My Home-Brew System & Setting -Magic Part 2

Greetings, I this installment of my series discussing my Home-Brew System and it’s linked setting I will expand upon my previous post concerning magic. I wanted to go into more detail on how magic will work with my system and thus it’s linked setting. I talked about how magic is scalable in my system in two distinct ways – Spell Points and Level Tiers.

There will be rules concerning ritual casting – where multiple casters can jointly channel magic and cast a spell in unison to share the individual Spell Point cost on more powerful spells. Added to that if their joint Spell Tier are the same, they can make the spell conform to their joint desired end while minimizing the dangers associated with the higher powerful spell and potential Chaos Magic taint.

Going up in level comes increased Spell Point totals and an opportunity to learn a new Spell or more. This will be done by spell research and depending upon how much time and resources are spent researching magic as the Mage adventures and any bonuses from high INT will decide what spell is available and then learned. Mages can also attempt to learn a spell found in another spell book or a non-castable spell scroll.

Another way to learn a spell is to summon a spirit of a powerful dead Mage, a Demonic, Elemental or Angelic being and give them a sacrifice equal to the spell circle in the Silver cost of researching the spell traditionally. Note that Angelic beings will ONLY teach new spells to Lawful Mages and Priests; while Elemental and Demonic beings will teach a Mage a new spell.

There are multiple types of Magic-Users in my system, they are:

  • Adventuring Magus – Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic caster.
  • Elementalist – Neutral Caster.
  • Healer – Lawful caster.
  • Infernalist/Witch – Chaotic caster.
  • Rūnwita (Druid) – Neutral or Chaotic Caster.
  • Shadow Magus (Mystical Thief) – Neutral or Chaotic caster.
  • Techno-Magus – Lawful or Neutral caster.

Unlike on my companion blog where I discussed my house-ruled Magic-User classes though similar these classes will work slightly differently than how their counterparts. A lot of this is based upon the differences in the systems used though they are derived from the same core root systems – OD&D and Chainmail.

Both the Elementalist and Infernalist/Witch are fairly identical at this time to their house-ruled counterparts, as will the Rūnwita (Druid). The Adventuring Magus is pretty similar but are more like the Warrior-Mage in nature. They will have certain spells shared with Rūnwita that give them shapeshifting and martial powers.

Shadow Magus are the Thief but given Shadow Magic abilities that mimic the more traditional D&D Thief class, plus other magical abilities. Bright Light and absolute darkness can hamper a Shadow Magus’s abilities as their magic lies on the fringes of both light and darkness. They are not true Mages but a Pact Magus like the Healer, Witch and Elementalist. They gain their magical abilities and spells via their Outer Worldly Patrons.

Whereas the Elementalist, Healer and Witch learn actual spells from their patron the Shadow Magus gains limited Spell-like Abilities that mimic Thief abilities as well as other abilities as they go up level. The Shadow Magus is similar to more magically based Thief by Jared Daniel Nielsen. Their powers are developed as they go up in level and thus master new aspects of their abilities.

The Adventuring Magus as I mentioned above is a fusion of my house-ruled OD&D Magus and Warrior-Magus in that they are not the traditional Magic-User in OD&D. I want my default Magic-User to be tougher than traditional as they are adventurers. It didn’t make sense that an adventuring Magic-User should be a weak book worm spellcaster limited to a dagger for its only melee combat weapon.

Though an Adventuring Magus is a capable fighter in their own right they are far from being a frontline fighter and will never be able to master the various weapons and cannot wear armor. Adventuring Magus like other Magic-Users they must have their hands free in order to cast spells and must do magic research to gain spells.

Getting back into magic in general Magic items creation is important to Magic-Users. Magic-Users can create castable Spell Scrolls at first level, at third level Magic-Users can create Potions, at sixth level Magic-Users rods/Staves/Wands and at nineth level Magic-Users Rings. At twelfth level Magic-Users can finally magical armors, weapons and other magical items.

The reason for magic item creation sub-system to be tiered is it that emulates the fact that the Magic-User is learning a new crafting skill and mastering the ability to infuse magic into them. A Magic-User must find a mentor to learn and master these skills as they go up the three levels that make up the crafting a magic item.

Well this about time for me to end this installment and get it posted before I go to bed as I have to pack and move my stuff into storage. Please take care, fin.

My Home-Brew System & Setting – Factions

Greetings, in this installment in my series discussing my home-brew system and it’s linked setting I want to cover factions in general. As I want my setting to feel like a living and breathing world, I feel that factions are important. One of my all-time favorite bloggers Black Dragon Games (his blog linked here) has inspired me to not overlook this aspect of my campaign setting. Factions often bring another layer of immersion to a setting that too often are not implemented during campaigns even though they are present unless they are the focus of an official Adventure Path or module.

Let’s take Forgotten Realms for instance you have setting specific factions like the Red Wizards of Thay, the Harpers, the Lords Alliance amongst others. Yet local factions are often glossed over unless they play a part in an official Adventure Path or a novel. A lot of this fall onto the DM’s shoulders and unless a group or DM is into intrigue these factions often get ignored.

I have incorporated factions into my past campaigns but often in a very infrequent in nature. This is something that I plan to change moving forward in my future campaigns, thus the theme of this installment of this series.

I would suggest if you are going to begin incorporating factions into your campaigns start small in your local campaign “base”. Here is an example of a number of factions that might be possible for a small city. I am using examples that I will be using in my own setting below:

  • A thieves’ Guild – they may have alliances with smugglers and brigands or pirates.
  • The Garrison or City Guard – they might have alliances with a Militant Order and the local lord.
  • Witch Hunters Lodge – they might have alliances with a Temple of Law and a powerful Patron in the city.
  • An insidious Cult hidden in the sewers or catacombs – they may have an alliance with the Thieves’ Guild or a decadent Lord or Merchant.

I can see a potential web of intrigue and potential seeds for future adventures from just reading that list above. You don’t need to create a vast number of factions but a few is good enough to begin with. If you are doing an urban based campaign you will likely need to develop several more factions, especially if it is a large and bustling city. Many of the city districts will have their own smaller factions that have limited influence outside their own community.

In Black Dragon Games home-brew city factions are plentiful and the most powerful are the Warlock Houses. You would do far worse than read his blog posts and his twitter (follow him on Twitter here) threads in which he often covers his campaigns in his city. They are a treat.

Factions can lead to jobs and ample role play opportunities if your players engage with them and they can be tool to prompt encounters especially as the player characters advance and grow in power and influence within the city. I plan to take full advantage of using factions in all of my future campaigns be they fantasy, Cyberpunk or Post-Apocalyptic in theme.

One of the core factions in my overall setting and particularly the fortified frontier garrison/trade town where the campaign will be initially based is the Militant Order of  the Lux (Light). They are made up of Witch-Hunters and Demon-Hunters and have strong ties with the local Temple of Lucifer, the head of the garrison and the Sheriff of the local shire. The local sheriff and his head of the local garrison are devoted Luxites and as such give the brothers and sisters of the Order of the Lux free reign to root out chaos aligned Witches, Sorcerers and Demons/Undead in the town and environs of the shire.

Mages of the local Guild chapter are seen with suspicion and in order to curry favor with the Order assist in any leads of suspected Chaos Witches and Sorcerers that they hear about from their members. It is an uneasy alliance but the local Earl is a Mage of good standing within the Principality and within the Prince’s court, plus he is also a member of the Guild and one of its chief patrons.

I hope that this post may inspire you to utilize factions in your campaigns. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to create a few simple factions. I created the above as I listened to some Iron Maiden and composed this post. Two short paragraphs were all that was needed and you have at least a few seeds to create further factions linked to your first one and even potential enemies.

Well I’ll end this so I can get ready for bed and do some reading before I go to sleep. Please take care, fin.

My Home-Brew System & Setting – Magic

Greetings, in this latest installment of my series concerning my home-brew system & its linked campaign setting. I will be discussing how magic works in my setting and my system. As I have made clear in my previous posts that Law-Neutrality-Chaos plays an important role in my setting and as such they will impact magic in the world as well. This will mean that I will have to go through my copies of OD&D 3LBBs and its supplements to figure out what spells will be included in which Alignment based Spell Lists.

That said I really want magic in my setting to feel real and have consequences to its use especially when using Chaos Magic. Lawful Magic is very specific in nature it doesn’t cause a disruption in the object it effects, while both Neutral and Chaos Magic does to one extent or another. Neutral Magic fuses both Chaos and Law Magic into a balanced whole negating the corruptive aspects of Chaos Magic upon the caster.

If you use dark or destructive spells solely you will become corrupted and begin to develop both madness and physical mutations. Law Magic can actually heal and cleanse corruption caused by Chaos Magic’s taint. In my setting Law and Chaos Magic has their own characteristics – Law Magic by its very nature requires the caster to have a strong desire to control and give it Order; while Chaos Magic is dynamic and desires to be unleashed into the world.

When the Great Cataclysm occurred Chaos Magic flooded the world warping whatever it touched until it ebbed back into it’s natural currents. By that time the face of the world was radically altered creating what is known as the Mythic Wilderness and Mythic Underground.

I want to give you a few examples of what constitutes Law, Neutral and Chaos Magic and aspects of how they manifest into the world.

Create Food: This spell is categorized as Law Magic. Casting this spell conjures certain amounts of Food to manifest in the world. The caster must have a firm idea in their mind of the types of food that they want. At Levels 1-3 the Caster can conjure hot bread, fruit, nuts, cheese, gruel (if you have a bowl) and/or something like tender crisp bacon, whereas a Level 7 caster can conjure up Herb Roasted Pheasant, an elaborate and flavorful curry or an exquisite pie with delicate flaky crust. The more spell points the larger the amounts of food are conjured.

Wall of Stone: This is categorized as Neutral Magic. Casting this spell causes a disruption in the location where the spell is cast and the amount of stone needed to create the wall to be magically broken up and drawn to the spot that the wall is magically constructed. Chaos Magic is used to destroy the surrounding stonework or cavern/tunnel while Law Magic is used to gather the raw materials and form the wall. The Law Magic balances the Chaos Magic gathered into the Caster’s body thus negating the corruptive effects upon the caster’s body and psyche.

Lightening Bolt: This is categorized as Chaos Magic. Casting this spell causes Chaos Magic to rush into the caster and manifest as a destructive blast of lightening that sole purpose is to destroy the target it is conjured for. Being raw Chaos, it leaves a corruptive taint that builds up in the caster’s body until it manifest either as madness and/or a mutation of some sort. The more spell points you spend to increase the power of the spell the greater threat of a miscasting and accruing Chaos Taint.

As you can see from the above, I have put a lot of thought into how magic works in my setting and linked system. Magic isn’t just a set of mechanical numbers and its effects but has impact upon the setting in some tangible manner. I prefer a spell system that is evocative of what a fantasy world should be. Which is why I will be writing evocative spell descriptions to give my players a concrete idea of how a spell manifests and what they need to know in order to cast it.

Magic is scalable in two ways – using your limited pool of Spell Points (better name pending) and by reaching certain Level Tiers (1st-3rd Levels, 4th-6th Levels, 7th-9th Levels and 10th-12th Levels). Spell Points increase the raw power of the given spell whereas the Level Tier of the caster grants more expertise in a given spells application.

Though this is an additional complication to the system it is simple in application in game especially once you understand the underlying methodology. Any complication that I add to the basic framework set by OD&D and Chainmail it has to pass the K.I.S.S. test. If it doesn’t I will either rework it until it does or toss it as too bothersome to use.

I want to keep magic simple but flavorful and as the rest the mechanical aspects of my system they need to be quick and easy to use first and foremost. I have some cognitive issues so I need to keep things relatively simple to use in play. Unnecessary complicated rules are an unneeded element that creates a barrier for me to run a game and enjoy myself.

Tis time to end this installment of this blog series and get ready for bed since I have an appointment at noon tomorrow. Please take care, fin.

My Future Campaign Setting and Rule System — Post Apocalyptic Science Fantasy — Introductory Post

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By Adam Archer

Greetings, I am going to take a break from posting about my upcoming Home-Brew System and it’s linked Fantasy setting. I have another project that I will be working on in conjunction to my current project.

This project is one that I have been interested in creating for awhile in one form or another. It is a Post Apocalyptic Science Fantasy setting and the Rules to run it with.

Since the system will also be rooted in OD&D and Chainmail I will likely base it on the Fantasy system that I am currently developing. That way I can kill two birds with one stone – so to speak.

This post will focus on the kind of setting that I want to develop. I know that I want exploration to play a major role but also building settlements and potentially trade routes. Also the goal of the characters is to help rebuild civilization, find lost lore and technological artifacts.

But it won’t be an easy task as the wilderness and ruins of the old civilizations are haunted by robots, mutants and alien or bioengineered creatures. The environment itself is a dangerous obstacle to overcome.

Transportation is limited to trained giant lizards, insects and birds both flightless or able to fly. Vehicles are little better than wagons or chariots created using scavenged bits of ancient vehicles or made from wood.

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By Adam Archer for Iron Cross Publishing

Most of my influences for this project come from art and media I have consumed. But this particular project is inspired by a very skilled artist that I follow on Twitter — Adam Archer. I love his distinctive style and it just screams campy Post Apocalyptic Science Fantasy to me.

In fact once I get to  pthe position to publish this project I will commission Adam to illustrate both the rule books and campaign setting guide. I will also hire him to create my logo and other promotional materials and merchandise art.

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By Adam Archer

I have posted examples of his art here in this post and a link to both his Twitter and Amazon page  where you can purchase his art books and fiction if you so desire – note a few of his short stories are currently free.

Here is a link to Iron Cross Publishing so you can checkout their books which has been featuring Adam’s art of late.

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By Adam Archer

Well I will end this post now so I can go read some of Adam’s short fiction before I go to bed tonight. Take care, fin.

My Home-Brewed Setting — Demi-Humans and Humanoids

Greetings, here again with another installment in my series discussing my upcoming Home-Brewed System and it’s linked Campaign Setting.

In this installment I will be discussing my takes on “Traditional” D&D races and how they differ from how they are normally presented. Some of the differences will be minor, while others will be radical in nature.

The Demi-Human and Humanoid races being discussed are:

  • Dwarfs
  • Elves
  • Gnolls
  • Gnomes
  • Goblins
  • Hobgoblins
  • Kobolds
  • Ogres
  • Orcs

I decided to cover only the races listed in both the OD&D 3LBBs and Chainmail Fantasy supplement. I can always add more as the setting organically grows during my campaigns. So let’s get started!

Dwarfs — Dwarfs are a very rare and dying race. Through a combination of cultural stagnation, millennia of inbreeding and constant struggles with incursions of Chaos — they are nearly extinct.

Most Dwarfs live in isolation as hermit artisans; while others live as craftsmen in either Human or Gnomish communities passing on their trades and expertise to those communities or if young as adventurers or mercenaries.

Dwarfs are often bitter, fatalistic and dour in nature. They are prone to bouts of brooding and hold grudges for life.

In maybe a few centuries Dwarfs will be extinct and only their works will stand testament to their former glory.

Note: Dwarfs cannot achieve name level in an class but Monster/Witch Hunter. They can ONLY be of Lawful Alignment.

Elves  (True) — “True” Elves are Human changelings who were either released or escaped from the Fey Lands or Mythic Wilderness.

During their stay in either place they were taught the arts of war and magic. Their bodies were magically altered to conform to the whims or desires of their Fey masters.

Though initially human their minds have been warped by Chaos. As such they tend to have eccentric personalities and have little respect for Law yet most are not beholden to Chaos either.

True Elves can never be Lawful as the call of Chaos whispers to them attempting to corrupt them further.

Note: True Elves can only be WarriorMages.

Elves (Common) — Common Elves are the descendants of True Elves who have settled down into Human communities and developed their own hybrid culture within those communities.

Because of the magical taint of Chaos the children born from a union between a Elf (True or Common) and a Human will be born a Elf. They develop their mutations as they mature though they often have one or two visible at birth.

Note: Common Elves can be any nonLawful Class but have level limits unless they are Mages or Shadow Blades (Thieves).

Elves (General) — Elves no matter what their origin share a interest in magic and often follow professions that are tied to them. Even if they do not become a magic-user in some form an Elf will know at least one spell per spell level available, but those spells are not scalable in nature.

Of the Demi-Human races Elves are the only ones truly eyed with any suspicion, especially in Lawful communities or groups that they interact with. Their physical bodies and personalities are constant proof of their Chaos tainted nature.

Of the races Elves are on a roll of 6 on a d6 on two consecutive rolls born as a functional hermaphrodite.

All Elves are fluid in their personal sexually and gender roles and fashions that they embrace.

They also are very sexual beings and often get into prostitution trades and have polygamous and polyamorous lifestyles.

Gnolls — Gnolls are the only race inherently Chaotic in nature though not outright evil, they are prone to it. Their predatory nature makes them more likely to give into their more bloodthirsty urges.

Where Elves are treated with varying degrees of suspicion Gnolls are feared and treated with open hostility unless they are serving a powerful lord. Gnolls are often found as mercenaries in the retinue of a powerful Lord aligned with Chaos.

Those not in service to such a Lord are often brigands and slavers selling their wares to any with the gold to buy them. Gnolls also will often be found with a pack of bred and trained hyenas.

Note: Gnolls cannot be any Lawful aligned class and unless they serve a Chaotic Lord they cannot achieve high levels as a Fighting-Man. They can freely advance as a thief.

Gnomes — Gnomes are the smaller kin of Dwarfs. Unlike their larger kin they are not sliding towards extinction but are rare – at least as adventurers. They often work as artisans whether in their own communities or in human communities.

As such they are master artisans,  be it in stone, metal or other mediums. Unlike their Dwarven kin they are not afraid to utilize magic especially while crafting.

Gnomes will often go on adventures in their youths to learn new techniques and discover lost artifacts and technologies. They have created many a technological advancement to make certain trades more efficient — including weapons of war.

When not working on improving their skills they are often neck deep in research. Don’t talk to them about technological theory and development — as they will talk your ears off!

Note: Gnomes can be either Lawful or Neutral Alignments. They can never be name level in any class except the Techno-Magus.

Goblins — Goblins are short (4’-5’) tall pale skin Humanoids related to Kobolds and Hobgoblins. They have a sensitivity to bright light and often wear tinted goggles to prevent sun glare issues.

Goblins are hard working laborers and artisans. Though not as renowned as both Dwarfs and Gnomes their products are prized. That said their stonework does rival that of both Dwarfs and Gnomes.

Goblins are often sought out as stoneworkers and sculptors by human and Elfin patrons. Goblins are known to spend hours studying stonework in any community that they dwell in and of join adventuring bands to study architecture and stonework in ruins or other cultures.

Note: Goblins cannot advance to Name level in any class. They can only be of Lawful or Neutral Alignments.

Hobgoblins — Hobgoblins are the smaller (3’-4’) kin of Goblins. Like their larger kin are pale skinned and suffer from bright light sensitivity.

Though they can be good stoneworkers they prefer to work gems, craft jewelry and cultivate fungi and various ingredients used in intoxicants.

Hobgoblins are the prettiest and most handsome of Humanoids species often rivaling the beauty of Elves.

One thing Hobgoblins have adopted with gusto is Human and Elfin fashion styles. The one new crafts that they excel at is sewing especially when applied to clothing. They tend to mirror the more eclectic styles of Elves in their personal fashion.

Hobgoblins are tainted by Chaos but not to the degree that Kobolds have been.

Though they are pale their hair can take on unnatural colors in some cases can change in hue depending upon their mood. They can have up to three minor mutations beyond their hair color.

Hobgoblins are highly fertile and often have triplets and two of every child born is female. Polygamy and polyamory are common in their society.

Sexuality and gender are very open and fluid concepts in their culture like it is in Elfin culture. As such both male and female Hobgoblins are known to take up prostitution especially in Elfin brothels.

Note: Hobgoblins can only be Neutral or Chaos aligned, as such cannot take a Lawful class. They cannot become name level as a fighting-man but can level unlimited as Mages and Shadow Blades.

Kobolds — Kobolds are the smaller (3’-4’) kin to Goblins. Because of their nearness to the surface they do not suffer from light sensitivity. They are tainted by Chaos as they were caught within the Mythic Wilderness after the Great Cataclysm.

They have a semi-reptilian appearance and tend towards Chaos, though often Neutral in Alignment as long as they live outside the Mythic Wilderness. Those who live within the Mythic Wilderness are predatory creatures of Chaos.

Kobolds are much like their Hobgoblin kin except culturally they are more monogamous and fall into traditional gender roles. Sex to them is about primarily procreation while pleasure is only a secondary attribute.

Whereas both Goblins and Hobgoblins are known for stonework Kobolds are less so outside their penchant for traps. They do love to work with wood, metal and clay.

Like their Hobgoblin kin they do like cultivating fungi and other ingredients used in intoxicants. Tobacco is a favorite plant and they love to produce pipe weed and cigars. Their fashions tend to be more utilitarian in style but often bold colors that contrast with their scales.

Like their Hobgoblin kin they are highly fertile but unlike them they lay eggs in clutches of 3-6 at a time. They do nurse their young so female Kobolds do have breasts. Kobolds use magical incubators for bringing their eggs to hatching stage.

Note: Kobolds cannot take a Lawful class and cannot become Name level in any class but brigand or mage.

Ogres — Ogres are tall (7’6”- 8’6”) muscular Humanoids. They are often viewed as feral human-like beings. They have Chaos taint thus prone to mutations.

Though they are strong and imposing in appearance they are often quite contemplative in nature. Ogres are more resistant to chaos’s call than Gnolls, Kobolds and Elves. They rarely get lost in the Mythic Wilderness if alone.

They love to hunt and spend time outside in nature. Though they will occasionally become mercenaries they are often stationed in border forts and sent of patrols.

Ogres are fond of magic though their preferred magic is nature based. They are the founders of the Druidic Order. That said some Ogres will study arcane magic but more for their desire to understand it.

Note: Ogres can be Lawful or Neutral in Alignments. They can become name level or above in all classes but Brigand or Shadow Blade of which they are barred. Only Ogres can reach leadership levels as a Druid.

Orcs — Orcs are akin to both Ogres and Goblins, though they are taller than both Goblins and Humans on average, but shorter than Ogres (6’6”-7’6”). Orcs are also pale skinned and sensitive to light.

Orcs are a more militaristic people thus their culture and society mirrors that. That said they are known to study magic.

Orcs like Goblins are also proficient stoneworkers and sculptors.

Orcs often work as laborers, soldiers, mercenaries or merchants. They are also often found as members of Mage Guilds and Monster Hunter Militant Orders.

Their fashions and architecture is often utilitarian in nature, which is something that they share with Dwarfs.

Note: Orcs can only be Lawful or Neutral – unless they are trapped in the Mythic Wilderness for long enough for chaos to taint them. They can rise above Name level in any class except Chaos aligned ones UNLESS corrupted by Chaos.

Well it it time to eat so I will finish up, eat and go for a nice Sunday stroll. Please take care, fin.

My Home-Brewed Setting — Grim vs. Utopian?

Greetings, in this installment of my series discussing my home-brewed system and the campaign setting tied to it I will be painting a somewhat bleaker picture than my last post put forth.

I discussed how my setting was diverse and some of the reasons why, but it does seem fairly Utopian in nature IF taken in isolation. Like everything in the world there needs to be context.

If you have read this and my companion blog you will have noticed that each installment will often build off the preceding installment. As I compose my blog posts I do so in a more organic fashion.

An idea seed will be planted as I write my previous post and I will then be inspired to see where it will lead. An interconnected fabric is woven as the series progresses to its climax.

I prefer organic world building but I also prefer to have a solid framework to build upon. As I said in my previous blog post I also prefer my settings to be internally consistent in nature.

So I have to have a general idea of the kind of setting that I want to build before the campaign begins and my players choices can impact the world.

As I prefer a diverse world and I don’t want to necessarily fall back on using real world analogs if possible. I need to have a idea of how things came to be so I can better inform my players of the world in which their characters dwell in.

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Though there was a period that the Empire could be deemed Utopian it didn’t last.

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord Action April 5th 1887

Which is why the Empire was doomed. The Great Cataclysm only sped up it’s eventually destined fall. The Empire had become a decadent realm rotten to core.

Mini rebellions had sprouted throughout it and when one was quashed another would sprout up somewhere else.

It’s been nearly two hundred years since the fall of the Empire and the bedlam that came during and after the Great Cataclysm.

Though the old imperial culture is largely intact — at least in the core principalities, the frontier duchies had to deal with invasions from other realms beyond their borders.

Cultures changed in those realms — sometimes only a little and other times radically.

Chaos has infected the wilderness and the underworld. Law has begun to martial it’s forces to cleanse the world of the taint of chaos.

Utopia doesn’t exist in this world but humanity, their Demi human and Humanoid neighbors have little time to waste on petty bigotry and rivalries.

Though Neutrality is the default for most people in the world, the agents of Law and Chaos war for dominion both covertly and overtly.

Magic though seen as useful and many cities utilize magic to keep pollution minimized and ease trade via the use of airships; magic is largely distrusted outside those spheres. As such Magic-Users are looked upon with suspicion and are policed by government sanctioned Guilds and their academies.

Though not all of the former Imperial provinces fell into ruin some became dark and obscenely evil places ruled by agents of Chaos; while others were claimed by agents of Law where Order is strictly enforced.

That said most of the surviving principalities and duchies are stable and generally safe havens in this tumultuous world.

The world can be very Grim especially outside the borders of the principalities and duchies. In the Mythic Wilderness beyond their borders where the Fey rule danger and corruption await the foolhardy and brave.

And deep underground lies the Mythic Underworld where Infernal beings haunt the alien biomes found within and spew forth to torment the surface world.

I felt that I needed to post a counterpoint to my previous installment to give you better context. Yes the setting is diverse but it is FAR from being a Utopian world.

Well I will end this installment so I can publish it and start brainstorming the next one. Please take care, fin.

Diversity in my Home-Brew Setting

 Greetings, in this installment of my series concerning my Home-Brew System and the campaign setting tied to it, I wanted to touch upon diversity. There has been a lot of drama and outright rancorous noise on Twitter of late.

A lot of it centered around lack of representation and inclusiveness in Dungeons & Dragons and WotC specifically. Accusations of racism, colonialism and misogyny.

That said I am NOT going to preach about that here, instead I will just discuss how my setting is developing; but first I plan on cover some of the things that inform my design process.

Going back years — actually a decade or more, I have organically incorporated diverse cultures and queer oriented npcs to my campaigns.

Much of this is rooted in my deep interest in other cultures and my own struggles with my sexuality, passed struggles with gender dysphoria and fitting into societal gender “norms”.

Fiction and art has always been a way for me to help work through my own personal issues. Finding ways to cope with my past traumas.

That said I never pushed this content upon my players. I believe games are meant to be an escape from reality and a way for people to relax…not be lectured to or indoctrinated by.

Yet as my settings are informed by my personal life and imagination it is only natural that the above bleed into my settings.

Over the last several years I have studied Ancient Near Eastern history and religion and I do have a growing interest in Vedic pre-Hindu religion and mythology. I also want to delve into learning more about the various African cultures and their histories.

All of this will eventually bleed into my future campaigns and other aspects of my creative work.

My study of Ancient Near Eastern cultures and religion have greatly impacted my past setting designs to various degrees.

When I design a setting I want it to feel real and as such must have an internally consistent framework. So have an understanding of other cultures helps me better visualize my own fictional cultures. 

That said I try not to emulate any specific real world culture. I instead try to draw from various cultures to create mine own so that they fit into my internal image of the setting.

I also draw inspiration from entertainment media that I consume — be it anime, comics/manga, video games, tv/film especially in the fantasy and historical genres.

All of the above helps me develop my setting, which also informs the races and classes that I incorporate into my house rules or my current home-brew system design.

Now I will dive into my setting and what makes my setting diverse and inclusive in nature.

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I decided to base the core of the setting in a northern continent that was part of a vast empire run by powerful Mages.

After conquering much of the known world and understanding that a house divided will fall they had a choice — force their culture upon their conquered populations OR work to integrate them into their culture via allowing aspects of their birth cultures to be fused into the greater Imperial culture.

The latter choice was chosen as it was the most practical choice to the imperial leadership. Sages travelled to the new provinces and began studying the cultures of the populations of their new dominions.

Working with the native peoples allowed them to find ways to incorporate imperial culture into their own native cultures.

As Imperial culture incorporated aspects of their various minority population’s cultures into itself — aspects of the other cultures began to spread throughout the breadth and length of the empire.

Though the numerous frontier provinces morphed into a fused culture and were largely ethnically homogenous at least initially they gradually became more ethnically mixed.

Much of this was by design as men folk were often drafted into the Imperial Legions and often stationed either in the Imperial Core or other imperial provinces far from their native provinces.

As this was done while the men were young and prior to marrying age and if they survived long enough to create a family it was only natural to find mates from the local population in which they dwelled.

This served multiple purposes:

  • It organically diversified the imperial provinces — both in the core and in the frontier.
  • It helped keep ethnic racism down as their were no longer tribal attachments among the populations and most of the populations became mixed ethnically and culturally.
  • It helped prevent any potential native rebellion from taking root.

This wasn’t just amongst the men folk but also the women of these cultures. Women who showed aptitude were sent to the imperial core and eventually the frontier provinces after training in various fields of study.

Many of these women become imperial bureaucrats, wives of lesser nobility, Mages and members of temple clergy. The remaining young women would often meet young men and get married and start blended families.

Another area in which Imperial leadership chose to help guard against rebellion was to normalize homosexuality throughout the empire.

Also for those citizens that struggled with gender dysphoria they offered magical transformation into their preferred gender biologically. Along side this gender norms were to become less rigid and helped foster cultural acceptance of citizens that didn’t fit into the gender binary.

These cultivated imperial cultural norms have stayed intact in the nearly two hundred years since the Great Cataclysmin the principalities and duchies that rose from the ashes of the empire.

In my setting it is not only the human ethnic populations that are diverse but the elves, dwarfs and gnomish peoples as well.

Humanoids in my setting will have their own cultures and those that live within the post-Imperial realms will have largely adopted the local culture of the human population they dwell within. But I will discuss this in a future post in this series.

That is all for now please take care, fin.

My Future Home-Brew Rules & Setting — Introductory Post

Greetings, in my new installment of this blog I will focus upon some of my design concepts for my new rules and setting. I am not going deep into the rules and the setting in this blog post as this is more of an introductory installment.

I will begin with the rules development concepts before I touch upon the setting.

The underlying foundation of the rule system is — Original Dungeons & Dragons and Chainmail. BUT it is NOT a retro-clone of OD&D and Chainmail, they are just the foundation that I am building upon.

Here are a list of elements that my system shares with OD&D and Chainmail:

  • Classes
  • Races/Ancestries
  • Levels
  • Experience Points
  • Attributes
  • Combat Matrices
  • Exploration
  • Dungeons
  • Wandering Monsters
  • Magic
  • LawNeutralChaos Alignments

How the above will manifest is still up in the air. Classes, Races and Attributes will be modified for sure. Specifically I want the classes and races to be thematic in nature to fit the setting.

Attributes will be modified in my campaigns to be more useful than they are in OD&D.

Like early D&D you will roll 3d6 and the sun will be used as a roll under target number for certain tests.

Example: A character with STR of 3 is weak yet they are still capable as an adventurer. To succeed at a task tied to STR the player or referee rolls d20 and rolls 13.

Unlike other editions of D&D a character with a 3 isn’t useless in that attribute but simply the least proficient in tasks with it.

It also must be noted that ALL rolls are ONLY made IF required largely based on the situation. Role play comes first, then only once a chance of failure is present — such as in combat then dice are rolled.

I will likely modify or add attributes like I will be adding Agility: which deals with tasks such combat, dancing ect. Dexterity will be used for tasks which deal with manual dexterity such as picking pockets, juggling ect.

In combat situations I prefer using combat matrices like the Individual Combat tables in Chainmail for use during combat vs humanoid opponents, as they give a different flavor for combat.

Yet I will be using d20 combat matrices for non-Humanoid monsters; as they better fit such opponents.

Magic will be different from traditional D&D style magic found in OD&D (and most other editions of D&D), as I plan to use a spell point magic system with scalable spells. 

Last of the rules concepts I will cover in this installment will focus on races and ancestries.

Elves in my campaigns are actually human changelings released or escaped from the Fey Lands.

A big difference between my rules and my most OSR style games I am not beholden to Old School D&D tropes such as pig faced and evil Orcs. Not that I oppose those tropes, I am just not beholden to them.

The Humanoid races are not inherently evil in my campaign setting as such they can be Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic in nature. My Goblins are called Hobs (AKA Hobgoblins) and they a have there own culture, as are my Orcs, Kobolds ect.

Now to my setting concepts half of this installment.

I am a fan of WotC’s Eberron campaign setting especially the fact where players could play Humanoids and they had interesting realized cultures. They were not inherently evil, something that Eberron shared with my favorite edition of D&D — OD&D.

Another thing that my setting shares with Eberron is how Keith Barker mentions is “wide magic” in comparison to ”high magic”.

Though rooted in “Vancian” Magic the magic in my setting is far more utilitarian in application compared traditional OD&D and other early 80s editions of Classic D&D/AD&D.

Magic is used to help ease life — at least if you are wealthy and could afford magical technology; while the poor have to suffer using mundane technologies in comparison.

Much of magical lore had been lost during the Great Cataclysm. The magical lore that had survived the Cataclysm was more utilitarian in nature, thus “Common”.

Adventuring Mages often search for lost spells and magical lore in ruins either for their Guild or for their own use.

The surviving realms are descendants of a vast multiethnic empire ruled my powerful Mages which fell to both the bedlam caused by the Great Cataclysm and the many mini regional rebellions that preceded the Cataclysm.

Like in OD&D and 4e D&D the setting is more of a “Point of Lights” oriented setting than how Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms were initially represented.

That said like Eberron and Greyhawk my setting focuses on a collection of realms that share a common culture.

The old imperial core developed into what is now a collection of principalities, while the outer imperial provinces developed into a number of Duchies spread on the old imperial frontier.

The borders of these realms have contracted from their old imperial borders. The frontiers of these principalities and duchies are being encroached upon by Mystical Wilderness.

Monsters plague these Mystical Wilderness Borderlands warped by chaotic magic. Time and distances cannot be trusted within these Borderlands and magic can have a corrupting influence and potential madness upon those who wander within its depths for too long.

Well this all for now as I plan to expand upon these concepts in future installments of this blog series. Please take care, fin

Humanoids & Inherent Evilness – plus how my Humanoids will be in my future campaigns.

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5e D&D by Wizards of the Coast

Greetings, I decided to tackle a topic that is controversial in the D&D/ttrpg sphere in this installment – Humanoids & Inherent Evilness. I will also touch upon the often interconnected issue the alleged “racism” represented by these races.

I will be 48yo this year (2020) so I grew up with D&D and other fantasy RPGs that utilized the tropes that Orcs and other Humanoid races are often inherently evil – PCs of said races might exist but they are exceptions to the rule.

Now days younger or more “woke” older players take issue with the whole concept of “Inherent Evilness”. They often see it as racist and often see the use of “coded”

language to describe them as problematic because it endorses (in their opinion) colonialism – the whole “taming the Wilderness and pacifying the Savages” thing.

Often they will point to an obscure letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to prove the point.

Their position is that there should be no inherently evil sentient humanoid races and using problematic language used by colonialism should be banned.

I am fairly liberal on social issues so this kind of policing of a hobby and attempts to pressure companies into compliance rubs me the wrong way. I have gotten into arguments on Twitter over this recently.

That said I do understand the reasoning behind it and my stance has been there isn’t a problem with Humanoids being inherently evil. The core reason is that they are fictional races and most fantasy ttrpg fans never remotely considered these races as “coded” as POC.

Add to that my ancestors the Anglo-Saxons, Bretons, Gaels and Nordic Folks were seen as “savages”, “Barbarian” and “Godless Heathens” by imperialist colonizers and Christian/Muslim spiritual leaders.

When I picture Humanoids I often draw from my own “Barbarian” ancestry to “code” these races. I would never consider seeing them as coded as POC as I have a deep respect for them and their cultures.

I abhor the injustices that they have historically suffered under and still currently suffer under in Western society.

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5e D&D by Wizards of the Coast

This all said even though in my current setting I do consider most humanoid races as inherently evil, Orcs and Ogres are not. As my setting is inspired by and rooted in OD&D tropes.

I wanted to skew towards those tropes for the upcoming campaign to get back to the roots of OS D&D but also take a break from modern D&D tropes.

Once I begin working on my own rule set inspired by both OD&D and Chainmail I will be taken a totally different tact.

I am a fan of Wizards of the Coast’s 3.5 D&D campaign setting Eberron especially it’s novel line.

I love how they were moving beyond the post-OD&D ALL Humanoid races are inherently evil. I also loved how they actually developed civilizations for them tied to the very history of the setting.

I am also a HUGE fan of Elder Scrolls Skyrim for those very same reasons. I often played Orc and Dark Elf characters when I played.

As such these properties and others like the Iron Kingdoms will inform my newest setting. I will be developing cultures and civilizations for my versions of the humanoid races for my campaign.

That also means reevaluating how they are envisioned both visually and culturally represented in my setting.

My Humanoids will NOT be inherently evil or default as “savage barbaric tribal races”… not based on wokeness but because it is boring and I will have run a previous campaign rooted in that trope.

I love how OD&D and Chainmail really didn’t describe their Humanoids for the most part and included in the rules the option that players could PLAY anything even Dragons & Balrogs – But I am not going that far.

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5e D&D by Wizards of the Coast

Now that I have covered how my future campaign setting will include non inherently evil humanoid races – however I will have humanoid shaped inherently evil monsters. They are lesser infernal beings who escaped from the Mythic Underworld and plague the surface world.

Unlike Humanoids in my setting they don’t have cultures – they are malice and chaos in its darkest most evil form. Their sole driving passion is causing pain, death and destruction.

They do not create they destroy.

But Ezra, that is using colonialist coded language used to demonize POC”.

So? It was used to describe my ancestors too and still are. How many films, novels & tv shows portray them as often vicious barbarians? 

We need to reclaim language and understand the context of the use of the words. Not just assume malice is behind them.

As I have said my Humanoids are going to be fully realized people with cultures and civilizations that played apart in the history of the setting.

But there needs to be a threat that causes them and humanity to mostly unite against it.

Monsters and these infernal beings are that threat. They are denizens of the Mythic Underworld who broke free and are causing mayhem, death and destruction.

These are not a race unlike humanity, Demi humans and Humanoids are with diverse cultures and civilizations that they have built.

They are demonic/infernal creatures born from the darkest voids of primal chaos.

The above races are their prey. Period. End stop.

There are only three reactions for these infernal beings – I have easier prey, I am currently sated or kill/consume.

Instead of taming the Wilderness, pacifying savages and looting tombs the players will be reclaiming lands, recovering lost treasures and fighting monsters – who are often aligned to either Law or Chaos.

The world is a battleground between the forces of Law AND Chaos. Both are very real potential threats – depending on the being or organization encountered. They could be hostile or benign in nature.

That said they will also have to deal with human/humanoid evil as well.

As such, some of our real world issues like colonialism, slavery and related issues will play out in the background of the setting in which the players may choose to engage or ignore.

These themes will be ALSO found within the humanoid cultures as well. Nobody is immune from these things. I want to create a vibrant setting for my players to engage with and not including such things feels wrong in my book.

BUT I will endeavor to treat them in a respectful way.

To summarize I think D&D and similar ttrpgs have room for traditional D&D fantasy tropes, as well as what some would refer wrongly as overly “Woke SJW politicalization” of D&D (I DON’T see it as such, but my politics and mentality have shifted too).

I am going to run games that I prefer to run. In most of them Humanoids are not just playable races but their cultures are NOT inherently evil in nature. I love Orcs, Goblins and Tieflings. Bite me if that offends you. Please take care, fin.

Gary Gygax Challenge ‘75 – 2020 Edition Part 1

Greetings, a quick update starting tomorrow I am going to take part in the Gary Gygax 1975 Challenge. In the Fantasy OSR group on Facebook a member asked if anyone was interested in taking up the challenge to create a campaign setting in FIVE weeks.

I am not sure how frequent my posts will be but I will post at least once a week on aspects of this setting and the challenge.

That said I will be reading the pdf of Gary’s challenge to familiarize myself with what the challenge entails and what restrictions Gary imposed upon participants.

Well I will end this post so I can get it published and get to reading. Take care, fin.