Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

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Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Guardian of the Peak » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:19 am

Alright so I'm kind of new to this forum but I'm a big time fan of Dragon Age, both the video games and the RPG, and have been with the universe since Origin's release. In short, Hi!!

Okay on to the topic. We all know Thedas and the DA universe for what it is, a dark fantasy world of magic, gods, demons, politics, and lots of blood. Now that's all well and good but sometimes things just need a bit of a change of pace or setting. As such, I'm wondering what changes my fellow game masters out there have done game wise to spice things up. Things like new weapon styles or groups, races, towns- things like that. I for one have done a few minor things so far but intend on taking things in, not a ridiculous direction, but a bit out there. Can't wait to hear from you guys.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Scion of Haven » Wed Apr 25, 2012 7:52 pm

A few people with whom I used to play might remember my game, The Forge, in which a sealed monstrosity known as the Conquerer Worm (based on the Poe poem of the same name) was sealed under the Mage Tower in Starkhaven. The implication was that there are other things the like of the Old Gods down in the hollows of the world, and there are horrors beyond just the Darkspawn.
I also made the connection between the Fade and Blood Magic a lot more obvious. Rituals dragging entire rooms physically into the Fade, knives made from fadestuff that damaged souls... It wasn't quite as visceral as the standard setting, but it was a little more otherworldly.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Guardian of the Peak » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:14 am

Now those are the changes I mean. Something to add that still makes at least some sense. Bring in too much and it starts to lose that Dragon Age feel, but little modifications like that spice things up and offer a new look for the universe.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby tarnishedarmour » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:38 pm

Most places and people, obviously. But with those I've begun including things that make said places unique, by adding to the lore, or adding animals or other creatures; and the same for people, adding organizations that exist outside of Dragon Age Cannon.

Most recently with my newest campaign I added towns within the Wildervale, in a subregion I've named the Longlands (as to be more easily transportable). So far I have the town's of Westerwood and Farlund with a couple landmarks between them, most notably Rowar's Rock. I added a few beasties: the Aroo wolf and the Muskadon, also have a few in the works like the whiptail and the barrow worm, and am toying with the idea of the Caten Dog, but mostly for laughs (you have to say it a bit fast).

Organizations are a bit easier, with being timed right between the end of DAII and the beginning of Asunder mercenary groups are easy to create, as well as some guilds trying to form a power base in what is the vacuum of government of the Free Marches.

All in all I try to keep it simple in purpose, even if complex in fluff. Nothing that could directly counter existing cannon and hopefully avoid confrontation with new cannon that will come up with any additional resource books or the third game. With the world already what it is it is very easy to manipulate existing material for encounters and such and simply play it off if official cannon later comes out and says a certain battle didn't happen or a person wasn't someplace you said they were. After all, even the background information in the books all specifically say they are rumor, hearsay, or second-hand accounts.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby 5trangeCase » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:43 am

I'm not sure whether you'd call it a "change" but I've expanded been expanding on the capabilities of blood magic, the nature of the Shade and generally pushing the limits of what is currently understood in regard to magic and spirits and demons.

There is also, of course, the creation of new towns and cities.

In terms of fundamental changes to the nature of the universe? Not really. I'll always be pushing the boundaries to make it more interesting, but I don't intend to "fix what ain't broke".
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Guardian of the Peak » Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:24 am

I've pushed the boundaries myself on several occasions (Far North Eastern Ferelden community that's in the process of inventing steam based propulsion for example) but stood by the standards of DA. That's not to say I've not done a bit of dabbling with the canon though. But this is purely just to appeal to my players' wants for something new in the universe. I've done my best to not mess with things too badly and I think I've made it more appealing for my players in the process.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Ghostdanser » Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:13 pm

On the left hand side of the Thedas map you have the Sea of Ash, the mountain range beyond the Tirshan, and the Volca Sea. I plan to make those into near impassable barriers and have the territory on the other side of it be based on the Bioware game Jade Empire. I don’t plan to make major mechanical changes to Dragon Age, I plan on making Jade Empire setting fit into the DA mechanics.

Since the original Jade Empire is set in the northern hemisphere I’ve basically flipped North, South, East and West to make it easier to incorporate (so the Prosperous East is now the Prosperous West, the Horselords are in the Southern Wastes instead of the Northern Wastes, etc.). The barrier to the eastern lands (Thedas) will become the Land of Howling Spirits, where Dirge is located. The Fade in the oriental land will be more organized, with a Celestial Bureaucracy, but essentially spirits will be the same as far as capabilities. Mages can still be possessed, but it probably won’t be as common. The spirits must adhere to the rules or risk punishment by the bureaucracy, so if a mage is careful the chances of possession are decreased.

I haven’t decided on the time frame yet, not sure if I want to set it about 30 years before the events in Jade Empire, just prior to the events of Jade Empire, or after the events, however whichever I choose will be current with the Dragon Age setting. Time frame may affect how I decide to have mages treated, I think I will make them treated suspiciously, but allowed in the open. Dwarves will be pretty much the same as in Thedas, but with an oriental flavor (nobles will still stab you in the back, they just do so with more culture and refinement). Elves are not downtrodden, they will inhabit the Isle of the Setting Sun (think Japanese), they will not be common on the mainland, but not unheard of either. Elves as a whole will be isolationist, however individuals travel for various reasons, and if they ever made it to Thedas would have nothing but disdain for the Dalish and Alienage elves. They generally consider themselves superior to the humans, equal to the dwarves, and I haven’t yet decided how to have them relate to the Kossith. The Kossith replace Ogres in Jade Empire, but they will not be Qunari, the Qun has not reached this part of the world yet. Not sure how I will handle the Kossith yet, I may have them as a portion of their race that fled their lands in the distant past, rather than submit to the Qun.

Unfortunately I lost a chunk of files when my old notebook crashed, some of it was Jade Empire notes. I’m recreating what I had as time, interest and life allow. Eh…it’s what I’m playing with for the moment. :roll:
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Saisei » Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:40 am

*Spoilers for any of my players*

In our game I've basically made it so that none of the origins from DA: O existed/happened. So essentially Alistair was the only Grey Warden left and he didn't have the stones to use the old treaties to try to recruit an army. Ferelden in my game is being overrun(my party are currently in the Free Marches) and will most likely become a Darkspawn empire/country with it's own civil war (ala DA: Awakenings).

While this is going on I took the hook from Autumn Falls about a cult worshipping the Old Gods and ran with it. I've incorporated it with other plots I had going and now that cult (Cult of The Last Moon) are trying to resurrect the Archdemon Dumat. So Dumat may be rising in Tervinter and the Urthemiel is ruling the former kingdom of Ferelden. And my players are right in the middle.

I've also hinted at vampires in my game that the players inadvertently created during the Amber Rage quest.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Andferne » Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:25 pm

Saisei wrote:I've also hinted at vampires in my game that the players inadvertently created during the Amber Rage quest.

If you wouldn't mind I would like to see your expanded take on this. The events that lead up to this, and your set up for the Vampires.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Balgin Stondraeg » Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:24 pm

My changes: I reverted darkspawn and Quanri to look like they did in Origins instead of the cartoony manga/goatboay look that Bioware seem to have gone with in later iterations of the franchise.

Andferne wrote:
Saisei wrote:I've also hinted at vampires in my game that the players inadvertently created during the Amber Rage quest.

If you wouldn't mind I would like to see your expanded take on this. The events that lead up to this, and your set up for the Vampires.


You know there is a single "vampire" in Ferelden. Anyone who's done the black marsh quest line in Awakening should know what I mean. There's an area tainted by a bloodmage and the clues uncovered in the investigation bear all the hallmarks of a vampire storyline. It's left vague as to wether she has actualy achieved such a state but then a vampire doesn't need to literaly suck blood and a blood mage draining people's life forces to fuel it's prolonged existence is practicaly the same thing regardless of the method. And it's being all the more human only serves to make it nastier.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Saisei » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:26 am

Balgin Stondraeg wrote:
You know there is a single "vampire" in Ferelden. Anyone who's done the black marsh quest line in Awakening should know what I mean. There's an area tainted by a bloodmage and the clues uncovered in the investigation bear all the hallmarks of a vampire storyline. It's left vague as to wether she has actualy achieved such a state but then a vampire doesn't need to literaly suck blood and a blood mage draining people's life forces to fuel it's prolonged existence is practicaly the same thing regardless of the method. And it's being all the more human only serves to make it nastier.


Y'know I had actually forgotten about that until you mentioned it. Must replay Awakenings.

Andferne wrote:
If you wouldn't mind I would like to see your expanded take on this. The events that lead up to this, and your set up for the Vampires.


Sure. I actually posted about it when it happened (over a year ago) which is here

Actually, upon reading that post you've already read it Andferne! I'll explain what's happened since.

After that the party completed the Where Eagle's Lair adventure, on their way back to Denerim they found a body on the road by a caravan. Through a heal check they learned that the body seemed to have only been killed within the last day but it appeared emaciated and decomposed as if it had been there for weeks. They also noticed that the throat had been torn out and seemingly the blood drained from it's body. Needless to say they were hugely unnerved and scooted along quickly. Then nothing happened for a while.

In Denerim they heard jumbled rumours about similar bodies but didn't really catch them because they were intermingled with talk of cults and darkspawn and all manner of other things.

So we took a hiatus for a few months at the end of A Fragile Web and a suitably dramatic point. The party met up again at the Autumn Falls. At the part where the party is attacked by The Last Moon cult on their way back from meeting Aehrenthal, one of the party saw something on the rooftops: a black shadow with burning red eyes that made an inhuman hissing growl, before darting off into the night. The party were utterly freaked out and barred their windows for the next few nights. They also purposely ignored any other nudge I gave them to investigate it, choosing not to go looking for trouble.

My plan next is for people they've met and helped to start turning up dead with little messages for them scrawled in blood. I want them to be continuously unnerved and feel like they're being hunted and unable to figure out what is happening.

I have a couple of ideas for the big reveal that it was their fault, that they created this thing and caused numerous deaths, but I've nothing solid yet.
Last edited by Saisei on Fri May 04, 2012 4:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Ghostdanser » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:45 am

Saisei wrote:My plan next is for people they've met and helped to start turning up dead with little messages for them scrawled in blood. I want them to be continuously unnerved and feel like they're being hunted and unable to figure out what is happening.

I have a couple of ideas for the big reveal that it was their fault, that they created this thing and caused numerous deaths, but I've nothing solid yet.


Thou art evil, sir! ... I respect that. Nicely done. >:D
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Zapp » Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:08 am

Guardian of the Peak wrote:Alright so I'm kind of new to this forum but I'm a big time fan of Dragon Age, both the video games and the RPG, and have been with the universe since Origin's release. In short, Hi!!

Okay on to the topic. We all know Thedas and the DA universe for what it is, a dark fantasy world of magic, gods, demons, politics, and lots of blood. Now that's all well and good but sometimes things just need a bit of a change of pace or setting. As such, I'm wondering what changes my fellow game masters out there have done game wise to spice things up. Things like new weapon styles or groups, races, towns- things like that. I for one have done a few minor things so far but intend on taking things in, not a ridiculous direction, but a bit out there. Can't wait to hear from you guys.

I like your summary: magic, gods, demons, politics and lots of blood!

My campaign could be said to take place in a "skyrimmed" Ferelden: a primitive Ferelden "many generations ago". These viking*/saxon proto-Fereldans worship the Futhark, a pantheon of seven dark gods: Dumat, Zazikel, Toth, Andoral, Urthemiel, Razikale, and Lusacan (the names might ring a bell ;) ) Blights are an unknown concept, but Darkspawn aren't. Dwarves have yet to make their true presence known, but Elves are already oppressed... ;)

The "behind the scenes truth" however is to free me the GM from existing CRPG lore.

*) Can't have a campaign without helmets with horns pointing downward :green:
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Guardian of the Peak » Wed May 02, 2012 10:10 am

Zapp wrote:My campaign could be said to take place in a "skyrimmed" Ferelden: a primitive Ferelden "many generations ago". These viking*/saxon proto-Fereldans worship the Futhark, a pantheon of seven dark gods: Dumat, Zazikel, Toth, Andoral, Urthemiel, Razikale, and Lusacan (the names might ring a bell ;) ) Blights are an unknown concept, but Darkspawn aren't. Dwarves have yet to make their true presence known, but Elves are already oppressed... ;)

The "behind the scenes truth" however is to free me the GM from existing CRPG lore.

*) Can't have a campaign without helmets with horns pointing downward :green:


Changing up the mythos a bit huh? I like it, really I do. I get a Replace the Tevinter Imperium with the Avvarians feeling from it.
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Re: Changing the Face of Thedas: Your/your GM's Changes

Postby Bardwulf » Fri May 04, 2012 3:11 am

I haven't really made any changes per se, but I have taken a few liberties and added some "hidden history".

For example, I've had a hidden history cover up that there was a mini split (well, more a welt) in the fade at the Mage Tower a few years ago, before the big one that came to happen in actual history.
You can actually see a video of me talking about that here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97B7jGSbZo8

I have also had it that the Arch Demon woke up long before we saw him being active, historically. I want my level 2 party to come across the thing drinking the contents of a lake dry (that's what you'd do when you wake) before returning back below. After all, the darkspawn can feed him, but not sate his thirst now he no longer hibernates.
This will be a common sense test on the party. He will be passive (they are below caring about right now) unless attacked, lol! So they best not attack him, because I don't even need to roll dice...

I had it that the lake no longer exists in current post computer game DA time, as the water was drunk.
The lake has no connective river or stream, but instead has a freshwater current that bubbles up very slowly from below and out through another venting. When drained, the lake reveals a dragon's graveyard, so instinct had brought the creature to this place to drink up the broth of its kind.

I actually wrote a piece of supporting poetry for the encounter. It reads:

And they didst find it down amongst the deep,
The dark corrupted creatures where the old Gods sleep,
And they didst awake it and filled it full of pain,
They shared with it their horror which it quite insane,
And there they didst nourish it they fed it with their kin,
It then flew up unto a lake it drank it on a whim.
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