So I've been looking at Heroes of Horror and some ideas for a campaign have been forming in my head. As a Greyhawk fan, I like the idea suggested of a campaign where Iuz has won and the word is mostly ruled by his minions. There would be pockets of resistance everywhere, but by and large the world of Oerth is a very evil and desolate place.
Taking this a step further, suppose Iuz's victory was so great that he managed what no god has ever managed before: cutting off the divine conduits that link mortals to their gods. Suppose Iuz enacted some effect that shields Oerth from the divine influence of all beings except those who originated on Oerth (or maybe even all divine beings but Iuz!). This would limit the gods quite a bit. Mayaheine and St. Cuthbert would be his greatest rivals while the followers of Rao, Heironeous, Pelor, etc. would find their divine powers squelched. Perhaps this effect was how Iuz managed to defeat many of the nations that are very devoted to specific powers, like Veluna and Furyondy. Shortly after he completed this effect, Furyondian followers of Heironeous and Velunese followers of Rao were powerless and quickly fell to Iuz. With the two greatest barriers to his domination out of the way, Iuz easily subjugated most of the Flanaess.
As a side effect, the cleric class is no longer a very viable option for PCs unless one is a cleric of St. Cuthbert or Mayaheine (or other ascended mortals like Vecna). However, a new kind of divine caster has arisen in the world to take the traditional place of the cleric: the archivist class from Heroes of Horror. Clerics of Iuz reign freely in the land sowing chaos and disruption and clerics of good gods have fallen by the wayside. However a group of devoted learners have dedicated themselves to preserving divine lore. This group is the archivists, who master divine magic by memorization and non-specific prayers rather than direct divine channeling. They lack many of the abilities of their cleric forebears, but have abilities that help them to cope with this new, bleak world. In effect, the cleric class is off limits to PCs as are most classes that receive divine magic directly from gods (i.e. favored soul). Paladins and rangers use the non-spellcasting variants from CW and gain their other magical abilities from a source besides their god. Religions remain, but magically powerful priests are a thing of the past.
I've enjoyed Heroes of Horror quite a bit in my Shadows on the March campaign (set in Sterich). I like your thoughts about the implications of cutting Oerth from the Outer Planes, i.e., using the archivist class though I dislike the basic idea -- didn't like it in Vecna Lives! and still don't.
One reason I don't like the basic idea goes to the question of how is it done. If a barrier is created in the Astral Plane, can't it be attacked? If the Prime Material Plane of Oerth can be disassociated from the Astral completely, how could a lil godling like Iuz (or Vecna) manage it in a cosmos of gods like Istus, Boccob, Lendor, and Cyndor. Also, if the Astral connection has been cut, what about the Ethereal? What about the new Plane of Shadow (or even the old demi-plane)?
Another reason I find the idea problematic is the contradictory information about gods on Oerth, e.g., Fharlanghn and Ehlonna. Even if they're not on Oerth but only in its Prime Material Plane, why can't they act against the rogue demi-god and squash him? To say nothing of Beory herself...
Please note that I'm not decrying your proposed campaign but instead presenting two of the main areas I suggest you develop creative explanations about -- so your campaign can be "better," e.g., if there's no Oerthly access to the Astral, there teleport spells now fail, etc.
I look forward to learning about your further thoughts.
PS - Likely you should deal with geographic issues. Can Iuz really control all the Flanaess? Is Shar and the Scarlet Brotherhood outside his reach? Also, are demons (and most other Outsiders) now unable to reach Oerth?
Thanks, mtg. This is exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for.
Regarding the basic idea, although there were problems with Vecna Lives!, this was not one of them imho. Oerth has a unique deific rule among campaign settings: that gods not native to the PM cannot interact directly with Oerth. There have been a number of reasons posited for this pact. Of the more respectable opinions include the notion that if the gods used Oerth as a personal battleground, the world would be destroyed in a matter of minutes, divesting them each of all their followers. However, another reason, and one that bears more use for this campaign idea, is that the gods have made this pact as part of the agreement to bind Tharizdun, which they all consider a threat. For whatever reason, they believe that their directly intervening in the affairs of Oerth might weaken the bonds on Tharizdun's prison.
Using that as a rationale makes it perfectly reasonable for someone like Iuz or Vecna (who are actually demigods, not just godlings) who is native to the PM to seal off the PM from the gods without their intervention. Better Iuz rule Oerth than Tharizdun destroy the world. And besides, he probably won't rule Oerth forever. A millenium at most. ;)
Now regarding HOW Iuz does it, well, that would be the point of the campaign actually. At the introduction of the campaign, I explain to the PCs that Iuz rules the world, and no one knows how. In 584 CY something happened, and clerics the world throughout lost contact with their patrons. There are lots of rumors. One holds that Iuz used the Blades of Corusk in some foul ritual. Another states that Iuz managed to pervert the intent of the Crook of Rao. But whatever the cause, Iuz's clerics are virtually the only ones who retained contact with their patron, and hence their divine abilities.
Now it seems like your interpretation of clerical power is that a cleric must somehow channel this power through the Astral plane or some other plane. I don't know if I've ever read this anywhere, although I do realize that the Astral plane connects every plane. Regardless, I don't think the Astral plane is a necessary channel in forming a divine conduit for said power, nor do I think that just because one's god cannot grant divine spells means that demons cannot be summoned. The idea I have is that Iuz has managed to sequester Oerth, not somehow create a barrier in the Astral plane. A PC with levels in cleric could still travel to another plane and use divine abilities. But at that point, Iuz doesn't care so much. On his home turf, it's not a level playing field, and that was his primary goal.
Now regarding the other gods who DO dwell on the PM (Fharlanghn, Vecna, and Beory are the only ones; Ehlonna lives in the Beastlands), Fharlanghn would not care to encourage his followers to oppose Iuz as long as Iuz doesn't close the roads. Some of his good or law-aligned followers might oppose Iuz on more idealistic grounds while some of his chaotic or evil-aligned followers might support him for the same reasons, but by and large, his followers would not fight Iuz unless Iuz made things particularly troublesome for him. "Fharlanghn is the patron of all who travel long distances, no matter what path they follow or how they're getting there." So he is the patron of the blackguard riding a nightmare from Dorakaa to Molag as much as he is the paladin riding a special mount from Chendl to Mitrik.
Vecna would continue to oppose Iuz as he always has, that is uneffectively. Vecna is simply not as overt as Iuz. He doesn't use armies and mighty displays of magic to get what he wants. He is subtle and moves in the background. Plus, Iuz already beat him once in single combat, which makes me think that Vecna would not be all too eager to engage an empowered Iuz again anytime soon. However, one of the more interesting prospects for Vecna in this campaign, particularly as it relates to the horror theme, is that often the PCs might find themselves making unlikely allies with Vecna's followers simply because they are one of the few groups with divine powers who remains on Oerth and because such is now a rare commodity they have increased power. Of course, Iuz represses the cult of Vecna as much as ever so this would not necessarily make the PCs safer.
And finally we get to Beory. While I have no question in my mind that she would oppose Iuz, she does not have the kind of followers that would aid her well in this endeavor. Besides all that, it seems to me that although Beory is a greater deity, her power is wanning. It would be like an old army general trying to take on a youthful sergeant in fisticuffs. The old army general's strengths lie in planning and strategy, not physical power, while the sergeant often spends his time doing nothing but working out and training for field combat. Besides all that, being neutral (and just being the kind of goddess she is), Beory is not very confrontational. Hence, she would never just step in front of Iuz and say "not without beating me first."
Now as for the geographical issues, Iuz certainly can't control all of Oerth. However, he has a marked advantage over others. If you consider that Iuz had superior numbers to Furyondy before the Wars and that part of the reason Furyondy survived was their religious dedication and excellent strategic planning (as opposed to Iuz's chaotic ways and rule through fear), if you take away the divine power of Belvor's clerics and paladins, I see Furyondy falling within a week. Without the clergy of Heironeous, St. Cuthbert, Mayaheine, Pelor, Rao, and Trithereon to support them, the Furyondians would be heavily outgunned (and incapable of healing after battle).
After Furyondy falls (the country widely considered to have the "best" army in the world), the other countries would follow like dominoes for the most part. As I mentioned in my OP, there would be pockets of resistance everywhere. It would take years for Iuz to get the numbers necessary to physically dominate the rest of Oerth, but I think it would be easier than might be expected. First, although he lacks the loyalty of most of Oerth's humanoids, I have a feeling that orc clerics of Gruumsh and gobling clerics of Maglubiyet would rapidly convert after hearing that Iuz is now the only god worth serving (i.e. the only one who can give them the divine might that gives them such prominence in their tribes). I imagine many other followers of evil religions would also convert, though as many would probably remain stubborn to the bitter end. Obviously followers of good and lawful religions would be hard to persuade and in most cases I doubt they would be persuaded at all. But if you add just the followers of most of the world's CE or NE religions (Nerull, Incabulos, Erythnul, Pyremius, to name a few) to Iuz's ranks and those who serve them as underlings, his power increases immensely.
The most common problems I imagine would be corruption. Iuz can't possibly be everywhere at once (though as a god he can observe many places at once) and CE people tend to take bribes and do what generally serves them best. But the occassional threat of a Boneheart visit or even a personal visit from Iuz himself would frighten most of his rulers into at least occassional submission. Like I said, there would be pockets of resistance everywhere because of the corruption and other problems, but Iuz would still be "in charge" and for any resistance group to accomplish anything major would be a huge uphill battle.
Anyway, thanks for your input, mtg. It helped me get some kinks out of the idea and that's always good.
If I was going to use the ideas in Heros of Horror, which I am. I'd have it cebtered around Tharizdun and make it very Cthuluesque. Especially after reading the old Greyspace supplement and finding out about a group of stars in that sphere that form a haxagonal gateway. Great old ones from outerspace anyone?
Hey airwalkrr, any update on your campaign? Sorry for never responding. Life sidetracked me away from GH for most of 2006. Below are a few thoughts about your second post.
I wonder if Iuz's control of Oerth doesn't involve somehow binding Beory's power, perhaps at the navel of the Oerth, Tovag Baragu, and other places of profound mystical significance, i.e., the Oerth Stone and its related ziggurat, the access to oerthblood beneath Tenser's castle, that island off the coast of the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy, etc.
I really like your suggestion that Iuz's sequestering of Oerth is related to Tharizdun's prison although the Old One strikes me as an unlikely being to learn this secret on his own. Perhaps Iggwilv supplied it, stealing it from a Vecnan tract?
Ehlonna being in the Beastlands was a later ruling, I think. The WoG and GA (hardback Greyhawk Adventures) both placed her on the Prime Material Plane.
Some posters have interpreted Fharlanghn's Glossography entry specifies "Prime Material Plane (Oerth)" and Ehlonna's entry only stating "Prime Material" to mean that she is not on Oerth. I've toyed with adopting this interpretation to place her realm on Celene or Luna, in part because I link Ehlonna's worship amongst the old "Amazon" societies of the Central Flanaess (Wild Coast) to the moon. For example, her priestesses often call her the Bright Lady.
I really like how your campaign structures Vecna and his few cultists to support the PCs. Terribly dangerous and unpredictable allies!
Do you use the Touv? If so, I wonder if some of their gods are(n't) of Oerth. If even one of them is, then the campaign could have a nice geographical flavor change, with Iuz dominating the Flanaess and reaching into Civilized Bakluna, but Hepmoland (and perhaps the Amedio Jungle) being beyond the Old One's grasp.
I've kept this campaign idea in the back of my head for a while now. I haven't begun it yet, but I plan to eventually (in the next 2-3 years).
I like your idea about how Iuz's power is somehow or in some part related to Beory. I think I will yoink it. :) Thanks.
Iuz gaining something of an upper hand over Vecna and stealing a secret that had to do with Tharizdun sounds like a nifty idea too. Plus, it seeks to strengthen the theme of Iuz vs. Vecna. Vecnans in the campaign could feel somewhat remorseful (as much as their evil alignments allow them) for allowing Iuz to dominate Oerth. Perhaps they become quasi-tragic figures; pessimists who put a negative spin on everything and always blame themselves.
I had forgotten that Ehlonna was listed as dwelling on the Prime Material in 1e. I will probably use that source in that event. Of course, that does not mean Ehlonna is an effective enemy of Iuz. In the first place, her good alignment is more a reflection upon her tenderness and caring for woodland creatures, not her crusading spirit. She opposes Iuz in principal, but I can easily see her followers doing the hippie thing and playing pacifist. Of course the idea that maybe she lives on Luna or Celene is intriguing...
I have no objection to using the Touv although they have never been a fixture of my campaigns. (I've never run anything that heavily dealt with the Scarlet Brotherhood and their environs.) But I imagine if the idea is that Iuz cut the other gods off from Oerth that Touv (and Olman) gods would be included. Now the idea that Iuz's power has limit and he has only managed to cut the Flanaess off from the other gods is an interesting variation of the idea I may consider.[/i]
You could also add in the idea from Tharizduns worshippers for the gods not native to the prime. Like Tharizdun's worshippers, they need to hold or be in contact with an item consecrated by thier god. Now Iuz and the other churches have a reason to send out specialist groups whose sole job is to collect religious items. And maybe some of the less scruplous ones even have a thriving black market in these items.
Nothing detailed to add, just kicking some ideas around...
Read up on the Midnight campaign setting for ideas. It's very similar to what you're describing. I wouldn't borrow whole cloth from it, but it has a number of ideas, such as money, weapons, magic, and literacy being outlawed, and the "separation" of the world from the gods.
Savage World's Necessary Evil campaign is supervillains defeating all the superheroes, then having to defend the Earth against ... something. Perhaps Ius and Tharizdun go toe-to-toe for Last God Standing, and Our Heroes have to rise up to protect the Oerth from their ravages. Perhaps the two nasties had their own little Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, complete with treachery and aftermath...
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