Saturday, July 31, 2010

Theme Parties #3 Tark Hunters

Tark is my local campaign name for the D&D Troll, you know the Green Warty Kind. These nasty things started showing up about a century ago near the City State of Tarakon and have spread across Midrea ever since.

Wizard. Not a fire specialist but a crafty and clever Wizard with an arsenal of spells. Being obsessed with revenge for the death of loved ones dies not means suicidal or reckless. After all, you can't kill Tark if you are dead,

Fighter/Flame Steward. These Tark are an abomination that needs to be destroyed. You Sacred Flame powers and combat prowess make you uniquely suited to the task and its one you fill with glee. Your powers also let you heal which balances out you wrath.

Druid. You may not agree with the Flame Stewards faith but you are allies in this mission. You second job is of course to protect nature from your own parties actions. Fireballs do not go well with dry grasslands.

Monster Hunter/Ranger. Half Elf with a little Demon thrown in but still far more human than not, you take equally well to two related crafts. A little magic, a little stealth and a lot of sneaky mean many dead Tarks.

Rogue . Ending up with these loons was hardly the plan but it beats hanging.It helps that you have more than a little talent for Alchemy. Acid and Alchemists Fire are most handy when facing Tarks.

Theme Parties #2 The Hand

A group of mid level Church Soldiers tasked with dealing with the serious Evil that afflicts their communities

Paladin-- The Church was your redemption and you love her with all you heart. Having being a bad person in your youth gives you greater understanding and perspective than some of the other Paladins. It also makes you a good leader. Now if only you could stay away from the women.

Ranger-- You know better than most there are real monsters out there and what they can do to innocents like your own family. Fortunately you have the skills to fight them.

Rogue/Wizard -- You are a good person deep down inside but someone has to do the ugly work and that falls on you. You also possess a few nasty artillery spells too and are happy to use them on the real bad guys.

Inquisitor -- Other than defeating actual Evil, there is nothing you would like more than leading but The Church has not seen fit to grant that wish. Maybe thats a good thing, being a church raised orphan makes you a bit intolerant to day to day foibles.

Cleric -- You are happy not be the leader. Honestly.You are aware of limits and frankly,planning is not your strong suite.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Theme Parties #1 Exiles of the House of Brass

Exiles of the House of Brass (themed 3.5/Pathfinder)

A group of young adventurers whose parents were exiled from House Brass in the Dragon Empire have chosen voluntary exile and seeking adventure among friends to protect themselves from political enemies.

Special Note: Assume the PC's have some kind of Scry Ward cast on them, probably by the parent of the Sorcerer. This renders them immune to scry spells , crystal balls and the like. In such cases, assume that the spell and any other non epic ones, simply fail. If you like, the spell can wear off as the characters level up or its time for more trouble...

Alchemist -- The apprentice of a House employee, now out a job. Ah well the best way to get better at alchemy (and to afford expensive reagents) is adventuring . Plus you get to blow stuff up.

Dragonfire Adept -- One of a pair of siblings, Chosen by the House but nothing is more important than friendship and besides being Chosen is boring. Better to Burn Bright than Fade Away.

Dragon Shaman -- The other half of the pair. Where my sibling goes I go.

Brass Dragon Blooded Sorcerer (or Battle Sorcerer) -- Your parents are the exiled ones, putting some space between them and you at least till you grow in power is a good way to stay alive

Artificer - Another unemployed House employee now out a job. You also have feelings (protective or romantic) for one of the other party members. Ah complications...

Gun Mage -- A rebel prince/princess. This may not be a lark but who wants to be couped up all the time?

Something to Help get Players into the Game: Theme Parties

One of the classic tropes of D&D is of course "We all meet at the tavern and go tackle the challenges of the dungeon and wilderness together" . There is nothing wrong with this of course and for a game where char-gen might take all of a minute and the game is about exploration as much as anything else it actually makes sense.

But there is another way. In the initial session it can be very productive to have the players sit down at decide on a theme for the party. Who this group of misfits, is and why they are adventuring together and such.

Taking a few minutes to do this can really help in more roleplaying oriented games and help get the players more immersed into the game world.

In the next posts I'll give you a few ideas on such groups. Its just class and a vague Midrea oriented background but its enough to get you inspired for you own games.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The "I Write Like" Toy

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Kind of cool actually though I'd have thought my style was bit more old fashioned.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is Fear of Capricous or Bad DM's driving modern game design ?

In the comments in my last post, a poster Daddy Grognard said this

What I don't really like about feats, powers, call 'em what you will, is the way that they're all codified and defined now. What it does is disempowers the DM because no matter how much he's prepared, planned or read the rules, someone else has read them better and can turn around and say "Yeah, my character CAN do that, it says so here on page 456..."

and I have to agree with another poster Ryan

Daddy G.- Yeah, I see the trust issues in the way mechanics are set up.

Which got me to thinking , is the fear of the Bad DM (and admittedly there were a lot of them at least when I was a kid) driving a lot of recent D&D game design?

All the emphasis on meticulous game engineering, encounter design , treasure parcels, total class balance, over simple trust and imagination is there some fear that poor DM's will drive away the customer base.

Now in fairness, there is some merit to this thought.

Back when us Old Grogs were gaming, when D&D was young there was no Commercial Internet (AAD&D 2e was more than half over by then) and people seem to think there were a lot less ways to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

This isn't really true . Many of us had computer with modems and BBS or console games (I had an Atari 2600 actually) and there were Books and VCR's and TV and all that. Its not as if the toys weren't there and they were often just as engaging to us as the Internet and Facey-Space is to todays kids...

However, one big difference we did not face any competitors like WoW or EQ. It may be that there is a fear that bad DM's drive gamers to MMO's . That would explain some of the MMO like design of 4e (its kind of a board game to my eyes) and also the of the earlier Players Option/ 3X designs which resemble the popular computer game Fallout in some odd ways.

There is of course a marketing angle as well. Players buy more books than DM's. TSR (and it was TSR in those days) learned this lesson way back in the 90's with the Second Edition "Complete" books.

So between fear of DM's and the desire to sell more books, you get a concentrated effort to minimize the influence of the DM. In fact it would not in fact surprise me if 5e D&D was designed to be run DM less. Sure the DM will still be there (getting rid of that would drive away all the existing player base) but you won't need him/her/it...

Anyway, just some food for thought. My personal opinion is pretty much the same as Ryan's

I think that if a gamer can't trust his DM, he's playing with the wrong DM.

And as long as I can find players, I'll keep on playing the way I always have and all the treasure parcels and rigid design criteria can go play patty-cake with Orcus's Wand ;)


Monday, July 19, 2010

Another Buckler: Sun Fist Buckler

I do love me some bucklers.

The Sun-Fist buckler is a round gold colored buckler with a garish face of the sun image on it. It is +1 as both weapon and shield. In addition t also can harm anything harmed by sunlight regardless of other requirements. At will it can glow at the intensity of a candle or of a bullseye lantern.

Once per day upon mental command the buckler can create a blast of light. This light forces a save vs magic for everyone in a cone equal to that of a cone of cold. Failing this save means the viewer is blinded as per a Cause Blindness spell. When used on undead this light acts as a clerical turn equal to the users level.

Old School is mostly imagination, Newer School is about options and also Why No 4e?

Just a random though while I was looking through my books.

Old school gamer (OD&D, B/X, AD&D and early 2e) were toolkits to aid in imagination. Sure they had options, sometimes plenty of them, but they were often simply meant as spurs to you imagination.

Newer school games, late 2e (with the Kit books) and up are more about options. Rather than winging it, you can easily grab a book and viola, the rule will be there for you.

4e is perhaps the ultimate iteration of that, where virtually every cool thing your character or a monster can do is a power of some kind . The monsters tactics are fully specked out for you, the treasure is in literal parcels and all you have to do is take what pieces you want provide flavor text, set up the board, play. This structures the game in a way that Old School games never did. This is not wrong, if you like it mind and while I enjoy creating options for Pathfinder and such -- that amount of structure is no longer what I want in my D&D.

In fact I'd say my ideal D&D is more about imagination than anything else. Just roll some dice, be fair, err on the side of generous and go play. And since it doesn't feel like 4e supports that, I won't be buying in.

Instead because making options for that game is fun to me, I'll support Pathfinder and I'll play old style any time I can.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Actual List of Races

Like the Pathfinder class list before it, this is "Fan content" as it contains mentions of several races that are closed content. All LA +0 Races are built on 32 point buy except LA +1 races who receive only 28 points.

As I do not always start at 1st level, a couple of races ,Warforged who have are essentially cyborgs can only be played at this level. Elan, who are psionically uplifted humans , as well as LA +1 templates are treated somewhat differently. They can be taken for the cost of a feat if the character is level five or above.

Natural Lycanthropes are also available, Boar, Bear and Hunting Cat. As mentioned, these are only available in L5 and up games and require the 1st three levels be taken in a custom racial class.

Half Elf
Half Orc
Dwarf (Hill, Mountain, City)
Elf (Grey or Light)
War Forged (as Ebberon 5th level and up only)
Iron Born
Spirit Folk (OA, Wood (bamboo) River, Sea)
Assimar (+1 LA)
Tiefling (+1 LA)
Azhar (Jinn Blooded, GRR Freeport)
Lesser Assimar (+0 LA)
Lesser Tiefling (+0 LA)

Half Fey (no Wings +1LA)
Half Troll (as Half Ogre +1LA)
Fetch (Ghost Born)
Ghul (Ghoul Born)
Gheden (Undead Grafted)
Half Vampire (Changed in Womb)
Stone Boned Corrupted
Poisoned Corrupted
Taint Corrupted
Arcane Blood Corrupted
Elan (add race abilities to human, LA+1,)
Death Touched (+1 LA)
Element Touched (+1 LA, as per races in SRD)
Dhampire (+1 LA, +2 Con, Immune Vampire Dominate +4 VS Undead Saves, Detect Vampire as Detect Undead, +4 to Escape Artist)

Natural Lycanthrope (Bear, Boar, Cat ) To play one of these guys, the game must be starting at L5 and up. The "level adjustments" must be taken as the 1st three class levels.

So What Kind of Old School Campaigns Do You Run ?

This is a shorter list of what I have prepared especially for "Old School" gaming. These games are meant to reward the simpler style of kil and loot and are much less "RP" intensive. Some of the games in Part 1 of this post can be played easily in earlier editions but for various reasons, the reverse is less true.

These games are meant strictly for nothing later than OS/2 Warp and while Pathfinder is quite capable of making these games fun the complexity kind of defeats the point. Simplicity and fun are king here not rules.

Tombs and Troubles:
Plain old dungeon crawling, hex crawling , adventuring, wenching (or its female equivalent) stealing and woods running. This is classic style D&D with the players simply being Adventurers. There is a city, a few towns, villages, caves and dungeons. Simple archetypes and simple fun.

The Grand Campaign
I've always wanted to run this. This games takes the characters (assuming they don't do something stupid and get killed for it ) from Level 1 to the Queen of the Demon Web Pits. from Zero to Hero and beyond...

So What Kind of Campaigns do You Run ?

I thought I'd share my campaign prospectus for Midrea based games with y'all. This is a list of "what I have the resources and ideas to run" basically.
All of these games are Midrea based and in general are meant to be run with Pathfinder. Most of these (excluding Men Mechs and Magic and Cannon Dreams which can be run with GURPS) can be run well in older editions as well.

I've included a brief "where" note with these as well so folks can tell what part of the world is emphasized.

Man Mech and Magic:
Clockpunk Vision of Escaflowne mixed in with standard Midrea. (7 Nations)

Cannon Dreams:
The Age of Pyrates Version of the above. (7 Nations and Dragon Empire/Islands)

Destiny of Swords:
Someone has shattered the Jewel of the Stars. Each of the pieces will grant great power to anyone or anything THING that finds one. The characters are Jewel Hunters on the track of sahards for good or ill. THis is basically Inuyasha with a Euro bent. D&D or BESM (Pretty Much Everywhere starting either in Rojin or Hajasa)

Midrea Unglued
D&D played for laughs. Hanz and Franz, Talking Squirels, Flumph Paladins and more goofiness played with the rules as written. This is comic but there is no 4th wall breaching unless its really funny. (Midlands Barbaria, Northlands)

Stand with the Joykiller and save your kingdom from all threats within and without. While you are at it find the King a wife, the Princess a suitable husband, manage the factions and keep the assassins at bay. Quite a task, even for a Kingsman. (20 Kingdom in particular Amar)

Path of Blades
The kingdoms war has been good for mercenaries. So come to Fourgate, spend some gold between jobs. help out your buddies,solve mysteries and raise some hell. Its a mercs life. (Fourgate and the 20 Kingdoms)

Down Below:
There are few ways of the projects, money, connections or a military scholarship. Without those there is only the Rangers. The characters are the memeber of the Ranger corp (not necesarily the class) chartered to protect Polis from Down Below or sometimes itself. D&D with very very high magic (Polis, which is on a small island by itself)

Younger Sons:
One hundred years ago a magical catacylsm killed every human in Amachis. Now the curse has ended and the rush has began. The party are all younger sons of Amachian expatriats with little prospects sent back to the motherland to make their way (obviously Amachia though PC's will come from the Midlands or Under the Law)

Children of Damnation:
The party members are all children of Azgoth, Demon Prince of Defilement. You may be half a fiend but you have free will. What will you do with your gifts now that Father has taken an interest in you (Freepor)

The players are members of an elite Unit of trouble shooters in Glandria (the France Like kingdom in the 20 kingdoms) Its mission based and structured but otherwise pretty standard stuff. (Galandria in the 20 Kingdoms)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thunderbolt Buckler

Yep another buckler. Why not?

Unlike most bucklers the Thunderbolt buckler is somewhat concave and square. It is decorated at all for corners and in the center with pieces of meteorites.It is +1 as a defense, +3 as a weapon.

Any target struck by the buckler must save vs. magic or be knocked down. This costs the target any attacks for the round if the wielder gains initiative or the next round if they do not. Attacks on the semi prone target are at +2.

Another World I Made: Veridian the World Forest

Another world I made just the guts of an idea I cooked up one afternoon . I have a tenative class and race list for another time if there is any interest.

If this world gives you an Avatar vibe, thats coincidental as I created the basic ideas a few years before Avatar came out. Its very very loosely inspired by Ursula K. Leguin's "The Word for World is Forest"

Let me also note that Veridian is a very magical world. The fact that a world sized forest is impossible in the real world is irrelevant. It is internally consistent and thats all that really matters to me.


All the world is trees, great temperate arboreal forests, some cool, some warm. The land is crisscrossed with rivers, and streams and dotted with lakes. A few mountains and hills jut up from the surface, gaping like mouths into the underworld . Near to mountains at the center a few pastures break wave in green and where water has accumulated there are fens and swamps .
There is no desert, no ocean, no sea.

Above the world is the sky, which is capped by the Roof of Forever. There are no Gods but the world is pervaded with spirits all jockeying for birth from the dream world of spirit to the real material world.

This is you home, among one of the some of the tribes of the people, or among the spirit folk or even among the hill peoples. So come , listen , all the world is dreaming .. Wake Up! Wake Up!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Character Generation in my Campaign

This really isn't germane to any products I will be doing or to anything old school. However I thought folks here might find "how someone else does char-gen" to be of some interest. Think of this as sharing a bit of the DM's notebook if you like ;)

Welcome to the Midrea Campaign!

All characters are assumed to be reasonably loyal to one another and "adventurous" by nature. If this doesn't fit. Don't play.

Char Gen is as follows

All races on my race lists are available although you should check with me for any modifications.

Humans will receive a background as per Thieves World. See me for further details

Races that are LA+0 will receive 32 points as per the DMG, LA +1 races will receive 28 points.

Starting level is 2 and multi classing to a maximum of 3 classes and 2 prestige classes is allowed. Preferred class is not used and no Pathfinder bonuses hp or skill bonuses will be granted.

Any class may be selected from the class list however all spell casting classes except those requiring spell preparation must be taken at 1st level.

Action points will be used with the the added ability that they may be spent after an enemies to hit roll stop negate a hit.

Fractional BAB and Saves will be in use

Hit points will Max at L1 and Greyhawk Average after.

In lower magic item or lower magic setting settings an untyped bonus of 1/2 level will be added to AC. 1/2 of this bonus (1/4 level) will be added to AC vs touch attacks.

Starting skills are at +2 for all classes with skills used as per pathfinder

Starting money is 1000GP in standard magic campaigns. Items than can be made by the character can be purchased at half cost. Starting money is L1 funds in lower magic campaigns with 1's rerolled.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask by E-Mail or Post

Well folks, there you have it. The simplified guidelines for character generation for my campaign. Hope it was a least not boring....

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Buckler-Mania The Golden Lion Buckler

The buckler is made of rust proof silvery steel and bears a raised lion rampant annealed with gold.

It is a -1 buckler for for anyone who is a coward (DM's decision) It becomes +1 in the hands of a person of ordinary bravery and in the hands of a courageous person it is +3. In addition it grants the +3 bonus to all saving throws versus fear effects.

Once per day, in the hands of a brave person it can roar which causes all enemies to make a save vs fear or flee as if they had lost morale. Once per week it make a second roar that is equal to a shout spell.

Lastly, at any time the wielder is fighting courageously against impossible odds, the Golden Lion will leap from the shield to join in the fray. This is treated as a normal lion of maximum HP with all natural weapons (claws and teeth) as magic weapons at the bucklers plus.

If lion is killed, the buckler cracks and is destroyed but if victorious, the lion will return to the buckler to sleep until needed again.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Buckler: Gorgons Fist

This buckler showed up in the hands of an iconic a way back but since I have been posting bucklers of late, I thought I'd post a more detailed version of the Gorgons Fist

Gorgons Fist

This buckler is made of mottled pebbled gray -greenish hide harder than steel. It is +2 and if a melee attacker misses a blow by 3 or less that blow has hit the shield and the attacker must saves vs spells or be slowed for 1d6 rounds as the spell.

Old School Dwarf Class List

Dwarfs don't use magic as a general rule, at least not in the manner a Human or Elf would. They do make powerful magical items and have mastery of Runes however.

Warrior (standard combat Dwarf)

Locksmith (thief dwarf, not a burglar but a stealthy forward observer and trap remover or at least thats what they want you to think)

Delver (ranger analog)

Rune Master (adaptation of a 2e class)

Old School Elf Class List

All Elf classes are X/Magic Users as Elves are intensely magical beings. The nature makes certain kinds of spells impossible but grants them a less divided style of magic than human casters. Elves have a non standard magic user spell list which includes some healing magic as well as a range of charms, enchantments and illusions.

Sword-Dancer (Fighter/Magic User)

Spell-Bow (Archer/Magic User)

Ghost Knife (Thief/Magic User)

Green Walker (Ranger/Magic User)

Spell Singer (Bard/Magic User)

Old School Halfling Class List

Only fiver for my furry footed friends


Herbalist (kind of a druid hedge-mage)

Thornwalker (the Ranger Analog)

Traveler (the basic Halfling)

Whistler (thats a the current working name for an adaptation of a 2e Demi Bard Kit I really liked)

My Old School Class List

As a contrast to my long list of 3x classes, here is my much shorter "old School" class list for humans

Black Wizard
White Wizard

One class for each stat, Fighter (STR) Black Wizard (INT) White Wizard (WIS) Ranger (CON) Thief (DEX) Bard (CHA)

Other games may use other types of classes such as Paladin, Cleric, Druid, Monk, and such but the numbers are still a lot smaller.

I find that with the right players, it really doesn't matter. There is enough for fun and thats all that matters.

So Are You a Big Stink Hypocrite Planning to Create a Bunch of New Crunchy Pathfinder Stuff

Well the answer to that question is, hedge -- hedge -- hedge -- kinda

If things go well I will be putting out a bunch of new spells and maybe some prestige classes and feats.

The spells are coming out because, well I love spells

These and the prestige classes were were already published years ago (so I know they were good) in D20 Weekly (they are OGL) and thus recycling --

As for the feats, they serve a niche I think is not being served (cool weapon style feats)--

Besides, not everyone has gone completely overboard and larded up on material like I have. A lot of folks out there in gaming land need new stuff.

The Official Feat and Prestige Class lists, or Not..

Just in case anyone wondered I have no intention of posting my feat and PRC lists. In fact I don't even have one.

The reason is pretty simple. There are too many to sort and that number is growing everyday.Its a lot simpler for me to just say "most official, try me on anything else." and e done with it.

The Unicorn Buckler

I've really been into sword and buckler play of late and in honor of my recent obsession, here is another item to play with.

The Unicorn Buckler

No one knows who made this buckler but it appears to be constructed of some unknown bluish/silver metal and embossed with a black and unicorn composed of some indestructible material.

Its is +1 as both a weapon and as a buckler (granting a bonus of 2 to AC) . Upon mental command it can extend an alicorn horn. This horn is also a +1 weapon and does 1d4 piercing damage. The 1st time it is used in a combat (extended or retracted) the sudden shift penalizes the opponents armor class by 2.

In addition the buckler may cast cure light wounds 1 time per day and once per week, a single spell from the following list (dispel magic, cure serious wounds, cure disease or neutralize poison)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Actual List of Pathfinder /3x Core Classes

Just in case anyone wants to see the crazy thing I am posting the list here. It doesn't feel right to put up a PDF though. This list may use some names that are closed content and while the list does not include any data on any of the classes (other than in the case of Non Hasbro/Wizards classes, the source) I would like to be as respectful to IP law as possible. Its not 100% OGL and its not my stuff after all.

So below is the list, all eight pages of it for your amusement. These are the classes I use in my home campaign. A lot of this stuff won't be seen outside my table and Products I produce will of course use OGL/Pathfinder compatible classes from the SRDs, my own classes and any that are part of a partnership.



Fighter (everywhere)
Knight (20 Kingdoms, Center)
Commander (everywhere with armies)
Archer (everywhere with armies)
Fencer (9 circle cities, Dragon Empire, 7 Nations except Roh Jin, Hajasa )
Gladiator (?)
Bodyguard (Sorcerers Isle, Arkar, Firhom, some of the 20 Kingdoms, Brin )
Corsair (Brin, 5 Lands, Frepor, Seafolk)
Exoticist (Hajasa,)
Mercenary (as Jannisary, everywhere, Vara, Galitep )
Pugilist (?)
Thane (Dwarfs, Northlanders)
Shield Bearer (Dwarfs, Hunzun City States)
Survivalist (everywhere)
Thug (everywhere)
Horseman (everywhere especially Vi and Toulani)
Academy Fighter (Various) Req INT 11+ drop 1st level feat Add INT mod +3 skills to class skills list

Options everyone gets
Gain Elusive Attack @2 attacks
Gain Counterattack @3 attacks
Gain Overpowering Attack @4 Attacks
Fighter Only (Drops Feats for Sneak Attack)


Barbarian (Angosta, )
Animal Totem Variants (Beast Tribes)
City Brawler (?)
Horse Lord (Toulani)
Implacable Variant (Dwarven)
Sea Rager (as Corsair from Unorthodox Barbarians, Sea Folk, Northerners)
Berserker (Northern Lands)
Dragon Totem (Dragon Lands)
Hunter (drop rage for Ranger abilities as SRD) (everywhere)

Options (may be stacked and used with any variant that has the dropped ability)
Relentless Smash
Indomitable Will
Fearsome Gaze
Whirling Frenzy

Weapon Master (GRR Black Company ) (Vala- Bastard Sword Only, Dragon Empire, Hajasa , Shone, Roh Jin )


Druid (most rural places)
Urban Druid (7 Nations, Firhome, Hunzun City States )
Druidic Avenger (rural places)
Sea Druid (Sea Folk, Brin, a few in the 7 Nations)
Metal Master (Steel Tribes, Shone, Dwarfs)
Sidhe Scholar (Elves, Aradia,)
Totem Druid (Beast Tribes)
Storm Dancer (aka Storm Druid ?)
Wild Reaper
Wind Walker
Winter Warden (Southern Ice, Northlands, a few in Cygen)
Swift Hunter (as SRD) (?)

Animal Focused: Lose Wildshape, May Share all abilities with Companion, may speak with all Animals of type at will
Spontaneous Rejuvenation: Drop Spontaneous Summons for Spontaneous Healing
Shapeshift Variant (Elves may mix with Sidhe Scholar)


Monk (Hajasa, Dragon Isles, Ro-Jin )
Steadfast Monk (Dwarfs always with Decisive Strike)
Vigilant Monk (Firhom, some of the 20 Kingdoms, Black Gate Keep always with Sacred Strike/Evil)
Wild Monk (?)
Bane of the Clockwork (7 Kingdoms, Dragon Isles)
Sidewinder Monk (Arkar, Beast Tribes)
Raging Monk (?)
Martial Monk (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)
Chaos Monk (The Well of Archeon)
Holy Monk (?)
Hunting Monk (High Plains, gain Claw Glove)
Shadow Warrior (The Le)

All Monks may freely multi-class
All hand weapons a monk is proficient in may be used to flurry
Decisive Strike (any)
Fighting Styles (all)
Weapon Schools
Fighting Schools


Mythic Ranger
Non Spell Casting Ranger
Urban Ranger
Wild Defender
Martial Ranger (lose spells, gain feats)
Sea Ranger (Sea Folk, Brin) not completed

Solitary Hunter: Swap animal companion for Solitary Hunting
Distracting Attack: Swap animal companion for Distracting Attack
Combat Styles
Moon Warded (lose combat style, gain armor of sense (2) , moon skin (6) and indomitable mind (11) (Aradia, Queens Domain , Ashanan)
Street Ranger (as Half Elf Substitution)
Shifter Ranger (Shifters)
Shape-Wise (lose Combat Styles for Wild Shape and Fast Movement)


Rogue (everywhere)
Wilderness Rogue (everywhere with rural areas)
Lunar Rogue (lose Uncanny Dodge L4 for Rage 1 per day, Improved Uncanny Dodge and L10 Special Abilities for Magic. Must Take Lesser and Greater Magic) (Aradia , Ashanan, Queens Domain)

Feat Rogue (Drop Sneak Attack for Feats)

Beguiler (mostly Midlands and Southlands)

Duskblade (?)

Dragon Shaman (Dragon Empire, limited by House

Mystic (replaces Favored Soul) anywhere


Hexblade (Grey and Dark Elves, occasional other)
Dark Companion variant ( Grey and Dark Elves,occasional other)


Skirmisher (as Scout) (everywhere except Dragon Empire and 7 Nations-- save tribes)
Light Cavalry (everywhere with horses especially Vi and Toulani)
Sniper (everywhere, may still take 5' step, gains all Martial ranged weapons)

Spell Thief (Elves mainly, occasionally other)
Swashbuckler (Pathfinder version, 9 Cities, Brin, 7 Nations)

Warlock (Well of Archeon, Taking Power, Granted Power)
Flame Wreath variant (as above)

Warmage (Middle and Southern Kingdoms mainly)
Warmage Eclectic Learning (as above)


Cleric (everywhere)
Ancestral Speaker (Dwarf)
Arcane Disciple (Hunzun City States)
Aspirant (?)
Benevolent (?)
Cloistered Cleric (everywhere)
Crusader (most places)
Evangelist (most places)
Rage Cleric (?)

Domain Focus
Spontaneous Domain Casting
Improved Domain Powers (may stack with spontaneous)

Artificer (Pathfinder versions) (7 Nations, Dragon Kingdoms)

Gun Mage (7 Nations, Dragon Kingdoms)

Spell Preparation Bard (Firhom, Most Places, Human Bardic Knack is free)
Bard (rare most places, common in Elven Lands, Gnomes, )
Divine Bard ( Delas)
Savage Bard (Preparation Vi, Toulani)
Harbinger (Wastelands)
Fey Bard (Aradia) (As SRD)

Bardic Colleges used
Diplomat Substitution (as Half Elf Sub, Firhom)
Gnome Substitution (Gnomes, all)
Shantyman, may take Vaporing as a Feat (from Skull and Bones)

Archer Variants (Genius Guide to Archers, if you bring it)

Arcane Trickster (Charke Publishing, if you bring it)


Natural Philosopher (As Power of Self), (Brin, 7 Nations)
Paladin (The Way)
Paladin of Freedom (Bastion)
Despot (Bael)
Paladin of Slaughter (Abyss)
Sentinel (Black Gate)
Wyrm Slayer (Dragon Empire)
Paladin of Light (Celana)
Solstice Knight (Celandra)

Options (may stack as appropriate)
Angels Sight
Banishing Aura
Sanctified Aura
Charging Smite
Gaze of Truth
Hunter of Fiends
Smiting Arrow
Celestial Sword
Righteous Fury Variant (as Half Orc Racial)


Battle Sorcerer


Wizard (everywhere)
Fildh (Angosta)
Death Walker (Wastelands)
Soul Reaper (Wastelands)
Fleshcrafter (Wastelands)
Hedge Wizard (as Halfling Substitution)

Shinobi (as C/A Ninja ) (Hajasa) (gains Sneak Attack instead of Sudden Strike)

Sacred Fist (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Phantom (Thief/Cleric) (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Emissary (Thief/Cleric) (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Sage (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Shaman (Green Ronin) (Beast Tribes, Toulani, Chun, Amer Tribes,)

Noble (as Green Ronin, everywhere)

Infiltrator (KoK) (Everywhere)

Witch (Aradia, Queens Domain, Ashanan, )

Arcanite (as ToS Warlock) (?)

9 Swords Classes (All) (Hajasa) also includes Hong's Ranged Classes

Sword Sage
Sword Sage Monk Like Variant
Marksman Adept (Hong)
Huntsman Ranger (Hong)

Agent (Northern Crown) (all civilized areas)

Warolord (ToS) (?)

Incarnum Classes (all) (?)


Totem Warrior (Beast Tribes, Amer Tribes)

Spy (Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri, All)

Beastmaster ( Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri, )

Corbie ( Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri)

Gladiator ( Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri)

Sea Dog (Buccaneers and Boccor) (Sea Folk, Brin, 7 Nations, Dragon Empire )

Thane Mage (Advanced Players Manual GR)

Gutter Mage (Book of Roguish Luck)

Arcane Archer (from its own book)

Savant (Thieves World) (Everywhere)

Assassin (Green Ronin Assasins Handbook )

Oathsworn (Arcana Unearthed, Lawbringer Theocracy)

Pact Mage (?)

Shadow Mage (?)

Corsair (GRR Freeport) (Brin, 7 Nations, Dragon Empire, Sea Folk )

Shadow Sworn (Book of Roguish Luck, ?)

True Namer (?)

Survivor (TW ?)

Factotum (Hunzun City States)

Cavalier (PF) (Midlands, 20 Kingdoms)

Alchemist (PF) (7 Nations)

Inquisitor (PF) (Lawbringer Theocracy)

Oracle (PF) (anywhere, Ancient Ones)

Summoner (PF) (Near a Gate)

Hex Witch (PF Witch Class) (Dark or Grey Elves)

Bandit (GR Roguish Luck) (everywhere)

Battle Dancer

Monster Hunter (GRR Freeport) (everywhere)

Buccaneer (GRR Skull and Bones) (Sea Folk, River Folk, Dragon Empire, 7 Nations)

Yogi (Monte Cooks Best D20 ) (Hajasa, Vara)

Runeblade (Monte Cook Book of Experimental Might) (Northlands, Dwarfs)

Shadow Knife (Occisor) (Arcanis, Psionics Unbound) (Modified)

Meta Mage (as Warlock from Tome of Secrets) (?)

Investigator (Crime and Punishment)

Psionic Classes

Soul Knife
Psionic Warrior
Divine Mind
Psionic Rogue (accessory WOTC)

Devoted Psion Variant (Dreamscarred Press, Untapped Horizons,)
Marksman (Dreamscarred Press, Untapped Horizons)
Enlightened Monk (Dreamscarred Press ) (Steel Cities often with Marital Monk )

Psionic Ranger (Nifft, Online)

Soul Knife Options

Soul Bastion (Dreamscarred Press, High Psionic Compilation)
Cleaving Blade (Dreamscarred Press, High Psionic Compilation)
Dual Blade (Dreamscarred Press, High Psionic Compilation)
Throwing Blade (Dreamscarred Press, High Psionic Compilation)

Options Bloat: My Core Class List for 3x

I ranted a couple of posts back about not liking options all that much. No need to repeat any of that here.

However I thought I'd share a tidbit with y'all. As an exercise I went through and wrote down every single allowable core class and core class variant for my possibly upcoming Pathfinder/3X hybrid campaign.Just a roughly formatted list with the class names, nations where they are common, and if they were not in the Pathfinder or D20 SRD, what the source was.That's it.

Guess how big it was? 8 pages. Core Classes and variants only, but still 8 pages is a lot of material for anyone to take in.Player or Gamemaster.

Now what I plan to do is when characters are created I'll hand the players the list , let them read through and if they aren't sure what they want , I'll ask them what they want to play, then suggest something.

This should help trim down the options for them, without taking away the choices that many of them crave.

Of course once I get to prestige classes or feats, thats when the fun begins ...

I have no PRC or Feat plan (no time to sort all the sources) so I'll do what I do best. Let the players pick, vote up or down and wing it.

Or maybe I'll save myself the trouble , just club them over the head and make them play Labyrinth Lord or something. ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy July 4th

Independence Day here in the US, so no posts for me.

Be safe and have a happy holiday everyone.

Confession 5:Options I Do Like

I will admit there are some options I really do like,in particular interesting monsters, cool spells and neat magic items.

These things can add to the fun without being burdensome.

As a player I don't mind choosing from bigger spell lists, getting new toys and fighting monsters I never heard of either.

Confession 4: I Don't Like Options that Much

I can hear the gasps from all the Pathfinder players out there but I still have to confess, I don't like massive numbers of options in my D&D all that much.

I don't care much for dozens of classes, thousands of prestige classes, complex fiddly skill systems and endless hordes of detailed cruft.

As a DM all that is its far too much to keep track off, sort, balance out and to fit into a game world. Sure I can simply say "no." but I am an old softy and I hate to do that. Its also easier to just have a short list with enough abstract flexibility to make a concept work. Gladiator ? Fighter with lens Knight ? Fighter with lens etc etc ...

As a personal example, my campaign list for "allowed 3x classes" for Midrea, just names, allowed variants and where they are located is nearly 6 pages long. That doesn't cover any prestige classes either, just core classes. Eek!

Frankly thats too much and its not adding to my fun.

Its no better for me as a player either. It just ends up being an exercise in min-maxing and frustration .

Now in defense of 3x/Pathfinder its nothing new , I felt this way about most kits and many rules options back in 2e too.

In my opinion the trick is to have "just enough" and if you'll forgive a bit of a tease my background and lens system does this without adding much complexity ..

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Role of Women in Midrea

The most important thing to note is that female PC's can be any role they want and try to achieve anything they like. It might be a struggle but anything can be had

In general the role of women in Midrea is very culture dependent. I have one semi matriarchy, The Hyrkan (think a Miriam Gimbutas style of bronze age government) two full true matriarchy, The Queens Domain and the Mazi (hey its fantasy who cares if there never were such things) a lot of places where the status of women is lower than that of men but higher than in the real world, a couple of places with legal equality and one where women are chattel.

In general, the status of women though is higher than that of women in the past of the real world for three reasons

#1 Magic -- there are lots of women sorcerers and cleric and so on -- a fireball cares not for the casters gender as they say
#2 Contraception -- there are common and effective magical and mundane sorts of contraception available -- cheap
#3 Two female headed pantheons -- there is an equivalent to Wicca and a polytheistic pantheon called The Fifty

For the most part women fill mouch the same roles that they fill in the real ancient world , wives and mothers. There are few female warriors though there are more than in history and there is even the obligatory all female mercenary troop or three. There are also many more rulers and lots of magic types and priestesses.

The only roles women rarely fill are Death Knight (there is only one in fact The Corpse Maiden) , as women are rarely warriors and even more rarely evil enough, Liches (there are 2 in all) as women rarely are evil or powerful enough to take this path and Archmage as women usually lack the ambition (there are a few dozen).As for Lesbian Vampire Sorceresses (and yes someone did ask) -- there aren't any

A GURPS Post ?

Yes a GURPS post. As I mentioned a while back Midrea has been used with a number of systems and while its currently mostly Pathfinder and Old School, I have a folder full of stuff, bad maps, org charts for Delan Legions and such that were written back when GURPS 3 was all I played.

As I was digging through my Midrea files I came across an essay on Mage Genetics I wrote and feeing inspired I wanted to show how some different system assumptions interact with the world.

Now GURPS does kind of have clerical magic system, during the design I decided the deal that out of the picture and concentrate on having all magic the domain of Mages.

The biggest changes this wrought was a deemphasis on religion, faith became a social force more than a temporal one. It played much the same at the player level but it left more room for doubt and religious wars. I liked it well enough but it didn't have anything to prefer it over a more D&D focused version.

About one person in 10 had second sight (they could take seer abilities) and 1 in 100 had Magery with each tier of power, 1/10 as common as the last. I allowed power ratings from 0 to unlimited a a house rule (its a standard rule now) back then topping at Magery 10 for the Master Magister (technically with a 1 in a trillion chance of having that level of power) that when combined with his 17 IQ (GURPS is a bell curve system BTW and a 17 is far more powerful than in D&D) and 3000 point magical fatigue pool gave him Archmage level with every spell and enough power to smash cities.

Another oddity of Mages only was the emphasis on bloodlines and genetic components to magic.
Below is the essay

My genetics in my game world (assuming GURPS rules BTW) work like this
Magery is a recessive trait carried by about one percent of the population. How it evolved is unknown however Its linked to high "intelligence" and good "health" thus all mages are smart and tend to be long lived. They also tend to low fertility for various reasons, lack of sociability, autistic autodidact personality types (mages tend to be abrasive jerks) and perhaps chromosomal error correction needed to handle the N dimensional energy flows .
Two mages will always bear a mage child but if both partners carry the gene it becomes very difficult to conceive.
A mage's child by a non carrier won't necessarily get the mage gift but has a higher chance of conception. Still the number of mages with children is smaller than might be expected for two reasons
#1 my world has cheap reliable birth control that works on both genders so there needs to be a conscious desire to conceive on both partners account.
#2 There are a lot of solitary Mages and while they may have magically expended lifespans a mages tend to have abrasive personalities and ASPIE like traits that reduce mating opportunities.
When a mage has a child by a non mage there is a 20% chance (or so) that the child may have a weak version of the mage gift called Second Sight. This will give them 6th sense related abilities and sometimes the ability to cast some hedge magic spells which work only through subtle means. Maybe 1/10 of the population has this ability though few train it to any degree.
Doing this allows me the option of "son/daughter of a powerful mage" without too many mage dynasties and keeps numbers very low. In summation, It is assumed that mages are rare because
Its an intelligence linked recessive carried by about 1.5% of the population
Mages also tend to have some social spectrum disorders that reduce social bonding
Two carriers of the mage gene will have diminished fertility.
These traits limit the number of mages to (even allowing for for greatly enhanced survival odds) about 2% of the population as persons with mage potential of some kind or another and 5x that number with second sight.

In retrospect don't know that I would do it again but it would be possible even in D20 to have Black and White Mages replace Arcane and Divine casters if it was desirable.

The Lay of Maris and Ezradan

When you spend too much time world building from blocks of your own bad fiction and gaming, sometimes a little poetry seeps through.

This is an excerpt of Vara poem, the kind of thing any school kid in that country would know. And as you guessed its violent and kind of morbid.

The Lay of Maris and Ezradan

And they met at the place of battles
on the last days
and Maris looked out upon the iron sea and asked of Ezradan "why have you come"
Ezradan passed his hand out over the forment and answered "We are following the will of the one"
"What is the will of the one?" asked Maris curious
"Death." said Ezradam
Maris said nothing
Ezradan saw the grim men around Maris and before him and asked "Why have you come?"
and Maris passed his hand over the forment and answered "We are seeking."
"What are you seeking?" asked Ezradan
"Death." said Maris
and Ezradan smiled and said "Then let us then go into death as brothers."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some Exotic Weapons in Midrea

There are quite a few odd weapons in Midrea. Most of the Asian ones can be found in Hajasa since it is a polyglot of Asian cultures pressed together by Shaper intervention.

Other include

Bladestaff -- the two bladed sword from the PHB. The only difference is that any staff specific feats work fine with it
Moonsword -- think Bat'leth. Uses the double axe stats but is also a trip weapon
Starblade -- Shuriken
Fighting Chain -- Spiked Chain only blunt. It can also be used as a double weapon as well
Weighted Scarf-- a Gypsy weapon useful for entangling, tripping and throttling as well as strikes
Shang -- This is a three bladed throwing iron
Greatbow --6 Foot Yew Bow with a 120 lb pull
Warsword (as Bastard Sword) There is also a wood version like a Bokken. All feats apply
Waraxe (as Dwarven Waraxe)
Three Part Staff (as Dire Flail)
Hook Hammer (as Gnome Hookhammer)
Battle Claw (a Shortsword that can't be disarmed and may power attack)
Chainwhip (uses Whip stats and feats does 1d6 lethal. May be bladed)
Spearthrower (adds 10 to the increment of any Javelin or Dart, increases die by 1 type. Allows missile weapon increments)

I moved a few weapons about as well.

. First, Monk weapons aren't exotic and Monks in my game can flurry with anything they are proficient in

Sai becomes Swordbreaker which is a martial weapon.
Nunchaku is called Chain Sticks. Its a light martial weapon.
Kama and Sickle are a single weapon Hand Scythe -- its martial
Repeating Crossbow is Martial but there is no heavy repeater.
Hand Crossbow does 1d4 and is a simple weapon

Sex on Midrea

I almost called this Sex in my D&D but that would not have been fair, no bait and switch from 5 Stone ;)

Unlike most D&D games I have thought about sex issues in the game but for the record in actual play its all PG and happens "off screen"

Now as for the sexual preferences of various races-- I worked them out for my game--just in case anyone asks . I know they will probably never come up but they do interest me from a world building POV

Human -- same as real world -- varies by culture
. Vara stock don't seem to care much for sex but everyone else is pretty much as slutty or chaste as Earth people are. Note that Shan-folks and Human are 100% inter-fertile. Other than oddities in hair and eyes and a bit more magic, there really is no difference

Elves -- Mostly Bi -- with a few single sex preferred types -- usually Hetero with a fair amount of polyamory too. Sex =/= reproduction with these guys

Dwarfs -- 60% Neuter (all the unmarried ones) the rest Hetero -- none are Gay. Dwarfs aren't really into the whole sex drive thing and can off the sex drive when they are not in a relationship. Dwarfs pair only with Dwarfs except for Faerie Dwarfs where they sometimes pair with human females. The result is always a male Dwarf.

Gnomes -- Gnomes curiously have no concept of adultery and never cheat on a partner. Other than that they marry and reproduce in a manner much like humans. Gnomes too are never gay for some reason

Half Elves -- same as Humans often with a bit more of a wild streak

Halfling -- Always heterosexual and monogamous like Swans. They bond for life. if a partner dies they rebond (sometimes) but thats it

Half Orcs -- same as Human with a marked tendency to violence
. They occasionally pair with humans, by force or choice as with elves they are basically the same species.

Half Ogre . Always Male and Always Neuter. These were from parings between a human male and an ogress -- females became Ogres , Males could be (1 time in 10) Half Ogres. Ogre males aren't interested in human females -- except as food. The exception might be a shapechanged Ogre Magi -- Children would be human with a High Strength, a weird bloodline and levels in the Sorcerer class

Half Troll -- Faerie trolls IMC are intelligent and interact with humans quite often. Humans and Trollwives sometimes pair off and with all the magic offspring sometimes results. Trollborn look and act mostly human though they tend to be tall, have magic and sometimes horns or rough skin.

Dragons and other stuff? Well I dunno ....

A last note on sex and gender rolls. Because of magic and cheap ubiquitous herbal birth control in most places the status of women is much higher than it is on Earth. After all are you goingt o tell a woemn who can call God-Fire or kil with a thought, she is a chattel?

Exceptions include Nordanfel which treats all women as chattel (its a polemic counterpart to the queens domain which does that for Men) and to an extent the scattered kingdoms which are semi feudal and tend to see women as inferior, with exceptions


Booze in Midrea

Booze is a curious thing in Midrea. Its less important than in medieval Europe for a lot of reasons.

1st, Water is easily purified with a very minor spell that most villages have access to in the form of a well charm.

2nd, There is tea as a substitute on the rare occasion water is chancy.

3rd, Humans of Shan extraction have no real cultural tradition of alcohol or drug consumption (other than Blackroot the other drugs were brought by the shapers) . Also most Shan-folk carry a gene that makes alcohol quite nauseating and ineffective to boot. This is not a dominant gene but at least 1/3 of the populace carry it in one form or another. Interestingly Vara-Stock (Vinyari and Gallitep) both carry the resistance portion of the gene, though not the nausea component . Neither culture uses drugs or has a tradition of ecstatic activities of any kind. Since they posses an innate ability to null pain and to be calm, this never came about

4th Also many of the central cultures are abstemious , and prefer tea or coffee . The Lawbringer faith harshly punishes public drunkenness as well and it is spreading too.

Now this being a world with humans in it, there is alcohol , beer and ale, wine and even distillation. Gin is popular enough among Dwarfs that it is often called Dwarven Spirits. Halfling folk like good beer and the Brin are game for anything.

However there is no such thing as Celana, Elf wine, probably.

Travel Food in Midrea

Midrea has some nutrition science and a wide range of foodstuffs and so while the tech is low eating is good.

Travel food items include a potato analog (brought from Earth actually) hard tack, pickled vegetables and eggs, honey, nuts , dried fruit and dried salted meat. Rice, tea and, coffee, and herbal "tea" are carried when they can be had

For deep delves there something like pemmican "waybread" or "Iron Rations" -- light, easy to carry, keeps years -- its fat, meat, druid fruit, certain high vitamin berries (a kind of rose hip), sometimes a bit of honey wrapped in leaves or hide. You can live in this a very long time.

Rich people also have alchemical items, akin to energy shots that are used to treat deficiency diseases. These are cheaper than healing potions and very handy on long trips.

There are also preservation charms used whenever possible and a larger version called a cargo spindle ."Create food" items exist but as the Gods disapprove of such things on various grounds those these can be hard to come by.

Many important people also have rings of sustenance. However since eating is enjoyable and a great way to show status, these are less used than you might think except in time of war.

Speaking of war, several nations have an elite "long march squad" with magic boots, magic cloak, sustenance rings and other items . These units can appear and operate anywhere in the world in relative comfort without resupply and make for great PC bands.

The only place they are common is out in the islands near the Five Lands and Dragon Empire there is a nation called colloquially "The Ring Folk" . Upon maturity everyone is given a ring of sustenance and as such they never need eat or sleep more than 2 hours again.

As a person dies his or her ring is returned to the city and reissued -- in a long life time this is cheaper than food (eating is about 5sp per day I'd guess, call it 200GP per year with wastes and feasts and such) -- 12 and a half years pay for it and as a nice thick ring can last several lifetimes -- its a very good deal.

In that culture food is only equated with childhood and reproduction , as while the ring gave "life-sustaining nourishment. and refreshes the body and mind," it is not enough for childhood growth or a pregnancy.

When a family wanted a child they start eating . They do have gardens and fisheries and pig farms for this purpose but mostly as they have no industry (they live in shaped stone houses, have continual flame lamps and inherited magic items for comfort and such ) they traded crafts, have priests conjure food and occasionally treasure dive.

And a last note to readers, a ring of sustenance won't work on a child and it renders the user sterile while worn. Handle with care.

Dwarf Clan Names

Regardless of being city, hill or mountain stock all Dwarf Clan names follow a pattern and are always made up of combinations of the following word elements

















First names very a bit, Hill Dwarves have "Scots" sounding names, Mountain Dwarves have "Germanic" or "Eastern European" sounding names and City Dwarves have kind of "Jewish" sometimes with a bit of "Vietnamese" flavor.

Faerie Dwarves do not have clans, having traded away their identity for a sort of immortality. They keep real names secret for magical reasons and instead have strange titles (Steel-Spinner, Moon Bender, that sort of thing)

Dwarven Faith

Some missing fluff from my previous Dwarf themed post.

Dwarves by nature are not especially religious, at least not to the degree humans are however they do have a religion, a kind of ancestor worship/animism . Occasionally they follow The Way or in areas "under the law" the Orthodox form of the Lawbringer faith. These Orthodox Dwarves are fully respected members of the Lawbringer Faith as are there counterparts in the way.