Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Book of the Righteous and the World of Freeport

In 2016, Green Ronin conducted a Kickstarter to update The Book of the Righteous to D&D Fifth Edition. The print book debuted at GenCon 2017, and backers like me received their copies about the same time. I had never acquired or read the original Book (written for v.3.0), largely because it was a thick, expensive hardcover (320 pages!) and I tend to prefer creating my own pantheons for my D&D campaigns. However, I've come around to thinking that I should try using those gods in my next Freeport campaign. The City of Adventure uses deliberately generic deity names (God of the Sea, God of Pirates, etc.) to make it easy for DMs to fit Freeport into their own campaigns. Using the gods from The Book of the Righteous seems the next logical step in creating a more uniquely "Ronin" campaign.

The 5E version of the book also promised to have a wealth of new crunchy bits for religious characters. One of the few real disappointments I've had with the 5E Player's Handbook is how short the list of domains is compared to 3E. The new Book of the Righteous fills in most of the "missing" domains, and adds some new ones (like Beauty and Corruption). Non-clergy in the gods' service also get new options, with at least one new subclass or other option for each class in the Player's Handbook.  That's very welcome material for a DM like me who enjoys homebrewing, because it facilitates giving each god and their church a distinct flavor. That's ultimately what sold me on backing the Kickstarter.

The Pathfinder edition of Freeport: The City of Adventure (FCoA) gives the most extensive list of gods (pages 401-402) of any sourcebook yet produced for the setting. For the remainder of this column, I will try to match that data to suitable gods from The Book of the Righteous. (The new edition omits the original book's "Listing of the Gods," which provides a quick summary of gods by portfolio. I have used that list to double-check my own conclusions below.)

The four most prominent gods in Freeport are the Gods of the Sea, Knowledge, Warriors, and Pirates.
  • Shalimyr, CN god of water, is perfect for both the God of the Sea and God of Storms. His domains are Tempest and Water. 
  • Tinel, god of magic, knowledge, and truth, fills the role of both God of Knowledge (in his CG aspect, which is open with knowledge) and God of Magic (in his N aspect, which keeps secrets). His domain is Knowledge, but the text implies that similar domains would also be appropriate. The Arcana domain (from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) would be another good choice for clerics of his archmage aspect.
  • The God of Warriors could be either Terak, LN/LG god of war and valor, or Canelle, CG goddess of victory and strength. The God of Strength has a separate shrine in Freeport's Temple District, making Terak the better choice for the local war god, despite FCoA listing all these martial gods (Strength, Valor, and Warriors) as chaotic. 
  • The Book of the Righteous mentions Freeport a handful of times. Two of those references (pages 103 and 162) state that Darmon, CG god of travel, wealth, and joy, is worshiped as a god of pirates in that city, and the latter mention suggests that the heretical Cult of Possession (CE) runs his temple there. Darmon is also God of Roads and God of Commerce, and possibly the God of Luck. I would recommend using the name Darmon for his more reputable aspects, and Harrimast for the god of pirates. (The name "Harrimast" is never used in FCoA, but was applied to the canonical God of Pirates in many earlier Freeport titles.) Darmon/Harrimast's domains are Travel and Trickery. 

Other gods worshiped in the city include:
  • Maal, LN god of law and justice, is both God of Justice and God of Retribution. His domain is Balance. Maal is the god of the Hexworth Inquisition, on the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 293-295). Many of his courts and inquisitors in that nation have been corrupted by the excessive zeal of the Necromantic Censure.
  • Morwyn, LG Goddess of Healing, has the Life domain. 
  • The "God of Life" is a nature god rather than a healer. Use Rontra, LG goddess of the earth (domain: Earth or Nature); Eliwyn, the N Tree of Life (whose guardians are druids); or Thellyne, NG goddess of woodcraft, nature, and the hunt (domain: Nature). Thellyne best matches the alignment given in FCoA.
  • Urian, NG god of the air and sky, is the God of the Sun. His domains are Air and Light.
  • Mormekar, N God of Death (and rebirth) has the Repose domain. The corrupted Cult of the Icy Breath (NE) worships him as God of Murder, using the Death domain. As God of Death, Mormekar is also popular among the Druzhdin of the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 291-293).
  • Thellos, NE god of greed, gluttony, and desire, seems the best match for an evil God of Thieves, though Darmon and the Cult of Possession both have significant followings in the criminal underworld. Thellos also qualifies as God of Lust (though Aymara, CG goddess of love and the arts, and Zheenkeef, CN goddess of wine, madness, and inspiration, provide non-evil alternatives).
  • Followers of the God of Penitence worship either an aspect of Shalimyr (attended by his holy ascetics, separately from the local sea god's temple) or of Mormekar (possibly led by one of the Reborn). It's conceivable that both may be true, if the shrine was established by an atoning Shalimyn.

The "Unique Gods" listed on page 402 of FCoA do not have counterparts in The Book of the Righteous. I would suggest the following domains for these gods:
  • Crawling Chaos (CN): Death, Madness, and possibly Arcana (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide)
  • Unspeakable One (CE): Madness
  • Abaddon (CE): War
  • Dagon (CE): Madness, Water
  • Oona (NE): Madness, Repose
  • Yig, Hitthkai Sect (N): Knowledge, Trickery
  • Yig, Sskethvai Sect (NE): Fire, War

Some of these unique gods are given more detail in Cults of Freeport. I intend to write a future column about using that sourcebook with The Book of the Righteous.

In addition, cults of Asmodeus (LE god of lies, power, and fire) and various archdevils have operated in Freeport in the past (see especially Hell in Freeport). The King of Hell's domains are Fire and Tyranny.

Finally, the Continent is also home to some other religions not listed on pages 401-402:
  • The Eternal Flame, worshiped by the azhar of Kizmir, may very well be a part of the secret church corrupting the faith of Anwyn, LG goddess of homes, the hearth, and servants. The conspiracy's priests are LE.
  • The Way of Astrape is the dualistic faith of Tagmata, in which saints are revered instead of gods. Consider this religion to be NG with the Light domain. Its holy warriors are paladins with the oath of devotion.
  • Krom, God of the Orcs, is almost certainly another name for Canarak, CE god of destruction, violence, and rage. (The name "Krom" originally comes from Green Ronin's Ork! The Roleplaying Game; see also Black Sails Over Freeport, pp. 28-29.)

Note that the Great Church has not yet been mentioned in any of these suggestions. In the World of Freeport, that religion either lacks the ubiquitous nature ascribed to it in The Book of the Righteous, or it is most active in regions not dominated by a specific god's church. The latter would be the case in my proposed "all-Ronin" take on Freeport. For example. the Great Church is unlikely to have as much influence in Hexworth, where the Inquisition rules supreme, as it would in the more cosmopolitan Ivory Ports. It lacks a proper temple in Freeport, though the Continental Great Church almost certainly sponsors missionaries to seek converts in the city.

Appendix

For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unearthed Arcana and Freeport, Part 6

As many of you already know, I periodically review "Unearthed Arcana" articles with an eye towards using this material with Freeport: The City of Adventure. (If this is your first time seeing one of my UA reviews, see the appendix at the end of this column for links to past installments.) This time, I'm reviewing columns from May to September, 2017.

Unearthed Arcana Update (5/25/2017): This short piece explains the R&D group's process for further playtesting for the artificer and mystic, two new classes that were introduced (and revised) in previous UA columns.

Revised Class Options (6/5/2017): This article presents four subclasses that have been revised based on feedback about their earlier appearances in UA: Circle of the Shepherd for the druid (11/28/2016); Cavalier for the fighter (1/4/2016); Oath of Conquest for the paladin (12/19/2016); and the Celestial (formerly The Undying Light) for warlock (11/2/2015). It also updates past eldritch invocations (2/13/2017). All remain just as suitable for Freeport as they were before.

Greyhawk Initiative (7/10/2017): This document provides variant rules for initiative, in which characters roll dice for initiative determined by the type of action(s) they wish to take that round. These rules add more drama and unpredictability to combat, at the cost of a bit more complexity. Some groups may find that added chaos fits in well with Freeport's rough-and-tumble style, while others may find the setting to be more than sufficiently unpredictable already.

Three-Pillar Experience (8/7/2017): This alternate system for XP focuses on all three of the games's pillars: exploration, social interaction, and combat. Inspired in part by the milestone system of awarding XP, it also simplifies the tracking of XP, and gives the DM more control over the rate of advancement. This system is no better or worse than the standard rules or the optional milestone rules, simply different, and as such, is just as suitable for Freeport as either of those methods. However, if you feel that exploration and social interaction get short shrift when it comes to XP awards, this system may appeal to you.

Race Options: Eladrin and Gith (9/11/2017): This article presents a revision to the eladrin subrace that appeared in the Dungeon Master's Guide. This version plays up the eladrin's mercurial nature by tying its use of racial cantrips to emotional states associated with the four seasons. As an elf subrace (albeit a rare one), eladrin are suitable for characters from Rolland.

This installment also presents the gith races--githyanki and githzerai--as playable PC races. While nearly any race can be justified in visiting the City of Adventure, gith have never appeared in any Freeport products because they have never been Open Game Content. (On the other hand, none of the UA series is open content, either, so DMs are perfectly free to use gith in their home games.) In the World of Freeport, the usual origin of psionic characters is Naranjan (Mindshadows) rather than extraplanar races.

Appendix

For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Kickstarter and Me, Revisited

A little over a year ago, in "Kickstarter and Me," I listed the various Kickstarters that I had backed. At that time, The Book of the Righteous Kickstarter had just recently concluded. I received my copy of the book last week, so it seems to be an appropriate time to revisit that list.

First, the following projects have updates since that column:

Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG: Half of the six-part Return to Freeport adventure path is now available, and I've been told that Part 4 will be released later this month. (Green Ronin has announced a February 2018 release date for a print edition of Return to Ftreeport, but that omnibus is not part of the KS rewards.) The final backer reward, a Freeport Companion for the Fantasy AGE system, still has no scheduled release date.

Prospero's Price; A Lovecraft and Shakespeare Tale: This graphic novel is still in limbo. The authors have sent out brief updates once or twice a year to say they're making progress, but I have serious doubts whether I'll ever see this book.

Epyllion, a Dragon Epic RPG: I have received the book, and my kids are very curious about the game, but we've not yet made the time to try it out. (Between school, continuing our D&D 5E game, and my other GM duties, we simply don't have the time to try to teach them another system right now.)

Blue Rose: The AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy: This game has been released, and the book is both huge and stunningly gorgeous.

Spirit Island: This game (and its first expansion) shipped earlier this summer, and we've been able to play it a couple of times so far.

The Feminomicon: This book has arrived, and is solidly on par with Stoll's earlier book, A Natural History of the Fantastic. He has started new Kickstarter projects along the same lines as those two art books, but I've decided to save my money for more games instead. Those seem to give a bigger return for my investment.

Book of the Righteous for Fifth Edition: I've only just started reading this, but it's a very pretty book, and full of richly detailed pantheons. The new crunch for 5E is very intriguing as well, and I will definitely be writing one or more blogs about how to use The Book of the Righteous with Freeport.

I have only backed one new Kickstarter since that previous column:

Isometric Gaming Paper Rolls by Erik Bauer (October 2016): This project produced mapping paper with an isometric grid for drawing 3D or forced perspective maps. The product funded and shipped quickly, though the erasable isometric mats that some backers have only recently been produced and shipped due to difficulties finding a manufacturer. I did not choose that reward, just the paper map sheets. I have yet to try them out, but they would be perfect for something like the maps of Castle Ravenloft in Curse of Strahd.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Finding Me Online

Besides this blog, you can find me, or my work, in the following places online.

Online Communities

I am active in the following online communities:

Ronin Army: The Green Ronin Publishing community forums. Most of my posting there involves Freeport, but I sometimes dip into the Fantasy AGE and Blue Rose forums as well.

The Piazza: A fan forum dedicated to the many campaign worlds of Dungeons & Dragons, but members are encouraged to discuss any RPG or setting that catches their interest. (I reported on my most recent Freeport campaign there, before I started this blog.)

The Paizo Messageboards: Primarily dedicated to the Pathfinder RPG, but other RPGs and many non-gaming topics can be found there, too.

DeviantArt: An online community for artists and art lovers. My gallery is here.

LEGO Dungeons & Dragons: This Facebook community is a closed group to prevent spam, but it is very welcoming to new members who enjoy LEGO, RPGs, and combining the two.

Content

Gaming-related material that I have posted online can be found here on Studded Plate, at some of the communities listed above, and on the following sites I've created:

Tim's Errata ArchiveTim's Errata Archive: Unofficial errata that I've compiled for Green Ronin's Freeport line as well as many other products.

The Stuff I've Written page on that site lists my professional publications, with links to online stores for the PDFs (or the files themselves, for free web enhancements).

Thastygliax's Vault: Characters, monsters, campaign settings, and other material that I've created for a variety of role-playing games. The home page provides links to the various wikis I've created for my past and present RPG campaigns (like my current Pathfinder game, "Time of the Tarrasque"). Anything that doesn't fit one of those other wikis, and hasn't been published here on my blog, ends up in the Vault.