Friday, March 30, 2007

New Class: Voudin (draft)

Vaudin are a divine caster class, based loosely on voodou practitioners. A male vaudin is called a houngan, and a female one a mambo. Vaudin gain spells from the same list as druids, but not in the same manner. Instead of praying for spells, and casting them as they need them, vaudin must either prepare potions or bind a task spirits. Both of these things are focused on the loa.

A mambo's loa is a powerful spirit that stands as an intermediary between men and God. The mambo serves the loa by bringing it offerings it likes and allowing it to ride her. The loa, in return grants some measure of power to the mambo by imbuing power into her potions and granting her some authority over its children and underlings as task spirits.

In preparing a potion, the mambo prepares a mixture of things that she feels her loa will like. This rocess takes no less than caster level time spell level, in hours. This process can only be sped up with the help of another vaudin, so creation of high level potions necesitates vaudin work together. She then must add something that contains the essence of the person for whom the potion is made. This is easiest with blood, but can also be accomplished with hair, if it is freshly pulled. The potion must then be consumed by the person for whom it was intended before the next moonphase, or it will spoil. For the purposes of this rule, a given phase takes three days to complete. Because of the greater preparation involved, a mambo's potions always have maximum effect. Potions are used for spells that will affect things with souls, such as people, many extraplanar creatures, and the higher order undead. Not that certain mage spells can seperate a person's soul from their body. In these cases, it is much more difficult for the mambo to work magic upon them.

A mambo can also bind task spirits to her. These spirits are capable of perfoming the necesary intercession with the physical and spirit world to bring about spells much faster and with less preparation than the mambo can through potions. They also can be used to hold a spell for duration that is only bounded by the casters endurance and charm. Whenever a mambo gains access to a new spell level, she has the option to seek out a new task spirit. If she finds one and makes an accomodation with him, she can task him to cast any spell of that level or below in a given day. That is the only spell he will cast that day, but he will cast it as often as the caster makes a Diplomacy check DC Spell Level + task spirit HD + number of times he has cast the spell previously today, where the task spirit is considered to have the same number of hit dice as the caster did at the time she bound him. Unlike potions, variable effects listed for spells cast via task spirits are variable, not maximized. Task spirits are for spells that affect plants, animals, and nature. They can also be useful for their knowledge of the planes.

A mambo advances in hit dice, skill points, saves, and feats like a druid. She does not receive an animal companion. She may wear any armor and weild any weapon she chooses, though she does not receive proficiencies beyond those alloted to a druid.

A vaudin receives the following powers:

4th Aspect of Loa 1/day
8th Aspect of Loa 2/day
12th Aspect of Loa 3/day
16th Aspect of Loa 4/day
20th Aspect of Loa 5/day

Aspect of Loa -- When a mambo is being ridden, she takes on the aspect of her loa, while her spirit is being occupied. Since she is not present, she cannot command her tasked spirits, and since her loa is occupied with riding her, he cannot respond to her potions. However, the loa's aspect will grant the powers of its creatures, and some of these are great indeed.

While being ridden, a mambo has one of following:
1) Attack forms, Special attacks, BAB, and Strength of the creature
2) Movement modes and Dexterity of the creature
3) Size, hit dice, and Constitution of the creature
4) Any one category of special quality of the creature

If viewed from the astral plane, the mambo appears to be an axiomatic version of the creature. However, physically her form does not change. If the powers confered upon her would require a physical form change, the mambo behaves as though her form has changed, and the effects are the same as if it has, but without magical vision, the mambo simply appears to be behaving erratically at first blush.

The mambo does not have access to any creature that might be associated with her loa. She instead selects, at the levels she gains this ability or it improves, from the two creatures available to her at that level, or to advance a creature chosen in a previous level. The list of acceptable creatures is specific to the loa. Creatures chosen for a particular power level should have a CR less than or equal to the level at which it becomes available minus 2, although creatures should be advanced to match. Note that different creature types advance at different rates.

Should the mambo elect to a assume the Size, hit dice, and Constitution of the creatre, it is entirely possible that when the loa leaves her, she will have taken more damage than she can survive. In this case, scale the damage so that the mambo has a like proportion of hit points remaining.

Should the mambo elect to assume the attack forms of multiple creatures, she also gains the ability to make the cumulative number of attacks those creatures would get, as a full attack.

Sample Loa -- Brother Jallum

Brother Jallum is a swamp loa, associated in particular with insects, fungus, moss, and other things that grow in profusion. His people strive to make the most use out of any situation, and to have many simple plans so that the loss of any one is no great loss. He is pictured as Mannannan mac Lir, and also as a corpulent man with pale skin and many bulging pockets. Brother Jallum is called upon for healing and self-improvement, as both of these are seen as signs of adaptability, and also in trickery and crime, as he is known to turn any situation to his benifit.

Aspects of Brother Jallum
4th - 2 Stirges (1.5 CR), Giant Ant (2 CR) - fix this
8th - Shambling Mound (6 CR), 2 Phase Spiders (6 CR) - fix this
12th - Treant 15HD (10 CR), Hellwasp Swarm - fix this
16th - Colossal Monstrous Spider (32 HD) (11 CR)
20th - Formians (Special) (CR 18) - fix this

If the mambo assumes the aspect of Formians, she picks an uneven group of Formians that add up to CR 18. She assumes the aspect of the most powerful one, and and assigns the others to willing creatures within range of her Formian hive mind (no matter what benefits of the Formians she takes, the mambo always gains hive mind). These creatures can use their aspects just as if they were vaudin, and had taken that aspec themselves. They also gain the benefit of the hive mind, and at her discression, the mambo can elect to take her turn from the body of one of her vassals, casting spells, moving, or taking attack actions using her own modifiers, but with the body of her vassal. This happens on her initiative, and does not cost the vassal his turn.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

House Rules updated

The House Rules have been updated with a new rule regarding unbalanced multi-class characters.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Harpy Attacks

The players, camped near Olemcorro during the night, are awakened by the shattering of the earth a mere half-mile from their rest. The opening in the ground spits out a leviathan of a blue dragon and then a cloud of harpies fills the air. The harpies spread out across Olemheiden while the party loses track of the dragon. The characters are forced to leave the safety of the lowlander burrow so they can try to reach Olemcorro and the archives, but hunting harpies find them and attack.

Game Session, 2007.03.10

Posted to Google Docs.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ecology of the Lowlanders

Legend and History

Pre-Orulin Elves

In ancient times, it is said that there were no lowlander elves and orulin elves. All elves made their homes on the ground. It was these early elves, who predate humankind by millenia of millenia, who altered the trees, changing them from within to grow.

In these early times, elves were as simple and barbaric as human tribes are known to be today. In the forest, survival through the cold winter was chancy at best. Little else is known about the primeval forest as it existed then, but it is thought to have been even more dangerous than Olemheiden is today. The elves did not yet control it unconditionally, and it is nearly certain that there were other kindreds than elf, also vying for supremacy of this land.

Taming the Orulins

But the elves developed horticultural skills, taming the forest and making it yield fruit and raw materials to their tending. They also made trees that grew larger and larger, yielding more of the raw materials they needed to survive, building their culture from the cloth of arboreal agriculture and, when the trees became large enough, living out their lives within the branches. It was only after thousands of years of such husbandry that the familiar orulin came to exist in its present form.

During the millenia that it took elfkind to change trees into orulins, the elves themselves changed. Taming the forest gave them the tools they needed to control Olemheiden itself, until there were no other significant humanoid presences within its boundaries; a reign that has continued almost unbroken to this day. The elves, more confident in their domain, now a unified political force, began to crave political and trade power to better the status of their nation within the world.

The War of Faeriekind

A war was fought between the elves and faeriekind. It is said that the dryads attacked the elves when elves tried to make orulins produce metal, gems and gold. This War of Faeriekind lasted many years.

Elfkind itself split politically at this time. One faction supported the alterations to the trees and fought in the war against the dryads; another wanted from the trees only what they could produce naturally and sought to protect them. When the blood finally finished soaking into the forest earth, the dryads and protectors prevailed against the alterers. The alterers had lost so many of their men, women and children that but a trickle of them moved from the orulins to the forest floor.

The banished elves, left with no knowledge and no culture by the dryads, became the lowlanders, determined never to enter the orulins again.

In victory, faeriekind welcomed back the elves, but stripped all of them of the arcane knowledge they used to create the orulins. What elves know today of the tending of orulins has been hard-won knowledge developed from scratch by recent generations.

Culture and Family Structure

After the War of Faeriekind, orulin elves relinquished the idea of a "nation of Olemheiden" and became tribal, with each orulin governing itself. At the same time, the lowlander elves spread themselves even more thinly, living few and far apart on the forest floor.

As the history would suggest, the number of lowlanders is far less than the number of orulin elves. The numbers are actually dwindling, ever-so-slowly, to just a few hundred today in a few dozen scattered clans. There are many factors contributing to their slow decline, including: migration to the orulins, danger from wild animals and monsters, the limited number of safe granite outcrops for dwelling places on the ground in Olemheiden, and the fact that a clan's enclave cannot be expanded easily to accommodate more family members.

Lowlanders keep tight-knit, extended families, who all live together inside a burrow or enclave. The elves inside the burrow usually number around 10-20, from several generations. There are a few dozen of these enclaves within Olemheiden, widely spaced from one another. Lowlander families like to keep to themselves, interacting only to trade, only rarely making social visits even to other lowlander families. Lowlanders born inside a burrow will usually live out their lives there.

Lowland elves also fiercely value their independence from the orulin elves, and rarely trade with them. However, there is no animosity between these two races, and lowland elves will sometimes offer help to orulin elves when the situation calls for it. Because of the limited relations and trade, lowland elves are considered primitive by orulin standards, keeping few manufactured comforts in their dwellings, and building the tools of their lives out of the things they can make or gather themselves from the forest. Even their dress tends to be simple and down-to-earth. They wear no textiles, making clothing from animal skins. They augment this clothing with camouflage makeup and leafy headdresses when they are outside.

Lowlander Dwellings

Lowlander burrows, or "enclaves", are carved into the base of granite outcrops which are a common feature of Olemheiden. They are built for defensibility and seclusion, camouflaged from their surroundings to the point that even other elves cannot find them.

An enclave starts with a large granite outcrop in the forest floor. It is considered advantageous if there are other natural defenses around the outcrop such as a water barrier, thick tree growth on one side, a steep slope, etc. but these are not prerequisites. The enclave is carved out of the raw stone, descending below ground level at first, where there is generally a utility room and entrance chamber. Then the rest of the dwelling is carved up into the rock, so all the living space and storage is above ground level. This prevents most problems with flooding. The granite and the angle of the carving protects against forest fires and enclaves usually have two sets of reinforced doors to keep out hostiles monsters and animals.

Lowlanders are able to carve and maintain their enclaves through a combination of metal tools and magic. Druidic magic is common among lowlanders. As for the metal tools, lowlanders typically trade for these.

Enclaves have the aforementioned vestibule, a workroom, three large sleeping rooms, and a community room (usually the largest of all the rooms), arranged vertically from lowest to highest in that order. These rooms will be separated by doors for maximum defensibility. Naturally, with space this cramped, lowland elves tend to do a lot of their daily activities outdoors where they have room.

The enclaves protect lowlanders through a combination of factors. First, lowland elves protect themselves through a low-profile existence. They don't keep herds of animals or large crop boundaries outside their dwellings, but they might have one or two family animals, to keep from drawing attention. They disguise their territories with camouflage, especially at the entrance to the dwelling, so they cannot be seen even if the general vicinity of their home is known. The small outdoor area a lowlander family defines as its own is usually marked by the growth of natural-appearing hedges, undergrowth and briars. The style of this boundary growth is one aspect of lowland elf culture that is shared by all the families, and it is recognizable to other lowland elves; they regard it as a warning to stay away unless invited when they come upon the boundary of some other family's domain. Outsiders such as orulin elves might not recognize these boundaries unless they are familiar with lowlander culture, so the growth usually contains some thorny plants to keep such outsiders from blundering through.


As already discussed, lowlanders do not grow large crops or keep herds of animals. They eat by hunting and gathering in the forest, although they might maintain a special deer herd which, though free, is considered part of their territory; other lowlanders will not hunt outside of their own section of forest. Lowlanders often have a family garden for fresh produce, small in size; they do not trade from this garden, only growing enough to feed themselves. If they have family animals, they will probably be quiet, low-profile animals such as goats that they can let out to feed in the forest and bring back in at night.

Though their dwellings are too small to contain forges or manufacturing devices of any kind, lowlanders nevertheless can make a few things for trade: art created from wood and stone, finely-made fur clothing, and things fashioned with magic. If they can, they will make their own tools, but most families have at least a few tools they traded for and kept. Compared to orulin elves, lowlanders have easier access to some things, such as stone and root vegetables, so they sometimes trade these things to orulin elves.

On the whole, lowlanders are as economically isolated from the rest of the world as orulin elves and perhaps moreso.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Summary of 2007.02.27 Game Session

On the night before the characters left for Olemcorro, Dev ir'Wyren decided to do some investigating of his own into the mysteries surrounding his sister. The session log details everything that happened that night. This post is a summary of those events for the benefit of the players who weren't there.

Dev Pays Emil ir'Wyren a Visit

Dev decides to visit his father, Emil, in connection with the writing he found on Spyridon's notepad. Having previously found his father's new address in Tulerohk through the grapevine, he travels upstairs until he finds the place where his father has been living with another conclave member, an elf who shares his political views by the name of Jecob. Dev investigates the area and finally decides to knock on the door.

Jecob, who is cooking himself dinner, lets Dev in and chats with him briefly in the kitchen. They talk politics, with Jecob bringing up the new Cataract proposed to be built underneath Tulerohk, modeled after the Cataract that was destroyed under Jeraslan. He says, "We both agree, the faster the cataract is built for Tulerohk, the faster Jeraslan can recover economically from its disaster." He also probes Dev to find out whether he has a hostile relationship with his father, to which Dev says, "No, far from it. We've had our disagreements, but I think that is due to a common temperament." Jecob admits that work on the new Cataract has been slow due to recalcitrance from the lowlander elves in lending assistance. The primary difficulty in procuring their help (whatever "help" might mean--he does not elaborate) is that the lowlanders do not need anything from the orulin elves. "When someone builds their life around not wanting what you have, how can you possibly offer them something of value?"

Dev, listening intently for the sounds of his father in the back room, starts to suspect that his father is listening in on this conversation. Dev lets Emil know that he's aware of his presence, and when Emil comes out, the two visit a local restaurant and sit in the back to talk.

The Thugs

Dev brings up Spyridon, testing Emil. Referring to the session in the Conclave that day (in which Dev accused Spyridon of kidnapping), the father says: "
For once you had my full approval today. Whatever may have happened to your sister, it is certain Dara was involved somehow. Are you seeking my help in breaking him down? You may have it." They talk about Dara, whom Emil refers to as "unscrupulous and dangerous". Then Dev shows him the notepad with the impression on it and Emil's address. Emil is shocked to see this. He says, "20 gold! And this is my .. was my address! Dara had this! It proves Dara had my home trashed."

He proceeds to tell Dev that he and Dara had a political conflict at Jeraslan, trying to block one anothers' votes, and Spyridon retaliated by having his home trashed. The thugs who did it got away, but not before Emil put an arrow in one of their arms and forced him to drop the payment for the vandalism: 20 gold. Dev suggests that they go pay a visit to the kidnappers in their holding cells at this point.

That night they descend to the guard level, where Emil asks one of the guards to let Dev in to see the prisoners. There, Dev discovers that one of the two kidnappers has a suspicious wound through his left arm, the same place Emil claims to have injured one of the thugs. When questioned, the kidnapper claims his arm was punctured by a rusty gnoll pike while he was in the camp.

On the way out, Dev tricks the thugs by telling them that he knows they dropped their gold, causing one of them to blurt out that they "want it back".