Fans of D&D are also likely familiar with Wizards of the Coast’s other *moderately* successful property, Magic: the Gathering. Even Wizards has acknowledged the close ties between the two properties with the release of the Plane Shift rule additions, which incorporate the worlds of Zendikar and Innistrad into the D&D ruleset. As such, I thought I’d try and create a Planeswalker class to accompany D&D’s MTG content. It’s not the first such attempt on the internet, nor will it be the last, but I hope my pass at the mana-tapping, monster summoning masters of Magic will be interesting to some.
Language is essential in Iris. The very building blocks of reality are words which, in being spoken, become existence. Even when mortals open their minds or souls to the gods or the arcane, their thoughts are structured into language. That structure is important for it keeps the spark of the animata in check. The shards of anima, the souls of mortals, are incredibly powerful. Without order to bind them, they could not be contained in mortal flesh. On Iris, the order that restrains the overwhelming essence of mortality is the filter of language, of the Tiroth.
Warning: If you’re playing in my Chronicles of Iris campaign, DON’T KEEP READING. SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY.
It’s that time of year again.
Actually… it’s past that time of year. I’m a little late with these. Blame moving across the country.
It’s past that time of year again.
Just like in January, we’ve reached the part of the year when a speedrunning marathon brings us the joy of beautifully broken and elegantly executed games for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It’s warm outside so this one must be Summer Games Done Quick 2016, the second of the two annual GamesDoneQuick events. As with every year, I eagerly anticipated tuning into the speedrunning extravaganza to see dozens of games being broken in all the amusing and entertaining ways that only speedrunners can deliver. As with every year, I found myself excited to see how high the donation totals for the charity event would reach because every dollar Doctors Without Borders receives from SGDQ and every donation record the event breaks feels like a personal accomplishment. Unlike every year, I did not have work during SDGQ, allowing me to watch an unprecedented amount of one of my favorite gaming events of the year. And so, as with every year, I’ve selected my favorite runs of the marathon and stuck them in a blog post for speedrunning enthusiasts to peruse.
Without further ado, here are my SDGQ 2016 Awards.
Here is my first attempt at homebrewing a custom class for D&D 5e! Let me know what you think of the Witch, especially if you’re inspired to try one for yourself. I’d love any playtesting data I can gather as I design the rest of the class features and spell list.
Languages are as ever-changing as those who speak them. Elven Decorarchs develop new terminology for high-society etiquette at least once a century, and Dwarves frequently name new architectural styles and methods of forgery.* Linguistic mingling gives rise to loan words that are twisted and mutated until they become part of the language that adopted them. Most humans don’t realize that “harmony” originates from the tiefling word “hianzi,” which refers to a lengthy, circular chain by which dozens of conquered slaves could be bound. The Tiroth, tongue of magic and the gods, is also a language, but it lives more literally than any other.
Among the first classes any apprentice wizard takes in a Collective-approved magical curriculum is a practical applications course on Naming. In that standard course, the basics of the Tiroth are memorized. Simple sentence structure. Pronunciation. Diction. And, of course, vocabulary. Students start by practicing the simplest of Names: the Names that do not change. The Name of a grain of dirt. The Name of a single gust of wind. The Names of Angels.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that an adventuring party in possession of great treasure must be in want of a place to spend it. Luckily, no creature on Iris is without a price.* Unfortunately, not all creatures’ prices are measured in gold. This is especially true of Druids.
With the end of March coming up, I suddenly came to the realization that I hadn’t done ANY blog posts for the whole MONTH.
While I try to officially fix that, I’ll start by putting up some of the writing I HAVE been doing. Here are two D&D 5E characters I’ll be playing in some upcoming play-by-post games on the Gamer’s Plane RPG forums. I used the 3×5 Character Creation method I discussed in a previous post, so if you have any questions about the methodology, check them out there.
The Cardinal Cities
The foundings of Southreach and Northhaven were as symbolic as they were practical. “Two great cities, dedicated to commerce and diplomacy, united by a single road open to all the kingdoms and people of Carnora.” No effort so grand had ever been undertaken in the history of Iris (nor has one been since). The Cardinal Cities were intended to be bastions of peace and propriety, sanctuaries where all could come to sound their voices without the threat of reprisal. In these streets alone could all gods and mortals stand together, safe in the knowledge that within these walls there would be no violence among them.
That is not what happened.
Crime rose steadily in the Cardinal Cities, and the conflicts of other lands that the founders so despised surfaced with increasing regularity. None could fully brook their baser instincts or inborn prejudices, even if they professed to believe in the governing tenets of the cities. Dispelling their former idealism, the founders of the Cardinal Cities attacked the problem at hand: how could one prevent conflict without bias or discrimination from those doing the prevention? What would stop their own guards from falling prey to the same weaknesses they were intended to purge?
The Order of Hallowed Law
It was a halfling man by the name of Addros Sunserpent who inadvertently created the Order. In one of many subcommittee meetings on the matter of “Justice in the Cardinal Cities” (both cities are almost entirely run by committees), Sunserpent uttered “If you would refuse the aid of the Sunlit Legions (of which he was a member), then you must gather your own knights! And let your precious law be their dogma!” The frustrated utterance resonated with many of the exhausted committee members, but not in the way that Addros expected. Newly inspired, the committee set about its first productive effort: creating the concepts that would govern what they called “The Order of Hallowed Law.” Centuries later, the Order continues to follow the dictates set forth on that day.
Joining the Order
An inductee into the Order of Hallowed Law must have served in a similar capacity before, whether that been in a king’s guard, a monastic order, or a martial temple. They must be practiced warriors, for their positions may require the judicious use of force. Finally, they must be willing to sacrifice two years in service to the Order. Two years in sole service to the Cardinal Cities.
The inductee is presented with a suit of armor forged specifically for them. It is a pure gray, more bland and colorless than the steel that composes it. Collective mages inscribe the armor with all the laws of the Cardinal Cities and an incantation that transforms the wearer into a vessel for that law. The set of armor is indistinguishable from other members’ sets save by size and always includes a close helmet enchanted to both distort and amplify the wearer’s voice. Those who wear the steel of the Order are nearly impossible to name: their faces and eyes are obscured and their voices are chill, monotonous echoes.
Upon donning the armor of the Hallowed Law, the wearer’s identity is effectively erased. What remains is an extension of the laws of the Cardinal Cities, the perfect arbiter of justice. No bribe can sway them nor bias deter them, for they are avatars of the cities’ principles of governance. They cannot draw their weapons unless doing so would save a life. They cannot allow one who has breached the law to escape punishment. In uncertain situations, they may employ mortal judgment, but only by utilizing the context of the laws themselves. The Cardinal Cities demand peace and stability, and the Order of Hallowed Law ensures such demands are met.
To serve as a Knight of the Order of Hallowed Law is seen as a great honor, a sacrifice that proves a Knight’s commitment to the principles of honor and duty. Many former Order Knights return from their terms of service to vaulted positions in their homelands, as they have proven they are trustworthy, strong, and devoted to order. Knights rarely speak of the Order after they leave it. None return to its ranks.
Allegations and Rumors
To commoners and criminals, the Knights of the Order of Hallowed Law are known as “Hollows.” Neither compassion nor pity nor plea sways them from their mandates. Thieves who seek only enough food for their families are not safe from their judgment. There are those who believe that the Knights of the Order lack the souls to enact genuine justice. Others decry that the lawbringers are not free to question or reinterpret the laws by which they themselves are bound.
Those few who have seen the faces of Knights of the Hallowed Law claim that some must have been in the Order for far longer than two years. There are even some who claim to have seen the faces of former criminals hiding behind the Order’s masks.
It is commonly accepted that the Knights of the Hallowed Law neither sleep nor eat. Some have witnessed Order Knights standing guard for weeks at a time without moving, perhaps without even breathing. No one outside of the Order has ever entered the Hallowed Law’s barracks to search for other trappings of “normal life.”
Rumors occasionally circulate about former Knights of the Order who encounter “trouble” in their retirements. Some say that such men and women frequently stand inhumanly still, while others are restless to a fault. Few sleep soundly, for they are plagued by dreams that set them to screaming. Rarely, a Knight of the Order is stripped of the position given on their return and endowed with a remote barony or some other title. Whispers sometimes speak of the reasons for their dismissal: a violent and unprovoked outburst, a sudden penchant for perversion, a looming predilection for cruelty or brutality. Their loved ones (if they yet live) are left to wonder what burden fell upon them while beneath their Hallowed helms.
Stat Blocks for Order of Hallowed Law Encounters (these are partially incomplete AND written in my DM shorthand, so use with care. I’ll try to update later)
In the midst of planning for two-and-a-half campaigns (as well as some game design and character development), I’m finding little time to write for N3D. However, I HAVE continued to participate in the great DMnastics exercises over at the Dungeon Masters’ Block forums, the home of excellent Dungeon Masters’ Block podcast fan community. Recently, I participated in DMNastics #48: What’s in the BOX!!! The prompt asked dungeon masters to consider the methods of communication within their world, asking about the existence of a postal service, new methods of sending messages, and what kind of adventure hooks could involve delivering packages or other mail. I responded to the exercise with a some information about message delivery in my homebrew world of Iris, which I wanted to share with the N3rd Dimension as well.
Continue reading N3D Does DMnastics: What’s in the BOX!!!!