Sanctum Sanctorum

RPG Gaming and Idea Stuff

Category: PC Accessible

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 0HP and Death Saves
Dropping to 0HP 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 in bedrest. I like the dire nature and “close to death” feel that something like that give, 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 Saves stabilizes a character as per the rules as they were written as does the application of magical healing effects as 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 stretcher), that whole day does not count.

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

Healing, Wounding, and Working

If you are above 1/2 Max HP when you rest, you are fully recovered by a long rest.

If you are between 1/4 and 1/2 Max HP, you will recover 1 Hit Die + 3 HP after a long rest, and you will be at -2 on all skill rolls for any activity that requires something I’m going to call “Good, Positive, Healthy Energy.” We’ll figure out what those things are in game.

If you’re between 1 HP and 1/4 Max HP, you’ll recover 1 Hit Die worth of HP after a long rest, and you’ll be at -3 on those skill rolls.

If you go to 0 HP on a day, regardless of healing you may receive, you will recover 0 HP on your first long rest (btw, this is already built into 5th Edition rules… if you take a long rest at 0 HP you don’t recover any HP, but you get a chance to lose the condition which prevents you from recovering them). You will also be at -5 on any skill you try. This is the penalty for a near death experience… Please try to avoid them.

What this is going to do for use is that it will slow the game down. You will get into a big fight, and you’ll take a few of days to recuperate. I like not being in a hurry, and it bothers me that the game mechanics make it so that going fast fast fast is important.

As a “benefit” for this harm I’m causing, my monsters will suffer these penalties to their combat abilities as they take damage… so orcs fight worse as they take damage, wizards won’t sling spells with rapidity and power as they tire, and dragons don’t recover their breath weapons as quickly when they’re being worn down by brave knights…


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 is 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 designing-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 populice 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. Especially with environmental effects… Light, Entangle, anything Thunderous… we will 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 umph 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.

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 serivce 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.

Time Management

I think that 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. They will have the monetary resources to build up areas of wilderness should they wish.

Class and Race Modifications

We’re going to throw back to 1st Edition AD&D for a lot of this… It’s not fair, but it is juicy.


Paladins are Holy Warriors of Lawful Good alignment blessed by a deity even if they’re not necessarily pledged to a deity. They are not merely knights sworn to some ideal. We will be using the 5e mechanics, but Paladins in the world of Lesha are a rare thing, and if you see one, be on its good side…


There are dwarves, but they are solitary and clanish. The live in the hills and mountains. They don’t like or trust humans in general, but they have been known to form generations-long, deep relationships with human people and families because they are very long lived.

There are rare dwarven merchants who sell special dwarven-manufactured goods.

Updated for 5th Edition. Here’s the 1e statement on Dwarves:

“Because of their very nature, dwarves are non-magical and do not ever use magical spells. However, this nature gives them a bonus with regard to their saving throws against attacks by magic wands, staves, rods and spells.”

In our game, Dwarves cannot be Wizards, Sorcerers, or Bards. They *can* be Warlocks or Clerics because those magics come from elsewhere. A dwarf will get a +1 to Saves involving magic if their CON is between 3 and 9, +2 if their CON is from 10 to 16, and a +3 if their CON is 17+.

Similarly, dwarves have exceptional constitutional strength with regard to toxic substances, ingested or injected. Therefore, all dwarven characters make saving throws against poison in the same manner and with the same bonuses as they do against magical attacks. Poisons include alcohol, leading to the dwarven ability to drink.

All dwarves are able to speak the following languages: dwarven, gnome, goblin, kobold, and orcish.

Dwarves are exceptional miners. As such, they can (for the most part):

Detect grade or slope in passage, upwards or downwards
Detect new construction or passage/tunnel
Detect sliding or shifting walls or rooms
Detect traps involving pits, falling blocks, and other stonework
Determine approximate depth underground


There *are* elves, but no one has seen an elf in at least three generations. They are rumored to live in the Darkwood that marks the southern boarder of the kingdom. They are rumored to be innately magical and no one knows much about them.

All of the stories about faeries and pixies and all the Fae influences in the world are also associated with the Darkwood.

As a throwback to 1st Edition, Elves will get a +2 on Wisdom (Perception) rolls, and the distance modifier will be cut in half (rounded down as per usual). So if there is a sound from noise 110′ away, everyone else will have a -5 to their Wisdom (Perception) rolls while an elf will take only a -2.

Half-elves will gain a +1 on Wisdom (Perception) rolls.

Likewise in forest/nature, elves will get a +2 on their Dexterity (Stealth) rolls. Half-elves will get a +1.

Elves get a +1 To Hit with Longsword, Longbow, and Shortbow.

All elven characters are able to speak the following languages: elvish, gnome, halfling, goblin, hobgoblin, orcish, gnoll, and the “common tongue” of mankind.

Half-elves are able to speak these language if they were raised in an elven enclave.

The Elven Darkwood is a magical place (for ease of 5th Edition reference) like it’s a bit of the Feywild impinged on the mortal world. There are strange magics there that humans will have a hard time with. Illusion, phantasm, nature-magics… scrying… non-elves get lost, and have their perceptions messed with there. Elves travel very quickly in the Darkwood, like teleportation but more like Fey-stepping or folding space. Elves who leave the Darkwood carry some of this magic with them, but tend to not use it because it scares the mortals.

Elves have a very bad sense of time… like, they understand morning, mid-day, and evening, but not days or weeks or years… If you tell an elf, “Meet me by the well at mid-day,” she will be at the well on *some* mid-day and be waiting for you… but a century may have passed from when you wanted the meeting.

Elves are immortal.

There are no Drow… Drow don’t exist. There isn’t even a word “Drow” in anyone’s lexicon. There is a demon/spider-god though, so go figure.

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