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 Limbo (the Plane of Subconscious Thought).  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.

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.


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.


The roads of the Divine Drajan 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: Pracian 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.

Coinage of Monvesia

The human use of coins was borrowed from the dwarves and gnomes—though humans use fewer types of coins than their dwarven predecessors. For both cultures precious stones (but not semi-precious ones) are also a monetary commodity--particularly for trade..

Coins are not referred to as “gold pieces,” “silver pieces,” etc. Instead, each region uses its own terms for the common coins; some examples are found below.  Game terms (gp, sp, cp) are used to note relative value of coins.
Every coin is approximately the same size: 3 - 5g of mass, and 1 finger (18 – 20 mm) in diameter (about the size of a penny, nickel, or dime). Approximately 100 coins, of any denomination, is equal to a pound in weight. Regardless of actual weight, a [small] belt pouch may hold no more than 200 coins.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Monvesian Culture: Human Religion

RETCON NOTE: The Senarian Calendar has moved to a new post.
Human religion is commonly called Senarian--referencing the six Spheres and Temperaments venerated by the various orders, and original six factions to attend the Senary Councils. This religion is composed of several denominations, generally divided into four categories:  Ancient, Universal, Metropolitan, or Independent.  The structure of the individual orders is explored in "Monvesian Culture: Temperamental Orders."  Below, I explore how various orders relate to each other.

Related image

Ancient Orders

Ancient orders can be fond primarily in Veldistan, where the Cult of Human Perseverance originally evolved into the philosophial temperaments.  These order are not dedicated to saint or gods, but to aspects of the elements.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Languages of Monvesia

Gothic alphabet
Common Script [Gothic alphabet] in the Honderreich

Standard Languages

The following are the equivalents of the "Standard Languages" outlined in the Player's Handbook.
  • Common Languages of Prace - There are six (6) common [ie. human] languages, one for each human culture; all Common languages share the same basic script (though each may have a few alternate letters of its own).
      • Human characters, (but not including genasi or otherworldly humans) 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 genasi and otherworldly humans, 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”]

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 may be of the same color as its father or its mother.  There is a chance, however, that a shared recessive gene carried by both parents might produce a dragon of any other color.
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).  
True dragons can be found in Prace and Henjal.  They were unknown to humans and goliaths in Raviq.

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.
Enhancements to the class features of both these classes can be found in Unearthed Arcana.


The bard is a product of dwarven culture.  It is one of two recognized arcane professions in dwarven society (see Artificer in "Savants 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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Warriors of Monvesia - Men-at-Arms

RETCON NOTE:  See also "Warriors of Monvesia - Mystics."
Martial traditions can be grouped into two basic categories:  a formal caste of men-at-arms, and ascetic mystics.  The first group share in common, among other things, a series of fighting styles.
Additional fighting style options for Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers can be found in Unearthed Arcana, including general and class-specific styles, as well as "underdark" styles.  The former link also includes enhancements for the class features of all three classes discussed below.


The majority of fighters are Champions and Battle Masters.  These can commonly be found as heroic soldiers and officers, but these martial archetypes are by no means bound to military service.

Among elves, the Eldritch Knight is as common as any Champion, and possibly more common than Battle Masters.  As highly magic beings, merging the martial and mystical arts is natural to them.  Any who wish to learn the ways of this archetype may study with the elves.

Brutes (Unearthed Arcana) are commonly found as street thugs and gladiators, and not among the military orders of Monvesia--though they may be conscripted into formal service.

Bannerets (Sword Coast) are mercenary and noble officers who are assisted by Battle Masters in leading troops of Champions.  While Champions and Battle Masters may exist outside the strict hierarchy of military service, the Banneret does not.

Cavaliers (Xanathar's Guide) often stand alongside Battle Masters and Bannerets as officers of a noble or mercenary forces. Some may also serve as knights errant, wandering the countryside and offering their services as their conscience (or purse) may dictate. 

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 Raviq and Prace

Tainted Counterparts:  Orcs
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 Prace from Raviq.

Though the last race to come to Prace, humans have quickly becomes the dominant culture of the regions--much like a bacteria, some would say.  Humans came to settle Monvesia after 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.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Goliaths of Raviq and Prace

Image depicting Mesoamerican warriors carrying their packs of supplies on their backs. Image by Jody Livingston.

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.

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

Rakasta, Leonin of Prace

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 (Mystara).  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 for nostalgic reasons.

Tainted Counterpart:  Gnolls
Temperamental Association:  Dynamist

Names:  See Turkish Names; swap out sounds as detailed here.

Along with dwarves and satyrs (commonly called "elves"), rakasta are among the original natives of Prace.  Rakasta territory is commonly called the Pridelands.  It once extended through parts of the Honderreich and Galtain, and included all of Veldistan.