Saturday, July 28, 2012

Contract Races

The standard non-human races work well for a high-fantasy and high-magic setting, but I have trouble explaining them in settings with fewer deities. On the other hand, I do feel that these races can add to a setting and I have players who like them.

This is the compromise I'm considering: the two major races are humans and halflings. But during the events of a great cataclysm, some groups entered into contracts with greater powers, in which they were granted certain abilities in exchange for fealty to those powers. The arrangements I made for my setting are as follows, but they are somewhat specific, and the idea is not limited to these.

The Dragons

Contracts with the dragons are some of the oldest, perhaps the first. Consequently these contracts more completely change the races they are with: the lizardfolk and kobolds. These races bore the brunt of the cataclysm and are very rarely still found, lizardfolk retreating to the swamps to gather around their remaining draconic lords, and kobolds moving ever deeper underground towards the unknown.

The Elemental Parliament

The elemental parliament remains distant and makes few contracts, but contracted halflings become dwarves. It is unknown however, what contracted humans might become.

The True Fey

Contracts with the true fey are responsible for creating elves and gnomes from human and halfling stock, respectively. They are by far the most numerous of the contracted races, and frequently live alongside their benefactors.

The Envious (Abberations)

A twisted form of contract magic, the Envious could transform unwilling captives into hobgoblins, regardless of race. Since their masters departed, the remaining hobgoblin armies war with each other eternally in the lands to the East.

The Fallen

Generally, breaking a contract is unthinkable, and results in a quick death. However the capricious nature of the true fey can dictate a stronger punishment, and those who break oaths to them are sometimes transformed from elves and gnomes into orcs and goblins, cursed to have no masters.

Signing a Contract

There are only a few contracts for each race, and they usually remain in the custody of the granting powers. Signing a contract is not an affair to be undertaken lightly, and adding one's signature is often a rite of passage in societies of contracted races. Consequently, there are few "pure" contracted societies, as children and those not bold enough to sign still exist as humans and halflings (or something like them).

The signatory of a contract to a greater power must be human or halfling. He or she forfeits all saves made against his or her granting power and in exchange gains all the traits of the race he or she has become. He or she may necessarily lose traits he or she already posesses.

It should be noted that saves are only forfeit against official representatives of the contract. For example, a dwarf does not forfeit all saves against elementals, only elementals who currently possess his or her contract, or direct agents thereof.


Half-breeds don't really make sense in this system, but could be considered as the un-contracted offspring of contracted races. Because orcs have no contract, all second-generation orcs are half-orcs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fire! Fire!

It was my intention this summer to collect my works and put together my own website and make everything tidy and presentable. But it occurs to me now, more than halfway through, that I would much rather have less content but have a website than have a pile of unfinished things that can't be shared.

I will begin then, by posting my entry to the Wampus Country Summer Contest:

Fire! Fire!

Lost in the woods, our heroes make camp for the night. Ms. Lulubelle lights a Fire using the matchbook earlier picked from the pockets of the Rude Gentleman. She swears the Fire speaks to her, but Mr. Rumpscullion reminds both her and the Fire that fires simply do not speak, and retires for the evening. Ms. Lulubelle wishes aloud for some company and, overhearing, the Fire offers to assist her in the matter, if only she will carry him to a nearby tree. Ms. Lulubelle obliges, but the spreading fire attracts the attention of a family of bears who knock over the tree, stomp out the fire, and abduct Ms. Lulubelle to be tried on suspicion of arson. Mr. Rumpscullion awakes in the morning and reluctantly begins to follow the bear tracks deeper into the woods.

The Rude Gentleman’s Matchbook

This matchbook has a glossy red finish with an elegant, but apparently meaningless gold symbol stamped on the front. It is found with 1d10 matches in it, each of which functions normally. However, the first time one is used to light a fire each day, it summons a weak fire elemental which is not hostile to the caster, but under no obligation to be helpful either.

Weak fire elementals have only one hit die, but the same special qualities as their stronger kin: they can only be harmed by magic or magical weapons, any victim using cold-based attacks will suffer an additional 1d8 damage from their attacks, and they are unable to cross more than 1’ of water.
A full complement of dormant elementals (source: Wikimedia Commons).

The smaller fire elementals are popular with infrequent summoners (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Quench Bears

It is commonly known that some water spirits take the form of fish. It is less known however, that rarely a fishing bear will eat one of these fish, and take on some aspect of its spirit. These “quench bears” invariably hate fires and seek to put them out immediately by whatever means available, including smothering them with their own incombustible hides.

A quench bear has statistics as a grizzly (brown) bear, but lacks the “bear hug” ability. Instead, the bear is treated as though it wears a ring of fire resistance: it is resistant to all normal fire, all other fire damage is reduced by 2 points per die, and it makes saves against fire at a +4 bonus.
Quench bears fighting an elemental (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Firefighters in quench bear hides (source: Wikimedia Commons).

Weak Fire ElementalQuench Bear
No. Enc.1 (1)1d4 (1d4)
Movement120’ (40’)120’ (40’)
Armor Class66
Hit Dice15
Attacks1 strike3 (2 claws, bite)
Hoard ClassNadaVI