Adapting Princes of the Apocalypse to Tymor
Tymor is a sword and sorcery world I created for my currently-running Tyranny of Dragons campaign. Instead of the kitchen-sink fantasy of the Forgotten Realms, I wanted to set the story of Tiamat’s return in a world inspired by Conan, Fallout, and Lord of the Rings. Tymor is a barbaric world that has just emerged from the Dragonwinter—an apocalyptic ice age caused by the ashes of Tiamat’s devastation—imbuing her return with a special horror.
But Tyranny of Dragons isn’t my focus anymore. Princes of the Apocalypse is the big man on campus now, and it’s blown me away. I plan to run it this summer for a new group of players, and the Tymor setting excites me enough to continue using it. The difficulty is that its lore is built completely around dragons and their tyranny, not Elemental Evil. How do I adapt my world to a completely different sort of adventure?
Advance the timeline. Four hundred years have passed between Tiamat’s defeat and the rise of Elemental Evil in Tymor. Society has changed dramatically. In Tyranny-age Tymor, the world is struggling to recover from the draconic apocalypse, and only the still-verdant Emerald Coast has any semblance of government. Four centuries later, though, the wilderness has been tamed, and humanity has begun to thrive again under the hegemony of the Emerald Alliance.
Elemental-punk. Tyranny-age Tymor drank deeply from Robert E. Howard’s oeuvre, but in Princes, I’m drawing more from Eberron. In modern Tymor, summoners cast rituals to draw elemental beings to the Material Plane and use them to power alchemical technology. Fire-water elemental admixtures create steam to power trains, which connect small frontier towns to thriving metropolises. Lesser air elementals are bound to da Vinci-style wings to allow humans to soar through the skies, if they can afford it.
The Legend of Korra, which mixes Avatar’s elemental martial arts with 20th-century tech is a great resource for ideas. As of this writing, I’ve only seen Korra’s first season, so this show still has a lot to offer me.
Genasi and Warforged. Allowing the players to personally engage with the four elements will make the shift in focus from evil dragons to evil elementals smoother.
The warforged typically aren’t an elemental race. Officially, they’re more like fantasy androids. In Tymor, they were originally mindless war golems created by the Emerald Alliance to subdue their rebellious neighbors. New soul-binding spells allow summoners to bind elemental spirits into mechanical bodies, giving the mindless warforged sapience and a living soul.
I’m considering creating a warforged-only feat that allows them to overload their elemental core, allowing them to deal serious damage at the cost of exhaustion.
In official D&D lore, the genasi are the offspring of humans and genies. When adapting the genasi to Tymor, I wanted them to feel like the heroes of Steven Universe, the Crystal Gems. Here, genasi are alien beings born with an elemental heart. Some were born on the Material Plane, and are accustomed to human culture, but the majority live on other planes of existence. Most Tymorian genasi take it upon themselves to protect humanity from supernatural threats, but they mostly see mortals as advanced animals, with the exception of their closest human companions.
Extraplanar genasi, on the other hand, are less amicable. They regard humanity not with contempt, but with chilling apathy. The humans of Tymor are siphoning elementals from the genasi homeworld, and it bothers them like an itch that won’t go away. In their minds, their world’s illness must be cured, regardless the lives of the bacteria causing it.
By tying the genasi even closer to the elemental planes, it gives the players an opportunity to become invested in the fate of both worlds, not just the Material world.
Other ideas. The concept hasn’t completely come together yet, and I’ve still got until summer before I give this game a shot. Listed below are some of the other ideas I’m bouncing around.
- The village of Hommlet has become a prosperous city to the west of Red Larch (the adventure’s main town), and the ruins of the old Temple of Elemental Evil is now the world’s largest elemental-tech factory.
- Culture is a mix of Renaissance Italy and industrial-age American sensibility and fashion.
- Technology’s rapid pace has worried a lot of people, and edgy new forms of music are on the rise; seedy nightclubs and jazz bars are common in most large towns.
- In a Paizo-esque twist, firearms are fairly common in modern Tymor. I’ve never used firearms in a D&D game before, but the image of binding fire spirits to a rifle stock is too evocative to pass up.
- Since Princes can involve a lot of infiltration, the Changelings from Eberron might be a nice fit.
Inspirational films. Movies and TV shows I re/watched for inspiration on this setting:
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Steven Universe
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
- Princess Mononoke