The Five Blades of Bahamut

June 19, 2008

A time of troubles

Ten years ago, it seemed that things had changed. Queen Rajani took back the throne from her sister, Sarasa, and reversed the trend of corruption and dissolution which was rotting the nation. She carefully manuevered politically and had the Clans under control and even got the guilds to play enough of a role that civil war did not break out. New sky temples ot Avandra were being built everyday, and the flow of trade and airships has been strong. Alliances had been made with the Bayani to the east and Abasyins to the north.

But then, three months ago, the Kuo-toa rose from their watery homes and invaded the eastern coastline in full force- this was no mere raid. And they did not retreat, but set up forts. Rajani responded by calling up the clan forces to send warriors and airships, and so they have. The battles have been fierce, troubling so, for the fish people have rarely found land worth holding onto.

In this time of trouble, the clans have sought to make their bids for power. Cults of Tiamat which once flourished under Sarasa are beginning to move again. Pirates are more bold. And the people? Quickly losing faith. If something is not done soon, the country will split apart, and then, who knows?

It falls on brave, clever, and strong ones such as yourself, those who love this land and the people. The Queen sees your virtues and recognizes you. You are her chosen, you are her will.

Be strong, and brave, and never let the dream fall.

Basic Concept

India + Airships + D&D. Take the fashion sensibility of Final Fantasy- anachronistic- a mix of traditional, fantasy and modern garb. Likewise, drop the need for fidelity to cultural and historical reality (D&D to Europe? Right.) Or rather, dial it to your taste. Mix in a few other ethnicities from the trade routes. Emphasize humans, de-emphasize elves, dwarves, etc. Keep the basic D&D concepts, throw twists on gods and monsters. (Evil Humanoids? Not races. Evils manifest- there’ll be no baby killing for Lawful Good in this setting.

Heroes are the chosen agents of the Queen. They’ll get broad orders to fulfill, but have room on specifically how they go about that. In the overarching goal, it’s save, protect, and serve the nation, leaving plenty of room for players to insert their own goals and quests under that umbrella.

Player Stuff

Players should feel free to change the fluff/color on their powers to fit concept, so long as it doesn’t change the mechanical effect (including damage type).

As requested by the players, there will be:
– Air Pirates
– Prince of Persia Style Traps
– Shady Magical Groups

Chargen questions:
– What did the Queen say or do to earn your respect?
– What did you say or do to earn hers?

(sets up something meaningful about the character, nice sense of direction to work with)

Major Conflicts

1. Loyalists to Queen Sarasa

Well, probably less loyalists and more corrupt opportunists. Folks upset when the nation gets an actual ruler who gives a damn about the people and stops them from abusing their power. Add in a bunch of folks who think they’ll get rich/powerful by overthrowing Queen Rajani. These folks generally form cults of Tiamat and play with bad magic like making Dragonspawn.

2. Clan Conflicts

Everyone’s trying to help their own. Plenty of room for politics, bickering, and shady business. Serves as groups with agendas which are at cross to many things. A great place for grey areas, alliances, backstabbing, etc.

3. The Kuo-Toa

Basically, war. Since it’s gone on for three months, you also have plenty of room for the fallout of war- missing able-bodied warriors, those who take advantage of it, supply shortages, lack of transport, etc.


  1. I would play the hell out of that. Mythic India (or an India-esque fantasy setting, anyway) would be huge, huge fun. Indian folklore really deserves a lot more attention (okay, exploitation) from RPGs. And, really, the airships fit in immediately, rather than being an addition. You’ve heard of vimanas, right?

    Then you’ve got all kinds of other awesome elements, like the idea of miracle-working holy men who are empowered by their own righteousness and devotion, rather than from deities (and, in fact, could become more powerful than the gods). And immaterial or spiritual magical weapons which manifest when a mantra is spoken. Hidden races of illusion-weaving snake-, monkey-, and eagle-people. You could even discard the usual alignment structure and focus on different positions on (and interpretations of) dharma.

    I’d probably make changes to a lot of that stuff, though, or at least file the names off. Unless I was gonna go all the way and set the game very explicitly in Fantasy India, right between Fantasy China and the Fantasy Middle East.

    (Actually looking at a map, now, and the Fantasy Arabian Sea would be a hell of an awesome place to set some kind of campaign. Lots of different kinds of people, and lots of different mythology to draw on. But I’m digressing pretty heavily, right now.)

  2. Actually, I specifically wanted to avoid really messing with the cultural elements. One thing I notice is that D&D (and most of modern fantasy) has no problem tossing the cultural bits when it comes to the noncolored normative, but when it comes to depicting POC, suddenly “real world culture” (or at least stereotypes thereof) kick in.

    I mean, I’d love to see a good mythic India game, but I just don’t really trust gamerdom to do anything that isn’t a horrible festival of cultural appropriation.

  3. I’d entirely agree, actually, but for different reasons. I don’t really see any evil in flagrant cultural appropriation, but it’s generally a lot more to my taste to play with unique cultures that simply use a few game-friendly bits from real-world mythology (example: vimanas).

    Still, I do have to say that seeing India and the surrounding area given the 7th Sea treatment could be fun. More fun than 7th Sea’s default setting, I think.

    All this aside, though, where would you draw the line, exactly? I’m not really sure where “the cultural elements” begin and the elements of India you’d like to play with end. What are the defining criteria? I tend to think of culture as encompassing just about everything, so I apologize if this is something that should be obvious.

  4. Well, think of it this way- how much of medieval europe does D&D -really- encompass? For the most part, it takes elements of fashion, elements of architecture, and the barest of social structure.

    I see D&D fantasy is not about history in any sense, it’s just an action game built around fantasy as speculative fiction. There’s this thing when we talk about D&D fantasy where if I wanted to play a white character, no one would expect me to have to conform to historical (or perceived historical) standards, whereas, if I play a character of color, people would.

    Then throw in other players -trying- to play to that. I’ve found it highly problematic in my experience.

    In terms of printed supplements, I put to it the same standards I put to any form of mass media- what is the social context in which it is being viewed? When it comes to other cultures, unfortunately, we are so horribly misinformed, media-wise, that cultural appropriation NEARLY ALWAYS feeds into the problem.

    As much as people like to say, “Everyone knows it’s not -really- like that”, one need only look at everything from policy decisions to daily experiences of POC in to see that this media -does- have an effect in terms of how folks get treated.

    For example- I spent about 2 hours trying to google some kind of historical, or fantasy images of Indians, but all I could pull up was gods or sexual images.

    That’s problematic. If that’s the defining understanding that the West has of a country they’ve had contact and trade with for over 2 or 3 centuries, what does that say?

    The problem with cultural appropriation is that it’s a matter of defining voices that matter. More people can tell you about “yoga” as defined by new age sales groups than can tell you about yoga as defined by the people themselves.

    That’s problematic.

  5. I don’t know why I hadn’t added you to my feeds before, but I am now. Thank you for helping me think.

  6. Hey, it’s all good. I lurk on Seeking Avalon about once a week or so! As I do more comics posts, maybe we’ll have more direct overlap in content.

  7. This looks really really good.

    On the subject of Indian RPG supplements check out a company called Dog Soul Publishing. The have a product line called Sahasra that is based in India. You can find the pdfs at RPGNOW.com

    (I have no association with them)

    I’m very tempted to give your setting outline a try. There are a couple of D20 Steampunk and Victorian products that would fill in a lot of gaps.

    Thanks for the Blog.


  8. Ack. Just looked up some of the Sahasra stuff… just reading someof the promotional material screams exotifying, othering, and appropriative in ways that twig me right off the bat.

    Because India is already so outside defined in the West, I think I’ll stick to my D&D-ish world with POC casting rather than contribute to the problem.

  9. Meh, Its a d20 adventure, not an anthropology document. Most all of it will be reinterpreted by the players anyway. For a couple of bucks it gives you something to jump off for for a session.

    Rather than simply throwing stones, do you know of a treatment that is acceptable to you?

  10. Check out Mridangam in the Push vol. 1 Anthology.

    Basically, why pay for something that’s weak, bullshit and inaccurate? You could get as much from reading a new age faux-hindu site. Or, you could, you know, research a bit on Wikipedia and some of the many websites by Indians on their culture.

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