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 are 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 do not have names, but are simply identified as "FirstTier," Second 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 has been 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.


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: Sixth Age

ybe = years before the [Divine Drajan] Empire
ye = year of the [Divine Drajan] 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: Fifth Age

ybe = years before the [Divine Drajan] Empire
ye = year of the [Divine Drajan] 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 Elder Ages were the "Legendary" 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 Drajan Empire.

    Circa 200 ye (Circa 800 ybk)

    • Birth of the blue dragon Oerloeg.

    Circa 300 ye (Circa 700 ybk)

    • First Senary Council, 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: Elder Ages

    ybe = years before the [Divine Drajan] Empire
    ye = year of the [Divine Drajan] 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.
    Human history begins with the fall of Prosperity The Elder Ages were a time of Legend--history and mythology are blended.  Dates are not exact, though a rough progression of events can be understood.

    First Age / Spiritual Age

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

    • As the giant races near extinction at the hands of the HMDJVNW they choose six humans--the sons of Honsu/Golai--to carry on their legacy as the patriarchs of the goliaths
    • By the end of the Giant-HMDJVNW War, the land of Prosperity has been transformed into the land of Desolation.
    • The HMDJVNW 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.
    • Last of the serpent-folk dynasties of the Scalykind Empire; first of the lizardfolk dynasties.
    • Dwarven expansion leads to the second dwarven schism, establishing the duergar and korobokuru subraces.

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.
    Nearly every race is capable of achieving sainthood.  For most, the process is commonly called ascension--explicitly following the rules presented here.  For "otherworldly races" (such as elves, tiefling, and the like), the process is called transcendence.  While transcendence has the same outcome as ascension, its process is somewhat modified.

    Saturday, August 8, 2015

    Creatures NOT of Monvesia

    In "Other Races in Monvesia," I briefly touch on player character races that do not [currently] exist in the campaign setting.  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-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
    • Aversion Level: 2 - This is an element of fantasy gaming that I think is overused, and would like to avoid using in Monvesia
    • 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.