This is an idea for an RP that's been running around in my head for a while now. Im not sure if it's sufficient for a setting in and of itself though, possibly it could be a country in a larger and more well thought out world. It's main flaw from my perspective is it seems to be very narrow in focus, by virtue of specification; I realised that after the seventy second time I typed the word "military".
I have loose plans for what the "Outside" will be like, as well as some idea of how things got so dystopian and monster-infested, but for the most part the game would take place inside the Hold or city-state. It's large enough in my head to contain several adventures, at least. Besides, Ive already way way too much to be of interest to anyone except me, so I figured Id keep something in reserve >_<
Things Im still not sure of include what non-human races there should be, if any. On one hand Im going for an incredibly human centric and xenophobic culture, on the other hand, having only human characters will probably be boring. Also, whether there should only be this one Hold: Im currently divided between several city states seperated by great distances, one known city state and no recent contact with any others, or one city state that happens to be the last one that hasn't been overrun and destroyed.
Anyway, Ill take any suggestions of any kind. Im very new to creating fantasy settings, and have the suspicion Im not actually any good at it, so any advice on how to flesh this one out or make it more interesting, or random questions or suggestions, or just... anything, really... Yeah. Ill shut up now.
Plot Premise: A High Fantasy world is almost entirely overrun by hordes of fierce and powerful monsters. The remaining humans cluster together in collections of fortresses behind gigantic, thick stone walls, in self-sufficient city-states called Holds. Every man and woman is required by their city-state to undergo military training and serve a compulsory stint in the army. These huge armies of conscripts and the massive defences they man are the only thing that keep the monsters at bay, and the humans relatively safe. Life expectancy for a soldier in the army varies from Considerably Reduced to Horribly Small, depending on where they happened to be assigned.
Even the lowest monsters in this world are formidable creatures, and are usually more then capable of besting a human on a one to one basis. Humans tend to win battles through force of numbers and military tactics, instead of superior martial prowess. Monsters are not things that get slain by regular troops offhand whenever a particular group of them gets uppity, as if they minor inconveniences. They are the creatures of nightmare that devour men, and they must be kept outside the city walls (Or at least, the inner city wallsâ€¦) at all costs. The entire society is built around this endeavour.
The common ambition of every human is to survive long enough and get promoted high enough to have some say in where they are assigned, climb the social hierarchy and eventually to leave the army, and have their chances of survival improved. This, coupled with the high mortality rate, has the unfortunate side effect that exceptional commanders and elite soldiers tend to either get killed off or aspire to become members of the upper class and get the hell out of the army as quickly as possible. There are patriotic, ultra-dutiful types who are also competent soldiers, but these heroic individuals tend to be given their choice of any number of horrendously dangerous yet nevertheless vital assignments, and usually either die or fast develop the good sense to keep their heads down.
People that have someone survived their entire term are honourably discharged and known as Freemen, and are no longer obligated to serve in the army. Occasionally, singular acts of heroism may be rewarded with honourable discharge, or honourable discharge may be offered as an incentive for undertaking and returning alive from what is most likely an important suicide mission.
Particularly skilled soldiers close to becoming Freemen are usually reorganised or request transfer to the interior parts of the main citadel, where they serve as a Guardian Soldier. This mainly involves serving as a kind of police force for the inner citadel, and act as personal protectors of the privileged and the elite. They frequently have to deal with all kinds of shady conspiracies, as well as the sneakier types of monsters that are attempting to subvert from within, so while this position still carries a high chance of being killed in the line of duty while attempting to clear out a nest of infiltrating saboteurs, you are generally paid better and face death on a less constant basis then if you were â€œoutsideâ€. As these soldiers are generally pretty close to being Freemen themselves, and feel as if they have mostly â€œdone their bitâ€ for their nation, they generally arenâ€™t keen to get killed a few weeks or months before they could leave the army. However, being as they are the guys in charge of protecting the people with the power, they are very wary at been seen to be lacking and transferred back out to somewhere horrible, and those in charge are quite keen that the men who stand guard for them be competent and willing to fight.
Magic: Magic exists, but is not overpowering or a decisive tool enough to improve the outlook for the human race. Magically Attuned humans are also very uncommon, exceptionally powerful magic users even more so. Aside from combat, magic does have lots of practical applications for common trades like farming and industry, which allows the city states to maintain self-sufficient yet very limited economies, providing there is a strict allocation of the work force and rationing of certain goods.
Social class/hierachy: The nobles and upper class consist of ex-military officers who have been released from duty. This is either because they miraculously survived their long term of service and were honourably discharged, or they accumulated enough personal wealth and power to pay others who have been honourably discharged to volunteer in their place. A less respectable but worryingly common possibility is that they were discharged because they managed to bribe the right officials and scratch the right backs.
The social hierarchy has the government and military high command (Which amounts to much the same thing) at the top of the pyramid, directly above the richer nobles and less powerful government lackies and bureaucrats. The pecking order among the â€œnoblesâ€ is more complicated, and basically boils down to how close you live to the center of the citadel and whether you have to work for your supper. Particularly rich merchants are about the lowest strata of Freemen that can actually support themselves without having to reenlist in the army.
Beneath them are the honourably discharged â€œfreemenâ€ who either through choice or financial necessity choose to be paid to serve in the army, then the Guardian Soldiers, and finally the common folk, of whom there is a breakdown of those skilled workers who arenâ€™t obligated to spend as much time in the army, and unskilled labourers for whom enlistment requirements are strictly enforced.
As a commoner, closer you are to the fringes of the city, the more often your community will suffer monster attacks, the poorer the education you will receive, and the worse you have it. In theory anyone can do their time in the army and climb the rungs of the social ladder, but in practice, the slums produce the bulk of the human fodder that makes up the army. Commoners who have no skills are drafted into the army at 16, usually straight to infantry as they have no other useful skills. After a weeks combat training they are lumped into a squad of about thirty others, half of them completely green, and are most likely to get killed in the first week or even day of service.
Religion: Cultural and religious dogma promotes duty as the single highest human virtue, likes to idolize martyrs, and usually promises an eternal afterlife (sans monsters) for those who served faithfully in life. A recurring theme is the idea of a sort of reverse end of times, in which the gods will smite the monsters and mankind can leave without fear of being besieged. A more thoughtful though no less idealistic interpretation of these prophecies is a day where all citizens will be so brave and dutiful and selfless in their military service, that nothing will stop them breaking out of their city, annihilating the monsters that beseige them, and claiming the whole planet for their children. This eventuality is thought to be imminent the same way that Judgement Day is in our world, and generally appeals to the same kind of people.
Practically, this works out as everyone being expected to deal with their own problems and baggage, and you work as a team to keep your comrades alive, but anyone who falls behind gets left behind. You do your duty to the letter, but to the precise wording of your given orders and no more. Thereâ€™s nothing at all morally reprehensible with leaving an injured comrade behind as monster chow if heâ€™s slowing you down. Volunteering for absolutely *anything* is publicly lauded as admirable and privately thought of as completely stupid. Nobody wants a coward for squad mate, but noone wants to share a foxhole with anyone braver then they are, either. Even if they donâ€™t do something foolhardy and put everyone in danger, theyâ€™ll make the rest of the unit look bad and screw up their chances of transfer.
The upshot of this is that all too often the soldiers on the front lines and the most dangerous postings are the newest recruits and least able warriors, while the most gifted officers tend to at least try to gravitate to the less dangerous positions, if not leave the army entirely. The current stalemate is most likely going to continue for the foreseeable future. Either the city-state will be gradually worn down at the edges, or it will slowly grow bigger and expand outwards at great cost of human life.
However, maybe there is something to what the preachers say. Maybe if everyone wasnâ€™t so concerned with doing the bare minimum in terms of duty, maybe some real progress could be made. Maybe the right sort of heroes, properly organised, could really do some substantial damage to the enemy, could really make a difference?
Player characters: The PCâ€™s will play relatively exceptional individuals- their basic starting characters will either be Magically Attuned individuals, or hardened warriors and adventurers possessing above average martial prowess and skills in their chosen professions. Each is either an experienced and hardened soldier, or alternatively, an inexperienced soldier who has demonstrated great potential during training and their initial assignments, and were â€œbought outâ€ from their regular unit to work as a mercenary.
They are all members of name-currently-undetermined organisation, which is a combination of a Mercenaries Guild, a temp agency, and a secret treehouse club for hardass adventurers. This organisation is different to the rest of the army in that itâ€™s actually, for the most part, composed of people who could get out of the army if they so chose, but chose to remain in the line of danger- out of a sense of loyalty, or adventure, or desire to obtain personal wealth, or make a lasting difference- there could be any number of motivations. Itâ€™s also composed mostly of Freemen beholden to nobody, so they are pretty much free agents.