View Full Version : Isole [Homebrew world]

2007-03-04, 06:08 AM
Isole is a world that has been stewing in my head for quite some time now, and I've finally gotten around to putting it onto paper. I'd greatly appreciate any feedback you have on the various aspects of this homebrew I've been creating.

Bear in mind that most of the names are works in progress. Feel free to suggest any better ones. The Maelstrom and the Shattered Spine isles are probably going to stay as is though.

Isolde (is the name of the continent, and as of this moment, the world)


Map included for the heck of it... I should go into the geography soon.

Over-arching theme:
In a world devastated by global devastation called the Cataclysm, the peoples of Isole are rebuilding and nearing renaissance again. Magic is treated as a tool, and war is all but nonexistent (too busy defending against primitives/developing/trading for war to be profitable at this time). Lends itself well to intrigue, trade, and both discovery and rediscovery. It has a steam punk/final fantasy feel to it as well. This is a low-level world, no elminsters around.

Isole used to be a huge continent and a traditional fantasy world (similar faerun). However, a great war broke out between the two largest nations (incidentally predominantly human nations), the north and the south. In this great war, a weapon of arcane mass destruction was built and triggered. It succeeded, but its ramifications were far greater than anyone had expected. It was built merely to destroy the arcane defenses of a nation, but instead overloaded all the ley lines inherent in the world, cutting off the world from the gods and magic. (more on this later)

The world eventually rediscovered magic, and new gods appeared. Nations were reforged, and they worked hard at returning the world to its former splendour. It is a work in progress.

Armageddon took place about a thousand years ago (reports are sketchy and range from 500-2000 years), but it was such a devastating event that it still weighs on the collective consciousness of the new nations. Perhaps that is why they are still afraid to lean themselves towards open conflict.

Races and society:
Humans have largely inherited the earth. However, all nations are a mixture of humans, half-elf, half-orc and gnome.

Humans: Humans are the predominant race on Isole.

Dwarves: Dwarves are very rare in ‘common’ society. Firstly, a few major ley lines overloaded in their ancestral mountain homes, turning some into archipelagos, and refusing to leave their ancestral homes, they have generally have been spending the past hundred years rebuilding and fighting off rampaging creatures. They also blame the humans for all that has happened to their world. Unfortunately, the fact that their ancestral halls are in bad shape means that they are forced to venture out and trade for necessities, although they try to do this as rarely as possible.

Elves: Elves are unheard of in society, and are an NPC race. Just about all elves vanished after the cataclysm, and marrying with humans diluted the blood of the elves that were left. What was remembered of them has been greatly romanticized, mostly by the humans.

Half-elves: Half elves have capitalized on this romanticism of elves. They are rare, and considered especially exotic/beautiful by society. Most half-elves also tend to mirror the grace that their ancestor elves supposedly had.

Half elves have the following traits:
Medium size, base land speed 30 ft. Half elves sleep the same amount as humans
+2 dex, -2 con. Half-elves have generally spent their time honing their grace at the expense of their fortitude
+2 racial bonus vs enchantment spells and spell-like effects
Low-light vision
+2 racial bonus on Listen, Spot and Search checks. A half-elf’s senses are preternaturally sharp.
+2 racial bonus on diplomacy and gather information checks
Elven blood
Automatic languages: Common and Elven
Favored class: Rogue and Swashbuckler

Gnomes: Intelligent and quick-witted, gnomes are generally on the cutting edge of any technology, arcane or otherwise. It was a gnome who rediscovered how to cast magic, and they have taken the place of the elves as the ‘spellcaster’. They are also especially good with their hands. Most gnomes tend to have a hobby or passion in their lives. While they might get distracted, more often than not they will eventually return to their interest.

+2 intelligence, -2 strength. Gnomes are quick-witted, but their small stature generally makes them weaker than others.
Small size, speed base 20 ft
Low-light vision
+1 racial bonus on all saves. Gnomes seem to be preternaturally lucky.
+3 racial bonus on any one craft or knowledge skill. This represents their hobby/interest in life, and must be chosen when the character is first created. This stacks with skill focus.
Automatic Languages: Common and Gnomish
Favored class: Arcane technist

Halflings do not exist in this world.

Half-orcs: The traditional origin of half-orcs are when orcs raid human settlements. While half-orcs technically have the same rights as humans, most people still treat them as second class citizens.
Half-orcs have the same statistics in the PHB except for the following changes:
+2 con, -2 cha. Their orcish heritage causes half-orcs to be more stout, but their brutish features put most people off.

2007-03-04, 06:10 AM
Non-casters: Barbarian, fighter, rogue, swashbuckler, knight. Monks are relatively uncommon
Non-arcane casters: Clerics, Paladins (non-caster variant), Ranger (non-caster variant). Druids are predominately NPCs. Favored souls do not exist.
Arcane spell casters: Dread Necromancer (Heroes of Horror), Warmage (Complete Arcane), Gunmage (Iron Kingdoms Character Guide) and Arcane Technist (Homebrew class). The Dread Necromancer is a very rare class in Isole, available to only one nation. All arcane spellcasters do not have a spellpouch or spellbook, if they had one. Instead they have an arcane focus, listed in the arcane technist below. All other arcane spell casters do not exist.

Arcane Technist:

Hit die: d6
Starting funds: 5d4x10, Arcane focus weapon
Class skills: Appraise, Concentration, Craft (any), Knowledge (any), Profession (any),
Skill points: 4+int/level
BAB: Poor advancement
Saves: Wizard advancement

Weapon and armor proficiency: An Arcane Technist is familiar with all simple weapons, no shield and no armor. He accrues somatic arcane failure as per normal if casting while armored.

Arcane focus: An arcane focus is a masterwork mechanikal device/weapon that holds specific settings in it, with the arcane spellcaster channeling energy in it to form a few basic iterations of the weave. An arcane focus doubles as both spell component pouch, spell focus and spell book, and is essentially integral for the casting of any spell. Any spell components with a material cost more than 100gp must still be provided, and there is a receptacle in the arcane focus that accepts the specific spell components. It can be enchanted and upgraded.

An arcane focus must be a two-handed weapon without ‘movable’ parts, but the mage does not need to have proficiency in it. This means double axes and the like can be used, but not bows, crossbows or dire flails. An exception is a pair of gauntlets, which can also be used as the arcane focus, and a firearm (only for gunmages, see below). Traditional choices are staves (because most wizards can use it) and greatswords. To cast a spell, a spellcaster must have both hands free, and arcane spell failure occurs normally if the spellcaster is in armour. As one manipulates the weave via manipulating triggers and devices upon the arcane focus, all spells must have a somatic focus, and have no verbal focus. Therefore, still spells are impossible, and silent spells are moot.

As an arcane focus is so integral to any arcane spellcaster, it is considered that the spellcaster is contantly protecting it, and therefore always uses the spellcaster’s saves if required. An arcane focus can be disarmed or sundered. Metal gauntlets serving as an arcane focus give you +10 vs being disarmed, but count as both a weapon as well as your glove slot.

As an arcane spell caster levels up, he layers spell protection onto his arcane focus, which prevents its damage/loss.
At level 1, an arcane spellcaster can tell when his arcane focus has been destroyed.
An arcane spellcaster’s arcane focus gains +2 vs being sundered/disarmed at level 6. This increases to +4 at level 12, and +6 at level 18.
An arcane focus has hardness 10 and 20 hitpoints. It gains +2 to its hardness at level 5 and +2 more at levels 10, 15 and 20.

An arcane spell focus is unique to the spell caster. He cannot use another spellcaster’s. An arcane spell caster can repair or recreate his arcane spell focus. With the correct tools and materials costing 10gp per hit point, he can spend a day to repair the focus. A spellcaster can also buy an existing masterwork weapon to convert into his arcane focus. This requires work requires 1 day and 100gp per caster level of work. If a new arcane focus is created in this way, the spellcaster loses all affinity with the previous focus, if there was one.

A spell can be cast without an arcane focus, although this should only be used under the direst of circumstances. The caster casts a spell, which succeeds (barring normal arcane failure etc), and then is overwhelmed by the uncontrollable energies surging through his body. He takes 1d10 damage per level of spell cast, with a fortitude save of DC 15+spell level for half. Cantrips are 1d10, DC 15 for half. If the spell caster dies, he goes out in a blaze of glory that deals 1d6 per spell level, radius 5ft per spell level, reflex save 10+spell level for half. Yes, very suicidal mages have done this before, and it is frowned upon in civilized society, to say the least.

Spells: Beginning at first level, an arcane technist gains the ability to cast arcane spells spontaneously. To cast a spell, he must have an intelligence score of at least 10+the spell level. His intelligence modifier adds to the save DC of the spell.

In addition, arcane technists know only a selected number of spells. When an arcane technist levels up, he gains a number of spells known according to the table below. These spells are assumed inscribed onto arcane pathways built into the arcane focus throughout the character’s process of leveling up (tinkering all the time essentially).

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 4 1
2 5 2
3 5 2
4 6 3 1
5 6 3 2
6 7 3 2 1
7 7 4 3 2
8 8 4 3 2 1
9 8 4 3 3 2
10 9 4 4 3 2 1
11 9 4 4 3 3 2
12 10 4 4 4 3 2 1
13 10 4 4 4 3 3 2
14 10 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
15 10 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
16 10 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
17 10 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
18 10 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
19 10 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
20 10 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2

An Arcane Technist may potentially know a maximum number of spells equal to the number according to the table +his intelligence modifier. For example, a level 4 arcane technist with intelligence of 16 may potentially learn 9 cantrips, 5 level 1 spells and 4 level 2 spells.

These extra spells due to intelligence must be learnt. They cannot be ‘scribed’ from a scroll (well scrolls aren’t used here, but the equivalent of a scroll) but must instead be learnt from magical texts describing the process or from another willing arcane spell caster (any of the four). It costs a day per spell to understand the underlying mechanics and to input the proper channels into the arcane focus, and costs 10gp/spell level in materials. One cannot ‘steal’ an arcane focus to learn its spells. Each is unique and can only be understood by the owner. One can also create new spells, but that is a different matter entirely.

An arcane technist gains spells per day as per the following table. He also gains extra spells per day based on his charisma score.

Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 5 2
2 6 3
3 6 3
4 6 3 1
5 6 4 2
6 6 4 2 1
7 6 4 3 2
8 6 5 3 2 1
9 6 5 3 3 2
10 6 5 4 3 2 1
11 6 5 4 3 3 2
12 6 5 4 4 3 2 1
13 6 5 5 4 3 3 2
14 6 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
15 6 5 5 5 4 3 3 2
16 6 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
17 6 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 2
18 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
19 6 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 2
20 6 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2

Etch Rune Plate: At level 1 an arcane technist gains etch rune plate (scribe scroll) as a free feat.

Fabrication score: At level 4 an arcane technist pays 5% less in money and xp in order to create a magical item. This reduction increases by 5% for every 4 caster levels (to 20% at level 20). This stacks with other methods of reducing gp or xp cost.
Bonus feats: At level 5, 10, 15 and 20 he gains a free feat. This must either be a craft or a metamagic feat or skill focus (craft mechanika).

2007-03-04, 06:11 AM
I’ll call the sentient aspect of this world/plane Gaia. This world is a plane just like any other in D&D, and the weave is akin to the lifeblood of Gaia. When the device exploded, it severely damaged the integrity of this world, and in self-defense, Gaia cut off all traditional access to magic. Any attempt to channel a spell results in excruciating pain for the caster. Spell slots still regenerate, spell abilities can be used, but the conscious weaving of arcane magic is not possible.

Unfortunately, the device also weakened the fabric of reality, something that was exacerbated in places traditional weak to begin with. These ley lines and nodes exploded in uncontrolled magical energy, severely warping the territories and creatures within the vicinity.

Eventually someone rediscovered the fact that the magic was not lost, merely not accessible by a sentient living being. They then found a way around it; by channeling this energy through a non-living item (essentially their arcane focus) they are still able to control the weave, casting spells naturally. This device needs to be sufficiently large and intricate in order to contain all the arcane filigree needed to work magic.

This arcane focus is a mechanikal device that holds specific settings in it, with the arcane spellcaster channeling energy in it to form a few basic iterations of the weave. Essentially, that is the reason why all spellcasters in this world are spontaeneous spellcasters. All arcane spellcasters in this world need an arcane focus. For more information, see Arcane Focus, within the Arcane Technist, above.

Because of the isolation of the world of Isolde and the chaos of the weave, no spells involving planar travel work. In addition, teleportation spells are highly unstable/random.

I am uncertain on religion as of the moment. I do not know if I should
a) have an old pantheon
b) have a new pantheon
c) have a mixture
If it IS a wholly new pantheon, eventually the old gods will come calling.

Druids exist, but are traditionally very misanthropic, and tend to be poor pcs. They know that the world is in constant agongy, and hold the belief that all of this is due to society in general (largely true). While some seek to find a happy medium between nature and society, just about all druids distrust society in general.

2007-03-04, 06:13 AM
reserved post 4

2007-03-04, 06:17 AM
reserved post 5

2007-03-04, 06:24 AM
reserved post 6

2007-03-04, 06:29 AM
resevred post 7

2007-03-04, 06:30 AM
reserved post 8

2007-03-04, 09:02 AM
it seems good so far, but why do arcane techists have such a big list of 0-level spells at 20th level? even if the spell slots are limited, that seems huge (most of the PHB list).

what about the healing factor? what's up with clerics?

If magic is hard to channel, what does this do to arcane-caster classes? if it's been a thousand years, how do (sorcerers?) know about spellcasting at all?

2007-03-04, 10:45 AM
Arcane spell casting requires the channeling of latent energy/knowledge into a form through the weave. While arcane casters have this energy locked in them, they are unable to access it without damaging themselves. The only way to do so is by using an inanimate object as a channeling device.

All arcane spell casters in this world are technically considered 'spontaeneous' spell casters by D&D ruling, although 'fluff' wise they are more related to prepared spell casters. They have energy, which they channel through their arcane foci. These arcane foci (combination spellbook and component pouch) have various channels, which, in various iterations, manipulate the weave in different ways, resulting in different spell effects.

Note that this is an entirely new way of casting magic. All people know is that there used to be an entirely different way of casting magic that did not need arcane foci. However, if they try to follow the old way, more often than not, they die.

That's why there are no other arcane spell casters other than the 4 i mentioned. The arcane technist is the wizard, with a select group of customizable spells he can choose from, while the warmage and dread necromancer are essentially very specialised wizards.

Once the world has healed, the 'traditional' methods of casting may return, but trust me, the current status quo will not want that to happen. (It will be a very long, very large epic story arc).

Clerics base their powers of divine intervention, which are a totally different method of casting spells than arcane spellcasters, and are thus unaffected. However, I am uncertain of the pantheon as of yet.

You're right about the cantrips. I think I'll reduce it.