Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Trickster Spell List

In my last post, I introduced a Trickster base class for Pathfinder.  This class combines low-level elements of the rogue and wizard with the arcane trickster prestige class.  Though I am not the first to have created this type of hybrid, my version is particular to my current Pathfinder campaign--made for a specific player whose multi-classing placed his character behind his peers.

By crafting a new base class, it also gives me the chance to customize the class's spell list.  Like the Magus, the Trickster has a spell book that must be studied, but may only learn spells from his class list.  Spells were selected for this list base on reinforcing roguish abilities; over-the-top, flashy spells were either left our, or increased in level for this class.  As with the class itself, play-testing will likely result in modifications to this spell list. 
There has been talk among my players about creating archetypes for this class as well--but we will see what our needs are.


0-Level

Acid Splash: Orb deals 1d3 acid damage.
Dancing Lights: Creates torches or other lights.
Daze: A single humanoid creature with 4 HD or less loses its next action.
Detect Magic: Detects all spells and magic items within 60 ft.
Flare: Dazzles one creature (–1 on attack rolls).
Ghost Sound: Figment sounds.
Know Direction: You discern north.
Light: Object shines like a torch.
Mage Hand: 5-pound telekinesis.
Open/Close: Opens or closes small or light things.
Prestidigitation: Performs minor tricks.
Ray of Frost: Ray deals 1d3 cold damage.
Read Magic: Read scrolls and spellbooks.
Sift: See area as though examining it.
Spark: Ignites flammable objects.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rethinking Hybrid Classes - The Trickster

Back in October, I posted about the multi-classing rules in Pathfinder. I did this because I favored the hybridizing prestige classes (Arcane Trickster, Eldritch Knight, Mystic Theurge) instead of the hybrid base classes from the Advanced Class Guide--and I wanted characters who followed the prestige class path to be on-par with single-class characters.  However, this "fix" has only served to make the rules more bulky--and there is too much for players--particularity new players--to remember.

On second thought, the Magus isn't a bad class.  In fact, it is better at being an Eldritch Knight than a Fighter / Wizard / Eldritch Knight.  Are there base classes that do this for the Arcane Trickster and Mystic Theurge?  Not in the Advanced Class Guide--so my distaste for the hybrid classes in that book remains.  My distaste for the concept of hybrid classes is in question, though.

In fact, hybrid classes have been a part of Dungeons & Dragons for several edition:
  • Bard = Enchanter / Rogue [originally a Fighter-Thief-Druid "prestige class"]
  • Paladin = Fighter / Cleric
  • Ranger = Fighter / Druid [originally also Wizard]
And Pathfinder has given us a few new ones already:
  • Alchemist = Transmuter / Rogue
  • Inquisitor = Cleric / Rogue
  • Magus = Fighter / Wizard

Friday, December 18, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 6: Pyramid of Arithmetic Bliss

A new name for this chapter because of the direction the players went with it.  The Garden of the Vizier's Daughter shall not be forgotten, however.
You have reported to Iban concerning Ekram's exile, and he applauds your decision as being the best course of action.  While it is true that the Order of the Medjay is above the law, it is best not to have one willing to kill the Pharaoh's own free in the Pharaoh's city.  As a reward for your service, Iban has offered you a handy haversack filled with treasures--contraband that Ekram had abandoned when he was forced to leave Peraten.

Iban also has more information about the Wati murders:  Namely, that Ekram wasn't working alone.  During their interrogations, every member of Velriana's team (including Uzoma, our portly vanara hireling) had mentioned encountering a necromancer at some point during the day in question.  As these accounts did not generally agree, the necromancer was initially assumed to be a lie meant to divert attention from Velriana's motivations.  However, casual discussions with Ekram's associates revealed that the enforcer had recently begun working closely with the Embalmer's Guild--so Iban is now willing to accept the existence of a necromancer.  With the recent disappearance of specially trained embalmers, hunting down Ekram's necromancer ally has been difficult--particularly if the Medjay are, in fact, working with the guild.

Investigating the Order of the Medjay is dangerous, and Iban is afraid that his questioning into the murders has made him a target.  However, if a necromancer was involved, then the immunity of the Medjay would not protect him.  The nobleman Oshep (the one who granted Velriana access to Wati) had previously hired a team from the Embalmer's Guild to investigate a shrine in the dead city.  The leader of this team was an alchemist named Nephethus (!).  Since Nephethus "does not have any known associates in Peraten" according to Iban, he would like someone to investigate Oshep.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Simplifying Pathfinder: More than One Attack

While running my Nefret campaign and continuing to develop/convert my Monvesia campaign, I find the sleeker ruleset of 5th Edition very attractive.  Is it possible to create the same feeling for Pathfinder?  Possibly.

One major rules redundancy in Pathfinder (which is inherited from 3rd edition), is making more than one attack during combat.  Three rules systems operate simultaneously:  two-weapon fighting, natural attacks (including secondary natural attacks), and multiple attacks.  These rules are scattered throughout the combat chapter, each confusing the next.


While these rules can be understood, they present a lot of exceptions and alternate circumstances.  The fewer circumstances you have to think about during the game--the less intrusive that the rules are--the more fun the game will be.  Therefore, I propose merging the concept of off-hand attack with the secondary natural attack.  These basics of this are:
  • As a full round action, a character may make as many primary and secondary attacks as one's level, feats, and race/species may allow.
  • A secondary attack must be made with a light weapon (unarmed strikes and natural attacks count as light weapons)
  • A secondary attack is made at -5 to the attack roll; and only one-half of a character's strength modifier (if any, rounded down) applies to damage.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 5: Into the Valley of the Princes

It has been ten days since Aloysa left for Tamisha, and now she returns to Peraten with a spotted tiger at her heals.  Unfortunately, she returns with little additional information regarding the thrice-divided soul--merely that it is a reference to an ancient empire that ruled long before the dynasties of Nefret. The elders of Aloysa's clan do not believe this empire, said to be ruled by sphinxes, to be historical fact--merely folklore relating to the Mythic Dynasty.

Upon her return, Aloysa and Kiji are approached by Ibankhkhnum, a captain of Pharaoh's guard.  He explains that he has been assigned to investigate the murder of the Wati guards (which the party had reported).  After interrogating Velriana and Uzoma, he investigated both the Wati gate and the Sanctum of the Erudite Soul.  From this, Iban has a lead as to the whereabouts of the suspected murderer.  Unfortunately, he cannot trust his own men to investigate--for the perpetrator may be a member of the Order of Medjay, a special branch of the royal guard.  As you had expressed interest earlier in assisting the investigation, Iban was hoping that he could call on the party now.

Your particular skills, he believes, will be an asset--for he is relatively certain that the murderers are hiding out in the Valley of the Princes, beyond the Pyramid of Sekh-pa-Mefer III.  Unearthed at the same time as the pyramid, the tombs in this valley remain untouched--only a few just outside the valley, in the shadow of the pyramid, have been looted.  In addition to not being able to trust his men with the identity of the murderer, he also cannot trust them not to damage history in their investigation.  An unbiased team including both an archaeologist and an inquisitor is ideal.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sphinxes [Etc.] of Nefret

In Nefret, the role that would traditionally be served by dragons in other fantasy settings is instead served by Sphinxes.  Because of this, one partocular aspect of the 3.x rules needs to be modified:  Creature types.  With so few dragons and dragon-kin in the world, it does not make sense for "Dragon" to be a unique creature type.  On the other hand, the prominence of sphinxes and sphinx-kin  may benefit from the creation of a "Sphinx" creature type.
Another aspect related to this that was already changed in play was the replacement of the Draconic language with the Sphinx language where it applies to arcane magic.  Furthermore, sorcerers do not have the option of a draconic bloodline (neither a sphinx bloodline, for that matter).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 4: Risen From the Sands

A letter has arrived at the Tooth and Hookah for our party of heroes.
Dearest Companions,
It is with deepest regrets that I must take my leave from you all for an indeterminate period.   The work I have been doing for the Embalmers' Guild--of which I am not at liberty to disclose--requires me to travel to Tem-Akh.  My duties there will require my full attention.
It has been a pleasure working with you all.  I do not know when, or even if, I will be able to join you again.  Should our paths cross, I look forward to that meeting.
Regards,
Nephethus
Rumors throughout Peraten indicate that specially trained embalmers from throughout the city (and even elsewhere) have been recalled to Tem-Akh, the old capital.  As with Nephethus, many left before giving any indication that they would be gone for some time.  Some notices included requests not to follow.  The other embalmers who remain in the city to provide funerary services either feign ignorance of the "recall," or else refuse to discuss it.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 3: The Sanctum of the Erudite Soul

Lady Sebti has agreed to let you explore one more site in Wati:  the Sanctum of the Erudite Soul, a temple to the minor netjer Heka.  Her only interest, she says, is that the previous team she'd hired insisted on being allowed to explore this site.  Sebti wants to know why.

While Kiji explored non-Aten worship near Peraten, Aloya spent time in the library at the Great Temple of the Sun.  She did research into the names Heka and Imanesh (the demonic head encountered in the House of Pentheru).  The only reference to Imanesh was a list of "malignant spirits" of Duat who were counted among the servants of Apep.  For Heka, the appellation of "Activated Soul" was uncovered, as well as his iconography--the holy symbol of his faith being a knot of flax between upraised arms (the heiroglyphs used to write his name).  You have seen this symbol before--being worn as amulets by Velriana Hypaxes and her companions.

Amulet worm my Velriana Hypaxes

Heka appears to have two forms, historically:  a man choking two entwined snakes; and a child holding a flail and wearing nothing but an elaborate crown.  Heka is a minor netjer of magic and medicine--portfolios more often associated with Isis and Thoth.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nefretic Cosmology

In my Nefret campaign, the souls of gods and mortals are inexorably tied to the structure of the planes they inhabit--for every being is composed of an aspect of each plane.  With a strong culture of life, death, and afterlife, it is important to establish the details of the soul and planar cosmology early on in the campaign.  The player experience interacting with these elements needs to be consistent.

Since I know my players follow the blog, I'll also point out that the information here isn't really privileged.  This is the basic knowledge that any character with 1 rank in an appropriate skill would know.


Nature of the Souls

All beings, mortal and immortal, are composed of several souls:  a body (khat), a spirit (ka), a mind (ba), a shadow (sheut), a heart (ib), and a name (ren).  In death, these components separate--and may be transformed and/or reunited in the afterlife.

Body - Material Form

A living body and a dead corpse both share the designation of khat. After death, the the corpse may be preserved as a mummy--which can be the result of natural forces or of artificial embalming.  The khat is a mortal, decaying body born of the mortal world of Gebeb.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 2: The House of Pentheru

Introduction

Pleased with your work with the Tomb of Akhentepi, Lady Sebti has asked you to explore another site in the Dead City: the house of a nobleman named Pentheru.  This estate is both the smallest and newest structure in Wati's noble quarter, and for that reason has caught the Peraten noblewoman's attention. After your last meeting with Sebti, she sent a messenger along to the Tooth and Hookah with more information.

That information is sparse, however.  What is known about this site has been gleaned from physical evidence (stone quality; outward construction; and its relative position among other estates) as well as tablets recovered elsewhere in the city by another team of explorers. The name Pentheru appears to refer to two men:  the minor noble who commissioned construction on the manor, and the nobleman's son who inherited it before construction was complete.  Evidence suggests that this family was  newly elevated to the social elite.

The House of Pentheru is nestled among larger estates in a region of Wati referred to in engravings as Vizier's Hill.  As the highest elevation of the city, it was specifically Vizier's Hill that was unearthed by the sandstorm four years ago.  The diggers who uncovered the remainder of the city did not spend much (if any) time on the Hill--so the estates here are untouched by your contemporaries.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Custom Character Sheet

Not all character sheets are created equal--for each must be built upon the needs of the campaign.  For the Nefret Campaign, I needed a sheet that incorporated Adventuring & Background skills, Hero Points, and Personal Quest.  It also eliminates XP tracking.  The result is below.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fixing Multiclassing in Pathfinder/3.x

Instead of fixing the underlying issues of character multi-classing, Paizo has instead chosen to introduce hybrid classes (Magus, Arcanist, Bloodrager, etc.)--ignoring the issue and adding needless complication to an already complex rules system.  In my Nefret campaign, I am not permitting the use of hybrid classes; instead, I am encouraging characters to pursue multi-classing in order to achieve prestige classes (such as Arcane TricksterEldritch Knight, or Mystic Theurge).


The biggest drawback of 3.x muticlassing (which is similar to dual classing of previous editions) is that the system is based on the premise that characters receive an equal power jump at each level.  However, while each hit die and related increases are relatively uniform, class abilities at each successive level are considerably more powerful. For instance, gaining access to a new 4th level spell is certainly more of a benefit than gaining access to a new 2nd level spell.  Therefore, the idea of "class level" needs to be considered in two parts:  class hit die and class ability level.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Nefret, Chapter 1: The Tomb of Akhentepi

Introduction

Four years ago, a sandstorm uncovered part of a walled-in city less than a day's journey from the new capital at Peraten.  When diggers were sent out to excavate the city, they found that there was no gate into it.  An arbitrary location was chosen to carve out a passage so that the excavation could continue.

Among the sands within the city, diggers also discovered and discarded hundreds of bodies.  They also found that while the outer walls were smooth, the interior walls were covered in hieroglyphs.  These glyphs name the city Wati, and they tell of a plague of madness that destroyed the city; and of the decree of the Pharaoh Sekhtet to have the city sealed in order to prevent any remnants of the plague from spreading.

Less than a year ago, excavation on Wati ceased among rumors of curses and walking dead.  These rumors were encouraged by the erection of an obelisk just inside the makeshift gate, inscribed with powerful protection charms and dedicated to the Aten.  Soldiers now stand guard outside Wati's gate, only allowing the agents of particular noble houses to enter.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Epic Level for Pathfinder

I've always found the epic-level (over 20th level) rules for 3.5 to be a bit convoluted and excessively complicated.  With the higher power levels of Pathfinder characters, we can take a simpler approach.  By allowing levels beyond 20th, all characters can reach the capstone abilities of their [primary] base/core classes--so they are no longer penalized for multiclassing.  I realize that my Pathfinder campaign barely started, and I'm thinking a bit far ahead--but this has been something at the back of my ind for a while.


Character Level Cap:  Character levels cap out at 35th.  No level can be earned beyond 35th.  In general, this will allow most characters to follow 1 base/core class and 1 prestige class to completion, with a few extra levels for "dipping" (when necessary to meet feat and prestige class requirements).
If my Nefret Campaign ventures to these levels, then I will allow characters to progress through level 30 using the rules presented here.

Class Level Cap:  All classes cap at the highest level in their original source material.  Core and base classes cap at 20th level, while prestige classes cap at 5th or 10th level.  In order to progress to epic level, a character must multi-class (using the normal rules).

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Pathfinder Time!

There has been a delay in my intended Monvesia posting schedule because of an unexpected opportunity to run a Pathfinder campaign.  The regular Thursday-night AD&D game at the store where I work is moving to another night because of scheduling conflicts.  One of the players was bemoaning that she wouldn't be able to play, and she made an offhand comment that someone should run a Pathfinder game on Thursdays ... And I said "okay."

I've been wanting to run the Mummy's Mask adventure path for a while, but not in Golarion (the standard Pathfinder campaign setting). Instead, I wanted to create my own fantasy Egypt setting.  Adding Goodman Games' Lost Tomb of the Sphinx Queen and earlier Paizo adventure modules to the mix, I've got a starting point for a complex campaign world that characters can explore at their own pace.  I've just had to revise the backstories of all the adventures to fit my world (I won't be sharing any spoilers yet).


Monday, September 21, 2015

Mundane Treasure in Monvesia

All treasure is special, but not all treasure is magical.  Continuing my series on in-game player rewards (see Magic Items, Titles & Land Grants), below are notes concerning the "mundane" treasures of Monvesia.  Though, let's be honest, what is mundane about a horde of coins from across the continent?  Or a religious text bound in dragon scale?

A Song of Sixpence

The coins that can be found in a monster's possession or in a hoard varies greatly depending on where that monster or hoard is encountered.  When dealing with the various coins of Monvesia, modify the coin results from random treasure tables as noted in the appropriate section below:

Possessions

Monsters tend to possess the coins commonly in use in the region where they are encountered.  At the DM's discretion, coins from nearby regions could also be encountered.

Possessions in Dvergheim:
  • Use CP value for bronze gates
  • Half CP value for copper boars
  • Use SP value for billon fists
  • Half SP value for silver eagles
  • EP (bulls) and GP (dragons) unchanged
  • Use PP value for rhodite bears
  • Half PP value for platinum crowns

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Eliminating XP

"How many experience points for that encounter?"  
"How much experience do I get for this treasure?"  
"If I seduce the bartender, will that be enough to level up?'  
In my game-mastering experience, some players are so focused on the immediate reward of points that it drives a rift between them and those players who want to enjoy the game.  Over time, juggling exact numbers just proves to be tedious--particularly when a 9th level character is 12-points shy of her next level.  Yeah "just fudge it" could solve that situation--but how can you make sure you have been fudging fairly for everyone?

I like the idea of eliminating experience points all together, shifting "leveling up" to something session- and story-based.  In this post, I will be exploring and expanding on an idea presented almost as a footnote in the 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide:
... Advance characters based on how many sessions they play, or when they accomplish significant story goals in the campaign.  In either case, you tell the players when their characters gain a level. ...
A good rate of session-based advancement is to have characters reach 2nd level after the first session of play, 3rd level after another session, and 4th level after two more sessions. Then spend two or three sessions for each subsequent level.  This rate mirrors the standard rate of advancement, assuming sessions are about four hours long. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Titles & Land Grants in Monvesia

A liege may offer titles as a reward for service, and those titles may also come with a grants of land--small at first, but increasing as the character gains prestige and authority.

Here is a comparative list of titles in Monvesia, including vague descriptions of their relative lands, power, and authority.  Generally, only sovereigns (rulers of independent nations--ducal and higher) grant noble titles as rewards.  Baronial and comital nobles may grant ceremonial knighthood--though typically not with land.
Halflings use human titles--either Cuorrian or Honderreicher.  Titles are listed from lowest to highest.  Where multiple titles are included, the lower titles are listed first.  English terms (which are a mix of Germanic and Romance) are used for "generic" titles.
Please note that this list is a major generalization, and is not meant to be used for historical accuracy; instead, it perpetuates and standardizes several anachronisms common to tabletop gaming (particularly an American "understanding" of nobility).
 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Magic Items of Monvesia

For every change you make to the expected setting early on in developing a campaign world, you have seven more to make later. Since magic items are tied to the very structure of the elements and creature types of the world, the items below have alternate imagery and/or game mechanics in Monvesia.

Crusader's Blade (Holy Avenger)

Weapon (any sword), legendary (requires attunement by a paladin or eldritch knight of the appropriate temperament)
There are six varieties of "holy avenger"--one for each temperamental philosophy.  Each deals a different type of extra damage to a particular set of creatures:
  • Avenger's Blade deals extra fire damage to fey and outsiders from the Hydrosphere, vitalist
  • Hospitaller's Blade deals extra radiant damage to umbrals and outsiders from the Necrosphere, altruist
  • Ravager's Blade deals extra necrotic damage to ethereals and outsiders from the Heirosphere, nihilist
  • Sentinel's Blade deals extra psychic damage to modrons and outsiders from the Lithosphere, idealist
  • Templar's Blade deals extra force damage to thoughtforms and outsiders from the Aerosphere, materialist
  • Warden's Blade deals extra cold damage to slaadi and outsiders from the Pyrosphere, dynamist

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Planar Inhabitants of Monvesia

Many creatures are native to the Spheres.  The Spheres are divided into three general regions, each of which is home to particular creatures:  an inner Transitive Region, which is home to some aberrations, fey, thoughtforms, and undead (see "ethereal & umbral," below); a core Elemental Region, which is home to elementals and their kin; and a city-like outer region which is home to outsiders.

At the heart of each City is its Throne--a natural, elemental shrine that houses the Sphere's aeon, or consciousness (the aeon's physical form being the Sphere itself).  It is from these aeons that the angels originate, and it is through the angels that that will of the aeon is communicated and/or enacted.  While the aeons are the supreme governors of the Spheres, dominion over these otherworldly planes is typically exercised by the elemental princes.

Creature Types of the Spheres

Aberration

Most aberrations come from the Far Realm, beyond the Spheres.  A select few, however, originate elsewhereThe slaadi, for example, are native to the Modal Plane, the transitive region of the Pyrosphere.

Ethereal & Umbral (Undead)

While the undead types are not necessarily native to the Spheres, they do draw power from and are inexorably bound to them.  In Monvesia, undead are treated as two types:  Ethereals (bound to the Plane of Ether) and Umbrals (bound to the Plane of Shadow).  Ethereals are typically spiritual bodies left behind after death, while Umbrals are often corpses reanimated by shadow (or "dark magic").  The undead from the Monster Manual break down as follows:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Factions of Monvesia: Crusaders & the Ninety-Nine

Time to go the other direction:  Instead of adapting elements of Monvesia to 5th Edition, I want to to explore how elements of 5th Edition might be adapted for use in Monvesia.  For example, the RPGA has introduced Factions into D&D organized playe.  Factions are major power groups that player characters can interact with, gaining prestige and rank--offering a chance not only of mechanical benefit, but also role-play opportunities.

In the past, I have introduced two faction-type organizations in Monvesia:  the Crusaders of the Temperamental Orders (detailed in an earlier post) and the League of Ninety-Nine.  As I have pondered this topic, I have considered adding an "Imperial Order" as well as factions tied to other races.  However, in the interest of keeping development of the world tied to the player experience, I won't detail any additional factions they become necessary in play.
Okay, so maybe that last part was wishful thinking.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Monvesian Culture: Temperamental Orders

Temperamental Philosophy is a major factor of human culture, and orders dedicated to one of its six divisions can be found throughout the human-controlled world--including followers from any race or nationality.  While the Temperamental Orders are not exactly united, the organization within each order follows a similar pattern--and the titles used by them are shared in common.

There are three classes of Temperamental Orders:  Religious, Military, and Arcane.  A religious order may operate solely on its own, but is typically accompanied by a military order.  An arcane order under this tradition does not operate independently, but in tandem with a military or religious order--often both.

Religious Orders

There are three basic tiers of leadership in the temperamental orders:  Prelates (who govern an order), Ministers (who attend to particular congregations and institutions), and Teachers (who assist ministers and attend to branches of organizations and institutions).  These are almost always clerics--but not all clerics who associate with the Temperamental Orders are part of a religious order (many are part of a military order, see below).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Level Titles and Tiers of Play

A staple of early editions of Dungeons & Dragon was level titles:  Terms that could be used by characters in-game to identify each other by level without breaking the mood.  Level titles fell out of favor, however--but were later "replaced" by the concept of "tiers of play" in 4th & 5th editions.

Tiers of play groupings of levels that identify the overall power and influence of an adventurer or party.  In the current edition of the game, the tiers are divided as:  Levels 1 - 4, levels 5 - 10, levels 11 - 16, and levels 17 - 20.  Unlike 4th edition, these tiers to not have names, but asre simply identified as "Fiert Tier," Seond Tier," etc.

The text of the Player's Handbook identifies the First Tier as "apprentice" and implies the Second Tier could be understood as "Master"  ("characters come into their own").  Building from these, Third Tier is "Grand Master," and Fourth Tier is "Paragon."
5th level as the beginning of Master tier supports my theory (introduced in this post) that "Name Level" since 3rd edition is 5th level.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Equipment: Robe Armor

The following new types of defensive non-armor are available in Monvesia.  The robes below are generally equivalent to light armor, but do not count as armor for the sake of proficiency requirements (allowing sorcerers and wizards to benefit).  Robes are donned and doffed in the same amount of time as light armor.  They do not restrict movement in a way to affect the somatic components of spell casting.
Robe armor is not always a good option--but does serve well any wizard or sorcerer with a low dexterity score.



[Light] Robes are standard robes which are purchased as clothing. They can range in price from 5sp for mundane robes to over 15gp for extravagant ones. Light robes offer no significant protection, and are presented here only for comparison purposes.
5sp to 15+ gp, AC 10 + Dex modifier, 4 lbs.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Monvesian Culture: Games

For me, one of the more fascinating additions to 5th edition D&D is tool proficiency in gaming sets. It is clearly the evolution o the 3.x-era d20 Gamble skill.  It shows that knowing how a particular "game" (as specific as chess, or as generic as cards or dice) works an help in social integration--beyond mere gambling, but certainly including that option.  You can use a Wisdom check to gamble (or learn a new variation), a Charisma check to win favor (or throw a game), and Intelligence check to comment on an opponent's strategy.  It is a role-playing opportunity, and I appreciate that it was included.  Games within games.

Games are played throughout the world.  The same game can be played by different age groups for different reasons--such as to learn problem-solving skills, to develop social skills, or even to win money.  The games that originate in a particular culture help to define what it values.  Here are some of the gaming sets available in Monvesia, and the cultures that produced them.  Each set an be used to play multiples games, and proficiency in the set applies to most of these (unless the story requires otherwise).
While each of the gaming sets below comes from a particular culture, these have all achieved wide-spread use throughout Monvesia.  These replace the gaming sets from the Player's Handbook.  Those which are direct replacements are noted.

Chadrak

Inspiration: Checkers/Draughts, Chess, Dragon Face, Janggi, Shogi
Replaces:  Dragonchess
Cost:  1gp
Weight:  1/2 lb.

From the dwarves comes a chess-like game called chadrak (shadraque in parts of Cuorria), which is played on a grid with two-sided tiles.  The grid is always square, but can very in size from as small 7 x 7 to as large as 14 x 14 (8 x 8 and 12 x 12 are the most common); typically, these grids are woven mats.  The tiles can be circular or square, each carved from stone.  Each tile bears an identical symbol on each side, painted in opposing colors:  red and white, red and black, or even black and white.  Whatever the pair of colors, it is consistent throughout the set--and is even reflected in the woven grid.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

History of Monvesia, Part 3: Sixth Age

ybe = years before the [Divine Senarian] Empire
ye = year of the [Divine Senarian] Empire
The most likely "universal" date count.
ybk = years before the Kleimland
yk = year of the Kleimland
The dates as counted during my original campaign in this world.
The Sixth Age covers the entirety of campaign time--including those major events which directly effected the backgrounds of my first group of player characters.


Sixth Age / Aqueous Age

Circa 995 ye (Circa 5 ybk) 

  • During the short-lived Badenburg Rebellion, Rathbone I is killed. He is succeeded by his son, King Theodore II. Duke Harlan of Badenburg is executed; a loyalist cousin of the new king succeeds Harlan as Margrave of Badenburg; the nobles that supported Harlan are stripped of their titles, and the merchant families that funded him are massacred.

After 995 ye (Less Than 5ybk) 

  • The Duke of Waschbar and King of Vastria publicly disagree over the continued Verderben conflict. The Duke threatens to back out of the Vasterreich if the war continues.

998 ye (1 year before the Kleimland)

  • Theodore II sent troops to the River Kleim with the intention of annexing the Eastern Baronies region, including Kynnys, to the Hindland

Friday, August 21, 2015

History of Monvesia, Part 2: Fifth Age

ybe = years before the [Divine Senarian] Empire
ye = year of the [Divine Senarian] Empire
The most likely "universal" date count.
ybk = years before the Kleimland
yk = year of the Kleimland
The dates as counted during my original campaign.
If the first four Ages were the "Ancient" era, then the fifth age was the "Historic" era--it marks the time when written histories became more prevalent--and exact dating was more easily accomplished.  The foundation of the Empire marks the beginning of this age.


Fifth Age / Vacuous Age

1st Year of the Empire (998 ybk)

  • Foundation of the Senarian Empire.

    Circa 200 ye (Circa 800 ybk)

    • Birth of the blue dragon Oerloeg.

    Circa 300 ye (Circa 700 ybk)

    • First Council of Sena, during which the [Imperial] Temperamental Orders were established.  In opposition to the writings of Mohas, these orders openly venerate the Saints.  24 "archsaints" are chosen to represent human history and the temperamental philosophies--including both Baltus and Mohas. 

    History of Monvesia, Part 1: Ancient Era

    ybe = years before the [Divine Senarian] Empire
    ye = year of the [Divine Senarian] Empire
    The most likely "universal" date count.
    ybk = years before the Kleimland
    yk = year of the Kleimland
    The dates as counted during my original campaign.
    Each age is roughly 1,000 years, but it not exactly a millennium.  During the ancient era detailed below, events seem to hold to the one-millennium-per-age rule--but only because exact dates aren't plausible.



    First Age / Spiritual Age

    Over 3,000 ybe (Over 4,000 ybk)

    • Dwarves, elves and rakasta are the three races native to Monvesia. 
    • Humans and goliaths are native to a distant region of the mortal world called Desolation. 
    • Lizardfolk are native to a region between these--on the border between the Forest of Vines and Sea of Sand.
    • The first dwarves ascend to sainthood--these are possibly the first mortals to ascend.
    • Some dwarves learn magic from the elves, and are abandoned by the paragons for their transgression--these dwarves become the gnomes.
    • The HMDJVNW (“am-div-nu”) enslave the human and goliath races by psychological and emotional means.  They create the Taint to prevent human and goliath cultures from developing enough to become a threat--creating orcs and ogres.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Legendary Monvesians: The Akhnaphar

    In the orcish langauges, akhnaphar roughly translates as "three [of the] north," commonly understood as the Northern Triad.  When Jostin and Ignatius had first ascended, a small cult formed in the mountains who worshiped the Triad.  Independent veneration of Jostin and Ignatius overshadowed the first iteration of the Triad, however.  It wasn't until this ult and Gygar were redisovered that the Triad came to be venerated together again.

    All three of the saints who are commonly venerated in the Kleimland were legendary heroes who ascended to sainthood.  While Gygar, Ignatius, and Jostin comprise the Akhnaphar itself, their stories, are bound with "anti-saints"--who ascended in opposition to the Triad--as well.

    Gygar

    Race:  Human (Honderreicher)
    Class:  Wizard (Enchanter)
    Background:  Noble
    Temperament:  Idealist
    Saintly Path:  Thaumaturge
    Saintly Patron:   Mekare the Archivist
    Sphere of Ascension:  Aerosphere
    Venerated by:  Reorganized Disciples of Gygar (Order of the Northern Triad), Universal Order of Spiritual Thought

    Born during the close of the Orc Wars, Gygar was drawn to magic as a way to protect those closest to him.  Using the powers he honed at the end of the war, he pursued the path of the thaumaturge under the tutelage of a dwarven Paragon.  While following this path, Gygar came to rule over the region of the river Kleim, calling his domain Gygaria.  He established himself as the strongest wizard in the land, and trained other arcanists. Among his students were:  Hippolyta, Novation, Ignatius, Ursula, Laurentis, Pascha, Constance and Christophe.

    Saturday, August 15, 2015

    Ascension in Monvesia, Part 3: Path

    Once a character gains a sponsor, he must reach 20th level before setting off on the path to sainthood. The main principle that a petitioner must follow is to be true to his chosen Sphere, and to bring it glory and honor during the trials. Each path requires that a mortal pass five tough requirements:
    1. The character’s adventures must gain him a specific amount of experience. This amount is 36,000 XP for most characters but only 24,000 XP for the Path the Sphere favors. 
    2. The character must complete a new quest to retrieve an artifact from his sphere of power. The quest for this artifact should take several game years. 
    3. The character must successfully complete a trial of specific value to his class and the sphere (see below). 
    4. The character must prepare a testimonial to his greatness, a combination of followers and a lasting monument. Eighty percent of the character’s followers must be alive when he completes the path. The monument to his greatness must be financed by the character, and he must participate in its creation by either adventuring for components and manpower or by taking the risks of the actual physical construction. 
    5. The character must complete a specific monumental task that will benefit his sphere (see below for details). 
    At the end of these steps, the character must return to the pilgrimage site and meet with the Saintly sponsor. If the character has failed to complete any of the steps, the Saint may set further requirements to be fulfilled before sainthood is granted. If all of the steps are completed, the Saint reviews the whims of chance. Roll 1d10. If a 1 is rolled, the petitioner has failed and is not granted immortality. He may request further tasks, or he may give up. If the petitioner is granted immortality, he may take a year and a day to complete his mortal affairs and then must leave the mortal realm to take one's place in the outer domains of the Spheres.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    Ascension in Monvesia, Part 2: Sponsor

    So, you've chosen the Saint that you would like to intercede on your behalf in the process of your Ascension.  Now what?  Well, you must ...
    1. ... prepare a gift for the Saint;
    2. ... make a pilgrimage to a holy site of the Saint's Sphere;
    3. ... make contact with the Saint; and
    4. ... petition the Saint to be your sponsor.
    If successful, you will earn the right to proceed on your chosen Saintly Path.

    Gift

    The petitioner must create a gift of particular relevance to the Saint--relating in some way to their history, personality, etc. This gift should aesthetically represent and/or include the qualities of the Saint's Sphere (which will become the petitioner's Sphere, if successful). The more valuable the gift, the higher the chances for the character to receive a favorable response from the Immortal--generally, it should have a value greater than 25,000 gp.

    Pilgrimage

    Once the gift is prepared, the petitioner must make a pilgrimage to a place where a Saint of that Sphere may be contacted. This is usually a remote, hard to reach place with a reputation for dangerous hazards nearby. For example:
    • A tall mountain's peak (Aerosphere)
    • A secluded grove (Hydrosphere)
    • A primordial lava pool (Pyrosphere)
    • A forgotten tomb (Nerosphere)
    • A lost temple (Heirosphere)
    • An ore-rich cavern, untouched by miners (Lithosphere)

    Monday, August 10, 2015

    Ascension in Monvesia, Part 1: Basics

    I had established early in the campaign that the local saints, Jostin and Ignatius, were one heroes who ascended to their place as venerable icons.  As the campaign advanced, I explored their mortal lives and hinted at their journey to immortality.  I had used the Immortal rules from Basic D&D to "explain" their ascension mechanically; and I wanted the players to realize that sainthood was something that they could aspire to as well, if they wanted.

     

    While the Immortals Set rules for Basic D&D explored life as a divine being, the rules for achieving immortality could be found in the earlier Masters Set, and were later reprinted in the Rules Cyclopedia. It is the latter rules that I would like to adapt to 5th edition.
    Under the Pathfinder rules, I had planned on using Mythic Adventures to fill this purpose--but the campaign did not venture far enough for that to come up.  That ruleset has informed this adaptation as well.
    Those races which are susceptible to taint are also capable of achieving sainthood.  Only untainted beings may become saints, however.  Eligible races are:  dwarves, gnomes, goliaths, half-orcs, haflings, humans, planetouched and rakasta.  "Monster" races that could potentially achieve sainthood include ogrillons and lizardfolk.

    Saturday, August 8, 2015

    Creatures NOT of Monvesia

    In "Other Non-Humans of Monvesia," I briefly touched on player character races that do not [currently] exist in the world of Monvesia.  While some of those were ruled out completely, others were reserved for speculative purposes.  The difference between does not exist and will never exist is fuzzy--after all, halflings came to be an important part of the setting, when I had first ruled them out as over-used; similarly, half-elves and half-orcs have also since found a home here.  Nevertheless, there remain some aspects of traditional fantasy gaming that I have continued to avoid.

    Having already learned to avoid saying never in Monvesia, my aversion to certain elements can still be rated:

    • Aversion Level:  0 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that I think may have a fit in Monvesia, but I have yet to fully incorporate it.  There may not be a need for this element in the world--but I reserve the right to introduce it at a later date.
    • Aversion Level: 1 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that I often enjoy, but I do  not think it has a natural place in Monvesia {ex. Halflings}
    • Aversion Level: 2 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that I think is overused, and would like to avoid using in Monvesia {ex. Half-Elves, Half-Orcs}
    • Aversion Level: 3 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that is hand-crafted for another game world, and/or has developed a very particular, expected culture that does not fit in Monvesia.  Such elements would require an amount of work to untangle that may not be worth the time {ex. Drow}
    • Aversion Level: 4 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that is poorly conceived and/or wholly redundant.

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    Character Concept & Party Bonding

    "You wake up and find yourself in a cell with three strangers.  The last thing you remember is being attacked by a group of thugs ..."
    "The bartender tells you that the hooded man at the corner table is looking for a few good adventurers.  It looks like three others have already found their way to his table.  He noties you looking, and beckons you over ..."
    "As a member of the local adventurer's guild, you have been given an assignment to work with three other apprentices ..."
    Just throw the party together on the first day, and they'll get along fine--each with his or her own agenda, each optimized to survive alone.  If the party doesn't get along, you penalize the players for not acting like a team.  Except, they aren't a team--they just met, and know nothing about each other.  While I have often use this method in the past, I would like to repent of my ways and move on.

    The system presented in FATE is a great way of not only conceptualizing characters, but also unifying a party.  So, I figured I would adapt something like it as "Step Zero" in the character creations process in my games of 5th edition.  To do this correctly, the entire player party should be present without having yet created characters.  Players should have an idea of what they want their characters to be, but should not have put anything to paper yet.  For the party to be cohesive, every element should be fleshed out together.

    Friday, July 31, 2015

    Taint in Monvesia

    A major element that separates Monvesia from other fantasy settings is Taint--the transformation of some individuals and communities into monstrous reflections of themselves.  Since taint is responsible for the goblinoid and similar races, I first touched on it in "Other Non-Humans of Monvesia."  I didn't really explore the nature of the ailment, however.
    Taint is adopted, in part, from Legend of the Five Rings.  However, unlike in that setting, Taint in Monvesia is not a result of personal choice or action--it is the result of public belief and perception.  Monvesian Taint is further inspired by the Taint from the Thaumcraft mod for Minecraft; as well as the Blight from Dragon Age.
    Taint is a "psychosomatic" disorder--that is, it is a mental condition that alters the physical body.   From a metaphysical, cosmologial perspective, it originates in the Plane of Thought [Astral Plane](the transitive aspect of the Aerosphere).  Here, the subconscious minds of all living creatures connect; and a collective unconscious "shadow" exists--an iridescent, black and purple storm-cloud dominating the horizon.  If it can be reached, many wizards believe that this cloud can be used as a portal to the Far Realm.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    Measurement, Distance, & Cartography

    While born from my development of Monvesia, this post really isn't really setting or even rule-set specific.
    Should measurements and distances in a game be measured in terms that can be digested by players of a game, or by characters in a story?  While it would be nice to accomplish both, I personally favor the latter.  When determining your mapping scale, you should consider how characters in the setting describe the same measurements and distances.  "5 feet" is an arbitrar unit of measurement, and characters are not likely to have a tapemeasure handy when mapping a dungeon; a pace, howeve,r is roughly the same size--and is a likely measurement for on-the-go adventurers.

    Here are the terms I prefer to use in-game, with a few extra for flavor thrown in.

    Small-Scale Measurement

    finger is the average width of one finger.
    This is the common diameter of the average coin in Monvesia--of any denomination; approx. 18 – 21mm [dime/nickel/penny].
    palm is the average distance across the palm, equal to four fingers.  Palms commonly used as a multiple of fingers

    A hand is the average distance across the palm and thumb (a little more than five fingers [5 1/3]).  Hands are used independently of fingers and palms; they are typically used to measure heights of living creatures:
    • Goliaths stand between 21 and 24 hands (roughly 4 or 5 cubits).
    • Humans stand between 15 and 20 hands (or 3 to 4 cubits).
    • Elves stand between 14 and 19 hands (roughly 3 to 4 cubits).
    • Rakasta stand between 14 and 16 hands (about 3 cubits).
    • Dawrves stand between 12 and 15 hands (under 3 cubits).
    • Gnomes stand between 9 and 11 hands (about 2 cubits). 
    • Halflings stand between 7 and 9 hands (under 2 cubits).

    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    Character Optimization in Monvesia

    "Optimization" seems to be a good word for areas related to either the creation or customization of characters--and house rules related to each.


    Ability Scores

    The Player's Handbook presents three methods of generating ability scores:  4d6, standard array, and point-buy.  These methods have become fairly standard in fantasy roleplaying.  Of the three, my preference is for point-buy--which allows for both individuality and balance.  I disagree with the Player's Handbook in regards to the highest ability one can purchase, however.  

    Thursday, July 23, 2015

    Backgrounds in Monvesia

    After race and class, the other major aspect of character creation to explore is Background.  Here is a brief overview of how the backgrounds of the Player's Handbook might fit in the world of Monvesia--including some variant options.  The variant options are inspired by the character concepts of some of the players who first experienced the world.

    Acolyte

    Acolytes are commonly connected to the Philosophical Orders--while often clerics, paladins, or eldritch knights; they could also be laypersons who studies the orders ways early in life.  Rakasta shamans often have proteges; while dwarves of any caste are welcome to study with the Keeperate before choosing a profession.
    James, a human cleric of St. Ignatius, replaced the incognito noble (see below) "Cain" after his death.  He was a devout servant of the Trickster's burning flame, having always lived a religious life.

    Charlatan

    The roads of the Divine Senarian Empire are filled with criminals and ne'er-do-wells looking for quick coin at the expense of others.  Others seek out this secretive life to hide their true selves.

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    Monvesian Culture: Dwarven Coinage

    Humans are not the only race to influence the greater culture of Monvesia.   The concept of money, for instance, is a dwarven creation.  However, money isn't the only form of commerce in Monvesia.


    Saturday, July 18, 2015

    Psionicists of Monvesia

    It is time to venture into the realm of psionics in 5th edition and in Monvesia.  Under the Pathfinder rules, the full psionics system (updated in Psionics Unleashed and Ultimate Psionics) was assumed, though none of my players pursued any of those options--even when knowledge of the temperaments was included in the Knowledge (psionics) skill.  In 5th edition, a more subtle approach can be used.

    In Monvesia, there are both mystics and wild talents (members of other classes who have developed psionic ability).

    Wild Talents

    When I saw the Great Old One patron for the 5th edition warlock, I saw how psionics could be incorporated seamlessly into the existing rules.  While the mystic is evolving well into a primary manifester, psionics can still be an option for characters that pursue other classes.  Such "manifesters" (to borrow the 3.x term) are called wild talents.  In a world where psionics are rare, wild talents are more common than mystics.

    • Pursuing a Great Old One (the creators of the Taint) leads to an otherworldly pact
    • Surviving the Taint can lead to a sorcerous origin
      • A good option for halfling and half-orc characters
    • Halflings in the Honderreich who have tried to return to the ways of Sylvasta have developed a new monastic tradition
    Even my variant Eldritch Knight (the "Sentinel") is essentially a wild talent under this system--using Enchantment and Illusion instead of Abjuration and Evocation.


    Thursday, July 16, 2015

    Monvesian Culture: Human Calendar & Relgion

    Humans have spread across Monvesia to become the dominant race of the continent.  I do not make this declaration out of hubris over human superiority, but out of acceptance that humans are greedy, relentless, and selfish.  Humankind spread across the land because that is what they do.  Here are some cultural elements of Monvesia that relate to the influence of humanity's religious tradition on the known world.

    Senarian Calendar

    The calendar is divided into six seasons of 60 days each, each of which is preceded by an extracalery festival related to one of the philosophical temperaments—for a total of 366 days. While each philosophical priesthood counts its own high holy day as the beginning of the liturgucal year, it is the Feast of Spiritual Thought that is most commonly used as the secular new year.

    For followers of the philosophical temperaments, regardless of denomination (see below), the seasons hold spiritual significance, as each is associated with a particular element and temperament.  The seasons, including the feast day which precedes them, are treated as a Zodiac of sorts:  The season you are born in has an influence on your personal and interpersonal development.

    Each season is further sub-divided into 10, 6-day weeks.  Days are named as variations of:  Windday, Sunday, Flameday, Stoneday, Starday, Riverday).  Dates are noted as the Xth [y]day of [Season].  For example:  Sixth Windday of Summer (the 31st day of the Season).

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015

    Languages of Monvesia

    Gothic alphabet
    Common Script [Gothic alphabet]


    Standard Languages

    The following are the equivalents of the "Standard Languages" outlined in the Player's Handbook.
    • Common Languages - There are six (6!) common [ie. human] languages, one for each human culture; all Common languages share the same script.
        • Human characters, (but not including half-human and planetouched) should select two common languages at first level--one representing their culture of origin, and one other.
        • Other characters should select one common language, generally representing the nearest human population; for half-humans and planetouched, this represents their culture of origin.
        • All player characters in a single party should share at least one language (though this does not have to be a common language).
      • Cuorrian ("Central Common") - spoken by Romance/Latinate people of the central river region, many elves, some halflings, some goliaths [aka. “Herzlander”]
      • Galtish ("Western Common") - spoken by Celtic people of the northwest region, some gnomes, some rakasta [aka. “Galtannian” or “Galtlander”]
      • Honderreicher ("Northern Common") - spoken by Germanic people of the northern region, some dwarves, some halflings, some rakasta, some gnomes [aka. “Ondrian”]
      • Notopolitan ("Southern Common") - spoken by Hellenic people of the southern region, some goliaths [aka. “Notopian”]
      • Veldi ("Desert Common") -  spoken by Persian people of the western region, some rakasta [aka. “Baldian”]
      • Voztokny ("Eastern Common") - spoken by Slavonic people east of the river region, some dwarves , some goliaths, [aka. “Tsarish” or “Tsarian” or “Tzarlander”]

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    Mages of Monvesia

    Mastery of the arcane arts can be achieved by strengthening one's connection to the Spheres of Power.  This can be apporached through formal study, through otherworldy pacts, or through acceptance of one's innate, temperamental connection.  Even some artisan s have learned to manipulate the arcane.

    [Artificer]

    [This space is reserved for the exploration of the Dwarven and Gnomish arcane tradition.  An early version of artifice was introduced as an option for wizards.  Until the full class is explored, this version may be used.]

    Sorcerer

    Sorcerers of Monvesia are possessed of an inborn connection to one of the Spheres.  While all adherents of the elemental philosophies believe that every being has such a connection, it is the sorcerers who have accepted it and gained power from it.   A sorcerer's elemental connection may be tied to his or her race (or culture, if human), personal philosophy/temperament, season of birth, etc.--but it does not define every aspect of the character.

    Among rakasta, sorcerers are seen as spirit mediums who have allowed themselves to become the vessels of lesser spirits.

    Sunday, July 12, 2015

    Dragons of Monvesia

    The game is called Dungeons and Dragons, after all, so I suppose I should touch on the nature of dragon-kind in the world.  The dragons of Monvesia follow a variation of the model presented in B/X, BECMI, and RC:  There are only 6 dragons, and they are not differentiated between metallic and chromatic--they are simply dragons.  There is only one species of [true] dragon, composed of six variations.
    A dragon of one color may be hatched to a dragon of any other color. To randomly determine a dragon's color, roll 1d12 and consult the following: 1 - 5, mother's color; 6 - 8, father's color; 9, other color A; 10, other color B; 11, other color C; 12, other color D.
    The philosophical temperaments of human religion are associated with colors according to the traditional nomenclature of draconic coloration.  Rakasta, who do not see color in the same way that other races do, use an alternate naming scheme based on other precious materials.
    Any dragon may be of any temperament, regardless of apparent color.
    Innate Spellcasters: All Monvesian dragons have a chance of being innate spellcasters (as described on p. 86 of the Monster Manual).  

    Saturday, July 11, 2015

    Experts of Monvesia

    Skilled vagabonds wander Monvesia for many reasons, any of which make them a good fit for an adventuring party.  Loremasters, gutternipes, troubadours, and confidence artists all make ta place for themselves in the world--either out of necessity, or else merely of desire.


    Bard

    The bard is a product of dwarven culture.  It is one of two recognized arcane professions in dwarven society (see Artificer in "Mages of Monvesia").  The eldest bardic college is the College of Valor, which emerged in the warrior caste.  The dwarves' deeds in battle needed to be passed down, so that no warrior could forget the bravery of history.  The College of Valor has remained close to dwarven and gnomish culture, spreading among humans and halflings of the Honderreich, Galtain, and Voztok.

    Thursday, July 9, 2015

    Priests of Monvesia

    In Monvesia, the two priestly classes cover all the spiritual traditions.  While each tradition is rooted with a particular race, you do not need to be a member of that race to follow that tradition--you simply must train in that race's tradition.  There may be some restrictions if you follow another race's traditions, however.
    As a "new" race, halflings do not have an independent religion of their own.  Honderreicher halflings typically follow rakasta shamanism; while in Cuorria, they follow the orders of human orthodoxy.

    Cleric

    Dwarves and humans have the most recognizable clerical traditions.  Goliath tradition makes use of this class as well--though not in a way that really resembles western-style clerics.

    Orders of the Temperamental Philosophies (Humans & some Halflings)

    Available Domains:  By temperament -

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015

    Warriors of Monvesia

    Now that I have explored all the races of Monvesia, it is time to move on to the classes.  All of the classes of the Player's Handbook have a place in this world.  Warriors are a staple in any party, and there is a variety to choose from.
    Additional fighting style options for Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers can be found in Unearthed Arcana.

    Barbarian

    Barbarians are spiritual warriors from various traditions.  While each path is bound to a particular culture, followers of those paths are not bound to those cultures.

    Totem Warriors often emerge from Galtic druidism, which is a naturalistic faith that venerates alimal guides and guardians.
    New options for the totem warrior can be found in the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.
    Berserkers emerge in elfish mysticism, where they are seen as those who allow their unseelie natures to take over for a time.

    Bloodrage Savages (DMs Guild) draw power from the bloodlust of the predator on the hunt--which is an integral part of rakasta culture. This primal path has allowed rakasta to share their connection to the hunt with neighboring races.

    Thaneborn (Wayfarers Guild) include those who venerate the dwarven warrior paragon, known for giving into madness for the sake of inspiring their allies.

    Sunday, July 5, 2015

    Alignments of Monvesia: Temperaments


    The June installment of Unearthed Arcana granted "official permission" to abandon the traditional alignments of D&D. Of course, I'd been playing with alternate alignments for Monvesia since I started the campaign--partly because the alignments of 4th edition (the game my group started with) didn't line up with the alignments I was used to.

    Originally, I had identified 6 Monvesian alignments, each associated with a color of [Basic D&D] dragon (see "Dragons of Monvesia"). I started to use these colors to describe NPCs in the world.
    • Good (White Knight, White Wizard, White Witch)
    • Lawful (Gold Knight, Gold Wizard, Gold Witch)
    • Neutral - Balanced (Green Knight, Green Wizard, Green Witch)
    • Neutral - Apathetic (Blue Knight, Blue Wizard, Blue Witch)
    • Chaotic (Red Knight, Red Wizard, Red Witch)
    • Evil (Black Knight, Black Wizard, Black Witch)
    As the dominant religion of the world (Universal and Metropolitan Orders, see "Priests of Monvesia") and the planar structure (see "Planes of Monvesia") became solidified, these alignments became associated with philosophies.  As more aspects of setting became associated with each philosophy, they evolved into temperaments (complete with humours).

    Each temperament has direct correspondences and indirect associations.  Correspondences are direct correlations  (if it is Altruist, then it is the equivalent of good).  Associations apply to stereotypes and expectations, and are not requirements (not every Evoker is a Vitalist).

    Saturday, July 4, 2015

    Humans of Monvesia, Part 2: Uncommon Humans

    Half-Orcs

    -----
    Language Analog:  By human region (see "Humans of Monvesia, Part One")
    Inspiration:  Accident.
    I never intended half-orcs to be an option.  However, in my earlier campaign, one character (whose player was frequently absent) started to fall victim to the Taint (as a way of keeping the character around and part of the story without a player).  A new player to the group decided that his character was going to research a cure for the Taint. He couldn't pass up examining a half-transformed specimen ... and affecting a cure at this stage seemed plausible.  So, I gave the frequently missing player the option of changing his character's race to half-orc.
    -----

    Tainted Counterparts:  Orc; half-orcs are immune to Monvesia-strain taint
    Temperamental Association:  By human region (see "Humans of Monvesia, Part One"); half-orcs are not particular to any one human culture.

    Names:  By human region (see "Humans of Monvesia, Part One")

    Like goliaths, humans originate in the land of Desolation, on the other side of the known world.  There, humans and goliaths were subject to the original Taint--a psychosomatic disorder which stripped the mind of will and humanity, and transformed the body to match.  Over time, humans (and goliaths) proved to be resilient to this taint.  While the transformation couldn't be reversed, it could at least be halted.  Thus were the first half-orcs and ogrillons born.

    Humans of Monvesia, Part 1: Ethnicities & Nations

    Tainted Counterparts:  Orcs, Bugbears
    Temperamental Association:  By ethnicity (see below).
    All humans use the "Variant Human Traits" on p. 31 of the Player's Handbook.
    NOTE:  Humans should select two (2!) Common languages at first level, while other races only select one.  (see "Languages of Monvesia")

    Humans, like goliaths, emigrated to Monvesia.

    Though the last race to come to Monvesia, humans have quickly becomes the dominant culture of the regions--much like a bacteria, some would say.  Humans came to Monvesia by crossing the Sea of Sand.  They settled first in the fertile lines just east of the desert (Veldistan), and later spread into the mouth of the great river (Notopoli).  With access to the river, they soon traveled northward, into elven (Cuorria), rakasta (Honderreich), and gnomish (Galtain) territory.  Finally, a few intrepid expeditions crossed the Granitsan Mountains to settle he eastern coast (Voztok).
    I have not yet had cause to fully explore the particulars of Veldistan or Notopoli.  They are included here for completeness sake.  I will likely edit this post further when those details emerge.  I will not force them, though--I believe that a campaign word should grow organically.  When I have a character interested in originating in one of these territories--or else a party has cause to adventure there, I will leave the specifics un-delineated.

    Planes of Monvesia: The Six Spheres

    The planar cosmology of Monvesia is not as complex as traditional D&D campaign settings.  Aside from the [Prime] Material Plane, there are only six other planes, called the Spheres.  The material plane is formed at the nexus of these six spheres--the only point in the universe where opposing spheres touch.

     

    Spheres as Transitive Planes

    Where all six Spheres touch, the material plane exists. Each of the Spheres is ever-present in the mortal world, and the regions nearest it act as transitive planes.  The transitive aspects of the Spheres are:
    • Aerosphere – air, Plane of Thought [Astral Plane]
    • Heiropshere – light (aka. “empyreal fire”), Ethereal Plane
    • Hydrosphere – water (and wood), Plane of Yore [Feywild]
    • Lithosphere – earth (and metal), Mirror Plane (see below)
    • Necrosphere – void, Plane of Shadows [Shadowfell]
    • Pyrosphere – fire (aka. “infernal fire”), Modal Plane (see below)

    Friday, July 3, 2015

    Other Non-Humans of Monvesia

    Goblinoids: The Tainted Races

    Goblinoids in Monvesia are the result of a temperamental disorder known as Taint.  Each tainted race has an untainted counterpart.  Two races, humans and goliaths, are subject to two strains of taint--one from their original homeland (Desolation), and one newer strain in Monvesia.

    • Desolation-Strain Taint
      • Ogres are tainted goliaths
        • Ogrillons are goliaths who have either proven to be partially resistant to this strain of taint, or else who have been partially cured of it.
      • Orcs are tainted humans
        • Half-orcs (see "Humans of Monvesia") are humans who have either proven to be partially resistant to this strain of taint, or else who have been partially cured of it.
      • Troglodytes are tainted lizardfolk
      • Vanara are tainted [or "awakened"] monkeys
    • Monvesia-Strain Taint
      • Bugbears are tainted humans (?)
      • Gnolls are tainted rakasta
      • Goblins are tainted gnomes
      • Hobgoblins are tainted dwarves
      • Kobolds are tainted halflings
        • From an historic standpoint, it might be more accurate to say that halflings are untainted kobolds.
      • Trolls are tainted goliaths (?)
    Both strains are taint are present in Monvesia.  Monvesia strain is an evolution of Desolation strain.  Desolation-strain taint only effects those races originally native to Desolation: goliaths and humans.

    Goliaths of Monvesia



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    Language Analog: Pseudo-Semitic ("Nephite")
    Inspiration:  Ogre folklore, Qunari from the Dragon Age franchise, half-giants from Dark Sun, Book of Mormon stories (particularly the Jaredites, the early Lehites, and the followers of Hagoth)
    In the B/X rendition of this setting, I called this race [civilized] ogres.  I created a class for them that was an inverse of halflings.  When we ported over to Pathfinder, the half-giant adaptation from Dreamscarred Press' Psionics Unleashed was a natural fit.  When 5th edition was released, 4th edition titles went on sale, and I was able to pick up the setting books for Eberron and Dark Sun--which, alongside Mystara, are my preferred pre-fab settings.  In 4th edition Dark Sun, they had retconned half-giants as goliaths--the choice seemed wise, as that edition was already getting race happy.  When the player's companion was released for 5th edition Elementel Evil,  I saw that the goliath was adapted to the new ruleset.  Goliath was an obvious choice for this race in Monvesia--which had yet to be encountered by the players.
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    Tainted Counterparts: Ogres, Trolls
    Temperamental Association: Nihilist

    Male Names:  Abinadi, Amaleki, Ammon, Corianton, Coriantumr, Hagon, Himni, Korihor, Lamoni, Lehonti, Liahor, Limni, Limhi, Mahonri, Morianton, Nehor, Omner, Riplaki, Seantum, Shemnon, Shiblon, Teancum, Zeniff, Zoram

    Female Names:  Abish, Amalekish, Ammoth, Coriantoth, Deseret, Hagoth, Himnish, Kish, Korihona, Lamonish, Liahona, Limnish, Limhish, Mahonrish, Merkabah, Moriantoth, Nehona, Nimrah, Riplakish, Sariah, Shemnoth, Shibloth, Zarahemla, Zerahemna

    Goliaths, like humans, emigrated to Monvesia.

    Thursday, July 2, 2015

    Halflings of Monvesia

    File:Hiravias-portrait.jpg File:Hearth-orlan-female-portraits.jpg File:Hearth-orlan-male-portrait.jpg

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    Language Analog: Basque
    Inspiration:  Kender from Dragonlance (vaguely); Hearth Orlan from Pillars of Eternity (accidentally)
    While looking for artwork that best represented my vision for halflings in Monvesia, I stumbled upon the orlan of Pillars of Earth.  Damnit ... someone thought of it first ...
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    Tainted Counterpart: Kobolds [which are furry, and dog-like--not dragonkin]
    Temperamental Association: Altruism

    Names:  See Basque Names.

    Until a century ago, Halflings were little more than folklore.  The first halfling sightings were in the years following the Orc Wars, in the Honderreich.  Since they were easily dismissed as gnomes, or goblins, or [*shudder*] kobolds, most people never considered halflings real.  

    Rakasta of Monvesia


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    Language Analog:  Turkish
    Inspiration:  Rakasta of Mystara ("Isle of Dread," "Rage of the Rakasta"), Genghis Khan
    NOTE:  Rakasta refers to a very particular race in a very particular world.  While the race I am presenting here is similar to those of that world, I am not trying to explicitly emulate that race.  I use the name here because it conveys the idea of "proud warrior race" better than catfolk could.  The "official" catfolk, as noted below, are called Tabaxi.
    -----

    Tainted Counterpart:  Gnolls
    Temperamental Association:  Vitalist

    Names:  See Turkish Names; swap out accented letters with c, x, and q as you see fit.
    Concerning rakasta language:  the consonants cx, and q do not represent the sounds they do in English. They are closer to the clicks of the Bantu languages.  c represents a click of the tip of the tongue against the front teeth (sometimes called a tsk or tut-tut); x represents a click of the central part of the tongue against the molars (sometimes called a tchick); represents a clock of the back of the tongue in the throat.
    With Dwarves and Elves, Rakasta are one of the original races of Monvesia.  Their territory is common called the Pridelands.  It once extended through parts of the Honderreich and Galtain, and included all of Veldistan.

    Monday, June 29, 2015

    Elves of Monvesia

       

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    Language Analog:  Finnish
    Inspiration:  Greek myth, fairy folklore, Wicca
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    Tainted Counterpart: none, elves are immune to Taint
    Temperamental Association: Dynamist

    Names (any gender): Aamu, Aatos, Ahti, Aimo, Aino, Alli, Ansa, Armas, Armo, Arvo, Aulis, Eija, Eino, Hella, Hilja, Ilma, Ilta, Impi, Into, Jalo, Kai, Kaleva, Kauko, Kielo, Kirsikka, Kukka, Kyllikki, Lahja, Lempi, Lumi, Mainio, Maire, Meri, Merja, Oiva, Onni, Orvokki, Otso, Paiva, Pilvi, Pyry, Rauha, Ritva, Sade, Sampo, Satu, Seija, Seppo, Sini, Sirpa, Sisu, Soile, Sulo, Suoma, Suvi, Tahti, Taika, Taime, Taisto, Taipo, Tarmo, Taru, Tauno, Terhi, Terho, Terttu, Toivo, Tuija, Tuuli, Tyyne, Ukko, Urho, Vanamo, Varpu, Veli, Vesa, Vieno, Virva, Voitto, Vuokko

    With Dwarves and Rakasta, Elves are one of the original races of Monvesia.  Their homeland is called S├╝nnimaa, and once included all of Cuorria, Notopoli, and even Inheritance.

    Sunday, June 28, 2015

    Gnomes of Monvesia

     

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    Language Analog:  Chechen
    Inspiration:  Surface dwarves in the Dragon Age franchise; travellers/tinkers
    -----

    Tainted Counterpart:  Goblin
    Temperamental Association:  Idealist

    Male Names:  Batraz, Borz, Dikalu, Lom, Mayrsolt, Tawara, Vaharsolt
    Female Names:  Avarka, Kheda, Prina, Tabarik, Zargan

    Gnomes have evolved from dwarves.