Saturday, August 3, 2013

Magical Land of Arae: A New Campaign Setting

My local library has been so gracious as to allow me to use one of their rooms to host role-playing games. I am using the Blood & Treasure system for this, as I feel that it is both easy to learn and conveys what I think is the best parts of Old School rpgs.
Even though Pangea is a neat setting, and I enjoy using it, I think a more classic setting is in order. I have several players coming to the group who are new to gaming in general, so I thought a setting inspired by more recent Fantasy movies, books and games was in order. So the Magical Lands of Area are underway:

The Magical Lands of Arae
Arae is a land in another world, but not so far away that some rare few have found their way. Magic pulses in the land and air, and its forests, lakes, streams and mountains are all haunted by magical beings.
For inspiration, I will be drawing on recent cartoons, movies and popular books, as well as a host of classic cartoons and oddities. All fantasy-oriented sources that a novice gamer will be likely to come across.

All of the races found in the Blood & Treasure Players Handbook are available. I will be detailing information on Arae's races in the very near future. Added to the standard races is the following;

Several types of Orc
"I have my orders. And it's more than my belly's worth, or yours, to break 'em. Any trespasser found by the guard is to be held at the tower. Prisoner is to be stripped."
-Shagrat The Orc
As well as the standard races, full-blooded orcs are a major race in Arae. Though still brutish and often caste as villains, not all of them are slavering beasts, with some even having a rough sense of pride and *cough* honor. However even the most "civilized" orc is lazy and brutish, taking great joy in deceit and violence. Rather than the raiding lifestyle of the wild orc tribes, those living close to mankind have taken to the life of mercenaries, thugs and heavy laborers, jobs they are well-suited for. Orcs thrive under harsh employers, but if shown overt compassion they have a tendency to shirk responsibility or even rebel against their employer. 
Wild (non player-character) orc tribes tend towards the worship of Infernal Powers, particularly Old Scratch. Such tribes are truly horrible, and will often have a number of undead, fiendish and half-fiend beings in their midst. Powerful sorcerers often find such tribes enthusiastic minions.
Orcs modify their starting ability scores as follows: Str +2, Int ‐1, Wis ‐1 and Cha ‐1. Orcs have darkvision to a range of 60 feet. Orcs are skilled miners and craftsmen, capable of creating items of equal quality as Dwarves and Elves, though such items are always ugly, and frequently cursed in some way. Orcs are blinded in bright sunlight. In daylight, orcs suffer  a -10 penalty to hit their targets, and their opponent gains a tactical advantage against them. Blinded orcs are surprised on a roll of 1-3 on 1d6.
They speak Orc, and might also learn Dwarf, Gnoll, Goblin and Ogre. Orcs can multi‐class as cleric/fighters, fighter/ magic‐users and fighter/thieves.
Note: That's right- Orcs! If you can have Elves and Half-Elves, I don't see why you can't have Orcs and Half-Orcs.

All of the standard classes are available EXCEPT for the Monk. Other classes available in the campaign are the Chevalier, Curmudgeon and She-Devil

Clerics and Religion
The Clerics of Arae are of two primary types. Clerics of The Holy Trinity, and Infernal Clerics. Paladins are ALWAYS followers of the same God, but most are dedicated to a particular Archangel or Saint.

Clerics (Law/Any Good)
"I'm not coming. And if you take my advice you won't either. I've heard that name before... I don't know where, but I don't like it."
-Friar Tuck
Cleric Alignment: Law (Any Good)
Holy Clerics  have dedicated their lives in the service of The Holy Trinity
and are allied with the denizens of the Upper Planes (Heaven, Paradise and Avalon) in the world of men. The primary duties of clerics is the propagating and/or defending the faith, and in opposing the work of the Infernal Realms, wherever it is found. Keeping the nobility alert and ready to oppose evil is a very difficult task, as greed and corruption are ever-present threats to decency and right-thought.
The basic tenants of the Clerics of The Holy Trinity are the Ten Commandments, and the Golden Rule. Though this might seem easy at first it is much harder in practice. The lazier and more earthly sins run rampant in all societies, and tempt even Clerics on a regular basis. Of course the greatest of evils, those dealing with direct involvement and collusion with the forces of the Infernal Planes is terrible in the extreme.
There is no monolithic CHURCH that controls Clerics of The Holy Trinity or doctrine. Local Clerics have their own structure, centered around a Council of Elders usually under a Patriarch (the Cleric with the Highest Level). Different monasteries, dedicated to one or more saints can be found here and there, and wandering, independent Clerics (Friar Tuck-ish) are common.
Religious ceremonies are fairly simple. Christmas and Easter, as well as Harvest Festivals and assorted local holidays abound. Marriage, Christenings and buriels are all conducted by holy men. Such rituals are very important in Arae, as the restless dead and the meddling of fey and infernal spirits is a very real concern.
Clerics of The Holy Trinity are the standard clerics of Law (any Good alignment) and have the standard powers against undead. Specialty priests do exist, following the examples of specific patron saint or archangel, see below for details.
Patrons of Heaven: Clerics dedicated to a particular saint have felt a strong connection with their patron. This is not exactly worship, more of an admiration of the example set by their patron, similar to having a favorite athlete or team. Some examples (with the patrons domain in parenthesis) are below.
Archangel- Michael (War or Weather), Gabriel (Air or Travel), Raphael (Good or Love).
Saints- St Brigid (Fire or Weather), St Christopher (Strength or Water), St Cyprian (Knowledge or Magic), St Nicholas (Travel or Water), Lady Kolyada (Sun), Mama Befana (Fire or Trickery), St Walstan (Animals or Plants).

The Druids of Arae represent the priests of the "old gods" of hill, stream and forest. Djinni, Elementals, Fey, Undead and other entities that dwell in the hidden places of the world. In the Lands of Arae, there is no real persecution of the old faiths. In-fact open debate and discussion of the particulars of doctrine is encouraged by the wisest Clerics and Druids. Most of the common folk tend to uphold aspects of the old ways as well as being devout disciples of Heaven!
When the New Faith came to Arae, a number of (Neutral Good) Druids converted, becoming clerics themselves. Often melding the two views of the world, seeing the deep reverence of nature and its ways as part of adoration of Gods handiwork.
Of course, people being people, there is sometimes strife. Not all of the Old Gods are good, and their followers can sometimes be troublesome, even to their own people. Politcal strife and jelousy is also a factor.
The Deities of Nature
These are many, and can be of a wide range of power levels. Most are Djinni, Elementals, Undead (some even Good-aligned) and powerful Fey lords, as such beings are basically immortal and can aid or harm a mortal. Dealing with these beings is more a means of respect and avoiding their anger, but is sometimes a friendly and personal relationship. However even the kindest of these beings IS NOT HUMAN, and has an alien mind.
Some of the old gods want blood and sacrifice, the more the better. These are Demon Lords and Devils, and their followers are both evil Druids and Infernal Clerics. These are the dark and blood soaked gods of old which I will be describing in future articles.
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