feed. The people are truly happy with their lifestyles however the Dawnguard are outright feared by the populace for their brutal tactics and uncanny ability to learn of crimes committed. Most Everleen have Harems of blood donors, those whose blood is appealing to them will be given the opportunity to join them and live in luxury within their estates, this is ALWAYS VOLUNTARY one of the strictest rules of the Everleen.

Overall: society basically worships the Everleen as their vampire nature reinforces the Noble social status they have and their strict code of conduct and honor make them appealing on the surface level. The fear the people should rightly have for them is directed towards the Dawnguard instead, rightly so as each member is a ghoulish husk created by dark magics to enforce the Everleen's will. Adventurers will find the city pleasant, helpful, and full of opportunity so long as they dont poke their heads into the Everleen's business or attempt to rally the people against their Vampire Lords the city is content to show them great hospitality regardless of their backgrounds.
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Balmar Foghaven
Learned Scribe

Canada
97 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2018 :  07:00:24  Show Profile Send Balmar Foghaven a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Funny that you mention Neverwinter. In my home campaign, we have replaced Dagult Neverember, who the party all agreed was driving the city into the ground, with one of their own members with the Neverwinter Noble background (4e Neverwinter Campaign Setting). Lady Payge, a paladin of Bahamut and previously of House Thann in Waterdeep, was revealed to have been an heir to the Alagondar line through some long-lost family ties. Through her and her companions' efforts in driving back the many dark factions vying for control of the city, she gained the support of the populace. Once she revealed her ancestry to them, it was a rather easy win.

So when she finally reached 20th level we essentially retired the character as she now rules the city, and has elected officials run the day-to-day business of civil affairs while she sees to the city's defense (and will occasionally set out on the odd adventure).

"Despair not, for in the end all things shall work out for the best - in at least one timeline."
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Archmage of Nowhere
Seeker

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2018 :  09:20:29  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@Balmar Foghaven

Interesting, being a Paladin of Bahamut I would expect a focus on attracting different churches to the city. was it ever establish how she ended up running the it?
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dazzlerdal
Great Reader

United Kingdom
4117 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2018 :  10:31:56  Show Profile Send dazzlerdal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have proposed that the multiverse is actually made up of many alternate versions of the same planet.

The official setting is of course Forgotten Realms Prime. I'm claiming Forgotten Realms Alpha for my alternate version of the setting.

A sliders campaign that allows adventurers to visit different versions of the setting is a great idea. Some versions of the settings may be only subtly different from others and few people are familiar with large portions of it (the differences may be localised to a few regions) and so it could take a long time before people realise they have wandered into an alternate version.

Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions Candlekeep Archive
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 1
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 2
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 3
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 4
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 5
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 6
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 7
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 8
Forgotten Realms Alternate Dimensions: Issue 9

Alternate Realms Site
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Balmar Foghaven
Learned Scribe

Canada
97 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2018 :  11:03:38  Show Profile Send Balmar Foghaven a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Archmage of Nowhere

@Balmar Foghaven

Interesting, being a Paladin of Bahamut I would expect a focus on attracting different churches to the city. was it ever establish how she ended up running the it?



With the revitalization of the church of Tyr, a large focus was placed onto restoring the Hall of Justice to its former prominence. As you said, there was indeed a lot of effort placed into establishing several other good-aligned churches, especially the Triad (Torm, Tyr, Ilmater). She even gave her blessing for there to be a small shrine to Mask within the city, as she knew that crime was inevitable but if she at least knew where they operated then an eye could be kept on them.

The city ran as a typical monarchy with her presiding over the court and holding an audience for those who sought her out, though she did leave the day-to-day business affairs to the magistrates that she appointed.

She also had to undo the atrocity which was Dagult's appointment of Mintarn mercenaries as the city guard, which could have worked out like in Baldur's Gate until they discovered that he was essentially paying them in IOUs and turned on the city... so there is now a local guard.

"Despair not, for in the end all things shall work out for the best - in at least one timeline."
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Balmar Foghaven
Learned Scribe

Canada
97 Posts

Posted - 30 Jun 2018 :  11:09:20  Show Profile Send Balmar Foghaven a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I also tried to put a fun twist into the plot by introducing yet another missing sibling who arrived out of nowhere, vying for control of the throne. Turns out, this would not turn out to be a stereotypical villain to be foiled, but rather a long-lost relative to be sympathized with. Rather than take the bait to start a conflict (as I had planned), the PC actually persuaded her sister to share administrative duties in the city and act as Queen Regent when she was out of adventure - which would happen from time to time. As it turns out, sharing adventures and facing dangers together really does form strong bonds, even if two people were originally rivals LOL.

"Despair not, for in the end all things shall work out for the best - in at least one timeline."
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Archmage of Nowhere
Seeker

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 02 Jul 2018 :  08:33:12  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@dazzlerdal
Thanks! I actually will be stealing the nomenclature and adding a flavor ID for it to represent major deviations (Tot, Spellplague, Dragon Rage, etc) whether or not they happened or happened differently.

@Balmar Foghaven
Thats pretty awesome! I like the idea of a Triumvirate in the three churches and would expect to see some pretty impressive churches from a bird's eye view representing that.
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1822 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2018 :  03:23:40  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I committed myself to trying a new approach, a while ago: while/after growling at the bad judgment shown in some published events (ToT, phaerimm, shades, Spellplague, ad nauseum), set it up as a problem to be solved. For example, the ToT should have been a campaign option product which left it up to individual DMs (1) whether to use the event at all, (2) which gods to add to and remove from the pantheon, (3) give guidance on foreshadowing and consequences in individual campaigns, and a few other points I don't recall at the moment. The point is, when I can write the product I think should have been published, then I've earned the right to kvetch about it -- until then, writing is a more productive use of my energy.

One of the things I wanted to see in the TOT products was tips on "setting the stage" for local and regional upsets which occur during an event like the Godswar. Another important option is placing the TOT wherever the individual DM wants on the timeline. I chose Zhentil Keep as an example city, and I pushed it back to 1258 DR.

I hadn't thought of using multiple parallel versions of the city, like your 6 Neverwinters, in a campaign... but I like it a lot!
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Archmage of Nowhere
Seeker

USA
48 Posts

Posted - 06 Jul 2018 :  18:34:14  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote
@xaeyruudh

To be honest I entered the hobby in the midst of the ToT so its a weird fixture in my nostalgia to have it. I can see how its implementation could frustrate DMs at the time as the Spellplague did for me. I like the idea of a flexible ToT and may even run a campaign like that as I have been itching to place some of my players outside of 3.5 and drop them into 2E as a blast from the past sort of series of Oneshots, I want to call it Boomerang lol.

So you ended up making Zhentil keep as the starting point for your own ToT?
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1822 Posts

Posted - 07 Jul 2018 :  19:01:11  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Archmage of Nowhere

To be honest I entered the hobby in the midst of the ToT so its a weird fixture in my nostalgia to have it. I can see how its implementation could frustrate DMs at the time as the Spellplague did for me. I like the idea of a flexible ToT and may even run a campaign like that as I have been itching to place some of my players outside of 3.5 and drop them into 2E as a blast from the past sort of series of Oneshots, I want to call it Boomerang lol.


I can understand the nostalgia factor - it might be that way for me too, if the details weren't so wrong. So the need to fix those became the motivator for this project.

quote:
Originally posted by Archmage of Nowhere

So you ended up making Zhentil keep as the starting point for your own ToT?


I haven't actually picked a starting point. I want to leave that up to individual DMs too, probably influenced by which powers they want to involve in their TOT. For myself, Zhentil Keep is just a place the PCs might pass through or come to for a sidetrek.

Here's my WIP for Zhentil Keep 1258:




In an alternate FR, the Godswar happens 100 years earlier. This creates a few interesting wrinkles:

  • The Zhentarim does not yet exist.

  • Manshoon's father, Harlshoon, is the First Lord of Zhentil Keep - he dies this year, perhaps in events linked with the TOT.

  • Manshoon has no real power yet and in fact is not a wizard yet; he's also not present in Zhentil Keep while the PCs are here.

  • Fzoul is just another unhappy lackey of Lord Ulsan Baneservant.


  • Bane "alights" on Toril in either Zhentil Keep or Mulmaster, because there are significant temples and worshipers there. However, He only stays in the northern cities long enough to summon a couple of lackeys, and then goes where He feels His presence can make the biggest difference on His mortal followers (and their enemies): Mintar.
    There are pressing reasons for Bane to avoid staying in the Moonsea area - or Mourktar, which boasts His largest temple and following.

  • The Imperceptor in Mourktar is already strong and autonomous; he needs no further inspiration beyond the knowledge that his Lord favors him. Further, there's no room to make meaningful gains in Mourktar.

  • Zhentil Keep and Mulmaster are important beacons of His church in the North, in spite of their growing opposition to each other, but allowing his followers in either city to bask in his glory would indicate support of one faction over the other and what He really wants is for them to either (A) excel independently in his service as the temple in Mourktar has done, or (B) duke it out on their own, without wasting His time.

  • While it's tempting to destroy Mystra's "chosen" flunkies during His involuntary visit to Faerun, it's likely that they won't obligingly face their doom in a single-file-line, so His quasi-mortality is a source of mild concern and prudence. It's more logical, more productive, to go where such artificially augmented mortals won't come looking to pester Him.

  • His following in Mintar could benefit greatly from a personal appearance of their god and the empire-building crusade His presence would inspire. Finally, there's a lot of physical and philosophical soil around the Lake of Steam to build on.


  • So, that's settled.
    Bane leaves a minion in Zhentil Keep, and another in Mulmaster, to infiltrate and shape the cities' conflicts to best benefit Bane. Iyachtu Xvim goes to Mourktar, to show his Lord's favor to the Imperceptor there and breathe the fear of Bane into the loyal forces there. Bane Himself then appears in Mintar, heralding a new age of strife and tyranny on the Lake of Steam.

    Zhentil Keep 1258 becomes, arguably, a worse place -a more militant and hostile place- to live in than the Keep we know and love.

    A cunning and devious genius with millennia of experience in flaying the minds and bodies of hapless mortals quietly takes power in the deepest shadows of the Keep. "She" is a paragon of tyranny, fears no one but Lord Bane, and answers to no one but Lord Bane. And since Lord Bane is quite busy…

    Tau Shurrukshel is a paeliryon, among the spymasters who serve Lord Bane in Baator.

    The leaders of the Church of Bane in Zhentil Keep are interviewed and charmed/eliminated according to their devotion to Lord Bane. Each echelon is pruned in this way by their surviving superiors' displays of loyalty.

    Harlshoon and most of the other Lords of the city retain their positions. They quickly notice the changes noted here, and seek to identify and control the cause, but their spies turn up nothing (or occasionally vanish without a trace) and the Lords' annoyance turns to suspicion and fear… but they never meet Lord Bane's minion face to face or receive any direct orders.

    The "working girls" (and males) of the city are charmed and coached on actively eliciting interesting information from their clients. Many brothels, slums, courtyards, homes, and shops already feature listening holes and hiding places for small creatures; most of the remainder soon have them and are monitored by cranium rats and other eyes and ears.

    The Zhentilar are "purified" and strengthened with geas spells protecting the interests of Lord Bane and Zhentil Keep. Soldiers are not required to actively worship Lord Bane, but they're prohibited from giving any other deity more honor or obeisance.

    The city as a whole sees a sharp increase in the population of fiends, half-fiends, fiendish planetouched, and fiendish creatures… all of which are bound by gratitude, loyalty, and fear to obey the terrible new tyrant's will.

    Tau Shurrukshel and "her" management of Zhentil Keep's resources result in a moderately high death toll. As noted in the published TOT, there is no god of death during the TOT. I liked the idea of mortals who "died" in proximity to Myrkul becoming curst, but I'd like to use a different creature for mortals slain in Zhentil Keep… something with a bit of Zhentish/Bane-ish flavor. The precise details of the creature don't matter; the mechanic is important: that the Keep's "dead" remain active throughout the TOT, serve Bane, and undoubtedly cause additional casualties.

    There is a certain level of cooperation between Tau Shurrukshel and her counterpart in Mulmaster, because Lord Bane doesn't want either city (or more importantly, either temple) destroyed. Within those restrictions, however, the fiends are rivals: whoever wins more souls during this "field exercise" will likely enjoy greater favor from Lord Bane in the future.

    Edited by - xaeyruudh on 07 Jul 2018 20:20:35
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    Archmage of Nowhere
    Seeker

    USA
    48 Posts

    Posted - 08 Jul 2018 :  20:53:50  Show Profile Send Archmage of Nowhere a Private Message  Reply with Quote
    An interesting take on Zhentil and the ToT in general. While reading it and digesting it under the context of a WIP I thought it might be neat to have unstable versions of these parallel planes that the players cant interact with directly, least they be lost to non-existence in the violent fluctuations of reality.

    I could almost use a portal to a WIP plane as a straight up environmental hazard with a chance of acting on a creature like a Orb of Annihilation

    Edited by - Archmage of Nowhere on 08 Jul 2018 20:56:13
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