Gods and Men 2.0: My Sword & Sorcery "Treatise"

Johnny Blaze

Feb 25, 2003
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For those who have had the pleasure (or unfortunate luck, if you prefer) to get to know me, know that I have a love for the Sword & Sorcery/Fantasy RPG genre. No example is more greater for this than the massive undertaking by SuperFerret and I a few years ago in the creation of Gods & Men.

Though the RPG showed, and held, immense promise it sadly never took flight. Looking back, maybe it was just too detailed for it's own good. The Hype RPGs as we know them, or at least as I see it, seem to thrive more when their is less "restrictions" on the players. In other words, the vast majority of "fleshing out" of the game world, and expanding on the basic backdrop, is left to the players to do.
Again, this is where I think the entire "DM mentality" Ferret and I were under when creating it may have helped set up the game's eventual demise.

So consider this thread my proposition of an attempted revival of the fantasy genre to our beloved Basement RPGs. Here is my proposal for a Gods & Men 2.0, if you will, with a basic rundown of the world, races, magic, monsters, pantheons, the other dimensional planes of existence and all other things pertaining to the gameworld I am proposing.

All critiques, suggestions, and debates on the game's premises are welcome, as the only way a fantasy RPG will survive on this board, I feel, is if everyone is able to put forth their opinions on the material that's being presented.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be posting my ideas for the basic concepts of my idea. I'll wait a bit before posting each part of my basic scheme to allow comments and criticisms and suggested tweaks.

Before getting into things, know that I have no expectations of this concept being up for approval any time soon. This is merely to help get dialogue going on a potential game, and, as mention in the above paragraph, to help tweak and "fix" any concepts I present to make them more compatible with the potential player(s).

Without further adieu I will start with the first part of my Gods & Men 2.0 proposal, the gameworld...
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The Gods & Men World

Going straightforwardly simple, much like the original game, this one will be set in Europe during Medieval-style times. The Empires of Rome, Egypt, and Persia exist in their own little niches alongside the tribes of Norsemen, Gauls, as well as the other races and societies of the Earth.

My main focus is on Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea, but that's not to say that the other lands don't exist. Like the original G&M concept, any grouping of people can be placed into the gameworld. I just rather would leave that, as well as fleshing out the rest of the Earth, up to the players.

There are only two of the human empires which I consider "ancient" by game standards (meaning they were once great civilizations which now are only found in ancient ruins, tomes, and texts), and they are Babylon and Sumeria.

The Empire of Rome controls the entirety of Italia as well as most of Gaul (France, Switzerland, and Belgium) and Germania (Germany, Netherlands, and Austria), and as far to the East (to include most of modern day Slovenia, Hungary, and Poland).

The Emperor Caesar Augustus sits upon the throne of Rome, as charismatic a leader as he is a skilled military tactician. Rome is the most "modern" of the the known world, boasting breakthroughs in healing and technology (especially warfare-based), as well as being on the cutting edge of philosophy and magical research.

Some of the greatest mages of the world hail from the Empire, including the respected Apollonius, who resides in his personal estate in the Roman island of Corsica. Though he opposes his peoples warmongering ways, Apollonius is a strong defender of his adopted Rome.

Though the Empire is always looking to expand it's borders, one place they were thoroughly defeated was in the once-Roman-ruled Briton (the entire British Isles). Here, under the leadership of a great Briton, the tribes united and cast the Roman's out of their land. To this day, Caesar considers them a rogue state and is planning the retaking of the island under Roman rule.

In Briton, the rule of the first King, Arthur of Camelot, is under way after Arthur, with the help of an assortment of brave knights and the powerful sorcerer, Merlin, routed the occupying Roman forces and drove them from their lands. Now Arthur, dubbed King of the Britons, rules over a new English monarchy, though parts of the Isles have still not acknowledged his rule.
Ireland is still run by tribalism and anarchy, and is where the enemies of Camelot plot in secret the destruction of this fledgling country before it can even begin to grow.

The Land of Egypt is ruled over by the self-titled God-King, Khufu, who proclaims to have the blood of Horus flowing through his veins. Under Khufu's reign, Egypt has created many wondrous monuments, such as the Great Sphinx, and has also added to the expansion of the Empire by conquering the tribes of the Sinai Peninsula and taking the land under Egyptian rule.

Much of the population of the Egyptian Empire rests along the great River Nile, though the deserts are far from barren. Alongside the monsters and other creatures that dwell there, settlements formed close to oasis' where the truly resolute of humanity struggle daily to survive amid their harsh environment.
Bands of raiders and cutthroats, along with dark and sinister cults, also call the wastelands of the Sahara home for there is little in the way of law to keep them from their vile ways.

Stretching from the Eastern banks of the Sinai and modern Turkey, across the deserts of Northern Arabia, and into much of the Middle East and what is now Western India, is the Empire of Persia.

Ruled by Cyrus the Great, Persia is the oldest of the cultures currently in existence. Having been around for thousands of years, Persia has lost some of it's hold on the world to Rome and Egypt (even the Greeks managed to beat back the Persian war machine), but still maintains considerable influence on the world stage.

While a hub for mystics and the like, Persia has slowly become a Mecca for the sciences, where many intellectuals gather to express new ideas and theories without fear of persecution from ignorant clerics and the like (I'm blending a bit of the Middle Eastern Renaissance into G&M's Persia, where, during the European Dark Ages, the Middle East was a bastion for astronomy, mathematics, and the like).

Though Persia's expansionist mentality is currently dormant, the barking of those in positions of power who view the old ways of military conquest and bloodshed as admirable are becoming a growing concern for King Cyrus and his supporters.

Much of what comprised the ancient societies of Sumeria and Babylon can be found in Persia, making the Empire a haven for the curious archeologist and hunter of rare antiquities.

Greece is comprised of many different City-States under their own leadership, but have come to form a semblance of a united nation ruled by a "congress" of councilmen, one appointed from each of the City-States.
The three largest members of what is affectionately called the Aegean Council are Athens, Corinth, and Sparta.

Athens, considered a center of learning and art throughout the world, is home to some of the most famous scholars and mystics in history, such as Aristotle, Archimedes, Herodotus, and Plato. Run by the Aegean Council's chairman, Pericles, Athens also boasts arguably the greatest school of magic in all of Europe, the Athenian School of the Art. Here potential mages from all across the known world seek council and learning under some of the wisest and skilled spell casters of our day.
The School also hosts one of the largest collection of magical arcana in the known world.

Corinth is a naval powerhouse on the Mediterranean and is the largest center of trade in all of Greece. Ruled by King Sisyphus (an Aegean Council member), Corinth is the richest of all the City-States, much in part due to the sea-bound trade routes that brings imports and allows exports of good to and from all across the Mediterranean.
Even merchants from the Far Eastern lands can be found on occasion peddling their strange wares in the large Hermes' Agora, a market large enough to rival the grandest found even in Rome. Greece arguably boasts the greatest seafarers of the known world, and the greatest of them seem to come from Corinth, Jewel of the Aegean.

If Athens is a center for knowledge, and Corinth for trade, then Sparta is where the Greeks have perfected warfare in all it's brutal glory. Still deemed "barbaric" by some of their kinsmen, the Spartans are a culture run by the sword and the principles of survival of the fittest.

Ruled by King Leonidas II (Aegean Council member), grandson of the legendary Leonidas, Sparta is as much feared as it is respected by it's fellow City-States. Leonidas II, while having his grandfather's famous temper, has become known as a man of surprising intelligence to his peers, and his words carry weight with his fellow council members.

Sparta makes up the majority of the Greek Republic's military (dubbed aptly the United Greek Army), even with some of the higher ranking Spartans going abroad to train the troops of other City-States so that they can properly defend themselves (and not get in the way of their Spartan "betters" during warfare).

The great General Lysander, commander of the United Greek Army, hails from Sparta and is known by his enemies from around the world as a terrifyingly cunning, and efficiently brutal, commander.

The Scandinavian Peninsula is comprised of many small kingdoms of what the rest of Europe calls Northmen. More than just the barbarians they're made out to be (though they do their fare share of pillaging and sacking ports all across Europe), the men of the North are experts in agriculture and are seafarers rivaling even the Greeks.

The largest known kingdom in the North is ruled by the Warrior King, Harald Hardrada, said to be descended from the god, Tyr. Harald has a dream of a unified Scandinavia all under his banner, and is beginning to set in motion plans to bring his dream to fruition.

Other kingdoms across Africa and Asia exist, such as the Chinese, Japanese, and other human civilizations, to kingdoms of the Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and the other various races found across the Earth.
Even rumors of lands far across the ocean persist, with tales of strange peoples, bizarre creatures, and rare and new treasures beyond one's wildest dreams.
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JB, you ****ing bastard, you.... I love you.
I know you do. I love me too.

So...any thoughts or questions about the basic world set-up and/or idea?

I know I took some liberty with history in setting it up, such as making Leonidas II the legendary King Leonidas' (of Thermopylae fame) grandson, and making Apollonius a Roman instead of his native Greek (excuse being he was born in Tyana when Rome ruled Greece, thus he was, technically, born a Roman).

I kept the lands of the other races out of it, focusing solely on human kingdoms and the like.
Figured I can touch a few of the kingdoms of Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, etc when I get to the handful of major races later on (partly also wanting to wait until hearing some feedback of the basic game world).
Yeah, I expected there to be some liberties with history, although I like the idea of making a semi-plausible Aurthurian legend. :up:

But yeah, I like the mix of history and legend so far.
Yeah, the Arthur myth is something I definitely wanted to include in G&M2.0, and I sort of got the idea from the Clive Owen movie King Arthur and spun it a bit to make it them against the Romans in place of the Saxons.

Still, wanted to keep things a bit vague to allow for more creative freedoms and such from possible players.

Also, one thing I was thinking of was a sort of UN like group consisting of the three major empires (Rome, Persia, Egypt) and the Greeks that discusses major politics and goings on that effect all of the world and such.
Love the idea. Love the set up.

I just don't know if I'd have the time to participate.
As of now, this is far from a finished product that is ready to pitch. I have a basic set of ideas and principles, but they're far from completed concepts.
When I do eventually (officially) pitch it, hopefully you'll have some extra time to count yourself as a potential player to get the game approved.

Now a few questions for anybody who's interested in the G&M2.0 concept and is reading this...

Concerning the Far East (China, Japan, etc) do you think I should flesh it out a bit as well? Basically in the same vein as I did for Europe, i.e. providing a basic backdrop?

Same can be asked for Africa as well, I guess?

And what of the New World and/or Australia? What are your opinions on including that in the beginnings of the game, or should it wait until a later time to be introduced?
I say yes to the Asian front. Although I don't know too much about Chinese and Japanese mythology, I do know there are Monguls and Dragons and what the **** else do you need?
For the rest of Asia I would just briefly touch upon China, Feudal Japan, and a bit on other major cultures (Mongols, Huns, etc).

Dragons I'll get into later down the line when I come to the monsters of G&M2.0.
Asian cultures are always great. Some really cool demons involved with Japanese mythology
Yeah, I've always been a big fan of Japanese mythology. And, speaking of Japan...

China and Japan in Gods & Men

China lies in the far East of Asia, and once consisted of five separate provinces. But, thanks to his military prowess, Qin Shi Huang has gathered them into one unified China, and proclaimed himself the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty.

Qin Shi Huang rules his China with an iron fist, burning books that would undermine his authority as well as silencing those who speak out against him. Despite his vindictive approach to dissent, the First Emperor has approved of the sciences, making China another haven for the great minds of the East (especially in the field of astronomy).
China is also home to the various sects of Wushu, an ancient form of martial art as old as China itself. The most famous practitioners of Wushu are the mysterious and reclusive Shaolin Monks, who are said to be so attune with their abilities to the point of gaining almost supernatural powers.

The Silk Road, the longest trade route in the world that was founded by the famous Roman explorer Marco Polo, begins in the Chinese capital of Xianyang, running through Persia and Greece, and finally coming to an end in the great city of Rome.

Across the sea from China lies the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan. Comprised of a handful of kingdoms ruled over by powerful Shoguns, Japan is a place of amazing beauty and xenophobia for any outsiders on it's shores, though the major ports, such as Osaka and Tokyo, do host trade ships from as far as the Rome.

Ruled by the warrior caste of the samurai, each Shogun is a powerful and charismatic warlord lording over a small army of equally skilled soldiers, who are ready to die for him on nothing more than a command.
The most powerful of these Shogun is a particularly proud man named Tokugawa Leyasu. Possessing dreams of grandeur, Tokugawa is assembling a large army of followers, both human and not, with thoughts of a Japan-wide Tokugawa Shogunate.

Also a powerful part of Japanese society are the many different ninja clans that operate among the populace. Not possessing any of the ideas of honor that the samurai maintain, the ninja are some of the most skilled, and feared, assassins on Earth. Operating in stealth, ninjas perform their tasks with frightening ease, be it theft, kidnapping, or even murder.
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I'm loving the concept and I'm already running ideas through my head for a few characters now, I'm just concerned with making the world too big to start with considering the number of regular posters we have here.

Perhaps start with Europe and the Mediterranean and then build East of Persia in the future once the rest of the world is established. Perhaps Persia is aware of what lies East of it's borders (adding to the mystery and mysticism of that area) and then establishing east of it's borders in a "phase 2" part of the game once it's found its feet.

Maybe Phase 1: Europe / Mediterranean basin.
Phase 2: Growing borders include China / Japan / Mongolia / Africa
Phase 3: Expands to the New World / Americas / Australia and Oceania

That said, I think this is a great idea. Just wish there were a few more people in this neck of the woods to enjoy it so we could start out with the full expanded idea.
Some very good points, Hound.

Having a first season, so to speak, focus primarily on the Euro-centered stage would probably help the game grow in it's early stages.
Especially since, in it's beginning, the game would be damn near a blank canvas needing players to fill it with people, places, and other things of note. The larger the game world the harder that task becomes, especially with the amount of players that might be involved, as you point to.

Maybe keep everything East of Persia a vague mystery for the most part (as it actually would be for most in Europe and the Middle East), but keep Silk Road in the game, as it would allow for a potential "in" for Eastern culture as well as allow Eastern ideas/items/characters to be fairly easily integrated into a European backdrop?
Okay, so the Far Eastern stuff will be held out for a later date, keeping into consideration that there's even a beginning date.

So, while still keeping discussion open on the game world, time we move to the next "chapter" of my Sword & Sorcery "Treatise" (I like quotes if you couldn't tell already)...

Races of Gods & Men 2.0

As for the races I wanted to keep it relatively short, with only a handful of base races, and with a few of them being split into separate subspecies (I.E. High Elf, Wood Elf, Drow). By no means are these the only races one can play as, nor will the listed subspecies be the only versions of a species available.

Creativity is always encouraged, so if one wanted to say play a different kind of elf or dwarf, or perhaps another of the monstrous races, then by all means create that race for the game and submit the info with the proper application for your character.
Granted, for the game, the more unique (or bizarre) the character type, the more the app will be under scrutiny. For instance if one wished to play a dragon, the sales pitch better be well thought out and detailed.

I know in the original Gods & Men game, there was a cap for the number of allowed PCs for a given monstrous race or creature (such as only one lich or only one vampire PC is permitted in the game at the given time). I don't really wish to impose a limit like this if G&M2.0 ever did get off of the factory floor. Though, to play my own devil's advocate a bit, I also would not want to see everyone who would sign up want to play a dragon.

In the name of diversity within the game, I would think some measure must be applied to prevent such potential problems (thoughts and ideas are always appreciated). Though I will say that I think such problems would be rare, as I think the different tastes and creative mindsets of the potential players would nigh prevent such a unbalance to occur.

Any gods mentioned will be detailed a bit later when I get to the pantheon portion of this G&M2.0 pitch, and same can be said for mention of the Underdark, which will get it's own little "chapter."


The Fair Skins, as they are not-so-affectionately called by the other races, are one of the two ancient races on the planet. As Elven legends go, when the Earth was young, the Elven species lived underground. But, as the planet changed and life began to flourish upon it's surface, a great schism occurred among them.

Certain tribes, much to the dismay of their brethren, made their way to the surface to carve out their place amid this "new" world. These prehistoric Elves would spread across the Earth, and evolve into the varied subspecies of Elf that exist today.

The Elves that remained underground grew to hate their surface dwelling brethren, becoming envious of the World Above (though Drow legends spin a much different tune). These elves become known as the Drow and declared a blood feud against their surface kin.

The Elves in the world today fall into three known types, though stories tell of other possible Elven subspecies out in the world that have yet to be discovered.

The first type of Elf is the most commonly found, called a High Elf (also referred to as a Common Elf or just plain Elf). High Elves are usually the height of the average man, but way considerably less. They are quicker and more agile than a human, but not as strong. They also possess a much keener sense of sight and hearing than a human does.

High Elves worship the entire Seldarine (Elvish name for the Elven pantheon), with emphasis on the Father of the Elves, Corellon Larethian (Lord of the Seldarine and creator of the Elves). The holiday of Faradome (Agelong in the common tongue) celebrates the creation of the Elven people and the victory in battle over Corellon Larethian over Gruumsh One-Eye (creator god of the Orcs) and is probably the only Elven holiday that is observed by all of the fair folk across the planet.

The average life span of a High Elf is just under five-hundred years.

The second type are Wood Elves (also known as the Sylvan Elves or Sidhe Elves in the British Isles). Wood Elves make their homes deep in the forests of the world, far away from the bustling cities of "civilization." They are practitioners of the old ways, and are one with nature. Along with the physical gifts all Elves share, Wood Elves have an innate connection with nature. They can predict changes in the weather with uncanny accuracy, as well as seemingly "talk" with the natural animals of the world (by natural animals I mean things like bears, lions, elk, and even a pegasus, not monstrous ones like a manticore or griffin).

Unlike the High Elves who praise the entire Seldarine, Wood Elves revel in nature and sing praises only to the Lord Rallathil, the Elven deity of nature (though they do acknowledge and respect the entire Seldarine). And when it comes to religious paths, Wood Elves are more apt to become druids than they are priests or clerics.

The average life span of a Wood Elf is around five-hundred and fifty years.

The third known type of Elf is also the most rare to see, above ground at least, the Drow (also known as the Dark Elves). Drow are the evil branch of the Elven species, and are one of the powers in the Underdark. Revering the Spider Queen, Lolth, Drow society is matriarchal in that it is ruled by Matron Mothers, the heads of the most powerful families in a given city and high priestesses of Lolth.

Males are treated as second class and often fall into the discipline of the blade or the mystical arts. Drow cities are usually as massive as they are ornate in their design, being carved right out rock face of massive caverns. The most famous of Drow city (and, truthfully, the only one that's existence is known of by the surface world) is the city of Menzoberranzan, which is a massive city-state nearly as large as Athens.

Being creatures of the Underdark, all Drow have an innate "night vision" that allows them to see in the dark. Likewise, this extreme light sensitivity can damage their eyes if out on the surface when the sun is out.

Whether by millennia of being bathed in the raw mystical energies that permeate the Underdark, or by the blessings of Lady Lolth (as the Matrons profess), Drow possess two innate magical qualities. The first one gives them the ability to conjure a "faerie fire" (mystical flames of a various color that do not burn, but encapsulate a target for a small duration), and the second innate ability is strong resistance to mind-influencing magics.

Drow also use a powerful sleep poison on their darts and bolts that has come to be known and feared by all surface folk.

The average life span of a Drow is around six-hundred years.
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I'm just putting elves up for now, and will be posting another race every day or so. This way each race is gets it's time under the microscope, so to speak, and is able to be scrutinized by all.

And, as always, constructive criticism on it all is welcomed.
I'm interested, if this thing still has legs
It does indeed. Will be having a couple days off here soon, so I be finishing off the races shortly.

The second of the ancient races, Dwarves are said to have been sculpted out of rock from the Earth's core by Moradin himself. More at home under the Earth than on top of it, Dwarves have carved out mighty kingdoms throughout the world's mountain ranges, the largest being the kingdom of Bryn-Ankor that rests inside Galdhø Peak in Scandinavia. Noted for their craftsmanship when it comes to weapons, armor, and gem-work, Dwarves are known around the planet as experts in all manner of smithing and mining.
Many of the land's larger settlements boast Dwarven merchants and embassies from Dwarven lands (which also double as high end retailers for weapons and armor).

There are two known species of Dwarf in the world today, though rumors of other abound.

The first is the Mountain Dwarf (often simply called Dwarf), which make up the entire known Dwarf population on the planet. Almost entirely a blue-collar species, Mountain Dwarves value honor, physical prowess, and hard work, and live for a challenge (be it in trade, by battle, or even in celebration). Their society is very theocratic in nature, following the tenets set forth by their creator god, Moradin (the Soul Forger), and the rest of the Dwarven pantheon (the Morndinsamman in the Dwarven tongue).

Most Dwarven priests are those of the Soul Forger, though all of the pantheon are represented in Dwarven culture. Dwarves are fierce warriors, known for their stubborn nature and ability to take an amazing amount of pain and punishment, and possessing an uncanny endurance (far greater than that of a human). Though their stout stature that makes them little tanks also makes them much less quick and agile (less so than a human).
Dwarves possess an innate "night vision" that allows them to see in even total darkness. Though due to spending their time on the surface, this blessing does not become a curse and hinder a Dwarf's sight when in daylight.
Dwarves also possess an almost "sixth-sense" when it comes to being underground (able to judge depth with great accuracy, spot natural traps formed in the rock, etc).

The average life span of a Mountain Dwarf is around three-hundred years.

The second species of Dwarf is the Duergar (also known as the Grey Dwarves), an evil race of ash-skinned Dwarves that dwell deep in the bowels of the Underdark. Slightly taller than a Mountain Dwarf, the Duergar have a deep seeded hate for their surface associating kin (their legends talk of how the Duergar were abandoned millennia ago by their kin to the hands of the Illithids).

Duergar are not as theocratic as the common Dwarf, but they do pay homage to Laduguer, the Dwarven deity of evil. Duergar have the same physical traits as their kin, as well as the ability to see in total darkness. Though their time is spent almost exclusively deep in the Underdark (only coming to the surface to wage war and perform raids), so exposure to daylight and bright lights can disorient and temporarily blind a Duergar.

Whether due to the raw magical powers of the Underdark, Illithid experimentation long ago, or a gift from Laduguer, Duergar possess a mild form of psionics (able to communicate telepathically, make themselves "invisible" to the eyes of others, etc).
Though the longer they are away from the Underdark the more feint this ability becomes for some odd reason. And prolonged exile from the Night Below can cause a Duergar to lose their psionic powers forever.

The average life span of a Duergar is around three-hundred and fifty years.
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Just like with the Elves, I want to keep the info to a minimum. That way somebody who decides to play a Dwarf (or any of the other races for that matter) would have a blank slate to work with when it comes to defining their PC's race's culture, society, etc.

If you have any comments on the Dwarves, please leave them. Suggestions and critiques can only help.

Also, expect a write up of my final "goodly" race to go up later, the Halflings. Then it's on to the monstrous species (a.k.a. the fun ones :yay: ).

Also called the Small Folk, Hobbits, Kender (and the more derogatory Peck), Halflings are found throughout the known world. If they have their own kingdom it remains a hidden secret, though some Halflings have banded together to form their own towns and settlements across Europe.
Mainly farmers, Halflings spend most of their off hours enjoying life to the fullest in carefree indulgence, frequently having celebrations and gatherings as an excuse to have a good time.

Some Halflings though feel an adventurous pull on their heart, a calling to the open road. Given their size (which allows them to often go unnoticed by the larger folk) and spectacular dexterity, Halflings make excellent thieves, though Halfling warriors are not an uncommon sight. Halflings worship the goddess Yondalla, Matriarch of the Halflings.

They are a peaceful people, rarely seeking out violence and conflict, but they possess a fierce will and courageous heart that often carries them through even the most hazardous of situations, as though Fortune herself was smiling down on them.

Halfling usually stand about three feet tall, weighing about forty or so pounds, on average. Given their size they are no were near as stout or strong as a human, but they are vastly quicker and more agile than a man.

The average life span of a Halfling is around ninety years.

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