Tales of The Summerset Isles
“What do I want?”, “What do I have?”, and “How can I best use the latter to get the former?”
In this campaign, the adventurers will be free agents that operate as they see fit within constraints established by significantly more powerful individuals. Currently, the planned start of the story is that the adventurers are in the service of Lord Donsmoth, and are on a diplomatic mission to the capital; this will serve to introduce the adventurers to the major characters in story. It will also allow for variety in backstories, as Donsmoth has a large mix of people in his service. It is not necessary that your characters enjoy working for your lord – it may even be beneficial to dislike the arrangement, as it is unlikely for it to continue.
1 Character Questions
Some questions you should think about when creating characters. Your character should have an answer to these, even if it’s “I don’t care”.
- How does your character feel about the empire? Do they think the monarchy is a good thing?
- Is your character religious? Do they have any disagreements with the church? Do they judge others for their faith? How does this play into their moral code?
- Is your character a traveller, or have they lived in the same place their entire life? How do they feel about travelling? Do they think the world is a safe place to travel?
- Has your character ever killed anyone? How do they feel about violence? How would they react if attacked or threatened?
- Where does your character fit into the social hierarchy? What do they think of the feudal hierarchy? Are they passive or assertive about these beliefs?
2 Rule Changes
3 Thematic Changes
Critical hits from basic attacks will have thematic components and effects that will be determined by a random effects table. This is to add a more cinematic component to combat. An example would be a critical hit from a bow lodges the arrow in the targets shoulder, giving them disadvantage on their next attack. This will apply both to attacks made by players and by NPCs.
As this campaign is set in the Middle Ages, many characters will be illiterate by default. Players shoudl embrace this as a way to establish greater depth to their character. Any player who wishes to play a character able to read must explain who taught them and why in their backstory, as being literate is uncommon; additionally, there will be story elements to justify characters’ literacy. See the specific wiki page for races, for your races specific rules on language.
If your background gives you additional languages it is then assumed that any language you can speak, you can also read and write. You should consider reducing this to just being able to speak it though, especially in the case of backgrounds such as “Outlander” and uncommon languages such as Draconic, Celestial, Infernal, Undercommon.
It is recommended that certain Classes learn languages that match their area of expertise. Magic texts are written in draconic which are important for wizards. Fey creatures speak slyvan which can be useful allies for a druid. With the exception of the followers of O’dath, all the religious texts for clerics are written in celestial. Warlocks should consider learning either Slyvan, Infernal, or Undercommon depending on their patrons.
There are 10 spoken languages in the Sommerset Isles of varying degrees of rarity:
- Common: The most common language across the islands, and the language of the human nobility. It is spoken by humans, halflings and a number of other races that have a predisposition towards trade.
- Dwarfish: The language of the dwarves, spoken by both the mountain-bred and the hill tribes. This language is slowly falling out of favour in more central dwarfish communities, Common overtaking it as the dominant language. It is also spoken by rock gnomes occupying communities close to dwarves.
- Elvish: The language of Ellenmoore, and the native tongue of the elves. While wood elves predominately speak it, high elves tend to speak a mix of it and Common. In addition to its widespread use on the island of Ellenmoore, it is also spoken in the Whispering Isles, and in eastern parts of the Midlands.
- Kurskian: The language of the South. As a bastard language from centuries of mixing orc, goblin and giant, Kusrkian is generally understood by all members of these races; regional accents, however, tend to complicate communication. This language was brought to the Midlands by hobgoblin conquerors, resulting in further mixing with Common.
- Sylvan: The language of the fey, lingering in the remnants of the original inhabitants of the Midlands. The wood gnomes scattered through the Midlands forests are the largest group of native speakers. Sylvan fluency is generally frowned upon by the human population as a method to consort with fey creatures.
- Kasai: The language of the West, spoken by the various races of the island of Kasai. This language markedly unites dramatically different creatures, acting as the dominant language of all races on the island.
- Draconic: The language of magic, spoken by arcane caters and lizardfolk. This language is a supposed remnant of the lizardfolk’s claimed draconic heritage. The lizardfolk lack any established written language, so their accents and pronunciation differs wildly to those who have learnt the language from ancient tomes and scrolls, several of which detail the language’s magical potential. The difference between caster-spoken Draconic and the Draconic spoken by lizardfolk has almost turned it into two different languages, and sparked numerous debates about which is the true language of dragons.
- Celestial: The language of the gods, and the sacred script that most holy scripts are written in, particularly those works in honour of Reed. This language is mostly read in rituals by priests, or while casting divine spells. It is the current dominant view of the church that holy scripts should not be read in the Common tongue, and preserved only in Celestial.
- Infernal: The language of fiends, spoken by devils, demons, and tieflings. The language itself is considered evil, and to speak it is viewed taboo. Very few people in the Sommerset isles can understand this language,
- Undercommon: The language of secrecy and the least common language in the Summerset Isles; some believe it to be extinct. However, Undercommon still exists in some of the darker corners of Kursk, whispered in sinister rituals praising dark gods, or things even more unknowably horrible. Due to its scarcity, a trend has developed among smugglers and criminals to communicate using Undercommon to remain undetected.
There are a wide variety of races on the Summerset Isle that can be played as characters; that being said, some of these races would be better suited to the story than others. So, while none of the available races are banned, some will require extensive explanation of their presence in the story. How well each race suits the story will be outlined in their respective descriptions.
The vast majority of people on the Summerset Isle worship The Seven – there are, of course, exceptions. Some embrace a form of heresy, Ancestralism/Paganism, or Atheism. Adventurers should consider their spirituality, and are encouraged to worship The Seven, possibly with a chosen patron. If an adventurer wishes to chose a god outside the dominant religion, they should consult with the DM.
- Healing Magic: With healing magic being a recent development in the Summerset Isle, its properties are still being tested. It has proven exceptional at numbing pain and preventing blood loss; however, it is unable to close wounds, regrow appendages, or heal the damage done by diseases. This means if an adventurer is properly stabbed, maimed, or sickened, don’t expect “cure wounds” or a “potion of healing” to immediately solve the problem.
- Magic from script: In this world, magic is merely the ability to perform rituals, whether they involve verbal, somatic, or material components. Whether a character draws their power from arcane script, divine favour, or an innate source, their spell casting ability is a reflection of their comprehension, understanding, and ability to perform these rituals. This means that unless a character is aware of a ritual and its procedures, they cannot cast that spell – this could be achieved through reading how the spell is performed, seeing how it is performed, or having the insight into determining how it is performed.
- Restricted magic: Since Magic is learnt from the memorisation of rituals, the ability to cast certain spells is limited to spells a character knows off. This means that certain spells can’t be learnt without being taught explicitly to a character. Here is a link to the spells that are restricted. Any spell not listed here can be learnt on the assumption that the caster has access to the knowledge of the spell. While this does not necessarily mean a character must being studying a spell to level up their casting ability, a character has to be aware of a spell and its components before they can learn how to cast it. A wizard who doesn’t study and practice magic will not be a very powerful wizard.