The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Special Mechanics and Character Creation
On this page (we’ll go over this before we start):
- Wound and Vigor System
- Critical Hit Tweaks
- Racial Stats
- Character preparation guidelines
- Allowed Sources
- Character Advancement
- Religion and God choices
- Language availability and naming conventions
Alignment (Good/Neutral/Evil and Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic) is determined by the actions of your character. The choices made determine alignment, not mindsets, intentions, or justifications.
Mechanically, alignment has effects on spells, class restrictions, and other game elements. This is especially true for Mogogols who get physically ill whenever their alignment moves away from good.
Roleplay-wise, it’s great to have a unique sense of right and wrong, order and disorder. Play your character however seems appropriate for its personality. Just be aware the powers-that-be may disagree with how the character interprets its actions, and that disagreement can express itself in how certain mechanics affect that character.
To be a “good” character, that person must:
- Act to protect innocent life
- Act altruistically
- Respect life
- Act to preserve the dignity of sentient beings
- Make short-term personal sacrifices to provide long-term help to others
Every time a character commits a “good act”, they take a step towards being “good”. The greater the act – the greater the step.
Every time a character has the opportunity to do one of these and doesn’t, they take a step away from being “good” and towards being “neutral”. The greater the omission – the greater the step.
To be an “evil” character, that person must:
- Kill others in a manner that isn’t “good”
- Kill others without guilt for the sake of convenience
- Hurt others in a manner that isn’t “good”
- Hurt others without guilt for the sake of convenience
- Oppress others
- Debase/disrespect life
- Choose to withhold significant aid when doing so confers little/no benefit to the character
- Actively try to be “evil”
Every time a character commits an “evil” act, they take a step towards being “evil”. The greater the act – the greater the step. Forgoing an “evil” act doesn’t result in a step towards “neutral”. “Neutral” isn’t a center point on a continuum, it’s more of a not-actively-good state than half-good, half-evil state.
A character who alternates between “good” and “evil” acts of similar importance can thus be mechanically “neutral,” although probably would be considered insane and/or criminal by most people who are aware of that behavior.
To be a “Lawful” character, that person must:
- Tell the truth in situations where it may have negative consequences
- Keep significant promises
- Obey authority
- Honor tradition
- Judge those who fall short of their duties
Every time a character commits a “lawful” act, they take a step towards being “lawful”. The greater the act – the greater the step.
To be a “Chaotic” character, a person must:
- Choose their personal code over the code of the society they’re interacting with (for this purpose “in actual combat against” doesn’t count as interacting with).
- Undermine or Disobey instructions given by authority
- Disrespect tradition
- Champion new ideas over tradition
- Break promises
Every time a character commits a “chaotic” act, they take a step towards being “chaotic”. The greater the act – the greater the step.
There are no consequences for acts of omission in either direction. “Neutral” in terms of Law and Chaos is something of a middle ground.
Instead of HP, we’re using the Wound and Vigor System in Ultimate Combat. This gives an advantage to low-level characters. It makes healing more special at higher levels. It also is a better way to handle non-lethal damage, which will probably figure prominently in this campaign. Plus, it’s evocative of the bashing/lethal distinction from NWoD, which I thought had more flavor.
The full rules are linked above, but the nutshell is that characters have Wound points equal to their Con*2, and Vigor points equal to their normal HP (not including Con). You lose Vigor before you lose Wounds. You’re wounded (staggered with fort save for unconscious) at 1/2 Wounds and dead with no Wound points left.
Critical hits need confirmation rolls, but there will be a random effect on the power level of a successful combat maneuver every time a critical hit is threatened.
Note: Most of the information on these pages is accurate in this gameworld. All the stats are accurate. The origins of the races of the Drylands is told on the history page, and the details there and on their own description pages take precedence. The Moldfolk entry goes to a link on this wiki, as they’re listed as a monster in the official source and have been re-worked. The different languages spoken in The Drylands will affect naming conventions. See the special language rules further down this page.
- All characters start at first level
- Starting Characters have the maximum starting money per class or the equivalent in equipment if their background wouldn’t result in having money(see Money and Trade)
- Starting characters have two traits. Traits based on orgainizations that don’t exist in the Drylands are not allowed (society traits). Region traits can be adapted to analogous regions in this setting unless they specifically call out incompatible elements.
- We’ll be using an array method for attributes, where every character has attributes of 18,16,14,12,10,8 assigned however the player wants.
- If it makes sense, the race-specific stuff can be re-flavored to work with the races that exist here.
- If you find a favored class option for a different race that you think fits the race you’re playing, it’s worth checking to see if it can apply.
- Depending on how long our sessions end up being, expect to gain a level every or every other session on average, at least for the lower levels
Finishing the characters will be part of first game session. You should be familiar with the mechanics you want to use, but we’ll play with characterizations at the table. If you don’t write a background, I’ll bring a sheet with some questions that need 1-2 sentence answers to flesh the character out enough to actually roleplay it. That said, there’s a few questions you need to know about your character.
The PCs need to be a part of a motivated team for this to work, so if you do nothing else for a backstory beforehand, you need to answer these three questions:
- What makes the character motivated to succeed working as a monster catcher/trainer/salesperson? The creatures are generally treated well, so revenge/sadism is probably not going to be viable.
- Why did the character decide to give up his/her current life for a longshot opportunity far from home? This is a long-term position, so people looking for a quick buck before moving on would have been screened out.
- What makes the character likely to bond with a group of teammates?
Characters can be complex, but when roleplaying them it helps to have a couple of obvious themes or common behaviors you can emphasize to create PC that feels consistent and unique. I’ve adapted some sample behavioral quirks from merits and flaws in old world of darkness just to give an idea of the kinds of focus a character might have. If how you want to characterize your PC requires the involvement of plot forces (like the Cassandra example), let me know so I can prep for it.
Everything in core not marked under optional rules is allowed. Core includes the Core Rulebook, Ultimate Magic, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Equipment, the Advanced Race Guide and Adventurer’s Armory. If it makes sense, the race-specific stuff in the Advanced Race Guide can be re-flavored to work with the races that exist here.
On that note, if you find a favored class option for a different race that you think fits the race you’re playing, it’s worth checking to see if it can apply.
Psionics Unleashed and Psionics Expanded are allowed, to the extent there are detailed in the PFSbut Of the playable races listed there, only Dromites exist. Dromites are the only race that can take a psionic class.
Most of the PFSRD is allowed (like third party classes), but there are a few things in there that are game-breaking either mechanically or thematically (like third party classes), so it’s on an ask-first basis.
Everything a character can do needs to be at least somewhat justified by his/her life experiences. As we’re starting at level 1, this shouldn’t be difficult to handle through backstory to start with. However, as characters level up, the feats and similar abilities they gain need to be justified by the story. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, as advancing through class levels tends to result in finding new ways to get better at the things a character is doing. However, it’s a little strange if the archery-focused ranger finds a magical musket during a session and takes Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms) as a feat in order to use it despite having no in-character experience with guns.
Issues of that kind are easy to work around with a little between-session back-story about practicing with it between adventures. The real challenge is multi-classing, which is often hard to justify unless it’s between similar classes.
Since this campaign only ‘mostly’ adheres to Golarion canon, don’t assume the outer planes work the same way in this go-around.
Only a handful of gods showed any awareness of the Drylands’ existence, historically. As the collapses continue, more and more become aware. The parenthetical shows which race(s) typically worships that god, not necessarily how that god thinks of him/herself. Clerics and other classes which require a patron deity must choose one of the following:
Erastil (Grippli, Moldfolk): Lawful Good god of hunting and primitivism
Korada (Dromite, Mogogol): Neutral Good Empyreal lord of enlightenment and forgiveneess
Desna (Entobian, Gnomes): Chaotic Good goddess of travelers and luck
Abadar (Entobian, Dromite, Mogogol): Lawful Neutral god of cities and merchants
Brigh (Dromite, Human): Neutral goddess of invention
Gozreh (Grippli, Moldfolk, Orcs): Neutral god of weather and nature
Urgathoa (Entobian): Neutral Evil goddess of undeath and gluttony
The following demon lords also have influence in the Drylands, but can’t be chosen as objects of worship by the players:
Cyth-V’sug (Moldfolk): Chaotic Evil demon lord of fungus and parasites
Gogunta (Boggards): Chaotic Evil demon queen of the Boggards
There is no “common” language native to this world that lets all people talk to each other. There just hasn’t been enough intermingling yet. The closest thing is a very limited trader’s pidgin that exists to convey basic conceptions of item value and bargaining used among traders and merchants.
From a gameplay perspective, players will (probably) learn trader’s pidgin and a common language to speak with each other fairly early, but interactions with other people may still be affected by language barriers.
Names and languages
The following languages replace the starting languages given in the above race links. Any character with an appropriate intelligence score may learn any language, but there needs to be an IC reason why they’d start with it apart from just having the int score. It will be possible to learn new languages during the game.
Naming conventions follow the language. Description words are translated to English because the meaning is in the description, but words with the meaning as primarily identifiers are written in the actual language.
Entobians speak Entobian. Entobian names are occasionally hyphenated and tend to sound like you’d expect insectoid names to sound. Entobians take the epithet of their mother (as part of the same racial memory that allows them to understand their language), replacing it with a (usually overflattering) self-describing name of their own once they’ve settled into their adult identity. Sample names: Sthiok Deepburrow, Chkis Worldwalker, Ithtal-it Woundstitch.
Dromites speak Entobian. The Dromites have different reproductive habits and a different way of thinking which results in different naming conventions. Dromites name themselves after the key sensations that others perceive when they are psionically sensed. Sample names: Red Bellchime, Brushberry Breeze, Sandgrain Slowed.
Mogogols speak a dialect of Boggard. They have special naming conventions described here
Grippli tribes speak different but somewhat inter-comprehensible languages (a small circumstance penalty applies) depending on if they are a southern tribe or eastern tribe. Players with Grippli characters should choose Southern Grippli or Eastern Grippli as a starting language. Southern Grippli names uniformly start with a vowel sound and flow into -th suffixes while Eastern Grippli names start with consonant sounds and flow into -el suffixes. Sample names: Arreth, Eiteth, Usath, Riliel, Lowingel, Tanriel.
Moldfolk cannot ‘speak’, but communicate in Moldfolk sign and percussion language and can learn to understand any language (as can anyone else). Entobians and Dromites have different hands than Moldfolk and can never seem to learn the Moldfolk sign language properly (a small circumstance penalty applies), to frequently hilarious if mechanically neutral results. Moldfolk names are shown by the hand signal for name, a hand position, and then a gesture. This translates into a single two-syllable name with the accent on the second syllable. Sample names: Yusut, Mrmops, Hmhoth, Yudus, Akmol.
Humans, Orcs, and Half-Orcs speak Aklo as that was the only language allowed while in slavery to the Lengians. Aklo names are almost always hyphenated and sound like what you’d expect a language spoken by unspeakable horrors to sound like. Sample names: Awag-an, Agever-gha, Chroucnys-gar, Ves-gham, Slountor-ther