The Heroes of the West.

In the West, Heroes have played a significant role in the shaping of history and in some cases of the world itself. However, Adventurers beginning at level 1 are not these heroes. The wilds of the West demand the existence of adventurers, as the world closes in upon itself and the vestiges of great civilizations remain just beyond the reach of those living within plain view of spectacular wonders and marvels of construction, magic, and ingenuity.

It is Adventurers that discover the secrets of ancient civilizations that become heroes. Otherwise, they die in the wild like so many others. Your place in the world, at low levels, will usually revolve around helping your community defend itself (in a variety of fashions) from encroaching darkness, and it is only within this context that an Adventurer proves he has the makings of a Hero.

This is the goal. An epic story told from peasant to prince begins right here, with the following guidelines:

Character Generation

Backgrounds: Characters must first choose a background. All of the backgrounds offered in the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook are appropriate to this setting with one exception: Acolytes are trained not in the lore of the Gods (as per the default), but rather in the lore of the Druids. Keep this in mind as you make your selection.

Generating Ability Scores: Characters are exceptional people, and are entitled to abilities above and beyond their normal peers. As such, when generating ability scores, the default method will be used, with the exception that on each roll, any “1” which is NOT the lowest result of four dice may be re-rolled and the new value(s) used. For example, if when rolling for my Strength score, I manage to get results of 1, 1, 1, and 4, I may choose to keep my score of 6, or re-roll two of those 1’s once each and keep the new results.

Races: The Story of the West DOES NOT include Elves, Tieflings, Halflings, Half-Elves, or Dragonborn. Dwarves (duergar) are particularly rare as PC’s and will need to be cleared with the DM. Only Gnomes of the Deep variety may be used (they are technically Duergar) but must choose to be Wizards when selecting a class. Half-orcs are a race unto themselves, and are not necessarily the direct offspring of human/orc coupling (though they can be).

  • To play a Mystrii, choose the Half-Elf in the PHB.
  • To play a Rhodanthe, check HERE.
  • To play a Sklar, check HERE.

Feats: Adventuring is less of an occupation in the West than it is in many other standard D&D settings. Adventurers are those with the potential to become heroes, and are exceptionally gifted or are the benefactors of unique providence. To model this, each character, regardless of their race, gains a Feat at first level. After first level, the feat system works as normal.

Level 1 Hit Points: Given the special nature of Heroes and their lacking representation in the West, it would be strange, indeed, for Adventurers to be susceptible to death-by-housecat. Their special providence nets them a bonus Hit Dice die roll at level one to determine their starting hit point total. Players MAY NOT take the average; this extra Hit Dice MUST be rolled. Hit points after level 1 advance as normal.

Beneficence of Fate: It is sometimes the case that Adventurers come from low or, at the very least, less than ideal stock, but are yet gifted with legendary artifacts or special devotions or quests purely by chance: Peasants venturing out with a pitchfork with only their guile, merit, and temerity to keep them safe. These characters exist in the West as adventurers, and needs-be represented as a possible option in character generation.

Only the bold may use the special rules for generating a first level character HERE.

Classes: The world is magical by definition, but the West is not as ubiquitously magical as most Dungeons and Dragons worlds assume. At the very least, magic has largely (but certainly not completely) been lost or corrupted since the days of the young Empire. There are however many folks that still practice the art quietly and discreetly and have passed their craft down through the generations. Magic is usually either inborn or is gained through barter with magical beings. Bards are an exception whose school has managed to survive the cleansing superstitions of the Old Kings and their progeny. Wizards are exceptionally rare and are often persecuted openly.

Druids are the default clergy of the West and Druidism is the most practiced form of religious observance among the populace. Clerics are almost nonexistent in their purely divine format as the cultural zeitgeist has made the worship of Immortals over nature extremely taboo except in those places and among those people that still maintain connections to the First Kinsmen or the Empire. Immortal worship in the south and among the desert tribes, though, is still pervasive.

  • Barbarian: Barbarians are relatively common, though the loin-cloth-wearing rage-machine is hardly prevalent. Barbarians in this case are usually loners that live on the fringe of society, rather than nomadic tribesman. Their “Rage” is more of a survival instinct learned after generations of natural selection from their forebears. Their penchant for survival is in their DNA.

Humans, Half-Orcs, and Sklarii are common barbarians. Duergar and Mystrii are less common. Rhodanthii may not be barbarians. There is a special human culture known as the Yeti that, if playing as Barbarians, gain proficiency in Wisdom (Survival) for free.

It might be tempting to make all of the Yeti men to the north as barbarians, and while that would not be terrible, it should be noted that the Yeti also qualify as very talented Fighters, Rogues, and other martial classes. However, the Totem Warrior path is imminently more plausible to the Yeti than to most of the other men of the West.

  • Bard: Bards are common, with the School of Bards perhaps being one of the most beloved institutions in the West. The most well-trained and successful Bards know to keep their magical proclivities a secret, and are often masters of sleight-of-hand and rituals which they perform in private.

Humans and Mystrii are common bards. Half-Orcs, Sklarii and Rhodanthii are less common. Duergar may not be bards.

There is a long-standing tradition of half-orc freedman being taken as courtiers and tutors to young nobles. They are often Bards, and gain their freedom through this practice.

  • Cleric: Non-druidic clergy in the West has a tenuous relationship at best with its people. The worship of the Immortals was at one time a precedent for the Druidic worship more common today, but it fell out of favor along with the Old Kings and the Empire that shaped the form of Immortal worship over the generations. As such, Clerics are rare, at best, and usually couch their teachings within Druidic relics and symbols, rather than flaunting the “otherness” and exalted power of the Immortals. The Knowledge Domain is widely respected, and the Immortals that are often associated with it are still well-regarded to this day. The Nature, Light, and Tempest domains are not so uncommon because of the ease with which they can be conveyed using Druidic iconography, and the War domain can be found among a great many people that still trace their lineage back to the First Kinsmen. The Trickster Domain, with its emphasis on the unreliability and fickle nature of the Immortals, is almost universally persecuted, and the Life Domain frequently finds itself at odds with the teachings of the Druidic faith which asserts a natural cycle of life and death (invariably favoring neither). None of these options are strictly banned, however.

Any race my play a cleric, but they are all rare. As a special note, the Rhodanthii revere a Trickster Immortal as a cultural icon, and the Duergar hold no such taboos against any domain (though they are not fond of Light).

It cannot be stressed enough that although Clerics are not banned from play, their rarity means that anyone interested in playing one needs to clear it with the DM first AND will have to create, on their own time, an Immortal, complete with all the fine detail that entails. Worshiping Immortals in the West is akin to worshiping the Old Ones, Devils, Demons, Archfey, or other immortal beings, regardless of the domains or aims of the Immortal being worshiped. Duergar still practice Immortal worship regularly, but even they are reluctant to flaunt their religious convictions outside of duergar territories and communities.

  • Druid: Not all Druids are adventurers. Most are priests, toiling in service of the faith and living through deed and observance, rather than spreading the faith actively. Druidism is the predominant faith in the West, and as such, Druids are very common among adventurers as spiritual guides. The Circle of the Oak is dedicated to the traditional worship of nature and the cosmology of balance and worthiness that grew out of the worship of natural spirits in the interest of knowledge and learning. The Druids of the Moon are a more secretive, selective, and isolationist mini-cult within the Druidic faith. Members of the Circle of the Moon are respected by their peers, but they are often regarded as somewhat queer and unorthodox.

Humans, Mystrii, and Half-Orcs all may be Druids and are accepted in either circle of druidism.

  • Fighter: Anyone can be a fighter, though not everyone can be good at it. Fighters are the backbone of most adventuring parties, and there are very few restrictions on choices made early on.

Anyone may be a Fighter, but only the Mystrii may become Eldritch Knights.

  • Monk: The typical D&D monk does not exist in the West, however, the Sklarii have their own variation of the martial arts tradition found in bog-standard D&D settings. They are a special branch of the military, fiercely loyal to the thanes and the adjudication of traditional Sklarii law. PCs are rarely monks because of their loyalty to the traditional Sklarii way and its laws. The Sklarii do not practice the Way of the Elements.
  • Paladin: Paladins have been in the employ of religious institutions in the West for generations. These days, the Oath of the Ancients is still taken by the Verdant Guard, or the Druidic Wardens to protect adherents to the faith and other supplicants. The Oath of Vengeance is regularly taken by Duergar whose clans are slighted (even in the slightest way). The Oath of Virtue is less common than the other two and has fallen out of favor since the fall of Immortal worship.

Humans, Half-Orcs, the Sklarii, and rarely the Mystrii take the Oath of the Ancients. Duergar frequently take the Oath of Vengeance. Humans, Half-Orcs, and the Sklarii rarely take that oath. The Oath of Virtue is exceptionally rare.

  • Ranger: Unlike many of the other character classes, Rangers represent an actual occupation in the West. The Rangers are the keepers of the deep roads and guides through the wilderness. There are Rangers in every culture, each with vivid tales of adventure and mystery. The magic they wield as they gain competence is akin to holy Druidic magic and is given by their innate knowledge of nature.

Anyone can be a Ranger. The class is unrestricted.

  • Rogue: Crooks, brigands, and dissenters lie on the fringes of even the most successful and the most noble civilizations, and the West is not exceptional in this regard. As such, the breadth of the Rogue class allows that almost anyone, from any background can reasonably be cast as a rogue.

Anyone can play a Rogue. Only the Mystrii may become Arcane Tricksters. Assassins are especially rare, and must be evil unless they are Rhodanthii or Sklarii, the cultures of both of whom maintain certain connections with older definitions of what it means to take on the Assassin mantle. Specifically, they are regarded as protectors of their respective societies.

  • Sorcerer: Coming into contact with raw magic would be imminently fatal to a mortal person. There are no sorcerers in the West.
  • Warlock: Warlocks are an insistent part of history in the West. The Empire was controlled by the Council of Magi, each of whom claimed Immortal inspiration from patron beings. Beyond the Veil of Sleep lies the Void, where whispers from the Most Ancient (and progenitors and the focus of the Elder Way) still reside and speak to those who will hear them. The Infernal Court, and the Princes of Hell have called upon the willing since the Dawn Era and the coming of the Immortals. The Unseelie Court still live in the most remote climes of the West, and have made their presence — and significant power — known at various points throughout all of history. Though the Druids are not so ignorant as to deny the existence of the Others (as they are collectively known), they often deny the power of the Warlocks as well as demonizing them in the process (as well as their patrons).

Any creature with the aptitude and will can call upon the aid of the Others, and in a few contexts, making a deal with an Other can even be culturally significant: many of the ancient rites of the Mystrii invoke the power of the Fey Lords and the Court Mystical; those in the south often find themselves entangled with the Fiendish; and even the Druids cannot deny the influence of the Elders Beyond the Veil of Sleep. Rhodanthii are rarely Warlocks, as they usually lack the aptitude for service and worship other Immortals. The Duergar do not deal with the others, and instead offer their spirits up to the Runes and become Gnomes.

  • Wizard: Only those Duergar willing to dedicate a portion of their souls to the Runes to become Gnomes may, in turn, become Wizards. However, the study of magic as an academic pursuit even among the Duergar is rare and requires a lifetime of dedication and application. Because of the limitations on magic in the West, Wizards must adhere to a few special rules. At level one, Wizards must choose a Specialty School from the following list: Abjuration, Enchantment, Divination, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation. That school must be the same school which they choose as their focus at level 2. Each Specialization choice comes with a list of Companion Schools, Limited Schools, and Prohibited Schools:
SpecializationCompanion SchoolsLimited SchoolsProhibited Schools
AbjurationDivination, Enchantment & ConjurationEvocation & NecromancyTransmutation & Illusion
DivinationAbjuration, Enchantment, Illusion & NecromancyEvocation & TransmutationConjuration
EnchantmentAbjuration, Divination & TransmutationConjuration & IllusionEvocation & Necromancy
IllusionDivination, Conjuration & EvocationEnchantment & TransmutationAbjuration & Necromancy
NecromancyDivination, Conjuration & TransmutationAbjuration & EvocationEnchantment & Illusion
TransmutationDivination, Conjuration, & EvocationEnchantment & IllusionAbjuration & Necromancy
  • Companion Schools are schools whose spells can be chosen as cantrips throughout the caster’s career. The spells of a Companion School may only be chosen and used normally up to spell level 4. Spells of levels 5, 6 and 7 may be inscribed into the Wizard’s spellbook but may only be cast as rituals. Scrolls up to level 7 may be used normally. Spells of levels 8 & 9 are prohibited.
  • Limited Schools are schools whose cantrips cannot be learned by the Wizard. Spells of these schools up to spell level 4 may only be cast as rituals , and may otherwise be inscribed into the Wizard’s spellbook. Scrolls up to spell level 4 may be used as rituals. Spells of levels 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are prohibited.
  • Prohibited Schools: Spells from this school is prohibited. Scrolls from this school cannot be used, nor may they be inscribed into one’s spellbook.

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