View Full Version : Monotheistic World (3.5 Alternative Rule Set) PEACH

The Anarresti
2010-08-22, 08:47 PM
A monotheistic world has some intriguing implications, such as a wide-ranging and powerful church, and a clear division of the world between followers and non-followers. Many of the greatest tensions in real medieval history came from the monotheistic world: in generic D&D, the multitude of gods sometimes pulls the teeth of theology.
I have striven, with this setting, to recreate a little some of the medieval mindset and idea, to make a superbly different atmosphere that can be applied to any game.
In this setting, the old alignments are thrown out, and there are some new Alignments: Follower, Pagan or Neutral. This axis shows how that individual stands with regard to the Unnamed God. Follower means that that person worships the Unnamed God, Pagan means that that person regularly deals with some other power, and Neutral means that that person doesn’t deal with outside powers. These are the only alignments there are: good people and evil still exist, but only as role-playing guidelines.
In this particular concept, all magic flows from some outside force. Paladins and Clerics get their power from the Unnamed God, Druids and Rangers from the force of Nature, Sorcerers are possessed by an elemental spirit, bonded to their own since birth, and Wizards make deals with spirits to gain their power. Bards get their powers from their patron Fey. (note: this fluff does not make any change in actual crunch, although it could easily make a good adventure hook or role-playing change).

The god: The Unnamed God He is actually referred to as such. Alignment: N/A. Appearance: N/A Favored Weapon: Any Martial. Holy Symbol: The Eye. Domains: Community, Creation, Nobility, Destruction, Healing, Knowledge, Luck, Protection, Strength, Travel, Trickery, War, Charm, Godliness, Antimagic.
The Unnamed God, as he is referred to by most theologians, is the only god of this setting. It is theorized that He (She/It) created everything. He resides in a heavenly palace of His own making. Some heretics have suggested that possibly by now creation is slightly out of His control, given the existence of Demon Lords and other Apostates. Most wizards who study Him (and are already considered heretics for the practice of Arcane Magic), theorize that He isn’t omnipotent, but damn near close. They aren’t sure if he is omniscient, but he defiantly isn’t omnipresent: the existence of Pagan places proves that there areas out of His control.
He does not interfere much in the setting. His majesty is to great for most mortals to comprehend, thus they must make do with signs, sigils and holy texts (if you use the sanity alternative rule, contacting the Unnamed God through any means, including asking for a Miracle, should require a sanity check). It is widely agreed that his major goal is the expansion of his church. However, different sects of the Church disagree on how to best expand: some say conquest, others say tending to the disenfranchised followers and building the Church up from the bottom, still others say living among the Pagans and converting them. Conflicts among Church laity is common, and isn’t even illegal: Follower nobles attack each other all the time, sometime with the Church cheering from the sidelines. Likewise, racial tensions sometimes exist even across church divides. However, the Church serves as a handy moderator.
Conflict amongst the clergy is also common, but almost never exists violently. Such violence is severely punished. A cleric NPC antagonist, attacking a Pagan party with a single cleric (who, by definition, is a Follower), may slaughter the whole party save the cleric, then bring the cleric back to his own manor house where they will discuss the issue of whether spending time with pagans is a sin or not.
New Domains:
Antimagic Domain: Granted Power: You gain a +2 godly bonus on dispel checks.
0—detect magic
1st—protection from paganism
2nd—obscure object
3rd—dispel magic
4th—minor globe of invulnerability
5th—break enchantment
6th—antimagic field
7th—spell turning
8th—protection from spells
9th—mage's disjunction.

Godliness (Alignment Domain of Following):
Granted Power: Cast Godly spells at +1 caster level
Godliness Domain Spells
1st-Protection from Paganism
3rd-Magic Circle against Paganism: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
4th-Wrath of the Unnamed God: Damages and blinds Pagan creatures.
5th-Dispel Paganism: +4 bonus against attacks by pagan creatures.
6th-Antimagic Field.
7th-Pronouncement: Kills, paralyzes, slows, or deafens nonfollower subjects.
8th-Godly Aura: +4 to AC, +4 resistance, SR 15
9th-Summon Monster IX*: Calls extraplanar creature to fight for you.

New Spell: Destroy Pagan:
Evocation [Godly]
Good 4
V, S
Casting Time:
1 standard action
Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
20-ft.-radius burst
Instantaneous (1 round); see text
Saving Throw:
Will partial; see text
Spell Resistance:
You draw down Godly power to smite your enemies. Only pagan and neutral creatures are harmed by the spell; follower creatures are unaffected.
The spell deals 1d8 points of damage per two caster levels (maximum 5d8) to each pagan creature in the area (or 1d6 points of damage per caster level, maximum 10d6, to a pagan outsider) and causes it to become blinded for 1 round. A successful Will saving throw reduces damage to half and negates the blinded effect.
The spell deals only half damage to creatures who are neither follower nor pagan, and they are not blinded. Such a creature can reduce that damage by half (down to one-quarter of the roll) with a successful Will save.

The Anarresti
2010-08-22, 08:49 PM
Classes in the settting:
Barbarian: Unchanged. However, all alignment restrictions are removed. Pagan barbarians are common in wild lands, and some of the most feared fanatic Church warriors are barbarians.
Bard: Must be either Pagan (minstrel), in which case he is given his music by Fey overlords, or Follower (cantor), in which case he draws inspiration from the Unnamed God, but not Neutral.
Cleric: Must be a Follower. However, can associate with Pagans, even long-term, as long as she believes in her heart the true, long-term goals of the church are being carried out. She doesn’t even have to obey church superiors, unless of course she took the Vow of Obedience.
Changes: Must worship the Unnamed God. No exceptions. Chooses two of the Unnamed God’s domains as their own. Replace turn/rebuke undead with this class ability:
Aura of Authority: A cleric gains a circumstance bonus on Intimidate and Diplomacy checks against Followers equal to her cleric level. They also have an Aura of Followerness.
Also, she must take a vow, if using the vow alternative rule.
Druid: Must be Pagan. Druids draw their power from nature herself, and have little respect for this pretentious God on his far-away throne. They have an aura of Paganess, similar to a Paladin’s Aura of Good, only it is with respect to the Detect Pagan spell. They still have their druidic vows.
Fighter: No change.
Monk: No alignment restriction, although monks are most often Neutral, with Follower being a far second. Monks depend on inner strength more than anything else. In addition, monks must take a vow if the vow variant rule is used.
Paladin: A paladin is a tool of the Chuch, the Church’s arm, for good or evil. They must take the Vow of Obedience, and can swear themselves to an altruistic, despotic or anything in between sect of the Church. They must be Followers, and their detect evil/smite evil abilities are replaced with detect pagan/smite pagan
Ranger: A ranger draws power from Nature, and therefore must be Pagan.
Rogue: No change, although a good many rogues are Neutral, not caring about these theological issues.
Sorcerer: If you use the RAW, dragon-blood Sorcerer, Sorcerers must be Pagan, continually manipulating non-divine ambient magic for their own gain. This "bath" of pagan power washes any Godliness from the sorcerer's soul. If you use my Elemental Sorcerer variant, sorcerers draw their power from their inner elemental spirit, and therefore must be Pagan. A sorcerer chooses an element at first level: Earth, Air, Fire or Water. At each level, they learn a bonus spell known of their element descriptor: Earth: Earth or Acid, Fire: Fire or Light, Air: Air or Electricity, Water: Water or Cold. However, they may not learn spells with the descriptors of the opposing element.
Wizard: Wizards make deals with apostate spirits for their powers, and therefore must be Pagan.
Psionic Classes: No Alignment restriction. Psions get their power from within themselves, although they may be mistaken for wizards and tried as heretics.

The Anarresti
2010-08-22, 08:53 PM
Races in the setting: more to come:
Humans: No trend.
Elves: With their taste for arcane magic, and their love of nature, elves are almost exclusively Pagan and are rarely trusted by Followers
Halflings: Varies by individual, but they tend toward Neutrality
Gnomes: Usually Followers, a great many Cantors come from the Gnomish community. However, a worrying amount of heretics and Apostates tend to be Gnomes, some advocating regressal back the fey state that gnomes are thought to be descended from.
Gnolls: Given the prevalence of Rangers and Druids in their society, and their taste for human flesh, gnolls are almost exclusively Pagan
Dwarves: Almost exclusively Followers, Dwarves form the backbone of the church in many areas
Goblins: Most goblins have a form of ancestor worship, and thus are pagan. However, a few tribes have been converted wholesale
Orcs Most Orcs are Neutral, not bright enough to be bothered to care about theology.
Monstrous Humanoids Varies. Many are worshippers, and the Church itself is very open to any intelligent being that wishes to join. In fact, Minotaurs especially are almost exclusively Followers, and there are many Minotaur Fanatic Barbarians that are feared enforcers of the Church’s rules. However, some, such as Hags, who make deals with spirits, are always Pagan, and others, such as Centaurs who honor nature, are usually Pagan.
Giants Varies. More to come
Aberrations Usually Pagan, worshipers of the Far Realm creatures
Undead: Mindless undead are always the alignment of the caster that made them: Arcane mindless undead are Pagan, Divine are Followers. Intellegent undead can be any alignment
Outsiders: Good outsiders become Follower Outsiders. Most Evil Outsiders become Pagan, cursed with hideousness for being Follower outsiders who once disobeyed the Unnamed God. Notice that in this case Demons and Devils can actually be good people. There are several Demon Lords, who are the main rebels against the Unnamed God. They try constantly to bring down the Unnamed God, for various reasons: personal power, revenge, an altruistic sense of freedom for all. More to come…

The Anarresti
2010-08-22, 08:54 PM
Vows: The idea is, with less restrictive alignments, some new restrictions are needed on previously curtailed classes. There are some vows that a class needs. If the class just says: you must have a vow, you choose your character’s vow at creation. If you break the vow, you loose all class abilities as if you have broken whatever alignment restriction of the RAW class.
Vows include: Vow of Obedience: the character must fully obey all proper authority in their hierarchy; Vow of Cleanliness: the character must observer certain rules, such as not eating meat, not touching dead things and bathing in clean water at least once a week, Vow of Truth: the character may not tell a deliberate lie, etc.
I need ideas for more vows.

The Anarresti
2010-08-22, 08:59 PM
Literacy & Language: To bring a bit more sense of the Medieval into the setting, reading and writing is almost exclusively a purview of the Church. In normal D&D, despite the assumed medieval time setting, there is a strange sort of “invisible underpinning,” which makes for a stable, wonky economy, widespread literacy, large kingdoms, and few languages. The social aspects of RAW D&D are late Renaissance, at the earliest. To put a bit more oomph into education, consider this following rule change:
Languages: Common isn’t that common. It’s only widespread as a lingua franca inside lands loyal to the church: kind of a mixture of Human languages and Halfling, as well as a generous sprinkling of ecclesiastical, it is the language of the rising middle class. It’s referred to as Tradertalk. It is considered a dirty tongue, and no noble would be caught dead speaking it. Likewise, churchmen rarely do. Wizards communicate in secret, using Draconic. Noblemen speak a language amongst themselves called High Dwarven. (Dwarves can learn this as a bonus language) There are myriad local dialects, to many to name here. Because so few people travel, going fifty miles down the road can produce a difference in speech akin to the difference today between thick Scottish English and American Southern English.
Everyone speaks a local dialect, which is applicable to the area where they come from. They may also learn other languages based on their class and race. All PCs speak Tradertalk, as member of the middle class (those few who regularly use coin money).
Celestial, Infernal and Abyssal are merged into one language called Ecclesiastical. All Clerics receive this language as a free bonus language, and paladins can learn it as a bonus language. It is non-secret, but very few non-clergy members speak it.
All classes receive a bonus language:
Barbarian: choose from Ecclesiastical (if Follower), Giant, Orc, Sylvan (if Pagan)
Bard: Any
Cleric: Ecclesiastical
Druid: Druidic
Fighter: Choose from racial bonus list.
Monk: Githzeri
Paladin: Ecclesiastical
Ranger: Language of first favored enemy OR Sylvan, if first favored enemy has no language.
Rogue: Any humanoid language
Sorcerer: the language of their element (Auran, Ignan, Terran or Aquan)
Wizard: Draconic
Literacy In this setting, reading is considered an art. Few can read, and even fewer can read without moving their lips. Almost no noble can read: they are warriors, not scribes! Most noblemen have a churchman on hand to write down what needs to be written down, who writes it down in Ecclesiastical (or whatever language they know), instead of the language it is spoken in.
There is a new skill, Literacy. There is no key ability for Literacy, and you make no Literacy checks. Instead, for every rank you buy in Literacy, you become literate in a language that you already speak. Wizards, Clerics, Druids and Monks are automatically literate in their class language, but no other language. Literacy is a class skill for everyone but Barbarians.

The Anarresti
2010-08-24, 11:20 AM
Just one bump, now that I've added PEACH.

2010-08-24, 08:48 PM
The Deities and Demigods book actually has a section of this that you might find useful.

The Anarresti
2010-08-24, 08:51 PM
Oh ok. I don't have any books besides core, so I might look into that.

2010-08-24, 09:51 PM
From a fluff point of view things look neat and good.

The alignment restrictions are rather harsh on multiclassing (no wizard/clerics or paladin/rangers) but that makes sense.

Actually the only criticism I have is why the alignment restriction on psions? Just because they have internal power doesn't make them unable to be religious one way or another. Monks also draw on internal power and can be followers. Even fighters ultimately rely on their own strength so that limitation on psions seems a little jarring to me.

The Anarresti
2010-08-24, 10:07 PM
Good point. I guess relying on strength of the mind is the same as relying on strength of the arm. I'll change that.
EDIT: What do you think about the literacy rules?

2010-08-24, 11:21 PM
I ran a standard pantheon being attacked and taken over by a monotheistic style branch.

Eventually they did "kill" the gods, causing a huge psychic backlash.

The amount of mono a single large branch would have is huge, and since there is only one they would all have the same or very similar styles of architecture (I like ziggurats because they are simple yet powerful in substance).

A common thing found around the world is, when translated into their own language, it always means "the people." So, there is a very Us and Them to all groups (there was a study done where people were randomly placed into groups X and Y and this ingroup mentality was still found). A monotheistic religion name should reflect this.

I also used my branch as a resurgence/rediscovery of an antique/ancient belief system. Another possibility to think of, the Ancients.

Also don't forget that they will, with the money, control a sizable military force- both religious and non religious.

I hope I am not stepping on toes here, I am just puting what I have used in my game

2010-08-25, 08:14 PM
Why must Sorcerers be Neutral? Do they lose their spellcasting ability if they start worshipping the Unnamed God, or begin associating with other powers? The other classes make sense, as they get their powers from somewhere else and can lose them by annoying that power. Sorcerers are using their own inner power, which shouldn't conceivably affect how they go about life.

It also looks odd next to Psionics, who also use their inner power but don't have an alignment restriction.

As for Vows, I had a similar idea (named Orders) where a character may voluntarily enter and follow its restrictions in order to gain some abilities, but only kept them as long as they remained within the order. It is kind of like Vows, except not manditory and are only broken when someone found out that you did so.

Ironically enough, most players won't care if they break a Vow or not.

2010-08-25, 08:31 PM
I like this a lot... I DM'ed a standard D&D campaign once where the setup was effectively something like this. I couldn't change everything around 'cause the rest of the group wanted to keep playing their characters from the previous campaign, but basically I had a world with a monotheistic Evil Empire whose Lawful Evil god ("Zuen") taught that all other gods were demons, and that all magic (and psionics) except that practised by his own clerics and the Empire's official mages was witchcraft.
(This came in handy one time when the PCs unexpectedly surrendered to a troop of guards they were supposed to beat up, and I hadn't prepared anywhere for the guards to take them, and then the one PC who hadn't agreed to the surrender wandered off into the Ethereal Plane. "WITCHCRAFT!" roared the guard captain, and combat was promptly joined. "Can I take that back?" said the embarrassed player. "No," I said.)
Some ideas I used in that context -- feel free to steal and adapt as desired: The Empire has a rigid caste system. At the top, the Emperor, who is also the High Priest of Zuen and the Commander-in-Chief of the army; then the Imperial family; then the nobility, who include the vast majority of the official mages and all the higher-ranking priests, as well as the military top brass; then the merchants, who have some of the rights and privileges of the nobility if they're rich enough -- they're allowed to own slaves, for instance; then the peasants, then landless free craftsmen and beggars, then human slaves, and finally slaves of other races. (Human slaves can be freed and rise slowly through the castes. A free non-human has roughly the status of a stray dog... except for elves; see below.) The Empire is also severely racist, or perhaps I should say speciesist. Non-human humanoids and monstrous humanoids are categorized as "goblins" (dwarfs, gnomes, actual goblins, hobgoblins, halflings, and fey), "lizards" (reptilian humanoids and monstrous humanoids), and "trolls" (orcs, ogres, gnolls, hill-giants, bugbears, actual trolls, minotaurs). Everything else is a "demon", although the elves are problematic; see below. Zuen's armies were unable either to exterminate or enslave the elves within the Empire's territory, and several enclaves of them still survive. Zuen cannot admit to his clerics that there is anything within the Empire not under his control, and therefore he pretends to have a treaty with the Elvish enclaves under which they can live their lives and practise their magics as they wish. In fact, of course, he will wipe them out if he ever gets the chance. Sorcerers in my campaign are -- as in standard D&D -- born, not made. This makes them "witches" in the Empire, to be rooted out and killed. Nobles and merchants who find their children displaying sorcerous powers will typically send them to the mage schools, where they may spend their entire lives pretending to be wizards learning arcane magic from Zuen-approved books. A lower-caste parent's only option is to travel secretly into the elvish enclaves and beg the elves to adopt their child. Unfortunately this raises the accusation, against the elves, that they "steal babies"; a rumour which Zuen quietly encourages, as he has occasionally thereby succeeded in rousing misguided peasants to burn down elvish villages and take the brunt of their protective abjurations, thus giving his evil magics an opening to get inside and destroy them. Zuen's great secret is this: far from being the Only True God, as he constantly assures his followers, he has in fact been banished from the council of the gods, and avoided being cast into the Abyss only by taking refuge in the body and mind of an adventurer sent two thousand years ago to defeat him. Kept alive far beyond his time, in a horribly wizened and aged state, this unfortunate individual is now entombed in the crypt of the Great Temple of Zuen. He sees, hears, and feels himself doing all the evils that Zuen does, but cannot prevent it or escape. If he is killed, Zuen is banished to the Abyss -- and how he longs for such a death. Alas for him, Zuen is very alert to such a prospect, and if there is the slightest threat to the poor prisoner's life he will transform into a pit fiend and (watching helplessly as Zuen possesses him) destroy his benefactors. My players were the sixth party to attempt this, and a damn good gaming session it was if I say so myself.

The Anarresti
2010-08-26, 06:55 AM
Why must Sorcerers be Neutral? Do they lose their spellcasting ability if they start worshipping the Unnamed God, or begin associating with other powers? The other classes make sense, as they get their powers from somewhere else and can lose them by annoying that power. Sorcerers are using their own inner power, which shouldn't conceivably affect how they go about life.
Well, according to my argument, sorcerers are NOT using their own inner power: they are either instinctivly manipulating the ambient magic around them, or they get their power from a spirit bound to their soul. In the setting I am making using this variant rule, sorcerers have an elemental spirit bound to them from birth (Earth, Air, Fire, Water or Void), and that's how they get their power. If you go with a dragon-blooded sorcerer, I'd still argue that repeated use of non-Godly magic influences your soul. Remember that alignment in this setting is not how you live your life, but what kinds of magical powers you associate with, either in the form of worship or in actual magical interaction. However, magical interaction trumps worship. So, if a wizard worships the Unnamed God, but makes deals with spirits, he is still pagan.
Also, any person, Pagan, Neutral or Follower, can be evil, good, lawful, or chaotic. These just arent official alignments. A good cleric, for example, could believe in the Omnipotency of the Unnamed God, and well as the Omnibenevolence (all-loving) of the Unnamed God.

As for Vows, I had a similar idea (named Orders) where a character may voluntarily enter and follow its restrictions in order to gain some abilities, but only kept them as long as they remained within the order. It is kind of like Vows, except not manditory and are only broken when someone found out that you did so.

Ironically enough, most players won't care if they break a Vow or not.
It sounds interesting. But the way to keep players from breaking a vow is to impose the same penalty if they broke their alignment restriction. So, if a monk broke their vow, they wouldn't be able to take more monk levels. If a cleric broke their vow, they wouldn't be able to use any magical abilities until they atone.

@NakedCelt: Thanks! :smallbiggrin: