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Level Up (A5E) Sins of the Scorpion Age, Sword and Sorcery Campaign Setting

niklinna

Looking for group
Having a lot of trouble getting the Deities out of my head, individually, so I thought I'd touch on something else important:
Languages.

Regional Languages feels like a really strong direction to go with it, rather than having a dozen different racial languages tied to specific groups that are spread across the world in a disparate way. But by the same token that can make it difficult for a specific group of people to have a signifier of at least quasi-unity.

So my current thought is to do both regular languages and also some sort of sublanguages? Like High and Low languages in the wake of the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066, where French became the primary language of the upper classes while the lower classes were still largely speaking English but with some word-filtering (pork, beef, poultry, venison, and other meat-related words, for example)

I'm pretty sure I don't want a "Common" tongue shared by everyone... but if we do have one, I think it should be the language of the Ancais, showing off their massive cross-cultural impact in the wake of the Age of Swords. Though, honestly, we could go all "Norman Invasion" and make Acain the dominant "Noble Tongue" across Annam, Musarra, Kyran, Myr, and Gresia... And then have Ellenici be the common tongue between Ellenici and Neasc. But that kind of singles Imba out and I'd feel really weird about that. Though it could reinforce the "We were never conquered" angle.

[...]

What are your thoughts?
My first thought is that no edition of D&D has handled language realistically (for all "realiistically" is worth in a fantasy game). If you're not going to have a common tongue(s), you'll want to enable characters to speak multiple languagues to varying degrees of ability, or add in some trade pidgins, which are kind of like a common tongue but typically limited in the topics you can express. I agree that racial languages are not as good as regional/cultural languages. And the idea of prestige level is cool. Upper-class folk literally don't speak the language of their servants, and lower-class folk can understand upper-class language, but somehow never master the nuances that signal one as a member of a particular class.

That's all for people who dig that kind of roleplaying, though. Careful not to alienate the people who just want to swing an axe! 😉
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
My first thought is that no edition of D&D has handled language realistically (for all "realiistically" is worth in a fantasy game). If you're not going to have a common tongue(s), you'll want to enable characters to speak multiple languagues to varying degrees of ability, or add in some trade pidgins, which are kind of like a common tongue but typically limited in the topics you can express. I agree that racial languages are not as good as regional/cultural languages. And the idea of prestige level is cool. Upper-class folk literally don't speak the language of their servants, and lower-class folk can understand upper-class language, but somehow never master the nuances that signal one as a member of a particular class.

That's all for people who dig that kind of roleplaying, though. Careful not to alienate the people who just want to swing an axe! 😉
Definitely a thing to consider...

I think I need to make sure everyone gets at -least- 2 languages out of the gate. The primary language of the region and one other. And then have backgrounds give more language options, cultures, too. Lots of ways to make languages available, even if only a few will ever see use in a given adventure/campaign.
 

niklinna

Looking for group
While we're on language, I see a lot of names that use the letters "ci". Different real languages pronounce "ci" and "ce" differently: as /s/, as /k/, and as /t̠ʃ/, even as /θ/ (and other rarer sounds). How do you intend it for your names?
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
One thought might be to group languages regionally and allow characters who speak one language of the group to have “get by” capacity in others of that group.
To give a real world example: Romance languages (I speak French fairly fluently and also learnt Latin at school; I couldn’t hold a deep conversation in Spanish or Italian but I can read road signs, menus and have basic conversations about directions or similar). Arabic or a Germanic language is similar in multi-use.

It’s a tricky balance between the reality of learning languages and the desire to allow campaigns where the heroes wander the lands of the Scorpion Age.

As an aside, when I travelled with my wife in Russia and China for leisure, we got by with a few words of the language (and the ubiquity of English) and written media was much more difficult. When I was in both countries for work purposes, translators were employed. Maybe that could be a thing for more socially heavy roleplay?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
While we're on language, I see a lot of names that use the letters "ci". Different real languages pronounce "ci" and "ce" differently: as /s/, as /k/, and as /t̠ʃ/, even as /θ/ (and other rarer sounds). How do you intend it for your names?
Entirely culturally.

Neasci is pronounced "NEE-esh-kee" while Ellenici is pronounced "Ella-NEE-chee". Because I'm basing the different names in different languages and cultural takes, they're meant to sound wildly different depending on where you are. Meanwhile a Sha-an who learned of Neasc through Ellenics will likely refer to Neasci as "NEE-es-chi" on account of Ellenic pronunciation cross-cultural corruption.

I'll have to put in a pronunciation guide somewhere... But that's pretty normal for settings, right?
One thought might be to group languages regionally and allow characters who speak one language of the group to have “get by” capacity in others of that group.
To give a real world example: Romance languages (I speak French fairly fluently and also learnt Latin at school; I couldn’t hold a deep conversation in Spanish or Italian but I can read road signs, menus and have basic conversations about directions or similar). Arabic or a Germanic language is similar in multi-use.

It’s a tricky balance between the reality of learning languages and the desire to allow campaigns where the heroes wander the lands of the Scorpion Age.

As an aside, when I travelled with my wife in Russia and China for leisure, we got by with a few words of the language (and the ubiquity of English) and written media was much more difficult. When I was in both countries for work purposes, translators were employed. Maybe that could be a thing for more socially heavy roleplay?
... that's actually a really good way to do it... Create a list of languages you get by being from a specific town and then a freebie? And then where you're from can result in you knowing a -lot- of languages or very few as a "Country Bumpkin"...

Though, to some degree, it'll need to be entire regional since many players will probably want to be from tribal cultures and small villages or towns and such in the blank spaces between the decadent and evil cities...

Hmm! Lots to think about.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Fun Note:

Doing a Google Search for "Sins of the Scorpion Age" now brings up the Deities thread as the top search, for me at least.

Gonna be starting up a campaign next month... I hope. Got some players. Now we need to figure out how to organize it.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Okay. Heritages... Here's what I'm looking at.

Faceless:
Size:
Medium
Vision: Normal
Speed: 30ft
Shapeshifting: You may take on the appearance of a humanoid of small or medium size as an action. Doing so does not change your clothing or equipment, which may not properly fit your new shape. You have control over the features of this new shape, including skin, hair, and eye colors, weight and height, and similar traits within the normal range for a humanoid of the selected type. If this new form has the Powerful Build trait you may benefit from the feature for up to 1 minute though you gain a level of exhaustion afterward. You appear to be a member of the species you've taken the form of to all physical tests, and gain an expertise dice to any Deception, Performance, or Stealth checks to pass as a normal member of that species.

Faceless Gifts:
Become Form:
Any Faceless can shapeshift, but some are so skilled they glean knowledge simply by taking a form. When you use your Shapeshifting ability to take on the form of a specific individual you gain some skill in pretending to be that creature. When using weapons or skills that individual is known to use, you become proficient. If the individual is within 10ft when you shapeshift you also gain proficiency in any languages they speak, and have a rough idea of the last 24 hours of their life. When you leave this form, you lose all of these proficiencies.

Dweller's Skin: The Dweller's nature is strong in you. While not shapeshifted you gain a swim speed of 20ft, and can breathe both air and water. In addition, you may use the Shapeshifting feature to instead alter your natural form to gain gripping tentacles. While you have gripping tentacles your reach increases to 10ft and you gain a climb speed of 20ft, additionally you may interact with your environment, for example pulling a lever or closing a door, pulling something out of a bag or pack, once per round without expending an action.

Powerful Mind: While all Faceless are the Dweller's children, but not all share the same mind. You gain Telepathy with a range of 30ft. You may make contact with up to two creatures at a time who need not share a language to communicate telepathically to you. Connecting to a creature is an imperceptible action until you communicate with them. While connected, you may spend a bonus action attempt to read your target's thoughts. Your target makes a Wisdom saving throw, on a success they are aware of your intrusion, on a failure they are not aware. Whether successful or not, you glean a single thought from the surface of their mind. You may use this bonus action once per short or long rest.

Minotaurs:
Size:
Medium, but treated as Large for carrying capacity
Age: Minotaurs age more swiftly than humans, reaching full height and physical maturity around 15 years of age. The maximum age of a minotaur is around 60 years.
Vision: Normal
Speed: 35ft
Ukada's Blessing: All minotaurs, regardless of gender, possess horns which can be used as a natural unarmed weapon. These horns do 1d4 piercing damage, but if you move at least 10ft before making an attack they instead deal 2d4. If you move 30ft or more you may make a Bullish Charge, which allows you to take the Knockdown, Overrun, or Shove action as part of your horn attack.

Minotaur Gifts:
Massive Form:
All minotaurs are tall and powerful, but few are so massive as you. You lose the Powerful Build trait, but become Large Sized and take up a 10ft square. You may bear a rider, wield a two-handed weapon in one hand, and carry two additional bulky items. As a bonus action, you may hunch your back, squat slightly, and draw yourself in to be treated as a medium sized creature until you spend a bonus action to straighten up, though your carrying capacity is unchanged.

Mighty Thews: While all minotaurs are strong, your muscles are particularly well corded and dense. When dual-wielding weapons you may use nonlight weapons in both hands. When wielding versatile weapons one-handed, you may treat them as if you were holding them with both hands. Finally, you may carry an additional 2 bulky items.

Primal Minotaur: Like the first minotaurs, you are strong, sturdy, and powerful. You're more likely to have shaggy long hair on your arms, chest, back, and legs, and your horns are larger and more intimidating than other minotaurs. You have a natural armor value of 10+Constitution+Dexterity, and your horns deal 1d6 damage, baseline. 2d6 if you move 10ft or more. You also gain a Skill Specialization in Intimidation checks which rely on your size and strength.

Naghese:
Size:
Medium
Age: Naghese age similarly to humans, but they can continue to live up to 160 years or more, growing ever more aged.
Vision: Darkvision 30ft
Speed: 35ft
Resistance: Naghese gain Resistance to poison damage.
Serpent Strike: You may take the dash action as a bonus action. If another ability would allow you to dash as a bonus action you may instead dash and make a single attack as a bonus action.

Naghese Gifts:
Venomblood:
While all Naghese are resistant to poison, only some possess the ability to create venom. You gain a bite attack with the finesse property that deals 1d4 piercing damage and adds your constitution modifier as poison damage on a successful attack. In addition, by dealing 1d4 damage to yourself with a slashing or piercing weapon as a bonus action you may poison the blade, causing it to deal extra poison damage equal to your constitution modifier.

Sinuous Form: Naghese have resilient scales along their bodies, but you posses particularly smooth scales. You gain a swim speed of 25ft, and have advantage on any check made to escape a grapple or any form of bonds. In addition, you do not take penalties while squeezing into a space as small as 2.5ft, though you may not attempt to squeeze through smaller spaces.

Constrictor: While all Naghese are long and have powerful tails, you have learned to use yours in combat. You may initiate a grapple even if you have no hands free, and gain a bonus of +1 to Combat Maneuver DC when Grappling and to Strength or Dexterity saving throws made to Grab On. If you start your turn in a grapple or while grabbing onto a creature larger than yourself you may automatically deal basic melee damage without expending an action.

Nazzar:
Size:
Small
Age: Nazzar are not born as a human is, but instead enter the world fully formed and aware. They rarely live more than 40 years.
Vision: Normal
Speed: 15ft, Fly 30ft
Diminutive: While they interact with the world as small creatures through inherent magic, Nazzar are tiny creatures smaller than your average housecat. You may squeeze through a space as small as 1 inch in diameter, and consume only 1/2 supply per day. However, you cannot carry any bulky items and are affected by wind as if you were diminutive.

Nazzar Gifts:
Fae Guardian:
Not all Nazzar reflect their season in their traits, some are simply powerful, themselves. You may cast the Arcane Muscles cantrip. Additionally, any weapon you wield is considered to be Magical for the purposes of overcoming damage resistances. You also know the spell Shield and may cast it once without expending a spell slot or spell points, and regain the use of this ability after a long rest. You may use Charisma or Wisdom as your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Summerflame: You stepped into the world in the hot summer months and their radiance permeates your form. You may cast the Light cantrip with a range of Self. Additionally, you may change the damage type of any melee attack you make to Fire. You also know the spell Dramatic Sting and may cast it once without expending a spell slot or spell points, and regain the use of this ability after a long rest. You may use Charisma or Intelligence as your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Winterkiss: You awoke to the world in the grip of winter, and it's bleakness is within you. You gain the Vicious Mockery cantrip, but using it grants the target advantage to strike you on it's next attack. Additionally, you may change the damage type of any ranged attack you make to Cold. You also know the spell Hideous Laughter and may cast it once without expending a spell slot or spell points, and regain the use of this ability after a long rest. You may use Charisma or Wisdom as your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Stormborn:
Size:
Medium
Age: Stormborn age much more slowly than humans. While they reach adulthood around 18-20, their lifespan can reach 200 years or more. Such Stormborn typically feel the call of the Tempest and begin to lose cohesion, rather than gain wrinkles, after 120. Slowly they fade over the years, becoming less and less substantial until they simply fade into the wind.
Vision: Normal
Speed: 30ft
Windborne: Stormborn double all jumping distances and always complete a jump on their turn, even if they jump further than their movement speed. Stormborn can jump as part of normal movement, and jump while taking the dash action, on the same turn.

Stormborn Gifts:
Lightning Heart:
Rather than wind or water, your heart is bound to the shocking strength of lightning and the crash of thunder. When you use your Windborne ability to jump you can charge yourself with the power of the storm to make a Crashing Strike. To make a Crashing Strike, roll a normal melee or ranged attack roll against your target as an action, on a successful hit the attack's damage type becomes Lightning or Thunder and gains a damage bonus equal to your Constitution modifier. In addition, you gain the Shocking Grasp cantrip. When using Shocking Grasp you can use your Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom as your spellcasting ability.

Seachild: Some Stormborn find themselves with an ineffable connection to the sea. You gain a swim speed of 30ft and can breathe both air and water. You also gain your proficiency bonus to any skill or ability check involving water. Additionally, you may cast Air Wave once per short or long rest. If you use Air Wave underwater the damage type becomes bludgeoning rather than slashing. This power grows at 5th level, becoming Aurana's Rapid Air Wave.

Tempestuous: Winds always seem to blow around you, even indoors, soft and sweet. You ignore penalties imposed by strong winds, such as disadvantage on perception checks or ranged attack rolls. In addition, you may cast the Gust of Wind spell once per short or long rest with no vocalized or material components. You may use either Charisma or Constitution to determine the spell's save DC.
 

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