Friday, October 9, 2009

Born of Stone and Wood

Philotomy's Mythic Underworld post (also Knockspeil #2) verily inspired me. My Gold & Glory sandbox revolves around exploring an unknown wilderness (ala Western Marches). It should be a fantastical Mythic Wilderness. To borrow some of Philotomy's words; A place where the normal laws of reality may not apply, and may be bent, warped, or broken. Not merely a collection of outdoor sites, lairs, and dungeon entrances. Not sane, the wilderness gnaws on the civilized world like some chaotic cancer. It is inimical to mundanes and their ways; the wilderness, itself, opposes and obstructs adventurers brave enough to explore it.

I've been wanting to get away from Tolkien stereotypes and away from non-humans being no different than humans that "live in trees" or "live in mountains". But not too far, not Talislanta's level of freaky. Players fairly expect some recognizability from a game billing itself as D&D. I decided to go back and drink from the same well used by Tolkien and Gygax, European mythology. Back to when the wilderness was strange, fantastical, dangerous and ruled by fey/seelie/alfar. When gnomes, dwarfs, elves, (and trolls, goblins, giants, etc.) strange, fantastical, and came from the Mythic Wilderness!

Denizens and those in the know call the Mythic Underworld "The Below" and the Mythic Wilderness "The Wild". Civilized / non-Mythic land has many names, "Earth", "Midgard", "Terra", "The Mundane".


Dwarfs

Born of stone, Dwarfs are Seelie(Fey) of The Below. Literally pull themselves from the rock and are "born" of stone. [I had the Born of Stone idea a while back and was about to write it up when Grognardia posted a totally similar thing. Evaporated my enthusiasm dang it!]

3-4.5' tall. Stout, broad, tend towards big round bellies. Rough, hard skin/flesh. Their blood is black like that of the Earth. No two dwarfs look the same. Often slightly agoraphobic. Mineralarian, they eat stones, crystals, and gems.

Starting Language: Fey
Hatred of unseelie (dark fey), only negative reactions possible. +1 to hit vs unseelie.
Animosity towards Elves, -2 reaction rolls.
Humans are superstitious, -2 reaction rolls.
  • Con Prime
  • Deep vision. Can see(faded colours) in near and total darkness while underground. Spoiled by light, even a candle. Takes 10min to adjust.
  • "Rocky" Immune to most non-magical cures, potions, diseases, and poisons.
  • "Hard" +1 wound DR
  • "Sand in the ears" hard of hearing. No sense of smell.
  • "Seelie heart"
    • Immune to unnatural sleep.
    • Susceptible to fey charms/glamours. (-4 on saves)
    • Do not age and immune age effects. Eventually tires/bores of mortal life and returns to the seelie court beyond the setting sun.
    • Do not heal naturally unless in The Below.
    • Must spend 1 day out of 7 in below or suffer 1 wounds and -2 to all rolls per week.
  • "Stone sense" (The Below skills) Con based
    • sense naturalness, balance, tone benign/malignant, of The Below
    • determine depth underground aka dungeon lvl (automatic)
    • detect traps, false walls/hidden construction, slopes, age of construction, and the like
    • gem/ore/creature identification
  • Innate casting: 1/day meld with (natural) stone,

Gnomes

Wee ones of the wood. Gnomes are seelie(Fey) of The Wild. Live in burrows, hollowed out trees.

2-3' tall. Average, chubby, or pot-bellied build. Fond of long pointy beards and conical felt hats. Often slightly claustrophobic. Vegetarian.

Starting Language: Fey
Hatred of unseelie (dark fey), only negative reactions possible. +1 to hit vs unseelie.
Animosity towards Elves, -2 reaction rolls.
Humans are superstitious, -2 reaction rolls.
  • Wiz Prime
  • Starlight vision. Can see(faded colours) in moon/starlight while outdoors. Spoiled by bright (> moon) light. Takes 10min to adjust.
  • "Crafty" Immune to most non-fey charms/glamours.
  • "Little" +1 defence, -4 opposed Str checks.
  • "Big ears & noses" Acute sense of smell and hearing.
  • "Weald" May speak with forest creatures. For most creatures this is more empathetic than conversational.
  • "Seelie heart"
    • Immune to unnatural sleep.
    • Susceptible to fey charms/glamours. (-4 on saves)
    • Do not age and immune age effects. Eventually tires/bores of mortal life and returns to the seelie court beyond the setting sun.
    • Do not heal naturally unless in The Wild.
    • Must spend 1 day out of 7 in The Wild or suffer 1 wounds and -2 to all rolls per week.
  • "Wood sense" (The Wild skills) Wiz based
    • sense naturalness, balance, tone benign/malignant of The Wild
    • determine direction outdoors (automatic)
    • detect snares/pits, hidden places
    • herb/plant/creature identification
  • Innate casting: 1/day dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation

Some notes:

I'm using Castles & Crusades and race required primes make much more sense to me than class required primes. I tried to limit mechanics and flavour text instead. In the player version I'm considering stripping/replacing more of the modifiers e.g. "Little" gnomes small stature makes them more difficult to hit and for gnomes to use their strength against larger folk. In similar vein avoided bogging down detailing appearance, culture, history, etc. Just a few bits to hint these aren't "regular" D&D dwarfs and gnomes. Anything more can and should be filled in by the player.

I have no idea how balanced these are? Close/obscured enough is all I'm after. I hope that players consider a gnome cause that is what they want to roleplay not because gnomes are uber/gimped.

Gnomes, dwarfs, and many other fey (pixies, brownies, etc.) are true elves, the Alfar. What everyone calls Elves are in fact "fallen" or "lost" Alfar. Long, long ago Elves turned their back on the Mythic World and their Alfar brethren. They embraced The Mundane, ploughed the meadows, built cities, learned science and technology. In a word they civilized. The Alfar have still not forgiven them.

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