[Whiteleaf] Miscellaneous Infodump

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willpell
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[Whiteleaf] Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sun Oct 18, 2015 6:21 pm

This thread is for posts which disclose details about Whiteleaf which are not easily categorized. Ideally the posts will be moved to topical threads as they are created.

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Four Facts Forsaken...Forever?

Post by willpell » Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:02 pm

I've been thinking about Whiteleaf for more than five years now, and in that time I've generated absurd fucktons of datapoints, many of which are lost in a vast tangle of notes that I may never see again. But a while back, I performed an organizational project which enabled me to locate most of the more pertinent information; stuff I can't find at the moment is mostly fairly easy to live without until such time as I need it, and hopefully that will happen far enough in the future that I will have managed to turn it up and properly file it.

But there are four significant facts about the setting which I either never wrote down, so they've long since been forgotten, leaving only a hole in my memory where they should have been, or else I wrote them down in a place that has been lost (perhaps forever; the Wizards community groups may contain some of them, and if they aren't already gone they certainly don't have much longer). These are important facts that have story hooks tied up with them that I'm really eager to use, but can't, until I either recall the missing info, or satisfactorily reconstruct it from similar inspirations, while having no idea what those are. When I know that I got a certain creative question about where the setting should go "right" in the past, but now can't remember what I came up with, I usually cannot stand to substitute a probably-inferior new construction; therefore, these are simply "grave markers" for setting details which have been lost, positions that will be very difficult to ever re-fill.

1. The Whiteleaf Calendar
I recently re-generated names for the eight days of the Whiteleaf week, but I still don't recall what I was doing for Months (I think I had 13 of them, built around the idea of including Ophiuchus in the zodiac, but I have no clue what they might have been called). I believe I also came up with an official list of holidays (at least eight each year). But for the moment that information is in limbo; I can either make it up anew, or wait until it is recovered.

2. The Chimera
I've always thought that a monster should be something more than a dangerous animal or a demihuman psychopath; a monster needs to have some symbolic meaning in order for it to be worth making it exist. I once struck upon a brilliant explanation for what a chimera means, why exactly it should have both a lion head and a goat head while also being part serpent, as opposed to any other combination of animals. I think I even explictly mentioned a reason for the goat head to emerge from the creature's back. I remember a vague sense of the concept being "mother of monsters"-esque, and maybe a sense of water symbolism or primordial chaos...but the rest escapes me. And the absence of this explanation for an otherwise random and silly Magical Beast means that I cannot feature Chimeras in my game ever again, despite the fact that the Incarnum soulmeld "Threefold Mask of the Chimera" is definitely in use, and gives a bonus to perform Wild Empathy against chimeras!

3. The Ruins Under the Alder Bole
In one of my previous efforts at making a game out of Whiteleaf, I detailed a setting known as the Transylvaine Wilderness Preserve, an immense forest on the southern border of the Tradespeak Empire, which was set aside for protection by the organization of Druids known as the Greenswardens (a variant on the Guardians of the Green from "Complete Divine"). The story unfolded slowly over the course of months, and because players are notorious for their ability to ruin your plans, I didn't do a lot of advance preparation, simply detailing ideas as I thought of them. Unfortunately, I was overconfident in my certainty that, when I first mentioned that one eccentric druid was excavating the ruins of an ancient city beneath the giant tree in the center of the "Alder Ward" in the middle of Transylvaine, I was sure that by the time the characters actually got there, I would still remember what the deal was with those ruins, who they had belonged to and why I had introduced them into the plot. But the heroes lingered over scenes of local color which were meant to be transitional, showed no eagerness to get moving onward, and never visited the ruins at all - and by the time I realized I should have written the details of the ruins down, they had drifted away on the wings of several nights' or weeks' sleep, and I had no idea what my plan had been. Ironic, that if I'd built some plot rails and kept a written outline of them where I could find it, the game might well have fared better than it did under my assumption that the players were what it was all about (true) and that I should let them drive the action (less true).

4. TBA

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Re: [Whiteleaf] Miscellaneous Infodump

Post by willpell » Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:28 pm

I've got a table I've compiled PrCs into for my own easy reference. For now it indexes the following books:

* Book of Exalted Deeds
* Book of Vile Darkness
* Cityscape
* Complete Adventurer
* Complete Champion
* Complete Divine (including its web enhancement)
* Complete Mage
* Complete Psionic
* Complete Scoundrel
* Complete Warrior
* Draconomicon (only the player section)
* Dragon Magic
* Dungeon Master's Guide (3.5)
* Dungeonscape
* Expanded Psionics Handbook
* Fiendish Codex 2
* Heroes of Horror
* Libris Mortis
* Lords of Madness (except the Aboleth Savant and Beholder Mage)
* Magic of Incarnum
* Manual of the Planes
* Miniatures Handbook
* Planar Handbook
* Races of Stone
* Races of the Dragon
* Races of the Wild
* Stormwrack
* Tome of Battle
* Tome of Magic
* Weapons of Legacy (note: this class is NOT yet approved for player use).

Books not yet assessed include:
(3.5)
* Complete Arcane (19 classes)
* Draconomicon (dragon classes - not really planning to ever use these, it's hard enough to get a dragon character to work even without class levels)
* Dragon Compendium
* Drow of the Underdark
* Frostburn
* Races of Destiny
* Sandstorm
* Anything specific to Dragonlance, Eberron, or Forgotten Realms (though these may be adapted later)
(3.0 - would require conversion work)
* Defenders of the Faith (the few classes not later updated)
* Deities and Demigods
* Epic Level Handbook (I am not yet touching the epic rules)
* Fiend Folio
* Ghostwalk (Whiteleaf does not use the continuity of a physical afterlife as described herein, but may adapt the rules on ghosts anyway)
* Heroes of Battle
* Masters of the Wild (if not updated)
* Oriental Adventures
* Savage Species
* Song and Silence, Sword and Fist, Tome and Blood (when not updated)

The table includes a columnar assessment of all requirements, including setting-specific adjustments (usually to the names of deities required in the "Worship" column). There's also a loose numerical rating for how much "out of your way", as a typical member of your race/class, you have to go in order to qualify for the PrC. Characters who only need to have a few ranks in a decent skill, a particular BAB or good save, and maybe a language can "fall into" the class, and so the class is a 1 or a 2; if it requires any Feats at all, it is automatically at least a 3, and difficulty can range as high as 10 for incredibly narow and specific requirements (an example of a very high-rated PrC is Jade Phoenix Mage, which requires both unfavorable multiclassing and a litany of particular qualifications). Amusingly, one class, the Sensate Dilletante from Planar Handbook, counts as a 10 if you try to go the whole distance in it, but only a 1 if you're dabbling. The table also lists how many levels are minimally required to enter the class (barring an exploit which will allow you to exceed the normal cap on skill ranks for a given number of levels; the designers of most PrCs clearly didn't expect such a thing to ever exist, since BAB-based classes almost always require +5, impossible to ever achieve with less than 5 HD, while those whose primary entry barrier is a Skill always demand 8 ranks).

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Conventional Wisdom

Post by willpell » Sat Jan 02, 2016 4:08 pm

Not to be confused with Common Knowledge, which is 100% true knowledge available for out-of-setting use, this is an index of proverbs, axioms, Just-So Stories, and the like which prevail among the common people of Whiteleaf (mostly in the Empire, and the various human-settled or Common-speaking regions nearby which fall under its shadow). They are regarded as true by most NPCs, but are not necessarily accurate in fact.

"Give an inch and they'll take a mile" is frequently said on Earth, but very seldom in Whiteleaf. Likewise, "if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail". The Celestial Overwatch's constant meddling profoundly inclines day-to-day life away from these Broken Aesops.

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Legendary Figures

Post by willpell » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:27 pm

These are individuals in the Whiteleaf setting who are not worshipped as gods, but whose names are on the lips of millions of strangers every now and again just as a god's might be. Some are very powerful hero-types, some are saints (or highly impressive sinners), some may be mere mythic figures invented by bards to disguise and exagerrate the exploits of those they didn't want to directly flatter. Regardless, these names may get mentioned in conversation in various contexts.

Hurak - Eponymous with Hurak's Law, the belief that any situation which can get worse will.

Khrysk - Presumably an orc or half-orc given the name, and Willow must approve of him, so he's probably not an Exalted figure.

Mortwright - The closest you ever came to getting an explanation of how you'd stumbled into the realm (and back out of it) was a reference in Mortwright's Codex Planetaris to the phenomenon of "Shallowings", localized thinnings of the extraplanar "fabric" which enable beings to slip between dimensions, sometimes sealing behind them and other times remaining open long enough for them to recross the same invisible border. Obviously such phenomena are not a common occurrence, or every mysterious disappearance could be blamed on them; according to Mortwright they happen roughly every 100 years, but he admits that this was an educated guess at best, so there is no way to know for sure.

Reylandt - a legendary smith credited with creating many of the most famous weapons and armor which are still floating around; some even claim he was a god, responsible for several artifacts, Relics and Legacy Weapons. His name is synonymous with excellence in the crafting of Antiquities, much as the emperors Morden and Kainen are with the currently formalized system of spellcasting which predominates throughout the Empire.

Pres'T'trrby - the long-bygone King of a pre-imperial kingdom, who is famous for having been thoroughly pwned (to borrow a term from the modern vernacular) by the dukes, earls, counts and vice-counts under his rule. All of these various nobles united in protest against his mercurial edicts, and after letting him sweat for decades, they finally called a showdown in which he was forced to sign a historic piece of legislation, known in the vernacular of the day as the Large Compact (having been scribed in unnecessarily large letters; apocryphally this was done specifically to make it heavier, with the intention of physically smacking King "Prez" upside the head anytime he violated the spirit of the Compact while complying with his letter, although the politics of the day make this unlikely...more probably he was just hard of vision, since vision correction lenses may not even have been invented that long ago, and certainly were outside even a king's price range unless his kingdom was one of the world's wealthiest). Some say that the institution of Kingdoms was never the same after that, while others praise the Large Compact for heralding a new era for the Rule of Law. Both groups, however, must admit that it has been largely superseded by later documents, and is pretty much irrelevant to modern jurisprudence.

Soot Black and the Seven Elves - Popular folktale regarding a princess of the Fair Folk who became lost on the Material Plane, falling in with an improbable collective of tharsai from as many different subraces. The most common version of the tale gives the names (and, by extensive and rather stereotypical description, races) of the heptad: Cheerful (high), Languid (sun), Coughlin (an anemic and sickly gray elf), Recluse (wood), Groucho (wild), Deac (short for Deacon, a vaguely clerical-seeming Dun), and Whoopsie (a very awkward and unsympathetic attempt at profiling a Star or Ghost elf, despite the fact that very few other societies are familiar enough with these elusive creatures to have much of a caricature of them). The Drow versions of the tale often cast Soot Black as a male and all the others as females for the sake of "humor"; such portrayals are often punished for sedition by overly-sensitive clerics and matrons, but a dark elf bard who fears this fate is more likely to not tell the tale at all, rather than tell it with the absurdly obvious scenario of males serving a woman.

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Mystical Symbolic Weapons

Post by willpell » Sat Apr 02, 2016 6:00 pm

By default Chaos gets an axe that chops opponents down like so many trees, Good gets a tool of construction transformed into an instrument of justice, Law gets a sword for precision strikes which cleave the useful from the unworthy, and Evil gets a treacherous weapon which is good at robbing opponents of their own defenses or sweeping them from their feet. However the Weapon is ultimately an extension of the character wielding it, and the player is welcome to change its form in whatever way best suits the shaper's personality, although it remains the same shape every time it's manifested thereafter.

(This applies to the Incarnate Weapon soulmeld, as well as to the Spiritual Weapon spell, although it is less fitting in the case of Evil clerics than Evil Incarnates, since the spell can't be used for Trips or Disarms, and is thus strictly inferior to the non-Evil versions, instead of potentially being the best of the lot. Sadly, Incarnum is not open-source, so in official legal terms I am only talking about Spiritual Weapon here.)

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Re: Two Facts Forsaken...Forever?

Post by willpell » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:28 pm

willpell wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2015 7:02 pm
3. The Ruins Under the Alder Bole
In one of my previous efforts at making a game out of Whiteleaf, I detailed a setting known as the Transylvaine Wilderness Preserve, an immense forest on the southern border of the Tradespeak Empire, which was set aside for protection by the organization of Druids known as the Greenswardens (a variant on the Guardians of the Green from "Complete Divine"). The story unfolded slowly over the course of months, and because players are notorious for their ability to ruin your plans, I didn't do a lot of advance preparation, simply detailing ideas as I thought of them. Unfortunately, I was overconfident in my certainty that, when I first mentioned that one eccentric druid was excavating the ruins of an ancient city beneath the giant tree in the center of the "Alder Ward" in the middle of Transylvaine, I was sure that by the time the characters actually got there, I would still remember what the deal was with those ruins, who they had belonged to and why I had introduced them into the plot. But the heroes lingered over scenes of local color which were meant to be transitional, showed no eagerness to get moving onward, and never visited the ruins at all - and by the time I realized I should have written the details of the ruins down, they had drifted away on the wings of several nights' or weeks' sleep, and I had no idea what my plan had been. Ironic, that if I'd built some plot rails and kept a written outline of them where I could find it, the game might well have fared better than it did under my assumption that the players were what it was all about (true) and that I should let them drive the action (less true).
This mystery at least has been solved. In the Weapons of Legacy supplement, the druidic sword "Dymondheart" is described as being lost within a ruined city overrun with demons. The complex beneath the Alder Bole was designed as a location to insert this canonical fluff into the Whiteleaf setting, with the intention that one of my PCs at the time would have the option to wield Dymondheart. Never happened, but that's one lost piece of lore I can put to rest finally.

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