Saturday, 18 April 2015

Building a Sandbox Campaign Part Four: Classes (cont.)

Having rationalised various class decisions about the nature of clerics in the campaign world of The Fells, it now befalls me to address the issue of the magic user. The campaign world is not low-magic per se, but it has been established that magic operates with great limitations in the mundane world of the Valley Kingdoms, becoming more powerful as one delves deeper into the fells. Given this, how do ordinary humans achieve magical power and attain the class of magic user?

I'm very happy with the role of the druid as a professional, priest-type class and hoarder of occult knowledge in the mundane lands. The adventurer class that most closely corresponds to the cleric is a kind of martial druid, a devout guardian of this knowledge who has travelled into the Fells as a kind of adventurer pilgrim. Magic users, I have decided, also have their origins in the druid caste. Whilst some druids are charged with refining, applying and managing technical knowledge such as law or engineering, others keep track of more ancient lore: the myths and histories of the Valley Kingdoms and its antecedents.

Given that the druid class has evolved from an ancient, nature worshipping cult with magical ties to the fey, it follows that within the body of occult knowledge they possess lurks hints and fragments of the magical power they once wielded. In this campaign world some individuals, through scholarship, have obtained a small insight into the extent of this power, and now seek to enhance and research it by adventuring into the fells. These individuals may have been cloistered in monastic-style orders hidden in the wilderness, or college-style institutions in the major towns of the Kingdoms. Their research has led to them obtaining a hand full of spells which they have faithfully transcribed into their grimoire.

A possible background for the party (if one is required) might be that a young druid and would-be sorcerer has been sent by his master into the Fells to retrieve magical lore. The party might consist of his bodyguard (the martial druid/cleric or katadru ) and other hired hands to assist them (or maybe they just tagged along).

Alternatively, for players wishing to create more exotic origins for their character (and by leaving the western continent blank, they're given free reign to come up with whatever cultural background they wish), their character could be a university student or sage who has similarly obtained esoteric knowledge and is looking to advance their powers. I'll do a post about character creation and backgrounds later, but for now that will suffice.

So far I haven't decided on things like how spells are learned or acquired, nor the precise effects of the Fells upon magic use. For now, I have enough fluff to justify the basic "crunch" of the two main spell-caster classes, leaving the remainder of the classes from Dark Dungeons to be addressed.

Dark Dungeons is a retro-clone of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, and as such demi-humans are treated as classes unto themselves. As such I shall be dealing with them in the next post concerning races.

Fighters are obviously in, with no special modifications. In terms of background fluff I imagine that fighters in the Kingdoms are part of a warrior-caste, similar to knights. PCs could be members of a chieftains guard, or soldiers from a major town. In Dark Dungeons, 9th level fighters have the option of taking knightly vows. This "prestige clas" is similar to paladins or avengers, and one can envisage that these individuals are perhaps in the service of the druids- or even the court of the fey.

As with magic users, players wishing to create a character with a background from the western continent are free to come up with their own flavour of fighting-adventurer.

Mystics I am vetoing. Though I would like to provide players with the opportunity to create whatever backgrounds they choose for their characters, I feel that introducing a conflicting mystical philosophy to the world of The Fells would undermine the character of the campaign.
Thieves are drawn to the Fells by rumours of treasure, or perhaps to escape the authorities in their home town. I'm also working on a wilderness rogue/ scout type character to act as an ersatz ranger. Furthermore, a bard variant is in the works, though I'd like to also tie this to the druidic orders in some way, so I shall leave it for the time being.

In summary, the currently available human classes are as follows:

  • Fighter either a warrior of one of the nobles of the kingdom (kenget), or a foreign adventurer.
  • Soit-alo A druid with arcane knowledge seeking to become a powerful sorcerer.
  • Tagat a thief seeking their fortune in the ruins of the Fells, or on the run from the authorities.
  • Katudru a martial druid on a pilgrimage to the lands of myth, or entrusted to protect a soit-alo

The next post will examine the non-human cultures and the rational behind any selections or omissions, plus which of these will be available to players as playable characters.

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