A challenge by Noisms to create a campaign world based on a random selection of animals/monsters. I used borges 'Book of Imaginary Beings.'
This is what I got:-
The Chinese Phoenix
The Tigers of Annam
The Lunar Hare
Every species is intelligent and has a culture.
So, there were years of Strange Global Aurora when every sky was lit by colour. When it ended, mythical beings had returned from space, animals had taken strange new forms, much of humanity had been poisoned by evil sorcerers and a dark thread existed hidden in the world.
|A Dark, Hidden God|
The Odradek's look like a spool of thread, they are the dark hidden gods of the setting. No-one notices them as they harrow the empty spaces between the moments. They eat the thread of the Norns. Odradeks live in a government of touch, their tribes are Carresments and the Empress of all the Odradeks is the Ambulatrix. Odradek names are shaped of the silence between spoken syllables, magic spells are actually Odadrek names. That is why they sound different to each person. The words change but the indrawn breaths and micromutes between each phenome are always the same. Few people know this. Each Odradek can consume a small part of reality, when you speak its name, that is what happens. This looks to most like magic, but really is just the twisting and expulsions of the meta-weave as it struggles to repair and re-balance the world. Like flushed skin after a strike, or like bleeding after a cut.
Chonchons are the only remains of one third of humanity.
|It's not a bad as it looks, really.|
They were created when evil sorcerers poisoned all of mankind to war against the FengHuang. They can only be seen by each other, unless they wish it, making them deadly predators on the other creatures. Despite this, most Chonchon have gone back to Human-style societies because it makes things more interesting and they get to live in functional groups. The Chonchon have invisible cities inside mountains of smokey volcanic glass. They have visible tribes who trade with FengHuang, Griffins, Norn, Lunar Hares and Roperites . The visible tribes police the occasional predators of the unseen tribes who use their invisibility and magic to prey on other species. Chonchons might be invisible magic flying heads but they are still human. They care about the same kinds of things, have politics, art e.t.c. The original evil Chonchons thought that by transforming mankind en-mass they would produce an army of monsters. They were wrong, humanity transformed fell back into strange versions of the patterns of their original selves. The epic pettiness of mankind saved it from disaster. Chonchon historians generally regard the change as a good or neutral thing. They have a very positivist/whigish attitude and believe that most of human history was just a long run up to the inevitable point when people lost their bodies, grew wings and learned magic.
PC Chonchons will probably be from one of the visible tribes who are assigned to interact with the outside world. They may have a special mission or be the equivilent of rangers, sent out to learn, grow character or keep a general watch on things happening outside.
The Chinese Pheonix, or FengHuang.
|Can't really see the third limb in this picture.|
These are man-sized birds with long necks, a third claw comes from the middle of their chest and can manipulate objects. These birds of perfect harmony used to live on earth in the early ages of ancient China. They disliked the nature of growing civilisation and migrated to live in the Sun. They bred there until migrating back to earth in a mass coronal ejection. This brief tide from the sun spread strange Aurora across each horizon of earth, from this fell perfect intelligent birds who could only act in correctness with each other. FengHuang roll a natural 20 for Wisdom every time. The Return of the FengHuang woke the Griffins, Tigers, Goofang and Valkyries. The FengHuang need only what birds need, but they value harmony above all else. This leads them to trade pieces of their wisdom to other species in order to produce a more perfect world. Their version of perfection may not match that shared by others. When they trade wisdom by giving information, it cannot be retrieved. This means that old FengHuang that interact too much with the world can gradually be reduced to something near the level of an average, intelligent bird. This has happened to many since the FengHuang returned from the sun.
PC FengHuang are probably these 'fallen' birds. They will go on adventures in order to regain their wisdom. They do this the same way anyone gains wisdom, by putting themselves through a wide series of strange and important events in the hope that this will lead to personal growth. As they become more wise, FengHuang can see more of the nature of the world, but they are less able to use this knowledge. XP gains them strange powers, but using these powers loses them XP.
Goofang or LibertyFish are fish that swim backwards. They are huge man-sized intelligent lungfish.
They move backwards to avoid the fates woven by the Norns. This means they have true freedom. Goofang always save against magic so long as they move backwards. When they are moving backwards, they always fail initiative. Their flippers are very flexible, they can hold items in their tail-fin which they can use to manipulate things behind them or arc over their bodies to do thing in front of them. They have big goggle eyes on the sides of their heads which means moving backwards isn't as much of a chore as you would think. Almost 360 vision. They can prance around in quite a delicate manner on their forefins. They can swim, but slowly, as they will try to do that backwards as well. All Goofang are heroic bastards, they cannot stand the idea of another intelligent creature captured or enslaved and will happily leave their vast mud-tribes in order to ensure liberty and do good. They are like the knights or paladins of Terra Borges
Griffin These are just Griffins.
|The guy with the Lyre is probably just an employee to provide mood music while fighting is done.|
They start as dog sized from the egg. As they grow through man size they can use their front talons to grasp and hold objects but as they get bigger their talons harden and extend. They lose intelligence as they level up and gain hit dice. Eventually they become potential monsters. Young griffins are quite civilised and urbane, they wear clothes, spectacles, read and smoke pipes. They can walk about on their hind legs if they wish and glide a bit. Griffins live in FengHuang or Chonchon cities. They are big into culture in their middle years and usually have salons and the like. May well go adventuring for the aesthetic experience or to discover lost or new forms of art.
The Tigers of Annam are the judges and maintainers of alignment. They are also Tigers, so they can fuck you up. Pale Blue True Neutral Tigers that hunt divergent actions. Ultra-clever but utterly pitiless like real tigers. They know about the threefold alignment model and believe in it. If you step outside the narrow confines of your alignment (I.e act in an interesting way) then they can sense it and will come after you. They have the intelligence of a supercomputer but the emotional and self-awareness of a forum troll. Anything that cannot be explained in the most reductive terms, they cannot understand.
The Norns are human women who survived the Chonchon poisoning. They can needle-out strands of the world and re-weave it. Norns know Kung Fu but with thread. Threads can do different stuff depending on how they weave it. Like Wonder Womans truth telling lasoo thread, healing thread, hunting thread, thread of invisibity thread for finding of things. Thread takes exactly as long to weave as actual thread and once its been used once then that's it, weaving for them is like Vancian spell selection. They need to think in advance about what they will weave. Odradeks ar natural enemies of the Norns. Norns work by tying things together, ideas, places, people, space, time. Odradeks do the opposite. Norns know that Odradeks exist but do not know what they are and cannot find their true form. Think of them as deamons. Two natures of the Thread, the Norns creating, and the Odradeks feeding off its destrucion. Two different kinds of magic.
Lunar Hares come from the moon of course.
|Dude knows Alchemy.|
They returned when they saw the FengHuang come back from the sun, riding their coronal flare. Silvery man-sized Hares that know the alchemy of the moon. Alchemist/cleric/scientists. Of course these guys are also from ancient China, they moved to the moon around the time of the first Emperor. Now they are back and can do Medieval-style-but-it-works medicine and science.
Valkyrie's are lone hero’s who exchange their lives with those who die in heroic circumstances. If someone dies hard doing the right thing but has noble work left undone then one of the selectors of the dead will choose to swap places with them. The soul go's off to wherever but the body gets back up with a completely new personality (usually female). Valkyries cannot bring their memories of the afterlife with them but they know what they are and have a deep sense of purpose. If your character dies,and if they were noble, they can get straight back up with a new personality.( 80% chance female). Valkeries always start out as brave, puer and good, but they have never faced the temptations of the physical world before and can get corrupted fast.
Roperites are crazed, evil miniphants that hunt with prehensile, looped proboscis. Cruel, smart, wolf-like predatory elephants the size of ponies.
|An evil that cannot end.|
They range around in packs and strangle things with their fierce noses. They have a power structure, and keep slaves and rule cities and have tools. Imagine if Wolves were also Mongols, or if wolves were intelligent and could use tools and one of them was like the Wolf Genghis Khan and lead them in gleeful warfare against the rest of the world. They are, obviously, enemies of the Goofangs. The Goofangs and the Roperites have like a Mongols/Teutonic Knights thing going on except its elpholves and backwards lungfish knights.