Variant Clerics and Faiths in Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

So, a big chunk of updating Kalamar is updating the information for all the gods and goddesses–and there are a ton. Kalamar is a Divine heavy game. The Variant clerics for each faith (and each faith is really fleshed out with a rank-up system independent of level that gives PC’s something work work towards from an RP standpoint) are niche and clever and detract very little from the overall game.

Most of my favorite clerics ever were Kalamar Variant clerics that players played in my game. Really giving themselves over to non-ambiguous religions expectations and duties.

Our first pass at this will be the Good gods and goddesses and faiths.  We’ve got a Google Spreadsheet that outlines the following:

  • Temple Name (name of the faith)
  • Standards (alignment, spheres of influence, favored weapons, name of holy books, etc)
  • Restrictions (because with the new 5e cleric domain mechanics, it makes the most sense to identify banned domains moreso than what is the included–a subtle clustering of clerics this way and that without needing to invent a dozen new domains to make the perfect domain).
  • Ranking and titles (and duties for those cleric ranks)
  • Variant Channel Energy (what the Variant clerics do instead of turning Undead)

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Divine Right of Kings for Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

One of the clever parts of the old Kingdoms of Kalamar setting was the Divine Right of Kings mechanic which granted divine bonuses to nobility and royalty in the world passively. So, NPC kings really did have a sort of “divine right” to rule. It wasn’t that a particular God or Goddess chose them, so much as it was that because the world was very VERY friendly to divine magic (four dozen fleshed out deities and variant clerics, which we’re working on updating to 5e now) that the makers wanted to represent how that would influence the building of nations.

So, we’ve done and tested our own update for that system and simplified it. The pre-requisites are guidelines, of course–in one region a Duke may be a slightly different title or amongst one remote town, their “king” might be that in name but properly rank only a 5 on the Divine Right chart.  Flexible is the key.

The idea here, below is that PC’s have something to think about when meeting NPCs. Its one thing to RP naturally that the Duke is a powerful man, but it adds a whole new dimension when one is confronted with that same NPC having some stats and a sort of Divine Favor for their rule. At the least, it should make assassination plots harder and really emphasize why an Assassin Rogue needs all those dice to kill one simple non-PC character. Continue reading

Making Milestones, Part One: Trailblazing

This post is part of a two-part series on Milestones, focused on using this alternate method of rewarding Experience Points. In part one the idea of Milestones as presented in the DMG is talked about at length, especially regarding how it can help DMs influence how the game plays, and an alternate approach is given. In part two the alternate take on Milestones is expanded upon as a Variant Rule that provides characters a source of Inspiration and Experience.

There are many things to enjoy about fantasy roleplaying; some people are into it for the escapism, some for the creative exercise, some because they get a kick out of exploring the fictional world that’s being spun by the person behind the DM screen.

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Made Me Who I Am Today: Mentors and Life-Paths

Backgrounds are an amazing potential resource during character creation, because they are quick ways to give your character a history while mechanically reinforcing the character concepts you may already have in mind.

Sometimes, though, having just one Background pick to represent all the formative years of a character’s life can seem a little one-dimensional. For some people the Background – by itself – isn’t quite enough to give a handle on who a given character is.

Or maybe you’re like me, and just get a kick about adding some randomness to your character’s life. Whatever the case, let’s use Backgrounds to make ourselves a life-path.

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Variant Rules – A Different Way to Handle Falling

Variant Rules for Falling

It can be hard to have a truly omni-directional combat that means anything in 5e (and not unique to 5e, either). Falling is an almost meaningless mechanic after a few levels and doesn’t really represent a lot of worry after 10th.

Between Feather Falling and Flying and good saves and hit hitpoints and death saves that lean toward “not dying” with every rolll… well, falling has little consequence. And with no consequence, it makes some interesting combats and adventure arcs worth much less, possess less drama or suspense, and keeps narrow the tactics and spell lists that are intended to be as ready for anything as possible.

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Making Nobility Work for Players and PCs

So, truly, I like the idea of expanding the DMG a bit in the direction of motivating the players to find reasons for the PC’s to want to gain holdings and land and titles and all of that.  Rather than have unending sessions of murder-hobo (which is a fine enough way to play), I want to encourage (mechanically, if need be) greater participation in the less directly dungeon-useful aspects of RP in D&D.

So, borrowing a bit from the Kalamar setting (from 3rd ed and other editions) concept that Divine Right of Kings actually is a force in the world (and helping to explain how there can even be interesting or entrenched nobility or royalty in a world where the raging 10th level Barbarian can depose just about anyone without PC levels or monster templates), I fleshed out an optional rule system to maybe inspire or draw interest for players to test the waters of more holistic development.

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