Posts Tagged With: Humans

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 them, and are Resistant to their effects.

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

Strong of Heart: Immune to 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.

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Humans, The Serpent Folk of Ith

“You really have no idea what you’re doing do you? You think that because you’ve won out against these weak northern assassins and spies that you are ready? Haven’t you heard of the Poisoning of Imris? Ithians are bred of a thousand, thousand generations of intrigue. They can whisper so softly in the ear of your best friend that they become the most casual of enemies, a lover becomes crazed attacker, and the unknowing simply follow orders without even know that they are. Worst yet, you will never know who is the quick-witted agent or their dim-witted dupe. Never trust an Ithian, their words are poison and their poisons are worse.”

-Azperi, Bastard Ithian Half-Blood, Mercenary and Duelist

The Ithains are the scions of the Serpent Kings, the descendants of the human slaves of the elder kingdom of the Serpathians. While human in many respects, the miscegenated blood of the Serpathians also flows in their veins, and this has left its reptilian mark. Degenerate and monstrous abominations are occasionally born and hidden away by their families, or used in dark and secretive rituals designed to further the aims of the Eternal Emperor. The Ithians rule over the remnants of the Serpathian Empire, wise in ancient lore and antediluvian secrets – and ever in fear for the return of their ancient masters. They rule as their masters did, though fear and sheer mystical power and psychic force, from oppressive basalt towers and cities in the jungles of Ith over legions of slaves who keep them in decadent and glorious splendor. Considered a cold and dispassionate people of monstrous appetites (literally), capture by Ithian slavers is almost as feared a fate as being taken by the Sh’dai.

Statistic Modifiers: +1 Charisma, +1 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom

Languages: Ithian, Demonspeech

Size, Speed, and Appearance: Ithians are all Medium in Size and their Speed is 30. They stand 4’8″ tall (+2d10″), and weigh 110 lbs (x2d4). Both sexes tend to have a slender and muscular builds, with alabaster or ivory skin – often with scattered fine scales that does not tan in the slightest. They tend towards either human beauty or a monstrous grotesquerie. Body and facial hair is non-existent in Ithian pure-bloods, and they are often bald or have minimal head hair. Those that can grow a head of hear have exceedingly straight locks cultivated very long to show off, usually in black or some shade of white. It is not uncommon for Ithians to have a long forked tongue like a snake, or serpent eyes of amber or green.

Common Dress: In their homeland, Ithian dress is minimalistic, primarily consisting of loincloths, silken robes, and bare skin due to the heat and the desire to flaunt their serpentine traits. In other lands they dress far more modestly, both for warmth and for privacy. Jewelry tends towards body piercings (often mimicking scales), bracelets, and necklaces – though tattooing is uncommon and seen as declassee compared to actual scales.

Lifespan: Ithians are young adults at age 15, considered mature adults at around age 25, and can live up to 250 years of age before they either die or begin to transform into some else... They generally begin play at 13 + 2d4 years of age.

Common Culture: The Ithians are an ancient and proud people of deeply held traditions – and a brutal, decadent society that reflects their own origins as a slave race of the Serpathians. This racial trauma plays out in the treatment of their own slaves, as well as their deeply held paranoia about the Serpathians. The rulers of their own Empire, built upon the ruins of the Serpathians, the Ithians have castes of warriors, priests, sages, nobles, merchants, and slaves. They thrive on secrets and intrigue, deception and indulgence, seeing life as an eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth – life feeding on itself to beget more life. Bloodlines and family relationships are carefully traced and recorded – though incest and bastardy is common and merely cause for note rather than any automatic disqualification or inherent prejudice. Ithian life is a chaotic and confusing mess of serene and detached contemplation marked by orgiastic frenzies of incest, bloodletting and other debauchery. For the Ithian, all is permitted with the proper ritual, the correct payoff, or the right blackmail.

Common Backgrounds: Ithians are commonly of the Acolyte, Criminal, Harlot, Noble, Outcast, Sage, and Soldier Backgrounds.

Naming Conventions: Ithians have simple given names, with surnames that derive from their caste. Professional and noble titles are considered quite important – and in the lower castes may even be used as a given name or surname. Names are inspired by Indic and Mesoamerican source material.

Common Alignments: While the Ithian Empire is a tradition-rich, even hidebound institution, the indulgent and self-serving nature of Ithian’s themselves, combined with a ruthless desire for power and disregard for the life and freedom of other brings a fair amount of chaos to what would normally be a Lawful Evil society. As a result, individuals that survive and thrive are most commonly Neutral Evil (with the worst offenders being Chaotic Evil) – Chaotic Neutral, Lawful Neutral, and Neutral are also common and probably provide the stability that ancient empire needs to survive. Few Ithians rise above their beginnings to actually have or maintain a Good alignment.

Common Religions: Religion in the Ithian Empire is a curious thing, with ancestor worship through the person of the Eternal Emperor as the representative of the Great Devouring Serpent, being the primary form of organized religion (as an often bloody variant of the Old Faith). Other religions are often ruthlessly suppressed, and the only ones that have any real foothold is the Church of the Lords of Light and the Horned Society.

Common Classes: Ithians prize raw magical and psychic power. Preferred — Monk, Sorcerer, Rogue; Common — Barbarian, Fighter, Warlock; Uncommon — Wizard, Druid, Ranger; Rare — Paladin, Cleric; Very Rare — Bard

Common Professions: Ithian culture is part of a deeply traditional society with tightly regulated caste system. In this system, pure-blooded Ithians sit at the top, almost exclusively of the aristocratic and ruling classes – the middle and lower classes are comprised of Common Men and Ithians of mixed breeding. As a result, Many Ithians have no profession and are used to a life of luxury as a sybarite. Outside of their homeland, Ithians are commonly encountered as merchants and diplomats, occasionally as travelling wizards and sages – alternately they are outcasts due to some political misstep or other infraction on the laws and traditions of the Empire. Ithians can often trade on their race to become poisoners and spymasters for those in other lands.

Racial Traits

Darkvision: Due to their heritage from the Serpent Kings, Ithians can see in dim light up to 30 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. They also have Blindsight at the range of 10 feet, this does not allow them to discern details of appearance it does allow them discover many features and characteristics.

Serpent Blooded: Ithians are Immune to Poison.

Snake Lords: Ithians are able to communicate with snakes and serpents of all kinds and they are considered to under the effects of an Animal Friendship spell at all times.

Magic Resistance: All Ithians have Advantage on saving throws against spells and magical effects.

Legacy of the Serpent Kings: Strong and innate Psychics, an Ithian’s natural psychic abilities are based on Charisma and do not require material components, and are not considered magic per se. All Ithians have the Prestidigitation, Friends, Message, Mage Hand and Poison Spray Cantrips. Upon reaching 3rd level they may cast Suggestion once per day, they may use it an additional time per day for every odd level after that. All of these are Psychic in nature.

Special Vulnerabilities: Beyond social prejudice and stereotyping from the Common Men and other races, Ithians have Disadvantage on all saving throws against Serpathians. Furthermore, Ithians all suffer from an inbred, psychic Dominate Person effect that any Serpathian can use.

Psionics: Reserved (But Highly Psychic)

Death: Upon death, the spirits of Serpent Folk travel to a large basalt crystalline egg contained in the depths of their family’s stronghold. They may not be Raised or Resurrected (though Revivify and True Resurrection work as normal). If Reincarnated they invariably come back as Serpent Folk, usually some form of horrific abomination or another.

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Humans, The Common Men

“Humans are the most populous of the races in the Mortal Realms. We are different from the other races, collectively not quite having quite the focus of any of the races but somehow managing, as individuals, to be as good or better at anything that any other race does. Nor are we defined by some “essential nature” in the same way that the Fae or the Goblinkin are – or perhaps our essential nature is that we are a race of defined by our variety and by the organizations and institutions that are the focus for our passion and loyalty in the face of a hostile world.”

– Alexian, Sage and Historian.

 

Humans, the Common Men, are the most populous race of the Mortal Realms – easily comprising 80% of the intelligent life present. They are adaptable enough to have even expanded into the Underdark and the Shadowlands in limited amounts, even though those realms are dominated by other races. Considered one of the “Younger Races” (if not the youngest race), humanity can thank their sheer adaptability , as well as a general resilience, to their success. They have no unified culture, no unified language, and no unified religion. Capable of amazing heights of both magic and technology, humans have a truly unique ability to take the best of other races and capitalize on it. As a race, humans are likely to ally with each other, ignoring differences in alignment or religion, in the face of threats from other races. Similarly, while human biology seems to allow an amazing amount of racial miscegenation, the primary human prejudice is not over skin color or ethnicity, but over breeding and relationships outside of the human race – with very few exceptions. Half-elves are accepted with a minimum of distrust for the most part and Sh’dai are looked at askance but the other half-breeds (the Khazan, Half-Ogres, and Half-Trolls) are almost universally reviled. Other half-breeds are either not seen as half-breeds at all (the High Men and the Ithian Purebloods) or not really recognized as human at all (the Beastmen and the Old Race). Despite this bigotry, half-bloods can still find a place within human society – though usually in its lowest echelons.

Statistic Bonuses: None

Languages: Local Human Language

Appearance: Humans, the Common Men, are all Medium in Size and their Speed is 30. They stand 4’8″ tall (+2d10″), and weigh 110 lbs (x2d4). In the Heartlands and in other cosmopolitan settings Common Men are often a mixture of bloodlines, most commonly having a mixture of Avalonian, Kistathian, and Thulian body types and complexions. Of special note is that red hair is quite uncommon and treated as a sign of sorcery or psychic powers, and is not found in individuals without the Talent, though it may be latent or not yet manifest.

  • Acadia/Acadians – Medium skin tone from white to brown, that rarely burns and tans deeply. Straight black hair is the most common, with dark brown and amber eyes . Facial hair is sparse and body hair is moderate. The nose is usually long and narrow. Acadians maintain average to above average height, with a wide range of body types and sizes.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Light, pale skin that rarely seems to burn or suntan. Most commonly blond hair in various shades with blue, green, grey, and amber eyes. Facial and body hair is moderate. The nose is often prominent. Atlanteans tend to be among the tallest of humans, with lean and muscular bodies.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Olive skin of a moderate complexion that rarely burns and often tans. Hair in browns and blacks are most common, with facial and body hair both heavy. Eyes are most regularly blue, brown, or hazels. Avalonians are generally average in both height and weight.
  • Ith/Ithians – Deeply pigmented skin that ranges from dark brown to black that never burns and tans easily. Kinky black hair is most common. Facial and body hair are both moderate and eyes are commonly dark brown. Noses tend to be broad and flat, Ithians have quite a range in size, from the shortest to the tallest of humans, with similar wide ranges in builds.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Dark brown skin that rarely burns and tans very easily. Curly hair in browns and blacks are most common with brown eyes . Facial hair is heavy, body hair is moderate to sparse. Kistathians are average-to-below average in height and generally slender in build.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Creamy white, fair complexion that sometimes burns but tans uniformly into an almost bronze shade. Straight black hair, with dark brown eyes. Facial hair is moderate, body hair is sparse. Their noses tend to be small and flat, and their eyes have a pronounced epicanthal fold. Khitainese are shorter and generally slender in build.
  • Thule/Thulians – White, fair complexion that tans minimally and burns easily. Blond hair is most common, with blue, green, or hazel eyes. Facial and body hair is heavy. Thulians tend to tall, big-boned and broad of build to the point of being barrel-chested or stout.

It is also possible for humans, especially within a family line, to display traits that reveal a non-human forebear. Slightly pointed ears of an elf, elongated canines of goblin, or any number of even more subtle features that will barely register in the viewer but which can provide clues for the discerning or knowledgeable observer.

Common Dress: The greatest strength of Humanity is that of variety. Unlike the non-human cultures with their relatively monolithic cultures, the Common Men have multiple cultures within each continental group with often dissimilar dress. Within that, dress can and will vary according to class and profession as well. That all said, due to weather and other commonalities some broad statements can generally be made regarding dress and clothing of each continent – with the same caveat that “mixing pots” like the Heartlands and other cosmopolitan areas can be quite the mix of customs.

  • Acadia/Acadians – The Acadian natives tend to towards loincloths or breeches and shirts for men and skirts and tunics for women, all made of soft leathers. Soft boots are common, while jewelry is usually necklaces and bracelets. Body piercing and modification (including tattoos) is also common. Armor is uncommon, Light generally being the heaviest found, and common weapons are Spears, Axes, and Bows.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – A shattered land with a scatter people, layered robes with high soft boots or sandals are traditional. Jewelry is commonly rings, bracelets, necklaces, and diadems, but body piercing and other modifications are quite uncommon. Armor tends to Heavy and common weapons are Swords, Spears, Polearms, and Bows.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Men tend to wear pants and shirts in Avalon, while women tend to wear blouses and skirts. Shoes or low boots are common, and jewelry is most commonly rings, bracelets and necklaces. Body jewelry is not uncommon though other body modification is less so. Armor ranges from Light to Heavy based on class and profession, the Heavier the better as far as most warriors are concerned. Common weapons are Swords, Axes, Spears, Bows, and Crossbows. Hill Folk maintain their own traditional culture, men wear shirts and kilts, women wear dresses – both with soft boots. Jewelry is armlets and torcs, with Light and Medium armor preferred. Common weapons are Swords, Axes, Spears, and Bows.
  • Ith/Ithians – Due to the generally oppressive heat and humidity, clothing in Ith is minimal. Both men and women mainly wear loincloths or short wraps with bare feet, and jewelry is commonly used to indicate status along with tattoos. Armlets, bracelets, necklaces and pectorals are all common, along with body piercing and various forms of body modification. Armor is invariably Light, and the common weapons are Spears, Axes, and Javelins.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Hot and dry, the predominate clothing in Khem is robes and sandals for both men and women, with head scarves equally as common for both genders as well. Jewelry is common, necklaces and bracelets being most common, in combination with body piercings of various sorts. Armor tends to be Light (with some Medium), with Scimitars, Lances, Spears, Bows, and Crossbows being the most common weapons.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Distant Khitain favors a wide range of clothing. Robes and wraps are common for both genders, though men also wear pants and tunics, commonly with slippers or boots. Veils and hats are common for both genders. Jewelry is common among women, with rings, necklaces, and bracelets preferred. Body piercing and body modification (including tattoos) are practiced in varying degrees. Armor tends towards Light and Medium, with Polearms, Spears, Lances, Swords, Bows, and Crossbows all being common weapons.
  • Thule/Thulians – Due to the general cold, clothing in Thule tends towards heavy furs and leathers, with pants, tunics, and high boots being common for men, with dresses and high boots common for men. Men and women wear bracers, necklaces, and armlets as jewelry. Armor ranges from Light to Heavy, with Chainmail being prized. Swords, Axes, Spears, and Bows are all common weapons.

Lifespan: Common Men are young adults at age 15, considered mature adults at around age 25, and can live up to 120 years of age. They generally begin play at 13 + 2d4 years of age.

Common Culture: Across so wide a set of geographical space it is ridiculous to talk about common culture among the Common Men. But in truth, the Common Men do have some things that cleave true across nationalities and continents. Humanity is loyal to ideals not merely people, they build institutions that last across generations (religions, nations, organizations), and they are similarly able to work together, across alignments, in the service and defense of those institutions against threats.

  • Acadia/Acadians – A tribal society that is nonetheless organized into muti-tribal nation states, Acadian culture is a relatively egalitarian though matrilineal. Extended family is important and plays a large role in child-rearing, and many aspects of culture are segregated by gender.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Classic Atlantean culture is highly stratified, with strictly delineated roles for men and women. Spirituality and mysticism play an important part of life, and both men and women play very important, but very different, roles in society.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Avalon is often considered a continent of immigrants, a rich melting pot of different cultures which have formed their own unique mix over the centuries. The native Avalonian Hill Folk have a deeply spiritual, clan-based society organized into many kingdoms, usually with some over-arching High King. It is a distinctly matrifocal culture, with a strongly patriarchal ethic.
  • Ith/Ithians – Organized along tribal lines and living primarily in small villages (with several notable exceptions) under the rule of the Ithian Empire. Culture is matrifocal and matrilineal, though tribal leadership is patriarchal. All of which are dominated by the Ithian Serpant Folk as a tyrannical ruling class.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Comprised of a number of kingdoms with established aristocratic families, Kistathian culture is relatively patriarchal (though matrilineal). Urban dwellers are organized by household while rural dwellers and nomads maintain close-knit tribal ties.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Dominated by a series of dynastic empires, this highly stratified culture is extremely focused on the family and alternates between patriarchal and matriarchal depending upon who sits on the Imperial throne. Throughout all of the changes a large civil service bureaucracy maintains the status quo.
  • Thule/Thulians – A remarkably egalitarian society, men and women share power in many, relatively democratic ways. Society is made up of innumerable noble households that rule over small settlements, themselves part of larger kingdoms.

Backgrounds: As the most populous and widespread race, any Background is appropriate for the Common Men.

Naming Conventions: As can be imagined, names different from culture to culture. Some generalities can be observed and certain patterns are generally followed.

  • Acadia/Acadians – Individuals have given names generally based on natural or supernatural phenomena observed at the time of their birth. Names are also quite fluid, being changed based on important life events. Surnames are rarely used, and when they are it is a patronymic. Tribal and national membership is important but not considered part of an individuals name, per se. Names are inspired by First Nation and Mesoamerican Source Material.
  • Atlan/Atlanteans – Individuals traditionally only have a given name, though for official records a patronymic may be added, as well as a organizational or locational identifier. Names are inspired by Roman and Greek source material.
  • Avalon/Avalonians – Individuals tend to only have a given name, with either a patronymic or a cognomen to differentiate them. Surnames are generally only used by nobles or gentry. Depending upon the culture, names are inspired by English, French, Italian, and Spanish source material. Hill Folk derive their names from Celtic source material, use a given name, a patronymic, and their clan name (which serves as a surname).
  • Ith/Ithians – Individuals tend to simply have a given name, of which them may accumulate several over their lifespan (some of which may be cognomen). Tribal membership is also important, and village of residence also plays an important part of identification. Names are inspired by Central and Western African source material.
  • Khem/Kistathian – Names are generally long and complicated. A personal name, a church name (‘Abh/’Amah-), a cognomen/descriptor (nickname), a patronymic (or series in some cases) (ibn/bin –), and in the most important families a surname. Names are inspired by Arabic, Persian, or other Middle Eastern source material.
  • Khitain/Khitainese – Names are generally quite simple, with Surname given first, then the individuals Given Name – either of which can by followed by a cognomen or a profession. Names are inspired by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean material.
  • Thule/Thulians – Given names, then a patronymic, with a cognomen following based on either a profession or a nickname. Surnames are generally only used by those with a respected family lineage (most commonly nobles or aristocrats). Names are inspired by Scandinavian, Germanic, or Russian source material.

There are two additional identifiers in names used primarily in Avalonian and Kistathian names, primarily as additional religious identifiers. 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: The Common Men exhibit the full range of morals and ethics, no alignment is more or less common than any other.

Common Religions: Unlike the various non-human races, the Common Men are responsible for a wide range of religious institutions. For those of lawful and good alignment the Church of Lords of Light is common, while for those of a more neutral and rural bent the Old Faith is equally as common. But beyond those common religions there are a variety of Mystery Cults as well – the Mysteries of the Moons, the Perihelion, and the worship of Lady Night are all popular across the land. For truly evil folk, the Horned Society is probably the most attractive, with the Cult of the Dragon and the Cult of Shator often being the refuge of the insane.

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

Common Professions: Given their nature, no profession can be said to be more or less common save as is found within the regular demographic distribution.

Racial Traits

Accomplished: For one of the Common Men to begin a life of adventuring, they are already more accomplished than their peers in fundamental ways. They are allowed to choose one Feat at first level.

Knack: The Common Men all seem to have a knack for something, as a result they gain one additional skill of their choice.

Special Vulnerabilities: None

Psionics: None

Death: Upon death, Common 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 Common Men, though some come back as Half-Elves, Sh’dai, or even High Men if they have had sufficient contact with the right Realms.

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A Short Synopsis & Minor Treatise On the History & Nature of Creation (Part 2 – The Antediluvian Era)

(Estimated Timeline -250,000 to -5000 RA)

Rise of the Elder Kingdoms

In the Mortal Realm, new life sprung up in the wake of the destruction wrought by the War. The Fae live a life circling around their Great Tree hidden in the center of the Golden Woods, the Dragons sought out place wild and desolate and beautiful to contemplate Creation and the nature of the Thirteen Great Gods. But new life also arose, echoes of dead Gods, influenced by the memory writ upon the world by what had happened. So there came forth the Serpent Kings, the Weavers of Spells, the Dragonborn, the Consanguinity, the Bringers of Fate, the Gatekeepers, the Ichneumon Vorre, the Wind Giants, the Deep Ones, and many more besides.

The First City

It is the Serpent Kings, the Serpathians, who truly dominate the Mortal Realms in the Antediluvian Era. They create the First City, living what was at first a deeply contemplative life in the warm sun. A wondrous edifice that sprawled across leagues of land and sea, the First City was the first hub of mortal civilization. But with the cycles of light and darkness, the Serpathian’s began to delve into matters better left untouched, uncontemplated, and unexplored. Slowly as the Serpathians gave themselves over to longer and deeper periods of hibernation and sleep, aided by sorceries and alchemy, ever-seeking more truth and more power they inevitably begin to become infected with the Dearth, the dream-taint of the memory of the unmade Great Old Ones.

The War in Heaven and the Fall of Angels

Ever vigilant, the Celestials experiment in the Vale of ‘Aden, and create new life in Their own image, Humans, trying to find a new tool, a new weapon in case some new threat emerges that threatens Creation. There grows to be discontent in the Eternal City and greatest among the Celestials, the Morningstar, argues about the role of the Sarim in the Mortal Realms. The Lightbringer, as the Morningstar is also known, seeing what is occurring amongst the newly born races advocates for active engagement and even rulership among the mortals. The opposing side, does not wish to get involved in affairs of mortals and instead advocates for a continuation of passive guardianship. Stealing into the Vale, the Morningstar convinces the First Man and the First Woman to leave, setting them loose upon the Mortal Reams after teaching them much lore, more, it must be said, than he intended. This is the start of the War in Heaven and the Fall of the Angels. The Lightbringer and his angels take up residence opposite the Eternal City in the great Abyss maintaining watch over the great gate of the Void. The Celestials decided to spread the children of the First Humans across the Mortal Realms to see how if they survive and if they will thrive despite adversity.

The Rise of Man

Spread across the Mortal Realms by design, they wander freely curious and free of fear due to their birth in ’Aden, but eventually come together. To the great sorrow of the Celestials they also war amongst themselves and several tribes establish themselves, some say thirteen to match the Great Gods, but they found what was soon known as the Second City – an edifice that rivals the now lost First City of the Serpent Kings. Watching their pain and suffering, the Celestials take mercy upon them and some, known as the Grigori, come down to the Mortal Realms to teach and aid them. Unfortunately these Celestials are not suited for Mortal Realm and end up ensnared in their lusts of the flesh, not quite Falling, but still being cast out from Heaven. Out of their liaisons with humanity come the inhuman Nephalim who are still feared to this day.

The Decline of the Elder Kingdoms

Elsewhere, after millennia of exploration, contemplation, and growth, the Weavers of Spells destroyed themselves in a spectacular magical display, with only a few survivors now existing and trying to regain their lost glory. The Serpathians became lost in their hibernation and dreams and their slave-races and servants rose up to usurp their place and power until now only degenerate remnants of the once proud race exist, eking out a primitive existence in jungles and swamps across Creation. The other Elder Races see similar declines, some greater, some lesser, and many find their fates irrevocably linked to end of the Antediluvian Era.

The Thrice-Blessed and Thrice-Cursed

The Fae also meet the humanity for the first time as humanity matures and the Second City grows in power and influence. Ilhiedrin, the Thrice-Blessed, the first half-elf, is born to the King of all the Fae from his mortal lover. While this love child is a marvel, there are some within the Fae who are uneasy about the commingling of the blood of the two races. Ilhiedrin rises to be the greatest mage that the world has seen at this point but jealousy grows in his heart and he makes a great mistake as he descends into madness. Passing beyond the Veils, Ilhiedrin becomes the Thrice-Cursed when he breaks the great seal at the bottom of the Abyss and uncovers the truth of the Great Old Ones in his search for power.

Where there is memory, there is imagination;

where there is imagination, there is Essence;

where there is Essence, there is Form.

The War Without End

When Ilhiedrin unleashed the Great Old Ones upon creation again it was not complete, and what was able to manifest has become known as the Five Demon Emperors. They found Themselves greatly restricted by a multiverse that is far less fluid and They are barred from true entry. Even so, Their baleful influence spreads and the War Without End is rekindled as the Shadaoin are created and walk free within the Mortal Realms. Whole civilizations rise and fall during this time, shaped and wracked by the conflict. The Sorcerer-Kings of Engis-Erkrath rise up almost overnight and are destroyed from within, their own people rebelling against their domineering and tyrannical ways – and stand to this day as guards against such a thing occurring again, witnesses to the madness that is the War Without End.

Sundering of the Fae

After the loss of the Queen of Elvendome and her heir, the decision is made by the Fae to work a great enchantment and raise the Twilight Mists between the realm of the Fae and the Mortal Realm, creating a safe haven that can remain uncorrupted by the Dearth. This in turn is greatly contested by others among the Fae and causes the Sundering as the Sha’Achtar leave their brethren to pursue the War Without End in their own way, carving out their own Shadowlands on the edge of Death and Destruction so as to find and meet the Great Old Ones and the Lords of Dearth before they can corrupt reality even more than they already have. The effort is not entirely successful, and even in Faerie the Dearth has a foothold while the Shadowlands remain the first battleground against the Lords of Dearth as the Sha’Achtar intended even if the Realm itself is a darker and more dangerous place than was intended.

The Invoked Devastation 

After the Twilight Mists rise and the Shadowlands expand, the War Without End continues to raze the Mortal Realm without mercy or hope as the Dearth taints it and Creation rebels against itself. The Primordial Gods, finally roused from their contemplation, bring about the Invoked Devastation, destroying the Second City in Fire and Flood. Its status as a seat of goetic perversion in the wake of Ilhiedrin’s crimes a cancer on the face of Creation. While the Celestial Fires are specific, raising Thalath in a Great Flood is far from specific and much of the Mortal Realms affected, and the effects are felt even into Faerie and the Shadowlands.

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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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Fixing Humans… (1e)

So as I mentioned in the last post I’m trying to fix the balance for taking human vs. non-human characters. This was always a bit iffy in many AD&D games because there was rarely a downside for playing a demi-human. Many campaigns never reached the level caps and of those that did, they often seemed to ignore them or have rather easy ways to sidestep them.

I’m generally happy with what I’ve done with Demihumans and Darklings (Half-breeds of Goblins, Ogres, and Trolls) and Shadowkin (the creatures of the Shadowlands) so I don’t want to mess with them particularly. Yes, they are significantly more powerful than they are in standard AD&D, but they’ve been that way for years now and I don’t think the change in engine really makes this a game breaker.

What I do have to do, in a game without skills, is find a way to boost up regular humans into something that is attractive beyond simply being the most predominant race that advances the quickest via XP. My current model for this is using secondary skills/professions and linking them to additional abilities or skills and having this be a human only benefit. This could range anywhere from allowing a initial dual-class, to additional weapon proficiencies, to tracking ability, to any number of isolated special skills for various character classes.

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