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| * Southern elves tend toward hilltop cave communities, blending in with the peaks to avoid interaction with the orc nomads. Southern elves practice a form of marriage called, loosely translated in Speran, "exchange kinship"--their families are interconnected webs of relationships across the Shadow Hills. Some elven families (often high elf) are all-in on collaboration with the Beacon, even sending children to live and study at the monasteries, while for others (wood elves, who are closer to nature) it is a shameful act that puts one at odds with their clan.
* Elves in the Norside have much more granular, mobile family units, living amongst the trees rather than on the forest floor.
| * Southern elves tend toward hilltop cave communities, blending in with the peaks to avoid interaction with the orc nomads. They practice a form of marriage called, loosely translated in Speran, "exchange kinship"--their families are interconnected webs of relationships across the Shadow Hills. Some elven families (often high elf) are all-in on collaboration with the Beacon, even sending children to live and study at the monasteries, while for others (wood elves, who are closer to nature) it is a shameful act that puts one at odds with their clan. They trade in mineral products, which they have developed craft for.
* Elves in the Norside have much more granular, mobile family units, living amongst the trees rather than on the forest floor. Their lore in the flora and fauna of the Blood Wood is vital to the human settlers there, and they share some mutual respect with the freeholds that show sensitivity to the balance of their needs with the vitality of the forest.
A note about language: no racial languages exist on Maroon, save for Dragonborn. Each region of starfolk speaks a local dialect, derived from the original Old Speran the First Folk spoke. Common to Vindulan and the provinces (analogous to Common in the PHB) is High Speran, but beyond the wall, community of speech degrades as the distances between cultures increases.
Your character's default language is the one from the region your character was born and raised in. The language families are as follows:
- [Common] High Speran (Vindulan, southern provinces)
- Freeholder patois (southern hinterlands)
- Old Speran (The Enclave)
- Nil'shai (Shadow Hills Elvish)
- Lavorto (Norside Elvish)
- Gangalo (Druidic)
Races may differ from those described in the Player's Handbook.
Halflings & Gnomes
Halfling and gnome are semi-derogatory terms for folk directly descended from or part of a self-named sect called the First Folk or Landers. A minority in Vindulan proper, they live on the outskirts in the south, in the Enclave, where they grow and consume exclusively food which (they claim) is descended from the seeds the colonists brought with them. The First Folk are obsessed with relics of the starfolk, defunct though those artifacts found invariably are, and organize in caravans to go searching for them. Exiled First Folk tend to keep together even outside the Enclave, and their deeply-rooted mores keep them from associating with tallfolk at any level beyond acquaintance. They trade primarily in crafts, especially musical instruments and fine textiles, producing some of the finest instruments to be had inside or outside the Cincture.
- Halflings belong to the Enclave, or have direct connections to it. The PHB Halfling is mechanically unaltered.
- Gnomes are invariably outcast, due to their innate magic. PHB "Rock gnomes" (known as Tinkers) are found in the Old Town and inner provincial holds, while PHB "Forest gnomes" (known as Free Landers) tend to settle in the provinces and in freeholds beyond the Wall. They are mechanically unaltered from the PHB.
- The First Folk are extremely short of stature, but their fierce loyalty to what they call “humanity” drives them to continue in their way in the face of the larger folk around them. The laws of the Enclave are drawn around the survival not only of their flesh, but the soul that remains of the folk who came from the stars. The highest law forbids murder and execution of any sort, demanding ostracization and, if necessary, expulsion from the Enclave. Of the offenses worthy of expulsion, chief is the use of magic. A minority of First Folk are sympathetic to exigent circumstances, but they will choose to leave the Enclave rather than fight the upstream current of social mores.
- Of special note, bards are a protected and, indeed, respected institution in the Enclave. Their words have profound effect; where mages and clerics are shunned, a bard’s music and skill with words are welcome in any taberna or hall.
Humans represent the dominant ethnicity in Vindulan, both inside and outside the Cincture. Generations of life on Maroon have changed them, but they are recognizably congruent to their starfaring ancestors. Humans are living in a sea of alien biomass, fulfilling their driving passion to explore.
- Decrease your Constitution score by 1, and increase two other ability scores of your choice by 1.
- Gain one skill proficiency of your choice.
- Gain one general feat of your choice.
- Cultural: There is some unified culture amongst the various settlements, but beyond the common calendar and the generally held belief that humanity came from the stars, there as many expressions of life as there are freeholds. Wildy variant natural hair and eye color, as well as birthmarks of all manner, are a common occurrence. Prenatal and infant mortality have decreased commensurately with the recovery of the medical arts, both from the knowledge lost in the cataclysm of the Fall and difficulties adapting to the new ecosystem into which humanity has fallen. The further from the Wall they have settled, however, the greater the odds have stacked against them.
Elves and Half-Elves
Early in Vindulan's history there are stories of settlers who attempted to strike out on their own, cut off from the nascent settlement by the Fall. Some say they did not die off or succumb to the predation of the new world around them, but instead survived and began to change, generation by generation. They developed pronounced physical differences from humans, such as elongation in ears, legs, and fingers, but there are marked changes also in their brains: a decreased need to sleep and a sensitivity to the "magic" reviled by the First Folks. Elf is the name by which the people of the Cincture most commonly refer to them.
Notable differences have developed among them; those living in the Shadow Hills have taken on a grey pallor, whereas the ones norside have broad birthmarks of wild variety and color on their bodies and a sensitivity to light.
- Elves and Half-Elves, like all mortal races, require sleep, though they need only four hours of it and have resistance to magical sleep effects. If an elf or half elf is affected by the sleep spell or another magical sleep effect, it gets a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the effect happens as normal. On a successful save, the effect is negated, and the target is aware of this.
- Elves' natural lifespans are longer than humans, but only by about 25 years. Half-Elves live about as long as humans.
- Instead of darkvision, Half-Elves have a racial feat chosen from elven, human, or Half-Elven racial feats.
- "Half-Elf" is a term of stigma in Vindulan. Elven culture ranges from diffidently neutral to openly hostile to Cincture presence, or any disruptive settlement effort, as it upsets the balance they have struck with their adoptive ecology. The most virulent of animosity toward Elves is found among the Red Belt faction of the Council, who tend toward conquest of all starfolk societies under rule of the Cincture. Despite extremists' views in Vindulan, elven society is disparate, not monolithic.
- Southern elves tend toward hilltop cave communities, blending in with the peaks to avoid interaction with the orc nomads. They practice a form of marriage called, loosely translated in Speran, "exchange kinship"--their families are interconnected webs of relationships across the Shadow Hills. Some elven families (often high elf) are all-in on collaboration with the Beacon, even sending children to live and study at the monasteries, while for others (wood elves, who are closer to nature) it is a shameful act that puts one at odds with their clan. They trade in mineral products, which they have developed craft for.
- Elves in the Norside have much more granular, mobile family units, living amongst the trees rather than on the forest floor. Their lore in the flora and fauna of the Blood Wood is vital to the human settlers there, and they share some mutual respect with the freeholds that show sensitivity to the balance of their needs with the vitality of the forest.
Dwarves, Tieflings, Half-orcs, Dragonborn
The other PHB races are not present as a demographic, but rather as individual mutations. The Tiefling is notably open to change in its racial spells in collaboration with the DM.
Other races from WotC are open for play, pending DM consultation. See D&D Beyond for an exhaustive list.
Classes and Backgrounds
Some of the PHB classes have specific roles or come from specific regions in Vindulan. They are mechanically as stated in the PHB. You are invited to forge your own approach to them as well!
Literacy, technology, and splendor are only some of the signs of civilization. In the hinterlands beyond the Wall, nomadic clans give rise to strongmen and women to lead and defend them. In the coastal plains to the north or the Shadow Hills in the south, your tribe finds its way not by settling behind a wall and digging up rocks to eat, but by thriving in the world around you, channeling its power and taking what you need.
Skeltering Hall is the home of the bardic colleges, chief purveyers of news to and from the Old City and the provinces. Bards serve in many capacities in Vindulan: as clerks of the magistrates, aides to Cincture officials, as couriers of sensitive information, as entertainers and keepers of lore. Skeltering is home of one of the great libraries of Vindulan (the other being the Academ), and the seat of the Electoral Office that manages the city's yearly elections. You may be from the City, or you may have learned the basics of your craft in your settlement from a caravan-borne skald. But to truly practice as a bard, your road leads to the Skelter.
Your path is one of guidance. You have been chosen, by your actions and intentions or by some quality unknown even to you, to manifest the gifts of the Three. Some aspect of them usually makes itself clear, and the Church of the Three usually brings you into their fold to learn what paths others such as yourself have taken, and what mysteries others have left unrevealed. With your healing abilities and seemingly direct connection to the gods, you are among the most valued of people in all Vindulan- but first you must spend time among them all.
See also: Religion Alternative: Favored Soul (Sorcerer)
You have a gift for communing with the life around you. You can shape it and mold it in the way that a potter might shape clay, or a carpenter might shape wood. Indeed, it shapes you in kind. You see the connected nature of all living beings, and it infuses you with the power to restore the natural order where it has been lost, or achieve harmony where there is discord. There are others like you, and they sometimes teach you; there are many, many more who do not understand.
Akternate: Shaman [5e homebrew]
You might be a Beacon soldier defending the provinces in the south, or a settler defending a freehold in the hinterlands. You might be guarding the Mines of the Queen, or part of a caravan ensuring its safe passage through the Blood Wood. No matter where you are, your goal is simple and your aptitude is great: defeat your foe by force of arms.
You have dedicated your time to the perfection of your body as a tool, to make it respond in concert with your intentions well above and beyond the ordinary. You may have trained as a disciple of the Three at a monastery, or you may have achieved this state through constant inebriation among the pilfering streetrats in the underbelly alleys of the Old City. Always present in your life is the relationship of the student to the master--in the fullness of time, your training will be complete. But it is not yet.
You serve the Three in ways an Aspect cannot. Your fate is linked specifically to fighting for humanity's survival on Maroon, as you swear dual vows to the Beacon and the Three. Your conduct is a shining example--or a warning. Your mission is a lifebond, only discharged at your death, by natural causes or otherwise. Few take their first step to the Unveering Oath earlier than their thirties, and indeed, many of these turn away to other paths even as they prepare for it. You have achieved the beginning of your story: what's next?
You know the wilds as well as bards know the roads, and the creatures in it are the object of your study. Where the Beacon dares not tread, where a Cincture mage hesitates, there a ranger will forge a path. The Old City and its trappings are for folk who have no patience to see the ephemeral glimmer of sunset fairies on a lake deep in the Blood Wood, or fortitude to reach the peak of a Throne to gaze on pterids swooping amidst the valleys and swells of the Shadow Hills with the wind in your ears. You are friend to settlers--ally, even--but you are not truly at home unless you are on a road of your own making.
You are everywhere and nowhere. Where there are things people need, you can get them; where there are lives to end, you might end them. You are the anger of the faceless multitudes, the churn of the waves of people struggling to make it in this alien world. You are an agent of change. What will fortune bring your way?
Your powers are fierce and elemental. Some who have trod your path have ruled the whole of Vindulan, but many have lived out their lives in the ignominy of the hinterlands. The very fabric of the world responds to your will. You are free, your magic unfettered by ropes and rules and oaths. Stand where you are, and the world will answer your demands.
You may be a member of a secret cult who has been rewarded at long last for your years of service, or for a significant deed done. Or you may not have even been aware of the existence of your patron until they bound you in their service to repay them for some unasked-for boon. In the Cincture, you must be cautious; you are marked as an enemy. In the hinterlands, you might even be celebrated. But the Pact is real, and you have the power to take your fate in your hands.
The way this world works is not the way your starfaring ancestors understood things to work. You are an adept student of the new order, and a keeper of knowledge gained in your studies: knowledge that few truly grasp, let alone use to its fullest potential. The Academ is where you have gained what purchase you can on the mountain thus far, studying how to safely channel the powers that you have for the benefit of your fellow citizens. Soon you will have a choice to make. Which Belt will grace your body? In what way will you serve the Queen, the Council, and the realm?
See also: Magic