[Whiteleaf Discussion] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

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willpell
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[Whiteleaf Discussion] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:24 pm

In view of the discovery that my original archive is about to crash and burn, I am making an effort at very hastily bulk-transporting all the salvage-worthy information out of it. This disorganized pile of hastily-scavenged loot will eventually be cleaned up, but for now it is just an emergency offloading dock.

Okay, here is a collection of threads that I recommend for you to get an idea of what Whiteleaf is all about as a campaign.

The World of Whiteleaf - I completely forgot I had written this up; it's the closest thing I have to an initial summary of what the setting is all about, though I've got a newer one written up which I'll try to locate and put up at some point (I'm really bad at organization). Discusses in broad strokes what the point is of my particular campaign world is, as opposed to any other, and more or less the general milieu I've tried to create in the game as I'm currently running it.

House Rules thread - I removed the first two posts which weren't really valid anymore; the rest is a bit dry and you don't need to worry about it unless you're playing an affected class or race or whatnot, at some point I'll reorganize the thing for greater convenience.

Locales of Whiteleaf - An extremely incomplete guided tour of the campaign world of Whiteleaf, focusing mainly on the Tradespeak Empire where most of the game is set. Not a lot of context, I'm afraid; I've never sat down and written up an overview, so understanding the setting is like trying to understand Earth from watching a random assortment of video signals, some of which are security camera footage of the real world and others are television shows, all of which paint a wildly divergent and confusing picture of the whole. This is sort of what I'm going for, but I do eventually plan to create a more accessible entry point.

Races of Whiteleaf - Discusses my interpretation of the classic races (so far Humans, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, a very brief and incomplete treatment of Halflings, and the Heivolk, a slight modification of Aasimars who replace them in my game). More articles to come will detail Tieflings, Gnomes, Illumians, Maenads, Goliaths, and a variety of other playable races, many of which are slightly or dramatically reversioned from their published nature.
A little more info on elves and humans.

The Gods of Whiteleaf - Drastically incomplete, but I'm inordinately proud of it; this is where I revised the core Greyhawk pantheon (ie the gods described in the 3E PHB, along with some from other books such as the Monster Manual and Complete Divine, cherry picked entirely on the basis of whether I thought they were cool or not), with extensive articles that detail the way I see each deity's personality and philosophies, and try to make its church a meaningful entity in the gameworld. No "This is the Blood Temple of Lord Doomdeath, Evil Bringer of Awful Chaos to Everything; tremble before his dreadful horridness!" cliches in my game; even a god of Evil has to be "good" according to his followers, and it helps if their reasons for thinking that are at least vaguely sane (particularly given that Clerics have high Wisdom and Wisdom is directly equated with sanity in D&D). So I've tried to make sense of why people would devote their lives to a "God of Tyranny" or "God of Slaughter", just as much as I've tried to create interesting and realistic conflicts among the Good churches that don't require them all to be completely full of themselves and certain that theirs is the One True Way.

Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of the adventures of Elrimawen, slightly repentant Drow telepath, played by Cup of Tea, the owner of this forum. Cup is a magnificent writer and Elri has been a great character to work with, which is why this thread has gone on the longest. She and her NPC bodyguards are currently exploring the game's first actual "dungeon", the house of a mad wizardess whose creepy New Age cult has gone horribly wrong.

Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of the adventures of Shaul the Broken-Hearted, Scottish-flavored barbarian character of a Scots player. He fought an eldritch monster on an omnibus ride between towns in an Imperial border province, and is now stuck in a tiny village where several peculiar and spooky things are going on.

Chatper 1 and Chapter 2 of the adventures of Nyrem the Warlock, whose player substantially revised him more or less in between these chapters. He witnessed a murder in a seedy bar by a man with powers even more unusual than his own, left the scene in the company of one of the local thugs, and was recruited to join a manhunt for a monster/serial-killer in the nearby woods; the battle has just begun.

The sole chapter devoted to a currently-lapsed player who I'm hoping we might get back someday. We've had a grand total of 9 characters so far, two from the same player (the aforementioned Cup of Tea), and only one of those plus two others are still active, the others having wandered away for various reasons. I'm not linking to the other former players' threads for the moment, even though they do have useful worldbuilding info in them, but this one I'm still hoping might qualify as an active thread, so I'll mention it. The character is Kellanis, Sun Elf wizard and telepath, who has yet to make it out of his home city and into the Empire proper, though he's already brushed up against a few threads of the intrigue which is happening in the Elvish metropolis.

Tales of Whiteleaf, an excerpt from Elri's chapter 2 in which I've conveniently collected links to all 24 of Mora the Bard's "current events" report on various incidents throughout the Empire.

Our general-purpose discussion thread, a meandering morass of conversation on topics of the moment, much of which is probably useful information but it's not in any kind of order, and I seriously need to go through it again at some point and look at ideas that have been floated and forgotten.
Speculative House Rules, a more topical adjunct of the discussion thread, but equally neglected and overdue for review.

The Celebrant - So far, my only completely homebrewed class which is allowed in the game, a Cleric variant which doesn't wear armor and has some Monk-like aspects, devoted to gods of life, love, pleasure and physical health, and intentionally designed to contrast with both normal and Cloistered clerics.

NPC Classes of Whiteleaf - Out-of-date assessment of the status of Adepts, Experts, Aristocrats and so forth in this campaign world, with some controversy on the topic. Since putting this up I've officially dropped the Warrior without getting my intended (and poorly-named) replacement class created, and have not yet homebrewed the Commoner replacement I intended.

The Language of Whiteleaf - Details an early version of the Tradespeak or Common language as it is used in the Empire; it explicitly resembles English, so that players can assume that all their in-character jokes probably translate successfully, but there's some extra context which I've attempted to detail here, concerning the way the names of the letters are standardized by Imperial authorities, with some controversy.

Creatures of Whiteleaf - Extremely outdated (sensing a theme?), I hesitate to even mention it, but while some of the information has since been changed, it could give you an idea of how I've tried to improve on the D&D bestiary.

Some very old info on the original, long-since-evolved-away-from version of the campaign world.
Last edited by willpell on Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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willpell
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The World of Whiteleaf

Post by willpell » Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:36 pm

I've made references before to the idea that Whiteleaf is a very different campaign world than Greyhawk or Eberron or the Forgotten Realms; I'm an idealist and I don't want to create the impression that the entire world is under an oppressive pall of darkness and horror which only a handful of heroes struggle valiantly but futilely against, as is standard in most D&D settings. So I figure I should talk a bit about why Whiteleaf is the way it is, and how Evil manifests in a world where Good is objectively stronger most of the time. You'll get more information in the campaign, I don't want too much Word of God floating around to confuse the players with OOC knowledge, but I figure a few things need to be said.

As in any world, Whiteleaf has Celestials and Fiends meddling in its affairs from time to time, but the difference is that in most worlds, Demons and Devils are vastly more powerful and numerous but spend most of their time fighting each other in the Blood War, while Celestials are relatively few in number and can't seem to prevent more than a handful of the atrocities perpetrated by non-preoccupied Fiends, alien Aberrations, and garden-variety monsters (human and others) throughout the mortal world. Often this is due to obscure codes of rules based on the cliches our own real-world religions use to explain why God doesn't prevent earthquakes and traffic accidents and outbreaks of ebola and so forth - the good gods and celestials and such intentionally render themselves powerless to intervene on behalf of their innocent charges because that might interfere with Free Will or some such nonsense. That's not quite how it works in Whiteleaf.

The forces of Good are active upon the plane, and their intervention is largely responsible for the fact that the Empire has risen to dominance throughout human lands, keeping order and rebuffing the monsters that maraud in the wilderness. Evil powers of do exist, but they seem to fight an uphill battle; despite the fact that a seed of wickedness is buried in the heart of nearly every mortal creature, the attempts of devils and dark gods to nurture that selfishness and venality into full blossom are reliably thwarted any time a force of Good gets wind of them. So, unable to succeed through brute-force tactics, the forces of Evil have had to adapt, accept that they're losing the game, and cheat.

In Whiteleaf, anything that a person tells you is probably true, and those who seem trustworthy probably are; paranoia is largely unnecessary, for the existence of Detect Thoughts spells and so forth makes it fairly easy to reassure yourself that all is as it should be. However, it is in the narrow fractures which run through this facade that Evil has been forced to make its lair; any lapse in the vigilance of Good's defenders is taken advantage of by Evil forces as soon as they get wind of it, but they do not act openly even then. No, they are subtle, often working for entire lifetimes just to create the tiniest adjustment to an area's perceptions of right and wrong, because they know they can't get away with doing any more.

Collectively, this campaign of subtle psychological damage is known as the Web of Lies, and even those Evil forces who despise one another will often cooperate on its advancement. Patient devils, archdemons, and deities like Hextor and Nerull are forever scheming and making subtle inroads into the vulnerable areas of Whiteleaf society, from the politics of the Capital to the humble daily lives of peasants who live in relative comfort and safety. Even these efforts are often rooted out and thwarted, but the weavers of the Web of Lies are patient, for they have had no choice. Good is too powerful to defeat in a fair fight, or even an unfair fight, so the only way to best it has been not to fight at all. By encouraging complacency in the forces of Good, behaving themselves and appearing not to be a threat, the Evils hope to gradually undermine the steadfastness of their foes, nudging and finessing the world away from a state of readiness to combat Evil...and into a failure to realize it even exists.

The dark forces will not strike the moment their foes appear to have been weakened enough to succumb - there is too much chance of an unpredictable factor turning the tide. No, they will remain patient, stay seemingly innocuous, and continue scheming and positioning themselves beneath the surface of the world's tranquility....until it is much, much too late for anything to prevent them from quietly assuming control. This is risky, for Good's capacity to manufacture miracles and divine the meaning behind their moves is profound; huge sections of the Web of Lies are routinely torn away when some celestial or paladin or conscientious provincial governor finally wises up to what's been happening right under his nose, and takes swift and brutal corrective action. But that is the genius of the Web, for the more thoroughly parts of the Web are destroyed, the less chance there is that anyone will think to hunt down and destroy the tiny little spider which has fled far from its home's annihilation, and is even now finding another place where it can work undisturbed, someplace that it won't be found by the ones who assume it's been destroyed.

On top of this, the Web is such a morass of plot and counterplot, feints and pawn-gambits and nested layers of misdirection, that to even try to fight it can be counterproductive. The Web's architects sometimes get impatient and make a doomed grab for power, but they also sometimes pretend to get impatient and intentionally break their apparent silence, prodding the defenders of Good to react eagerly to this acceptible target for their pent-up aggressions. This is done for a number of reasons: as a diversion to keep the heroes busy while some other plan is quietly put into action nearby, as a propagandic measure to expose the heroes' trigger-happiness and try to trick them into causing severe collateral damage which will embarass and discredit them, to goad the heroes into betraying their principles in order to win a Pyrrhic victory if not mutually assured destruction, or any combination of these and similar motives. In all cases, it involves a sacrifice of Evil's material advantages, but serves to damage Good's reputation for unimpeachability and call its trustworthiness into question, and the results of doing that can stand for millenia, long after the villain responsible is dust on the winds of history.

That is the beauty of the Web of Lies...on Whiteleaf, both Good and Evil play for keeps, and Evil only needs to win once. It is an entropic force, constantly seeking to undermine the seemingly limitless integrity of its foe, and it has the entirety of time to accomplish it. The more Good flourishes, the more crevices emerge within its monolith, and it is in these pockets that ennui and complacency can gradually fester. The more perfect life becomes, the more people will wonder why it's even worth bothering with, whether it accomplishes any real point...and that's exactly the way Evil wants people to think. Because its ultimate goal is nothing less than the complete destruction of Good as a concept, its permanent erasure from the lexicon of sentient thought; the more people give in to existential despair and embrace nihilism, without ever doing anything about it other than to cement their jaded ideas in the collective consciousness, the more seeds have been planted to ensure the world's eventual, complete, and irreversable ruin.

It is the ultimate high-stakes gamble, and like the roulette wheel at a casino which pays back double your money 49% of the time, Evil's victory is nearly guaranteed in the fullness of time, because every slightest mistake might be Good's last. Your characters should always be on one of the leading edges of Evil's battle to shatter Good's complacency; if their vigilance lapses, the consequences should be invisible at first, yet in time it should grow horrifically clear that the heroes have set in motion events which will inevitably lead to the annihilation of all they hold dear, and which they now must scramble against all odds to stop. That, ultimately, is why the struggle between Good and Evil is still relevant, even when Good's victory is nearly a forgone conclusion: it mirrors your game's very struggle to remain interesting, for when the players no longer care, they will become careless, and their mistakes will return to haunt them. Like the reality it strives to emulate in its detail, Whiteleaf is a vast and marvelous world, but one founded ultimately on questions which have no answers; the great truths of the cosmos remain mysterious, and no one can catch the characters if they fall, so they always face the risk of becoming victims of the uncaring universe.

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Alright, I thought it might be instructive for everyone to see my original "pitch" for this setting; the idea has evolved quite a bit since then but all of this is essentially still true (although the stuff about adult content is not going to have much practical effect in a game with me as GM; sex would be considered part of the setting if I published a Whiteleaf Campaign Guide, but I'm not personally up to the task of more than hinting at it myself). Here's what it's more or less all about:

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My primary D&D campaign world is called Whiteleaf. It is a rather more pleasant and cheery place than your average D&D universe; a long-lasting human empire has been almost miraculously successful at keeping the peace without impairing the freedom and spirit of the people, and its agents have done a good job of keeping malign influences from operating openly. Even in the hinterlands far from the empire's agents, the monstrous threat tends not to be obvious; marauding bands of undead, marching orc armies, roving predators and the like are all very occasional occurrences, and the standard of living for the common people is quite high.

Yet all this doesn't mean there's nothing for adventurers to do; on the contrary, the threat is just as real, but far less obvious than in many of the more tumultuous planes. Instead of struggling constantly for basic survival and a narrow margin of safety, Whiteleaf's people face a far more insidious threat, and the plane's name encapsulates an image of the danger: a leaf which remains physically intact, but has been bleached of its chlorophyll so that it cannot manufacture food from sunlight, and the plant which depends on it will starve. Though Whiteleaf basks in the radiance of its benevolent protector races, it has increasingly lost its ability to benefit from their providence; once blessed with greater joy than they could have imagined, the folk of the plane have grown spoiled and stagnant, and their dreams have grown less nourishing to the Fair Folk who protect them. In turn, this has caused a small but growing number of those patrons to begin falling under malign influences in search of sustenance.

Where other campaign worlds are grim and gritty, forcing heroes to struggle for basic survival in the face of deprivation and peril, Whiteleaf turns this on its head. The theme of Whiteleaf is difficult choices; it's obvious to fight back when threatened or to seek food when hungry, but when danger and need are remote, one's concerns grow more complicated and the easy answers of a life-or-death struggle are replaced with quandaries and paradoxes. Finding that obvious villainy was too swiftly defeated by their vigilant foes, the forces of darkness have turned to more treacherous methods to regain the upper hand; rather than advertising their wickedness, they seek to worm their way into the hearts of the populace and poison the people's joys, gradually perverting them into mockeries of the values they once held dear. Yet if the populace responds to this threat by refusing the tainted gifts, then they will experience the want and fear that they are usually free of, and this will poison their guardians in turn - a catch-22 which the malign forces are delighted to arrange every chance they get. Every time a human falls into the grip of wickedness OR turns their back on virtue because it has been rendered treacherous, either way the power of Good falters and is infiltrated from within by the subtle, patient villains.

Recurring themes in Whiteleaf include religion, sexuality, the price of happiness and the nature of humanity. Monstrous races are generally portrayed as extentions of humans with a few exceptions. Adult content is explored in Whiteleaf, and forms the crux of much of its conflict - the interconnection between reproduction and sensuality, the divide between innocent children and perverse adults, and the implications of nonhuman parentage are all explored and serve to generate much of the dramatic tension of the game.

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Added to the list of languages that exist in this campaign: Arcadian, the language of the chaotic good Fair Folk. Clerics and the like may select this language, as it is in the same "category" as Celestial, Infernal and Abyssal. (Just as Infernal probably sounds suspiciously like Latin, so Arcadian is distinctly Celtic-flavored.)

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One of the cornerstones of the Imperium's success has been its commitment to the advancement of education and individual merit; whenever the Empire wins over a new outlying region, one of the first things they do is build an academic complex (one or more schools and enough infrastructure to keep them functional) either in or near the newly acquired territory, allowing the new citizens access at an absurdly low tuition as a show of good faith. It especially prioritizes the creation of clerical colleges, devoted to a broad cross-section of Whiteleaf's 63 major gods and assorted second-stringers; the high cleric population that results from such extensive theological schooling helps to ensure that few of the Imperium's citizens suffer diseases or injuries for long before finding a miracle-worker to restore them to health, and the prices on such healing are very generous (save to those who are known to intentionally endanger themselves for reasons the church in question doesn't entirely sanction; glory-hounds, daredevils and reckless wanderers - or in a word, adventurers - do not receive such discounts). Between these factors, the Empire's people experience health, prosperity, and access to many routes for self-improvement; the elves and dwarves have many "grandfather's grandfather" tales describing the poor standard of living enjoyed by humans before the Imperium arose, but clearly those days are long gone, and these ancient races are said almost to envy humanity's standard for civilization (even while expressing certainly that it can't possibly endure much longer).

The seemingly bottomless coffers that enable it to pay for such lavish constructions would seem to be an even bigger factor in its success; several extranational merchant guilds have repeatedly expressed a lack of confidence that the Imperium will forever remain able to pay its bills, yet there has yet to be any sign of them defaulting on their obligations to any major extent. Examination of the relevant records, which the Empire is scrupulous about keeping and ensures remain both accessible and tamper-proof, indicates that there seems to be a very simple yet remarkably effective formula at work - enrich the populace with greater skill and health, enabling them to produce more resources and supply more labor to further the Empire's development, which consists almost entirely of such enrichment. Doomsayers often claim that the rapid progress of the best and brightest of citizenry through such profligate training programs is certain to eventually produce turbulence, describing various scenarios in which a single ambitious individual or a radical group of many progressives use the resources the Empire has given them in order to destroy it. More than a few of those scenarios, in fact, have begun to come to pass - but invariably they have been thwarted in the nick of time. The incredible vigilance of the Empire's various protective agencies is yet another seeming ingredient of its success, and remains just as baffling to outsiders.

(All of this is an in-game justification for some adjustments I'm planning to make to the NPC classes for the sake of this game, though it won't be a terribly high priority since it's of little benefit to the players. The intention is basically to entirely phase out the Commoner class; the "common people" should nearly always have actual class levels, if not very many and sometimes in classes that do not quite measure up in playability, such as Expert and Aristocrat. There may still be a class called "Commoner" by the time I'm done, but it will be distinctly less pathetic, actually being optimal for the standards of a person whose "adventuring role" is to grow food for others or to serve drinks at the ubiquitous tavern. At the very least, it will get sufficient Skill Points to function optimally within such support roles. The Warrior class is also being phased out, replaced with a more generic version that prioritizes things other than combat to make up for being weaker than a Fighter. Aristocrat and Expert are meant to end up as playable classes, though I don't know whether this will prove achievable.)

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The Empire, formally known as the Federated Imperium of the Angelic Saxon Tradespeak of Human and Halfling Lands, is a paradoxical mix of legalities and freedoms; ultimate authority lies with the Emperor, but his direct intervention is seldom called for, and the administration of his policies is conducted through a vast and detail-obsessed bureaucracy. The government exists in essentially three branches - the Executive branch consists of the Emperor and his immediate advisors, those who have the ability to speak on his behalf within certain limits and jurisdictions (and have been personally vetted by him, and are kept under constant scrutiny by him in order to prevent them from even starting to abuse their power); the Legislative branch implements policy and tracks precedent through a staggering proliferation of records, meticulously organized and with the best magical indexing the Empire's seemingly limitless budget can buy; and the Judicial branch serves primarily to mediate disputes between the absolutely-powerful Executives and the far more numerous Legislators, as well as overseeing and arbitrating any criminal and civil cases which aren't adequately handled by local authority.

Nothing prevents the Empire from having an Empress, but it is not known to have happened in the roughly 1500-year history of the regime. The position of Emperor is not explicitly hereditary, although in practice most Emperors begin looking for successors among their own sons; still, there are absolutely no formal rules of succession (a point numerous members of the nobility and the merchant upper classes claim to be worried about), and no person can sit on his laurels with any confidence that his blood alone will guarantee him a position within the Executive branch, let alone at the top. The Imperial Assembly is a meritocracy, and its members' status as nobles is tenuous; claims of entitlement on the basis of one's ancestors' deeds are routinely met with a direct "shut up" from the Emperor himself, and his own heirs-apparent are not immune if they cop such an attitude (though they would have to be expressing such a sentiment for basically the first time ever, or they wouldn't be getting groomed for succession in the first place). Viewed from an outside perspective, the system seems like a disaster waiting to happen; everything relies solely upon the Emperor's personal judgment, and it is often stated aloud that if he were to spontaneously "turn evil", go insane, disappear or be impersonated successfully, there would be no hope to prevent catastrophe. When this is said in his presence, the Emperor simply shrugs and states flatly that it'll never happen - and so far he seems to be right.

The Legislators have no real power, and are explicitly prohibited from using that fact as a justification to be inefficient in doing their job; the Emperor personally reviews the legal code on a regular basis and is entirely willing to throw out whole books of jurisprudence because they are "too hard to read" - though if pressed the legislators will be hard pressed to disagree with that assessment. Randomly selected commoners are often paid to look at a given section of the law and express their opinion on whether it makes sense or can be easily understood; their observations are recorded as footnotes or marginalia, and the Emperor reviews the most heavily annotated books first whenever possible, often acting on the suggestions of these observers. More than one bureaucrat has complained that this method makes as much sense as trying to cut down a tree by throwing the axe at it from five hundred yards away; but they must admit that the system hasn't actually gone horribly wrong as yet, no matter how inevitable it seems that it eventually will.

The Judicial branch of the Imperium doesn't actually judge most of the cases in the Empire, not even those that reach the federal level. Those that are most important go directly to the Emperor for a ruling (and somehow he seems to have plenty of time to handle these cases, often personally, despite his many other duties; the fact that he is a vastly powerful magic-user explains some of this, but even the most sophisticated wizards and clerics still can't quite figure out how he manages it so consistently). For cases of lower importance where legal precedent is clearly applicable, the Legislators look it up and issue a "recommendation", which is usually put into practice immediately despite the fact that the Executive branch has the authority to veto it, since the system for generating these rulings is extremely transparent and constantly reviewed by Executive agents. It is only necessary for the Judiciary to become involved when neither branch wants a case, or when both of them claim it, or when it can't be adequately determined which one heard of it first, or when the one that heard of it second levels a credible accusation of the other having failed to disclose it as required by procedure. Beholden not to strict codes like the Legislators but to loose guidelines written by the Emperors past and present, but required to cleave extremely closely to these and with ultimately far less autonomy and discresion than the Executive branch, the Judiciary is the perpetual middleman, small and with little power to call their own, but tasked with the thankless job of keeping the peace between the ubiquitous bureaucracy and the autocrat's inner circle. That none of the justices seem to resent this unenviable role is perhaps a testament to the Emperor's talent for handpicking the wisest and most trustworthy of judges, and the Legislators' skill in writing the procedural guidelines by which they are to act. Or it might just be more dumb luck, and that's what more than a few high-ranking Imperials are afraid of.

All three branches are under the direct supervision of dozens of Good-aligned agencies, as well as a few Neutral overseers intended specifically to ensure that Good does not have too unilateral a freedom to operate at the expense of common sense (a particularly relevant issue given that Good does not emanate solely from humans, nor prioritize only their concerns). The checks and balances built into the system are legion, and they do an excellent job of restricting Evil's ability to get involved; there are hundreds of infiltrators in the legislature, but the Legislative Branch numbers tens of thousands, and its agents operate under such rigorous procedure that a spy can spend years not daring to make even the tiniest of moves lest he be rooted out. Getting into the other branches is even harder, despite their smaller numbers and greater ability, not least because they usually have considerable personal power and are encouraged to magically watch their own backs. Many a devil's pawn has earned notoriety just for surviving an entire lifetime within the Imperium government, even if he never quite managed to actually do anything to undermine the system; it is hoped that those who are emulate these moles' dedication and cleverness, if they are just a tiny bit luckier, might actually be able to corrupt the system in some meaningful way. And, on very rare occasions, they have; a few dozen of the Empire's hundreds of law books, and a few thousand of its millions of volumes of records, do contain intentional errors planted by malefic agents, and the Emperor's purges only usually catch these (though even that much success, given the quantities involved, speaks volumes of how tough a time Evil has outfoxing the bastard). No member of the judiciary or executives has been an outright traitor for more than a few days before being caught, but a few manipulators have managed to get a mild degree of purchase upon some of them and have been able to get away with very mild additions to the Web of Lies which take some time to catch. Every time a plan fails, the devils congratulate themselves - for it is that much more likely that the Empire will assume that the plans always fail, and will relax their guard just enough that one can finally succeed.

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Creatures that can be found on Whiteleaf can be broadly distinguished into two main categories - those accounted for in the world's original design, and those who either arose through the course of the world's processes or somehow invaded from another reality. Generally, aberrations fall into the latter category (the eye tyrant is a possible exception, as they were created by one of the gods who collaborated to create Whiteleaf, although it is unclear whether this was before or after the fact), as do races mutated by exposure to mystical energies, as well as undead and constructs who are completely artificial, and magically awakened lifeforms which are not normally sentient, such as treants or gargoyles. The balance of creatures, such as dragons, djinni, giants, and humanoids, are typically accounted for in the sublimely elegant geometry of the gods' original plan for the plane.

Sadly or happily, depending on who you ask, this plan unfolded exactly as originally intended, to the same extent that all other plans do, which is to say not at all.

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Hurak's Law ("the gods need not cause things to go wrong, for they will invariably do so if given the chance; a god's purpose is to prevent this if he so chooses", often stated more simply as "anything that can go wrong, will").

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A Morality Play on Words: Good and Evil in Whiteleaf

In a typical D&D campaign world such as Greyhawk or Dragonlance, the divide between Good and Evil is very clear-cut; shining champions of righteousness valiantly fight to drive out the darkness that threatens the innocent, while beings of supreme corruption and terrible dread power scheme eternally to destroy all that is pure and virtuous. In such settings, certain problems tend to occur - one of the biggest is that the villains can come across as cliche black hats with no real motivation beyond wreaking havoc, and an even bigger one is that the heroes can become petulant Mary Sue jerkfaces with a fair degree of impunity. After all, when a full-blown Wightocalypse is a nearly daily occurrence, are you going to tell the only guy in six counties who can Turn Undead and Smite Evil that he's being kind of an ass?

Whiteleaf isn't like that, at all. While the distinctions between Good and Evil are if anything more clear-cut than usual, they are not used as an excuse for lazy storytelling or shallow characterization - quite the reverse. If the Whiteleaf setting could be said to have a central question, it might be something to the effect of "how long can Good remain Good if it has no Evil to fight?" In most settings, Evil tends to be more powerful than Good on a pound-for-pound basis, so the struggle to defeat Evil is always an uphill battle tinged with desperation and hopelessness - unless Plot Armor is in effect, at any rate. But Whiteleaf is a very self-aware setting, and since most people would prefer not to live in a war zone, the assumption tends to be that Good will be more popular than Evil as a general rule, and that this popularity gives it the upper hand. Thusly, since Evil's capacity for treachery means that it inevitably wins any evenly matched fight, Good cheats. This also tends to play into the fact that Whiteleaf tends to undermine the typical "Good is mostly Lawful and Chaos is mostly Evil" assumptions of other settings; Lawful Good might get hung up on concepts of honor and allow Evil to get the upper hand while it's debating its precepts, but Chaotic Good doesn't take that chance - it does whatever it must to protect the innocent and defeat the dangerous. As a result, the forces of Good tend to be objectively more powerful in Whiteleaf than those of Evil, and instead of being constantly on the warpath, hunting down the forces of darkness despite knowing that they are legion in number and can probably never be fully defeated, Good tends to be in charge, keeping order and nurturing people's potential, proactively quashing potential threats long before they grow too powerful to oppose...and then growing idle and contented with the knowledge that their domain is secure. Evil therefore must bide its time, scheming secretively and giving no slightest sign of its treacherous intent, waiting for the guardians of Good to let their vigilance grow lax - and the guardians of Good know that too, so they're very good at not letting it happen. They don't wear the blinders you see on heroes in a typical setting, where they just can't believe someone is secretly a murderous doppelganger or the like, until the shocking revelation - though not paranoid, the Good forces make a point of thinking the unthinkable in order to stay one step ahead of potential enemies, and are extremely scrupulous in avoiding weakness. Naturally their efforts are not perfect, but they are damn close, and Evil lives in a constant state of worry, not daring to make its move unless everything is just right, knowing that the stakes are too high to accept any chance of failure.

Doesn't sound very dramatic, does it? And yet, opportunities aplenty remain for heroics in such a setting. You see, the ultimate effect of all this is that Good's position is fragile. It's very good at defeating Evil, because it has to be - Evil can't afford to be cartoonishly incompetent in its wickedness, nor to luxuriate in malevolent glee and gratify its ego with displays of terrifying power. Villains like that do exist, but they tend to be the least dangerous individuals in the world - rampaging cannibals and clerics of the Slaughter God are diversions, deployed by the true masterminds of wickedness to attract attention, while the real damage is being done somewhere else under absolute secrecy by a deep-cover agent that no-one would suspect. And in many cases, neither the deep-cover agent nor the distraction will be allowed to go anywhere near a particularly effective agent of Good; the villains' dark plan in such a case might be to spend the hero's entire lifetime lying low, in an attempt to convince him that there remains no need for his services, in the hopes that he will never train a successor to fight an Evil which seems to no longer exist. Because that is ultimately the greatest triumph Evil can hope to win in a world like this - apathy. Give the people terror, and they will rise up against it; give them nothing to fear and they will forget how to defend themselves. They will cease to tell stories of the triumph of Good over Evil, and will no longer bother to check whether the people they trust remain Good at all. That is the objective of Evil's Web of Lies.

Such a triumph of genre-savvy villainy is a long way off, though; the heroes are self-aware too, and they know that letting their guard down is a bad idea. But that's where the other edge of the blade cuts in - because Evil is a virus of treachery that lurks in the veins of Good, trying not to be noticed lest it be instantly destroyed, Good is under immense pressure; it can never afford to let itself slip, lest it become a tool for the dark forces that scheme against it. No "jerkass paladin" keeps his powers for long in Whiteleaf; Exalted heroes wield incredible power, but they are held to the absolute stricted moral standards - and that means real morality, not a hard-and-fast rule that's easy to obey literally without really thinking about it, but the hard choices that require patience and sound judgment to be made correctly every single time. To fall short of such an ideal is to be a less than perfect Good, and thus to be unworthy of the trust of the Good powers. And so, while Good retains the upper hand, its numbers gradually dwindle through attrition, even as the need to constantly adapt or die turns Evil forces into the ultimate survivors.

Ultimately, Whiteleaf isn't a setting where nothing happens - it's a setting where only one thing ever can. It's a pressure-cooker, a tightrope walk beneath a Sword of Damocles, where just one tiny mistake by Good could doom all of reality in an instant, if Evil dares to act at the moment of Good's fatal error, rather than suspecting it to be a trap and sticking with its cautious scheming. There is plenty for heroes to do in this world, but they aren't fighting a never-ending grist mill of largely irrelevant monsters - they're knights and bishops in a vast plane-wide game of chess, an ideological and political struggle where thousands of tiny battles are really just maneuvers toward a single endgame. No act is insignificant; no lapse of judgment can be afforded. And ultimately, to err is human, which means that the forces of Good are not, and cannot become more so without placing the world in profound jeopardy. Which, in turn, creates a new schism between the well-meaning masters of the world and their loyal and beloved servants - and Evil counts itself the victor for engineering yet another no-win situation for its foes. The rulers of the Lower Planes can afford to lose a thousand tiny battles, as long as they continue to gain ground in the single overarching war - and it is all but inevitable that they will.
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Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence on Whiteleaf

Post by willpell » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:24 pm

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Sessions - Archive => Other Systems => Other => Whiteleaf => Topic started by: willpell on May 29, 2012, 09:37:16 AM
Title: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on May 29, 2012, 09:37:16 AM Agreed, totally. I'm gonna have serious problems with Elri's long-term plotline if Omicron never returns, since the plan was always that he was gonna explain psionics to you and so I've been avoiding connecting you with any NPC scions. Darq's Cerebremancer could fill in that role, but as a multiclass character (not to mention one of the hated light-elves, instead of just a contemptible human, and Chaotic rather than Lawful on top of it), he's far less suited to that role, and psionics is kind of a new thing for him as well. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 02, 2012, 06:51:45 AM I wouldn't have any problem explaining it to her. As a wizard/psion multiclass, he is actually probably better suited to explaining how it works than a straight Psion (being more scientific in his studies - the Chaotic part is mostly due to how he interacts with the world around him, rather than his personal studies which are fairly structured). Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 02, 2012, 07:54:46 AM Well the other problem is that you're a light elf, and dark elves are raised from birth to despise them (and vice versa). You guys could just ignore that bit of Fantastic Racism and I'd be pretty much okay with it, but at best it would get you weird looks from NPCs on both sides of the aisle.



Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 02, 2012, 06:51:45 AM

the Chaotic part is mostly due to how he interacts with the world around him, rather than his personal studies which are fairly structured).




I'll be interested in seeing how that plays out. I will eventually want to sic a Book of Something Something for Chaos on you, but not until the subject has been explored in a more nuanced way for some time during the campaign. (Elri and Nyrem each have a date with one of the two canonical Books, if not both, for similar reasons; if Omicron ever gets back he'll probably have a love-in with the Book of Law, though I might instead portray it in such a way as to make him uncomfortable with his own alignment. Shaul doesn't seem like he'd especially care in any case, though he might conceivably take a turn toward druidic neutrality if I presented him with the "book" thereof.) Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: SEDNA on June 02, 2012, 01:09:07 PM

Quote from: willpell on June 02, 2012, 07:54:46 AM

Well the other problem is that you're a light elf, and dark elves are raised from birth to despise them (and vice versa). You guys could just ignore that bit of Fantastic Racism and I'd be pretty much okay with it, but at best it would get you weird looks from NPCs on both sides of the aisle.



I probably sound boring repeating it all the time by this point, but...

Conflict in stories is meant to be an enhancement, not impediment :) Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 03, 2012, 05:27:18 AM

Quote from: CupOfTea on June 02, 2012, 01:09:07 PM

Conflict in stories is meant to be an enhancement, not impediment :)



Agreed. And I'm not saying he'll be comfortable with a Drow at first, either, but he is attempting to expand his horizons, and quite frankly, at least the Drow are still an Elven race, unlike the other races around. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 03, 2012, 05:43:54 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 03, 2012, 05:27:18 AM

and quite frankly, at least the Drow are still an Elven race, unlike the other races around.




Oi.... Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 03, 2012, 07:46:35 AM :D Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 03, 2012, 08:20:08 AM To be clear, "Oi" in this context means something to the effect of "that elf-supremacist attitude is gonna get old real fast." Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: SEDNA on June 03, 2012, 10:35:03 AM Oh, I don't think I'm going to get bored of it any time soon :D Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 11, 2012, 12:57:06 AM

Quote from: willpell on June 03, 2012, 08:20:08 AM

To be clear, "Oi" in this context means something to the effect of "that elf-supremacist attitude is gonna get old real fast."



It tends to. It is also an ingrained part of the race. I won't be pushing it, but they do view themselves that way and I will be making decisions based on that bias for my character. It isn't something that can be just tossed aside. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 11, 2012, 03:26:43 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 11, 2012, 12:57:06 AM

It isn't something that can be just tossed aside.




Sure it can...you just have to pull hard enough and it'll rip right off.... Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: caffein8ted-Bunny on June 11, 2012, 03:28:38 AM Not if it's an interegal (oh how do you spell it? *irked*) part of the character's personality. I'm with Ainjel on this one, Pell. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 11, 2012, 03:36:02 AM Well we'll see how long I can stand it in actual play. It's perfectly sensible for this attitude to flourish in isolation, but he'll be in for reality checks real fast once he comes down off the elves' mountain and sees what humans have accomplished while his nigh-immortal race were contemplating their navels. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 11, 2012, 08:54:45 AM

Quote from: willpell on June 11, 2012, 03:36:02 AM

Well we'll see how long I can stand it in actual play. It's perfectly sensible for this attitude to flourish in isolation, but he'll be in for reality checks real fast once he comes down off the elves' mountain and sees what humans have accomplished while his nigh-immortal race were contemplating their navels.




It flourishes in isolation, and is only emphasized with interaction. You say contemplating their navels, yet the Elves are the most prolific of races to have Epic levels of magic, especially the High (Moon) and Sun (Gold) Elves (speaking from a multi-setting viewpoint). Those won't be reality checks... humans haven't accomplished anything the elves haven't perfected (in their minds, anyways) millennium ago. It will be "Oh, look, the monkeys are doing well for themselves" (mentally, not verbally). I may be overstating it a bit, and of course there is always variance in individuals, but that is the general result. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 11, 2012, 09:31:07 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 11, 2012, 08:54:45 AM

It flourishes in isolation, and is only emphasized with interaction. You say contemplating their navels, yet the Elves are the most prolific of races to have Epic levels of magic



Well not in Whiteleaf, there's no epic magic there. But the point does hold for level 20.



Quote

Those won't be reality checks... humans haven't accomplished anything the elves haven't perfected (in their minds, anyways) millennium ago. It will be "Oh, look, the monkeys are doing well for themselves" (mentally, not verbally). I may be overstating it a bit, and of course there is always variance in individuals, but that is the general result.



And the counterpoint is that the humans have done all that in about a thousand years, and the Elves haven't done anything more that entire time. The Whiteleaf chronology has it that the elves, dwarves, and orcs ruled the world for 20K years 10K years ago, at which point humans showed up, and these ancient cultures have been in gradual decline (except for the Orcs where it's not so gradual) ever since, doing dick-all while humans have climbed from barbarism to high civilization faster than the elves could practically blink. Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: Darque Ainjel on June 20, 2012, 07:19:05 PM


Quote from: willpell on June 11, 2012, 09:31:07 AM



Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 11, 2012, 08:54:45 AM

It flourishes in isolation, and is only emphasized with interaction. You say contemplating their navels, yet the Elves are the most prolific of races to have Epic levels of magic



Well not in Whiteleaf, there's no epic magic there. But the point does hold for level 20.



Quote

Those won't be reality checks... humans haven't accomplished anything the elves haven't perfected (in their minds, anyways) millennium ago. It will be "Oh, look, the monkeys are doing well for themselves" (mentally, not verbally). I may be overstating it a bit, and of course there is always variance in individuals, but that is the general result.



And the counterpoint is that the humans have done all that in about a thousand years, and the Elves haven't done anything more that entire time. The Whiteleaf chronology has it that the elves, dwarves, and orcs ruled the world for 20K years 10K years ago, at which point humans showed up, and these ancient cultures have been in gradual decline (except for the Orcs where it's not so gradual) ever since, doing dick-all while humans have climbed from barbarism to high civilization faster than the elves could practically blink.


No Epic magic is understandable, but no Epic Levels at all? That's a bit restrictive.

So in other words, you've designed your world history to specifics that are not logical in any kind of socio-political theory. Also, the humans are still nowhere near high civilization... they've barely started being tolerably civilized, and many of them not even that. Note that as I said, the Elves have perfected what the humans are barely starting to develop. I didn't bring up what else the Elves may have done, and considering their options and overall development, it should be quite a bit, especially in the field of arcane magic.

P.S. - Thread hijacking FTW. Feel free to move the Whiteleaf posts to Whiteleaf's general discussion :p
Title: Re: Re: Wishlist
Post by: willpell on June 21, 2012, 04:09:47 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 20, 2012, 07:19:05 PM

No Epic magic is understandable, but no Epic Levels at all? That's a bit restrictive.



Level 20 represents the peak of achievable power. Players at such a level can continue to earn XP, and I would probably even allow them to intentionally go back to level 19 and begin earning level 20 again in some other class (as long as this doesn't lead to shenanigans). But it simply isn't possible to get more power than that as a human being; consider it a planar ban by the gods to keep anyone from exceeding a certain threshold of individual potency. It might or might not be possible to exceed ECL 20 as a nonhuman PC, I haven't made up my mind on that and would need to think through the applications. Monsters above CR 20 may exist but would be vanishingly rare and generally not a factor in the setting on any regular basis; arch-lords of hell might be that powerful, but they don't walk the earth and wreak havoc, they're just commanders of legions who do their bidding much as with the gods. If I ever decide to open epic levels, there will be an in-setting event to justify this, but it's not something I currently plan on; frankly even level 10 feels excessively powerful to me, so I'm considering the "paragon tier" to be what players can grow into and the "epic tier" nonexistent.



Quote

So in other words, you've designed your world history to specifics that are not logical in any kind of socio-political theory.



Unrealistic? Perhaps, in the sense of deliberately diverging from reality in certain key aspects. Whiteleaf doesn't work the same as the real world, nor as a typical D&D campaign setting, filled with scenery-chewing black hats which exist only to present a formidable challenge to a handful of heroes. This is a setting in which Good is both objectively stronger and less certain in its triumph than is traditional, and part of that idea is that the mechanisms of destiny are such that, when someone tries to make things change for the better, they are more likely to succeed, whereas when someone tries to keep things from changing for the worst, they are likely to cause exactly that to happen. This is consistent with the way in which Law and Chaos are reinterpreted in most of my settings, with Chaos veering closer to Good and Law to Evil than is typical. Rather than the typical conflict of unfallible templar paladins versus Always Chaotic Evil orcs, we have a setting in which the primary conflict is between progress and stagnation, and the ancient elf and dwarf empires are stellar exemplars of the latter. Think of the Eldar from Warhammer 40K, though less extreme. Elf society is decadent, while the dwarves are reactionary conservatives; both are so busy patting themselves on the back about how much they've accomplished that they hardly ever actually accomplish anything anymore. And while I'll admit that this aspect of my worldbuilding borders on a political tract, the ancients' conservative tendencies are utterly unjustified, because the situation is such that they endanger their society far more by refusing to let it grow and adapt than it ever could be endangered by the changes they disallow. The elves claim to understand the need for revitalization, but make only token efforts at it, because they're ultimately frightened by the chaos in their own hearts, and prone to neurotically deflecting those worries, while the dwarves simply pigheadedly deny that there is any benefit to re-evaluating old ideas. And so both societies are rife with corruption that they simply refuse to acknowledge, while humanity's ever-changing nature is actively supported by the cosmic mechanisms that make innovation more likely to succeed and preservation more likely to go horribly awry.

(I should add that I am amenable to the idea of your character making an effort to change this, especially after he's seen evidence of just how bad things have gotten in some of the other subraces. The fact that it has continued for 200 centuries suggests that doing anything about it should be difficult, but never impossible.)



Quote

Also, the humans are still nowhere near high civilization... they've barely started being tolerably civilized



Patently untrue. The Empire is very progressive and has introduced a ton of innovations, new ones of which are coming down the pike every year. You may not have seen it much in the game; I've been intentionally keeping the players on the fringes of civilization because that's where most of the adventuring action happens, and it gives me time to develop stuff. But when we get close to the Imperial capitol...it's not quite Eberron or Tippyverse, but it's well above the traditional quasi-medieval level, and the elves by contrast are intentionally staying exactly at the medieval level by their own standards.



Quote

P.S. - Thread hijacking FTW. Feel free to move the Whiteleaf posts to Whiteleaf's general discussion :p



I'd just as soon not; if Tea wants it done I can do it, or he can do it himself. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on June 21, 2012, 07:09:44 AM

Quote from: willpell on June 21, 2012, 04:09:47 AM



Quote from: Darque Ainjel on June 20, 2012, 07:19:05 PM

P.S. - Thread hijacking FTW. Feel free to move the Whiteleaf posts to Whiteleaf's general discussion :p



I'd just as soon not; if Tea wants it done I can do it, or he can do it himself.



Changed my mind. This is worth keeping where players can find it. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on July 12, 2012, 02:28:04 AM


Quote from: willpell on June 21, 2012, 04:09:47 AM

Level 20 represents the peak of achievable power. Players at such a level can continue to earn XP, and I would probably even allow them to intentionally go back to level 19 and begin earning level 20 again in some other class (as long as this doesn't lead to shenanigans). But it simply isn't possible to get more power than that as a human being; consider it a planar ban by the gods to keep anyone from exceeding a certain threshold of individual potency. It might or might not be possible to exceed ECL 20 as a nonhuman PC, I haven't made up my mind on that and would need to think through the applications. Monsters above CR 20 may exist but would be vanishingly rare and generally not a factor in the setting on any regular basis; arch-lords of hell might be that powerful, but they don't walk the earth and wreak havoc, they're just commanders of legions who do their bidding much as with the gods. If I ever decide to open epic levels, there will be an in-setting event to justify this, but it's not something I currently plan on; frankly even level 10 feels excessively powerful to me, so I'm considering the "paragon tier" to be what players can grow into and the "epic tier" nonexistent.



Level 20 is the peak of typical power. Making some sort of "threshold event" in order to surpass it isn't unheard of, and having anything over ECL 20 be exceptionally rare isn't unheard of. But putting a "level ban" on an entire setting seems rather petty to me, and certainly not constructive for a setting-building process.




Quote from: willpell on June 21, 2012, 04:09:47 AM



Quote

Also, the humans are still nowhere near high civilization... they've barely started being tolerably civilized



Patently untrue. The Empire is very progressive and has introduced a ton of innovations, new ones of which are coming down the pike every year. You may not have seen it much in the game; I've been intentionally keeping the players on the fringes of civilization because that's where most of the adventuring action happens, and it gives me time to develop stuff. But when we get close to the Imperial capitol...it's not quite Eberron or Tippyverse, but it's well above the traditional quasi-medieval level, and the elves by contrast are intentionally staying exactly at the medieval level by their own standards.

(I should add that I am amenable to the idea of your character making an effort to change this, especially after he's seen evidence of just how bad things have gotten in some of the other subraces. The fact that it has continued for 200 centuries suggests that doing anything about it should be difficult, but never impossible.)

And that is, frankly, ridiculous. But hey, your setting, your choice. But in a setting where the ideology of higher functioning apparatus exists, any character of mine with a high INT (which is inevitably all of them) will think any race idiotic if they don't improve living conditions. Granted, Orcs will be Orcs (generally speaking), but that fits their inherent idiocy anyways. Given this information, I am more likely to play to the disgust he feels at his own people ended up driving him to leave and seek better conditions elsewhere - if they want to live in filth and squalor, that's their problem, especially given how easy it would be to use magical constructs to help towards those ends (who needs wells when you can craft a portal to the plane of water or to an underwater location, building into it filters to ensure pure water, and nothing else coming through).




Quote from: willpell on June 21, 2012, 04:09:47 AM

Unrealistic? Perhaps, in the sense of deliberately diverging from reality in certain key aspects. Whiteleaf doesn't work the same as the real world, nor as a typical D&D campaign setting, filled with scenery-chewing black hats which exist only to present a formidable challenge to a handful of heroes. This is a setting in which Good is both objectively stronger and less certain in its triumph than is traditional, and part of that idea is that the mechanisms of destiny are such that, when someone tries to make things change for the better, they are more likely to succeed, whereas when someone tries to keep things from changing for the worst, they are likely to cause exactly that to happen. This is consistent with the way in which Law and Chaos are reinterpreted in most of my settings, with Chaos veering closer to Good and Law to Evil than is typical. Rather than the typical conflict of unfallible templar paladins versus Always Chaotic Evil orcs, we have a setting in which the primary conflict is between progress and stagnation, and the ancient elf and dwarf empires are stellar exemplars of the latter. Think of the Eldar from Warhammer 40K, though less extreme. Elf society is decadent, while the dwarves are reactionary conservatives; both are so busy patting themselves on the back about how much they've accomplished that they hardly ever actually accomplish anything anymore. And while I'll admit that this aspect of my worldbuilding borders on a political tract, the ancients' conservative tendencies are utterly unjustified, because the situation is such that they endanger their society far more by refusing to let it grow and adapt than it ever could be endangered by the changes they disallow. The elves claim to understand the need for revitalization, but make only token efforts at it, because they're ultimately frightened by the chaos in their own hearts, and prone to neurotically deflecting those worries, while the dwarves simply pigheadedly deny that there is any benefit to re-evaluating old ideas. And so both societies are rife with corruption that they simply refuse to acknowledge, while humanity's ever-changing nature is actively supported by the cosmic mechanisms that make innovation more likely to succeed and preservation more likely to go horribly awry.



I'm not talking about the real world, nor typical D&D settings. I'm talking about socio-political theory. There is an equal and opposite reaction to everything. You are ignoring basic principles of life itself (especially human life, which isn't so theoretical) in your structuring. Gives it the feel of playing a video game with cheat codes enabled. Elves are chaotic by nature... why would they fear change? And Dwarves might pat themselves on the back and say good job, but then they move on to more work! They are a very industrious people, and while in lore they are traditionalists, they are also not going to stop developments that fit their lifestyles. Better forges, better (and safer) mining, better crafting methods, etc. For Elves, yeah, they can seem decadent... and they will make changes that elevate their lives. Running water, automatic waste disposal, other things that reduce the amount of menial labor that has to be done by people. I wish I could remember what series of books I read that really delved into the mentality of Elves. I'll try to find it again.

Regardless, Humans are the ones more likely to blow themselves up in their rush of things and be fractitious within themselves, yet you're putting them on a pedestal and saying they have done better than races that are older, have longer lifespans, and for the most part don't turn on each other within their own race. About the only thing Humans are good at developing that quickly are weapons of war. What you are setting up is an idyllic setting by your own standards without any logic involved.

So I repeat, the humans are still nowhere near high civilization... they've barely started being tolerably civilized, and many of them not even that, when you put it in perspective. Humans in fantasy settings with elder races are the underdogs, not the top dogs. Humans are leeches of the world, attacking what they don't understand and consuming everything whether they need it or not. That is a simplification, certainly, but to say they are anything else is to ignore human nature.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you don't want Elves in your campaign, then don't call them Elves. If you do want them, that's fine. If you don't understand them, go ahead and gloss over the details. But don't trash their entire racial profile because you want them to be something they aren't and expect me to be ok with it. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on July 12, 2012, 04:25:00 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on July 12, 2012, 02:28:04 AM

Level 20 is the peak of typical power. Making some sort of "threshold event" in order to surpass it isn't unheard of, and having anything over ECL 20 be exceptionally rare isn't unheard of. But putting a "level ban" on an entire setting seems rather petty to me, and certainly not constructive for a setting-building process.



I don't know how it can be "petty" as long as it only affects NPCs; the intent is simply to draw a line as to what is and isn't possible. Epic level powers strike me as gratiutious; apart from the most ancient dragons, nothing needs to be more powerful than a level 20 wizard (given that gods in my game don't have stats). It is always possible I will reconsider eventually, but for right now the epic rules are utterly unnecessary to me; I have yet to even build an ECL 10 character, and figure that I have no particular need to comprehend anything that far ahead of the level that the PCs should be functioning at.



Quote

And that is, frankly, ridiculous. But hey, your setting, your choice. But in a setting where the ideology of higher functioning apparatus exists, any character of mine with a high INT (which is inevitably all of them) will think any race idiotic if they don't improve living conditions.



Agreed completely; this is in fact pretty much exactly the Emperor's attitude, and that's why one of the Empire's big things is education. The fact that the elves are stagnating in decadence is exactly why they don't rule the world anymore; humanity rose to prominence because the elves, dwarves, orcs and {CENSORED} did not stop them.



Quote

Given this information, I am more likely to play to the disgust he feels at his own people ended up driving him to leave and seek better conditions elsewhere - if they want to live in filth and squalor, that's their problem, especially given how easy it would be to use magical constructs to help towards those ends (who needs wells when you can craft a portal to the plane of water or to an underwater location, building into it filters to ensure pure water, and nothing else coming through).



Hardly filth and squalor; I meant "medieval" like a castle, not a peasant hovel. The elves have a high civilization, just not one that's getting any higher. They think that they've solved the equation of life and have no more improving left to do on a society-wide basis. Their culture is not evolving past the most trivial level, and their technology is roughly that of the early Renaissance; they disdain all subsequent innovations as either pointless fads or too costly/harmful/non-eco-friendly to bother with. As a result, their status relative to humanity is essentially that of a cranky old grandparent who thinks society achieved perfection when he was 30 and has refused to accept any subsequent innovations.



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Regardless, Humans are the ones more likely to blow themselves up in their rush of things and be fractitious within themselves, yet you're putting them on a pedestal and saying they have done better than races that are older, have longer lifespans, and for the most part don't turn on each other within their own race. About the only thing Humans are good at developing that quickly are weapons of war. What you are setting up is an idyllic setting by your own standards without any logic involved.



Well in standard D&D they play up Humans are Bastards and all other races come out as Mary Sues; being human myself, I take offense, and have chosen to give a much more positive interpretation, which is still IMO consistent with human psychology, just with the viewing lens rotated to make things brighter instead of darker. Basically, think of the Federation in Star Trek, only a little less stuffy than the Next Gen version and a little more responsible than TOS. The "aliens" have highly traditional and isolationist cultures; humans act as go-betweens among them all, taking the best ideas from each and not afraid to cross the streams by combining them.



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Humans are leeches of the world, attacking what they don't understand and consuming everything whether they need it or not. That is a simplification, certainly, but to say they are anything else is to ignore human nature.



People like that do exist, but this is a setting with objective good, as well as objective evil. The interpretations you're talking about are very much worked into the fabric of the setting; there are forces in the land which are pushing toward your version, but Good currently has the upper hand, and so things are taking a positive spin BY AND LARGE. Numerous exceptions exist (just read the backstories of my sample characters, more than half of them I think are ethically compromised to varying degrees); those characters are interesting, while the "happy little people" are boring, so they aren't focused on as much, serving as more of a backdrop. Yes this is kind of the opposite of the D&D default, and I like it that way. I don't want a setting where the nameless peasants live in their own shit while King Arthur rides off merrily singing to adventures, because this would mean King Arthur is an asshole who doesn't care about the suffering of his people. So instead the peasants merrily sing and King Arthur is burdened with the responsibility of trying to keep the human race's negative attitudes safely repressed lest they destroy themselves.



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I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you don't want Elves in your campaign, then don't call them Elves. If you do want them, that's fine. If you don't understand them, go ahead and gloss over the details. But don't trash their entire racial profile because you want them to be something they aren't and expect me to be ok with it.



I am portraying Elves the way I have understood them to be. I haven't read Faerun setting material; I haven't even read Races of the Wild. This is a mix of the Elves in the corebook and more general Elf portrayals as I've seen them in a wide variety of media, including dribs and drabs of Warcraft, Warhammer, Changeling: the Lost and more. These aren't "your" elves, because your elves are in Faerun. You're more than welcome to have your character have the soul of a Faerunian elf and be disenfranchised from his own people because they no longer resemble their own self-congratulatory tales of the Glory Days. He might prefer humans because they still have the spirit of innovation and joy that the elves have forgotten, or he might blame and hate humans since the elves seem to have gone to shit right around the time humans appeared (there is an in-setting explanation for this which can easily be part of your plotline, relating to the Orcs and Drow among other things). This is up to you, I'm just telling you how it is with me. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on July 12, 2012, 06:00:09 AM A little more followup on this line of discussion:

* "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction" is a law of physics, and the laws of physics don't apply in D&D world with any reliability. You can cast a spell to create or destroy matter or energy; you can't count on science working, and even basic principles of human nature may have turned out completely different as a result of growing up in an environment where miracles occur reliably. Things we take for granted as truth are the result of our Darwinian evolution, but that's only part of the story in Whiteleaf; the contrast between "humanity fought its way to the top of the food chain" and "humanity was handwaved into existence by benevolent gods" is a major theme of the setting, and figuring out exactly how much truth is in both of those widely held perspectives could keep you busy for the whole campaign, as you'll see huge amounts of hard-to-intrpret evidence supporting both views.

* As for "like a game with the cheat codes", well, this is essentially an open beta. The environment is intentionally limited because my brain only has so much processing power, and if I have to DXM here and there to keep the whole thing from breaking, so be it. But this is intentionally played with in the setting; the Emperor is a Gary Stu Author Avatar, but he's also a deconstruction thereof, whose Objective Good status means that he's his own worst enemy, and has to expend most of his effort on avoiding sabotaging his own goals.

Do believe me that I'm not selling the setting short; my original plans are constantly revising themselves as I reconsider the situation, and sometimes it keeps a somewhat unsubtle patch job to keep things from falling apart, but that just gives me more material with which to further expand an already immense and complex setting. If it gets to the point where it seems worthless to play in, I will have failed and will start over again, but I don't think we're even close to that; the game is not "solved" by any stretch of the imagination, and the actions of the players will very much serve to show up its weak points so that they may be reinforced. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on July 12, 2012, 07:14:23 AM I don't have time to dig it up for now, but somewhere on this or another Whiteleaf thread you'll find a bit of a flap between me and Cup of Tea, where I explained why the humans in Whiteleaf tend to be content and well-off, and he misinterpreted it as meaning they were brainwashed or something, and quit the campaign in part because of this misunderstanding (this was back when he was playing Triss the half-elf pirate/sorceress, and there were other issues; I was trying to nudge the character toward Good and he wasn't having it, that was also doubtless a factor and there may well have been others). If you're getting the same impression, I highly recommend you check out what I said to him when he brought it up again more recently, where I explained what I meant; I am apparently bad at getting my point across.

There's a thread on GITP talking about how Gene Roddenberry apparently made some offhanded comment once about how human beings don't feel grief in the Star Trek future, and people interpreting that as Fridge Horror proving that the Federation lobotomizes people. I'm sure this wasn't what Roddenberry intended; he was just trying to say that people in his world are really well-adjusted and have good, rich, satisfying lives where they don't have to deal with the psychological hangups we do, having been raised in a post-scarcity society their whole lives and for several previous generations. That's pretty close to what's happening in my Empire, though "post-scarcity" is still pretty far off; I haven't crunched the numbers and adjusted WBL and so forth, but the general idea is that people are well above the "bare subsistence" level (see a recent post in Isidoros's thread where I describe the average commoner standard of living), and they tend to trust that the world is going to tend to be good as long as things don't seriously go wrong. There are a lot of reasons for this, a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into making it work, and it's far from automatic or inevitable; cosmic mechanisms are in place which are forever trying to destroy the Empire's stability, it just happens to be holding for now, partly due to DXM and partly to the system having to have been rather robustly designed if it's managed to hold this long. But the potential always exists for the players to play a critical role, either in breaking that stability or in eliminating a threat which is capable of breaking it, entirely dependent on the choices they make. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: SEDNA on July 12, 2012, 08:23:43 PM THEEEEEEEY!

---

Anyway, I believe that the only little problem with your setting is that.... it quite boldly puts a lot of Tropes that we are so well used to - and as the result expect to see - on their heads. It's not easy to adjust to this extent of originality after having been exposed to - and loved - mostly settings with... relatively inverted tendencies.

Still, I feel I'm slowly beginning to get used to it. If only my game was moving at a slightly quicker snail pace than it's now, I'm sure I'd be adjusting even faster ;) Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on July 13, 2012, 12:47:43 AM Indeed, that is more or less my objective. It's a very self-aware and deconstructionist take on the classic cliches, meant to make them feel fresh again by both inverting and reinforcing them. At least in theory. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on July 13, 2012, 06:22:23 AM Well, you seem to be ignoring my point. That, or I'm not getting it across in a way you can understand.

Every reference you cite for basing your elves on is a "new" reference, far from the original. While Faerun & Tokien Elves are closer, they are still not what I base my perception of Elves on, they are simply the closest thing I can reference that people are familiar with. My perception comes from mythologies that go back prior to D&D existing, and before Tolkien wrote The Hobbit.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction isn't just a law of physics. It's also a law of society, if understood completely. The masses are generally reactionary. A war starts, for example, then the army gets increased and weapons are developed.

When I said feels like playing with cheat codes enabled, that's because that's exactly what it feels like. You are slanting everything towards good. Anyone working towards good has the universe on their side. If that's the kind of game you want, fine. Just be aware that that's how it comes out.

I still probably haven't communicated well, and at this point I'm done trying to. I'll just finish my character, and see how it plays out. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on July 13, 2012, 07:29:22 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on July 13, 2012, 06:22:23 AM

Every reference you cite for basing your elves on is a "new" reference, far from the original. While Faerun & Tokien Elves are closer, they are still not what I base my perception of Elves on, they are simply the closest thing I can reference that people are familiar with. My perception comes from mythologies that go back prior to D&D existing, and before Tolkien wrote The Hobbit.



Oh, you want the original elves? So for example:



Quote from: wikipedia

The English word elf is from the Old English ælf or elf; in compound as ælfadl "nightmare," ælfsogoða "hiccup," afflictions apparently thought to be caused by elves.

The Old English word is derived from the Proto-Germanic *albiz, which also resulted in Old Norse álfr and Middle High German elbe. *Albiz may be from the Proto-Indo-European root *albh- meaning "white", from which also stems the Latin albus "white".[5] Alternatively, a connection to the Rbhus, semi-divine craftsmen in Indian mythology, has also been suggested(OED).

The Modern German Elf (m), Elfe (f), Elfen is a loan from English. A masculine Elb is reconstructed from the plural by Jacob Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch, who rejects Elfe as a (then, in the 1830s) recent anglicism. Elb (m, plural Elbe or Elben) is a reconstructed term, while Elbe (f) is attested in Middle High German. Alb, Alp (m), plural Alpe has the meaning of "incubus" (Old High German alp, plural *alpî or *elpî). Gothic has no direct testimony of *albs, plural *albeis, but Procopius has the personal name Albila.

****

Jacob Grimm discusses "Wights and Elves" comparatively in chapter 17 of his Teutonic Mythology. He notes that the Elder Edda couples the Æsir and the álfar, a conjunction that recurs in Old English ês and ylfe, clearly grouping the elves as a divine or supernatural class of beings, sometimes extended by the Vanir as a third class: The Hrafnagaldr states Alföðr orkar, álfar skilja, vanir vita "The Allfather [i.e. the áss] has power, the álfar have skill, and vanir knowledge".


King Olaf and the Little People. Published in 1871.A notable crux in the Old Norse mythology is the distinction of álfar and dvergar. They appear as separate races in extended lists such as the one in Alvíssmál, listing Æsir, álfar, Vanir, goð (gods), męnn (humans), ginregin, jǫtnar, dvergar and denizens of Hęl. Middle High German tradition asgma separates the elbe from getwerc.

On the other hand, there is a close kinship between elves and dwarves, evident already because many dwarves have elvish names, including simple Álfr "elf", and Alberich "king of elves".

Snorri in the Prose Edda states that the light elves dwell in Álfheim while the dark elves dwell underground. Confusion arises from the introduction of the additional term svartálfar "black elves", which at first appears synonymous to the "dark elves"; Snorri identifies with the dvergar and has them reside in Svartálfaheim. This prompts Grimm to assume a tripartite division of light elves, dark elves and black elves, of which only the latter are identical with dwarves, while the dark elves are an intermediate class, "not so much downright black, as dim, dingy". In support of such an intermediate class between light elves, or "elves proper", on one hand, and black elves or dwarves on the other, Grimm adduces the evidence of the Scottish brownies and other traditions of dwarves wearing grey or brown clothing.



Every modern perception of elves, from the Keebler cookie-bakers and the compulsively servile butlers of Harry Potter to the Eldar of Warhammer 40K and the Eladrins of D&D 4E, descends from ancient myths which seem to have roughly equal similarity to everything from angels to household gnomes. I really don't see the point in being a purist on such a topic.



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Every action has an equal and opposite reaction isn't just a law of physics. It's also a law of society, if understood completely. The masses are generally reactionary. A war starts, for example, then the army gets increased and weapons are developed.



Heh, I was stretching with that one I knew. But you seem to be saying humans are incapable of doing anything other than following their first twitch-reaction. Sure, the first time someone turns up dead in the middle of the village square with a goblin-made dagger in their back, a hue and cry of "kill all goblins" is gonna go out. But if there's as much as one noble and decent-minded person in that community who can argue in favor of reason and tolerance and looking deeper for the real motive (was it just one goblin acting alone, was it an evil wizard trying to frame the goblins, was it a bar brawl gone wrong where the human and goblin were equally at fault), then a chance exists for people to push aside their less constructive tendencies and work together on a better solution. Whiteleaf has some combination of that chance being inherently higher, due to the influence of spirits and gods and celestials and wizards over the course of the world's formation, and the Empire's founders and continuing champions doing hard, slow, patient work to shape society in that direction more and more every generation.



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When I said feels like playing with cheat codes enabled, that's because that's exactly what it feels like. You are slanting everything towards good. Anyone working towards good has the universe on their side. If that's the kind of game you want, fine. Just be aware that that's how it comes out.



Playing the game with the cheat codes can sometimes cause it to crash, and this risk is in fact extremely on-theme here. To peek behind the curtain a little bit, the nature of magic and XP and related forces in the gameworld is directly related to how entertaining the setting appears, for in-universe reasons that are a part of the setting's self-aware and deconstructionist nature (the details are constantly evolving but I do have a basic explanation prepared long since, and am simply saving it to get into in-game). In "hero's journey" stories, we pretty much know the hero is going to win, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the process of seeing exactly how, and suspense mandates the creation of a credible-appearing threat which we can take seriously even with 90% knowledge that the hero's success is a foregone conclusion. Furthermore...


the more thoroughly Good is winning, the more Evil has to really bring its A-game, and the more likely it is that Good will get lazy and slip up - and, having been on the defensive for so long, Evil is not going to take prisoners when it finally gets an edge. This isn't like a comic book where Batman keeps beating the Joker up and locking him in Arkham Asylum until the next time he gets out. This is where Batman has never even heard of the Joker, because the Joker arrived in Gotham, saw that Batman had made crime all but impossible, and has spent ten years crafting a master plan which guarantees that Batman will be utterly and irrevocably destroyed, and the social order of Gotham ruined beyond repair, and Batman has no freaking clue it's going to happen because the Joker is being excruciatingly careful not to give even the slightest clue of what's in the works. (At which point it's probably not Joker so much as a Frank Miller version of R'as Al Ghul, but you hopefully get what I'm saying.) Good in Whiteleaf always wins because it has to; Evil only needs to succeed once. This is much more in keeping with what I see as a realistic portrayal of Evil - not cartoonish black hats who make themselves obvious for the sake of drama, but patient and careful sociopaths who have read the Evil Overlord List, take no unnecessary chances, and have spectacularly good PR departments on their payroll who portray the heroes as unreliable loose cannons and themselves as a pillar of the community.

The bottom line is, if you don't take the setting seriously, it will react negatively as a result. If your character acts like he knows he's invincible, he will be actively targeted by forces interested in teaching him a lesson. But if he plays the role to perfection, taking the danger seriously despite it being illusory, then he'll reap both in-setting and out-of-game rewards in direct proportion to how good he made the whole thing look. That's what this setting is all about...when I say "self-aware", I'm talking about things like the way Mora the bard knows her life is a story worthy of one of her fellow bards singing, and intentionally acts in such a way as to try and make it a good one. Or like how Willow, who is intended to eventually be this world's Elminster-esque iconic character (if one of the PCs doesn't kill her, of course; I'm not going to kibosh player freedom more than can be helped just to protect a pet NPC), the Nice Evil Druid Neighbor Lady, who is polite and respectful to people she daily fantasizes about murdering, because a good relationship with them is protective
camoflauge, and she'll never be so powerful that she doesn't see an advantage to having a good reputation, with all her skeletons firmly locked away in a closet nobody ever even thinks to open.



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I still probably haven't communicated well, and at this point I'm done trying to. I'll just finish my character, and see how it plays out.



That's probably for the best. I do think I have crafted a magnificent setting, based both on my private notes and on the results of sessions to date; hopefully once we're underway you'll find that these issues do not get in the way of you having a good time. Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on July 13, 2012, 06:43:24 PM That is my hope as well.
Title: Re: Elvish Opinions of Human Prominence in Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on August 09, 2012, 10:31:50 PM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on July 12, 2012, 02:28:04 AM

I wish I could remember what series of books I read that really delved into the mentality of Elves. I'll try to find it again.




For anyone interested, I found the series I was referring to.

The Obsidian Trilogy
By Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory
Book 1: The Outstretched Shadow
Book 2: To Light a Candle
Book 3: When Darkness Falls

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:35 pm

Title: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 12, 2012, 05:03:54 PM The five NPC classes in the Dungeon Master's guide were intentionally designed to demonstrate that most people in the D&D universe suck; I disapprove. Partly justified by the Empire's campaign to improve the lives of its people, and partly handwaved ouright on the worldbuilding level, Whiteleaf is home to a common people that aren't so common, and it gets its own NPC classes which, though still not really comparable to the PC classes in terms of adventuring potential, are at least legitimately capable of functioning within their niche.

* The Expert comes the closest of the original NPC classes to being functional for PCs, comparing somewhat poorly to the Rogue but having the ability to specialize in skills no other corebook class gets to combine, whatever that's worth. Unfortunately it is pretty much 100% obsoleted by the Factotum class from Dungeonscape, so it will need a bit of improvement to justify its continued use. Free Skill Focus feats and possibly some Item Creation seem fitting for at least some members of the eventual Expert class.

* The Aristocrat is intended to represent the powerbrokers of the world, but it doesn't do this as well as it should; the fact that they start their career with twice as much gold as any other class means very little due to the fixed Wealth By Level of player-characters, and I'm not yet up to engineering a fix. One possible upgrade I'm considering, though it's a bit of a Broken Aesop by my standards, is to allow them a free Feat from a somewhat restricted list which represents their genuinely being a little better-bred than non-nobles, even if most of their claims of this are self-congratulatory hyperbole, there might be a grain of truth to it nonetheless, but as I say this is dubious. In any event, the resulting aptitudes might include everything from Toughness to Lightning Reflexes to Skill Focus: Spot, or even things like Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Weapon Finesse and Improved Initiative, though not anything that represents an actual combat maneuver. These would represent either inborn advantages or the advanced training of those who can afford more than the basics of life, and they would make for "normal" but fairly competent characters who you could almost believe have some business bossing the PCs around.

* The Adept is far and away the worst spellcaster in the game, but is nonetheless often considered a "tier 3 or 4" class just on the basis that it is a spellcaster, with some spells from both the wizard and cleric lists. I will be hesitant to improve upon it, but I might let the Spells Per Day sneak up just a bit so that they aren't quite so pathetic-looking even at high levels.

* The Warrior was intentionally designed to be simply a Fighter with less stuff, and that just doesn't fly in my game. So the class is entirely ditched (when I get that far; its extensive use in monster statblocks will make its replacement a time-consuming affair), and replaced with a class called the Scrapper, who represents a creature who lives off the land and dies by the sword, with its wits measuring the distance between. Scrappers will have basically the same combat capabilities as Warriors, but with the addition of some extra Skills which help them survive without much of a civilization to back them up. They are comparable to the Fighter in theoretical game balance, but trade the Fighter's combat feats for extra Skills that help them survive in the world; this is a bad trade from a player-character perspective, but one that makes the class seem functional enough if you pretend you actually had to live as one. The net result will be something like a Ranger, without the favored enemy and the mini-Druid suite of abilities, but a little better in a straight-up fight. Tossing in a few bonus Feats might work here too, as things like Dodge and Endurance seem very fitting for these survivalist types.

* Commoners were never intended to be even remotely functional as characters, and I find this to be deplorable and boring. So instead, the run-of-the-mill ordinary person in Whiteleaf is a member of a class called Citizen. Citizens get a very narrow set of situational morale bonuses, which might make it the equal of a player-character if the adventure didn't involve doing things like leaving your house, missing a day at work, walking down dark alleys, and so forth. Thusly they can defend themselves in a fight (probably not successfully in most cases, as the opposition is likely to be stronger, but at least the Citizens aren't quite so obviously squishy as Commoners and will have some chance of surviving a round or two), but are very unlikely to go looking for trouble, and will not function successfully if they do.

* A sixth NPC class was published on GiantITP.com a number of years back and made a major impression on me; to date it is the only piece of homebrew which I have canonized in my games. This class is a weak spellcaster similar to the adept, but focused on tending the land and strengthening the bonds of community, and is called the Gleaner. I may tweak the rules which its author provided, but overall I regard it as a good example of how NPC class design should be done and won't be likely to think it needs much changing. The original design for Whiteleaf credited a generous supply of Gleaners with the general good state of the people's health and prosperity, although this burden has been shifted more toward high-level druids and clerics as I learn more about the capabilities of magic - the Gleaners are at best able to operate on a small scale and aren't likely to have much of a permanent effect, but their influence is still definitely felt. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 13, 2012, 04:14:52 AM On second thought the Expert is useless even without the Factotum; a multiclass character who alternates Ranger and Rogue levels gets every skill in-class except Knowledges (and skills added in supplements, such as Autohypnosis and Psicraft in the EPH), and if you really must have those you can take one level of Wizard (or Psion) to make them all permanently in-class. So the Expert will need to be completely revised as well.

Also I'm somewhat unsatisfied with the name Scrapper, I'm debating replacing it with Brute. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on April 13, 2012, 06:47:54 AM Just a note on Expert: if you plan to give them any kind of item creation feats, you'll also need to give them spellcasting abilities. Otherwise just Skill Focus: Craft X type feats would be more appropriate. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 13, 2012, 07:37:56 AM I could just modify that part of the ICF rules, allowing for a high enough Knowledge: Arcana or Spellcraft check to substitute for actual spellcasting ability. I've already debated dropping the spellcaster requirement for Craft Alchemy, as it doesn't make sense to me that brewing a set of ingredients into Alchemist's Fire or whatever simply doesn't work if you've never taken a level in the spellcasting classes. Really, to me Magic is the ability to do things without any skill whatsoever; a mage makes a suit of armor by waving his hand and conjuring it into being, so if you want to make a suit of armor with hammer and tongs, I don't like saying you need magic to do it. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: Darque Ainjel on April 13, 2012, 07:42:02 AM That would be in conflict with what you said before regarding not liking Item Creation feats allowing the making of such things without any skill, unless I am misunderstanding something. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 13, 2012, 07:53:34 AM

Quote from: Darque Ainjel on April 13, 2012, 07:42:02 AM

That would be in conflict with what you said before regarding not liking Item Creation feats allowing the making of such things without any skill, unless I am misunderstanding something.




It's far from unusual for me to contradict myself (there's a quote involving the words "I contain multitudes" that I will look up and source some other time), but I believe what I said before was that I didn't like the ICFs allowing you to make a physical object with no skill in making the physical object (eg Craft Armorsmithing for a magic suit of armor). Although on further reflection I realized that if you didn't have a suit of masterwork armor to enchant, you probably would have to use Craft to make one, and the feat probably just reflects the process of adding magic to it. Still, I see nothing theoretically wrong with the idea of allowing someone to have a Skill which specifically accomplishes that - or perhaps instead of a skill it can be a class feature of the "Artificer" or "Enchanter" or whatever the fixed Expert ends up being called. Assuming I even go through with this. (The Alchemist might be rolled into all this or might be a separate class.) Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 13, 2012, 03:48:19 PM So it turns out the Expert isn't quite obsolete (as long as the Factotum is out), but the reason why is really cheaty and I'm likely to houserule it away. My intended build for the replacement Expert was a multiclass hybrid of the Rogue and the 3.0 version of the Ranger, who gets a d10 hit die and x4 skill points; I've always preferred this to the squishier but more skilltastic 3.5 ranger, and still plan to resurrect it in some form as an alternate class. A Ranger 5 / Rogue 5 should have the same Hit Points and Skill Points as an Expert 10, except that the Expert can pick Knowledge Skills among his ten class skills; to add all of those as class skills, I was figuring you just "tax" the Ranger/Rogue one level of Wizard or Psion to gain access to all Knowledge skills and you're good to go. Unfortunately, it turns out that doing this is suicide, and I only found out the reason why today.

The Ranger/Rogue with 1 level of Wizard works if you're an Elf, and doing it with Psion is also possible if you can find a class that favors that, but unfortunately it turns out I've been wrong all along about how Humans (and Half-Elves and eventually Illumians) work in multiclassing. I've always assumed that they were strictly better than other races, and would choose to favor any one class in order to produce the most ideal build, as that seems best to fit with the idea that humans are a species of jacks-of-all-trades. Unfortunately it seems that when the designers wrote "Any" they actually meant "Only whatever your single highest class is, no matter how advantageous it might be to pick something else". Therefore the Ranger/Rogue build doesn't work, because you have to favor one of those classes and the other won't be within 1 level of your Wizard or Psion level.

As I said before, I'm strongly considering calling bullshit on this rule. If I do, the Expert as written will be rendered completely 100% useless and I'll proceed with brewing up its replacement. If the rule stays in place, the Expert's sole justifying factor is the fact that it is a single class which can do things no other single class (except Factotum) can do. That might be enough for me to keep playing the Expert as written just out of laziness, but I'm deeply annoyed by the idea of builds that work only if you aren't human, and so am strongly inclined toward ruling that "Favored Class: Any" actually means what it sounds like it does. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: SEDNA on April 13, 2012, 04:45:21 PM Umm... But... why bother? I mean, these are NPC classes, and reserved for the less important NPCs at that - ones too insignificant from the story's viewpoint to ever need anything apart from hit points (and then only in case case of a fight involving them). More important non-player characters either have pc classes or variants thereof. Or plot armour (and plot weapon of mass destruction) that frees them from the tight confines of class restrictions. Speaking of which, have I ever mentioned how I despise the incredibly half-dimensional concept of class? I can tolerate them in Pathfinder, but only because there each is unique and bursting with options. In D&D, on the other hand, they are all both too generic to justify the division and too narrow and limiting to be ignored. Which is just as silly as 'levels,' but don't let me even start ranting about that... Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 13, 2012, 05:06:59 PM

Quote from: CupOfTea on April 13, 2012, 04:45:21 PM

Umm... But... why bother? I mean, these are NPC classes, and reserved for the less important NPCs at that



Well it's important to me. Nobody is a nobody in my game; these NPCs have lives and feelings, they need to have balanced (if slightly boring) classes.



Quote

Speaking of which, have I ever mentioned how I despise the incredibly half-dimensional concept of class? I can tolerate them in Pathfinder, but only because there each is unique and bursting with options. In D&D, on the other hand, they are all both too generic to justify the division and too narrow and limiting to be ignored. Which is just as silly as 'levels,' but don't let me even start ranting about that...



I understand and somewhat share those frustrations, but we've already established that Darque wouldn't be interested in playing a version of D&D that didn't use the classes. In any event, it would be an insane amount of work to retool the game to use more flexible mechanics, and the concept of level is pretty much impossible to remove - think of it as something similar to the neonate / ancilla / elder distinctions in Vampire, or the tier system in any WOD game. It measures the difference between people who struggle just to get by in a world that loves to grind their kind into mush, people who are just strong enough to get into trouble and just smart enough to know it, people who have proven themselves competent enough to acquire a somewhat codependant following, people who have the ear of kings and influence the fates of nations, and people who change the course of destiny on a planetary scale before breakfast. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: SEDNA on April 13, 2012, 06:24:14 PM

Quote from: willpell on April 13, 2012, 05:06:59 PM



Quote from: CupOfTea on April 13, 2012, 04:45:21 PM

Umm... But... why bother? I mean, these are NPC classes, and reserved for the less important NPCs at that



Well it's important to me. Nobody is a nobody in my game; these NPCs have lives and feelings, they need to have balanced (if slightly boring) classes.


Okay, so let's look at it from this angle... They are people - each of them one of a kind, a special snowflake, unique individual and blah, blah, blah...

So how precisely does it go with something as glass-ceilingly, as smotheringly narrow and as mercilessly murdering any semblance of individuality as a D&D class? The statistics of Elder Black Pudding express more personality than a Class would ever let you convey...



Quote

In any event, it would be an insane amount of work to retool the game to use more flexible mechanics, and the concept of level is pretty much impossible to remove - think of it as something similar to the neonate / ancilla / elder distinctions in Vampire, or the tier system in any WOD game. It measures the difference between people who struggle just to get by in a world that loves to grind their kind into mush, people who are just strong enough to get into trouble and just smart enough to know it, people who have proven themselves competent enough to acquire a somewhat codependant following, people who have the ear of kings and influence the fates of nations, and people who change the course of destiny on a planetary scale before breakfast.


The problem is, in WoD, 'Tier' is not a measure of how many hit points you have and how restricted your development is (that's your ration of skillpoints for this level, no more, no less! Oh, and once you spend them, your brain will lock up and refuse to learn anything new until you kill fifty more dragons! - Enjoy... or whatever,) but rather the scope of the chronicle - something completely different. You can play the second Tier with Embraced-yesterday characters (in fact, that's the default assumption) or you can play it with Ancillae, Elders or even Helen of Troy's sandbox buddies - just like you can utilise those characters for the first and third Tier - the difference is only the stakes you're playing for (personal in case of Tier one, communal for Tier two and world-changing at Tier three respectively). Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 14, 2012, 03:44:48 AM

Quote from: CupOfTea on April 13, 2012, 06:24:14 PM

So how precisely does it go with something as glass-ceilingly, as smotheringly narrow and as mercilessly murdering any semblance of individuality as a D&D class? The statistics of Elder Black Pudding express more personality than a Class would ever let you convey...



I think you're exagerrating just a teeny bit. The point of a character class is to define a set of abilities which go together to create a cohesive whole; every class has a fairly broad range of possibilities to play with, although some certanly have more than others. Restricting monks from wearing armor or clerics from throwing fireballs isn't about preventing the player from having options, it's just about having a clear concept for what the character you want to play is all about. It's a restriction along the same lines as "don't put tabasco sauce on your ice cream sundae" or "don't wear a neon orange blazer over a Little Black Dress", and if you really want to break such rules, there are other classes that have been specifically designed to make the alternative work (such as the Duskblade in PHB2, which gives you a way to cast arcane spells while wearing armor, combining them in a more holistic and interesting way than simply slapping armor proficiency on a wizard).



Quote

The problem is, in WoD, 'Tier' is not a measure of how many hit points you have and how restricted your development is (that's your ration of skillpoints for this level, no more, no less! Oh, and once you spend them, your brain will lock up and refuse to learn anything new until you kill fifty more dragons!



Okay, that part I'll agree is rather stupid. Especially since you can learn a skill at your level up without having ever practiced it. Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: SEDNA on April 14, 2012, 04:45:29 AM 'Exaggeration' is actually one of my middle names, right next to 'Overreaction' and 'Nitpicking.' Really I'm just looking for an excuse to complain for the sake of complaining. And to kill some time while I'm waiting to continue playing... Title: Re: NPC Classes of Whiteleaf
Post by: willpell on April 14, 2012, 06:12:27 AM I have a staggeringly epic post coming for your character, but it will take some work to pull it together; fortunately I'm actually doing a good job organizing for a change, and have completed Step 1 (our of about 4) of the process in the past 2.5 hours, by finally putting ALL of my Whiteleaf notes (that I know how to locate; some of the older ones I'l probably never find again and will have to go without) in a single mammoth Google doc, from which I will be decanting them to a series of strictly organized files which I can find here (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/notesofwi ... e%20World/). (It shouldn't allow you to access; if it does please refrain from reading any of the files and let me know so I can delete the link.)

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:37 pm

Sessions - Archive => Other Systems => Other => Whiteleaf => Topic started by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:16:43 AM
Title: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:16:43 AM To give you an idea of my writing style and to provide a little background color on my campaign world, here I will be collecting a few excerpts from my first two D&D campaigns.

Player: I'll go to a tavern, and ask around for a miracle worker...should I roll a Gather Information check? {Rolled 1d20 : 6, total 6} Dammit! Please tell me that I didn't need to roll!

Me: Both from the roll and from the fact that you chose the term "miracle worker": you make your first inquiry of a bar girl, who loudly shouts back to the bartender, "HEY, THIS GNOME'S LOOKIN' FER A CLERIC!" and the bartender shouts back "I'M BUSY, TELL IM TO TRY THE CHURCH O' PELLER UP THE ROAD AWAYS", and then some drunk loudmouth at the bar goes "AW PELOR IS A DOOFUS GOD, EVERWUN KNOWS HY-ROW-NEEYUS IS THE SHIT!" and some other drunk loudmouth at the bar yells "HEY YOU LOSER KORD THE BRAWLER CAN KICK HEIRONIOUS'S BUTT ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!" and soon the entire bar is too busy loudly debating the merits of various benevolent martial deities to pay any attention to your inquiry. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:21:17 AM Me: "Good afternoon, Sir, would you like to make a 5-sp donation to help the Church of Yondalla?" a rosy-cheeked halfling girl with a basket asks as you and she simultaneously step toward the same section of street. The basket has a white cloth covering the top and tucked in around the sides; whatever's under the cloth looks lumpy. Her teeth are even whiter than the cloth, which is unusual since the toothbrush has not been invented.

Player: "Why of course I would, my good woman. Crystob pulls out a gold piece, and tosses it in. He then pulls another out of his pouch, starts fondling it, and asks, "Would you mind telling me a bit about this city? And I must know how you keep your teeth so clean!"

Me: "It is one of my Lady's blessings! Even as She grants us the richest harvest, she also grants us the means to protect our health, so that we may indulge - though never overindulge - in her bounty without fear. We drink a special tea which helps to prevent foods from discoloring our teeth, and chew various herbs to keep our breath fresh, so that we may always be pleasant company! Of course, being a halfling helps too." She smiles winsomely, and only then seems to remember that you asked another question. "Oh, yes, we know this city well, at least the parts that are worth knowing. What would you like to talk about? Shall we sit down here?" She motions to a nearby bench made of wrought iron but with a seating surface of soft, well-sanded beech.

Player: "Really?" Says Crystob, tossing the other goldpiece into her basket and going to sit down on the bench. "How very interesting. It is good to see that your God understands the importance of cleanliness. Speaking of which, that is one of the points I was curious about: your city is famed for its clean water, and I am now seeing even more signs of unusually sanitation. Is this mere coincidence, or is there some reason for this?"

Me: "Goddess," the plump girl clarifies. "You must not visit very many cities. We're no different from anywhere else in the Empire; people would never live in cities if they had to wade through their own filth every time they crossed the street. Spells and tools of sanitation are universally prized; not even the most miserly town council could expect to neglect them as a development priority."

(OOC: The standardized sanitation spells are described in some detail on the House Rules thread. This doesn't mean there isn't a faint reek about the city streets, but it's no worse than what you'd find in a 21st-century public bathroom; the abhorrence that prevailed during Earth's dark ages has nothing to do with how any world that featured commonplace magic would operate.) Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:29:10 AM Me: The girl leading you through the homey but mazelike Yondalla temple betrays a slight hint of frustration the seventh time she's unable to get an answer about the people she's looking for. The eighth time, she finally learns that Keywie is gone for the day, and the tenth person she talks to clarifies that Gimbolt is "sleeping it off" in the room behind said person, which apparently qualifies as reason not to disturb.

"Hm...Druarbox from the Moradin cloister is supposed to be here today at about this time; if the other two went off duty, it must mean Thallida is talking to him. So, let's see, they should be in...here. Ah, Thallida," the girl says, stepping unhesitantly into an archway. Following her in, you note that this is the largest room you've yet seen (though still small compared to the nave of the Pelorite temple; most humans would consider it a slightly generous dining room), with walls of carved stone blocks rather than packed earth. Inside you see another hobbette speaking to a mountain of Dwarven muscle, clad in what probably qualifies as casual wear by the underfolk's standards but seems painfully stiff formal raiment to you.

"What can I do for you, sweetie?" the presumable Thallida asks. Your guide replies, "This nice young gnome I met in town wanted to ask you a few questions; I was sure you wouldn't mind."

"Hmph! Do you bring every random fnorstak you meet on the street straight to meet your number 3?" the dwarf rumbles with a voice like a distant volcano. "Leading him all the way inside your temple without so much as clearing it with anyone; for all you know he could be an assassin, come to spy out your defenses."

"Oh, don't be such a grouse, Dru," Thallida replies. "No one is as paranoid as you think they should be, and thank the Goddess for that. What can I do for you, young man?" Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:33:22 AM Me: "Leave it alone, boy. There are some battles that are lost the moment you fight them."

"Thank you Druarbox, we will conclude our meeting later. For right now, I will thank you to leave the affairs of Yondalla's demesne to Yondalla's faithful. If She has brought this gnome to us, I will hear what he has to say." Thallida doesn't gesture or so much as incline her head, but clearly the dwarf considers himself dismissed.

After the hothead is gone, the halfling sage continues. "Our Moradian friend has a point, Mr...?" (I assume you tell her your name; if you say more or less, insert appropriately.) "If he's right that a force of Chaos is responsible for this manifestation, it is not a matter to be taken lightly. Chaos is not definitionally Evil, but it is seldom healthy either. It is possible that one of the gods meant for you to experience this sign, as I implied to Druarbox...but it is also just as possible you were simply in an unfortunate place at an inopportune time. It would probably be best if you simply told me where this event occurred, and I will have one of our most capable agents investigate. You have done well to alert us, you need not take further risks." Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 10:47:08 AM Me: Rakar - Your journey has brought you to the forests north of the mountains you used to call home, but no longer feel you belong in. These woods are quite tame and placid, and you almost regret striking off this way; from what you hear some orcs have been acting up a little west of your clan's home, attacking the lowland villages and setting off an avalanche that blocked one of the passes, but you figure the problem is probably well in hand. North of this tract of rather peaceful wilderness, there is a deeper woodland which the locals refer to as the Dark Forest (they're poets at heart, you muse); that sounds like the kind of place where you need to go if you're to test your mettle. But for now, the greatest opponents you face are hunger and tedium. You've been out hunting for your breakfast, and after much standing still and watching the underbrush for movement, have finally managed to catch a rabbit and break its neck. Would you like to eat it raw, or create a small fire with which to cook it? (With a successful Knowledge check, you realize this is a loaded question.) Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 11:02:13 AM Me: you find a path leading East, and after following it for a couple hours you come to the edge of the woods and can see the Windsweep Plains stretching out to the horizon, criscrossed by roads and rivers, dotted with farms, but mostly consisting of wild meadowlands characterized by tall grass bent south by the prevailing winds. The looming shadow of the Skybreen Mountains is barely visible far to the north, and the dwarf-settled foothill region which terminates the mountains Rakar knows are south, but most of your panorama is filled with the pastoral prarie, and far off toward where the sun began its now-halfway-complete voyage across the sky this morning, you see the glistening white triangle formed by Farwind's central palace and towers.

Farwind is located on the River Snowtongue, of which the stream at which you met was just a small tributary; a narrow, fast river that descends from the glacier's edge, it contains few fish and is among the cleanest water in the Empire, forming one of Farwind's claims to fame. Naturally, the part downstream of the town is less pristine; cities are what they are (as Jujar and Crystob know only too well, and with sorrow).

Farwind's Queen Cinncinal is officially in charge of the entire area, but tends to leave the surrounding villages their autonomy and only acts as an arbitrator in town. Day-to-day affairs are attended to by a number of burgomasters and guild leaders, most of whom are good friends whose families comprise much of the populace; it's a system that would be very vulnerable to corruption if there were any real danger, but as the Queen is fond of pointing out, "This is a gentle land that gives rise to gentle people." Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 11:11:42 AM Me: This particular city doesn't have walls or gates, or even official boundaries really; the transition from farmland cottages to urban bungalows is so gradual that the most generous estimate of the city's land area is probably five times that of the least. Eventually, though, you get into where the "real" city begins, where all the roads are paved (with drainage ditches down the middle, periodically mopped by roaming scullers to keep the accumulated filth from being too unberable), the buildings are made of stone rather than wood or turf, and the mailed officers of the city watch are a visible presence. The towers of the palace in the city center are visible above the rooftops, but at street level there are few landmarks of any real distinctiveness.

Finally the temple emerges from the tangle of inns, storefronts, residences and storehouses; its architecture seems bizarre compared to its surroundings, with its high stone walls buttressed by long "rays" painted yellow, and all its doorways bearing peaked arches through which you can see huge vaulted ceilings which draw the eye upward, painted in sky blue with what look like mirrors installed to catch reflected patches of actual blue sky. A ring of hanging mirrors in the center of the nave, surrounding a large open skylight, appears to be the source of these reflections. The walls are whitewashed, still further brightening the interior, even at this dim afternoon hour.

Faizan has been in this temple at noon, when the ceremonies are held; save on cloudy days, when Pelor is said to have hung his head in shame at the evils of the world, the temple is an astonishing spectacle at this hour, with the mirrors distributing his light throughout the entire assembly hall, creating a blinding radiance in which many people claim to have been able to see each other's souls. The memory brings a smile to her lips, despite the fact that she has never seen anything but spots during these rituals (and for an hour or so afterward).

Faizan will probably want to seek out either Bishop Marcello, the head cleric of the temple who presides over the ceremonies and generally keeps things running, or Sister Tamalyn, who holds the keys to the temple's treasury and thus is usually who Marcello delegates the issue of donations to, although on occasion he handles them personally. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on June 13, 2011, 11:59:27 AM Me: Varinor calls up the ice blast power from within himself for the third time in a row, but this time, what had previously been a faint trickle of energy now seems to be a roaring flood pouring down from the very glacier which marks the northeastern edge of his territory. Where he usually casts a thin, sparkling beam of freezing air, he now finds himself firing an arrow-sharp icicle which impales the horse through one shoulder, emerging from the other side with its tip coated in frozen blood. The elf's whole body tingles with a brisk, invigorating chill for the next several minutes, just from the echo of having tapped into so much more power than usual. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on February 25, 2012, 02:07:49 PM Bump. In case anyone read this and wondered, these were all from the same campaign, one of three I've attempted to run. Maybe one day I'll dig out the records of the previous one, though of course my narrative skill was more primitive then. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 04:29:42 PM Amusingly (or not; I'm thinking of this because of the discussion with the Halfling) I am currently studying health and hygiene in the 18/19th century on one part, and French and English cities in the 17th century on the other part.

Until, what, the very end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th, cities were not merely less healthy than the country; they had a negative rate of natural growth. Meaning, every year more people died than were born in cities. They only grew because of immigration from the countryside...

So yeah, Magic is awesome. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on February 25, 2012, 04:59:51 PM

Quote from: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 04:29:42 PM

So yeah, Magic is awesome.




I agree vastly. How anyone was ever willing to go to cities (or "go" in cities, if they had a shred of decency and could stand to wait) in the Dark Ages I don't know, but I definitely ain't reproducing those conditions in any game I run. This is why the Empire has been a fixture in every one of my campaigns to date, though its mythos has grown over time.

Fun fact - I am now regarding the settings of my previous campaigns as separate multiverses from Whiteleaf, and they comprise three out of nine campaign worlds I have devised (though admittedly some of them are fairly minimal, more thought experiments than fleshed-out settings). I'm still clearing up the differences but the idea is that eventually I will have every answer I can come up with to The Big Questions correspond to a separate world, lining them up so they all make sense. Whiteleaf is the one that is closest to being finished in this regard (though the addition of psionics has forced me to modify it slightly). Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 05:06:39 PM City means job opportunities means money means climbing up the social ladder. That's sufficient motivation for most people.

Anyway, sorry for being all know-it-all! Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on February 25, 2012, 05:13:45 PM

Quote from: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 05:06:39 PM

City means job opportunities means money means climbing up the social ladder. That's sufficient motivation for most people to wade through shit on their way to and from work.

Anyway, sorry for being all know-it-all!




This is why I am a utopian socialist..... Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on May 10, 2012, 07:53:43 AM

Quote from: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 05:06:39 PM

Anyway, sorry for being all know-it-all!




Also (and very belatedly), no apology needed. We could use more people who know things, as opposed to priding themselves on avoiding doing so. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: SEDNA on May 11, 2012, 06:30:55 PM

Quote from: willpell on May 10, 2012, 07:53:43 AM



Quote from: Omicron on February 25, 2012, 05:06:39 PM

Anyway, sorry for being all know-it-all!




Also (and very belatedly), no apology needed. We could use more people who know things, as opposed to priding themselves on avoiding doing so.


Umm... I don't know; there are a lot of things I know that I'd rather not know. Sometimes I most seriously wish I was an airhead with awareness limited to my comfort zone and incapable of even conceiving the existence of anything beyond (and by extension, unable to realise that I'm missing anything.)

I'm actually rather jealous of people who can do that - shut their minds to anything that would complicate their lives and just live day to day in the safety of comfortable triviality. When I reincarnate, I hope to be like that (I'm not certain what kind of karma I need for it, so I'm sort of gathering a little of each. I suppose that's what a person like that would do... but then, they probably would do it out of lack of care, so maybe I'm doing it wrong thinking about it so much...) Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on May 12, 2012, 04:00:03 AM

Quote from: CupOfTea on May 11, 2012, 06:30:55 PM

Umm... I don't know; there are a lot of things I know that I'd rather not know. Sometimes I most seriously wish I was an airhead with awareness limited to my comfort zone and incapable of even conceiving the existence of anything beyond (and by extension, unable to realise that I'm missing anything.)



Mr. Lovecraft, I presume?

See, I can conceive of categories of knowledge that I would be personally uncomfortable with knowing (my mom's sexual preferences, for instance, or the exact chemical composition of mouse turds), but such squeamishness is a personal failing common to human beings which even I am not immune to. I wish I was, however, for if I could manage the academic detachment necessary to evaluate those pieces of information objectively, without becoming emotionally uncomfortable, I might just learn something beneficial (such as fixing my mom up with a boyfriend she'd appreciate, or inventing a new chemical cleanser which specifically dissolves only mouse turds).

I think of the desire to not know things as immaturity on both a personal and species-wide scale, and I feel that humanity as a whole, if not every individual human, needs to get over it. We continue to cling to beliefs in God and to behave as if we were mere animals, but the conclusion I have reached from my observations of the world is that we have ceased to be animals, and that God either abdicated the throne of the cosmos or never occupied it in the first place - now it is WE, collectively, who are God, and we must step up to the responsibility of managing the world, even if we would rather continue to wallow indolently in it, for there is no one else to do the job. Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: SEDNA on May 15, 2012, 09:42:47 PM

Quote from: willpell on May 12, 2012, 04:00:03 AM



Quote from: CupOfTea on May 11, 2012, 06:30:55 PM

Umm... I don't know; there are a lot of things I know that I'd rather not know. Sometimes I most seriously wish I was an airhead with awareness limited to my comfort zone and incapable of even conceiving the existence of anything beyond (and by extension, unable to realise that I'm missing anything.)



Mr. Lovecraft, I presume?


I wish, but unfortunately, I am speaking of much greater horrors than anything which might be slumbering in Deep R'lyeh.
Like the realisation that you've wasted over two decades of your life as a puppet willingly dancing on its strings and afraid to vocalise - externally and internally alike - discontentment with that state of affairs out of learned conviction that your own feelings are wrong and a reason to be ashamed of. Two decades of living for other people who wouldn't notice if you dropped dead in the middle of a conversation with them, under the desperate delusion that it was all of your own volition and with your own consent. Do you know how a date-rape victim feels? Well, don't think about it too much, or you may realise that you've been feeling that way your entire life.
And next thing you know you're standing over a drawer full of knives and you're trying to find one sharp enough, but damn you, you never thought you'd need them for anything but cutting butter, yet it doesn't last long before you mentally catch up with yourself and actually realise what you're about to do, and get so scared that you forget how to move, or breathe, or even stand on your legs. You may also forget how to see and feel along the way, but by that point you've long forgotten how to pay attention. You also don't know how a moment later you're somehow back in your bed, still unable to move and now also to stop crying...
Now, a day or two later, you find you are mostly back to normal again - aside perhaps from the odd hallucination or two whenever you pass that spot in the kitchen, but they really feel sort of appropriate now after you've seen them a few times, so that's okay, I guess... - yet now you feel things are different. On one hand, you feel somewhat liberated, as if when you fell down to the floor it were those strings that had held you being cut off. But on the other hand, now it's kind of worse too, because you can feel the whole weight of what feels like everything and then some crashing down on you. The time left ahead of you that you're not sure what to do with, but whatever you decide, you will always remember the other two decades you have lost and will never, ever get back. You're aware of that with every inch of your being, but you will still attempt to make a difference and ultimately fail.

So there - horror. Lovecraft? Pff... amateur... Title: Re: Scenes from a Previous Campaign
Post by: willpell on May 16, 2012, 12:56:00 AM Indeed. Well, know at least that you have one group of people who value you. Hope that helps.

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The Language of Whiteleaf

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:38 pm

The Common tongue in my world is explicitly almost identical to English. One of the handful of differences is in the names of the letters; rather than an otherwise-meaningless syllable, the name of each letter is a word that starts with that letter, and the letter is drawn to look like an abstract pictogram of the word (at least originally; many have evolved over time and no longer bear a great resemblance).

A - the Arrowhead. Is often drawn with the crossbar curved on one or both sides (OOC: an example can be seen in the title logo of the television show "Andromeda"), though the straight-line version is just as common.

B - the Buttocks. Also called the Bottom, the Bosom, the Bollocks, and other such ribald names; conventionally drawn very "plumply". As a result of this nomenclature, teenagers often find the letter humorous, much as they do the number 69 in our reality (in the game world, 9 is invariably drawn with a straight stem, so this entendre is less popular).

C - the Circlet. Though lazy peasants often inscribe this with a single curve (those that can write at all, of course; the literacy rate among peasants varies by region between 25% and 75%), the officially correct way to write it is with a curve up and then a curve down from a central point which sticks out the back of the letter, resembling a tiara seen from above (sort of like a deeper, rounder version of "{"). In past years, the letter C was exclusively pronounced "sh", making this letter's name sound like "shirklet", but linguistic drift has made the Circlet substitute for "s" or "k" sounds depending on context, and only a few dialects or foreign loanwords retain the "sh" pronunciation.

D - the Drum. Usually drawn with the straight line extending a tad above and below the curve, but the "sans serif" version visible in this writing is also found.

E - the Enemy. Named so because its "formal" shape, in which the upper and lower crossbars ended with short inward-sloping diagonal lines, was said to resemble a menacing eyebrow. Once again, casual use has migrated away from this; in some areas the letter is made with only right-angle lines, in others it resembles a Circlet with a bisecting central line, and in some it appears like a reverse number 3, which is said to preserve some of the appearance of menace found in the original letter.

F - the Fishhook. Is invariably drawn to resemble the lower-case "f" except larger and deeper (the distinction between upper and lower cases is far less formalized in Common than in English; many regions don't bother to distinguish them at all, and a bewildering range of variations exist, some altering the capital letter and others the lowercase in dozens of ways; only one set of letters has been formally standardized by the Empire).

G - the Glaive. Named after a particular type of polearm whose head is shaped something like a particular style of modern can opener (imagine a number 6 with the loop left unclosed and the whole letter tilted slightly up and right). Glaives are renowned for their ability to either pierce armor or pry open its joints using the distinctively curved blade; the letter G is drawn like a glaive's protruding head, omitting the long handle and the haft which attaches them, even though the head and haft are a single piece of metal.

H - the Hatchet. Again, always drawn to resemble the lower-case "h", but instead of a curve, the rightward protrusion is an upward diagonal followed by a straight downward line. It was originally a pictogram of an angular-bladed axe with its head down and to the right; the bottom line of the pictograph disappeared during a period in which it was fashionable to write on paper which had been painstakingly ruled with lines by journeyman scribes (a practice which eventually proved too damaging to their wrists and was discontinued).

I - the Ingot. Resembles a "]" at least as often as it bears the projections on both sides; the horizontally-symmetrical configuration is found mostly in the writing near Dwarven lands, as the dwarves mint ingots in this shape, while the more primitive smithing techniques of humans produce bars which are flat on one side. For some reason, though, Imperial standardization (including that of the word "Imperial") uses the dwarven-style I. (The dwarves themselves, of course, have an unrelated language, but it is said that the letter Ingot has become popular in certain dialects thereof, a fad which is said to annoy the Dwarven elders.)

J - the Jawbone. Drawn as a single smooth curve to distinguish it from an upside-down Fishhook.

K - the Knot. Is drawn to resemble the cursive "k" (with a loop instead of the upper diagonal). It is widely rumored that the anachronistic spelling of the word once prounounced "k'not" is proposed for alteration at every meeting of the Imperial Language Standardization Assembly; the letters "K" and "N" were once the same, but drifted apart in past years, resulting in a number of linguistic oddities which the ILSA has somehow never managed to get corrected. Since their methods for enforcing linguistic correctness are said to involve two-way divination spells of a type not known outside the Capital, it is probable that such corrections are a self-defeating effort - the ILSA monitors the speech of the Empire to see how people do talk, and broadcasts the resulting "corrections" back out, almost never changing anything. However, this rumor may well be exagerrated or even a complete fabrication.

L - the Leg. Is officially supposed to be drawn with a jointed back (resembling the Greek letter Sigma without its upper arm), but almost no-one does this; the straight-backed version is sufficiently more popular that the standardization accepted it years ago, and only the most hidebound scribes persist in using the traditional version.

M - the Mountains (drawn with angled sides).

N - the Nose. Drawn with either a very short right-vertical or none at all; also often appears curved, as in the lower-case "n". Regions with a high dwarf or gnome population favor the curve, while elf- and halfling-heavy areas tend to use the angle; the standardized "N" shape, which bears very little resemblance to an actual nose and is often criticized for being too similar to "Z", is said to have originated in areas with a noticeable human-supremacist bent, and many scholars are disappointed that the ILSA approved it.

O - the Orb. Is probably the letter most changed from its original pictographic form, which represented a traditional scrying globe on a pedestal, with the ornately curved line below the circle having vanished centuries ago due to the pragmatism or laziness (depending on who you ask) of the common people. Poetic and mystical texts occasionally use the original form of the Orb in chapter titles and the like, but its use in the body of writing is virtually extinct.

P - the Plume. Drawn as a sweeping upward-angled curve which does not quite close, like a curling ostrich feather (yes, there are ostriches in the campaign world somewhere, but don't go looking for them as I don't have any stats). As the written letter which most directly represents writing itself, as well as the first letter of words such as "paper", "pen", "prophecy" and "power", the letter Plume is treated as a symbol of power by scribes and sages everywhere, many of them wearing a stylized metal P as a badge.

Q - the Question. While other letters are verifiably evolved from ancient pictographs, Q appears to have somehow been derived from the common question mark, which appears very similar in both Elf and Dwarf writings. Because so many words containing a Q involve some form of inquiry, query or quiz, the letter is regarded as symbolic of riddles and discovery, and is very popular in the nomenclature of wizards and the like. Only a handful of references to an older name, "Qlippoth", suggest that the letter has a sinister undertone. (Q without a following U is often lazily pronounced exactly like "k", but is theoretically supposed to represent a distinct sound involving a deep-throated gulp and a click of the tongue, thus that the correct pronunciation of the letter's secret name sounds something like "kul'poth", with the first syllable coming from far in the back of the throat. Perhaps not coincidentally, this sound is common in Orcish, which is usually spoken from far in the back of the throat, so as not to divert the orc's teeth away from the business of chewing.)

R - the Rune. Runes are an extinct writing system involving exclusively straight lines placed at varying angles, often carved in stone and said to have been used by primitive magicians before the advent of the modern magic system (though this may just be the usual quality of rumor). Somehow, a particular rune was selected to represent the very concept of runes several centuries ago, and it also made its way into the contemporary language at about that time. The letter Rune is drawn exactly like the original rune, with a triangular top above two "legs", and thus is never mistaken for "P" or "D", though it occasionally gets confused with "K" or "N". Contemporary magicians tend to disdain the
notion of rune magic and treat Rune as just another letter, but a few druids, shamans, antiquarians, and other such mummers persist in treating R as if it possessed a certain degree of mystery or power.

S - the Snake. Tends to be drawn with the upper loop much larger than the smaller, though only in artistically illustrated texts do they go so far as to add a pair of fangs or even a full head to the upper tip.

T - the Table. This elegantly seriffed letter has small protrusions on the edges and a wide bottom crossbar, though as with all of the more elaborate letters, it is frequently abbreviated in common usage, decreasing its original status as a pictogram.

U - the Urn. Is drawn with a broad, flat curve for a base and the upper sides leaning inward, sometimes with a mild outer curve more resembling a flower vase than a funeral urn (the distinction in shapes has to do with the likelihood of the container needing to be emptied).

V - the Valley. Is officially supposed to be drawn with small serifs sloping down from the upper corners on the outside, to better reinforce the valley imagery and the distinction from W.

W - the Weave. Is drawn like two sans-serif "V" shapes overlapping midway up their crossed sides, resembling strings on a loom. Its presence in the words "Woman", "Weaver", and the weaving terms "Warp" and "Weft" give it a reputation as a distaff letter, and male names starting in W are rumored to be effeminate or to signify a sensitive, poetic soul, though of course such biases have little to do with reality. Oddly, no letter currently bears a corresponding association with masculinity, though various candidates have been proposed as having once borne such subtext.

X - the Clash. A rare exception to the letter-name rule, Clash is very obviously derived from a pictograph of two swords crossing or of a crossroads demanding a choice between paths, and thus it is regarded as a symbol of conflict. Some say that the fact it doesn't follow the rule of starting its own name is an act of conflict in itself, a deliberate idiosyncracy to thwart the linguist's quest for order; others say this is overthinking it. The name is regarded as being contracted to produe the letter's sound; formally, it should always be pronounced "ksh", as in "sexual", but most folk find this awkward and so in practice the firmer pronunciation "ks" is typical, with the Standardization Board's tacit approval. The exception is when X starts a name, as is common with wizards and warlords trying to make a statement about their power to generate change or their general dangerousness. In this case, pronunciations of "ch", "kh", "ks", "sh", "zh" and "z" are all semi-common depending on the origin region of the word; "Chaos" for instance is often written "Xaos" while being pronounced "Khaos", but the common Southern female name Ximena is invariably spoken "Zhimayna", in keeping with the region's dialect.

Y - the Youth. The original pictogram depicted a stick-figure with arms upraised in exuberance; over time his legs melded together and his head disappeared, leaving an extremely abstract shape, but the name has remained.

Z - This is the most recently-added letter of the alphabet, and thus is always last, though the order otherwise varies widely from the Imperial standard in which they are sequenced here (which is deliberately arbitrary and has nothing to do with the age of the letters or their frequency of usage). The letter Z, whose sound was usually written in past centuries with a DS or a TC, was finally introduced as its own letter in the ILSA standard about 150 years ago. Since one of its most common usages was in onomatopeia describing the sound of electrical Evocations and other such spells, several names were considered which resembled these sounds; the officially chosen name was Zap, but other representations such as Zot, Zed and Zazz were under consideration for long enough that they entered common parlance and persist in several dialects. To emphasize its resemblance to lightning spells, it is officially drawn at a sharp angle with inward-sloping diagonals, but since this makes it look awkward among the mostly-right-angled letters, it is often drawn as simply a stretched, sideways version of the standardized "N", and the ILSA has never seen fit to complain.

Here's the original, outdated (2009 or thereabouts) version of the Angelic Saxon alphabet, for comparison. I am not proud of my previous version of "X".



Spoiler for Hiden:


As I have stated before, the Common tongue in my world is explicitly almost identical to English. One of the handful of differences is in the names of the letters; rather than an otherwise-meaningless syllable, the name of each letter is a word that was somehow or another chosen in antiquity to describe the letter which both begins the word and is drawn to look like an abstract pictogram of the word (at least originally; many have evolved over time and no longer bear a great resemblance). All of this is more or less common knowledge, so here's your "infodump".

A - the Arrowhead. Is often drawn with the crossbar curved on one or both sides (OOC: an example can be seen in the title logo of the television show "Andromeda"), though the straight-line version is just as common.

B - the Buttocks. Also called the Bottom, the Bosom, the Bollocks, and other such ribald names; conventionally drawn very "plumply" (and with the top and bottom loops similarly-sized, unlike in the font you're reading). As a result of this nomenclature, teenagers often find the letter humorous, much as they do the number 69 in our reality (in the game world, 9 is invariably drawn with a straight stem, so this entendre is less popular).

C - the Circlet. Though lazy peasants often inscribe this with a single curve (those that can write at all, of course; the literacy rate among peasants varies by region between 25% and 75%), but the officially correct way to write it is with a curve up and then a curve down from a central point which sticks out the back of the letter, resembling a tiara seen from above (sort of like a deeper, rounder version of "{"). In past years, the letter C was exclusively pronounced "sh", making this letter's name sound like "shirklet", but linguistic drift has made the Circlet substitute for "s" or "k" sounds depending on context, and only a few dialects or foreign loanwords retain the "sh" pronunciation.

D - the Drum. Usually drawn with the straight line extending a tad above and below the curve, but the "sans serif" version visible in this writing is also found.

E - the Enemy. Named so because its "formal" shape, in which the upper and lower crossbars ended with short inward-sloping diagonal lines, was said to resemble a menacing eyebrow. Once again, casual use has migrated away from this; in some areas the letter is made with only right-angle lines, in others it resembles a Circlet with a bisecting central line, and in some it appears like a reverse number 3, which is said to preserve some of the appearance of menace found in the original letter.

F - the Fishhook. Is invariably drawn to resemble the lower-case "f" except larger and deeper (the distinction between upper and lower cases is far less formalized in Common than in English; many regions don't bother to distinguish them at all, and a bewildering range of variations exist, some altering the capital letter and others the lowercase in dozens of ways; only one set of letters has been formally standardized by the Empire).

G - the Glaive. Named after a particular type of polearm whose head is shaped something like a particular style of modern can opener (imagine a number 6 with the loop left unclosed and the whole letter tilted slightly up and right). Glaives are renowned for their ability to either pierce armor or pry open its joints using the distinctively curved blade; the letter G is drawn only like a glaive's protruding head, omitting the long handle and the haft which attaches them, even though the head and haft are a single piece of metal.

H - the Hatchet. Again, always drawn to resemble the lower-case "h", but instead of a curve, the rightward protrusion is an upward diagonal followed by a straight downward line. It was originally a pictogram of an angular-bladed axe with its head down and to the right; the bottom line of the pictograph disappeared during a period in which it was fashionable to write on paper which had been painstakingly ruled with lines by journeyman scribes (a practice which eventually proved too damaging to their wrists and was discontinued).

I - the Ingot. Resembles a "]" at least as often as it bears the projections on both sides; the horizontally-symmetrical configuration is found mostly in the writing near Dwarven lands, as the dwarves mint ingots in this shape, while the more primitive smithing techniques of humans produce bars which are flat on one side. For some reason, though, Imperial standardization (including that of the word "Imperial") uses the dwarven-style I. (The dwarves themselves, of course, have an unrelated language, but it is said that the letter Ingot has become popular in certain dialects thereof, a fad which is said to annoy the Dwarven elders.)

J - the Jawbone. Drawn as a single smooth curve to distinguish it from an upside-down Fishhook.

K - the Knot. Is drawn to resemble the cursive "k" (with a loop instead of the upper diagonal). It is widely rumored that the anachronistic spelling of the word once prounounced "k'not" is proposed for alteration at every meeting of the Imperial Language Standardization Assembly; the letters "K" and "N" were once the same, but drifted apart in past years, resembling in a number of linguistic oddities which the ILSA has somehow never managed to get corrected. Since their methods for enforcing linguistic correctness are said to involve two-way divination spells of a type not known outside the Capital, it is probable that such corrections are a self-defeating effort - the ILSA monitors the speech of the Empire to see how people do talk, and broadcasts the resulting "corrections" back out, almost never changing anything. However, this rumor may well be exagerrated or even a complete fabrication.

L - the Leg. Is officially supposed to be drawn with a jointed back (resembling the Greek letter Sigma without its upper arm), but almost no-one does this; the straight-backed version is sufficiently more popular that the standardization accepted it years ago, and only the most hidebound scribes persist in using the traditional version.

M - the Mountains (drawn with angled sides).

N - the Nose. Drawn with either a very short right-vertical or none at all; also often appears curved, as in the lower-case "n". Regions with a high dwarf or gnome population favor the curve, while elf- and halfling-heavy areas tend to use the angle; the standardized "N" shape, which bears very little resemblance to an actual nose and is often criticized for being too similar to "Z", is said to have originated in areas with a noticeable human-supremacist bent, and many scholars are disappointed that the ILSA approved it. Half-orcs, who barely possess a nose of any variety, seldom have much of an opinion on the topic.

O - the Orb. Is probably the letter most changed from its original pictographic form, which represented a traditional scrying globe on a pedestal, with the ornately curved line below the circle having vanished centuries ago due to the pragmatism or laziness (depending on who you ask) of the common people. Poetic and mystical texts occasionally use the original form of the Orb in chapter titles and the like, but its use in the body of writing is virtually extinct.

P - the Plume. Drawn as a sweeping upward-angled curve which does not quite close, like a curling ostrich feather (yes, there are ostriches in the campaign world somewhere, but don't go looking for them as I don't have any stats). As the written letter which most directly represents writing itself, as well as the first letter of words such as "paper", "pen", "prophecy" and "power", the letter Plume is treated as a symbol of power by scribes and sages everywhere, many of them wearing a stylized metal P as a badge.

Q - the Qlippoth. This is the name of a rather unpleasant outer plane detailed in several magical texts, which both glory-seekers and questers after knowledge are exhorted to avoid in favor of more rewarding destinations such as Hell or the Abyss. Many modern wizards don't believe it exists at all, claiming that the letter-name was simply made up for lack of a better name-word for this seldom-used letter. (Q without a following U is often lazily pronounced exactly like "k", but is theoretically supposed to represent a distinct sound involving a deep-throated gulp and a click of the tongue, thus that the correct pronunciation of the letter's name sounds something like "kul'poth", with the first syllable coming from far in the back of the throat. Perhaps not coincidentally, this sound is common in Orcish, which is usually spoken from far in the back of the throat, so as not to divert the orc's teeth away from the business of chewing.)

R - the Rune. Runes are an extinct writing system involving exclusively straight lines placed at varying angles, often carved in stone and said to have been used by primitive magicians before the advent of the modern magic system (though this may just be the usual quality of rumor). Somehow, a particular rune was selected to represent the very concept of runes several centuries ago, and it also made its way into the contemporary language at about that time. The letter Rune is drawn exactly like the original rune, with a triangular top above two "legs", and thus is never mistaken for "P" or "D", though it occasionally gets confused with "K" or "N". Contemporary magicians tend to disdain the notion of rune magic and treat Rune as just another letter, but a few druids, shamans, antiquarians, and other such mummers persist in treating R as if it possessed a certain degree of mystery or power.

S - the Snake. Tends to be drawn with the upper loop much larger than the smaller, though only in artistically illustrated texts do they go so far as to add a pair of fangs or even a full head to the upper tip.

T - the Table. This elegantly seriffed letter has small protrusions on the edges and a wide bottom crossbar, though as with all of the more elaborate letters, it is frequently abbreviated in common usage, decreasing its original status as a pictogram.

U - the Urn. Is drawn with a broad, flat curve for a base and the upper sides leaning inward, sometimes with a mild outer curve more resembling a flower vase than a funeral urn (the distinction in shapes has to do with the likelihood of the container needing to be emptied).

V - the Valley. Is officially supposed to be drawn with small serifs sloping down from the upper corners on the outside, to better reinforce the valley imagery and the distinction from W.

W - the Weave. Is drawn like two sans-serif "V" shapes overlapping midway up their crossed sides, resembling strings on a loom. Its presence in the words "Woman", "Weaver", and the weaving terms "Warp" and "Weft" give it a reputation as a distaff letter, and male names starting in W are rumored to be effeminate or to signify a sensitive, poetic soul, though of course such biases have little to do with reality. Oddly, no letter currently bears a corresponding association with masculinity, though various candidates have been proposed as having once borne such subtext.

X - the Xopp (chop). A rare exception to the "common = English" rule is the use of X, which is officially and often functionally pronounced "ch", though the latter diphthong has replaced it in many dialects. The word "Chaos" is often spelled "Xaos"; in the middle of words, such as "excess", the letter has mutated in pronunciation through use to the familiar "ks" sound of English, but even this is inconsistent. The letter's name comes from the criss-cross pattern used to chop meat and vegetables, and provides an embarrasing example of the letter's inconsistency, as the spelling "chop" is at least as common as the use of the letter-name for the word. It doesn't help that the letter X is a popular choice for the names of necromancers, warlords, and other dark-tempered sorts, who like the thought of their name invoking the "chopping" imagery which also very likely figures heavily into their choice of career - many of them do not follow standard pronunciation either, and a name such as "Xaris" may variously be pronounced "Charis", "Kharis", "Ksaris", or even "Zaris" or "Zharis", as much at the name-bearer's whim as in accordance with regional dialects and usage of related words.

Y - the Youth. The original pictogram depicted a stick-figure with arms upraised in exuberance; over time his legs melded together and his head disappeared, leaving an extremely abstract shape, but the name has remained.

Z - This is the most recently-added letter of the alphabet, and thus is always last, though the order otherwise varies widely from the Imperial standard in which they are sequenced here (which is deliberately arbitrary and has nothing to do with the age of the letters or their frequency of usage). The letter Z, whose sound was usually written in past centuries with a DS or a TC, was finally introduced as its own letter in the ILSA standard about 150 years ago. Since one of its most common usages was in onomatopeia describing the sound of electrical Evocations and other such spells, several names were considered which resembled these sounds; the officially chosen name was Zap, but other representations such as Zot, Zed and Zazz were under consideration for long enough that they entered common parlance and persist in several dialects. To emphasize its resemblance to lightning spells, it is officially drawn at a sharp angle with inward-sloping diagonals, but since this makes it look awkward among the mostly-right-angled letters, it is often drawn as simply a stretched, sideways version of the standardized "N", and the ILSA has never seen fit to complain.
Last edited by willpell on Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:39 pm

Some Drow names:

Faeradin - "awakening champion"

Alak-enlual - "hidden blade puzzle bringer"

Am'hael - "beauty is freedom" or "the beauful are unstoppable"

Angtlu - "valuable truth"

Jhan Beljhan - "magic is the jailor of magic"

Daugmolvum - "cold white fire"

Kaldrisklyr - "silent dragon ranger"

Viersolin - "vanguard of history, prepared for war in a time of peace"

Waeraumlir - "consort of the queen watcher" (or possibly "queen watcher who is a consort", but obviously that would be ridiculous and could never happen)

Pharnath Filshyn - "bastion against the aliens of the dark water"

Mintath - "prepared daughter"

Nymqel - "forgotten deep"

Rauveldel - "patient spy on the ceiling" or "patient water from the ceiling" - the latter describes the method of the cave's formation, while the former is a reference to its especially high population of spiders, even by drow standards.

Valryl - literally "milthril hand" or "mithril finger", but the root "Val" specifies both those appendages because both can exert possession and manipulation, depending only on the size of the target. Thus, this name can best be translated as "mithril is in our grasp"

Jhaelarra - "hot-blooded spellcaster"

Shrizak - "royal ambush-hunter"

Xuledelith - "demon of the eternal lith" - "lith" signifying the presumed superiority of females and drow over males and other species.

Yaslyn - "irresistable bolt" (in this sense "bolt" can also imply an attack spell)

Phaedeln - "eternal shadow"

Cirmma - "bolt sorceress" (in this sense, oddly, "bolt" specifically means a crossbow quarrel)

Waermys - "watchful ally" (and, by implication, "ally who is watching you")

Myruit - "priestess of the abyss"

Racial bonus languages for the Gray and Sun elves: Draconic, Giant, Auran, Gnome, Dwarven, Goblin. Try as they might, the mountain-dwelling elves cannot always avoid settling in regions already inhabited by the races of stone, and so they learn the tongues of those creatures likely to inhabit caves and burrows within the peak below them. They share the typical elven fetish for magic, if not an even greater one, and respect the ancient dragon race for its trailblazing of mystical study. They also have a long-standing relationship with the Gwaihir who nest among the snowcaps, and have learned the Speech of the Wind from them. Their dealings with the subterranean races are minimal, largely conducted through gnome intermediaries, and so they have not generally picked up on such tongues as Terran and Undercommon.

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 9:58 pm

For the historical record, here is the thread I was working on, being too mind-numbed with the aggressively creativity-slaying strain of boredom to do anything less Minesweepery than this numbers game, when I was abruptly informed that I was banned from the board which I had regarded as my foremost Internet home for two years previously. Within six months I had lost both of the other possible candidates, and then home internet access itself became a casualty of my life's disintegration. I have only barely managed to dust the ashes of those disasters off my coat, and yet another has happened, to be quickly followed by the current one (both of these are absolutely not my fault, but are a result of the fact that certain people do not share my values, under which such a tragedy as this would never be permitted to happen).
Sessions - Archive => Other Systems => Other => Whiteleaf => Topic started by: willpell on October 09, 2014, 06:05:47 PM
Title: XP is a river?
Post by: willpell on October 09, 2014, 06:05:47 PM I've done this before, but I'm going to make one more attempt at understanding how this is true.

We posit a party of four characters - Alice, Bob, Charlie and Dana. Alice is a normal character, while Bob has a +1 level adjustment (eg a tiefling), Charlie a +2 (eg a drow), and Dana a +3 (eg a half-dragon). (Eddie wanted to bring a half-celestial to the party but the GM said no, even though it would have made the math easier.) All of them plan to perform level buyoff at the earliest opportunity. The game starts with everyone at 6000 XP, so Dana is a fresh new level 1 character, while Charlie is level 2, Alice is level 4, and Bob has already taken his LA buyoff and is 2000 XP behind level 3.

* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Each of Alice, Charlie and Dana receives 1200/4 = 300 XP. Bob, being only level 3 for the nonce, receives 1350/4 = 337.5 XP (I don't know if you can actually receive .5 of an XP but for this experiment we'll assume you can.)
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana rise to 6600 XP each. Bob rises to 4675 XP.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana rise to 6900 XP each. Bob rises to 5012.5 XP.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana rise to 7200 XP each. Bob rises to 5350 XP.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Alice, Charlie, and Dana rise to 7500 XP each. Bob rises to 5687.5 XP.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. Alice, Charlie, and Dana rise to 7800 XP each. Bob rises to 6025 XP and becomes Level 4.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. All four characters gain 300 XP, totaling 8100 each except Bob at 6325.
* This repeats twice, leaving Bob at 6925 and the others at 8700.
* This repeats four times, leaving Bob at 8125 and the others at 8900.
* This repeats three more times, leaving Bob at 9025 and the others at 9800.
* The party fights a CR 4 monster. The three rise to 10,100 XP; Alice becomes level 5, Charlie becomes level 3, and Dana becomes level 2. Bob is at 9325 XP.
* The party fights a CR 5 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana each receive 1500/4 = 375 XP. Bob, still at level 4, gets an even 400, totaling 9725 XP.
* The party fights a CR 5 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana each rise to 10,850 XP. Bob rises to 10,125 XP and becomes Level 5.
* The party fights a CR 5 monster. All characters receive 375 XP, totaling 11,225, except Bob at 10,500.
* This repeats twice, leaving Bob at 11,250 and the others at 11,975.
* This repeats four times, leaving Bob at 12,750 and the others at 13,475.
* This repeats four times, leaving Bob at 14,250 and the others at 14,975.
* The party fights a CR 5 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana each receive 375 XP and level up to 6, 4 and 3 respectively. Bob ends up at 14,625.
* The party fights a CR 6 monster. Alice, Charlie and Dana receive 1800/4 = 450 XP each, totalling 15,800. Bob gains 2250/4 = 562.5 XP, putting him to 15,187.5 and leveling him up to level 6. The river is more of a trickle by now, it seems.
* The party fights a CR 6 monster. Everyone receives 450 XP, totaling 15,637.5 for Bob (he's going to have that half-XP for a long time, so I'll just go ahead and drop it now), and 16,250 for the others.
* The party fights a CR 6 monster. Everyone receives 450 XP, totaling 16,087 for Bob and 16,700 for the others.
* This repeats twice; Bob is at 16,987 and the others are at 17,600.
* This repeats four times; Bob is at 18,787 and the others are at 19,400.
* The party fights a CR 6 monster. Everyone receives 450 XP, totaling 19,237 for Bob and 19,850 for the others.
* The party fights a CR 6 monster. Everyone receives 450 XP, totaling 19,687 for Bob and 20,300 for the others.
* This repeats twice; everyone receives 900 XP, totaling 20,587 for Bob and 21,200 for the others, who all level up to ECL 7.
* The party fights a CR 7 monster. The ECL 7 club receives 2,100/4 = 525 XP each. Bob receives 2,700/4 = 675 XP...after all this time, he's receiving almost a 30% bonus on his single "catch-up" level. Bob totals 21,262 and levls up.
* The party fights a CR 7 monster. Everyone receives 525 XP; Bob is at 21,787, the others at 22,250.
* This repeats twice. Everyone receives 1050 XP; Bob is at 22,837 and the others are at 23,300.
* This repeats four times. Everyone receives 2100 XP; Bob is at 24,937 and the others are at 25,400.
* This repeats four times. Everyone receives 2100 XP; Bob is at 27,037 and the others are at 27,500.
* The party fights a CR 7 monster. Everyone receives 525 XP; Bob is at 27,562. The others rise to 28,025 and level up to 8, 6 and 5. Charlie for the first time breaks ranks with the other two, paying 7000 XP to drop his LA to +1 and his ECL to 7.
* The party fights a CR 8 monster. Alice and Dana receive 2400/4 = 600 XP each. Bob and Charlie get 3150/4 = 787.5 each, raising Bob to 28,349.5 and leveling him up. Charlie rises to 21,812.5.
* The party fights a CR 8 monster. Alice, Bob and Dana all receive 600 XP, totaling 29,225 for the girls and 28,949.5 for Bob. Charlie alone receives 787.5 this time, rising to 22,600.
* This repeats twice. Alice and Dana receive 1200 XP, rising to 30,425. Bob also receives 1200, totaling 30,149.5 XP. Charlie receives 1575 and is up to 24,175.
* This repeats four times. The three receive 2400 XP, ending up at 32,825 except for Bob's 32,549 (as I again drop the .5 whenever I decide to do so). The gap is almost gone! Charlie gets 3150 and has 27,325.
* The party fights a CR 8 monster. Alice, Bob and Dana all receive 600 XP, totaling 33,425 for Alice, the same for Dana, and 33,149 for Bob. Charlie gets 787.5, totaling 28,112 and we'll drop the .5. Charlie levels up to level 7 with a +1 LA.

At this point our party is Alice at level 8, Bob at level 8, Charlie at level 7 with a +1 LA, and Dana at level 5 with a +3 LA.

* The party fights a CR 8 monster. Every member of the party receives 600 XP. Alice and Dana now total 34,025 while Bob has 33,749 (I believe I dropped a 0.5 twice earlier, so let's go ahead and round him up to 33,750); Charlie is at 28,712.
* This repeats thrice, giving everyone 1800 XP. Alice and Dana now have 35,825 XP. Bob has 35,550. Charlie has 30,512.
* The party fights a CR 8 monster and each gains 600 XP. Alice and Dana go up to 36,425 XP; that levels them up to ECL 9, with nine levels for Alice and six for Dana. Bob now totals 36,100 XP and also levels up; his river has officially dried out, since level-appropriate challenges will never again cause him to level separately from the two women, and we might as well just "comp" him the 325 XP he's missing so that we no longer need to track him independently. Charlie meanwhile has 31,112 XP.
* The party fights a CR 9 monster. Charlie is still ECL 8, so he gains 3600/4 = 900 XP, putting him at 32,112. The others receive 2700/4 = 675 XP each, raising them to 37,100.
* This repeats twice. Charlie gains 1800 XP and has 33,912; the others gain 1350 for a total of 38,450.
* This repeats twice. Charlie has 35,712; the others have 39,800.
* The party fights a CR 9 monster. Charlie gains 900 XP and levels up to ECL 9 with his eighth class level. The others hold at 40,475.
* The party fights a CR 9 monster and each gains 675 XP. Charlie is at 37,287; the others are at 41,150.
* This repeats four times. All gain 2700 XP; Charlie has 39,987 to the others' 43,850.
* This repeats twice more. All gain 1350 XP; Charlie has 41,337, everyone else 45,200. That puts the three up to ECL 10, with Alice and Bob at level 10, Dana at level 7.
* The party fights a CR 10 monster. The three divide 3000 by 4 and receive 750 each, while glaring at Charlie since his presence keeps them from getting an even thou apiece. Charlie may not be quite as useful in a fight as the others, but he receives slightly over 1000, leaving him a total of 42,350 (we are officially done acknowledging fractions).
* The party fights a CR 10 monster and Charlie again reaps the dividends of his uselessness. The three are at 46,700, and he's at 43,362.
* This repeats. Charlie has 44,375; everyone else has 47,450.
* This repeats. Charlie levels up to ECL 10 briefly, but then ditches his level adjustment entirely; having gone up to 45,387, he now falls to 36,387, becomes a normal level 9 character (and just barely even that much!), and continues to bogart a huge chunk of XP. The other characters continue their slow climb, now pausing at 48,200.
* The party fights a CR 10 monster. Charlie gains the usual 1012-or-13 XP and is now set to 37,400; the others are at 48,950.
* This repeats twice. Charlie gains 2015 XP and is at 39,415; the others gain 1500 for a total of 50,450.
* This repeats four times. Charlie gains 4030 XP and is at 43,445; the others are at 53,450. He's gaining over 133% of what they are!
* The party fights a CR 10 monster. Charlie is up to 44,457; the others are at 54,200.
* The party fights a CR 10 monster. Charlie hits 45,470 and levels up; the others cheer and achieve 54,950, just short of their own levels, but nonetheless happy that Charlie will get no more than them for a change next time.
* The party fights a CR 10 monster. Everyone gets 750; Charlie is at 46,220, while the others soar to 55,700 and shoot far into their 11th ECLs. Dana has 8 class levels; just one more to go and she can begin reducing.
* The party fights a CR 11 monster. That stinker Charlie (who totally is a drow, there's no way he isn't) gains 1125 XP for a total of 47,345. Everyone else gets 3300/4=825 XP, ending at 56,525.
* This repeats twice; Charlie gains 2250 up to 49,595. The majority of the party gains 1650 for a total of 58,175.
* This repeats four times. Charlie gains 4500, totaling 54,095. Others gain 3300 and have 61,475.
* The party fights a CR 11 monster. Charlie goes to 55,220 and levels up to level 11. Everyone else rises to 62,700.
* The party fights a CR 11 monster and everyone gains 825 XP. A-B-&-D are glad to have replaced C with an ampersand; they now have 63,525, while C himself has 56,045.
* This repeats twice, giving everyone 1650. Charlie has 57,695; Alice and Bob and Dana all have 65,175. (Why didn't I call them Chuck and Diane instead?)
* The party fights a CR 11 monster and everyone gains 825 XP. Charlie goes up to 58,520; the others all hit 66,000 exactly and they level up to 12. At this point, Dana can finally buy down her LA by a point - a bargain at just 11K XP. She now has 55,000 XP, leaving her precisely ECL 11 with 9 class levels.
* The party fights a CR 12 monster. Alice and Bob gain 900 XP each; Charlie hoards 4950/4=1237ish, putting him at 59,757ish. Dana gains the same amount as well.
* This repeats. The two mostly-normal characters have now gained 1800 XP since their perfect levels; Charlie pillages the other half of his previous Xp and gets to 60,995, while Dana rises to 57,475.
* This repeats twice. The original twosome now have 69,600. Charlie and Dana gain 2475 each, putting them at 63,470 and 59,950 respectively.
* This repeats twice more, giving Alice and Bob 1800 more Xp for a total of 71,400. Charlie has 65,945 and sighs poignantly that he's about to lose out on his sweet racket. Dana has a long time to continue reaping that Charlie-esque benefit; she's at 62,425.
* The party fights a CR 12 monster. Alice and Bob are now at 72,300. Charlie goes up by 1237 for a total of 67,182; he levels up to a proper level 12. Dana goes to 63,667.
* The party fights a CR 12 monster, and the first three characters receive the same XP award for the first time in quite a long while. Alice and Bob are at 73,200; Charlie has 68,082. Dana gains 1238 (that **** invisible fraction just won't quit affecting my math), giving her 64,905.
* This repeats. Alice and Bob are at 74,100 and quivering with anticipation; Charlie doesn't want to discuss his insultingly obvious total. Dana rises to 66,142 and levels up, gaining her tenth class level.
* This repeats. Alice and Bob go up to exactly 75 kiloexpy; Charlie has a much less precise 69,882. Dana gains the same 900 as everyone else and is stuck with an invisible fraction practically forever; she has 67,042 and refuses to acknowledge the possibility of any point-fives.
* This repeats thrice; the twins are at 77,700, which is not quite as cool at 75,000 even, but they'll take it. Charlie now has 72,582, and Dana 69,742.
* The party fights a CR 12 monster. Alice and Bob gain 900 XP, reaching 78,600, and they level up to level 13. Charlie goes to 73,482 and Dana to 70,642.
* The party fights a CR 13 monster. Alice and Bob split half of 3900 in half again, and take 975 apiece, giving them 79,575. Charlie and Dana are divvying a whopping 5400, giving them nearly double the award at 1800 each! Holy crap, how did that happen? Charlie now has 75,282 and Dana 72,442.
* This repeats, and the two flatscans have 80,550 each. Not-Chuck and Not-Diane, in their splendid superhumanity (Bob is either a slightly-elevated human, a la Captain America, or a low-level mutant like Cypher who definitely doesn't count as Homo Superior in any of the ways that really matter; either way he qualifies as "human enough" to lump in with Alice), goes up to 77,082 and 74,242.
* This repeats, taking the first couple to 81,525. Charlie gains his last absurdly huge bonus for a while, achieving a total of 78,882 and leveling up to 13. Dana will continue to drink from the river for a couple more levels; she's at 76,042.

And I'm overdue to GTFO, so the rest of this modeling will have to wait.
EDIT: Okay, I'm back. Alice, Bob and Charlie are all level 13 characters without level adjustments, while Dana is at level 10 with a +2 LA. With the party XP total being so high, the suspiciously nondescript DM of this campaign decides to finally allow Eddie to join the group with his LA +4 character and 9 class levels, assigning him 78,000 XP as normal, He can only ever remove one of these LA pre-epic, but that'll let him drink from the river starting with his 12th level at ECL 16 - a long way off, but definitely still within the scope of this exercise. Anyway, his presence will let me divide XP awards by 5 instead of 4, so there'll be no more of this fractions business.

* The party fights a CR 13 monster. Alice, Bob, Charlie and Eddie each get 3900/5 = 780 XP, raising their totals to 82,305 x2, 79,662, and 78,780. Dana gets 5400/5 = 1080, up to 76,822.
* This repeats. Alice and Bob are at 83,085. Charlie has 80,442. Dana is at 77,902. Eddie now has 79,560.
* This repeats. The twins are at 83,865 and Charlie has 81,222. Dana shoots up to 78,982 and levels to 11. Eddie reaches 80,340.
* The party fights a CR 13 monster and each of them gains 780 XP. Totals: 84,545 / 84,545 / 82,002 / 79,762 / 81,120.
* The party fights two CR 13 monsters and each of them gains 1560 XP. Totals: 86,105 / same / 83,562 / 81,322 / 82,680.
* The party fights three CR 13 monsters and each of them gains 2340 XP. Totals: 88,445 / " " / 85,902 / 83,662 / 85,020.
* The party fights two CR 13 monsters for 1560 XP. Alice and Bob rise to 90,005, Charlie to 87,462, Dana to 85,222, and Eddie to 86,580.
* The party fights two more CR 13 monsters. The second one gets Alice and Bob up to 91,565, causing them to level to 14. Charlie rises to 89,022, Dana goes up to 86,782, and Eddie achieves 88,140.
* For the first time, the party has two members who are ahead of the level of the majority, so the DM throws one more CR 13 monster at them, letting Alice and Bob experience the opposite of an XP river (presumably that would be an XP desert). They now gain only 2800/5 = 560 XP, a staggering drop; they now have 92,125 each. The others continue getting 780 each, bringing Charlie to 89,802 and Eddie to 88,920, with Dana still trails at 87,562.
* The party fights another CR 13 monster, and Alice and Bob continue their drought, going up to 92,685 each. They're holding back the entire party, so it's a good thing Charlie and Eddie are close to leveling; they have 90,582 and 89,700 respectively, and Dana has 88,342.
* The party fights one more CR 13 monster, taking Alice and Bob up another 560 to 93,245. Charlie gets 780, enough to level him up; he becomes the third member of Club Level 14, and the entire party celebrates his XP total of 91,362. Eddie can't quite make it this time, so he'll get his first ever sip of the XP river in just a bit; he poises on the razor's edge of 90,480. Dana is at 89,122.
* The party fights its first CR 14 monster, and the first three characters gain 4200/5 = 840 XP each, taking Alice and Bob to 94,085, Charlie to 92,202. Dana gets 5850/5 = 1170 XP from the river, totaling 90,292 (nice symmetry between her and Charlie there) and showing that she's close to catching up; Eddie hits class level 10 and has 91,650.
* The party fights another CR 14 monster, and four of the characters gain 840 XP, while Dana's last gulp of river is another 1170. Totals: 94,925 / same / 93,042 / 91,462 / 92,490. Dana gains her 12th class level and retains her +2 level adjustment.
* The party fights a CR 14 monster, and every member gains 840 XP. Totals: 95,765 / ditto / 93,882 / 92,302 / 93,330.
* The party fights two CR 14 monsters, and everyone gets 1680 XP. Totals: 97,445 / again / 95,562 / 93,982 / 95,010.
* The party fights four CR 14 monsters, and everyone gets 3360 XP. Totals: 100,805 x2 / 98,922 / 97,342 / 98,370.
* The party fights five CR 14 monsters, and everyone gets a cool 4200 XP all to themselves. This is enough to take Alice and Bob to 105,000 (I'm pretty sure at this point I can turn the last digit of each number into a 0), whereupon they crack level 15. Charlie goes up to 103,120 and remains at level 14, but by unanimous agreement, the party will now take on CR 15 challenges even if only two characters have hit that threshold. Dana has 99,540 XP and Eddie has 99,570.
* The party dives headfirst into the river and takes on a CR 15 monster. 4500 XP is divided five ways, resulting in 900 XP even for Alice and Bob (who, ignoring the superflous 5 XP, exactly made their last level and thus don't require a running total at the moment, even though that would have been far easier to type than all this explanation). For the others, though, the prize is a fifth of 6300 XP, or 1260 XP. Charlie goes to 104,380 and has not yet leveled up; Dana has 100,800 and Eddie totals 100,830 - a trivial difference between the two, but one I'll continue to track, since I think I may have erred in rubbing out a 300-XP difference between Alice and Bob earlier, and the distinction between a +2 LA and a +4 is tremendous here. I'll perform more tests at the low levels later and correct for my probable goof with Bob.
* This repeats, giving Alice and Bob another 900 XP. Charlie's river-profit of 1260 raises him to his level-up point, totaling 105,640; he gains his fifteenth class level. Dana is at 102,060 and Eddie 30 points higher.
* Another CR 15; Alice, Bob, and Charlie all gain 900, leaving them at 107,700 except for Charlie's 106,540. Dana and Eddie gain 1260, which leaves them 15 points on either side of 103,335.
* Another 15! The twins have 108,600, Charlie has 107,440, The average-point for Dana and Eddie is now 104,595.
* Another 15. Charlie goes up to 108,340, with his predecessors 1160 ahead as usual. Dana acquires her 105,840th experience point, and Eddie his 105,870th; both level up in unison, giving Dana 13 class levels and Eddie 11. Getting so close to Eddie's one and only chance at non-epic LA buyoff!
* Two 15s! 1800 XP for each hero; Alice and Bob are at 111,300; Charlie lags the usual 1160 behind them. Dana and Eddie are in the 106,700s.
* Four 15s! 3600 XP each; the leading edge of the Alice-Charlie-Bob vee-formation is now positioned at 114,900, while the Dana-Eddie pairing follows at or slightly ahead of 110,330.
* Six 15s! 5400 XP, even if coming 900 XP at a time, take Alice and Bob up to their 120,300-XP level threshold in a swell foop; they are now level 16. Charlie is not; he's got 119,140, and can take one deep plunge in the river with the next battle, before surfacing with his next level clenched between his grinning teeth. Dana and Eddie, with their 115,730-or-90 XP, think he's making a bit too much of this.
* The party fights a CR 16! That's 4800/5 = 960 XP for Alice and Bob, but 6750/5 = 1350 for Charlie; he levels up with a total of 120,490 XP. Dana and Eddie are both at a number beginning with 117K, but the difference is between 80 and 110, which remains an insignificant one for now.
* The party fights a CR 16. 960 XP for the three leaders take Alice and Bob to 122,220, a number too cool for me not to type out in full; Charlie's much less impressive total is 121,450. Eddie sees his goal in the distance, but for now he still has only 117110 (another impressive number which I shouldn't have abbreviated), plus another 1350, and Dana is 30 points worse off than that.
* The party fights a CR 16. Alice and Bob ascend to 123,180 and Charlie to 122,410. Eddie has 119,810 - still not his levelup - and Dana's failure to quite match him remains insignificant as long as the XP comes in these huge chunks.
* The party fights a CR 16. The twins gain 960 and have 124,140, with their hanger-on at 123,370. Dana and Eddie level up to an average of 121,145 XP; for Dana this is just her hitting level 14 with a +2 LA, but for Eddie it's the moment of truth! Paying a staggering 16,000 XP, he is left with just 105,160, and gets to climb the entire length of level 16 again, but he couldn't be happier about it, because he's going to be in the river for almost the entire rest of his pre-epic career.

As a reminder, everyone except the 12-level new guy is now at ECL 16, which actually represents 16 levels for everyone but Dana.

* The party fights two CR 16s. Alice and Bob get 1920 XP each, totaling 126,060 - they still have ten thousand XP to go, and Charlie is even worse off at a mere 125,290. I wonder if I screwed up my math somewhere. Dana gains the same and goes up to 123,050, while Eddie's taking two bite-size chunks that combine to 2700 XP, It's the same amount he got from the last two fights, but it tastes soooo much sweeter as it raises him to 107,860.
* The party fights four CR 16s, giving the four-runners 3840 each - Alice and Bob end up at 129,900, which isn't as close to their threshold as I'd hoped it would be. Charlie's got 129,130 - he's definitely closed the gap since leveling - and Dana has 126,890, while Eddie trails far behind but is taking a huge leap forward, 5400 points to be exact, to 113,260.
* The party fights four more CR 16s, taking A&B to 133,740, Charlie to 132,970, and Dana to 130,730. Eddie acquires a total of 118,660.
* The party fights a lone CR 16, giving these totals: 134,700 x2 / 133,930 / 131,670 / 120,210. The last is a level-up of course; the entire party is now ECL 16.
* The party fights a CR 16 and each one gains 960. 135,660 / same / 134,890 / 132,630 / 121,170.
* The party fights a CR 16 and two of them level up; they are at 136,620, while Charlie is at 135,850, Dana at 133,590, and Eddie at 122,130.
* The party fights a CR 17! That's 5100/5 = 1020 XP for the characters who are on an even keel (the first moment when someone fighting a CR-appropriate challenge gains more than 1000 XP at once). They go to 137,640 XP; the others all drink from the river and gain 7200/5 = 1440 XP, for totals of 137,390, 135,030, and 123,570. Charlie levels up and Dana is just about to.
* A CR 17; the first pair hit 138,660, with Charlie just 250 behind, and Dana attains 136,470 from her last drink of river for a while, leveling up to 15 class levels, and more importantly having gained six levels since the time she reduced her LA to +2. That means it can go down again! She pays 15 kiloexp, leaving her with 121,470; she is now ECL 16 with one point of LA left, and she can keep Eddie company, since he's again way ahead of her XP total at 125,010, while still trailing the trio of characters who lack LA completely by now.
* Nobody is even close to leveling for the first time in who knows how long, so the impatient DM really lets them have it; they face EIGHT CR 17 creatures in a single massive battle. When the smoke finally clears, the pile of bodies disgorges a bounty worth a grand total of 8160 XP to Alice, Bob and Charlie, and a staggering 11,520 for the LA-carriers. This lifts Eddie to 136,530, letting him level up to his 14th class level without further delay (a mere seven creatures wouldn't have done the job). Dana soars to 132,990, still remaining quite enrivered; Charlie hits 146,570 and is slightly preceded by Alice and Bob, who still have a goodly stretch to go before they hit the 153K necessary to become level 18 characters.
* The party fights a CR 17 straggler who escaped the previous bloodbath; Alice, Bob, Charlie, and even Eddie get 1020 XP and Dana revels in 1440. Totals: 147,840 / " " / 147,590 / 134,430 / 137,550.
* The party fights two more CR 17s, giving Dana the 2880 she needs to join the party's ECL again. Her total is 137,310, while Eddie's is 139,590; like Alice, Bob and Charlie he gained only 2040 XP, which gave that trio most or all of 149,880.
* The party fights a CR 17, and each member gains 1020 XP. Totals: 150,900 / same / 150,650 / 138,330 / 141,610.
* The party fights two CR 17s, and each member gains 2040 XP. Totals: 152,940 x2 / 152,690 / 140,370 / 143,650.
* The party fights one last CR 17, having otherwise exterminated the entire species; each member gains 1020 XP, and the first three level up in unison, Charlie continuing to straggle by an amount which I'm officially finally deciding to ignore, since the last time he leveled separately was the very first time this campaign of genocide against the CR 17s began. Evidently when your class levels are about eight times your LA, you can probably just stop acknowledging that it exists; this may not be strictly evident, but as a rule of thumb to avoid further math of this sort, it'll do I think. Totals now stand at 153,960 or very nearly so for the first three characters, with Dana at 141,390 and Eddie at 144,670.

One more line break to commemmorate my achievement of the goal of the thread, but I'm too close to being done to stop now, despite my being eager to check out this mysterious phenomenon of "sleep" that I keep hearing about. Every character in the party level 18 except for Dana, with 16 levels and a currently short-lived +1 LA, and Eddie, who has 14 levels and an immortal +3 LA.

* The party fights a CR 18! That's 5400 XP to fifth out to Alice, Bob and Charlie, giving each 1080, so they end up at 155,040. Dana and Eddie divide 7650 into five equal parts and throw three of them away, keeping just 1530 each; Dana is at 142,920 and Eddie at 146,200.
* The party fights two CR 18s. 2160 each to ABC, and 3060 each to the last two; totals are 157,100 for the Unstoppable Trio, 145,980 for their +1, and 149,260 for the recently-gained hanger-on who won't fit in the comic frame with them.
* The party fights three CR 18s, gaining 3240 or 4590 XP as appropriate (the larger monster groups are clearly there for Eddie's benefit, since he's the one who always needs that extra little push to get him just over his level threshold. The three amigos end with 160,340 and Dana with 150,570; Eddie now has 153,850, enabling him to rise to ECL 18 with his 15th class level.
* The party fights two CR 18s; Dana gains 3060 XP to level her up, with a total of 153,630, and Eddie's first serving of 2160 XP leaves at 156,010. The rest of the party is up to 162,500.
* The party fights four CR 18s; every member gains 4320 XP. Totals: 166,820 x3 / 157,950 / 160,330.
* The party fights three CR 18s, gaining another 3240 XP each. Totals: 170,060 / same / same / 161,190 / 163,570.
* The party fights one more CR 18, gaining 1080 XP each. Attaining a total of 171,140, Alice and Bob level up, but Charlie does not; I'm now checking my thumbrule by suspending it, reinstating the 250-XP gap observed at the last level-up, so Charlie remains at 170,890 and is still ECL 18. He joins Dana (162,270) and Eddie (164,650) as they dive back into the river.
* The party fights a CR 19! 5700/5 = 1150, so Alice and Bob go up to just 172,290, while Charlie qualifies for 8100/5 = 1620 XP along with Dana and Eddie, taking him to 172,510 - as I suspected might happen, he's actually gotten ahead! So XP really is a river, and Bob definitely shouldn't have merged lanes with Alice back around level 8-9; he might well have ended up gaining level 13 or so before she did, though she would of course then have the chance to catch up. Dana ends up with 163,890 and Eddie with 166,270 as the River of XP continues to flow.
* The party fights a CR 19. Alice, Bob and Charlie all gain 1150, putting Alice and Bob to 173,440 and Charlie 220 higher than that. The v-formation has become a spearhead, and Charlie is now the party's acknowledged leader! Dana's 1620 gets her to 165,510 and Eddie's to 167,890.
* The party fights one more CR 19, gaining 1150 or 1620. (I became extremely confused when trying to do this step before; I chose to use two, but then only added the total for one to Dana, producing 166,660 - but it was the wrong total that got her there, since she's in the river. So this time I'm doing it very carefully - but again, I chose to do two and then used the numbers for one, so pah.) Totals: 174,590 / same / 174,810 / 167,130 / 167,510. Wait, that last one's wrong; the 7 should be a 9. I'm definitely running out of daily usages of the Peform Math feat.
* Okay, for real this time; the party fights two CR 19 creatures. Again, careful awards, but this time they're 2300 or 3240. Totals: 176,890 / same / 177,110 / 170,370 / 172,750. Okay, thanks to my goof on Eddie last time, two CR 19s would be one too many. But rather than entirely throw out these figures, I'll just say that Eddie ECLs up in the middle of the goddamn fight (hey, he's a half-celestial or something; miracles are entirely appropriate), so the first CR 19 gives him 1620, but the second gives him 1150. So his final total is 172,280. (All these snafus aside, he's totally made the math easier in today's part of the exercise.) He thereby levels up to ECL 19, with 16 class levels and his inescapable +3 LA.
* The party fights one CR 19 creature; each gains 1150 XP except Dana who gets 1620. Totals: 178,040 / same / 178,260 / 171,990 / 173,430. Dana leaves the River long enough to dry off and get a piece of paper, write "ECL 19" on it, and then tear it up as she pays 18,000 XP to finally and permanently destroy her Level Adjustment. She now has 153,990 XP, and it seems unlikely she can ever entirely catch up.
* The party fights one CR 19 creature; each gains 1150 XP except Dana who gains 1620. Sounds awfully familiar, huh? Totals: 179,190 / ditto / 179,410 / 155,610 / 174,580.
* The party fights two CR 19 creatures; each gains 2300 XP except Dana who gains 3240. Totals: 181,490 / ditto / 181,710 / 158,850 / 176,880.
* The party fights four CR 19 creatures; each gains 4600 XP except Dana who gains 6480. Totals: 186,090 / ditto / 186,310 / 165,330 / 182,480.
* The party fights two CR 19 creatures; each gains 2300 XP except Dana who gains 3240. Totals: 188,390 / ditto / 188,610 / 168,570 / 184,780.
* This repeats. Totals: 190,690 / ditto / 190,910 / 171,810 / 187,080. Everyone except Eddie levels up; Alice, Bob, and Charlie are all now Level 20 characters, while Dana is Level 19 and stands to remain so for quite a damn long time, even with the River's help.
* A CR 20 monster approaches, but the first three characters have officially had enough; they no longer stand to gain anything in this non-epic game, so they officially depart, leaving Dana and Eddie alone. Somehow the two manage to triumph against this incredible challenge, and they split a whopping 8550 between them, taking Dana to 176,085, while Eddie rockets up to 191,355 and leaves the River forever, following Alice and Bob and Charlie as they retire to a life of luxury.
* Abandoned by everyone who claimed to care for her, Dana channels her despair and frustration into a berserker rage, and manages to solo a Level 19 monster, getting 5700 XP all to herself. She now has 181,785.
* Her rampage continues and a CR 20 falls. The River gives her 8,550 for a total of 190,335, and she too arrives at level 20 and can retire from adventuring until some epic challenge arises.

That last silly bit gives the impression that you can level up damn fast, but of course we're fiatting that the players are winning every battle, and soloing a CR 19 or 20 monster isn't precisely easy. So the educational value of this last bit is limited; if I decide to try an into-epic-levels version, I should probably scratch those last few entries. But I'm thinking instead I'd like to design a more precise exercise to help me quantify the "fluid dynamics" of the river down to a single formula, and apply that to every battle instead of worrying about those huge chunks disrupting the flow.

Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: willpell on November 12, 2014, 02:45:12 AM
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: Darque Ainjel on November 11, 2014, 10:07:18 AM Keep in mind that even though they don't have Hit Dice [HD] for those level adjustments, the level adjustments still count towards their level for purposes of awarding XP.
So the Drow [LA+2, HD 2, total ECL 4] would count as a level 4 character for XP.
Bob [LA+1, HD 3, total ECL 4, LA-1 buyoff, total ECL 3] would count as a level 3 character for XP.

I believe you did this right, but just wanted to clarify that.
Right, I got all that.
I will also point out, LA+3 is the most a character can start with and still buy it all off before lvl 20.

Just food for thought.
I'm well aware of, and annoyed significantly by, that fact. In general the LA +4 templates are worth it, but stacking templates frequently aren't - my Phrenic Drow doesn't really seem to measure up to my Half-Celestial in terms of what he gets for it (particularly since many of the advantages, such as spell resistance and SLAs, are based on Hit Dice and thus he isn't getting very many of them). I'm almost tempted to rule that you can buy multiple LAs off separately rather than adding them, but I'm sure someone would abuse that in a hurry (something like my Lolth-Touched Mineral Warrior Goliath could potentially buy off by level 9, even if you had to do all the buyoffs separately at three-level increments).
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: ColossusCrusher on November 12, 2014, 03:21:07 AM
In general most templates are hit or miss, especially once you hit LA +2. Phrenic is amazing for its cost, especially when compared to Drow or something else like that. In general anything higher than that is hard to swallow because of the crippling hits to hit points, saves and attack bonuses, even with buyoff.
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: Darque Ainjel on November 12, 2014, 07:46:00 AM
I actually did allow individual buyoffs. You have to curb some people trying to abuse it, but my Shadow (or just Dark) Phrenic Drow Cerebremancer is an awesome build.

As CC says, 2+ LAs gets pretty punishing just by itself until you start catching up to everyone else.
I stopped worrying about that when I realized that I'm going to be burning a lot of xp anyways, between item creation/fixing, spells that require xp like Wish, etc.
Arcanists in general use xp like a more valuable currency than coin. It's one of the great things about Pathfinder... they removed most of the XP costs and increased the cost in coin, where needed. Believe me, it's much better, and not in an unbalanced way.
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: ColossusCrusher on November 12, 2014, 02:04:04 PM
There's a pretty straightforward chain for what to spend first: Gold -> XP -> Levels -> Feats. In most cases you'd want to spend something earlier on the chain, but sometimes there's an exception, like if it'd cost too much gold or XP.
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: willpell on November 18, 2014, 04:03:04 AM
I've decided to take another crack at this, and this time I'm going to be more precise about the results. I'm postulating something thoroughly absurd and outside the bounds of actual play, stricly for the sake of making the math work - a party of twenty-five characters, all of whom will fight nothing but CR 1 monsters for as long as possible, and thereafter using the minimum possible CR in order for the party's highest-ECL member to gain any XP at all.

Let's meet our contestants:

The ECL 1-3 group:
* ANN, the experiment's control, is playing a level 1 Human.
* BOB has a level 1 Aasimar (LA +1).
* CAL has a level 1 Drow (LA +2).
* DAN has a Gnoll with no class levels (HD 2, LA +1).

The ECL 4 group:
* EVE has a level 1 Half-Dragon (LA +3).
* FAY has a Dretch with no class levels (HD 2, LA +2).
* GUS has a Bugbear with no class levels (HD 3, LA +1).

The ECL 5 group:
* HAL has a level 1 Half-Celestial (LA +4). He also has a brother named Han, but Cal and Han don't get along.
* IAN has a Ghoul with no class levels (HD 2, LA +3).
* JOY has a Triton with no class levels (HD 3, LA +2).
* KAY has a Worg with no class levels (HD 4, LA +1).

The ECL 6 group:
* LOU has a level 1 Ghost with no class levels (LA +5).
* MAY has an Azer with no class levels (HD 2, LA +4).
* NAN has a Mephit with no class levels (HD 3, LA +3).
* OLE has an Ogre with no class levels (HD 4, LA +2).

The ECL 7 group:
* PAT has a level 1 Half-Celestial Drow (LA +6)
* RON has a Coure with no class levels (HD 2, LA +5).
* SUE has an Aranea with no class levels (HD 3, LA +4).
* TED has a Shadow Mastiff with no class levels (HD 4, LA +3).
* UMA has a Satyr with no class levels (HD 5, LA +2).

The ECL 8 group:
* VAN has a Phrenic Half-Dragon Gnoll (HD 2, LA +6)
* WIL has a Half-Celestial Bugbear (HD 3, LA +5)
* XAN has a Wight with no class levels (HD 4, LA +4).
* YDA has a Rhek with no class levels (HD 5, LA +3).
* ZEB has a Minotaur with no class levels (HD 6, LA +2).

The goblins are extremely polite, and will only attack one at a time, without any special ambush tactics or the like, until the heroes have leveled, after which the ECL 9 members of the party no longer gain any XP from fighting CR 1 challenges. After that they will face monsters with PC class levels, or possibly small groups of normal ones (technically two Goblins are a CR 3 challenge, though I suspect that doesn't hold up in actual play), always maintaining the lowest possible CR as the party grinds through them.

The results of this challenge will be detailed in a spreadsheet. To summarize briefly:

* The party fights a series of goblins, with each member gaining 12 XP each, except the last two groups who get 10 and 8 respectively.
* Upon killing their 84th consecutive goblin, all the members of groups 1 through 4 level up and add 1 to their ECL.
* The 100th goblin killed suffices to elevate all members of group 5 by 1 ECL. They will thereafter gain only 8 XP per goblin.
* A 125th goblin casualty heralds the arrival of a level-up for the last five members of the group. Coincidentally enough, the goblin horde finally decides to start sending out their Level 1 Fighters. Each of these which the PCs kill is worth 24 XP to the ECL 4 or lower characters, but now the distinction between 4 and 5 is meaningful; the ECL 5 group gets only 20 XP. The 6es get 18, the 7s get 14, and the 8s now get 12 XP for the first time ever; the newly-minted 9s get only 9.
* The 63rd advanced goblin killed levels up the first group. And this is where I realize that the entire experiment is flawed, because it assumes that the characters are starting from 0 XP regardless of their level, when they should normally have started with the same amount (in a party with a level 2 human and a level 1 aasimar, both have 1000 XP to begin). Well, it's far too late to back out, so let's proceed with the insanity. At this point, the Aasimar has gained his third class level, but in view of my error, I'll treat him as needing to reach level 4 before he can apply LA buyoff. Meanwhile, Cal and Dan finally separate from the control group; their second character levels bring them to ECL 5, putting them into Group 2 for the moment.
* It is, in total, the 200th goblin casualty which levels up the original members of group 2 for the second time. They are now ECL 6, putting them into the 18-XP club, while Cal and Dan continue to gain 20 XP per CR 2 goblin.
* 9 more goblins are killed, then Hal, Ian, Joy and Kay level up to become ECL 7.
* 238 goblins have died, all told. Lou, May, Nan, and Ole level up to ECL 8.
* Time passes; goblins die. 275 of their corpses now litter the ground. Pat, Ron, Sue, Ted, and Uma all level up their characters to ECL 9.
* The river has really done its job. After the 313th goblin casualty, Ann and Bob achieve level 4 with 6000 XP each, by virtue of gaining almost triple the experience of Uma through Zeb (I now realize that Zeb should have been named Zoe, and that Uma could arguably have been Ulf.) Now is where it really gets interesting, because this is Bob's chance to apply LA buyoff (according to this miscalculated ruleset). Losing just under half of his 6012 XP, he becomes a level 3 character in every respect, rather than just having three class levels plus his Level Adjustment...I think. Crap, my goof has left me really confused. Well, let's run with it. He's now ECL 3 just as he was a moment ago, while Ann no longer is.
* 348th battle. Van (not Uma as I previously stated) through Zeb have finally leveled; from now on single goblins just will not cut the mustard anymore, no matter how many class levels they have (at least not as long as that number is 1). This means XP awards must now be recalculated from the ground up, and I think a recap of the party is in order before I try that.

* ANN the Human is at level 4 with 6712 XP.
* BOB the Aasimar, sans his LA, is only level 3 but has 3828 XP.
* CAL is a Drow with four class levels, making him ECL 6. Can that be right? Probably not, but I'm screwed in terms of ever figuring it out.
* DAN's Gnoll also has four class levels. That puts him at ECL 7, despite my showing him as tied with Cal. I've seriously goofed up, it's clear. Regardless, both Cal and Dan leveled up and I missed it.
* EVE's Half-Dragon has three class levels totaling ECL 7.
* FAY the Dretch is ECL 7.
* GUS the Bugbear has had three class levels for some time, and should have bought off his LA.

Okay, that's it, I completely screwed the pooch. This experiment is definitely worth trying again, but I need way more time to sort out everything about it.
Title: Re: XP is a river? Post by: willpell on November 23, 2014, 03:55:21 AM

Take 2 on this experiment. For the sake of doing it right this time, we will set all of the participants to a starting XP total of 10,000, which rules out the high-ECL options I was trying to test last time.

The Regulars Group:
* ANN, the experiment's control group, is playing a level 4 Human.
* BOB has a level 2 Drow (LA +2).
* CAL has a Gnoll with one class level (RHD 2, LA +1).
* DAN has a level 1 Half-Dragon (LA +3).
* EVE has a Dretch with no class levels (HD 2, LA +2).
* FAY has a Bugbear with no class levels (HD 3, LA +1).

The Item Creation Group:
* GUS has a level 4 human Wizard. He somehow traded away the Scribe Scroll feat at level 1, but will be taking an Item Creation feat at level 5 as his wizard bonus feat; thereafter, he will spend XP as fast as he can on crafting.
* HAL has a level 3 Aasimar Cleric who has bought off his LA. He already has the Brew Potion feat and will be manufacturing CLWs as fast as he can.
* IAN has a level 3 Aasimar who will not spend XP.
* JOY has a level 1 Half-Dragon Wizard. He will scribe scrolls non-stop throughout the "game" and will not worry about his LA.

These guys will have to sit out this stage of the experiment.

* KAY has a level 2 Drow Cleric. He will not spend XP until after he has bought off his LA completely at ECL 9, but thereafter he will attempt to sustain the "river of XP" effect forever.
* LEN.
* MAY.
* NED.
* OLE.
* PAT.
* RON.
* SUE.
* TIA.
* UMA.
* VAN.
* WIL.
* XEV.
* YOU.
* ZOE.

So here we go again, from the top. The spreadsheet (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... edit#gid=0) has seven lines of information at the top, and for convenience I'm using the same line numbers in both places, so our experiment begins with line 8.
8. The party kills one Goblin. There are 10 of them dividing the 300-XP award, so they get 30 each.
9. XP totals after the killing of the goblin.
10. Hal brews a potion. Assuming he kept his entire 5400 GP of starting WBL in cash, since he's a level 3 caster, he can create a potion of a level 2 spell at CL 3, so the base price is 300 gp; he must pay 150 gp and 12 XP to brew the thing, leaving him with 5250 GP and 3018 XP. Joy is doing all of this as well, except that scrolls cost half as much, so she spends only 75 GP and 6 XP, leaving her at 5325 and 6024.
11-12. The party kills one Goblin; Hal and Joy craft again. Hal now has 5100 gp; Joy has 5250.
14. Hal has 4950 gp; Joy has 5175.
16. Hal has 4800 gp; Joy has 5100.
18: 4650 and 5025.
19. Hal is precisely two goblins behind Ian thanks to his potion brewing; likewise, Joy is one goblin down from the first seven characters.
20. They then spend some more XP, so the ratio is skewed again. 4500 and 4950.
24. 4200 and 4800.
28. 3900 and 4650.
32. 3600 and 4500.
36. I lost track of the issue of gold for a while, so now I've gone and calculated it for the lines I was skipping through. Their latest creations set Hal and Joy to 3300 and 4350.
40. Two more goblins killed, two more potions and scrolls brewed. Hal has 3000 gp and Joy 4200. In the same period, Ann through Gus have all risen to 6480 XP, while Hal is at 3188, Ian at 3280, and Joy at 6384.
Apparently I just stopped in mid-thought there. Clearly none of these methods have been sufficient to date.
Last edited by willpell on Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Snipped

Post by willpell » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:00 pm

Snipped.
Last edited by willpell on Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:04 pm

Oh my goddess, this is going to take forever....

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Class Comparisons: Noble Vs. Aristocrat

Post by willpell » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:57 pm

Class Comparisons: Noble Vs. Aristocrat

« on: October 17, 2014, 04:00:13 PM »



Originally posted June 15, 2012, 02:13:02 PM

I have also decided to officially adopt the Noble class from Dragonlance, which I originally considered as a replacement for Aristocrat; the two are just different enough that for now I'm keeping them both around, although I'll have to compare the Aristocrat to the Knight to see the other half of the equation. Here is a quick summary of the differences for those who are interested in knowing:

* Both classes have a D8 hit die, 3/4 BAB, and x4 skill points.

* The Aristocrat's skill list includes Handle Animal, Spot, Survival and Swim.

* The Noble may select any one skill to be an extra class skill.

* The Aristocrat proficient with medium or heavy armor.

* The Noble has a better Reflex save.

* And that's all there is to say about the Aristocrat.

* The Noble has several bard-esque abilities and the power to call in Favors, although that one is extremely heavily dependent on GM adjudication.

I'm not sure whether they actually intended the Noble to be playable per se, as Favor just reeks of an NPC-specific ability. Still, the noble's quickness and lack of heavy armor, combined with the elective skill, does a nice job of making him seem like a slightly spoiled dilletante, while the Aristocrat is a trace more martial. I may decide to give the Aristocrat a few Fighter bonus feats or something to further play up the distinction (though what that would mean for the actual Fighter I'm not sure).

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:06 pm

Leave it to the Drow to codify the practice of bigotry.

One of the expatriates from the rapidly self-destructing cavern-city whose founders ironically named it Everlasting Torment, who was one of the first couple dozen Drow in history who came to live on the surface, was so fascinated by her own profound aversion reactions to various "Lightworlder" races that she began tabulating them on a numerical scale. (Her initial exile can be largely blamed on her Lawful attitudes, which were not tolerated in her mercantile family; she never did become even remotely good, or even ethical by a typical definition, but her twisted sense of honor was good enough to keep her from attracting too much lethal attention from the authorities of the morally-compromised nation in which she settled). Her work came to be known as the Hatebreed Web (and she also created a magic item with that name, which she used as a model of her concept as well as to reinforce its obvious truthfulness), and under that name it made the rounds of certain surfacers.

Eventually, the Web ideology gained a human champion, a fellow by the name of Crucian Brausl Tollingford, who stripped it of the spidery associations and further popularized it as a tool of mitigation, both helping the hateful to hate less, and helping the non-hateful to tolerate haters. The result was predictably ironic, but his unhappy end did not keep his perverse fame from spreading. His achievement is now known as the Tollingford Bigotry Index, or simply the Tee-Bee. It gives a numerical ranking to each relevant "ism" (a few are fantastical, most are not, and Earth could use an edited version of the Index, which I won't publish under my own name); if people know your TB score, they know your prejudices, which enables them to adjust how they react to you. This of course simply formalizes a social system that organically grows in any society that is not completely homogenous, but the formalization has proven itself a useful metric for standardization; cultures which have adopted use of the TB, in place of initiatives founded on assumptions that bigotry either does not exist or is rare enough that it can be outlawed entirely, have produced markedly lower rates of hate crime, inter-group tension, and other symptoms of social malaise, compared to those which continue to keep their divisions "under the rug".

A few nations have adopted the TB as a sociological tool, developing a system of "authorized disclosures" which allow people to openly hold unpopular opinions, as long as they publicly advertise their biases in advance of accepting any political appointment or certain highly-placed service-sector employments. The higher-ranked an official in any sort of hierarchy is, the more pressure they are placed under to disclose their TB scores, and they suffer less retribution if they make their prejudices known in this fashion, compared to if they conceal this attitude only to have it later determined to be informing their job performance. Thusly, a known elf-phobe can hold a position of some power, but will be carefully watched to ensure he is not unduly denying services to elves; a person who does not admit to being bigoted against elves, but who persistently and measurably disfavors them in an unjustifiable fashion, will eventually face liability if not criminal charges for having either falsified his TB results or failed to proffer them.

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:07 pm

Truename Magic: A Dissertation by Naan-Paray Bintrandorf.

(She hates her last name, but not quite enough to delete it from her actual name, though she's keeping a scroll just in case it comes to that.) This is the actual, definitional, never-gains-a-level character; she has absolutely cracked the code, and now solos EL 20 dungeons with a single hit die, being extremely bad at it but somehow managing, perhaps because people by the dozens willingly help her in exchange for 90% of the loot and XP.

This includes my Bene Gesserit stuff, but the central idea is a new bit - the actual truename of a thing is not simply a unique identifier, it is the most-perfect-possible description of that thing, compacted for elegance yet detailed enough to be unambiguious. While the concept of true names is corrupted on Earth, Terrestra preserves it (the Lords of Dream give her this info).

As part of this, she explains that if you can Truename a fate, meaning if you fully and completely understand that fate (exactly what a "fate" is must be defined loosely, using CTL references), then that fate is powerless to harm you. Thusly, while an antiprophet may never be able to fulfill his dreams, he can at least forbid his nightmares from entering his universe.

"No, that's not a mistake. Yes, you have one hit point. Yes, you will drop if you take one point of damage. Yes, this is an EL 20 dungeon. No, really, it's not a mistake." And she has a Scroll of Inflict Minor Wounds (purchased at an incredible bargain), for no other reason than so she can kill herself if trapped in an oubliette, stripped of her tongue (the scroll is Silent - in fact, ideally, it's not a scroll at all, but something like a psionic tattoo that can't be taken away, or even just a mental command subroutine), or otherwise prohibited from doing her thing anymore and condemned to a FWTD she can't escape. And part of the plot will be giving her the opportunity to use that contingency. The story will folow her into the afterlife, where she will continue to adventure with her one HD, no longer needing to avoid danger since she can just keep resurrecting over and over, whether in Ysgard or just generally somehow.

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Re: [Whiteleaf Discussion] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:19 pm

I had a great concept for how Magic Missile could power the Reserve feat "Invisible Needle", if not for the latter inconveniently specifying that you must have at least a 3rd-level (or "grade 3" in my preferred terminology) force spell uncast, in order to fire Invisible Needles as a supernatural ability. This is rather pointless IMO; it does make a pretty big difference to the power level of a 5th-level wizard, if he can fire at least a 1d4 bolt without having to leave one of his 3-at-most top-level spells uncast. But the damage is based on the spell "grade", and I think that makes it fair; certainly, by the time the wizard is 9th level, he'll have no trouble keeping a 3rd-level spell slot unused.

Being more about flavor than function, I have a neat vision of how Invisible Needle could function if it was allowed to work on Magic Missile. You see, the Needle deals only 1 less damage than the full Missile, and if you were at caster level 3 or 4 (not yet having grade-3 spells, but being allowed to ignore the "spell level" prerequisite of Invisible Needle for feat-selection purposes, as well as for actual play), you'd conjure up exactly two Magic Missiles. So I envision this character being able to start casting the Magic Missile spell, getting so far as to have two Missiles appear in his hands, each one primed and ready to deal 2-5 damage to creatures which may or may not be ethereal. But instead of firing them both and releasing the spell completely, he throws one of these darts, then re-absorbs the other one, retaining the spell slot.

To comply with RAW legality, I could live my dream of powering Invisible Needle with a Magic Missile spell, once I get up to level 5, by selecting Heighten Spell as a feat at 3rd level, and then heightening Magic Missile to grade 3. But the result is very different, because now I'm caster level 3, I'm firing three missiles when I cast the spell, and the Invisible Blade deals 3d4 damage, meaning that the actual spell would be only 3 more damage than the (Su) ability. So now, it's like I'm re-absorbing just a tiny part of each of the three missiles (the part that boosts the damage by 1 regardless of die roll), and firing all three at a single target, when instead I could have fired the "connecting mechanism" that holds the whole spell together, only to enable the three Missiles to strike different targets! At best, this is a very different sort of fluff imagery; I'm not convinced it is even equally cool, compared to my first version.

Since the character for which I conceptualized all of this was a Geometer-in-training, I really like the idea that his Magic Missiles take the form of complex Green Lantern-esque constructs of manifested energy, in the form of Platonic solids which physically reconfigure themselves like hypertech machines in a sci-fi setting (the only example I can think of is "The Cube" in the first Transformers movie; I wish I could have thought of a better one, so I wouldn't have to admit that I've seen this), and split off pieces that are fired as missiles while he "salvages" the essential core and thus conserves energy for future ideological "constructions".

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Re: [Whiteleaf Discussion] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:43 pm

Note to self: clean this up!

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Re: [Whiteleaf Discussion] Even More Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:25 am

In general, when evaluating what I have written for Whiteleaf, consider everything to be significant, apart from typographical spelling errors. If I have selected a particular word which is subtly different in meaning from a more typical phrasing, it is very likely that there is a coded nuance of meaning in the text, although I may well no longer remember it. Feel free to raise any of these curiosities for discussion which you happen to notice. (My previous "don't post in my reference indexes" rule has been abandoned in view of my general lack of activity here.)

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Fruits and Vegetables of Whiteleaf

Post by willpell » Sun Jul 22, 2018 6:34 pm

The following foodstuffs are common enough that the average person has probably heard of them, but rare and exotic enough that few have actually tasted them, at least more than once or twice, unless they happen to live in the area where they are cultivated (which in some cases is throughout the Empire, but they would still be of interest to characters from elsewhere on Terrestra, especially the Dwarves, who seldom have access to any wild-grown plants and are eager to supplement the bland fare produced by their gardens).

* Blood Oranges - Existing on Whiteleaf as they do both in our reality and in the setting of "A Song of Ice and Fire", these remarkable red-fleshed fruits are the object of peasant superstition and aristocrat-gourmand fascination alike in the Southern provinces where they grow.

* Blue Raspberries - Growing on roadside bushes throughout most provinces of the Empire, these plants are considered an invasive pest species, and the flavor of their berries is regarded as unpleasant by most persons, although some elves (particularly those of advanced age) have a perverse fondness for the "unnatural"-tasting things.

* Octarines - These relatives of the nectarine tree produce fruits whose skin and flesh alike are a brilliant golden hue, which is difficult to classify as either a yellowish shade of orange or vice versa (compare to whichever of indigo and violet you consider more distinct from blue and purple). More strongly and strangely flavored, with pits that produce an edible nut with a high natural alcohol content, the tree is both a luxury product and a source of various ostensibly medicinal extracts, and a syndicate of quasi-legal merchants control the trade in these highly-prized fruits.

* Pink Lemons - No more sour than a ruby red grapefruit, though distinctly different in flavor, these citrus fruits can be eaten as easily as an orange, though they are also popularly made into lemonade (saving on the expense of adding sweeteners, although it's common to add a bit of grenadine or tamarind syrup to help the drink stay fresh).

* Starfruit - As with the real-world carambola, this five-lobed tropical fruit appears star-shaped when cut in cross-section; it has been popularized throughout the Imperial navy, largely due to a persistent rumor that it contains "essences" (read: vitamins) which aid in fighting the tooth-rotting disease known as Black Pudding Mouth, a common affliction among sailors until recent decades. Much of its current omnipresence aboard Empire frigates and merchantmen is due to the efforts of Commodore Lucas J. Church, who captains the military-exploration flagship Venture in its efforts to push back the "furthest frontier" of Panthalassa. Bowls of cubed or wedged fruit served to visiting dignitaries aboard the Venture nearly always prominently feature a starfruit slice on top as garnish; the fruit is still rare and expensive enough that it cannot be served in quantity, but even a single bite is thought to "totemically" ward off the Pudding-Mouth infection.

* Tursnip - This hybrid of a parsnip and a turnip is considered unpalatable as a cooked vegetable, but it produces a high-starch flour which is useful for baking "nutrient biscuits" that are prized by adventurers on long journeys, especially underground. The taste resembles that of a potato or plantain, although a bitter aftertaste ruins any attempt to improve the flavor by dipping it in sauce.

* Banana - The wild banana tree which grows in the tropical jungles of Whiteleaf is much the same as the real world's cultivated plant, except that it does contain tiny but still-fertile seeds which allow it to reproduce naturally. The original form of the banana, with its small and un-curved green fruits, can still be found in certain druidic preserves, although few but the tenders of those groves would realize it was the same species; the planetwide druid alliance is responsible for the tree's transformation into a producer of human-palatable fruits, though they have been unable to coherently explain the reason why they wrought such a change upon the banana in particular.

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