I would be flattered if anyone wanted to use this setting for roleplaying purposes when I am not the GM and I will try to create material enabling this for other GMs, but at the moment I'm assuming you are reading this because you are going to play with me as GM in this setting or just curious as to how roleplaying happens.
If you accidentally slipped in here, check out what roleplaying actually is first.
When you are done here, you may also wish to look up my DnD/PF house rules.
This is a shorter and more concise version of the introduction article.
At present I use Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 or Pathfinder for campaigns in Hökaland with a lot of house rules to make it fit the setting, but I really would like to find a better system. However, for now it's DnD!
The world is set in a Euro-Medieval-esque world sharing many traits with times in our own past. What may differ in this world compared to other fantasy worlds is that life isn't necessarily nice and certainly not fair. In truth, this is actually something the world shares more with our own past rather than many fantasy worlds. One of the biggest differences between Hökaland and our world is that, though rare, magic does exist as does gods. The impact of magic and gods isn't vastly different from that of Medieval times: i.e., it doesn't have much of an impact and it's hard to know the difference between someone who is a real mystic from someone who pretends to be (or thinks they are).
The playable world of Hökaland is in a relatively small area called Midrealm, where a large portion of the inhabitants live. It's best suited because it's the most densely populated and has a lively political and intricate life with a lot of armed conflict, much of which is meddled by someone in Capitoleum, the gigantic trading city. This does not mean that characters need to originate from the middle realm, but adventuring will take place here.
On the map, the realms are as follows:
Each realm contains a large number of kingdoms, each lead by a particular noble house, which in turn is supported by an even larger number of small noble houses. The present time is the year of the Lord Rahn 1677 and it is a time where there are no large empires, but a lot of small conflicts and interdependencies. Many different factors has led to this situation and a number of interests like it this way, but it is not a stable political situation.
One of the main reasons is the vast riches of Capitoleum, which is lead by five of the most powerful houses (kingdoms), and while these houses and every one else vies for power over Capitoleum, it stretches efforts to gain power elsewhere. At the same time, it's in no other house's interest for another house to grow a lot stronger, especially the five controlling Capitoleum, so large scale conquest is beaten down hard with mutual effort and in-strife is encouraged.
These realms employ a form of bastard feudalism, which the Family Register keeps track of. One of the notable differences between European medieval times and the Catholic Church's similar position to the Register is that commoners can create peerage for themselves and become nobles through their own actions (usually through war, but though it has happened many times, very few can do it in reality).
Read more about the main factions.
Magic is feared by most, used by a few and employed by a very small population. Magic services cost double that of traditional DnD costs, but there are few/no limitations on magical characters. The awesome gift of magic is also a curse and only certified magicians are allowed to use it. If you are certified, it also limits your freedom quite drastically.
Magic items exist and are made, but are extremely rare. Instead there are masterwork items to make up for the item-heavy system of DnD.
Read more about magic users.
The religion of the lands is a polytheistic religion that circulates around Rahn, the half-man being with hawkish traits. This follows from a complicated creation myth and the most famous prophet, 1677 years ago. Religiosity has gone up and down since then, and people are currently more religious than they have been in hundreds of years and the church enjoys a monopoly of the interpretation of the ancient texts.
The church see magic users as demonic corruption and preaches about its horrors, but since the mage guild has positioned itself so well, they can't push for making magic usage illegal. There is also a rumour that the church receives large subsidies for their activities by the guild to keep them from being too harsh on them.
In a practical sense, the gods DO exist, but very few people have actual connection to them. The church is run by dogma and organisation similar to the medieval Catholic church.
Being irreligious has consequences, but so would be a Cleric, since you would be in ACTUAL contact with the gods and probably wouldn't agree with how the church operates.
Read more about the Gods of the world.
The game is pretty open as to what character you would like to play, but just like in the real world, choices comes with consequences. Playing a half-orc may be fun in combat, but every other aspect of play will be very hard. Just consider how a particular character would be treated in early medieval Europe, and you have an idea of how character interaction would work. Even if you are not a half-orc, having red eyes that burn from within would probably also end your life pretty quickly.
This is a brief list of races as characters. Read more on each individual article. Also see races for specific rule details. This just says how the people are in general: Your character can be like everyone else or different.
- Silent types, work hard, fight fiercely, drink a lot in small parties. Humble, careful to boast or threaten. Always follows up threats or promises.
- Northern houses fight less frequently and a lot harder. Cooperate more. Well functioning legal systems.
- The northen realms are in some ways more stable than southern.
- Seen as backwards by Midrealm and Southrealm characters.
- Greater variation between houses, but think well of themselves.
- Generally religious. Big drinking culture. A lot of strife and conflict. Some suffer from "Capitoleum thinking" (not being practical).
- Has very strict views on rape and abusing women. Generally ok legal systems. Varying degrees of administration.
- High temperaments. Very religious. Complex view of women (double standards). Less armed conflicts than Midrealm.
- Though loud, people are heartily friendly. Known for skills in romance and bedchamber (not always so...).
- Women known for being honourable (no sex before marriage) but wild in bed. Famous (and very illegal) brothels.
- Open-minded and less racist/xenophobic than others (but very religious).
- Extremely rare. Generally only socialise with nobles in academic pursuits or fine wine. Seen as "just cold" or snobby by many humans, but also seen with awe.
- Taller and "frailer" than humans. Dexterous and nimble.
- Live "for ever". Can sleep through a century, meditates through a winter.
- Unknown to humans, some elves tire of their lives and leave to pretend to be humans and spend their days in the roughest of taverns.
- Seen as a breed of shorter, stockier humans (not midgets). Quite accepted in the realms.
- Have a homeland they never speak of, even scholars are confused. Destroyed?
- Like Northrealmers the most, doesn't mind Southrealmers, but doesn't like the climate. Like pub brawls and roughhousing.
- Known for excellent workmanship and high prices. Suspected to be magical, but the mage guild has not found any.
- Mixed reactions from people. Some get freaked out by adults of half size, some think they are midgets.
- Transient, travel a lot, some dislike that also. Reputation of stealing. Sometimes travels with Traveller merchants and tinkering craftsmen.
- Has centres in many human cities with halfling-sized buildings. Welcoming, if you can sit with bent neck for long periods of time.
- There are no gnomes in this setting.
It's important to know that most of the material in this wiki would not be known to individual character. See more about the Knowledge skill.
If you haven't created a roleplaying character before, I recommend using some guide, like this one:
(I just googled it, but it looks good)
The GM is the "god of gods", but only with the mandate of the players. For all extents and purposes, the GM works for the players (quite literally in some cases) and that's fair enough. I am generally very understanding about all sorts of situations or preferences and I have a number of things I expect of myself and that I presume players expect of a GM, but this is ulitmately judged by what people think of the sessions and if they deem them fun enough to attend to.
It has not been a major issue, but I wanted to write about what I feel are some reasonable things we all as group members should be able to expect from one another. In short it comes down to these things:
Read more here.
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