Big Mac wrote:In 3e terms, that would mean this stuff would be on the same level as the Epic Handbook. In 2e terms, I don't recall epic rules, but I would be guessing that 21st level PCs would be doing things like becoming the captain of The Spelljammer, discovering the secrets of the Juna, becoming so focused at their religion that they permanently have a Contact Home Power effect and that sort of thing.
There was a 2nd edition book called Dungeon Master Option: High Level Campaigns
that contained rules for 10th level spells and the like. There was also Dragon Kings
, the 2nd edition sourcebook for the Dark Sun campaign that included rules for characters beyond 20th level, who began to transform into things like Athasian dragons, avangions, and elemental lords, which is probably the best 2e parallel of 4th edition epic-level characters.
An "epic destiny" in 4th edition is basically a prestige class available to characters at 21st level designed to bring a character to their ultimate destiny. Earlier editions were open-ended; famously, there were rules for 100th level characters in H4 Throne of Bloodstone
, and during the 3e era the WotC message boards occasionally got posts from people talking about how their 300th level characters could chop planets apart with their swords. For 4e, the designers decided that 30 levels would be the absolute maximum for mortals, but the last ten levels would be spent giving the character's story a suitably epic conclusion. Some epic destinies end with the PC becoming a demigod, or a saint, a spirit of nature, a primordial, or they become one with the universal mind or the force of magic itself. The character is no longer a PC, but they become a legendary part of the campaign world, their name continuing forever in churches, schools of psionics, the names of spells, and so on.
The best analogy is probably that epic destinies are like Master-level characters in the old D&D Master Set
, in which the characters are extremely high level and actively on one of the paths to Immortality. 2nd edition's Legends & Lore
had brief guidelines for how high-level characters could become gods; characters trying to do it that way are like 4e epic destinies as well.
Lords of Chaos end their careers as an NPC, doing whatever it is that reigars do. "As a Lord of Chaos, you might commit yourself to shaping a vast swath of the elemental plane into a domain of your own. You or your descendants could rule over an extraplanar kingdom forged by your will and imagination. Or you might choose to roam the universe, immersing yourself in every experience that catches your eye. Whatever your path, you eventually leave your adventuring career behind, drawn by the challenge of shaping and ordering your own private universe."
So that's what the reigars are up to in 4e.
I found an article called Retooled Lord of Chaos Epic Destiny
, but sadly, the different terminology meant that I could understand what the general theme was, but only barely understand what would need to be done at the actual tabletop.
That's probably a good indication that Heroes of Elemental Chaos
won't be useful for you.
I wonder if other material in the book ties into the Epic Destiny in some way.
Would I be correct in assuming that a Lord of Chaos would be a singular thing that only one PC would become (rather than a group of people)?
No, there can be as many Lords of Chaos in a campaign as you want.
What sort of thing does it say for the prerequisite of the Lord of Chaos?
The only prerequisite is that the character has to be at least 21st level. The character "embodies the exquisitely rare mix of brilliance, beauty, willfulness, and creativity that characterizes the immortal ranks of the Reigar," but the book doesn't attempt to quantify that in game terms. One would expect a Lord of Chaos to have high scores in intelligence, wisdom, and charisma, but it's not actually required.
Does it fit in well with a character class or some sort of non-class role that spacefarers might normally have?
Any epic-level character could qualify in theory. It should probably go to a character who is smart and artistic. A bard would be fitting, but a mage or even a fighter with an artistic flare (like the bladesinger kit in 2e) would work.
I'm not sure I would also say they are "gamist", as I don't know the rules enough to decide if I dislike them, but the terms seem more like out-of-character slang than in-character abilities. It is the way they talk about their 4e rules, rather than the rules themselves, that seems flavourless to me.
That's what I mean by "gamist."
Developed at rec.games.frp.advocacy from 1997 to 1998; proposed by Mary Kuhner, and FAQed by John Kim. It hypothesizes that any GM decision will be made for the purpose of game, or drama, or simulation. Thus, player preferences, GMing styles, and even RPG rulesets can be characterised as Game-oriented, Drama-oriented or Simulation-oriented, or more usually as somewhere between the three extremes. It is sometimes called GDS theory. Strictly, GDS theory is concerned with players' social interactions, but it has been extrapolated to direct game design, both in and out of the world of RPGs. A game can be classified according to how strongly it encourages or facilitates players reinforcing behaviors matching each category. Game designers find it useful because it can be used to explain why players play certain games.
Developed at Gaming Outpost in 2001 largely by Scarlet Jester. It hypothesizes a top and bottom "tier" of play, with the top tier being dominated by "Intent" which is divided into Gamist, Explorative, and Narrative. It was influenced by threefold and GNS theory.
The Big Model or Forge Theory
Developed at The Forge from 1999-2005 largely by Ron Edwards – It hypothesizes that roleplaying games are modeled by "The Big Model" with 4 levels: the social contract, exploration, techniques and ephemera, with creative agendas governing the link from social contract to technique. In this theory there are 3 kinds of creative agenda, Gamist, Narrativist, and Simulationist agendas. It is detailed in the articles "GNS and Other Matter of Role Play Theory," "System Does Matter," "Narrativism: Story Now" "Gamism: Step on Up" and "Simulationism: The Right to Dream" by Ron Edwards, at the Forge's article page. The Big Model grew out of GNS Theory, a variant of the Threefold Model.
Being "gamist" isn't bad, but it's a distinctive approach to game design. A simulationist approach means the rules are trying to accurately simulate reality, or at least the reality of the game, so the emphasis is modeling what the effects of being hit by a sword or burnt by a fireball might be. These rules tend to be complex and combat is harder to survive. The D&D hit point system isn't simulationist, for example; it doesn't really try to simulate anything but a set of abstract resources that are exhausted as the character abstractly takes damage. A more simulationist system typically has rules to help determine what part of a character's body is hit, the cumulative effects of wounds on their ability to fight, rules to simulate how armor becomes less useful as it's damaged, and so on. A narrativist approach means the rules are created first and foremost to facilitate storytelling, and robustly mimicking physics or enabling strategies and tactics and "winning" are secondary goals. Narrativist players tend to care less about whether the rules are realistic or planning strategy and tactics in a fight and more about developing their characters and collaborative storytelling. A gamist approach constructs the rules as a game first and foremost, worrying less about accurate simulation or facilitating a story and more about making action scenes fun. A lot of people argue that this is the only point of rules; a pure-narrativist group doesn't need rules at all, any more than an author needs a set of rules to write a novel. And there's something to that, but of course a game system doesn't have to be only one thing or the other. Some narrativist games strive to provide a minimal amount of structure and mostly stay out of the way.
A given set of rules can support all three playstyles, but 4th edition seems to support gamist-style play better than the others. A lot of times characters will have abilities in 4th edition that I don't even know how to describe from a narrativist or simulationist standpoint, but which make perfect sense if you're approaching combat as a elaborate and imaginative game of chess. D&D has always been primarily gamist; hit points are gamist, armor class is gamist, character levels and classes are gamist, Vancian magic is gamist, even the alignment system is an incredibly gamist way to simulate something that in many games is purely left to roleplaying. I feel like 4th edition takes this even further, though, in the sense that the rules don't seem to show any interest in helping people with other styles of play. In previous editions you knew that hit points weren't an accurate simulation of combat either in a realistic or cinematic sense, but you could say that it was supposed to represent a character slowly acquiring so many minor cuts, bruises, and general exhaustion that they become vulnerable to a final deathstroke or a severe wound that they're rapidly bleeding out from. And you can describe that
, even as you know the rules aren't exactly showing that. We knew that Vancian magic was nothing like how magic was described in most fantasy novels - it isn't even an accurate depiction of how it works in Jack Vance's fantasy novels - but we could at least describe it in terms of a character laborously constructing a matrix of sigils in their head that shatters as the energy is released, or in terms of a spell as a semi-sentient, almost living thing made of magical energy that uncoils itself from the tome in which it makes its home and temporarily burrows into the spellcaster's head.
Whereas... like, a dark creeper in 4th edition has a "dark step" ability that lets it move 4 squares, gains a +4 AC advantage against attacks of opportunity, and gains combat advantage against anyone in adjacent square. That's all pretty amazing for someone trying to make combat challenging and fun, but what is even happening
? Previous editions would have given us a brief narrative description of what the monster does - is it actually stepping through the Plane of Shadow, teleporting between shadows, or is it just being very fast and sneaky? From a gamist standpoint it doesn't matter, but from the standpoint of someone interested in worldbuilding and describing the action like an author narrating a story, the rules leave you high and dry.
And yeah, there's an argument that worldbuilding and narration isn't the responsibility of the rules; you don't actually need rules to do those things, but if you like them you can come up with something yourself while the rules do what rules are best at. And it's not like there aren't 4th edition supplements with lots of flavor text; some recent sourcebooks don't have any rules at all. But other roleplaying games, and even previous editions of D&D, don't have quite this level of disconnect between what the rules do and any attempt to rationalize what the rules are doing in narrative or simulationist terms.
The ability to teleport up to ten squares could easily be reworded into an in-character distance, assuming I can work out what a "square" is in English, to make it feel more like a roleplaying ability. I think I would do that if I tried to retroconvert the Lord of Chaos and use it in the SJ universe.
But I don't really understand how a teleporting ability fits in with a reigar's shakti. Surely Richard Baker would not have dropped the shakti into this and not mentioned the reigar, at all.
The shakti isn't connected to the teleporting ability; they're different abilities that the Lord of Chaos gains at different levels.
21st level: The Lord of Chaos gains +2 charisma and is able to make a shakti. Their type changes to immortal (the 4th edition equivalent of outsider).
Level 24: Once per day, if the Lord of Chaos dies, they can reincarnate and create a new body 1-60 minutes later, anywhere within a mile.
Level 26: The Lord of Chaos can instantly reshape the substance of the plane of Elemental Chaos (up to five squares, which don't have to be nearby) making the terrain more or less difficult to navigate or creating weather effects.
Level 30: The Lord of Chaos can teleport 20 squares after they've scored a critical hit or bloodied an enemy.
Rich Baker did
mention the reigar, but not in the context of the individual abilities. NPCs in 4th edition don't have the same abilities PCs have, so a 4e reigar wouldn't necessarily have all the abilities a 30th level Lord of Chaos would have.
But, like, that last ability. How the hell do you justify that sort of thing in simulationist terms? What's even happening? When they hurt people they can teleport away but otherwise they can't? That's an arbitrary rule on par with the crooked way knights move in chess, and while it might be fun to plan your tactics around that sort of complexity I have no idea why the power works that way or what the power has to do either with shaping chaos or a race of sparkly superartists from outer space. Is the teleport effect powered by blood or the lifeforce of their victims? Are they vampires? Can they carry a bag of blood and just empty that? Can they carry a mouse in their pocket and kill it in order to activate the teleportation magic?
Do you think it might be something like a reigar "virus" that turns certain powerful characters into reigar?
This is what it says: "Foreseeing that their race would eventually dwindle and stagnate, the Reigar created one last masterwork of cooperative magic: a sentient, self-guiding force that would seek out the most brilliant and worthy souls among mortals and gift them with the powers of the Reigar, thus renewing the race across the ages."
I suppose you could interpret a "sentient, self-guiding force" as a sort of virus.
One possibility is that the force was created prior to the destruction of the reigar homeworld by reigar who weren't certain their race would survive their world's destruction.
But if you don't actually intend to give PCs the option of gaining these abilities, which are pretty specific to the 4th edition cosmology (their level 26 ability, Whim of Creation, would only work on Limbo and similar morphic planes in previous editions), then you're left with a more general "the reigar sometimes train members of other races as their apprentices." They don't necessarily turn their apprentices into actual reigar, but they may seek to leave something of their culture and abilities to worthy members of other races. They could do that against their will, using a magic virus to transform victims into androgynous sparkly people, or they could find willing volunteers and train them in certain specific abilities. Or some reigar could actively work to hunt down and kill Lords of Chaos, who regret that members of their race ever created the "sentient, self-guiding force" and seek to eliminate those who have stumbled upon powers that don't rightfully belong to them.
A literal interpretation of the Heroes of Elemental Chaos
material would suggest that the reigar are natives of Limbo or a similar plane, but that's not the way they were originally presented.
There must be some sort of way to use this (without the 4e crunchy stuff).
I'm sure there is, but without the crunchy stuff everything the book says about the reigar is in this thread, so there's no point in buying the book for that alone.
I'd question whether the Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
spin is actually the best way to use the reigar, though. I think they're more interesting as a race of powerful, amoral artists than as a mysterious race of power-granters. An individual reigar might become obsessed with "sculpting" other races into beings like it is, but I wouldn't make it a characterization of the race as a whole.