Posts Tagged With: High Men

Humans, The High Men

“Are we not cousins? I am a woman, just as you are. We both breath the same air and bleed the same red blood. I was merely drawn to the life of sword and prayer in the service of the Perilune while you have chosen a quiet life of hearth and home, raising a family – both are equally as important for the welfare of our people. We both stand as part of a circle, a circle of men and women whose span arcs across time, nations, and continents. A circle whose perimeter stands against the Dearth and all it touches. I guard bodies, and you guard hearts – who can say fights the deadlier battle?”

– Aeron Ó Leannáin, Champion of the Perilune, Sword of the Sister of Blood.


The legends of the High Men fill the lore of humanity. Some say they are the Children of ‘Aden, the “root race” that all humanity is descended from. Other tales suggest that they are descended from some combination of Humanity, Celestials, and the Fey – and there is certainly some suggestion that this is at least partially true. In any case the High Men have a undeniably blessed status in the eyes of the divine and they all suffer from an indefinable saudade that seems rooted in their long-lost origins. As a result they often occupy the places of rulers, nobles, and heroes wherever they are found, noted for the wisdom and their understanding of the human condition. While the vast majority of the High Men come from specific lineages, they have interbreed with the Common Men (and other humans) enough that occasionally a High Man is born into a family of Common Men, seemingly out of nowhere – a scion of an unknown hero from ancient days. Often, no matter what their desire, High Men are unable to avoid a life on the battlefield that is the War Without End.

Statistic Bonuses: +2 to Charisma, +1 Wisdom

Languages: Local Human Language

Appearance: The High Men, are all Medium in Size and their Speed is 30. They stand 5’0″ tall (+2d10″), and weigh 120 lbs (x2d4). Their appearance is generally the same as their cousins, though taller on average the Common Men, though they invariably are strong of limb and hale of body with an attractive appearance. Unlike the Common Men, it is unlikely for them to show signs of any other racial heritage, though when they do it tends to be a subtle suggestion of some form of Fey ancestry.

Common Dress: The High Men dress in the typical local manner for the Common Men.

Lifespan: High Men are young adults at age 15, considered mature adults at around age 25, and can live up to 250 years of age. They generally begin play at 13 + 2d4 years of age.

Common Culture: The High Men have no particular culture of their own, being part and parcel of the culture of Common Men.

Backgrounds: While any Background is acceptable for the High Men , Acolyte, Noble, Sage, and Soldier are all highly appropriate.

Naming Conventions: The High Men use the same local naming conventions as the Common Men. They are also more likely to come particularly noteworthy lineages or ancient stock. As a result the two additional, primarily religious, identifiers in names used primarily in Avalonian and Kistathian names, are often found associated with the High Men. In the Church of the Lords of Light, ‘Sanc’ (abbr. Sc.) indicates a surname associated with one of the Elect. In the Old Faith, the signifier “hyr Anciens’ marks the individual as one “of Ancient Blood” or alternately as “of the Ancients” and as having a notable and distinguished bloodline.

Common Alignments: While the High Men exhibit the full range of morals and ethics, they do have a tendency towards good alignments. Those High Men who have chosen evil can be among the most terrible of opponents, the most committed to atrocity and debauchery as a matter of life.

Common Religions: The High Men have the same religions as the Common Men, because or in spite of their spiritual heritage the High Men are often drawn to obscure branches of religions, or to idiosyncratic and deeply personal paths of spirituality. They are just as often part of or responsible for various heresies in existing religions, and in all cases are often among the most devout.

Common Classes: Preferred — Cleric, Bard, Paladin; Common — Monk, Druid, Ranger; Uncommon — Rogue, Fighter, Warlock; Rare — Wizard, Barbarian; Very Rare — Sorcerer

Common Professions: While the High Men are found across the entire human demographic, they do tend to be found following spiritual or mystical pursuits. Favored by the Gods, they are drawn to professions that draw them either into conflict with the foes of humanity or that open them up to spiritual awareness – or both.

Racial Traits

Natural Leaders: Proficiency in the Insight and Persuasion skills.

Hale of Body: The High Men also have Advantage for Saving Throws against Poison, and are Resistant to it’s effects.

Pure of Spirit: Advantage to Saves against Necrotic and Radiant Damage.

Strong of Heart: Advantage on saves against Fear.

Blessed: When a High Man rolls a 1 on an Attack Roll, Ability Check, or a Saving Throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Special Vulnerabilities: None

Psionics: Reserved

Death: Upon death, High Men travel either to the Realms of the Dead or into the service of their deity if they are holy enough. There are no restrictions on Raising or Resurrection. If Reincarnated they invariably come back as High Men, though some come back as Half-Elves, Sh’dai, or even Common Men.

Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Fixing Humans II (1e)

So there is an interesting set of dilemmas when it comes to making humans more attractive as a race – but part of this has to be role-play. As much as I can create some real benefits to playing humans, I think that strongest benefit is ultimately social. That said, there can be some differentiation when looking at humankind that goes beyond merely culture, and my game world has pretty much always done this -thanks to the influence of Tolkien. So, here are the broad varieties of humankind that exist.

The Common Men – This is the vast majority of the humanity, they are common men and women, average in build and appearance. Found across the Mortal Realms, they vary in coloring and build based primarily upon location within the Mortal Realms. For example, the Northmen of Thule are tall and blond, the Kistathians are of average height and dark in complexion and hair, and tribesmen of Zul are black of skin and hair.

The High Men – The hidden scions of Ryl Shantor, the blood of the High Men that runs through all those with blessed with the Talent. Those for whom the blood runs particularly true are fair of form and strong in body. In High Men the Talent is often linked to red hair, though not exclusively, and the bloodline can run dormant with Common Men for generations before flowering again for unknown reasons.

The Beastmen – Generally considered a primitive people, the Beastmen are often considered barely human at all with their sloping foreheads, and almost brutish appearance. They have an intentionally simple society eschewing magic and power, preferring to remain a quiet people living in simple conditions as a matter of philosophical choice after a long ago history of conquest and bloodshed. Ogres are considered to be a further devolved form of the Beastmen by many sages.

The Ithians – The rulers of the great continent of Ith, the Ithians are the descendants of the slave race of the Serpent Kings. Pale of complexion, smooth of skin, and black of hair, the Ithians are a sensuous and decadent people with a dark and hidden secret. They carry the blood of the Serpent Kings within them, and while it gives they power it also carries the seeds of their corruption. An ancient and hierarchical society, their inbreeding and dark magic often brings about chaos and insanity in the end.

The Old Race – The dreaded and fallen remnants of the first men, the scions of the First City, the Old Race do not dwell in the Mortal Realms. Instead they have wander the Paths between the Realms and weather the Maelstrom, occasionally returning to plague upon their descendants. Over time, they have developed the Talent to a extreme degree, and have a complex but evil society. Angular, thin, pierced, and tattooed the Old Race barely appear human to some.

The Feyhd – When the Great Old Ones, now known as the Five Demon Emperors, attempted to corrupt Aden, most humans were cast out into what became known as the Mortal Realms. But some, those who most fierce with anger and fear in the chaos of the War Without End, ended up in the Great Waste. The Feyhd are those humans that have survived and thrived within the lethal and dangerous testing ground that is the Great Waste, creating a people and society when only the strongest and most intelligent survive.

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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…




Categories: Game Design, Game Play, House Rules, OSR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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