I have an idea for a setting with three, secretly allied, evil empires, one of which is secretly ruled by a powerful lich and the rulers of the other two are each secretly allied with one. The liches have an agreement whereby each one takes care of one of the other's phylactery, so that if one of the liches is killed and the heroes destroy what they believe to be it's own phylactery, the lich will revive a few days later at the lich holding on to it's real phylactery. They will then contact the third lich - who actually owns the phylactery that was destroyed - and s/he will make another one to teleport to the lich who was revived, who will then teleport back to where s/he was killed.
The liches that aren't rulers also have agreements with the rulers that they are secretly allied with, whereby the lich will kill enough people on the borders of the nation to keep the population afraid, and the ruler will send their political enemies for the lich to kill in the guise of sending the prisoners on a quest against a common enemy; the lich who adopts a human persona for direct rule also adopts a lich persona for a similar purpose.
I'm also thinking that the BBEGs should be so ridiculously hard to kill that the PCs would have to try indirect approaches unless they are extremely successful at other quests, but I'm not very familiar with how hard a certain ECL would be for a certain party level
The main continents, nations, and some of the significant NPCs are so far as follows
- Antviceld: large quantities of metal ores and high populations of dwarves/gnomes leading to high levels of Dungeon-Punk Tech (DPT: trains powered by sails and wind spell-casters rather than engines, etc) for the two largest nations; high levels of war-faring Orc tribes outside the major nations
- Maaltyd: the larger, central cities (with more DPT such as sail-rails) are less tolerant of Orcs and Half-Orcs, but the smaller, outer settlements have enough contact with Orc raiding parties to tell the difference between them and Orcs that have left their tribes and are helping the humans et al. defend themselves; is at war with Vernichten
- King Fillipus Tigersoul (ECL 25): LG Human Aristocrat, trying to make the population more accepting of Orcs and Half-Orcs that have left the war-faring tribes
- General Hetaglemen Strinoval (ECL 25): LN Human Fighter, family was killed by vampires secretly under Vernichten employ
- Vernichten: alliances with major Orc tribes and vampire packs; is at war with Maaltyd
- Empress Claudia Talonsword (ECL 25): LE Human Aristocrat,
- Bloodsauger Nightshroud (ECL 35): NE Lich Cleric (Kyuss), controls the vampire populations
- Silverna Lergen (ECL 25): CE Human Rogue/Assassin, uses a Ring of Invisbility to make Sneak Attacks without partners for flanking, harasses Talonsword’s inner circle with “pranks,” such as poisoning them or breaking into their houses/safes for “practice,” but has too much fun on their assignments to risk making them excessively unwilling to keep using her, and so tones it down (slightly) when Talonsword and/or Nightshroud legitimately threaten to kill her.
- Nagalaut: high populations of dragons, therefore kobolds and/or sorcerers, with Tiamat’s on the mainland and Bahamut’s on the surrounding islands
- Kariavimus: honors Tiamat; is at war with Gunun-Gair-Garam, maintains a large navy
- Emperor Degimas Futozu (ECL 35): LE Lich Aristocrat/Sorcerer, uses illusions to disguise himself as a human and enchantments to keep the noble families under control and/or fighting amongst themselves
- High Priestess Shandrik Thorex (ECL 25): LE Human Aristocrat/Cleric (Hextor) who handles state affairs when Futozu is in battle, either as the Emperor or a lich
- General Dreisheg Loresfeld (ECL 25): LE Half-Dragon Fighter/Blackguard, commander of Futozu’s armies
- Cascadora Kasirga (ECL 25): LE Human Ranger, renowned in the military for killing a large number of Gunun-Gair paladins
- Gunun-Gair-Garam: honors Bahamut, large number of paladins and/or Dragon-borns, only paladins and/or Dragon-borns (who can prove their devotion to Bahamut) can be appointed to the highest positions of authority; contact with sea-elf communities, many people are half-elves (often amphibious); is at war with Kariavimus, maintains a large naval cavalry of paladins and/or rangers that can ride animals such as sharks
- King Marithyulo Krujati (ECL 25): LG Dragon-born Aristocrat/Paladin
- Dame Putilak Degelik (ECL 25): LG Half-elf (aquatic) Ranger/Paladin, most powerful archer in the naval cavalry
- High Priest Keremat Pengerik (ECL 25): LG Human Cleric (Bahamut), blesses the naval cavalry to fight/breathe underwater
- Vadiyanan: numerous warlords marginally united, large numbers/varieties of monsters, therefore Dragoons (homebrew prestige class I discovered on dandwiki. Thank you, Genowhirl!)
- General Sagoretti Caudilo (ECL 25): LE Human Aristocrat/Fighter/Legendary-Dreadnought, closest thing the continent has to a single ruler
- Ejherda (ECL 25): NN Human Ranger/Dragoon, renowned on the continent for killing large numbers of monsters
- Saganaka (ECL 35): CE Lich Wizard (specializes in conjurations over enchantments or illusions), enjoys wanton violence/destruction over evil as a philosophy in of itself; prefers summoning monsters so she can watch the fights that result.
Does anyone have any suggestions for what I could work on? Or maybe ideas for possible NPC's, conflicts, locations, side quests etc?