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D&D General Assumed Lore/Sacred Cows you've changed +

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I've always used my own campaign world, so my own version of the planes and so on loosely based on Norse mythology. One side effect is that drow, deep gnomes and duergar have gray skin because they live in Svartleheim and magic radiation affects their skin color.

Other than that?
  • Coming back from the dead is not simple. All souls go through Niflheim (the shadowfel basically), you have to get to the soul before it moves on to it's final destination. Resurrection is basically unheard of.
  • Long distance teleport doesn't work.
  • Planar travel requires a gateway, you can't just cast a spell.
  • Bows are versatile.
  • PCs are combat casters, there are others that use magic, it's application is just different an tends to be more ritual based.
 

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Since I never paid much attention to the "official" lore in the old days, a lot of what my friends and I made up instead just sort of became ossified as fact in my games. (Keep in mind that I don't play WotC D&D* at all, so I'm either running AD&D1 or OD&D2 — usually the latter — when I implement these lore changes.)

• No great wheel cosmology. Instead, the multiverse is imagined as concentric "onion layers" of realities, with the center being a rigidly fixed point of pure Order and the outermost reaches being a howling void of empty and meaningless Chaos. From the outside in, the planes are: The Void of Chaos, the Surface of Limbo, the Veil of Shadow (i.e. the Outer Ætheric Plane), the Prime Material (i.e. the Physical Universe or Universes), the Realm of Faerie (i.e. the Inner Ætheric Plane), the Platonic Astral Sea, and finally the Empyrean Center of All Being.

• Only planar beings have an alignment, and alignment does nothing more than signify a creature's plane of origin, so possible alignments include Chaos, Shadow, Balance, Faerie, and Order (with Balance reserved for "planar" beings that are native to the Prime Material—elementals, genies, nature spirits, and the like).

• The only reason the multiverse exists at all is because of a random fluctuation in the Void of Chaos that somehow stuck around and wouldn't go away. Chaos is constantly at war with Orderly reality, trying to swallow it up again, and this manifests as a constant onslaught of demons (which are fundamentally nothing more than psychotic Boltzmann brains) being spawned by the Void and trying to batter their way through the Veil and thereby infiltrate the Prime Material Plane. Demons are usually classified by their size: imps (small), fiends (human-sized), or devils (huge).

• There are only two kinds of dragons: firedrakes and murkwyrms. Firedrakes are the ordinary sort of evil: greedy, gold-coveting bullies. Murkwyrms are supernaturally evil, having been cursed with the taint of Chaos long ago. If a Dark Lord or a Demon Prince or a Chaos Wizard were to try and raise up a Chaos Army to attack civilization, the odds are fifty–fifty that a firedrake would tell the Big Bad either "Sure, if you pay me enough gold," or "Nah, eff off, looser." Whereas a murkwyrm would be compelled to serve Chaos (and hate themselves and their master the whole time for doing it—but they'll hate heroes and innocent people more).

• The only true lycanthropes that exist are werewolves, and your average ignorant peasant is unlikely to be able to tell a werewolf apart from a different sort of therianthrope (like a skin-changer, a skin-walker, or a skin-wearer), a vampire, a wolfman, or a hexbeast.

• Clerical magic doesn't come directly from gods. Instead, it's hermetic or theurgical magic, secrets of the universe which have been divined from analysis of sacred texts via such cabalistic methods as numerology and deciphering the names of holy beings. When a cleric or druid memorizes a divine spell, the spell itself is an impersonal and rather benign energy-pattern stored in the caster's memory. Not so with arcane spells: arcane spells are literally conscious entities, basically minor spirits, which must be persuaded to serve a mage or an illusionist as a "spell." Memorizing an arcane spell is fundamentally an act of bargaining, which temporarily traps a minor spirit within a "mental cage" in some dark corner of the caster's psyche. If an arcane magic-user is ever killed with spells still memorized, it's… not good for anyone who happens to be standing close by.

• I have some very different takes on humanoids and demihumans in my settings:

— Four "standard" nonhuman types which are playable: elves (wood elves to be specific: they're mortal servants of the immortal High Elves, tasked with keeping tabs on the world of men, and they're an entire race of hedonistic, thrill-seeking adventure-junkies); dwarfs (sensible, pastoral, down-to-earth: pretty much halflings without the furry feet); goblins (miners and smiths under the mountain, they're less "doughty warriors" and more "conniving tinkers" who have a plutocratic and Machiavellian society where the clan with the most wealth rules by default, lots of wheeling and dealing and backstabbing); and ogres (big green honorable tribal warriors, folk of gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, nobody better to have at your side in a brawl).

—Lots more non-standard "races" (actually called "kindreds" in-universe): gnomes, fays, fauns, centaurs, merrows, lamias, arachnes, scyllas, leprechauns, harpies, hobgoblins (which, in keeping with folklore, are smaller than goblins), drachen (dragon-men), wilder (wolf-men), leshonky (ent saplings), clockwork automata (auto-mechs, clockwork men, and "skin-job" replicants), and living constructs (straw men, tin men, and wicker men).

—And then there are the creatures of chaos, many of which are explicitly not sentient. The shadowspawn (or beastmen) come in a variety of types and sizes: cowardly and ratlike scavers (½ HD), doglike mogrels (1−1 HD), porcine gruuchs (1 HD), feline flynds (1+1 HD), goat-headed durlocks (2 HD), stealthy reptilian khshlaaa (2+1 HD), aquatic sahuagin (2+1 HD), and hulking ursine bugannes (3+1 HD). If there isn't an evil intellgience (like a Dark Lord or a Prince of Hell) in the world organizing them into a Chaos Army, they have only animal intelligence and can't even manage simple tools or proto-language. Larger, fiercer creatures may also serve in a Chaos Army: ettins (6+3 HD, these are the "greater trolls") and minotaurs are not evil by nature but may sometimes be persuaded into the service of evil; whereas true trolls (4+1 HD, they don't regenerate but they will turn to stone in sunlight), rísir (i.e. troll mages or oni), and draugr (which are the true þyrs or orcneas, haunting the moors like Grendel; stats as the thoul) are gleefully all-in on evil and chaos.

• A different scale of undead. Classic D&D gives us: 1 HD skeletons, 2 HD zombies, 2 HD ghouls, 3 HD wights, 4 HD wraiths, 5 HD mummies, 6 HD spectres, 7–9 HD vampires. In my campaigns:

— There are are four "classes" of undead: Cadaver, Ghost, Revenant, and Animus.

— The Cavader class includes the walking dead (the ½ HD "drybones", a simple and mindless skeleton; the 1−1 HD "shambler", your basic zombie corpse; and the 1 HD "rotter", a zombie but juicy and also quite diseased), the 2 HD ghoul, the 3+1 HD skeleton (true skeletons are intelligent, very annoying, they like to insult you as they fight, pluck out their own bones and throw them, and they regenerate), the 6 HD mummy, and the 10 HD sah-hotep (greater mummy or mummy priest).

— The Ghost class includes the 1 HD apparition (a not-quite-harmless psychic impression of a dead person that terrifies those who see it and which cannot be destroyed without putting to rest its unfinished business), the 4 HD geist (replaces the wight: a geist is a restless spirit that can only haunt the place where it was buried and attacks by animating its own remains; behaves very much like a deadite from Evil Dead); the 5 HD phantom (replaces the wraith: a phantom is a more powerful evil ghost, capable of forming a misty body out of pure ectoplasm and haunting an entire location), and the 7 HD spectre (a free-willed and free-roaming ghost, spectres are semi-solid and able to travel anywhere, like to ride upon night mares, and are known for teleporting, breathing fire, and throwing chains around—Scorpion by way of Angmar, basically).

— The Revenant Class includes the 8 HD vampire, 11 HD death knight, 12 HD nosferatu, and 16 HD lich lord, all pretty standard to D&D lore. The Animus Class includes a variety of evil spirits that ride the line between a ghost and a demon: the 9 HD grimwraith (or "grey philosopher"), the 13 HD reaper of souls, and the 21 HD legion of the damned (if a geist is one deadite, the legion is the Evil Dead—all of them—or maybe that cloud of spectral energy that the jerkwad bad guy unwittingly created in that one episode of The Real Ghostbusers; point is, big cloud of evil in the sky that can possess people on the ground and which is very difficult to mount an opposition to).
 
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Mostly I've kept the lore from 1E AD&D. Some of 2E has filtered in, but I've found most of the changes since to be trash. Some examples I use:
  • Dwarves and Gnomes are genetically cousins
  • Orcs, Gnolls, and Kobolds are genetically cousins of Goblinoids
  • Orcs are smaller and more porcine than the commonplace WoW orc
  • Kobolds are not draconic in any way, shape, or form
  • Elves are NOT as tall as humans (except in the Forgotten Realms)
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Sacred cows?

Mmmmm..... sacri-licious!

I have endeavored to reduce the number of polearms to one. At this point, I am left with the "sharp pointy stick," and I don't think I can get any further down.

Or, to paraphrase one of my favorite snarky Sage Advice answers to stupid questions ...
Q. Can I wield a staff one-handed?
A. Yes, it's called a club.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Sacred cows?

Mmmmm..... sacri-licious!

I have endeavored to reduce the number of polearms to one. At this point, I am left with the "sharp pointy stick," and I don't think I can get any further down.
Ahem....this is from my Chromatic Dungeons project, the weapon table: :D Just one entry and one line man! It's all that's needed!

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I assume they mean material components, so note that not every spell requires material components to cast. Disarming a caster usually requires binding hands and gagging them, though a sorcerer using Subtle Spell metamagic can defeat even that. I guess you would have to knock them out or use some form of anti-magic to truly stop them from casting (or just kill them ;) ).
Put them in ring mail and lock it on. That will stop most sorcerers, wizards, druids, bards, and warlocks, and a decent chunk or clerics as well. The Eldritch Knight will still be a problem, be she was a problem with just a stick anyways.
 


I ignore alignments and breath weapons for dragons and make them whatever I want them to be. Most dragons will be hostile, if not outright evil, and will spit fire regardless of color. The older the dragon, the more ill tempered and dangerous.

Trolls in my campaigns are always hairy, ill tempered and sadistic, and look like they walked straight out of one of those David the gnome books.

Fey are all super dangerous and unpredictable. Genies on the other hand are polite and professional, and do not try to twist your wishes into something you did not intend. Instead, they seek to serve their master, and even provide free advise. Genies also tend to not want to be set free. They live to serve and grant wishes.
 


Uta-napishti

Explorer
  • I tend to like a game of political intrigue and geographical and cultural exploration rather than a heavy emphasis on magic and the supernatural. Yes it's still D&D but...
  • Magic is rare and hard to master (no automatic learning of spells when you level, you have to be taught, or practice, or research new magic), but what does exist has been worked into the economy, society deeply where it makes sense. The houses of city folk where a wizard college is located are frequently lit by continual flame lanterns. Ships rely on weather magic to make good time (thanks Earthsea). Religions and Churches will sell the populace a whole belief system and cosmology, but are mostly economically a social caste + and internally a brotherhood sharing magical secrets with each other.
  • Haven't run this yet, but hope to introduce soon that there is no mechanical difference between divine and arcane magic in possible spell effects / lists, only in how the caster sources / channels the power (INT/WIS/CHA) and who this means they can learn from. Likely will build all casters on the wizard chassis.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I forgot a few.

  • The entire Planescape cosmology doesn't exist. What does exist depends on the setting, but in my current FR game the prime material plane works like space, essentially, but it is sort of combined with the Astral Sea. When you are in space, you can transition to Astral Realms, the Elemental Chaos and elemental realms within it, etc much more easily.
  • The Feywild and Shadowfell are one place with many realms. It is often called Otherworld, Faerie, The Fae, etc. Shadar-kai are separate from Elves, but are sort of the "elf" of the shadow realms of the Otherworld, in that they are very different from humans but look very similar to them, and think very differently.
  • Tiamat and Lolth have their own divine realms, rather than being trapped in fiend prisons. Tiamat is one of the primary gods, mother of monsters and of gods, and eventual doom of the world.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
• No great wheel cosmology. Instead, the multiverse is imagined as concentric "onion layers" of realities, with the center being a rigidly fixed point of pure Order and the outermost reaches being a howling void of empty and meaningless Chaos. From the outside in, the planes are: The Void of Chaos, the Surface of Limbo, the Veil of Shadow (i.e. the Outer Ætheric Plane), the Prime Material (i.e. the Physical Universe or Universes), the Realm of Faerie (i.e. the Inner Ætheric Plane), the Platonic Astral Sea, and finally the Empyrean Center of All Being.
I like this. Order v Chaos is a classic D&Dism that should get more play in the general cosmology. It's much more compelling than Good v Evil.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I don't use the standard Great Wheel much, but when I do, I use this version of it. [Let's Revamp] Planescape - a thematic / oppositional look at the Great Ring

Basically, rearranges some planes and their tropes so that the evil planes are "evil twin" versions of the good plane across the L-C axis (Mt Celestia and the Nine Hells, for example), and planes directly opposed (like Mt Celestia and the Abyss) are opposites of each other.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Ahem....this is from my Chromatic Dungeons project, the weapon table: :D Just one entry and one line man! It's all that's needed!

View attachment 136535
I've thought about doing this for all weapons in 5e, something like listing the weapon stats as:
martial melee weapon. Damage d8, versatile (d10). Choose B/S/P. Examples: warhammer, longsword, battleaxe.

A lot of the time I think the weapon lists are a bit redundant and things like weight/cost differences aren't enough of an issue to really worry about in game.
 

Minigiant

Legend
  • Only outsiders for aligned planes have alignment.
  • There is nonmagical fantasy science and a nonmagical science class. At level 20 you invent so 21st century item in a crude form. There is a epic level dude with a bunker of light machine guns in front of an unstable gate to Hell.
  • Dragons both love and hate "dragon reproduction". They also have envious of other dragons, especial pureblood dragons. Because of this, dragons rarely mate with their one kind to not have more pure offspring. Colors are all mixed up and no longer color coded for alignment and element.
  • There are more magical spears than swords as spears are the preferred weapon of the ancient empires.
  • Drow aren't evil. Elves split up because they are old fashioned and didn't research primogeniture by the time the Elf King died. Drow are just followers of an Elf Princess who inherited all the Elven titles underground. She got hosed and is really angry. The High-Drow wars is a war over claims.
  • Underdark beings are different colored because of something the Mindflayers did. "Why?" doesn't make any sense because they are aberrations and use weird logic. Making people brown, black, grey, purple, yellow, and white furthers their goals somehow. Aboleths are involved somehow as well.
  • Actual "Dungeons" were almost all created by beholders. That's why they don't make sense existing and are full of oozes.
 

The Glen

Hero
As somebody trying to get rid of a large number of the continuity errors in Mystara, a ton of rewrites.

  • Atruaghin Clans got an entire new book where stuff actually happens and the clans themselves get actual descriptions of their NPCs, cities, and everything else that got left out of that rush job.
  • Mystara was cut off from the Dawn War by the Great Barrier, an invisible energy field that keeps out gods, archfiends, Inevitables, etc but allows for Immortals and Archfey to rule instead. Also explains why Mystara doesn't have the extraplanar creatures common in other settings.
  • Upgraded Oberon and his court to Archfey, on par with Immortals but generating their power from myth and legend rather than worship.
  • Completely rewrote the events of 1010 so the war doesn't destroy Alfheim and Alphatia, keeping the cold war vibe that drove the setting originally.
  • Had the shadow elves take over the Broken Lands instead of Alfheim, having two rival elven kingdoms within miles of each other with a neutral nation separating them for another diplomatic standoff.
  • Presented the gods as greedy and selfish, as they want the worship of the souls of those inside the barrier, as is their right.
  • Created the Knights of Ebony, a religious organization devoted to keeping extraplanar from influencing Mystara. They hunt down anyone trying to spread the worship of gods, and hunting down races like the gith, illithid and similar dangerous creatures.
  • Revised the half-elves as their own race rather than a hybrid, created by the Red Curse which warped anyone who had elf and human ancestry into a new race. Ended up with a Brazilian feel for some reason.
  • Revised the Thyatian and Alphatian militaries to even the mix. Alphatia has lots of wizards, but incompetent leadership. Thyatis gained far more competent generals, even without the magical powers.
  • Guns are far more available from the Red Coast, though not widespread. Biggest problem is the embargo on smokepowder makes getting ammunition ridiculously expensive and difficult. Might have all the gold you want, still only 10 shots available for sale.
 


Off the top of my head:
  • Orcs and goblins are green. Orcs are generally the hereditary enemy, as like and as opposed to where the PCs come from as those border raiders from the other side of the border - or have a Hatfield/McCoy style rivalry going on with humans. No one knows who started it, everyone knows orcs and humans can interbreed, and a lot of diplomatic effort is spent by older and slower breeding races (especially elves and dwarves) to make sure that the orcs and the humans feud rather than team up to turn on them.
  • Alignment is a suggestion. Put whatever ideals you follow in that part of your character sheet. Possible exceptions for certain outsiders.
  • I don't use the default Greyhawk or Realms Great Wheel approaches to pantheons.
    • The pantheons are 4e style embattled and uneasy allies against what is Out There and even the evil deities (with rare exceptions) are ones you want inside the tent pissing out not outside pissing in. It's more order vs chaos than good vs evil (and who knows which side Erathis is on on good vs evil?)
    • The pantheons are Eberron-style might not exist.
    • What even is a god anyway? Any sufficiently powerful spellcaster can empower a Warlock as a minion with a simple Wish spell (that won't prevent them casting Wish again but imposes the other exhaustion disadvantages). To start to empower clerics requires three simultaneous wish spells of which one must come from the patron and one from one of their warlocks.
  • Spell components are a type of spell focus and different groups of wizards might use different ones for the same spell
  • I don't use both the Underdark and the Shadowfell. They have similar thematic resonances and most underdark creatures fit in the Shadowfell with Shadar-Ki meaning exactly the same thing as drow.
  • Drow are elves, end of story.
    • If there's no Underdark or Shadowfell then the drow are a network of secret societies within the elves who believe they have the right to do what they like with the "lesser races". It takes a member of one of these societies or an entire "peaceful" trading ship about an hour to "drop the mask" and assume drow guise, allowing plausible deniability. Most elves don't know about this and either think or claim to think the drow are an entirely separate group.
    • The drow were on the losing side of an Elven Civil War. Of course the good guys won and the bad guys lost. (I haven't yet done this to make them Confederate-analogs).
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
[*]What even is a god anyway? Any sufficiently powerful spellcaster can empower a Warlock as a minion with a simple Wish spell (that won't prevent them casting Wish again but imposes the other exhaustion disadvantages). To start to empower clerics requires three simultaneous wish spells of which one must come from the patron and one from one of their warlocks.
Holy crap, I'm stealing that. That's amazing.
 

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