In looking at the World Within, and specifically the inhabitants of the Isles of the Saharan Sea, a number of general thoughts come to mind in regards to potential wilderness encounters.
The concept of the World Within is inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar series. To pay homage to that, I want to make sure I include creatures from those novels. Because of its timeless nature, and vast surface, myriad creatures from all the ages of the Earth’s prehistory swarm throughout the primeval land of Pellucidar, as well as a few fanciful ones.
Ant Bear (Giant anteater-like ursoid)
Giant Cave Bear
Giant Cave Hyena
Giant Cave Lion
Megatherium (Giant Ground Sloth)
Phororhacos (Axe beak)
Saber-toothed Tiger (Smilodon)
Woolly Rhinoceros (Coelodonta)
No fantasy campaign setting seems complete without a list of unusual humanoids to potentially interact with, and the Isles of the Saharan Sea is no different. I've already listed a few previously, and there are some others that I can include from the inspirational material, plus one or two more for good character race choices. I don't want too many, but I think the following should make for a good start.
Denjani (Gnome-like scholar race)
Kelshani (Devil-men or tiefling-esque)
Tarthani (Four-armed men)
In a world where dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures still exist side by side, there is little need for many of the common supernatural or magical creatures found in the usual campaign settings. There are a few notes to remember:
- Aberrations: For a very Pulp-oriented feel, I could include those aberrations that bear a strong Cthulhu feel. Since I used them somewhat as a focus in my last campaign, I may skip that, but one or two are sure to make an appearance, just because.
- Dragons: Dragons in the World Within are not intelligent creatures. Instead, they are feral hoarders with a magpie-like attraction to shiny things. I haven't decided if they have breath weapons. If so, I'm inclined to make them acid breathers.
- Elementals: Elementals will likely appear only in conjunction with the work of conjurers, or trapped within some of the many dungeons scattered throughout the Isles of the Saharan Sea.
- Fey: Fey were a big part of my last campaign, so I will likely not include them in this one.
- Giants: Giants will likely be isolated creatures inhabited the mountains of remote islands.
- Intelligent Reptiles: One of the premises behind the setting concept is that all intelligent reptiles have vanished suddenly and without reason (well, it's because of the actions of the players in the current campaign, but within the setting, no one will know.) That's why there are no kobolds, serpentfolk, lizardfolk, intelligent dragons, etc. This is a hard and fast rule. No exceptions!
- Magical Beasts: Beasts of myth and legend aren't as likely to appear in the World Within. Those that do should be few and far between. I want a more pulpy flavor here, not a recycled pseudo-European fantasy feel to the setting.
- Oozes: A well-placed ooze goes a long way toward setting a creepy tone in an ancient ruin. They're definitely in.
- Outsiders: Like elementals, outsiders will likely only in conjunction with the work of conjurers and diabolists, or trapped in a dungeon or abandoned tower.
- Plants: Plant creatures make for awesome encounters in a jungle setting, and so I feel confident I'll be using them a lot.
- Undead: Undead, particularly zombies and other corporeal unliving creatures, have a strong Pulp feel, and so will have a place in the setting.
- Vermin: Like plants, giant vermin are also common to pulpy jungle stories. In particular, I'm sure I'll use giant scorpions and giant dragonflies frequently.
These are my thoughts, but I'm open to other suggestions. What do you think of these elements?