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[Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:20 am
by Coronoides
The Green Isles is my ongoing campaign set in the world of British Fairy Tales. Articles related to this setting have appeared in RPG Review magazine. This thread and the tag [Green Isles] is intended to be for anything in any setting related to the real British Iles in the Pre-gunpowder era 1200-1326 and British Folklore.

My setting is a high fantasy setting but ones that draws more on British folklore than most D&D settings. To do this we to represent the heroes and companions in these tales we needed many new races. These were designed based on my mathematical analysis of WOTC’s races (see my signature). The Green Isles somewhat resemble the British Isles in the 13th century but only somewhat, this is not a historical setting. Part of the reason for this is that most fairy tales were first recorded much later than the Middle Ages and the setting mimics these in preference to history. It certainly does not reflect a Medieval Christian’s pre-occupation with sin and obedience to the Church nor the cultural schisms between Celt, Saxon, and Norman. Why? Because these facets of 13th century Britain are entirely absent in fairy tales. Also unlike historical Britain there is magic here, but not so much that nothing is familiar. There are magically gifted 7th sons, healing wells, and pixies but magic has not provided ubiquitous labor saving devices or doomsday bombs.

A short player’s summary was published here:

And there is a Facebook group for players in Melbourne and anyone interested here:

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D

Posted: Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:13 pm
by Coronoides
My race design book (70 pages) includes short form versions of some of the races of the Green Isles including pixies, sprites, giants, talking bears, frogs, and ravens.
See the link in my signature.

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 1:30 am
by Coronoides
Wow, This thread has already got over 300 views! Thank you all for your interest. Since there is some interest I thought I would share some excerpt previews of upcoming Green Isles articles.
As always I intend this thread to discuss not just my setting but any material relating to the British Isles in the Early Middle Ages (especially before the arrival of gunpowder in about 1326CE) and/or British Isles folklore and Fairy Tales.

Anyway, First up a discussion of the kinds of characters that make appropriate PCs.

Most PCs should be modeled on the protagonists of British fairy tales and their allies. The protagonists in British fairy tales are frequently youths or elderly people; sometimes even children. The protagonist is as frequently very poor as they are nobles. She rarely has any magical powers of her own (in game terms they are fighters or more often rogues). While the central character generally does not possess magical powers they are frequently joined by magical allies including, but not limited too, shape shifting elves and giantesses, magicians, and talking animals. All of these are suitable PCs.
Here are some example concepts:
Poor but adventurous human peasant’s son
Old, poor, dirty, but spry human woman
Human child prince run away from home
Human princess disowned for her stupidity
A handsome, but bloodthirsty giant knight
Likeable human thief who burgles giants’ homes
Elf piper who’s music is charming magic
Shape shifting giantess who can befriend birds
Rich scholarly human magician’s apprentice
Human king turned into a mouse by a curse
Talking frog spy for the King of Frogs
Youth whose elf ancestor’s blood grants magic
Faerie who aids heroes with powerful magic
Dragon promised land and gold by another PC
Saint who’s holiness puts fear into devils
Talking bear with a terrible temper
Middle-aged human soldier down on his luck
Human woodcutter who knows the forest well
Human child who learns magic from the Faeries
Henwife who knows an oral magic tradition

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Sun May 20, 2018 1:01 pm
by Coronoides
Players' Guide Part 1 in RPG Review 31.
Link is to a PDF.

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Wed May 23, 2018 7:26 pm
by willpell
Coronoides wrote:
Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:20 am
Part of the reason for this is that most fairy tales were first recorded much later than the Middle Ages and the setting mimics these in preference to history. It certainly does not reflect a Medieval Christian’s pre-occupation with sin and obedience to the Church nor the cultural schisms between Celt, Saxon, and Norman. Why? Because these facets of 13th century Britain are entirely absent in fairy tales.
This makes me happy.

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Thu May 24, 2018 11:28 am
by Coronoides
Over 400 views. time for another sneak peak!

"I grant thee mercy," said Childe Rowland "release my sister from thy spells and raise my brothers to life, and let us all go free, and thou shalt be spared." "I agree," said the Elfin King, and rising up he went to a chest from which he took a phial filled with a blood-red liquor. With this he anointed the ears, eyelids, nostrils, lips, and finger-tips of the two brothers, and they sprang at once into life, and declared that their souls had been away, but had now returned. The Elfin King then said some words to Burd Ellen, and she was disenchanted, and they all four passed out of the hall, through the long passage, and turned their back on the Dark Tower, never to return against.
-Childe Roland

" I was hunting one day, and as I rode widershins round yon hill, a deep drowsiness fell upon me, and when I awoke, behold ! I was in Elfland. Fair is that land and gay, and fain would I stop but for thee and one other thing. Every seven years the Elves pay their tithe to the Nether world, and for all the Queen makes much of me, I fear it is myself that will be the tithe."
- Tamlane

Elves are a magical people seemingly made of contradictions. They are ancient yet youthful. Both fair and sinister. Frequently merry and singing yet capable of terrible violence for the slightest insult. They were the original inhabitants of the Green Isles but now have retreated into the dimensions of Elfland. Some are powerful agents of good but all refuse Jhoeda and some are allies of The Devil. It seems the only thing for certain about elves is that mortals should not trust them.
Timeless Beauty
Elves appear much like very attractive humans. They lack the wide range of appearance seen in humans of the Green Isles, there are no ugly elves. Old looking elves are never seen because at 20 years old elves stop ageing. In fact elves never die unless killed. If their pointed ears are hidden many elves can pass as beautiful human youths. However, some elves, especially those that live and breath underwater have unusually coloured eyes or hair. The elves of the Green Isles are slighter than humans and on average a little shorter, rarely taller than 5'2". One tribe, the Ferrish, are much shorter, averaging around 3 foot tall.
Sinister Extremes
The elves of the Green Isles do not tend toward good or evil by subrace as do elves in other D&D worlds, all elf subraces seem to have both evil and good members. In both cases elves tend to toward the extremes of their moral alignment. Furthermore because elves tend towards chaos, they can be unpredictable. A good elf might reward a small favour with a vast treasure or nothing, an evil one might destroy a whole family over an unkind word.
Riches and Merriment
Elves dwell in wilder areas of the world or in the magical dimensions of Elfland. Elf dwellings are of two broad kinds. Firstly, some elves live in houses, villages, and palaces much like those of humans but much finer. Secondly some elves live in elaborate tunnel complexes. All elves like to be surrounded by fine things and riches. If they cannot afford these things, elves might use illusions to create the impression of splendour.
Magical Allies
In the tales elves feature as allies, romantic interests, and enemies of human heroes. As you might expect for fey, elves have magic in their very blood. You could represent this by taking the sorcerer class. Many elves are also shapeshifters able to take animal forms; the druid class is a good way to represent this. Innate magical powers could also be represented by the classes bard, druid, and ranger, or magic using archetypes of other classes, or even feats.
Elves rarely give their true names, instead introducing themselves with cryptic names or descriptive titles. Typical 'names' include: Myself, Blue Eyes, Greenboots, Nobody, the Forest Lady, Knight of the White Tower, Whogoes.

In ancient times the elves snubbed Jhoeda the God of Empire and ever since there has been antipathy between elves and Jhoeda. This spills over into the clergy's callous attitude toward elves and other fey. While most non-clergy humans tolerate or even like elves, in the West Isle this antipathy has escalated into elves being unwelcome in human settlements. Thurse tend to regard elves in much the same way as their human neighbours do.
Elves tend to get along with talking animals. The animals appreciate the freer nature of elf culture compared to human society. The animals also appreciate that elves do not patronise or fear them as humans are want to do.
Elves get along best with fairies. This is unsurprising given the shared history and culture of these fey. Many villages and towns of Elfland have mixed populations of elves, pixies, and sprites.
Interestingly, interactions between elves and half-elves are often strained. That elves tend to regard half-elves as mere shadows of true fey power only adds to the history of abandonment of half-elves.

Core Elf Traits: The core game traits for elves are the same as described in the PHB (6) except as noted below.
Alignment: Unlike most D&D worlds elves are not typically good, they are as frequently evil as good usually pursuing their morale compass to behaviours extreme in the eyes of humans. An evil elf is as black-hearted as the foulest devil; a good elf is an unwavering paragon. Elves are usually chaotic preferring freedom and creativity to law and tradition; individual friendships and obligations to the common good and societal hierarchies.
Age: As described in the PHB elves grown and reach physical maturity at the same rate as humans but are not considered full adults by other elves until they reach a century old. Unlike humans the elves of the Green Isles stop ageing at around 20 to 25 years old and never die of old age ever. This is a source of joy and tragedy; after years of joy and peak physical condition most elves die by violence.
Type: The elves of the Green Isles are full-blooded Fey. They have the Fey type instead of the humanoid type.
Size: Elves are generally a little slighter and shorter than humans but still Medium sized.
Speed: Your speed is determined by your subrace. If no speed is given for your subrace your speed is 30 feet.
Language: Elves speak Elvish and Common.
There are no ‘Drow’ in the Green Isles and elves are unaging and never die of natural causes but otherwise the descriptions for wood and high elves in the PHB are correct. There are additional subraces you may choose from as well: Sea elves and Ferrish. Another subrace, Asrai, will be described in a later article as an unusual kindred.
*** ½ Small Fey (Elf).
The Ferrishyn (the plural of Ferrish) are small elves inspired by Manx folklore. In the Green Isles they are most often seen on the Island of Marnu or in Elfland. As elves Ferrishyn get all of the core racial traits of elves. The ferrishyn are small elves that are noted for hunting skills and keen hearing. They are known for being ‘prickly’ and egalitarian. The Ferrishyn are accompanied by small white horses and hounds whom they dye in bright colours. The hounds can be represented by giant rat stats except speed is 40, ferrishyn horses use Pony stats except speed is 60. If being purchased during character generation these creatures easily cost as much as the full sized animals used by humans, but these beasts are rarely found for sale once play begins. Ferrishyn typically are very fond of their beasts and only exchange them with each other as a gift economy.
Subrace Traits: Wisdom +1, all ability scores have the normal 3-20 range. Small, keen hearing, proficiency in the Animal Handling skill and shortbow, Mask of the Wild as per wood elf.

Sea Elf
The Sea Elves of the Green Isles live lives much like the elves of the land except underwater. They herd the creatures of the sea, cultivate seaweeds, raise castles, and trade with air breathing elves for tools and weapons of bronze.
***½ Medium Humanoid (Elf)
Elf traits (PHB23). Subrace traits: Wis+1, Con+1. Land speed 25. Amphibious (PHB305). Proficient in spear and trident. The aquatic elf speaks Elvish, Common and Sylvan.
Cultural traits: just as land elves have wood elves and high elves so too with the elves of the sea. Choose one of the following two options:

High Sea Elf: Wizard Cantrip as per High elf. Swim speed 30ft.

Seaweed Elf: Mask of the Sea: you can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by seaweeds, silt, and other natural underwater phenomena (as per Mask of the wild PHB24). Swim speed 35ft.

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:42 am
by Coronoides
We have hit 500 views so here is another teaser. More at 600 views. I'll keep posting as long there is some interest.
Half Elves (Work in progress)
Quote from folktale will go here
Half elves in the Green Isles can come from the pairing of an elf and a mortal human but more often they are born to families where such a romance occurred generations ago. Once elven blood finds its way into a family tree it has a way of emerging again more or less frequently depending on the family. Frequently, these later generation ‘elf bloods’ don’t have elvish facial features and can pass as attractive humans.
Some but not all ‘elf bloods’ have the half elf race. In game terms these people could be represented by the half-elf race, by the sorcerer, bard, or druid classes, or feats that grant spells.
Comely and Vital
All half elves and lf bloods are attractive, long-lived, and frequently manifest magical power. Where the half-elf is first generation result of an elvish parent there is no disguising her heritage, any close examination will reveal pointed ears. If a parent was a sea elf then the babe may have odd coloured hair or skin as well.
Later generations with elf blood can pass for comely humans and might not even be aware of their heritage. There are some who have a little elf blood carried hidden in their bloodline for generations, sometimes from far into the forgotten past. These individuals usually lack the pointed ears or unusual colouring of elf-blood but still tend to be attractive and slim.
Fickle and Fey
To be written
A stigma that fades
Being an obvious half-breed carries a stigma. Among the elves, all obvious half-elves are viewed with pity for their perceived poor magical talents and short life-spans. No sane elf would marry a half-elf, make one her heir, nor raise one so short lived to a position of authority and trust. The circumstances of a half-elves infancy are frequently associated with grief. Elves treat half elves as human and most kingdoms of Elfland prohibit humans from residing there except perhaps as slaves. Anonymous elf mothers leave half elf babes with mortals who may or may not be blood relations. Half-elves born to evil elf mothers are typically switched for human babes, who are less embarrassing and useful as slaves. Among humans a first generation half-elf fairs better. However, since elves turned their backs on the god Jhoeda he is miserly in his blessings for half-elves, they cannot be clerics or paladins of his Church, they cannot benefit from attending church services, seek protection under His law, nor legally own lands and inherit goods in the kingdoms of humans.
Later generation Elf-bloods who do not look like elves suffer none of these problems, they are simply treated as normal humans; though a family with known elvish blood might have a reputation as being a little odd and potentially magical. Jhoeda and his church do accept such people, being indistinguishable from humans by appearance and born to normal human parents it would be near impossible to exclude them.
Keywords 4 Adventurers
Text box relations to other races
Half elves in the Green Isles are almost always raised by humans and have human names.
Type: Half elves have both the Humanoid and the Fey types. Where an effect affects these two types differently assume the worst outcome for the half-elf occurs.
Other Traits: Half elves may use the racial traits in the PHB or the following variant. The variant half-elves in SCAG are not used; the same analysis that produced the new races here also indicates the SCAG half elves are either overpowered or underpowered.
Half-Elf Variant
****½ or ***½ if half sea elf. Medium Humanoid
Charisma is raised by +1
Speed 30ft
Choose one subrace of elf. You gain all of the traits of that subrace including the ability score modifier and lesser traits. Note that you do not get the core Elf traits and modifiers, only those listed under your chosen elf subrace (PHB23-24 or see elf above).
Traits: You gain two skills of your choice. Darkvision 60ft, Fey Ancestry (PHB23), plus those granted by your elf sub-race.
Languages: Common, Elven, and any one other language.
Notes: this can be used to make those who have sea elf, wood elf, ferrish or and other elf subrace in their heritage when the player wants that reflected in the traits of her character.

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:50 am
by AlHazred
"Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter." - Homer J. Simpson

Re: [Green Isles]British Fairy Tales and early Middle Ages D&D

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:08 pm
by Coronoides
“After some time spent in mirth and pastime. Jack, taking leave of the knights and ladies, set out for new adventures. Through many woods he passed, and came at length to the foot of a high mountain. Here, late at night, he found a lonesome house, and knocked at the door, which was opened by an aged man with a head as white as snow. " Father," said Jack, “can you lodge a benighted traveler that has lost his way?" "Yes," said the old man; "you are right welcome to my poor cottage. Whereupon Jack entered, and down they sat together, and the old man began to speak as follows : " Son, I see by your belt you are the great conqueror of giants, and behold, my son, on the top of this mountain is an enchanted castle ; this is kept by a giant named Galligantua, and he, by the help of an old conjurer betrays many knights and ladies into his castle, where by magic art they are transformed into sundry shapes and forms. But above all I grieve for the duke’s daughter…"
-Jack the Giant Killer
Humans are a restless lot; they seem to boil over with a drive to better their lot in life. Peasants save hard to buy their own cow only to have their daughters leave with little more than a packed lunch to seek their fortune. Rich men seek to marry into nobility, knights seek deeds that will ensure their fame forever, and for some there is simply never enough treasure.
Extreme appearances
The native humans of the Green Isles are Caucasians but otherwise people of varied appearance being as they are the result of generations of mixing broad sandy haired Korts, tall redheaded Hrangs, cosmopolitan Imperials, and even elves into a single people. The bloodlines of humanity on the Isles never seem to do anything by halves. Humans are as frequently breathtakingly handsome as they are hideously ugly but they are never plain or ordinary. Similarly, they seem untouched by age throughout their middle years but in their sixties they rapidly gain the appearance of great age while frequently remaining spry enough to leap out of windows and run away from bears.
Social Climbers
The Humans of the Green Isles are rarely content and are always looking to improve their lot. As youths many travel to seek their fortune, often with little more than a packed lunch. Even scions of nobility travel as youths: knights seek glorious deeds and everyone looks for treasure and a marriage above their current station. Perhaps this period of relative hardship on the road is why humans tend to be friendly and generous. A traveller in real need can expect shelter and a hot meal in a human village simply by asking. There is however a darker side to human ambition, a few become obsessed with social station, intoxicated by power, or consumed by greed thus falling into the blackest evil. It is just as well that for every evil king or vile witch there are a dozen human knights and heroines.
It is worth noting that some humans of the Green Isles are incredibly stupid.
Villages & Towns
Compared to other D&D settings the Green Isles are densely populated and Humans outnumber the other peoples four to one. Agriculture is absolutely required to feed the masses of humanity and therefore dominates human life and covers the Isles in a carpet of farmland and villages. Some villages have grown into towns and cities sustained by trade. In these larger settlements diverse crafts are practiced producing further wares for the massive markets. As centres of wealth, and political power towns and cities naturally attract non-humans who come to trade and conduct diplomacy.
Relations with other Kin
Humans are generally trusted by elves and the other common kindred when encountered in human lands. However humans are rarely seen in Elfland or non-human kingdoms except as adventurers conducting thefts, killing kings, and generally upsetting people. Humans are typically greeted with suspicion when encountered outside of their own lands. This attitude is especially true for elves and faeries. In return humans regard elves as charming, magical, and too unpredictable to be trusted. Half-elves directly born from an elf parent are regarded by humans much as elves are but with the added bitterness born of elves’ practices of leaving changlings and taking human babes as slaves or abandoning half-elf babes with strangers.
Humans get along best with the Thurse who dwell among humans, though human generally find the giants to be somewhat overly serious and unambitious.
Humans are friendly in patronising in their relations with most talking animals the exception being bears and other large predators whom are treated with caution or even outright hostility or fear.
Proactive Protagonists
The chief protagonist of most tales is human. Humans are frequently the driving force propelling an adventuring party forwards into danger and glory. Humans readily accept help from just about anyone often making them the seed around which a diverse group of varied races gathers. Typical human adventurers include:
➢ The youngest of three daughters or sons.
➢ A gullible (even stupid) but adventurous youth.
➢ A young noble disguised as a peasant.
➢ A brave but bloodthirsty knight who is the youngest born of a noble family
➢ A village wise-woman and midwife.
➢ A once attractive youth cursed with ugliness
➢ A poor dirt covered old peasant who is not above trespassing and theft.
➢ A poor old man or woman who always sees the bright side of every situation.
➢ A friendly child without the prejudices of adults
➢ A royal prince captured as a babe and raised by giants.
➢ A poor but attractive young woman or man with a beautiful singing voice.
Humans of the Green Isles do not have family names. First is a title for formal use such as Mistress, Sir, Cardinal, ‘her Royal Highness’, Sergeant, etc. A given name which is generally made up of sounds from traditional names from the British Isles then spelt phonetically. After this is a descriptive name taken from a feature, place of origin, profession, parent, or deed. For example though her friends call her ‘Mellee’ she is introduced at the royal ball as ‘Miss Mellee the Giant-slayer’. While humans don’t not have family names, the nobility maintain and memorise scrolls upon scrolls of family trees.
Male names: Bil, Jak, Tom,
Female names: Mellee,
Ability score increase, variant, or Silly: as described in the PHB or the following:
Silly Variant: -1INT, -1WIS, one feat of your choice, one skill of your choice, and +1 to STR, CON, DEX, and CHA.
Age: Ideally PC humans will mimic the protagonists in British fairy tales, these characters are typically youths, elderly or even children. Special rules for children are given in this document.
Alignment: Unlike the more diverse humans elsewhere those of the Green Isles are usually good but those few whose ambition lures them into evil rapidly spiral into such depths even devil’s gasp. All PC humans are good.
Size: though many are very skinny or obese all are Medium Size. Speed: 30ft
Languages: humans speak Common and any one of the other languages listed for the Green Isles. Note that Infernal is rarely known and knowledge of that tongue is illegal and condemned by Jhoeda’s Church.