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My Fantasy RPG World, Feedback and Ideas appreciated

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Scalenex, May 17, 2019.

  1. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Definitely going to use that nickname for Swynfaredians.

    I don't know if the Swynfaredians have a clever nickname, but they like to make fun of Fumayans for being ignorant hicks. Sort of like how in Game of Thrones everyone referred to northernors or (unfortunately) how Americans on the coast refer to Americans in Fly Over Country.

    That's a good idea. It does make sense that traffickers in kenku eggs would sell the stolen goods the next country over instead of locally, so it'd be a very plausible cover story that Swynfaredian would send some investigators to Fumaya to follow reports of missing kenku eggs. Even if they are spies, they would still have to at least have to go through the motions of following the thieves so that might make it too easy for the PCs to bust kenku egg smugglers and it could muscle out Reeyak. Thought it would be a good way to rope in long-term Swynfaredian characters. I am torn here.

    I was inially thinking there would two Swynfaredian spies with separate lords or ladies as masters. One spy would be focused top down (the Swynfaredian ambassador hobnobbing with nobles) and the other would be bottom up, working with criminals.

    You idea is middle class. Come to think of it that would make a more effective spy. I could always have three spies.

    That's a good concept but it's very similar to Wenham. Wenham is a cunning stealthy killer. He can disappear people without a direct tie to the Guild of Shadows or the Black Hand. Especially if Vusnitt plays spin doctor on the rumor mill.

    Hmmm, if that's the sabeteur's strategy he or she would be pretty ineffectual.
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  2. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Sorta my point, I suppose.

    If the [Minister of War ??] of Swynfar settled on a sabotage strategy. What does he know going in — to begin with?
    • There’s a standing Army and the King’s retainers (the govt)
    • There are two rival criminal organizations
    • There [is?] a Magus Guild
    • There [is?] the trade Guilds Union
    Those are ^ the potential power centers.

    Pitting the two criminal organizations against each other is something that ought to work. But he wouldn’t know it’s doomed to fail.

    The Goal is to Cripple the Kingdom’s capacity to fight back without ruining so badly it isn’t worth conquering.

    There could be other strategies.
    • Make a secret alliance with one of the criminal organizations to either be turncoats during the invasion or to take out the other criminals
    • Bribe the trade Guilds to deprive the Army of gear/food
    • Hire both criminal groups to take out the most loyal members of the Magus Guild
    • Actively try to destroy both Gangs, plant evidence against them, attack them when they try to smuggle anything across the border, ultimately use them as the excuse to wage open War on “the crime haven” of Frumaya
  3. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Well I doubt it's the Minister of War. It's probably the Queen of Swynfaredia's vassals. Half the reason that the Queen wants to conquer Fumaya is because her vassals are getting restless either contemplating coups for the throne or starting low key civil wars with each other. The Queen of Swynfaredia wants to use a war against Fumaya to constructively channel the energy of her vassals.

    The other Swynfaredian lords and ladies for their part, want Fumaya's land. And they want to make sure that their contributions to the effort are recognized as the most important, ergo their families get the best spoils of war and their rivals get nothing. Their greatest vulnerability is that the Swynfaredian noble families are wasting a lot of energy spying on and sabotaging the efforts of the other Swynfaredian noble families. Their spies not only want to know where the Fumayans are weak but they want to know what their Swynfaredian rivals are doing.

    There are probably two or three Swynfaredians sending spies into Fumayan. The Queen may or may not have a personal spy in Fumaya too. The Queen is definitely going to be spying on her own vassals.

    Since Swynfaredians require landed nobles to be sorcerers that means it is very difficult for the Swynfaredians to co-opt the existing leaders. Most of King Henryk's vassals know that if they surrender to the Swynfaredians or opt to make a deal, the best they can hope for is a pile of gold. They aren't going to be able to keep their lands and titles. Still, a spy would hoping to find a foolish or cowardly Fumayan noble that's willing to cut a deal. As of yet, no Swynfaredians know that there is one Fumayan noble lady that happens to be a sorcerer and thus is eligible to hold title in both Fumaya and Swynfaredia.

    A substantial portion of King Henryk's vassals are from a noble line (House Deorac) that is the exiled royal family that the Swynfaredians conquered the lands of two hundred years ago. The Deoracs would love to see a bunch of Swynfaredians heads on spikes, so a Swynfaredian spy is likely to concentrate on isolating the Deoracs, so they can be wiped out once and for all.

    Only well informed Swynfaredians (those with spies in King's Lake) are aware of the two criminal organizations. The average Swynfaredian only knows that King Henryk is having financail difficulties, they don't know the details. Because of how Swynfaredian nobles are competing with each other, if one finds a tidbit of information, she is probably not going to share it with her peers outside the family.

    There is a Wizards' Guild. It's not a very powerful guild but they are unified in opposition to the Swynfaredia...or they are preparing an exit strategy. Even though there is very little difference between sorcerers and wizards, Swynfaredians treat wizards like crap. If Fumaya is conquered, the best the Fumayan wizards can hope for is to keep their old jobs but work for half the pay they used to get. Fumayan wizards are a fractious lot but if Swynfaredians stop saber rattling and start invading for real, the Wizards' Guild will probably unify in a way they never have before.

    I haven't thought about this until you brought it up.

    I figured Fumaya would have a guild like this, but it's pretty toothless. The Swynfaredians may be abe to convince some guild masters to flip. King Henryk's father squandered a lot of money and a lot of those squandered funds made their way into the pockets of guild masters. Now with King Henryk's fiscal tightening they have less wealth than before.

    Now that you mention it, this would be a GREAT place to insert a spy. The guilds don't have a lot of political power but they are well informed.

    I would add the various priesthoods. The priesthoods have their political power reduced because the priesthoods are split into nine different directions, but most of them agree that Swynfaredia conquering Fumaya would be a bad thing. Fumaya's king and dukes all rely heavily on advice and support from at least one of the priesthoods, wheras Swynfaredians try to mitigate the influence of the Nine in political life.

    There biggest foes are the Guardians of Hallisan who are propping up Fumaya's army and the Children of Greymoria who are propping up the Wizards' Guild. The Lanterns of Zarthus will likely become a problem if the Swynfaredians start winning the war. Guerilla resistance against occupying oppressors is their bread and butter. King Henryk's most trusted advisor is one Khemra's Keepers and that advisor commands the loyalty of the other Keepers.

    It's unlikely that the Korus' Stewards or Mera's Tenders would do much. It's possible but not easy that the Swynfaredians could talk Phidas' Masks, Maylar's Testers, or Nami's Rovers into switching sides.


    Agreed. Privately the Queen of Swynfaredia would be satisfied if she could invade, sue for peace and walk away annexing a mere 10% of Fumaya's land. Then use the crumbs of new land to make her vassals fight for her favor to get the prize.

    The Deorac nobles that own land directly on the border are the ones the Queen would like to take her slice of land from.

    This is nearly impossible, but the Swynfaredians don't know this.

    This has a high chance of working, but the Swynfaredians don't know this.

    This has a small chance of working, but the Swynfaredians don't know this.

    This is probably the idea that most Swynfaredians would try first unless they can assassinate some Deorac nobles (who are often also wizards). The Deoracs tend to have abjuration spells up the wazoo, but they have a sort of blind spot against mundane assassins. On the other hand, most Swynfaredians love their own magic so much they have a blind spot against using mundane methods to solve their problem too!

    That is a really clever idea though it is unlikely many Swynfaredians would think of this.

    Though if say the player characters make some high profile collars against members of the criminal syndicates, this will put the criminal gangs into the news which would enter the ears of any Swynfaredian spies which would enter the ears of the Swynfaredians. At that point, THEN someone might get the idea to do what you are saying.
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  4. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    A Tale of Two Cities

    Doodled up in quasi-Tolkien-like pictorial style please find two cities bordering two different lakes ...but set side-by-side to compare. Note that the one on the Left is interesting and a bit fantastic or at least picturesque. While the one on the right is... a bit... just sitting there looking... Meh (but next to a lake).

    <=== Go for something like That One. But add a waterfall, and maybe a whorl-pool, and a few taller towers.

    And how’s about a Temple of Mera with a water entrance? Where they keep a trained undulating Lake Serpent that helps guard the shoreline.
  5. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Hmmm, I definitely need to think about supernatural critters in the water. I doubt Mera would interfere in King's Lake very often but there is a tiny portion of Mera's priesthood who secretly sympathize with the Paladin faction and would like to create a militatant Mera theocracy in Fumaya. They don't have the numbers or support to do this, but these quasi-heretics believe that if things get bad enough in Fumaya and the priesthood of Mera gets to swoop in like white knights, they might get the public support to do this.

    If Fumaya became a Mera theocracy, then the lake would probably be chocked full of Mera spirits.

    I liked the bridged areas in your illustration. I hadn't even considered tiny islands or structures on the water when I wrote the blurb below.

    Anyway here is my musing on what King's Lake would have in ways of districts.

    According to Don Jon’s medieval demographics calculator, a country of Fumaya’s size (55,000 square miles and with the quality of their farmlands somewhere between settled and low) their largest city should have roughly 25 thousand people. In Fantasy settings, cities are often implausibly big. I could add 10 or 15 thousand more people if I chose. I think based on the DMG city building supplement district system as guidelines, I ended up with 26350 residents. We'll say 26,000 for simplicity.

    In addition to Don Jon, I used this PDF for inspiration and organization which was released for free by Wizards of the Coast years ago.

    I don’t have any equivalents to Roman roads in Scarterras yet. Fumaya is an inland nation so a coastal city is out of the question. My plan is to put Fumaya’s capital on the banks of Fumaya’s largest lake near Fumaya’s most important river. Maybe I’ll put it on the intersection of two rivers. We’ll call the capital King’s Lake until and unless I come up with a better name.

    Unless I use a supernatural explanation such as a magical font tied to the elemental force of water, Fumaya’s rivers would probably be fed from snow melting from the mountains to the west. For a lack of a better term I’ll call them the Dwarvian Mountains since the mountains in West Colassia house 90% of the world’s dwarf population. I could also call them the Great Mountain Range or World Spine Mountains because they are the largest mountain range in the world by a considerable margin

    Rivers would almost certainly flow east. It might be straight east (towards the Wood Elves), southeast (towards Swynfaredia and the central sea of Scarterras) or northeast (towards the frozen north). Rivers flowing southeast would have more economic value because it would let them ship goods out to sea. I think I’ll have the main river flow southeast because that lets me build up a shipping district with a seedy underbelly. I could have a second less economically useful river, perhaps a river that ends at the lake. Such a river you could travel upstream with barges a little bit but once you get into the hills and mountains on the border of Stahlheim, the rapids would be way too difficult and dangerous to navigate.

    Besides a means of transportation, a city should probably have some sort of unique resource that explains why the city was built there and not somewhere else. If make the lake have a bunch of sea food in it, that’s probably enough. I could add more, but King Henryk is having financial difficulties. Too many resources makes this increasingly implausible. The most plausible resources I can come up with beyond the lake itself include a magical font. Maybe a moderately productive mine. Precious metals would make the king too rich. Maybe something simple and utilitarian like salt, iron, or coal. Perhaps some kind of stone quarry.

    A clay quarry makes sense. Clay often is near sources of water, so the city of King’s Lake can have rich clay deposits near it and this could support a pottery industry. Perhaps the city of King’s Lake is famous for the quality of its ceramic goods.

    The area around King’s Lake would probably have ample rain fall and lots of water for irrigation but fairly cool temperatures and harsh winters. Most cash crops I’m aware of like warm temperatures. I guess the climate and geography around King’s Lake would be good for wheat, barley, and similar grains. These plants are thirsty and can cope with relatively cool temperatures. Root crops would probably be the staple for most of Fumaya as a whole, but less so around King’s Lake because their conditions are relatively ideal for grain. That would make vodka and cider the most widely available alcoholic drinks in Fumaya as a while, but I bet King’s Lake would be famous for high quality ale due to ample grain and clean water. Stahlheim dwarves probably say, only half in jest, that the ale of King’s Lake is the only reason they trade with the city at all. Most wine, especially quality win, would probably have to be imported from Swynfaredia or Loren and thus be considered a luxury.

    The land around King’s Lake is mostly cleared, but because Fumaya has so much forested countryside, the city probably has very little problem meeting its fuel and carpentry needs. That’s not unique to King’s Lake though, abundant timber is something most Fumayans have access to. Unless I want to put a grove of Silverwood or some other exotic trees nearby, King’s Lake does not have any amazing timber resources, but they do have enough timber to be locally famous for skilled carpenters.

    Short version: King's Lake has is built on the south shore of a big lake. A river flows out of the lake southeast that is their main transportation resource since you navigate a boat or a barge all the way (through Swynfaredia) to the sea. A river flows into the lake from the west. This doesnt have much value for transportation, but it can power several waterwheels.

    King’s Lake is famous for pottery and ale. They'd like to be famous for their carpentry but it's merely above average. Fish and grain are the staples of their food supply.

    That’s hardly nothing, but it’s not exactly making the locals rich. This is a fitting basis for the capital of the hardy folk of Fumaya.

    King’s Lake is not only the most populous and economically viable city in the Fumaya, it is the center of government. That is a major question I’m not sure of. Is King Henryk’s castle going to be in city of King’s Lake or is it going to be a few miles away guarding King Henryk’s farmland? Even if King Henryk’s castle is not in the city, he probably has at least a manor house in the city.

    If King Henryk lives in the city, the government centers are probably going to be clustered around his castle. If King Henryk doesn’t live in the city, at least not full time, the government centers are probably going to be on the river or major crossroads. Even the king doesn’t live in the city there is probably going to be a no-frills fortress of some kind and most of the military features (training fields, barracks, and whatnot) are likely to be clustered around it.

    Fumaya has a lot of wilderness so a lot of Fumayans hunt for some of their food. They probably have some decent pasture land so it’s reasonable to throw in a tannery district.

    There should be at least one warehouse district and waterfront district near the river.

    I figure King’s Lake would about 75% human. That’s a little bit more cosmopolitan than the country as whole which is about 80% human. The city’s minority would be about 7% kenku, 5% gnomes, 4% Elf, 4% Dwarf and 4% “other” give or take.

    Gnome District “Little Fumaya,” “Gnome Home” “Gnome Zone” “Humans have to duck zone.”

    Gnomes are family oriented so most gnomes would live in the Gnome District, even if they work somewhere else. Here the buildings and furniture are all scaled to their tiny frames. It’s probably going to otherwise look very similarly architecture wise to the rest of the city, but just be smaller. Since I don’t have halflings or hobbits in my world I could steal elements from Tolkien and make them fond of cozy holes, round windows and round doors. City gnomes probably wouldn’t live in holes though. Given how much water is in the area, big cellars would be expensive and messy in the City of King’s Lake

    I like the idea of a tavern in the gnome district gaining a reputation for good food such that it attracts non-gnomes to eat there. Thus they might have remodeled to make the ceilings higher so it’s a bit more human friendly.

    “The Nest”

    Kenku are very good at assimilating, but they would probably have their own district, nicknamed “the Nest.” Adult kenku average around five feet all. There buildings would not need to be scaled down much from what humans are used to. Kenku don’t fly so I don’t think they’d live in tree tops or do anything especially birdlike (although they do keep their eggs in very bird-like nests).

    Kenku have to deal with outsiders trying to steal their eggs. Kenku also are very wealth focused, miserly and covetous. They would probably want a wall around the entire Nest district. The actual building with their literal nests would probably be in the dead center of the district and guarded day and night. Out of a thousand kenku, at least one is going to be a spell-caster of some sort. They are probably guarding the nests with whatever magic the community can afford. The few businesses in The Nest are probably “kenku only.” Non-kenku visitors will be watched like hawks…or watched like crows anyway.

    Amongst their own kind, I’m betting kenku favor ostentatious displays of wealth. There are probably a lot of statues, fountains, tapestries and murals clustered together as tight as possible to maximize displays of wealth rather than spacing them out artistically. They probably favor bright colors and shiny things. Flaunting gold and silver outside is a little too risky even for the vainest and wealthiest kenku, but I can imagine wealthy birds would favor a lot of bronze décor that they make their servants (or children) polish regularly to shine like gold.

    Dwarf Town

    Fumaya shares a large border with Meckelorn and the nation barely clips Stahlheim in the southwest corner. Most dwarfs in King’s Lake are short-term residents here to ply their trades and sell their wares, but a dwarf’s definition of “short-term” could mean than thirty or forty years.

    More so than kenku, gnomes, and elves, dwarves definitely like to live with other dwarves. Even if they have to walk a long ways to work, only true pariahs or the most obsessive workaholics would choose to live outside of the dwarf district. Dwarfs aren’t that much smaller than humans so human visitors won’t bump their heads nearly as often as they would in a gnome district. If you ever see a fantasy illustration of dwarf hall, they usually imply that dwarfs like high ceilings even though it’s highly impractical.

    Fumaya has lots of good timber and a lot of clay so most buildings would be made out of wood of bricks. Dwarves don’t stand for that nonsense. They will live in stone houses even if costs more.

    Elf District

    The Wood Elves are isolationist and asocial in general but they share a long border with Fumaya, they need some kind of way to establish normal diplomacy with Fumaya. I’m not sure if a permanent embassy fits for a medieval fantasy setting but it’s plausible they would have a permanent embassy. And it’s plausible that elf visitors who are not affiliated with Loren’s ruling class would prefer to live near the embassy and that the area would morph into a sort of elf district.

    The elf district would pretty small. Most elves visiting King’s Lake are visiting as part of their rumpsringa. Since the whole point of the rumspringa is to explore non-elven lands, many of them would actually prefer to hang around non-elves. Not all of them. Some elves are less adventurous want to enjoy their rumspringa surrounded by young elves like themselves.

    The elf district would probably have a lot of trees, some of which are magically reshaped to create living shelter. That’s about all I can think of for what an elf district would look like. Maybe if King’s Lake was hosting a visiting delegation they could a set up a temporary tent city.

    If an inhabitants racial category is “Other” they probably would like to live with elves since most others are at least nominally related to the Wood Elves, (half-elves, centaurs, satyrs).

    The Human Majority

    Fumaya shares more borders with demihumans than humans and most of their human neighbors are to the south and King’s Lake is fairly distant from the southern border. I don’t think there would be enough human residents of foreign descent to see an ethnic neighborhood of ethnic humans forming. Fumaya outlawed serfdom and slavery so they wouldn’t have slave quarters.

    I figure most humans who don’t have the luxury of living near where they work would live in some sort of residential district. Which would probably be unofficially segregated by social class and wealth.

    Temple District: All the Nine have a temple arrayed around a shared plaza in the traditional layout. I’m still trying to work out what the traditional layout is.

    One such layout is, Mera, Korus, Phidas, Maylar, Greymoria, Khemra, Hallisan, Mera, Zarthus >Mera. This way no one is next to a priesthood they utterly despise.

    Another layout is this: Maylar, Mera, Korus, Nami, Greymoria, Khemra, Zarthus, Hallisan, Phidas, <Maylar. That is the order of the zodiac calendar (the least injured deities were able to call dibs on the first zodiac seats).

    Don Jon’s calculator figures a city of King’s Lake size would have about 800 clergy and 32 priests (I found out this is somewhat random, if I put in a city of 25000 multiple times you will get a different number of priests, soldiers and whatnot each time). Don Jon is assuming a setting like real world medieval Europe where there was one Church that was more or less indisputed. Because my setting is based around the Nine and there are you know, nine deities, I should probably inflate this. 800 clergy and 60 priests sounds better to me. Maybe a hundred divine spell casters, a third of which are on the PCs level or better. Both Hallisans Guardians and Mera’s Tenders believe the countryside needs them more the capital so they are probably at half-strength or less in King’s Lake compared to what they would otherwise be. I guess this would knock the city’s current population to 550 clergy and 50 priests.

    Most cities don’t have all nine temples together because eventually one priesthood will annoy another into leaving. Zarthus, Mera, Hallisan, and Greymoria all have secondary temples outside the district. For Zarthus the secondary temple is their de facto main temple. The Lanterns of Zarthus have threatened to withdraw from the Temple District entirely more than once.

    Nami’s Rover’s run an inn here given that Nami is a patron of travelers. They also operate a winery and a tavern but that’s not in the temple district. They rely on these businesses for most of their operating funds. They don’t get a lot of donations and the temple sponsors a lot of nomadic priests. Korus Stewards own a high end herb and spice shop. Hallisan’s guardians run a high end smith shop that metalworkers in the city compete to get their goods in.

    Most of the other buildings are housing for the temple’s priests and support staff. Maylar’s priesthood is the only priesthood small enough that their entire staff can live in the temple itself. There are vendors and food providers that cater primarily to clergy. There are a lot of petty turf wars about who gets what real estate. Phidas’ Masks have generally been “winning” this pointless war buying up the most coveted spots which is a large part of the reason the Lanterns are threatening to leave.

    I’m calling the area between the temples, Temple Plaza, unless I come up with a better idea. The central plaza has no structures, but well maintained paving stones. Temple Plaza technically belongs to all the priesthoods. The plaza is usually empty but with nine different priesthoods each with two or three annual holidays each, that means you get some kind of holiday celebration every two to three weeks on average. At which point the priesthood presiding over the holiday sets up platforms, stages, vending stalls, tent cities, whatever they need.

    The PCs are staying here bumming free food, stabling, and lodging from the priesthood of Khemra (Neshik rarified status as Eclipse touched means he is treated like a hero or a prince by all Khemra clergy). That’s part of the reason I wrote more on this district than the others, also, I take my made up pantheon very seriously.

    Fisherman’s Wharf: King’s Lake depends on the lake’s fish to feed the populace. I don’t know if there would be two or three fisherman’s wharf districts or one extremely large fisherman’s wharf. There is going to be a temple to Mera here and more than a few Mera shrines.

    Pottery District: As mentioned earlier, pottery is one of the main industries of King’s Lake. Potters seem like a group that would like to cluster near each other. This would eventually attract artists who work in other mediums to move to the same area. King’s Lake two modest theaters are here. So is a temple to Zarthus, given that the Lanterns love to support the arts. Sadly, Fumaya’s economic hardships mean the nobles have less money to patronize artists with, so this district is suffering.

    Tannery District: Fumaya has a lot of hunters and herders. That means they make a bunch of leather. Medieval (and modern) tanning is a very smelly industry. Dyers and bleachers probably work here too. Very poor people who cannot afford to live anywhere else live here. I don’t know if the alchemists would set up shop or in the magic district.

    Timber District: Fine craftsmen carve goods here. Lumber is processed here. Cannot think of anything super interesting here.

    Finance District: Phidas doesn’t have a temple here, but the Masks spend almost as much time here as they do in their own temple. They are feuding with the money changer’s guild which is their competitor in the lending and money changing industry. High end shops and services cater to rich people.

    Magic District: Regents and spell components are for sale here. Sometimes potions and scrolls. King’s Lake only has between one and two hundred wizards or sorcerers in it at any one time, most of which are not very powerful, but that’s more than enough to justify the district. Mages like to hang out with their own kind and they need a place to buy regents and sell their wares. Since generally mages have more money than the average citizens, you can find some high end shops here that have nothing to do with magic.

    The Children of Greymoria have a potion and regents shop that doubles as a secondary temple, but it’s rarely used as a temple. Their real secondary temple is hidden somewhere no one would suspect.

    Garrison: Don Jon calculates that King’s Lake should have about 200 city guardsmen. King Henryk is strapped for gold, but he’s trying to cut costs elsewhere to prioritize his people’s defense. That means only blatantly corrupt or incompetent guards were laid off. 200 guards is probably pretty accurate. The garrison could also train reserves and new recruits so there are probably about 300 men in the barracks here. There are probably another 300 or so people selling the soldiers goods and services.

    The Garrison District probably has a small chapel to Hallisan but the chapel probably has a skeleton crew because most of the Guardians are defending the southern border.

    Riverfront, Warehouse, and Caravan Districts: These handle goods coming from or leaving on river barges. This is probably where Etch’s influence in strongest. The Caravan district is where land based travelers set up their tents and carts. Etch has less pull here because the inhabitants are so transitory.

    Guild Hall District: The DMG city building addendum describes guild hall districts and abandoned guild hall districts. King’s Lake has a new category. Declining guild hall district. The guilds exist and they have some influence but they are struggling financial and some businessmen are leaving for greener pastures.

    Residential Neighborhoods: I mentioned ethnic enclaves for kenku, dwarves, elves, and gnomes. Humans generally try to cluster around people of their same social class.

    There are exceptions. Most rich neighborhoods have a few poorer residences (the servants have to live somewhere) and the nouveau riche are likely to have a nice house in a fairly poor neighborhood. Alternatively a hands-on noble, officer, guildmaster or some other wealthy leader would choose to locate himself near his employees and underlings.

    Do I need More?: I’m not sure whether I want King’s Lake to have a university, I’m leaning towards no. That can be a bragging point for Fumaya’s second largest city. King’s Lake may or may not have a Red Light district.

    I don’t know if Etch would prefer to have his money making places concentrated or dispersed. I’m guessing since Etch loves subterfuge so much he would not want to put all his eggs in one basket.

    Another district on the maybe file is a Park District. A nice park would seem at odds with Fumaya being a poor and struggling nation, but on the other hand Fumaya has ties to wood elves and a politically powerful priesthood of Korus. Both of these groups would like a park.

    I don’t see a point in having an inn district or a tavern district. I assume places that provide food and lodging would be widely dispersed throughout the city each catering to the local preferences of the neighborhood and the economic strata most of the people there live at. A bustling port city probably has enough transitory residents to make a cluster of inns and taverns a good idea, but King’s Lake doesn’t have a huge number of transients.

    On a similar note, I think only about one half or two thirds of the shopkeepers would keep their shop in one of the official market places. A lot of business owners would cover niche markets for a specific neighborhood.

    People living in each district

    Business Neighborhoods (numbers show who lives there, in most cases double this number works there)
    Civic District 350
    Lord’s Keep 350
    Mage district 400
    Fisherman’s Wharf 1500 (1, 2, or 3 districts)
    Tannery District 600
    Pottery District 600
    Timber District 600
    Warehouse District 1000 (1 or 2 districts)
    Riverfront District 600
    Guild Hall District 500
    Assorted High End Trades 600 (2 districts)
    Assorted Low End Trades 1800 (3 or 4 districts)
    Temple District 500
    Military Garrison 500

    Commercial Neighborhoods
    Finance District 350
    Caravan District 400
    General Market Place 1000 (1 or 2 districts)
    High End Shops 600 (1 or 2 districts)

    Ethnic Neighborhoods
    Dwarf Neighborhood 800 (About 200 dwarves live elsewhere)
    Kenku Nest 1000 (About 800 kenku live elsewhere)
    Gnome Neighborhood 800 (about 500 gnomes live elsewhere)
    Elf Neighborhood 400 (about 600 elves live elsewhere)

    Where Humans live
    Noble Estates 700 (1 or 2 districts) (That'd be about 150 nobles and 450 live-in servants give or take)
    Wealthy Residential 800 (1 or 2 districts) (roughly 200 rich people and 600 live-in servants)
    Average Residential 2000 (3 or 4 districts)
    Houseboats 500
    Apartment Housing 3500 (5 or 6 districts)
    Slums 2000 (3 or 4 districts)
    Tenement Buildings 1000 (2 or 3 districts)
    Shantytowns 900 (1 or 2 districts)

    Has anyone played the game Castles of the Mad King Ludwig? Each player designs a castle by attaching rooms and chambers one or two at a time. You get points for how prestigious your rooms are, various theming bonuses based on size and shape, and various theming bonuses based on how well the rooms fit together. For instance, an entertainment room gets bonus points if it’s near a food room (so you could have food during while having fun), but you get a penalty if you have an entertainment room near a sleeping chamber (because the noise annoys the people sleeping). There are other bonuses specific to certain rooms. Most sleeping rooms don’t care if they are near a utility room, but the servants’ quarters sleeping room does get a bonus if it’s near a utility room.

    No one wants to live near the Tannery district. Even in 2019 it seems scientists don’t agree on how well crows and ravens can smell. If I decide to give kenku a weak or non-existent sense of smell they may choose to live near the Tannery district because it’s cheap to live there. Much like a blind man might choose an apartment with a crappy view to save money. The tannery is almost certainly on the edge of the city.

    Dwarves would like to live near gnomes who they get along with better than humans. They’d like to live near skilled trade districts because that is probably where they work. They would dislike living near the waterfront, kenku, elves, and anywhere where the buildings blatantly show poor craftsmanship such as shantytowns or tenements.

    Elves would prefer to live on the edge of the city. They would like to live near the gnomes and kenku. They would dislike living near dwarves, the timber district, or any large clusters of poor people.

    Kenku would not mind living near poor people or architectural eye sores. They would like to be near the market place, riverfront, caravan camp, and financial district.

    Nobles would like to live near the government center, lords keep, and high end shops. They don’t mind poor people living nearby as long as they aren’t in squalor (tenements and shantytowns)

    Wealthy merchants would like to live near the marketplace, financial district, caravan camp, high end shops. They are probably more tolerant of poor people nearby than nobles are, but would prefer to live near average residential areas and nobles.

    The middle class probably want to live near the pottery district, timber district, guild hall districts, and anywhere where skilled trades are practices.

    Housing for the poor would probably cluster around the riverfront and fisherman’s wharf, but they probably have to do with the leftovers not claimed by others.

    If there is a magic font in King’s Lake (unlikely) the Mage District will invariably be there. Otherwise mages would prefer their district be near rich people or the civic district, preferably far away from the magic phobic dwarves.

    The problem is detailed city planning is difficult in a real living city. At some point King’s Lake was a small village which grew into a town which grew into a large city over hundreds of years. They almost certainly added districts one at a time with little advanced planning of what is near what.

    Districts are sticky. It’s often the case that once a neighborhood develops, it tends to stay that way. Unless an accidental fire or violent military occupation destroys giant swaths of the city forcing a large rebuilding effort, neighborhoods are going to develop in an ad hoc and almost random manner. The city of King’s Lake was probably sacked by orcs at least once around three hundred years ago when the orcs surged, conquered most of the continent but failed to hold on to what they took much like the real world Mongolian Empire.

    A gnome district is going to have scaled down buildings that no human would want to move into. The king’s castle probably defends the borders of the city as they existed four hundred years ago. Convincing all nine priesthoods to move all their temples to the same place is nigh impossible. The temple district is probably the oldest unchanged district in the city.

    A lot of ancient and medieval cities had city walls. It’s often the case that as the city expands they have to build new walls. They could cannibalize the old walls to make the new walls but masonry technology probably improved so the old walls are probably left alone. This creates cities with concentric circles of walls showing different eras of expansions. That could work here, but the city of King’s Lake may or may or not expand outward. Maybe it would be more realistic if instead of expanding outward the city expands lengthwise and wraps around the lake. It’s also a coin flip whether the “old” sections of town are where rich people live, or if they are where poor people live. Is the center where the “best” things are while the poor people are pushed outward or is “old town” a rundown shadow of its former glory that makes rich people want to move to newer areas? Both are plausible.

    So let’s think logically. The Temple District is probably very close to the original site of the village that evolved into King’s Lake. That means it’s probably fairly close to the lake itself. The ground is fairly soft, so King Henryk’s castle is was probably built wherever there was solid bedrock for a castle foundation instead of in an ideal strategic place. It probably was fairly far from the original city center, but as the city of King’s Lake expanded, they would probably be biased to expand towards the castle.

    Because the castle was fairly distant from the city’s economic and spiritual center. It would extremely easy to put the military district and civic district near the castle. Let’s put one noble estates district near the king’s castle and another one near the Temple District where the first nobles built their estates alongside the lake. I guess this would create the colloquialism that there are “lake nobles” and “castle nobles.” It varies from person to person, but I believe the commoner folk would probably have a higher opinion of the castle nobles because they are more concerned with actual government rather than sipping wine on their lake side estates and talking about the good old days. The wealthy merchants who are not of noble birth would probably want to live near the nobles so their two neighborhoods would probably be very close to the two clusters of noble estates, one near the castle and one near the lake.

    I’ve wondered whether the wharf district would be three separate districts or one giant district. I think two or three separate wharf districts broken up by other districts (such as the lake side nobles and merchants). The newer wharf districts probably have wider streets and newer buildings, so there would be a slight social demarcation where the more successful and well to do fishermen tend to live and work around the newer wharfs than the old wharfs. The oldest wharf district would probably be a little seedy, making it a good place for Etch to flex his influence.

    The Riverfront district would probably have grown over time but it is one of the few districts that cannot move under any circumstances. It has to be by the river. The warehouse districts would work best near the river, but they are not required to be near the river. So we could have one warehouse district near the river and another one that is in a newer part of the city more inland. A lot of unskilled workers eke out a living carrying stuff to and from the more inconveniently located warehouse district. This provides a good front for sneaking contraband. Land based caravans and peddlers probably built their camp near the more inland warehouse district.

    The Pottery District would be one of the oldest districts in the city, probably near where an old clay quarry was exhausted. The timber industry would have only taken off after King’s Lake because a truly large city so it’s probably near the edge of town, and it’s probably near the river.

    We’ll say since the Finance District was built largely by the Masks of Phidas that the Finance District is near the Temple District (the Masks bought out whoever was there before). High end shops eventually clustered around it. I don’t know where the poor and middle class people’s general purpose market place would logically be.

    We’ll put one high end crafts district near the temple district (Hallisan and Zarthus both try to be patrons of skilled craftsmen) and another one can have popped up near the King’s castle later. The lower end craftspeople would probably take whatever space is cheap. This probably means the newer sections of the city, fairly distant from the lake and the rivers.

    Middle class residential housing would be clustered around areas people work. Lower class housing would be whatever places in the city are left. Shanty towns would probably be in the newer regions of the city. Tenements would probably be in the older sections of the city.

    The guild hall district would probably like to be near the civic center near the castle or it could be in the older section of town near the Lake or it could be near the riverfront. I cannot make up my mind.

    The only place to put a tannery district is the far edge of town. As the city expanded, the Tannery District gets moved. Any place that used to be a Tannery District is probably now low income housing. Alternatively I guess I can put the Tannery District outside of the city limits entirely, that was done historically sometimes.

    Gnomes have been humanity’s little sidekicks since humanity existed. The gnome neighborhood is probably going to be the oldest ethnic enclave. Gnomes, especially gnomes centuries ago where big on Mera worship and the oldest section of the city was built very close to the lake, the gnome neighborhood is probably on or very close to the lake.

    The kenku would be the second oldest ethnic enclave. Kenku are adaptable and transitory. There is no reason why the kenku’s nest district now is anywhere close to where the nest was hundreds of years ago. At the very least, they probably strategically relocated themselves after orcs leveled the city three hundred years ago rather than rebuilding in the exact same spot they were before like many other groups did.

    Dwarves have been around for longer than humans have been around, but they have only recently been trading with humans on a large scale. Because the dwarfs are late comers, they probably cannot be picky where they could set up their neighborhood. They’d either be on the edge of town, or they could have bought and rebuilt over a depressed area of the older sections of the city.

    Elves are also relative newcomers to the Fumayan political scene, but the Wood Elves have more leverage over Fumaya than the dwarves have. The Wood Elves could theoretically wipe Fumaya off the map if they comitted themselves to it while the dwarves are still recovering from a devestating war. The dwarves are still stronger than Fumaya, they just would have commit a greater portion of their resources to war. That means the local humans would go out of their way to give the Wood Elves the location they want. Which would either be on the western edge of the city or adjacent to the city park (if there is a city park).
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  6. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    You have proposed a city full of sailors:
    • Bargemen and Keelboatmen
    • Ferrymen (assuming some islands)
    • And Fishermen
    The city has not one but two organized crime syndicates and :cyclops: how could there not be a “Red Light” district!! :jawdrop:

    Does Etch the Doppelgänger have a weird moral streak?! He would have to actively, continuously, work to stamp it out. An absolute CASH COW of a business. And, if he ordered his businesses over and over again to not engage in it (‘cause lowly minions would keep thinking of it) he’d have to contend with independent contractors setting up shop.

    Or one of The Nine getting into it. Which one is the fertility god/goddess? (Temple prostitution)

    But hey, it is a fantasy world, but that would be about the most fantastical notion yet: No Prostitution.
  7. pendrake
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    pendrake Well-Known Member

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  8. pendrake
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    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Read the Christlieger article. Also, I have ideas rattling around about making the place semi-Epic that involve leaving certain spots natural.
  9. pendrake
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    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Water, drinking water, is the reason any real world settlement begins (as a village) where it does. Then, Only those settlements with a reliable, abundant, and clean supply of potable water grow to become cities.

    It is THE vital resource. Other things were mentioned in your write-up but water is the most fundamental.

    Fishing the lake. Of course there are fish! Were there no fish, some explanation for their absence would have to be contrived, perhaps resorting to SCIENCE! :nailbiting:

    Besides, fishing leads to exploring islands in the lake, this leads to ferrymen, ferrymen lead to exploring downriver with keelboats, this leads to trading barges and bargemen. It is a normal progression which would interactively support the development from: Thorp to Hamlet to Village to Town to City.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019
  10. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Okay, so I definitely need a red light district somewhere.

    Anyway, here is the run down on Fumaya's other cities. They all have very simple literal names. I may give the epic fantasy names or Polish sounding names later.

    King’s Crossing: This is the sister city to King’s Lake. It’s on the north shores of the lake. It has about 5000 people. Largely it’s made up of fishermen who fish the northern portions of the lake and don’t want to sail all the way to King’s Lake itself just to go home. It doesn’t have a river but one of the best roads in Fumaya heads to northern lands. Traders will take goods from King’s Lake, haul it across the Lake to King’s Crossing, then take the goods overland.

    Haven’t decided whether to have King’s Crossing run by one of Henryk’s bannermen or one of Lord Frymar’s banner men.

    Red Water: The Red River, so named because of its slightly reddish rocks in the riverbed (iron oxide), flow almost perfectly west to east. There are few tricky spots, but it’s relatively straightforward to navigate a barge upriver into Stahlheim, and it’s very easy to navigate a barge down steam into Loren. The river the heart of Lord Frymar’s power and prestige. Besides valuable water for his thirsty subjects, Lord Frymar makes a fair bit of money acting as a middle man for dwarf-elf trading deals.

    The Red River has a lot of bustling villages near it. The vast majority of Lord Frymar’s subjects and banner men live within a few miles of the river while the rest of his lands are largely wilderness. The city of Red Water is where the river flows near a productive iron mine. It’s not far from a modest coal mine. Put these things together and Red Water is the source of most of Fumaya’s steel. Red River has about 10,000 people living in the city proper. The Red River is also why House Frymar’s sigil is a red owl. An owl is said to have warned the house founder of an attack centuries ago, and the artists made the house symbol red because of the river.

    Silver Springs: The lands controlled by House Zimoz (the upper ankle of Fumaya’s shoe) are only sparsely populated. Rainfall is good, but there isn’t a lot of water, a few streams and very small lakes. Most Fumayan’s hear rely on water from wells. The most reliable source of water in the region is a large artesian well that is a font to the primal elemental force of water. This is the basis for the city (town?) of Silver Springs.

    The artesian spring doesn’t look very silvery and it doesn’t have a silver mine near it. There is a grove of Silverwood trees near it, and a silver wood tree is on the sigil of House Zimoz. The trees are House Zimoz’s greatest treasure, and the only thing really noteworthy in the area. About 6000 people live in the town (city?) of Silver Springs.

    Craggy Nob: Craggy Nob is the largest settlement in the lands controlled by House Nerozik (the heel of Fumaya’s shoe). The rugged hilly lands of Fumaya’s heel are dotted with small rivers and streams, so there is a lot of drinking water and modest seafood resources but navigating the rivers with large boats or barges is not feasible. In general the region is more densely populated that the rest of Fumaya with more towns than anywhere else but few towns could call themselves a city. Most of the towns are built around mines and number around 3000 residents. Craggy Nob has about 7500 people in it. The area has decent farmland and boasts Fumaya’s most prosperous mine, which primarily produces silver.

    As the center of mining in Fumaya, Craggy Nob houses Fumaya’s main temple of Hallisan which has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all the Chapels of Hallisan in the rest of the Fumaya and technically it has jurisdiction over a few Chapels in northern Swynfaredia.

    Arch City: Fumaya’s second largest city is in the heart of the arch of Fumaya’s foot where House Wiern holds sway. Arch City is built along the same river that King’s Lake depends on. Roughly 12,000 people live there. The region has productive crop land but not a whole lot else in natural resources. Fumaya’s only university is in Arch City. Fumaya’s southern entire southern border is shared with Swynfaredia, but the lands of Fumaya’s arch don’t have much in the way of hills or forests. With all the open terrain and a nice road leading all the way to King’s Lake, this region is the most open to invasion. The bulk of Fumaya’s army and the bulk of the Guardians are camped here.

    Green Lake City: Green Lake City is built on the shores of Fumaya’s second largest lake. It’s called Green Lake because the area around the lake has a lot of forest around it. The Green Lake has a large island in it that was ceded to the priesthood of Korus as a bishopric. In exchange for concessions that limit the Fumayans harvesting of timber in the region (Fumaya’s toe), the Stewards use their magic to make the relatively small areas cleared for farming extremely fertile. About 8000 people live in the City of Green Lake and about 500 people live on the island in Korus’ bishopric.
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  11. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Open questions:

    Question: roughly how big / Deep is King’s Lake ?
    (Are we talking Lake Amistad, Lake Constance, Lake Erie?)

    What is Arch City named for?
    (A natural rock arch? A rock arch the river flows through? A triumphal arch built waybackwhen?)

    Is Arch City upstream of King's Lake or downstream ?
    (The description said “...depends on...” o_O )
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  12. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Because I am still a fourteen year old at heart, I was thinking roughly as big as Lake Titicaca, which is between Bolivia and Peru.

    Area 8,372 km2(3,232 sq mi)
    Width and length 177 km (110 mi) 281 m (922 ft)
    Volume 893 km3(214 cu mi)

    Fumaya is shaped like a foot, shoe or sock. One of my players has taken to calling the regions of Fumaya based on this rather than the Polish house names I came up with.

    Polnoc: The rim of the sock. But more commonly known as the noble lord who sucks
    Zimoz: Upper ankle. Also the Lord the PCs like
    Frymar: Lower ankle. The Lord the PCs are politely indifferent too.
    Linjika: Bridge of the foot. The king lives here and the crime ridden capital is here
    Nerozik: Heel of the foot
    Palbuc: Toe of the foot
    Wiern: Arch of the foot

    It's south so it's downstream. By depend on I mean that the literal source of the river is the lake of King's Lake.
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  13. pendrake
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    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    A Bold almost epic choice. That is ~150% as big as Lake Constance and 3 times the size of Lake Amistad.

    Lake Amistad (for those that don’t know) is between Texas and Mexico. But it is only the fourth largest lake in Texas.

    I drew a lake several days ago. It doesn’t have suitable rivers as inlets and outlets for King’s Lake though.

    Here it is:

    This was drawn using the Uncharted Atlas Twitter feed. First, I looked at the random maps it had generated that day and I picked one where it had made a coastline. That coastline became the left edge of the lake. Then I scrolled on until I found one that would serve for the right edge. (I traced —by eyeballing— their outlines onto the graph paper.) Then I kept sifting through them until I found some contours that would serve for the other two edges.

    They are not exact tracings. They don’t need to be. Variations from the original due to eyeball drawing just randomized it further.
  14. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I've been playing with some sketches for the City of King's Lake. Both in pencil and using a program called Inkarnate.com The demo I saw online looked awesome but sadly there is a huge gulf of difference between the free version and the $25/year version. :( There are a lot of RPG world builder programs, I'm going to poke around until I find a good one that is free, or at least cheap.

    After looking at the demo video I was sort of inspired to work with the idea that King's Lake is the combination of two villages that expanded and grew together.

    One village started as a fishing village. Another was a small farming village that grew up around a castle.

    Over generations the fishing village grew larger and larger and the Fumayans ventured over more of the lake, then shipping infrastructure expanded as trade down river increased.

    The village around the castle expanded into a town as the castle evolved from being a military fort to being a center of government.

    So the two settlements connected by a road eventually merged into a city, so the combined city will be sort of look like a bow tie. I'm thinking the places people work would be clustered near the lake or the castle and the residential areas would be towards the middle. Because it's a pain in the butt to commute to work and rich people don't like to walk, the higher someone's social class, the more likely they are to live near one of the major clusters.

    I'm not sure what the best use for the islands in the lake would be. Maybe homes for uppity nobles if they are close to the shore line, something utilitarian for fishermen if it's farther away.
  15. pendrake
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    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    I have a rather different approach. I tend to sketch out the final or at least penultimate form of a place and then fill in a plausible backstory.

    Describing each stage of the development of a place in order to determine what it looks like in the now is very Tolkien-ish I suppose.

    It just spoils the chances of most places to be epic like MinasTirith instead there is this awful tendency to wind up being assorted variations of ordinary.
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  16. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    This is what 90% of fantasy writers do. That's a large portion of the reason I chose to do the opposite.

    Also, after playing RPGs on and off between 13 and 36 my friends and I have changed in what we seek. At least with my small group of players, we like sandboxes. To make a sandbox, I don't need my setting to have specific X, Y, and Z. I just need two things, problems to solve and opportunities to pursue.

    My understanding is that Tolkien is such a genius that he sort of crapped out the Hobbit and LoTR. The Simirillion was Tolkien's baby. His publishers were fairly patient and gave him some sort of reply like "This is interesting but can you give us a story?" He wrote The Hobbit fairly quickly. It became popular beyond his expectations, so he wrote the Lord of the Rings trilogy but in his original conception, the entire chronology of the Lord of the Rings was basically a footnote in the grand epic that is The Simirillion.

    He didn't want to write stories, he wanted to build a world.

    I guess that's what I did, I built a world for fun. Essentially based on the premise "I want a set of fantasy gods and goddesses, and I want the cosmology to make sense). I was bouncing hypotheticals off my friends and they said "Why don't we just play this setting already, we've played beta versions of games before." So I did.

    The whole concept of Etch's criminal empire and the king being broke all came from one offhand player comment "Orcs are extorting villages here. Aren't they part of a government with law and an army? Their government must suck!"

    I tried not to lose sight of the goal being to make stories.

    I have the crazy idea of writing a story around a joke character a friend talked about in highschool. A gnomish cobbler gets shanghaied into a group of adventurers against his will. "What do you want from me? I just make shoes!"

    While teh original concept was a throway joke it has some literary merit to it. Tolkien basically laid the groundwork for all fantasy fiction that came after him. Lots of people copy his style and elements of his setting, but there is one thing that you don't see very often is a character like Bilbo or the other hobbits. True, he's a hobbit, not a human, but he is in a lot of ways, more human than the humans like Aragon and Borimir.

    So, my as of yet unnamed cobbler is going to get drafted into an epic struggle that he never wanted or expected to be involved in. I need to figure out what the quest is and who is working with. Eron12 and I talked about why Bilbo was able to be successful. Bilbo was able to grow to be useful because the adventuring party he was saddled with was barely competent, so his status as a rookie didn't impair him a lot. I still have yet to come up with who my cobbler's impromptu friends are going to be. They need to be well meaning good people but a little but foolish and untrained.

    The biggest thing my cobbler is going to provide initially is common solutions.

    -The biggest thing I plan to do is retell Aesops fable of the lion and thorn, only with a giant or chimera or something much more powerful. Because you know, cobblers pay a lot of attention to feet.

    A slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about there he came upon a lion lying down moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding, and Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat from which to live.

    But shortly afterwards both Androcles and the lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days.

    The emperor and all his court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog.

    The emperor, surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. Whereupon the slave was pardoned and freed, and the lion let loose to his native forest.

    Moral: Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

    Along those lines, my cobbler is going to push forth a lot of simple nonviolent solutions to problems that come up. Gnomes are good at talking through things or hiding. Eventually enough problems come up that he cannot avoid without fighting so eventually the cobbler will pick a new skill set (he'll either learn to be a stealth fighter or wake up some innate magical ability such as find out he's a favored soul of Mera or a sorcerer), but he'll keep his folksy wisdom and desire for nonviolence.

    I finally had an ephiany on how to get my cobbler involved in greater events. I haven't figure out the nature of the McGuffin yet, whether it's a good mcguffin that can save thousands of lives or if it's an evil mcguffin that needs to be destroyed or at least kept ouf Big Badguy's hand, but the starting point for my story will involve a desperate evil thief thief pursued by the good guys or a desperate Robin Hood thief pursued by the bad guys. The thief is about to be cornered so he has to ditch the loot, so he chooses to hide his McGuffin in a the most distinctive pair of shoes in a cobblers shop.

    Anywho, that is the basic framework for the story that I would like to use to introduce my setting to a wider audience. I easily have 200 pages on MS word of assorted backstory for my world but I know that 95% of readers are turned off by massive exposition dumps so I need to feed my world's backstory in very small nuggets while I craft a compelling narrative of struggling underdog characters...and probably kill them in very sad ways.

    It's an in-joke on the fluff forums how much I like to kill my characters. I get more comments, more likes, and more votes when I have tragic deaths and phyric victories than when I have unqualified victories for the good guys.

    I have two other story concepts but they are much less fleshed out. These would be done if hypothetically my gnomish cobbler story became popular and fans were clamoroing for more of my world.

    It's on the list of fantasy cliches to have a half-elf struggling with the dual influences on his/her nature, behavior and goals, but I don't care. I'd create a half-elf like that.

    It just so happens that of all the fictional nations in my world, the one I spent the most time developing is the Half-Elf nation of Apseldia.

    And make him/her a psionist. My players have told me that they are uninterested or even mildly opposed to the inclusion of psionics in my first RPG but that doesn't mean my fiction cannot have it. In the magic trinity that is arcane magic, divine magic, and psionics, psionics is the one with the bad reputation in the general populace because it is the magic that demons can use.

    I think I can really tell a story immersed in my setting if I have a psion character trying to prove that psionics can be a force for good. I thin half-elf facing prejudice from both full elves and full humans would be a good allegorical parallel plot for a closet psionist too.

    My third idea is to tell a fantasy version of a buddy cop story where two cops with vastly different personalities and outlooks have to join forces against a shared threat. I'm thinking a summit between priests of all the Nine gets attacked by Void Demons or something similarly bad and the only two survivors are a Mask of Phidas and a Lantern of Zarthus.

    The two unlikely companions have to work together to thwart the bad guys despite being bitter rivals and over the course of many adventurers develop begrduging tolerance which turns into mutal respect which turns into friendship.

    This story is very compelling for me, but if the reader doesn't have a prexisting notion that "Phidas and Zarthus hate each other and so do their followers" then the story loses a lot of impact. I guess I could write that in chapter one, but I prefer to make it more organic than that.

    That would require me to have readers who already know my world well enough to know that a Lantern and Mask working together is very weird. That's in both my early RPG sessions and my (eventual) early fiction writing session I plan to start with the stereotypes and then move on the exceptions.

    For instances, I had a concept in my RPG for an unusually friendly and gentle priest of Maylar. Before I introduced him, I wanted to create a throway villain of the weak garden variety priest of Maylar who tried to trick a bunch of orcs into butchering two villages for fun and then tried to kill the PCs so he could take Neshik's head as a trophy. You have to establish the rules before you craft the exceptions

    There is certainly something to be said for top down narration where you reverse engineer a story working backwards from something epic.

    I want my world to have epic things in it, but my concept for Fumaya is "A scrappy nation of hardy simple folk that has the unfortunate geographic situation of being sandwiched between much stronger neighbors." That concept should probably not have over the top cities and fortresses like Minas Tirth.

    Now Swynfaredia's capital could easily be over the top. They have lots of gold and lots of magic. They build giant looming towers shrouded by lightning and more exotic things besides.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  17. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I was going to make a post on “How will the additions of monsters and magic influence and change a medieval society?”t

    This question is too big to cover in one post. So I’m going to cover a subset. “How will the additions of monsters and magic influence the building and use of castles?”

    I like castles. I don’t want my setting to not have castles in it, and I’m willing to twist my setting into pretzels to justify castles being a common sight. I want most political leaders to live in castles.

    Magic by the numbers so far.

    I figure about one in two hundred people have some sort of magical talent. I might raise or lower this number. I have yet to decide if arcane or divine magic is more common. So far most NPCs with magic were divine casters, but that is because Neshik the party leader is a high ranking priest. When he goes to a new area the first thing he does is make contact with the local priests. And also his divine aura broadcasts his presence to other divine casters.

    Aranil is an arcane caster but he only has one dot powers and prefers to keep a low profile and rely on his mundane skills most of the time.

    ● The level of a novice or a mere dabbler. About 30% of spellcasters in the world are at this level. About 10% of the world's casters will never ascend above this level their whole lives.
    ●● Proficient but not impressive. About 30% of spellcasters are at this level. About 20% of the world's casters will never ascend above this level their whole lives.
    ●●● Capable of manifesting powerful effects. About 25% of spellcasters are at this level. About half the world's spellcasters will eventually reach this level and stop advancing though many choose to branch out at reach this level of potency across many fields of study.
    ●●●● Extraordinary. About 10% of spellcasters are at this level (1 in 2000 people has this level of power). Only about 20% of spellcasters will reach this level of skill over their whole lives.
    ●●●●● Legendary. Only about 5% of spellcasters are at this level (1 in 4000 people have this level of power in at least one field of magical study). Only about 10% of spellcasters will rach this level of skill over their whole lives.

    It's not a huge problem if level five magic can take out a castle but I'd still prefer to not have castles be paper targets to powerful casters.

    So here’s how spell casting works for arcane. You notice every spell has a bold attribute at the end. Casting Alarm requires Perception + Abjuration to cast. Endure Elements requires Stamina + Abjuration. Obscure Object requires Manipulation + Abjuration to cast. And so forth and so on. A general rule is, unless the rules say otherwise, the difficulty of all rolls is 6.

    Everyone has the attributes Dexterity, Stamina, Strength, Appearance, Charisma, Manipulation, Intelligence, Perception, and Wits. Only Abjurers have Abjuration. Only Illusionists have Illusion. You get the idea.

    You need at least one dot of the casting attribute to get first circle spells, at least two dots to get second circle second spells. Etc. Spells are capped at the fifth circle.

    Some spells have other spells listed in parenthesis. This purely for game mechanics. These are related spells. If your character already knows the spell Summon Fog, then she can purchase the spells Stinking Cloud and/or Summon Sleet at a reduced cost because they are based on similar magic principles. Players are not required to get the spells in any specific order, they get a break on the experience cost if they get spells in a logical order.

    Spellcasters cannot cast magic an infinite number of times. Arcane spell-casters have a quintessence pool = (the sum of all their cating attributes + their Willpower) x 4. On average, an arcane caster can recover 5 to 25 points of quintessence after a night of rest and an hour of study or meditation. Arcane casters sleeping near a font of magical energy regenerate lost quintessence much faster which is why magic fonts usually have wizards or sorcerers fortifying them.

    The spell list is not set in stone. I can add or remove spells as I see fit. If someone has a good idea I'd be happy to read it but mainly I'm concerned with castles.

    First Circle Abjuration Spells

    Alarm: Ward an area against intrusion with a loud alarm for two hours per success. Perception
    Endure Elements: Targets avoid harm from mundane heat and cold. Each success wards one target for four hours. Stamina
    Obscure Object (Scrying, Improved Scrying): Item is blocked from scrying spells for four hours per success rolled. If it’s specifically scryed for the scrying spell fails. If something else is scryed for and the object is nearby the object appears invisible. Manipulation
    Protection: Target gains a number of protective effects. They gain a die of soak against all forms of damage that stacks with other protection. Attacks by demons and spirits against the target are at +1 difficulty. Targets get one die on Willpower rolls when resisting magical attacks. Lasts ten minutes per success. Charisma
    Shield: Gain a floating magic shield providing passive penalty of +1 to hit you for two minutes per success. Dexterity

    Second Circle Abjuration Spells

    Dispel Magic: Caster reduces a spells successes of another spell on a one-for-one basis comparing successes. Permanent magical items and effects are not destroyed but are suppressed for one turn per success. Dispel can be saved as an action for later to counter an enemy caster’s spell as they cast it much like a declared dodge or parry. Wits

    Illusion Alarm (per dot of Illusions, Alarm): Caster is alerted if illusions are nearby for one hour per success. This does not tell you what is hidden or changed, just that something is nearby and it does not include mundane disguises or transmuted things. Perception

    Obscure Person (Obscure Object, Scrying, Improved Scrying): Person is blocked from scrying spells for four hours per success rolled. If it’s specifically scryed for the scrying spell fails. If something else is scryed for and the person is nearby the object appears invisible and is silent. Material components cost about 25 gold pieces. Manipulation

    Protection Circle (Protection): As Protection, but it affects one target per success. Charisma

    Protection from Energy (Endure Elements): Target gets successes in a soak pool against energy attacks. Stamina

    Third Circle Abjuration Spells

    Dimensional Anchor (Protection): Bars a subject from traveling to or through another plane or from teleporting. Resisted with Willpower at +1 difficulty. Wits

    Explosive Ruins: Runes explode when read. Inflicting 2 levels of lethal damage per success, lasting for six hours per success. Manipulation

    Obscure Area (Obscure Object, Obscure Person, Scrying): Entire area is blocked from scrying spells for four hours per success. Material components cost about 50 gold pieces. Manipulation

    Reactive Dispel Magic (Dispel Magic): Caster reduces a spells successes of another spell on a one-for-one basis comparing successes. Permanent magical items and effects are not destroyed but are suppressed for one turn per success. Reactive Dispel can be used in place of any unused action like a reactive dodge or parry. Wits

    Re-Corporealization (Dimensional Anchor): Wards an area against incorporeal creatures for one day per success. Incorporeal creatures that enter the area become solid with all the benefits and hindrances of that, especially being stopped by walls and hurt by mundane weapons. This includes incorporeal creatures that are naturally incorporeal or corporeal creatures temporarily gaining the incorporeal trait. Material component is a small quantity of Silverwood worth about 10 gold pieces. Wits

    True Form (per dot of Transumation): Transmutation effects on targets body are at +3 difficulty for one hour per success. Stamina

    Fourth Circle Abjuration Spells

    Greater Dispel Magic (Dispel Magic): Caster reduces a spells successes of another spell on a one-for-one basis comparing successes. The dispeller gets a -1 difficulty break. Permanent magical items and effects are not destroyed but are suppressed for one turn per success. Wits

    Globe of Invulnerability: Globe hedges out magic spells from the first and second circle and divine magic of one or two dots other than Dispel Magic. This includes friendly spells. Stamina

    Remove Curse: Removes a curse from target reducing successes of curse on a one-for-one basis. Stamina

    Stone Skin (Shield): Target gains a soak pool equal to successes rolled stacking with other forms of armor. Material components cost roughly 50 gold pieces. Stamina

    Fifth Circle Abjuration Spells

    Dismissal (Protection, Protection Circle): Banish spirit or demon to its home plane. Resisted by Willpower. Demons get a -1 difficulty break in their favor. Some spirits are anchored to specific objects, places, or people in the material world. In this case banishment returns them to their material anchor. Wits

    Greater Globe of Invulnerability: Globe hedges out magic spells from the first, second, and third circle and divine magic up to three dots other than Dispel Magic. This includes friendly spells. Stamina

    Greater Reactive Dispel Magic (Dispel Magic, Reactive Dispel Magic, Greater Dispel Magic): As Reactive Dispel magic but the caster’s opposed roll is at -1 difficulty. Wits

    Invisibility Purge (all invisibility spells): Invisible creatures are revealed within ten foot radius per success rolled. Perception

    First Circle Conjuration Spells

    Grease: Summons a slick surface on a wall, floor, ceiling or item. If the spell is cast on an item that is carried it’s resisted by Willpower. Dexterity

    Mage Armor: Caster conjures armor worth one soak level plus an additional soak per every two successes rounded down. There are no Dexterity penalties for wearing this armor, but this cannot stack with mundane armor (though it does work with shields. Armor lasts for one hour per success. Stamina

    Summon Assistant: Summons a small spirit roughly as big as a monkey. It can fetch items and perform simple tasks but it doesn’t fight. Lasts for one hour per success. Charisma

    Summon Fog: Caster summons fog which persists for ten minutes per success. More successes creates a bigger fog bank. The fog raises the difficulty of melee attacks by +1 and ranged attacks by +2. Intelligence

    Web: This spell has two versions. It can constrain one target who needs to pass a feat of strength check equal to the successes rolled. The second version hits one target per success plus one, but the strength of the webs are reduced by two. Dexterity

    Second Circle Conjuration Spells

    Conjure elements (Summon Fog, Grease): Creates a small quantity of normal water, air, water, or fire. Fire will burn out without fuel. Water will spill on the ground if there isn’t a container available. Air will be used up if breathed or disperse if in the open. If you want to actually use air to make a violent gust of wind, compare your successes -1 to the feat of Strength chart. Stamina

    Glitter Dust: Glowing dust outlines creatures revealing invisible creatures. Targets are blinded for successes in turns unless they pass a Wits + Athletics roll difficulty 7 and match or beat the caster’s successes. Perception

    Stinking Cloud (Summon Fog): Gaseous cloud provides +2 difficulty to ranged attacks through it. Beings in the cloud suffer a one die penalty to all action unless they happen to be a creature that doesn’t need to breathe such as a zombie or golem. Stamina

    Summon Sleet (Summon Fog): Sleet storm lasts for two turns per success raising all difficulties by +1 for beings caught in storm. Provides +1 difficulty to all ranged attacks through the sleet storm. Leaves behind an ice slick for one half hour per success. Intelligence

    Summon Steed (Summon Assistant): Summons a horse or pony like spirit for two hours per success. At five successes plus you get eight hours. The summoned steed will not panic around dangers or noises but will not kick and trample enemies. Dexterity

    Summon Swarm (Web): Summon a swarm that the caster controls. One success summons small bugs. Two successes summons large bugs. Three successes summons flying bugs. Four successes summons flying bugs with two extra health levels for the swarm. Five successes summons a swarm of birds or bats. Dexterity

    Third Circle Conjuration Spells

    Attacking Tentacles: You summon one tentacle for two successes, rounded up. They have a Strength equal to the number of successes roll. They have health levels equal to half the successes you rolled, rounded up. They have an attack pool equal to your Wits + Brawl. They inflict bashing damage with a basic strike or can try grapple, disarm, or trip maneuvers. Wits

    Conjure Item: You summon a mundane weapon or tool. One success will get you a crowbar, five successes will get you a crossbow. Items last for one hour per successes.

    In no cases can you make precious metals or gemstones.

    In all cases the items are unremarkable and generic as possible. You can make a dagger but you cannot make an intricately decorated dagger with the coat of arms of the royal family on it.

    If you have real prior experience crafting the thing you are conjuring, lower the difficulty by -1 if you are proficient, lower the difficulty by -2 if you are exceptional in your craft. Intelligence

    Dimension Door: Dimension door goes 50 yards per success, open for one turn per success. Wits

    Lesser Spirit Summoning (Summon Assistant, Summon Steed): Summons a minor fighting spirit for you for ten minutes per success. Three successes gets you two spirits. Five successes gets you three. Spirits are intelligent and formidable but they only have one effective health level. Charisma

    Solid Fog (Summon Fog): Like Summon Fog but it impedes movement. +1 difficulty to all physical actions within. Intelligence

    Summon Greater Swarm (Web, Summon Swarm): Summon a swarm that the caster controls. One success summons flying insects. Two successes summons rats. Three successes summons birds or bats, four successes summons feral cats or large rats. Five successes summons wild dogs. Dexterity

    Fourth Circle Conjuration Spells

    Cloudkill (Stinking cloud): Gaseous cloud provides +2 difficulty to ranged attacks through it. Beings in the cloud suffer a two dice penalty to all action unless they happen to be a creature that doesn’t need to breathe such as a zombie or golem. Living beings take an unsoakable level of lethal damage every round they are in the cloud. Stamina

    Spirit Summoning (Summon Assistant, Summon Steed, Lesser Spirit Summoning): Summons a moderately powerful spirit for you for ten minutes per success. Three successes gets you two spirits. Five successes gets you three. Conjured creatures have the same stats as the level three spell but they have several more health levels. Charisma

    Summon Elemental (Conjure Elements, Lesser Spirit Summoning): Summon a small elemental out of its component element. With three successes you can summon a medium sized elemental. Five successes can summon a large elemental. Charisma

    Wall of Stone (Conjure Item, Conjure Elements): Summons a solid wall of stone for 30 minutes per success. Stamina

    Fifth Circle Conjuration Spells

    Greater Spirit Summoning (Summon Assistant, Summon Steed): Summons a powerful fighting spirit for you for ten minutes per success. Three successes gets you two spirits. Five successes gets you three. Charisma

    Magic Pocket/Magic Room (Dimension Door): A container holds magnitudes more space than the dimensions of the container should. The enchantment lasts one day per success. If you do not empty your container before the spell expires, items have a 50% chance to be dumped out and a 50% chance to be drifting aimlessly in the ethereal realm or astral plane somewhere. Living beings in a magic pocket begin to suffocate.

    If 50 gold pieces of regents are consumed, a magic pocket can become a magic room. The item has unlimited air and a comfortable temperature for the occupants as long as they spell persists. When the duration of a Magic Room spell ends, the occupants are sent safely to the area they exited the material plane from. Magic room can be extended with a recasting for only 20 gold pieces worth or regents. Intelligence

    Open Planar Gate: Opens a gate to another plane to allow material beings into the realm, or spirits into the material. More successes get a more accurate or helpful spot in said plane. The casting of this spell takes one hour. Intelligence

    First Circle Divination Spells

    Detect Magic: Detect presence of magic within 60 feet. Perception

    One: Magic is nearby
    Two: Magic is divine or arcane in nature.
    Three: That dagger is the source of the magic.
    Four: That dagger has potent or weak magic
    Five: That dagger has potent evocation magic involving fire.

    Detect Poison: Detects presence of poison within 20 feet per success. Perception

    Detect Secret Doors: Detects secret doors within 20 feet per success. Perception

    Detect Void Creatures: Detects undead, Void demons, and other creatures powered by negative energy within 30 feet per success. Perception

    Identify: Identifies magical items, their functions and command words. One magical item is examined per success and each casting taking a material component worth about 25 gold pieces. Intelligence

    True Strike: Caster’s next attack roll is at -3 difficulty unless you wait longer than your successes in minutes before making your next attack in which case the spell expires. Dexterity

    Second Circle Divination Spells

    Astral Sight: See into the astral plane and material plane simultaneously for ten minutes per success. All non-Perception actions are at +1 difficulty due to disorientation while this is active. Perception

    Clairvoyance/Clairaudience: See or hear things at a distance 200 feet per success roll. If you want to both see AND hear what’s going on, raise the difficulty by +1. Perception

    Detect Thoughts: Read the surface thoughts of others for ten minutes per success, resisted by Willpower. Perception

    Sense Enchantment spell (any charm or dominate spell): The spell reveals if a subject is currently under the influence of foreign influences on their mind including charms, compulsions, or domination effects. This will also detect if the subject was recently under the effect of a spell going back a week per success.

    See Invisibility (Detect Magic, any one invisibility spell): Make a resisted roll to see invisible creatures. Caster’s roll is at -2 difficulty. Naturally invisible creatures resist with Willpower instead of a casting roll. Perception

    Scrying: Scry on distant subjects. It requires a focus such as a scrying bowl or pool costing at least 500 gold pieces, but the focus is reusable though they are usually large and not very portable. Perception

    True Direction: Caster gets a perfect sense like a compass for four hours per success. Knows the direction and distance of known landmarks. Intelligence

    Third Circle Divination Spells

    Contact Other Plane (Astral Sight): Contact a spirit and open up a conversation for ten minutes per success. Demons can be contacted at +1 difficulty though few are very chatty. Charisma

    Divine Analysis (Detect Void Creature): Detects the presence of divine magic, even the residual effect left over from old spells. More potently, this spell will not only detect divine power but identify the source. Spirit, mortal, holy site and which god or gods it involves. It also detects demonic activity. Perception

    Floating Eyes: Caster gets floating eyes equal to the number of successes rolled plus one. These eyes move as the caster directs. If the caster has more floating eyes than their Wits attribute, their other actions are at +1 difficulty. These eyes are not invisible, they are about the size of an apple and have one health level. They are fast and small adding +2 difficulty to hit but do not have a defensive roll or soak. Wits

    Hunter’s Mark: After making a touch attack you are able to unerringly track the target for one week per success. Wits

    Legend Lore: Learn facts you never knew about the area you are in. Intelligence

    One Pretty much everyone knows this, but it might be new to you if you are a stranger in this land.
    Two Known to a substantial minority of the area.
    Three Uncommon knowledge
    Four Obscure knowledge
    Five Extremely Obscure knowledge

    Telepathic Bond (Detect Thoughts): The caster can link a number of willing participants telepathically for one hour per success. The maximum number of participants is the caster’s Wits+1. Charisma

    Fourth Circle Divination Spells

    Detect Capability: Detect capabilities of target examined. Non-humanoid targets are at +1 difficulty. Target resists with Willpower at +2 difficulty). Perception

    One: Whether caster has divine and/or arcane magic powers. Subjects health levels and state of injury
    Two: Subjects highest magical trait in dots. Whether or not the subject is being buffed by magic.
    Three: Subjects combat ratings. The precise nature of magic buffs the target has.
    Four: Subjects trait ratings in all magical traits

    Improved Scrying (Scrying): As scrying but you can cast other divination spells through your scrying. Perception

    The Ultimate Price: Caster finds out what a target’s ultimate price is, at which he or should would do literally anything. For someone with low scruples it may simply be a large quantity of gold. In the case of very moral people this price could be something impossible like “I want all of my loved ones back from the dead.” The price could also be dark such “the head of the king who executed my father.” Even if you cannot meet the target’s ultimate price, knowing it can help in negotiations. Sometimes the ultimate price could be seemingly against the target’s nature. An evil lich could pine for a lost love of his living days or a kindly person could secretly desire bloody revenge. Perception

    Fifth Circle Divination Spells

    Improved Floating Eyes (Floating Eyes): As floating eyes, but your other divination spells work through the eyes and there is no disorientation effect for multiple views. Wits

    True Seeing: Subject piercing mundane disguises, darkness, magical darkness, invisibility, polymorphs, blur, displacements, phantasms, and see into the astral plane among other things. Level three and for effects get a resisted roll at +2 difficulty. Level five effects get a resisted roll at +1 difficulty. Perception

    Unless otherwise stated, targets of Enchantment spells must be in line of sight within Charisma x 10 yards.

    First Circle Enchantment Spells

    Charm Person: Humanoid target becomes caster’s friend, resisted with Willpower. Appearance

    Compulsion: Target has compulsion to take an action that does not cause direct harm such as dropping what they are carrying, or bursting into laughter. Resisted with Willpower. Manipulation

    Daze^: Target loses next action. Resisted with Willpower. Extra successes do not increase effect. Wits

    Hypnotism: Fascinates one target per success, resisted with Willpower. Attacking the target breaks the spell. Manipulation

    Sleep: Target falls asleep. Resisted with target’s Willpower + Stamina. Manipulation

    Second Circle Enchantment Spells

    Despair (Compulsion): Cone attack inflicts one die penalty on several targets, resisted by Willpower. Manipulation

    Heroism: One target per two successes (round up) gains one temporary die of all abilities per scene. Charisma

    Hold (Daze): Humanoid target is paralyzed for two turns per net success. Resisted by Willpower. Manipulation

    Touch of Idiocy (Compulsion): Touch attack inflict damage against Intelligence, Perceptions and Wits that lasts a number of hours per success, resisted by Willpower. Manipulation

    Third Circle Enchantment Spells

    Dominate (Charm): This only works on humanoids. Resisted by Willpower. Subject is telepathically controlled by caster for one day per net success. Performing an action utterly against the subject’s nature will prompt a new Willpower roll at -1 difficulty). Manipulation

    Geas (Compulsion): Target is compelled to undertake an action or refrain from an action as long as it’s not suicidal. Effect persists for three days per net success. Resisted by Willpower. Charisma

    Improved Charm (Charm): Like Charm Person but it works on non-humanoids. If used on a humanoid resisted roll is at +1 difficulty. Appearance

    Improved Sleep (Sleep): One target per success falls asleep. Resisted with target’s Willpower + Stamina. Manipulation

    Rage: One target per two successes rounded up. Subjects half wound penalties, gains a die of Strength, and a bonus die of Willpower (for rolls no points). Dodges and parries are +1 difficulties. Manipulation

    Fourth Circle Enchantment Spells

    Improved Despair (Despair): Cone attack inflicts two die penalty on several targets, resisted by Willpower. A successful Willpower roll only halves the effect. Manipulation

    Improved Heroism (Heroism): Like Heroism, but the bonuses are doubled. Charisma

    Improved Hold (Hold): As Hold but it works on non-humanoid targets. Humanoid target’s resist with Willpower at +1 difficulty. Manipulation

    Mental Enfeeblement (Despair): Like touch of Idiocy but it doesn’t require a touch attack, damage is doubled and lasts for days per net success instead of hours per total successes. Manipulation

    Power Word Stun^ (Hold, Daze): Creature is stunned for two rounds. If they fail a resisted Willpower roll, they are stunned for four rounds. If they fail a resisted Willpower + Stamina roll they are stunned for six rounds (roll together, add Stamina if first roll is failed). Wits

    Fifth Circle Enchantment Spells

    Confusion (Compulsion, Touch of Idiocy): Target becomes confused causing them to act randomly. Resisted with Willpower at +1 difficulty. Manipulation
    Mass Charm (Charm, Improved Charm): As Charm but with ten times the range. Affect three humanoids per success rolled. Target’s resist with Willpower at +1 difficulty. Appearance
    Mass Sleep (Sleep): As sleep but it effects three humanoid targets or one nonhumanoid target per success. Manipulation
    Power Word Blind^: Creature is blinded for three rounds. If they fail a resisted Willpower roll, they are stunned for six rounds. If they fail a resisted Willpower + Stamina roll they are blinded for a month, add Stamina if first roll is failed). Wits

    First Circle Illusion Spells

    Alter Magic Aura: Mundane object gains a fake magical aura for one day per success. Intelligence
    Blur: Caster looks blurry and is +1 difficulty to hit. Lasts two minutes per success. Appearance
    Disguise Self: Change caster’s appearance for 30 minutes per success. Manipulation
    Ghost Sounds^: Create simple unintelligible illusory sounds. Two minutes per success. Wits
    Silent Image: Create a visual illusion with no sound or movement. Lasts until concentration stops plus one round per success. Manipulation
    Ventriloquism^: Make your speech come from another location. One minute per success. Wits

    Second Circle Illusion Spells

    Dream: Caster can send a one-way message to another person in a dream. Intelligence
    Illusory Script: Magically code writings against unintended recipients for two days per success, resisted with Willpower. Lasts two days per success. Intelligence
    Invisibility (Blur): Target becomes invisible for 15 minutes per success. Target become visible if they take an aggression action. Dexterity
    Magic Mouth (Ventriloquism): Spell is permanent until a specific triggering event causes a message to be replayed. It can appear out of thin air or be superimposed on a painting or statue to make the item look like it is talking. The spell consumes regents worth about 10 gold. Intelligence
    Mirror Image (Blur): Creates a duplicate of caster per success. Attacks on caster are randomized between different selves, illusory duplicates only have one health level and no soak. Lasts two minutes till success or until all the duplicates are killed. Wits
    Noisy Image (Silent Image, Ghost Sound): Create a moving illusion with some simple sounds. Lasts until concentration ceases plus one round per success. Manipulation

    Third Circle Illusion Spells

    Complete Image (Silent Image, Ghost Sound, Noisy Image): Illusion image has complex sounds, movements, produces heat, and odor. Ceases when concretion ends plus one round per success. Manipulation
    Expanded Invisibility (Invisibility): Invisibility for one target per success. Targets become visible if they take an aggression action. Last 15 minutes per success. Dexterity
    Hallucinatory Terrain (Silent Image): Alters the terrain of an area for six hours per success. Intelligence

    Illusory Wall (Silent Image)
    : Creates a section of illusory wall, ceiling or floor that looks normal but may be passed through. This spell is permanent until the caster wills it away or the spell is dispelled. The caster can make a wall look brand new or weathered by centuries of erosion. The wall can be decorated with carvings or tapestries, roll Wits + Expression if the caster tries to do something elaborate. Requires 20 gold pieces worth of regents per casting. Intelligence

    Object Seeming (Silent Image): Object looks like something else of roughly the same size for two hours per success. Manipulation
    Seeming (Disguise Self): As disguise self but it is not limited to the caster and effects two targets per success. Lasts 30 minutes per success. Manipulation

    Fourth Illusion Circle Spells

    Combat Invisibility (Invisibility): Target becomes invisible and spell is not broken if the target makes an aggressive action. Dexterity
    False Scrying (Scrying, Scrying Ward): Create a false image against hostile scrying. Manipulation
    Lasting Image (Silent Image, Ghost Sound, Noisy Image, Complete Image): Illusion image has complex sounds, movements, produces heat, and odor. Illusion lasts for one week per success rolled. Manipulation
    Project Image (Mirror Image, Complete Image): Creates an illusory double of the caster that speaks, moves, and can cast illusory spells for ten minutes per success. Wits

    Fifth Circle Illusion Spells

    Duplicitous Invisibility (Invisibility, Combat Invisibility, Project Image): As invisibility, but spell simultaneously creates an illusory double of the caster which acts as the caster wishes for one minute per success. Manipulation

    Mass Invisibility (Invisibility, Expanded Invisibility): As Expanded invisibility but it affects three targets per success and lasts 30 minutes per success. Charisma
    Mass Veil (Seeming, Disguise Self): Caster can change the appearances of ten targets per success. Lasts one hour per success. Charisma
    Phantasmal Killer (Dream): You conjure a phantasm of a target’s inner most fear. The caster only sees a greyish blob in the vague shape of the target’s fear. Target resists with Willpower at +1 difficulty. If the target fails the contested roll they are knocked unconscious. If the target fails the contested roll by three successes, the target is instantly slain. Manipulation

    Programed Image (Silent Image, Ghost Sound, Noisy Image, Complete Image)
    : Illusion image has complex sounds, movements, produces heat, and odor. Illusion responds to stimuli in a matter set by the caster. Illusion lasts for one week per success rolled. Intelligence

    First Circle Necromancy Spells

    Cause Fear: Target is inflicted with magical fear, resisted by Willpower. If the target loses their contested roll by three or more success, the target flees. Otherwise target is shaken getting a one die penalty on rolls. Manipulation
    Chill Touch: Touch attack inflicts half successes in lethal damage, rounded down on a living target. This bypasses non-magical armor. Strength
    Lifesight: Assess one target per success. Learn status of curses, damage, disease and the like. Perception
    Disrupt Undead: Inflict successes in lethal damage on a nearby undead target. Undead get their normal soak as if they were attacked with a weapon. Wits
    Gentle Repose: Preserves corpse for two days per success Intelligence

    Second Circle Necromancy Spells

    Burst of Pain (Cause Fear): Attack inflicts horrible pain on one subject. Resisted with Willpower. Subjects who fail, gain three dice of wound penalties on top of any wounds they already possess. Manipulation

    Create Lesser Undead: Creates low tier undead such as skeletons and zombies. This takes ten minutes to cast and about 20 gold pieces worth of material components per skeleton animated or 5 gold pieces per zombie animated. Re-animating a destroyed zombie or skeleton takes four times the number of regents. Charisma

    Deathsight: The caster can look into the eyes of a corpse and witness the last few minutes of that person’s life. Two minutes per success rolled. Perception

    Immobilize Undead (Disrupt Undead): Paralyze Undead for one turn per success. Free willed undead may resist with Willpower. Undead with Turning Resistance get half their rating added to their resistance roll. Manipulation

    Ray of Enfeeblement (Chill Touch): Ranged touch attack inflicts one die of Strength damage per two successes rounded down. A targeted cannot be affected by this spell twice in one day. This cannot take a character’s Strength below zero. Strength

    Third Circle Necromancy Spells

    Blindness/Deafness: Subject is struck blind or deaf for one month per success or until cured by magic. Resisted with Stamina + half target’s Willpower rounded down. Manipulation

    Create Undead (Create Lesser Undead): Create ghouls, wights or bone claws or other undead beings on this tier. Material components to animate a wight or ghouls costs 50 gold pieces though corpses who were cannibals in life are much easier to turn into ghouls and corpses who were murderers in life are much easier to turn into wights. Bone claws cost 150 gold pieces in regents and require the corpse to either be high born or a skilled warrior in life. Charisma

    Inflict Disease (Chill Touch, Ray of Enfeeblement): Touch attack inflicts targets with a disease. Stamina

    Vampiric Touch (Chill Touch): Touch attack inflicts half successes in lethal damage, rounded down on a living target. This bypasses non-magical armor. Caster heals damage equal to health levels inflicted. Strength

    Fourth Circle Necromancy Spells

    Blight (Inflict Disease): Inflict aggravated damage equal to successes rolled to a number of plant creatures equal to successes rolled. Alternatively it kills mundane plants within a ten foot radius per success. Strength

    Enervation: Ranged touch attack inflicts successes in aggravated damage. Strength

    Speak With Dead (Gentle Repose): A corpse telepathically answers one simple question per success rolled. Answers may be cryptic or overly literal especially if it was something closely guarded or the living person was an enemy. This uses a residual memory in the corpse and does not affect the spirit of the deceased. Material components cost about 25 gold pieces. Charisma

    Void Shield: One target per success is warded against negative energy letting them survive in the Void and letting them counter all Necromancy and negative energy based attacks with their Willpower. Stamina

    Wave of Pain (Burst of Pain, Cause Fear): Attack inflicts horrible pain on one subject per success rolled plus one. Resisted with Willpower at +1 difficulty. Subjects who fail, gain three dice of wound penalties on top of any wounds they already possess. Manipulation

    Fifth Circle Necromancy Spells

    Command Undead (Disrupt Undead, Hold Undead): Caster gains complete control over undead for 30 minutes per net success resisted by Willpower and Turn Resistance if any. If the undead has no free will or turn resistance, target gains control of one target per success. Charisma

    Create Greater Undead (Create Lesser Undead, Create Undead): Create shadows, mohrgs and other beings on this tier. Charisma

    Energy Drain (Ray of Enfeeblement, Enervation): Inflict aggravated damage per success and loss of attributes equal to half the successes rolled. This cannot be soaked or blocked. Strength

    Soul Prison: A soul of a recently deceased person (less than an hour) is bound into a gem or a mirror worth at least 1000 gold pieces. This spell is permanent. A holder can roll Manipulation + Necromancy to force an imprisoned soul to answer a question once per day resisted by Willpower. The imprisoned soul can answer questions of her own free will if she wants. Manipulation

    Undeath to Death (Disrupt Undead): Inflict unsoakable aggravated damage equal to successes on a number of targets equal to successes. Wits

    First Circle Transmutation Spells

    Animate Rope: Animate rope to tie knots, trip enemies, rig a ship or do other things animate ropes do. 10 minutes per success. Dexterity

    Darkvision: Target can see 60 feet in total darkness. At five successes this is doubled to 120 feet. Perception

    Expeditious Retreat: Doubles caster’s base speed for 10 minutes per success. Dexterity

    Faerie Gold: Worthless items looks like something valuable for one hour per success. Leaves can turn into gold coins or rags can turn into an elegant dress. Contact with cold iron breaks the enchantment early. This spell and how to break it is common knowledge, at least among most merchants and traders who usually carry a cold iron ingot. Manipulation

    Feather Fall^: Slow down a fall enough to land safely. Wits

    Household Transmuting: Spell cleans floors, dishes, and the like. Mends minor tears in items. Moves paint from a bucket onto the wall cleanly. Dexterity

    Jump: Caster gains five dice on all jumping rolls for one minute per success. Strength

    Magic Weapon: Mundane weapon does one extra die of damage. Dexterity

    Spider Climb: Target Reduce all climb difficulties by -4 for 20 minutes per success. Target can “climb” upside down at difficulty 7. Dexterity

    Spirit Arrows: Caster conjures a bow for three turns per success. An arrow appears whenever he wants it while the spell persists. Otherwise these are normal arrows (though they disappear when the spell ends). Dexterity

    Second Circle Transmutation Spells

    Enlarge Person: Person is enlarged for 10 minutes per success. Unwilling targets resist with Willpower.

    A gnome or kobold brought to human size loses their defensive and stealth bonuses but loses their Strength penalty and gains a dot of Strength. A humanoid brought to Ogre size gains three dice on Strength rolls, but is a -1 difficulty to be hit by attacks and has a +1 penalty on Dodge rolls. Armor gains a level of soak when you move up a size category. If you roll five successes, an enlarged target gets a die of natural soak when adds to any armor worn if any. Target’s health levels are unchanged.

    No matter how many successes you roll, you cannot cause damage to the target by crushing them with their own bulk in a confined space. If a target becomes too big to fit in the room, they stop growing before they take damage. On the plus side, you can make an enemy too big to fit through a door and then escape through said door leaving them trapped. Manipulation

    Flame Arrow (Spirit Arrows): Up to one target per success gains magical flaming arrows that inflict three levels of lethal damage on top of normal arrow damage. Stamina

    Fly (Feather Fall): Target flies for 10 minutes per success. Dexterity

    Gaseous Form (Spiderclimb, Darkvision, Jump): Caster takes a gaseous form for three turns per success, immune to most normal forms of damage, but casting spells is out of the question until the spell expires or he cancels it. Caster can float at his walking speed. Stamina

    Haste (Expeditious Retreat): Two targets per success get +1 dot of Dexterity for ten minutes per success. Dexterity

    Partial Polymorph (Spiderclimb, Darkvision, Jump): The caster polymorphs part of his/her body. Usually this is to get claws or a similar natural weapon for 30 minutes per successes, but you can glide on bat wings, morph your legs into a merfolk like fish tail and get other benefits.

    The more successes you roll, the better your transformation is. For instance one success will get you Strength + 1 lethal claws. Three successes will get you Strength +2 claws and five successes will get you Strength +3 claws.

    For the above mentioned mermaid tail, expect a caster with one success to be a clumsy swimmer (+1 difficulty on all Dexterity rolls) while five successes might let the caster outswim a real mermaid.

    Shrink Item (Household Transmuting, Animate Rope): Spell shrinks a non-magical, non living object. Undead and animate constructs do not count as objects. A person transformed into a stone statue counts as an object. Object Shrinks by a factor of one per success. One success halves the mass. Two successes brings the mass to fourth, etc. Spell is broken when the object is thrown against a hard surface or dispel magic is cast at it. Material components cost about 25 gold pieces. Intelligence

    Slow (Expeditious Retreat): Two targets per success get +1 difficulty on all Dexterity rolls for ten minutes per success. Manipulation

    Water breathing (Spider climb, Jump, Darkvision): Target gains the ability to breathe water for one hour per success (or the ability to breathe air if they are a merfolk or something similar). Stamina

    Third Circle Transmutation Spells

    Mental Augmentation: Target gains one dot of a mental attribute of the caster’s choice per success. You can take it all in one attribute or spread the successes out.

    Maximum is the target’s normal trait maximum plus two. Raising an attribute above the maximum usually makes the target stand out as being obviously magically enhanced. Any mental attribute

    Physical Augmentation: Target gains one dot of a physical attribute of the caster’s choice per success. You can take it all in one attribute or spread the successes out. Maximum is the target’s normal trait maximum plus two. Each dot of Stamina provides an extra Bruise level. Clothes and armor change slightly with the target so no one rips their shirts growing new muscles.

    Maximum is the target’s normal trait maximum plus two. Raising an attribute above the maximum usually makes the target stand out as being obviously magically enhanced. Any physical attribute.

    Polymorph (Partial Polymorph, Spiderclimb, Darkvision, Jump): You turn into something else. Even when polymorphed some aspect of your original form remain. At best you look like a generic member of the species you turned into. This spell lets you mimick a generic goblin, but doesn’t let you polymorph into General Martok, the feared goblin warlord, at least not well enough to fool his men.

    If the subject you want to polymorph has a supernatural power that you don’t (flight, a breath weapon, etc), you need extra successes to mimic these power. For instance if you want to be a Pegasus, one success can turn you into a winged horse, but you need at least three successes for your wings not to just be purely cosmetic. You would need five successes to have strong enough wings to bear the weight of an armored rider in flight. Wits

    Social Augmentation: Target gains one dot of a social attribute of the caster’s choice per success, lasting 15 minutes per success. You can take it all in one attribute or spread the successes out. Clothing actually changes slightly with the target. Raising Manipulations tends to make clothes more ordinary seem nonthreatening and raising Appearance tends to make clothing more luxurious and flattering.

    Maximum is the target’s normal trait maximum plus two. Raising an attribute above the maximum usually makes the target stand out as being obviously magically enhanced. Any social attribute

    Stoneshape (Household Transmutation): You can shape stone with your mind. If you don’t have Craft (stoneworking) your shapes are pretty crude. It’s easier to punch a hole in a stone wall than to make perfectly interlocking masonry bricks. You get a -2 difficulty break on mundane stone craft when using this spell. Dexterity

    Fourth Circle Transmutation Spells

    Beneficial Polymorph (Polymorph): This works like polymorph, but you can use this power on other people, providing they are willing. Manipulation

    Ghost Form: Caster becomes incorporeal for ten minutes per success rolled. Stamina

    Improved Enlarge (Enlarge): Like Enlarge person but you can cast this spell on undead, monsters, animals, and constructs as well as humanoids. Manipulation

    Move Earth (stone shape): Creates large trenches and earth mounds. Dexterity

    Overland Flight (Fly): Targets can fly for one hour per success Stamina

    Fifth Circle Transmutation Spells

    Baleful Polymorph: This works like Beneficial Polymorph, but you do not need the subject’s permission. This is resisted by Willpower. More successes result in more dramatic changes. If you want to merely disfigure someone you hate, it takes one net success. You want to turn them into a cockroach you need to win by five successes. Manipulation

    Flesh to Stone (stone shape): Target is turned to stone if they fail to resist your spell with Willpower. This spell can also be used to undo a petrification attack. Manipulation

    Mass Mental Augmentation (Mental Augmentation): As mental augmentation but it affects two targets per success. Any mental attribute

    Mass Physical Augmentation (Physical Augmentation): As physical augmentation but it affects two targets per success. Any physical attribute

    Mass Social Augmentation (Social Augmentation): As social augmentation but it affects two targets per success. Any social attribute

    Using Invocation Spells
    Invocation does not have a spell list, it is more free form.

    Roll Stamina + Invocation against difficulty 6, count up your successes and divide them among these categories. Quintessence cost to use Invocation is one point per two successes roll, rounded up.

    Damage Type
    0 success lethal damage or bashing damage, caster’s choice
    2 successes aggravated damage

    Potential Defense
    0 success Normal soak
    1 success Half the normal armor bonus
    2 successes Bypass armor entirely

    Base Damage
    1 success 4 dice of damage
    2 successes 6 dice of damage
    3 successes 8 dice of damage
    4 successes 9 dice of damage
    +1 success +1 die of damage

    0 success Ray against one target, or touch attack with +1 extra damage
    1 success 30 foot line
    2 successes 10 foot radius, 60 foot cone
    3 successes 30 foot cone, 20 foot radius
    4 successes 60 foot cone

    0 success 60 feet or less
    1 success 60-150 feet
    2 successes 150-300 feet
    +1 success +150 feet

    Divine magic is all extensions of normal abilities. The better you are at at mundane healing, the better you are at magical healing. The target difficulty is nearly always 6, though each of my gods has three favored spheres of magic. Divine spell-casters are not required to study any of the magic of their divine patrons but it's difficulty 5 to use their patron's favored magic, so most lean into these magic.

    I made an optional merit that a player can buy a fourth favored sphere to represent a personal aptitude. Neshik the gnome opted to buy this for Healing. I'm guessing if my game between mainstream it would be extremely popular to buy the Merit to have an aptitude for healing because it's so good for combat heavy games which is most of them.

    Greymoria: Crafts, Hexing Necromancy
    Korus: Animals, Divination, Plants
    Mera: Healing, Protection, Purification,
    Nami: Divination, Hexing, Weather
    Maylar: Animal, Hexing, Wrath
    Zarthus: Augmentation, Crafts, Hexing
    Phidas: Crafts, Protection, Purification
    Khemra: Divination, Purification, Wrath
    Hallisan: Augmentation, Crafts, Wrath
    Pantheon: Choose three of the following: Augmentation, Divinations, Crafts, Hexing, Purification, Protection, and/or Wrath

    In all cases you have to buy the powers in order. You need to get the ● power before the ●● which you need before the ●●● power. The one exception is Divination. You can buy the Divination ●●●●● power without buying the 1 through 4 power. Characters who can do this are called oracles. In most cases, oracles have zero other magic at all.

    (Charisma + Animal Ken)
    ● Talk to animals and animal-like magical beasts.
    ●● Summons animals and animal-like magical beasts that start out well disposed to you. Unlike other summoning spells, this is not instant. The summoned animals have to run, fly, or swim to you.
    ●●● Possess or control animals
    ●●●● Gain the ability to wildshape into animals of roughly the same mass as the caster
    ●●●●● Gain the ability to wildshape into animals much larger or smaller than the caster.

    (Manipulation + Survival)
    ● Gain a bonus of one die to all die rolls for one scene.
    ●● Targets gains bonus attribute points for one scene. Only one attribute at a time can be boosted but the successes can be spread out over several targets. May not boost an attribute above the maximum of the target’s race. One attribute boost per success rolled.
    ●●● Gain enhancements along the lines of various natural creatures such as water breathing or doubled running speed for a scene. Alternatively gain lesser enhancements for a week such as being able to sustain oneself on a fraction of their normal food and water.
    ●●●● Targets gains bonus attribute points for one scene. A wide variety of attributes can be boosted, and the successes can be spread out over several targets. May not boost an attribute above the maximum of the target’s race plus one. Two attribute boosts per success rolled.
    ●●●●● Gain blatantly supernatural enhancements like flight, walking on water, or being wreathed with fire that harms enemies.

    (Manipulation + Crafts)

    Note that making magical items is much more potent when pairing Crafts with another magic power. For instance Neshik the gnome Has Healing ●●● , Crafts ●●● and he makes spends nearly every moment of downtime brewing healing potions which he then sells or gives away.

    ● Mundane tools give -1 difficulty break when used. Mundane weapons do an extra die of damage. Armor has an extra die of soak. Three successes doubles this bonus, five or more triples the bonus. Bonus last for one scene
    ●● Create potions, ammunition, candles, scrolls and other magical items with a single or limited duration use. The caster requires other magic to make these items unless he wants to make potions and oils that have Divine Crafts powers.
    ●●● Mundane items, weapons, and armor gain potent magical abilities for one scene.
    ●●●● Create permanent or at least multi-use magical items powered by divine magic.
    ●●●●● Create golems and other Construct creatures powered by divine magic

    Suggested MagicalEffects
    -Weapon is wreathed in fire or something similar* like electricity or frost. Weapon does normal damage when strike but contact also inflicts one die of fire* damage as a separate damage pool.

    -Damage difficulty for a weapon is reduced by one per two successes rounded up, difficulty minimum 3.

    -Weapon attack roll difficulty for a weapon is reduced by one per two successes rounded up, difficulty minimum 3.

    -Item is extremely durable. A tool or weapon gets automatic soak successes equal to successes rolled.

    -Worn clothes or armor provides additional soak dice even if the garment doesn’t normally soak damage, one per two successes rounded up.

    -Armor can be enchanted with a special trait such as energy resistance. One success can allow resistance against fire

    -Item glows the dark. One success would be faint like starlight or moonlight, five successes would be blindingly bright.

    -One success lets a non-throwing weapon be thrown easily. Three successes lets a throwing weapon return to the thrower. Four successes lets a bow magically arrows from a quiver every round letting the wielder fire every round without reloading.

    -Fuel can be used more efficiently. Successes have to be split between time and efficiency. One success is one hour or a factor of one. So for two successes you could make a lamp burn fuel half for one hour.

    (Perception + Theology)

    ● Detect magic, elementals, undead, poison, traps, true north, and/or the nearest drinkable water among other things. Only one item can be looked for at a time. Identify magical items with a modest material sacrifice.
    ●● Speak or read any language unless it’s a coded or ciphered in which case an opposed roll is made.
    -Listen to surface thoughts of others opposed by target’s Willpower.
    -Gain bonus dice on an ability you already possess but only for the purpose of recalling facts or something you seen. You can’t use the bonus dice for something active like crafting or combat.

    ●●● Pierce phantasms, disguises, invisibility, and trickery of all sorts magical and mundane with an opposed roll. The Diviner gets a -1 difficulty break on this roll.
    ●●●● Pierce phantasms, disguises, invisibility, and trickery of all sorts magical and mundane with an opposed roll. The Diviner gets a -3 difficulty break on this roll.

    Learn facts you never knew about the area you are in without doing legwork. This requires at least ten minutes of meditation.

    One Pretty much everyone knows this, but it might be new to you if you are a stranger
    Two Known to a substantial minority of the area.
    Three Uncommon knowledge
    Four Obscure knowledge
    Five Extremely obscure knowledge

    ●●●●● Ask your deity a direct question or try to prophesize the future. Vague and cryptic visions are the norm. This requires at least thirty minutes of meditation to receive the answer.

    Except for the level 3 and four true seeing powers, these powers are normally time consuming and cannot normally be done in the middle of combat. If the storyteller decides to allow rushed divination spellcasting, he may do so but the difficulty goes up.

    (Charisma + Medicine)

    ● Alleviate wound penalties for one scene
    ●● Remove one level of bashing damage per success
    ●●● Remove one level of lethal damage per success
    ●●●● Recover lost attribute points
    ●●●●● Regenerate lost limbs, heal aggravated damage

    This requires touch. If the caster is willing to raise the difficulty by +1 he can cast these spells on targets within Charisma x 10 yards provided there is line of sight. When doing this the caster can split successes between multiple targets.

    Smiting Undead and Demons

    Against undead and Void Demons the same healing path can be used offensively. This usually requires touch, but it can be cast at a distance at +1 difficulty within Charisma x 10 yards provided there is line of sight. When doing this the caster can split successes between multiple targets. In fact, the caster can use some successes to heal allies while using others to smite undead.

    Void Demons are able to roll their normal soak rolls to resist damage from offensive healing. Undead have no resistance against this form of attack.

    ● Detect undead. Undead can resist with Willpower if they have that trait.
    ●● Inflict one unsoakable level of bashing damage per success
    ●●● Inflict one unsoakable level of lethal damage per success
    ●●●● Cause loss of Strength, Stamina, or Dexterity points
    ●●●●● Inflict unsoakable aggravated damage

    In most cases the caster has to announce loudly and dramatically that he is bestowing a curse. If the caster wants to create a hex effect quietly, the difficulty goes up by +2 stacking with penalties for silent casting if the caster chooses not to speak at all.

    (Manipulation + Theology)
    ● Bestow minor curse on a single target, opposed against the Willpower of said target.

    Net successes over defender
    One: +2 difficulty all rolls attempted for the next three turns
    Two: +3 difficulty all rolls attempted for the next three turns +2 penalty for full scene,
    Three+:+1 penalty on all rolls until sunrise or sunset whichever comes first.

    ●● Curse inflicts bad luck (+1 difficulty on all dice rolls) for one day per success.
    ●●● Inflict a serious but recoverable disease or cause bad luck like before but with a duration of weeks instead of days.
    ●●●● Curse inflicts a serious disease that involves a permanent loss of one attribute per success based on the nature of the curse even if the subject survives and recovers. This can be reversed with Healing or Purification ●●●●.
    ●●●●● Subject suffers a permanent curse of some kind based on the personality of the target and the caster. The curse can only be lifted by a quest.

    (Stamina + Theology)
    ● Detect undead, demons, and other sources of negative energy
    ●● Create skeletons and zombies
    ●●● Add temporary attributes to undead or heal undead of non-aggravated damage.
    ●●●● Create ghouls, wights or other beings on this tier
    ●●●●● Create Shadows, mohrgs and or other beings on this tier

    The level 2, 3, and 5 powers can inflict bashing, lethal, or aggravated damage like Divine Healing in reverse. This magic can heal undead using the same rules for Divine Healing as is. Spells that create undead require at least ten minutes.

    Rebuking Undead

    Characters can roll Charisma + Necromancy to rebuke undead. This opposed by the target’s Willpower if the undead is free willed. Most undead with no free will cannot resist turning at all. Some undead have Turn Resistance which is bonus dice to their Willpower. Non-freewilled undead can still have Turn Resistance which takes the place of Willpower).

    Successes over Undead

    One Success: Undead loses remaining actions for this turn and next turn. Undead target cannot dodge or parry but is not treated as helpless.

    Two Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the Undead has one-die penalty on all rolls as long as undead turner is within Charisma x 10 yards

    Three Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the Undead has two-dice penalty on all rolls as long as undead turner is within Charisma x 10 yards

    Four Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the undead cowers and the spot taking no aggressive action even if attacks. They are treated as being immobilized but still struggling. This lasts for the caster’s Charisma in minutes.

    Five Successes or More: For every success over four, the character can issue the undead a simple command which transcends language barriers though it must be spoken out loud. The undead will never directly harm the cleric who rebuked it but they may try to violate the spirit of a command if intelligent. If unintelligent they will not try to undermine commands but may misinterpret commands that are too broad “kill them all” and attack everyone but the cleric, even the cleric’s allies.

    After the Cleric has used up the commands he rolled, the undead will go back to cowering indefinitely as long as the cleric is within Charisma x 10 yards, unless the cleric wants to issue one more command in which case the undead will follow that last command then the turn is broken.

    A Cleric with Necromancy may roll Charisma + Necromancy to bolster an undead making it resistant to turning (or other necromancers rebuking it). Successes cancel out enemy cleric’s successes on a one for one basis. Rebuking successes will also decay at a rate of one success per hour.

    (Charisma + Hearth Wisdom)

    ● Animate plants to entangle foes and do similar tricks. Preserve food for very long periods of time. Magically obscure tracks.

    Entangling Difficulty
    Lush jungle 4
    Typical Temperate Forest 5
    Typical Rural Area 6
    Relatively sparse open field 7
    Nearly barren, including most underground 8
    Indoors (though house plants can be used to lower this) 9

    Each success immobilizing person until they make a feat of strength check versus the successes rolled.

    Pass Without Trace Difficulty
    Ground has lots of plant cover 4
    Ground has minimal plant cover 6
    Ground has no plant cover 8
    Ground has no plant and shows tracks easily (snow or soft mud) 9

    Each success obscures the passage of one person.

    ●● Talk to plants and receive a reply back, though plants often communicate very differently than sapient living creatures. More successes leads to a clearer answer.
    ●●● Grow a bark skin that provides a level of hard armor per success rolled. Stacks with worn armor but adds an extra dot of Dexterity penalty above what it normally has if worn with armor. Grow thorns to deter hand to hand attacks against you. Forgo food with photosynthesis. Whatever enhancements you can come up with that are plant based.
    ●●●● Create walls of thorns, vines that pull apart stone and other extremely supernatural plant activity. Use the difficulty for Entangling to determine the base difficulty. More successes means more extreme results.
    ●●●●● Animate trees to attack on your command and other feats of similar potency.

    Healing Plant Creatures

    This power works as the Healing and Purification powers but only for healing or curing dieases in plants and plant based creatures.

    Rebuking Plant Creatures

    Characters can roll Charisma + Plant Power to rebuke plant creatures. This opposed by the target’s Willpower if the plant creature has Willpower. This uses the exact same rules for Necromancers rebuking undead.

    Note I have made lots of small changes to all my magical powers, but whenever I am editing my rules on magic, I nearly always erase everything I wrote for Protection and then start over from scratch. This is the four iteration of this lore of magic.

    (Wits + Theology)
    ● Enemies have to get a single success on a Willpower roll (or Stamina if they lack Willpower) in order to attack caster. Willpower difficulty is 3+ number of successes rolled. This effect is broken if the caster makes an attack or single scene has elapsed.
    ●● One target gains two soak dice versus energy attacks per success for a scene. This stacks with mundane armor if applicable, but it does not stack with other magical forms of protection.
    ●●● One target per success is protected. Difficulty to hit them with ranged and melee attacks goes up by +1. Difficulty to target them with hostile spells goes up by +1
    ●●●● Gain a temporary soak pool against damage for a scene equal to successes. Stacks with armor. One target per spell.
    ●●●●● Diffuse hostile magic with an opposed roll. This can be used reflexively as with a dodge or parry roll.

    (Stamina + Hearth Wisdom)

    ● Detect poisons, curses, disease, or undead. Undead can resist detection with Willpower if they have that trait. This level of power can also prevent but not cure infection.
    ●● Purify contaminants from food and drink, clean an area, slow the progress of serious poison, cure minor poisons like alcohol. Remove hexes causing temporary die penalty. Subjects can be magically vaccinated to get -1 difficulty break on Stamina rolls to resist disease and poison for one hour per success.
    ●●● Cure all but the most serious diseases. Cure non-magical poisons. Cure magically afflicted blindness and deafness. Remove long term penalizing magical hexes. Purge enchantment spells and mind control.
    ●●●● Cure extremely serious diseases such as cancer or lycanthropy as well as magically potent poisons. Nullify major enchantments such as petrification. Dispel ongoing spells.
    ●●●●● Suppress or even completely overcome supernatural Flaws. Temporarily suppress abilities of permanent magical items. In most cases effects are suppressed for one day per success. Immunize subjects against mind control for one hour per success. Immunized subjects get a -3 difficulty break on saving throws versus transmutation and poison effects as well.

    Turning Undead

    Characters can roll Charisma + Purification to turn undead. This opposed by the target’s Willpower if the undead is free willed. Most undead with no free will cannot resist turning at all. Some undead have Turn Resistance which is bonus dice to their Willpower (or if not free willed takes the place of Willpower).

    Successes over Undead

    One Success: Undead loses remaining actions for this turn and next turn. Undead target cannot dodge or parry but is not treated as helpless.

    Two Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the Undead has one-die penalty on all rolls as long as undead turner is within Charisma x 10 yards

    Three Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the Undead has two-dice penalty on all rolls as long as undead turner is within Charisma x 10 yards

    Four Successes: As with one success. Subsequent rounds the undead flees away from turner as fast as it can for the turner’s Charisma x 10 minutes. Also suffers a two-die penalty to all rolls, no minimum distance.

    Five Successes: As with four successes but undead takes an unsoakable level of aggravated damage. Undead without free will can be paralyzed in place in lieu of fleeing if the turner prefers but the paralyzing effect stops the second he stops actively turning.

    Additional Successes: Every success above five adds two levels of unsoakable aggravated damage to the undead in question.

    Spirit Magic

    I tinker with this a lot. This is I think the third iteration of this sphere of magic.

    (Charisma + Theology)
    ● Detect spirits, elementals, and demons. This reveals their general presence, not location. A rare few such creatures can mask their presence necessitating a resisting roll.

    Alternatively a divine caster with this power can inflict a one-die penalty on hostile spirits or a one-die bonus on friendly spirits. One spirit can be affected per success.

    ●● Banish spirits, elementals or demons. Opposed roll versus target’s Willpower. A few spirits get bonus dice to resist banishment. Demons cannot be banished completely, only driven away temporarily. This can be reversed to bolster a friendly spirit. A would-be banisher needs to beat the bolsterer’s successes and THEN beat the actual target on second spell.

    Net successes
    One Target flees for three turns
    Two Target flees for ten minutes
    Three Target flees for one hour
    Four+ Target banished to home realm (or their home element). Void Demons run away for 12 hours.

    ●●● Summons a minor fighting spirit for you for ten minutes per success. Three successes gets you two spirits. Five successes gets you three.

    Alternatively, summon a helpful non-combative spirit such as a horse for two hours per success.

    Spirits have only a single health level before they are banished.

    ●●●● Summon elementals or level ●●● spirits with many health levels. Elementals need to be bested in a contested Willpower roll every ten minutes.

    ●●●●● Open a portal to enter other planes or let other creatures in.

    (Stamina + Survival)

    ● Summon fog or create a small quantity of water
    ●● Create a gust of wind or an ice slick. Create a few minutes of a heat wave or cold snap.
    ●●● Control the wind or water enough to approximate flying, surf across the water effortlessly, perform feats of strength, or grapple opponents.
    ●●●● Change weather in a local area
    ●●●●● Approximate smiting powers of level five Wrath, only they naturally always involve, wind, lightning, ice and the like

    (Strength + Theology)
    ● Convert a willing subject’s weapon or natural attacks from lethal to bashing or bashing to lethal. Each success can convert an additional target.
    ●● Contested roll against target’s Willpower. If the caster is successful the target suffers double wound penalties.
    ●●● Inflict a bolt of magical energy inflicting caster’s successes as base lethal damage. Roll Perception + Theology or Dexterity + Archery to hit, whichever is higher. Soak value of natural, worn, or magical armor is halved
    ●●●● Inflict a bolt of magical energy inflicting cleric’s successes as base lethal damage. Roll Perception + Theology or Dexterity + Archery to hit, whichever is higher. Soak value of natural, worn, or magical armor is halved.
    ●●●●● As above, but inflicts aggravated damage or the spell inflicts lethal damage in a ten foot radius, caster’s choice.

    I was going to make a post on “How will the additions of monsters and magic influence and change a medieval society?”

    This question is too big to cover in one post. So I’m going to cover a subset. “How will the additions of monsters and magic influence the building and use of castles?”

    I like castles. I don’t want my setting to not have castles and I’m willing to twist my setting into pretzels to justify castles being a common sight.

    So I’m going to lead with a recap of stuff Shadiversity likes to remind viewers over and over again. A castle is simply a fortified residence, other than this there is no standard definition of what is or isn’t a castle.

    If a castle does not let its occupants defend against a larger force. It’s not doing its job.

    Not every attacking force besieges a castle, if the attackers choose to ignore the castle and go plundering the countryside, the castle defenders can send out sorties and wear down a numerically superior foe by staging hit-and-run attacks then fleeing back to the castle to rest so they can stage another sortie tomorrow. If a castle cannot support this endeavor, it’s not a very good castle.

    Monsters and Magic can make building a castle easier and/or cheaper.

    -Spells that move earth or shape stone are very obviously useful.
    -Spells that heal or strengthen people can allow a single worker or group of workers to get more done than they otherwise could.
    -Divination spells could be used to find building materials easier.
    -Conjuration spells can be used to move building materials easier.
    -Monsters can be bribed or coerced to haul stones and do other grunt labor.
    -Certain fantasy creatures such as dwarves and delvers have a proficiency in working with stones far beyond what medieval humans can do.

    Monsters and Magic might make building a castle more difficult or expensive
    -A local spirit or treant is attacking loggers. Goblins are attacking the quarrymen shipping your building blocks. This actually isn’t that different to supply issues in the real medieval world. Hostile forces attacking your supply lines is always a problem.

    Monsters and Magic have a lot of ways to nullify a castle’s defense

    -Anything that magically makes tunnels very fast or reshapes stone could literally bring down a castle in minutes.

    -Anything that flies can go over a castle wall and bring an unwanted face-to-face fight for the defenders. Archers can still shoot at flyers but it’s a lot easier to shoot things on the ground. Among others things, since an archer in a high position is working with gravity rather than against it, an archer has a lot more effective range against ground bound foes.

    -Due to pesky physics, a castle ceiling is never going to be as sturdy as a castle wall. In the real world it was difficult but not impossible to arc the boulder from a castle or trebuchet to travel an arc and land on the ceiling. A single boulder crashing into the ceiling is worth at least ten boulders crashing into the walls.

    As strong as they are, a dragon cannot easily lift a large boulder while flying but a dragon could simply land on a castle roof and jump and down using its own bulk to collapse the roof on the occupants. Or you know, breath fire on the roof.

    -Incorporeal or gaseous creatures can walk through castle walls. Silverwood planks in the walls can prevent incorporeal troops from passing through but Silverwood boards are worth more buy the pound than actual silver. That’s really expensive. Back when Silverwood was more common during the Second Unmaking before demons realized they should be burning Silverwood forests, a great many fortifications used to have Silverwood lining in the walls but since then most of the old fortifications from that era that survived were picked clean by looters.

    -Creatures with a Spiderman like wall climbing power can scale walls. Attackers can still shoot them, drop rocks, or poor oil on them but spidermaning it up a wall is a lot faster and more flexible than using a ladder or grappling hook. If you are climbing a castle wall with a rope you have to go in a straight line which gives the defenders at least a few minutes to figure out where to drop their rock. A spiderman attacker can change direction or climb diagonally.

    -Invisible attackers don’t help much if a siege is already underway and the draw bridge is raised, but it’s not hard for an invisible or polymorphed invader to sneak in before a siege. Also, maybe the attacker doesn’t want to kill everyone in the castle. Maybe they just want to kill the duke. Magically disguised assassins are a huge problem. That’s not to say an assassin cannot sneak in without magic, perhaps by posing as a cook or stable hand, but it takes a lot less subterfuge to just use magic.

    -Mind control or charm spells could create a traitor amongst a castle’s defender. It doesn’t help a lot if a siege is already underway because enchantment spells are pretty short range but it’s not that hard to brainwash a spy or saboteur in a castle with traffic going in and out.

    -Magical energy blasts can batter down walls. In my system, magical fireballs are nothing to sneeze at, but they really aren’t going to hurt a wall more than a boulder from a catapult. I have yet to decide how powerful to make dragon’s breath.

    -It’s not directly related to siege, but the main limitation on magical scrying is that you have to pick an area to scry on rather than a person. A person can avoid people magically spying on him by moving around. It’d be relatively easy to get a lot of juicy information by routinely scrying on the king’s castle. D&D games traditionally allow a thin sheet of lead to block all magical divination spells. I could use that but it seems a bit too Superman for my tastes.

    -Teleportation. I’m 90% sure I want to keep Dimension Door as a spell. I’m only 60% sure I want to keep Teleport as a spell. Either way, a castle isn’t worth much if hostile forces can teleport in. It’s also a problem if an enemy can conjure spirits into a castle. At the very least I can say that conjurers cannot conjure creatures into a room that they themselves are not occupying.

    -It doesn’t take a genius to mix and match magic. Now if you got some wizard type trying to cast a spell to destabilize the stones and needs to literally touch the stones to activate the spell, that gives the defenders ample time to spot the mage dude and shoot the crap out of him. But if the wizard is protected against arrowfire or worse invisible, the defenders have no chance.

    An arcane invoker is not a huge threat to a castle. The effective range of an invocation spell from a master invoker is about half the effective range of a mediocre archer. In a shooting contest, one invoker will lose against ten archers unless the invoker is also magically shielded or flying or invisible.

    So there is the crux of it, I don’t want magic to be useless for attacking castles. That punishes players who choose to play magic users. At the same time I don’t want to make magic so good at taking down castles that realistically no one would bother building them.

    So my first idea was to let castles put an anti-magic field. Depending on the size of the castle this would cost 1000 to 4000 gold pieces to set up and maybe 100 to 400 gold pieces a year to maintain.

    For an extra 25% a castle owner can spring for a donut shaped anti-magic field. That way you have one room (or courtyard) in the center of a castle where magic can still be cast. That way the castle’s defenders have a place to cast healing and divination spells.

    For roughly an extra 200% the castle owner could have a selective anti-magic field that lets the defenders use magic freely.

    Note, this is all theoretical. My player characters are neither attacking nor defending a castle in the near future.

    Both players told me this was too ganky. Neshik’s player suggested anti-magic field raising the difficulty of magic but not negating it entirely. Aranil’s player suggested letting magical attackers gradually batter down a castle’s anti-magic field a lot like deflector fields in Star Trek. “The anti-magic shield is holding at 45%, captain, I mean my lord.”

    In an RPG that is probably the fairest system I can use. For fiction writing this type of field may come across as bit too sci-fi.

    My monster roster is small but growing. Among creatures with animal intelligence, none of them would invalidate a non-magical castle. They might inconvenience castle owners but unless a non-sapient monster is Kaiju sized, they aren’t going to topple a castle. Even if a monster is super strong and flies and the monster likes the taste of human flesh, an animalistic predator is going to seek out the weakest and most vulnerable targets. They are going to attack the farmers nearby in lieu of the castle almost every time.

    Intelligent monsters are another thing. So far I only have two monsters that could singlehandedly take down a castle: dragons and delvers.

    Unless I invent some form of dragon kryptonite, I see there is no reasonable way to dragon-proof a castle. If all my world’s dragons fully united they could probably destroy every castle within a week and enslave or destroy the human race within a month. The thing is, the dragons are not unified.

    I might shrink them down a bit again but the largest and most powerful dragons are about the size of a male orca or bull elephant. That’s plenty of size to let a flying reptile with human intelligence take out a castle without even using its breath weapon. With its breath weapon, a young dragon the size of very large horse might be able to collapse the castle roofs before getting pin cushioned to death with arrows.

    Some dragons like humans and would be against the toppling of castles. Most dragons are indifferent or hostile to humanity and castles, but that doesn’t mean a dragon is going to knock down castles just because she can. As big as dragons are, they are only around 30 pounds when they are hatched. Between babyhood and adolescence an adult dragon probably had four or five close brushes with death.

    There are bands of humans that seek out dragons to try to kill them for the dragon’s treasure hoard, skin, or simple bragging rights. Nine out of ten dragon hunters die horrible deaths but there always seems to be an eleventh. Dragons have very long life spans and they like living. Most dragons will avoid situations where there is a tiny chance of a human killing them. A dragon that topples a castle (or a dragon who makes a habit of toppling castles) is likely to find a bounty for her head.

    Delvers were evolved/created to do one thing; they tunnel through earth and stone. I don’t know about D&D delvers in general but my delvers are gentle giants like the Rockbiter in The Never Ending Story. They are not geniuses but they aren’t stupid either. With their underground senses, they have zero chance of accidentally tunneling under a castle wall and collapsing it.

    Could one bad seed delver knock down a bunch of castles? Yes. There is very little a feudal lord could do to stop it. Said delver can collapse the tunnels behind him after he’s done knocking down the castle so no one can pursue him. However it is impossible to hide the fact that “a delver did this.” All delvers look alike to humans, so if a delver saps a castle (or several castles) expect a bounty on all delver heads to be offered. Delvers police themselves. A delver that messes with castles is going to have other delvers trying to put him down for collectively putting a target on all their heads.

    Delvers subsist on rocks and minerals, but they really like eating refined metal. Refined metal is like a cross between candy and alchohol for them. A villainous delver is a delver that is so addicted to eating refined metal that he or she attacks humanoids to rob them of their metal. If a delver wants to steal metal, there are easier targets than castles, especially since gold and silver are no more tasty than lowly metals like iron.

    It’s usually easier for a delver to get by metal by asking for it than by stealing. “I’ll dig you big big hole if you give me metal!” When it comes to carving stone, a single delver can do the work of a hundred men and only require a few hundred pounds of iron ingots as pay. A lot of castles had delvers create the foundation.

    Incorporeal monsters are a big problem but there aren’t a lot of those. Faceless will seek out living creatures to drain dry whenever they can and a castle is lots of prey in one spot. They are not plotters and schemers and they are very resistant to being commanded by spells so it’s unlikely a castle will face these.

    Ghosts (and the various sub-species that are types of ghosts) are plotters and schemers but ghosts want to settle the unfinished business they had in life. Unless a ghost’s unfinished business is “I want to sack a castle,” most lords are okay.

    If I ever stop populating the astral plane with monsters, then there will be a bunch of monsters that can bypass castle walls. I’ll deal with that hurdle when I get to it. I am assuming most astral monsters as literally being of the essence of thought itself have concerns above and beyond sacking castles.

    Covering lesser monsters. Orcs, goblins, centaurs, kenku, elves, dwarves, gnolls, gnomes, kobolds and all the other creatures that are basically human are going to assault a castle or avoiding the castle. They also mostly have access to the same magic. Castles are still valid against them assuming castles are valid against magic wielding humans.

    A few monsters that would have an edge over most creatures on attacking castles, but not an insurmountable edge.

    My giants are roughly twice as tall and eight times as heavy as a human, give or take. Could one giant take down a castle? No. Could a dozen giants take down a castle? Possibly. I’d rather fight a dozen giants with a castle than without one. Castles are still valid against them.

    Aranea or spider people can climb walls almost as well as spiderman can. They are a secretive, reclusive race. You can find a find a few loners or pairs of Aranea that will contract work for other races but it’s almost impossible for an outsider to bribe or coerce a large group into service. However an Aranea sorcerer could thereotically talk twenty or thirty into acting in concert. I bet twenty Aranea attacking unexpectedly in the middle of the night could overwhelm a small castle’s night watch and murder everyone in their sleep, then scuttle off. That’d be a great adventure hook. First you have a murder mystery for a hundred victims, then the heroes follow the trail, battle their way through the traps of their forest maze or underground lair and then have an epic fight with their leader.

    Fortunately for castle owners, Aranea are not the sort to attack castles frequently.

    So monsters don’t impact castle ownership negatively, not like magic does anyway. More than a few monsters have magic in addition to their spiritual abilities.

    Back to magic, I thought about permanently modifying or enchanting a castle to resist specific magical attacks. My players are not on board with this. This is what I had sketched out originally.

    Small Castle Medium Castle Large Castle

    Total Anti-Magic Field 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    Donut anti-magic field 1500 gold 3000 gold 5000 gold

    Anti-Illusion Filter at Entrances 750 gold 1500 gold 4500 gold

    Enchantment Filter at Entrances 750 gold 1500 gold 2500 gold

    Generic Magic Detector at Entrances400 gold 800 gold 1200 gold

    Total Barring of Mind spells 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    Scrying Shield (lead lining) 500 gold 1000 gold 2000 gold

    True Form Detector at Entrances 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    Literal No Fly Zone 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    No Transmutation of Stone/Earth 500 gold 1000 gold 2000 gold

    Reinforced Walls against energy 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    Walls repel transmuted people 1000 gold 2000 gold 4000 gold

    The Works 7,150 gold 12,300 gold 29,700 gold

    My players are not super enthused by this. I need a magical defense that is useful but not unbeatable. Though I think I will make enchantments that thwart transmuting the stones and soil unbeatable. Defenders can still theoretically fight back against flying attackers but there is no interesting story if the foundations are magically turned to dust collapsing the entire castle, killing everyone instantly.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
  18. Aginor

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    In short: drastically. At least if we are talking about magic and monsters like in a D&D world.

    Back in the early 2000s I was a pretty active member in a D&D forum, and we discussed that topic several times.
    The consensus among most of us in the end was that in such a world castles probably wouldn't even exist.

    You have basically covered all the obvious arguments yourself, so there will be some overlapping with this post.

    Anyway, some thoughts:
    You either have strong magic or you don't.
    If you have strong magic then there is no need for castle walls. Magic most likely is the only thing that can really harm you, and the only way to protect you.
    If you don't have strong magic (but attackers have, or are magical creatures, the extreme case being ghosts) then even the strongest walls will not protect you.

    If we look at the reasons castles existed we see several possibilities.
    Some castles were purely meant to protect themselves and their content, like for example fortified monasteries like Mont-Saint-Michel.
    Those will work OK I think. An example is Candlekeep in the Forgotten Realms, another one is Hogwarts from Harry Potter. But the real assets are not the walls, but the enchantments and - even more importantly - the wizards protecting them.
    Hogwarts built of wood might be just as effective.

    But many castles were built for protecting an area around them, (they would temporarily let the peasants in to protect them until the army arrived) or blocking access to areas (such as overseeing an important bridge, river, valley or so).
    Those hardly work at all.

    The former might protect, but in a magical monster world the destruction of the rest of the area (which isn't protected) will be so quick and so great that it is hard to justify going into the castle instead of fighting, and sieges will be much easier because one of the main reasons for sieges being hard (supplies) is completely removed if you have a decently strong wizard.

    The latter don't work at all, since so many monsters and pretty much everyone using magic will find quick and easy ways to circumvent those castles and hit the protected areas anyway. So the castle might stand, but not fulfill its purpose.

    That even happened in real life, without any magic.
    In the area I live there are quite some unfinished or abandoned castles. Some of them were never finished or abandoned because it was clear that they wouldn't be able to fulfill their roles anymore. They would have been epic assets in the 11th century, but with the advanced technology of the 14th century they already started to be of less use, and with the renaissance castles became mostly pointless.

    The only thing castles really protected against was uprisings of commoners since they lacked the technology to attack them.
    But if you assume that there are magic users among the commoners, then it boils down to magic vs magic again.

    So... how could we make them work?
    1. Powerful wizards are rare. Very rare
    2. Magic is controlled, the common people don't have wizards
    3. "Rituals" for enchanting walls are much harder to break than to build, so the wizards can build them and then go somewhere else. That could help so a random wizard cannot break them.
    4. Incorporeal creatures are very rare. Those ruin everything in fantasy worlds.
    5. Flying/teleporting is hard. Reason: fly/teleport high, drop rocks.
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  19. pendrake
    Skink Priest

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    Everywhere you typed “ceiling” you meant “roof”.

    (In the Castles versus Magic treatise.)

    Also, some thought needs to be given to the pre-cursor constructions that precede Castles. What did humans do to defend stockaded villages, Hill forts, Army encampments, which later become Castles...

    Now you see why all the annoying rules in magic spells from regular D&D exist. Careful numerical descriptions involving dimensions, limited numbers of 10 foot cubes and so on. Taken all together it limited what magic users could do to structures.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
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  20. Scalenex

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Realistic or not, I will fight this conclusion.

    My stated goal for this setting was to create a Medium Magic setting. Maybe that's not possible. Noticeably less magic than a typical D&D setting, noticeably more magic than say Game of Thrones. Shadowrun might be the best popular example of a medium magical setting, but maybe the Shadowrun developers consider their setting a high magic setting.

    i was thinking about castles in the context of modern weapons. When you have artillery that can dust most fortifications, fortifications are largely abandoned. Even the Pentagon doesn't have really look like a fortification despite it being the central HQ for the strongest military on Earth.

    To be effective, modern military is designed to be strong and mobile. Fortifiying a single spot is not as viable like it used to be.

    The D&D 3.5 supplement Complete Warrior brought up different possible ways to integrate magic and hyper abilities (crazy hit point counts and borderline supernatural warrior feats) into a military. The authors clearly leaned towards the notion of treating a magical military like a modern military. Copying a lot of tactics and whatnot. Teleporting elite soldiers in and out in lieu of heliocopters pick ups and drop off, etc. A lot modern military tactics work with very little adaptation with magical military tactics.

    I'd prefer not to use that strategy, but I will adopt that strategy if I paint myself into a corner I cannot get out of. From a fantasy stand point, I'd like to have feudalism be the norm.

    I like the paradigm that magic is easiest when it works with mundane stuff. Thus, a magically fortified wall would be easier to enchant than a transparent magic forcefield dome.

    It's probably not going to be used in any stories short term because none of my PCs are either friendly or hostile to Korus but I did create a Korus Bishipric that is sort of like Hogwartz in that it's used to train new spellcasters. Instead of a castle, they live on an island where a large portion of the plants can come alive and bludgeon would-be attackers.

    They are the experts on Plant magic, so they work with what they have. Most magical factions specialize in one or two fields of magic rather than adopt a jack-of-all-trades approach.

    Fortifications would be good for guarding a static resource such as a mine or magic font, but they would not be very good at controlling a bridge or road junction because magic could be used to go around the fortification and return to the trail.

    I have created a knightly order of Dwarves (which includes spell-casters among them) to provide protection to travelers because I figured a series of fortification wouldn't defend a trade route very well.

    It depends on what historian you ask if the main purpose of castles was to defend the lord from their own subjects or defend the region from invaders. A castle can do both.

    I figure a world with monsters in it would make castles more appealing, not less appealing.

    Right now they are "fairly rare." I suppose the true rule is my setting has "There are as many or as few powerful wizards as the story requires" but I'd like to keep things consistent. A big problem with Season 8 of Game of Thrones was Danyr's human and dragon minions became stronger or weaker as the story required rather than as past events and logic dictate.

    This is actually my next planned discussion topic. Power could take the form of gold, land, weapons, magic, or prestige. Lords and kings are going to try to regulate all of these things to the best of their ability. They are certainly going to try to make sure the only people with potent magic ability are either the rulers or the rulers trusted lieutenants. The discussion is how will they try to regulate magic and how successful they will be.

    Short version is that rich and powerful people will have disproportionately more access to magical abilities but not monopolistic access to magical abilities.

    It's a bit railroady but this seems like the only viable option to allow prevailent castles to exist in mysetting.

    So my world has Allips, ghosts, and Faceless (a homebrew monster). When Faceless were common, this was the period known as the Second Unmaking when 95% of all people died. Now Faceless are fairly rare. Ghosts and are not that rare but ghosts that are capable of inflicting serious harm against the living are rare. Allips are rare.

    Ghosts, allips, and faceless share one thing in common besides being incorporeal undead. All three are created by accident and all three tend to act in a disorganized fashion. I was on the fence about whether my world should include undead shadows. Shadows are incoporeal undead that are created by necromancers acting deliberately. After writing my last post and reading your post I think I'm off the fence now. I don't want to include shadows.

    Beyond castles, I think teleport magic is problematic in and of itself. I'm on the fence whether I want to allow it at all.

    Flying is a staple of fantasy. It would be hard for me to imagine a fantasy setting with no flight in it. Flying while dropping heavy rocks is another thing. We are talking about unladen swallows of course. A five ounce bird cannot lift a one pound coconut.

    Even a big creature like a dragon can only lift so much while flying. For a real world parallel, the greatest swimmer in the world wouldn't be able to swim very well carrying a hundred pound weight.

    You got me!

    The predecessors to castles is a discussion in and of itself summed up in a fifteen minute video. The immediate ancestor of medieval castles is probably Roman forts.

    Unless you have a monster that eats people, the main threat to a village or fortification is probably going to be rival nations not random monsters. As long as the enemy doesn't fly or is incorporeal a stockade will probably do relatively well against casual orc raiders and the like.

    I disagree. Between 2nd and 3.5 D&D evolved into a grid based combat system. Numerical descriptions of range and volume of magical effects is intended to work within the grid system. The nine levels of magic in D&D get to be crazy powerful. A meteor swarm can turn a castle to rubble with one spell and a lazy caster. Transmute rock to mud (4th level I think) can collapse a wall. It's not that hard to cast a 4th level spell.

    A D&D setting with lots of high level casters would realistically have virtually zero functional castles. The only castle's you'd have would be toys for the rich. I doubt the castle at Disney World could repel many invaders...

    I guess if I want to make castles viable I need to make static magic defenses viable too.
    I don't have a more feasible solution.

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