Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My Homebrew (Let Me Show You It)

Like a lot of RPG enthusiasts, I have a homebrew setting I've been working on for quite a while. Like many of those settings, it's "not done yet", which often feels like a euphemism for "never going to be finished". I call it Freed Lands, and I'm currently planning on using the BRP ruleset - if I ever get around to running it. I occasionally feel the urge to write about my setting, but not enough to devote an entire blog to it. (I tried that in the past, and didn't get far.) However, Max's recent post asking about people's personal settings got me thinking about it again, and so, here's a quick primer.

The realm that would become known as the Freed Lands lies to the west of the homelands of humanity, beyond the Black Peaks, a mountain range that is practically impassable. The first humans to settle there came from Ghannem, a nation young by the standards of the dwarves that controlled the mountain passes. Ghannem was rich in coin but overpopulated, so, they paid the dwarves for right of passage and settled in the lands beyond the mountains, which they named Morven Ghannem, or "Western Ghannem".

Humanity's development and refinement of agriculture - and their subsequent rise to supremacy - soon began to disturb the natural balance of the newly settled region. Eventually, it caused a schism in elven culture. Many elves argued that if they did not take up the new ways, they would be destroyed. Traditionalists scorned the subjugation of nature as an abomination and drove these elves to the islands of Immovenst, but were themselves soon forced into hiding by rampant human expansion, along with numerous other indigenous races. The dwarf clans sealed their mountain passes against humankind, and as decades passed, the men of Ghannem learned to forget about their western brethren beyond the Black Peaks, and instead turned to squabbling with their human neighbors - the newly ascendant Genthaine people - and each other.

Centuries later, the elves of Immovenst returned, armed and armored with steel and riding massive elk bred for war. After a brutal struggle, they conquered Morven Ghannem, and ruled for hundreds of years, reshaping it into the elf-ruled territory of Morbenhann. Eventually, a force they were unable or unwilling to identify to their subjects attacked their homelands and forced them into the Retreat. The vast majority of the elves returned to Immovenst, leaving the conquered to fend for themselves.

Now, Morbenhann has fallen into chaos - bandits and mercenaries alike declare themselves princes and prey on the weak, cults driven underground centuries ago practice their rites in the open, unknown horrors prey on travelers, and old races forced into hiding emerge once more. Ancient spirits are angered, plague sweeps across the settlements of men, elves, and even dwarves, and rumor says the once-impregnable pass is unguarded. Now, the rulers of Ghannem - and their Genthaine rivals to the south - turn their gaze to these newly Freed Lands, hoping to add them to their own.

I hope that sounds at least potentially interesting, because I intend to revisit it here on Dungeonskull Mountain.


  1. I love that picture. Where did you get it?

    Anyway, your setting uses all the keywords I look for: cult, unknown horror, ancient spirits, plague, brutal struggle. Looking forward to hearing more!

  2. Thanks for the compliments!

    The picture is The Black Horseman by Ivan Bilibin, an early 20th century Russian artist. (I'm shooting for a somewhat Eastern/Central European look for this setting.)

  3. I'm looking forward to playing it! Just tell me we roll EVERYTHING randomly in Character Gen. ;]

  4. Just tell me we roll EVERYTHING randomly in Character Gen.

    Yeah, that would go over GREAT with the rest of the group.

  5. as long as there is an actual, named and delineated, "Dungeonskull Mountain" in them thar Black Peaks, i will give your "homebrew" a vote of confidence.

  6. "Dungeonskull Mountain" is a name I cooked up a while ago when looking at a very old D&D rulebook. The name is a bit too gonzo to work in the Freed Lands setting, but I intend to use it eventually.

  7. Wow, that sounds pretty interesting. I prefer a less dire and more magical setting (as seen in my own homebrew on my blog) but that still sounds pretty cool.

  8. Thanks for the compliments, Wyatt. Work on the setting is slow going - I write for it when I feel inspired. I sometimes wonder if anybody else finds it interesting, so it's nice to hear that you think so.

    I do take a look at your Spirits of Eden setting from time to time and enjoy reading about it. I get the feeling you and I both have a bit of Miyazaki influence in our worlds.

  9. When you referred to Miyazaki influence, I read what you said wrote above, and I could see it. This made things even more interesting to consider. I hadn't ever thought about that, but I do love Miyazaki movies, and it seems clear that there are indeed some aspects of that in my work as well. Having noticed this, I now hope to embrace that even more in my work. Thank you for the observation, and now I will look forward even more to your own work!