A Plague of Onces
The information below is meant to help you through the character creation process, but is not intended to restrict your creativity. Feel free to use the information below as merely a rough guide.
Classes – Be sure to check the custom options for archetypes and options not found in the PHB.
Aorthe is a world of magic in re-discovery. There are many people that experiment with manipulating the weave, but most do not live very long, and those that do don’t share their secrets with many. Because of this, technology still has an important place in society. In fact, it was the invention of the firearm that put an end to the viscous and bloody Serebran Civil War only a few years ago. However, the advanced nature of many inventions puts its common use outside of the reach of most common folk. For those with the knowledge and talent, technical skills can be just as power and in-demand as powerful magic users.
The world of Aorthe is one that is largely frontier. The world is old, but it’s current incarnation is young, and much of the world has yet to be rediscovered. As such, barbarians – those with the grit and strength to eek out an existence on those fringes – are very common. Many societies even in well settled areas remain tribal in nature, and there is much unspoiled wilderness to commune with. If you are a barbarian, chances are you are a member of one of these many tribes. There are many Goliath communities, dwarf, human, orc, even elf and halfling barbarians exist. If you are a halfling, chances are you’re a member of the Original Fire tribe from the Ungoverned Land of Fragrantia. If you are a dwarf, you are probably a member of the Thruun Clan in Abari. If you are an elf, then you are probably either a Khyl Rhudon elf that is temporarily away form the Abari Valley, or a sylvari (wild elf) from the Nardual Rolar. Goliath, Ursine, Musine, and Crocian are naturally barbarians. If you are a human, you are likely from one of the numerous human tribal groups, or you might be from Forste Verden, a harsh nation full of stoic, battle tested people.
Bards are perhaps more common in Aorthe than they are in other settings – this is because the arts are very much alive and well in many parts of the world. Theater, dance, poetry and song – all are an essential part of the culture of all people. Even among the tribal people, bards are important, for they maintain the oral history of the tribe. Some races specialize in some arts more frequently than others – for example, Dwarvish bards tend to gravitate toward telling epic poems and tavern songs. Ursine bards ten to gravitate toward playing the Myrawrek, a type of flute instrument. Goliath bards are virtually unheard of, however. If you are a bard then you likely know the majority of the popular world songs, as well as songs that might be from your nation.
There are many faiths in Aorthe, and there is a niche for each of them among the many peoples of the world. That said, Ursine, Musine, or Goliath clerics would be rare because their cultures are religions tend to focus more on nature-faiths. However, a shaman could be a cleric of a nature god as easily as they could be a druid. There is also the possibility of a rare convert of those races, as there have been religious conversions – by word or sword. Forste Verden places their clerics in high esteem, because while their society relies on shamans for faith healing, warriros are expected to worship the gods. Their dedication to that faith is usually what places them on the spectrum between barbarians, fighters, and clerics. This is because the history of their nation is one of relgiious and military conflict, with one site worshiping Talos the storm god, and the other Tempus the god of war. In the end the Tempus worshiper’s prevailed, and one such Verden cleric even rose to fame and came to rule the nation – Einarr Ragnother, cleric of Tempus.
Like barbarians, druids fit easily into the world of Aorthe, as there is so much wilderness yet to be rediscovered. Druids could derive their power from a god of nature, but many cultures with shamans and druids merely derive their power from a non-specific nature force. Practically speaking, it doesn’t seem to make much difference.
In Aorthe, the parallel planes intersect with the Prime plane at many points. It’s not at all uncommon for a person to become lost and end up in the Feywild. Those that do might become attuned to it, or even gain an affinity for it. Some that do eventually become fey-warriors.
There is no setting without fighters, and Aorthe has plenty of those. There is your traditional soldiers, gladiators, knights, archers, and other assorted military types – sometimes independent and some organized into militias or armies. However, Aorthe is also a world that has recently perfected flintlock weaponry, which has given rise to a new form of fighter: The musketeer.
There are many monasteries in Aorthe that train monks. Many of these are tucked away in far-off areas, but some reside very close to city centers.
Paladins are common in Aorthe, both in the employ of rulers or in the service to a faith. They make common adventurers, usually running some errand or quest for their patron.
During the Time of Troubles there was an event known as the War of Broken Minds. Demonic forces had discovered that consuming a god’s essence would grant powerful psychic abilities. These people were known as god-eaters. In response, many gods willing granted their essence to mortal to combat this threat – known as god-touched. After the time of troubles, many of these individuals on both sides survived, and after the SHying of the Gods, their powers remained. Characters with these abilities could be a part of this original batch, or they could be students of these people.
Like barbarians, rangers fit easily into the world of Aorthe, as there is so much wilderness yet to be rediscovered.
There is no setting without rogues, and Aorthe has plenty of those. There is your traditional cut-purses, burglars, highwaymen, assassins, and other assorted lowlife – sometimes independent and some organized into guilds or gangs. However, Aorthe is also a world that has recently perfected flintlock weaponry, which has given rise to a new form of rogue: The musketeer.
Wild magic courses through Aorthe. In the ruins, underdark, and on the surface the world is connected via ley lines to the Weave. It’s not at all uncommon for sorcerers to spring up through random mutations. Most sorcerers have their powers suddenly manifest during puberty.
A race of superhuman wardens protecting parallel dimensions from utter destruction, and guided by a mysterious forced that urges them to continue their travels and prevent the unraveling of the cosmos.
Aorthe is a world that is very close to patrons that are willing to grant power to mortals if it helps their position, and making such a bargain is a very attractive offer in a world where mastering the arcane arts is difficult due to the limited opportunities for learning. Warlocks can be found with fair frequency, but still must hide their true nature, as it’s not a prospect many would approve of.
- Warlock – Non-Divine Faithful – The Fallen Angel Patron – The Warrior-Saint Patron – – Compendium of Forgotten Secrets
Being a wizard in Aorthe means one of three things – Either you are affluent enough to have attended one of the few magical schools in existence, lucky enough to be accepted as an apprentice to an existing wizard, or smart enough to have taught yourself the arcane arts. Wizards are not terribly common in Aorthe, but they are not unheard of either. In general, being a wizard is a sure path to fame and riches, as you will be very much in demand. Some will regard you with fear of what you are capable of, but for the most part magic has been a part of most people’s lives in some small way or another.
Aarakocra (Elemental Evil)
There are a small number of flocks of Aarakrocra known to exist – they mostly live in the northern parts of Urosa and in the mountains of Abari. They are still an extremely rare sight outside of their nesting grounds, and they have been known to be rather xenophobic and protective of their lands. It’s not likely they would be accepted anywhere, but they are an option for PCs.
Aasimar (Volo’s Guide)
A more rare sight since the Shying of the Gods due to Aasimar going underground and taking great pains to conceal their true identity. Since that time, Aasimar have been sought out – even hunted – because of their connection to the celestial realm, usually by desperate parishioners eager to reconnect with their absentee gods, or by death cults taking the Shying as a queue to eradicate all celestial life on earth.
Bugbear (Volo’s Guide)
The bugbear exist much as they do in a traditional setting. They can be found all over the place – usually using old ruins as bases of operation. This is an option for PCs, but beware that Bugbear PCs will not likely be accepted anywhere.
Changeling (Unearthed Arcana – Eberron)
Changelings can be found on Aorthe – the result of the natural evolution of an unnatural creature. Changelings are descendants of the magically-created mimics. Like their ancestors, they tend to have an instinct to deceive and entrap, but that doe snot necessarily mean they cannot have altruistic intentions. However, due to their strange nature, most changelings prefer to keep their true identity a secret. They are very rare, with perhaps no more than 50 left in existence – however there is some evidence to support the theory that changelings are not descendants of mimics, but the opposite – that mimics were the creations of the race of changelings, which had an empire that spanned continents before the Rend-Asunder, and what now remains is just the dying remnants of a formerly glorious civilization. Individual family units of changelings can be found living among humans in cities. They seem to have an instinct for locating each other.
The Crocian people exist only in New Harmony, where they are in constant contention with the Musine and Ursine peoples. They have also been the greatest resistors to colonization. This is an option for PCs, but beware that it is unlikely that you will be accepted anywhere.
Dragonborn are very uncommon on Aorthe. They are the result of the transformation of a dragon egg that instead of producing a dragon, produced a bipedal dragonborn. This is taken differently by the various dragon types. Some dragon enclaves to not admit them, seeing them as inferior to true dragons. Some allow them, seeing them as special children. Dragonborn themselves are incredibly rare, as dragons in general are very rare. Some are killed by their parents, and some are hunted down in certain parts of the world. As of this writing, it is estimated that there are only 100 or so dragonborn living in the world. When a dragonborn is born they are known as a Naturefang, a term that distinguishes them as a group, and acts as a surname for the various abandoned dragonborn in the world. Dragonborn are a rare race, but a possibility for PCs. They are generally ostracized by their dragon kin, and even those that are accepted by the enclaves are never really given full consideration – being treated like children essentially their whole lives.
Dwarves are the second most populous race on Aorthe, behind humans. There are gold and shield dwarves as usual, plus a new race of dwarf unique to this world. See the link for details. There are around 6 million dwarves.
The fourth most populous race, there are high and wood elves, as well as eladrin and sylvari elves. See the link for details. There are around 4 million elves
Firbolg (Volo’s Guide)
Firbolgs can be found in the wild places – the placed reclaimed fully by nature over the past thousand years. They have little contact with outsiders, and you are never likely to find one in a lace settled by others, with the exception of Aasonard or Coopreka, where they may be found doing trade. The largest collection of Firbolg can be found in the Eastern Vale.
Genasi (Elemental Evil)
Travel between the planes is not common on Aorthe, but there are a number of individuals and organizations that are capable of it, and the existence of these other planes is known. There are even a few places where direct travel to other planes is possible. For example, until recently the Grand Sultan of the Efreet maintained a portal to the Plane of Fire in Setma, Rieno de Arena so that elementals and others could move to and from the City of Brass and the Prime. Like Aasimar and Tielflings, though, Genasi have recently begun taking great pains to hide their identity because their connection to these other planes makes them targets for various group.
In addition to Rock and Forest gnome, Aorthe is also home to tinker gnomes (see: warforged), chaos gnomes, and whisper gnomes. They are the fifth most populous race, and can be found nearly anywhere, as the gnomish love for wanderlust often takes them anywhere their fancy takes them. See the link for more details. There are around 3.5 million gnomes.
Goblin (Volo’s Guide)
The goblin exist much as they do in a traditional setting. They can be found all over the place – usually using old ruins as bases of operation. This is an option for PCs, but beware that Goblin PCs will not likely be accepted anywhere.
Goliath (Elemental Evil / Volo’s Guide)
Goliath can be found in tribes living in the hardest places on Aorthe – in the high peaks of the Jynnis Highlands or the Mountains of the Hard Death. There is even a race of desert-dwelling Goliath that make their home on the edge of The Dead Empty, living closely with Orc tribes.
There are many factions of elves that actually encourage interbreeding in the name of solidarity and peaceful coexistence, so half-elves are actually fair common compared to other settings. This also means they are more accepted – however there are racial supremacists on the elvish and human sides that despise half-elves.
Like half-elves, half-orcs are actually more common on Aorthe than other settings, due to the fact that the world has a subset of Orcish tribes that, while xenophobic and isolationist, are not aggressive and can (under the right circumstances) be quite friendly with other races. Intermarriage is very, very rare, but it has happened. In addition to this, there is also the other set of Orcs that may produce half-orc offspring with their slaves.
The third most populous race on Aorthe, there are lightfoot and stout halflings, as well as a new type known as ghostwise halflings. See the link for details. There are about 5 million halflings.
Hobgoblin (Volo’s Guide)
The hobgoblin exist much as they do in a traditional setting. They can be found all over the place – usually using old ruins as bases of operation. This is an option for PCs, but beware that Hobgoblin PCs will not likely be accepted anywhere. The exception to this rule is in Auslund – a currently undiscovered landmass east of the Eastern Vale, which is home to a sizable hobgoblin kingdom. It is theoretically possible that a PC may be a member of that kingdom – perhaps sent to scout the continents to the west.
Human culture is, by far, the dominant culture on Aorthe with an estimated 80 million humans. The reason for this is simple – There is little of recorded history, so the world is fairly young, and when it comes to spreading out and settling new lands there are few races better adept at this than the adaptable and relatively short-lived humans.
- Unearthed Archetypes for more custom Human options.
Kenku (Volo’s Guide)
The kenku exist much as they do in a traditional setting. They are found in abundance in the largest cities, but are a relatively rare sight anywhere outside of the slums they congregate.
Kobold (Volo’s Guide)
The kobold exist much as they do in a traditional setting. They can be found all over the place – usually using old ruins as bases of operation. This is an option for PCs, but beware that Kobold PCs will not likely be accepted anywhere. However, this is less true than for some other monster races. There have even been a number of kobold that have risen to very high ranks in society, such as Vice Admiral Kolrab Gupzink
Lizardfolk (Volo’s Guide)
Lizardfolk are found in abundance in the DIsmal Swamp of Ehesh. There are numerous tribes in that vast area, and while they tend to not get along with other races due to cultural conflicts, they are not immediately hostile to them, either. There has even been some positive contact with missionaries and others that have settles the areas near Teuitaca and Cemopalli.
The mousefolk of New Harmony are not found in any appreciable numbers anywhere else, though there have been isolated cases where individuals have been kidnapped, stowed away, or were exiled to the main continents. It’s not likely they would be accepted anywhere, but they are an option for PCs.
Orc (Volo’s Guide)
Like kobolds, orcs are a monster race that present a better option than most others. There are orcs in Aorthe that are not overtly aggressive and even are open to non-orc races, thought hey remain isolationist and xenophobic. In general orcs are regarded with suspicion and fear by most people, which could present a role-playing challenge.
Shifter (Unearthed Arcana – Eberron)
A shifter is a humanoid that is the product of a pairing between a person infected with lycanthrope and one that is not. They are not usually accepted by either, and they are extremely rare. They are often even harder to find due to their needing to conceal their identity.
Like Aasimar, most tieflings went into hiding after the Shying of the Gods. Many were subject to racial prejudices and reprisals for the damage Orcus and Demogorgon had done. They still exist, but take great pains to conceal their true identity – even more than they had before.
The bearfolk of New Harmony are not found in any appreciable numbers anywhere else, though there have been isolated cases where individuals have been kidnapped, stowed away, or were exiled to the main continents. It’s not likely they would be accepted anywhere, but they are an option for PCs.
Warforged (Unearth Arcana – Eberron)
Warforged exist on Aorthe, but are exceedingly rare. The most common type of warforged are the Tinker Gnomes – constructs built by and in the image of gnomes. They were activated during the Rend-Asunder and spent centuries in isolation. After they were discovered, they were integrated into gnomish society. Only around 20 Tinker Gnomes remain today. Other warforged exist as well – products of ancient, long-lost civilizations that have been extinct for ages. The warforged that exist today were activated activate when discovered in ruins. Any warforged that were active during the Red-Asunder were somehow destroyed – there is plenty of evidence of this to be found in the ruins left behind. Another 20 warforged of non-gnome design are known to exist.
The BoltNine Class Pack is available to players.
The Complete Martialists Handbook is available to players.
The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide options are available to players.
The Jotungard – Large Race Options are available to players.
The Giant Killer’s Companion is available to players.
The Al-Qadim: Scimitars in the Dark options are available to players.
The Steel and Steed options are available to players.
The Racial Archetypes options are available to players.
The Sterling Vermin Anothology options are available to players.
The following Unearthed Arcana and Homebrew feats are available to players.
- Unearthed Arcana
- 18 + 1 Feats
- 5 Min WD Feats
- More 5e Weapon Feats
- Weird and Wonderful Weapon Feats
- Additional Feats
- Racial Compendium