Romance of a Fallen Country Overview and Instructions
It's certainly taken longer than I expected, but I'm finally ready to roll with this. I still need to figure out how to get the interactive mapping all settled, but I'm ready to run an introductory chat session. It will have to be on Friday or Saturday, though. So how does Friday, October 16th sound? That will give anyone who wants to participate time to give me their characters and have me vet them. Of course, I already have some of the players' characters.
Here is the initial background and guidelines I've prepared for Romance of a Fallen Country:
A long time ago, when the Dread Lord of Tyaasi invaded the Isle of Istao, he and the last king of Istao slew one another in an epic battle. In the generations since then, the country has fallen into anarchy and a perpetual civil war between the great landed lords and various pretenders to the unoccupied throne.
Campaign Start: It begins near the end of summer in the village of Elanglond, on the southern shores of the Firth of Tanbryin. The climate is mild and temperate. The terrain is flat, mostly grasslands with some moors and heaths, and the occasional hill and woods.
The village is a colony settled by the decree of the Duke of Calanque, ruler of the largest island in the Firth. Although it was settled in what was, at the time, unclaimed wilderness, the success of the colony attracted the attention of others. Whether your character is pledged to the Duke or simply has ties to Elanglond, you are working to support the colony.
Overview: A word on how these two campaigns are related. The Unquiet Lands is the pbp campaign. Romance of a Fallen Country is the chat campaign. Both are take place in the same game setting, but geographically far removed. The game setting is also known as The Unquiet Lands. In order to avoid confusion, the shorthand for the pbp campaign will be the "Aucothian Campaign," and the chat campaign will be referred to as the "Istaoan Campaign."
When not stated otherwise, and unless there is a clear contradiction, the guidelines for players, the DM, and how the rules are interpreted will be the same as those posted for the Aucothian Campaign. However, there will be many points where character creation rules differ. When in doubt, feel free to consult with me.
The starting point for your character is as follows: Autumn is coming to the lands around the Firth of Tanbryin. However, the harvest in Elanglond Village is interrupted by raiding warriors, doubtless in the service of one or both of Elanglond's envious neighbors. As one of Elanglond's defenders, you are tasked with driving away these brigands, hopefully in a manner that will give them cause to think twice about coming back.
Your character is not tied to the village itself. You may be supporting the Duke of Calanque, ruler of the village.
Character and Rules Guidelines
Use the same twenty-five guidelines I posted for the Aucothian Campaign for the Istaoan Campaign, found at http://www.penandpapergames.com/foru...ead.php?t=9511, with the following exceptions and expansions:
Guideline 2 - The exception applies to all monsters. Also, information in the rules that is specific to a campaign setting or to the suggested cosmology (especially regarding the nature of the deities or the planes of existence) should not be unquestioningly accepted. It may differ significantly in this campaign.
Guideline 3 - The rules currently in use are the Player's Handbook, Player's Handbook 2, Dungeon Master's Guide, Dungeon Master's Guide 2, Monster Manual, Monster Manual 2, Adventurer's Vault, Adventurer's Vault 2, Arcane Power, Divine Power, Martial Power, and the "Wish Upon a Star" article from issue 366 of Dragon Magazine.
Guideline 4 - We are using WOTC's Errata from July 20, 2009 and all earlier errata that has not been superseded as of July 20th, 2009.
Guideline 5 - As a clarification, we are not using material from Eberron or the Forgotten Realms, as well as their associated rulebooks, nor are we using material from published rulebooks outside of the ones listed, such as Open Grave or Manual of the Planes. Out of the information from DDI and Dragon, I am only using the one article previously mentioned. I will listen to any requests for further inclusions, but my answer will probably remain "no."
Guideline 13 - All race, class, build, and power combinations from the Player's Handbook 2, Arcane Power, Divine Power, and Martial Power rulebooks are allowed if the player has access to the relevant material, as are the powers from the "Wish Upon a Star" article. The NPC races presented in the Monster Manual and Monster Manual 2 are specifically not allowed, such as Drow and Warforged.
Guideline 15 - In order to use the equipment from Adventurer's Vault, the player must have access to the rulebook. The following equipment is unavailable: hand crossbow, repeating crossbow (and magazine), and superior crossbow. The following equipment is indicative of an unusual cultural influence - craghammer, double axe, double flail, double sword, katar, khopesh, kukri, mordenkrad, shuriken, tratnyr, trident, and urgrosh. These may be possessed, but must be addressed in the character's background.
Guideline 19 - This guideline is not valid for the Istaoan Campaign. I will discuss equipment and currency later.
Guideline 23 - This guideline is applicable for Istao, as it is for the Empire.
The other rules listed in the thread: lethal and non-lethal damage, easy encounters and milestones, passing objects, and serious and mortal injuries, are all in effect.
In a chat game, without having time to reflect and edit my posts, there will be times that I will come off in ways I didn't intend to, say things that I will have cause to regret, and perhaps appear less mature at times than I do in a pbp game. Naturally, I will work to avoid this, but I ask for your understanding as well.
Also, my enforcement of the stated guidelines may be rough and uneven at first. It will take some time to strike a good balance.
At the end of a session, I will try to preserve the chat log so that it may be posted later. I reserve the right to edit the log before posting it. My editing will involve the following:
- correcting grammar and spelling mistakes, particularly those related to my pet peeves
- removing non-game-related content
- making the minimum modifications necessary for content to conform to the forum rules if it does not for some reason
- possibly separating OOC and IC content
- possibly editing statements that were made based on misinterpretations of a situation
I will not object if players post their own unedited versions of the chat logs if they wish to highlight differences, as long as the intent is not to slander or embarrass anyone. If the unedited version does not follow the forum content rules, however, please post it at your own risk in a section outside of The Unquiet Lands sub-forum or I will be forced to remove it.
Races in Istao
Devas - All occurrences of devas are singular. However, a number of devas fought with the Kingdom of Istao against Tyaasi in their previous lives.
Dragonborn - Dragonborn live in small groups or travel about singly, pursuing their individualistic goals. It is rare, however, to encounter any sized settlement, even a small hamlet, without at least a single dragonborn resident.
Dwarfs - Most Dwarfs owe descent from the fines (clans) of Aniriep, Aniriom, Dirdan, or Odom, but there are a few others. None of these clans, however, retain any holdings or independent political power, and none have a chieftain or overlord any longer. The main purpose of the fines is to determine marriage, as it is taboo to marry someone from the same fine. Lineage is divided by gender: sons are part of the fine of the father, daughters are part of the fine of the mother. Dwarfs go through years-long phases in their lives of wandering, settling down, and wandering again, so they are encountered in communities as well as on the road.
Eladrin - To the eladrin, the world is like a dream they pass through before returning to the Feywild. Few eladrin share the troublesome dream of Istao, but those who do are often drawn to it, seeking to find and set right the source of their anxiety.
Elfs - Elfs mostly dwell in the forests, in tiny settlements. Any area of trees is likely to have a few elfs calling it their home. Elfs are keepers of boundaries. They protect the forests from the predations of the plains-dwellers, and protect those outside the forests from the creatures that lurk deep within. The position they find themselves in is advantageous at times, precarious at others.
Gnomes - Istao's turbulence does not make it the first choice for a gnomish hideaway. Nevertheless, some gnomes do make their solitary homes in the dark woodlands and shadowy hills. More common, at least for those who encounter them, is the curious gnome who pops in from the Feywild for a sojourn in these lands.
Goliaths - The towering, sharp, and occasionally volcanic peaks of Istao are unusually inhospitable for most folk. The Goliaths make their home here, and do not concern themselves with the affairs or troubles of those who dwell below. Every generation, a few goliaths do wander down to see the varied sights and to prove themselves against those they find there. Also on occasion, the appearance of a giant, dragon, or other fearsome creature will drive a band of goliaths out of the mountains, sometimes as refugees and sometimes to seek out allies in an attempt to reclaim their home.
Half-Elfs - Thanks to the historically close relationship between elfs and humans, rare in other lands, half-elfs are not nearly as uncommon as they are elsewhere. Many noble houses count numerous half-elfs as their members.
Half-Orcs - Whether these odd beings are human-like orcs or orc-like humans is the subject of debate, as long as no half-orcs are around to hear it. They are among the few who have thrived in these dark times, as the demand for fierce warriors outweighs society's normal inclination to shun these beings. Some half-orcs welcome the opportunity to prove they are every bit as civilized as members of the other races, while others use the necessity that drives their grudging acceptance as a license to indulge in wanton bloodthirstiness.
Halflings - Small communities of halflings have always dwelled among the shady pools and rivers of Istao. Many of these sheltered locations were ideal locations to found larger settlements, and it may well be that every town in Istao had its origins as a halfling village. The halflings themselves welcomed the opportunity for trade, and became central to the livelihood of these places. Although they are as fierce when it comes to war as any of the other races, prejudice often keeps them out of a warrior's role. This has led to the halflings growing in numbers, or at least holding steady, while humans and other races continue to diminish. Slightly less burdened by the yoke of war, the halflings form a much-needed, perpetual middle class that drives the economy of the land.
Humans - As is true almost everywhere else, humans are the most numerous of the races, and serve as the dominant people. This is still the case in Istao, though it is a lessening truth, as half-elfs, half-orcs, halflings, and tieflings all grow in number, while humanity shrinks. Humans still produce the most nobles and form the majorities in all the towns and most of the villages, but there is a sense, even among themselves, that perhaps their time is passing.
Longtooth Shifters - Like the half-orcs, the longtooths' bestial strength claims them a place in present-day Istao, one which would not have been offered in the past. They rarely roam in the terrifying packs of old, but singly or in small groups, find themselves employed as warriors and hunters.
Razorclaw Shifters - Razorclaws are at home in the broad grasslands of Istao, roaming the byways as messengers or merchants. They dream of better days, when they could travel freely without fear of the armies and monsters that now march across the land.
Tieflings - Rare enough to be regarded as a curiosity rather than a threat, tieflings, or witching folk, keep to the fringes of society. Hermits, herbalists, bounty hunters: tieflings gravitate toward occupations that can be supplemented by their nature.
Classes in Istao
Avengers - Many tales are told of secret cloisters that send their minions into the world to promote their agendas. Avengers prove the truth of these legends. Originally, hermitages were founded in out-of-the-way locations to contemplate the divine without worldly distraction. When the world turned dark, all but the strongest or the most sequestered were overrun. Some of those that survived owe their continuing existence to the avengers they send out to proactively deal with threats. In other cases, people who would have been happy to enough to lead quiet lives as priests take up the mantle of the avenger to fight against enemies that plague the people in general, from over-ambitious warlords to undead evil.
Barbarians - Though there are many representatives of the barbarian class in Istao, there is no one who is properly called a "barbarian." Barbarians are no more or less civilized than their fellows, and belong to no different tribes. They are warriors who at some point in their careers became possessed by one or more primal spirits. Certain spirits are attracted to those who excel at strength, courage, or warfare. This possession may have been sought by the warrior, it may take the form of a contract in the manner of a warlock, or it may be wholly unintentional.
Bards - The written word was defenseless against the time of chaos. Books were ignored and allowed to moulder away, or else they were used as fuel in the cold winters, unwanted and unread by a people with more immediate needs. Others went up in flame when the monasteries and other centers of learning that housed them were put to the torch by raiders. The most durable vessel for knowledge now is within a living mind. Lest all that was once known become lost, bards seek out, preserve, and transmit information through word and song. Some come on these way through training, inheriting a tradition passed from teacher to student. Others simply become bards through inclination, and eventually acquire the power that comes from their exposure to the continual flow of secrets.
Clerics - Numerous nobles and gentry who are not in the direct line of inheritance get sent off to study the ways of the gods. Some live out their new lives as monks and priests. Others return from the cloister and quickly forget their time there. A few manage to walk both paths, and become clerics: martial priests who inspire their followers with the promise of divine favor.
Druids - The gods are distant and only present their gifts to those privileged few who can afford to learn them. The powers of the arcane are mostly lost. However, the spirits are ever-present and sometimes give their benefits unasked. Some druids consciously seek power, and turn to the spirits because other paths are denied to them. Others simply come by it in the wilderness.
Fighters - The need for skill with weapons is something universally understood. However, fighters understand and pursue this skill deeper than most. Almost everyone uses a weapon, and many make a profession out of it, but a true fighter stands out as a rare master of this craft.
Invokers - It seems that the gods' time has passed. They are further and further removed from the common lives of the people. While it is the role of the priest and the cleric to bring the practice of divine worship back to everyday folk, it is the role of the invoker to bring the power of the gods back into the land.
Paladins - Clerics find a way to forge together their two disparate paths. Paladins merged the two ways from the start. They may be knights who take up holy orders, or members of a cadre formed to protect one of the last temples and gifted with divine power.
Rangers - Some rangers are no different from fighters, save that their chosen weapon is the bow, or a dual-wielding technique. Others are driven by a purpose, whether it is a desire to protect or to fight, and pick up their skill along the path to realizing that purpose.
Rogues - The typical rogue is someone who, in contrast to the fighter that focuses their skill on the use of their weapon, holds that the weapon is secondary to the true goal: defeating the opponent. The philosophy of these rogues is to strike quickly, stealthily, and with deadly force. Honor and fairness are less important, or perhaps scorned altogether. There are, of course, other types of rogues, ranging from sneak thieves to practitioners of nearly-lost skills to typical explorer/adventurers. However, it should be mentioned here that thievery is particularly despised in Istao. In some places, it is considered more honorable to loot the corpse of one you have slain than it is to pick someone's pockets. However, this only holds true between members of the same group, such as people who are in the same village or beholden to the same noble. There is no problem with picking an enemy's pockets, though it is usually thought better if one dispatches the enemy as well.
Shamans - Shamans do not belong to any separate tribe. The path toward becoming a shaman is not different from the path toward becoming a druid. However, where the druids take the spirits into their body, the shamans treat with them as companions. It is an even more unusual path.
Sorcerers - Perhaps most common among the remaining practitioners of the arcane, sorcerers spontaneously come into their power, or seem to. Often there is some catalyst that triggers their abilities. Many follow the stereotype of the prideful mage, but the arrogance attributed to them is not universal.
Wardens - Barbarians are possessed by primal spirits; druids evoke their power; shamans fight alongside them. Wardens are a vessel filled with the primal force of the land. They are consumed with a desire to protect it, drive away its enemies, and something more, an indescribable longing that often drives them on wandering quests seeking to find the reason behind their passions. Istao produces relatively more wardens than are seen elsewhere. RULES MODIFICATION: Istaoan wardens do not start the game with proficiency in simple ranged weapons. They do start the game with proficiency in chainmail, scale, and plate armor. Wardens may use feats to learn the use of ranged weapons normally.
Warlocks - The information to make a contract with a supernatural entity is largely forgotten, but these entities still exist in Istao and where there is a will to power, the bond might still be formed. Star pact warlocks are the fewest in number, while Vestige Pact warlocks are the most common, many coming into their power starting with a visitation by the Last King or Zutwa. However, for warlocks who very recently made their pact, there is an upsurge in the number of Infernal and Fey powers who are seeking to make contracts. BACKGROUND MODIFICATION: For warlocks using the Vestige Pact from Arcane Power, King Elidyr is not available as a vestige. Instead, the vestige of the Last King gives the same pact boon and augments.
Warlords - Once, the maneuvers, tactics, and strategy of warfare was passed down in tomes, through orders of knights, and by the teaching of learned generals. Those days are gone, and knowledge of strategy and most tactics have vanished. This state of affairs has allowed for brilliant and unorthodox personal leaders to find their own way to victory through idiosyncratic strategems. A warlord is one of those individuals in the current age.
Wizards - Keepers of the last remaining shreds of written knowledge, all modern wizards were trained in their magic by another, elder wizard. There are no schools or orders of wizards, and even the most generous wizard jealously guards his or her secrets.
Religions of Istao
Above all shine the stars, closely guarding their secrets. In the Land of the Stars dwell the gods. Whether they created the world we know or were simply the firstborn of the world, no one doubts their power and authority. There are other lands as well: the Land Below, a place of fire, chaos, and demons; the Land of Dread, birthplace of the rulers of Tyaasi; and the Land of Faerie, said to be a mortal paradise. However, few visit these places, and fewer return. What concerns most folk is the Mortal Land, Istao. Istao is not a large, or an endless, land. It is an island in a sea, and there are other large islands, though none of have traveled to or from them in many generations.
While the powers of the gods are supreme, it is quite possible that they no longer concern themselves with the goings-on of Istao. It may well be that the prayers and rituals simply automatically bestow the favors they deliver. The death struggle between the Last King and the Dread Lord was supposed be the climactic battle to decide the world's fate. Perhaps its ambiguous outcome caused the gods to turn away in disgust.
It is this pervasive sense of abandonment that colors much of the religious life of Istao. Temples and churches are more commonly remote outposts than the center of civic activity. However, just as nobody truly knows whether the deities abandoned them, there is always a sense of desperate hope, and religion still goes on.
There are two main religious traditions: the Courts of the Gods and the Rulers of the Six Heavens.
The Courts of the Gods
In this tradition, the twenty deities are divided into four Courts, representing authority, wisdom, bounty, and potential. The deities of a particular Court work closely together. The different Courts are not so much hostile to each other as uninterested: the deities of a one Court do not concern themselves with the happenings of the others. When a mortal dies, they find themselves serving in the Court that was closest to how they viewed the world. These courts and their membership are as follows:
The Court of the Scepter upholds rulership, power, and might.
Domains: justice, life, strength, war, destruction
The Court of the Crown represents intellect, knowledge, and wisdom.
The Demon God
Domains: creation, freedom, knowledge, arcana, madness
The Court of the Chalice bestows gifts and inspiration.
Domains: skill, luck, love, poison, trickery
The Court of the Pentagram provides hope, despair, potential, and oblivion.
The Raven Queen
Domains: civilization, death, vengeance, torment, hope
The Rulers of the Six Heavens
This tradition considers six gods to be important above all the others. There are six afterlives that beings find themselves in when their souls depart from Istao, and these deities administer them. The other deities serve as functionaries between these six and the rest of creation. For instance, the Raven Queen stands at the gate between life and death, determining which of the six realms a soul will enter. No decision concerning the disposition of the gods is undertaken without the unified agreement of the Six Rulers.
Asmodeus, Queen of the Fiery Heaven (This tradition holds that Asmodeus is a female, elf-like being, cheerful and callous in equal measure.)
Bahamut, King of the Mirrored Heaven
Erathis, Queen of the Woven Heaven
Ioun, Queen of the Illuminated Heaven (alternatively, Queen of the Emerald Heaven)
Moradin, King of the Ringing Heaven
Torog, King of the Black Heaven
Domains: sun, protection, darkness, strength, fate, tyranny
The details of the religious practices of the Tyaasi are mostly shunned. Gods they were known to have favored include Asmodeus, Bane, Lolth, Moradin, Kord, and Zehir.
Istaoan - The common speech of the island. Uses Istaoan Script.
The Dead Tongue - Ancient writings are recorded in this language, dating well before the Time of Kings. Mostly encountered as Davek Runes.
Draconic - The dragonborn and dragons speak this tongue, and few others. Uses Iokharic Script.
Dwarven - The language of dwarfs is well-regarded for its ability to express mechanical principles. Many guilds conduct their business in Dwarven. Uses Davek Runes.
Elven - Those who wish to treat with the denizens of the Feywild would do well to learn their language, popularly known as Elven. Uses Rellanic Script.
High Tyaasian - This language is as old as the Dead Tongue, but was still spoken by the nobility of Tyaasi up to the present. Taught in Rellanic Script.
Low Tyaasian - This language is modern Tyaasian as spoken by the common folk. Uses Istaoan Script.
Wizard's Cant - This is a secret trade tongue of magic-users, but it is also a common language among various monstrous races. Uses Barazhad Script.
Common - Replaced by Istaoan.
Deep Speech - Replaced by the Dead Tongue.
Giant - Replaced by High Tyaasian or Low Tyaasian (player's choice).
Goblin - Replaced by High Tyaasian or Low Tyaasian (player's choice).
Primordial - Replaced by Wizard's Cant.
Common - Replaced by Istaoan Script.
The currency of Istao is based on the silver standard. All players start with 100 gp. Buy equipment normally. Then, with the money left over, perform the following conversion:
1. Every gp converts to one silver sceat.
2. Every sp converts to ten copper stycas.
3. Every cp converts to one copper styca.
The full conversion is as follows:
1 golden mancus equals 100 silver sceatas.
1 silver sceat equals 100 copper stycas.
Platinum does not exist on Istao.
The following changes have been made to available equipment:
- The Standard Adventurer's Kit does not have sunrods. It contains two torches. The weight is the same, and the cost is 11 gp.
- The following items of equipment cannot be obtained as part of a player's starting equipment: hand crossbows, repeating crossbows, superior crossbows, alchemical items, consumable magic items, everburning torches, and sunrods. This applies to level 1 characters (see Level and Funds below).
- Totems are referred to as talismans.
- Holy symbols are usually dedicated to one of the four divine Courts. Holy symbols for individual deities are rare, unless they are for one of the Rulers of the Six Heavens.
- For the following items, if the character lacks the relevant class features or feats, they must address how they came to be in possession of such objects: any arcane implement, rare holy symbols, ritual books, ritual components, spell books, and thieves' tools.
- Finally, although available to starting characters, many types of equipment are not commonly found in most communities. This would include the following: heavy armor, heavy shields, maces, morningstars, longswords, scimitars, falchions, glaives, greatswords, halberds, bastard swords, katars, rapiers, spiked chains, crossbows, shuriken, craghammers, double axes, double flails, double swords, khopeshes, kukris, mordenkrads, tratnyrs, tridents, urgroshes, crossbow bolts, arcane implements, climber's kits, fine clothing, holy symbols, journey bread, lanterns (suitable for adventuring), ritual books, ritual components, silk rope, spellbooks, thieves' tools, harps, horns (suitable for bardic music), lutes, and talismans. Elanglond has a resident blacksmith, weaponsmith and forge, and so is capable of providing heavy armor, heavy shields, and the simple and military weapons from the preceding list.
Level and Funds
- Currently, PCs will start at the 2nd level of experience.
- At 2nd level, PCs will gain the following funds and equipment:
- 360 gp (silver steacas, see currency above) to purchase equipment
- one non-consumable level 1 magic item
- Some restrictions on the purchasing of certain equipment are lifted. The following equipment may now be purchased:
- alchemical items of level 3 or less
- potions of healing
- Intricate jewelry and magical items that are intricate or mechanical in nature are not available. I will deal with these on a case-by-case basis.
Istao lacks deserts and large cities.
Nobility is limited to the following races: devas (who are always adopted or appointed to the position), dwarfs (who must be from the fines of Aniriep, Aniriom, Dirdan, or Odom), elfs, half-elfs, halflings, and humans. Goliaths and eladrin may be of noble descent from within their own cultures. For the other races, a noble background is extremely unusual.
Characters may be from another plane, but this is of course extremely rare, especially if the plane of existence is one other than the Feywild or the Shadowfell. This is the only exception to the rule that characters may not be from foreign lands outside of Istao.
Merchants who trade goods for profit are not as common or well-organized as in other lands. Similarly, artisans generally do not produce advanced crafts such as glass-making or bookbinding.
There are no organized thieves' guilds, and thievery is often punishable by death. Most organized crime comes from banditry. However, some entire communities and fiefdoms are devoted to the practice.
Entertainers are highly valued, but as they are usually travelers, they are accorded the same degree of mistrust placed in all strangers.
Sailors never leave sight of the coast, and most honest sailors have had to give up their professions recently do to the appearance of the Pirate Fleet.
Military organizations are almost always the war bands of a noble, consisting of knights and warriors. Some independent mercenary companies exist, but because of the general distrust of strangers, they are not as common as they could be in a war-torn land.
A scholar is a rare profession, indeed. There are no schools or universities in Istao, so any center of learning would have to be the stronghold of an erudite noble or a monastery.
Eladrin are usually from the Feywild. The local Eladrin culture of the region of the Feywild near to Istao is as gentle as Istao's is grim. Even among other Eladrin lands, it is a rare pocket of gentle tranquility.
Half-orcs are a race unto themselves, so Firstborn is not a background option.
Shifters don't have traditional lands anymore, and they are recognized as being separate from Lycanthropes, so the Persecuted background and aspects of the City Shifter background are unavailable.
Tieflings exist on the fringes of society, and the Merchant Dynasty background is not suitable for them.