Sunday, May 31, 2009

House Rules: Saves

Snagged from a post on the Swords & Wizardry boards by Telecanter:

Save progression for all classes is identical; start at 15 and advance as core rules. Classes get bonus to saves depending on effect:
Clerics +2 versus divine or unholy effects
Fighters +2 versus incapacitating effects (sleep, paralysis, petrification, etc.)
Magic-users +2 versus magical effects
Thieves +2 versus dodgeable risks (traps, breath weapons)

Simple and extensible.

Dalerain II: Lord of the Hunt [3e]

(Foreststrider, Lord of the Hunt)
Neutral Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Hunting, Archery, Wolves
Minor AoC: Trackers, woodsmen
Symbol: A wolf’s head
Allies: Sif, Catil, Alaron
Enemies: Ragavar, Tuar
Avatar: Druid 10 / Ranger 20
Uller appears as a ten-foot tall man clad in leather, with unkempt beard and hair, and a pair of many-tined antlers sprouting from his head. If he wishes to pass unnoticed among people he takes on a more natural height, and wears a light helm or leather cap to conceal his smaller antlers. In any form he carries a longbow, called Griburhentun, or Hunter’s Reach, and a shortspear called Griburnter, or Final Touch.

Uller is the true brother of Sif, the goddess of battle, and the two of them are the only true full siblings in the Dalerain. In the earlier ages of the Wyrld, he, Catil, and Sif were the primary members in a band of divine heros responsible for many legendary feats. With Catil’s exile, the band fell apart, and it remains to be seen if Uller is interested in renewing his relationship with the Lord of the Forge. Other allies of the Foreststrider include Alaron, Eial, and most unlikely, Maebd. Uller’s relationship with Samaan is carefully neutral – they work together if necessary, but only then. He is bitter enemies with Ragavar, whom he helped to imprison, and Tuar, who has recently taken to challenging Uller’s position with the stalkers and seekers of the world.

The Lord of the Hunt is worshipped by woodsmen, hunters, trackers, trappers, loggers, and anyone who must travel through a wooded region. He is also sought out by archers (whether rangers or not), those who seek to find someone, and (suspected but not confirmed) a few neutral werewolves. Fanes to Uller are most common among the Vanar and Vorisk, and to a lesser degree among the Wiernaug woodfolk. Priests of the Foreststrider tend to be solitary and rugged, often multiclassing as rangers, barbarians, or fighters.
Woodlord (Woodlady)
Domains: Animal, Forest, Strength
Skills: Wilderness Lore
Favored Weapon: Longbow
Bonuses: +2 class bonus to Wilderness Lore

Dalerain I: Lady of Swords [3e]

(Lady of Swords, Mistress of Blades, Battlemaiden)
Neutral Good Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Battle, Skill at Arms, Soldiers
Minor AoC: Women warriors, Protection of the Innocent
Symbol: A pair of longswords crossed in an "X", a hawk, an open-faced helm over a longsword
Allies: Ados, Catil, Uller
Enemies: Ragavar
Avatar: Fighter 20 / Rogue 10 / Wizard 5
Sif appears as a tall, attractive Aesar, with blonde hair in a thick braid, grey eyes, and a steely gaze. She wears chainmail armor, a small shield with a hawk emblazoned on it, and a white longsword. The shield is called Aethinggul, or Unmoving; the longsword is called Matchless.

Sif is the warrior-goddess, the protector of women, and the patron of those who seek more than simple bloodshed. She is the child of Ados and the full sister of Uller, the Archer. Sif, her brother, and Catil, the God of Hammers, formed a triumvirate of hero-deities whose exploits furnished many of the tales and legends told today, as they shaped the world into its current form. She and Talabas the Slaughterer act as lieutenants to Tamati the Warqueen; she is not at all fond of Talabas’s methods, but so far has not deemed it worth risking Tamati’s wrath by actively working against the God of Blood. She is more bold in her stance against the Mad God – together with Catil and Uller, she has twice been responsible for containing Ragavar in his Abyssal prison.

Sif is a concerned, but not protective, deity. She expects self-reliance and fortitude from her followers, not incessant pleas for aid and assistance. She opposes the actions of Talabas the Slaughterer and Tamati in his role as the Strife-bringer, though both she and Talabas serve as Tamati’s lieutenants. She favors action over contemplation. Her favor is sought by both teachers and students of the martial arts, female warriors, and good-aligned soldiers.
Swordlady (Swordlord)
Major Spheres: Grace, Protection, War
Minor Spheres: Death, Life
Favored Weapon: Longsword

True20 IV: Leshii

Leshii are a race of amoral, solitary fey that inhabit deep forests. They embody the harsh reality that is life in the wild.

Leshii are dispassionate, amoral, and cunning. They are not particularly deep thinkers, and waste little time on ephemeral concepts like good and evil. They attend to their own needs, and expect others to do the same for themselves. Leshii rarely get attached to material possessions, but have a strong sense of territory, and interlopers into a leshii's hunting ground invariably become prey.

Leshii are humanoid, with some treelike features. Their skin resembles bark, and their hair has branchlike tendrils woven through it. Leshii can live upwards of three centuries, but rarely show signs of age.

Leshii are regarded with fear and suspicion by people living close to the deep woodlands, but regarded more as a curiosity than a threat by others. Warmer relations are hampered by the tendency of wild leshii to kill almost anyone straying into their territories. Leshii and elves avoid each other when possible, and gnomes occasionally strike alliances with them.

Leshii society is something of an oxymoron, given their limited numbers and solitary nature. They live simple lives in the wilderness, hunting and gathering what they need to survive. Relations between the sexes are usually brief and aggressive, but occasionally two leshii will form a partnership, usually in an area of plentiful hunting. There are no recognized leshii kingdoms or realms, since leshii rarely do more than mark out an individual domain with the bones of slain trespassers.

Leshii occasionally become bored or curious, and leave their territories to become adventurers. Their hardy nature and woodland talents makes them much sought-after as guides and guards.

Background Traits
Ability Adjustments: +1 Con
Bonus Feats: Great Fortitude, Night Vision, Talented (Survival & Stealth)
Favored Feats: Fascinate, Sneak Attack
Natural Attacks: Leshii have natural slam attacks that inflict 1+ Str damage with a successful unarmed attack.

The differences between male and female leshii are greater than those between most humanoid races, and their numbers are far fewer. As a result, leshii have only two lineages - male and female.

Lineage - Male
Male leshii are slightly taller than humans, with rough skin like bark, thick hair interwoven with willowy branches, and a "crown" of branches and bone around their heads. They prefer a physical life with few attachments or possessions, and are often rangers or scouts.

Ability Adjustments: +1 Str
Bonus Feats: Endurance, Skill Focus (Survival)
Favored Power: Nature Reading
Natural Armor: Male leshii gain a +1 natural armor bonus to Toughness.

Lineage - Female
Female leshii are much more human in appearance, at least from a distance. Their skin is pale and smooth, reminiscent of birch bark, and their hair is invariably shimmering gold or darkest ebony. They often seduce solitary travellers, sometimes killing them afterwards, or taking them as a servant, but just as often abandoning them with the sunrise. They are as hardy as their men, but more covetious and can their affections or goodwill can sometimes be (briefly) won by gifts of jewelry or fine clothes. They often seek out supernatural sources of power, becoming druids or witches.

Ability Adjustments: +1 Chr
Bonus Feats: Attractive, Inspire (Awe), Skill Focus (Bluff)
Favored Power: Dominate

True20 III: Dwarven Lineages

One thing I'm not thrilled about in True20 are races. There's a distinct loss of fine detail when converting from a d20 standard. One option I'm playing with is giving most races a +1 level lag instead of +0 (if everyone has a +1, I can effectively ignore it). I'm not wild about it - it's alot of feats to absorb at first level - and I'm still looking for other solutions (straight up racial paths; some kind of truncated dedicated racial paths; bonus feats at X levels that go to racial feats; etc). I like the new Pathfinder skill system and intend to adopt that; it'll give me a few more points to tweak.

That said, here's my preliminary workup of dwarven lineages (and yes, I took out the ability penalties - humans get 7 ability points instead of 6, but with a +4 cap on any one. Demihumans with a boost get 6 points and a +5 cap). All dwarves get the dwarven background and a lineage.

Ability Adjustments: +1 Con
Bonus Feats: Great Fortitude, Night Vision, Second Chance (Poison)
Favored Feats: Diehard, Favored Opponent (goblin or giant)

Duergar, also called grey or iron dwarves, are skilled but vice-ridden dwarves who seek to bring all of the dwarven realms under duergar rule. In exchange for their service, the Typhos have rewarded them with several innate supernatural abilities and resistances. Their innate ward power makes them much sought after as specialized “anti-magical” mercenaries and assassins. Exceptional duergar become assassins, cultists, or soldiers.
Ability Adjustments: +1 Wis
Bonus Feats: Second Chance (Illusion), Skill Focus (Craft [chose one])
Bonus Power: Increase Size*, Ward (duergar treat their total level as their adept level for these powers).

Hill dwarves, or dwerg, live in small keeps and halls, often near humans or other races. They have an affinity for working with metal and stone, and ordinary hill dwarves make their living as craftsmen (armorers, blacksmiths, jewelers, potters, stonemasons, trapsmiths) or miners. Heroic hill dwarves usually become kerns, merchants, soldiers, or tinkers.
Ability Adjustments: +1 Dex
Bonus Feats: Endurance, Shield Training, Talented (Craft [chose one] & Search), Weapon Training

Mordwerg are a rare, twisted race of dwarves. They have no halls or settlements of their own, instead living among other dwarves or by themselves. They are surly and self-centered, with a general contempt for anyone besides themselves. Their presence is much sought-after, however, as they are exceptional craftsmen and possess an innate supernatural bent that allows them to create magical artifacts. Most mordwerg are mages, wizards, or craftsmen.
Bonus Feats: Artisan, Imbue Item, Skill Focus (Craft [chose one])
Bonus Powers: Combat Sense, Ghost Touch, Metal Shaping, Supernatural Weapon (mordwerg treat their total level as their adept level for these powers)

Mountain dwarves, or dweorh, live in heart of the mountains, in vast greathalls that reach miles into the earth. They are law-abiding, resolute, and stoic, traits formed from millenia of battles against the abominations of the darkness and their corrupt kin, the duergar. Mountain dwarves are also the most avaricious of their kind, and dealings with other races are tempered by their suspicion of non-dwarves. Many mountain dwarves become clerics, soldiers, or templars; dweorh with an arcane bent often become seers or mages.
Ability Adjustments: +1 Wis
Bonus Feats: Endurance, Favored Opponent (duergar), Tireless, Weapon Training

True20 II: Kern Heroic Path

Kerns are mercenary or itinerant fighters, typically from the lower classes and without a wealthy sponsor or employer, who make their way with a mixture of martial skill and cunning. Most kerns start their careers as conscripts, or part of a peasant levy. Unemployed kerns form irregular mercenary units, or become bandits. They are opportunistic fighters who seize any advantage in melee.
Constitution, Dexterity, and Wisdom are important abilities for a kern. A kern’s feat selection typically concentrates on seizing the advantage (Improved Initiative), improving his attacks (Attack Focus, Sneak Attack), and avoiding or withstanding damage (Evasion, Tough).

Roles: Warrior (primary), Expert
Key Ability: Dexterity
Core Ability – Determination: A kern can spend a point of Conviction to immediately erase all bruised and hurt damage conditions (and their associated penalties).
Starting Skills: Athletics (Str), Notice (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis)
Starting Feats: Armor Training (light), Defensive Attack, Uncanny Dodge, Weapon Training

1...War1...+1...Starting Feats
2...War1-Exp1...+1...Sneak Attack (+2)
3...War2-Exp1...+2...Attack Focus (+1)
4...War3-Exp1...+3...Tough (+1)
6...War4-Exp2...+5...Seize Initiative
7...War4-Exp3...+6...Sneak Attack (+3)
8...War5-Exp3...+7...Attack Specialization (+1)
10...War6-Exp4...+9...Tough (+2)
12...War7-Exp5...+10...Sneak Attack (+4)
13...War8-Exp5...+11...Greater Attack Focus (+2)
14...War9-Exp5...+12...Tough (+3)
15...War9-Exp6...+13...Ambush Sense
17...War10-Exp7...+15...Sneak Attack (+5)
18...War11-Exp7...+16...Greater Attack Specialization (+2)
19...War12-Exp7...+17...Tough (+4)

True20 I: House Rules

I played around with the True20 ruleset for a little while. I really like it, but ultimately drifted away - it was really close to what I wanted, but not quite perfect (I wanted the simplicity of True20 and the mechanics of D&D...and here I am with S&W!) These posts are from a thread of mine on the True20 boards.

Characters begin with 6 points to distribute between their six ability scores. Each score starts at +0, and players cannot put more than 4 points, plus racial bonuses, into a one score at character creation.
Every character has a primary ability score. This ability score is added at first level to a character’s good save (Will for adepts, Fortitude for warriors, Reflex or player’s choice for Experts) and known skills. Primary ability scores do not need to be the same as a character’s key spellcasting ability, though they often are.
All progressions that advance by level (combat, saves, skill ranks, reputation) work off of the same basic scheme: fast (+1/level), medium (+¾/level), slow (+½/level), very slow (+¼/level). Combat advances as listed for the role. Known skills advance as fast. Saves advance at slow. Reputation advances as very slow.

Paths are suggestions only.

There is no save penalty for multi-role heros. Heros gain one new skill the first time they take a new role. Characters gain one new skill each time they take an Expert level until they have 8+Intelligence skills (not counting any skills gained from backgrounds or the Skill Training feat). Multi-role characters cannot switch their primary ability score bonus from one save to another (though I might write a feat that lets them do so).

(updated 4/25) Skills as Pathfinder Alpha B: Characters select known skills, which have fast advancement. Class skills get a +3 bonus.
Climb and Jump are combined into Athletics. Diplomacy and Intimidate are combined into Persuasion. Escape Artist is folded into Acrobatics. Pilot is folded into Fly (flying conveyances), Ride (wagons, chariots), Swim (boats & ships). Fly is added as a new skill (cf. Pathfinder).

Characters must take a supernatural source feat (Arcanist, Binder, Petitioner, Priest) to learn supernatural powers. Arcanist grants arcane powers; the default key spellcasting ability is Intelligence. Binder and Petitioner grant occult powers; the default key spellcasting ability is Charisma. Priest grants divine powers; the default key spellcasting ability is Wisdom.

Poison (cf. MC’s BoXM); grappling (cf. Pathfinder)

The Elder Host I: The Secret King

(The Secret King, Nightlord)
Power of the Elder Host
Major AoC: Darkness, Secrets, Intrigue, Hoarding of Knowledge, Night, Hatred
Minor AoC: Shadows, Thieves, Power Through Knowledge, Spys
Symbol: A black cloak, a hand holding a black sword (representing Darghin severing Orod's hand), a black snake, a black eagle.
Allies: Nevias, Malis, Sindrym
Enemies: Umoth, Orod, Lias
Darghin stalks the Wyrld in the shape of a common thief or cutthroat, of average height and appearance and middle age. He dresses in dark clothes and always carries his ebony shortsword, Deathcutter, the first weapon to ever taste the blood of a god.

Darghin is the eternal nemesis. For reasons known only to him, the Nightlord has fostered few friendships and many antipathies among the divine host, avoiding mishaps only by solving one after another of the gods' difficulties with his guile and cunning. Only Ados matches or surpasses Darghin's intellect, and none rival his capacity for forethought and planning, a fact that greatly concerns all those drawn into his webs.

The Secret King is worshipped by any who live or work in darkness, thieves, politicians and courtiers, spys, evil wizards, those seeking to imprison, hide, or retain possession of exclusive knowledge, and any seeking power through knowledge (such as blackmailers). His priesthood is a tumultious brew of plots and counter-plots, and Darghin aids only those who aid themselves. Most of his priests are masters at getting others to do their dirty work for them, and many an innocent has been falsely represented by these dark clerics.

Gods & Demons II: The Elder Host

In the beginning, the Wyrld was, and around the Wyrld there was Nothing. Then Te stepped from Nothing into the Wyrld, and lifted up his voice, and called forth the Elder Host from Nothing.

Counting Te, the Elder Host numbered twelve. It is known that Erdis, King of Nothing, was the first to come into the Wyrld; the rest of the Elder Host were Ados the Learned; Aela, Lady of Blessings; Darghin the Nightlord; Fatia, Mother of Hope; Larril the Wandering Queen; Orod, Lord of Bones; Ruandir the Skyking; Tamati the Bloody Queen; Umoth, the Burning God; and Yau, the Gentle Lady.

Together the great powers crossed the expanse of the Wyrld to its heart. Where they stepped, a multitude of strange and wondrous beings sprang up - elementals and fiends, celestials, angels, and djinni.

Erdis, the eldest but for Te, loathed the Wyrld, and sought to unmake it. The others strove against him, and finally slew him. From his blood they created dragons; from his bones giants. Humans were shaped from his flesh, and gnomes from his inner organs. Darghin, Tamati, and Umoth stole away his head and shaped their own races from it, including the powerful occuluth, treacherous dopplegangers, and foul orcs. Finally, Yau gathered up what was left of Erdis and carried them into the Nothing to be at peace again. Today, the only remnants of Erdis in the Wyrld are fragments of his heart, and these artifacts are numbered among the most fearsome and terrible in existence.

Te is numbered among the Elder Host, but stands apart from them. He grants no powers, shows no favor, and his faithful are few in number. He speaks only three times in the course of the Wyrld: once to call forth the Elder Host, once to unmake the bindings and barriers the gods have laid on the Wyrld (this occurred about a hundred years ago in game time), and once to summon the Elder Host back to the Nothing.

With Erdis dead, Yau undone, and Te set apart, the Elder Host effectively number nine.
  • Ados is the god of learning, history, and wisdom.
  • Aela is the Mother Goddess, patron of life, fertility, and growth.
  • Darghin is the god of darkness, secrets, ambition, and hatred.
  • Fatia is the goddess of hope, the future, and destiny.
  • Larril is the lady of luck, and since Yau's dissolution, the goddess of water and love.
  • Orod is the god of souls and the dead.
  • Ruandir is the lord of the sky, storms, and leadership.
  • Tamati is the goddess of change, war, strife, and turmoil.
  • Umoth is the god of fire, light, and wrath.

Gods & Demons I: Overview

Divine beings in the Shadowend fall into one of five categories: the Elder Host, the Dalerain, the Envidier, Typhos, and cults. Only members of the first two groups are truly divine: Envidier, Typhos, and cults, while divinely natured, cannot bestow divine power, and instead confer it through occult bargains and pacts.

The Elder Host are the primal gods, the first-born and the creators of the mortal races. They were neither created nor born, instead emerging full-formed from the Nothing around the World.

The Typhos are the result of two divine essences mingling. Most Typhos are the children of the Elder Host, born in the days before mortals were created, or grown common, but a few are the result of Dalerain unions.  They are amoral, selfish monstrosities - a few found service among the Elder Host, but most went their own way, ruled by nothing more than whim, fancy, and rage.

The Dalerain, or the Middle Host, are the offspring of a union between a divine being and a mortal. The oldest Dalerain are the children of the Elder Host, while the younger are usually the result of a Dalerain and a mortal mingling. The Dalerain compose the multitude of divinities which mortals find the most familiarity and comfort in.

Most children of the Dalerain become one of the Envidier, or the Host of Heroes, who serve the Dalerain and the Elder Host, and are the most frequent emissaries of the divine in the mortal realm.

The Near North

The Near North lies between the Kameurhorns and the Spearwall, and stretches from Dore's eastern border to the Stormhall Peaks in the west. The climate here is notably cooler than in the Hundred Kingdoms and the Woodmarches, and civilization far more isolated.

The people of the Near North fall into three groups: the Dornish, the Haluar tribes, and the Northers. The Doren are most common in Dore, Innergild, and Kaulderzhun. There are two principal Haluar tribes in the Near North; the Keldruag of Keldru and the Middurplanz, and the Vorisk of the Voriskoghn Penninsula. While the Keldru remain relatively pure, the Vorisk have mingled with and taken on many of the characteristics of the Vanar Northers. The Vandin and their cousins, the Aesdin, came from the North centuries ago, with the fall of Honduar. The Aesdin allied with the dwarves of Arthringlaur and founded Kameurgard and numerous smaller settlements along the seacoast, while the Vandin went west and were assimilated into the Vorisk clans.

Features of the Near North
Bailetais - Rainfall on the Talven Alasen drains down through a labyrinth of caverns and reemerges in this swamp; as a result the Bailetais is laden with monsters - and treasure.
Driathorn Forest - A thick, wild woodland between Dore and the Spearwall Mountains.
Farzwold - The Frozen Forest; a small forest between the Kameurhorns and the Stormhalls.
Gonenfall Forest - The largest forest in the Near North, the Gonenfall is largely untouched and unexplored.
Kameurhorns - A vast, towering mountain range that marks the northern edge of the Shadowend region. Beyond it lies the High Ice.
Middurplanz - Blood-soaked plains, the location of thousands of battles over the centuries between humanoid hordes from the Kameurhorns and the armies of Dore. Small mercenary hobgoblin troops hold minor fortifications, while scavenger gnolls inhabit the ruins.
Nuatuverg - A small island off the Voriskoghn coast; rumored to be the resting place of an imprisoned Envidier power.
River Fathing - Marks the border between Keldru and the Middurplanz; drains the Bailetais and by extension, the Talven Alasen.
River Ylg - A large, slow river, the Ylg marks Dore's border with the Middurplanz. Once heavily fortified, many of the fortifications have fallen into ruin.
Shrouded Peaks - A misty, fog-ridden mountain range that borders the Bailetais; home to many orcish tribes.
Spearwall Mountains - A narrow, much eroded range known for its elaborate spires and twisting canyons. The border between the Near North and the Woodmarches. Not known for its mineral wealth.
Stormhall Peaks - A wild, unexplored range in the Voriskoghn Penninsula.
Talven Alasen - The Anvil of Winter, a high plateau in the Kameurhorns. The Anvil once linked Honduar with the southern realms, and dwarves quarried gemstones from underneath, but with the fall of Honduar, the entirety of the Talven Alasen is now monster-held.
Voriskoghn - The penninsula and area west of Kameurgard and the Gaunt; few large settlements. Homeland of the Vorish and the Vandin; many jotunar and troldfolk. Giants, trolls, ogres, and orcs are all frequent threats.

Realms of the Near North
Arthringlaur - Diamondsdelve, the greathall and realm of the mountain dwarves.
Ceir Yn - An isolated and xenophobic realm of fair elves in the Stormhall Peaks; one of the few sources of mithril.
Dore - A crumbling realm assaulted by orcish hordes and other threats.
Gaidrilar - The City of Coins, a powerful city-state built on trade.
Innergild - The City of Scrolls, renowned for its arcane guilds.
Kameurgard - A strong but neutral realm ruled jointly by humans and dwarves.
Keldru - The homeland of the Keldruag tribesmen, a semi-nomadic people renowned for their horsemanship.
Pelkot - A small realm in the Voriskoghn mostly known for its sea-raiders.
Zelasklaur - Silversdeep, a dwarven greathall in the Stormhall Peaks.

Notables of the Near North
Anagi - The High Druid of the Voriskoghn Penninsula.
Snowhawk - A reclusive archmage who makes his home in the Gonenfall Forest.
Travail Icingblade - Archmage and advisor to the Roving King of the Keldruag.

Races of the Shadowend

The Shadowend is home to a great number of intelligent races, tribes, clans, and lineages. Some of these, like the Trueborn of Dore or the wild leshii, are few in number, living in small, isolated communities or individually among the more populous races. Others number in the hundreds of thousands and rule kingdoms, or inhabit vast warrens in the mountain depths.
Common Races
Dwarves: Masters of earth and stone, dwarves are an ancient race that command many greatholds and smallhalls in the mountains of Shadowend. Dweorhin (mountain dwarves) and duergar are frequent in the north, while dwerg, or hill dwarves, are better known in the south.

Elves: Elves are a powerful, reclusive race skilled in magic and attuned to the natural world. Faerilven have small settlements throughout the woodlands of Shadowend, while corrupt faerilven become dark elves, or darilven. Sailven have numerous communities in the waters around the Shadowend.

Giants: Giants of all kinds are found throughout Shadowend. The Typhos loathed the original giant race, and corrupted many over the ages, creating the common giants known today. If any true giants remain in the Shadowend today, they are well hidden.

Gnomes: Cunning, inquisitive, and clever, gnomes are fond of secrets and knowledge, and skilled in the magical arts of divination and illusion. In the east, wood gnomes live in small villages and warrens, while stone gnomes hold expansive subterranean realms rich with gold and gems in the west.

Goblinoids: Goblins and their kin are a plague throughout the Shadowend. Goblins live wherever they can, while hobgoblins form itinerant mercenary bands. Bugbears live in the small family groups, often in larger communities of goblins, or as elite soldiers in a hobgoblin troop.

Humans: Humans control most of the civilized land in Shadowend. The Amerite Empire once controlled most of the Shadowend, and as a result Amer blood and culture is common throughout region. The Haluar tribes are native to the east, though most of their culture was swallowed by the Amerites, and the northern lands are the domain of the Aesar and Vanar.

Orcs: A savage race, orcs live in places even goblins find unpleasant. Periodically, a massive horde sweeps out of the Kameurhorns, inundating the civilizations of the south. Lesser orcs, also called pig-faced orcs, live in small groups throughout the Shadowend, often in the employ of unscrupulous lords or merchants.

Uncommon Races
Domovii: Humanity's familiar, domovii have linked their fate to the larger race. Domovii are fey that dwell in human villages and hamlets, trading their labor and skills for protection and security.

Jotunar: Jotunar are born to human families in the wilder lands of Shadowend, and sometimes called giantkin. Two lineages of jotunar are common; the frost giant-blooded talvijotun, and the hill giant-blooded firjotun.

Troldfolk: Also called bridge trolls or bjergfolk, troldfolk are found wherever they can steal a living. They fey beings are mostly seen as pests by the larger races, but powerful troldfolk paragons are a common feature in legends and tall tales.

Rare Races
Half-Breeds: There are several half-human lineages worth noting. Fuah are goblinoid-human half-breeds, found wherever the two races meet. Most fuah make their way as thieves or mercenaries. Half-elves, or ha'ilven, are often found where the two races meet. They are adaptable and personable, and move easily between the two cultures. A few half-elven families are found near the Driathorn Forest, the Shadowend Forest, and the Elven Forest. Roane, also called sealkine, are the offspring of a union between a selkie and a human. Their fey parentage makes them curious and charming, traits that set most roane on a life of travel and adventure.

Leshii: Spirits of the forest, leshii are wild fey that sometimes venture out of the deep woodlands to investigate the larger world. They are roughly human in appearance, with barklike skin, leafy hair, and a crown of branch-like horns.

Liosilven: Originally faerilven, the light elves underwent a magical transformation into radiant defenders of good. Their transformation made them immortal but incapable of reproducing, and the only remaining liosilven stay hidden in their well-protected home in Utgard.

An Introduction to the Shadowend

The Shadowend is a high-fantasy setting that emphasizes traditional fairy tale, sword-and-sorcery, and folkloric themes. The Shadowend has feuding gods and godlings; a glass mountain; kings, queens, and the politics that go with them; fair elves; mountain dwarves; leshii; jotunar; giants; dragons; a city of assassins and thieves; griffonriders; wizards, witches, and mages; the sidhe; and a thousand adventures!

Civilization vs ruin is something that threads through alot of the Shadowend - and civilization is losing. The forces of ruin aren't always evil (though some are), but they are amoral and uncaring. Civilization isn't always good (though some are), and it's often domineering and restrictive. I'm not sure who I'm rooting for. There is magic. There was stronger magic in the past, but while that magic is currently lost, it is not inaccessible or unusable.

Fey and monsters are strong elements in my campaigns, as well as resurrected leavings of the Amerite Empire like the Fallen and the Black Legion. Tension between Chaos and Law is likewise influential, though neither is "right" or "wrong", and there are no overt manifestations of it in the campaign setting itself (no one worships "Chaos").

Geography: The Shadowend is a mostly temperate region in the northeast corner of what was once the Amerite Empire. To the south lies the Tehmar, a vast grassland dominated by primitive humanoid tribes and the arcane ruins of Nekkarn. The Shadowend Forest dominates the east; a trackless expanse not even the elves have fully explored. The Kameurhorn Mountains define the northern border; beyond the Horns lies the unyielding power of the High Ice and the frozen domains of its servants. West is the Shattered Sea, and beyond that the once-mighty nations of Amatheir and Bherune.

The Shadowend may be split into four sub-regions: the Near North; Utgard; the Woodmarches; and the Hundred Kingdoms.
* The Near North includes the Voriskoghn, wherein dwell the Vorisk and the Vanar; the city-state of Gaidrilar, the City of Coins; the mage-city of Innergild and the realm of Dore; the dwarven greathall of Arthringlaur and its tributary realm of Kameurgard; and Keldruag tribes of Keldru.
* Utgard includes the eastern Kameurhorns; Tuonela, the realm of the Black Sorcerers; the wasted land of Kaulderzhun; Jarnwold, the stronghold of the Iron Witches; and countless miles of swamps, fens, forests, mountains, and moors.
* The Woodmarches are in many ways the front lines of civilization against the forces that would bring ruin, and include the kingdoms of Larenyss, Roen, Coedalan, and Guanes; the near-fey realm of Shalanholt; the goblinoid stronghold of Old Sarn; the ruins of Asavar; dwarven Tarandrellur and the remnants of the elven realm of Illendia.
* The Hundred Kingdoms of the Taras Penninsula are the gateway to the civilized west, and include the fey redoubt of Wythin Wood; sinister Blackgate; the matriarchal tyranny of Orbor; imperial Triumport, still courting Amerite favor; wizard-ruled Starfell; and the slave-trading merchants of Chollor.

History: The rule of Law peaked in the Shadowend nearly a thousand years ago, with the rise of the Amerite Empire. When the Dragon Throne weakened, though, the peoples of the Shadowend were among the first to tear free, beginning a long period of anarchy and conflict as petty warlords, princelings, and kings fought for control. Eventually, the kingdoms of Larenyss, Arramor, Dore, Sarn, Sieriven, and Asavar coalesced from the chaos. That respite was brief, however, as Sarn fell to goblinoid hordes, and Sieriven to the divisive manipulations of the Crone Goddess Kajalla. Arramor split apart, its western reaches forming the country of Roen, Romagna, and the Forest of Eoghin.

The Second Speaking of Te ushered in a new Age of the Wyrld. Divine bonds were casted off, and many remnants of past Ages surfaced for the first time in millenia. Asavar fell to a plague of monstrous creatures, though the survivors rebuilt as the kingdom of Coedalan. Innergild seceded from Dore, and Dore itself was hit by waves of orc hordes, devastated the country and reducing it to a shadow of its former self. The fey Queen of Larenyss disappeared, then reappeared, unaged, forty years later, instigating a war of revolution that irrevocably weakened the Griffon Throne, established the palatinate state of Guanes, and led to the recovery and resettlement of parts of Sieriven as Shalanholt. The sidhe returned to the Shadowend, bring a new complication to the lives of elves and men alike.

The Taras Penninsula remained relatively unchanged this whole time, insofar as that change and revolution was the order of the day. Petty states rose and fell, eventually leading to the current major realms of Orbor, Triumport, Chollor, the Open Halls, Bellararan, Archen, Starfell, and Vaena (plus the ungoverned Marchlands, and a host of minor realms - many no larger than a tower keep and some farmland).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

I've had a few...

I've had a few Shadowend campaign threads on various places on the internet (EnWorld and the True20 boards) plus a blog on CM (where blogs have apparently been disabled and disappeared), so initially this blog will probably reprint a fair amount of material from those sources. I'm trying to gather it all together and "update" (downdate?) to Swords & Wizardry.

I'll throw the campaign map in here for a little "value added" (for a larger version of the map click here)