Monday, June 15, 2009

Desert Elves & Orcs

I was working on a desert based adventure for my son's game the other day and I got to thinking about some things I really liked from AD&D 2nd Ed. Desert Elves and Al-Qadim. In my Mstaroerth world I have an area that is roughly equal to the Sahara desert. I am thinking of putting some the Al-Qadim stuff there. I would include Desert Elves, that also appeared in 3rd Ed. For me the desert elves would be tall, thin, dark skinned and be the merchants and royalty of the land. I would use them to typify what is thought of as the best stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs (the hospitality, the reverence for tradition and religion), not that there would not be "Bad" ones per se, but I am saving my bad guy role for another race. Humans. Humans of this land fell prey to the Necromancer Kings and thus most humans are seen as defilers, infidels and outright evil. Most of the time this stereotype will play out.

But what about Orcs? Well if the desert elves are the sultans and emirs of the land, then the orcs are their body guards. That's right. I want elves and orcs working together. What happened was many millennia ago when the Necromancer Kings rose to power it was the elves and the orcs that fought them. Once united they then discovered that they had skills that were mutually beneficial to each other. Orcs are still militaristic with small war cadres connected to powerful elf families. For an orc it is an honor to serve since the more powerful the elf family the stronger their own cadre is respected. The stronger the orc cadre, the more respected the family is and the more likely they will get goods to trade. An elf sultan will travel without his wife for example, but never without his orc escorts. I am also thinking that these groups of elves and orcs have also never heard of the elf-orcs wars that plague their cousins. Again stealing a bit from Al-Qadim here, but that is cool. Unlike Al-Qadim I was thinking of making these elves monotheistic and the orcs still worshiping altered versions of their own gods. For example Grumush was a great military leader, not a blood thirsty killer.

There were no Halflings, gnomes or dwarves here. But I will use Yuan-Ti, or rather my world's counter-part, the Ophidians. I have not decided on classes yet, but I am sure they will be slight alterations on the existing ones. For example a Sha'ir will be a normal magic user in OD&D or Spellcraft & Swordplay, and maybe a special kind of warlock in 4e. I have not figured out all the lands yet other than basics, but I am getting the urge to pull down my Al-Qadim information. I'd add some Dark Sun into it as well, IF I felt it fit and it really doesn't. Dark Sun always felt more "John Carter of Mars" to me than "Arabian Nights". What I like most about this idea is it is not Tolkienesque-fantasty-Europe.

I mentioned my Ærypt is a pastiche of Arypt, Erypt and Egypt with Gygax's Necropolis and Ravenloft's Har'Akir thrown in. So this is the lands west of that.

Looking forward to seeing where this takes me.


Zzarchov said...

I gotta say, I love your map, what did you develop your map in? hand drawn? photoshop? simple paint?

Also, I'm a big fan of vastly different cultures within a species so double + there.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I would love to take credit for it, but the map is based on the ideas of James Mishler and the cartography was done by Chatdemon (aka Rich Trickey) and I love it.

I should have some more of it up soon.

Elton said...

I followed your link from your comments and so far, this is good work. Keep it up.