Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Castles made of sand

Some thoughts/background/house rules I plan on implementing in my campaign:

I'm using a B/X / LL hybrid, since they're pretty much the same thing. No level caps for demi-humans. Variable weapon damage. AEC classes are in, but not available to starting characters (I might change this RC "super-classes" instead, like the Mystic). Campaign is going to be more swords and sorcery, with less magic, and pretty much every magic item (especially weapons and armour) will have a name and a story. I will be using "weapons of quality", so it is possible to have +1 weapons without having magic. "Shields Will Be Splintered" is in effect.

The idea for this campaign is very much swords and sorcery. One of the great mysteries of life will be the idea that only humans have "souls", so to speak, so only humans (and in some rare cases, wild elves, which will be explained later) can use divine magic. Dwarves were created without the influence of magic, so they have no magic ability (I was thinking of making them like the Yuuzhan Vong in recent STAR WARS literature, who are a "dead zone" to the Force, but I felt that would unbalance things too much. I am open to suggestions on how to make this work, unless I go with the assumption that PC dwarves are special to begin with, and part of that specialness is that they actually HAVE a connection to magic). Elves think they can connect themselves back directly to the first making, and as such, don't worship gods... they ARE gods. Halflings have seen what misery magic can cause, and have forsaken any desire or ability to use magic (although they can still be affected by it). Humans were created in the distant past as servants to the first races (elves, dwarves and halflings) - humanoids are the failed attempts at creating humans.

Dwarves: any dwarves ancountered outside of their mountain strongholds are either beardless outcasts, or mercenaries who have been cast out, usually for excessive bloodlust. Dwarves have no innate magical ability whatsoever - this explains their obsession with acquiring magic items, and wealth (to purchase more magic items). Dwarves worship their ancestors. Because of their lack of magical connectedness, dwarves cannot be resurrected, reincarnated or raised if killed. Furthermore, a dwarf must make a saving throw even when beneficial magic is being used on them (for instance, if a cleric tries to cast Cure Light Wounds on a dwarf ally, the dwarf must fail their saving throw for it to work). I toyed with giving dwarves a flat percentage of magic resistance, generated at random in character creation, but for now, this will work.

Elves: elves come in two flavours. High Elves are the degenerate overlords of the world, who use both swords and sorcery to impose their will. Wild elves are those who have seen the destruction their brothers have wrought, and have retreated to the wilds, becoming one with nature. PC elves will either be high elves seeking to atone for the damage wrought by their degenerate kin (or perhaps working towards some secret agenda of their sorcerous kin) or perhaps tortured martyrs, while wild elves will either be militant nature warriors, or mystic living weapons. Basically, high elves think of themselves as direct descendents of the gods, while wild elves have turned from that realization, and worship the power of nature. Because of this, wild elves may be reincarnated, but not raised or resurrected, while high elves can be resurrected and raised, but not reincarnated. I am also toying with developing a new spell list for wild elves, which incorporates some "druidical" spells, and take away a few others. High elves will need a master, just like mages (see below).

Halflings: halflings in this campaign are far more philosophical than the standard "hungry burglar" prototype. Halflings have seen the best and the worst of races, and have withdrawn from a society they see as being doomed. Kind of like Elrond in LOTR, without magic or haughtiness.... maybe more like a magic-less Galadriel. PC halflings will always be either youngsters, out on a "learning expedition" to try and understand the other races and where the world is going, or outcasts who, unlike their brethren, feel that they CAN make a difference in the fate of the world. Halflings worship ideas, rather than personifications of those ideas. Also, halflings as a race have eschewed any involvement with magic, so while it can still affect them, they choose not to use it (although they may still freely use magic items).

Okay, this is getting kind of long. More later.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Putting some sand in the sandbox...

Courtesy of the inimitable Jeff Rients...
1. What's the deal with my cleric's religion? Clerics worship a pantheon of saints, who are theoretically paragons of humanity who impressive characteristics and deeds make them worthy of worship today. They have also been known to worship the divinity of nature.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment? Even the smallest town should have a general store or outfitter which can provide basic equipment, and weaponry up to daggers and short bows. Anything beyond that (armor, larger swords, heavier bows, etc.) will require either a blacksmith, or a larger town.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended? Good luck... plate mail is extremely hard to come by, often possessed only by the most powerful of rulers, military commanders and religious officers.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? Depending who you ask, either The Old Man On The Mountain, the Faerie Queen, the necromancer Lim-Dul, or the elvish mage Daerk-xi-Daer
(yes, I am wholeheartedly stealing names from Magic the Gathering. I make no apologies, mostly because none of my players play MTG, so they won't know the difference. Plus, it gives me lots of good ideas to loot)

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land? Lord Caernavon of Caernave, Whispers-In-The-Dark or the Black Knight of St. Erebus

6. Who is the richest person in the land? The great King Mithraz of the southern kingdom of Ghog is the richest man in the world, although others say the hoard of the wyrm Longfang rivals it.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing? For simple healing, many local hedgewizards and wise women would be able to provide simple magical healing. For more grievous wounds, one would have to seek out a cleric with knowledge of the suitable prayers and orisons of healing of the various saints.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? Poison: most local hedgewizards or druids would be able to heal natural poisons, but for more exotic poisons, one might need to seek out agents of the Guild of Mute Assassins; Disease: appropriate clerics, probably of St. Asclypus; Curse: most curses can be lifted by witches, but beware - a curse can rarely be truly removed, and often can only be replaced...; Level drain: that would probably require some sort of divine miracle, or a mighty impressive wizard...; lycanthropy: that would need a druid; polymorph: if a wizard did it, then probably a wizard should UNDO it, right?...; alignment change: umm...... CAN that be undone?; death: wow, you don't ask much, do you? I mean, there's only been a couple of saints who have ever come back from being DEAD dead... I dunno....; undeath: umm..... death again?

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells? All mages require a master until the 6th Level of Secrets has been attained, at the very least. There is rumoured to be the Illuminated Order of Agamotto that mages may join, but you don't find them, they find you...

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Most people who advertise themselves as alchemists are charlatans and frauds. One MAY be able to find an alchemist of limited usefulness in a large city, but the best alchemists would be elves, who are few and far between, and do not advertise their services. A reliable sage would only be found in a large city, or perhaps in one of the larger cloistered abbeys. Most other expert PCs would reqiure a sizable city or noble court.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries? Most taverns or union halls will have strong-armed, weak-willed individuals willing to hire on for wealth or adventure. However, for quality sell-swords, you will likely either have to "know someone who knwos someone", or advertise in some rather esoteric channels.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? Many of the town which have sprung up around religious centers look down on open weapons. Magic restrictions tend to depend on when a mage last wreaked havoc in a town. There are always some out of the way places that may have "interesting" laws, however...

13. Which way to the nearest tavern? Taverns are easy to find, with almost every small town having somewhere for the locals to gather and gossip. They are also frequently found in the roadhouses along well-traveled routes. 1

4. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? The Immerwolf of Harrowdown Hills and the Beast of Lake Bezan come immediately to mind.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? There are always petty conflicts brewing between petty nobles on the frontier, and there are always humanoid incursions on the far borders of the realm that require quashing.

16.How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? There are rumours that in the deserts of Ahbahz in the far south, there exists such savagery...

17.Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight? Many... the Guild of Mute Assassins, the Order of St. Hermas, the Path of Thorns, the Illuminated Order of Agamotto, and many we probably don't even know about... YET.

18. What is there to eat around here? Please.... try the fish?

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? The Sword of St. Hermas; the Compleat Book of Orisons, Benedictions and Prayers; the Necronomicon; the Lion's Eye Diamond

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure? Longfang dwells in the Spires of Shadows, and his hoard is said to be the largest in all dragonkind...

Any questions? I'll post operative house rules later.