The Lost Marches!

Last night fantasy feudalism reared its ugly head in The Lost Marches. Not long after leaving the Kingdom of Insulia and entering The Lost Marches, four of five player characters swore fealty to the local Baroness. Mainly this choice was based on the in-game mechanic of privileges that she granted her Yeoman (the title that was granted to each person in her fealty), but they did so of their own free will. In effect, they each took the King’s Shilling.

Fast forward a handful of sessions to two sessions ago: where the players found an ancient document bearing wax seals and signatures while looting tombs. It was decided that a Sage should be consulted, as while the document(s) were clearly a deed and titles of nobility, to whom and what was rather ambiguous.

Last night, the PCs returned to the Sage for information (and with some new questions about ‘The Hammer of Clan Anvil Flame’, which they found) about the deeds. With less than 500 gold each, to their names, the cost of a Sage elicited some minor complaints.

Having had over a tenday to research, the Sage proudly explained that the deed was to the “Keirian Stronghold in Feywode” and “Letters Patent for the Marquess of Mercer, and the subsidiary titles of Baron of Riverfords, and the Baronet of Dragonsclaw) issued by the Emperor Justal”.

Most of these names were of only passing familiarity to the characters, but seeing as they had paid the Sage for some answers (a whole 10 Gold I may add), some explanation was given.

  • Over a millennia ago, The Great Compact was ruled by the Emperor, and one such Emperor was Justal.
  • The Marquess of Mercer is a fairly ‘high’ title of nobility.
    • It is also one of the titles used by the King of Insulia to this day.
  • Subsidiary titles, are titles that are beneath a parent title, and are sometimes used as a courtesy title for the Noble’s family.
  • In anticipation of the Players return, the Sage has already drawn up a map showing the lands of the Marquess of Mercer, and will happily sell it to them for 500 gold. The PCs declined this offer.
  • The Dwarvern Kingdom is ruled by a Thegn and extends under the Mountains. Barak Dur is just a fort.

Some things that could be implied or inferred by the players:

  • The titles were bestowed by the Emperor, implying that it is subservient to him (the Emperor).
  • The King of Insulia’s title of King was also bestowed by the Emperor in the mists of time.

As this is in a ‘West Marches’ style of game, meaning that it’s very open and focused on what the players wish to do, the Sage offered the 5 characters a massive sum of 9000 gold (initially 5000) for the deeds and titles. In essence, the PCs could be bought out of this whole storyline if they wished.

Declining that offer, the PCs elected to research the titles, lands, and ramifications more.

By splitting up the players dug up the following information by tavern crawling, speaking with the temple and library research:

  • The Church of Pelor’s highest-ranking member in the town is the Radiant Servant Bartlett. A gentleman of about 30 winters, and who is married to the sister of the Baroness (making him the Brother-In-Law to the Baroness of Limen).
    • Bartlett knows of the Dwarven Clan, Anvil Flame. It’s one of the higher ranked Dwarven Clans. Speak to Jarl Baradur, a Dwarf on Moraday (the 13th of High Summer).
    • Limen (the town they are in) was once known as Dragonsclaw.
    • The Baroness is of the bloodline of the Marquess of Mercer.
  • Research in the Library turned up loose references to the size and scope of the March.
    • It likely includes part of the Fjallwode, which used to be known as the Feywode.
    • Exact measurements or borders are hard to find, but the March would be larger than the two settled Valleys.
    • Some of the documents in the library are very old and set aside in a reserved section. A large portion of these documents are written in Draconic, and this seems to be where the old nobility titles are kept.
  • The Monk loves ale!
    • Little is said in the Taverns about Dwarves, who are rarely seen around town and mostly on Market Day.
    • This year has been especially “hard” on Adventurers. In years past, about fifty percent of any adventuring party would return to Limen. This year the odds are closer to one in eight.

Some other General information that the PC’s put together/know:

  • Currently, the year is 1436.
  • The first and second valley of The Lost Marches were settled less than 20 years ago.
  • The first valley was settled ‘first’, the second valley more recently.
  • The Town of Limen was settled just over 15 years ago.
  • The players estimate that Castle Limen must have taken 10 years to build.
  • Characters who swore fealty to the Baroness of Limen as Yeoman, swore to her in name ‘Lady Morgaine’ and title ‘The Baroness and Founder of Limen, First of her Name’. They are also in Feudal service to the Baroness, and as your Liege, she may call upon you at any time for any service.
    • Characters who swore service to the Baroness saw that she has a two handed sword that glows, and wore shining armor.
  • The Order of the Radiant Sun (the Order of Pelorian Knights) has declared to the King of Insulia that they shall move their headquarters to The Lost Marches in the year 1440
  • While not a title granted by the King of Insulia, the Baroness of Limen acts as the Feudal overlord of Limen. The Baroness is unchallenged in her claim, and the church of Pelor recognizes her rights over all citizens of Limen.

Why is this all noteworthy? Mainly because the PC’s chose to pursue this story. They could (and still can) cash out for a substantial sum of coin. Instead, they are placing a higher value upon the title and the story.

Up Next

 

 

 

 

 

As of October 4th, my next projected Tuesday game will be set within the burnt world of Athas. While the setup and preparation have already begun, I anticipate that I’ll be trying to lock down my players before the end of November. The game itself will not start until my current game (The Curse of Strahd) meets its organic conclusion. I estimate that, to be sometime in the month of December, but I won’t be rushing it.

The game itself will not start until my current game (The Curse of Strahd) meets its organic conclusion. I estimate that, to be sometime in the month of December, but I won’t be rushing it.

Much like The Lost Marches, my Dark Sun campaign will contain a lot of ‘homebrew’ content.

  • So, if you are:
    • Free on Tuesday nights between 20:00 and 23:15 Eastern
    • Familiar with 5E Dungeons and Dragons rules or willing to learn
    • Have access to a PC, Webcam and Headset
    • Eager for a game set in a post-apocalyptic world
    • Want more details or to express your interest?
      • CONTACT ME ASAP!

 

Testing a change to Flanking

Despite the fact that I’ve used it in every game, Flanking is an optional rule in 5E that grants advantage onto an attack roll.

The Change

While I’m testing this, Flanking will grant a +2 to attack rolls, but not grant Advantage. Otherwise Flanking will work as written.

OPTIONAL RULE: FLANKING
If you regularly use miniatures, flanking gives combatants a simple way to gain +2 advantage on attack rolls against a common enemy.
A creature can’t flank an enemy that it can’t see. A creature also can’t flank while it is incapacitated. A Large or larger creature is flanking as long as at least one square or hex of its space qualifies for flanking.

Flanking on Squares. When a creature and at least one of its allies are adjacent to an enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, they flank that enemy, and each of them has +2 advantage on melee attack rolls against that enemy.

When in doubt about whether two creatures flank an enemy on a grid, trace an imaginary line between the centers of the creatures’ spaces. If the line passes through opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, the enemy is flanked. – DMG, 251

Where: I’m testing this in my Curse of Strahd game, as well as my Lost Marches game for a couple of sessions, then I’ll decide if it sticks.
Some Rationale:
  •  Flanking was giving Melee combatants with mobility a huge edge over any other character combo/build.
    • Effectively it was giving them something akin to a +5 to hit, but saw diminishing returns in extreme cases.
    • That works in the favour of the PCs and the enemy but far more in the favour of the enemy.
    • The bonus from Flanking was encouraging risky gameplay at times and seemed to ‘penalize’ anyone who didn’t take the risks. ‘Smart’ play was seen as sub-optimal and encouraged party wipes.
  • Flanking not having an action ‘cost’ was breaking the action economy of 5E.
    • Effectively, anyone using the Dodge action paid for it (as they needed to give up all other full actions) but it could be countered for ‘free’ by flankers.
  • Ranged combatants rarely could achieve Advantage as they would never benefit from Flanking.
  • A number of Sub-class abilities also granted Advantage but seeing as how Advantage never stacks, they were effectively nerf’d.
Related stuff worth pointing out:
Help
You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn.
Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage. -PHB 192
Help can also be used to assist friends who are attacking your ‘target’ from range. Help also stacks with Flanking.

Here’s an example!

In this example, we have a party of three Adventurers fighting one Iron Golem.

Situation #1: Adroil the Monk and Elian the Paladin have assumed a Flanking position on the Iron Golem. This means that either or both of them would have a +2 to hit the Iron Golem with a Melee Attack that turn. Adroil declares that he will use the Help action to assist Elian’s first attack. This will give Elian Advantage on his first attack on the Iron Golem that turn. In this case, Aria has no bonuses to her Ranged Attack.
Situation #2: Alternatively, Adroil could declare that he is using the Help action to assist Aria in attacking the Iron Golem. Elian would still have the +2 bonus from Flanking, but Aria would have Advantage on her first attack on the Iron Golem.

The Lost Marches – Taunting

A New Feat

One of the common statements from my players is that from a mechanics standpoint, there are few ways to generate ‘aggro’ in D&D. While I’m not strictly convinced that it’s needed, I’ve put together a feat to hopefully help with this. 

Only a Test

 I’ve made it a Feat, as opposed to a mechanic that anyone can use, in an effort to mitigate how overpowering this could be.  I consider this a Test, which I may pull out from play, or change if it seems unbalanced compared to other feats. I’m only allowing this feat in my Lost Marches game for now (as of Sept 15th).

Taunting

You are intimately familiar with gestures, and phrases which will provoke others to attack:

  • Increase your Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • As a bonus action, you may taunt or goad one creature that you attacked this round. You force your target to make a Wisdom save (DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier). On a failed save, the target is overwhelmed with animosity toward you and can not target anyone but you. On a success, the target has disadvantage on all attack rolls against targets other than you until the end of your next turn.

The Church of Pelor

A work emergency slowed me down, but here are my working notes on Paladins and Clerics of Pelor in The Lost Marches.

Order of the Radiant Sun

Pelorian paladins, known as Crusaders, are quite rare. Pelor’s paladins see themselves as bringers of light, those which scour away darkness and evil and bring strength and comfort to the innocent. Recently, the Order has declared to the King of Insulia that they shall move their headquarters to The Lost Marches in the year 1440, as they are most needed in the unsettled lands.

Crusaders believe that laws are helpful, but that they are at best a secondary goal and must be tempered with mercy. Their slogan is Equity for the Meek with Perseverance and Strength.

When not in formal dress, Crusaders favour light-coloured tunics, particularly sky blues, pale greens, or greys. Some dress in commoner’s clothing, especially when serving as community healers or in disguise. On formal occasions, they wear a black cloak emblazoned with the symbol of the sun. They blend into the darkness, only the shining symbols visible to their foes.

By their nature, Crusaders typically follow the Paladins Oath of the Crown (Sword Coast Adventurers Guide pg. 133),  and swear allegiance to either the Kingdom of Insulia or the Baroness of Limen in equal numbers. This has resulted in two factions within the Order of the Radiant Sun, those who belong to The Shield of the Realm and those who are Yeoman to the Baroness (https://worldofdarkness.ca/?p=1037#Factions).

 

The Grand Temple of Pelor

Clerics of Pelor are constantly aware that they are the moral compass of the civilized lands. The Grand Temple of Pelor has a monopoly upon the spiritual devotion of every goodly person. Within the civilized lands, every village, and most hamlets benefit from the services of a local Priest or Adept of the Light, while every town has a Radiant Servant to see to offer guidance. Whereas the cities are overseen by High Priests of Pelor, the Capitol is home to both the King and the Patriarch of Light, herself.

When not in formal dress, Clerics favour clothing similar to the Paladins of Pelor, light-coloured tunics, particularly sky blues, pale greens, or greys. Unlikely Paladins, never will a Cleric dress in commoner’s clothing, even when serving as community healers or in disguise. On formal occasions, Clerics wear a Cope, a form of symbolic cape emblazoned with the symbol of the sun.

Given the influence and respect that the Grand Temple of Pelor commands, Clerical ranks are typically drawn from the second and third children of Noble families. Due to these family ties, there is a heavy skew toward adventuring Clerics favoring the Shield of the Realm faction and the domain of Light within The Lost Marches. Exceptions are of course not unknown, and more than one humbly born peasant Cleric has become a Yeoman to the Baroness of Limen and studied the Domain of Nature.