A setting by Random Goblin and Racticas
History An aeon ago, earth was ruled by the Eldraan. The Eldraan were powerful warriors and mighty workers of magic who conquered the planet and grew in their hubris. Rising in power, they deigned even to challenge their gods, and through might, forethought, and cunning, the Eldraan were victorious. The gods were banished and their planes were sealed away for all time. With the gods out of the way, the Eldraan went unchallenged and grew decadent.
In the elemental planes, four great elder elementals plotted to bring about a great change. The gods left a power vacuum in the cosmos that, despite their might and glory, the mortal Eldraan could never hope to fill. The elemental lords, though, had a chance.
Working in agreement, the forces of the elements struck suddenly, toppling and enslaving the Eldraan, warping them with elemental magic into new races. However, the treaty between the elemental lords was inherently unstable, and even before the Eldraan were completely defeated, the elements began to fight with each other. As it was, the war against the Eldraan was barely an introductory footnote in the cosmic conflict that ensued, as each of the elements tried to gain control of the material plane, tipping the perfectly-balanced cosmic scales firmly and forever in their favor.
Earth eventually proclaimed itself victorious, but the âvictoryâ was neither total nor systematic. Earthâs domination over the material plane was tenuous at best. Eventually, the other three elements banded together to topple earth, and its reign was brought to an end. The result was a world scarred by a thousand years of cosmic war, but still no definitive winner. The boil of war cooled to a low simmer. All the elements became factionalized. Conflict was still the norm, but not on the scale of earlier times.
Now, in this ravaged world, there is a glimmer of hope. The elemental planes were not the only cosmic sources of power. What was oft-forgotten is that the material plane, before it was subverted by the Eldraan, was once called the plane of Balance. Its lords were finally rising from slumber, its agents were beginning to walk the land, and it was beginning to reclaim its own at long last.
Races Eldraan- supposed to be extinct, once ruled earth. Cruel and arrogant, but beautiful and terrible. There could still be some left, probably exiles wandering the planes.
Elemental Races- four races, All Eldraan enslaved and warped by the elemental powers into something new: Sylph (Air) â flying or just gliding? Probably with a patagia for gliding. .Frail-looking, willowy, quick. Salamander (Fire)- tall and scaled, the salamanders are fierce warriors, quick to anger, but lacking determination and drive. Undine (Water)- somber with broad, webbed hands and feet, the undines are more at home underwater than on the surface. Gnomes (Earth)- squat and powerful, with dark skin and eyes that glitter like gems, the gnomes are lords of the deep places and masters of the forge
Humans- A new race with mysterious origins, humans came forth from the forests led by priests who worshipped the balance. Humans are as a race connected to no individual element, although they do have humors, so they can be drawn in one direction or another.
(Some other race or races?)- once slaves to the Eldraan, many have survived the cataclysmic millennia of war. Probably one giant-type race (not specifically MM ogres or giants, but something along those lines), maybe a weak servant race (goblin/kobald-ish?), and maybe warriors (orc-esque? Maybe not so bestial? Maybe more bestial?). Others? Or only one? I dunno.
Alignment Alignment is by humors that are tied to the four elements. Humors dictate behavior, not the other way around. If you try to act contrary to your humor, the DM can force you to make a will save modified by the dominant humorâs prevalence (maybe something like DC 10+dominant humor score). Humor points come from races, some classes, maybe other ways. Probably every character gets x (say, two) humor points per level to do with as he pleases, either to keep it balanced or to weight it one direction.
Being aligned via humors carried benefits and drawbacks. Benefits include increased ability to work magic and to command elemental beings, and maybe other mechanical benefits. Drawbacks include forced behavior, and maybe youâre harder to heal with regular healing magic (which is tied to the balance). Maybe if your humors get REALLY out of balance, you can eventually be considered an elemental.
The Deathless The greatest weapon at the disposal of the elemental powers was the Deathless. These servants were created from mortals by opening a small portal directly into their soul, suffusing it with elemental stuff. Thus they become incarnate champions of the element that feeds them, and they can never be destroyed while the portal remains open, because they are constantly being regenerated by the elemental planes. (By the way, keeping the portal open is not hard, and closing it is almost if not impossible) They need not sleep or eat. They also have elemental powers and can command lesser elemental beings.
You can become a Deathless in one of three ways:
1: An elder elemental can make you into a deathless. This is done deliberately to create a champion, and was how the first Deathless were created. Needless to say, the deathless who have been around the longest are the most powerful and the most feared.
2: The elemental races are tied to the elemental planes, and thus every now and then one of them is simply born deathless, with a living portal already inside them.
3: Rumor speaks of apotheosis rituals that can make a supplicant into a Deathless at their own bidding, i.e. to force it from this side instead of from the other.
Now, the champions of Balance have begun to create their own Deathless, fed by the very raw stuff of this plane. Although the material/plane of balance has been weakened by a thousand years of cosmic strife, the proximity of the Deathless of the Balance to their own plane makes them fearsome and formidable.
Is being Deathless a blessing or a curse? Both, either, and maybe neither.
Deathless have humors weighted strongly in one direction, and actually lose points from their other humors until they become an elemental. Creature type that is. They still are a Deathless.
Magic Most magic is elemental and cast by esorcery, i.e. though the use of elemental familiars. The skill of the esorcerer lies not in his own power, but in his ability to command an elemental to do his bidding. An esorcererâs humors scores are somehow tied to his ability to work magic, and as an esorcerer rises I levels, his dominant humor score increases dramatically. Esorcerers are often of the elemental races, but certainly human esorcerers exist.
There is also True Magic, a secret that died with the Eldraan, but some rumors say it still exists, and its secrets cans till be re-discovered. If any Eldraan are still alive, then this theory must be true.
Priests of Balance are nature-oriented, like druids. They are usually human, but they donât have to be.
Perhaps there are also devotees of the Old Gods hanging around somewhere. Maybe preserved by some (one?) of the Eldraan slave-races. They seek to bring the gods back to the Material plane.
Real healing magic comes fro the balance only. The elemental magic has similar things, but not right on the button. Increased temporary hp, for example, or maybe the ability to stay alive despite your wounds until you can heal naturally. Or maybe elemental magic can only heal elementals of the right kind.
Cosmology There is the material plane, surrounded by the astral, nearby float the elemental planes, connected to each other by what is explained as a mass of tangled strings of irregular pearls, which are lesser elemental planes, subplanes, tertiary elemental planes, evil elemental planes, good elemental planes, and paraelemental demiplanes. Beyond the elemental planes is the Ring of Shadow, where mortal souls travel to and collect. Through the ring of shadow and far beyond are the far realms, the lands of the gods, long since sealed and/or abandoned. They are not broken down by element, nor is there a specific number o them. The material plane is actually the plane of Balance. There really is no positive or negative elemental planes, ethereal plane, or plane of shadow. Not like in the MotP at least.
Factions The elements are split and factionalized. Factions range from marauding war-hosts led by ancient Deathless to sublime courts of elemental enlightenment. Cabals of philosophy, cosmic guilds, and all kinds of organizations. Also many factions that arenât definitive organizations but simply consist of an elder elemental and their friends, servants, and followers.
Detailing some of these factions might make for much interesting gameplay as they can be patrons to the PCs, enemies to the PCs, or completely ignored.
There are also kingdoms and nations and tribes on the Material of all description. I havenât detailed any of them. Keep in mind, though, that this is a world still at war, so a mighty trade empire of humans may not be appropriate.
Monsters Certainly not all monsters from the MM, because that involves changing the setting to accommodate monsters that may not fit. Original monsters are better. No undead? No need really. Outsiders may also be irrelevant, although they may exist because not all of the far realms of the gods are sealed off; the gods just are.
Most monsters would fall into one of three categories:
1: elemental creatures of all kinds, on the elemental planes as well as on the material
2: Creatures of the balance, more ânaturalâ beasts and animals including dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts and such. Fey also?
3: more magical creatures that are a throwback to or survivors from the age of the Eldraan. Dragons would fit here.