The Nightmare Before the Dream
Adventurers as they classically relate to fantasy settings aren’t common in this world. Most “monsters” are considered to be subject matter for children’s tales, particularly in the more civilized cities of the south. Dungeons, and ruins in general exist but are thought of as places to avoid at all costs. Most people consider whatever power, treasure or fame that can be earned through a dungeon’s exploration to not be worth what must be given up to get it.
In human lands, an occasional wizard or sourcerer (the predominant academics of Norand) obsessed with a particular idea or theory will sponsor an expedition into the wilds, researching lost or ancient sites of civilization. These scholars tend to hire mercenaries if their requests for military assistance are denied by the King (or local leader). The Order Cerberus has also been known to explore ruins, eradicate monstrous threats, and generally find trouble wherever they go. This statement holds true even in the lands south of the Gift.
Mercenaries aren’t terribly abundant throughout the world, though their presence is increasing in the northern communities of the Kingdom of Man as military aid from Endenmere is almost non-existent in recent years. Pirates and corsairs sail the Blackdepths Ocean beyond Endenmere, preying upon the merchants that trade with the elves, dwarves and roden of Sorand. The rivers and lakes of the Kingdom of Man are far from safe as well, owning their fair share of ne’er do-wells. Privateers are employed by the King to make up for the inadequacies of the Kingdom’s small navy.
In the lands of the elves a secret organization known as the Fey Guard protect against the return of the fey. Members of the Fey Guard work tirelessly to locate, explore, clear and then guard sites rife with the corruption left in the wake of the fey’s reign – work that takes them to all corners of the continents.
The dwarves and roden are constantly at odds. Even in times of peace (such as now), border skirmishes are frequent. Dwarven tunnel scouts see as much martial action in a month as a soldier in the King’s army might see in a lifetime. These scouts probe roden defenses while also plunging headlong into the unexplored depths of the Creator’s Grave mountain range. There is no telling what dangers (or rewards) dwarven tunnel scouts discover. The inherent greed of the dwarven race implies that these very same scouts are likely probing the ranges of Norand, looking for the richest veins of ore or the largest deposits of gems.
Roden assassins and thieves, the most highly trained of their profession in the world, have attracted a lot of attention (and money) in human lands as of late. The power struggle over Roderick’s crown has invited many unscrupulous activities, and nobody does unscrupulous like the roden. Roden merchants are also becoming more common in Norand, selling both goods and services.
Lastly, orc characters are likely to be pit fighters, gladiators or mercenaries. Since the collapse of their kingdom, orc communities have reverted to more savage ways. There are those among the race that remember what it was like to have lands and a culture to call their own. There are few places for these orcs, anomalies among their kin, to live what they would consider a fulfilling life.
All player characters should be built with the understanding that they’re a cut above the rest. They should be realistic but idealistic. An orc character, for example, may wish to ultimately reunite his people, lead a reestablished Black Legion, or free Durog – goals and ambitions far beyond most orcs’ desires to eat and fight. A human character might fancy himself the next king, aspire to break into the Inner Circle or wear the mantle of the most notorious pirate to sale the Blackdepths. Of course, these grandiose goals can develop over time, but all characters should have a reason to start adventuring – planting a tree that will eventually bear fruit.
The classes that bear descriptions below are those that are typical of adventurers in the setting. Those classes that show no description have not been actively worked into the setting and will require some creativity on the payers’ parts to integrate into the story. Classes not listed (Antipaladin, Ninja and Samurai) are assumed to take too much effort to adapt to the setting and, unless a large amount of work is done by the player desiring the class, are disallowed.
- Alchemist – Alchemists combine magical and scientific pursuits to craft potions and other compounds. The roden produce a great number of alchemists in support of their famous assassins. All of the other races (aside from the orcs) harbor at least one small organization of alchemists.
- Barbarian – Barbarians exist at the edges of civilization. The most common barbarians are orcs and human Plains Tribes people, but any isolated settlement is likely to have a barbarian in their midst.
- Bard – Bards are traveling entertainers, con men, merchants, and swindlers. Any of the major races can and do produce bards, though the roden have seen a drastic increase in their bardic population. Human bards receive their magical training in Endenmere at the College of Wizardry and are usually from a long line of bardic family members.
- Cavalier -
- Cleric – Clerics guide their respective races in all matters of spirituality and faith. Every race produces clerics, though some of them go by different titles; roden clerics are known as warlocks, orc clerics are called shamans, etc.
- Druid – Druids are those individuals that commune with nature. Humans and elves produce the most druids but they’re known to exist in every race. Dwarven druids, for example, assist the famed tunnel scouts with their work, using their powers to locate and extract ore and gems from new ground.
- Fighter – Fighters are warriors without equal. All races produce fighters and most serve in their society’s military.
- Inquisitor – Inquisitors tend to be human (members of Roderick’s Inquisition) or elven (members of the Fey Guard). Inquisitors of these races perform wildly different functions on behalf of their rulers. Human inquisitors search for those who would undermine the Kingdom, while elven inquisitors spend most of their time rooting out elven Sourcerers or hunting for signs of the fey.
- Magus – The Magus class is most common among the elves of the Fey Guard and indeed, the development of their unique skills originated among the immortal race as an answer to the fey. Other races can produce magi but almost always receive elven instruction.
- Monk -
- Oracle – Oracles are a rare breed, and it’s quite possible there are only one or two of these divinely inspired beings in the world. Oracles are faith-based casters with a strong connection to their deity. The spiritual races (elves and dwarves) have been known to produce oracles on occasion.
- Paladin – Paladins serve as religious warriors and exist almost exclusively among the dwarves and the elves. Human paladins are rare as the race lacks organized institutions of faith outside of the tiny church devoted to The Creator. Orcs and roden almost never produce paladins.
- Ranger – Rangers are common to every race. The most famous organizations that are made up almost exclusively of rangers are the dwarven tunnel scouts and the human Sureflights.
- Rogue – Rogues are thieves, pickpockets and pirates. Every race produces rogues, but the roden have an extraordinary number of them within their nests.
- Sourcerer – Sourcerers are those individuals that can tap into their own emotional wells, turning their will into powerful magical effects. Sourcerers exist in every race but the elves.
- Summoner -
- Witch -
- Wizard – Wizardry is the art of manipulating the magical energy of the world itself. Wizardry takes intense (and expensive) study. As such, orcs and roden rarely produce wizards while the human and elven wizard populations continue to grow.