low-magic in dnd


Okay, so I'm creating a campaign world set at the very end of the stone age. This is an idea I've been wanting to do for a long time and actually got from a friend of mine. I want it to be almost brutally realistic, focusing on the savagery of a world in transition, but also, if the PCs go all explorer, have a large amount of mystery concerning the past of the world, finding long forgotten human and other civilizations even when the current is very much hunter-gatherer/tribal. Because I want to emphasize the brutality, because it makes sense, and because I don't like magic items, I really want to do this low-magic. However, I'm not really sure as to how to keep things balanced. Because I want this to be more realistic, upgrading non-magic classes isn't really an option. I'm thinking no magic items (other than what is found out in the wild, which would be very rare) and downgrading the spellcasting classes offered, which would be the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, and spirit shaman. I also have, of course, a few classes that don't focus on magic but use it and have it as part of their class features, these being the ranger, hexblade, and assassin (found in the Assassin's Handbook, published by Green Ronin). I was thinking that the easiest method would be to just eliminate certain spell levels and then stretch the progression, perhaps changing spell slots and spells known and all that, and just striking spells period from the classes that don't focus on it. But, if anybody has any more original and/or interesting ideas I'd love to hear about them. Any ideas, suggestions or thoughts (even if they don't relate to the magic idea but to the stone age one)?

Primitive beings may be more inclined to view things they don't understand as magic, but even the most simplistic magic would be understandably distant and unachievable.

I don't recognize all the classes you mentioned but if it were me I'd restrict things to one class (no choice basically) and force players to multiclass out of the restriction. The trek to some shaman to learn even one trick could be a mini-adventure in itself.

I'd go with an npc progression to keep a cmapaign low powered.

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Primitive_%28DnD_NPC_Class%29 That woudl be a great starting class for our Players.

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Witch_Doctor_%28DnD_NPC_Class%29 And Here's your main villian, big leader, or both.

If you follow Aozora's advice of starting with one class, I'd reccommend this one. It's also really important to figure out the lower CR here, a party with such small equipment and limited skills is likely to die easily. Of course, you coudl try and make it more of a survival game, where theoppoenents have to pick and chosoe their fights. After all, primitive had to survive by realizing he coudln't win every battle agaisnt wild animals.

Also, what exactly do you mean by stone-aged setting? Are we talking primitive hunter-gatherers, or triabl soceties, or soemthgin liek the aztecs, where there is civilisation iwhtout tech and magic?

Tribally yours,

Actually I've set the world kind of at the very end of the stone age. This meaning that some groups have broken off from the traditional tribal/hunter-gatherer structure and made settled communities, to the point where there are, perhaps, large towns, and maybe even one or two small cities. However, this sets up a conflict between the two groups, because both need, for the survival of their way of life, as many other people to be in that way of life as possible. Tribes need there to be a lot of tribes to keep each other in check and stop anyone from growing too powerful, which, they think, is the reason certian people and cultures have gone to make settled communities - to become more powerful and take over. In some cases they're right, as the society created by settled cultures allows for a standing army, something unimaginable to the tribal societies, and very, very scary. However, the settled cultures need the tribes to conform because it's economically advantageous for them. If there are any cities in this world (haven't decided yet) they became cities because they moved beyond the barter system of trade. The settled cultures can't advance economically because the tribes use the barter system, and they aren't changing because it works very well for them. Also, a gathering of tribes to wipe out this threat to their way of life is a serious consideration. So, both viewpoints, convinced of the wrongness (heh) of the other, have escalated this conflict to where bloodshed is very possible. Also, this highlights a religious conflict. The tribes believe very much in spirits in particular a mother spirit figure, and very much worship the divine feminine. However, as happens in agricultural societies, the settled cultures have primarily masculine deities and also don't pay much heed to spirits, but have developed a pantheon of primarily masculine, agricultural, fertility deities, which heads into direct conflict with a spirit perception of things. So I really like using the standard classes to highlight these conflicts, making it a major force in the PCs lives, almost dividing them down the middle, like Barbarians, Spirit Shamans, Hexblades, Scouts, etc. being primarily on the tribal side, while Fighters, Clerics, etc. being on the settled side, with a few classes with both, like Bards, Rogues, and Druids, or those last few simply don't care. Of course, none of the PCs have to care, but that's moot for this.
Also, I'm trying to create a campaign world that I can come back to and that friends can use. The idea of using a NPC class would be a great specific campaign, and I'll probably include the class in the finished world, but the world also needs to be brutal for the PCs, meaning that NPCs adventuring just won't make it.
Oh, and I also really want to include Sorcerers and Warlocks for the mystic type feel that these characters can have, because the sources of their abilities can be rooted in the history of the world, which, while stone age, I want to be quite ancient with a lot of history few people know because it was never written down and was lost, and, even if it was, nobody knows how to read anyway, and the only records are oral histories.
So I want to keep the classes, but balance them out. A friend of mine had an interesting idea of making magic a perspective based system, in that it would be divided into different categories for different people, and I like it, but only see it going for divine classes.
Could it be that the classes, when magic items are removed are inherently balanced? Because the argument that magic items helps balance the fighters against the wizards never made much sense to me, because they all get the same amount of treasure and so all buy new magic items and so the fighters new-fangled magic sword won't help when the wizard buys a ring of wizardry and fireballs become the new attraction. I don't know.
Sorry to complicate it, but that's the set up. Thanks for the advice so far, I like, and I'll definentely play with it, but this is how things are looking right now.

I have an idea for increasing the tension between the settled cultures and the tribal cultures, that was somewhat inspired by *gasp* Final Fantasy X.

In FFX, the world (known as Spira) was once at the height of technology, but has been devastated by a humongous creature that basically flies around and attacks wherever people are most densely gathered. The main religion, Yevon, has named this creature Sin and teaches that Sin is the punishment for the sins of Spira, primarily the use of technology and machinery (also known as machina).

What if certain sorts of magic are strictly taboo for the tribal cultures? As far as I can tell, you're kind of talking about a world that was once great, but has since fallen. Perhaps the tribal leaders teach that the abandonment of the natural world was the cause of the great fall or whatever, kind of like Dark Sun, but with a different twist. The settled cultures dabble in arcane magic, and that's where you find the sorcerers, clerics(who put faith in a god rather than the natural world), and similar classes. Hexblades might also fit into here as well, as they seem to me to be more focused around the acquisition of power as a means to an end, rather than focused on worship and whatnot.

Whereas, tribal spellcasters are those that revere nature and a return to the natural world, druids, spirit shaman, maybe even an altered version of the shugenja from Complete Divine (he's a spontaneous divine caster whose spellcasting focuses around the cliche elements, air, fire, etc.). You could flavor warlocks to fit into the tribal atmosphere, perhaps making them into a key part of tribal religion (those called by the natural world to restore order, yadda yadda yadda).

Another random tangent - perhaps wars between the settled cultures and the tribes could be pretty much ongoing, with the settled cultures trying to push back the tribes and the tribes trying to "correct" the ways of the settlers.

Just some thoughts.

I like that idea Lorthyne. Though it doesn't help with the main conundrum facing me right now, it actually really adds some perspective and even more depth to this conflict. This sounds really cool! I love inter-culture conflicts like this. If I use this system, then it would probably be the clerics and the hexblades that the tribes hate. The reason being that clerics do represent the split between the cultures, going to gods and such, masculinity, etc. Hexblades would probably be hated by everybody, as I actually put them in the concept as the "witches" of this world, which I thought was cool, as this world shies away from good v. evil to just straight viewpoint conflict, and the hexblade, generally seen by everybody as evil, but not necessarily, adds to the idea.
Thanks, that's some really cool thoughts there. Let's keep this going and try to see where it goes.

Also, I forgot to say in my previous post, that Sorcerers are definentely respected, even revered in some cases, by the tribes, whereas the settled cultures accept them at best. The reason for this is that Sorcerer's are "all-natural" (heh) and that they get their magic, so the tribes believe, from the spirits, nature, the mother goddess, etc. For the great sorcerers of myth and legend, it's almost seen as an immaculate conception, i.e. that the mother goddess came and inhabited the body of the mother as she was pregnant, thus giving the sorcerer his/her powers. So, the settled communities don't like them much, but they'll tolerate them, at least a lot more then they'd tolerate a spirit shaman.

So you're up to three sides (mainly) if I understand this properly:

Tribal societies, ruled mainly by spontaneuous spellcasters and worshippers of spirits.

You then have a "civilized" group, also showing reverence, but to masculine, classical deities.

And you have Hexblades, who everyone seems to hate. I'd reccommend them not really worshipping anything, but having an attitude of indifference. You may also want to add Archivists and wizards to this group, for having a more methodical and tactical approach to magic, without either the "burden" of shamanic taboos or forbidden relgious sentiment.

The major tweak I'd consider adding is maybe making mroe of the classes illiterate on both of the devout sides, givign them a fear of the "witches" liek Wizards archivists and hexblades, as both major relgious leaders and the shamans believe reading the "ancient texts" will re-destroy the world.

If you want soem material on the Archivist, I'll link you.

Divisively yours,

I'd definentely love some material on the archivist, as I don't know what it is. I'm not sure about Wizards, though. I'd actually first had the idea that everyone was illiterate (writing hasn't been invented, discovered, whatever yet), so that kind of cut wizards out. Maybe a variant on the wizard that keeps the versatility, but eliminates the literacy? Like, maybe the memorize special symbols or something? I actually like that idea. Of course, then those symbols would have to mean something, so I have to think over what they'd mean. I think if I went with that, I'd put them in the settled culture, so both cultures have a divine and arcane source. I actually like that, as the wizards would be seen as an enemy to the tribes because their magic is learned, literally, in their view, stolen from the spirits, whereas sorcerer's were blessed with it. However, I really don't want there to be any "ancient texts" because I want the history of the world to be a mystery for everybody, and, if the group has an interest in unearthing it, they'd have to go into the "wilds" or something and explore for lost civilizations, etc. I really love the idea of Hexblades being indifferent, as it explains why everybody hates them, and also because I hadn't really thought of the reason for that yet. I'm thinking the Warlock should be in with the Hexblade, so they can keep each other company, but also because, perhaps, the shamans could say that only dark spirits surround the Warlock, whereas the sorcerer has more natural spirits, but spirits are the source of both of their abilities.
This is really cool, fleshing out details, and getting more ideas from it. Thanks for the thoughts and advice so far, guys. It's really helped me a lot. Keep them coming! Now, one thing I've been thinking on recently and decided I think really fits this campaign, is a more personal view of magic, adding teeth to the conflict between settled and tribal, but also to explain why when someone gets injured while hunting or the chief hurts himself, the shaman doesn't always just heal (medic!) him, saying that the spirits say no, or something like that. Something to fit the old view of magic, where you don't just get some spells everyday, but you have to pay for them, or something like that. I really don't have any ideas here, but I think it'd be cool if the methods are different for all three, that they all have some way of gaining their magic (more than resting for 8 hours) that fits with the themes of their various cultures.

There was a book that I read once that had a similar idea to what Lorthyne said, but it wasn't after a peak of technology type of story, it was much more of a 'as the world' began type story.

This probably won't help you much since you have recieved so many good ideas concerning the tribes already and whatever might have encouraged conflict, but I like to talk so you get to hear it anyway.

In this book everyone inately has magic, but there are three schools of thought that deal with the magic. The first belongs to the hunter/gathering types of people. They believe that magic is a great temptation from the Gods. Although they feel the urge to use it because it is innate, they fight it back and just continue with their lives, doing what they have to to survive. Quite naturally, they believe themselves to be superior to all others because they have overcome great temptations. They live in the harshest conditions and are the least advanced of any society, but they are living in the Gods way so they do not try to improve their existance at all.

The second party are the farmers. They live in rural close-knit communities. They believe that what the earth has given the earth can take away, so they give to the world all that they can. Whatever magic that they have or can weild, which admittedly is very little, they channel into the earth to apease the God that gave them the magic. They would not ever use their magic to ensure a better harvest or anything like that. They would simply chanel magic back through to the earth without purpose so as to not displease the earth, and to not appear selfish to the God that provided their life style.

The third society in this world would be the type of people that form cities. According to the other two types of people, these citizens are wicked and blasphemous beyound all belief. They use magic. What I found interesting with this society however is that they are ashamed to use it, but it was like a drug, and now they can find no other way without it. They use it for themselves and their craft.

To me it was fascinating because magic played such a major role in everything that happened, but it was not ever used. It was talked about and thought about, but feared and hated. Even in the third society where it was utilized, it was never anything flashy or important. For example, a smith would never be able to make an enchanted sword, but he could magic the forge so that he did not have to feel the heat of the forge while he worked. If he touched it, he would still burn, he simply wouldn't feel it, he would still suffer all the consequences of it.

I think that it would be interesting if you did something similar where magic is there and it is strong and dominant, but it cannot/will not be used to any great purpose. Something where it is the people who choose not to use it rather than the circumstances of their existace.

Thanx, Wroe. I actually really like those thougths. While this world is gonna be an old one, and kind of has fallen from a great civilization previously, I like the idea about the magic. I've been mulling over how to make it much more personal and costly, to explain exactly how magic hasn't become technology like it is in most D&D settings. And you've gotten the brain juices flowing. Alright, here's what I'm thinking. I'm gonna take a page out of Werewolf: The Forsaken here, and say that spirits are the main source of magical power in this world, even for the settled people. For Spirit Shaman, every time they use a spell, or perhaps every time they get a certain number of spells per day, they have to make a deal with these spirits - and, for whatever reason (probably tied in with the history of the world) these spirits aren't kind. For Sorcerers, playing off the idea that a spirit literally inhabits their body and gives them their magic, it would have to be something that basically sucks the life out of them. With the clerics, perhaps the masculine deities they've set up were the first people who learned how to basically steal energy from the spirits, which would be interesting and should have some adverse affect on them. Well, I'm not really sure where to go with this. I'll have to give it more thought. Thanx for the input guys! I'm really liking where this is going.



These are the two msot useful links. Again the literacy issue arises in a simliar fashion to the wizards, but this oen is more beleiveable in a priitive campaign, as an exiled and somewaht unknowing man trying to find lost secrets. You may end up substituting him for a wizard entirely, if you want, solvign a few problems.

As for drawbacks to magic, you could chosoe to make the "Gods" demand some sort of sacrifice on spell-by-spell basis. After all, Gods do tend to liek their worshipeprs a bit heavy on both sacrifice and ritual.

The spirits, on the other hand, tend to naturally destory thing inorder to allow magic, to maintain a sort of cosmic balance. The reason the healer doesn't heal everyone is because in order to heal, he msut draw lfe otu of otehr thigns in the world. Sorcerors woudl damage themselves, but shamans woudl instead have to draw from otehrs to harness their powers, having to weaken either themselves or others.

Fro the hexblade/worlock/archivist/wizard side, a fair drawback woudl be soem form of madness, as isntead of having spiritual or phsyical entropy, their "cheating" byt ignoring the spirit altogether and pursuig things mentally has to take a toll on their mind. For this mechanic, I'd borrow the concept of sanity checks from Call of Cthulu material and change it to madness based on will save, the dc increasing each time a spell caster casts a spell, making each spell mroe dangerous to the midn than the last.

Now I'm going to go to bed. I need sleep.

Drowsily yours,

Thanks for the stuff, even so late. Hmm, I really like that sanity bit, particularly for hexblades and warlocks. I'm not really sure for the wizard - he might just get the axe. I actually recently discovered that I have a pdf of Heroes of Horror (hehe), which has the archivist in it, so I'll check it out. What about clerics, though? I'm not really sure. I want to avoid something that's obviously evil (sucking the life out of other sentient creatures, etc.), so that the conflict between tribal and settled cultures is much, much more than good vs. evil. In fact, I'm thinking I might just discard alignments for this world, so I really don't want anything that's obviously evil. I just had an interesting idea. Let's add some teeth to the hatred of hexblades and warlocks. How about they do get their abilities by sucking the life out of things, and then using that energy? That'd be interesting, and explain why even those who perhaps don't believe in the spirits (like the settled cultures) don't like hexblades and warlocks. And then we could transplant the sanity thing to the clerics, and the idea originally for the sorcerer to the spirit shaman, setting up an interesting duality, in that the shaman sacrifices his physical body to the spirits, whereas the cleric sacrifices his mental acuity to his gods (which, of course, could really be spirits). Or maybe it could be switched? But then, that leaves us with the sorcerers and druids. What about them? I like the idea of taking from nature around him, kind of like the Native American viewpoint that the animal you've hunted and killed consented to it, and that you must honor that. I'd like to incorporate that either into the shaman or the druid, or perhaps both have the same stuff, in that they have the same limitations, just a different approach to nature, one from a spiritual perspective, and another from a more physical perspective. So, then, the big question for me, being a sorcerer lover, what about Sorcerers? What limitations make them special?

Well, I'd tie each mystical profession it's own cost, a good example for the sorceror woudl be that instead of offering pieces of his body, he pays the price of his blood (silmliar to the constitution damage you'd get from a vampire) or maybe he suffers bouts of possession, since the spirit is actually within him. And yes, going without a wizard may make things easier. Wizards don't really have good mechanics without text, so it'd be a lot of work to adapt them. I still ike the concept of ofeerings of material goods, but I don't know who shoudl pay that kind of price. Seomeone in the "civilized" world, for certain.

Wildly yours,

I'm going to preface this by stating that I'm an amazingly lazy DM. I prefer to take other people's ideas and creatively reinterpret them so that they fit my own image, rather than coming up with stuff from scratch.

Take a look at some of the stuff that Rich Burlew (most well-known as the creator of Order of the Stick) has done on gaming at his website (http://www.giantitp.com/Gaming.html). The Play Theory items are interesting, but what I'm mainly trying to draw your attention to here is the "New World" group of articles. Here, Burlew has taken it upon himself to "create a campaign setting, from scratch, in full view of you, my loyal readers. The idea is not only to craft a complete setting that can be used by others but to also show the decisions and processes that go into a final product."

Burlew's world has a lot of the same themes as yours, although his approach is different. Like you, he has decided that he wants a dichotimus conflict in his world, but not a Good vs. Evil one. He chooses to express this through a dualistic religion, divided between Sun and Moon, and to a lesser extent, male and female.

I'm going to quote from his Class Decisions article extensively now.

"OK, let's look at this from a game point of view. There are three types of casters: Intelligence-based preparatory, Wisdom-based preparatory, and Charisma-based spontaneous. Traditionally, Wisdom-based preparatory is the only type of spellcasting that requires an in-game relationship with a god. One type allows armor to be worn, the other two do not. Now, I'm thinking of eliminating the concepts of arcane and divine magic; the obvious replacement would be Sun Magic and Moon Magic. That sounds nice, but it already doesn't fit exactly; divine magic allows armor, and there are two primary arcane caster methods (Intelligence and Charisma) but only one divine caster method (Wisdom). Plus, it severely hampers the creativity of players. Not everyone who plays a cleric is going to want to be Sun, for example, if each deity has the kind of connotations that I briefly touched on earlier."

"So rather than having Sun Magic be a cipher for divine and Moon a cipher for arcane, what if both Sun and Moon Magic contained casters of all three kinds: Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma-based? That starts to sound better; that would give us six possible primary spellcaster types. It also begins to suggest some ideas for altering classes; removing wizard specialists in favor of Sun Wizards and Moon Wizards, for starters. But I am still hung up on how to differentiate, in-game, between Sun Clerics and Sun Wizards..."

"I'm thinking now of the wizardry being more of a secret cult rather than a science. Wizardry involves the summoning and binding of spirits associated with the Sun and Moon, and then using words of power to extract magic. It's not as harsh as it first sounds, though, because the Sun and Moon ultimately created the spirits for that purpose. The wizards may worship their benefactor, but ultimately their spellcasting is essentially a craft, not a religious experience. In fact, what if the familiar was replaced with a Sun or Moon spirit made flesh, that was a literal sign of the wizard's bargain? I kind of like that, it has an old medieval feel to it. Since most citizens of the world worship the Sun or Moon, the idea of binding their servants is unpalatable, resulting in a need for secrecy about the wizards' means and identities. Wizardry might even be a capital offense in some nations, depending on local customs."

"That leaves us with divine magic as more or less unchanged from the standard model: servants of a god that draw magic from their worship. Sun Clerics and Moon Clerics can basically divide up all the existing domains, and the idea of Sun Druids and Moon Druids is a very cool one. Moon Druids might only take on nocturnal animal companions, for example, and be more into shapeshifting. Heck, that might lead to a whole variant druid class for the Sun Druid."

"Now what about the sorcerer? I don't want to leave him as the wizard's poor cousin; I think he needs a major overhaul, conceptually. Forget dragon heritage, or the idea that the sorcerers just have a 'knack' for arcane casting; I want their magic to have a unique power source. Let's look at this logically: wizards take their power from the gods, clerics ask for their power from the gods. What does that leave for the sorcerer? How about they are given their powers by the gods-without being asked first? A sorcerer is someone who has been 'blessed' with magic that they cannot necessarily control. As the gods do not reveal their intention, the sorcerer is left to figure out what purpose he is expected to fulfill. They are always respected, even revered, by the populace as holy men, but they don't really know how to react. I like this idea because it is an about-face from the 'sorcerers are hated and feared' stance of the standard rules."

"Ultimately, this take on the sorcerer may require a complete redesign of the class..."

I'll let you read the rest on your own. It's great stuff. I underlined that spot because I think these differences between caster categories could be applied to your own world. You could sort your spellcasters into three similar categories, something like what has already been mentioned by Theo:

Tribal leaders, spirit shaman, sorcerers, and the like, whose power is granted by spirits.

"Civilized" spellcasters, which definitely include clerics, and I was thinking maybe druids. I had them lumped into that other category before, but what if they are not accepted in tribal society because they worship the force of nature rather than the spirits that guide it? Spirit shaman discredit them because they (druids) reject spirits as divine.

The Outcast spellcasters, which include wizards, warlocks, and hexblades. You could really take a page from Burlew here, if you wanted to. How about the Outcast spellcasters summon and bind spirits without asking them first? There you have a non-literate wizard, who binds the spirits in Word, the warlock, who binds them in Soul, and the hexblade, who binds them in Sword. I also like the idea of a familiar being a physical manifestation of this craft, you could take away the sorcerer's familiar and give it to the warlock and hexblade, although limit each class's choice of familar for flavor (I'm thinking like rodents and mammals for the hexblade, insects and reptiles for the warlocks, and birds to the wizards).

I had a bizarre thought earlier today, and now I'm going to let it pollute my response here. I was thinking that Constitution is kind of like the kid brother of all of the other ability scores. Mom and Dad make all of the other scores tote him around, but he never gets to be the star himself.

What if the sorcerer's spellcasting was based on Constitution? That fits the idea that spellcasting comes naturally to him, and it makes his limited spell selection viable: He has to access his spellcasting through physical training and muscle memory. This could also play into the whole "blessed with power" thing, sorcerers are the Conan-style heroes of this world. Give him stuff like Improved Unarmed Strike, light armor proficiency, and some cool melee touch spells, and he could be a rough-and-tumble combat class that dips into his own health for magical power. Maybe he could even have the ability to substitute an unarmed strike for a somatic component and deliver it through that attack. Neh?

Yeah, it's kind of out there, but I like it. It fits the "everybody must be strong" theme of your world. If only the strong survive, why would the spirits choose some weakling guy to be their champion without strengthening him physically?

Eeps, apologies about the length. Tell me what you think.

Sorry, in rereading this I had another thought. I think that the power of the Outcast spellcasters should come at a pretty big price. I would change warlock and hexblade abilities to link back into Intelligence rather than Charisma, representing their dedication to this art at the expense of all else. You might also want to consider that any person who has spent a significant time practicing these arts has suffered in some way from making their bargain for power, a la Emperor Palpatine. But, you could change it up for each class, or each player could choose the price that his own character pays. These could be things like loss of physical strength, a slow loss of all body hair, eldritch tatooes that scribe themselves into the skin, beginning at the more concealable locations and spreading, maybe even things like a loss of the ability to communicate in any spoken language(I guess that would be hard for a PC, but it would be a cool NPC).

Just some thoughts.

Dude, I frikkin love gamegrene. You guys have such cool ideas! This is gonna be the coolest campaign setting ever. Okay, looks like the Sorcerer is gonna get a major overhall. I'm thinking I want to combine Theophenes' and Lorthyne's ideas, both of which were very cool and something I couldn't have come up with myself. I actually love the idea of combining the monk and the sorcerer class, because, wishing to eliminate any overtly "eastern" or "western" classes (i.e. ninjas and paladins) I had eliminated the monk, but still felt that the combat style should not be lost, after all, weapons are not very powerful in this world. I'll have to mull over the Constitution ideas, both being based on it or the one suggesting penalties to it. However, I really like giving the Sorcerer the whole unarmed strike thing, giving him a bit of a monk feel. My original doubts about monks was along the lines of, "Okay, they punch things and all that. But where does that fit into a hunter-gatherer society? Or anywhere else? Someone who has to get within melee distance of a creature in order to hurt in during a hunt, unless exceptionally skilled, is gonna die. Besides, having done my research, I know these people hunted by first injuring the animal with spears or other things that made the animal bleed profusely, then backed off, and followed the animal until it died from blood loss." I really wanted to incorporate the brutal reality of this world, and the monk just didn't seem to fit. However, with the Sorcerer being revered by the tribes, though he would almost certainly be hated by the other groups, second only to the spirit shaman, he generally wouldn't hunt, as it would be beneathe him. However, he would still need to serve the tribe and be able to fight when it came time. So that idea is actually perfect. I love it.

I really liked the idea of having the spirits possess certain classes. I think I might institute this as something that is either a danger for all the spellcasting classes or specifically sorcerer, owing to his peculiar closeness to it. I'm not really sure how to stick it in, though, whether it should be a tool the GM can use whenever he/she wants to drive story, or as a consequence for using magic or using it too much or incorrectly, or even both. If I did institute it, I like the idea of it being an extreme case, when someone has seriously abused the spirits or drained themselves of all their magic (thus encouraging spellcasters to be frugal with it). We'll have to think about that one some more.

Okay, I just looked at the archivist, and, when I was finished looking at it, I got distracted by the dread necromancer. Alright, Lorthyne, we're gonna take you idea with the three outcast spellcasters and the way they bind the spirits, except no wizard, and the slot will be filled by dread necromancers. It really fits, and I can really, really see why everybody, not just the Spirit Shamans, hates them now. Messing with the dead...extremely taboo. However, I'm gonna switch things - warlocks bind with word and dread necromancers bind with soul. I like that feel better.

Another random thought. I was looking up at the spellcasting classes available, and thinking about the bard. I haven't been able to come up with something the bard should pay for his spells. But then I had another idea - what if bards are the only spellcasters that don't have to pay. Effectively, the charm the spirits into giving them "gifts" with their music. I've always felt sorry for the bard, and I really like that feel for the class in this world. I think I'm gonna go with that. The bards are gonna remain relatively unchanged. Unless you guys have some really cool ideas along those lines?

Actually, I really like Lorthyne's idea with the druid and cleric teaming up. I like the idea of the druid and the spirit shaman not getting along, mainly because I really wasn't sure where I wanted to put the druid in all of this, and kinda had him figured as a loner of some sort. But I like him with the cleric. The only question is why? I can't think of a reason why the druid would support settling, other than, "Screw you, spirit shaman." I wanna have more than that, cause otherwise the Druid would be just a loner, instead of teaming up with the cleric. So we need a reason here...

I actually like the idea of a player choosing the price his character pays for using the magic of the spirits (with the exception of the bards, who pay no price). That actually really fits the bargain feel of the world, like "I'll give you my Strength (literally) if you give me your power." I actually like that. How about every class has to pay a price, but only certain ones get to pick the price to pay? For instance, the most powerful spellcasters will be the Outcasts. But, they'll also pay the worst prices, sort of like the spirits taking out their vengeance on these people. The shaman will definentely get to choose what to pay. The cleric should have that choice as well, and so should the Druid, I think. What about the sorcerer? Is it just me, or is he always the stick in the mud? Oh, well, I like him. Sorcerers are cool. Hmm, I'm not sure if he should pay a price, his powers being a gift or a spirit inside of him, or, if he does, whether he should choose it or not. I'm thinking if he does, his price will either be way above everbody elses or way below, representing one of two things - the first that the spirits are cruel, and will first use you, then throw you away. The second that the spirits treat well those who serve them. I'm not sure the second fits this worldview, though. Hmm, we'll have to really think on that one.

Alright, Theophenes brings up a great point I haven't really addressed yet. What about physical sacrifice? I like the feel. I'm thinking it really does fit the settled cultures to have that. My only problem with it is the trouble it would take to cast a single spell. If the cleric must sacrifice a ram everytime he wants to cast cure light wounds on a party member, he just won't be casting much in the way of spells (not to mention that's horribly expensive). However, having him just sacrifice at the morning just feels cheap, about the same as him praying in standard D&D. So I'm really not sure where to go there. However, I had an idea I liked for the druid. I really loved the feel of the druid believing in the whole balance, in that when he does magic, it takes from what's around him. I think that's a cool idea, and it bypasses the spirits entirely who, remember, don't necessarily need to be tied to nature. I had an idea for him that kinda goes along with sacrifice, basically limiting his ability to wild shape. The idea was that, in order to wild shape, he had to kill an animal beforehand, thus taking it's spirit energy of even soul and using that to connect to the animal kingdom (hehe) and transform into whatever he liked. This makes transforming into a bear in the city a little bit harder. I also just have this cool image of a druid holding a squirrel or something, very native american like, saying, "I'm sorry", then snapping it neck, dropping the body, and...metamorphoses. Well, tell me what you think.

Also, we've kinda ignored the ranger and the assassin so far. Where would they fit into all this?

Oh, by the way, I have read all the articles about world building on that website. Really good stuff, not to mention a pretty cool world that I'd like to play in.

Well, that's all I got right now. This is getting so cool! I'm really excited. Keep em coming!

I also had another thought when I was rereading mine. What if the price the Sorcerer paid, the high one, was the whole possession idea, starting occassional at lower levels, but then becoming almost permanent at higher levels? I don't want to take control out of a particular players hands, but I do like the conflict. The Sorcerers gain power and prestige from these spirits, but it sets up a conflict where the Sorcerer has something akin to Jekyll vs. Hyde fights. I really like the idea of a Sorcerer completely losing himself to the spirits, and the cool conflict of him fighting it out with them for control. That also sets up a neat avenue into the past of the world, very much like the Wheel of Time, for those of you who've read it or gotten that far. I actually really like this idea. We'll have to really look into it.

I like the idea that bards and sorcerers don't actually have to pay a price for power, but everybody else does. Bards for the reason that you mentioned, and sorcerers because their mantle is thrust upon them without being asked first.

I'm assuming that you'll want sorcerers to be few and far between, maybe there's only ever one alive at a time. This could make for a great PC theme, or NPC recurring character. Thing is, these people are given such immense power that the spirits choose their champion very carefully. Sorcerers could be celebrities of sorts for both tribal and civilized peoples, with the tribal groups considering the holy champions and prophets, while the civilized folk respect the path he treads. Sorcerers are born into the world for a very specific purpose, and somehow EVERYBODY knows that, and so they both respect and fear him.

I'm envisioning a sorcerer born as a normal kid who suddenly had this power and fame thrust upon him. Suddenly he's expected to do great things, but all he wants to do is live a normal life and be treated like a normal person. He feels obligated to serve the spirits that empowered him, but at the same time he may not want to spend his entire life in that pursuit.

So, sorcerers DO have to pay a price for their power, but that price is a behavioral one. I know you want to stay away from the whole Good vs. Evil thing, but the main difference between good and evil sorcerers could be the will of the spirits that granted him power. The sorcerer has to walk a very thin line in terms of conduct, and if he strays the spirits could punish him through actual physical pain, and, ultimately, perhaps they could take back the power they gave him in the first place. Sorcerers that revel in their power and abuse it are punished as well.

As for the druid thing, let me try to clarify my thoughts. Mechanically, the spirit shaman is basically a weird variation of the druid. I was thinking that spirit shaman would be the tribal version, while druids would be the urban version. The easiest way I can think to compare this is to say that the spirit shaman is more similar to a Native American philosophy, while the druid is kind of like a hippy from the the 1960's. Druids revere nature, but they have a different way of worshipping it it due to the fact that they're city folk that have chosen to mostly abandon the urban lifestyle. Maybe the sacrifice druids make is one of anti-materialism, something like a mandatory Vow of Poverty, but less severe and with smaller bonuses.

I think animal sacrifice is a bad way to go to gain spiritual power in a role-playing game. It worked great to establish religious fervor in real world history, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that you were actually consiously commiting the killing with your own hands. Watching blood spill out of an animal is a chilling experience, but I think it would be hard to convey that same sense of loss to somebody sitting around a table munching on Cheetos.

Clerics, hmmm. The possession thing could work really well for them. What if each cleric binds himself to a specific patron spirit, trading time in their physical shell for magical prowess? In order to keep from taking character control away from the player, what if the spirit gains control of the body while the character is asleep? The character prepares his daily spells the night before, goes into a trance, and wakes up 8 hours later in a different place, refreshed physically, mentally, and magically, and having no memory of what his body did the night before. The patron spirit simply wants to possess the body in order to do the physical things that he can't as a spirit, stuff like hunting and devouring animals, weird things like swimming and other heavily straining activities, perhaps a number of patron spirits with clerics in the same city get together and have orgies. That could be fun as a DM, dropping hints to a cleric player as to what the spirit did with his body last night. "You awake, refreshed but with the taste of blood in your mouth and fur stuck between your molars." "You wake up the next morning feeling strangely lustful."

You could have a similar tribal/civilized duality between the ranger and fighter, which makes a lot of sense.

The inclusion of the assassin kind of puzzles me. Assassins came about as a political tool, but in a world like this in which those sort of politics are rare, it doesn't make sense to me to include as a core class.

Ok, good post, but I'll start from the top. I actually really, really like the idea of possession for sorcerers. I'm thinking something along these lines - once a spirit commits to something, it must stay committed to it. So, if a spirit dedicates itself to a particular tribe or ability, it can't just be like, "well, I'm done now. I think I want this now." Or maybe, if a spirit crosses over from the spiritual to the physical world, he's stuck, so it's a serious bargain for them. This lends serious weight to the idea that the sorcerer is called by the spirits. And I really like the idea of only one at a time, though most parties couldn't have sorcerers, because only mature players could handle having a "prophet" among them, and the sorcerer player would have to be exceptionally mature. However, I want this to come at a greater price than being known among the people. I mean, this can be negated (giant cloaks with hoods turned up, anyone?). I really like the idea of possession for sorcerers, again tying into the idea that the spirits are making a gamble by blessing this mortal with one of their number. I want to reinforce the idea that the spirits are cruel and never give willingly to someone. So, for the sorcerer, the idea is that he has to live up to what the spirits want and, if he doesn't, the spirit will try to take over and make him do what it wants, because they stand to lose too much by just letting him run wild. So a sorcerer who is rebellious would be constantly fighting to be in control, particularly when doing magic. I really like that feel, that being a prophet comes at a very, very serious price, even one's soul. Also, it would only be usually that there's one sorcerer, because, if the spirits felt the situation was desperate enough, then they would go into another and use him to hunt down the offender who has managed to keep control. I don't like the idea of the sorcerer just losing all his power. I've always thought that was a lame way of doing things as someone can make an honest mistake and be screwed for life. Besides, (this is my paladin rant here) alignments are so nebulous that, if the GM was willing to listen, a talented player could find a way to fit the slaughter of innocents into the lawful good description. I just don't like playing something, or even running something, where that's hanging over the players head. I think something that could be faught, like possession, is much cooler. Also, I just love the idea of losing control of yourself, and watching yourself do things that you consider sickening, horrible, etc. Great roleplaying, and I've always loved the man v. self conflict. This highlights it in great ways.

That idea with the druid is a really interesting one. It kind of switches the general thought on druids, in that they are loners from the wilderness. I actually like the idea, though. The thought of them sacrificing material possessions for nature - it's an interesting one. I'm not sure about it, but it's definentely a good idea. I'm just trying to visualize where such a group would fit in the grand cosmology of it all. Do they favor settled because they come from there, or tribal because of the emphasis on nature? Or do they hate settled because they consider agriculture to be a subjection of nature? So I'm not sure where to go with that.

One thing I really don't want is that all these other groups are there just because the shamans said, "Nope, don't like you." I don't want to set up all the other groups as the righteous rebels fighting against the evil shamans who work with evil spirits. I want there to be good reasons on all sides for the conflicts, ones that make sense. For instance, let's look at the Outcasts (I think that's their name from now on, I like it). The other groups have very good reasons to hate and fear them. First, they have power gained from subjecting nature (a big no-no), second, some of them mess with the dead (a huge no-no), and third, if anyone can doubt they're bad already, look how they suffer for it! Obviously they brought this on themselves. But now let's look at it from the Outcasts perspective. To them, the spirits and cruel, petty, and quite evil, so therefore deserve to be subjected, even should be subjected. Also, the dead are dead, and that's the end of it. If daddy becomes a spirt, he ain't gonna use it and he's a jerk anyway (cause all spirits are jerks), so it's free game. See, both groups have viable positions. You can't say, well, they're evil, because neither perspective is inherently evil or good. I really want to keep that feel. I don't want the conflicts to be one group's fault. I think it should be all their faults, that there should be blame on both sides. First, this sets an interesting and provocative backdrop. Second, it makes it so the conflict works it's way into the group, affording excellent and much more important roleplaying than normal. Third, the problem can't be solved in one session, or even one campaign, except by conquering and subjugating all the others under one, which opens up a whole new can of worms. For all this, I want it to be as morally ambiguous as possible. Oh, and one more, it makes the players themselves think about cultures and viewpoints, look back on history and say, are things better? All around, it makes great food for thought and play.

Oh, and one more thing, just a viewpoint I guess. I don't think the Spirit Shaman is just an interesting counterpart of the druid, like the Sorcerer was (again, was) for the wizard. He's got a whole new flavor of his own, and I think his stats reflect that. I think they have similar spells, but they're abilities and stuff are way different. I think the Spirit Shaman is much, much more than a different view of nature than the Druids. But that's just me.

Your point on animal sacrifice in gaming is well said. One of my characters, the one in your campaign, Lorthyne, sacrifices at least two animals daily and I've never even thought about it. However, if I were at that alter, I would be having serious problems. So I definentely understand what you're saying. However, I like the real-world feel of it. I'm not really sure what to do about this one. I don't want to put in mechanics, at least too much, to represent the act of animal sacrifice, but I'm not sure how to portray the seriousness of it. I'm gonna have to hear Theophenes opinion on this one.

I don't think I care much for the idea with the clerics being possessed. This is for several reasons. First, it takes the "specialness" away from the sorcerer, though that could be fixed easily if necessary. Second, I'm not sure how that's a price. It's funny, and might be disgusting to the character, but he can just say, "Well, that's what you get. At least I didn't do it. Hum dee dee dum." You know? I don't see the real sacrifice. I want magic to be very feared, because those who use it, excepting bards, whom everybody likes, pay some serious prices. I can see where this could be a serious cost, but it would have to be done right by the GM, who could really screw it up, and make it no cost at all. Besides, I'm not sure if that would fit with the settled cultures, being all about having the control and somesuch (presumably).

I think the barbarian and the fighter have a great duality set up, though the fighter is going to be primarily a class of a certain race, almost where you have to be that race to be a fighter, which race will be civilized. I actually had ideas for the ranger to be more neutral, because he would be necessary for all the various viewpoints (everyone needs someone to help them get through the wilderness). I think bards should fill this niche, too. Bards and rangers, and probably scouts, too, now that I think about it, would be the classes that travel through the wilderness, have no allegiances as a group, and would serve as something like the gypsies or the peddlers in older cultures. Traveling around, selling their wares. I like that feel for them, especially bards, perhaps being seen as morally dubious but still essential. Maybe we should leave the ranger as he is, too? I'm not sure about him.

I put the Assassin in because I first saw this as a political struggle. I also had him in because I wanted to emphasize the brutality by having such a vicious class or group. I can see your point, though. However, I still want to keep him in, again to emphasize a different way of doing things than the ogre smash barbarian or even the cool, concentrated fighter. Someone as dedicated to killing and the art of death, but in a completely different style. So, here we come to a question. Should the Assassin be the servant of a particular group, perhaps a fourth, or a subgroup, or is he more of a traveler, like the ranger and bard, but with a much darker purpose and much less known? Or should he get the can?

Well, that's what I'm thinking. This is really good stuff, really good thoughts. You guys are great. Keep them coming.

I'm always to late to write on all of the good stuff, between you two the worlds problems are solved before I get a chance to blink.

Since sorcerer was discussed so thoroughly in these last four posts, I won't bother to suggest anything because it sounds like you both have it very well thought out.

I think that bards should pay a price, ecspecially if your trying to keep the entire setting minimal. I agree though that it would pretty much ruin all that a bard is. However, what if you had him as a messenger of sorts, almost like a Puck or Hermes character where his is able to do his own thing all he likes, but in times of dire need he is summoned to complete some menial task and then set free to do his own thing again. Its nothing extravagent or painful, and it is a small price to pay for his use of magic, but it is still a price. All things come at some cost.

I had an interesting idea spring to my mind while I was reading Lorthyne's comment comparing the druids and the spirit shaman. I think that his view is excellent, and there is an effective way to make it so that it is just a difference of opinions rather than a good vs. evil type thing. What if you just make it so that spirit shamans believe that nature should be left in its 'truest' form. They respect it, they worship it, and they don't try to tame it at all. They would live off of what the land offers without cultivating it because they do not want to spoil it. Druids on the other hand aren't necessarily against cultivation, they eat wheat, they don't live strictly off of what the land gives, but rather a combination of the wild and mans hand in nature. They still respect nature, they still worship it, but they know how to utalize it. This would cause a natural rift between the two groups because both of them feel that the other is wasting the most beautiful gift given to man, but at the same time the root of their conflict is not good or evil.

I agree with Tzuriel when you say that you don't think that clerics should be possessed. My best thought on this is actually a stolen idea. Read Orson Scott Cards "The Tinker", its a short story and will take no time at all for you. What if the price that a cleric has to pay is not paying at all but rather that he is deprived the right to do something. Something that gives him peace and comfort, something that helps take him away from his troubled state of being. You don't always have to do something to pay a price, sometimes the greatest price that can be paid is by watching something being done, and knowing that you should help, but being unable to.

This could also help in clerics and druids teaming up despite their very different belief systems. The clerics would perform some service for the druids, be it praying for a good harvest or whatever, and the druids in attempt to repay, take up the slack when the clerics are kept from their peace. They can keep the clerics from doing something derastic and can help keep them calm.

I dunno, its not much, but you guys seriously are doing an awesome job in pulling this together. There's really not much that I can say.

Hmm. I still like the possession idea for clerics, but nobody else seems to. I'm going to ramble a bit and see if I get anywhere. :)

Let's compare the traditional DnD cleric with the traditional wizard. Both are the "mainstream" primary spellcasters for their respective type of magic. Clerics get to roll a d8 for hit points at each level, while wizards only get d4. The cleric has better weapon and armor proficiencies, can cast spells while wearing that armor, a better base attack bonus progression, a better Fortitude saving throw, more spells per day, and greater access to spells in general(the cleric praying for any spell he wants, while the wizard has to choose from the spells in his spellbooks. Also, the wizard has to pay money, both in scribing materials and possibly "spellbook rental" fees).

Let's look at the class features with larger discrepancy. Wizards gain a familiar and bonus feats as they progress. Clerics, on the other hand, can turn or rebuke undead, gain unique special abilities based on their domain choices, and can spontaneously cast either healing or damaging spells. Ultimately, the wizard will have more skill points than the cleric, due to the fact that both skill points and wizard spellcasting are keyed to the same ability score, but, as it looks right now, the logical choice between playing a cleric and playing a wizard is to play the cleric every time.

But, there are two or three reasons that wizards are still chosen over the cleric. The first, and, in my opinion, least important, is the spells availible to each class. The cleric mostly has a mix of supportive/healing spells and combat damage spells, while the wizard has a wider array, stretching from damage spells to "puzzle solver" spells to a smaller access to the supportive spells as well, along with many other special instance spells along the way.

The second reason is for flavor. Some people don't like the idea of depending on a god for their abilities. Others love the idea.

The third, and usually biggest deciding factor in this decision is simply the preconceived notions people have of each of the classes. The cleric is pidgeonholed as the healer, and the number of people that hate that role is unsurprisingly large. Anybody that's ever played a cleric knows the frustration of having to give up a really cool spell they prepared in order to save their friend from his own recklessness.

My point here is that, traditionally, clerics have really only suffered only in social connotation. You could push that to an extreme, with clerics being somewhat cultist and separated from mainstream "civilized" civilization (hehe, redundancy intended). Clerics could be the guys you listen to preach on the holy day, but wouldn't want to go golfing with. You could mess with their class skills so that they only have access to things like Knowledge (religion), weird, unuseful Craft skills, and skills directly related to their art (Concentration, Spellcraft, the like). You could also give them a penalty to all social skills. If you wanted to really shake up the d20 system, you could require cleric players to take on a disgusting, unnerving, or downright weird quirk or habit, kind of like the GURPS system. They have a status in the civilized world because they have spellcasting power, and people are afraid to cross them, but people only deal with them when they have to. Just a thought.

I totally forgot about the fighter/barbarian thing. Now that I'm thinking about that, I like the ideas you have for the ranger and scout as being intermediaries.

The bards, though, wow. What if all bards came from the same, weird gypsy-ish society, something like the Tinkers from the Wheel of Time series? Up until very recently, history was kept and told through oral tradition, be it music or storytelling, which is exactly the bard's forte (pun intended). Bards could be the travelling historians, and they sing the tales of the past world, and its fall. Perhaps rather than using singing to express their magic, they sing because their power comes from the remembrance and passing on of the "old ways". Whether this is granted by the spirits, or something else entirely I don't know.

As for the assassin, if you want to keep him the first thing I would do is change his name. The term "assassin" has too many modern connotations for it to function in this world.

What kind of "different approach" are you looking for? If you're wanting just a different style of combat, you could make him like the swashbuckler, using flimsy weapons and little armor. Or you could make him a little more like the shadowdance from the DMG, the guy that flits through the shadows, maybe throwing daggers, or some kind of similar movement-based combat.

Alright, this is my second time trying to write this reply, so let's see if I can manage to get this one posted.

I'm gonna try and just go from what Wroe says to what Lorthyne says, and address each of their ideas with my own, blah, blah, blah. To the stuff we really wanna read.

I like Wroe's ideas on bards, especially combined with Lorthyne's. So, I'm thinking I like the bards as having a quasi-society of some sort, and the Tinker idea fits, as it upholds the viewpoint of them being immoral. And the idea is that the various peoples tolerate them because of the services they offer, being just about the only group that can travel between the other groups. However, this doesn't mean that all bards are like this - just most. Some bards serve their respective tribes or people and others are just loners. But the majority are part of this community. And I like the idea of the bards not knowing where their magic comes from - it puts them firmly in the middle. Some say the spirits, others themselves, etc. Of course, being part of their own society, this debate doesn't come to blows, because to them it's really not that important. However, I don't want people to know what happened to this world, or, in some cases, that anything did happen, other than maybe some vague, standard creation myths. So I like this idea, though the debate is, of course and always, still open.

I love Wyn's ideas for the druid and spirit shaman divide. It fits perfectly, and also explains the druid's price for his magic - in many ways, he sees it as a means to an end, albeit a sacred and holy one.

I read "The Tinker", loved it, and love the idea. It adds a certain dimension to the clerics, not being able to do something. I love the feel, how it's the direct opposite of the shaman, and represents in some ways their differing approaches. This raises several questions, though. What should those limitations be? Keep in mind, I want them to be serious. And should they all have the same limitation, almost as if the first cleric agreed that all that followed him would take it up, or something like that, or should it be more individualized, where everyone gets to pick what their price is? And what happens when such limitations are violated? Should we do the paladin thing, where they lose everything, or should it just be that they CAN'T (which would raise all kinds of interesting things), as if held back by something? I kinda like the second one, but I wanna hear your opinions on it.

Lorthyne's comparison of the wizard and the cleric is quite something. Wizards suck :P. But, one thing I wanna say about that is that, later on, wizards became way more powerful than just about every other class. The only thing is surviving. Also, the clerics abilities are, sadly, static and don't really rise in power (which is lame). However, his point is well taken. A lot of it is just stigma against the cleric, which anyone who has ever played a cleric knows too well.

But, to move on, I really love Lorthyne's suggestion with the cult idea. Actually, where I'd gotten a lot of my ideas from this game (besides you guys) is from my Anthropology class, which is truly fascinating and recommended to any who can still take college classes. The other day, we discussed how when a society goes to being agricultural, or, even farther, industrial, their religious viewpoint is largely replaced by a secular one. Think about it. If you're told not to speed, you don't say, "Why, is it immoral?" No, you ask what happens when you do. If you still don't believe me, think about what you're thinking when you speed. You're not thinking, "Am I sinning?" but, "I hope I don't get caught." The peoples viewpoint goes from a highly spiritual, religious one, to a highly secular one, based on causality. I felt a desire to implement this into the game, again deepening the conflict between tribal and settled, as one coule argue either way, but wasn't sure how to do it.

Well, thanks Lorthyne. You just provided the first step. I love the idea of an almost secret church that kind of rules over these people, or at least has a lot of power, though I was to shy away from inquisition catholic church feel. If we go all inquisition, every player is gonna be against the settled people. They need to be secretive, but definently not evil, and very justified in what they do. Yet, the people still mistrust them, very much like one would also mistrust the shaman, because he's a powerful spellcaster, but still embroiled in tribal politics. So I love the idea of them belonging to some semi-secret society. Now, to put in Wroe's ideas as well, what if the society was based on their various limitations? Just throwing out ideas here, I'd love to hear what you guys think.

Swashbuckler's, while cool, would be killed very quickly in this world (no whips ;)), and the shadowdancer doesn't have the right feel (yet.) However, your point on the assassin is well taken. What I meant was, not necessarily a different style of combat, but a different style of getting the job done, maybe a more "direct" style. I agree the name should be changes, mainly for flavor, but I disagree assassins are largely political tools. Like prostitution, assassination has always been around, and the feel of the assassin fits the brutality of this world, in that one well-placed dagger can kill you as easily as several expertly done sword blows.

One last thing, an idea I had while reading Wroe's comment. As we've given the bards their price, being messengers for the people, I had a similar idea for the rangers. I thought the rangers should serve as messengers for the spirits. I really love this idea, because it fits the flavor of the ranger, and immediately assigns their price. However, they are very different from the spirit shaman, because the shaman has more of a business relationship with the spirits, whereas the ranger has more of a servant, even friend relationship with them. Well, tell me what you think, and thanks for all your suggestions so far.

The major difference of each "side" is ther relationship to the spirits.

The Primitives revere and fear the spirits. They are subjugated.

The Civilized view the spirits as equals, thigns taht can be bargained with. A druid views all of sprit and nature as an equal, neither to be exploited or feared, but to be understood, while a Cleric belives taht the Gods are to be dealt with in a manner of fair service--worship and offering in exchange for power and glory.

The outcast instead chose to conquer the spirits. They think the toehrs foolish for even acknowledging these "Spirits" as anything more than tools, to be applied as they see fit.

Now, I will be the first to admit animal sacrifice may be difficult, but taht was ratehr the point. If we're talking about making divine magic have a pay-off, I really diga cleric making an economic pay-off, even if it is merely from the people who request it, or form the citizens of the village.

The other posibliity that you could give as a bit of payback for clerics and druids, is that in eitehr case, said spirits/gods could say no. Remember, the Clerics and Gods, and Druids and Nature, are not demanding subservience, nor gicing their own. They're simply askinf for favors, and those favors may not be granted.

As for why druids are in with civilized folks, I would put it to the fact that again, they believe themselves to be a part from nature, and as you said, somewhat more secularly inclined, believing themsleve to be a part of nature without really believing in "Nature" with a capital N, liek a spirit shaman does.

I like what's being said about rangers (yay spiritual couriers), and as for assassins, I'd consider putting them under the "outcast" group. An assassin, liek a dread necromancer, would be someone obsessed with the concept of death, and the understanding of it. The assassin's "price" would be the fact that he must have a dependency on death--he must kill to feed the death spirit he's subjugated, lest he be consumed by it, and become mad. Just my thoughts. I also agree changing the name to something death-inclicned without many mdoern thoughts would be nice, and the skulking the the shaodws would help well. If you really want somethign stealthy, you might wanna considerstarting with the ninja (PHB 2) which could again be inferred from the the subjugation and internalizing of spiritual forces.

We've still left out my favorite class (monk), but I've think you've got enough to do without that.

Ritualistically yours,

Excellent thoughts, Theo. I have to agree that I like the feel of the animal sacrifice, and it's something I've been thinking about a lot recently. Lorthyne's point was a really good one - I have been thinking about death and killing something and what that does to people. In particular with a campaign I'm running currently, being something of a dark high fantasy with the particular histories of the characters, I've been thinking about how to implement that, to really drive home just what it feels like when you take another creatures life. I don't want game mechanics, of course, and I can't go into detail and description everytime the PCs kill something, as that would ruin a great deal of the point of combat. But, in this game, it'll be a very different feel from the stone age game, which will focus on the brutality and harshness of it's campaign world, even more than world of darkness, but it won't be necessarily a horror setting, though it could be used for it.

So, when it comes down to it, Lorthyne, my only reply to what you're saying is to go to what feels like some form of elitism - make sure this game is only played by those willing and able to understand just what they're doing means, to really plumb the depths and fragility of human mortality, and to contemplate the pain and seriousness of taking another creature's life. So, as both GM and players, if you're not willing to go all brutal and really get into the reality of this world, then you won't be able to really have a good time with this game. This is not a swashbuckler game, nor a hack'n'slash. This is a game of tense tribal politics, brutal warfare, and a very strong man vs. nature theme. You are not meant to survive, and you won't if you're not smart. In this game, the GM has much more latitude to make you run for your lives, to really press upon you the sheer brutality of the world, and how, ultimately, it's much stronger than you. So, make sure your players are ready for it, or the game will be ruined.

Ok, rant done. I'm thinking I want to implement the animal sacrifice. No human sacrifice, however. That's just going to deep into the "oh, we know he's evil" feel. It needs to stay ambiguous, deep, and conflicting. I'm just not sure where to put the animal sacrifice. This campaign world is going to be a poor one - PCs don't amass great amounts of wealth. Of course, this could tie into what Lorthyne was talking about earlier, in regards to the Druid, of them having a kind of vow of poverty feel. However, I don't think I like the idea of giving the druid a vow of poverty mechanic. It doesn't make sense - the only reason people went to an agricultural, then industrial society is for the surplus. In a hunter-gatherer society, you took what you could and just did you best with it. With the industrial, you take control, grow it, produce it, and keep the extra for hard times or trade. So it ruins the feel for the druid, being part of the industrial society, to take a vow of poverty. It just doesn't fit. However, limiting the clerics wealth by making them buy an animal each morning might work, but it would work best only if the PCs were in the settled lands. If they were in the wild, it would just entail some hunting, which, most likely, the cleric would have some skills in as most everybody will (even the settled people go hunting - the meat is a delicacy). However, I like the idea of the gods or nature just saying, "no." The only problem with this is that it can seem arbitrary for the DM to just say, "Your spell fizzles." the player: "What, why?" DM: "Cause your god says, 'No.'" I don't want this to become a vehicle for player-DM rivalry. So there needs to be a mechanic that represents this. In some ways, you could argue that's what spell slots do - when you run out is when the god says, "Nope, you've taken enough of my energy today, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow."

So, to represent that thought process, we could limit the spell slots. However, I just had a couple of ideas, along with what we've already set up. I really love the cleric secret society thing, so maybe we should just go all the way with it - clerics have a duty to that society, which duty they must fulfill whenever called upon, no matter what. I kind of like that feel, though it is one thing that, again, really depends on the GM. It could be that the GM would just let the cleric off when he/she shouldn't, because he/she never implements this mechanic. So we would need something else. Perhaps combine the social constraints of the society with the economic constraints of the animal sacrifice and then cut off just a little spell slots? Whew. Those are some really fundamental changes. I just had an idea concerning the animal sacrifice, which is something of a no, duh. Religions that have animal sacrifice aren't just general - they demand a particular animal. So, we could choose a particular, somewhat expensive animal that the cleric would only be able to buy, generally - finding them in the wild would be very difficult. That would work to keep their purse-strings in check. However, this would seriously hamper the cleric if the PCs were ever to travel outside the area where all this is happening and go exploring. Maybe you can sacrifice any animal, but the gods prefer one type, and you're penalized, like losing some slots or something, if you sacrifice another type? Seems like we're really beating the cleric.

And as for the Druid, let's keep the whole "rotting nature" thing, but make it so he can't just continually rot forests and such. Here's my thoughts and the options I've come up with. 1-they would have to move in between every spell, and rot a new part of nature. 2-it rots the nature as well as them, making them take hp for every spell (small amounts). Those are the mechanic ideas. Another one, more societal, is that the tribes hate the druid because they feel his magic destroys Nature and harms the spirits, so therefore, tribes will hunt down druids and try to kill them, thus fueling the conflict some more, and making a prestige class opportunity, as one who specializes in such hunts. Tell me what you think.

What you said about the individual societies and their relationship to nature hit it spot on, Theo. Thanks for laying it out and making it clear from this tangled web of thought and counter-thought. One thing, though, about the primitives. The Spirit Shaman views the spirits as something like nature, like I said in a previous post, he almost has a business relationship with them. He has this, the people believe, because he was chosen to have this. His peculiarities made him the candidate for the shaman, and thus an equal with the spirits, to a certain extent. The rest of the primitives, however, very much fear and revere the spirits.

I like those thoughts on the assassin. I just realized that most of you are unfamiliar with the assassin core class, so let me say a little bit concerning. They, like the ranger and all them, don't get spells until 4th level. So perhaps this spirit is more like someone they've killed? Maybe, every assassin has to kill someone before they can get their spells, at least, and then take the spirit that's leaving the body, and this is what powers their spells, and also attempts to drive them mad. And then implement everything you said, Theo. I like that. That's a good idea, and hits right on where I wanted to go with that (I wasn't sure at first).

I actually like the feel of the assassin better than the ninja. It's complete Adventurer, right? However, perhaps we should have two of these killer type characters. There's the assassin, more obviously magically and society inclined. And then there's a ninja like character, who is part of the loner group in the middle, doing his own thing. This would definentely be the ninja from Rokugan, however, as he has no magic or anything like that. Check him out, though, he's really cool. I'm not sure I want two in there, though. Tell me what you think.

As for the monk, we've had some thoughts on him. The first is that I'm not really sure he fits. If you can find a way to put him in there without the whole oriental feel, then I'm all for it. Also, we had ideas of combining a little of the monk with the sorcerer, giving him the capability to survive and such, but also highlighting his wierdness, in that he prefers no weapons when almost everybody else has an axe and a spear.

Quick thought on the Sorcerer. Sense he's all "chosen" and such, do you think he could be born in any one of the societies or just the tribal one? That would make things interesting, to have the various societies fighting for the Sorcerer, like he's an omen of success. Well, tell me what you think.

I like the concept of all sides fighting over Sorcerors, making them non-specific to tribes and more importantly, being chased by every society as an asset. This gives a sorceror yet another problem: He's viewed as a double-edged sword by every one on the planet who he doesn't swear loyalty to.

Second, percentage rolls based on soem sort of "Favor points" mechanic could work a cleric. If you'd liek to see a godo example on favor points and tokesn and such, the Xorvintaal exarch handles that well in DnD terms.

Admittedly, creating the idea of "favor," how it goes up and down, and how it is acquired form the Gods may be somewhat of a pain to write in mechanically, and yous as the GM woudl have yet one more mechanic to write down and check, although you seem far less lazy than myself, so if you're willing to do it, I'll try and think up some math for it.

Actually, I just did. The sacrifice could work towards favor. Depending on how pleasing the morning sacrifice is, and how well-behaved the cleric's been accoriding to hsi go's teachings, He earns so many d-whatevers of favor. The more points he gets, the better his odds of spell success. Basically, you'd add up the points of the dice, and any number between one and that number on a d-100 or percentage roll is considerd a spell success. This way, you've a got a rule to avoid arbitrariness, and can easily have a shifting variable withotu too much pain and heartache

If your cleric somehow breaks 100 by severely pleasing his god and getting awesome rolls, you can give him a slight bump by either giving out an extra spell slot, or a bonus spellcaster level if he does soemthign particulalry worht giving, to make up for the fact that he's gonna have enogh problems as clerics usually do, on top of the fact taht we're weakening his overall usefulness on the magical field.

Divinely yours,

Wow. That was cool. I love Gamegrene! Alright, I'm seeing something working for the cleric here. I was just reading recently in the Book of Vile Darkness (hehe), which has a mechanic for sentient sacrifice, where the cleric who is sacrificing makes a Knowledge (religion) check, with certain bonuses depending on the sacrifice and how it's done, etc., and whatever he gets on the check determines certain magical benefits that the evil god grants the cleric. So we could combine this with your idea, multiplying the result on the check, thus making a percentage mechanic that the cleric must roll everytime he casts a spell, and I like the idea that he gets a +1 caster level on his spells if he does particularly well. That sounds like a good mechanic that'll both provide the limits, put in the sacrifice, and make it important to the player. I like it.

I had a similar thought concerning the Sorcerer. What if we applied a similar mechanic to the Sorcerer spells, but instead of losing the spell, he loses control of the spell to the spirit inside of him, basically allowing the DM to control the spell and do with it what he feels the spirit would do? Question is, how to implement this? Well, let's think about it and see what happens.

Looks like we've got the cleric settled, unless someone else has something to say about it. If you do, I'm all ears! Let's see what we can do about the others.

Again, you'll have to write in a brand new rule here, but here goes. Let's say that a sroceror has two nubmer for spell slots. One number is the amount of spells he can sue, the other is a smaller number, which is his nnumber of "Safe" spelsl per day. After that, the sorceror msut roll a d4. If he gets 1, the spell works normally, if he gets 2, you hijack the spell and use it in the way the spirit would desire it (define the spirit's behaviour in advance with the player, because he should know how his spirit behaves in hsi body, even if he's not particuarly happy with the way said spirit acts). If he gets a three, he aligns with the spriti and gains caster levels for taht one spell according to another roll of the d4. If he gets a four, then the sprit chosoes another spell and target completely different from what the sorceror inteneded to do. How does that sound? I think it covers the instability of sorcerors pretty well, and also gives them reason to be very cautious about how and why they use spells, as if they over-use magic they coudl get in too deep.

Spontaneously yours,

Okay, let's map this out to make sure I get it right. The sorcerer gets two numbers that he uses for spells. One is his normal number, and the other is the number of spells he can safely use. After he has used up his "safe" spells, he has to roll a d4 every time he casts a spell. The results are as follows
1-Spell works normally with Sorcerer in full control.
2-Spirit takes control temporarily and does what it will with the spell.
3-This is where I'm unclear. Does this mean that he has taken control of the spirit and used it to boost his stuff, giving him +d4 caster levels with that spell?
4-Again, I'm not sure. So the spirit takes control, but makes it do something completely different, maybe even casts a different spell?

Hmm. That's a really cool idea Theophenes. I really like it. However, I think I wanna modify it a little bit. I wanna keep my understanding of results 1-3, but I wanna change result four. Here, the basic idea is that the struggle for control over the spell made it so both the Sorcerer and the Spirit lost control, and something completely unexpected happens. Here, I would have the Sorcerer roll percentage dice and consult the Wild Magic table found on page 150 of the DMG (it might be 250...not sure-it's in the planes section), or create a table with similar effects. Oh, and the result of 2 would be whatever the spirit wants (for instance, if traveling with a cleric, the spirit might have a fireball center on the cleric, regardless of who else is in the area, if, of course, the sorcerer was attempting to cast fireball).

Also, I'm thinking what we should do is cut down the number of spell slots the sorcerer has, but then make it so that the sorcerer can cast an unlimited amount of spells, but any spells he casts after he's used up his spell slots are subject to this wild magic thing. Also, I'm thinking every spell cast should do a number of points of nonlethal damage equal to the spell level (for this, the Sorcerer would have to have a hit die of d6), to further limit the Sorcerer from trying to over use his spells. What do you guys think?

I like the new idea better. I may even use that as a sorceror variant for my next campaign.

And yes, you were interpreting 3 and 4 correctly, but I liek the wild magic idea better, that sounds far more fun, especially if you accidentally start sumomoning things.

Wildly yours,

I was gonna offer some advice, but you guys have written a book here. It will take days for me just to read it all, and Gene Wolfe is just sitting over there, pouting. Let us know how it turns out, eh?

Well, Cocytus, good news for you and Gene Wolfe (who's Gene Wolfe...I'm so confused!). I was actually thinking, before you posted here, that I needed to summarize our discussion, so we could see what we've done so far and what else, if anything needed to be done. So, here goes!

Okay, just from reading the intro you know this is a stone age campaign. I'll address the details in a little bit. Now to establish the parameters. Ours is a fallen, mysterious world, which once was the pinnacle of high fantasy, fell, and then has grown into a stone age world, which, in many ways, is restarting the process of civilization anew. None of the people who live in the main setting of the world have any clue about most of this, however. They know this world is old, they know it has great mysteries, but they have no idea just what those are or what it means. Really, it doens't concern them. Survival does, so they focus on that. There is another element in this world that is very important to know, however. This world is one of two worlds, a physical world, and a world of spirits. This world of spirits is one very like the world of spirits in White Wolf's Werewolf: The Forsaken, with some key differences. No one can enter the spirit world but the spirits, though they can enter the physical world. It can only be communicated with. Also, no one knows just what these spirits are or where they come from, and they aren't telling. And these spirits are by no means capricious. They are not fairies pulling tricks on stupid humans and making life difficult. No, they have an agenda, a very set agenda, though no one has any idea just what that agenda is. Put simply, these spirits are sinister and cruel, and they are not on your side. Interacting with the spirits is a serious gamble, but it can pay off. However, it's not cheap, nor easy. As I expressed to a friend a little while ago, one of the main themes of this world is "Everything has a price." So, most people don't mess with the spirits.

This world is also a world in transition. Up until this point, the people who dwell in a specific place in this world, where the majority of the setting detail is, have been organized into tribes, living off the land as hunter-gatherers. However, recently, a group of people have split off and chosen an agricultural way of life. This has caused significant group tensions. Basically this world is divided into four groups
1-The tribes. These are the first, the people who support and live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. These people revere, worship and fear the spirits. They also worship a pantheon of primarily female deities closely related to the spirits. They are significantly divided, but still a force if they decide to be. There are occasional wars between them, and always blood feuds, but these can be put aside in light of greater matters. If PCs, they are generally these classes - the Spirit Shaman, the Barbarian, and the Sorcerer.
2-The industrialists. They made the jump to agriculture and industry for one thing - surplus, and that is what they have. These people have as little to do with the spirits as possible. In fact, they worship a new pantheon primarily consisting of male dieties. This is one of the many reasons they come into conflict with the tribes. They represent a serious threat to the tribes, in that surplus affords things like standing armies, and standing armies means conquest, as well as severe ideological differences. If PCs, they are generally these classes - the Cleric, the Druid, and the Fighter.
3-The Outcasts. This is a group rejected by all the others as heretics and witches. They pay no respect to the spirits - in fact, they use the spirits by trapping them and binding them for magic. They feel very justified in this because the spirits, to them, are evil, and should be subjugated. If PCs, they are almost always these classes - the Warlock, the Hexblade, the Dread Necromancer, and the Assassin.
4-The Intermediaries. These are the people inbetween - the loners, the traveling groups, messengers. They really don't ally themselves with any of the other three, and follow either their own path or are part of a small, traveling society. Some thrive in the wilderness and others the town, but almost none of them really care. If PCs, they are generally these classes - the Bard, the Ranger, the Scout, and the Rogue.

This world is in large part defined by this conflict. This world also has no alignment, as all the major conflicts in this world cannot be boiled down to good or evil, and any attempts to do so would seriously screw things up. In fact, I want to shy as far away as I can from saying that everything is one groups fault, or that one group is bad. The conflict needs to be ambiguous and one that there is no easy solution to. In a word, the conflict needs to be realistic. The tribes want to stick to their way of life because it's tradition - it's always been that way. Also, they feel that the industrial lifestyle leads to a secular culture, that disrepects the spirits and the gods, feeling they can fashion new ones at their whim. More pratically, the industrial culture threatens the tribes, because neither group can afford to leave the other alone, and industrial society affords a standing army. It's either change, or make the other change. The industrial society is trying to move forward, away from the grasp of the spirits and into surplus. Unfortunately, though they often say they will not be slaves to spirits, their way of life lends itself to a new slavery, a slavery to wealth, to social stratification, even to themselves. They want the tribes to industrialize for several reasons. First, if the hostilities continue, the tribes pose a serious threat, as, unified, they could easily overrun the industrial peoples, so the industrial people strive to keep them divided and, if they can, peaceful. Also, surplus is best with and blooms with trade, so it's in the industrial peoples best interest to make everybody else that way, by force, if necessary. The Outcasts hate everybody else for what they've done to them, and they feel their use of the spirits and the dead is fully justified - once your dead, your dead and you aren't coming back (no raise dead in this world), and the spirits are evil and deserve it.

Now, to actually address the reason I made this post - magic. We've set up a system where the magic users have to pay certain costs for their magic, according to the class and the society they are a part of. Well, you know what, this is extremely long. So I'm going to write a part 2 for tomorrow to summarize all of this. Phew. Now, I'm going to go relax.

Actually, I think I'll write part 2 right now. So, here goes.

Okay, now we come to magic and the individual classes in the setting. See, going off the theme that everything has a price, we have assigned various prices for each class. Not all of them are into mechanics yet, actually, most aren't, but we're on our way. So let's break it down, by new prices, mechanics, and just what these classes are in this setting.

Spirit Shaman - Well, he is just that; the shaman. He is the spiritual leader for the tribal peoples. He is also their main contact with the spirits. For this reason, most shamans are not trusted or liked. They deal with the spirits, and the people fear them as much if not more than they worship them. And anyone who can do business with such being is just as scary. The spirit shaman has a very business relationship with the spirits, in that they trade. He gets almost all his abilities from them, and they give that to him because he gives stuff back. We haven't really decided what this is, though we've generally thought along the lines of a physical price, such as Strength damage or something. However, we're fuzzy on the details so any ideas on this, whether it has to do with a physical price or not, would be greatly appreciated.

Sorcerer - This is perhaps the single most important magic-user in this setting. The Sorcerer is the spirits made flesh. A Sorcerer is created when a spirit possesses the body of a baby while still in the mothers womb. The baby is born, and the birth binds the spirit and the sorcerer together. Their purposes for doing so are many, and sometimes inscrutable. However, there is rarely ever more than one on the earth at any given time. This sorcerer is revered and respected and feared by the people, and that means all of them. I actually made a mistake earlier by putting the sorcerer among the tribal peoples. He generally is born among them, but isn't always. A sorcerer could be the son of an Outcast, actually, though that would be so extremely rare as to almost never happen. Ultimately, though, the sorcerer is seen as special by everyone, and everyone wants him on their side. So there's fighting over him. But that's not all with the Sorcerer. He also leads a fight, one that wages inside of him. See, the sorcerer constantly struggles for control with this other spirit that also inhabits his body. When the spirits feel the sorcerer isn't doing what they wanted, they just try and take over. So a sorcerer that decides to be rebellious or won't do something because of morality is going to have a very difficult time keeping control, especially when wielding magic. We've developed a mechanic for this to represent certain spell usage, but we haven't developed a general one for just resisting a takeover. Generally, however, this is discouraged as a PC class, because having a "savior" in your group can cause serious problems for the other players. Also, we've decided to combine aspects of the monk class with the sorcerer, to give him a unique combat feel and so that he can just barely, depending on the situation, survive without spells, and so he has something to fall back on when he's out or being conservative. We've decided that the sorcerer should be able to cast an unlimited amount of spells. However, he still has spell slots. In fact, he'll have less spell slots than the standard sorcerer. The idea is that when he tries to cast a spell past his alloted slot, he must roll a d4, and the result of the spell is determined by the number he rolls.
1-The spell works normally.
2-The spirit inside hijacks the spell and uses it to it's own purposes.
3-The sorcerer manages to take full control of the spirit temporarily and use it's energy as he sees fit: another d4 is rolled, and that number is added as bonus caster levels just for this spell.
4-The struggle between the sorcerer and the spirit goes out of control, and the magical energy is released unexpectedly and prematurely. Here, the sorcerer rolls percentage and the DM consults the Wild Magic table found on page 150 to find out just exactly what happens.

Wizards - There are none. Nobody can read. So the wizard does not exist.

Cleric - The Cleric belongs to a secret society, a mysterious order that is not trusted by the people nor liked by them. But this is not an evil society - they have very good reasons for what they do. They rule the agricultural people, and they do it secretly. That is part of their sacrifice - they are never accepted by their people, and must learn to live with that. Also, the cleric pays with sacrifice to his gods, or whatever beings bless him with power. This we've also developed something of a mechanic for. Somewhat based off of the Book of Vile Darkness, and more based off of Theophanes brilliance, a cleric makes a check every morning as he sacrifices to his god. He gets bonuses or penalties to this check depending on the sacrifice, the money spent therein, and a host of other factors. Then, this check is multiplied by some amount (not decided yet). For the rest of that day, whenever the cleric wishes to cast a spell, he rolls percentage. If he gets lower than the multiplied check, it works. If he gets higher, the god basically says, "No." I'm gonna add a little here and you guys can tell me what you think. Also, if the cleric should ever manage to get past 100% with the multiplied result of his check, he gets 1d4 extra spell slots any where he likes, and then must roll against 80% the rest of the day. That's what we've got so far.

Druid - Druids worship nature, pure and simple. They either ignore or don't believe in the spirits, both of which are heresies to the tribes, and can be seen as very, very dangerous. However, that is not the druids concern. The druids worship primarily the use of nature, it's powers of creation, and what those powers mean in the hands of man. This is why they are agricultural - it is using the land to the fullest extent. The druids price is a simple one; they have to keep balance. If they take something, they must give in return. If they give, they must take. This is different from the shaman, in that the druids price does not take from him. It takes from what's around him. The druid's spells rot nature, they kill animals, even hurt his allies. They cannot hurt him, just what's around him. I have no idea how to implement this, but I really want it in there. It's just really cool stuff. Ideas?

Outcasts - We're putting all the Outcasts into one group, for simplification. The Outcasts all bear the same philosophy, and just have different ways of implementing it. They all bind spirits and take the magic from them by force. The Hexblade binds in Sword, the Dread Necromancer in Soul, and the Warlock in Word. The assassin is a bit different, as he's a fringe even in the Outcasts. The assassin doesn't just take any old spirit. He takes the souls of those he's killed and uses them to power his abilities. However, this binding of souls has some very severe consequences. We haven't quite established mechanics for this, but we have decided it should be something very non-physical, like going made or somesuch.

Bard - The bard's price is a small one, and deeply cultural. Effectively, the bard is the messenger between the different groups, whether it be from tribe to tribe, or to the industrial people. Bards travel in a large group of people, kind of like Tinkers from the Wheel of Time, or gypsies in our world, and are seen as amoral and disreputable. But they are tolerated because they are able messengers. The bards position on spirits is one of neutrality. They could be there, they might not be. Doesn't matter to them.

Ranger - The Ranger is the spirits emissary. When they want to get a message out, they get him. This is different from the Shaman because the Shaman has a business, almost equals, relationship with the spirits. However, rangers are their servants, effectively, though the spirits generally let them do what they want.

Well, that's the specifics. We wanted all of the various prices to incorporate player choice, to make the characters customizable even in the prices they paid, so consider that in any thoughts you might have. Any and all advice is always a good thing! Also, we'd discussed briefly but never closed the issue of introducing the Rokugan ninja, a non-magical, very combat focused assassin like character to represent a counterpart to the spiritual assassin, who needs to kill.

Well, that's it so far. Crazy, huh? I used to have a few pages of ideas for this setting, and now it's exploded cause you guys are friggin geniuses! Keep it up - I love advice.

So, thoughts?

Quote from Tzuriel:

"who's Gene Wolfe...I'm so confused!"

Wikipedia is your friend. Yes, I had to look him up too. Now I'm definitely going to check him out.

My theory on the assassin is that of "bloodlust" if an assassin doesn't meet his kill quota whic in my opinion shoudl be expressed as a value of a certain number of hti-dice worth of creature per tiem period, he neters a psychotic rage where he will indsicriminately kill every thing nearby until it kills an amoutn of creatures up to 1 and a half times its original "kill quota." Of course, you'll need a better name for it than that.Actually seeing as he depends on human souls to sustain his powers, maybe you could use the addiction mechanics from book of vile darkness, or soem variant of starvation rules? Just a thought.

Druid's Rot should probably act as a harm spell, where everything nearby makes a save or takes damage, until an amount of damage equivalent to that of the sepll was done, to represent a true balance. And laternate way woudl be do have to destroy/eliminate

As for the other outcasts, my best thoughts for an appropraite trade-off is that each one of them would undergo some sort of mental damage (some sort of skill penalty of stat decrease would be appropriate).

Madly yours,

Hmm. That's actually a really cool idea on the assassin. Perhaps we should spice him up a little bit. How did he get there? Why does he need souls to sustain himself? I'm thinking something like he doesn't have one himself, which I think would be really, really fun to play with. I actually think I want to have some form of the bloodlust idea (I really like the drugs thing), but also something that directly affects him. Cause some assassins won't care. They'll come to, see all the dead people around them, shrug, then go on their way (though, if you're a good DM, you'll make sure he gets a comeuppance for this). So something more personal. Maybe he rots himself without those souls? Like his body begins to die, since there are no souls to inhabit it? What do you think?

I also like the idea with the Druid's rot. That way, he'll be more hesitant, but it'll also encourage team roleplaying. I also like the idea of it being a double-edged sword - in that it can be used as a weapon even. Let's make sure it's not a static amount of damage - make it variable, and all saves are for half-damage. That way, there's some serious levels of risk to consider, and it's never sure. You know what, earlier Wroe talked about characters being blocked from something. I actually think I really want to use that with druids. Maybe they can't do something concerning nature because the spirits hate them for finding a way around them? Something that's serious, that they would want to do, that they can't do. Ideas?

I'm actually thinking I want the outcasts to be the most variable. Perhaps a random variable? So we would have a host of problems that they could end up with, roll one up randomly, and there you go. Instant price. You know what? I think I want to use the taint system in Heroes of Horror. It's a system that one could use against players to confront the PCs with a host of problems that are side effects of them being in places of great evil. Basically, it makes it extremely personal, and opens up some pretty cool stuff. There are twenty total things that can be used against the PCs, which gradually get worse as the taint progresses, and ten each of those things are mental or physical. So, to determine what taint we'll be using, we roll percentage, first 50 getting mental symptoms, second 50 getting physical. Then we roll a d10 to find out which they got. Or, we could make it so that they're more likely to get mental ones, if you want. Here's the question, though: if we went with this, do you think it should be something that is tied to levels, as in at 7th level things get worse, or something that they save for every time they bind a spirit or something, making it more variable? What do you think of the idea overall?


I like the taint mechanic usage (although I've never used it myself for anything, so I've got no idea how it'd work), but I'd try to discriminate the odds differently for physical vs. spiritual for each class.

Hex blades shoudl probably be more inclined toward physical, Warlocks about fifty-fity, and the dreead necromanacer to be more likely to suffer mental and spiritual consequences. I'm basing this on the fact that traditionally Hexblades are mostly physical characters, and the dread necromancer jsut kinda screams mage over any other kind of spell-caster we've got in here.

We need to discuss non-magic classes, too. I'm assumign barbarians would be mostly loyal to the Tribes, and fighters (who like economies and equipment) woudl hang with the more civilized groups. But what of rogues? Are they likened to the outcasts, or maybe closer to the bards, wandering mercenary types without any real specific unified purpose? The whole discussion is kinda unspoken, so I jsut wanna throw that out there.

Hope I was soem help.

Theoretically yours,

Dude, I can't tell you how much help you guys have been. This stone age setting is gonna rock, and it's all because of you guys. I had some ideas, but you guys have made this setting so much cooler, and I'm really, really excited about it. So, you've been a lot more than some help, Theo.

Actually, I agree, it's probably a good idea to discriminate between them. But, maybe we should switch the warlock and the dread necromancer, because the dread necromancer actually has some combat abilities, among them being able to use a single martial weapon. So I'm not sure, cause the warlock also needs combat stuff, what with all the ranged touch attacks. Hmmm. Well, I guess we couldn't really define things as "combat" and "non-combat," because several of the mental taints affect combat and several of the physical tainst affect non-combat. So, are dread necromancers more physical than warlocks, or more mental? I don't really know...

Yeah, I'd actually wanted fighters to be very specific to only a single group of the settled peoples, and barbarians to be pretty much uniform throughout the tribes. I think I might actually design a general fighter/barbarian mix for the settled people, so they have a combat heavy class. What do you think? Do you know of any classes that are good combat classes for this sort of thing? I might have to mine my library of pirated sourcebooks :).

Well, I actually figured rogues as being a more universal class, in that you can find characters of that feel anywhere. Scouts have a bit of this feeling, too, but they're more wilderness specific and not allied to any particular group as a part of the class, whereas rogues are probably the most free of all the classes to come from anywhere. What do you think? Do you think we should be more specific with them, too?

Also, I'm still having concerns with the Sorcerer. We've established a system for when he over-uses his stuff, but there are a few more ideas that I really wanted to implement with him. One feature I wanted him to have (not sure when) was the ability to yield himself to the spirit, thus boosting his spells for maximal power at the risk of the loss of self. The other was the idea that as he gained levels, it became harder for him to resist the spirit, and also a mechanic that kicks in when he defies the spirit inside of him. What do you think?

I think you're gonan have to homebrew a class for that hybrid, but heres' a thought for a simple basis:

Start out with the warrior. It has good combat abilitiy, but not great, a NPC class that we can start adding abilities to without much regret.

Now, if we add the Trap sense and damage reduction of a barbarian, and then stagger some bonus feats into a fighter for every fourth level instead of every other, and use the proficiencies fo a fighter for weapons, but only allow light and medium armor without shields, we have a hybrid in mechanics. We'll call him the "Warlord," implying his hybridized styel of combat and probable claim to mastery over it.

Now, liek keepign the rogues and scouts as kidn of wanderers, so the bards have soemthign more inclined to cmbat to help them out.

The sorceror's Psirit shoudl probably be a NPC you're willing to work with a player to design, comeplte with a name, personality, and attitude. Think Paladin style here, if a sorceror does somethign taht truly offends that spirit (much in the same sesne a cleric might offend his god,) then instead of lsoing his powers, he has to deal with an attempt at possession, one that's more likely to succeed than most other forms of possession due to thefact the spirit is in there already.

As for the willign loss of control, I'd go with possession again, but also noting that this helps the spirit let off steam, so the psirit is mroe liekly to cooperate if he is let loose, and will practice magic better when he does.

Again, you'll have to design the psirit as a NPC/Familiar thing, but that's mechanics I'm not goign to pull off this late at night. I need sleep.

Oddly yours,

Two in the morning, Theo? What kind of schedule are you keeping?

Actually, that sounds like a pretty good idea, for the "Warlord." I'll have to play with that. But, reading stuff on Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed (his alternate PHB), he has a few classes designed with that thought in mind. So I might just steal a little from him. Probably not wholesale steal, but take some ideas. That's what I usually do with Monte's stuff.

Yes, I like scouts and rogues where they are. It fits, particularly with scouts, because a wilderness class needs movement. Of course, if they were attacked by a group of barbarians or any of the other main combat classes, then they wouldn't be able to make it. So they have the scouts to help while they run, against attacks from wild animals, but they also still need to keep good relations to everybody because they couldn't hold back a raid.

Now, thoughts on the rogues. We're going to need to change his abilities in some strong ways, particularly with regards to his skills (Disable Device isn't too useful here...). Or, we could design new uses for those skills. What do you think? I know Monte Cook has a variant "Wild Rogue" in Unearthed Arcana (different book - very creative, isn't he?), but I don't remember if I really liked that one or not. He also has a wild bard. I'm going to have to look at that, see if I want to use them or not.

Yes, I think the sorcerer's spirit should replace the familiar. And that it should be fully created by both the DM and player. That way, before play, it can take a major part in the Sorcerer's history. Do you think there should be general types of spirits, and that the sorcerer should gain different benefits (small ones) from different types, that he chooses, like the familiar? Or do you think, combined with his spellcasting and combat ability, that that's too far?

Yeah, I think, unless the sorcerer has been not doing what the spirit wants, that when he yields control to the spirit, the spirit is more likely to give it back afterwards. But I really love the idea of the magic getting way stronger when he does that. However, there also might need to be a more concrete cost of that action, so it's not abused. Perhaps the Sorcerer should lose a point of Con of temporary damage every time he does so?

Alright, something else I've been thinking about. I watched a video the other day concerning social outcasts in different cultures. They had a very interesting piece about witches in Africa. See, the belief was that when something unexplainable happened that was bad, the cause is a witch. The thinking here is that the witch cannot control it, and does not know what she is doing, but just by being what she (could be, rarely, a dude, too) is, causes evil spirit to descend upon the village. So she's kicked out. They don't kill her, because she can't control it, but they make her live in a "witch village" where all the other accused witches go. They have a purification ritual, which they undergo soon after they enter the village, and which effectively exorcises the evil spirits from her. However, if she ever leaves the bounds of the witch village, the spirits come back. So what if we use this as the culture of the Outcasts, that this is how they started out, and that the classes of the Outcasts are people who said, "Screw this," whether they were children who carried the curse or accused, and just walked out of the village, or did things they were not supposed to do for fear of bringing out the evil spirits again. And, their thinking here is that these evil spirits which come to them because they have violated the rules, well, they'll just take these evil spirits and subjugate them and use them for magic. That's why they're hated, by just about everybody. What do you think?

Nice thought on your exiled caste, it works for them. I'm also digging the spiritual sacrifice, but maybe instead a temporary wisdom or charisma damage, to facilitate the fact tath recuperating from posession is mentally disorienting, as wellas taxing on the identity?

Wait, what if we use a "Rage" mechanic liek a barbarian to it. Engaging in a willful psoession reults in soem kind of fatigue like status, or maybe jsut an induction of save penalties?

Let's talk about something equally complex. You said survival is the main goal in this campaign--exactly what are they surviving?

Waht or who is out to kill, maim, eat and/or snuggle your party? We've defined al lthe humans, but creatuees and or non-humans are there? Are ther non-human sentient critters?

Also, I'd love to see you pop this vairant sorceror onto Dandwiki when it's all said and done. Mainly so I can steal it.

Yoinkingly yours,

I actually really like the idea of converting the barbarian's rage mechanic over to the sorcerer. That further ties them together. I like the idea that they'll be fatigued afterward, but, unlike the barbarian, I don't think they should be able to use this ability without it later on. Also, perhaps we should have a limit, maybe even per week? I think it'd be cool, too, if the "rage" drained the spirit as well, to the point that the spirit almost has to hibernate for a little while. Should we have a mechanic to represent that, or should it just be flavor? Should we do it at all?

Well, they're surviving mundane things like making sure they have enough food. In the area PCs start in, the basic races given are the only intelligent creatures around. These people are pretty cut off from the rest of the world, though. There will, however, be plenty of non-intelligent creatures running around, as well as tribal conflicts. Basically, it's a savage world, and traveling without a large group is extremely dangerous. You have any ideas of stuff to populate this little vale with to make it more interesting, cause I honestly haven't thought too much about that yet?

However, outside this little area, if the characters decide to go all exploring, there's quite a bit, especially concerning the previous history of this world. There are a number of other sentient beings, and lots of wack stuff to deal with. No planes, though. I don't want any planes in this world, except a spirit plane. Which only spirits can use.

Alright, looking over Monte's book, I found...somewhere around nothing. :( Oh, well. However, he did have an interesting Barbarian type thing I'm going to have to look a lot more at. So, Theo, looks like we're gonna go with what you were talking about earlier. However, I think he should have the best BAB, so he can stand toe to with the other combat classes, and live to tell the tale. Other than that, I haven't had the chance to really check it out. Ideas?

Yeah, I'm probably going to be putting a lot of this stuff on Dandwiki when it's all done with, mainly because this is pretty awesome stuff. I also have a few cool prestige classes that should pay a visit, too....hmm.

Well, that's what I've got so far. What's on your end?

How about the "Transcendance" (tnetative name, i like talkign about names with things) makes its so that the spells cast per day becomes an effective limite for the day? So that way, he can't evengamble with pushing himself too far, and he seriously limits his spelsl after he comes out of the Rag/Spirit state, because even the spirits mystical enrgies are depleted for a day?

I don't liek the idea of affects taht last for more than oen or two days, myself. A whoel week is a lot of game time to kill, and can seriously annoy a player. But then, that's up to your group.

Wildly magically yours,

Hmm...maybe "Spirit Rage"? I don't know. I like "Transcendance," though I'm not sure it fits. Though it might fit. Hmm.

Anyways, I really like that idea for the mechanic. So, basically, when the Sorcerer does this, he's fatigued for the rest of that day, and loses the ability to go beyond the slots for that day and the next one. That's a really good idea, and will make people be careful with the mechanic. I like it.

Your point about the week thing is a good one, and it can be a pain in the butt to keep track of. So, basically, he can only use it every other day (though such abuse would probably draw the spirits ire).

Alright, anything else?

I just realized I hadn't even talked about this for a bit. I'm still curious exactly what these heroes are fighting or running from. Do you need any help on the villian side of things?

Second, the one classes we never totally addresed was fighters. Personally, I'd argue that fihgters shoudl be slightly mroe limited (perhaps by limiting feat selction and/or wepon proficiencies in relation to side). However, I don't really think any faction wouldn't have fighters.

"Invocation" or "Trance" would make good names for the sorceror's empowering rage thingy.

Oddly yours,

Hmmm...villians. Well, it really depends on where the PCs are at the time, and who they're playing. If they're all from the tribes, then, more than likely, most of their enemies will be city folk. Also, the area these people live in they also share with quite a crop of dangerous and powerful beasts, so there's always that (though these will be more than random encounters - more like moments to humble the PCs). Also, most people will hate the Outcasts, and the Outcasts will hate most people. There's quite a bit outside the area where these people live, but I'm actually thinking that I want to keep most of that under wraps. Basically, the PCs choices make their villians.

If you've got any ideas, though, I'd love to hear them. You've always given me good stuff before.

ughI never was a hugh fan of primitive DnD, I like me some clockwork!

bump to remind myself to read this thread thoroughly