Sanctum Sanctorum

RPG Gaming and Idea Stuff

Category: RPGs

Erldworn – Setting

The game is set in a fantasy, medieval, feudal world. Dwarves and elves and orcs and dragons are all here. Magic exists as do the fey.

The area of play will start about the size of modern France. Most inhabitants will only know

House Rules

Dropping to Zero HP and Death Saves.
Dropping to zero HP is a huge deal. It means you’d be dead if you weren’t a hero. In 1st Edition AD&D, if your PC dropped to 0HP, they fell into a coma for up to an hour, after which time they needed to spend a minimum of a week on bedrest. I like the dire nature and “close to death” feel that something like that gives, so here’s how we’re going to deal with near-death experiences:

Dropping to 0HP will require resting with no travel for 2 full days, added on to any other resting penalties that accrue.

3 Successful Death Saves stabilizes a character as per the rules as they were written as does the application of magical healing effects also per RAW.

Failed Saves work as follows: Characters do not die until they fail 6 Death Saves (rather than the 3 in RAW). For each Failed Save, the character must be on bedrest in civilization for a full day, bedrest with help in a campsite for 2 full days, or bedrest for 4 full days if there is no campsite or if being transported in a wagon/cart/stretcher. If there is any movement, other than in a vehicle (or on a stretcher), that whole day does not count.

Also for each Failed Save, the character will remain in a coma for 15 minutes. This effect can be alleviated with magical restoration/healing/potions.

In D&D 5e, the designed “unit of play” is the encounter. In the game designers’ attempt to build their game around an encounter environment, a lot of things got trimmed, shortened, or nerfed. We won’t be changing any of the spells that exist in the game. Everything that’s built around the encounter will remain for game balance reasons. However, those encounter magics leave a lot of flavor of the mystery and, well, magic of magic on the desinging-room floor. We will, in our world, have “other kinds” of magic… rituals and summonings and bargains… alchemy and potions and poultices… fey and djinn and demons.

Encounter magic is going to be really really rare. If a town of 100 people has a “wizard,” that wizard likely does not have any levels in the Class of Wizard. It’s much more likely that such a small town’s wizard is something of an alchemist and herbalist who knows how to make a couple of different potions… The Master Wizard of a town of 250 people might have Class levels in Wizard (or Warlock or Sorcerer), maybe as many as 3 levels which would indicated something like the most powerful mystic in a hundred miles.

A magic user powerful enough to cast an actual fireball is a wizard who is smart enough to never cast a fireball while anyone’s around to witness it. Such events terrify the populace and the leadership of the people. They also tend to be foul magics as they change the nature of the environment. There may be people who claim to be such powerful magicians, but most of these are charlatans looking to extort locals for a nice living.

However… there are magics that are slow-builds toward powerful effects. Rituals that take hours, days, or weeks to perform… or years or decades. Potions that take a month to brew that can twist the fabric of the universe. These sorts of things exist, and running afoul of the kind of people who know such rituals and would seek to perform them is unwise for the common folk because people who are organized and patient enough to cast a ritual that takes a year tend to have plans in place to make disrupting such rituals difficult or deadly to those who might seek to do so. They also start innocently enough and largely go unnoticed until the rituals are quite advanced in their execution.

At the same time, magical effects can vary widely in their… effects. In the rules as they’re written, each spell or effect as a certain area of effect or target indicator. We will especially be changing environmental effects… Light, Entangle, anything Thunderous… we’ll allow these effects to vary depending on the circumstance and what’s most dramatically appropriate. For example, in the RAW, the Light cantrip creates “normal” light in a 20′ radius with dim light another 20′ out, every single time it’s cast… If it’s more dramatically appropriate to have it be larger (like to illuminate the 100 orcs who are moving on up on your position in the darkness) then we’ll allow that. Likewise, if it’s appropriate to be smaller, like you only need dim light for the thief to pick the lock then the Light cantrip is barley more then a candlelight… This is not fair. I don’t care about fair. I care about cool. If a spellcaster puts a lot of oomph behind a spell… casts while angry or energetic… the effect may be larger. This is where role play will enhance the game directly… This will be at my discretion and it will be as rare as magic is.

Note: Magic brought the world as we know it into existence. So magics that are “goodly” intended tend to go unnoticed as they put the world right. Evil magics can be sensed because they tend to foul the world around them. This leads to the understanding that magic is bad and unnatural.

Magic Items
Items will be really rare, and will never be available for purchase. People who possess and use magical weapons and armor are no one to be trifled with. There will, and should, be no notion of a “magic item hunt” unless you’re on some sort of quest to find a particular magic item for some reason. Magic items may be found among the dead, but will most likely be bestowed to others as gifts for bravery or some service. It is also likely and acceptable for the Player Characters to give magic items to an especially worthy NPC as a reward for similar service… if this confuses you, it’s fine to ask (Out of Character), when a situation presents itself, if it’s appropriate to give x, y, or z gift to some NPC. I will answer you completely honestly… “No, this service isn’t so grand as to warrant this gift,” or “Yes, that’s completely appropriate to do that.” I will never seek to fuck over the PCs in this manner. I want you guys to be big, badass, superheroes. I’m not looking to steal the keys to the batmobile.

Also along the lines of avoiding a magic item hunt, magic items may grow in power as characters unlock powers and abilities. For example, if a character with a +1 sword heroically completes a quest, the effort involved may invest more magic into the blade (into the character/blade relationship), and it could become a +2 weapon. The idea that I like is that as a character becomes more powerful, their weapons will too… or, if you do a favor for an elf, the elf may imbue some of her essence into your weapon, making it more “magical.”

So invest bits of your souls into your weapons/armor/things. They may take on lives of their own.

Time Management
I feel that time in the game goes by too fast. Characters in some storylines go from beginning adventurers to 12th-Level demigods in the span of about 4 months of game time. In this game, we’re going to make extensive use of Downtime Activities as a storytelling tool. I find it to be better storytelling that no one in a given town (especially smaller ones) will trust people they haven’t met until those people have been around for a while, or come with some sort of reputation.

In previous editions of D&D, Player Characters might amass enormous sums of money. Enough, in fact, to destroy the economies of several kingdoms. Because the purchase of magic items is not really in play, the need for this sort of wealth is greatly deminished. As a result, the accumulation of wealth shouldn’t be an overly large motivation of the PCs. Before, PCs might walk around with thousands or even tens of thousands of gold pieces on them. In this world, a person can live comfortably on a budget of 30 silver per month.

By game design, the PCs are going to be some of the wealthiest people in the world because they dare what others will not. They will, at times, be wealthier than the lord they’re visiting with, and that may cause problems unless handled properly. They’ll have the monetary resources to build up areas of wilderness should they wish.

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