Of Blade and Honor Info Sheet

Campaign Themes

This campaign will be set in a high-magic, low to med-fantasy, very China-inspired setting. The Rongyu is a world of wonders and mysteries, filled with magic but torn by viceral wars. The world is highly mountainous, with some plateaus holding hills and flatter lands far above sea level. The distinction between civilisation and wilderness is almost planar : the farther you’re away from cities and people, the farther you go into another realm, filled with spirits, monsters and demons.

The Age of Blade and Honor is slowly being replaced by the Age of Steel and Fire. The end has been brought by the invention of warmachines, the mass-production of firearms and the normalization of the power-scale (heroes aren’t particularly above peasants if muskets and flintlock pistols are involved). Your characters are some of the last members of a dying tradition of valorous heroes, nearly alone in a world that doesn’t want them anymore. They might integrate new technologies in their arsenal, like firearms or even automatas, but they still uphold honor above all else.

List of strong themes

  • Honor

  • The end of an era, being a piece of the past

  • Spiritualism, wonders

References

The universe at the brink of an important cultural change is inspired by the comic Okko, the end of the Meiji era (when samurais were erased by the prohibition for them to wear weapons in public) et by Ken Liu’s novel “Good Hunting”.

The universe is inspired by medieval China more than by Japan, but there are elements from both history and both cultures (along with some bits of Mongolian and Indian aspects). Keep in mind that people have chinese names and chinese equipment.

Other, less specific inspirations are Sekiro, The Witcher and Kung Fu Panda (1 and 2).

Expected creature types and biomes

During this campaign, you can expect to come across the following creature types regularly  : Humanoid, Beast, Monstrosity, Fiend, Undead

You will also come across the following creature types, but it’ll be a rarer occurrence : Construct, Dragon, Aberrations

For this campaign, the main biomes you’ll see will be : Mountains, Hills, Forests

Setting Overview

Your character won’t know everything said in the following points. However, all these informations will shape the campaign, so you, as a player, should know them. I’d like to make it clear : what you know and what your character knows are two VERY distinct things.

The Rongyu

The Rongyu is the name of the whole world. Legends say it is a sleeping dragon, from which all mortal creatures descend. Long ago, it birthed the two god-dragons, Fenhong, and Qingse. The two fought together, their blood birthing the first non-god dragons, and their tears birthing the mortals.

The tears of Fenhong gave beings just like her : proud and elegant, well-versed in diplomacy and knowledge, the elves. Qingse’s tears gave beings like him : perseverant and fierce, with an acute sense of fighting and great ambitions, the humans.

Rongyu’s breath and tears created the countless spirits and animals that walk these lands. Its dreams, however, created beings with the face, cunning and mischief of monkeys, but that are much more organized and violent. They are called Yāojing, evil feys, spirit-monkeys or goblins.

Two Worlds

The Rongyu is torn between two planar worlds, the Mortal Realm and the Spirit Realm. Each one is a reflection of the other, and action performed on one side might have repercussions on the other side. The border between the two realms is both physical and nuanced : a fog that surrounds the whole man-world. You can indeed walk from one realm to the other, simply by going too far off into the wilderness, away from civilisation. And the opposite is true : as civilization takes ground, as fields are sowed and villages are built, the fog recedes…

You can find a map of the Man-World here, and a detailed map of the south-east here.

The Spirits

In the Rongyu, everything has a spirit : animals, people, ponds, mountains, villages, wells, doors…These spirits can be as strong as a god or as weak as a simple sprite. Not all spirits have to be linked to something, however, and sometimes they are simply creatures from beyond the fog.

Spirits cannot be destroyed, except by the gaze of the Rongyu. When someone dies, their spirit stays in their body until one breath after their last, then it is reincarnated into another being. Maybe a bird, a flower, or even another person.

Some say, the flow of those spirits is the Rongyu’s own breath, and is what fuels both life and magic. It is called by many as “Chi”.

The onis

The onis are evil spirits roaming the edge of the man-world, corrupting all, spirits and mortals alike. They were the guardians of the Rongyu’s dreams, but they were allured by power and betrayed the dragon, sending him to sleep.

A few centuries ago, a white oni gathered all the others under his rule, starting the Age of Masks and Blood. He would have destroyed the world if 5 heroes didn’t banish him, using a blade made out of an eyelash of Rongyu. His mask broke up in five parts. Each hero brought one back with them, to their people. Today, all the parts are lost, stolen or hidden away, and so is the blade.
Now, onis are much rarer than during the Age of Masks and Blood. During the Age of Blade and Honor, they were generally dealt with thanks to “Demon Warriors”, soldiers inhabited and given tremendous powers by a piece of oni. In the modern age, the Age of Steel and Fire, onis are a faraway threat mostly ignored, seemingly dying.

The races

The tears of Fenhong gave birth to the proud and elegant elves, while the tears of Qingse gave birth to the crafty and persevering humans.
During the Age of Masks and Blood, the onis took human slaves and their malevolent spells turned them into tainted breeds. These were later called the orcs. Since the defeat of the White Oni, orcs and humans have been thriving hand in hand.
The wild dreams of the Rongyu birthed a fourth race, even before the tears of the dragon siblings fell onto the world. These beings have the face, cunning and mischief of monkeys, but they are much more organized and violent. They are called Yāojing, evil feys, spirit-monkeys or goblins.

The war

Almost a century ago, the elves and the humans went at war for a great amount of reasons, one of them being the insane ambitions of the young human emperor. During the war, the human empire called upon demon-warrior soldiers and sent them to the battlefield. They also created the first bunrakus, humanoid war-machines steered like marionnettes. The combination of these two elite units almost erased the elves from the face of the world. To survive, they commanded the emperor’s assassination and all fled beyond the fog. The few that stayed behind were systematically killed. This war was called The Mad King’s War, and lasted 58 years.

The power-vacuum left by the heirless emperor brought war to the man-world, and demon-warriors were used again, but against their own people, this time. Under absolute orders, they did horrible things and most of them lost their mind, their honor or their life. The human empire was shattered in 5 sub-states in the War of The Five Shards, themselves torn apart between kingdoms and power-struggles less than a decade later. This war started 34 years ago and ended 9 years ago with the fall of the old capital.

Today

The War of the Five Shards ended 9 years ago and is still fresh in everyone’s memory. Elves have disappeared, the demon-warriors are often seen as painful reminders and only barely humans, city-states are aplenty, but so are battles. Warmachines and cities of brass and iron are dotting the landscape, pushing back the fog and spirits. Magic is leaving this world.

Homebrew Rules

For the campaign, I’ll use a collection of homebrew rules. Keep in mind this “modpack” is still under development and might have some things nerfed and others buffed.

Gritty Realism

I’ll use a variant of Gritty Realism :
– Short Rests are unchanged.

– Long Rests are 4 days.

– Setting up camp is a middle-ground between the two, 8 hours of rest with 6 hours of sleep, just like RAW Long Rests. They let you regenerate Hit Dice.

Sometimes, I’ll more or less arbitrarily grant you the effects of a Long or Short rest, for instance when a boss goes into its second phase (short rest) or if you set up camp at a magical haven (long rest).

Inspiration

You gain inspiration whenever you do something heroic, honorable or interesting. You can have up to 3 points of inspiration at a time, and you can consume it to gain advantage to any check. Alternatively, you can use it when getting a death save failure to turn it into a success. Finally, once per session, you can spend an Inspiration point instead of taking a Temporary Stain to perform a Demonic Action.

Objectives

Your character will have personal objectives. There are three types of personal objectives : Final, Long-Term and Short-Term. 

Your Final Objective is the reason why your character is adventuring, and should generally only be resolved toward the end of the campaign. Completing your Final Objective clears all your current Permanent Stains, resets the cleansing time for future stains and give you XP equal to a Deadly encounter. You only have one for the whole campaign, and once it’s fulfilled, your character can retire or die happy. 

Your Long-Term Objective is the adventure your character is currently on, and should generally take between 5 and 10 sessions to be resolved. Completing your current Long-Term Objective clear 1 Permanent Stain and gives you XP equal to a Hard encounter. You can only have one at a time and you can only change it when the previous one as been resolved.

Your Short-Term Objectives are various small, short quests, taking from 1 to 3 sessions to be resolved. Completing a Short-Term Objective gives you 1 Inspiration point and gives you XP equal to an easy encounter. You can have three Short-Term Objectives at a time and can take new one and abandon them at the end of a session.

Honor, Demonic Actions and Chi

For this campaign, I’ll use a set of rules introducing a 7th ability score : Honor, as well as a Stains system. These rules also take most of the monk’s features and turn them into blanket mechanics that everyone can use.

The Honor system comes with a code, but as long as you stay at least a tiny bit heroic and don’t walk too close to evil, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Darker Dungeons

I will be using rules from the Darker Dungeon compendium :

– Item Wear and Tear

– A variant Slot Based Inventory (detailed here)

– The rules for setting up camp

– Some oddball rules such as sometimes diseases and wounds.

Hard Criticals

When you score a critical hit, you inflict damage equal to the max damage of your weapon plus your weapon’s normal damage. Other creatures generally don’t benefit from this rule, but some rare NPCs might on a case by case basis (if they are demon-warriors, for instance) or due to a special effect.

Weapons and Armor

We will be using the following variant weapons with the exception of the firearms. Instead, we will use the firearms described here.

Talents and Martial Exploits

We won’t be using feats, instead we will use this Talent Trees homebrew. Additionally, we will be using this Martial Exploits homebrew. Exploits are combat “moves” pulled from 4e that do pretty cool effects.

Classes

I will be using this variant Fighter and Warlord classes. I might also be using the Disciple, I’m still mostly divided on the last one, so don’t expect them to be part of the game.

If you come across any non-spellcasting, martial-heavy class or subclass, I will gladly take a look at it.

Table Rules

Taboos

If you have any taboo or trauma, let me know so I can prevent it from coming up in game.

Personally, in-depth or long-winded mentions of rape make me insanely unseasy.

Respect

Respect is extremely important. This includes prohibition to make overly racist or sexist jokes, mocking other players or crossing their lines. This also includes telling me when you feel like something is off and if you feel like something doesn’t work.

Team Players

I’m absolutely okay with friendly, not-to-the-death, draw the circle PVP fights and consented rivalry. You still should be team players first, and work together for both roleplay and rollplay. This means your characters must somewhat go along with each other.

Adventurers

Your characters need to want to go on adventures. I won’t always go out of my way to get you on adventures, we will need to meet in the middle.


Character creation

Here are the rules for character creation in this campaign.

Stats, starting level and XP

We will start at level 3 and use Point Buy, with 33 points (keep in mind you have 7 ability scores). I will use “delayed XP” for this game, basically it’s XP but it takes 2 times longer to level up. This is counterbalanced by the objectives system.

Race

You can play as a Variant Human or Orc (using Half-Orc traits). Note that the Variant Human’s feat is replaced by a bonus Talent Point and the ability to reroll one ability check or attack once per long rest. The Orc’s darkvision is replaced by low-light vision : you can only see clearly in dim light, but cannot see in complete darkness.

Also note that orcs aren’t regular fantasy orcs, they have a monkey-esk/oni look, green-blue skin and black, brown or red hair.

Class

You can take the following classes :

– Fighter (not Eldritch Knight, or Templar, sorry)

– Barbarian

– Rogue (not Arcane Trickster, sorry)

– Warlord

I might let you play a Disciple, I’m still mostly undecided.

Background

You have access to all PHB backgrounds, some backgrounds from the Background Omnibus (as long as it makes sense) and on a case by case basis, I’ll let other backgrounds fit.

Keep your background tight and short, we will furnish it further with details from the “This is your life” tables from the XGtE.

Age

Because the War of the Five Shards happened 9 years ago and the youngest demon-warrior that are sent to the battlefield are 15 years old, your character must be at least 25 years old. Note that your longevity is 5 times greater than normal and you age 3 times slower and that most demon warriors get their demon around 10 to 13 years old, sometimes older but never younger than that.

Bonds and common past

All your characters have an inner oni and they all served during the War of the Five Shards. Furthermore, I’d like your characters to either already know each-others (they might have met during the war or heard about each-other’s deeds deeds) and/or have a common past (they might have served the same lord, or fought on the same battle).

Talent, Martial Exploit and Magic Item

Your character starts with 2 Talent points that you can spend however you want. Additionally, you get one Rank 1 Martial Exploit (from the Martial Exploit document). Finally, you can choose between a Rank 2 Martial Exploit or a magic item from this curated list (or two items with a “*”)

Oni Mask

Finally, you will have a broken oni mask, the one from your inner demon. While wearing it on your face, you gain one benefit and one curse. Both the benefit and the curse will be created by me, with your input, in order to reflect your character’s playstyle as best as we can.

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