On the Topic of Race

August 4, 2009

Ah, such a hot button issue: how to fit your list of accepted races into your world. To be honest, in the Dagdaeard and the rest of the land on it’s little world, I think everything should fit and have it’s place. I just don’t think I’m prepared at the moment to handle it all.

Let’s just say this and get it out of the way (and borrowing a bit from Eberron here): Everything in D&D can and likely does exist in the world with Dagdaeard. I may mention things at times (like Elves are likely to be more at home in Talamh Ainmhi, Eladrin in Kraj Magia, Humans in Cwena Scire, and Half-Orcs in Talamh Codagh) but really, it’s one big melting pot.

Don’t get me wrong! There are racial tensions, even among the known children of the All-Father – I just haven’t worked them out yet. But one thing to ponder on: there’s probably a lot more religious and regional tension. After all, the Chosen of Macha had probably been raiding their neighbors for centuries before the Revelation – in fact, I think this is canon, I just haven’t written it down yet – and I think Kraj Magia is going to have quite the undead problem. They’ve repeatedly had to ask Cwena Scire help out with and they haven’t paid up for the help recently (or ever).


The City of Onmiddan

August 3, 2009

The city of Onmiddan is the capital of all the All-Father’s lands. Home to the religious center and ruling body of the continent, it also serves as the one true melting pot of all the cultures brought forth by his Aspects and as the single largest trade hub on the continent. It is situated on and around a river that flows through or from each of his lands. (For those who can’t believe this: there are several large tributaries that meet up with the God River in or very near Onmiddan.)

Onmiddan has existed since before the Dagdaeard was known as the Dagdaeard, before the All-Father made his presence known. In those days, it was still a massive trade hub, but that trade was largely relegated to the 3 annual fairs and the merchants who passed by on the river on their way to trade. There was a small native community that saw to the upkeep of the various trade squares, and these people still exist. After the revelation of the All-Father, these people have believed themselves to be his own Chosen. None of the other nations believe this though, and that independent “nation” of people have since been relegated to a ghetto inside of Onmiddan and a shanty town outside.

Present day Onmiddan is a thriving metropolis, with a large trade and governmental center as the focal point. Surrounding that, in the areas that most closely border their own lands, each Aspect’s people have their own areas. The council attempts to keep these areas equal, but there are always boundary disputes. Inside each of these areas are shops that serve the specialty interests that each Aspect is best-suited for: hunting and survival supplies, as well as classes to learn survival techniques in the Path of Cernunnos; Magical item creation and sale, as well as musical supplies in the Library of Weles; training in the latest fighting techniques, military strategy classes, and weapons can be found in the Barracks of Macha; while healing, first aid, and counseling can be found in the Temples of Alaea.

There also exists a largely unexplored cavern network under the city that was only discovered after the Revelation. It contains within it art and scripture of the All-Father. All magical attempts at dating the artifacts and writing become confused – they actually return results that vary from test to test on the same piece. Scholars believe this indicates either an obfuscation spell on the age of the pieces, or that they are actually living artifacts of the All-Father – existing and changing in all times at once.

The Chosen of Cernunnos

July 31, 2009

As I mentioned previously, the Chosen of Cernunnos tend to choose themselves first. They venture into the dense jungle and thick forest of Talamh Ainmhi (I’m dropping the special “i” – it’s too damn annoying to go back and copy it everytime) seeking a challenge and come out changed or not at all. Usually this leaves them ready to take a calm but powerful stance towards the nature that surrounds them (Druids, Shaman, Wardens), other times it can draw the anger, the rage, that was deep inside them and pull it to forefront allowing them to become the berzerker (Barbarians).

All of these Chosen know they have been gifted with the insight and focus of Cernunnos. They are to protect the wild, but also to submit it’s power and let the flow of nature guide them. They are never to be weak, however, as weakness in the Land of Beasts leads to death. This insight affects each of the Chosen in a unique way:

  • Barbarians are relentlessly assault by the things that anger them most, triggering their rage. That rage is then granted focus by Cernunnos and directed at those things that endanger the wilds.
  • Druids learn the advantages of beasts as they gain their shapeshifting abilities, but are also taught that their natural form is powerful as well. Once Cernunnos grants them their magic.
  • Shaman are granted their totem animals (and thus, spirit companions) in a vision. The animal grants the use of the spirit of their species to the help the Shaman survive his ordeal.
  • Wardens must learn to take parts of the wilds into themselves and reflect them outward in order to survive. They learn to take on many forms and aspects, just like the All-Father does but on a mortal scale.

House Rules, Part 1

July 30, 2009

So, I thought I’d take a minute and go over some of the house rules I’m considering for this game.

During character creation, I want the characters to be a little more heroic than usual, so I’ll probably let them use a system like that espoused by Scott Martin over at Gnome Stew. It’s really quite the interesting system:

  1. Roll stats as normal (in this case, we’ll be rolling instead of 4E’s chosen method, point buy).
  2. Give everyone half the difference between their stat totals and the highest to spend 1:1 on stats as they choose.
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

Effectively, this brings everyone closer to the highest rolling player, with those who rolled the lowest actually getting the most flexibility in how to stat their characters.

I’ll definitely be pulling in the B(eliefs) and I(nstincts) from Burning Wheel‘s BITs (the “T” standing for Traits). I want the players to feel like and know that their characters have a say in what happens in the campaign. This is one of the best ways I know of to do this because it gets the player’s inside their character’s heads right at the start. That, and it lets me know up front what the characters (and thus the players) are interested in playing.

Following the example of Burning Wheel and others (for instance, Spirit of the Century), I plan on using either a system like the “Rule-Breaker” Cards over on Gnome Stew, or the FYIA tokens mentioned over at Deeper in the Game. These will allow the characters more control over what happens than just what the dice allow. I’m thinking I’ll go with FYIA tokens, though I’ll have to figure out their allowed uses. I figure I’ll give them under criteria similar to games I mentioned above: whenever Instincts cause trouble, and whenever Beliefs are progressed by the player that espouses them.

Any thoughts as to what I may want to change above? Or what I may want to add?

The All-Father’s aspect of nature, the hunt, and the cycle of life (yes, I know, largely the same profile as Balinor), Cernunnos, Lord of Beasts, teaches respect for all in his domain. He teaches the route of harmony to his followers, showing that they should take only what they need and use as much as possible of what they do take. In process, he shows that not all are created equal: only the fittest survive his harsh jungle and dense forest in Talamh Ainmhí. Those not up to the challenge of surviving such environments are not worthy of his favor. This makes those concerned for their family’s safety often leave his lands, while those seeking a test of power, cunning, and determination flock to his side. This means that most of the Chosen of Cernunnos chose themselves before this Aspect could choose them himself.

His tenets are as follows:

  • Use what you take.
  • Living is not enough, one must prove that they are able and willing to survive.
  • Luck favors the prepared. Survival abhors the unprepared. Be prepared.

Cernunnos is Unaligned.

Edit: His domains are: Change and Wilderness.

On Geography in General

July 28, 2009

So, we have 4 parcels of land on our continent. In the interest of theme, I think the landscape of each will be tied to the aspect. All of the lands need to be viable in one way or another as well.

In the Land of Light, Cwéna Scire, I envision gently rolling hills throughout a radiant grassland. Sure, there are forests – I imagine there’s a reasonable amount of woodland, no extreme overgrowth. I think this will tie into a very pastoral culture for the area – peaceful but not naive.

The Land of Battles, Talamh Codagh, I see as being a rather sparse country punctuated by mountains. I’m thinking the near deserts of the world – sure there’s rainfall, but it’s just enough to keep the land alive. Civilization has gathered near the rivers and tributaries that flow through the land. The blood of Macha (the rivers) keeping the people alive, but hungry. That would definitely tie them closer to a war-like nature: they need the resources of their neighbors to do anything more than survive, but their own resources are harder to get at.

The Land of Beasts, Talamh Ainmhí, nature rules. It’s a dense jungle in the more tropical regions, blending to ancient forests to the north. Given the worship of Cernunnos in this area, I can see the locals having built villages that blend in extremely well.

The Land of Magic, Kraj Magia, is very similar to the Land of Light for the time being. Instead of radiant glow to the lay of the land, however, there’s a dark (but glimmering) glow of magic. The land is fairly dry, except in areas where the Chosen and Priests of Weles have used their powers to conjure water for the purposes of producing crops and maintaining potable water supplies.

I imagine this land being situated in on a continent that stretches from it’s planet’s tropical zone in the south to the northern portion of the temperate zone in the north. This would, to my mind, have Kraj Magia covering the northern most areas, spreading to the east. Cwéna Scire touches it and moves toward the western portion down south, while Talamh Codagh is south of the Kraj Magia and west of Cwéna Scire. Both of those largely border Talamh Ainmhí to the south. They all join and border each other in one small stretch land that is the site of the city of Onmiddan. But all of this, excepting the general location of Onmiddan, is subject to change at this point.

So, after that last post, I bet some of my readers (hah! like I have readers) are brimming with ideas. Here are some that I have:

  • The ruling council has decided that new groups will be formed from the Chosen (I think this is what I’ll call most PCs or PC-equivalents) of each of the four Aspects. The PCs are one of, if not the first, of these groups. This can be combined with almost any of the others I think.
  • The priesthood of one of the Aspects (or just one, upper-echelon priest) is attempting to create a schism between the Aspects, claiming that the All-Father is a lie. It’s up to the PCs to stop him or prove him right.
  • The PCs are a group of chosen from a single Aspect preparing for the latest Aspect tournament. They also have to deal with defending and advancing their Aspect’s domain.
  • The PCs’ Chosen are the chosen (through the tournaments perhaps) defenders of Onmiddan, defending it from the assault of the wilds and navigating the politic waters of the ruling council.
  • Across the sea, another religion grows. Is this religion based on an Aspect of the All-Father? If it is, the PCs need to bring them into the fold. (This would be a great way to bring in new power sources that Wizards introduces).

I think that taking #3 and folding in some of #4 afterwards would be a pretty good idea – that’s why I’ll use it as the basis of my campaign. You could even add in politicking at the tournament level – maybe the High Priest of the PCs’ Aspect doesn’t like their team, and they have to fight to get in. The one major issue with the Aspect Tournaments is the construction of opponents. It feels a bit to me like you’re cheating the players if you don’t give their opponents full character sheets, but you run the extreme risk of pummeling the PCs too hardly if you do.

Oh well, we have the beginnings of a campaign!