Monday Mayhem: Extreme Weather

Real World Extreme Weather

Weather tends to be an afterthought for most games. Usually, it is showcased as some feature of the terrain, such as a desert that has frequent sandstorms, or a polar region so cold that you have to be equipped for it. If these things are not in themselves self-evident, then weather is largely ignored.

And I’m not suddenly advocating that you become a meteorologist as part of your session prep, but rather that you SHOULD focus on the extremes. More extreme than polar cold, more dangerous than being caught in a sandstorm.

I recall Final Fantasy 10 having a segment in it in which you had to cross a region so beset with lightning that you could potentially get struck dozens of times while crossing it. While this may seem a bit odd, that is the kind of adventure design that sticks in the head of the player. Though I admit, the even stranger “dodge 100 lightning strikes in a row” mini game might also have contributed to its remarkability.

But I digress. Fantasy games have a special leeway in presenting extraordinary weather that may seem outlandish. If the link above is any indication, Earth has its own extraordinary weather patterns. Shoot for the moon with your weird weather!

Let’s try this…

Sentient Tornado-
On the eastern plains of Selna there exist a great number of oddities that dot the map, pronounced all the more against the otherwise featureless plains. Among those oddities is the Walking Wind, a legend of a sentient tornado that stalks the plains with some bizarre agenda. Though many dismiss the stories as superstitious nonsense, and cite the tornado seasons seen on other continents, many claim to have seen the tornado at all times of the year, moving to and fro as if by determination.

The legends claim that it chases after treasure hunters, and that it guards the opening to ancient crypts and vaults. The only definitive text on the matter is the journal of Andrew Hunt, an explorer and researcher that set out to verify the nature of the tornado. His accounts detail a strange and careful study of the alleged tornado, having observed it carefully for over two weeks. Hunt was never able to present his findings; his tattered journal was all that remains of him.

The Jhorrund, perhaps the only people that can speak of the tornado with any authority claim that it is an ancient nature spirit that has become angry, and would see its territory scoured of all humanoid life. Whatever the truth may be, the tornado (or tornadoes) continue to claim the lives of those foolish enough to enter the area.

Rules:
The Walking Wind is a tornado, and an extreme weather effect that targets any biped traveling along a stretch of territory approximately 200 square miles. The tornado travels at roughly 50 miles per hour, or 250 ft per round. Anyone caught within 200 ft of the tornado is pulled up in the air, and thrown a great distance in a random direction. Assume 15d6 falling damage whenever they land.

The tornado will always throw its victims away from its territory, at times whipping victims as far as 10 miles away. Anyone that has the ability to fly, hover, glide, or slowfall is not subject to this damage, but is still thrown for the entire distance as determined by the game master. The Walking Wind is known to try and scare people from its territory, moving slowly to warn intruders before advancing menacingly.

The Walking Wind is considered to have a strength score of 50 for the purposes of pushing and moving creatures. Although it is a sentient weather hazard, it does not have hit points, and can only be temporarily dispelled by powerful weather control magics. A wish or miracle may dispel it permanently, but the tornado exists as a powerful runic curse, and as such may be subject to a specific condition that will finally quell the Walking Wind for good. Obscure legends tell that it’s rune is carved somewhere along the plains, and that dispelling that rune may be the key to quelling the strange tornado.

(Ok, that’s over 600 words, so sue me)

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5e Free Mini Campaign part 4: Talhanas, and Two Adventure locations

Talhanas: A New Nation of Blended Cultures-

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Among the most interesting cultures to come to Selna is the Nation of Talhanas. Talhanas is not a colony, but rather a nation born out of the cultural blending of the Jhorrund and the Walkonians. So closely had they become that a number of Walkonians had begun to romanticize the nomadic lifestyle of the Jhorrund, which was of course reciprocated by the nomads that took interest in the relatively exotic immigrants.

Many of these relationships had altered entire tribes, and emptied entire villages, as the cultural exchange became a wild and unpredictable journey. The journey ended in a relatively benevolent surprise, as the resulting product was a splinter nation, a merging of the two cultures into something entirely unique. Some see Talhanas as a watering down of the respective cultures, and fear for what it could mean for all three societies, though these dissenters are relatively few in number.

And so was born the city-state of Talhanas. Initially created as a trading post, the settlement quickly grew from visitors and immigrants that wanted to live a different life than those offered by the Jhorrund or Walkonians. Though the city-state is treated as a sister tribe by the Jhorrund, the resulting leadership has since declared sovereignty, recognizing that the burgeoning culture was not compatible with strict Jhorrund traditions.

Despite the stark divide, Talhanas acts as an able go-between for Walkonia and the Jhorrund, and maintains amiable relations with both nations. It has begun to consider expansion into untamed lands, and has commissioned several charters for these purposes.

The society of Talhanas is indeed unique, and combines a respect for the land with the benefits of a stationary culture. There are many people of Talhanas that wander within the bounds of the territory, maintaining a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but even the prospect of a central hub is a vastly different cultural experience than the nomadic life of the Jhorrund.

Culturally, Talhanas is focused on respect, honor, and a simple life. While not exactly Spartan, many farmers and city folk are expected to practice a habitual austerity for the sake of those unable to sustain themselves. Many of the composite communities see it as their duty to raise up the less fortunate for the sake of all.

Attempts by outsiders to alter these values are usually met with anger and even violence. It is difficult, for instance, to see any enterprising merchants make a profitable living within the city state of Talhanas. Any such endeavors tend to be appropriately understated.

On the topics of war and conflict, Talhanas is both too peaceful and too new to participate in any military campaign. However, they do offer some assistance to the Jhorrund in crafting war supplies. The Talhanas sensibility has led them to a special appreciation of crafting in general, and Talhanas  arms and armor are treasured across the continent.

Despite being approximately 70 years old, Talhanas is among the most impressive cities on the continent. As they expand their settlement into the countryside, they have stumbled across various ancient secrets. Even now, the site of a planned expansion has been stalled due to the discovery of an older city buried by time.

Castle of Thundering Bells- An adventure location.

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On the lonely plains of Selna’s eastern half stands a monumental castle that stands out against the horizon. It is surrounded by featureless plains, the only feature for hundreds of leagues. So old it is that it appears to some as a lonely green hill from a great distance, as it has been covered with moss and ivy that cling to its walls tenaciously.

The castle is large, and may have been a redoubt in some ancient war that even the Adventists had forgotten in their hey day. Whatever its purpose may have been can only be guessed at, for it holds a powerful curse to this day. Within its walls, all sound is silenced. This effect supersedes the strongest magics, and may be the work of an artifact buried deep within. However, as one attempts to skulk within the ancient halls, a sound disturbs reality, as it resounds from within each intruder; a bell.

Faint at first, the incessant ringing grows ever more oppressive. Within an hour, the maddening gong drives most intruders out. Those that resist the bell will find themselves lost within the maze of the castle, surrendered to addled madness with the castle as their tomb.

Curiously, those who are somehow permanently deaf are left undisturbed by the gongs, but attempts by such people to enter the castle have all failed. None have seen what fate awaits the deaf treasure hunters that enter.

The castle has long been a subject of curiosity for many of the colonists of Selna. Jhorrund tribes are banned from going, though this has not stopped the occasional tribe member from attempting to plumb the depths of the castle for treasure or knowledge. Kaldornians have continually attempted to experiment with the castle’s strange properties, only to lose vast sums of research grants, at the least.

The curious rumor that seems to have circulated recently is that the castle is showing signs of change; the moss has been receding. Astronomers have tied these changes to an upcoming astrological event. It could be that for a short time, the castle will relinquish its secrets to those who have an abundance of bravery or recklessness.

A Missive to the East Walkonian Magistrate:
“A strange and disturbing discovery was made near a the hamlet of Merzost. Unauthorized explorers have uncovered an ancient ruin that contains an ancient technology. The locals are beset with anxiety as tales of the ancient complex become known, and imaginations run wild with the curses and terrible dangers that might spill out.

The Walkonian Guild of Explorers has quickly apprehended the perpetrators, and they have been found to be spies from Kal Dor. My sources tell me that they were intent on discovering alchemical secrets. We have already done a thorough search of the complex, and found nothing.

We are fortunate in one respect; the place has been empty for centuries, and it seems that it was in disuse. The troubling thing is that it did contain a map… I have it in my possession for safekeeping, but it details three additional areas, and we cannot be sure that the spies have not already disclosed this to their leaders.

I humbly request that you draft a charter to find and secure these locations. The contents of these additional Alchemical Stables are of great importance, and could present a danger for the entire region. I only hope that it is not too late.”

Alchemical Stables of the Golden Age-

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The Alchemical Stable of the Golden Age were a haughtily named set of buildings commissioned by the Selnan nobility. Few know of their existence, and fewer still have set foot in one, and they are the subject of wild speculation. What is known is that they hold ancient technologies, though so far all of it has been broken beyond repair.

The currently explored complex offers only a hint of what the other complexes might contain. Strange abstract frescoes seem to suggest that its purpose was to generate wondrous and horrible life forms, or for the crafting of terrifying weapons. Whatever the complexes might actually hold, the potential for danger is higher than any potential for gain. This risk has done nothing to halt the plans for the despoiling of the ominous compounds.

5e Free Mini Campaign part 3- Anwuld, and an Essay on Magic and Technology in the world of Diem Mundie

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Anwuld-

It is difficult to classify Anwuld as anything but a nation of magic. The initial colonization attempts were for discovery and research rather than for some nefarious purpose. However, many joined for other reasons, such as arcane curiosity, or the desire to prove magic better than technology. Whatever the reason, the colonists were hopeful that they could discover arcane secrets that might bring prosperity to the world, and avert meddling that would mirror past mistakes.

The Anwuld colonists would include with them wizards and mystic scholars, as well as various mystical creatures and beasts. The mystic beasts served both as companions and partners in the expedition, though some were taken along for relatively benign experiments. The Anwuld nation now contains an ample population of creatures that include dragons, fey, unicorns, and many other mystical creatures not already native to Selna.

Initially, the intentions of the colonization attempt were relatively noble, considering the cutthroat Kaldornians, and the ethnic cleansing carried out Walastia. However, any notions of forming a new nation of peaceful wizard-archaeologists was spoiled nearly as soon as the Anwuld colonists stood on Selnan soil.

Anwuld takes its name from its own founder and visionary, Diedrich Anwuld. Not only did Diedrich know the Hart brothers before they made their voyage, he was instrumental in dashing their hopes of getting any funding or positive attention among the academic circles of the outer continents.Though Diedrich had expected the Hart brothers to have failed, given their lack of communication with their investors, he was shocked and angry to find them striving on Selna.

The new colony used its magical might to establish a beachhead, but they numbered so few that they posed little risk to the established Kal Dor Empire. The Hart brothers quickly dismissed the new colony of upstarts as nothing more than a nuisance. That is, until the colony had contact with the Jhorrund. The partnership was a disastrously amicable one, as the colonists egged on the nomads to stoke the fires of hatred against the Kal Dor, and the nomads in turn asked the magicians for stronger mystical weapons to level at their sworn foes.

What followed would tarnish the hopes of many optimistic wizards and scholars, removing the chances for serious research and inquiry to the secrets of the continent’s rich and dark history. Instead, War rages, as the potent but small colony continues to seethe at the Kal Dor Empire. The nomads continue to harry and isolate the otherwise prosperous nation, and all the while the continent suffers under the stress of an escalating war of magic that threatens to invoke ancient calamities.

Though not originally so stolid in their approach to primitive technology, the nation of Anwuld has banned the use of any device containing moving parts. Choosing instead to let magic do the work for them, they ban anything remotely technological. The ban is so thoroughly enforced that there exist inquisitors who work doggedly to sniff out and expunge any signs of technology, sometimes treating transgressors with a ruthlessness reserved for seditionists and sociopaths.

Though this makes some aspects of life difficult for the commoners of Anwuld, the government strives to maintain a base level of comfort for their citizens through magical labor saving techniques. This does little to eliminate the classist struggles facing Anwuld, but the nation would surely collapse into rebellion without such logistical magics.

The combination of perpetual war and an institutional ban on technology has turned the once tolerant and scholarly Anwuld colonists into xenophobic curmudgeons, as they reserve happiness for the eventual celebration of total victory.

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A Primer on Magic and Technology-

(This is the first of a series of essays on the strange and sometimes symbiotic nature of magic and technology in the Diem Mundi setting.)

The important thing to understand about the world that encompasses Diem Mundi is that it has been fundamentally changed. It was once a world like ours, with rules and laws that were firmly cemented in and incrementally understood by science. The event that nearly destroyed the world brought it back together in such a way that it could only maintain its integrity by internalizing the magic that nearly destroyed it.

That’s a very stodgy way of saying that the world was now infused with magic to its very core.

Everything from friction to molecular biology was now so infused with magic that it could not function without it. Every living being and piece of matter is now partially magic, which is why magic is so prevalent in the world today. Far from making the magical mundane, it has made the mundane magical. The musical notes of magic are played by pulling the strings of matter, as incantations can transmute atomic structures. Machinery can be made to function through the mystic principals seated in ambient magical radiation levels, and the very ether can be evoked through elegant mechanical principles.

But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t drawbacks to these methods. Many of the laws of magitech seem to rely on the presence of ambient magical energy, just as certain technological wonders can be thwarted by natural phenomenon. Relatively sophisticated technology in our modern world can be rendered useless by magnetic fields, or its efficacy diminished by lack of sun or wind.

So too are many of the magitech wonders reliant on the strange ambient energies that seem to coarse through the bones of the Dark Continent. Though not unknown on the outer continents, the lines and zones of energy present on Selna have made the blending of magic and science all the more successful. Slowly, these advances trickle back to the outer continents, mastered in such a way that they work even lands that are not as rich with magical energy.

Though the Kal Dor Empire has benefited from blended discipline of magitechnology, it is not an entirely new feat. The Selnus found such glory in the melding of magic and science that it allowed them to shackle the gods and command the earth. Though this nuance may be lost upon the modern era, there are students of history that tremble at the fantastic descriptions of the strange and dangerously new art of magitech.

Prevalence-

While magitechnology does not especially affect the way that magic works for wizards and clerics, it does bring the gifts of magic to engineers and men of science, if they are so inclined to accept them. Even now, men of science draw stark lines dividing magic and science as mutually exclusive fields, but for those that recognize the inherent nature of the world as magical, they can unlock secrets once attainable only by studied magicians and blooded wild-talents.

But it also means that magic is so prevalent that it can occur more frequently than it ever had before. Potent wild beasts might manifest strange magical traits, and auspicious peasants might express a mutation in the form of a meager supernatural ability. Whole parcels of land might take on various strange and sometimes dangerous traits that warp earth and beast into things both wondrous and terrible. While it rankles the various magic using entities of the world, they are no less distinguished or important for sharing the world with these occasional oddities.

Though there are many occult engineers that ply their trade across the countryside, and the Jhorrund employ many of them for their ability to create impressive and portable devices, the field is stymied by the official magitech guild centered in the Kaldornian capitol city of Charlesburg. Bounty hunters are regularly hired to smash backwoods workshops of those occult engineers that don’t pay lip service to the guild, and are further harried by other groups that see their craft as evil or dangerous. Still, the unaligned magitechnologists persevere, hopeful that they can show the world a better way.

5e Free Mini Campaign part 2- The Nation of Walkonia, and the Secretive Fox Folk

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Walkonia-

The second wave of colonists to reach Selna were the immigrants from an overcrowded nation called Walastia. Ostensibly, the nation’s leaders began considering an expedition to Selna  for the purposes of reclaiming the vast investments they had given over to the Kaldornian fleet. With time, the leaders began to consider other options. Not only was the nation overcrowded, but the Walastian nobles had their collective eyes on numerous undesirable groups within the nation’s buckling borders.

It was unfortunately predictable that the expedition became a colonization effort. Though it did not empty Walastia of these groups, as the nobles would have preferred, it did reduce the populations significantly. This voluntary exodus did lead to other problems, but those were of little consequence to the colonists.

Among the vast throngs of willing colonists were the dissidents that were forced to go, often in shackles. These dissidents were of many walks of life; politicians, scholars, and seditionists. But all were against the government in some way. It may have been a calculated mistake to include these dissidents, as many were able to gain influence and even control over the colonists, often times before the boats landed on Selna.

When they did land, the new colony was named Walkonia, a name meant to both honor and rebuke their shared heritage as Walastian exiles. Through the guidance of the dissidents, and the hard work of the hopeful colonists, the new settlement was an initial success. They had landed on verdant shores, away from the more dangerous territories of Selna, including the Kaldornians and  Jhorrund tribes.

Without much to bother them, the Walkonians did what they knew best, and build an agrarian society. Walkonians harbor a dislike for any monarchy, and elect their leaders, but their system favors workers, unions, and helping the less fortunate. Slow work was done by the dissident leaders to secure the allegiance of the population, and to ensure that any links to Walastia were severed. So far there have been no formal attempts to communicate between the colony and its estranged mother nation.

Though favoring scholarly pursuits, Walkonians are not technologically advanced, and dislike the notion of automation or industry. The people are proud workers that would rather pull a yoke than to see their hands idled by machinery, and reject any magic or technology that would affect those principles. This is not to say that they dislike magic or technology outright, but there is a healthy suspicion cast on most new “innovations” unless they seem practical to the ever pragmatic Walkonians.

Boasting the largest static population on Selna, Walkonia also has the largest army, though this is composed mostly of mandatory enlistees that have not seen much combat. Jhorrund recognizes the need for stronger allies, and has given much military aid and training to specialized branches of Walkonia’s armies. This has bolstered Walkonia’s military readiness, but their ability to extend the reach of their army is far less than that of their neighbors. This hasn’t bothered the Walkonian leadership so far, but the looming specter of warfare is on the horizon even for this quiet nation.

It took decades for them to make first contact with the Jhorrund. The happy and fruitful people of Walkonia made peaceful efforts to welcome their neighbors. Though initially shocked, the Jhorrund were overjoyed by the apparent existence of a friendly colony. It was not long before the first delegations spoke of Kal Dor, and each was quick to point to historic slights by the thieving brothers and their new empire. So began a friendship born of mutual understanding for each other and enmity for a shared rival.

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Fox Folk- The Mysterious Natives of Selna

Very little is known about the fox folk, except that they are present in the legends of the Jhorrund, and there is some murky evidence that they existed during the twilight of the Advent Empire. The fox folk won’t say if any of it is true, leaving much suspicion about their intentions and character.

Even so, the fox folk are immaculate survivalists and opportunists, living secretly in all corners of the continent. Eponymously, they appear as anthropomorphic foxes, though some possess the ability to look like anyone (perhaps anything) at all.

They inhabit every city, in various hills, forests, and even some mountains, finding all the best places to stay hidden until they wish to be seen. Similarly, what little is known about the fox folk is restricted to what the fox folk wish to be known about them.

They are capricious, slow to trust, and full of knowledge they seldom share. It is of no surprise that enterprising fox folk sometimes make great information brokers, but those that do are often at odds with their secretive kin, sometimes isolating themselves from their own clan and race.

Occasionally, one will find a fox folk that eschews secrecy in favor of adventure. Young kits are given to seeking excitement and worldly experience in the company of other adventurers. These fox folk are steadfast companions, and can be implicitly trusted within these adventuring circles. Stories abound of the amazing loyalty that these adventuring fox folk show for their circles.

Whatever racial legacy has yet to be revealed for the fox folk, they seem to be so woven into the continuing history of Selna that one can bet on a fox folk being near or at the site of various historic events. The presence of fox folk can be so ominous that it sends soothsayers into fits, and the superstitious into panic. This reaction appears to please most fox folk, rankled though any other party may be.

Society

While the fox folk don’t have a nation of their own, they instead form small enclaves throughout the continent. They owe no collective allegiance to any one nation, but exist within them all, as well as in isolation within smaller groupings and communities composed entirely of fox folk.

Fox folk are not by nature distrustful of the outside world, but they understand the value in maintaining their secrecy. Those who know enough about the fox folk understand that their history is riddled with tragedy and oppression. When they do discuss the matter, fox folk tend to reference this history as the rational for their closed society. They are far more likely to trust individuals than they are to trust organizations or nations that might begin to think of fox folk as assets rather than people.

Few outsiders have seen the exclusive fox folk enclaves, but those that do are usually trusted by and endeared to the fox folk at large. Their unique culture and aptitude for knowledge gathering has given them a rather academic lifestyle that seeps into nearly every aspect of their day to day lives, including their mysterious religion. Even the most raucous vulpes or flighty kitsune are devoted to study of some sort, whether dynastic histories or botanical mysteries.

Much can be said of the more nuanced aspects of fox folk society, such as cuisine and art. While one would suspect that these cultural traits would be hidden away, the Vulpes clan does a great job of using these traits to make connections and ease tensions. A vulpes chef is likely to be found in any major city, and a niveus may write an inscrutably thorough biography piece, while a kitsune artists will sometimes filter their art into public channels. Fox folk culture, as a result, is something that is seen as unique and rare, but obtainable and approachable. Though these meager offerings don’t comprise the entirety of fox folk culture, they do enough to broker understanding for those willing to see fox folk as something other than secretive scoundrels.

Foxfolk Racial Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2

Age. Fox Folk live roughly as long as a human does, though some may unlock inner potential to live longer, owed to some ancestral secret.

Alignment. Fox folk value secrercy, and their own culture and society. Unless an outsider proves worthy, they are unlikely to care for any perceived moral obligation to non-fox folk.

Size. Fox folk may take many forms, but their natural form is relatively short, between 4 and 5 ft tall. Your size is medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Darkvision. Fox folk live in the darkness, and they use it to their every advantage. You can see within dim light as if it were bright for 60 feet. Also, you see in darkness as if it were dim light.

Language. You speak, write, and understand Common, and Ancient Selnan, a race jealously guarded as the shared secret language of the folk folk.

Ancestral Loyalty. You gain advantage against any spell or effect that would force you to reveal information, including enchantment spells that charm or dominate.

Sub Races. Fox folk are split into different clans, accounting for some strange ancestral split between their kind, owing not so much to a physical distinction as it does to a spiritual essence that seems to have marked each clan separately.

Sub-Race – Kitsune

Through some secret of the fox folk, the Kitsune clan has forged a close relationship with nature. Rumors speak of them being caretakers, responsible for the slow healing of the land. Others say that they wrested some dark secrets from the ruins of the Advent Empire. The most anxious rumor mongers even speak of secret kitsune cabals that control entire swaths of wilderness, keeping outsiders from trespassing their sacred lands.

Whatever the truth may be, the Kitsune clan often shows a stern reverence for nature. Kitsune are known to admonishing those who would harm nature, at times even eschewing the perception of shyness that fox folk work so hard to maintain. Despite this, the Kitsune clan encourages peaceful balance, and in the past have worked to prevent vengeful kitsune from wreaking destruction in the name of nature.

Despite deep seated suspicions and aspersions cast upon all fox folk, kitsune tend to be like calm oases, and nurture to those in need. Though these traits lead them to have more amicable interactions with non fox folk, they are also careful not to be exploited, and tend to travel often rather than setting down roots. Some kitsune have been known to travel between towns in a circuit, secretly assisting favored families with gifts and protection.

Though Kitsune clan fox folk tend to become druids, they have also been known to follow other paths, at times becoming paladins dedicated to nature, wise monks who meditate on the wisdom of the forests, or even studied spellcasters looking to nature for arcane inspiration. These tendencies, however, do not bar them from any given class.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Kitsune Magic. You can conjure strange patterns of light to distract your foe. Gain Dancing Lights and Minor Illusion as cantrips. At 3rd level you may use the spell lesser restoration once, and regain the ability to do so with a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells. At 5th level, you may wild shape as a 2nd level druid for 1 hour, but you are restricted to the form of a fox (use the statistics for a cat). You may use this racial wild shape feature in addition to any other wild shape uses gained from any class abilities.

Touch of the divine. You may use any unspent hit dice to heal plants in a ritual that takes 10 minutes to perform, restoring 1 plant per hit dice spent, or 1 tree per 5 hit dice spent. At level 3, you may spend hit dice to heal animals directly, rolling your hit dice in place of theirs through a similar ritual. At level 5, you may use the same ritual to heal any living creature, expending 2 hit dice for each hit dice of healing that the target receives.

Sub-Race – Vulpes

Clan Vulpes comprises the caprice of the fox folk. Though all fox folk have the capacity for levity and whimsy, Clan Vulpes exhibits it in earnest. Clan members are often traveling tricksters, spies, and saboteurs, working for the good of fox folk everywhere by ensuring that secrets are found and well kept. The more visible of the clans, vulpes members can be seen in any city, blending in or standing out as they wish.

While many rightfully suspect fox folk as secret gatherers, and attempt to keep them away from sensitive information, vulpes members relish a challenge, and enjoy stealing information (and less often, valuables) from difficult targets, as they excel in getting out of tight situations.

Though all vulpes members are tasked with gathering information, not all take it through trickery. Some are cartographers, anthropologists, and cultural mavens. This had led to various fox folk being seen as social icons, either through their contributions to historical and societal research, but also for their contributions to art and music. Despite any attained fame, these socialites tend to be aloof, if only to protect themselves as all fox folk are wont to do.

Clan vulpes produces many bards, rogues, and monks*, though not exclusively.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Blend In. You may use alter self once per day, as per the spell. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.

Animal Charisma. You gain advantage on all rolls to influence people towards friendliness, or to get yourself out of trouble. This will not work if the target or targets are hostile, or in the din of battle.

Claws. You have sharp claws that can be used as weapons on combat. Your claw attacks deal 1d4 damage. You may make an additional claw attack as a bonus action with your off hand, even if you are wielding a weapon in your other hand. Neither claw attack adds your strength bonus to damage. You are considered proficient with your claws.

Quick Escape. You may use your claws as impromptu lock picks or cutting tools for the purposes of picking locks, cutting rope, or undoing other restraints. Using them in such a way renders your claws useless for 1d4 days while they regrow, denying you your claw attack as well as the ability to escape restraints.

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Sub-race: Clan Niveus

Clan Niveus is perhaps the most secretive of all of the fox folk, and the most distinctive among them. Nearly all of Clan Niveus has white or grey fur, and piercing eyes the color of arctic ice.

While Clan Vulpes are the secret gatherers, most of Clan Niveus is tasked with compiling the information. While dozens of vulpes gather disparate knowledge, the niveus make sense of it through a careful archival process. This makes Clan Niveus especially integral to the dissemination or suppression of these secrets. So thorough is their duty that other clans are restricted from knowing the history of the fox folk as a matter of clan law.

Niveus members are unlikely to attach themselves to a city, or a stretch of wilderness, but do travel often to secretly destroy dangerous knowledge or those that seek to exploit it. Many niveus kits are sent off on pilgrimages, as their elders know that secrets cannot be found by study and practiced archeology alone. Many kits rise to fame by securing entire oubliettes worth of dangerous secrets.

Clan Niveus produces an unusually large number of wizards, bards of the college of lore, eldritch knights, arcane tricksters, and clerics to the god of study, though not exclusively.

Sub-race traits-

Student of the Scriptorium. You may choose one of the following feats: Keen Mind, Linguist, Observant, and Resilient (choose between Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma). You must meet the prerequisite for the chosen feat. This replaces the sub-race ability score increase.

Seeker of Secrets. You have advantage on any rolls meant to discern secrets, whether through hidden doors or in cyphers or puzzles.

Cypher Magic.  You learn the message cantrip.  At 3rd level, you may cast the illusory script spell once per day. At 5th level, you may cast nystul’s magic aura once per day. Your spellcasting ability for these spells is Intelligence.

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Sub-race: Clanless Nogitsune

Rejected by all clans, the majority of nogitsune are considered traitors and corrupt villains that sow misinformation and bring shame to the fox folk as a whole. Nogitsune are, with few exceptions, mean spirited tricksters.

Their behavior and outlook run the gamut from prankster to sociopath. Though the latter is an unfair generalization, the tendency for nogitsune to give in to darker urges has tainted the perception of their entire affiliation both within and outside of the fox folk community. The shadow foxes are without a doubt seen as an unlucky omen by any who have so much as an ounce of superstition in their bones. Most nogitsune gleefully enjoy reinforcing these biases, as they revel in the confusion and fear that they tend to sow.

Through some strange pacts, the nogitsune appear to have mastered the darkness, and use it to their every advantage. As such, they mimic their nobler brethren by hiding in the shadows, and calculate their appearances so as to maximize fear and panic caused by their very presence.

There is no official affiliation between these clanless misanthropes, as they cannot normally stand each other. They do occasionally cling together to defend themselves against overtures by the fox folk to stamp them out, and more often to carry out brutal retributions against the oppressive clans. It is through their tenacity and cunning that the nogitsune have taught the clans to fear the darkness.

Despite the tendencies of most shadow foxes, some exceptional nogitsune fight this stigma and attempt to either join a clan, or distinguish themselves as heroes. Historically, no nogitsune has ever joined a clan, as their rejection is automatic. However, some stories tell of heroic shadow foxes saving lives and securing dangerous knowledge for the clans. These stories are regularly quelled by the fox folk in general, but they persist in the regions that recognized the selflish acts of the unforgotten nogitsune.

Few know how the strange shadow foxes came to be, but some claim that it is the corrupting knowledge they hide away that initially caused the fox folk offshoot, either through dissent or mystical alteration.

Sub-race traits-

Ability score increase. Your charisma score increases by 1.

Shadowcraft. You may cast silent image once, though any image you create must appear darkened or as a shadow. You can use this to cast dim light in a 5 foot square.  You regain the ability to do so after a long rest.

Affinity for the Black. You may attempt to hide using a Dexterity (stealth) check even if you have been seen, as long as you are in dim light or darkness. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Shadowhex. You may impose bad luck on others when you hide in shadows. While in the shadows and unnoticed, you may use a reaction to grant disadvantage on any roll performed by a target within 30 ft. This feature may be used after the initial roll is made. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

[My fox folk and sub-races are inspired by the Fox Folk created by Doctor Necrotic for Doctor Necrotic Media, who was further inspired by the idea of Brynvolk and Paizo’s Pathfinder. His version of Fox Folk can be found “HERE”]

*A Clan Vulpes monk might be similar to the protagonist from the amazing martial arts film, Iron Monkey. Maybe that needs to be a new archetype…

5e Free Mini Campaign Part 1- A Diem Mundi Primer; The Jhorrund Nation; the Kal Dor Empire

To build upon the short story that I posted recently HERE, I want to share with you some related work that I once did as a freelancer some years ago. More details on that soon.

I feel that it has both been long enough and that I don’t want to simply throw away my work, and will continue to append and compile the setting information onto the blog, as well as another tab at the top of the page. First I will give an overview of the premise of the setting, as well as a mini-description of two of the five nations that hold sway on the world at large.

So I share it here with you the setting information for Diem Mundi: A world that might have never been.

Origins of Strife- The Advent

The Dark Continent of Selna is a land that once gave birth to a nation of evil and decadence. It is known to some scholars as Diem Mundi, or The World of the Gods. Its dark history is spoken of only through ancient whispered fables. Once, in ancient times, Diem Mundi held the secrets of the world within its powerful belly, ready for any who might use it to control existence.

And so they did. A once proud and wise people, named the Selnus, found the power and intended to use it for the better good. As with all things, this absolute power twisted the Selnus, turning their wisdom into avarice, and their good intentions into outright cruelty. In short order, the world went from a modest collection of civilizations to an advanced empire with brutal leaders exploiting the masses, forming what was known as the Advent Empire.

Darkest Before Dawn- The Fall

With no enemy strong enough to oppose them, the Selnus Overlords grew fat and decadent as they continued to command the very firmament with their grand power. Soon, their dark desires brought them to conjure the deepest evils from the far reaches of existence to imagine new and more vile degradation to inflict on the world.

Proving to be their own worst enemies, the Selnus supplied their own undoing. With demons as their consorts and advisers, the rulers of the Advent Empire decided that the world would have to be remade. To do this, everything would have to be undone, and this was the ultimate goal of the foul demons that continued to whisper lies into the ears of the Selnus rulers.

Were it not for the brave actions of a select few from the various tormented nations, the world would have been tossed into oblivion by the blind rulers of the Advent Empire. These valiant souls bravely entered the Advent Empire in secret during the Ritual of Unmaking, and prevented the worst of its effects.

Though these heroes were lost to the events of that fateful day and the world was warped beyond recognition, the world was saved from total annihilation. Away from the damned continent, the meager Selnan colonies rejoiced, for even the worst calamity was preferred to the horrible things the Advent Empire put them through. Not to be forgotten, the heroes of this climactic event have been honored by the surviving colonies, whom have since taken these heroes as their patron guardian spirits. Some went so far as to revere them as gods that allowed the world to continue existing, nameless though they are.

From the Ashes- The Return

And so, the world marched on, slowly healing the scars left behind from the horrible power that once ruled the world. People slowly forgot the calamity that warned of the power within Selna. Centuries passed, as did the fear and aversion associated with the foreboding continent. Against strong religious condemnations, new generations of explorers discarded ancient admonitions as antiquated superstitions, and explorers soon tempted fate to rediscover Selna for themselves.

Following this exploration, several groups took great pains over many decades to establish new colonies, braving the terrible weather and chaotic magic that had sprung up since the calamity centuries ago. More daunting was the shocking fact that it was already occupied by  a handful of other hardy peoples. Despite these setbacks, various settlers began to tame the wild continent, and in time the five nations took form to claim various stretches of territory.

So immediate and desperate these colonies were that petty land disputes began to tear the political landscape apart almost as soon as it had been formed. From the approximate time of forming of the first continental colony, Selna saw 100 years of warfare that now threatens to rage for 100 years more.

And even now, in the midst of constant battle and discord, hidden dangers lurk. Preying upon the great greed that has now returned to Selna, these silent workers once again threaten to unmake the world.

Enter the Hero- Present Day

Selna, as it is now, is a world of opportunity. Five nations have built their glorious cities atop the bones of the ancient empires of evil. Hundreds of ruins remain dormant, hiding the secrets of the Advent Empire. Political powers go to war over the slightest dispute, and mercenary armies clash regularly on the battlefield in the name of their sponsors. National politics force nobles to match wit and steel, creating endless intrigue in the royal courts.

The Dark Continent sits on the cusp of ruin or greatness, and it might just take another band of brave adventurers to decide the outcome.

Introduction
Picture a world recovering from a cataclysmic event. Once ruled by a tyrannical and powerful empire, the survivors slowly recover from a horrible past. On the blasted continent of the historic and terrible rulers, 5 nations rise up to reclaim the home of the empire of evil. The world at large watches as these nations slowly come into conflict with each other, and threaten to once again tear the world asunder with arcane magic and destructive technology.

Like any other entry into fantasy role playing, Diem Mundi is steeped in the kinds of fantasy elements you would expect from your typical Fantasy Role Playing setting. Unlike those fantasy settings, Diem Mundi aspires to both capture the feel of modern adventure, while also trying to be unique enough to stand out among the plethora of available settings.

Instead of a world mired forever in the 11th century, this is a world of progress coming out of its own dark ages. Present in this world are magic and technology, both still in relative infancy. Both remain an important part of nearly all society in the world of Selna.

There are the expected fantasy races, like elves and dwarves, and of course dragons and trolls exist among a plethora of standard issue fantasy creatures. Yet even these creatures are curiously different to accommodate the strange and shifting land of Selna, reflecting the ways in which the world was made anew through strange and forbidden sorceries.

Ultimately, this particular setting presents an exciting world with a dubious history and uncertain future, and should provide enough material for epic journeys and fantastic adventures. With sweeping empires, political intrigue, and national conflict, the setting should be able to cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. Moreover, this setting should offer even veteran fantasy role players something new and interesting.

Jhorrund
Little is known about how the Jhorrund peoples came to inhabit Selna, but they are either the first colonists of the dark continent, or the only survivors of the arcane disaster that rocked the world centuries ago. Some would call them savage, and those that fight under their banner are indeed ruthless warriors, but to call them savage is a gross underestimation of their deep culture.

Though the Jhorrund are mainly composed of dragon folk*, there are also various distinct tribes composed of other races that have banded together under the Jhorrund banner. When or how this happened is a story that each tribe tells differently, but the consensus is that it was a peaceful joining of tribes that all apparently existed before any other colony rediscovered Selna.

As one, they form an impressive power block that rivals that of any colonial powers, both boasting a lack of support from outside of the continent, as well as an intimate knowledge of the lands that most colonists are still tenderly exploring. This does not mean that the whole of Selna is known to the Jhorrund, as there are many lands that remain taboo to the tribes, and many other that they simply have not traversed for various reasons, pragmatic and otherwise.

The Jhorrund once claimed sacred lands in the cold regions to the Northwest, but they were displaced by the Kar Dol colony. As a result, they harbor a seething hatred for the ruthless magitechnicians. The Jhorrund are not normally given to all out war, but they struggle ceaselessly to undermine their sworn enemies by any means they can afford, including subterfuge, raids and open warfare.

Despite their nomadic culture, the Jhorrund are incredible opportunists and adaptable. They regularly capture, scavenge and recruit people and resources into their society to assist in their survival. Rather than steeping themselves in a rigid tradition, they see advancement and subsistence as their tradition, seeking always to be ready to repel their enemies and overcome hardships.

To that end, the Jhorrund are given to using magic and technology that is transportable and benefits their nomadic lifestyle, as well as to bolster their war against those that would challenge the mighty nation. They count foreign magicians and engineers as esteemed members of their society, usually brought in by marriage or friendships. It is said that some of the more lucrative and successful explorers start out with  sponsorship by the Jhorrund, only to eventually join the tribe out of willing loyalty to their patrons.

Being naturally mobile, the Jhorrund also maintain a healthy trade, exchanging goods with every nation other than Kal Dor. This has assured their place within the continent’s economy, especially due to their ability to keep trade routes that the other nations cannot.

Despite their cultural flexibility, the Jhorrund enjoy their varied traditions, finding days in which to celebrate and revere their respective beliefs, mixing old and new cultures into their unified whole.

Kar Dol
Founded by industrious venture captains that readily threw caution to the wind, Kar Dol established its colony decisively through a cunning blend of magic and technology. Though shunned in their homelands, the mystic engineers saw an opportunity. Their rejection and lack of compunctions led them to do the unthinkable: to claim the untold knowledge from the Dark Continent for themselves.

The movement was founded by West and Charles Hart, two brothers that pioneered the techniques for using magic to bolster the new fields of science. Magicians scoffed at them for muddying their field with an untested methodology, and scientists rebuked them for not keeping science distinct from the established field of magic.

Though this did not stop them, it was difficult to find resources and facilities in which to conduct their research. Seeking donors and students, they eventually came to discover a breakthrough; science was not new, but only being rediscovered. Untold mountains of knowledge lay over the ocean, in the Dark Continent of Selna.

Though most people of the Free Continents were far too fearful of the forbidden land, the brothers were inveterate pathfinders, willing to eschew any superstition in search of success and advancement. As inveterate sweet talkers, they amassed thousands of volunteers to flee the drudge of the Free Continents with promises of riches and wonder, while begging, lying, and stealing to amass a fortune from various investors, confident that they would make greater fortunes on the dark continent.

With these riches, and an army of volunteers, the brothers bided their time, building an armory of weapons meant to defend and establish their new colony, as well as other inventions meant to maximize their chances of survival, no matter the climate or dangers present in the new world.

The brothers eventually launched a mighty fleet, shaking the confidence of the Free Continents; such a fleet was fit for invasion. And so they did invade and form the first of the Free Continental Colonies, but were beholden to no foreign power. Future colonies would bring various claims to the loans taken and crimes committed by the Hart brothers, but there are yet to be any compensations.

The brothers found a beautiful land that seemed abandoned by its people, only to find that it was merely a seasonal site of worship for a native tribe. Unbothered by these flimsy claims, they tested their new army, and drove out the ceremonial procession, making haste to build defenses for whatever came next. History disagrees about what happened next, and both sides speak of attempts at peace. The truth lies buried alongside the thousands that died supporting the edicts of their leaders.

After 100 years of colonization, the empire of Kal Dor is amongst the mightiest in all of Selna. They have few friends, owing no allegiance to either the Free Continents, or any of the other colonies on the Dark Continent. This does nothing to shake their confidence, as the industry of magitech has given them the power to do as they please.

But even Kal Dor has paid for its hubris. The lands inhabited by the mighty empire are dark and tainted with the byproduct of their untested technologies, and the founders found bittersweet success in their venture. Charles Hart was irrevocably murdered on the eve of an experiment that promised to extend the life of the Hart brothers. West successfully carried out the experiment, and found that eternity without his brother was more painful than any condition of mortal life.

Kal Dor continues to succeed under the careful guidance of a bitter and ruthless emperor. The youthful optimism that once pervaded the national identity of Kal Dor has been replaced by a cynicism that seems almost supernatural. Even so, many Kaldorians continue to see a world full of adventure and discovery, hoping to make a discovery that will reverse the strange and wicked transformation of their adopted homelands, and of their society.

5e rules-

Though this setting was originally intended to use the FUDGE rules, time and experience have shown me that 5th edition suits the setting far better. I will begin posting various rules that will expand upon various new player options and unique rules for playing in Diem Mundi, including at least 2 new races, and one sub-race!

I will continue to catalog these posts for people interested in enjoying my setting. Look for more posts soon.

*For the purposes of this setting, dragon folk are effectively similar to another race born of dragons, but are culturally distinct.