Pirates' many bejeweled rings and piercings actually had a practical purpose - when the pirate or sailor died, the rings could be taken off as payment for a proper burial, saving him from a watery grave. This could be tied into regional culture, or made into a quest (The Pirate's Lost Rings, etc.). Also gives treasure-seeking divers another thing to look for besides crusty old chests.
In the province of Behar in India, there is a bizarre custom that persists to the present day. Young men are kidnapped at knife (gun) point, and forced into marriage. If they refuse or cause trouble upon meeting their blushing bride-to-be, they are told that their family members will come to harm or even be killed if they resist. Some manage to fall in love or accept their fate. This scenario can be adapted to any rpg, ideally with a pc in the role of the abducted future husband!
Next time your contemplating a horse variation, but don't want to get too dramatic, how about a Zorse? An offspring of a zebra stallion and horse mare. In nature they are infertile, but in a fantasy world, not necessarily. They are also known to be extremely cantankerous.
"It soon became apparent that zorses are not the most easiest of the equine family to get along with." -- Trainer Pat Parelli, on working with zorses
Forsht Bligo is a dwarf who loves the taste of blood. He's become quite the connoisseur over the years. Pigs blood, sheeps blood, cow's blood, if it's red and warm, Forsht considers it a delicacy. The fresher and hotter the better. Forsht will often sneak up on cattle, prick them with his dagger, and catch the flowing blood in his orc-skull drinking cup. His life goal is to taste the blood of every living animal. Although he has not yet sampled humanoid blood, he is not averse to doing so if the right opportunity presents itself. He is not particularly unpleasant if approached and can be easily befriended. Its just that he simply can't get enough of the "Juice of Life", as he calls it. Forsht's troubles come in the form of frightened and angry villagers who have proclaimed the misunderstood dwarf a vampire. Since Forsht is amused by this, he does little to dissuade anyone. This will lead to some dicey situations for Forsht in the near future.
A village where everyone goes blind sometime during puberty. What could be causing this? Perhaps something in their diet. Or some malignant gene. How would an entire village where only young childen can see function?
These little beetles have heads at both ends of their bodies. This allows them to feed on leaves at twice the rate of their normal cousins, causing great damage to crops. They look like ladybugs more than actual beetles, but have no wings. They have a funny way of moving if one stops to watch them, as both heads seem to vie for picking the direction at any given time. Their favorite nourishment is sugar cane. After feasting on these for some time, they develop short bursts of frenetic energy, and can be seen racing back and forth without purpose, which looks quite comical to onlookers. They are otherwise normal bugs. Of course the pc's might not know that.
One day a a wind begins to blow out of the West. The next day it gets stronger. And stronger still the next few days. Eventually (and fortunately), the speed of the wind tops out at a steady fifty miles an hour, but continues to blow. Soon an entire kingdom is wondering why it's not abating. The weather mages deem it unnatural but can't seem to banish or control it. The priests of various faiths claim it's divine. The End-Of-Days crowd is having a field day with their predictions of doom. No one knows why the gale persists. When inquiring with neighboring kingdoms, it seems they too suffer from a persistent western mistral. Eventually the populace begins to adapt to living with a twenty four hour a day wind. Always from the West, and perpetual. What could be causing this? A raging Elemental king? a curse from the gods? an unearthed artifact? Or has Nature itself gone haywire?
A slow, stupid creature that crawls onto people and latches onto them, often on feet, hands, and other extremities, numbing down the area and slowly feeding on it. It's easy to avoid while awake, but nearly impossible to remove once attached. Many an adventurer has been forced to hack off an arm or leg after waking with a Stoneleech wrapped around it. Sleep with one eye open! (This idea came from "Wizard's Rule")
It was a dark and scary night....Ideas ( Locations )
Except, it doesn't have to be. Nighttime can be a relaxing, peaceful time in the world, when nature rests and soft shadows cover the ground. Not every night has to be filled with vampires, ghosts, beasts, and things jumping out from dark places.
A society in which people believe that the hundreds of stars that dot the sky are the dreams of the sleeping. When the sun goes down, and the people of the world rest, the dreams begin to seed the sky, disappearing in the morning as the populace awakes once more. It could be just a folk tale, or it could be real...
A world where most people know a few cantrips and even non-magical people can help to cast spells. Which is just as well because the big spells can only be cast with the help of large numbers of people.Most large spells tend to protect borders and stop earthquakes as they can be done legally, but there are those willing to cast bad large spells s well.A major part of law enforcement in this world is preventing evil magic.
When was the last time a character caught a cold or flu? Real people get them every now and again even with solid heating and dry interiors. Your characters are out in the cold and wet, and even inside is not always dry and warm. Imagine having to stop your dungeon crawl, sitting in a tight defensive position, while you all are feverish.
There are crimes for which a man is not killed, but chased into the wilds, away from his home and country, to not return or be killed on the spot. In one culture is the condemned mutilated, and even his vocal cords are damaged so that the voice is unrecognizable to his friends and family. This is the punishment for people too obsessed with their own prestige.
If a fighter has a +1 sword that only gives that plus one if he does an exhausting practice routine in the morning, he's liable to ditch the magic sword and just use an old fashioned chunk of steel. Rather than being wore out and need to rest a couple hours before he gets started just in case he needs that plus one, he could just strap on a blade and ride off without having to deal with all the issues. (From Something Agar said)
What about a 'criminal' society with distinct laws - for stealing, the larger the value of something stolen, the less punishment the courageous thief recieves (but must return it of course). For this pirates(?) caught petty thieves deserve to be punished harshly. If you take, you better take a lot.
A world based not on light and dark in conflict, but light and dark in balance. A world governed by a giver and a taker, rather than a creator and a destroyer. A world where evil is as much a corruption of light as it is darkness. Conflict arises out of a will to upset the balance.
I was in a game with a GM that had a Masters in History, who made is a point to mention that the local peasants didn't have wheelbarrows. The rest of the players just shrugged that off but I knew that the GM was trying to tell us the peasants were on the knife edge of starvation.
All that from wheelbarrows? Yes, because before the invention of the wheelbarrow it took two men to carry that load. In it's time the wheelbarrow was the most explosive production multiplier that the peasantry could get their hands on.
This is worth two tips: One about the power of the Wheelbarrow and the other is the moral of the story...that people need to know the point you are trying to make.
"The Cetemi have a most curious custom that in their celebrations must all men don the garb of women and women... the garb of men, to the aim that none shall... know another." -An Account of Barbarian Lands, Lord Shakthur
Thieve's House or thier main front: All the floors are designed to squeak when stepped upon or to sag or bend sending a small shake along the beam, somewhat like a spiders web, to alert those inside. By: Strolen |