Lore for Friday - The Nentir Vale - this is the default setting for D&D 4e. https://tahlequahpointsoflight.fandom.com/wiki/Nentir_Vale In 5e the cosmology of this setting is referred to as "the Gods of the Dawns War." Notably, this is also the setting for the first couple of sessions of the original Acquisitions Incorporated podcast with Chris Perkins as DM and the boys of Penny Arcade as the players. Winterhaven is the town where they start, and there are references to events happening as far away as Hammerfast.
Lore for Friday - Planescape: this setting crosses the known planes of existence and features a primarily Victorian-era setting with Steampunk overtones and design.
Lore for Friday - From Lankhmar - The World of Nehwon. Nehwon is the world of the setting for Lankhmar. It is based on the fictional world of the same name created by Fritz Leiber in his Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehwon
In addition to being a setting for a series of fictional detective stories, this world was developed by the D&D team as a setting for the game back in the day. Additionally, because considerable effort to map the world and name geographic locations and cities has been undertaken, it makes a nice setting (using the existing names or new ones) for a homebrew campaign.
Lore for Friday - From Spelljammer - Crystal Spheres. These are crystal shells which contain entire planetary systems. They protect the planetary system from Wildspace, and spelljamming ships must pass through portals set in the walls to travel between systems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spelljammer#Crystal_spheres
Lore for Friday - From Pelinore - The Gladiator's Rest is a bar where gladiators who survive the arena gather for a drink after fights and to mix with their fans. The manager is the former owner, who had both his property and his wife stolen from him by the current owner. The bar is located in The Arena District of The City League.
Pelinore is a game setting that came out of TSR’s UK office and was detailed in a monthly magazine over the course of a year or two. The link is to a site called the Bell of Lost Souls where they discuss the history of this word and its publication information from the mid 1980s. Interesting stuff, and definitely useful for mining for your homebrew campaigns.
Lore for Friday - From Ravenloft - The Chimes of l'Morai. The Chimes of l'Morai call the citizens of the City of l'Morai when a trial is about to occur. http://www.fraternityofshadows.com/wiki/Chimes_of_l%27Morai
Lore for Friday - Psionics from the Dark Sun campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Sun#Psionics
Dark Sun was one of those rare D&D settings where all magic was considered evil. Casters of all kinds were shunned or exiled or killed. But psionics (spell-like powers that spring from the psionicist’s mind) are revered, accepted, and lauded in the society. So it’s basically just magic by another name. Psionics are also very common in the Dark Sun setting—apparently like being force sensitive is common in the Star Wars universe, as the final scene in The Last Jedi showed us, as the stable boy used the force to pick up his broom and start sweeping out the stalls.
Lore for Friday - Hollow World Campaign Setting from Mystara https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollow_World_Campaign_Set
Hollow World was a boxed set released in 1990, which would put it in the 2e time frame (ca. 1989 - 2000). There’s very little information about this set available online, but it has some prehistoric sounding elements to it, which makes me think it’s inspired by something like the old “Journey to the Center of the Earth” sci-fi film and story. When I first saw this I wondered if it was inspired by the old Star Trek episode where an entire civilization existed inside a large asteroid that was a sort of civilization ark sending people from a dying world to a new planet without the occupants ever realizing they were flying through space.
Either way, this setting has a lot of potential for being used in a game. Have you ever played in this setting as a DM or a player? What was your favorite part about this setting?
Lore for Friday - Warcraft from the gaming franchise Warcraft https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_campaign_settings#Warcraft
If you think this power sounds suspiciously like a video game, you would be right. Back in 3rd Edition D&D, there was a three-way licensing agreement between Wizards of the Coast (publishers of D&D), White Wolf (publishers of the Exalted RPG), and Blizzard Entertainment (creators of the Warcraft and World of Warcraft video game franchises).
Under this agreement, White Wolf published a game setting based on the Blizzard games and used the AD&D d20 system ruleset.
Lore for Friday - Malatra: the Living Jungle from the Forgotten Realms, located south of Shou Lung in Kara-Tur https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_campaign_settings#Malatra:_The_Living_Jungle
If you wonder why I do this series, it’s for days like this, when I uncover some little gem of a nugget of D&D history or lore that I never knew about. Malatra is a dense jungle plateau in the continent of Kara-Tur that is far away from most civilizations, deities, and technology. And there’s a whole trove of lore and adventures that were created and published in Polyhedron magazine from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s for this setting. If you enjoyed Chult but wanted a playground where you could make yiour own kind of jungle hell for your players to explore, it sounds like Malatra might just be the kind of spot you were seeking.
Lore for Friday - Sigil, the City of Doors from Planescape https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigil_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)
Sigil marks the hub of the planar vortex in the Planescape universe. It is a city where there are doors to every known plane of existence and where creatures from all those planes live, visit, and co-exist. Sigil is divided into six wards: the Hive Ward, the Lower Ward, the Clerk’s Ward, the Market Ward, the Guildhall Ward, and the Lady’s Ward.
I have always liked the idea of a place like Sigil as the home base for a high-level adventuring party whose exploits have gained the attention of gods and other powers that exist in the Natural World and beyond. I definitely think that as Wizards of the Coast releases more and more material for advanced adventuring beyond the current 5e level cap of 20, I will be creating games for players of these “epic” tier levels that involve a lot of visits to Sigil and the planes that can be reached beyond it.
Have you ever run or played a game that adventured in Sigil? What is your favorite (or most terrifying) memory from the City of Doors?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Mystara - The Alasiyans of Ylaruam are honorable but harsh people, nomads of their desert homeland. They have a dwarven quarter in every city, and they tend to be suspicious of elves, whom they suspect of practicing dark magics. https://wiki.mystara.net/ylaruam#the_people
This is the kind of lore that gets my brain working overtime for a campaign setting. Pop culture has given us a number of dystopian future films like those in the “Mad Max” series that envision a future far beyond a nuclear holocaust where everything is a wasteland and people are nomads fighting over scarce resources. But a bit of D&D lore like this can make one imagine a dystopian landscape after some kind of arcane holocaust, perhaps with legends to say that elves were the race to blame for unleashing the magic or teaching the magic to the races that unleashed it. Just as there are otherwise intelligent people in advanced cultures today that somehow equate people of a certain skin pigment with criminals, rapists, and degenerate freeloaders, there could be a culture in a homebrew world based on the Alasiyans who believe all elves to be demonic, evil, dangerous, and deserving to be killed on sight.
Have you ever adventured in Mystara and have any stories about interactions with these people? How would you use a group like the Alasiyans of Ylaruam in your own homebrew campaign?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Dragonlance - Aldatum, which is the third official and least-developed continent of Krynn - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dragonlance_locations#Adlatum
In some ways Aldatum can be a DM’s dream. If you are setting a homebrew campaign in Dragonlance, you have nearly a blank canvas in Aldatum since there was so little published on it. You can use a lot of the tropes and the rules and the skeleton of the Dragonlance setting, but pretty much populate it with the kind of cities, cast of characters, range of enemies, and geographical features that you want.
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Planescape - Mimir, which is a magical construct that serves as a living encyclopedia - https://torment.wikia.com/wiki/Mimir
The Mimir in Planescape often take the form of a silvery disembodied head and they speak their knowledge to those that interact with them.
In mythology, Mimir was a deity in the Norse pantheon. He had a well whose water made people wise. So he stayed by his well and he drank the water and it made him the wisest of the gods. Later he was beheaded, and in death his head preserved all of his knowledge. Odin would then come to Mimir in his travels, and Mimir would tell him all of the wisdom he knew.
Both of these bits of lore can be great fodder for a homebrew campaign. There could be an entity that serves as a “librarian” of sorts for the party to consult when they need information, or a powerful artifact that a recurring villain has that allows him or her to have intelligence that they can use to try to distract, disrupt, frustrate, or obfuscate the goals and progress of the party.
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Spelljammer - The Trees of Reitcla, which grow up to two miles high and serve as homes for the elves of that world http://www.spelljammer.org/worlds/locs/six_wonders.html
What this reminds me of is the old MMORPG EverQuest and the wood elf starting zone where everything was up in trees. You had to get a lift to take you up to the trees, and you had to walk on bridges between platforms or you would fall to your death far far below on the forest floor. And you could adapt this from real-world ancient cultures like some in the Middle East and some in the southwestern United States. There were cliff-dwelling peoples who cut dwellings out of the soft sandstone in those areas. Perhaps the forest magic of the elves allows them to create dwellings within the living wood of trees without killing the tree itself.
How would you use such a setting in a homebrew campaign?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Jakandor (2nd Edition). Jakandor - Set on the titular island nation, Jakandor dedicates itself to focusing on the Forever War raging between the island's population: the Knorr colonists and the Charonti natives.
Jakandor is an interesting setting. It was designed by Jeff Grubb to be a self-contained campaign world and used a trope that is familiar to WoW players of two warring factions on the land. The native Charonti are practitioners of magic and have a heavy necromancy flavor. The Knorr are warlike barbarians who were driven from their own homeland and have established a civilization in Jakandor. The Knorr despise magic and hate those who practice it.
Taking an idea like this sounds like a good starting place for a “world of exploration” campaign, where perhaps one or the other side of the conflict needs to send a party of adventurers away from the land to find allies or resources or a fabled weapon that could help them in the struggle. There could also be a campaign of subterfuge when the PCs are sent as spies or infiltrators to establish a resistance or build sympathy for the civilization who sent them in the opposing faction.
Have you ever played in this setting? How could you mine such a setting for use in your own campaign or homebrew game?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Rokugan (Oriental Adventures for AD&D, 3rd Edition, and 4th Edition). Kensai - Kensai are a martial class who "seek to perfect their weapons technique to the exclusion of all else. They are deadly in combat, but cannot use magical weaponry because it detracts from the appreciation of their skill."
I like some of the interesting flavor factions from older versions of D&D. In the current 5e environment, this tradition is actually ported over as the “Path of the Kensei” tradition. It does not prevent the PC from using magical weapons, but it does allow the monk to choose several weapons at different levels and considers attacks with them to be magical if they train with this tradition.
Have you ever played a monk with this Monastic Tradition? If so, what did you like best or what did you find the most challenging about it?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Ravenloft (3rd Edition).
The Church of Hala
The Church's sacred text, the Tales of Ages, tells of nine gods who created the world from Chaos. The gods then withdrew, intending to allow mortals to fill their world with acts both good and evil. But the mortals lacked wisdom, and the world was soon filled with pain and anguish. Just one of the Nine Gods, the goddess Hala, returned to the world to ease its suffering. She gathered together thirteen women and thirteen men and taught them the secrets of the Weave, forming the first covens.
This bit of lore seems to have some wonderful possibilities. If you were going to run a version of the 5e Curse of Strahd adventure, you could perhaps make the guardians of the Amber Temple be the last remaining denizens of this Church of Hala, set to guard the entities that are locked in the amber sarcophagi in the bowels of that place.
Or you might twist Hala from being entirely an entity that wishes to “ease the world’s suffering.” In this instance, it might be that Hala was the ninth entity that got out of the broken sarcophagus and offers to ease the suffering of her worshipers for a price—perhaps the price is undeath or madness or something else unpleasant.
Of course you could simply take the mission of the church and remove it from any kind of Barovian or Ravenloft setting altogether and make Hala a deity of healing in a homebrew world. What else could you do with this bit of lore? How would you use the Church of Hala in a game of your own?
Lore for Friday - From the Campaign Setting Pelinore (TSR UK, 1984-85). The Knights Ocular - This is a lawful group made up of mainly fighters, but also as varied as cavaliers, assassins, rangers, and paladins. Their main goal is to be observant of those who are suspected of breaking the law and then bringing them to justice if they are indeed found to be miscreant. They are utterly ruthless and utterly lawful.
The Knights Ocular sound like a great “state security” organization to throw into a campaign. They could be the fantasy equivalent of secret police, FBI, and Interpol all rolled into one. The “utterly lawful” and “utterly ruthless” characteristics could even make this organization a great recurring antagonist for a party that solves problems by skirting the edge of whatever is the strictly legal code of the kingdom or world in which the campaign is set.
In 2019 I’ll be adding some daily quick-hit content to the blog and other social media platforms in the form of daily items to correspond with every day of the week. And the best part about it is that I’ve used my polyhedral dice and online RNGs to pick which item out of every category each week. So there are bound to be some duplicates and there might well be some duds as well as doozies. It should be a load of fun!Read More