Posts Tagged With: Elves

Wood Elves, the Forgladrin

“What brings you to the Forest mortal? With each clumsy step you bring death closer to it’s heart and we can hear you breathing hoarsely in the dark, panting with fear of that which you do not know and cannot understand. You came seeking treasure and you found us, the walkers of the wildways and the guardians of the Golden Wood. We stand with our brethren the Fae’hher, whom you know as the High Elves, in our Covenant against the Dearth that they unwittingly unleashed upon the world in their hubris. But where they have lost their way and become enamored of an easy life of indolence and luxury we have remained true to the traditions of our forebears, the Elvendar, the People of the Stars. We are the hunters in the dark, the midnight archers, and we wander far in our search for the taint of the Dearth in the wild lands of the Mortal Realms.”

– Fylwynlyr, Great Huntress of the Gold Wood and Slayer of the Shadow of Winter

 

The Wood Elves are in many ways the elves that are truest to the most ancient of the Elven traditions and customs. Organized by family and clan, there are few Wood Elf kingdoms in the Mortal Realms – most notably the Goldenwood and the hidden Vale of Myrten with the Great Tree that is the center of all Wood Elf culture. There are many more families and clans of Wood Elves that live hidden in woods and wild places and borders of the civilized lands, coexisting with Gnome and Humans and others. They work closely with human institutions with the goals of the preservation of the wilderness, combatting the Dearth and their minions, and the reverence of nature. They scorn urban living, as well as living underground, and have much less of a prejudice against Half-Elves than their High Elven kin.

Statistic Modifiers: +1 Dexterity, +1 Strength, -1 Constitution, -1 Intelligence

Languages: Faerie, Dark Tongue, Trollish, One Human Language, One Other Language

Size, Speed, and Appearance: Wood Elves stand 4′ 6″ tall, +2d10, and Weigh 100 lbs (x1d4) lbs.. This makes them Medium in Size and they are fleet of foot having a Speed of 35. Wood Elves are generally muscular in build, and coppery in complexion. Their hair tends to blacks and dark browns, occasionally blond while their eyes are often green, brown, or hazel. Red hair, as always, is very, very rare and is considered an ill-omen.

Common Dress: Wood Elves dress in rustic colors of browns and greens, with blues and greys more common than whites and reds. Clothing tends to be close-fitted and minimalist in order not to catch on branches or rocks and is often made of supple leathers and exotic furs and fabrics. Pants, vests, high boots or low slippers, and tightly woven cloaks and mantles are preferred. Wood Elves love jewelry, but often in the forms of torcs, bracers, brooches, and the like rather than “dangly bits” – and often adorn themselves in body paints and tattoos. Piercings are not uncommon, but not particularly common either.

Lifespan: Wood Elves are young adults at age 150, considered mature adults at around age 250, and can live up to 2000 years of age. They generally begin play at 125 + 5d6 years of age.

Common Culture: The epitome of wood elven culture is that of a semi-nomadic band that lives in the deep woods and along the ancient Dragon Paths, moving as the seasons and the mood strikes them. In truth, Wood Elves maintain a series of permanent towns that merely cycle through inhabitants, as well as similarly permanent encampments near High Elven outposts. Their one city is maintained around the Great Tree in Faerie, though the Wood Elven concept of city is almost unrecognizable as such to human eyes unless the scale were to be revealed. Wood Elves all take on the stewardship and care of their local land (driven by the instructions of their Druids) and generally keep their travels to within the bounds of the lands they watch over, and allied and friendly more often than not with other races of similar creeds and beliefs (Gnomes, humans that follow the Old Faith, etc). While the High Elves can certainly lay claim to being the most “magical” of the Elven raves, the Wood Elves are easily the most mystical – still living their lives according to the most traditional of elven codes and practices. Eating no meat save that which has been freshly caught, no plant which has not been recently harvested – a hunter-gatherer code that keeps a natural balance and prevents hoarding.

Common Backgrounds: The Acolyte, Entertainer, Hermit, Noble, Outcast, Outlander, and Ordinary Person Backgrounds are the most appropriate for Wood Elves.

Naming Conventions: Like so much else in the Faerie language, Elvish names are fluid and beautiful. Wood Elves have a complicated naming process, much of which is not shared with non-Elves simply because the nuances are often not understood. Given names are made up of several elements and can be quite long, nine or ten syllables is quite common. Surnames and septs are important, as is the relationship to birth sign and clan – which the Wod Elves place a great premium on. They do not have noble house or have membership within the Great Houses of the Elven Court – their clan chieftains and kings are afforded equivalent status. All of this is described in the following lineal taxonomy, usually presented as a single word:

<Given Name>”<Surname>ʑ(“el”)<Birth Sign>

ℓ(not discernable to human ear)<Gens>₀(“æ-“)<Sept>‽(“tua-“)<Clan>

With the younger races, Wood Elves will commonly use a shortened version of their Given Name (two or three syllables) and either the Surname or less often their Sept or Clan. Wood Elves wishing for anonymity with others, Elven or otherwise, will use one of two gens, “Forgladrin” (“Dweller of the Golden Forest”) or “Elturin” (Follower of the Stars), as a surname (or a loose translation or one or the two combined for non-Elvish speakers) – though it is considered as rude to not clarify ones actual name if asked as it is to ask for that clarification in the first place. Rank is denoted if needed or desired by various prefixes with varying cases to each Surname, Gens, Sept, and Clan.

Common Alignments: Chaotic Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Neutral, True Neutral, uncommonly Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral, more uncommonly Neutral Evil – rarely Lawful Evil or Chaotic Evil.

Common Religions: Wood Elves follow the philosophical path or personal spirituality known as Liavikor or “Ruling Passion” combined with a healthy appreciation of their living ancestors, the Elvandar. That said, there are those Wood Elves , the ‘Elin, that are closer in spirit to the Elvandar, the forebears of the Elves, and often have the abilities of Druids and more rarely as are Warlocks with an Archfey Patron.

Common Character Classes: Preferred — Bard, Druid, Ranger; Common — Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue (Scout); Uncommon – Sorcerer (Elven Scion), Warlock (Archfey), Wizard; Rare — Cleric (Knowledge, Life), Paladin (Vengeance); Very Rare — Monk

Common Professions: Wood Elven culture is one of living in harmony with nature and each other, one does not have a “profession” one merely has pursuits that you enjoy and are skilled at and the position in society that you were born in to. They commonly have skills in one or two artificer skills that they have developed over time.

Racial Traits

Darkvision: Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, Elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. Under the light of the stars, they can see perfectly normally, in other conditions they can see in dim light up to 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. They cannot discern color in darkness though, only shades of grey.

Keen Senses: Proficiency in the Perception Skill.

Gift Economy: Classic Elven culture has no concept nor any need for money, working off of a combination of mutual gifting, barter, and simply need-based distribution of goods and services. As a result, Wood Elves have little concept of currency (seeing coins instead as small, poorly-made, highly repetitive , and derivative works of “art”) and also have Disadvantage when attempting to engage in any form of trade outside of their own culture.

Contemplative Artisans: Wood Elves are also artisans that can rival the best of any other race save in one aspect, they are contemplative by nature and producing work takes them five times as long (and often longer, it is not unheard of for a elven fletcher to take a year or more to create a single arrow, working on it “as inspired”) and it also takes them five times the cost. Similarly, it takes them five times as long and cost to learn new tool sets, instruments, etc.

The Dream of Faerie: Elves have Advantage against being charmed and magic cannot put them asleep. Instead of sleep Elves meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for four hours a day. While in this Trance, Elves dream after a fashion, such dreams are mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. After resting this way Elves gain the same benefit as Humans does from 8 hours of sleep.

Elven Tradition: Wood Elves are granted proficiency in the Nature, Animal Handling, or the Survival skills.

Masque of the Wild: Wood Elves can attempt to hide even when they are lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Elven Birthright: Wood Elves are all born under one of nine birthsigns, each of which gives a boon of a different Cantrip which may be used at will as any other Cantrip. Some elves are known to have different boons, but these are the most common for the various birthsigns.

  1. Istaria (Spirit) – Guidance – These elves are known to be insightful.
  2. Firia (Fire) – Produce Flame – These elves are known for being passionate.
  3. Teria (Earth) – Blade Ward – These elves are known for being dependable.
  4. Avaria (Air) – Mage Hand – These elves are known for their curiosity.
  5. Isharia (Water) – Mending – These elves are known for their patience.
  6. Liaria (Light) – Spare the Dying – These elves are known for their compassion.
  7. Varia (Darkness) – Chill Touch – These elves are known for their perseverance.
  8. Lia (Order) – Message – These elves are known for their honor.
  9. Rania (Chaos) – Resistance – These elves are known for their spontaneity.

Fae Magic: Wood Elves are deeply magical, they all have two Cantrips, Prestidigitation and Druidcraft. At 3rd level they may cast Hunter’s Mark once per day and at 5th level they may cast Enhance Ability once per day as well. For spellcasters these spells are also always considered memorized and may also be cast using regular spell slots – and are always cast as if at the highest level of effect that the spellcaster can produce.

Born of Faerie: Wood Elves are so deeply imbued with the magic of Faerie that they need no components or focus for their Arcane or Divine magic. They may also wear Ultra Light, Light, and Medium non-metallic armors and cast spells, or enchanted metallic armors.

Elven Warrior Training: Wood Elves are all trained in the use of Longknife, Spear, and Shortbow, as well as the use of Light Armor.

Special Vulnerabilities: Wood Elves suffer from the usual stigma and fears of the Faerie Folk and are often the first target in any hostilities. Due to their ties to Faerie, High Elves are Vulnerable to Cold Iron. Wounds made by Cold-Iron are considered Poisoned and cannot be easily healed. If bound or chained, or otherwise constrained by Cold Iron they are unable to take a Long Rest, and are considered Poisoned.

Psionics: Rapport with Fey creatures, plus Beasts, including all those with Elven blood (including many of the Sh’dai, much to their disgust).

Death: Upon death, the spirit of an Elf goes deeply into the Realm of Faerie where they wait to be reincarnated. They may not be Raised or Resurrected, only True Resurrection (and Revivify) works. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as an Elf.

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Grey Elves, the Fae’lia

“Three Ages and three-hundred of your generations ago the Lord of Blades, High Prince of the Great House of the Sword, passed on the blade of his father, the athamae of our House, to his bastard half-elven son. Whether it was out of despair or out of anger we do not know but since then we have been leaderless, abandoned by our brethren in the Golden Woods and scorned by our kin in the Great Vale. Unwilling to join our sundered kin in the Shadowlands, we have made our way in the Mortal Realms, for we are the Elves of Twilight, the wardancers, the bladesingers, the Grey Elves. We are the Broken Swords who fight in the darkness when all hope is lost.”

– Neysylkentarien, Noted Duelist and Rogue

The Grey Elves are the most commonly encountered of the Fae within the Mortal Realms aside from the Gnomes. A proud and passionate people, they still resent their second-hand status in Elvish society due to the loss of their House’s athamea but aren’t yet willing to give up and swear fealty to the High Lord of the Shadowlands in response to it. But after a triple handful of elven generations, they have become something less and more than what they once were. Pragmatic, they have created their own enclaves, own kingdoms, and own society in the Mortal Realms and have ended up becoming a mediator between their kin in Faerie and the Shadowlands. It is not uncommon for children to be fostered with either set of kin, though all things being equal, at this point the Grey Elves get along better with their equally pragmatic cousins in the Shadowlands, the Sh’Achtar – and their cousins in the Golden Woods generally consider them of the same lost or corrupted ilk.

 

Statistic Modifiers: +1 Dexterity, -1 Constitution

Languages: High Elven, The Dark Tongue, Trollish, Kens, Fingerspeech, One Human Language

Size, Speed, and Appearance: Grey Elves stand 4′ 5″ tall, +2d6, and Weigh 75 lbs (x1d4) lbs.. This makes Medium in Size and have a Speed of 30. Grey Elves are generally slim in build, and somewhat light complected (though some are quite dusky in tone). Their hair tends to blacks and dark browns, while their eyes are often green or grey. Through intermarriages with their kin there are occasional blonde and white-haired Grey Elves, as well as silver and violet-eyed ones – red hair, as always, is very, very rare but is considered less of an ill-omen among the Grey Elves than among any of their kin.

Common Dress: Grey Elves have the name because they often seem to prefer hues of grey and silver compared to the yellow-golds of the High Elves or the Green and Browns of the Wood Elves. Deeper or darker jewel tones in reds, greens, and blues are also enjoyed. They also exist between the strict utilitarianism of Wood Elven garb (in leathers and strong fabrics) and the often florid or ornate (or minimalist) clothing of the High Elves in silks and gossamers. In truth they range across the whole spectrum as their needs manifest – but pants, boots, and tunics of various sorts in combination with cloaks or mantles are the most common dress, and reflect a mainly urban or travelers needs. Ritual or court garb is generally robes of some sort, while casual wear is often far more “casual” than human norms allow for when it comes to nudity. Tattoos are far more common than with High Elves, about on par with Wood Elves, and piercings are uncommon but not unheard of. Jewelry is quite common, though slightly less common than with High Elves – the focus on weapon grips keeps fingers free of rings.

Lifespan: Grey Elves are young adults at age 100, considered mature adults at around age 175, and can live up to 1600 years of age. They generally begin play at 90 + 5d6 years of age.

Common Culture: The Grey Elves are a distinct people who sit between their kin in the Elven Court of Faerie and their Kin in the Ebion Court of the Shadowlands. Despite this they have made a place for themselves in the Mortal Realms, side-by-side with humans, with the half-elves, with Elven kin, even with Sh’dai and others, refusing to go quietly into the night. A passionate people, who often feel their losses keenly and prize loyalty highly, the Grey Elves often live lives “on the edge” as adventurers, rogues, warriors – it is the rare Grey Elf that dies in bed of old age, or rarer yet finds their way to the depths of Faerie. They retain the spontaneity of their Elven kin, but have lost much of the rigid stratification of Elven society. Many Grey Elves lead lives of violence, punctuated by passionate love affairs (or visa-versa), and yearn for a place to call their own – be it a noble title and lands, a thieves guild, or a mercenary company.

Common Backgrounds: The Entertainer, Criminal, Guilded Artisan, Harlot, Noble, and Ordinary Person Backgrounds are the most appropriate for Grey Elves.

Naming Conventions: Like so much else in the Faerie language, Elvish names are fluid and beautiful. Grey Elves have a complicated naming process, much of which is not shared with non-Elves simply because the nuances are often not understood. Given names are made up of several elements and can be quite long, nine or ten syllables is quite common. Surnames and septs are important, as is the relationship to birthright, noble house, though since the rise of the Shadarin they have no Great House of the Elven Court. All of this is described in the following lineal taxonomy, usually presented as a single word:

<Given Name>”<Surname>ʑ(“el”)<Birth Sign>ℓ(not discernable to human ear)<Gens>

₀(“æ-“)<Sept>°(“næ-“)<Noble House>

With the younger races, Grey Elves will commonly use a shortened version of their Given Name (two or three syllables) and either the Surname or less often their Sept or Noble House. Grey Elves wishing for anonymity with others, Elven or otherwise, will use one of two gens, “Fae’lia” (“Elves of Twilight”) or “Elturin” (Follower of the Stars), as a surname (or a loose translation or one or the two combined for non-Elvish speakers) – though it is considered as rude to not clarify ones actual name if asked as it is to ask for that clarification in the first place. Rank is denoted if needed or desired by various prefixes with varying cases to each Surname, Gens, Sept, and Noble House.

Common Alignments: Commonly Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral, and True Neutral, Grey Elves are uncommonly Lawful Good or Lawful Evil, more uncommonly Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil. They are rarely Neutral Evil.

Common Religions: Grey Elves invariably follow the same philosophical path or personal spirituality as the rest of their kin, Liavikor or “Ruling Passion” combined with a healthy appreciation of their living ancestors, the Elvandar though they have much less contact with them due to their residence outside of Faerie. That said, Grey Elves are increasingly following the example of their kin the sh’achtar and making various and sundry pacts with powerful spirits and beings outside of the traditional purview of the Fae.

Common Character Classes: Preferred — Fighters, Rogues, Wizards; Common — Bard, Monk, Warlock; Uncommon — Cleric (E’lin), Paladin (Vengeance), Sorcerer (Elven Scion); Rare — Druid, Ranger; Very Rare — Barbarian.

Common Professions: Mercenarys, Spellblades and Battlemages, Rogues of all sorts, Duelists, Tantrics and Courtesans. Grey Elves tend to avoid common trades, but have been known to work as “Fingersmiths” – any skilled profession that involves high levels of manual dexterity like jewelers, locksmiths, clockwork engineers, etc. In general though any trade that does not involve some sort of skill-at-arms is considered somewhat déclassé if it does not involve magery or magic.

Racial Traits

Darkvision: Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, Elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. Under the light of the stars, they can see perfectly normally, in other conditions they can see in dim light up to 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. They cannot discern color in darkness though, only shades of grey.

Keen Senses: Proficiency in the Perception Skill.

Contemplative Artisans: Grey Elves are also artisans that can rival the best of any other race save in one aspect, they are contemplative by nature and producing work takes them five times as long (and often longer, it is not unheard of for a elven fletcher to take a year or more to create a single arrow, working on it “as inspired”) and it also takes them five times the cost. Similarly, it takes them five times as long and cost to learn new tool sets, instruments, etc.

The Dream of Faerie: Elves have Advantage against being charmed and magic cannot put them asleep. Instead of sleep Elves meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for four hours a day. While in this Trance, Elves dream after a fashion, such dreams are mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. After resting this way Elves gain the same benefit as Humans does from 8 hours of sleep.

Elven Birthright: Grey Elves are all born under one of nine birthsigns, each of which gives a boon of a different Cantrip which may be used at will as any other Cantrip. Some elves are known to have different boons, but these are the most common for the various birthsigns.

  1. Istaria (Spirit) – Guidance – These elves are known to be insightful.
  2. Firia (Fire) – Produce Flame – These elves are known for being passionate.
  3. Teria (Earth) – Blade Ward – These elves are known for being dependable.
  4. Avaria (Air) – Mage Hand – These elves are known for their curiosity.
  5. Isharia (Water) – Mending – These elves are known for their patience.
  6. Liaria (Light) – Spare the Dying – These elves are known for their compassion.
  7. Varia (Darkness) – Chill Touch – These elves are known for their perseverance.
  8. Lia (Order) – Message – These elves are known for their honor.
  9. Rania (Chaos) – Resistance – These elves are known for their spontaneity.

Fae Magic: Grey Elves remain deeply magical, they all have two Cantrips, Prestidigitation and True Strike. Unlike other elves they must use material components for their spells (commonly having analogs for wands as part of rings or other jewelry).   At 3rd level they may cast Wrathful Strike once per day and at 5th level they may cast Magic Weapon once per day as well. For spellcasters these spells are also always considered memorized and may also be cast using regular spell slots – and are always cast as if at the highest level of effect that the spellcaster can produce.

Born of Faerie: Grey Elves are so deeply imbued with the magic of Faerie that they may also wear Ultra Light, Light, and Medium non-metallic armors and cast spells, or enchanted metallic armors.

Elven Weapon Training: Grey Elves are all trained in the use of Longknife, Shortsword, and Longsword.

Wardancers and Bladesingers: The Grey Elves are masters of fighting with two weapons. They gain a bonus of +1 to AC when wielding a separate melee weapon in either hand. Grey Elves can also draw or store two one-handed weapons when they would normally only be able to draw or store one.

Special Vulnerabilities: Grey Elves suffer from the usual stigma and fears of the Faerie Folk as other elves and are often the first target in any hostilities. Due to their ties to Faerie, Grey Elves are Vulnerable to Cold Iron. Wounds made by Cold-Iron are considered Poisoned and cannot be easily healed. If bound or chained, or otherwise constrained by Cold Iron they are unable to take a Long Rest, and are considered Poisoned.

Psionics: Rapport with other Elves, and those with Elven blood – including many Sh’dai, much to their disdain.

Death: Upon death, the spirit of an Elf goes deeply into the Realm of Faerie where they wait to be reincarnated. They may not be Raised or Resurrected, only True Resurrection (and Revivify) works. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as an Elf.

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High Elves, the Fae’hher

“You look at us and see some reflection of our troubled cousins, the Fae’lia, which some call the Grey Elves, or our woodland cousins the Forgladrin, the People of the Golden Forest, and nothing could further from the truth. For we are the Fae’hher, the Lords of the Dawn and Grandchildren of the Stars.. We are born of the blood of our forefathers, the Elvandar, shed in the First War and nurtured with tears of joy and sorrow. We built our first towers when dragons sang across the skies and the stars were being set in their patterns and stood firm when the Sh’achtar fell into shadow. Our covenant is to stand against the Dearth that our own foolishness unleased upon the Realms in Ages past and we have done so across the long years and through such depths of time so that the kingdoms of men are but ashes of a passing flame and their lives fading smoke in the breeze. We are the inheritors of magic and lore beyond what even the wisest of humans can even fathom , and we are often placed in the position of guarding the younger races from their own worst impulses. Our memories stretch across ages, and when we have tired of these Mortal Realms we Retreat to Faerie to walk by the side of our elder kin.”

– Lord KirtarcenalruchellenefirallℓElturin

 

The High Elves are a proud and ancient people with deep ties to their brethren and forebears in Faerie. There are only a handful of true High Elven kingdoms in the Mortal Realms any more, with Silverveil and Mistvale the most accessible to the Heartlands, though the great island refuge of Starfell is also nearby for those who know how to find it. Bastions of culture and magic, these kingdoms are havens of a culture that is steeped in tradition and mysticism and they are the quickest to label one of their kin Ach’tar or Outcast. High Elves are rare outside of these lands as anything save diplomats or the even more uncommon adventurers or wanderers. Though deeply dedicated as a race to combatting the Dearth they prefer to do it on their own terms and at their own pace, not getting caught up in the often (to their eyes) short-sighted plans and efforts of the younger races. They prefer the company of other High Elves the most, with Wood Elves a distant second. Gnomes are preferable to Grey Elves, which are in turn preferable to Dwarves of any sort. Humans are often more preferable than Dwarves, but Half-Elves are disliked intensely by the majority of High Elves as part of an ancient and deeply held prejudice as strong as their dislike of the Sh’dai, Goblinkin, or the Ithians. The Dragonborn are the closest thing that High Elves see as a racial equal, respecting them as being scions of a ancient race and traditions that compare to their own.

Statistic Bonuses: +1 Intelligence, +1 Dexterity, -2 Constitution

Languages: Faerie, High Elven, One Human Language, One Other Language

Size, Speed, and Appearance: Elves stand 4′ 7″ tall, +2d10, and Weigh 90 lbs (x1d4) lbs.. This makes them Medium in Size and they have a Speed of 30. Noble Elves are generally slender in build, and bronze in complexion. Their hair tends to golden blonds and blacks and occasional dark browns, while their eyes are often golden or silver. Red hair, as always, is very, very rare and is considered an ill-omen.

Common Dress: High Elves tend to dress in robes of blues, yellows, and whites, often with metallic threading, or made of gossamer and magical silks. Jewel-tones and pastels are favorites, and other shades of color are certainly possible, though greys and blacks are avoided, as are dark reds and crimsons. They are also just as likely to wear as little as a loincloth or nothing at all if the weather permits – it is not a body-shy culture or race. That said, comfortable and beautiful clothing is valued as a part of “good living” in and of itself, and even more practical clothing for hunting or travelling (pants, tunics, cloaks, etc.) are aesthetically pleasing and form-fitting. High Elves also have a variety of forms of jewelry that are worn that mark birthright, noble house, and rank along with various items of other clothing – rings, circlets and diadems, necklaces, and bracelets are all common and popular.

Lifespan: High Elves are young adults at age 150, considered mature adults at around age 250, and can live up to 2000 years of age. They generally begin play at 125 + 5d6 years of age.

Common Culture: High Elven culture is a series of contradictions to humans, rigidly stratified in some ways, High Elves still value personal freedom and spontaneity to a degree that would cause a human society to collapse. The level of magic available makes it an almost indolent society devoted to pursuit of pleasure both physical and intellectual while a sense of manifest destiny means that High Elves regular throw themselves into combat against both evil and the Dearth when needed. Ultimately, many High Elves are free to do what they want as long as they respond to the call of their lords in times of need, and as a result of this plus long lifespans, seem content to socialize and engage in artistic and intellectual pursuits, eating the freshest of foods and the purest of drinks.

Backgrounds: The Entertainer, Harlot, Hermit, Ordinary Person, Outcast, Noble, Sage, and Sailor Backgrounds are the most appropriate for High Elves.

Naming Conventions: Like so much else in the Faerie language, Elvish names are fluid and beautiful. High Elves have a complicated naming process, much of which is not shared with non-Elves simply because the nuances are often not understood. Given names are made up of several elements and can be quite long, nine or ten syllables is quite common. Surnames and septs are important, as is the relationship to birthright, noble house, and the Great Houses of the Elven Court. All of this is described in the following lineal taxonomy, usually presented as a single word:

<Given Name>”<Surname>ʑ(“el”)<Birth Sign>ℓ(not discernable to human ear)<Gens>

₀(“æ-“)<Sept>°(“næ-“)<Noble House>α(“gæ-“)<Great House>

With the younger races, High Elves will commonly use a shortened version of their Given Name (two or three syllables) and either the Surname or less often their Sept, Noble, or Great House. High Elves wishing for anonymity with others, Elven or otherwise, will use one of two gens, “Hhertarin” (Walker of the High Path”) or “Elturin” (Follower of the Stars), as a surname (or a loose translation or one or the two combined for non-Elvish speakers) – though it is considered as rude to not clarify ones actual name if asked as it is to ask for that clarification in the first place. Rank is denoted if needed or desired by various prefixes with varying cases to each Surname, Gens, Sept, House, and Great House.

Common Alignments: Lawful Good, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, uncommonly Lawful Evil – rarely Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Evil.

Common Religions: High Elves follow the philosophical path or personal spirituality known as Liavikor or “Ruling Passion” combined with a healthy appreciation of their living ancestors, the Elvandar. That said, there are those High Elves , the ‘Elin, that are closer in spirit to the Elvandar, the forebears of the Elves, and have the skills and abilities of Clerics (commonly of the domains of Knowledge, Life, or Light) and Paladins (of the Oath of the Ancients).

Common Character Classes: Preferred — Bard (Lore), Fighter (Eldritch Knight), Wizard; Common –Cleric (E’lin), Paladin (Ancients), Ranger; Uncommon — Monk, Rogue (Arcane Trickster), Warlock (Archfey); Rare — Druid (Moon), Sorcerer (Elven Scion); Very Rare — Barbarian.

Common Professions: High Elven culture is one of indolence and luxury, one does not have a “profession” one merely has pursuits that you enjoy and are skilled at and the position in society that you were born in to. Most High Elves have at least one or two artificer skills that they know, plus skill in many games that they have developed over the years.

Racial Traits

Darkvision: Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, Elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. Under the light of the stars, they can see perfectly normally, in other conditions they can see in dim light up to 60 feet as if it were bright light and in darkness as if it was dim light. They cannot discern color in darkness though, only shades of grey.

Keen Senses: Proficiency in the Perception Skill.

Gift Economy: Classic Elven culture has no concept nor any need for money, working off of a combination of mutual gifting, barter, and simply need-based distribution of goods and services. As a result, High Elves have little concept of currency (seeing coins instead as small, poorly-made, highly repetitive , and derivative works of “art”) and also have Disadvantage when attempting to engage in any form of trade outside of their own culture.

Contemplative Artisans: High Elves are also artisans that can rival the best of any other race save in one aspect, they are contemplative by nature and producing work takes them five times as long (and often longer, it is not unheard of for a elven fletcher to take a year or more to create a single arrow, working on it “as inspired”) and it also takes them five times the cost. Similarly, it takes them five times as long and cost to learn new tool sets, instruments, etc.

The Dream of Faerie: Elves have Advantage against being charmed and magic cannot put them asleep. Instead of sleep Elves meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for four hours a day. While in this Trance, Elves dream after a fashion, such dreams are mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. After resting this way Elves gain the same benefit as Humans does from 8 hours of sleep.

Loremasters: High Elves are granted proficiency in either the History or the Arcana skill.

Elven Birthright: High Elves are all born under one of nine birthsigns, each of which gives a boon of a different Cantrip which may be used at will as any other Cantrip. Some elves are known to have different boons, but these are the most common for the various birthsigns.

  1. Istaria (Spirit) – Guidance – These elves are known to be insightful.
  2. Firia (Fire) – Produce Flame – These elves are known for being passionate.
  3. Teria (Earth) – Blade Ward – These elves are known for being dependable.
  4. Avaria (Air) – Mage Hand – These elves are known for their curiosity.
  5. Isharia (Water) – Mending – These elves are known for their patience.
  6. Liaria (Light) – Spare the Dying – These elves are known for their compassion.
  7. Varia (Darkness) – Chill Touch – These elves are known for their perseverance.
  8. Lia (Order) – Message – These elves are known for their honor.
  9. Rania (Chaos) – Resistance – These elves are known for their spontaneity.

Fae Magic: High Elves are the most deeply magical of all the races. They all have three Cantrips, Prestidigitation, Minor Illusion, and one other of their choice (from the Wizard list). At 3rd level they may cast Unseen Servant once per day and at 5th level they may cast Magic Weapon once per day as well. For spellcasters these spells are also always considered memorized and may also be cast using regular spell slots – and are always cast as if at the highest level of effect that the spellcaster can produce.

Born of Faerie: They are so imbued with the magic of Faerie, the High Elves need no components or focus for their Arcane magic. They may also wear Ultra Light, Light, and Medium non-metallic armors and cast spells, or enchanted metallic armors.

Faerie Mien: So strong is the magic of Faerie within the Elves that unless it is consciously banked and cloaked, it radiates outward in a visible nimbus of soft light that dimly illuminates a five foot radius around the Elf. If this mien is banked and cloaked, the Elf has no access to their inborn Fae Magic (including Birthright) and must use a focus of some sort for any other magic that they use.

Elven Weapon Training: High Elves are all trained in the use of Longknife.

Special Vulnerabilities: High Elves suffer from the usual stigma and fears of the Faerie Folk and are often the first target in any hostilities. Due to their ties to Faerie, High Elves are Vulnerable to Cold Iron. Wounds made by Cold-Iron are considered Poisoned and cannot be easily healed. If bound or chained, or otherwise constrained by Cold Iron they are unable to take a Long Rest, and are considered Poisoned.

Psionics: Rapport with creatures of Faerie, and all those with Elven blood (including most Sh’dai, much to their disgust.).

Death: Upon death, the spirit of a Elf goes deeply into the Realm of Faerie where they wait to be reincarnated. They may not be Raised or Resurrected, only True Resurrection (and Revivify) works. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as an Elf.

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Non-Human Cavaliers… (1e)

Yes, it’s been awhile since I posted – two different bits of family drama intruded into life and I’ve been busy. I’m woefully behind on the gaming log, and there have been some major changes that I have to fill folks in on…

But this post is about Cavaliers – specifically for non-human Cavaliers!

Yeah, I know that some folks have some serious hate for the cavalier, but I was never super-impressed by the complaints then or now…

While Unearthed Arcana says that humans, half-elves, and elves can be cavaliers, I have expanded this out to include dwarves and sh’dai as well. But like the The Elven Cavalier suggests in Dragon #114, this does require some tweaking. So, without much more discussion, here are the campaign-specific (and actually more culture-based rather than racially-based, so included are the two different versions of human cavaliers) weapons-of-choice and preferred armour selections for cavaliers.

  • Wood Elves
    • Greatbow or Longbow (First Primary), Longsword (Second Primary), Spear or Ransuer (Player’s Choice), Javelin or Shortsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: Forest Combat
  • High Elves
    • Shortbow (First Primary), Longsword (Second Primary), Spear or Polearm (Player’s Choice), Greatsword or Shortsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Plate & Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: Mounted Archery
  • Grey Elves
    • Longsword (First Primary), Battlesword (Second Primary), Fighting Knife or Shortsword (Player’s Choice); Greatsword or Scimitar (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Plate & Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when fighting Dual-Weapon
  • Humans of Aquitaine (Great Families)
    • Lance (Primary); Broadsword, Battlesword or Scimitar (Player’s Choice); Mace, Flail, or Battleaxe (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +Level when Mounted
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when Mounted
  • Humans of Aquitaine (Old Clans)
    • Longsword (First Primary); Longbow (Second Primary); Shortsword, Battlesword, or Greatsword (Player’s Choice); Lance, Polearm, or Spear (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when Mounted
  • Sh’dai (Shadowlands)
    • Greatsword or Battlesword (Primary); Fighting Knife, Shortsword or Battleaxe (Player’s Choice); Mace, Flail, or Longsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +½ Level
    • Combat Bonus: Beserker when Fighting Alone
  • Dwarves
    • Waraxe or Warhammer (Primary); Battleaxe, Hammer, or Battlesword (Player’s Choice); Fighting Knife, Mace, or Flail (Player’s Choice)
    • Dwarven Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +½ Level
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level against Giant-Class Creatures

There are a handful of other tweaks to Weapon Restrictions, Codes of Honor, etc. – but those can wait until another time…

TTFN!

D.

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Listen! Did you smell something? (1e)

People don’t realize, but AD&D has always had a Perception system and Perception checks, if you check out page’s 59 and 60 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide it has rules for both “Detection of Invisibility” and “Listening at Doors” that apply to all classes – outside of the Surprise rules or the Thief’s ability to “Hear Noise”.

This also ignores the whole set of special racially-based detection abilities of Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves, etc. and the rules for detecting Poison in the Player’s Handbook

First off, it says that Humans, Dwarves, and Half-Elves has a base 10% chance to Hear Noise, Elves and Half-Goblins have base 15%, and Gnomes have a base 20% (which matches the bonuses in the Player’s Handbook for racial bonuses to Hear Noise). Furthermore, at character creation roll a d20, on a 1 you have a +5% and on a 2 you have +10% to this base chance due to “Keen Hearing”. There is of course, no statement as to how this applies to Thieves…

Furthermore, in the Detection of Invisibility table it is a function of Level or Hit Dice as indexed with Intelligence on a matrix – starting at 17+ Intelligence and a 7th level character having a 5% chance to Detect the Invisible. At 15th level this character will have a 95% chance, and the progression is rather clunky and uneven across the matrix. But according to this, a character of average Intelligence will have about a 5% chance to Detect the Invisible roughly around name level and will have about a 50% chance at 15th level and higher.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just integrate these two things into one damn table with a more even progression?

Perhaps even something that might grant some of those of those Roguish types something even a bit more to make them a tad bit more special that just a fighter?

Perception / Hear Noise: Base 10% (Note some races have different bases)

  • Roll 1d20 at Character Generation, on a 1 you have Keen Senses and gain a +5% to that Base, on a 2 you have Very Keen Senses and have a +10% to that Base. (Note, this also gets used when checking Surprise)
  • Rogues and Warrior Monks get +5% for every odd level.
  • Entertainers and Psychics get a flat +10% to the Base.

If attempting to Detect the Invisible, characters add their Level (or creatures their Hit Dice) to their Intelligence score and multiple the result by two, they then add this to their normal Perception / Hear Noise percentage. Penalize it by -60% (-30% for Name level characters or higher), and this is the chance to Detect the Invisible.

When there is the chance to Notice Poison, easy checks (poison on a blade) tend to use the normal Perception base while determining if food or drink has been poisoned generally uses same percentage as Detecting the Invisible. This is a non-cumulative roll, and is instead merely checked against the base each relevant interval of time (usually per round of exposure).

There, now that is a simple and unified system rooted in the Dungeon Master’s Guide ideas and rules. You can use it to roll on all sorts of Perception checks if you want, but between this and the Surprise rules, you have pretty much everything you might need to figure out what people notice, and how surprised they are if they don’t. All of these percentages can be adapted to use for other related situations, and all of them can be modified up or down as the DM sees fit depending on the circumstances. I don’t tend to modify them down, but am more like to have a character roll and see how well or how badly they make it in order to dole out less or more information – but that’s also my DMing style.

D.

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Surprise! (1e)

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that I have a house-rule for Surprise in my game given that rules for Surprise in pretty much every edition of D&D before 3rd are considered kludgy and screwed-up – and for all I know 3rd and 4th are just as bad, I just haven’t played those systems so I have no clue.

Mine is an infinitely more simple system that tries very hard to keep the flavor of the original system. In short, roll 1d6 (I have my players do this individually, monsters I tend to roll in groups) – if you roll (three or more (3+) over your opponent you get a round of surprise. This is then further modified by a number of things:

  • Dexterity Reaction Modifier: -3 (for low Dex) to +3 (for high Dex)
  • Distracted: -4
  • Asleep: -8
  • Keen Senses: +1 or +2
  • Encumbrance:
    • Normal Gear (35#- and Low Bulk): No Penalty
    • Heavy Gear (70#- or Fairly Bulky):  -2
    • Very Heavy Gear (105#- or Bulky): -4
    • Encumbered (105#+ or Very Bulky): -8
  • Armour:
    • No Armour: +1
    • Wearing Chain & Plate or Plate Armor: -2
    • Wearing a Great Helm: -4
  • Intoxication:
    • Moderate Intoxication: -1
    • Great Intoxication: -5

There are also a handful of other bonuses based on class or race. Here is a representative sample:

  • Goblins: +1
  • Rangers: +1
  • Barbarians: +1 (+2 in Familiar Terrain)
  • Warrior Monks: +1 per 3 Levels
  • Rogues: +1 per 4 Levels (Bounty Hunters get an additional +1)
  • Gnomes, Half-Elves, and Elves when not in metal armour and only in the company of other Gnomes, Half-Elves, and Elves that are similarly clad, or are 90′ distant from the rest of party: +2

Now, Scouts and Barbarians still have their “Back Protection” as per the normal rules (and I give that to Warrior-Monks as well) so while they may or may not always Surprise opponents they have an additional chance to avoid being Backstabbed or Assassinated. I also tend to give hunting predators and skittish prey a bonus to their surprise rolls equal to their Hit Dice. In general, I allow Backstabs and Assassinations when there is surprise – and this lets Rogues be somewhat more combat effective (though not overly so). This system seems to work pretty well, and it replaces all of the oddly mismatched dice of the different character classes and gets rid of the utterly contradictory rules in the Player’s Handbood and the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Enjoy!

D.

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High Men, Psionics, and Psionicists (1e)

So, James has posted today about the Psionicist over at Grognardia. I’ll add on to say that it is one of the ways that I’ve handled psionics in my game world – and certainly the major way that players have had psionic characters in my game for a while now. Coincidently I’ve been thinking about psionics the last couple of days and came up with a new tweak that I like and that makes more sense to me from both a character development and a game balance perspective.

Personally, I never had a problem with psionics in AD&D, first I was reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series at a young age because my mother loved them and they were sitting in the huge pile of speculative fiction that inhabited our house (along with the rest of the books the bibliophiles that my parents were had collected). The simple fact is that psionics hardly ever came up, what was noticeable was that they were often something that either immediately doomed a character because psionic encounters really, really suck or foretold a long and successful career because certain abilities just made the characters quite powerful. This was a s true of the psionicist as it was of the psychic but actually emphasized the “psionic encounters suck” end of things because the progression was slowed down so much.

You’ll notice that Brother Illya is a “High Man” (aka Deryni aka Dúnadan aka Comyn aka whatever) and is a multi-classed Psionicist/Warrior-Monk (currently 3rd/3rd) while a couple of other characters are listed as “Minor Psychics” and “Psychics”. The “Minor Psychic” is a new category that I essentially invented when I came back to AD&D after running my own rules system to cover those races that I wanted to always have some innate psychic Talent to model certain abilities but without giving them the full range of psionic abilities automatically. High Men only count as roughly about 5-10% of the population and are considered to be the true scions of nobility – paradoxically because having the traces of blood of angels, elves, dragons, whatever running through their veins that grants them the mixed blessing and curse of psychic ability violates the taboo against inter-racial sexuality that the “civilized” races have in my game world.

Psionicists work pretty much as they do in the article, save that they use my attribute of “Talent” instead of the IWC (Intelligent-Wisdom-Charisma Average) to determine Psionic Ability – everything else is the same. High Men are able to multi-class as Psionicists with any other single class, and suffer the same 10% XP penalty per class as non-humans. Also, Psionicists automatically have the Minor Devotions of Rapport and Lights in addition to the other Disciplines gained as a result of advancement. At one point in the very distant past I allowed Psionicists to choose thier Devotions, Sciences, and Arts – but at this point I insist that they roll them like everyone else.

Psychics are pretty much the way psychics are written up into the Players Handbook, with the addition of automatically having the Minor Devotions of Rapport and Lights. I interpret the advancement for multi-class characters to occur as one ability (Minor Devotion or Major Science, all Minor Devotions first) to be added each odd level, the same as for single-class characters, but the multiple classes are added together to determine “level” rather than using the highest level class or some other arcane formula to determine how many abilities had been learned. This would also represent the abilities of “untrained” High Men if someone wanted to play one without multi-classing as a Psionicist. The chance for any non-human to be Psychic is the same as the basic roll from the Players Handbook – with the stipulation that Talent must be 16 or higher. This is limited to those races who even have the potential – Dwarves, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Sh’dai – Elves and Ithians are either Minor Psychics or Psionicists, never half-way. As an odd note, two “human” races are automatically considered Psychic if they do not specialize as Psionicists, the “Old Race” and the “Feyhd”.

One other note, only characters who choose to be multi-class as Healer/Psionicists can start with Cell Adjustment at 1st level, and other Psionicists or Psychics may only take it if they roll high enough to “Select One” on the table – and may only do it with my permission.

(As I write this, I think I’m just also instituting a rule that Psychic characters suffer a 10% XP penalty “as if” they had another character class as a multi-class. That’s another nice bit of balance for the benefits that you get for the abilities. If you are Psionicist, you already get it, and if you are a Minor Psychic the “benefit” is really not much compared to the potential downside for most adventurers.)

Minor Psychics have only the abilities of Rapport and Lights – as given in the Psionicist article. They can use all forms of psychic item, device, or consumable just like a Psychic or Psionicist. They only have one Defense Mode (G- Though Shield) and they only gain one Attack Mode (A – Psionic Blast) at 2nd level. None of this is rolled, either your race is considered “Minorly Psychic” or it isn’t. This is mainly Elves, Half-Elves, Sh’dai, and Ithians. Perhaps strangely, bit Gnomes and Dwarves are not Minor Psychics, their gifts manifest as thier other abilities to detect stonework, etc.

Psychics and Minor Psychics roll for Psionic Ability using the following formula: 1d100, plus one for point of Talent, plus one for each point of Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and Power over twelve. If two of the five attributes are above 15 then the “bonus” points are doubled, if three then they are tripled, if four, quadrupled; and if all five then the bonus points to the d100 roll are quintupled.

Here is the tweak for Psychics and Minor Psychics that I just realized this past weekend made much more sense. Instead of rolling to determine what the Attack and Defense Modes are known, just ruling that Defense Modes are gained at the rate of one for every odd level (and Defense Mode G being the first automatically gained at 1st level) and attack modes are gained at the rate of one for every even level. Psioncists advance as the table in the article.

It’s worth noting that I also consider Illusionists to use “Mentalism” rather than Arcane Magic or Divine Power, along with Oracles (Dragon #53) and Timelords (Dragon #65). This means that “Magic Resistance” doesn’t work against these “spells” (though for certain extra-planar creatures I have ruled that they have equivalent “Mentalism Resistance”). In some ways this might makes things more powerful for Illusionists, but at other times it means that a simple Thought Shield prevents them from doing much of anything worthwhile…

Ouch!

TTFN!

D.

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So who does my character worship..?

So, ckutalik over at Hill Cantons has a nice post about religion and gaming. Now, what many folks don’t know about me is that at one time I seriously considered a career as a minister, though my Calling found another expression eventually. With that piece of information in place, you can imagine that religion and spirituality play an important place in my game worlds.

I’ve really run the gamut. In the old days, the very early days, I took a page from Katherine Kurtz and ran with a direct analog of the Catholic Church – which was also rather nice because I used the Deryni in my game world as well. The “Old Faith” was an amalgam of Celtic myth and modern NeoPaganism, and pretty much all real world religion existed in one form or another – there was the “Church of the Divine Couple” for the Egyptian mythology, and the Northmen worshipped the Norse and Finnish Deities. Pretty much if it was in Deities and Demigods I was willing to include it. I also ran with the Greyhawk deities as they came out, the Forgotten Realms deities when they came out, and I have always used the Cthulhu Mythos as well as the Moorcockian Courts of Chaos. For the nonhumans I pretty much ran with whatever the “flavor of the day” was, though it was always somewhat oddly incorporated at times to try to make sense of the multiple different, “hard polytheistic”, pantheons.

But currently, religions and spirituality have gone through a handful of more recent evolutions as I’ve tried to get away from “ripped from reality” and more “inspired by reality” combined with “entirely fabricated”…

To start with big bag guys, the ones that pretty much everyone agrees are worth banding together to fight against are the Five Demon Emperors and the servants of the Dearth as worshipped by what is commonly known as the Cult of Shator under the auspices of the King in Yellow. These are combination of the Great Old Ones or the Outer Gods of the Cthulhu Mythos. Their very existence, even as a thought, brings corruption and destruction to multiverse. More than unbridled Chaos, more than simply Entropy, they are literally Nothingness made manifest. (Evil)

One of the oldest human religions is known as the Heptarchy by sages, a pantheon of seven deities made up of the Lady Night and her children, and the Twin Brothers of the Perihelion (and their dark triplet) and the Three Sisters of the Perilune. Found in both urban and rural settings, the Heptarchy is quite popular, though each deity maintains it’s own religious hierarchy. Relationships between the deities and their cults vary, but are generally neutral or good as none of the deities are in active conflict or direct opposition – save perhaps the relationship between the Midnight Sun and his two brothers.

There is the Old Faith – a pantheistic worship of nature, it’s cycles and its elements, the manifest spirits of which are often referred to as “the Old Powers” by both humans and the gnomes. The Old Faith is highly organized, with twin orders of male and female druids, along with the a variety of warrior societies (most famously the Rangers) organized into lodges. (Generally Neutral)

Then there is the Society of the Light – a religion originally inspired by Augustine’s notion of the “City of God” and then mixed in with healthy doses of early Jewish, Christian, and Islamic custom and belief along with a good dash of Sikhism. It is marked by a hierarchical relationship of mortals and the Sarim (the ruling angels), overseen in the Mortal Realms by the Council of Devas in Kistath. It has a multiple Rules, and one significant heresy (the Trinitarians) based on the actual spiritual and physical union of mortal and angels. (Mostly Lawful Good and some other Goods and Neutrals)

In opposition to the Society of Light there is what is often termed “the Horned Society” – the cults and organizations devoted to the Fallen (Angels) in what is in many ways a mirror image of the SOL. The War in Heaven and the Fall was fundamentally one of philosophical difference in how to pursue the War Without End against the Dearth. (Mostly LE, some other Evils and Neutrals)

In Thule, the worship of the Freyja the All-Mother is most popular. The pantheon, the Æsir, is greater than just the All-Mother, but after the Ragnarök there were few survivors and Freyja was the greatest among them and took the high seat of Hliðskjálf. Her servants, the Valkyrja, continue to choose the worthy among the slain to serve her as einherjar in Valhalla. (Generally Good and Neutral)

The Khemeti are also known as the Church of the Divine Couple, the Khemeti are among the eldest of the organized religions – perhaps not even originally of humankind. It is said that the Khemeti arose out of the Great Chaos at the beginning of Creation when Ptah and Ma’at created a sense of Order and Logic in the random Chaos. Currently they are worshipped primarily in Kistath, they have a very small Cult in the Heartlands and are essentially nonexistent in Thule. (Lawful)

The elves have, at their heart, a spirituality that is governed by “Li’vicor” or the idea of “Ruling Passion” or “True Will” – while at the same time having an appreciation for the universe that is similar to the pantheistic view of the Old Faith combined with a respect for the “E’lin” (the “Elect”) who seem to have a special relationship with what the Old Faith would call the Old Powers. (Good)

The dwarves don’t speak of their spirituality or religion, but seem concerned with “forging their souls” and “anvil of the world” by those outsiders that they trust enough to speak about such things with. They also have a great venerance for the living stone and their ancestors, how this all fits together is unknown. (Lawful)

There is also the En Khoda Theos Kirk – the Dragonborn’s Kirk (Church) with its worship of the four “Great Dragons” that are generally thought to encompass various aspects of the natural world and the elements. A complex religion, there is no higher authority than each kirk’s Dorje (priest), and it is a deeply contemplative religion that focuses on meditative practice, often in a monastic or other secluded setting. Primarily followed by the Dragonborn it is also followed a surprising number of members of other races and small Kirks can be found in most major cities. (All Alignments)

The Teotl is the pantheon of the Old Gods of Ith. A bloody state religion marked by human sacrifice and the veneration of the Ithian Serpent Folk. Of all the major human religions, it is the one that is closest in some ways to the philosophies of the non-human races and has it’s roots in the mysticism of the Serpathians.  (Neutral and Evil)

The goblins, ogres, and trolls worship the Formorians, a collection of beings known as “the Goblin Court”. Generally hateful and destructive, the Goblin Court is still opposed to Dearth and Arras-Kol, the Great Goblin, is ever vigilant for the seeds of corruption in his children. (Evil)

The Lords of Chaos – The greatest of the powers of Chaos, sometimes known as the Wyld, often accept worship and service in exchange for favor. With some of their members being corrupted by the Dearth (known as the Forsaken, Tiamat and Typhon), they are quick (perhaps overly quick) to act against the Five Demon Emperors. (Chaotic)

Then there are the Godlings, sometimes known as the Disparate Names, a mixture of demigods, quasi-deities, and lesser deities that work alone, in conjunction with, and in opposition to themselves and the other pantheons. They are commonly described and organized in what is called the Lords Tarot, though this may be a purely human invention rather than a true reflection of the Godlings actual relationships (All Alignments).

Finally, opposing and at the same time including the Dearth are the Bel En Khoda – the Thirteen Great Gods. These are almost like reified Platonic Forms. Though, truthfully, this isn’t worship (save in the Shadowlands where the Unborn are revered above all), but their presence is always acknowledged, by everyone with any level of mystical or magical knowledge, and many mystical or spiritual organizations are essentially organized around a philosophical allegiance to one of them even if it doesn’t exactly qualify as “worship”. (All Alignments)

I’ll probably detail those out more in future posts.

TTFN!

D.

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A Giant Among Elves… (4 Sessions so far)

And yes, Tier is – a seven foot tall, five inch (or so) tall Grey Elf.

There is a story behind that actually. Way back in Session #6 there was an Obelisk, and it ended up sending three characters off. Tier ended up in the Shadowlands, what somebody inventing the Shadowfell must have plundered from my brain while I slept – except mine is far, far cooler. In that session he gained a point of Constitution, but also four inches (taking him to a solid 6’6″) in the process.

In any case, Tier ended up captured by slavers, and after being run through his paces at the local ludus and earning the sobriquet “Cries for Blood” he was purchased by the master sh’dai swordsman known as Darkness at Noon, the Dueling Hawk of the mysterious lilim called Gyrmawlkyn, the Lord of Hali, Master of Carcosa, and Bearer of the Dread Sword of the Hyades. Taken back to Carcosa, he trained for a short period of time with both Darkness at Noon and the albino mage called Ice and after ten successive (and obviously successful) bouts was granted an audience with the odd creature who owned him.

Tier had been informed previously that the Lord of Hali had a habit of training gladiators and then sending them to the great Arena at Khazan where they would have the opportunity to fight for their freedom. His reasons for this are unknown, but it seems to play into his political machinations in the Halls of the Ebon Council and his rivalry with the dread Leo’trahh, Grand Maestra of Death, and Demi-Empress of Khazan and it’s environs. Upon his audience, Tier was granted the choice to stay in the service of the Lord of Hali or the opportunity to travel to the blood-stained city of Khazan and fight there for his freedom. Tier chose to travel to Khazan, and was told that in the event that he won his freedom he was welcome to return as he wished to take service or merely to guest for a time. Taking both his leave and a selection of advice from Darkness at Noon, Tier then traveled to Khazan and entered the Arena.

Now, understand that I have essentially a direct AD&D analog to the T&T module, rolling the same tables and having the same events and odd possibilities for non-combat resolution of various of the rolled encounters. It also gives the ability to purchase enchantments and spells for his weapons at a high cost – as well as needing to pay for healing. This certainly proved incredibly valuable for Tier, because his first two encounters were possibly the two worst in the game. All he has to do is win three battles and he’s free – and at that point gets the chance to sign up for seven more in order to try to win an audience with Leo’trahh.

The first battle was with the with a shoggoth. Yes, a Shoggoth. In T&T, this is a crazy gawd-awful creature – in AD&D it’s darn near as bad (I happen to have the good edition of Deities and Demigods) and when I combine some of the elements from Call of Cthulhu it’s certainly one of the nastiest things you can run into. But the module give the player a small chance to win the fight without even having to engage in combat, a successful Intelligence check and Luck check grant the player not only the knowledge that shoggoth’s enjoy piccolo music but the presence of a piccolo on hand! So there is one shoggoth dancing ponderously on the sands of the arena to the great amusement of the crowd – and Tier winds his first fight.

Needless to say, the odds were far against Tier this fight and he got a roll on the “Special Magical Weapon” table instead of getting a monetary award. It is worth saying that Arena of Khazan was kind of notorious for having some incredibly overpowered magical weapons as potential rewards off of this table – and when I say overpowered I mean that these would likely be considered very unbalanced artifacts in many settings. T&T was far more four-color than most games though, and I’ve always liked them. Heck, I recognize a couple of them from SD’s world – so I know how some people managed get ahold of them!

In any case, Tier was granted a “Great Kris” for his valor and luck – it is a +3 Elven Shortsword that grants the wielder immunity to 1st- through 3rd-level spells. Powerful, but not massively so compared to some of the things I could have rolled up…

So then we are on to round number two, and what does my son roll up?

A Balrog.

It’s kind of a toss-up if a shoggoth or a balrog is worse in T&T, but imagine a cross between a Type VI and a Fire Giant and you pretty much have it in a nutshell. Now, in the module, the Balrog is so sure of itself that it just stands there and lets the character strike first – actually challenges them to. Tier is no idiot, he takes his chance and runs up to the damn thing and lashes out with sword and dagger (being a two-weapon fighter). This thing has 90HP, and through a combination of pre-bought spells boosting his weapons and two fantastic rolls (I swear, his dice are blessed at times) he nails the thing for 66HP of damage – and then in the following round beat the things initiative and do the 24HP of damage needed to drop it.

If I had false teeth I would have dropped them in my lap, he’s a 4/4 Fighter/Mage with 32 HP and he just killed a roughly 20HD creature.

The crowd goes wild, and off he trots up to claim his reward – which is another roll on the Special Magic Item table. This is where I really had to sort of adapt something, so the “Bottle of Warrior Juice” (which doubles the characters Strength and Constitution in T&T) became the “Elixir of Ares” and there a 50/50 chance that it will give the player 1-3 levels in a Fighter class or grant them a +1 to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. Tier, of course, rolls the attribute bonus and given his already existing stats now has a Strength of 19, a Dexterity of 18, and a Constitution of 19.

But… I rule that this also increases his height by 1d12 inches – and he rolls a 11.

So now we have a 7’5″ tall elf.

I wish I could say that his third fight was as exciting. There was a beautiful elvish mage of some sort in a silver robe with a silvery-grey staff, after spurning the opportunity to either spare her or throw himself at her mercy – she let loose three salvos of five Magic Missiles apiece and Tier was done for (somebody forgot about his Great Kris)…

Luckily he had reserved some cash for this event and he was saved from being monster-chow, but having lost that fight, he still had to win one more before he was free.

It was a kobold.

Really.

So, with his hard-won equipment and prizes, plus a paltry 100sp tossed to him for winning his “fight” with the kobold, Tier has been released into freedom in the great city of Khazan, on the borders of the Shadowlands and Great Realm of the Dead. He’s not exactly sure how to get home, or what would happen to him when he managed to get there, but he has his freedom and a rather high level of notoriety!

We’ll see what he does next – this was kind of perfect set of crazy events for a 14-year old. Hopefully he can maintain his run of luck!

D.

Categories: Campaign, Campaign Development, Game Play, House Rules | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Elven Weaponry and Equipment (1e)

So, one of the ways that I enjoy making various races seem and feel quite different from each other is to make their equipment different and special – mundane, Masterwork, quasi-magical, as well as the “common” magical items that race creates. So, ignoring the “common magical items” for the moment, here is a listing of a few for the elves.

Now, in the case of the Elves, even their “mundane” items are significantly better than human construction – the result of time out of mind spent on minute refinements of design and technique. Each item made by elves are themselves works of art that a human artisan would weep to produce even one of during their life. In the Mortal Realms these are quite difficult to come across and often command incredible prices. One of the greatest features is that all Elven weapons are treated as if they were either silver or cold iron for the purposes of hitting certain creatures. They aren’t actually made of such materials (many elves being quite susceptible to cold iron) but the inherent enchantments that come from their construction methods and the exotic, non-rusting “Elven Steel” used.

All of these items are rarely available in the Mortal Realms and have Exotic availability. The prices listed are reflective of this and the fact that the elves themselves maintain a primarily gift economy rather than a market or barter-based system. It is also worthwhile noticing that many of those found in the Mortal Realms have been constructed in places like Mistvale or Silverveil – those items with an actual Faerie provenance can command even greater prices to collectors.

Elven Longknife: A long-bladed, single-edged blade of roughly 12″ overall length, the Elven Longknife is balanced for throwing (ROF: 2, Ranges: 1″/2″/3″) and grants an additional +1 to Parry. Due to its size, Surprise attacks can be made in melee combat if it is thrown at an opponent – very few expect such a weapon to balanced for throwing! Damage: 1d6/1d6, 20sp.

Elven Shortsword: While there are multiple styles of Elven Shortsword, they all have a number of similarities; a slightly curved blade, a chisel-point, single-edged, and roughly two-and-half feet in overall length. Their use tends to be limited to warriors and some ritual use. Damage: 1d8/1d10, 250sp.

Elven Longsword: Similar to the Elven Shortsword, there are multiple styles with the same shared profile, save that the overall length is roughly four feet. The Elven Longsword is reserved for warriors, the epitome being the “Wind Blade” of the “Wind and Fire” matched sets of Long and Short swords. Damage: 1d10/2d8, 750sp.

Elven Battlesword: The elven version of the single-edged Hand-and-a-Half Sword, it is an elegant weapon of war that has a typically Elven slightly curved and chisel-pointed blade roughly three-and-half feet in length, often around four-and-half feet on overall length. Like all Battleswords it has Cleaving and +1 to Strike when used two-handed, but due to its balance it merely incurs a -2 Initiative penalty rather than being forced to strike in Post-Rounds. In order to be used single-handed it requires a Strength of 11+ and a Dexterity of 11+. Damage: 1d12/3d6, 600sp.

Elven Greatsword: Roughly six feet in overall length, the slightly curving, single-edged four-foot blade of the Elven Greatsword is amazingly delicate for the damage it deals out. Like all Greatswords it is +1 to Strike, has Cleaving, and must be wielded with two hands. Due to its balance it merely suffers a -4 to Initiative penalty rather than being forced to strike in Post-rounds. Damage: 1d12/2d12, 1000sp.

Elven Spear: Between six and seven feet in length, the Elven Spear is made of strong, resilient silver-white wood with a broad-bladed tip. It may be thrown (ROF1, Ranges: 2″/3″/5″) with such accuracy that it seems to fly through the air, though it’s strength and keen bladed head allow it to almost be used as a polearm in melee combat. Damage: 1d8/1d10, 10sp.

Elven Longbow: Prized by archers of all sorts, the silvery-grey wood of the Elvish Longbow is distinctive from a distance – which is excellent given their increased range (ROF:2, Ranges: 9″/16″/23″). Commonly etched and carved with minute designs, the Elves name their bows and treat them with the same level of honor as Humans view their swords and Dwarves their axes and hammers. In combination with Elven Arrows these bows, and the archers that use them, are deadly. Damage: As Arrow, 600sp

Elven Greatbow: The epitome of the Elven bowers art, the Elven Greatbow is prized by their archers and reserved for the most skilled among them. Like the Elven Longbow, the range is greater than a normal (ROF:2, Ranges: 10″/16″/26″) and many are prized heirlooms of their bearers. Damage: As Arrow, 900sp

Elven Arrows: Finely made and balanced, Elven Arrows grant a +1 to Hit and are most commonly found as Standard, Bodkins, and Broadheads. Damage: +1d4/+1d4, 5sp (Any Type)

Elven Chainmail: Made of a fine mesh of strong chain links, this can be worn and hidden underneath clothing successfully. Non-Bulky, 30lbs, 12″ Move, AC5, 1500sp.

Elven Chain & Plate: Made of fine elven chain as well as delicate plates and exquisitely articulated joints and often etched and inscribed with fantastic designs, to human eyes this almost appears like costume armour. Fairly Bulky, 50lbs, 9″ Move, AC3, 5000sp.

Elven Cloak: A tightly woven, but supple and soft cloak of a neutral greyish-greenish color, the Elven Cloak provides a +2 to Surprise checks in natural surroundings. It also grants a +25% to “Hide in Shadows” attempts for Rogues in the same settings. It is amazingly strong and warm while also allowing the wearing to “breathe” quite easily – it is considered the most favorable form of clothing for either cold climates and the wearer does not suffer any penalties when wearing it in warm ones. 1000sp.

Elven Boots: Finely made and delicately embossed leather, Elven Boots and quite study despite their appearance. They are also quite comfortable and easy to move in, and due to their suppleness provide a +1 to Surprise rolls and a +25% to Move Silently for Rogues. 1000sp.

Elven Cordial: Spicy and strong, with a cleansing finish, this shimmering drink with faint silver and emerald sparkles is one of the most common of elven drinks. Elven Cordial heals 1d4, grants the ability to make an additional save vs. Poison if there is any within their system, and grants an additional save vs Disease and Parasitic Infection. It also provides the drinker halves the need for water for a 24 hour period of time. It commonly comes in leather-wrapped crystal decanters that hold five quaffs. 500sp per quaff.

Elven Waybread: Light and airy, with a honey-sweet and nutty flavour, these crisp wafers are prized by all for their taste, let aloe their nutritional properties. Carefully wrapped in leaves, an unbroken wafer provide all of the nutrition needed for a full day of hard exertion (broken wafers are only half as effective). A weeks worth fits neatly in a beltpouch – when you can find it! 10sp per wafer.

Elven Spellcrystal: While the Fae have always written in formats that humans and other races would recognize, they also record information in crystals that can be accessed by entering the proper meditative state and using the facets and the mystical qualities of the crystal as a staring pattern. When used as a spellbook, a typical spellcrystal can store significantly more information in a much smaller (and more resiliant) package. An Elven Spellcrystal can easily record 500 levels worth of spells. 10,000sp

On a more Dungeon Masterly note, this makes (along with Dwarven, Gnomish, and other racial gear) a great way to hand out quite useful items that aren’t super-magical but still have quite a bit of umami to them.

Categories: Campaign, Campaign Development, Game Design, Game Play, House Rules, Magic Item | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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