Sunday, March 12, 2017

Planetary Ecologies, Part 2: Storyline Implications

The previous article provided lists of monsters for different types of worlds; this one presents plot hooks for adventures and campaigns.


Storyline Implications
Once these lists have been created, they can start to inform story elements for adventures on each world.

As mentioned above, all of the traditional monsters from Earth's fantasy and folklore are assumed to inhabit this world. As such, “normal” fantasy adventures are assumed to happen here, although the world also has connections to other worlds via harbors that act as spaceports for aetherships. The Holy City, home to the Temple of Ptah, is one such location.

Sun-Blasted Desert World
With temperatures that rise as high as 800° and can plummet to nearly -300°, it should come as no surprise that few creatures can survive on this world. Even so, certain creatures of the fire elemental subtype do manage it. What is more, certain enterprising dwarves from the Mining Guild even scour the planet's surface looking for valuable minerals and gems, traveling aboard aetherships that hover just above the ground. They stay always in the band of twilight between the world's day and night sides, but even so cannot venture very far away from their vessel. It is also rumored that certain creatures such as efreeti, salamanders and others maintain hidden retreats on this world, where some say they study rituals of powerful elemental magic.

Cold Red Desert Planet
This world is, of course, inspired by Mars—both the real version, and how it is portrayed in popular science fiction. Aesthetically, it is inhabited largely by cave-dwelling creatures that live underground, and by insectoid monsters that haunt its desert wasteland. Most of these are barely intelligent, possessing little more than bestial cunning. There are the pech, however, humanoids who once served the troglodytes that are believed to have once inhabited this world. It is also said that bands of janni travel these deserts, although their purpose in doing so is unknown.

Weird World
The inspiration for this planet comes from a description of the kasatha, who are said to have been exiled from “an arid world orbiting a red star” (see Bestiary 4 for details). In this case, however, those beings still dwell here, alongside the shobhad. The kasatha maintain small oasis caravanserai communities, while the shobhad live a nomadic life. Continuing that theme, this planet holds life of a variety that looks quite different from any to be found on Homeworld. All kinds of strange-looking monsters inhabit the place, many of which feature extra limbs or other unusual traits. In addition to the native inhabitants, the caravanserais are often a favorite stopping place for many of the sentient creatures that travel the void.

In addition to the creatures that inhabit various planets and moons throughout the Sol system and others close to it, there are monsters and beings who travel between the stars. While they are included on their own list, these creatures can often be found on or around various worlds. For example, mercane and witch-wyrds travel from planet to planet conducting business, while others such as the oma and brethedans are comfortable in the depths of the void. Of course, when some—such as akata or carnivorous blobs—appear, crisis is the result.

Frozen Geyser Moon
A moon of Saturn, Enceladus, provides the inspiration for this moon. Here, liquid water—and the life that it contains—can be found beneath a crust of ice, where it is warmed by volcanism in the planet's crust. In addition to all manner of aquatic monsters, several types of intelligent creatures inhabit these seas. There are the aboleths and their skum minions, along with the tojanida. The adaro, cecaelia and iku-turso also have communities. For the most part, these beings stick to their own territory, defending it against the aforementioned sea monsters. Even so, sometimes they come into conflict, with alliances shifting between various groups in ocean-spanning wars. There are also creatures who inhabit the world's ice shelves, ones that remain close to areas of exposed seawater. Note, too, that the Elven Navy maintains a stronghold here known as Starfort Station.

Sylvan Planet
This is an example of a planet that is nearly untouched by outsiders. It is one that possesses rich plant life—indeed, flora that has run amok in its evolution—along with a few intelligent species that have evolved alongside those plants. There is conflict between the boggards and vodyanoi, which inhabit swampy areas, and the grippli that inhabit the forests. Because these populations are small in comparison to the amount of inhabitable land, however, these conflicts have remained infrequent and of limited scope. While the elves have visited this planet, they choose to protect knowledge of its existence in order to prevent settlement and exploitation. There are some members of the Royal Interplanetary Company who have learned of it, however, and who wish to harvest the valuable materials that the planet produces.

One question inspires this world: What would happen if an entire planet fell into riot and ruin? The creatures that inhabit this world are ones that lurk in the dark places of the world or that relish in causing death and destruction. These are beings of greater or lesser intelligence that live among crumbling structures—and just what secrets those decrepit buildings contain is left up to the GM's imagination.

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