Thursday, June 18, 2020

The History of the Rhadynnic-Naceadan Dual Empire

Excerpts from The History of the Rhadynnic-Naceadan Dual Empire
by Dillion pen’Llefelys
(Published 512 IR)

On the Founding of the Great Houses:

The records detailing the origins of the Great Houses, and their kingdoms they now rule are lost to us, destroyed by the ravages of time and the depredations of our enemies. Our legends hold that more than a thousand years before the founding of the Rhadynnic Sky Empire, Llud pen’Beli founded Great House Llud and assumed rule of Llydaw as gor'Brenin, a kingdom legends hold was established by his father Beli Mawr, the great legendary warrior-king and first Brenin-Mawr of the Rhadynn. As told in The Chronicles of the High Kings, authored by the historian Ymerawdwr Conall III, nine of Llud's ten siblings left Llydaw with their followers to establish their own Great Houses and becoming gor'Brenin of their own kingdoms. The ten Great Houses sometimes fought each other, and sometimes banded together. Legends speak of great wars against the fomor, partholan, and seelie, with the warriors of the ten houses emerging victorious.

The ancient tales speak of many dangers facing the splintered kingdoms of our forefathers, but none so terrible as the dread Hallitsijainen, whose power and evil still plague the free people of the world. For hundreds of years, the Kansattu sent their black-sailed ships throughout all of the Three Worlds, demanding tribute and any who refused to offer wealth and slaves to the Cold Lords were destroyed. Imperial records maintain that the first signs of true unity among the Great Houses came in 1109 YE when Brion, Dewintir, Dyved, Gwydon, and Llydaw banded together to form the Rhadynnic Confederation and together refused Hallitsijainen demands for tribute, a decision that was timed almost perfectly as the Cold Lords were weakened by the Leucadian struggle detailed in the epic poem Epikotos Leucadian1 and the subsequent exploits of the Geureciman General-King Rafaele as detailed in the Song of Rafaele2. Many ships and warbands were sent by the Hallitsijainen to punish the recalcitrant kingdoms, but they were defeated as the Great Houses allied against the common foe under the banner of the Golden Hawk. Within fifty years all of the Great Houses joined the Rhadynnic Confederation, and in 1161 the gor’Brenin of Llydaw was elected to be ruler of the Rhadynn as the first Brenin-Mawr since Beli Mawr. The High Kings set about using their mighty sky ships in coordination with the drake-empowered armies of the Great Houses to resist the Hallitisijainen, marshal great fleets against the Dekkulde islanders, and send their armies against the jattilainen and euroz of Elizon and elsewhere, even against the wild nomads of the At'viras Steppes.

On the Founding of the Rhadynnic-Naceadan Dual Sky Empire:

Although the records I have found do not give a complete picture, as closely as I have been able to determine, finding themselves both under threat from the Cold Lords, Brenin-Mawr Ghilchrist pen’Llud and Christobal Santiago, the Amparar of Oropais, formed an alliance in 1193 YE to unify their domains against this common foe. According to imperial records stored in the Council archives, in 1209 YE, Ghilchrist cemented this relationship by marrying Christobal’s only daughter Alejandra, and when Christobal died in 1211 YE he ascended to the throne of Oropais and was crowned Ymerawdwr Ghilchrist I. Ever after this, the standard of the empire was a two-headed golden hawk on a field of green, showing the union between the two great empires of the Rhadynn and the Naceadans. Ghilchrist I declared the year of his ascension to the throne of the dual monarchy to be a holiday year, and founded a new counting of years to be counted starting with that year as the “0” year and named the “Imperial Reckoning” or “IR”. In 2 IR, Ghilchrist issued his Atal Proclamation, or Prohibition Proclamation, a copy of which signed by the Ymerawdwr’s own hand can be found in the House Llefelys’ collection, in which he ordered all of his subject domains to cease paying tribute of any kind to the infernal and depraved Cold Lords.

On House Llud and the Imperial Faith:3

In their realm, House Llud promoted the holy faith the Lords of Heaven, and made it the faith of the nation, elevating the priests of the Holy Faiths to an honored place in their lands. In 1158 YE Brenin-Mawr Iain I founded the holy order devoted to Yng named the Milwr Awyr, also called the Warriors of the Sky, to guard the ten kingdoms from the depredations of the heathen Rodhar dragon raiders and godless Sjorover island pirates4. In 15 IR, Ymerawdwr Ghilchrist II granted the Milwr Tarian an Imperial Charter, an order of holy warriors devoted to Heim intended to serve as guardians for sacred places, monasteries, and temples. Upon his ascension to the throne in 126 IR, Ymerawdwr Kunagnos II issued his Eithrio Proclamation or the Exclusionary Proclamation in which he declared the worship of the Lords of Heaven the true faith of the Sky Empire, and specifically outlawed a list of cults condemned as demonic in nature5 and the worship of the vile power of the Ilkeastasisin. Those heathen faiths not mentioned in the document were still tolerated, but quite properly looked upon with disfavor.

In his first act upon ascending to the throne in 135 IR, Ymerawdwr Kunagnos III gave Imperial sanction to the Milwr Dwrn, a sect devoted to the Celestial Lord Forseti, to rule over and guard the land provinces of the Sky Empire. In that same year, Kunagnos III ceded Ranska to this order or holy warriors who henceforth directly ruled that land in the Ymerawdwr’s name, and under the laws of Heaven, until it was lost to the Hallitsijainen in 418 IR.

On the Crusades:

Few things more defined the reign of the Ymerawdwr’s than their enmity towards the cruel and unholy Kansattu Empire, a hatred driven to a crusading zeal by their alliance with the holy faiths of the Lords of Heaven. In 42 IR. Ymerawdwr Tamnais II launched the first Imperial crusade and conquered Saksa, claiming it as a foothold that he claimed would allow the conquest of all Ilkeas. Ymerawdwr Artur II continued these just and holy wars, seizing most of Ranska in 73 IR, and launching attacks into Kreikka before dying in glorious service to the gods on the field of battle, while Ymerawdwr Seain II completed the conquest, having assumed complete control of Ranska by 105 IR. After many more wars, Ymerawdwr Seain III conquered the province of Kreikka in 122 IR. The Ymerawdwrs built armies, fought great just and holy wars to press the Hallitsijainen, and the Sky Empire prospered for many years under the benevolent and protective eyes of Heaven, but the evils of the world, as is their nature, tirelessly worked to undo the work of the faithful and righteous.

In 391 IR, after years of war, the province of Kreikka was overwhelmed by heathen nomads, and was lost. Beginning in 402 IR. the Hallitsijainen began a campaign of corruption and depravity against the province of Ranska, engaging in a series of small wars, the records of which speak of terrible cruelty visited upon the good people of that land by the invading armies. By 412 IR, the weak-minded Ahaliat tribesmen in Kreikka were subverted by the corruption of the Hallitsijainen, and became subservient to the Kansattu Empire, allowing the terrible Verijuoma to rule over them, slavishly worshiping his power. Saksa soon fell apart into small territories ruled by disloyal Lesser Houses, who turned away from the just rule of the Ymerawdwrs and sought unholy alliances with the Cold Lords. Saksa completely disintegrated by 427 IR. Finally, in 418 IR. Ranska was invaded and conquered by the depraved Kreikkans and the cruel Hallitsijainen, the Milwr Dwrn were smashed, and Miesurmata and Herranoita became the lords of this realm. Proud and loyal subjects of the Ymerawdwrs and the remnants of the Milwr Dwrn fought on desperately against the invaders, some holding out for years, but eventually all were hunted down and destroyed.

On the Last Crusade and the Fall of House Llud:

In 427 IR. Ymerawdwr Cearnach VI was killed in battle during his failed campaign to try to retake Ranska. His son was crowned Ymerawdwr Cearnach VII, the boy-emperor, even though he was only eight years old at the time of his ascension. In this time of need, the Lords of Heaven sent the Arwr to the aid of the recently crowned Ymerawdwr bearing with him mystical artifacts of great power. In 434 IR. accompanied only by Nyniaw pen’Beli, the Arwr journeyed into the Kansattu Empire, and over the next several years stole or destroyed many objects of power that the Hallitsijainen valued greatly, and used the blade Kersyti to destroy the Hallitsijainen Susiherra and Sarviherttua and several of their most powerful and vile servants. Emboldened by the Arwr’s successes, Cearnach VII launched a great and holy crusade in 441 IR, seizing Pisekost and Varoastrov in 444 IR.

Heartened by the success granted by the Lords of Heaven, Cearnach VII landed his fleets on Jaotuli Island in 446 IR. quickly destroying its garrison, and laid siege to Pelkonnoitus in the same year. Not content with these successes, in 449 IR, filled with the might of the Lords of Heaven, Cearnach VII moved his grand imperial army from Pelkonnoitus up the Taikajulma River to directly attack Iltorni. In the siege of the dark tower, the Arwr was killed in combat with Murskilta who was destroyed at the same instant. After a year of siege, Ymerawdwr Cearnach VII, the last member of House Llud, was killed on the field of battle before the gates of Iltorni, leaving no heir. The Kansattu forces attacked the ring of besiegers around Iltorni during the depths of winter from within and without, crushing them in battle. The once proud armies of the Sky Empire were smashed by the Kansattu legions and their ships burned on the cold beaches of Ilkeas.

On the Whelming of Llydaw and the Fall of the Rhadynnic-Naceadan Dual Empire:

After Cearnach VII’s death, the infernal Hallitsijainen summoned their vile powers in a great enchantment to smash Llydaw, which they whelmed under the sea, leaving scattered islets where the landmass of the great island of the Ymerawdwrs once stood. From that point forward, Llydaw has been known as Llœgyr, the Lost Land. In 455 IR the remaining Great Houses met to elect a new Brenin-Mawr to lead them, but the just claim made by House Llefelys of Alwyr, was contested by demands made by House Amæthon of Brion, and House Arianrhod of Crœsfan, which prevented the Houses from agreeing upon a single successor. In a great parallel tragedy, the death of Cearnach VII, ended the dynastic succession of the Amparars, throwing the Naceadan nation of Oropais into chaos. Because of the treachery of Houses Amæthon and Arianrhod, wars have begun as those false claimants have sought to displace the valid claim of House Llefelys.

To the dismay of all righteous men everywhere, after the fall of the Ymerawdwrs the churches of the Lords of Heaven have found the holy message of the true Gods difficult to spread, as many lacking in stoutness of heart attributed the extinction of their most ardent mortal advocates as a sign of their disfavor, or, more heretically, their impotence. In Oropais, many of the weak in spirit have turned to the infernal treason of Arrioism as the advocates of that heresy postulate the destruction of Llydaw to be a sign of the disfavor of heaven. In 487 IR the Arrioist church illegally seized the imperial holdings of the Amparar of Oropais, trumping up the Writ of Oropais as a justification. Many others turn away from Heaven’s path and take refuge in the long-discarded faith of the y’Grym, a heathen faith foolishly and readily embraced by House Amæthon and House Gwydion.

Cursed by the infernal powers, our people suffered a further insult, when in 494 IR, the great dragon sire Mahthildin descended upon Carmathen and destroyed all those remaining there to claim as his own the holy treasures of the Sky Empire and the holy relics of the Lords of Heaven. In 504 IR, calling the sinking of Llydaw and the assault of Mahthildin signs of the displeasure of Heaven, the Fielidor of Arrio publicly called upon our people to set aside the true faith in the Lords of Heaven and embrace his apostasy, a plea all right thinking people rejected as obviously heretical.

1 A detailed review of records from the remaining Imperial archives now located in the Council libraries leads me to the conclusion that the events detailed in the Epikotos Leucadian took place during the reign of gor’Brenin Fionn I of House Alwyr at some point between the years 995 YE and 1005 YE.

2 Although the Song of Rafaele is somewhat vague in its attention to details such as exact dates, correlating the poem with other sources leads me to conclude that Rafaele’s exploits took place at some point between 1050 YE and 1150 YE.

3 No record exists of an Imperial charter being granted to the Milwr Llwon, also known as the Order of Oaths. Scholars have speculated that the founding of and sanction granted to the holy order of warriors devoted to Tiwas predates the Sky Empire, and may have been instrumental in legitimizing the ascension of the Ymerawdwrs.

4 In 492 IR House Llefelys ceded the island of Lleyn to the Milwr Awyr to replace the ports lost to them when Llydaw was destroyed.

5 The cults listed include cults devoted to (among others) Abonde, Bål, Belial, Darmas, Gangyn, Halpas, Iku-Tyrma, Ishi, Kalma, Khil, Kivutar, Lug, Ninkurra, Oxoßi, Seþra, Sirchade, Surtan, Tunar, Tuni, and Vaßatar. In addition, the document banned worship of the faiths promoted by the Hallitsijainen, specifically banning the Verituska cult. These denominations are known as the Eithrio Cults.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

House Rules - Exotic Armor

Exotic Armor

This is a list of exotic armors that do not appear in the Player's Handbook, but that I use in my campaigns. All of these armors and shields require the user to take either the Exotic Armor Proficiency or Exotic Shield Proficiency feat to gain the full benefit of these armors and shields. As exotic armors get added to my ongoing campaigns, I will add more to this listing. These armors have been adapted from Dawnforge: Crucible of Legend, and Hammer & Helm: A Guidebook to Dwarves.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Light Armor
Max Dex
Armor Check
Arcane Spell
Medium Armor
Max Dex
Armor Check
Arcane Spell
Heavy Armor
Max Dex
Armor Check
Arcane Spell
Max Dex
Armor Check
Arcane Spell
Breaker Shield
20 shillings
15 lbs.

Armor Descriptions

Breaker Shield: A breaker shield is a devious invention favored by orcs that causes their opponent;s weapons to shatter or snap when they hit it. This large shield is covered with jagged metal or specially carved wooden fins that can trap and break weapons. Any time a character using a breaker shield takes a total defense action, he can attempt to sunder an attacking opponent's weapon as an attack of opportunity. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the opponent's attack misses by less than the total armor Class bonus provided by the total defense action and the breaker shield, then the character may attempt to sunder their opponent's weapon.

Only Medium and smaller weapons can be sundered by a breaker shield. Only proficient users can use the special ability of a breaker shield, which requires the Exotic Shield Proficiency.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

House Rules - New Magic Armor and Shield Special Abilities

Armor and shields may have special abilities, such as acid resistance or fortification. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify defensive bonuses (except where specifically noted). A single shield or suit of armor cannot have a modified bonus (enhancement bonus plus special ability bonus equivalent) higher than +10. A suit of armor or shield with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Daylight Ward: (Wrath and Rage: A Guidebook to Orcs and Half-Orcs) Armor and shields with this special ability grant creatures with light sensitivity the ability to ignore the negative effects of sunlight and daylight spells.
  Aura: Moderate abjuration; Caster Level: 2nd; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, endure sunlight; Cost: +1 bonus.

Fleet: (Wrath and Rage: A Guidebook to Orcs and Half-Orcs) Fleet armor is built using the very lightest materials and processes available. It also incorporates ingenious springs and roller to move the wearer quickly along the ground. A creature in fleet armor increases its base speed by +10 feet. Only light armor may be imbued with this special ability.
  Aura: Moderate transmutation; Caster Level: 5th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, expeditious retreat; Cost: +1 bonus.

Grudge: (Wrath and Rage: A Guidebook to Orcs and Half-Orcs) Grudge armor and shields excel at defending against one type of creature. Against the designated foe, their effective enhancement bonus is +3 better than normal. To randomly determine a designated foe, roll on the following table:

d%Designated Foe
01 - 05Aberrations
06 - 13Animals
14 - 20Constructs
21 - 25Dragons
26 - 30Elementals
31 - 35Fæy
36 - 40Giants
41 - 45Magical Beasts
46 - 50Monstrous Humanoids
51 - 53Oozes
54 - 58Outsiders, Chaotic
59 - 65Outsiders, Evil
66 - 70Outsiders, Good
71 - 75Outsiders, Lawful
76 - 77Plants
78 - 85Shapechangers
86 - 92Undead
93 - 94Vermin
95 - 00Humanoid (choose subtype)

  Aura: Moderate transmutation; Caster Level: 11th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, summon monster I; Cost: +2 bonus.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Campaign Design - Base Classes: Rogue

(from the Player's Handbook as modified by the Player's Guide to Rangers and Rogues)

Rogues have little in common with one another. Some are stealthy thieves. Others are silver-tongued tricksters. Still others are scouts, infiltrators, spies, diplomats, or thugs. What they do share is versatility, adaptability, and resourcefulness. In general, rogues are skilled at getting what others don't want them to get: Entrance into a locked treasure vault, safe passage past a deadly trap, secret battle plans, a guard's trust, or some random person's pocket money.

Abilities: Dexterity provides extra protection for the lightly armored rogue. dexterity, Intelligence, and Wisdom are important for may of the rogue's skills. A high Intelligence score gives the rogue extra skill points which can be used to expand her repertoire.

Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d6.
Luck Die: d10.

Class Skills
  • Skill List: The rogue's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft: Any (all skills taken individually)(Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge: Local (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform: Any (all skills taken individually)(Cha), Profession: Any (all skills taken individually)(Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Rope (Dex).

  • Note: Because the Three Worlds campaign uses the Skills by Character house rule, the list of class skills given here is only included for the sake of completeness, and is not used by characters in the campaign setting.

  • Skill Points at 1st Level: (8 + Intelligence modifier) x 4.

  • Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 8 + Intelligence modifier.
Class Features
  • Base Attack Bonus: Average. A rogue gains +¾ base attack bonus per class level.

  • Base Fortitude Save Bonus: Poor. A rogue gains a +⅓ base Fortitude save bonus per class level.

  • Base Reflex Save Bonus: Good. A rogue gains a +2½ base Reflex save bonus at first level, and an additional +½ base Reflex save bonus per class level.

  • Base Will Save Bonus: Poor. A rogue gains a +⅓ base Will save bonus per class level.

  • Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Rogues are proficient with all simple weapons plus the composite shortbow, hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow, and short sword, and with light armor, but not with shields.

  • Sneak Attack: If a rogue can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

    The rogue’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the rogue flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 every two rogue levels thereafter. Should the rogue score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.

    Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

    With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, a rogue can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual -4 penalty.

    A rogue can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies - undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The rogue must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

  • Trapfinding (Ex): A rogue can use the Search skill to locate traps with a DC higher than 20, and she can use Disable Device to bypass a trap or disarm magic traps. Finding a nonmagical trap has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic trap has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it. A scout who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with her party) without disarming it.

  • Evasion (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, a scout can avoid damage from certain attacks with a successful Reflex save. At 2nd level or higher, if a rogue makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a rogue is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless rogue does not gain the benefit of evasion.

  • Trap Sense (Ex): At 3rd level, a rogue gains an intuitive sense that alerts her to danger from traps, giving her a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against attacks made by traps. These bonuses rise to +2 when the rogue reaches 6th level, to +3 when she reaches 9th level, to +4 when she reaches 12th level, to +5 at 15th, and to +6 at 18th level.

    Trap sense bonuses gained from multiple classes stack.

  • Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a rogue can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She retains her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, she still loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class if immobilized. If a rogue already has uncanny dodge from a different class she automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead.

  • Improved Uncanny Dodge: A rogue of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies another rogue the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking her, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target does. If a character already has uncanny dodge from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.

  • Special Abilities: On attaining 10th level, and at every three levels thereafter (13th, 16th, and 19th), a rogue gains a special ability of her choice from among the following options.

    • Crippling Strike (Ex): A rogue with this ability can sneak attack opponents with such precision that her blows weaken and hamper them. An opponent damaged by one of her sneak attacks also takes 2 points of Strength damage. Ability points lost to damage return on their own at the rate of 1 point per day for each damaged ability.

    • Defensive Roll (Ex): The rogue can roll with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it than she otherwise would. Once per day, when she would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), the rogue can attempt to roll with the damage. To use this ability, the rogue must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC = damage dealt). If the save succeeds, she takes only half damage from the blow; if it fails, she takes full damage. She must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute her defensive roll - if she is denied her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, she can’t use this ability. Since this effect would not normally allow a character to make a Reflex save for half damage, the rogue’s evasion ability does not apply to the defensive roll.

    • Dirty Fighting (Ex): The rogue is skilled at distracting, unnerving, deceiving, and otherwise upsetting her opponent with dishonorable fighting techniques that once per day she may choose to do any one of the following: Automatically succeed on a single attack roll, cause her opponent to fail a single attack roll, make a sine attack roll and then move away from the opponent, treating the square the action starts in as not threatened, or perform a single sneak attack even while the opponent is not flanked and retains his full Dexterity bonus.

    • Honed Senses (Ex): The rogue notices that others miss. once per day, the rogue may choose to use his honed senses on any one of the following skills: Appraise, Gather Information, Knowledge, Listen, Search, Sense Motive, or Spot skill checks, as well as all attempt to save against illusions. The rogue is considered to have rolled a 20 for this roll. The rogue may not use this ability after he has already rolled and failed.

    • Improved Defensive Roll (Ex): This ability is similar to defensive roll, except that instead of half damage, the rogue takes no damage at all. Since all rogues with this ability are required to already have defensive roll, they may now make two defensive rolls per day - one for zero damage and one for half damage. Prerequisite: Defensive Roll.

    • Improved Evasion (Ex): This ability works like evasion, except that while the rogue still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless rogue does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

    • Improved Slippery Mind (Ex): if a rogue with improved slippery mind is affected by any enchantment cast by a spellcaster whose caster level is less than half the character's rogue levels, the rogue succeeds automatically at her saving throw. The effects of the slippery mind special ability still apply to the enchantments of higher level casters. Prerequisites: Slippery Mind.

    • Inconspicuousness (Ex): The rogue is difficult to notice unless he is actively trying to attract attention. Unless the rogue is choosing to stand out, or unless others are specifically searching for him, the rogue is considered at all times to be hiding. The DC to spot a rogue with the inconspicuousness special ability is the rogue's Dexterity modifier + his ranks in Hide. Characters purposefully searching for the rogue see him normally, unless of course, the rogue is actively hiding. In addition, any time a spellcaster wishes to target the rogue with a Divination spell, she must first succeed a a Concentration check with a DC equal to the rogue's Intelligence modifier + his ranks in Hide.

    • Intuition (Ex): Once per session, the player of a rogue character may privately ask the DM a single in-character yes or no question. The DM must answer the question truthfully, and the player may then use this information as an in-character "hunch". This question cannot pertain to things that are randomly determined, since the DM cannot possibly know the answer in advance, but all other in-character yes or no questions are acceptable. if the question cannot be answered as it is phrased, the player may ask another until an answerable question is found.

    • Lódur's Luck (Su): The rogue is inordinately lucky - most of the time. Once per day, the rogue may turn a single unsuccessful roll into a 20. This ability may be used on any roll that required a d20. Lódur's Luck can be used to confirm a critical hit, but if used as a regular attack roll it does not create a critical threat. For every three times this ability is used, the DM may choose to turn one of the rogue's successful rolls into a 1. The DM may not use this ability on a natural 20.

    • Opportunist (Ex): Once per round, the rogue can make an attack of opportunity against an opponent who has just been struck for damage in melee by another character. This attack counts as the rogue’s attack of opportunity for that round. Even a rogue with the Combat Reflexes feat can’t use the opportunist ability more than once per round.

    • Roguish Charm (Ex): The rogue is very likable, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Once per day, she may choose to perform any one of the following two near-magical effects:

      First, the rogue may tell a single brief lie to one person and have it be believed unquestioningly until the rogue leaves the victim's line of sight for more than a minute. The lie must be believable to a sane person - "the sky is green" will not work, but "of course I didn't steal the jewel" would work on anyone who had not witnessed the incident directly. The lie cannot be longer than a single simple sentence.

      Second, the rogue may talk someone into doing her a favor. This task must take less than 30 minutes to perform, and cannot directly endanger the victim or his loved ones in any way. Asking to borrow money is a good example, but requesting someone to hold off angry guards is not - unless the person is so powerful in personal ability or authority that turning back the guards poses no threat whatsoever.

      These abilities can only be used on sentient creatures with whom the rogue shares a common language. They can only be used on one person at a time. Characters with higher Hit Dice than the rogue's class level may make a Will save at a DC of 10 + the rogue's Charisma modifier +the rogue's ranks in an appropriate skill (usually Bluff for the first and Diplomacy for the second). Those who make their saves are fully aware of the rogue's attempt to manipulate them. These abilities can never work on the same person twice, and the rogue must always be within the target's line of sight to attempt either ability.

    • Search Mastery (Ex): The rogue is highly proficient at finding things. In fact, the rogue is so adept that he always finds something interesting on a roll of 20 or more, whenever he looks. Naturally, what the rogue finds will not always be what he was looking for- especially if he is searching in the wrong room - but it will be interesting in some way. DMs are encouraged to use this in whatever manner best fits the game. Rogues may find coins or jewelry, clues and plot devices for this or future sessions, buts of local gossip, things of no interest to the rogue personally, but useful to some other member of the party, or anything else useful or worthy of comment. Often the information or items a rogue finds in this manner may seem irrelevant at the time and only turn out to be interesting much later on in the campaign. Coins are a good fall-back if this ability ever threatens to slow down the game, but DMs should try to make this ability as interesting and diverse as they can. Prerequisite: Search 10+ ranks.

    • Skill Mastery (Ex): The rogue becomes so certain in the use of certain skills that she can use them reliably even under adverse conditions. Upon gaining this ability, she selects a number of skills equal to 3 + her Intelligence modifier. When making a skill check with one of these skills, she may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent her from doing so. A rogue may gain this special ability multiple times, selecting additional skills for it to apply to each time.

    • Skilled Opportunist (Ex): This functions identically to the opportunist special ability, except that the rogue may use it as many times in a round as she has attacks of opportunity. Prerequisites: Combat Reflexes, Opportunist.

    • Slippery Mind (Ex): This ability represents the rogue’s ability to wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise control or compel her. If a rogue with slippery mind is affected by an enchantment spell or effect and fails her saving throw, she can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. She gets only this one extra chance to succeed on her saving throw.

    • Feat: A rogue may gain a bonus feat in place of a special ability. The rogue must meet all of the prerequisites for the selected feat as normal.
1thSneak attack (+1d6), trapfinding
3rdSneak attack (+2d6), trap sense +1
4thUncanny dodge
5thSneak attack (+3d6)
6thTrap sense +2
7thSneak attack (+4d6)
8thImproved uncanny dodge
9thSneak attack (+5d6), trap sense +3
10thSpecial ability
11thSneak attack (+6d6)
12thTrap sense +4
13thSneak attack (+7d6), special ability
15thSneak attack (+8d6), trap sense +5
16thSpecial ability
17thSneak attack (+9d6)
18thTrap sense +6
19thSneak attack (+10d6), special ability

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Monday, May 25, 2020

House Rules - New Potions

This is a listing of potions found in the Dungeon Master's Guide or Magic Item Compendium that may appear in my campaigns.

This list may use abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Potion of Troll Blood: One of the most dangerous potions, this thick, foul=-smelling brew is distilled from troll blood and gives regenerative powers to the drinker, albeit not without risk. When quaffed, the potion grants regenerative power equal to one hit point per round for the next ten minutes. The power works even after death unless the body is burned or soaked in acid; dismemberment does not inhibit regeneration. The potion's side effect causes drinkers to go into a frenzy that makes them a danger to friend and foe. When the potion is imbibed, the drinker must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or immediately enter a blood age similar to that of a barbarian. The unlucky soul gains +4 to their Strength, +4 to their Constitution, and +2 to Will saves, but suffers a -2 penalty to their Armor Class and an inability to tell friend from foe. The frenzied drinker must attack the nearest creature, continuing to do so until it is killed, whereupon the berserk drinker will more to the next nearest target. If multiple targets are within the same range, randomly determine which one the imbiber attacks. Only the drinker's death or the time lapse of ten minutes can stop this frenzy.
  Aura: Strong transmutation; Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Brew Potion, regenerate; Cost: 5,325 shillings.; Cost to Create: 2,663 shillings + 213 experience points; Weight: ½ lb..

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

House Rules - New Wondrous Items

This is a listing of wondrous items not found in the Dungeon Master's Guide or Magic Item Compendium that may appear in my campaigns.

This list may use abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Essence Crystal: (Vigil Watch: Secrets of the Asaatthi) This platinum chain is set with a blue-white crystal, used in the life transfer spell to store the souls of sentient creatures. The stone grows darker in color the more souls are placed into the crystal, and drains in color as each soul's life force is drained to ignore the natural effects of aging in the wearer. An essence crystal is usually found uncharged. When the wearer casts life transfer, the crystal gains a number of charges equal to the Hit Dice os the victim of the spell. By expending a charge, the wearer is immune to the effects of natural aging for a full year. The wearer resumes aging as normal if the essence crystal is removed. The crystal has hardness 5 and 25 hit points.

  Aura: Strong necromancy; Caster Level: 13thPrerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, life transferCost: 91,000 shillings.; Cost to Create: 45,500 shillings + 3,640 experience points; Weight: -.

Horn of Khil: (Fury in the Wastelands: The Orcs of Tellene) Carved from the horn of a fell beast, this standard size signal horn is crudely engraved with scenes of violence and death. Sacred ot Khil, the horn instills frenzy into all orcs that hear its deep, booming call. When blown, all orcs within 50 feet immediately rage, with the sole exception of the horn blower. This is identical to the 1st level barbarian brutal strikes class ability except that the rage lasts for 5 rounds. This rage counts against the daily uses of the rage ability for a barbarian character. The horn can be blown as many times per day as the owner wishes, but any given orc can be affected no more than once in a 24-hour period.

  Aura: Moderate transmutation; Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, bear's endurance, bull's strength; Cost: 29,000 shillings.; Cost to Create: 14,500 shillings + 1,160 experience points; Weight: -.

Slave Bore: (Vigil Watch: Warrens of the Ratmen) The slave bore resembles a small corkscrew, crafted of silver and iron and dipped in the blood of the victim's potential master. The target of this device's foul magic usually is trussed up with a scarlet cord and made to wear a black velvet hood with a small forehead opening. A gag prevents the victim from biting his tongue during the painful ritual to come. The wielder then screws the bore into the victim's head.

When the bore is put into place, the victim immediately loses 2d4 Intelligence and 2d4 Wisdom and will lose 1d6 Constitution if he fails a DC 12 Fortitude save. While the bore is in place, the victim must make a Will save each day. The first day, the DC is 15, and it increases by +1 every day thereafter. Each day the victim resists successfully, his Constitution score drops by 1. If this score reaches 0, the victim dies. Should the victim fail his Will save, he becomes the slave of the individual whose blood is on the bore; the victim must obey his master's every command without question. These verbal commands may be delivered only by the slave's master, and must be comprehensible to the victim. The unfortunate slave has no chance to resist, remaining a slave until rescued or slain. So complete is the master's control, the slave will not even eat or drink unless commanded to do so. The Intelligence, Wisdom, and Constitution losses are permanent as long as the bore remains in place.

Another individual can remove the bore with a heal, limited wish, miracle, or wish spell, or someone can physically remove it from the victim's head. This latter procedure is extremely hazardous and requires a DC 25 Heal check. If the Heal check fails, the victim loses 1d6 points of Constitution and the healer may try again. If the bore is removed without killing the victim, his abilities slowly return to normal per the normal rules for ability damage. If the victim dies, the bore may be removed and the victim brought back to life with resurrection or similar spells.

  Aura: Moderate enchantment; Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, dominate person; Cost: 3,500 shillings.; Cost to Create: 1,750 shillings + 140 experience points; Weight: -.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

House Rules - Crafting Equipment

Crafting Equipment

Bowyer/Fletcher's Tools
20 shillings
2 lbs.
Bowyer/Fletcher's Tools, Masterwork
70 shillings
2 lbs.
Leatherworker's Tools
70 shillings
175 lbs.
Leatherworker's Tools, Masterwork
130 shillings
175 lbs.
600 shillings
1,250 lbs.
Smithy, Masterwork
1,200 shillings
1,250 lbs.
This is a collection of mundane crafting equipment. There are no weapons or armor listed here, nor are there items that are specific to either arcane or divine spellcasters. Rather, these items are general-purpose gear that many characters will find useful to carry. This list does not include many items of interest to rogues, as those are found on the Black Market Items and Poisons page.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Bowyer/Flether's Tools: (Quintessential Fighter) This tool kit contains all the tools required for a character to create bows, crossbows, arrows, and bolts.

Bowyer/Flether's Tools, Masterwork: This tool kit contains all the tools required for a character to create bows, crossbows, arrows, and bolts. The tools are finely crafted and of superior quality, granting a +2 circumstance bonus on all Craft: Bowmaking checks and all Craft: Weaponsmithing checks to make crossbows and bolts.

Leatherworker's Tools: (Quintessential Fighter) This includes all of the tools necessary for a craftsman to soak, tan, boil, wax, and sew leather armor and equipment. these tools are essential for both construction and repairing such items.

Leatherworker's Tools, Masterwork: This includes all of the tools necessary for a craftsman to soak, tan, boil, wax, and sew leather armor and equipment. these tools are essential for both construction and repairing such items. The tools are finely crafted and of superior quality, granting a +2 circumstance bonus on all Craft: Leatherworking checks.

Smithy: (Quintessential Fighter) This is required to forge metal armor and weapon, a smithy includes a furnace, anvil, and all tools and molds necessary.

Smithy, Masterwork: This is required to forge metal armor and weapon, a smithy includes a furnace, anvil, and all tools and molds necessary. The tools and other equipment are all finely crafted and of superior quality, granting a +2 circumstance bonus on all Craft: Blacksmithing checks, Craft: Weaponsmithing checks, and Craft: armorsmithing checks made to create metal equipment.

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House Rules - Mundane Weapon and Armor Enhancements

Mundane Weapon and Armor Enhancements

+50% of base weapon cost
Basket Hilt
+15% of base weapon cost
Bent Grip
+15% of base weapon cost
Bow Sling
1 shilling
Bow Stabilizer
100 shillings
2 lbs.
Hollow Hilt
+15 shillings
Hollow Hilt, Masterwork
+45 shillings
Serrated Blade
+300 shillings
Shielded Grip
+25% of base weapon cost
+50% of base weapon cost
+50% of base weapon weight
+100% of base weapon cost
+50% of base weapon weight
This is a collection of mundane weapon enhancements. There are no weapons or armor listed here, nor are there items that are specific to either arcane or divine spellcasters. Rather, these items are general-purpose gear that many characters will find useful to carry. This list does not include many items of interest to rogues, as those are found on the Black Market Items and Poisons page.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Armor-Piercing: (Path of the Sword) This may be applied only to light weapons that deal piercing damage. The weapon has been modified to slip between pieces of armor. Against any opponent with an armor bonus to Armor Class, this weapon grants a +1 bonus to attack rolls. This bonus does not apply to an opponent that only has a natural armor bonus to Armor Class.

Basket Hilt: (Path of the Sword) This is a complex grip that wraps around the wielder's hand. It can only be used on Medium-sized weapons or less that are to be wielded with one hand. The basket hilt grants the wielder a +2 bonus to resist disarm attempts.

Bent Grip: (Player's Guide to Fighters and Barbarians) A bent grip allows great control over a weapon, though at some cost of power. This grip has a number of flanges and a significant curve, allowing it to fit easily in the hand. Bent grips function properly on any light sword and on one-handed piercing swords. This grip may not be fitted on other weapons. Weapons with a bent grip gain a +1 enhancement bonus to their threat range (which does not stack with enchantments that also improve the threat range). The bent grip is commonly used in Enslem and the Gorovlic Isles.

Bow Sling: (Quintessential Fighter) The bow sling is a simple attachment that may be added to any greatbow, longbow, or shortbow, including composite versions of those weapons. Consisting of little more than a cured leather strap attached to an archer's hand, the sling will stop a bow from being accidentally dropped. A character with a bow sling gains a +4 circumstance bonus to all rolls made to avoid being disarmed of his bow. Using a bow strap makes it more difficult to drop the bow intentionally, and it requires a move-equivalent action to do so.

Bow Stabilizer: (Quintessential Fighter) Stabilizers are weights mounted on the front of a bow to keep the weapon stable during long-ranged shots. They increase the range increment of any bow by +20 feet. They may only be fitted to greatbows, longbows, and shortbows, including the composite versions of those weapons.

Hollow Hilt: (Path of the Sword) A weapon with a hollow hilt has a small compartment in the hilt, grip, or shaft, which can store 4 cubic inches worth of material in a Small weapon, or 6 cubic inches of material in a Medium weapon.

Hollow Hilt, Masterwork: (Path of the Sword) This is a small compartment in the hilt, grip, or shaft of a weapon, just as above, only applied to a masterwork weapon. The compartment can store 6 cubic inches worth of material in a Small weapon, or 8 cubic inches of material in a Medium weapon.

Serrated Blade: (Quintessential Fighter) Some weaponsmiths intentionally forge their weapons to have wickedly serrated edges, designed to cause the maximum amount of damage whenever they strike. Only the very finest weaponssmiths have the skill to hone blades to such sharpness as to have any appreciable effect. Only masterworked slashing weapons may be given a serrated edge, either while they are being forged, or as a later modification. A slashing weapon with a serrated blade will grant a +1 bonus to all damage rolls made with it.

Shielded Grip: (Player's Guide to Fighters and Barbarians) One of a number of protected grips, such as shell or basket hilts, the shielded grip is used in a variety of bladed weapons - including daggers, rapiers, and longswords. If a weapon with a shielded grip is employed in battle, and the wielder is using Combat Expertise, the Armor Class bonus gained through the use of that feat is increased by +1. This bonus increases to +2 if the Combat Expertise proficient character is using two shielded grip weapons, but only if they posses the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. Additionally, shielded grip grant a +1 circumstance bonus for the purpose of resisting disarm attempts.

Strengthening: (Path of the Sword) The weapon is made of stronger, thicker materials. This makes it considerably heavier, but also harder to break. A strengthened weapon has its hardness increased by 1 and its hit points increased by 25% (rounded up). This increases the weight of the weapon by 50%.

Weighted: (Path of the Sword) This improvement may only be applied to weapons that deal bludgeoning damage. The head of the weapon is designed to be extremely heavy by adding extra metal, wrapping it in steel bands, and so on. This increases the weapon's damage by +1 and increases the weight of the weapon by 50%.

Mundane Armor Improvements

It is possible to commission easily distinguished or customized pieces. Below you will find an outline of several of these enhancements, their costs, and the benefits of taking the time to be unique.

Precisely Fitted Armor: Armor can be tailored to a specific individual. Such armor must be crafted of masterwork quality and tailored specifically the the character as part of its construction. The character who wears the armor must be measured precisely before the work can commence, and then the cost of the armor is increased by 50%. Precisely fitted armor has some minor, but useful benefits, as follows:
  • Hasty donning time is reduced by one round if the armor is light armor, by two rounds if the armor is medium armor or heavy armor other than half-plate or full-plate, and by one minute if the armor is half-plate or full-plate.
  • The precise fit enables you to move more easily within it, reducing the apparent weight by 10% for purposes of load calculation. This weight reduction also applies to Swim checks.
  • Well-made armor simply looks better. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy checks in circumstance in which the target of the check would be favorably impressed by someone in high-quality armor.
Embossed and Decorated Armor and Weapons: Both armor and weapons can be covered with decorations, fine enameled designs, intricate embossed patterns, and so on. This does nothing for the functionality of the armor or weapon, but it does make the equipment extremely distinctive. Characters who are nobles, high-ranking military commanders, or successful merchants might desire such equipment to demonstrate their status and wealth. Decorated and personalized items grant the following benefits:
  • The items are much easier to locate if stolen. Add a +2 circumstance bonus to any Gather Information checks related to tracking down lost or stolen items that have been decorated.
  • Those likely to be impressed by wealth, especially ostentatious displays of wealth, are going to be favorably disposed towards a character wielding decorated arms and armor. Such a character gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy checks against such individuals.
The one major drawback to such items is that extensive field use can mar the fine craftsmanship. Any time a character sustains more than 50% of his hit points in damage, decorated armor has been marred and must be repaired. Likewise, if a character scores more than two critical hits with a decorated weapon in a single combat, it is also considered marred and must be repaired.

Decorated items cost a minimum of double the cost of masterwork items of the same type (although they are not necessarily masterwork - if a character wants a decorated masterwork item, they must pay the cost for masterwork quality as well). If the character insists on particularly costly decorations - for example, an image of the character slaying a green dragon to be placed on a large shield, with the dragon made from precisely cut emeralds, and the character formed of rubies - the price can be as high as the DM thinks is reasonable.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Campaign Design - Diseases


This is a collection of additional diseases that are not found in the Player's Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Black Pox: Blood begins to pool up and rot within the black pox victim, forming large pustules that ooze thick, black, septic blood. Very virulent and often fatal in a few short days, this is probably one of the most feared contagions on the Three Worlds. Thankfully, once you've had the pox, you become immune to it - one way or another. Contact, Fortitude DC 21, incubation 1 day, damage 1d3 Strength, 1 Dexterity, and 1d3 Constitution. For each ability damaged, the victim must make another Fortitude save. Each failed save means that 1 point of temporary damage delivered to that ability becomes permanent.

Gray Wasting: The flesh of those afflicted with gray wasting becomes very dry, even to the point of flaking off in large pieces, and their hair tends to fall out. They cannot eat - anything victims consume they immediately disgorge - and rapidly lose weight over the course of a week or two. Even after fighting off the gray wasting, its deleterious effects remain until victims have had a period of bed rest equal to a number of days of their illness. Any day during the recovery period in which a victim does not have complete bed rest adds a day to the recovery time. Injury, Fortitude DC 19, incubation 1d3 days, damage 1d3 Constitution.

Flower Fever: The flower fever is rarely fatal and seems more like a very bad cold or flu, debilitating the host for a week or two with weakness, congestion, headaches, and vomiting. In addition, the victim begins to exude a strange and pleasant floral aroma that encourages others to inhale deeply, serving to spread this airborne contagion. Inhalation, Fortitude DC 14, incubation 1 day, damage 1d2 Constitution.

Lung Rot: This infection actually attacks the liver, not the lungs. Bile begins flooding the victim's system causing extreme jaundice. The victim also begins to cough and vomit up massive amounts of this bright green bile - thus the erroneous association with the lungs. Unfortunately, it takes months for lung rot symptoms to manifest, and by then it is long past the time for preventative cures. Inhalation, Fortitude DC 17, incubation 1d6 months, damage 2d4 Strength. Any time the victim suffers more than 4 points of Strength damage, apply an additional 1 point of permanent Strength damage as well.

Scarlet Shaking Pox: The victim of scarlet shaking pox develops huge red blemishes and becomes stricken with uncontrollable muscle spasms. This condition worsens as the disease progresses, uif iften takes several months to kill a victim. Though symptoms persist for the entire duration of the disease, the victim suffers damage slowly - once per week. No natural healing is possible - the victim cannot make natural saving throws to avoid damage after they fail the initial save against infection, though the disease can be treated magically, with herbs, and medicinally (use only the healer's heal check roll for the saving throw. Without treatment, this disease always ends in death. Contact, Fortitude DC 23, incubation 1d2 weeks, damage 1d6 Dexterity. For each ability damaged, the victim must make another Fortitude save. Each failed save means that 1 point of temporary damage delivered to that ability becomes permanent.

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House Rules - Scribing and Spellbooks

Scribing and Spellbooks

Jewelbook, 100 facets
90 shillings
Jewelbook, 150 facets
110 shillings
Jewelbook, 200 facets
130 shillings
Moltvellum, 1 sheet
3 pennies
Moltvellum Book, 100 pages
17 shillings
2 lbs.
Ribbonscroll, 100 folds
22 shillings
⅓ lb.
Ribbonscroll, 150 folds
30 shillings
½ lb.
Ribbonscroll, 200 folds
45 shillings
1 lb.
This is a collection of equipment generally used as books or scrolls, or as substitutes for books or scrolls, or in the creation of books and scrolls. Although most of the items listed here may be used for arcane writings and magical scrolls, they can also be used for more mundane purposes.

This list uses several abbreviations to show what sourcebook the entries were drawn from. For guidance as to what sourcebooks these abbreviations reference, see my key to Sourcebook Abbreviations.

All of the material contained on this page and other pages of this blog is presented in accordance with the terms of the Open Game License.

Jewelbook: These "books are common among dwarves, often being used as spellbooks. Using shaping (gemcutting) and Craft Wondrous Item, text is inscribed in the jewel's facts. When the jewel is handled in a particular way, turning the facts just so, a page of text appears, visible only to the wielder. A jewelbook requires a gem worth at least 45 shillings with 100 total facets (inside and out). A jewelbook can have more facets - and therefore more pages - at an additional 1 shilling per 5 facets.

A jewelbook can be read only with a successful DC 25 Decipher Script check or read magic. Inscribing a new page of text in a jewelbook costs 75 shillings for materials and effort. if used as a spellbook, inscribing a spell costs 150 shillings per page.

Creating a jewelbook requires the crafter to have 4+ ranks of Craft: Gemcutting, the Craft Wondrous Item feat, and the ability to cast shaping (gemcutting). It requires raw materials worth half the cost of the finished jewelbook consisting of an appropriate gemstone, and 1/25 the total shilling cost in experience points. For example, creating a 150 facet jewelbook requires a gem worth 55 shillings and 4 experience points.

Moltvellum: This material is made from molted lizardfolk skin using shaping  (alchemy) and treating it with special substances to create moltvellum. After being treated this way, it is effectively nothing but fine parchment. particularly important documents or records are written on this material. Moltvellum can be used to make scrolls and spellbooks.

Ribbonscroll: Made of silk, linen, or vellum (including moltvellum), a ribbonscroll looks like a decorative sash. it is, in fact, a useful writing surface. The material of a ribbonscroll has intricate folds, each the equivalent to a page, allowing it to store many more "pages" than is apparent. Only by unfolding it in a precise way is the information visible in a coherent fashion. A ribbonscroll weighs one-tenth the amount of a book of an equivalent page count. it is resistant to water and soiling, and rips and other minor damage can be repaired without losing text.

A successful DC 20 Spot check or DC 15 Search check discerns that a ribbonscroll is more than just a decorative sash. Reading individual ribbonscroll folds requires no skill other than knowing the language used. Making sense of the total context requires a successful DC 20 Decipher Script check.

If used as a spellbook, inscribing a new spell in a ribbonscroll costs 150 shillings per page.

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Campaign Design - Military Organization in the Freeholds

Military Organization in the Freeholds

Standing armies are essentially unheard of in the Freeholds. In addition to being expensive to maintain, a ruler or noble who keeps a large fighting force on hand without an obvious threat to defend against is likely to be viewed with suspicion by his neighbors. Consequently, most of the lords and kings of the Freeholds rely upon a small cadre of household troops that are supplemented in times of need with a call to a lord's feudal subordinates and a citizen militia.

One of the most important offices in a Freehold is the folcgesiþ, the warleader or marshal of the kingdom. This is a position appointed by the ruling monarch, usually from his own household - it is fairly common for an æðeling to also be the nation's folcgesiþ - but it is not uncommon for the office to be held by a sibling or cousin of the monarch, or more rarely one of the æorls or þegns of the realm. In wartime, the folcgesiþ is the ðengel's commander in the field, assuming that the ðengel doesn't command his armies himself. He is assumed to speak with the ruler's voice, and act with the ruler's hands, and consequently in military matters all others in the realm are supposed to defer to the folcgesiþ's authority. When not leading armies in the field, the primary responsibility of the folcgesiþ is to ensure the readiness of his sovereign's troops, by recruiting and providing for his household troops, ensuring that the various noble Houses are able to fulfill their feudal military obligations, and by keeping watch on the readiness of the fyrdd. In practice, these responsibilities mean that the folcgesiþ often ends up acting as the senior official in a kingdom on almost all administrative matters.

For the most part, a king or landholding noble will maintain only enough troops to garrison key castles and fortresses and handle everyday problems such as bandits, counting on his ability to expand his forces in times of need. These household troops are referred to as the folgoþ and are commanded by the húscnehts acting as both an officer corps and an elite component. These troops are generally professional soldiers, skilled at arms and equipped as well as their liege can afford. In many cases, household troops will supplement their provided equipment whenever possible, under the reasonable assumption that better armor and weapons will improve their chances for survival when they are called upon to fight. When answering the call of their liege, a House will usually bring their húscnehts and a portion of their household troops to fulfill their obligations.

In times of great danger, such as when a Freehold is invaded, its rulers can call upon the fyrdd, a citizen militia composed of all of the free men in the kingdom.Fyrddmen are expected to provide their own equipment, although many ruling Houses have taken it upon themselves to create armories stocked with basic supplies to ensure that their fyrddmen are adequately provided for. Although there is no hard and fast rule concerning what a fyrddman must arm himself with, the basic assumption is that every fyrddman will be equipped with a bow and spear and wear some sort of light armor, usually leather. Many commoners have the Fyrddman feat, which provides them with the basic skills needed to fulfill their obligations. Although some might think that the obligations of being a fyrddman would grate upon the populace, it is an important mark of social status, and as a result, most denizens of the Freeholds eagerly claim the role. Even so, most ruling nobles are reluctant to call out the fyrdd except in the most serious circumstances, as keeping the farmers and artisans of the nation in the field for battle for any length of time can be crippling for their land's economic health.

When a king or noble calls upon his vassals and assembles his forces for war, the resulting assembly is called a herefolc, or sometimes an innhere, although the second only applies to a purely land-based force. When an army is composed entirely of húscnehts, it is often referred to as an ísenhere, or iron-clad army, due to the fact that all such individuals are almost always armored in steel armor. On those rare occasions in which the fyrdd is also called up to fight alongside the herefolc, the resulting panoply is referred to as a þrymm, which is roughly translated as "host".

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Campaign Design - Nobility in the Freeholds

Nobility in the Freeholds

The Freeholds are governed by means of oaths of service given in return for grants of land and authority. Like the Rhadynnic Isles, the Freeholders organize their affairs by Houses - with allegiance being counted from family to family rather than individual to individual. A ruling House will accept an oath of fealty, called a hyldájj, from the head of a House who symbolically pledges the loyalty of his entire family to his suzerain, and who receives lands to hold and authority to mete justice, collect taxes, and otherwise act in his lord's name. This form of allegiance is called helde, and the head of the subordinate House is called a heldeman. Most heldemen pledge not only their loyalty, but also specific promises to their feudal superior, usually taking the form of a promise to provide a set amount of funds, goods, and soldiers on an annual basis. The hyldájj. is not a one-way oath - in addition to providing property and power, the suzerain also promises to defend his subordinate so long as they hold to their oath of service.

In common parlance, the land held by a heldeman is referred to as their læn of fiefdom. The land held by a ruling House that they directly control is called their innland. Land that a House has control over but has parceled out to subordinate houses by means of a hyldájj oath is referred to as utland. Technically, all of the land in a Freehold is under the control of its ruling House, but they only directly control their innland.

The fundamental title in the Freeholds from which all other ranks of nobility flow is the ðengel or King. There are currently nine recognized kings in the Freeholds. In the days of the Rhadynnic Sky Empire, the rulers of the Freeholds owed allegiance directly to the Bronze Throne, and not to any one of the Great Houses. Since the whelming of Llydaw and the fall of House Llud, there is no longer any power that bestows the title of ðengel upon the rulers of the Freeholds, and since the Bronze Throne of Beli Mawr is currently vacant and there appears to be no realistic chance it will be occupied any time soon, no higher authority. In recent years the generally accepted marker that one is entitled to call oneself a King in the Freeholds is recognition by and admission to the High Council.

Most of the royal houses in the Freeholds have long pedigrees, dating back to the days of the Sky Empire and beyond, but a few are of much more recent vintage as the chaos following the whelming of Llydaw has provided opportunities for the bold and determined. Ðengel Girion of Cadfor is the first of his house, having conquered the lands he rules over the last few decades. Ðengel Seluc of Nuþralia owes his position to the wars waged by his father Kiarr Hewædsonne to seize control of the territory Seluc now rules from the nation of Polþia. A sufficiently strong and willful individual could conceivably drive off the evil denizens of places like Loring or the Hills of Brann-Galedd and claim a kingship for themselves.

In the distant past, the title æðeling explicitly meant "prince" in the Freeholds and was applied to the eldest son of a ruling ðengel, but that usage is now regarded as archaic. In current parlance, the æðeling of a Freehold is the designated heir to the mantle of rulership, whoever that might be. The title evolved in this direction as the rules of succession became more flexible, mostly as the result of the influence of the Rhadynnic Great Houses.

The most powerful noble outside of the royal house is the æorl, sometimes referred to an an ældorman. This is generally a hereditary title, held by a particular house designated by the ðengel of the Freehold, although a house can technically be removed from the position. As ældorman are often quite powerful, both politically and militarily, this step is usually only taken in extraordinary circumstances. In general, an æorl is a critically important figure in a given kingdom, and owes his fealty directly to the king, with no intervening authority between them. A king relies upon his ældormen to manage territory, ensure justice, and provide troops in time of war. This dependency means that a kingdom with too many ældormen almost inevitably has a weak king, and consequently most of the kingdoms in the Freeholds have three or fewer ældormen.

The next rank below the æorl's are the þegns, the most minor of landholding hereditary nobles. Like an ældorman, a þegn holds lands granted to his House in return for service. Unlike æorls, who can only derive their authority directly from a ðengel, a þegnhood can be created by an æorl. Although many þegns owe their fealty directly to the king of their Freehold, many are subordinated to one or another æorl. In most respects, a þegn's House is much he same as an æorl's House, just on a slightly smaller scale. One must note that although most þegns hold smaller læns and exert lesser influence than æorls, this is not a hard and fast rule. There are a number of notable þegns who have acquired an outsized level of power and influence for their Houses.

Finally, the lowest rank of "nobility" is the cneht, also referred to as knights. This is a non-hereditary title, bestowed upon an individual, usually as a reward for faithful service or recognition of superior achievement. This is also a title that many æorls and þegns hold in addition to their hereditary title. Unlike other ranks of nobility, a cneht does not swear their oath on behalf of their House, but only on behalf of their person. In broad strokes, there are two types of cneht: The ordinary landholding cneht, who is granted a læn in exchange for an oath of loyalty and service, and the húscneht or "household knight", who who holds no land but serves as a key element of a feudal lord's retinue. Nobles of all higher ranks may create cnehts, although there is a general order of precedence among cnehts based upon who bestowed the rank upon them, with a cneht created by an æorl having more prestige than a cneht created by a þegn, and a cneht created by a ðengel commanding greater respect than either. In practice, this distinction is mostly ceremonial, and usually only truly matters when determining who has priority of command on the battlefield.

Although not a rank of nobility, a common appellation used for well-placed individuals who serve as advisors to a ruler is þéodwita, which roughly means "wise counselor" or "man of counsel". Many such individuals are also æorls, þegns, or cnehts, but they do not have to be, and otherwise untitled people are sometimes given this honorific due to their service.

In formal usage, nobles will list out the succession of authorities from whence they derive their titles using the term helde, and sometimes the name of the læmn using the term fram. For example, Æorl Sihtrc of Eor would formally give his name as Æorl Sihtrc fram Eor helde Seluc fram Nuþralia, indicating that his demesne is Eor and he holds it by grant from Ðengel Seluc of Nuþralia. Similarly Cneht Elidyr, a húscneht of House Kindelan would formally write his name as Cneht Elidyr helde Þegn Eanion fram Gwenith helde Ðengel Girion fram Cadfor, showing that he holds his rank as a result from a grant from Þegn Eanion of Gwenith who holds his title as a result of a grant from Ðengel Girion of Cadfor. This sort of formal usage is not commonly employed, its use being reserved primarily for ceremonial functions, official documents, and legal proceedings. For everyday use, most nobles will simply use their title and given name or sometimes even simply the name of their læn. For example, Þegn Eadred of Varin would generally be referred to as Þegn Eadred, or simply called Varin.

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