View Full Version : Part 4 of Following the Master - Wrong Tools

2006-03-08, 08:47 PM
Part 4 - The wrong Tool for the Job

This is part thought experiment, part showing off, and part a need to get the silt out of my brain. I'm working through Rich Burlew's game world building methodology to see if I can create something half as interesting. I've already done Purpose and Theme, Class Decisions, and Race Decisions in separate posts.

In brief, instead of working from the generic assumptions of the SRD and altering them I've created a list of the things I hate, banned them from my gameworld, and then built a new gameworld on top of what was left. Bending things to avoid very common gameworld types that are already done to death like steampunk and the "great overwhelming evil".

The result is a world recovering from the "Great War Against the Evil Ones". A world in which there is no great menacing evil against which the PCs have no hope of winning, but a world that's left with a mangled landscape and all the surviving minions and magical experiments of the Magelords (which I don't have any specifics about yet) running about.

The upshot of my work on the classes is that magic is present, and there are powerful spellcasters, but the only spellcasters are Clerics, Sorcerers, Wizards. and a small subset of prestiges. Even they have some limits on what they can do because I'm going to try limiting healing, necromancy, bringing the dead to life, and banning all extradimensional spell effects.

The player races don't have any short people or half-breeds, and I've modified the Dwarves and Elves. I've also decided to make an altered version of Lizardfolk as a race, and created a new race of unfortunates warped by magical experiments and contaminations.

I'm posting here to get some feedback, which always helps to further stimulate my imagination.


Well I'm at least going to try to follow the structure of the articles the Rich Burlew laid down!

I'm sticking with D&D as the core system, and where there are conflicts between my desires and the source material the source material will dominate. That way I don't have to do as much work buying and memorizing new rules and writing lots of rules material. The heck with that!

As I've said, there are some spells that I just don't like. Fortunately, I only have to work through two spell lists. That of the cleric, and that of the Sorcerer and Wizard. I haven't actually changed enough to limit the Wizards and Clerics. They just have to use ungodly powerful 9th level spell X instead of ungodly powerful spell Y.

Magic items and monsters don't get to have these spell effects either..

Here are the changes:

1. All extradimensional travel and spell effects (including teleportation) are banned or altered.
2. All alignment specific spells and effects (but not alignments) are banned or altered.
3. Broad world changing spells and effects like Wish and Miracle are banned or altered.
4. The dead cannot be brought back to life. At least not true living.
5. I'd like to limit the potency of healing spells.
6. I'd like to limit/ban expendable items, but that really shafts the wizards.
7. I'd like there to be negative consequences for casting "evil" spells like animate dead.

The Summon spells are just changed to draw out a creature of the right type that should be near the spellcaster. Summoning to get a nearby wolf to help out instead of pulling a celestial one out of the ether. Several other spells like Banishment are rendered pointless, because there will never be any extradimensional creatures to banish. Spells that have an extradimensional effect will just be altered a bit. Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion creates a full sized mansion instead of one inside a pocket universe for example.

Teleportation effects are banned. Nothing more frustrating to both players and GMs than teleportation.

Another set of spells that are just getting deleted right off the bat are the alignment specific spells. I never much liked them, and with no outsiders in this gameworld I'm not sure that many players are going to be feeling the loss of the Protection spells too keenly. I never liked the whole "He's evil! Get him!" effect of the detect spells; hence another reason to trashcan the Paladin. I still like the alignment system as guidelines for character's behaviour, but don't like the way that the alignment specific spells work against more involved plots.

There are a handful of other spells that I'm banning. All of the raise dead spells, and the wish spells also have to go out the window. Just to reflect the fact that the gods have pulled some of the most powerful magic out of this world.

The spells that I've changed are to alter the flavor of the game a bit. Mostly, it's just an alteration to the Necromancy spells. There's a set of necromancy spells that are outright evil in tone like Animate Dead and Create Undead, or that have an undead monster effect like Ghoul Touch, or just seem evil like Magic Jar. These spells are heavily proscribed by all the civilizations of this world, and if you're not evil in alignment before casting these spells you will be afterwards. I think I'll have these spells inflict CON damage on spellcasters that use these spells, so only undead like Liches can use them safely.

On a related note, I may limit the amount that any one person can be magically healed each day. If they go over that amount they start taking temporary CON damage that magical healing can't restore.


I'm going to dig up a pretty tired old stereotype. That of three different sets of gods at the start of time. Each with their own pride and ego. Each god or pair of gods got into a conflict over who was better than whom at what.

Hence the creation of the universe, the world, and the first three peoples. The Humans, Elves, and Dwarves. It's the tired old cosmological board game with the world the board and the three races as the playing pieces.


The Human Gods I'll work right off of the Greek/Roman model. There'll be Mom, Dad, and several poorly behaved offspring. I'll have to find some good names from somewhere. For that matter I haven't even named the world itself yet! The human god were so busy bickering and arguing that they just left humans to their own devices. Hence an adaptable race with no special powers like the others.

Dad/Zeus: Domains of Strength, Sun, War, and Fatherhood (new one)
Mom/Hera: Domains of Healing (changed), Knowledge, Protection, and Motherhood (new one)
Kid 1 - Warboy: War, Destruction, Chaos (changed)
Kid 2 - Badboy: Death, Evil (changed), Magic.
Kid 3 - Sneaky: Luck, Travel (changed), and Trickery
Kid 4 - Treegirl: Animal, Plant, Earth (changed), Water (changed)
Kid 5 - Wisegirl: Magic, Knowledge, Law (changed), Loyalty (new)
Kid 6 - Naughtygirl: Beauty (new), Fire (changed), Chaos (changed)
Kid 7 - Smithboy: Artifice (new), Metal (new), Strength

There'll probably be a number of demigods and offspring, but each is just an iteration of the main ones. This'll get changed and altered as time goes on, and things get fleshed out more fully.


The Dwarven gods will have a more philosophical bent. I'm thinking here of the two main gods with a group of saints and martyrs under them. In fact I don't think there'll be anything like the human cosmology. This will consist of just a male figure as the main authority followed by a small group of ascended saints.

Big Daddy: Law (changed), Good (changed), Balance (new), Protection
Big Mom: Croaked in defense of the dwarven race.
Saint Meditator: Balance (new), Sun, Knowledge
Saint Defender: Strength, War, Protection
Saint Builder: Artifice (new), Earth (changed), Magic
Saint Martyr: Martyrdom (new), Healing, Travel
Saint Joy: Beauty (new), Good (changed), Motherhood (new)


Monotheistic religion with a single powerful mother goddess attended by a legion of lesser beings. None of whom have their own authority like the human or dwarven pantheons. The father of the elven race turned evil and was banished by the Goddess.

Big Momma: Earth, Plant, Animal, Water, Protection


Since the collapse of the three primary civilizasions after the great war the ancestor and spirit worship of the Lizardfolk has attained some new power. The lizardfolk long ago learned that the spirits of their departed were more likely to linger. Their existence is an accident. In fact, their legends have it that they predate the humans, dwarves, and elves; that their world was usurped by the gods for their children.

In the two or so centuries since the defeat of the Magelords the anscestor shrines of the Lizardfolk have become true places of power. Equal or greater than any church or shrine of the other races. The Lizardfolk do not have a deity or group of gods as the other races. They have power from the spirits of the world, and are guided by their own ancestor spirits.

A Lizardfolk cleric must take the Ancestral or Balance domains, but are also allowed to choose from any of the other domains for the second. Lizardfolk clerics are as variable and different from each other as the many spirits or ancestors that can approach them.


I now have a distinct notion of the Magelords. The first is Osric the Black, a cripple of vast magical power; perhaps even the first of the Magewracked. He felt that anything that he could do was acceptable. He epitomized magic in its most pure and destructive form. At the hieght of his powers Osric reshaped mountains just to test a theory he had on the flow of rivers and their ecologies. That he killed thousands due to starvation and drought didn't bother him in the least.

As power attracts power Osric gained followers of a similar mind. Four acolytes who also sought great magical power, and were willing to risk the mad Wizards fits of pique or experiments.

The first was the mad Dwarf woman Daiwa the Warped. Legend has it that she desired children of her own, but was lamed and physically warped due to a childhood illness. Unable to conceive children on her own she conceived children by magic. At first, despirate couples would come to her to have her cast spells to make them able to conceive themselves. The offspring always ended up as monsters of one sort or another, and she was soon banished.

Eventually, she not only created a legion of monsters, but is widely held responsible for the Magewracked. Many lesser species like the Goblins, Kobolds, Locathah's, and several of the magical beasts that now stalk the world's more remote areas. In the end she devised the magical ritual that turned her into the first of the Warped Masters. Gruesome wizard masters of warped and mutated flesh who exist by mutating and absorbing the flesh of others.

Even the Elves, beloved and attended to more strictly by their god than any other race had their own traitor. Kaealoth the Gardener of Woe was once one of the Elven Goddess' most favored followers, but he was always unsatisfied with the limits on his ability. Why should he take things as nature intended them when he felt he could improve things. He created animate plants and animals of monsterous size and temperment to turn against human and dwarven encroachers on elven lands, but when those creatures turned on the elves and wrecked the delicate ecology of the great forest he was hounded out of elven lands for fear of his life.

Cyneswith and her husband Sigheri were the last two of the Magelords. Cyneswith is known as the Queen of Death; the first of the Necromancers. Of her husband Sigheri less is known, but that he was one of the Queen's first creations. He was a warrior, or at least he became one after submitting himself to the other Magelord's experimentations. The four wizard lords had many humanoid and monstrous followers, and it was Sigheri the Conquerer who kept them in line.

Cyneswith was known as much for her beauty as her sorcerous powers. Most believe that her reationship with Sigheri was unequal, with her manipulating him like any other man who came afoul of her. Even after she'd devised the ritual of turning herself into a Lich she somehow retained her beauty and powers of seduction. Retaining her youthful appearance through vile human sacrifice.

It was Sigheri's depriditions that caused the gods to set aside their bickering and conflicts with each other and deal personally with the Magelords. Sigheri had turned into something almost like a god, and as the tribes of goblin men and orcs worshipped him he started to pound on the gates of realms of the gods. Places that the gods never saw fit to defend all that well in the first place.

Eventually, all five of the Magelords had wracked the planet with terrible upheavals. The gods would set forth champions to fight them, and the conflict did little more than get the most loyal and powerful followers of the gods killed. That and break and shatter the land itself.

Finally, as the Magelords pounded on the gates of the outer planes the gods threw them open and had a legion of heroes sacrifices themselves shoving them through. Then, to the surprise of all, the gods slammed the gates shut behind the Magelords and locked them firmly against all but the dying souls of their followers.

Osric the Black: Chaos, Evil, Knowledge, Magic, Destruction
Asha the Warped: Chaos, Transformation, Motherhood, Healing
Kaealoth the Gardener of Woe: Plant, Animal, Magic, Carnality
Cyneswith, Queen of the Dead: Death, Necromancy, Beauty, Evil
Sigheri the Conquerer: War, Strength, Loyalty, Law

All Chaos/Law/Good/Evil keyed spells
Planar Ally - ALL
Planar Binding - ALL
Teleport spells - ALL
Contact Other Plane
Shadow Walk
Dimension Door
Plane Shift
Raise Dead
Word of Recall
Astral Projection
True Resurrection
Wish and Limited Wish

SPELLS I WANT TO CHANGE - But may not alter in the end
Cure - ALL
Summons - ALL
The "evil" necromancy spells (Animate Dead, Ghoul Touch, Magic Jar, etc...)
Etherial Jaunt - Same effect, but without the dimensional flavor
Spectral Hand - Make a Conjuration spell
Trap the Soul - Make a Necromancy spell
Magnificent Mansion - creates a real full size mansion.
Elemental Summoning - Necromancy, requires a living sacrifice.

POINTLESS SPELLS - because other spell prohibitions make them useless
Undetectable Alignment
Dimensional Lock
Soul Bind
Dimensional Anchor



2006-03-09, 12:51 AM
I think that the post-apocalyptic air of the campaign world is great - leaves you wide open for invention and situations, as everyone's running around trying to rebuild something out of the chaos.

Since you're eliminating all alignment-based effects, you might as well go all the way and get rid of alignment. Let the character's actions dictate their consequences on a case by case basis. It seems to work pretty well in other contexts.

So, to be clear: you're eliminating the druid, bard, and paladin? Okay. But the ranger's still around, and still retains spellcasting ability, or is it gone too?

The summon spells as you describe them seem somewhat complex to administer. You as DM are stuck working out if there would be a wolf, giant bat, displacer beast or whatever within whatever arbitrary new range you set for the spell. It's hard to put geographic limitations on what the summoner can draw without either nerfing the spell horribly, or making the geographic boundaries so broad that they might as well not exist.

Magically, it seems to really leave evocation and abjuration alone, while taking down the power of some of the other schools. Once you've finished your spell lists, you may need to examine the wizard schools on a level by level basis to see if each of the schools remains a viable option. Right now, my guess would be that Conjuration would become practically untenable in your world. But then, you may be doing away with specialist wizards anyway.

I'm assuming that, since you're only removing magic capabilities without counterbalancing them, you're focusing on a low-magic approach to the world. In this case, prepare for groups that are heavy on fighter-types and rogues, and perhaps tone down magic item distribution to help make the spellcasters a bit more special again.

Good luck!

2006-03-09, 12:30 PM
I agree with Toliudar. This is a great setup for a post-apocalyptic feel to your campaign world. I also agree that you'll have to look at the different schools of magic, specialist wizards, etc as well.

I've been reading all of your posts so far about this new campaign world you're creating ... kudos! Your thought process is great, things are really starting to come together here for ya, and most imporantly ... the silt is being cleaned from your brain.

If I may, I've got a suggestion regarding how to lessen the power of healing spells. On all the cures, don't add in the bonus due to spell level ... just make the cure light spell a 1d8 heal only. Cure Moderate a 2d8 heal, etc. Or drop the die down to a d6 instead of d8.

For the "consequence" of casting evil spells, I like your idea of having them take CON damage. Make sure this damage can't be healed magically, it would take time to heal naturally ... like you mentioned for "overhealing".

"Overhealing", you might want to make them sickened for a day ... -2 to attack, damage, skills, saves, and ability checks, instead of taking CON damage. Afterall, a cleric is supposed to be healing life, not accidentally taking it away. =)

That was all I had to suggest at the moment. Keep up the good work! I can't wait to read more!

Kudos again!


2006-03-09, 02:29 PM
@ Toliudar

I am indeed scrapping the Ranger as well as the Paladin, and all the base classes and prestiges that use magic towards other ends.

In this world, magic is still present and very powerful, but it's an end unto itself. It's not a tool for pursuing other goals except in a few rare cases. I'll have spell like abilities for the Paladin replacement class I'm devising.

I've also created an alternate version of the Ranger that doesn't have spellcasting, and uses favored terrains instead of favored enemies, can use medium armor, and has several bonus feats instead of the more limiting combat styles.

2006-03-09, 02:56 PM
I thought there already were non-spellcasting variants for the Paladin and Ranger? In Complete Warrior, I think.

2006-03-09, 04:31 PM
Tis a point, but those still really do use magic. I think he's trying to move away from that.