View Full Version : Fairytales... D20

2007-04-23, 11:21 AM
I've been nominated and/or volunetered (I don't rightly remember) to DM the next game my D&D group here at University will be playing. Normally, I like to run games in the Forgotten Realms because... well, that's what I know and am familiar with. The rest of the group, however, are not fan, and I can live with that; I'm certainly not about to try and force them into playing in Faerun if they don't want to. Conversely, unfortunately, I'm not too fond of Greyhawk, the world in which the group usually plays - nor do I know that much about it or have any books relating to it.

So, I thought I'd make my own world with blackjack and hookers. I'd like something fairly similar to a traditional, Disneyesque fairytale world. I'm thinking that only humans will be playable characters, with elves, dwarves and gnomes being fey creatures that are rarely encountered, rather than humanoids that are fairly common. Otherwise, they probably won't be getting changed all that much - dwarves will still be dour bearded mining folk, elves will still be forest dwelling nancys, gnomes will be gnomes.

I probably won't be including orcs or halflings, since they're too Tolkein really (by which I mean that they're come to be associated with him, rather than anything else, so get off my case). I figure things like giants, goblinoids and, of course, dragons, will still be major players in the 'monster' department - although I think that monsters in general will be less common than in a standard D&D game, and only turn up every-so-often, rather than almost every session.

I'm really not sure what classes to offer. I'm thinking I'll replace Paladin with Knight (from PHBII, although I personally only have access to the Excerpt that I printed off the WotC website... but sssh), and Rangers with the non-spellcasting variant from Complete Warrior. My real problem is with Clerics and Druids, since they don't seem to fit the genre at all. I think Wizards and Sorcerers should be okay; and I'm currently searching high and low for a Witch class (something beyond the spell list in the DMG, help would be appreciated).

So, um, has anyone played anything like this before? Does anyone have any suggestions that would make things easier? Is there a better system for this kind of idea than D&D that would make my life much easier? Any input would be much appreciated.

2007-04-23, 11:41 AM
Unless you are going to change ALOT about the system, you will have a hard time maintaining campaign survivability without Divine Casters. Which is to say, expect the pc's to wander off for a week between fights to rest all the damage off.

I would suggest keeping the cleric (and possibly druid) mechanically, but change the flavor. Make the cleric more of a friar tuck concept, downgrade the "showy" of the spells, or have the spells disguised as something fantacy-technical. A cure spell could be the application of herbs more skillfull than any modern healer, damaging spells could take the form of alchemical creations. Its still streatching it a bit, but it doesn't require the creation and learning of a new system.

Conversly, keep the cleric a "Holy man who does 'miracle magik," but only have one diety in the world that grants spells (ore one diety at all).

Conversly, yet-again, Make "Cleric" a kind of "Wizard/Sorcerer." Magic is as Magic does and all, so if you're ok with the image of a wizard but not a cleric, just make the cleric look like wizards, if you don't establish the metaphysics of arcane and divine magic to be different, just seperate spell lists, it doesn't matter anymore.

2007-04-23, 11:51 AM
Is this going to be a "serious" campaign? If not, you could run it in Shrek-world.

2007-04-23, 11:52 AM
Cool! This sounds like a really good idea.

I agree that clerics don't really fit the genre (though they may work as NPC's), but not so much Druids. They might make good villain types (what with the shapechanging into gribbly creatures + spellcasting) or (what I've heard about) the shapeshifting variant might make for a good hero/NPC.

Warlocks might make good Witches, but then, so might Druids or just Sorcerers or Wizards (you don't really need the alternate spell-list...just take appropriate spells).

One thing to bear in mind is that magic should be quite rare, both in the way of spellcasters and magic items, perhaps only ever having 1 magic item per PC...tops. I would also suggest that you limit spellcasters in the party (1 or 2 maximum, the latter for larger parties of 6+), or even make the only spellcasters NPC's. With this in mind, the CR of stuff will be difficult to calculate. If the Bad Guy is a spellcaster, you might want to have him a significantly lower level than the PC's if they lack any magic (or are very limited on it).

I think d&d is a pretty good system for this kind of setting. A lot of other systems are more "realistic" and that's not what you're after. You want fantastic deeds, horrible monsters, evil villains and the heroes always win in the end. That's d&d all the way through.

2007-04-23, 11:55 AM
Um.. I've never actually seen Shrek all the way through, and I want the tone of the game to be at least semi-serious.

Also, having given it some thought, I've come up with two possible solutions to the lack of divine magic (although your suggestions were good too, Olethros)

1) The Cloistered Cleric, from Unearthed Arcana, under a different name (probably Sage) fits better with the whole 'fairy-tale' thing.

2) The generic classes, also from Unearthed Arcana, might make things easier all around. Unfortunately I've never tried them out, so I don't know how good/balanced they are. Anyone?

2007-04-23, 02:12 PM
Generic Classes are good for low-magic, suck for everything else, because you can't actually DO much. Most cool class-features go out the window.

2007-04-23, 02:44 PM
Well, you could always have the Bards heal. Bards would fit in just fine.

2007-04-23, 03:38 PM
If you're looking for source material that even includes some pretty potent magical people and items, you could do worse than to pick up Fables in trade paperbacks. Just saying.

As for fitting clerics and druids in: almost all of the PHBII variants of the druid fit into the fairy-tale concept better; I'd be tempted to say giving them the alternate shapeshifting, the alternate healing (don't have the book in front of me, but as I recall it) and letting them keep their animal companion would let you strip out spellcasting completely and give you a fairytale-ish druid.

Clerics are much tougher, but if you're sticking to D&D and dropping druid spells you'll probably want to keep them around. Shift the flavor without shifting the powers much; call them 'wise men,' leave their spellcasting, drop their armor to light at best and retain their weaponry. That gives you the kind of wise wanderer you might find in a fairy tale, traveling around in ratty old clothes who can heal at need or kick your butt with his old oak club, but leaves the plate mail to the knights.

2007-04-23, 05:52 PM
Hi there. As a veteran DM for the past 10 years I have tried many variants of D&D and the one thing I have found while being a DM is listen to your players. People play D&D for various reasons, and telling them they can't be this or that, when it is their idea of a hero and as long as it isn't a ridiculous concept is detrimental to the game.
If your players aren't interested, they won't play long. So the best bet, before spending hours and hours designing an intricate plot, ask the guys and gals what their preference is and if they would like to run something low magic.
Overall most players like the Difference that they can get out of D&D. they want to be elves or dwarves. THey want to wield Excalibur or Glamdring. THey want to sling spells like fully automatic machine guns. The fantasy is what draws many of us in

Not that a low magic campaign doesn't have its place. Just make sure that your players agree

2007-04-23, 05:56 PM
I've talked to the players, naturally, and they agree to the concept pretty much as I explained it in the first post...

2007-04-23, 06:04 PM
Let's see... I think you could use the Druid as the witch class pretty easily. It doesn't seem like you'd need to change it a whole lot. As to the Cleric thing, why not divide magic into White and Black magic instead of Divine and Arcane? Clerics would be practitioners of White magic (ie, healing and protection) and wizards/sorcerers would be practitioners of Black magic (ie, offensive spells, mind-control, summoning, etc). White and Black magic wouldn't necessarily dictate alignment, but it might be an influencing factor.

2007-04-23, 07:26 PM
Maybe an Archivist? (From Heroes of Horror) They are pretty much Wizards who cast divine spells. Say they draw their magic from the same place and call it a day.

2007-04-23, 08:39 PM
D&D is really an excellent system for this, and you can make just about any class fit if you're willing to put some thought into it. I've had Druids played as everything from an eco-terrorist to a witch to a hippy tree-hugging stereotype, so don't worry about fitting them into your setting. Heck, even less canonical systems like psionics, incarnum and truenaming can all work in a fairy-tale setting if, in-game, they're all called "mages."

I promise not to let this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=41729) leak into this one any more.

If you want to really sell the idea of a world based on fairy tales, and you want it to be somewhat serious, read through some of the original Grimm's stories--they're a lot darker than you might remember from the Disney versions. Think about the implications of a large number of fairy tale caveats wrought upon a single world. If giants live in the clouds, just a beanstalk-climb away, has anyone proposed a military alliance with them yet? How many guys are named Prince Charming--or did he really bed all those women on his own? What happens after happily ever after?

This is the stuff of plot-hooks! I'm honestly getting jealous of your players right now. By the way, for answers to all three of the above questions, follow Lapak's advice and read Fables. It's widely regarded as one of the best comics being made today--Bill Willingham is an utter genius. Personally, I never miss an issue.

2007-04-23, 08:49 PM
I love the idea of a Disneyesqe DnD game. After all fantasy is sort of the go to for Disney films anyway.

I mean check it out:

just avoid animorphic mice and your set.

2007-04-23, 09:26 PM
You may actually want to put some thought into removing all prepared caster classes. Vancian magic does not fit very well with a fairy-tale atmosphere--it's too technical--and, moreover, prepared casters have a tendency to solve all non-combat-related problems with spells, which likewise detracts from the mood. At least in my opinion.

If you have the appropriate splatbooks, I'd recommend using the "themed casters" for the arcane side--the beguiler (a.k.a. the witch), the warmage (a.k.a. the magician or sorceror), and the dread necromancer (a.k.a. the dread necromancer). For the divine side, favored souls (a.k.a. white wizards or healers) are a good choice. And of course the warlock fits in well, too. Downplay the distinction between arcane and divine magic. It's all just magic.

This has the side benefit that your campaign will be viable into the higher levels without risk of wizards or CoDzillas breaking everything.

Lord Tataraus
2007-04-23, 09:40 PM
Wait, Druid does not fit? But what about Celtic fairytales? They were all about Druids (though with not a potent spellcasting). If anything, Druids fit better than the wizard/sorcerer. Personally, I would have warlocks instead of wizard/sorcerer and a toned-down Druid for the only divine.