Templore Campaign Setting
Templore is a “low fantasy” campaign setting inspired by a plethora of sources, combining many themes and concepts which I have come to love from other fantasy media. Templore was designed to be a world that I would love to play in, and to that extent I hope others will enjoy it as well.
The continent of Templore is a land divided. Divided by belief, honor, greed, glory, and blood. Once, life was young, and the peoples lived in relative harmony. Magic was thick in the air, and the world seemed more alive. It was a time of myth, when heroes clashed with primeval monsters and individuals could change the very face of the land. But as time passed, so too did the magic and wonder, and much was lost. Then the age of humans came, as they quickly spread to every corner of the world, overtaking all in their path. Now, the monsters are men; tyrants and thieves, warlords and marauders, hungry for power. Magic, and the creatures of myth, have receded into the shadows, far away from the stone fortresses and the gleaming steel weapons of mankind. It is a time of fuedalism, where land is more precious than gold, and even life. But still, amidst the dark places of the world, older evils dwell and plot. The gods, distant as they seem, still wield the power of fate, and speak in whispers to those who would listen. The world stands on a sword’s edge, on one side lies the past and the age of myth, the other holds the future and with it a new age of reason, ever uncertain of which way the blade will turn.
The Tone of Templore
Templore as a campaign setting is decidedly different than the average fantasy RPG world. While it bears every element that makes other settings a fun and entertaining backdrop for roleplaying adventures, it offers its own twist on nearly every aspect of the traditional fantasy setting. In order to make playing a Templore game a unique experience, the tone and feel of the world have been flavored by darker themes. Magic and the supernatural is ever present, but mistrusted and shunned by most, who fear its power. There is no unified pantheon of gods to watch over the world; most mortals believe in gods, but are left to squabble with each other over who’s god is better. The lore and history of the world is muddied by time and myth, and each race or culture of people have their own explanations of how the world was created and shaped that often contradict one another. The lines between good and evil are blurred into a wash of grey. Bigotry and xenophobia is an unfortunate reality, and matters of race, culture, and gender are not handled with such acceptance as one would like. There is immense political intrigue among the various countries that divide the land. There is no common language or system of currency that all nations share. And amidst all of this are the people who inhabit the world, heroes and villains, lowly yeomen and majestic kings, people who struggle to survive and people who make history with each step they take.
Things You Should Know
1. Tone and Style: Templore is a low to medium-fantasy world, where magic is rare, monsters are uncommon but are a serious threat, morality is measured in shades of grey, and there is little to no direct intervention by the gods. There is room for many different styles of campaigns in Templore, but players should keep a darker, more “grounded-in-reality” mindset when designing their characters and roleplaying them accordingly. The fantasy elements of the setting are meant to add flair and wonder to the stories told within, and are not necessarily the focal point. At the risk of using a pretentious analogy, think of the world like a pizza. The foundation of the story is the crust, the sauce and the cheese. The fantastic then would be the toppings, meant to add flavor but not so much as to become overpowering.
2. There are House Rules: To better match the themes and tonality of the campaign world, the Pathfinder rules have been altered somewhat heavily. This was done to give the game a grittier, deadlier feel while in combat, and to help differentiate the way the world works mechanically from other campaign settings, especially where magic is concerned.
3. Magic is Mysterious: In your average fantasy RPG, when you go on an adventure you’ll stop at a local temple to stock up on curative items, rummage through your bags of holding and equip your arsenal of magical gear and perhaps seek out a mage to cast a few helpful spells or even ask one to tag along with you. Afterwards you’ll wade into the dungeon, sling spells, flick wands, guzzle potions by the gallon, unburden creatures of their heads with your vorpal sword, and when the foes are all slain you’ll take their hoard of magical gear and add it to your own or find a suitable buyer. This sort of scenario is merely a fortune-seeker’s pipe dream in Templore. The reasons for this are many, but for starters, magic is ancient and was used by many ancient peoples, many of whom no longer exist. That is reason enough to give one suspicions about magic, but this issue is compounded by newer religions and ideologies openly condemning magic and the use thereof as being inherently wrong or evil. Secondly, for the average person, magic is difficult to learn. In reality, if everyone could become adept at engineering, biochemistry, medicine, or physics, it would unquestionably better our quality of life. The reasons not everyone does, though, are many of the same reasons why the majority of people in Templore do not study magic. Even in places where magic is still socially acceptable to practice, the knowledge of the arcane is kept strictly secret by powerful guilds or organizations (much like the trade guilds of the middle ages in real life). There is a spiritual side of magic, miraculous powers which are believed come from the gods or by mastering one’s own inner spiritual energy, but even this side of magic has its own set of stigmas attached. So what does all of this mean for the world as a whole? Well, magic is rare, surrounded by mistrust and superstition, and is guaranteed to provoke interest both good and bad wherever it appears. Magic should never feel commonplace or mundane in Templore. In this way, magic should feel as it should: awe-inspiring, mysterious, and by definition magical.
4. The World is Dangerous
Because of the houserules put in place, Templore campaigns tend to be a bit more lethal than an average game of Pathfinder. However, character injury and death should always be treated as part of a larger narrative. To this end, if your level 1 fighter tries to be a hero and take on a Troll 1 vs. 1, unless he is incredibly lucky, he will very likely die. If he attempts to do something blatantly dangerous and impractical like surf down a flight of stairs on his shield, he is very likely to break his neck and die. However, if your level 10 fighter finds himself in a random encounter with some goblins, and one of those goblins should score a critical hit which would normally kill him, the Dungeon Master should strongly question whether this serves to provide a satisfying narrative. In reality, of course, people die in a myriad of sudden, even embarrassing ways. So too is this the case in Templore. But in a game where the Dungeon Master has direct control over the fate of the characters in his story, he would be doing a disservice to himself as well as his players to allow an errant die roll or two to disrupt an otherwise satisfying tale of fantasy adventure.
The following pieces of media have served to inspire my creativity, and their influence is likely to be noticed in some measure within the world of Templore.
Artists: Larry Elmore, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Tony DiTerlizzi, Clyde Caldwell, Ted Nasmith, John Howe, Alan Lee, Brian Froud, Yoshitaka Amano
Authors: E. Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Keith Baker, J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Mike Mignola, Guillermo Del Toro, Robert E. Howard, George R. R. Martin, Michael Kirkbride, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling,
Music: Dio, Rush, Iron Maiden, Gwar, Ghost, Cradle of Filth, Nobuo Uematsu, Black Sabbath, Savatage, Coheed and Cambria, Iced Earth, Korpiklaani, Tyr
Film: The Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Deadwood, Harry Potter, Penny Dreadful, The Last Kingdom, Vikings, Lost, Gladiator, Braveheart, Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ip Man, 47 Ronin, The Man with The Iron Fists, Princess Mononoke, Once Upon a Time in The West, Band of Brothers, 300, The Princess Bride, Big Trouble in Little China, Kingdom of Heaven, Conan the Barbarian, King Kong (2005),
Non-Fiction Film: Secrets of the Castle, Terry Gilliam’s Medieval Lives, Secrets of Great British Castles, Tales of Irish Castles, Planet Earth, Human Planet, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Ancient Black Ops,
Animation: Ralph Bakshi films, Bass Rankin films, Heavy Metal, Masters of the Universe, Ninja Scroll,
Comics/Manga: Berserk, Hellboy, Yu-Gi-Oh,
Tabletop Games: Greyhawk campaign setting, Forgotten Realms campaign setting, Birthright campaign setting, Ravenloft campaign setting
Video Games: Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Dark Souls, Dragon’s Dogma, Shadow of the Colossus, The Witcher, Undertale,
The Templore Campaign Setting character sheet can be downloaded here: TemploreCharacterSheet.pdf