🎨 Creative Stone Age D&D concept

beowulf8989

Right Pinky of Annoyance
Validated User
#1
So I leafed through a friend's collection of books after I played in a one-shot and started to develop an idea for a setting. Here's what I got so far:
Human (stone age) civilization is relatively new. There were three major civilizations before them. The eldest race are completely gone, except for the whispers of their gods. The Silver people still exist, but most of them are insane. The Serpents are in a declining age, their decadent capitals all that remain of their glory. All three have ruins and temples to explore and loot.
Pure stone age gear/tools works at normal rates -1, minimum 1 to rolls they would benefit. Serpent age objects works at normal rates. Silver age works at +1 to rolls they would benefit. Eldest tools work at 2dX to rolls they would benefit. (For the time being, it's just "humans" but different kinds of humanity may have different modifiers at character creation. I can believe the Stone Clan (Dwarves) are different than the Forest Clan (Elves) for example.)

Spoiler: Show
Magic use is limited. Druids(/Rangers), cooperate with nature spirits and minor divinities for power. Humans live pretty close to primal so who cares about other restrictions? Warlocks exist who are outcasts of society, making deals with evil spirits and demi-gods for power. Maybe they do a human sacrifice or two, who cares, no one liked Uggnog anyway, he stole hides to keep himself warm when children froze, and a few elk dying in the winter to keep the tribe warm wasn't a major loss, either. Sorcerers are around because there used to be super hot humans who Charisma'd their way into weird alien god-monster beds because they were hot, cool, fashionable, or fit a specific divine kink, and their heritage maintained through the ages. Most magic disciplines would hit a hard limit around the fourth or fifth level.
Additionally, limited use of Bards, Monks and the Eldritch Knight sub-class are allowed, by DM fiat. Music only existed as a concept about six generations ago, so Bards can mostly be defined in a single college, who can trace their origin back to the "guy who invented singing." Monks exist up to the third level, and then as Four Elements or Sun Soul, either as ascetic hermits who attuned themselves to nature, or freaky cultists from outside the tribe who are a step removed from the probably human sacrificing Warlock. For EKs or other sub-classes that gain casting, you're a weird science-freak mutant who got splashed with eldritch potions, dipped yourself in a glowing pool, acquired divine favor from some tentacle god, ate a magic beast to get powers or you're the inventor of an entire tradition due to how cool you are. My current thought process is limited access to leveling in that class.
The Serpents have/had Wizards and Clerics(/Paladins), largely due to their ability to read and pass on knowledge in that method, in addition to the more primitive magics of cave-people. If the players gain access to the arcane knowledge of writing and reading, then they may steal or create Wizard and Cleric character classes. Millennia of momentum may make it difficult for the gods to accept anything other than the flesh of the newborn as worthy sacrifices for divine power, though.
The Silver people understood magic on a more scientific level. Mystics and Artificers (assuming their UA stuff still works) were typical classes for them. As were Wizards, Bards and Eldritch Knights. Versions of Clerics and Warlocks existed, but it on more even ground.
The eldest had all sorts of stuff no one understands anymore. They were basically walking gods


Spoiler: Show
I actually started thinking about this while reading BPRD. The players are supposed to be descendants of isolated luddite communities in a post-post-apocalyptic setting. Humanity rose itself up to godhood and provided immortality or transubstantiation to anyone deserving of it (they determined it via god like logic, don't worry). They eventually realized they had no descendants to carry on and so recreated themselves from memory, which ended poorly in the effectively insane Silver people., aka human memories mapped onto machine brains. The Silver people's slave race, because of course tireless robot bodies controlled by human memories created non-human slaves eventually to do all their labor for them, took over after the total murder-suicide of the Silver-people culture; using what they learned, with their not entirely fucked up brains, the Serpents slowly war-murdered each other down to barely sustainable rates, raiding the off-shoot cave-ape peoples for slave labor to sustain their economies, while other said cave-apes rediscover their place in the world. I think in the setting, nodding to BPRD, has Hollow Earth as being real, and the current stone age humans being adventuring parties out from the relative paradise of the inner world.


Should I keep developing this concept? Does anyone have notes or want to build off of what I posted? Ignore all the spoilers if you want. I think the idea of stone age D&D is potentially very fertile ground.

Edit: So many typos... endless typos.
 
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NobodyImportant

Registered User
Validated User
#4
1. Are dinosaurs a thing? I feel like no fantasy Stone Age setting is complete without them. Maybe you could even have sapient raptors as an exotic player character race.

2. There’s a lot of precedence to having hominid off-shoots as the traditional demihumans. Halflings actually existed, for instance - look up homo floresiensis. Maybe neanderthals could exist with half-orc stats.

3. What’s the cosmology like? Is the planet a sphere orbiting a sun, or is there a more exotic arrangement? Is the planet Earth? What kind of alternate dimensions are there, if any?

4. What’s the inside of the hollow Earth like?
 

beowulf8989

Right Pinky of Annoyance
Validated User
#5
1) They certainly were. Since this is, conceptually, a pre-Ice-Age era, the raptors fossils we see today were likely poor interpretations of the Serpent people. Or accurate ones, but I want to maintain the idea of killing more advanced civilians to steal their stuff, by maintaining a mostly hominid body structure among the advanced peoples.

2) Those off-shoots were dramatically distanced. Some only occurring on isolated islands. But I see no reason you couldn't have "hill-folk" being effectively seen as human/cave-people. Most humanoids could be explained by inter-marriage through different tribes. Only outsider variants would require extensive explanation, and even that is half-easy. "My mom used a LOT of sorcery to get pregnant. That's why I have horns."

3) The players probably would never know. They'd ideally lack access to any magic or technology that would allow them to make an informed decision on the subject, via the nature of the setting.
Spoiler: Show
If they gained access to it? They'd find that they live on a single continent surrounded on all sides by water. Even if they rose to the greatest heights, their lungs allowed, they'd see a curve of dirty blue meeting a white and blue sky. So probably a sphere, but before the continents separated. If it's Earth or not barely matters that far back. Any alternate dimensions were created and inhabited by the Eldest people and their descendents.


4) PCs would be at least a generation removed. But supposedly it'd be a paradise rotating around a perfect golden sphere with two moons, each moving at a perpendicular rotation, that create night outside of (help me out here) four deserts that mark off different territories/kingdoms. Since Sorcerer lineages are defined and understood enough that they can send them out as scouts/adventurers, there's probably a matriarchal society dedicated to tracking and codifying said inheritances. I assume they don't have easy access to magic that determines fatherhood; goodberry is much more useful outside of high politic level stuff, for example. You could probably make a backstory out of a Fighter who fathered a single Sorcerer girl, and fled to the surface for both their sakes, for example. Think of Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Coming Race, Derro chronicles, etc. There are probably enlightened and fallen variants of the luddite-humans... in fact, push the monk traditions as coming from the hollow Earth, maybe.
Spoiler: Show
If you wanted to play in the hollow Earth, then the setting would be less savage-occult and more savage-strange. That'd be where you'd find dinosaurs to fight, for example. Maybe handfuls of Eldest-age tech, like the wand of annihilation (aka: plasma rifle) that you use to slay the fire dragon (aka cyber-t-rex with flamethrower mounts) and destroy its nesting ground (aka cloning lab/cybernetic augmentation ground).
 

kenco

Registered User
Validated User
#6
So I leafed through a friend's collection of books after I played in a one-shot and started to develop an idea for a setting. Here's what I got so far:
Human (stone age) civilization is relatively new. There were three major civilizations before them. The eldest race are completely gone, except for the whispers of their gods. The Silver people still exist, but most of them are insane. The Serpents are in a declining age, their decadent capitals all that remain of their glory. All three have ruins and temples to explore and loot.

Should I keep developing this concept? Does anyone have notes or want to build off of what I posted? Ignore all the spoilers if you want. I think the idea of stone age D&D is potentially very fertile ground.

Edit: So many typos... endless typos.
Sounds like fun!

What sort of 'stone age' do you mean? Are you thinking paleolithic (e.g. mammoth hunters, or at least pre-agriculture)? Neolithic (herding, agriculture and long term settlements, higher population densities)? Something else?

I like your idea of the previous ages, and it fits well with D&D traditions as well as Greek mythologising.
 

beowulf8989

Right Pinky of Annoyance
Validated User
#8
I always enjoyed reading about Hesiod's ages of man, so I tried to model the previous ages of civilization off of them, yes. Which of course would land PCs in the Age of Heroes, conveniently enough.
What sort of 'stone age' do you mean? Are you thinking paleolithic (e.g. mammoth hunters, or at least pre-agriculture)? Neolithic (herding, agriculture and long term settlements, higher population densities)? Something else?
Probably paleolithic. If agriculture is exists for the PCs, it'd be either stolen concepts from runaway slaves of the Serpents, discovered from raiding a ruin, or an attempt to adapt something from the Hollow Earth by someone who just came from there. I'd want the PCs to be able to do things like tame the first wolf, for example. Or do a quest of uniting the scattered tribes to stand against the Serpents' raiding, creating the first long term settlement among the cave-people. So I guess my answer is that it'd be vaguely paleolithic in the same sense that standard D&D is vaguely medieval/Renaissance era.
There is one 3.5 setting for Stone Age settings, Lost Prehistorica: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/18140/Lost-Prehistorica (there was another, by the same publisher who did From Stone to Steel, but apparently it was print only and is hard to find now)

And you may also want to take a look at GURPS Ice Age: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/231802/GURPS-Classic-Ice-Age
Oh, those could be useful... heh. Prehistorica is promising me a bundle with two other products. Turns out if I buy this bundle I get "Savings of:$-2.25 (-39%)" Which is normally not what you're looking for in a sale.
 

beowulf8989

Right Pinky of Annoyance
Validated User
#10
Well if I understand the concept of negative savings? I don't think I'd advertise that buying the products individually would be cheaper than the bundle, which would add to the price. But I may just be reading that wrong.

Edit: I was wrong. Just really bad at reading the prices. Ignore what I said above.
 
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