The Dark Eye by Doresh
IntroductionOriginal SA post
And now for something completely different:
The Dark Eye
Hello, hypothetical non-German roleplaying enthusiast! I'm sure you have a lot of questions about The Dark Eye. No worries, we'll tackle them one at a time!
What is The Dark Eye?
The Dark Eye aka Das Schwarze Auge is Germany's roleplaying game No. 1. Since its debut in 1984, it has become our D&D: The huge, dice-flinging juggernaut dominating the market. No other game is quite as popular or as garnered quite as many grognards - not even D&D itself (especially not after WotC abandoned the German market shortly after the first batch of 4e books; not sure what was up with that).
Currently, The Dark Eye is in its 4th edition (or rather 4.1, but we're getting ahead of ourselves) and has been there since 2001, making it the longest-running edition of TDE so far. A 5th edition is likely to come out by the end of the year.
If its that big, how come I've never heard about it?
Depends. If you were a PC RPG gamer in the 90s, chances are you might have come across a little trilogy called "Realms of Arkania", which was nothing other than the "Northland Trilogy", a PC adaption of 3rd edition TDE. "Realms of Arkania" was apparently chosen for the international release because it sounded better or something.
(There were also a few translations of the giant library of TDE novels released under that title, but don't ask me which. I'm not into roleplaying novels.)
Fun fact: If you've ever played the first Divine Divinity or Sacred, let it be known that both games (or at least their engines) were at some part of their development lifes supposed to be yet another adaption (with Sacred originally going to be an adaption for Armalion , TDE's miniatures skirmish wargame). At least Divine Divinity retained a little easter egg in the form of a grave from that time.
More recently, there has been quite the catalogue of TDE video games, from more direct adaptions like Drakensang and Blackguards to point-and-click adventures.
If the rumors are to be true, there is supposed to be an official TDE movie coming this winter. Seeing how sparse informations about this movie are*, it is anyone's guess whether this movie will actually happen, or if it will be as memorable as the first official D&D movie.
*) The only plot synposis I could find a year or so was that it was going to be about a newly-discovered continent, which is like making a Forgotten Realms movie without the Forgotten Realms. Suffice to say, the enthusiams is a bit limited.
Interesting. But what about the name? What is this Dark Eye?
Dark Eyes (since there's more than one) are essentially a cross between a Palantir and an Immovable Rod. Crafted out of a fallen meteor, these orb-shaped artifacts become fixed in place and allow its owner to gaze through time and space (though most Eyes are very limited in scope, usually only allowing to see a couple places in the present).
So is the metaplot about fighting for control over these Dark Eyes? Like some kind of Dragon Ball without the collecting part?
Not really. Dark Eyes play a surprisingly little role in the overarching story. They're just something major NPCs happen to own.
Then why is it called The Dark Eye?
Well, it was originally supposed to be called Aventuria after the main setting, but that apparently didn't sound marketable enough. So Dark Eye it was.
Weird. Anyways, what about this Aventuria?
Well, its the main setting of the game, with at least 90% of all TDE products dedicated to it.
To keep it short for now, Aventuria is your typical fantasy affair with humans, elves, dwarves and orcs. Instead of the eternal Middle Ages, Aventuria is set in a Renaissance era without gunpowder.
Of course, there are more primitive regions - of note being two countries that actually seem to be eternally stuck in the Middle Ages, making the the laughing stock of the continent.
On the magical side of things, Aventuria is run by something the writers call "fantastical realism" - aka "magic follows clear rules and can't do everything (except when one of our major NPC wizards goes off the rails)". The setting is low fantasy in the sense that PCs are never required to arm themselves to the teeth with magical equipment like their D&D counterparts. There are however a few things preventing me from calling this a true low fantasy setting (though more on that later).
A very odd quirk about Aventuria is its size. See, your standard fantasy RPG setting has this monolithic, gigantic continent that doesn't even completely fit on its iconic map, leaving only one side of the map (usually the left) free for a bit of ocean.
Aventuria on the other hand is about 1/4 of Europe. Mind you, this isn't strange per se since Europe has seen plenty of weird stuff over the centuries. And it cuts down on having to use teleport spells and other shenanigans.
What is strange is that Aventuria still follows the standard fantasy RPG setting convention of including every climate zone known to man. There is a houserule of sorts around that just doubles the contintent's size, which makes this whole deal a bit more believable.
Odd. Are there more settings than Aventuria?
There are. And since information about them is either sparse to begin with or won't be covered by me in greater details, let's have a rundown of them all!
First up, all of these alternative settings are set in Ethra (an anagram for Earth, just like how the German name Dere is an anagram for Erde ), the same world/planet were Aventuria can be found.
Also known as the Gyldenland by the Aventurians and seen as this mythical continent to the far west from which most Aventurian humans originally came from, Myranor is in fact your monolithic, gigantic continent that doesn't even completely fit on its iconic map (though this time the ocena is on the right side).
The lands of Myranor are dominating by a thousands of years old Empire that has seen much, much better days. Its also a lot more on the high fantasy side, with airships, flying cities, lionmen, dudes with four arms and more powerful wizards employing a freeform magic system unheard of in Aventuria.
Myranor is the settings that gets the most love after Aventuria, with an actual product line. It was even used as a testbed for the 4th edition rules.
Probably the oddest setting around, it's a hollow world found inside of Dere (or more specifically a pocket dimension that can be reached by going deep enough). Tharun is a world ruled by nine Gods who kidnap mighty warriors from various worlds and time periods to duke it out for their enjoyment.
Originally intended as the setting for the 1st edition's expert rules (including rules for high level play and a ridiculous level of new crunch, like different hit zones for every kind of creature), this setting as seen little exposure, sporting a gap of 25 years between individual products.
Another gigantic continent directly to the east. It is in fact connected with Aventuria on its northeastern edge, but the mountain ranges there are too ridiculously huge and dangerous to cross. Reaching the continent by ship is also hard due to cliffs and rough weather, leaving it pretty much unexplored despite being right next to Aventuria. All that's really known about this continent is that there's something called the "Diamond Sultanate", and a couple fishmen that may or may not be planning an invasion or something.
Having never had an official product dedicated to it, this setting is largely left for the fanbase to write stuff about.
An odd continent to the far south, there is even less known about this one aside from weird tales about sulfur seas. Another continent for fan material.
So it essentially boils down to "Fantasy Renaissance without guns" or some kind of Not-Talislanta?
Yep, pretty much as far as official publications are concerned.
Then how do you actually play this game?
A very good question. I'll go over the rules in more details later, but I think I have just enough space here to explain the core principles.
TDE uses d20s for action resolution and d6s for weapon damage. Sure, there are very rare cases with damage so high it requires d20s, but d6s are so synonymous with damage in TDE that the game just drops the "6" when referring to damage (so you have a "2d+2" instead of "2d6+2").
Action resolution is strictly roll-under. If it weren't for the game's skill system, TDE might've probably went for percentile dice.
Why is that so? Well, a skill check is actually a series of 3 stat checks, usually rolled at once with different-colored d20s. Your skill rank is used as a pool of points with which to reduce any die rolls that comes up as too high. As long as your pool doesn't drop into the negatives, you have passed the check, and any leftover points in the pool determine the quality of your success. Having your rank turn negative due to modifiers or it being that crappy to begin with, you add this negative value to each of the the rolls. Sucks to be you.
One one hand, this system is a logical expansions of the stat usage (as skills are a combination of your aquired knowledge and inherent abilities), on the other hand, it's a bit hard to gauge your success chances, with a single bad roll being able to ruin a low-ranked adventurer's day.
There's also this weird problem that modifiers are reversed for stats and skills (as modifiers for stats are added to the roll for stats, and added to the rank for skills), which never fails to not be confusing. Still there's hope 5th edition might finally unify this. I've heard modifiers are finally always applied to the roll(s), making negatives universally good and positives universally bad.
Combat is handled more like stat checks however, despite having weapon skills. Ranks in these skills are used to boost your base Attack and Parry values, which are your stats to roll under during combat to hit or not getting hit.
Once you're hit, you roll damage (ranging from 1d for a knive and 3d+3 for a ridiculous, three-headed flail; high strength adds to damage, but not nearly as noticably as in D&D), subtract the target's Armor Protection (ranging from 1 for padded clothes to 12 for oldschool knight armor that is way too expensive and cumbersome for PC usage). Anything left after this goes to the opponents Life Points (of which as 4th edition character has around 20-40ish, with 35ish being normal for most warrior dudes).
If you think TDE suffers from the same problems as early editions of BESM (namely that the attack and parry rolls have nothing to do with each other and that combat can take quite a while), you're absolutely right. Though at least in TDE, characters run out of defense actions much sooner, so strength in numbers is where it's at.
And of course these are only the most basic combat rules. As in every grognard's favorite game, there are plenty of bells and whistles that slow combat down without actually fixing the underlying attack/parry problem. But we'll get to that later.
And with this rough overview, I bid you all farewell, till next time...
Next Time : Let's talk some more about PC choices for Aventuria!
A little Aventuria crash courseOriginal SA post
An error on my part, I meant if it would be ok if I walked through the TDE-modules, we don´t need to add to your burden with the modules as well, considering the amount of rules you have ahead of you
We'll see if I have enough sanity left when I'm done XD
The Dark Eye
As some of these things might come up when describing the various character options, here are a little more informations about Aventuria I will probably go into more detail later.
A little Aventuria crash course
Since it will be Aventuria-only from now on, here's finally a glance at the map, right out of the 4.1 base book:
For a higher resolution and a first glance at the various realms, here's a political map:
And here's a streamlined summary of the political map I made just now:
Note that the map is a bit old. AFAIK, Hentailand and parts of Mordor don't exist anymore in the current metaplot
Aventuria uses the metric system, renamed to sound more "historical". Meters are steps , kilometers are miles , kilograms are stones and tons are ashlars . Smaller measurements are usually come in multiples of 20 or 25 to make it less granular than the actual metric system. A stone for example equals 4 ounces .
There are several kinds of calendars in Aventuria, but the most widely-used one has 12 months, each named after one of the twelve gods of the main pantheon. New Year's Eve is in Not-July (since that's the month of Praios, sun god and pantheon boss). As every month is exactly 30 days long, the last 5 days of each year (Aventurians don't believe in leap years) are called the Nameless Days (after the pantheon's big bad guy). Being born during these days gives you a pretty good chance of getting killed on the spot thanks to superstitions.
There are also several ways in which the years are counted. The most important system is BF (for "Bosparan's Fall", in memory of the first empire founded by the settlers from Myranor), though the very young Hal count (named after the emperor who stopped the practice of changing the count with each new emperor) also sees plenty of use in official publications.
I can't completely vouch for older editions (though the difference shouldn't bee too much to avoid grog outrage), but the art in TDE is generally very down to earth and historical. There's no ridiculous armor with ginormous pauldrons, hammers aren't anvils on a stick, and female adventurers don't really dress all that different from their male counterparts.
Maybe except for that swordwielding skirt lady over here.
This is where TDE changed the most. Earlier editions used a level-based race-as-class system (where one of the race classes was "not-viking") that increased Life Points by a random roll each level (which made high-level combat even slower) and where you don't just spend skill points to improve your skills directly, but rather gain several attempts to improve your skills, with different classes gaining more attempts in their preferred skill group. Stats were of course randomly rolled because why not.
With 4th edition, TDE moved to a point-buy system where players pick a race , the culture you've grown up in, and one profession (aka the stuff you did before going adventuring), each step costing points based on how many goodies you gain from your race/culture/profession. This is actually a pretty neat addition to the race-and-class system - except TDE still has demihumans with several sub-races, instead of one race and several cultures.
Improving a PC after character creation is done through the XP aka Adventure Points you gain. A character's level now only serves as a measurement for your overall experience and has no actual mechanics attached to it (though 4.0 made learning new skills more expensive the higher your level was as it became harder for you to learn new stuff).
The main stats of TDE are Courage , Cleverness , Intuition , Charisma , Dexterity , Agility , Constitution and Physical Strength , with 10 being the human average and ranges generally being pretty D&D-ish.
An additional pseudo-stat comes in the form of Social Status , which has an actual mechanic effect when trying to pass oneself off as someone from a lower/higher social status.
Aside from Life Points , characters also have Stamina (which only really comes into play in unarmed combat or when the GM decides to use a couple optional rules that slow everything down even more) and Magic Resistence (a modifier to an enemy's mind control and polymorph spells). These derived attributes are around 50% stats and 50% modifiers based on your race, culture and profession. Spellcasters also have Astral Points as their mana pool, and Sanctified (aka TDE clerics) have Karma Points , whose starting value is solely based on how powerful the Sanctified's god is.
The other derived attributes are purely for combat and include your initiatve and your base values for attack, parry and ranged combat. There also your Wound Threshold noting how hard it is to cause a wound (because this wouldn't be an overly crunchy game without your combat death spiral mechanic).
For futher customization, you can buy yourself some Advantages , or you can get some additional points by getting Disadvantages . The latter happens significantly more often than the former, because the game is a bit stingy on starting CharGen points - especially in 4.0 when you had to buy up your Social Status from scratch, making already costly professions even more expensive (adding another 10 or so points to a 24+ point mage profession for example). 4.1 thankfully had every profession start at its minimum Social Status.
But even in 4.1, you'll probably end up with tons of disadvantages because you want to spend the allowed maximum of 100 points (out of 110 starting points) on your stats, because not only do crappy stats really hurt you in the skill department, but no stat can ever be raised above 1.5x times its starting value, severally punishing you in the long run just because you didn't feel like playing as a money hungry sociopath with glass jaws who suffers from a severe case of claustrophobia and ADHD.
Aside from Advantages and Disadvantages, there are also Special Proficiencies aka feats. Some of them are weaker version of Advantages because only Special Proficiencies can be gained after character creation.
Once your CharGen points are spent, you calculate your starting Adventure Points to improve and gain skills (based on your Cleverness and Intuition, because giving everyone the same amount like with the CharGen points apparently made too much sense). Then you get some starting cash (based on your Social Status) to complement the stuff you gained from your profession and you're ready to go.
Races & Cultures
As humans are kind of in the majority in Aventuria, most of the races presented in TDE are humans, though a lot of them have the same stats, but different writeups because of their height, weight, hair and eye color.
The default European dudes who originally came from Myranor around 2,500 years ago and have since spread all over the continent. Their name is derived from the Middlerealm aka Garetia, your Holy Roman Empire analogue that is also the biggest country in Aventuria.
Typical cultures include the Middlerealm itself (split into citiy and land folks, because its not like most cultures already come with several sub-cultures and variations), the very advanced Horasia (Not-France/Italy, with a more Spanish sub-region and a group of islands that is some kind of refuge for monsters from Greek mythology) and Fountland/Bornland (Not-Russia).
If you like the Middle Ages more than the Renaissance, there are the realms of Andergast and Nostria . Both are poor and backwater countries that can't stand each other and frequently unleash their mighty armies. And by "mighty armies" I mean "peasants that have been rounded up to die for their lord".
The Arabic native humans of Aventuria. Their typical cultures are the Tulamidian City States aka Mhanadistan (Arabian Niiiiiiights~), Novadi (nomadic desert dudes based on the Tuareg) and South Aventuria , a region were slaves are cheap, money equals power (more than anywhere else), and gladiators fight to the death (gladiators in other parts of Aventuria are pretty much pro-wrestlers with swords). For more oldschool, savage Tulamides, there are the Ferkina living in various Tulamidian mountain ranges.
The Novadi are probably the most unique Aventurian culture because they're monotheistic, worshipping a sleeping god called Rastullah. The rest of Aventuria is a bit confused about these fantasy Muslims, because nobody quite knows who this Rastullah is supposed to be in their own cosmology.
The Tulamides of yore apparently got along pretty well with the first Middlerealmians, creating three vastly different cultures with a mixed heritage: Aranians (matriarchal Not-Persia/Turkey), Norbardians (Eastern Europe nomads that to my knowledge seem to avoid stereotypical gypsy traits) and Maraskani .
Maraskani are pretty weird. They live on an island to the east, have traditional wood armor that looks suspiciously samurai-ish, and their two iconic swords are the Not-Katana and the Not-Nodachi. This might sound like some kind of Not-Japan without Asians (there are no Asian anaologues anywhere in Aventuria), but then you read on and find out that their iconic ranged weapon is a discus because their religion revolves around two god brothers throwing the world (which is disk-shaped according to their belief) to each other. And that their naming convention involves incorporation their entire biography into their name. It's like someone was too afraid of them being too original and just put some samurai stuff in there.
Vikings. They are also immigrants from Myranor (which has its own brand of vikings) and are all-around viking-y. Unique traits include their iconic weapon, the Skraja (a double-headed axe with a long spike on top and a grip so short it makes me question the overall practically of the weapon) and their worship of Swafnir , a god whale that counts as a demigod despite being the son of two gods from the main pantheon (I guess each generation becomes weaker, like WoD vampires) and spends all day in an eternal duel with H'Ranga , the mother of all sea serpents.
Because of their belief, it is generally not a wise idea to brag about being a whale hunter in their vicinity.
Thorwalians - unlike the above two humans - actually cost CharGen points to pick because they gain bonuses to their physical stats. They also have a violent temper (which is a Disadvantage), and they are primary candidates for Blood Frenzy (another Disadvantage) for the whole going berserk shtick (which they themself call "Whale Wrath"). Because it's always fun to have the fighter in the party suddenly go apeshit and attack everyone within range.
Closely related to Thorwalians are the Gjalskerlandians , a mix between Thorwalians and Norbardians - aka "Half-Arabic Eastern-European vikings". Except they're not vikings, but barbarians. They are also anti-Thorwalians because they hate the ocean and see Swafnir as the big bad of their savage religion.
Another relative of the Thorwalians are the Fjarningers , a bunch of serious and angry Conan-like barbarians living in the cold north.
Trolljaggers/-prongers/-toothers (I don't know the official English name for these guys)
Barbarians on steroids who claim to have troll blood in them. They are always drawn in a very muscular, sinewy way that results in their entire body being covered in lines.
Not-Sami native Aventurians living in Not-Lapland. They're much more friendly than the Fjarningers, and their religion involves the worship of heavenly wolves.
Native South Aventurians living in the jungle. Some are like native Americans, others are Not-Africans. They also invented the Aventurian equivalent to Kung-Fu.
TDE is probably the only game that actually penalizes dwarves for their short size. Sure, D&D reduces their movement, but at least they can use any medium-sized weapon just fine. TDE dwarves on the other hand have to craft weapons specifically for their tinier hands, which reduces the weapon's damage unless it is a polearm or a dwarven weapon (which already have the right size).
Dwarven sub-races and cultures (seriously, why not just one dwarven race) are Anvil Dwarves (your typical dwarves who like to drink and fight), Ore Dwarves (serious, hard-working dwarves who shake their heads at their Anvil cousins), Brilliant Dwarves (artsy dwarves focusing on gem cutting and clockwork stuff) and Hill Dwarves (who despite their name are actually not-hobbits).
Your typical tree-hugging elves who originated from the same vaguely-defined world as fairies, giving them an ill-defined alien outlook on life that acts as a disadvantage making a lot of skills more expensive (which at least in 4.0 included skills elves are actually supposed to be good at). They can also speak with two voices at the same time, which is required to fully master their language.
Elves are also the main reason TDE isn't quite low fantasy. See, in the race-of-class days of TDE, elves were a spellcaster class with additional bow and ranger skills. This carried over into 4th edition, making every elf a spellcaster no matter their actual profession.
Artwork for elves is also a bit inconsistent. Sometimes they're drawn with elongated faces and non-black pupils. Other times they're just regular humans with pointy ears. Guess it depends on whether or not the artist wants to distinguish them from half-elves (which come shortly), though male elves tend to have a higher chance of being drawn more non-human.
As with dwarves, we get ourself several sub-races: Meadow Elves (who live along rivers in northern Aventuria and have the most frequent contact with humans), Wood Elves (who live in one forest and generally want to be left alone), Firn Elves (Inuit elves living in the high north who also want to be left alone) and Veld Elves (nomadic elves who ride on horses and... that's about it).
(There are also Night Elves , artificially created evil elves who live even higher up north and have appeared in like one adventure module or so. It's pretty unlikely to ever run into these guys, but at least they get more mileage on Myranor, were they are the dominant and probably only elf race.)
Unsurprisingly, these guys usually have a Meadow Elf as the father or mother. Less squishy than normal elves, but not quite as tough as a human.
When raised among elves, they gain full elven magic potential and the ability to talk with two voices. When raised under humans, they are usually trained to be a mage or other spellcaster, and they can pick those profession slightly cheaper because they are more magic-y. Picking a non-spellcaster profession turns the half-elf into a magic dilettante , a person whose untrained magic potential manifests into spell-like abilities.
Also known as "blackpelts" because they're hairy instead of green-skinned, they live as nomads in the Orclands, a steppe surrounded by mountain ranges. They typically dress up in Mongol getup with more pelts. They also put lots of pelts on their iconic weapons, which includes a horseman's bow (for the whole Mongol shtick) and a scimitar with a wavy blade (which I assume is a way for them to brag about their weaponsmith know-how).
Orcs are quite spiritual in that a tribe's chieftain is also considered to be the priest of their war god, ruling over the tribe with the shaman who acts as the priest of their death/magic god. They also have a proud warrior race guy shtick going on and would probably win the prize for being the biggest misogynists around. They see women as being barely above animals and don't even bother giving them names.
Like with elves and dwarves, they have sub-races along with sub-cultures, but I can't be arsed to list them because I can't tell them apart. Just let it be known that some orcs are slightly more into trading than pillaging.
Orcs found outside the Orcland have usually been banished from their tribe, or left behind after the big Waaaaaaagh! called the Orc Storm (the metaplot event that served as the backdrop for parts of the Realms of Arkania trilogy). They typically hang around with bandits.
To the east of the Orcland is the Svellt Valley , a Middlerealmian region that has been annexed during the above Waaaaaaagh!. The orcs occupying the region have taken on some traits from the local population, making them more civilized.
Playing as an orc isn't all that easy. Sure, they are tolerated in the north (usually), and they can live just fine in the south if they have enough money (nobody in South Aventuria cares who you are or what you do in your basement if you're rich enough), but wandering around in the middle of Aventuria gets you killed on sight.
An odd hybrid race exists in the form of Holberkians , who are the offsprings of orcs and elves. They are not playable and use their magic abilities to be left alone. I suspect they appeared in like one adventure module, never to be seen again. They did appear in at least one Realms of Arkania game, though.
They exist in Aventuria, but are nowhere near as common as in D&D. The whole "getting killed on sight" thing is probably the main reason.
Smaller and more numerous cousins of the orcs, who unlike orcs are highly matriarchal because births are a literal miracle to them. Living just about everywhere and oftentimes employing a bandit lifestyle, they are also killed on sight in most regions - except for one city in not-Russia were they have citizen status.
Lizardmen who can be found in small numbers in almost every corner of Aventuria (except in regions that are too dry or cold for them), Achaz were originally the servant race of much more powerful dinosaurmen who ruled over Aventuria ages ago. Many Achaz have since regressed into a tribal structure, but some still live in the ruins of their former masters and have preserved some of their knowledge, allowing Achaz with magic potential to be trained in the art of Crystallomancy , a school of magic that uses various crystals and gems as catalyst for their spells (with the gem/crystal combination required depending on the spell) and is derived from the hilariously overpowered dragon magic.
(Dragons in this setting have a relatively tiny pearl/gem inside their brain called a Carbuncle , which houses their essence and is such a potent catalyst that it replaces the need for other gems when using crystallomancy)
Unlike typical D&D portrayals were lizardfolk are these brutish, monstrous humanoids, Achaz are actually very slender with very human proportions (aside from their tail and their head with its long snouth of course). Their iconic weapons include a polearm with a double-headed axe head (derived from a similar weapon used by frog-/dragonmen who still get a bestiary entry with statblocks and all despite being extinct for thousands of years) and a weird swiss army knife trident that doesn't look practical in the slightest and has an unpronouncable name (Achaz hate vowels).
Achaz - whether they are tribal or not - have a certain Lovecraftian vibe to them, as their pantheon of dinosaur and lizard gods are these Eldritch beings that are better left undisturbed. The main job of their shamans/priests is to not draw the gods' attention, for they might just decide to destroy the world.
Aside from being very picky when it comes to climate, Achaz have a very hard time in any culture. Most humans will think they're monsters, Thorwalians will most likely kill them on sight because they believe Achaz are the servants of H'Ranga (it probably doesn't help that H'Ranga is the general Achaz term for their Lovecraftian gods), and Dwarves will most likely kill them because they believe Achaz are the servants of dragons (dwarves and dragons don't get along at all).
(There are couple other non-playable races, but I'll save them for the bestiary entry. I only made an exception with the Night Elves and Holberkians because they are closely tied to playable races).
Next Time : Professions - or how to be a veteran prostitute. Or a warrior with a diploma in asskicking.
Mundane Professions (with more culture ramblings)Original SA post
Refugee from cities occupied by Not-Mordor
Harbor town or town next to a big river
Some specific named region
Weeabo exile in a named town called Festum (because more than half of Not-Japan is yet another Not-Mordor)
Settler towns in the north
City with an important temple or pilgrimage site
Magical ProfessionsOriginal SA post
Phew, time to get going again.
Sorcery & Witchcraft vs Ways of Sorcery. I'm a bit torn with this one. The 4.1 version has more style, but it repeats the mistake of Ways of the Sword by not making the heroes all that interesting. It's even worse here because all the heroes are in the background.
Also, what is it with TDE cover artists making up horned bat creatures that don't actually exist in the game?
Magic. It's not all that uncommon in the lands of Aventuria, but it's one of those settings. You know, the kind of fantasy setting that stayed oddly historic, with the existence of magic having little to no influence on everyday life or warfare (excluding metaplot events we're shit gets really silly, but that's a story for a different post).
(Okay, the Tulamidian city states actually have bazars where you can by magic tat if you can afford it, but that's to be expected from Arabian Nights Land)
Types of Magic
The most common type of magic is spell magic , where every spell is learned and used like a skill. Ritual magic usually relates to curses, familiars and enchanting your profession's iconic equipment (like a staff). Rituals are bought like not-Feats and are checked with a universal (for your profession at least) ritual skill that is therefore pretty expensive as far as skills go.
The third kind of magic is free magic , where the caster can do pretty much anything by just spending enough astral points. Naturally, this is reserved for a few kinds of ancient dragons, kobolds (the Germanic leprechaun dudes, not the D&D critters) and overpowered caster NPCs.
The spellcasters of Myranor (who all wear a silly-looking, three-eyed domino mask ) employ a fourth kind of magic that sorta acts like a more player-friendly version of free magic. They buy ranks in different, broad aspects like Damage or Summoning and make spells up on the fly, like Talislanta.
Types of Casters
Spellcasters in TDE come in three different tiers, which determines the caster's base Astral Point bonus and his overall access to magic stuff.
Fullcasters are your full-time mages that get all the good stuff, with a broad selection of spells and a couple rituals to play with. They also tend to be the only casters with access to damage-dealing spells, summoning and other reality-warping fun.
Halfcasters Are generally crappier fullcasters, with access to either spell magic (with a much smaller list than fullcasters) or ritual magic.
Quartercasters are either magi dilletantes who just bought this as an advantage, or very specialized proper professions with a bit of magic power. These professions are all limited to ritual magic, and their brand of ritual magic has very similar effects to spells, making the distinction a bit odd.
Aventurian magic assumes a slightly expanded version of the traditional four elements. Earth got replaced with Ore , and there's an additional elemental duo in the form of Humus (the plant- and life-aspect of Earth) and Ice (the cold-aspect of water and the closest thing to a death element).
Suffice to say, if you run into a Druid who's big into ice magic, chances are the guy is a bit evil.
While every elemental spell can generally exist for each and every element, these variations tend to be extremely rare, and the most iconic version (usually fire when it comes to damage spells) sees far wider usage than anyone else.
If you come across an elemental variation, you can enjoy some altered effects (a wind damage spell deals Stamina damage only, but causes huge knockback; an Ore damage spell lets you wreck buildings like a siege engine).
Fun Fact about Spells
Whereas D&D and its derivatives tend to write spell names in italics, TDE goes for the all caps approach, which I will preserve for immersiveness. I'm already looking forward to the spell chapter.
Speaking of spell names: In a bit of neat flavoring, all spell names in TDE are actually the first half of a rhyme, with the last half acting as a sub-title in the full spell description. Examples (that actually work in English) include MAY LIGHTNING FIND YOU (and blind you), or BLACK AND RED (now you're dead).
(Sadly, 4th edition downplayed this, often omitting the last part of the rhyme)
The Professions: Fullcasters
The ancient art of Achaz sorcery that is a mere shadow of the power of their former masters. They carry around a pouch full of gems, and casting a spell requires them to hold out the correct types of gems (meaning they now of about spell tags), which makes the spell easier to cast and cheaper. On the downside, they completely blow if you take away their collection.
They also have rituals dealing with crystal orbs, because the name gotta come from somewhere.
Your typical tree-hugging dudes who are not elves. Unlike D&D, they are more into elemental spells than wildshaping (which is something the elves seem to do more often). Aside from spells, they can use their rituals to create a mandrake familiar, or perform a couple Voodoo-like tricks with their ritualistic obsidian dagger.
Just like in D&D, druids suffer even heftier penalties for wearing armor, or really anything made out of metal.
A cousin of the Druid is the Geode , the only kind of dwarven spellcaster. They're pretty similar overall, but have a much better fashion sense. As being more interested in nature than mines is pretty strange for any dwarf (except the hill dwarves), Geodes are generally seen as weirdoes in their own culture.
As already mentioned, every elf is a fullcaster, giving him a broad range of spells (though with less blastery stuff) and rituals dealing with performing magical songs (making them bards of sorts) and creating a bond with their soulmate for a healthy, non-sexual relationship (like whatever the hell McLeod and Ramirez did on Zeist).
As they cast spells by weaving magical songs or something, elves are hit with a cumulative penalty if they keep failing at casting the same spell over and over (as the leftover magic residue gets in the way).
Mages (or rather Guild Mages)
Your typical wizard dudes who studied the art of sorcery in a school. This being TDE, there are around 40 different schools of magic, each having their own profession (or sub-professions, cause some schools offer different courses). The most interesting (or at least craziest) school is probably Drakonia . It's not only build on top of a mountain in such a way that you need the help of elementals to get there in the first place, but it is also a former giant fortress whose dimensions are so large the whole school barely needs a quarter of the place. If you want to run a Harry Potter campaign in Aventuria, this is probably the best Hogwarts you will find.
Mages have a very broad selection of spells, and their rituals primarily deal with enchanting their mage staff (wands work too, but they can't be enchanting as much). The first enchantment any staff already starts out with makes it indestructible. Further enchantments can do fun stuff like create light, turn the staff into a rope, act as a catalyst that makes spells cheaper, turn the staff into a flaming sword that can fight on its own, or transform the staff into a snake in case you want to play Moses (which is a silly thing to do as there are no Egypts in Aventuria).
Mages can be found all over Aventuria, and they're the only generally accepted kind of caster in the middle of the continent (where the common people fear and distrust spellcasters).
As guild mages, they benefit from a couple advantages like unrestricted access to any library, but they also have to live with plenty of social taboos, the breaking of which will net you a visit by the local inquisition or your school's elite death squad.
These taboos essentially force mages to dress up in stereotypical mage getup, so that anyone can identify the dangerous reality-warping guy on sight (well, it beats having to sew a pentagram on your clothes...). They are also not allowed to carry any weapon other than their staff, a dagger and maybe a sling. I'm not sure why people are concerned about fireball-slinging dudes being allowed to carry an axe, but I guess the designers were just paranoid about mages buffing themselves into combat beasts.
(There are two exceptions to these taboos: the mages from the only Thorwalian mage school can wear and wield anything they want, because robes are really counter-productive on a longship and real vikings don't wear robes. There's also a school for combat mages that also act as Middlerealmian officers. These guys are allowed to carry a longsword and get themselves some padded armor.)
The various schools of magic are run by one of three mage orders, which split the Aventurian mage population into white mages (your default mage dude who can primarily be found in middle Aventuria), gray mages (north Aventurian mages who like to hang out with druids and elves) and black mages (south Aventurian mages who don't let silly things like ethics get in the way of their research, though even they have standards and generally ban anyone who turns into a mad scientist / supervillain).
Pretty standard for a witch: A selection of healing and cursing powers, familiars like cats and frogs who are good at spying and delivering curses (but barely survive one round of combat), and an annual event where they create the paste needed to keep their wooden flying apparatus of choice going. The only noteworthy part is that witchers (aka male witches) seem to be more common than in other games.
I think the best RAW way of driving your GM insane is in getting your hands on one of those wooden Samurai armors from Maraskan and use that as your broomstick alternative.
If you're wondering how TDE balances a spellcaster who starts of with a sort of permanent Flight from the get-go, it's actually pretty easy: Witches and witchers suffering a huge penalty to any spellcasting attempt where they don't have both feets on the ground. So your wooden power armor witch should better get herself a bow.
The Professions: Halfcasters
Fun fact about these guys: Whoever calculated the CharGen point costs for these professions in 4.0 forgot about the free spells every caster gets. Some of these actually have a negative cost if calculated correctly.
The crappy cousins of the mages, these guys can only cast illusion spells and other spells that are flashy, but overall harmless - which is probably why they don't have to deal with this dress code taboo. Nevertheless, they like dressing extra gaudy to impress the simple folks.
Naturally, the one charlatan lady that joins you in Drakensang dresses like a stray and has a spell selection that is more mage-like.
Humans who have been kidnapped as babies by kobolds and now wander Aventuria as annoying pranksters, like a spellcaster version of Till Eulenspiegel (the wandering trickster of German folklore). I'd have to do research for that, but I'm pretty positive these guys are around as popular on gaming tables as Kender.
While their spells only consist of prank-type stuff (which can still work nice for debuff purposes), their greatest strength lies in the kobold nature of their magic, allowing them to ignore a good chunk of the enemy's magic resistance. They pretty much rule in exploiting an enemy spellcaster's taboo (especially when it comes to druids and crystallomancers).
Their one big taboo penalizes them with a huge penalty if they ever kill someone or cause lasting harm. So you better argue that you never intended for the poor baron to slip on the banana peel and then fall down the spiral staircase.
Though they are spellcasters, their role as tribal priests means they get covered in the divine section. Moving on.
Also known as Sharisad , they are magical belly dancers. Largely female, but there are a couple male equivalents. Another bard-ish profession with a very limited pool of magical stuff to do.
The main kind of Norbardian spellcaster, they also act as priest to their bee goddess, though they are apparently not priest-y enough to be moved into the divine book. As their rituals and magical symbols are largely about protecting their caravan, they aren't really good PC material.
The Professions: Quartercasters
What little magic they have goes into brewing stuff. Imagine a much less insane version of the Pathfinder Alchemist.
Aka the Drum Bard, delivering magical beats in service of not-Allah.
This not-Arabic berserker uses magic to get himself into a blood frenzy.
Gjalsker Animal Warrior
Your typical barbaric totem warrior dude, using magic abilities to partially transform into their totem animal.
Next Time : Not-clerics and Not-paladins. Also more fluff dealing with gods and demons. Let's see if we can spot any Chaos Gods.
Divine ProfessionsOriginal SA post
The book has this interesting premise for about 20 pages, where it says that mana is human-derived, and belief both creates and empowers the gods. There's even this neat bit about how Christians, in their effort to create a religion of jealousy, have inadvertently created a jealous God, who won't lift a finger to save believers because their mana is already his, but will save potential converts. There's stuff about how paganism works the same way, and the druids and celts and other groups across the world also are powering their own gods and magical systems. Then you get outside that Chapter and it's all "Homosexuality is a Class 6 sin, and Moslems are rightly shunned by all right-thinking men."
I think it would've been more interesting if God suffered from an identity crisis brought on by three different religions wrestling for control over him. His relatively low mana could be the result of him occassionally going batshit over the requirements to enter heaven ("Sure, you are a devout believer in my son Jesus, but you're not a Jew who has visisted Mekka. Have fun in Hell!")
Let's tackle TDE'S clerics and paladins:
Gods & Demons - aka "Evil is fucked"
Ways of the Gods - aka "We just gave up on making interesting covers"
Divine professions in TDE are rather few in numbers. First of all is the Sanctified , your clerics/priests. They use their very slowly recharging karma energy to perform miracles (which despite the fancy name are just temporary boosts to certain skills related to the Sanctified's god) and liturgies (divine rituals that come in levels like in D&D, though I think 5th edition reworked them to be closer to magic spells and rituals). Unlike D&D clerics, the powers of a Sanctified are very focused and don't provide a lot of usage outside of their god's shtick (aside from general stuff like exorcisms). Suffice to say, most kinds of Sanctified aren't too useful as adventuring buddies aside from maybe their Social Status. Also unlike D&D clerics, most Sanctified aren't actually trained for battle.
Aside from picking a Sanctified profession directly, it is possible to become a Sanctified with a not-feat, which requires a lot of XP and a time skip.
When it comes to exterminating heretics, there are the Order Warriors , religious groups of warriors fighting for their church. Some of them are even sanctified themselves, making them the closest paladin analogue for most churches.
Though technically all churches of the main pantheon have an order, not even a handful is actually all that notable.
Gods not part of the main pantheon (mostly those of tribal cultures) only hand out karma energy to their chosen champion (like the not-Khan of the not-Mongols that are Aventurian orcs). The large majority of their priests are Shamans , who are actually spellcasters using a club made out of bones to summon ghosts. They count as halfcasters who use ritual magic, but they are a bit unique compared to similar halfcasters because they have several different ritual skills depending on what they want the summoned ghosts to do, and the cost for their rituals is random. Because why not.
The (Short) Creation Myth
In the beginning, there was only Allfather Los , mucking around in the non-space of non-existence. After a while, a nice lady named Sumu appeared. Being a bit of a social outcast and jealous now that he was no longer a beautiful unique snowflake, Los did the obvious thing and murdered Sumu in cold blood, getting wounded in the process. The blood pouring from his wounds turned into the gods.
With Sumu being slain, Los realized what he just did and wept bitter tears, which turned into the first mortal lifeforms. Sumu's body eventually became Dere, and Los just kinda vanished and became the Limbus , the space between the Spheres (aka planes of existance).
Outside of this creation myth, the people in Aventuria don't really bother with these two. Well, at least Sumu is used as the Aventurian version of Gaia or Mother Nature.
TDE's multiverse is separated into seven Spheres, like the rings of an onion or tree:
: Time and the laws of natures come from here, as do the elements.
: The fundament of the world, where the elements are at their strongest
: The world of mortals aka Dere, which seems to be the only planet in all of existence.
: The land of the dead
: The main pantheon clubhouse
: The wall surrounding the clubhouse, seen from the Third Sphere as the starlit sky.
- Seventh Sphere : The space beyond creation, where demons come from. Also known as the Netherhells
Aside from these main Spheres, there exist various pocket dimensions, which include the world of the fey and elves, that weird Hollow Earth setting Tharun, and a piece of land belonging to a former civilization of frog-/dragonmen that originally stood where Aventurian's largest desert not exists.
The Twelvegods (The German source writes those two words together and I'll stick with it)
The main pantheon - censored for your convenience
The Twelvegods are TDE's unquestioned main pantheon, with the dirty lesser god peasants having to hang out outside of Alveran , the fortress/clubhouse of the Twelvegods. Lesser beings allowed to live in Alveran (aka not-angels) are known as Alveranians.
Some of the Twelvegods are actually titans that switched sides during the obligatory titans vs gods war (with the titans in this case just wanting to hang out in Alveran), but that doesn't actually affect anything in the grand scheme of things, so I won't bother pointing out which god used to be a titan. Though if you want a hint, they're the gods focused on nature and the elements, as the titans were born from Sumu's body instead of Los' blood.
(Theoretically, the exact composition of the Twelvegods can change form Age to Age, but that never actually happened aside from a couple titans joining them. Even then, they didn't actually replace anyone and just took the free seats.)
Each of the Twelvegods has a favored animal, a month named after him (I'll list the month they replace), and a couple favorite colors. They also have favorite plants and herbs, but who cares about those?
Praios (animal: gryphon, month: July, colors: gold and red)
The Lord of Light [insert Game of Thrones meme here], Truth and Order. His temples can typically only be found in cities, for his church really likes building big cathedrals rivaling that of the Catholic Church - which is a pretty good comparison seeing how the church of Praios hates magic and people not worshipping the Twelvegods. The only spellcasters they tolerate are the white mages. Anyone else should watch out for the inquisition.
Naturally, the church of Praios typically gets flanderized as the asshole church.
Praios' animal of choice is the most widely known kind of Alveranian: the gryphon. They were originally a humanoid civilization that got judged by Praios at the end of their Age. The worthy ones became gryphons, the wicked ones the demonic Irrhalken , and everyone else became a sphinx.
The Order Warriors of Praios are the Ban Rayers , who are especially fanatic in their cause. I think not even white mages want to hang out with these guys.
Rondra (animal: lioness, month: August, colors: white and red)
Goddess of War, Honor, Thunder and Lightning. Her church is the one of the very few whose Sanctified are actually paladins (aka guys who don't suck in combat). Her temples are built like fortresses, and her church is organized like a military order, with everyone wearing chainmail and being trained in combat with Rondra's Comb (a flamberge with lion motifs). They really, really hate demons.
As the only church entirely made up of paladins, it was only natural that they would show some signs of Lawful Stupid. In Rondra's case, it's the extreme focus on the "honorable duel", making them eschew any kind of cowardly attack. No member of Rondra's church would ever touch a ranged weapon, and some are so fanatical that they even hate any kind of tactics or strategy.
Sure, D&D paladins can be problematic because they aren't allowed to lie and stuff, but at least they would be okay with sneaking into the enemy's fortress. A proper Sanctified of Rondra would just march to the front gate and demand a duel with the big bad (which will most likely be followed by a hail of arrows and quivers). I presume this is just one of the various reasons why the church has had a lot of casualties in recent years...
Though the church of Rondra does have Order Warriors, they aren't all that important, as the Sanctified themselves can do the job just fine.
Another warrior profession with close ties to Rondra are the Amazons , who hang out in their fortresses and dedicate their lifes even more towards Rondra's ideals. They wear a unique set of Greekish armor and train with a customized cavalry saber.
Efferd (animal: dolphin, month: September, colors: blue and green)
The God of Water and the Oceans, with temples usually found in harbor towns. His followers are as moody as he himself, and they dislike cooked food because they don't trust fire or something.
Efferd can hold grudges even longer than his colleague Poseidon: The reason no other settlers/scouts from Myranor arrived on Aventurian shores in the last 2,000+ years is because their ships will get smashed in a storm if they sail too far out. All because of a bit of demon worship.
Travia (animal: wild goose, month: October, colors: orange and red)
The Goddess of Family and Hospitality, her temples can be found in just about every city. They use their amassed wealth to actually help the poor, instead of overdressing their robes and temples with gold and silver. Overall pretty nice and popular, if maybe a bit conservative.
Boron (animal: raven, month: November, color: black)
The God of Death and Sleep, his church might just be the most omnipresent of them all because it is in charge of the cemeteries (which are therefore known as "Boron's Fields"). His followers are dead serious and rarely talk, but they are always ready to smash some undead.
The church of Boron is the only one that had a real Schism when the south Aventurian city of Al'Anfa (whose inhabitants worship Boron above everyone else) started performing human sacrifices in his honor. Both churches don't get along at all.
The most notable Alveranian of Boron is Golgari , a giant raven said to carry the dead into Boron's Halls aka the afterlife, from which they are then send into the paradise of their chosen god. Or you just stay there if you already believed in Bororn or couldn't decide on a main god in time.
The Order Warriors (at least the ones from the northern church) are the Golgarites , who wear black plate armor and carry the Raven's Beak (a warhammer with a very pronounced, beak-shaped spike serving as its main mode of attack).
Hesinde (animal: snake, month: December, colors: yellow and green)
Goddess of Wisdom, Science and Arts. As "arts" in this context also include alchemy and magic, her church doesn't quite get along with Praios'. Her church is mainly concerned with amassing knowledge and artefacts, and her temples are particularly artsy.
Hesinde's Order Warriors (of sorts) are the Draconites , which also include a couple spellcasters.
Firun (animal: ice bear, month: January; colors: white, ice blue)
The God of Hunting and Winter. Easily the least-whorshipped god of them all because he is a grumpy jerk: He won't help the weak because it's their own damn fault for getting themselves lost in the wilderness, and he won't help the strong because well, they can look out for themselves. His Sanctified like wearing pelts and are equally grumpy and unhelpful, and the few temples he has look more like a hunter's cabin (which is probably their main function anyways).
Tsa (animal: rainbow lizard, month: Febuary, colors: all colors of the rainbow)
Goddess of Life, Freedom and Change. She has good connections to kobolds and other fey-like creatures.
Sanctified of Tsa are very swell dudes to hang out with - though they don't help much in combat, for they hate violence so much that most of them are vegetarians. Also being a bit anarchistic, their church doesn't have a hierarchy or leader.
Phex (animal: fox, month: March, colors: grey and silver)
As God of Thieves and Merchants, Phex is your typical trickster god who frequently pisses off his fellow gods for dabbling into their domains (he is also a god of night like Boron, and Tulamidian cultures see him as a god of magic like Hesinde).
The only "official" temples and clearly dressed Sanctified serve merchants. Thieves and other shady people pray to him in secret establishments. Most of his Sanctified are so illusive that nobody outside his church actually knows the identity of his church's leader.
(Connecting these posts with the Realms of Arkania trilogy, it was the Phex artefact known as the Star Trail that served as the MacGuffin for the second game. I'm honestly not so sure what a throwing axe has to do with thievery.)
Peraine (animal: stork, month: April, colors: green)
Goddess of Agriculture, Fertility and Herbs. Her temples can be found in almost any village, with her Sanctified making sure that harvest is plenty and people don't die in droves. Travelling adventures also like to pray to her in hopes of not dying of a wound infection after the next battle.
Ingerimm (animal: none, he goes for hammer and anvil instead, month: May, colors: red and black)
The God of Smiths. His temples look like smithies, and his Sanctified dress like smiths and generally focus on smith-related stuff. Pretty basic, all in all.
Cyclops are said to be his children, but so are supposedly the dwarves - who of course worship him as their only god (except for the Hill Dwarves I assume) and have apparently brought the belief in Ingerimm to the humans.
Unlike the humans, they call Ingerimm Angrosch (and refer to themselves as the Angroschim).
Rahja (animal: mare, month: June, color: red)
Goddes of Wine, Ecstasy and (physical) Love. If you like parties and orgies, her temples are nice places to hang out in.
Her Order Warriors are known as Rahja's Cavaliers , a job that is probably as dignified as being a She-Ra character.
The Nameless (animal: various, including rats, spiders, bats and one kind of dragon for some reason, month: none, colors: black, purple and gold)
Also know as the Nameless God, the Gylden/Golden One or the Thirteenth (even though he is technically the first) and many other names. He was born from the first drop of Los' blood, which was still tainted by his rage and killing intent. Suffice to say, he is kind of a dick and the eternal nemesis of the Twelvegods.
Of course, he used to have an actual name, but he pissed off the Twelvegods so much that they literally took his name, broke it apart and hid the parts in epic-level dungeons throughout the world, unreachable and unbeatable by mortals.
His first major acts of dickishness include arranging an entire Age in which mortals worshipped him exclusively, and bringing forth the downfall of the high elf civilization (the first elven civilization in Aventuria, and the ancestors of most current elves aside from the wood elves) because TDE elves aren't really into worshipping anyone.
With his actions uncovered, the Twelvegods reacted with a genocidal spree and kicked the Nameless out of their clubhouse. The Nameless didn't take this too well, allied himself with the demons and launched a massive invasion on all of creation.
His demon buddies tore holes into the walls between Spheres (allowing interdimensional travel for mortals) and could only be stopped before the First Sphere (which is therefore unreachable by mortals), but the damage was already be done: The demons planted the seed of the Demon Tree in the Second Sphere, whose unstoppable growth will have it eventually break all the way through the Seventh Sphere, starting the End Times during which the demons will destroy all of creation (Tough apparently Los and Sumu will get rezzed to live happily ever after).
The Nameless himself got dragged and chained to the largest rift to the Seventh Sphere, where is former demon allies keep gnawing on him.
(For another doomsday myth, there's the 13th Age of the world in which the Nameless is supposed to break free of his chains and rule supreme. The world is currently at the beginning of the 12th Age.)
Naturally, the church of the Nameless is forbidden in Aventuria and only exists in the form of secret cults, though he supposedly has more followers all over Dere than the Twelvegods combined.
The most powerful servants of the Nameless are the Eyes of the Nameless , Nazgul-wannabes created when he ripped out one of his eyes and had it shatter into 13 pieces on Dere. They look like normal mortals (aside from the vortex they have for one eye) and their usefulness is a bit limited, seeing how they can only exist during the 5 days of the Nameless at the end of each year.
Lesser gods related to the Twelvegods. They can sanctify mortals just fine, but grant a lesser starting pool of karma.
Son of Rondra and Efferd, he is the Thorwalian's main, whale-shaped god, fighting an eternal duel with the mother of all sea serpents.
Daughter of Firun and a mortal woman, she is way more popular than her father because she actually cares about mortals.
Son of Rahja and Phex, he is the patron of all travellers and adventurers. Small shrines of him can be found all over the place.
Son of Rondra and a lion-headed dragon (I'll cover those dragons later, as they're not really gods and this thing is getting a bit long). He is the patron of mercenaries, and his view on warfare is much more pragmatic than her mother's. He'd probably make for a much more popular war god if it wasn't for his bloodthirst.
Sanctified of Kor are a bit unique in that there is no dedicated profession for them. His church only recruits hardened mercenaries with years of experience on the battlefield.
Kor also has a weird fixation with the number 9: his Sanctified are required to cut off one of their pinkies (like reverse Yakuza), and their weapon of choice is Kor's Spike , a halberd with 9 blades arranged around the top to make the whole thing look like a polearm mace.
Son of Hesinde and Phex, he is the patron of Education and Oracles. His followers want to become one with the cosmos, giving them a bit of a Hindu/Buddhist vibe.
Either the sister or daughter of Nandus (nobody is really sure), she represents the moon and brought magic to the mortals.
The bee-shaped daughter of Ingerimm and Hesinde, she has no real church to speak of and is the goddess of the Norbards.
Not really a god, but still somewhat part of the pantheon is Satinav , a dude with thirteen horns. He wanted to take control over the Ship of Time sailing around in the First Sphere and got chained to it as punished. His two daughters Ymra and Fatas hang around with him and record the past and visions of the future, respectively.
Despite being chained to a metaphysical ship, Satinav will rain down vengeance on mortal spellcasters playing around with time travel.
The demonic counterparts of the Twelvegods, these fellows rule over the Netherhells and have long replaced the Nameless as the main cosmic-level villain.
Since the Netherhells are a pretty chaotic place, it is unknown of they actually exist in a real kind of way. They might just be perverted reflections of the Twelvegods, or a desparate attempt by mortals to create order in the chaos. But since you can make pacts with these guys and older editions actually gave them stats *, so let's assume they do exist after all.
*) Their official, 3rd edition writeups include Life Points in the thousands, Armor Protection of "fuck you, mortal", and Attack and Parry values in the hundreds they can freely split into as many attacks and parries as they want, with damage usually measured in handful of d20s - and that's before counting in whatever nasty special effect their attacks have. Calling these stats a bit too high for even the most min-maxed TDE party to handle is somewhat of a huge understatement. I have no idea what the TDE designers were smoking when they came up with this.
EDIT: Oh, and their Magic Resistance has of course more "fuck you, mortal" written all over it. You could probably hurt them with a certain direct-damage spell that ignores armor, but chances are any Archdemon will kill have you killed around a dozen times over before you can make your second attack.
The real ridiculous part comes when you find out that 3rd edition also had demons whose writeup only consists of "you lose".
Aventuria has this annoying thing where there are two magic/scholar languages, giving each Archdemon two very different name. I'll just stick with the most official one (aka the one from the more "mainstream" language).
Praios' nemesis. He is the Lord of Vengeance, with his demons usually dealing in hunting and killing dudes for their summoner.
Rondra's nemesis is of course a Khorne-esque fellow big into slaughtering stuff. Sadly, TDE doesn't really have anything catchy along the line of "Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!".
Suffice to say, his demons are mainly summoned to f*ck sh*t *p.
Efferd's nemesis, the Mistress of the Depths. She is one possible identity for H'Ranga, mother of serpents and Swafnir's eternal foe.
Nemesis of Travia and Lord of Movement, Restlessness and Treason. His demons either mess with people or act as not-Fellbeasts.
Nemesis of Boron and Mistress of Necromancy and Nightmares. The majority of undead fall under her control. Her demons are always bodyless and serve to "possess" corpses to create suped-up undead or cause nightmares.
Hesinde's nemesis and Lord of Madness, Trickery and Magic. He and his demons like to troll mortals and fellow demons alike, so I guess he's a bit like Tzeentch.
Firun's nemesis, with the main difference being that he actively wants you to freeze to death (instead of just watching and blaming you for your stupidity). His demons deal with ice and hunting people. You can also re-enact "Der Freischütz" by making a pact with him, as he can grant you a bunch of arrows that always hit their mark - except for that one arrow that hits a loved one instead.
Tsa's nemesis and the Lord of Constant Change (there goes another aspect of Tzeentch) General Chaos and Crimes Against Nature. He barely has any demons serving under him, but he's pretty big in creating golems and chimeras.
Phex's nemesis and Lord of Gold and Greed. People generally summon his demons for wealth and power.
Peraine's nemesis and Mistress of Bad Harvests, Infertility and Pestilence. It's like a female Nurgle (if archdemons actually have genders, that is.). Her demons usually like making people suffer.
Ingerimm's nemesis and Lord over the elements of fire, humus, air and ore. His demons help in creating demonic artefacts, or just serve as nasty elemental-themed combat beasts.
Rahja's nemesis and not-Slaneesh. Her domains include rape, being a sick fuck and more rape.
The Demon Sultan
More of a hypothetical demon than a "real" one (not even 3rd edition gave him stats), he is assumed to be the lord of all archdemons. He also may or may not be the demonic counterpart of The Nameless (which I guess would make him a very nice guy).
Despite the dubious status of his actual existance, there are a couple myths including him, some of which are based on actual events. The most awesome paints him as the creator of the Omegatherion , an almost-doomsday monster that wrecked Dere in ancient times and was so massive in size that no one could perceive her whole body. Imagine looking up to the sky to see parts of a gigantic spider leg as far as your eye can see.
Next Time : Let's look at the skill list now, shall we?
Skills Part I - Combat SkillsOriginal SA post
Infantry Weapons (aka "polearms" )
Striking Weapons (or something like that; axes and clubs and stuff)
Swords (I'm surprised there's no "one-handed" in front of "swords")
Roughhousing (aka punching and kicking stuff)
Two-handed Striking Weapons
Two-handed Swords and Sabers
Skills Part II - Moar SkillsOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Skills Part II - Moar Skills
This skill group naturally covery anything involving physical activities that aren't related to a craft or something. Your typical adventuring stuff like riding and swimming. Because these kinds of checks are common in adventures, the physical skill group is the most expensive of the bunch, only surpassed by a couple combat skills.
The hefty price tag attached to every physical skill showcases how making all skills of the same non-combat group cost the same, while surprisingly streamlined as far as TDE is concerned, might not have ben the wisest of choice. I certainly don't think Singing , Dancing , Carousing and friggin' Jugglery are quite as useful as Climbing (adventure modules love having you climb all over the place) or Self-Control (aka "temporarily ignore wound effects to delay the spiral of death").
Also, Sneaking and Hiding are their own, separate skills.
The skills for the party's face - except for Teaching which really anyone should take so the PCs can teach and improve each other without paying extra cash for a dedicated teacher, or extra XP for self-improvement.
Very integral to the party's face is Etiquette - aka "how to not embarass yourself in front of the rich quest giver".
In 4.0, there was a courtesanery skill. In 4.1, you have to do this through the general Beguile skill.
Strangely, the "Get NPCs to do what you want them to do" skill is split into Persuasion (which also includes haggling, lying and begging) and Convincing , which result in more long-term changes to the NPC than Persuasion bordering on brainwashing. I think TDE "heroes" could do some funky stuff by kidnapping important NPCs and "convincing" them to do various things.
As wilderness trips make up a good chunk of many adventures, it is very much required to have something with a knack for nature skills in your party so you know where you're going and reduce the chance of dying.
Learning how to properly tie people up for better "convincing" is also a nature skill.
Nature skills also see usage in meta skills , special kinds of skills that aren't actually learned, but just use the average rank of every skill associated with it. The only two meta skills I know of just deal with hunting and foraging for times you don't feel like having an entire session revolving around stalking a deer or looking for herbs.
Whether its heraldry or just being able to do math, knowledge skills got you covered on having your PC no trivia that may or may not come in handy at one point. Who knows when Petrology might save the entire party in a dungeon adventure?
Of particular interest for warriors is the skill Anatomy , as that one gives you a small damage bonus against humanoids if your rank is high enough, though only on unarmed attacks.
Also included are nature-oriented skills like animal and plant knowledge, or geography (the skill groups are a bit overlapping at times).
Languages and Writings
Did I say this game has around 100 skills? It's actually more like 120+ if you count the various different langauges and writing systems you can learn - which are of course learned separately, and while you get a free rank in your mother tongue based on your Intelligence, you don't free points in the writing system associated with your mother tongue.
Like combat skills, languages and writings aren't actually used for skill checks. The ranks just signify how fluent you are when speaking or writing, based on how close your rank is to the language's or writing's Complexity (aka the highest rank you can possibly have). If you really dumb down on your Intelligence, you could start out with a dude who has to struggle to say longer sentences in his own tongue and somehow sounds like a foreigner. This is easily fixed however as languages and writings are the cheapest skills to raise outside of some exotic stuff far away from your own mother tongue.
The TDE analogue to D&D's Common is the Middlerealmian's Garethi , which I would assume to be not-German if Garethi didn't belong to the same language familily as the older Bosparano which is straight-up Latin. And then you find out that the Horasian (aka not-French) Horathi is just a dialect of Garethi that doesn't even count as a separate skill.
The Common writing system to go with this Common are the Kuslikian Letters with 31 different letters, which I assume (there's no official clarification) is just our alphabet with the Eszett, the three umlauts used in German and some mysterious 5th additional letter (maybe an "i" with two dots?)
Tulamidyian langauges and writings are - unsurprisingly - Arabian analogues. Seeing how the Maraskans are a mix of Middlerealmians and Tulamidians, this results in their language being a weird mix of not-Arabic and not-German.
Thorwalians - being vikings and all - do of course speak something Norse-sounding and write with runes. Dwarves and elves go the boring route and speak very Tolkien-esque, with the dwarves of course using their own set of runes. Orcs and goblins have very guttural langauges (of course) and no writing system at all.
The only original part to be found here is that orcs somehow have two languages (essentially High-Orcish and Dirty Peasant Orcish with the lowest complexity of the bunch), and that elves can speak in two tongues, which I think is even required to truly master the Elven tongue (especially the older Elven which requires you to be a linguist to master even if you are an elf yourself).
Aventurian elves have also codified the typical elvish shtick of being a bit of a jerk with the word badoc . Badoc is the general term used for anything un-Elven, which includes (but is not limited) to hanging out with non-Elves, worshipping gods, capitalism, money in general and personal property beyond the stuff you carry around with you. Non-adventurous elves (as PC elves already have to be somewhat badoc by definition) are very, very paranoid about catching the human-ness. Sadly, I don't think "Rebellious goth elf arguing with his parents about how he was born badoc " is a common archetype in this game.
(Any kind of self-mutilation like tattoos, piercings and earrings also count as badoc , which let to yet another Drakensang-related grog outrage because the elven lady you can rescue from a rapey demon tree and have her join your party dares to wear earrings.)
Lizardfolk and other reptilian humanoids generally speak Rssahh , which is heavy on the "s" and low and vowels.
The most common language for demon summoning and general magic stuff is Zhayad . Its writing is probably the most fleshed out in all of TDE because they actually wrote the entire alphabet for it, spawning a couple fonts for your word processor of choice.
This skill group probably hast the highest concentration of skills that are pretty much meant for NPCs only. Being able to create and maintain various kinds of weapons and armor is fine and dandy (as is lookpicking which can also be found here), but stuff like Agriculture , Carpenter , Gemcutter , Stonemason or Tanner is not really something that comes up all that often in any kind of session.
Similar to Anatomy, you can get yourself the Butcher for a small damage bonus against animals. This seems to work with any kind of attack, but the animal in question has to resemble cattle. Better hope to run into many aurochs and boars.
If you're thinking about becoming a non-magical healer (which is actually a lot more useful than in D&D), get ready to invest in four different skills (five if you count Anatomy, as that can help; oh and plant knowledge is neat too), because treating poison, diseases, wounds and psychological issues are all separate skills.
Next Time : I think I should talk more about combat now, should I?
Combat RulesOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
German Guy Gardner kicking some blackpelt butt. At his side is the iconic Thorwalian pirate lady, who appears to have replaced her Skraja for an actually sensible handaxe. A lot of the art found inside the TDE books - especially in 4.0 and by extension 4.1 because that sub-edition reused a lot of assets - is drawn with line art, which has a nice flair to it.
4th edition TDE is build around a toolkit of rules in an attempt to appeal to both hardcore simulationists and more narrative-focused guys (the latter of which would most likely just take the setting stuff and play this in Fate or something, anyways). Around 90% of this toolkit approach is put into the combat rules, which are separated into beginner rules (which are the fastest, but offer the least variety), optional rules (which are actually the standard rules the game seems to have been designed around) and expert rules (aka "don't bother, these slow everything down to a crawl").
As I've mentioned a while ago, the basics of combat are a lot like pre-3rd edition BESM, or WFRP2e: The attacker does his attack roll, and if he succeeds the defender has to try to defend in order to not get hit.
This binary approach has the flaw that margins of success usually don't matter much (though you can kinda sorta implement a reverse version with maneuvers, as we'll see), and duels between high-level characters can go on forever unless the system has a good way of gaining additional attacks (which TDE doesn't have).
In BESM and especially WFRP2e, this system doesn't prolong combat too much because attacks that do hit deal a crapload of damage. Not so much in TDE. Let's back this up with some numbers:
A typical TDE fighter dude like the iconic warrior starts with around 32ish Life Points (with the human average being 25)
His Attack and Parry ranks in his weapon skill of choice is around 14 and 12 (or a variation thereof).
The typical starting armor is the long chainmail, granting Armor Protection and Encumbrance of 4, which after Armor Adaption and the weapon's Effective Encumbrance results in a final Encumbrance of 2, which reduces Attack and Parry in equal parts (with any remainder going towards Parry). Let's just say the final Attack and Parry values are both 12.
The average human typically has Armor Protection of 1 because normal travel clothes count as armor, which is in no way a weird design choice.
Fighter dudes typically start out with a weapon that deals either 1d6+3 or 1d6+4.
Your main ways of raising damage is through high Strength (though most weapons require higher Strength than the typical human can start out with before you even see a +1) and the TDE equivalent of a Power Attack, which let's you deal additonal damage by reducing your Attack (more on that later).
- Typical NPC cannon fodder actually has rather similar Attack and Parry values (though Parry tends to be lower), with around 30 Life Points
So in a fight against an orc, both combatants manage to land an actual hit around 1/3 of the time, with Not-Guy Gardner losing an average of 2.5 to 3.5 Life Points thanks to his chainmail. As TDE characters go unconcious once they hit 5 or less Life Points, the orc would need between 8 and 11 hits to win. Guy would take around as much if the orc also sported a chainmail, or around 6 hits if the orc is lightly armored.
Power Attacks can of course greatly reduce the number of hits required, but your chance to land a hit will also drop.
For extra lulz, Not-Guy Gardner could improve his Armor Protection with a helmet and some arm and leg guards, which can boost his Armor Protection to around 6 or 8. Power Attacking is pretty much required to damage him with any kind of regularity, which combined with the additional Armor Encumbrance will further decrease the to-hit chances.
Things were even worse in older editions where characters gained Life Points at each level-up. Veteran PCs and NPCs used to have slightly above 100 Life Points. In 4th edition, you'll probably not even see half that much.
Initiative is thankfully handled relative simple: You have a base value that can improve through not-Feats, and you then add 1d6 at the start of combat to determine the order of combat. Certain actions can reduce your Initiative, but you can always "refresh" your Initiative by taking an action or two to assess the situation (which also boosts your effective Initiaitve as if you've rolled a 6 and your 1d6).
Characters in TDE only ever have 2 actions in combat they can do, usually an Attack and Parry. This means you can greatly speed up combat by Zerg Rushing your enemy, as even someone who only really fails his Parry on a fumble can be overwhelmed with enough attacks. Being outnumbered also adds nice penalties to the lone guy.
It is possible to transform one of your actions so you make 2 Attacks or Parries in one round, but that adds a penalty to your transformed action unless specific conditions are met (like how shield users can always turn their Attack into another Parry without the penalty). You also have two Free Actions, which you can use for dodging in case you're Zerg Rushed, but dodging is a bit odd. We'll get there.
Also note that two-handed weapons of any kind are generally not able to transform actions, so watch out for the Zerg Rush.
(Movement is also an action, so I guess you can't actually Parry or Attack in the same round you move)
Anatomy of a TDE Weapon
I guess the best way to highlight some of TDE's oddities is by walking you through the most vital of weapon stats (aka everything but price, weight and length).
In a brilliant display of German bureaucracy and general "why keep it easy if we can make it more complicated?" mindset, TDE has two different terms for damage: Hit Points is your typical incoming damage that has to go through your Armor Protection first, while Damage Points is the damage applied directly to your Life Points, either as the part of the incoming Hit Points left after substracting Armor Protection, or because the source of damage just plain ignores Armor Protection (like poison, diseases and some spells).
Hit Points / Strength (a very weird notation, if you ask me)
As with D&D high Strength increases your damage. Unlike D&D, you need a very high Strength score to do so. Most weapons require anywhere from 15 to 17 Strength before you see your first +1 (though you can actually drop that benchmark by 2 if you wield a one-handed weapon with both hands, though I don't think it's worth sacrificing the ability to wield a shield for this little increase), and unlike older editions, the next damage increase takes a while. And this is a game were the average human can have a maxmimum of 14 in any stat at the start of the game and stat increases are generally very, very expensive.
You see, back in the older editions, each weapon had a minimum Strength value you just substract from your own Strength. If the result was positive, you would then add that to your damage.
In 4th edition, weapons had both a Threshold and a Damage Step , and you would add or substract one point of damage for every Damage Step you were over or under the Threshold.
The result this has is that piercing weapons like spears aren't terribly useful for a main fighter guy because they tend to have Damage Steps of around 4 or 5 (aka you'll probably never see more than a +1 increase). And then you have shenanigans like the two-handed Barbarian Battleaxe , which straight up gives you +1 damage for every point of Strength you are above 15, which combined with its very impressive 3D6+2 base damage probably makes it the most damage-efficient weapon out there.
(Note that the Barbarian Battleaxe started out way weaker in 4th edition, but then it got anti-nerfed because grogs complained about the unfair treatment of this "iconic" TDE weapon aka min-maxer's delight)
A weapon's damage can also be improved through magical materials, general magic enchantments and fancy smithing techniques. This being TDE, you'll probably only ever use the fancy smithing techniques, which already cost an arm and a leg.
This number shows how likely the weapon is to break. Fumbles and putting too much force behind your Power Attacks will force a check, which is done by trying to roll over the Breakage Factor with a 2d6. Even on a success, the Breakage Factor will increase by 1, so you better visit a smith regularly.
Each weapon has modifiers that apply to Initiative, Attack and Parry. Outside of fencing weapons, these are usually negative and can be rather hefty on two-handed weapons like the above Barbarian Battleaxe (though chances are that if you managed to get your Strength above 15, you've already earned enough Adventure Points to boost your weapon skill up the whazoo).
Just like with Hit Points, weapon modifications can be improved through rare materials you probably can't afford, magical enchantments you'll likely never get your hands on, and paying an arm and a leg to a master smith. You can also improve the modifications by having a personal weapon built around your height, weight and whatnot, which is actually affordable.
Note that in older editions, your Weapon Modifications could actually change depending on who you where attacking/defending against at the moment. That must've been fun.
Oh boy, this thing.
Weapons and really any kind of attack falls into one or two Distance Classes, which are Brawl , Melee , Polearm and Pike . Really large critters can go even beyond this.
The way Distance Class works is that two opponents are always engaged at a certain Distance Class from each other. How starting Distance Class is determined was revised a few times during 4th edition's runtime, but it's generally always good to have the higher Initiative.
If the current Distance Class is one step higher or lower than your weapon's Distance Class(es), you'll suffer a penalty to your Attack if your weapon is too short and a penalty to both Attack and Parry if your weapon is too long. More than one step means you can't attack at all, and if you're weapon is too long you can't even parry.
Unlike say The Riddle of Steel, where the engagement range shifted organically during the standard combat procedure, the current Distance Class is set in stone until one of the combatants decides to try to change it. This is done through a normal Attack/Parry procedure that is not modified by the current Distance Class, but only by how much the attacker wants to change it. Said Attack/Parry procedure is not an actual attack and won't cause any damage on a "hit".
So essentially, Distance Classes will further prolong combat because they introduce additional penalties and will force the characters to occasionally waste actions trying to get rid of the penalties. One the plus side, a veteran fighter with a pike (a weapon not actually meant for personal combat) can become almost untouchable to one-handed weapon wielders.
Depending on how you interpret Distance Classes in the optional map combat rules (which of course give you different ranges in squares based on your weapon's Distance Class), I think you can't even walk past a guy with a Pike unless you do that Attack/Parry thing.
Maneuvers in TDE generally work by making an Attack or Parry roll with a self-imposed penalty. Fancier maneuvers require a minimum penalty to take, but you can generally take anything up to your weapon skill or Attack/Parry value. Should a maneuver fail, you add the self-imposed penalty to your next Attack or Parry action.
The main maneuvers are Power Attack (your penalty raises damage), Feint (your penalty reduces the enemy's Parry, which doesn't sound very useful unless you've number-crunched the optimal penalty to take for each Attack/Parry combination) and Knock Out (which can be very handy if the enemy isn't too heavily armored). The main defensive maneuver is the Master Parry , which transforms your self-imposed penalty into a bonus to your next Attack or Parry.
The full combat rules offer more maneuvers, which let you do a kind of Cleave and Multi-Parry (essentially splitting your Attack or Parry into two), and piercing weapons can try to aim for weakly-armored or vital spots.
Dodging is weird in TDE. It's a servicable last resort action for when you're attacked by multiple dudes, but the execution is just weird.
For starters, there is no skill directly related to dodging. You just take your base Parry value and bonuses based if you've taken one of the three Dodging not-Feats, or if you have a very high Acrobatics skill.
Lots of penalties apply through Encumbrance and depending on the Distance Class (which always adds a penalty of at least 1, even if you're as far away from your opponent as possible, which is a bit odd).
Since Dodging is a Free Action and you gain one Free Action for every normal action you have, you can dodge up to twice along with your Parry. The problem - apart from the truckload of penalties - is that dodging kinda sorta removes you from combat: The Distance Class is enlarged, and you have to waste at least one action getting back into combat. Your Initiative wil also drop noticably whether you succeed or not.
In order to stay in combat and reduce the Initiative penalty, you can pull off a Targeted Dodge , though this one actually costs a normal action and doubles the Distance Class penalties (because how dare you want to use a universal defensive value independent of your weapon's Parry).
Again unlike The Riddle of Steel where dodging - while being about as hard to pull off as here - can actually be used for devastating counter-attacks because a successful close-range dodge leaves the opponent wide open, Dodging in TDE is something you generally only want to to if you have to.
Aside from your typical one- and two-handed fighting style, you can spice things up with these styles, whose not-Feat chains all start with the Left Hand not-Feat:
Unlike D&D, shields actually rule in TDE. In a similar way to Dodging, there is no skill related to shields. You just take your base Parry, add a bonus depending on how deep int the shield chain you are, and then add the shield's Parry bonus. Unlike dodging, this usually results in a pretty high Parry value, which allows shield-focus fighters to only put a miminum of points into their weapon's Parry. Though beware that larger shields do reduce Initiative and Attack.
Apart form this and chain-type weapons ignoring your shield's bonus, there are really only advantages for using a shield: You can turn your Attack into another Parry with no penalty, you will eventually gain a second free Parry anyways (though only in 4.1), and it's the only way to actually parry ranged attacks and attacks by big stompy monsters aside from dodging.
Dual-wielding is pretty straight-forward, giving you an additional Attack or Parry with more or less hefty penalties depending on how similar the two weapons are and how deep you are into the chain.
Using a parrying dagger or buckler (the latter also doubling as a shield) works a lot like using a shield for finding out the Parry value, except that you use your weapon's Parry value as the baseline. This can potentially give you a larger Parry value than a shield, but bear in mind that parrying weapons do nothing against big, heavy weapons.
This style focuses heavily on Master Parries and even dabbles into dual-wield territory by giving you an additional attack with your parry weapon, but it's overall not too useful outside of duelling scenarios.
How could I talk about TDE combat without posting this classic barroom brawl picture? Notice how TDE dwarves are actually small .
Unarmed Attacks primarily deal damage to the opponents Stamina Points - which is pretty much the only way to lose Stamina Points unless you're playing with the rule that reduces your Stamina for every action you do while encumbered. Fun stuff.
After hitting the opponent for Stamina Points, you then cut your rolled damage in half and apply that as proper damage, which has to go through any Armor Protection the opponent. Seeing how even strong dudes will rarely do more than 1d6+2 before halving, punching a guy in armor to death is a bit unlikely. Fighting an armed opponent also sucks major balls and runs the risk of hurting yourself on the other guy's weapon.
Unarmed Combat comes with its own set of maneuvers, some of which are actually pretty neat: You can mitigate the above problems against armed fellows or even use small weapons like knives with your unarmed skills.
Unarmed Combat skills also allow you to learn various kinds of martial arts, some of which work with both Roughhousing and Wrestling. Examples include Gladiator Pro Wrestling (okay, that's not the real name, but that's pretty much what it is) which increases your stamina damage while reducing proper damage to zero and Hruruzat , the Not-Kung-Fu/-Karate originally invented by the forest people of the South that has become quite popular with the Maraskans.
The thing about Hruruzat is that it's all about kicks that deal a lot of damage, rolling 2d6 instead of 1d6. Even better, those two dice can actually explode, which I think is the only part in TDE that uses this mechanic.
Critical Hits and Fumbles
Natural 1s are always a lucky success , while natural 20s are always a fumble . Both events require an immediate repeat of the roll, to either avoid the worst effects of the fumble or turn the lucky success into a critical success .
Attacks performed with a natural 1 (whether they are just lucky or critical) force the opponent to defend with his Parry value cut in half, and critical successes of course double damage. A critical success on a Parry just means that the Parry didn't cost an Action.
A real fumble will have you lose all your remaining actions for the round and force you to roll on a table. You could trip, cut yourself on your own weapon or break your own weapon.
The Death Spiral
Long story short: The lower your Life Points and Stamina Points go, the more penalties you take to everything. So hitting stuff becomes harder as combat goes on.
A nother death spiral comes in the form of Wounds . If you take too much damage in one shot, you suffer 1 or even more Wounds, which further penalize you at everything you do.
The Wound rules have seen quite a lot of revisions throughout the history of 4.X, largely because they initially didn't quite work out. The goal of "We want combat to end long before you've beaten every Life Point out of your opponent to speed up combat" became moot when Wounds were originally only caused by an attack that deals more damage than the target's Constitution, which for most characters equals losing more than 1/3 of their max Life Points in one attacks. This being TDE, this event is a bit unikely unless you're chomped on by a dragon. So eventually, the threshold got cut in half, with some weapons like arrows and bolts applying a flat modifier to it.
In the base rules, ranged weapons would cause an automatic Wound, making Alpha Striking at the start of combat very desirable. Nowadays, only critical hits cause automatic wounds anymore.
A good night's sleep will recover a meager 1d6, with an additional point for a successful Constitution check. Further modifications may arise depending on the quality of the bed your sleeping in and a few Advantages and Disadvantages. Wounds of course require proper treatment and may heal at a rate faster than 1 Wound/day.
Further Life Points can be restored through herbs, berries and magic. Unlike D&D, these things don't heal instantly and in fact take a good while to heal their full amount. Herbs and berries also tend to have an upper limit on their healing ability per day and may make you addicted.
The One You've All Heard About
Having a dirty Wound (which can arguably be any wound) has a good chance of getting infected, which lasts 2d6 days, causes 2d6-1 damage per day (with 1 fewer damage point per day) and may cause your Strength to drop. Seeing how much damage is generally required to cause wounds in the first place, not seeking immediate treatment is can get you killed - especially since you won't regenerate Life Points naturally while you're ill.
Going by averages, a typical wound infection will cause 21 points of damage over 6 days, which factoring in the Life Points lost for getting the Wound in the first place (and the attacks that didn't cause wounds) makes dying pretty much guaranteed without outside help.
Next Time : Well let's see. I'll be going to get my hands on my full TDE collection in about 2 weeks, so I might postpone a more in-depth look at TDE's spells and demons until then. In the meantime, I'll probably take a closer look at TDE's bestiary and metaplot stuff.
Armor AddendumOriginal SA post
And holy cow, I forgot to talk about armor!
The Dark Eye
Armor in TDE comes in two different flavors of crunchiness: The default rules split armor into 3 parts (toros, helmet, arm and leg guards), with the toros armor being the only mandatory one and the two other kinds of armor only adding Armor Protection and Encumbrance on top of that (because not covering your main hit location with armor makes your helmet pretty useless on its own). Some kinds of torso armor (like knight armor) comes as a complete set that can't be combined with anthing else.
Also of note is that any kind of thick clothing (like really anything mean for travelling around) counts as armor (with Armor Protection and Encumbrance of 1), which never ceases to annoy me.
The more detailled rules (as seen in Drakensang and maybe Blackguards) uses hit locations and splits torso armor and the arm and leg guards much more further into their individual components, each adding a different amount of Armor Protection to some of the hit locations. The hit locations themselves thankfully only come into play on critical hits and if someone is actively aiming for them. In all other cases, the rules just take the average Armor Protection (with larger hit zones of course being weighted more heavily).
I actually kinda like the hit location rules. They let you customize your PCs look and protection (and even allows you to individual set pieces), and the hit location rules actually kinda sorta act as a sort of errata because pretty much all of the heavier armor loses a couple points of protection as opposed to the base rules (giving you an actual chance to hurt a knight in full getup with a one-handed weapon). On the downside, munchkins can easily come up armor combinations sporting very crazy Armor-Protection-to-Encumbrance values.
I'll just cover the unique pieces of TDE armor and skip the generic stuff like chainmail, cuirass and plate armor.
Actually not very notable since its just ancient Greek armor to go along the whole Amazon shtick.
(If Ancient Rome is more your thing, there a few pieces of old armor from that Bosparan Empire.)
State-of-the-art plate armor combining excellent protection with good mobility. Armor Protection of 6 and Encumbrance of 4 make this a very good deal for a frontline fighter, and you can bump this up further if you can take the additional Encumbrance.
Horasian Cavalry Harness
A perfectly matched set of full-body plate armor and a visorless helmet that sports even higher Encumbrance efficiency than the Garethian Plate, but since its a complete set, the Plate can actually eclipse it in the Armor Protection department.
A combination of scale and leather armor made out of swamp lizards, which can apparently make you look like an Achaz at first look. So better watch out when walking near Thorwalians and dwarves.
Firn Elven ringmail made out of mammothon, which is the Aventurian term for ivory from mammoths. I guess it's a chance of pace to see tree-hugging elves becoming PETA's nightmare.
Seeing how Firn Elves are the most isolationist and xenophobic of all the elves, you'll probably never run into this armor.
(Also, I'm not kidding when I say PETA's nightmare. These Firn Elves also use fencing weapons called Seal Killers )
Maraskan Hardwood Harness
Hey look, it's samurai armor. This armor is kinda rare, but probably the best armor for any spellcaster who is actually allowed to wear armor (aka everyone who is not a wizard). I'm also very positive that a witch can use this to fly.
A rather colorful name for what is just studded leather armor. Naturally very popular with Thorwalians.
Arm and leg guards are pretty generic and just come as a complete set made out of leather, chain or plate (unless you use the hit location rules that is). As none of these sets give more than +2 to Armor, this results in leather and chain guards having the same Armor and Encumbrance values. The only difference is that chain is 6 times as heavy and more than 7 times as expensive. Helmets also feature models that are straight up better than other models that are bother heavier and more expensive.
Helmets are pretty much all generic and historical (though older editions featured fancy winged helmets). The only thing of note is that Horasians apparently like Conquistador helmets.
Nothing too surprising here, maybe except that the Thorwalian aka Viking shield is its own thing.
The Zoo-Botanica AventuricaOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Time to cover TDE's gallery of monsters, one general group at a time. But first up, a bit of general tidbits.
The Zoo-Botanica Aventurica
The Dark Eye 4th editon - aka "Does anyone know how to draw a monster manual cover?"
Man, these two are just sad. I think I have to go back to 3rd edition for something more presentable:
I am very positive legless dragons don''t actually exist in TDE. At least the gryphon looks like he doesn't take shit from anyone.
The Zoo-Botanica Aventurica is 4th edition's 300+ page bestiary / monster manual, covering just about everything aside from highly supernatural stuff like undead, elementals and demons. Those can be found in the magic supplement (though only in a short, stripped down format so your caster can actually do stuff with the summoning spells) and the divine supplement (which covers just about everything).
Creatures in TDE come with their own slew of special rules and maneuvers. Some animals like aurochs can just run you over, bears like to hug, and giant maritime critters like sea serpents can dish out a crapload of damage to ships by just jumping out of the water and letting gravity do the rest.
Several animals can also do multiple attacks per round, which ties to a sort of combo system where successfully pulling off a predetermined chain of attacks results in a maneuver activating (like a bear hug, or worrying).
The thing that makes fighting creatures annoying is that smaller and larger creatures are harder to defend against. You can't just parry a bee swarm, you have to dodge out of the way. Parrying an ogre's club is also not possible (it would probably break you wrist, anyways), but you can block with a shield. And as soon as a creature is big enough to nom you in one go, there's only dodging to help you out.
On the plus side, animals that fall into the right size category to be parry-able are at a clear disadvantage, because they will suffer half damage from the parried weapon. Animals can also only defend through dodging (unless they get really close). The rules state that animals don't have to deal with Initiative loss from dodging, but I think the various penalties associated with dodging still aplies. In other words: animals suck when it comes to defending.
It should be noted that the Zoo-Botanica is not entirely dedicated to listing various critters. There are also rules for raising and training animals (and holy crap, warhorses cost a lot ), and a big ol' "bestiary" for the various plants and herbs you can find. Because if Drakensang and Realms of Arkania taught me anything, it's that TDE really wants you to pick up any interesting looking plant you can come across.
And with that bit of general overview gone, let's cover dragons!
Though there a variety of lesser types of dragons (some of which being barely above a normal animal), dragons in TDE are generally the most powerful creatures native to Dere. Their physical capabilities are more than a match for an adventuring parties (with really big dragons having such a high Armor Protection they needed to point out weaker, less protected spots), they are highly intelligent, and their spellcasting abilities are just plain better than anything a humanoid spellcaster could come up with. Their spells last longer, have a wider range, affect more people and are even cheaper. They can also technically not die straight away because their essence lives on inside their carbuncle (aka "dragon brain pearl").
If I had to make a guess, I would say TDE dragons are on part with their D&D buddies (though TDE dragons only come in the fire variatey, with like two ice dragons; I also think some of them would have levels in Archmage), with TDE characters being forever stuck in E6 hell.
In an interesting attempt at "realism", dragons don't actually need their wings to fly, as they fly through sheer magic. They also possess telekinetic abilities to move stuff around and "speak" with a language based on telepathic pictures, which humans and other lesser mortal somehow understand as spoken lines in their mother tongue.
So where did dragons start? Well, the first batch of them - the Old Dragons - were created in the Third Age (which was like millions of years before elves and dwarves even existed, right after the gods and titans settled their score) by various gods and titans. Of these Old Dragons, around 12 have survived to this day (because 7, 12 and 13 are the only numbers that matter in Aventurian history and mythology). 6 of them hang around in Alveran with the gods and call themselves the High Dragons .
: The dragon of cosmic balance. He is a little bit confusing because he was apparently created by Charyptoroth, the Archdemoness of maritime Lovecraftian horrors. I guess the apple
fall far from the tree.
: A wise and all-knowing dragon said to be big enough to have a small forest (or at least one big tree) grow on his back. He's also the only Old Dragon hanging around in Aventuria itself. His creator was Tairach, the orcish good of death and blood. Some dragons really don't care at all about their parents.
: A creation of Phex and another dragon of cosmic balance. He's however busy looking for his All-seeing Eye, the very first Dark Eye. As he is said to be blind, I guess he was a one-eyed dragon and this first Dark Eye was is actual eye.
: Hey, look, a dragon of balance. Balance between gods, humans, animals and pretty much everything, to be more specific. He has a prophetic vision to help him in his quest.
- Umbracor : Another balance dragon, this one dedicated to curb-stomp anyone who has become too powerful (he isn't called "The Destroyer" for nothing). Originally "killed" by his son Ardakor who took over his spot, but the events of Drakensang led him to take over his son's body.
: This iron-winged dragon is big into justice, making him a BFF of Praios.
: Supposedly the oldest and mightiest of the High Dragons and a nother BFF of Praios (who in fact created him). His wings are said to have a hundred colors, so he's quite fabulous.
: The lion-headed guardian of Alveran's gate and BFF of Rondra. They apparently also used to be lovers at one point because they are the parents of demigod Kor. Seeing how Rondra is also the mother of a whale, I can only assume that Rondra's sex life is weird.
: A six-winged dragon flying through the Limbus and kicking demon butt. He also runs an order of human knights that help him out, who reside with him in Limbus. That's some weird high-/epic-level D&D stuff. There's also a theory floating around that Golgari (the afterlife raven express) is actually him.
: The dragon of truth, follower of Hesinde.
- Yalsicor : The goat-headed dragons of friendship and hope (aka the magical girl dragon), hanging out with Travia.
Now you might be wondering why there are only 5 Old Dragons. Well, that's because the 6th is/was Pyrdacor , lord over (almost) all the elements. He was just as much of a colossal jerk as his creator, the Nameless God. I guess at least one of those Old Dragons had to resemble his creator...
Pyrdacor's big day came in the Tenth Age (around 35,000 years ago) when he covered pretty much all of Aventuria in a multi-racial war: His loyal lizard races (including the not-Slann) waged war against other lizard races who didn't bow down to Pyrdacor, and he became good friends with the high elves (surely as a troll attempt by the Nameless), which he promptly led to a war against the dwarves. Famerlor fought against Pyrdacor in two great wars, which culminated in Pyrdacor's body getting shattered, followed by a bit of racial cleansing to get rid of his followers (aka bye high elves). His carbuncle - the Dragon Egg - now resides in a Tulamidian mage academy, probably seething with rage.
Pyrdacor's return is one of those looming threats that may or may not come in the near or far future, but seeing how the metaplot is more interested with demons than the Nameless and his lackeys, the chances of this happening are quite slim. Though there was a recent metaplot campaign that was at least partially revolving around him (or at least his legacy).
These are either distant relatives to real dragons much closer to animals in intelligence, or dragons that aren't just very clever and talkative. A lot of these don't even have magical abilities, forcing them to actually rely on their wings for flight (if they have wings to begin with).
These guys do have magical powers and a rare frost breath. Send out by Pyrdacor to find the first Dark Eye before Nosulgor does, they have a thing for collecting black things ever since.
A distant dragon-relative with a giant horn on his head. Pretty much a smaller, less powerful Monoblos focusing on fly-by attacks
Completely non-magical and very beast-like. They hang around in swamps and stink a lot.
Named after a dragon-like lizard from German folklore, though it doesn't really have a lot in common with the source material. A distant relative of real dragons that looks like a six-legged mix between a crocodile and a Komodo Dragon. Their most defining characteristic is their stench, which is so potent that elves can't engage them in melee and anyone else who did engange them in melee will stink for 3 weeks (bathing doesn't help).
The bottom-of-the-barrel when it comes to dragonkin. These guys are about as strong as a starting fighter character, with only the typical dragon fire aura (which constantly drains the opponent's health little by little) and wings setting him apart. They have no magic to speak of, are pretty dumb and like to collect shiny stuff.
Official artwork and in-universe heraldry also can't seem to agree on whether or not these dragons look more like proper dragons or wyverns.
The most dragon-like among the lesser dragons, with just the right size to serve as an awesome mount. They hang around in the western ocean they're named after.
The Real Deal
These are the proper dragons. The big bad party killers.
These guys like to hang out underground and have eight legs. The large majority of them can't fly and don't have wings. They are very focused on their hoard and will hunt you down if you steal from them, giving them a slight Fafnir angle . Rather crappy spellcasters for a real dragon.
Emperor Dragon (or I guess you could call them "Kaiser Dragon" to keep it more German)
These guys are pretty much D&D Gold Dragons, if D&D Gold Dragons weren't too good-aligned to steal virigns and terrorize villages. They do however seem to have the highest population of benevolent dragons. One of them - Shafir - even managed to become part of the Horasian royal family and is the father of their current emperor. Not sure how that works.
Anyhow, like Gold Dragons, they have the perfect balance between physical and magical strength, making them one tough opponent to fight. Their scales start out gold and become redder over time.
Giant Wyvern (a strange name, seeing how there is no normal wyvern around)
Not nearly as good at spellcasting as the Emperor Dragons, but they don't really have to. Why? Because they have three heads. This means thrice the bites and breath weapons, allowing them to dish out the pain almost as good as three dragons at once. They are also highly aggressive and brutal. One of the few critters in TDE about whose TPK potential the books actually warn about.
Since they are the closest thing TDE has to hydras, these Fire King Ghidorahs have small extra rule about chopping off their heads. They grow back quite fast of course (though they won't multiply), but the dragon will die if all three heads are gone at the same time. The regrown heads also don't inherit the memories or personality of the previous head.
Actually not a "real" dragon, but an artificial one created by Pardona , a servant of the Nameless and last of the high elves who also created the dark elves. Glacier Wyrms are strange in that they spend their first 13 years as a giant worm before turning into a physical powerhouse of a dragon. They're the other dragon species besides Frost Wyrms to be ice-based.
Cousins of the Westwind Dragons from the eastern ocean. They count as real dragons because they are much smarter than their Western brothers and sisters.
The mages among the dragons. Not as physically imposing than an Emperor Dragon, but they make up for that in the magic department. They even become freecasters once their old and powerful enough. Their scales start out purple and then become darker over time, until they almost look pitch black.
Since they're also one of the animals attributes to the Nameless God, I think these dragons are extra evil or something.
Next Time : The humanoid races TDE doesn't want you to play as. All hail the lobsterfolk.
Aventurian RacesOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Now allow me to go a bit crazy and cover all those TDE races you can't play as (though I might skip over really obscure ones).
These one-eyed giants (around 15 ft.) and children of Ingerimm are Aventurian natives and live on the island group named after them (where you can also find other critters from Greek mythology). They are pretty moody smiths so fire-resistant that they can hold glowing steel with their bare hands. Their weapon of choice - aside from a sledge hammer or a big rock - is the Pailos , a hybrid of sorts between a two-handed axe and a halberd that can be wielded as either. The Horasians living on these islands have downsized the design for their own use and have a warrior academy specializing in it.
Your fairies, nymphs and such. The originate from the same world as the elves, and their behavior can reach from helpful or mischievous to plain evil. Unlike elves, the fey are still deeply rooted in their original homeworld and only visit Dere for short trips, as living and casting spells there too much drains their life essence (called Sikaryan ), which can either kill them or turn them into evil Black Feys.
Gargyles (TDE felt clever by removing the "o")
Sentient winged stone golem-like creatures able to reproduce. They gobble up Sikaryan for nourishment (making them some kind of vampire) and like to hang out on top of old buildings and near actual gargoyles - which is a bit ironic considering how they age: Each passing year makes their skin harder for better protection - but they also become slower and clumsier, until they finally petrify forever.
One of the few chimeras (TDE's general term for artifically-created hybrid creatures; the classic chimera does not exist) designed to reproduce itself. Originally created during the Mage Wars (a mage civil war of sorts that ultimately led to the split into three guilds and those harsh dress codes) almost 500 years ago, they have since populated just about every mountain range in Aventuria. Though they are just as intelligent as humans, their erratic mood swings makes diplomacy with them pretty much impossible.
Depending on the edition or artist, they either look like your typical naked ladies with wings for arms, or just like big birds with a woman head and boobs. Decide for yourself what is more freakish.
Those elf-/orc-hybrids that still look very much like orcs. Apparently these are also chimeras, so I guess elves and orcs aren't actually compatible with each other? Anyhow, I don''t think the writer know what to do with these guys after the adventure/novel that introduced them.
The most direct descendents of the titans, with around 21 feet in height (at least the more current generations. Older ones are apparently even taller). Easily the most dangerous humanoids you can come across - if you come across one. There are like seven left in all of Aventuria, with little chance of the population recovering.
Grolms / Hagglers
Big-headed gnome-type of guys who work as alchemists or merchants. They don't quite get along with dwarves.
The strongest of the fey. They are both natural freecasters (aka they can do whatever they want by just spending enough Astral Points) and have the unique ability to freely draw Astral Energy from their surroundings (aka they will always have enough Astral Points). As such, the game doesn't bother to give them stats. They just do what they want, though like the human Knaves they raise up, they don't cause lasting harm or even death. The most useful Kobold variant is the Klabautermann , who might just be the only thing helping you and and your ship from an encounter with a sea serpent.
Toadpeople (with a body as hum-like as an Achaz, so they're rather lean) who live in underwater cities. Ever since the death of their Spawn Mother, they have been unable to reproduce naturally, forcing them to serve Charyptoroth and generall act as Deep Ones. They kidnap humans to create new offsprings in a demonic ritual that is probably a bit rapey. If things don't go as planned, a demonic Gal'kzuulim is created.
Those Slann guys don't know how to do a proper workout
Another race of reproducing chimeras, the Leviatanim combine features of a frog, toad and dragon. They can reach up to 18 feet in height, but they generall appear as half as tall because they usually stay in a crouched pose. They would make pretty swell cartoon characters with a vest and a hat.
Not native to Aventuria, they helped Pyrdacor to invade Aventuria, exterminating anyone who didn't bow down to Pyrdacor and enslaving anyone who did. Aside from their impressive magical powers, they were also a race of warriors that liked honing their skills in duels. Their favorite weapon was a massive battleaxe their former slaves the Achaz have adapted to their own size.
With the fall of Pyrdacor, their biggest jungle kingdom has been quite literally ripped out of Aventuria and transplanted into its own mini-dimension, leaving a big desert in its place. The Leviatanim themselves are pretty much extinct, at least in Aventuria. They still get a full statblock and everything, though.
Lobster mercenary dudes who fight with their pincers and a halberd. As rad as this sounds, I have sadly never found any official drawing of these guys. I guess their just weird human dudes with pincers and feelers? Maybe this Armalion wargame as a miniature or something...
Nevermind, apparently these guys are Awakened Dire Lobsters. Who can't actually speak but are still able to communicate with each other. And their are allergic to amber, a symbol of Praios (so they have been probably cursed a long time ago). I'd still totally play as one.
A very old - and extinct - race of dragonpeople, created by the Old Dragons in the Third Age. Information on these guys was a bit sparse, which is probably why Drakensang made heavy use of them.
Fishfolk who used to rule over the continent of Lamahria until it sunk in the Fourth Age like all Atlantis-wannabes do, turning them into degenerate savages over the millenia. They are now split up into the Black Mares (who live in the lightless deep sea under the perpetual ice - aka they might as well not exist for the PCs) and the Blue Mares (who live in the mountain range separating Aventuria from the Giantland).
Caiman mercenary dudes who love going berserk in combat. This sounds even radder than the Lobsterians, but Marus have some big drawbacks: They are much more beast-like in appearance than say the Achaz, giving them relatively small and weak arms that generally force them to hold a single one-handed weapon and swap their weapon arm every now and again. They are also apparently to stupid to develop their own culture, and they are not interested in anything that does not involve killing dudes.
Unsurprisingly also living on the Greek Mythology Theme Park Islands, these chimeras can also only reproduce through rape. Oh well, at least they don't have weird labyrinth-related abilities like their D&D counterparts. Minotaurs also exist in the Orcland, where they are often brainwashed by orc shamans to serve as warriors.
Night Albs / Night Elves / Dark Elves / Shakagra'e (I suck at translating these dudes)
Already mentioned earlier, these are artificially-created elves and the most important creation of the evil high elf Pardona. Though a major player in Myranor, they only serve as a footnote in Aventuria, mucking around in the high north and building a underwater city or two. The reason they live so far up north is because they found one of the largest deposits of Endurium there. Endurium is the most common (but still very rare) magical metal in Aventuria, able to create weapons and armor of excellent quality and so potent that even tiny traces of it will color the resulting alloy pitch-black. Having enough endurium for pure weapon and armor certainly helps them with their allergy to ordinary allergy - which along with their distaste for sunlight and their low numbers in Aventuria makes any kind of military endeavour quite unlikely (though the Glacier Wyrms also created by Pardona can probably wreck a couple towns if need be). There's also the fact their lackeys of the Nameless, who has long been ignored by the metaplot in favor of the archdemons and their shenanigans.
A 4th edition fluff text concerning the Night Albs caused yet another grog outrage because it was the record of an Aventurian traveller who described them as having pitch-black skin. This was eventually explained with them having worn Endurium face masks. Was this a retcon by the writers, or did the grogs take an unreliable report at face value so they could start a "We want no Drow in Aventuria!" campaign? You make the call.
Mermaids. They follow the same kind of development seen in One Piece (so I guess this might just be part of their general mythos I am not familiar with) and have their fish tail split into legs when they become old enough, turning them into Neckers . Though not able to talk, their beauty makes them highly-regarded servants. Generally pacifist in nature, a look at the full moon or alcohol can make them go berserk. So better don't give your fish servant beer.
Your typical dumb, big fat human-like dudes with a club who like to eat humans. Ogres hanging out with orcs (either of their own free will or after a brainwashing session) are outfitted with armor and a better weapon and are known as War Ogres (or Battle Ogres. Another tricky translation). There also exist Black Ogres in the southern jungles who are intelligent enough to go all Rambo on unsuspecting travellers.
Probably the most interesting part about TDE ogres is their creation myth: they were apparently created when Ogeron - the wildest of all the titans - got smitten by Praios and broke up into thousands of ogres that rained down on Aventuria. Sure, the more likely other origin story just had Ogeron create them, but where's the fun in that?
Relatives to the Mares and more numerous than them, these are another kind of fishdudes (this time with more pronounced fin ears). They generally try to avoid humans and lizardfolk and hate/fear Krakonians. I think their mages/priests have some stingray qualities to them.
A race of cobramen who used to rule over Aventuria until Pyrdacor and his gang came around and killed every single one of them because they didn't felt like being enslaved.
Snakemen who sometimes had four arms instead of two. Part of Pyrdacor's invasion of Aventuria, they served a role as priest mages as compared to the warrior mages that were the Leviatanim. Crystallomancy in its current form is all that is left of their heritage.
Now here's an interesting interpretation. Trolls in TDE are big (slightly smaller than a cyclops), shaggy guys with big noses. They are generally peacful vegetarians with a sweet tooth, but they do run into problems with farmers and other folks because they don't feel like paying for anything. While typically only armed with as simple club, they have a big two-handed axe stashed away in case someone really pisses them off. They are only passable fighters, but they hit hard .
Unbeknown to most, trolls are one of the oldest races (if not the oldest race). Ruins of their former fortresses can be found all over Aventuria, and they still have at least one working fortress hidden where they meet at the end of each Age (a period of time with the strange name Karmakortheon , where races like humans and orcs who have yet to have an Age dedicated to them fight for supremacy or something) to continue their historical records and chat a bit about what happens and what may happen. They could be the closest thing to a White Wolf race.
Relatives to the trolls are the Yetis (which makes sense I guess) and Treants aka walking trees (which I don't get).
Newtfolk. They used to be kinda big players (the Leviatanim were created by them), but nowadays they just live a simple and peaceful live in villages, hanging out with Achaz and sometimes humans (who they can understand, but not talk to because they lack vocal chords).
Overall, I find it a bit strange how there are like 5 different fishmen, yet you can't play as a single one (unless you play in Myranor).
Next Time : A look at notable monsters and other critters, and maybe some non-demonic supernatural critters. TDE vampires are somewhat original.
CreaturesOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Now to cover other critters aside from demons (because those are numerous enough to be their own post or two).
TDE features all your typical wild beasts, their pre-historic counterparts and of course dinosaurs. Some are bit more creative because they have unique Aventurian names: A T-Rex is known as a Gorger (sometimes also called Sultan Lizard or Tyrant Lizard), hyenas are known as Khoram Beasts after the desert they like to hang out in, and they have a unique baboon variant that likes to hang out in swamps and is called a Redeye or Swamp-[I have no idea how to translate "Ranze", if that even is an actual word to begin with]
Oversized insects do also exist of course, with dog-sized stag beetles sometimes being used as novelty pets who make for surprisingly good watchdogs.
The most original animals featured in TDE include the Snow Lurker (a very aggressive rage badger and the only creature in the entire game that somehow becomes faster and stronger as it takes damage), the Morfu (a giant snail that can shoot poisonous darts from the warts covering its body, though all the poison does is just add more damage), and the Kalekks. Kalekks are flesh-eating hominids standing 6 feet tall (with the females being 1.5x to 2x as big depending on the edition) who somehow lay eggs that the females carry around in pouches like some kind of marsupial.
As yet another proof that Maraskan isn't actually Not-Japan aside from samurai weapons and armor, there isn't anything along a kappa or other kind of Yokai. Instead, Maraskan is home of the Maraskan Tarantula , a spider-like creature with jaguar camo, a very flat triangular body and a very long stinger.
As mentioned last time, your general term for magically-created hybrid creatures. Generally considered the work of black magic or demon worship (seeing how chimeras fall into the domain of the archdemon Asfaloth). Modifiers to creating a chimera are based on how powerful you want it to be (like taking the worst or best stats of every base creature), whether you want it to be fertile and how different the base creatures are. An owlbear (who don't exist in TDE) are certainly way easier to do than scorpion whale grass.
Aside from harpyies, most other chimeras are pretty rare or one-of-a-kind, though manticores (without wings or ranged attacks) are somewhat common, especially since their are the patron animal of the demigod Kor (not sure how that works with the whole demon angle). For some reason, overpowered NPC mages really like fusing dragons with other critters. And not just the lame lesser dragons, the big "Is a much better spellcaster than you can ever hope to be" ones.
(it should be noted that the general rules for summoning/creating give the caster some points to beef up their creation. These points are either gained by taking a penalty to the spellcasting roll or by using the margin of success, though the latter gives you only half as many points to play with.)
These are like chimeras, but include at least one demon as the base creature. The notable daemonites are the White Chasers , a cross between a white-fured wolf and a Karmanath (a demon that doesn't really look too different from a normal wolf). The result is somehow way more demonic and scarier than the parent demon, because White Chasers are badass monstrosities with two heads and eight legs.
There is also a very confusing list of creatures that are (or might be) technically Daemonites, including Lobsterians (could explain why they only appeared in Aventuria in the last couple decades), Night Elves (not sure why they have random iron allergies if they're partially demons) and those White Lurkers (this actually makes kinda sense, with them raging and all).
Nobody quite knows whether these things are a form of daemonite, an actual demon or something else entirely. They look like misshapen tree trunks with (usually) four big branches serving as legs, with which they can walk on water like some kind of oversized, wooden water strider. They also eat ships and reproduce through some kind of mitosis. They can become as big as a warship (sometimes even larger) and have plenty of hollow space for weaponry and a crew composed of pirates, demons, Krakonians and our beloved Lobsterians. Why isn't there a game about pirate lobsters riding giant demon trees?
Suffice to say, these things really spice up ship combat in a setting where ships can only ploink ballista bolts at each other. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if these things actually have stats.
Elementals in TDE come in four levels of power: Elemental Ghosts who are barely sentient, Genies who are much smarter and always look humanoid, Elemental Masters who are essentially sentient natural disasters and finally the Elemental Lords who rule over their respective element like gods and hang around in the Elemental Citadeles that span from the First Sphere all the way to the Third (usually at the top of a high mountain range). The strongest elementals that can actually be summoned are the masters, though most spellcasters prefer genies as they're easier to deal with.
Elementals don't blindly follow orders, but have to be haggled with based on what the caster wants them to do and how good his summoning and diplomacy rolls are. Unless it's a ghost, they just do stuff as best as they can. The various things elementals can do and the modifiers associated with it are somehow more complicated than controlling a demon - who unlike elementls can also be summoned permanently.
(Elementals also aren't as customizable as other summoned creatures. Their stats are just boosted based on your margin of success)
These all come in your usual variety: The classic ghost who haunts a place till the PCs figure out what he wants, the Poltergeist who wrecks stuff
Another crime against nature courtesy of Asfaloth. They are made out of either clay, wood, stone or metal, and their size can be anything from a child to a troll.
(Fun fact: Prior to 4th edition, golem and undead creation was all done with the same spell)
The elemental counterpart to a golem. Unlike their evil demon cousin, they can't be made permanently. They are also so rare that the only officla Golemite-creating spell is for the creation of quicksand golemites, but even that spell is hard to get because it was developed exclusively by and for one Tulamidian sultan. Because we can't have the heroes summon a sand-based T-1000 buddy.
Not really an actual enemy seeing how they are servants of Praios. The are naturally suped-up lions with wings and a beak.
These almost-Godzilla-sized sea monsters (though there are rumors of specimens that actually are Godzilla-sized) are clearly not meant to be fought by PCs and are merely plot devices and adventure hooks (though that didn't stop the developers from giving them stats anyways, with very swingy d20-based damage rolls and hundreds of Life Points that makes it more durable than a warship). The writers also fully endorse antagonistic GM behavior when using sea serpents - because having the players find lots of treasure only to have it lost through a surprise sea serpent they have no chance of defeating will surely do wonders to a good roleplaying atmosphere.
Of course TDE has this other kind of sea serpent, in case the antagonistic GM wants to spice things up a little. Fortunately, there exist a couple smaller kraken variants the PCs can actually fight. These can also hunt on land, which makes me imagine them walking around like a cartoon squid.
No real surprises here. Can turn into an animal or animal hybrid, and hard to kill without silver. The only strange part is that they can raise their physical stats as much as they want, so your Barbarian-Battleaxe-wielding powergamer probably really wants to become a were-critter.
Undead are annoying. Not only can they easily cause wound infections (plus a handful of diseases based on the type of undead), but seeing a type of undead for the first time requires a penalized Courage check to not turn around and run away, screaming like a little girl. Fun.
Aside from your standard zombie and skeleton, there's the Living Corpse , a zombie that is just fresh enough to kinda sorta pass off as living and can still use weapons and other tools. The most powerful undead is the mummy, who may be weak to fire attacks, but makes up for it by hitting like a truck. There are also stats for skeleton dogs and horses, but TDE sadly doesn't have generel zombie/skeleton templates.
As skillful casters can beef up their undead, the basic human undead stay competitive quite longer than their D&D counterparts. Though they are still pretty dumb and lack finesse. There do exist some undead that are sentient, but those are just another case of overpowered NPC syndrome.
Almost all undead fall under the domain of Targunitoth, but other archdemons can have undead of their own, usually reflavored after their sthick. The most common are the bloated Water Corpses of Charyptoroth, and the Ice Corpses of Nagrach. I also seem to recall that Blakharaz has a thing for Ghost Rider skeletons.
(There also used to be a good kind of undead called Revenant , who is so dedicated to fulfill his last mission that he'd resurrect himself over and over again. 4th edition seems to have retconned them away, though)
Now these guys are much more creative than the lycanthropes. The first vampires were loyal servants of the Nameless who were granted demonic power by him, only to be cursed by the Twelvegods in return. To this day, every vampire is considered to have been cursed by one of the Twelvegods (either their patron deity from their time as a human, or the god of their birth month if they weren't particularly religious), which determines what kind of weakness he has: Praios-cursed vampires are weak to sunlight, Rondra-cursed can be killed easily in a honorful duel (which Sanctified of Rondra can actually force you to do), and Boron-cursed have the whole "Must sleep in homeland soil"-shtick while Travia-cursed have the "Can't enter a building without being invited in"-shtick. Vampires also go through a radical personality change, so a noble warrior in service of Rondra eventually turns into a cowardly scoundrel, and a Praios-cursed can't help to lie constantly.
The exact frequency and severity of a weakness is randomly determined. A Praios-cursed might only be mildly irritated by sunlight, while water might be literal acid to an Efferd-cursed (think Legacy of Kain) and a Travia-cursed might instantly turn to ashes if a blood relative gives him a hug.
Outside of their weakness, vampires are more than pushovers. They have greatly boosted physical attributes, gain random vampire-related powers and regenerate any kind of damage pretty darn fast. On top of that, they are also resistant to physical damage. As this is the only kind of resistance that reduces the Hit Points (aka damage before armor) instead of the Damage Points (aka damage after armor), a vmapire in full knight getup can shrug off siege engine attacks.
In any case, it's much better for the PCs to just do research on the vampire in question so they know what to try out against him.
TDE vampires are also a bit new-agey because they don't drink blood for the blood itself, but the life essence inside the blood.
Pardona - being the crazy mad scientist of this setting - also created her own brand of elven vampires called Feylamia . They aren't too different from normal vampires except that they are always cursed by demigoddes Mada, giving them weaknesses to moonlight and silver.
Next Time : Metaplot! Let's see how things have changed since Realms of Arkania.
MetaplotOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Man, it has been a short while. Well, in any case, let's talk a bit about the metaplot of TDE.
Aside from adventure modules, the main way TDE's metaplot is developed is through the Aventurian Herald , a bi-monthly magazine at around 12 pages presenting itself is an in-universe newspaper (a newspaper of the same name does in fact exist in Aventuria) with lots of fluff and some rules stuff thrown into the mix. The Herald used to cover around 2 Aventurian years per Earth year, but 3rd edition's last big event has slowed it down to realtime.
I've never subscribed or read the Herald, but kudos to any official magazine that is almost as old as the system itself (the first issue came out in 1985, with the 1st edition having come out in 1984) and is still alive and well.
Metaplot NPCs and You
TDE is pretty weird when it comes to major metaplot NPCs. You know how White Wolf and its copycats protect their most important NPCs by giving them ridiculous stats and a broken combination of spells and/or magical items? Well, TDE doesn't even give them stats. The most you'll ever get is a summary in a sourcebook detailing the NPCs most important stats and skills, with maybe a Fate-like description ("Something von Whatshisface is a remarkable strategist and a masterful combatant" or something like that) which under the NPC creation rules almost always equal a truckload of EXP to spend on stuff. Appearances in adventure modules are then usually complemented by a spell and magical item combo diminishing any chance of the party spellcaster from actually being able to do anything against the NPC. If the NPC in question is also a spellcaster, expect him to have minor freecaster abilities that allow him to cast suped-up versions of exsiting spells without verbal and somatic components (or really anything that could warn the party). Fun times.
If the players are actually supposed to fight a major NPC, the GM basically has to fudge things till the railroad says the fight is over (we'll get to that).
How I learned to stop worrying and love the Big G
I think the best way to experience the metaplot is through one of TDE's most long-running villains: Gaius Cordovan Eslam Galotta .
G.C.E. Galotta used to be head mage of a previous Middlerealmian Kaiser (these guys die like flies these days). Being number 1 at court of course attracts its fair share of rivals. In Galotta's case, it was the female Tulamidian mage Nahema ai Tamerlain .
One faithful day, Nahema convinced the Kaiser that it would be a great display of Galotta's power if he were to summon a demon for the court's general amusement. I think this was a bit more accepted before demons became the ultimate metaplot bad guys?
Anyhow, the summoning was a success, though controlling the demon (essentially a weretiger on steroids) failed utterly, causing it to maul a nearby dancer. I'm sure Nahema had absolutely nothing to do with this.
Speaking of Nahema, she also suggested the punishment for Galotta's failure: the Scarlet Cap Dance . Pour some red paint on his head, throw him on a giant grill and let him dance till he passes out. The Kaiser approved of this, so not only did Galotta get banished from court, but his head was also now permanently colored red. I am not entirely sure why they thought he wouldn't immediately seek revenge. He's only the Middlerealm's most powerful mage.
Has fate will have it, Galotta came into possession of the Ogre Eye a couple years before this whole mess. The Ogre Eye is a Dark Eye which doesn't really work like a not-Palantir, but can rather be used to mind control ogres. He almost immediately started assembling an army of over 1,000 ogres, let them built a gigantic catapult and had them march towards the capital of Gareth. This had the Garethians freak out, seeing how the last March of the Ogres almost 2,000 years ago nearly wiped out the entire population. And thus 2nd edition's first adventure was born.
Old edition artwork used to be quite pulpy. Apparently, oldschool ogres were in a much better shape than the fat inbreds we have today. I also suspect these two doofuses in the front aren't supposed to be PC expys, because PC expys in these old covers tended to be bare-chested badasses with winged helmets.
Also, "fantastical fantasy games" is a pretty stupid subtitle for your game's logo.
Then again, Gareth's population was now around a million as opposed to a thousand, and the Middlerealmian's army was of course a tiny bit bigger and more advanced. So of course did the ogres get killed by an army around 10 times its size. Galotta himself just laid low for a while, teaching at a black mage academy or two and eventually releasing a dragon chimera on a city (he's a metaplot mage; of course he can just use a big dragon as an ingredient). And then Borbarad happened.
Borbarad was originally the Alveranian of Forbidden Knowledge, a son of the demi-god Nandus (maing him a quarter-god I guess?) who alongside with his more talented brother - the Alveranian of Hidden Knowledge - used to be reincarnated as mortals every couple centuries or thousand years (it fluctuated a bit). His last reincarnation came over 500 years ago as Tharsonius of Bethana , while his brother became Rohal the Wise (more or less not-Gandalf).
While Rohal was busy being the Middlerealmian Kaiser for more than 100 years and introducing the world to the current coinage and the thinly-disguised metric system, Tharsonius was busy doing dark magic stuff. He supposedly "invented" the Gargyles, created a brand of mosquitos that suck out EXP (a real riot for players) and came up with a variant of the forbidden blood magic that would allow even non-casters to cast spells if they were willing to pay with their own Life Points or use a sacrifice. And if you go by a certain adventure module that has quickly been deemed non-canon, he also built a spaceship to fill his dungeon with aliens. He also apparently had 12 fingers for some reason.
Tharsonius eventually started calling himself Borbarad (which is apparently old Tulamidian for "bringer of death"), which was also around the time Rohal had enough of his shenanigans and decided to bring him down. Their forces clashed in a desert and pretty much everyone died or disappeared, including the two brothers. It's not entirely clear what happened to Rohal, but Borbarad had his soul flung into the Limbus.
Fast forward near the end of 3rd edition TDE, and Borbarad got prematurely rezzed thanks to followers of his bringing back his soul and the high elf Pardona brewing together a new body for him. Borbarad made for his old hideout in the desert, were he turned the remains of the ancient emperor dragon Rhazzazor into some kind of dracolich and made pacts with seven archdemons, granting him that funky crown he's wearing. Said pacts included Belkelel aka Rapey McNotSlaanesh, but not Blakharaz aka Archdemon of Vengeance and nemesis of the main pantheon's leader. I think getting rezzed caused a bit of brain damage.
Behing impressed by his dragon chimera shenanigans, Borbarad quickly became BFF with good ol' Galotta. Together with their zombie dragon, a bunch of other followers and an army of undead, demons, mercenaries and rad lobster dudes, the forces of Borbarad invaded Tobria , a region that makes up the Middlerealmian's east coast and is largely isolated through the mountain ranges surrounding it, with the only connection to the rest of the realm being a mountain pass protected by the mighty Troll Gate .
This invasion of Tobria (quickly rebranded to Dark Tobria aka The Dark Lands ) heralded 3rd edition's last big adventure path: The Signed Campaign . This campaign revolved around the Seven Signed, a group of heroes destined to duke it out with Borbarad. These Signed are of course PCs, with NPCs filling the remaining slots. And if your group has more than seven PCs, I guess some will just hang out as secondary dudes.
The campaign in question was about travelling all over Aventuria, uncovering hidden secrets (like the trolls' secret society of historians), defeating fiendish villains (like at least one vampire), making sure that the legendary blade Sevenstroke gets reforged, and of course looking out for those signs they are named after. Said signs are essentially funky super powers, ranging from slowly turning into a lizardman, getting a silver hand prosthesis that acts like a magical swiss army knife for thieves, or a divine cloud wolf buddy you can summon for artillery support.
All these preparations culminated in the Third Demon Battle * at the Troll Gate. All sorts of knights, Sanctified, demi-humans and even a group of trolls joined the fight against the legions of undead, demons and other nasty things.
As the Troll Gate just so happened to be the same battlefield were Galotta's ogres were slain, the Big G of course didn't hesitate and raised an army of ogre skeletons. You'd think they would've disposed of those corpses years ago, seeing how the Troll Gate is the only land trade route to and from Tobria.
*) The First Demon Battle got started around 1,500 years ago by a Bosparan (aka not-Roman) emperor wanting to annihilate some Garethian rebels. The demons eventually started attacking everyone , turning the battlefield into a wasteland that still exists to this day. The Second Demon Battle happend around 1,000 years ago started for similar reasons (just with a Horasian emperor instead of a Bosparanian one, as the not-Roman empire has already vanished and Bosparan itself was merely the Horasian capital) and was so bad that the gods themselves had to enter the fray to avoid the end of the world. This later resulted in Bosparan getting annihilated, forcing the Horasians to get themselves a new capital.
The battle didn't exactly go well for the good guys. Along with the surprise ogre skeleton army, there was also a giant demon that was essentially a walking fortress, and Borbarad also summoned a powerful demon who was a doomsday event in and of itself. And he threw in a Not Greater Daemon of Not-Khorne for good measure to cleanse the ranks of the Sanctified of Rondra. Nevertheless, the Signed managed to get close enough to Borbarad - and then thinks went weird and metaphysical.
The 7-on-1 fight with Borbarad happened on different planes of existence (I think), with several mind battles happening at once. The lizardman Signed for example had a duel with Borbarad in some pocket dimensions were both had the bodies of Leviatanim (the only case in the entire aventure were Borbarad got a statblock), will the cloud wolf buddy had to concentrate to aim his heavenly companion at Borbarad.
But this was all rather pointless, because when the writers of TDE decide that one metaplot villains has to kick the bucket, he'll kick it no matter how much the PCs fail. This was especially easy here because the Signed are supposed to die from the start, either because they lost to Borbarad or because they suffered one too many wounds. I think they did this so they could keep mentioning the Signed without having to mention who they were, and because they don't want PCs with mild super powers running around.
So even if a Signed were to lose and die, his spirit would still pop up to help wield Sevenstroke (so if all but one Signed were to die, you can re-enact the first season finale of Sailor Moon), whacking Borbarad in the head to break his weird crown. This was then followed by a weird Gainax ending because a strange child appeared to spirit Borbarad away into a pocket dimension, effectively sealing his soul for good and protecting it from the archdemons' grasp.
Now that Borbarad is gone and a new Age was about to start, things just got started for the Dark Lands: The seven most powerful allies of Borbarad grabbed one of the shards of Borbarad'S crown (each corresponding to one of the archdemons he made a pact with) and fleed the battlefield to start their own little terror regime. These shard wielders were known as the Heptarchs :
Aventuria's first (I think) dracolich naturally got himself the Targunitoth Shard to turn the Tobrian region of Warunkia into a realm of the undead. The citizens of Warunkia not only had to contempt with guards that were a bit rotten, but Rhazzazor also had a tendency to have weird nightmares about the Soul Mill (were the souls of the damned are slowly grinded into demons) which he shares with everyone in his realms. There's an adventure where the PCs take a trip into his realm, and a single nightmare-fueld night is enough to give them a chance of catching a windmill phobia. Weird.
Rhazzazor eventually got offed, being replaced by a council of necromancers that have recently also been offed, leaving Warunkia in a somewhat chaotic state.
Portifex Maximus Xeraan
A weird, bald mage with a serious case of Scrooge McDuck who got the Charyptoroth Shard to take over Tobria's coast region and fund Xeraania . He was the first Heptarch to get usurped, being replaced by the pirate admiral Darion Paligan who holds the shard ever since, proving that he who has the most rad lobster pirates wields the shard.
A hot ice witch with the Nagrach Shard. She doesn't have much to do with Tobria, but instead rules over her kingdom of Glorania in Aventurias north east. She spends most of her time using gigantic spiral structures to drill for the world's life essence. Think of a pre-industrial Shinra Corporation (so without power plants, robots and all the fun stuff) run by that queen from Narnia.
Helme Haffax (his first name is the German word for "helmets". So weird.)
As the wielder of the Belharlar (aka "No blood for the Not Blood God!") Shard, is was only natural that this Heptarch is not some sissy spellcaster, but a manly warrior dude who rules over most of northern and middle Maraskan (which also got invaded by the Borbarad's forces). So not only are Maraskans arabic/european dudes with a very thin Japanese shtick, but they are also freedom fighters.
A serpentine chimera who naturally got the Shard of her "father" Asfaloth, she and her spawn hang around in the central mountain range of Maraskan and doesn't really do a whole lot.
Dimiona of Zorgan
Wielder of the Belkelel Shard, she founded Oron in a part of Arania that also got invaded. Oron is essentially Hentailand, where even the vine stock is out to get you. Thankfully the writers didn't really do a whole lot of icky stuff with Oron, and it was the first of the Dark Lands to be wiped out. Dimiona lost her head in the process, but not before transfering her soul into the body of Arania's queen. She still uses the shard, which she has hidden beforehand.
The one and only Galotta
Saving the best for last, the Big G got himself the Agrimoth (Mr. "2/3 of the elements are mine to command") Shard, with which he took control over the northern Tobrian region of Transysilia . He build himself the super-sized fortress Kholak-Kai und used a magic staff to install a city-wide suerveillance system consisting of Gotongi (spy demons that are just an eyeball with batwings. Not sure if they were introduced before or after that one Zelda monster that looks pretty much the same) and holding big partys, some of which involved the real-life German medieval rock band Saltatio Mortis (who are also Aventurian NPCs for some reason).
Galotta's last big coup was right at the start of the Year of Fire , 4th edition's first big adventure path. This Year of Fire was for the most part a kind of succession war for the Middlerealmian throne, but the events that kickstarted it were pretty darn batshit. Things started harmless with a tourney and a little "Where'd all the gryphons gone?" mystery - and then Galotta projected his smug face over Gareth and went all "Your city is mine!". As it turned out, Galotta and Rhazzazor have started a joint venture, with Rhazzazor unleashing his undead hordes towards Gareth while Galotta lifts off with his fortress .
So while the Middlerealmian army was busy fending off a crapload of undead, the heroes used an airship and/or rescued gryphons to attack the flying fortress, with little help from other gryphons and magical anti-aircraft statues positioned on Gareth's walls. How did they plan to kill Galotta? With poison. Not the useful kind of poison in this situation, but poison you have to ingest. So after storming his throne room, they either had to force it down his throat (rather unlikely seeing how Galotta was buffed with every defensive spell in the book and is a pretty good mind controller) or somehow convince him to drink it (which was admittedly more likely as Galotta was somehow convinced the potion they were carrying was some fabled potion of power level increasing, and the PCs probably got their hand on another potion that would make them immune against mind control so they can pretend to be mind control - which was pretty much necessary because Galotta's mind control always works otherwise, and the adventure specifically mentioned how brainwashed people always act after the controller's intend, unlike demons who just follow the words as spoken for more loopholes.). But my favorite solution comes whenever the players completely fail in their task. Then Galotta would just jank the poison away from them via magic... and just drink it, thinking it would boost his power level.
That's right. The metaplot is so railroady that the villains will straight up off themselves if the players just fail hard enough.
With Galotta dead, his flying fortress ceased to be flying and smashed an entire city district of Gareth, destroying the holiest artifact of Praios' church in the process. Rhazzazor and his flunkies sodded off a bit earlier after the PCs and/or a metaplot NPC poked him in the head with a magical lance, causing some magical migraine of sorts.
Though the Big G has now left the building (for now, at least), his shard has now fallen into the hands of Leonardo of Havena who is straight-up Evil Leonardo da Vinci. Only the future can tell whether he can come up with something even crazier than a flying fortress. He certainly raised the bar pretty darn high.
And that's it in a nutshell. There have been a couple more succession shenanigans, a Drakensang-related tie-in and more adventures dealing with the Dark Lands. But it's all rather loose and short at the moment. If anything, TDE keeps the amount of world-shattering events rather small.
Next Time : Let's take a look at the spells. All the classics like invisibility and wildshape who don't quite work like you think they do.
Magic SpellsOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
As spells in TDE are essentially just another big ol' list of skills, casting them requires as a succesful check, with failure still costing you half the Astral Points it would've otherwise cost. Using anything but direct damage spells on a target adds the target's magic resistance (which is usually 0-3 for must guys and noticably higher for other spellcasters) to the check. Trying to affect multiple targets at once adds a penalty equal to the highest magic resistance plus the number of targets, so either everyone is affected, or nobody. Not particularly granular, is all I'm saying.
A successful spell will usually have its effect and/or duration increased based on the Margin of Success, though the writers apparently weren't too sure just how they affect each spell. Pretty much every re-release of the Liber Cantiones (aka spellbook supplement, be it a single hardcover or a softcover in a boxed set) and the following errata tends to tinker around with the exact effect of MoS.
(Warning: TDE spells are traditionally written in all caps, and I'll stick to it so you get the full TDE experience. The list is also not exhaustive, as I'v glanced over a lot of boring/uninteresting stuff.)
TDE's fancy-pants name for elemental magic, because there are six elements (fire, water, air, ore, humus, ice). While each spell with the elemental tag can theoretically exist for each of the elements, in practice the overwhelming majority of these spell will default to one of the elements, with the other versions either only known to druids (and probably crystallomancers), being forgotten in the mists of time or straight up not existing at all. There are however magic research rules that - among other things - led you create a variant of an existing elemental spell with the element changed. This probably means that these spells do in fact exist in all possible variations, but the NPCs who came up with them kept them to themself to blindside potential adventuring parties.
A new system introduced in 4th edition allows spellcasters to boost their spells in various ways by adding penalties to their check. Things like increased range or duration, stuff you'd be familiar with if you know 3rd edition D&D. A neat addition to this comes in the form of spell modifications , which are little tricks and variations unique to the spell in question and also add to the overall check penalty. Penalties are overall pretty hefty, so don't go wild with this stuff.
A kind of metamagic has existed long before 4th edition in the form of two spells: REVERSALIS REVIDUM reverses the effect of the next spell cast if it makes sense (like turning a buff into a debuff or vice versa, or turning an elemental spell into the opposing element), while INFINITUM EVERMORE makes spells with a duration last forever (if you can't already do that with the original spell).
It should be noted that any spell with a permanent duration or effect requires the caster to sacrifice a fraction of the Astral Points spent permanently. This wasn't too much of an issue in older editions were your Astral Point pool increased with each level, and 4th edition just lets you buy back those "permanently" lost Astral Points (which doesn't count towards the maximum amount of additonal Astral Points you can buy, and is in fact the cheaper option).
And while where at spell durations, spells that don't require constant concentration (of which there aren't a whole lot) last until they expire, with little the spellcaster can do to end them prematurely.
While being a blaster in TDE is pretty flashy and awe-inspiring, it also kinda blows. There aren't really a whole lot of AoE damage spells, and their cost in Astral Points pretty much always equals the amount of damage they deal. Though while you can turn an attacking bandit into a pile of scorched bones, this can easily cost you around 2/3rds of your starting Astral pool. Though you can eventually buy that up to around 80 (provided to max out three stats, which costs a ton of XP and time to do), and there is technically no upper limit as spellcasters can perform a special mediation once per year that adds maybe 1 or 2 Astral Points permanently (which is probably the main excuse for metaplot NPCs to have essentially limitless Astral Points), you can't just blast a group of ogres into oblivion, let alone a dragon. What you can do however is soften up or finish off opponents.
The other downside to "Spell costs equals damage" is that, since damage spells usually deal a handful of dice in damage, the exact cost is a bit unpredictable. What happens if you deal more damage than you have Astral Points left? Well, this usually means the spell fails outright, unless your skill rank reaches a certain level (from which point on the spell will just deal your remaining Astral Points in damage) or the damage depends on your Margin of Success (which also just uses your remaining Astral Points as a base, because failing your spell because you succeeded too well would be both incredibly silly and hilarious at the same time).
(The only exception to the "cost equals damage" rule are spells cast by Borbaradian blood mages. They make separate rolls for damage and cost because Borbarad was apparently a big fan of randomness)
ARROW OF [ELEMENT]
: For an arcane archer vibe and naturally most popular with elves. It simply lets you charge up an arrow with any of the six elements as long as you have some of that element around to dip the arrow tip into.
of TDE, known to pretty much every fullcaster class and a few lesser spellcasters. Its name sounds way flashier than it actually is, though. The spellcaster just points their fist at someone to be hurt by invisible magic. Damage is straight up 2d6 + your MoS in Damage Points as opposed to Hit Points (aka the spell ignores armor), which is a pretty sweet deal that scales quite nicely while staying relatively affordable. The only downside is that the spell can't cause wounds. A handy modification deals AoE Stamina-only damage, while a pure utility modification causes it to kill every vermin in the vicinity for lice-less nights.
: The other quintessential TDE damage spell, used by mages, druids and crystallomancers. It lets them shoot out a beam of concentrated fire (or another element if they've learned any of the less common variations) dealing between 1 to the caster's spell rank in d6s, allowing him to adjust the damage and cost as the situation demands. The writers went pretty wild with the amount of modifications for this spell: You can shoot out a narrower beam to make wounds more likely, and there are three different ways to give this AoE capabilities (give the beam a cone-shape, just split the damage between multiple targets, or cast two different beams at the same time).
: Made famous by the secluded mages of Drakonia who bragged with this spell after it has been tought being lost forever. It's a rather straight-forward AoE spell aside from the fact that the fireball has movement speed and can be mentally controlled by the spellcaster. Unless you use a modification to speed it up, it is about as fast as a slow dwarf, so anyone who didn't put on too much armor can outrun it. It's a like a very slow bazooka or something.
KULMINATIO BALL LIGHTNING
: A rare spell that is strangely like a Borbaradian spell in that the damage deal and the astral points are two different rolls, though it isn's really one of those forbidden Borbarad spells. What it is is a ball of lightning moving at random speeds towards a foe, dealing a rather swingy amount of damage (d20 + 5 or so). Pretty nifty against guys in metal armor, as their Armor Protection does not only do nothing, but is also added to the damage in question. A modification of this spell turns it into chain lightning.
: A very, very nasty spell invented by Borbarad and used by his brand of blood magic practicioners. The spell causes a massive heart attack that kills very quickly (1d20 in the first turn, 2d20 in the next and so on; and no, they just have to pay once). Just never let a Borbaradian spellcaster touch you.
WRATH OF THE ELEMENTS
: A druid-only spell (but probably still the most common AoE damage spell outside of IGNIFAXIUS modifications) that has the spellcaster grab some of the desired element, throw it at his foes and have it turn into an elemental inferno. Damage his however split between the targets, which is a bit unfortunate.
Honorable mention goes to AEROFUGU VACUUM, another Drakonian spell that sucks the air out of a room-size area for a couple rounds, causing Stamina damage to anyone inside and really messing up air elementals. As this is an elemental spell, a crafty spellcaster PC could come up with an ore version to effectively demolish walls and buildings cleanly and easily.
There are quite a lot of those:
: A mind control spell that makes the target think of the caster as a friend, giving you an instant temporary BFF if the MoS is high enough. Useful to confuse enemy ranks and make diplomatic and investigative adventures much easier.
BLACK AND RED
: A Borbaradian spell causing steady damage and reducing physical stats, essentially a magical disease.
: Another Borbaradian spell that makes its victims freak out at the color black.
CORPOFESSO LIMB PAIN
: Instant fatigue (aka a general debuff to physical stuff) plus a pretty big drop in Strength (making fighter dudes a bit useless). Nice.
CORPOFRIGO COLD SHOCK
: A general debuff spell that is a bit overshadowed by one further down.
CURSE OF PESTILENCE
: Lets you get just about any nasty disease you want on a target. Fun times.
: Disintegrates inorganic matter in its path. Handy to disarm people and getting in and out of buildings.
: Cuts the victim's maximum Stamina in half and raises the caster's maximum by around half of that for a day. Not terribly useful unless you plan a career as a wrestler. Sure, there are a couple spells that mainly deal Stamina damage, but any spellcaster who knows those probably also knows at least the FULMINICTUS.
EYE OF THE LIMBUS
: The ultimate dick move. This spell creates a hole into the Limbus (the space between Spheres aka dimensions), sucking anything in within range, including people if they fail one or more Strength checks (depending on distance). The caster can pay additional Astral Points to add as a penalty ot these checks (which can quickly make succeeding at these checks impossible short of a natural 1) and increase the damage the vicitms suffer when they get sucked into the hole. This damage is probably not enough to kill them, but being stranded in the Limbus is pretty much a death sentence unless a spellcaster with the right dimension-travelling spells got sucked in as well or you just happen to run into a Limbus inhabitant who isn't an Eldritch demon (and the place is pretty darn big, so that's quite unlikely). And if the caster used a certain modification with a pretty high penalty, the hole instead sucks people directly into the Netherhells. Sweet. Oh, and using EYE OF THE LIMBUS while inside the Limbus adds a random penalty to the check and opens a hole that can lead into any random place in all of existance.
GRANITE AND MARBLE
: Slowly turns the target into the nearest type of rock for a couple weeks, or even permanently with a modification.
: It's like BANNBALADIN, except the target becomes more afraid of you instead of more BBFish.
: A very powerful mind control, though limited to a single action. Suicidal stuff or things that go way too far against the target's ethics allow additional attempts to break free, though I guess stuff like "Jump out of the window!" rarely leave more time for a single attempt.
: A geas, basically.
: Cast from your target's Astral pool.
MAY AGONY TEAR YOU APART!
: This one causes Stamina damage and enough pain to prevent the target from doing anything of use, essentially denying him actions for several rounds.
MAY LIGHTNING FIND YOU
: The fastest spell around at just 1 action (aka half round; even other spells meant for combat require 2-4 actions). It's a mental flashbang only the target can perceive, adding a penalty to just about everything he does for a number of rounds equal to the MoS. Said penalty used to be equal to the spellcaster's rank, but that got changed into the MoS for less brokenness. In both cases, Attack and Parry count as a single pool and are both only penalized by half. It is also not possible to target multiple people with this. Still, a very fast and rather cheap debuff for
the target does? There's really no reason to not have this spell in your list, especially since pretty much ever spellcaster class has access to it.
MAY MEMORY LEAVE YOU!
: Causes a memory loss of recent events. Probably a fun way to troll people.
MAY PANIC OVERCOME YOU!
: A rather tame Borbaradian spell that causes the vicitms to flee in terror. Unlike every other multi-target spell, this one isn't penalized by the highest Magic Resistance + number of targets, but instead just affects anyone whose Magic Resistance is lower than the MoS. Why isn't this the norm?
: A bit like the above memory loss spell, but it can erase any single specific memory.
: A druid-only spell that fools the target into seeing the druid as the thing he fears the most, which will just freeze him in terror for a couple rounds before he has to make a Courage check to avoid fainting. As this can be used against multiple targets, it would be a neat encounter-ending spell on par with old edition D&D
. Unfortunately, the spell takes around 5 turns to cast, so it takes a bit of preparation.
PARALYSIS STIFF AS ROCK
: Paralyzes someone for a few turns, though they become immune to damage for the entire duration because they get encased in some kind of crystal rock stuff.
PLUMBUMBARUM HEAVY BREATHING
: A nice debuff to Attack and Initiative. A modification also makes casting spells with somatic components (aka most of them) harder.
RESPONDAMI TRUTH COMPULSION
: Forces the target to answer a yes-or-no question truthfully. There goes your murder mystery adventure.
: Polymorph something into a useless tiny animal or something.
STRAP AND CORD
: An interesting movement debuff preventing the target from leaving the area the caster has walked around during the casting.
- YOUR OWN FEARS TORMENT YOU! : This rather descriptive spell effectively shuts down the target for hours, and it's fast enough to be useful in combat.
Just had to put these in their own list as they are exclusive to Knaves and benefit from the Knaves' ability to ignore Magic Resistances below a certain threshold they can increase with not-Feats. Most of these are Save-or-Suck spells that are both hilarious and useful.
Knaves are also like Final Fantasy Blue Mages in that they can learn spells from other classes and have them instantly turn into Knave spells by just observing the spell often enough. Anyone else has to learn non-class spells normally (which usually requires to learn a whole new caster representation in the progress) and then spend months trying to tweak the spell to fit into your own representation.
COME KOBOLD COME
: Summons a Kobold if one is nearby. As they are omnipotent pranksters, he will probably be pretty useful unless he decides to be a dick.
: Anyone in the area starts speaking in a random gibberish (or more specifically: everyone rolls a d20 and you can only understand and talk to people who rolled the same number). This also affects written words.
: Gives the away the location of any object the Knave knows himself or has been told enough about it by someone who does know it. There goes a couple investigative adventures.
: Allows the Knave to mask one object as something else in the eyes of the target, like a frog for a bag of gold. For some reason, masking coins as a more valuable coin or a different currency requires a modification.
INFLATED [AND] LIFTED
: Makes the target inflate like a balloon, slowly lifting off for a few turns before landing just as slowly. The latter part is probably there because knaves aren't allowed to kill, though I suppose the rest of the party can still use the human balloon as target practice. As this prevents the target from casting any kind of spell (or really doing
), it is the perfect way to shut down an enemy caster. Sure, the mental flashbang is faster (1 action as opposed to 7), but non-Knave spells have to deal with the enemy caster's full Magic Resistance, which tends to be much higher than other targets.
KLUDGE AND BLOOPER
: Now this is a fun one. Makes it so that nobody in the current combat can actually make normal attacks. Everything is either a fantastical crit if it hits or a hilariously embarassing fumble if it doesn't. None of the crits and fumbles deal actual damage however, so the combatants will eventually stop fighting, wondering wtf is going on.
LAUGH YOURSELF HEALTHY
: Restores Life Points through laughter. Might just be usable as a debuff in combat, though I'm not sure.
: The victim becomes nacked, naturally dropping whatever armor and weapons he was packing.
- POETS AND THINKERS : Essentially turns the target into a character from Goethe's Faust , for he is only able to speak in rhymes. This isn't one of those "Automaticaly speaks in rhymes whether he wants to or not"-curses you usually see, however. If he can't come up with a rhyme for the things he wants to say, he can't speak anything at all. Not sure how that interferes with spellcasting, seeing how spell names used to be actual rhymes that have most likely been chanted by the casters.
And those are the most notable Knave spells. There are a few others for various kinds of pranks and disguises.
: A 1 hour buff to a specific stat. Used to be a buch of separate spells for each stat until 4th edition streamlined this (now here's a first). This spell is interesting in that the third stat involved in the spell check is always the stat to be buffed. Not sure how this affects the maximum possible rank for this spell (which depends on the highest of the three stats).
: Mage Armor. No spellcaster should be without it. You can theoretically reach Armor Protection equal to a set of full plate armor (aka 12), though that's highly unlikely as that the spell's cost is equal to the desired Armor Protection
(minus the MoS, with a minimum of 4). Naturally, good ol' Galotta had no problem paying the 120-144 Astral Points required for his ARMATRUTZ he was packing in his final stand. For some reason, that adventure also noted how the spell doesn't work if you stab the mage very slowly, which isn't anywhere in the actual description. Guess the writer of that adventure was a fan of Dune?
AXXELERATUS LIGHTNING FORM
: The haste spell. Like modern D&D iterations of it, it doesn't give you additional actions (which would probably break the wizard action economy even worse than in D&D), it just grants improved speed, combat stats (including damage) and a penalty to an enemy's Parry, making it a pretty good buff to have on your main fighter dude. There's a modification that let's you talk faster, which is the only way to speak the Kobold tongue unless you're a Kobold or Knave.
DUPLICATUS DOUBLE IMAGE
: Creates one or more after-images of the target. The more he has, the less likely others are to hit the real one.
EAGLE EYE LYNX EAR
: Your general perception buff.
FACLON EYE MASTER SHOT
: Just adds a juicy bonus to yur next shot or throw.
FORTIFEX ARCANE WALL
: Creates an invisible wall that blocks anything aside from spells.
FROSTINESS WARRIOR HEART
: Adds some slight Armor Protection, but its mostly there to ignore wound effects.
GARDIANUM MAGIC SHIELD
: A force field that absorbs magical damage effects. A modification also turns it into an actual shield.
: Makes the target go magically berserk, which can have its drawbacks.
INVERCANO MIRROR TRICK
: Try to reflec some spells (mostly damage and transformation stuff) back at the caster. Metaplot NPCs love this one.
- SENSATTACCO MASTER STROKE : Imrpoves your crit chance. AFAIK the only way to do that in this game.
Other Helpful Spells
ABEVENUM PURE FOOD
: Not only makes food edible to a point it removes any poison and even reverses rot, but modifications also led you make stuff edible that is not immediately deadly or dangerous (like making sea water drinkable), but it can also prevent any poison from working on the food for a coupple hours (making it useful at court). The exact effect can vary depending on the caster: Stuff that is edible for a lizardman is not necessarily healthy for anyone else, and elves apparently also despise alcohol because their spell turns wine into grape juice.
ACCURATUM MAGIC NEEDLE
: Changes the appearance of a piece of clothing till the next winter solstice. Modifications let you create a piece of clothing out of raw materials, or make the change permanent - which combos nicely with the modifcation that lets you change the fabric itself. D&D wizards become rich through salt. TDE mages buy cheap line and make silk dresses out of it.
ADAMANTIUM ORE STRUCTURE
: Triples an object's durability for a couple minutes, after which it will drop to half of of the original durability. Modifications let you prevent the durability drop, change the surface of the object to look like a completely different material, or boost a weapon. Crystallomancers can make this permanent.
ANALYS ARCANE STRUCTURE
: The Read Magic spell. The higher your MoS, the more infos you get from the magical object/creature you're analyzing.
ANIMATIO MUTE SERVANT
: A very neat spell with an interesting way of casting it: You take the object to animate, repeat the same action with it 7 times and come up with a trigger (like finger snapping). After all this is done, the object will repeat the action every time you do the trigger. You can "record" multiple different commands with different triggers, and the spell lasts months, so it's pretty handy overall. There is sadly nothing about using this in combat by teaching a weapon multiple kinds of attacks and parries.
APPLICATUS MAGIC STORAGE
: Stores a single spell inside an object and link it to a trigger. The base version without modifications is of mild usage, as the spell is only stored for a day and will go off regardless of the actual trigger if anyone picks up the object.
: The spell by which all magic items are created. In short: Your typical magic item in TDE is essentially a D&D wand, allowing you to cast one or more different spells around half a dozen times, after which you
be able to recharge it if the creator of the item didn't go the cheap route.
AUREOLUS GOLDEN LUSTER
: Makes an object shine like gold. That's it.
AURIS NASUS OCULUS
: The go-to illusion spell, covering any combination of fake images, smells or sounds, you need a modification to have the images move, and adding either a taste or touch compononent adds a monstrous penalty to the check.
: The bread-and-butter healing spell. In fact the only healing spell aside from that knave one that makes you laugh and WITCH SALIVA (which is exactly what it says on the tin, so it's pretty gross). Like all healling effects in this game (aside from a reversed FULMINICTUS), this one spreads its healing effect over a period of time (a few minutes, to be exact). So if you don't put enough Astral Points into this one, your patient my just die before he is healed enough. A modification lets you shortly heal beyond the target's maximum Life Points, while another one with a very hefty penalty turns this into a regeneration effect that heals a lot faster. Both are pretty handy to beef up before combat.
BEAR REST HIBERNATION
: This is an odd one. The caster falls into a deep magical sleep (lasting days, or even months with a modification) during which he is immune to cold, starvation and even a lack of air. As the caster is unconcious during all of this, he can't wake up before the spell ends. Mostly used by elves who hate winter.
CALDIOFRIGO HOT AND COLD
: Messes around with the temperature of an object, or an entire area with modifications.
: The predator cloaking device spell. Only really works when standing still or moving
EAGLE WINGS WOLF FORM
: Wildshape. You keep your mental stats and take over all the physical stuff from the animal you turn into (including Life Points and combat stats, making this not really a good combat buff in the long run because animals aren't the best fighters around, though being a bear is always helpful). Spellcasting doesn't work as an animal, nor does talking unless you've turned into a raven or parrot or something. Your clothes and equipment also doesn't fuse into your animal body like it does in D&D, so your left completely naked if the spell ends. This spell is most commonly used by elves, who like turning into their "soul animal" (*cough* otherkin *cough*).[
GLIMPSE INTO THE BEING
: Gives you general informations about the targeted create, like something out of Final Fantasy.
GLIMPSE INTO THE THOUGHTS
: Mind probe. There goes your murder mystery adventure again.
FLIM FLAM SPARKLE
: Your magical light spell, which also doubles as
: That one spell any fantasy game needs that makes the lockpicking spell superfluous.
IMPERSONA MASK IMAGE
: Change your face.
: Your astral projection spell.
: Makes it very hard to notice the caster, but any kind of concentrated action ends the spell immediately.
: Get rid of poison.
: It's telekinesis.
: Turn any object into an Unmoving Rod.
PENETRITZEL DEPTH GAZE
: Look through walls.
PERCEIVE SOUL ANIMAL
: Uncover the target's inner fursona.
: Opens a portal to the limbus and out again. Pretty handy to have just an case someone sucks you into there.
SOLIDIRID WAY OF LIGHT
: Allows you to create your very own Bifröst.
: Switch bodies with someone else. Can be a pretty dick move to force on others.
: Your typical teleport spell that allows you to take others with you.
UNION OF SUFFERING
: Allows you and your target to share the pain.
: A straight up invisibility spell without any Predator cloak drawbacks. Though like the wildshape spell, it only affects your naked body, so it is not nearly as useful as the D&D counterpart.
: Your general "mess around with the weather" spell.
- WISDOM OF TREES : A druid favorite that lets you turn into a tree.
These are as numerous as they are bland. They all amount to "Get rid of [summon or other magical effect]". A lot of these can be replaced by a REVERSALIS followed by the spell you want to get rid off.
Elemental Utility Spells
There are a couple spells that let you either turn into a specific element (to become the Human Torch, Iceman or The Thing) or let you walk or otherwise enter the element in question unhindered (to play Jesus, perform funky Wushi stunts or breathe underwater).
These ones are all very rare, very illegal and tend to attract the wrath of Satinav, the keeper of time - especially if you actually travel through time. Then again time travel in TDE runs under "The timeline almost always fixes itself" law, but he probably just doesn't want to take chances.
Speaking of time travel, one can only travel back in time, not into the future, for it doesn't exist from your perspective yet.
BURDEN OF AGE
: Makes the target instantly age depending on the amount of Astral Points spend.
: Temporarily janks something (or someone) from the past. One modification resets the target's state back to from before it got janked (so you can kill your rival multiple times if you want to), the other makes it stay in the present permanently. This is not only the only kinda sorta resurrection spell, but it technically allows you to circumvent the "Can't go into the future" rule by teaching this spell to your elf buddy and having him jank you to his present in a hundred years or so.
CHRONONAUTOS TIME TRAVEL
: Your straight-forward time travel spell.
GLIMPSE INTO THE PAST
: Get information of an object or area shown in fast motion.
: Not only causes instant aging, but also rejuvenates the caster.
- VESSEL OF YEARS : This lets you re-enact The Picture of Dorian Gray .
Creation and Summoning Spells
: Your go-to spell to create an undead permanently. Requies a check to see whether you can actually control your creation.
: The golem creation spell. This one and the above undead creation spell used to be one and the same in older editions, probably because the cost is similar (a handful of d20s, making this very swingy and annoying) and because the German names created the rhyme "Stein wandle, Totes handle".
CHIMAEROFORM HYBRID FORM
: For all your chimera creation needs.
: Summons an elemental ghost.
: Summons an elemental genie. Has a built-in penalty because genies can do a lot of different things.
: Summon a ghost.
HELPFUL PAW, BAILING WINGS
: Attract a nearby animal and ask for its help. The game suggest to speak in a very whimsical manner to the animal for some reason.
: The two demon summon spells. the MINOR version is your fast summoning spell that can only summon lesser demons, while the other one is actually your big summoning ritual that can take weeks or even months to perform to get just the right conditions for summoning.
LORD OF THE ANIMAL KINGDOM
: Summon Nature's Ally.
MASTER OF ELEMENTS
: Summon an elemental master. Has a pretty monstrous built-in penalty.
NATURES' MAGICAL BEINGS
: Summon nearby fey to hopefully be of help.
: Creates a zone full of tentacles, claws and hungry jaws to damage anyone who dares to enter. This is like something out of Warhammer.
: A typical witch spell that summons a bunch of crows (or other critters with modifications) to help you in battle. None of the summonable critters have particularly good stats, though.
: A witch spell that makes the witch's broomstick go apeshit, attacking any enemy within range.
: Your spell for creating all kinds of undead that only last for a while. Except for the ones not associated with Targunithoth (like a water corpse or ice mummy). Those require a variant spell.
: Lets you create an awesome elemental quicksand golemite. Not sure why they bother listing this spell though. The only one who knows it is a Tulamidian nobleman (or at least his personal mages).
- WHITE MAIN AND GOLDEN HOOF : This is like the phantom steed spell, only the horse appears to always be a bit whimsical.
Don't get too crazy on blaster spells. Instead focus on flashbanging people so your buffed-up fighter buddies can kill everyone. Also make a lot of cash with fine silk dresses. And knaves may be annoying, but man are they useful to shut down other casters.
Next Time : Demons!
DemonsOriginal SA post The Dark Eye
Now for the big bad guys.
Demons - as previously covered - hail from the Netherhells aka the Seventh Sphere, which is like the Abyss in Pathfinder in that it is the endless chaotic sea surrounding the island that is the rest of Creation - or rather just Creation, as the Netherhells have been around long before, and the demons want nothing more than wreck the place down.
Details about the topography of the Netherhells is a bit sparse. The only time mortals travel there is in stories of legend, and although a mage and his buddies could just go there, it's really not recommended. Demons are pretty dickish (especially on their home turf), and you're probably going to freeze to death without lots of magical support. "Netherhellish cold" is the lowest temperature category in the system, denoting anything from -150° C and below.
All that's really known about the Netherhells is that the place is probably split into 12 pieces (one for each Archdemon) and that there's a Soul Mill somewhere where the souls of the damned are slowly grinded into new demons.
Demons are pretty darn resilient when it comes to environmental hazards. If your home is the closest place in all of existance to Absolute Zero, nothing's gonna faze you. They also exude an aura that can kill off plantlife and small vermin for added creepiness.
Since demons aren't native to the mortal world and its underlying rules, demons have a few advantages and a big flaw. They only take half damage from physical damage, which summoners can upgrade to full immunity (essentially allowing them to curbstomp at least 85% of the Aventurian bestiary), and they can just walk on walls and ignore friction (though the latter has no actual rule effects). But since they are not native to the world, they can't stay very long unless the summoner takes some extra effort: He can either bind the demon (spiritually attaching the demon to a willing or unwilling donor who will lose a bit og Life or Astral Points each day to keep the demon stable) or manifest him (aka making the body more compatible with the mortal world, allowing the demon to stay indefinitely but robbing it of its resistance and physics-defying stunts).
Types of Demons
The lowest order of demons are the Lesser Demon . They are relatively easy to summon and control and make for cannon fodder, spies and general minion stuff.The ones you really have to watch out for are the much more dangerous Horned Demons , so called because they usually have one or more horns somewhere on their body. It is said that the number of horns are a measure of their power level, but there are enough demons who are surprisingly powerful despite a low number of horns. A sub-category of the Horned Demons are the Unique Demons , one-of-a-kind demons (at least as far as anyone knows) who either act as powerful lieutenants or who are so powerful that they sometimes have their own entourage of demon underlings and a little pocket dimension to rule. These latter are also known as Free Demons .
The most powerful demons are of course the Archdemons the rivals of the Twelvegods who - depending on where you read - are either just powerful demons, mere twisted mirror images of the Twelvegods, or former gods themselve who switched sides. It can get a bit confusing.
There's also supposed to be the Demon Sultan at the top, but his existance is so vague he didn't even get a ridiculous statblock in 3rd edition.
Most demons are said to be the followers of one (sometimes two) of the Archdemons. Other demons are considered neutral, either because that's just their style or because they are so powerful that they don't bow down to anyone. There are even demons who work for the Nameless God.
Demons can be summoned with two spells: INVOCATIO MINOR summons Lesser Demons only and can be cast quick enough to be kinda sorta useful in combat, while INVOCATIO MAIOR is less of a simple spell and more of the final step in a summoning ritual that can take weeks, if not months of preparations.
The summoning procedure can already take a turn for the worse depending on how badly you screw up the summoning check, with hilarious effects like "you summon a more powerful (and therefore harder to control) demon" or "An Archdemon appears. The End.". Once that is successful, you still have to control the demon, which of course can result in the demon playing along to screw you over later or just straight up rampaging. Once that is done, the demon will follow the summoner's command, be it "Guard", "Search and Destroy" or any other task listed with the statblock.
The reason an INVOCATIO MAIOR can take so long is because Horned Demons add pretty hefty penalties to both the summon and control check, making it hard to straight-up impossible to just casually summon the demon. What the summoner has to is track down anything that will reduce the penalties, including the demon's true name (which can already reduce the penalties by a bit even if you only have parts of the name), paraphernalia (stuff the demon likes, like frog eyes or crow feet) and of course waiting for good star constellations.
It is also highly recommended to learn a few magical circles as a failsafe, namely protective circles (which the demon can't enter) and ban circles (which the demon can't leave).
(Why yes, the game dedicates pages upon pages on a rules sub-system that most PCs will probably never touch because demon summoning is considered highly evil in most regions)
As there are a ton of demons, I'll mostly cover the more interesting ones. It should be noted that most demons have a slight Lovecraftian vibe to them (which was pretty cool for my younger self that was unfamiliar with Lovecraft), including having quite a lot of surnames. Most of those are easy and quite descriptive, but there is the occasional "[title] of [hard to pronounce place that may or may not actually exist somewhere]".
Abysmaroth, Abyssable and Abyssandur (3-horned)
A trio of powerful demons who hang around in the Limbus and are unsummonable. They are mainly there to gently caress with anyone they come across (including the PCs anytime they enter the Limbus and the GM rolls two natural 20s), but they also appear to make sure the doomsday plot device that is the Demon Tree stays in good shape and continues to grow.
Achorhobai (4-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
A big ol' worm with pale skin, used to eat through stone and puke up the valuable minerals and ores in nicely-concentrated orbs.
Amrifas the Earthshaker (9-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
Information about this demon is spotty, but he can most likely cause massive earthquakes, is a unique demon and he probably also looks like a giant worm.
Amrychoth (5-horned, follower of Charyptoroth)
A demonic stingray used to create nasty maelstroms. Can apparently also summoned for combat duty, but he doesn't actually have a statblock listed. Whoops.
A unique demon with an unknown number of horns who likes appearing as a hot woman to flirt with people. She is powerful enough to have her own followers, who all seem to have a cat theme of sorts.
A nasty demon who looks like a young girl with the face of an old woman, used to drain people off their motivation, causing them to become lethargic and slowly ruin their entire life.
Arjunoor (8-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
A big flying serpent with a ram head. Essentially a demonic wind dragon in terms of power and therefore a pretty nasty opponent.
Arkhobal (7-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
Continuing the trend of powerful elemental demons of Agrimoth, this one is a unmoving demon tree used to corrupt entire forests.
Asqarath aka Irrhalken (4-horned, Blakharaz)
The fallen gryphons, burning with an inner fire that serves as a weapon, but also makes them weak to water.
Another "short story demon" like Aphestadil. This one won't stop peskering his victim with visions of a pair of eyes until he is either driven insane or can draw attention towards another hapless person. It's a bit like pre-camcorder Slenderman.
Azzitai the Arsonist (3-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
Of course does Agrimoth have a fire demon. This guy is like a big salamander with a "crown" made out of intertwined horns. Probably the closest thing to a Balrog.
Balka'Bul (3-horned, Tasfarelel)
A guardian of treasure who is apparently so good at his job that nobody has lived to tell of its appearance, though he is said to look like a golden Tatzelwurm. Naturally, no statblock - but you can just summon him to see how he actually looks like.
Bloodstained Gold (lesser, follower of Tasfarelel)
Less of a demon and more of a fiendish trap, appearing as a bag or chest full of gold. Each coin causes damage to annyone who takes it of his own free will, and the damage won't be noticed unless the person passes out or the demon disappears.
Cha'Muyan (horned, follower of Aphasmayra)
A demon with an unkown number of horns. She always takes the form of whatever fline creature (including sphinx) is best suited for her mission (though this doesn't actually affect her stats). The only thing telling her apart from a normal feline are faint magical symbols on her fur.
Dharai (2-horned, follower of Lolgramoth)
A giant blob with two horns whose massive strength makes it suitable for heavy construction work. It has very crappy Attack and Parry values, but they hit worse like a battering ram.
Duglum (7-horned, Mishkara)
A giant pill bug spreading disease and pestilence.
Gotongi (lesser, follower of Amazeroth or Blakharaz)
Winged eyeballs that can turn invisible, making them perfect spies. I think they are from Legend of Zelda.
Grakvaloth (4-horned, follower of the Nameless)
A black lions with wings, used to hunt down people and drive them insane in the process because they are invisible to anyone else.
Gregorroth (lesser, follower of Amazeroth of Belkelel)
An incorporeal, invisible demons whose only job is to ruin and instrument's sound. Seems a bit of a waste of Astral Points.
Hanaestil (5-horned, follower of a unique demon called Shaz-man-Yat we'll cover later)
A beauty used to drive men to ruin. Can also apparently be used as a demonic hooker o_O.
Hektabeli (horned - I guess just one?, follower of Mishkara)
These guys not only cause diseases, but also possess the infected to help spread it further.
Heshtoth (lesser, follower of Blakharaz)
A classic cannon fodder demon. They look like Nazgul without feet, slimy yellow hands and glowing red eyes. Their weapons are a whip that causes Strength drain and a sword that makes other weapons more brittle, giving it a few annoying effects to complement its mediocre stats.
Another "short story demon". This one is unsummonable and appears as either a young girl holding a bloody hourglass or an old woman holding a weight. She only makes rare appearances to sneakily spirit away seasoned mages to parts unkown, leaving only their clothes behind. She's a kind of Rapture demon.
Iltapeth and Istapher (2-horned, follower of Aphestadil)
Siamese lizardman twins who spend all of their time clawing and cursing at each other, mkaing them the most useless demon to summon.
Isphanil (3-horned, another follower of this Shaz-man-Yat dude)
Very fast, invisibile critter used to steal possessions of someone to be used in a curse.
Ivash (lesser, follower of the Nameless)
A fire-based combat demon. Imagine the Human Torch without flight or ranged attacks.
Je-Chrizlayk-Ura (1-horned, follower of Agrimoth or Lolgramoth)
Just a stronger Dharai, which is funny considering the Dharai has fewer horns.
Kah-Thurak-Afai (3-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
A unique demon, looking like a multi-eyed werepanther with wings. It can hide inside flowers for surprise attacks, and it becomes noticably weaker during the day (as in "you have an actual chance of killing it"). Its natural attacks are odd in that they cut the target's current Life Points in half. As the remaining Life Points are rounded down only at night, this demons used to be incapable of killing anyone at day until 4th edition added a tail attack that deals normal damage.
Karakil (1-horned, follower of Lolgramoth)
A winged serpent popular with evil mages. They're essentially fellbeasts.
Karmanath (lesser, follower of Nagrach)
Demonic wolves with white skins who are barely more competent than normal wolves and look not nearly as badass as these eight-legged, two-headed chimeras that are half Karmanath.
Karmoth the Destroyer (6-horned, follower of Belhalhar)
Minotaur-ish big combat demon that is totally not a Bloodthirster. As it is powerful enough to easily handle dozens of knights, Sanctified and mages and typically kills anyone in one hit, at least 4th edition summarizes his stats as essentially "Hah hah no."
Laraan (5-horned, follower of Belkelel)
Another of those demons to mask as a hot guy or women in order to drive someone to ruin. They like bragging with the big size of their breasts or member o_O
Ma'Hay'Tam (4-horned, follower of Agrimoth and Charyptoroth)
Hey, apparently those rad demon arks / giant wooden water skippers have been Horned Demons all along.
A neutral demon and personal favorite of mine. They appear as giant spiders with 5 orange horns on their back and a beak surrounded by glowing tentacles instead of a head. They love spamming spells in the form of web, including the ever-popular EYE OF THE LIMBUS.
Mactans are also weak against sea serpent teeth, for no other reason than the first Mactans to ever appear in an adventure module having been a unique, suped-up version that forced the player to look for the tooth-shaped MacGuffin.
Maruk-Methai (horned, follower of the Nameless)
The literal hand of the Nameless (dude loves losing body parts). He has no body, but instead possesses the summoner to help spread the worship of his god. Fighting the possessed is a bitch as he fights like on super steroids. There's also a 10% chance that he'll hang onto the body till it rots, screwing over the summoner in the process.
Morcan (lesser, follower of Thargunitoth)
Having no body like all demons of Thargunitoth, this critter possesses its victims to just go apeshit, or causes nightmares.
Nephazz (lesser, follower of Targunitoth)
Probably the most popular demon of Targnitoth. These guys can also cause nightmares, but their main function involves possessing corpses to create suped-up undead.
Nirraven (9-horned, follower of Targunitoth)
This most likely unique demon is said to be the mount of Targunitoth, appearing as a black bird with a red beak in its own domain. In the mortal world, he is again without a body and acts as a sort of evil Grim Reaper, taking the souls of the damned for her mistress. Necromancers typically summon him to build an army of the undead, since he can keep alive around 144 undead. The necromancer has to raise them himself, but there's a handy ritual you can get through a Targunitoth pact that covers all your mass rasing needs.
When possessing a corpse (traditionally a raven, but anything goes really), Nirraven has the always fun ability of ripping out your sould on a crit.
Nirraven is also probably a rival of sorts to Boron's Golgari.
NIshkakat (3-horned, follower of Amazeroth)
A small, impish demon who loves telling the summoner about all secrets of the world in an attempt to troll him with false knowledge.
Nurumbaal (2-horned, follower of Tasfarelel)
This one is just weird: A donkey with shark teeth and four facette eyes whose only job is eating the fresh heart of a ritual sacrifice to poop out gold (or demonic metal if the heart is from a spellcaster). I'd like to read a Lovecraftian tale about this.
Qasaar (lesser, follower of Aphasmayra)
Another demon to cause people to ruin their life, this one looking like an adorable kitty.
Shaz-man-Yat (6-horned, ally/follower of Belkelel)
A powerful demoness ruling over her own little domain and trolling mortals with sex appeal. She's either a follower of Belkelel or just an ally. In any case, she has her own little fellowship of demons.
This gross winged reptile-rat-thing (according to the description) is one of the most powerful and dangerous beings you can summon. Its presence blacks out the sky, and it easily overpowered one of the greatest swordsman that ever lived wielding the greatest sword that ever was. It is also completely uncontrollable and will immediately start killing anyone in the vicinity upon its summoning. Naturally, Borbarad summoned this living doomsday device in his final battle.
[/u]Shruuf[/u] (4-horned, follower of Belhalhar)
A giant combat chicken with four tentacles instead of wings, and a fifth tentacle between its legs because why not.
Tuur-Amash (7-horned, follower of Agrimoth)
Another Agrimoth dude (man, he gets all the cool ones) is an earth-themed, black giant toad whose main job is the corruption of entire regions.
Umdoreel (3-horned, follower of Nagrach)
An ice demon that looks like a four-armed troll with antlers and a third eye on the back of its head. He's only rarely summoned all by himself, as we'll shortly see.
Usuzoreel (lesser, follower of Nagrach)
Twisted ice corpes summoned in packs. For some reason their stat block only consists of their Life Points and Magic Resistence.
Vhatacheor (8-horned, follower of Charyptoroth)
What is worse than a giant wooden water skipper that is about to eat your ship? A giant tarantula with the twisted head of a human that can walk on water which it also ignites on contact.
The Wanderer between the Spheres
A unique demon (at least most people think he's a demon; his first apperance predates the introduction of demons AFAIK) that is probably the most elusive one. He has no True Name (as far as anyone knows) and is pretty much unsummonable and unbanishable, and his mere appearance is usually the sign of something big happening, like the downfall of a kingdom. He might in fact be responsible for the fall of TDE's not-Atlantis.
Luckily for everyone, his appearances in the mortal world are more than rare.
The Wild Hunt
Not really a demon in itself, but rather an Umdoreel leading dozens of Nagrach's other demons and the howling souls of the damned for some merry hunting. Now that's a good deal.
Yar'Yuraam (2-horned, Lolgramoth)
It's Baba Yaga's walking hut. Wut o_O ?
Yash'Natamy (1-horned, follower of Nagrach)
A six-legged horse made out of glass with a skorpion tail. It can shoot lightning from its eyes and freeze your with its breath. Pretty weird.
Yo'Nahoh (10-horned, follower of Charyptoroth)
The unique and deformed mother of all kraken. It thankfully has only ever appeared to protect Charyptoroth's followers, though it might just have been used offensively in a way that left behind no eye witnesses.
Zant (lesser, follower of Belhalhar)
Another classic cannon fodder demon. This one is a step up from the Hesthoth and appears as a flayed were-sabretooth-tiger on steroids.
Next Time : Though Sanctified "spells" would make sense, I don't think I'll bother. Their Karma Points regenerate slowly, and their powers are largely utilitarian in nature and I feel most Sanctified are not supposed to be anything but NPCs. Just imagine if clerics were actually lame for the most part.
Instead, I'd like to either end this little overview right here (or put it on hiatus till I decide to either cover the setting in more detail or talk about 5th edition if I can ever be arsed to get that one) and cleanse my palette with something different:
Tenra Bansho Zero
: Where Dante, Kenshiro and Rei Ayanami hang out in the most grimdark interpretation of Feudal Japan. The previous review has stopped before the crunch really started (AFAIK), which is unfortunate as the combat rules are kinda interesting
: OSR darling Kevin Crawford's latest game that is all about modern/Victorian murder hobos having to deal with cultists and critters form a randomly generated, Lovecraft-inspired mythos.
- BattleTech - A Time of War : In which I'm just curious to see how viable a "Attack on UrbanMech" scenario is.