A campaign in a semi-indian setting, so a certain extent inspired by Segmarians Zoroaster campaign, Veda is intended to explore mythic and sexual themes. It is highly doubtful this campaign will ever see play.
Veda takes place in fantasy India, a hot and humid country dominated by jungle and rivers. The land is abundantly fertile, and this fertility can feed either man or monster. The central conflict of the campaign is between good/beauty and ugliness/evil. Veda is a land of the gods, still walk the land and engendered heroes; divinely born beings of supernatural ability. These heroes are the focus of the campaign, and all player characters are heroes. But not all heroes work for beauty; some are fueled by unhappiness, frustration and confusion and become ugly, evil and destructive. These are the monsters of the world.
The world is a huge wilderness, with small pockets of civilization or depravity here and there. In the center of the world flows the rivers Ganges and Indus, and in their valley grows abundant jungles that can be cleared away pro provide bountiful farmland. To the north lies the Himalayas, the abode of the gods; between them and the mortal world lies several plateaus that are cold but habitable. To the south rises a dry highland, much of it desert or mountains, with only pockets of water and abundant life.
Nature provides some challenge to heroes, but is an almost unsurmountable obstacles to people. Only heroes can travel, only heroes can clear an area to create a settlement. The size of a settlement relates directly to the power and number of heroes living there; not only can stronger heroes clear a larger area and keep monsters at bay, the fertility they bring also brings life. People express their joy and try to entice heroes to stay by building palaces, offering gifts, and generally trying to make their heroes feel as appreciated as possible. The main hero of a settlement is usually titled king or queen, the remainder are prices or princesses, but they rarely take an active part in the government. It is considered a sign of Yama for a hero to rule and organize things; heroes might occasionally act as judges or arbiters, but people mostly govern themselves. As there is no shortage of resources or lands, there is no cause for conflict between people; while there is city guard in most settlements and each hero has a small retinue, there is never an army. Most cities have a city wall to keep monsters at bay until heroes deal with them, but these walls have dubious value as fortifications.
The wilderness is dotted with ruins of settlements large and small. Some of these were abandoned because the heroes left, some had their heroes defeated by monsters. In many cases, a monster has taken up residence, and such ruins might still be inhabited by a fair number of people. Some such ruins are hardly distinguishable from ordinary settlements at a glance, only when you learn of their depraved customs can you tell they are ruled by monsters. Others are forlorn places of lost glory.
Kingdoms and Empires
While monsters inhabit ruins, slaves of Yama build empires. A kingdom is a settlement with a purpose, and most quickly take on a military sheen suitable for the god of death. the slaves of Yama rule as tyrants, and people are forced to form an army and build edifices to the glory of whatever purpose the ruler espouses. Such kingdoms often try to conquer other settlements and form an empire, growing blight of ugliness and order. The final result is inevitably death on a grand scale as people fight people, until a hero slays the emperor and brings peace and disorder.
Wealth and Gear
The world is abundantly rich, and money is never an issue for a hero. Heroes bring fertility, fortune, luck, and keep monsters at bay. Even ugly heroes bring prosperity to people, tough they often extract a terrible price. People gladly give whatever they have to a hero, as the gift will be returned tenfold. Money is never an issue. Heroes are expected to live abundant, wasteful lives. Every item they use is a work of art, which they are supposed to use and discard in short order. People then take care of these discarded items, use them or revere them in shrines, and draw fortune from them.
On the other hand, there is not much to be had in the way of practical equipment. Except for the items a hero awakens, there are no magic items. Heroes are forbidden from crafting, and this arrests development. People are skilled craftsmen, but not innovative. Technology is late bronze age; steel exists, but is rare and sacred to Yama, the god of death. This means it is only ever used for weapons. Armor and all general gear is made of bronze, precious metals, stone, or organic materials.
Sex, Growth, and Fertility
All the gods except Yama the god of death and Kali the devouring mother have dual aspects, male and female. Changing gender through magic is pretty easy, and sex is more a role than an identity. Heroes are expected to explore both their male and female identities, and certain people can do so too by grace of heroes. Female aspects represent the earth, make aspects represent air, wind, and fire. Water is the life force, that falls from the male sky and impregnates the female earth.
People (including animals) are not fertile unless blessed by heroes. Without the divine energy of creation, life is not possible. Sacred rites transmit this energy to the world; this is one of the more tangible ways people benefit from having heroes around.
Heroes are only fertile with other heroes. Pregnancies for heroines are extremely light, hardly noticeable. Heroines are also able to give away their children, born or unborn, to mortal women. A heroine that dies or changes her sex while pregnant automatically transfers the fruit of her womb to a normal woman or animal in the vicinity. Heroes rarely deign to raise their own children past infancy in any case. Obsession about family and lineage can lead to ugliness.
The two most powerful forces in the world are sex and violence. Heroes test each other in these areas. Love brings power to both parties, while conflict brings power to the winner but causes the loser no loss except the risk of death. Heroes can recover from any injury short of death as long as they remain beautiful. Conflict and romance brings reward in relation to the relative power level of both participants; a confrontation between heroes of equal statue is the most beneficial. The weaker party can get a sligtly bigger reward, but the difference is too big, neither side gains anything.
This means that heroes seek confrontation at the slightest provocation. Upon encountering each other, heroes usually posture and preen to determine relative status. If status varies too widely, the inferior hero submits and any dalliance is up to the superior hero; such interaction is social only and rarely very serious or lasts very long. If status is approximately equal, the heroes test and goad each other to see if the encounter is to be a conflict, a romance, or both.
There are two alignments in Veda, good/beautiful and evil/ugly. In D&D terms, all heroes are chaotic. Beyond chaos, in the domain of madness and utter destruction, lies Kali, the devouring Mother. In the other end of the ethical scale lies Yama, the god of death and stasis, who in D&D terms is lawful. But these extremes are not normally open to heroes. Beautiful heroes dance the shining path between these two extremes, occasionally dipping into either but never staying. Ugly heroes lose the path, and end up either evil and misanthropic devoted to Kali or cold, driven, and lacking spontaneity, devoted to Yama.
Beautiful heroes are of a idealized human form, harmonious, happy, and without concern. They rarely plan their activities and have little purpose beyond immediate gratification. They are generous and wasteful, receiving and giving gifts without a care. While passionate, their passion is free and unfocused and rarely lingers on anything for long. The world exists for their enjoyment, and they enrich the world by enjoying it.
Good heroes strive to bring joy and contentment to the world. They bring power to themselves and the universe through constant conflict. They fight evil either by defeating ugliness or by redeeming it, most often through sexual release. Their goal is to break the obsessions that make people ugly and bring them back into the light.
Ugly heroes are mishappen and unhappy. Many of them are ugly, and even the beautiful ones have a haunted, forlorn look. They have become entangled in the world, and their passions have become a knot tying them down. Most ugly heroes are monsters, while some retain human form but lose the natural grace of beauty.
People worship ugly and beautiful heroes, and both bring fertility, but ugly heroes always do so at a great price. Some ugly heroes take out this price in blood, demanding sacrifice. Others demand it in excessive service and obedience, creating armies or work forces to carry out their projects.
Evil can achieve great things, even if the ultimate result is ruin. Ugly heroes can become driven specialists who develop their powers beyond moderation, create empires spanning several cities, develop new magics or technologies or otherwise create lasting change. Most changes brought by ugly heroes bring order in the short run, disaster and ruin after a while, and finally some beautiful hero might be able to salvage something good out of it in the end.
The path to evil often begins in frustration. Either through constant defeat or sexual frustration, beautiful heroes lose sight of freedom and obsess about themselves, their powers, and their goals.
There are three kinds of creatures in the world; gods, heroes, and people. Gods are beyond the world, and include ascended heroes. People are mundane humans and animals. Heroes are the interesting creatures of the world, either heroic humans or monsters.
- Except as noted here, all beautiful heroes are considered humans, and follow the rules for humans. People are either humans or animals, but receive no bonus feat or bonus skill points. Ugly heroes are humans or monsters.
- All heroes are distinctive and easily recognized as such, either because of physical features or because of constant FX surrounding them. Almost all heroes look well-fed and full-bodied, whereas people are always somewhat emancipated and thin. Other typical traits include brightly colored skin or hair, body parts of unusual size or shape, elemental effects like a halo of flame or a sweet-smelling southernly breeze, or constant animal companions such as songbirds or butterflies. It is possible to use the Sense Motive skill to discern what class and level a hero has from appearance alone (DC 25 - class level).
- Only heroes can have player-character classes. There is a wide selection of classes to choose from, but prestige classes are not used - society is not yet structured enough to sustain them.
- All beautiful heroes are Gestalt Characters. Over-specialization leads to frustration and ugliness. People can only have the NPC classes outlined in the DMG.
- Beautiful heroes are barred from the Craft skill and item creation feats. The manipulation of dead matter is taboo for heroes, it is in the domain of the god of death, Yama.
- All heroes have the ability to awaken physical items. Each character class a hero possesses imbues one item with power, and that item becomes a focus for that class. Each of these become magic items, with a gp worth of Character level Class level 1,000 gp. Beautiful heroes can only use items they imbued themselves, but people can use items imbued by heroes. Robbing a hero of his items is usually a prelude to a confrontation. Destroying an item is painful to a hero, but only temporarily so; it can be recreated in a matter of days, and beautiful heroes will consider the new item to be the same as the lost one; after all it was only a dead shell that was destroyed, the spirit lives on.
- All heroes get the Leadership feat at level 6, but cohorts and followers are always people or animals, never heroes.