Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

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Shannon
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Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Shannon » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:06 am

Please forgive me if any oversights of protocol; I've never posted a new topic before (and hardly posted at all!)

The recent thread about how high-magic Alphatia should be and a post there about the writer's conception of druids and paladins got me thinking.

Alphatia's social classes are based upon one's being a "spellcaster" – not necessarily a magic-user. Clerics and elves are explicitly afforded the same respect before the law as magic-users; King Sildreth II of Greenspur is a cleric; King Drushiye of Limn and King Acroshiye of Shiye-Lawr are elves – even if they probably would never become emperors and probably rarely become kings in practice.

This makes me wonder about the rôle and treatment of other spellcasters in Alphatian society and politics, including:
  • Paladins, Avengers, Bards, Druids, and Druidic Knights
  • Shamans of the Shadow Elves
  • Shamans of Ethengar & Shamani of Atruaghin
  • Wiccas (or Wokani, if you prefer) & Shamans; this could include classes available as players-characters such as Gnomes; Centaurs; Humanoids (Orcs, Goblins, Etc.); and, in Aquas, Sea Giants, Merrow, Kna, Etc.
  • Spellcasting Fairies (Sidhe, Sprites, Pixies, & Leprechauns)
  • Characters with innate spellcasting or similar powers. These vary widely from, e.g., Sphinxes, Dryads, Hsaio, Tritons, & Pegataurs (who innately cast true spells much as elves do) to Harpies, Kopru, Nagpa, Gremlins, and Nixies (who have innate powers very similar to spells but are much less similar to conventional models)
Foresters would presumably lose their abilities if they genuinely and permanently became allied to Alphatia or Glantri, but I presume that in a time of relative peace between Alphatia and Thyatis, visiting foresters be treated as nobility in Alphatia, and accorded similar respect in Glantri absent any conflict between Glantri and Thyatis. Hin masters cannot exist outside the Five Shires. Dwarf-clerics are presumably treated no differently than clerics. Dawn of the Emperors states that the rules about spellcasters' privilege do not hold in Stoutfellow, but it's worth asking if the actual monarch of Stoutfellow must be a spellcaster. Queen Buthra Bofadar is a dwarf-cleric, if I recall correctly, so such a requirement may well exist. Dwarves and hin are of course unwelcome in Glantri be they spellcasters or no.... (Say, how are gnomes – and gnomish wiccas! – treated in Glantri...? They are awfully similar to dwarves, and similarly resistant to magic – they save as dwarves of the same level – but the topic is never addressed in canon, to my knowledge. Top Ballista indicates Glantri is "studiously avoided by the gnomes" but does this indicate all gnomes are unwelcome in Glantri, or only skygnomes, or perhaps only that Glantri and Serraine have bad relations....?)

Glantri's mores are more restrictive, but perhaps there is a question even there of how magical (as opposed to clerical or druidic) spellcasters besides human magic-users and elves would be treated (e.g., wiccas who are gnomes, centaurs, ogres, etc.).

Now, in some instances practical considerations decide the matter. For instance, we probably need not consider the status of tritons or merrow in Glantri, despite the Kingdom of Aquas and extensive coastlines making those questions more important to Alphatia. I also realise Ethengarian shamans and Atruaghin shamani may be unlikely to become landed nobles in Alphatia, but it's worth considering how they would be treated when travelling in Alphatia as visitors or immigrants, and whether they might even become landed or otherwise important nobles for exceptional service to the empire.... Likewise, the adventure "At the Spottle Parlor" is set in Glantri and has both a lizard-man and hobgoblins as non-player characters, so, are such beings, if spellcasting wiccas, treated well in Glantri? In addition, players' actions can mean needing to address improbable questions: Brute-men, Hutakkaa, or Beastmen adventurers (maybe player-characters) may well wind up in Alphatia or Glantri. If they do, how does their ability to cast spells (or lack of it) affect their treatment?

Further, it may be important to consider what would be formally accepted versus what would be possible to get away with using chicanery and discretion. For instance, might a sidhe, dryad, or even a very clever thief (remember, they can cast spells from scrolls with some success as they become more powerful!) be officially precluded from consideration as a noble in Alphatia but able to maintain such a position by convincing others she is in fact a human magic-user or an elf?

Dryads are special in that we know from the case of Queen Mellora that a dryad may be a noble there, and, indeed, Dawn of the Emperors suggests any spellcaster is a noble in Limn, presumably including wiccas, shamans, spellcasting fairies, etc. – but this information leaves open the question whether the rule applies to other parts of the empire. May the explicit differentiation about Limn be taken to mean that exception does not hold in other parts of the empire, or does its emphasis on ostensibly montrous beings like humanoids only mean that those beings are treated as citizens in Limn, while they might have no rights elsewhere, be they spellcasters or no. If the latter, then perhaps Limn is only unique in its acceptance of such monstrous sorts, but that, e.g., fairies, gnomes, and dryads are treated as normal citizens and, when spellcasters, as nobles throughout the empire....

I'm raising more questions than I answer, an d I may be overlooking answers already provided in canon materials. I'm interested in others' thoughts, especially what folks have done in practice to implement those thoughts, and how things worked out. I'm also keen to be pointed to any answers in canon I am overlooking. I hope others find this topic interesting and I look forward to reading others' ideas.

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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Tom Bulls Eye » Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:29 am

I have always used the “any spell-caster’s a noble” rule, my campaigns generally being without interracial tensions beyond the classic “good guy” elfs and “bad guy” orks division.

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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Havard » Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:24 am

Hello Shannon!

Don't worry too much about protocol here at The Piazza. We are for the most part a friendly bunch and someone will probably give you some friendly advice if you should post in the wrong place or something :)

In Alphatia, the aristocrat class is a good option for people who can use some magic, but do not belong to a pure spellcaster class. Monster Wiccas and Monster shamans are specifically said to belong to this class per Alphatia PG p 18. Most elves belong to this class, but elves are allowed to advance to the Noble ranks. Non-spellcasters are stuck in one of the lower four commoner classes.

In Glantri; Clerics, Druids, Shamans and similar spellcaster will be persecuted, but anyone else has a chance of winning some respect. I don't think humanoid Wiccas were fully accepted before AC1010. Gaz1 presents a mostly human and elf dominated country with the weirder aspects (like Vampires) hiding behind the fascade. Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (AD&D) suggests more weirdness out in the open with the progeny race. For arcane spellcasters though, the main rule is that they will be judged by the ability of their magic and whether they have attended the Great School. I'm not sure I would feel too safe as any kind of monstrous spellcaster though. The temptation to use them as components in arcane research might just become too great for the local Magic-Users. Alphatia seems a lot more tolerant towards unusual races, but less tolerant towards non-spellcasters.

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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Sturm » Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:46 am

In My Alphatia I had also psionics who were a bit shunned/outcasts because the aristocrats feared their powers. Non-human spellcasters could be noble only in some kingdoms, maybe not in Arogansa and Blackhearth, for example. But maybe in Randel dragons are nobles too, if you go with the latest Bruce Heard's development.
Dawn of the Emperors has very few details on the specifics of Alphatian society, so It is more or less to each DM's choice.
In Glantri I think only elves and humans wizards were tolerated before WoTI, but later canonically humanoids and werecreatures are accepted too. Clerics were allowed after the plague, but I believe they could not become noble. However I allowed it in my campaign, at least for scions of noble families.
I never used much sorceres and warlocks of later editions, but I imagine they could be more tolerated in Alphatia than in Glantri, probably Havard has a good point saying Alphatia seems a lot more tolerant towards unusual races, but less tolerant towards non-spellcasters.
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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Robin » Mon Feb 04, 2019 8:11 pm

Hello, This is Ursula Bremmen. You probably know me from the Poor Wizard's Almanac and Joshuan's Almanac.
Today we interview Gabba-Boink, a world travelling orc originating from Karameikos.

So Gabba tell us something about yourself;....

Image
Here GGabba-Boink.
Me Orc, Me Shaman ...And me Wicca
I pray to Wogar for strength in arm, to Orcus for weapon cracking bones, to Hel for animating the fallen to my aid.
I read spellbook and slam gri-gri to cast blinky-Missiles to kill weaklings mages from afar.


Oh my...that's loud...Ah, yes. So you seem to be a regular orc with a various portfolio of magic abilities? I understand You are able to cast Magic Missiles, Animate the Dead, Strength and Enchanted weapons.

Not know what pofolio is, nor how it tasjte. You name magic differr than we orc do. yet magic is sjame.
Me proud orc...travel on boat all over world
me sjpeak tjatan, aphwas, and glatrjan
Me been there.


Ah...yes...So you speak Thyatian, Alphatian and ...Glantrian? as you have been there?

Yes, you stupid. no need to repeat. Me aristocrat now, me aristocrat in aphwasia before it drowned. me heroic arena warrior in tjatan.
when me was tiny orc near threshold, me had to fight to survive, fight to have respect
adventurers....pah..p'tuj.....caused me to move east.
The great War caused me to return to main land.
me as caster is royal in aphwasia...no fighter may attack me there, it is da law.....me am de law
now me no longer law, but stillstrong.
big stone fell from sky made Broken Lands bigger and deeper.


So you moved in the great war to the Broken Lands?

Yes!! I already did say dad... you no ears? King Kol made invite to all,orcs be welcome too. we now aristocrat when we wicca or shaman...
me ar wicca And shaman...so me double aristocrat...
me walk in gwantw now as sitisen, not attacked
yet me not aristocrat as in aphwasia, here all paperstuff to do and have.
me not like paperstuff
me need paper to bash, paperstuff to maim, paperstuff to cast...me carry almost two books here...


two books?

Yes zstupid..spelbook and pack of paperstuff.
Me maybe aristocrat, may have large houuse, or hut or allowed to have tower, and buy color cloth.
yet not same as before, some mages want to cut me open, know what makes GGaba tick and cast magic
not funny.
now I must have extra paperstuff when I am attacked by petty mages or helps in metal and beat crap out of them
not funny being aristocrat in gwantri


Thus far our interview with Gabba-Boink. Gabba We thank you for your kind answers and hospitality. We hope all fares well for you in Glantri.

OK...talk over.....me have paperstuff ..so we bang? bang-bang? I am arisocrat and allowed to?


.............................
The door of the inn slams shut and outside the running steps of Miss Bremmen echo away in the distance.


Pity she misses something great.
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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Shannon » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:02 pm

:lol:
I take your point, Robin, and it's valid as far as humanoids go, but the many other more civilised sorts (gnomes, sidhe, human paladins, merrow, etc.) presumably would not be subject to the implied problems.

It's different strokes for different folks, of course, but I must add I tend to think of humanoids as being a bit less savage than is suggested. Even The Orcs of Thar strikes me as a little inconsistent. If humanoids were as entirely savage and inept as much of it often suggests, I'm not convined they could organise into vast armies and kingdoms, develop language, practice magic, or attain immortality. I think of Graakhalian gnolls, orcs like Urgham the Quiet or Yalag the Gladiator, and I am not sure they could function as highly as they do if they were as stupid and violent as all that. I appreicate the wry humour of much of The Orcs of Thar, but I prefer to think of humanoids as being a bit more intelligent and capable than they are often depicted. Doubtless many remain moronic brutes, but significant numbers must also at least be on par with slow humans if they are to have any viability in a world dominated by human, demihuman, and other more advanced civilisations. Else, they would be as easy to contain and eradicate as are, say, tigers or gorillas by humans in the real world. Those creatures are also physically formidable and superiour to humanity, but by being beasts without any ability intellect to speak of in comparison to humans, they are utterly subject to humanity's dominion....

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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Robin » Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:27 pm

Humor beside

I totally agree.
Even in the chaos and chaotic world there is at least a basic though very primitive order...on on the law of strength (be it muscle, brutality, magic or wit)

Things many people forget are for example
An Orc NEVER lies...(he is simply too socially /linguistically stupid to know the concept, even though its intelligence can make crude weapons, formidable though primitive war machines and even comprehend and use magic.

Many people think the Neanderthal was a primitive stupid brute, with only stone weapons, yet new discoveries has even set their average intelligence at IQ 114, 14 points above our world average of 100 (for example;current USA 95, Sweden 112, China 101, Russia 88,Netherlands 121, Gernmany 105, Danmark 108, Norway 112) , yet their culture and use of travel thus communication was more local and restricted to nearby tribes.
To examplify this...nearly 95% of the current western world humans who think they are intelligent can't survive when elicktricity falls down, or metal dissapears.

Back to orc, or better Humanoids.
Kobolds are tricksters, trapmaskers, Orcs are warriors, Gnolls have basic nithia architectural/war tactics, Goblinoids(all variaties) are making use of their size, agillity, lack of fear, Ogres are often masters in magic, Trolls however are moe like the basic stupid humanoid. Just to name some examples


On the otherhand the bureaucracy in Glantri is ridiculous, even for humans, and all is set up to maintail (at least some) control on ALL the glantrian subjects...See Gaz 3....seems to mimic our culture/society today (where you sometimes even need a license or digital pass to pee....really ...in France).
This is so ridiculous that it somehow also limits PLayers?DM's to go freely...at least that is my opinion...
I noticed this in my creation of http://pandius.com/Great_School_of_Magic_in_detail.pdf...and tried to maintain this delicate equilibrium....however, ,..I also know now it is a state of control which will seize to be functional to mages and undead soon...
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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Sturm » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:00 am

Well Gaz10 is quite humorous, but still depicts the humanoids as relatively civilized, that's more or less a DM's choice. In my experience at the table among friends humour tend to prevail, so it is quite pointless to try to enforce a serious campaign, but some players and DMs may prefer so.
Also I think the humorous aspect is more or less a fundamental characteristic of Bruce Heard's Mystara, while the previous depiction of the setting by Mentzer and Aalston tended to be more on the serious side.
Personally I give some mild humorous aspect to humanoids in my campaigns, in line with the later Mystaran style, but still have them relatively civilized, with farming, magic, some basic machinery, traps, nuanced social relations, even if they may be more straight forward and apparently simple than humans and other races.
I do not like to depict them as brutal savages, also because I think many Mystaran products imply there is a degree of cooperation and cohesistence between humans and other races, so a perennial "us against them" imo does not fit Mystara very well.
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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Havard » Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:14 pm

Sturm wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 11:46 am
In My Alphatia I had also psionics who were a bit shunned/outcasts because the aristocrats feared their powers.
Psionics is an interesting topic. I could also see Alphatians accepting Psionicists as aristocracy, but that can be up to the individual DM.
Non-human spellcasters could be noble only in some kingdoms, maybe not in Arogansa and Blackhearth, for example. But maybe in Randel dragons are nobles too, if you go with the latest Bruce Heard's development.Dawn of the Emperors has very few details on the specifics of Alphatian society, so It is more or less to each DM's choice.
Yes. I also think that since it covers such a large area, there is room for a lot of variation within the Empire of Alphatia.
In Glantri I think only elves and humans wizards were tolerated before WoTI, but later canonically humanoids and werecreatures are accepted too. Clerics were allowed after the plague, but I believe they could not become noble. However I allowed it in my campaign, at least for scions of noble families.
I think several races might be accepted in Glantri, but it would be decided on a case by case basis. Glantri is also a kingdom of secrets, so most unusual characters would be better off keeping their real identities hidden

I agreee that Clerics should never be accepted as nobles in Glantri.

I never used much sorceres and warlocks of later editions, but I imagine they could be more tolerated in Alphatia than in Glantri, probably Havard has a good point saying Alphatia seems a lot more tolerant towards unusual races, but less tolerant towards non-spellcasters.
There are many ways to adapt the classes of later editions. I could see Warlocks replacing the Secret Craft of Witchcraft. I think Sorcerers could work in both Alphatia and Glantri. In 3E, many suggested Sorcerers to mimic Elves of BECMI, but in 5E, those elves might work better as Eldritch Knights. I could see 5E sorcerers working well in both Alphatia and Glantri, but I think Glantri should be dominated by Wizards.

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Re: Non-Traditional Spellcasters in Alphatia & Glantri?

Post by Robin » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:24 pm

What I actually also tried to exemplify in my funny post, is that Glantri might tolerate other races than human and elf, yet seriously restricts them by their absurd bureaucracy. No mages like to haves all his spellbooks looked upon, all spells and research documented and registered.
And they may have an aristocratic status, this surely would diminish the fun of being 'upper'class...specially to other races, who often might become (legal or illegal) target for componentsource or experimental status by the ruling wizards...elf or human(many of which are necromantic or undead).
especially as you have to have all documentation on your person otherwise you are illegal and prone to arrest and even guilty until proven innocent if not recognized as being nobility
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