The Mountains of Morpheus
Classes in Drau-Mura
Each class in the D&D Player’s Handbook is represented in Drau-Mura, though their perception and concept may vary by region, ethnicity, race, and faith.
Barbarians are stereotypically associated with the “savagery” of the Eastern Tribes, and some dwarvish clans. The complex truth, however, is that the tradition of warrior who seeks strength a willful, meditative trance of fury and ecstasy is hardly confined to Drau-Mura’s “primitive” folk. Though many a knight and philosopher would refuse to acknowledge it, this tradition represents some of the most ancient martial and spiritual practices of the region. In the countryside and hinterlands, sects of the Old Faith pass down this tradition to the young pious and mighty, especially favoring the Path of the Totem Warrior. For those familiar with it, a warrior who learns this way of body and soul is not called a “barbarian,” but a spiritual warrior, or variously a “red knight” or a “ghost bear.” These names conjure not the image of a reckless marauder, but a heroic ideal who defends her family and brings glory to her lord and brethren.
Probably than any other class in Drau-Mura, Bards share a rapport with each other surpassing ethnic or political divides. They are seen as perpetual half-outsiders: popular wherever they go, but rootless, unworthy of lasting trust. As oral tradition tells it, each bard — once he learns the basic tricks of the trade — is honor-bound to shelter and protect any other bard whose life is in immediate peril, but then again, the ways of song and cunning have a tendency to attract individualistic, opportunistic personalities. Clerics, druids, and warlocks often deride the “musical magic” of bards as essentially fickle, godless, and hyper-emotional, and a common belief across Drau-Mura is that they are somehow able to “steal magic” from proper magicians. In rural areas, bards are sometimes associated with the mysterious and enchanting fey, which can attract a modicum of wonder — but given the fey’s reputation for capricious evil, it can quickly lead to their persecution.
Noble birth can help a bard avoid much of the ill reputation of the class, and many lords and kings across the Azna and Arius kingdoms make a place for a few such “court musicians” who variously double as sages, spies, thieves, and assassins. These bards are associated with the wisest and most cunning of the College of Lore, while the College of Valor is considered a set of originally “barbaric” lyrical traditions of hero-celebration from the Eastern Tribes, now spread through much of Drau-Mura.
Clerics are most associated with Ashoum among humans, the Vanir religion of half-elves and elves, and dwarvish ancestor worship. Less often, clerics follow a pagan deity, predominantly the God of War, Talos, and the Great Hart; other pagan deities just don’t have the necessary numbers or the martial tradition. The Old Faith has some clerics, but are outnumbered its druids.
In Drau-Mura, the cleric is represented as a knightly figure, as much warrior as magician, tasked with protecting her church and its followers — or destroying heretics and apostates. A priest in the usual sense of the word does not necessarily fulfill the role of the cleric, and has the magical talents of a cleric (if not more) but not a cleric’s martial skill.
Rules note: A player may choose to play a more “knightly,” martial cleric: This means that the cleric is proficient in martial weapons in addition to the baseline cleric armor and weapon proficiencies, but has some commensurate drawback (probably relating to spells, e.g. a reduced spell list). Alternatively, a player may choose to play a more “priestly,” cloistered cleric: This means that the cleric is not proficient in shields or martial weapons, and her armor proficiency is only in light armor; she cannot be proficient in heavy armor through domain features. However, this cleric has some commensurate advantage (probably relating to spells or skills).
A cleric’s available divine domains are determined by her deity:
- Ashoum: Knowledge, Life, Light
- Dwarvish ancestors: Knowledge, Life, War
- The God of War: War
- Great Hart, or one of the Old Faith’s nature gods: Nature
- Hecate: Knowledge, Trickery
- Vanir’s Godhead: Life, Light, Nature
- Talos: Tempest
Druids are most associated with the Old Faith, though not every one is an orthodox believer. They are common across Drau-Mura, and although they may cooperate locally, apathy, infighting, political allegiance, and good old xenophobia have always prevented total unity. (Certain traditions prohibit conflict between druids, but with their politics and influence being local, these traditions can be flouted with little consequence. The prohibition against teaching the druidic language to outsiders is the only rule widely respected.) Pessimistic druids suspect that as civilization and Ashoum expand, their numbers will dwindle with each passing generation. Most druids, being tied to a local community or holy site, belong to the Circle of the Land. The minority who belong to the Circle of the Moon are loners, hermits, nomads, and adventurers, the mightiest of whom are rumored to convene every two years at a set of holy standing stones somewhere in eastern Drau-Mura.
Many druids are priests in the traditional social sense: offering medicine, spiritual and emotional guidance, and beneficial magic to their communities and lords. Others live at a remove from the social world, and might come to be seen as a “wise man” or hermit who can provide aid to a community without being part of it. Yet others recuse themselves from society entirely, devoting themselves to contemplation and philosophy in the wilderness; such druids are often perceived — not without reason — of practicing dangerous, savage, and fanatical mystical practices.
In Drau-Mura, not all druids have the wild shape ability, as learning the arts of animal transformation is regarded to be relevant to martially defending the Old Faith and its sacred sites, as well as for spying on the religion’s enemies. Many druids who live in rural and urban communities simply do not learn wild shape, choosing to focus their skill on magic.
Rules note: A player may choose to play a more “priestly,” cloistered druid: This means that the druid is not proficient in shields, her weapons proficiency is only in simple weapons, and her armor proficiency is only in light armor. However, this druid has some commensurate advantage (probably relating to spells or skills).
Many if not most druids in Drau-Mura are well integrated into ordinary society, in the manner of clerics and priests. A druid may add some spells from the cleric spell list to her druid spell list: These include bless, aid, continual flame, gentle repose, prayer of healing, zone of truth, create food and water, mass healing word, and divination. The should have some commensurate disadvantage, such as limited ability to use wild shape or limited weapons and armory proficiency.
Fighters are everywhere in Drau-Mura, though their equipment and fighting styles vary. The Arius favor a precise style of swordplay where the utmost motion is conserved; dwarvish fighters prefer disciplining the body to endure the most grievous wounds. The first Eldritch Knights of the region were Sky-born warriors, though their practices have begun to spread outside Kala Anar over the last 25 years.
The fighter may well be the least glamorous class in the D&D Player’s Handbook, but this is not without its benefits. Drau-Mura is a world of magic and monsters, where personal power is all too often associated not with mundane talent or resoluteness of will, but with flashy spells and claims to divine insight; the heroic archetype of the “humble knight,” who wins through her own courage and resourcefulness, is thus admired and trusted by many. The legendary Kasha the Sword-Queen, is seen to have epitomized this archetype. In some fiefdoms, lordship must be passed down to an accomplished warrior who personally eschews magic tricks and esoteric practices, violations of this tradition (or sometimes, law) have provoked more than one peasants’ revolt. (This said, the barbarian, ranger, and to a lesser extent paladin are sometimes seen as been “humble” enough to fill this role.)
The monastic traditions of scholarship, professional craft, martial arts, and mystical self-discipline have been in dynamic transition for the last 50 years. Originally based in specialized Old Faith sects that emerged with the rise of urban life, they were partially co-opted, converted, and copied by Ashoum evangelists, such that most monasteries identify with one faith or the other. In addition, the monastic traditions have long been inclined toward heterodox belief and practice, often alienating them from the laity. Today, Ashoumite monks tend to take up the Way of the Open Hand; Old Ways monks tend to take up the Ways of the Four Elements and of Shadow. All ways have long incorporated techniques and philosophies from outside Drau-Mura, further lending to their cultural differentiation from the religious mainstream.
Complicating this dynamism is the transition of some monasteries from an affiliation with the faiths of the masses to an elitist creed of self-perfection. Monks in this vein tend to wed philosophy with pragmatism, often working as enforcers, spies, and killers for local powers that be.
Often admired as champions, often despised as clueless, self-righteous meddlers, paladins usually represent one of several Ashoumite order of holy warriors, though a few sects devoted to the God of War and the Old Faith exist too. Ashoumite paladins usually take up the Oath of Devotion, and Old Faith paladins usually the Oath of Ancients; both see it as their duty to protect their people from supernatural threats — though they are often occupied with the more “mundane” work of fighting other mortals. Fighting mysterious, magical enemies is obviously dangerous, but often unprofitable too. Such orders of paladins see a lot of turnover, and usually rely on an aristocrat’s patronage, inevitably leading to some politicking and compromise. They are most common among Kala Anar and the Arius Kingdoms’ humans; the Azna and halflings somewhat distrust them.
Paladins who take up the Oath of Vengeance are a dangerous — sometimes egomaniacal — lot, but Drau-Mura feeds on cycles of vengeance. Some of these paladins belong to small, secret orders hidden among bandits and aggrieved workers hoping to overthrow their oppressors. However, the Oath of Vengeance is most popularly associated with Upan, the god of death and the underworld: When a warrior experiences a grievous loss, she may privately swear her life and soul to Upan in exchange for its dark blessings. These paladins may be noble in intent and deed, but rarely disclose their spiritual allegiance, lest they be seen as even more monstrous than their enemies. Even those who are honest about their “calling” are pitied by their holier counterparts as hopelessly bitter and obsessive.
Although paladins must maintain certain ethical and philosophical commitments (to honor, justice, the gods, and so on …) to retain their holy powers, it is ultimately a paladin’s mentality of conviction and righteousness that determines his spiritual (and thus social) standing as a paladin — not his actions. In other words, a paladin can massacre, torture, and even swindle others without “falling,” as long as he believes such actions were necessary to uphold some “greater good.” Conversely, a paladin who loses his zeal simply out of intellectual despair is at risk of losing his holy powers. It is this relation between power, ethics, and faith that: (1) makes many paladins suspicious of each other’s righteousness, (2) makes many among the general population cynical about paladins, particularly those without allegiance to a respected noble; (3) causes many an aristocrat patron to regard paladins as fanatic warriors whose prowess can brought to serve his own interests, so long as he is persuasive (or wealthy) enough to assuage their consciences.
Rangers are everywhere in Drau-Mura. In the town and country, some rangers may work alongside rogues as bandits, thieves, and mercenaries — or defend their communities from them. Ironically, in the wilderness of the Mountains of Morpheus, rangers fear the land like no one else does: The most experienced of them, who have a primeval awareness of the landscape, occasionally speak of … something — a terrible force and consciousness — that resides within the Mountains, and to trouble it is to perish, go mad, or become enslaved to its will.
Drau-Mura has no shortage of thugs, “people’s bandits,” peasants who resort to raiding in lean times, and opportunistic thieves; some of these people fully develop the talents characteristic of the rogue class. Rogues are also in demand among rulers, and there is much collusion between the upper classes and criminal families and societies. In the Azna ciites, the traditional thieves’ societies are dwindling in power, as the most talented rogues tend to work for (or openly lead in) “legitimate” guilds and governments.
The Sky-born aristocracy of Kala Anar hardly has a monopoly on sorcery, but it’s indisputable that some of the greatest sorcerers come from the kingdom, and that there are per capita more sorcerers than anywhere else in Drau-Mura. (That’s still a small proportion, and real sorcerers are by far a minority among the Sky-born — it’s just a larger proportion compared to other peoples) Somewhere around half of all sorcerers in Drau-Mura are Sky-born: a staggering number given their much smaller proportion in population.) The talent for sorcery is most often inherited through family, as opposed to somehow acquired intentionally or by happenstance, and quite a few noble families outside Kala Anar have passed down sorcery through the generations. This said, magic is finicky, and no one can reliably predict — though not for lack of trying — just how sorcery will be passed through the blood. It is a common belief, however, that sorcery either “jumps” over generations, passed from grandparent to grandchild, or runs “slant,” passed from uncle to niece.
Given its association with family and often nobility in Drau-Mura, the practice of sorcery is usually not treated individualistically: A young sorcerer is encouraged to find a mentor, ideally one related by blood, to help her hone her talents. Towns and cities are home to small covens of sorcerers willing to adopt orphans who can’t trace their magic to a family member. Young sorcerers are taught a variety of mental and physical exercises, from fasting to music to visiting the Mountains of Morpheus, which facilitate their control over their own magic, that raw but inert potential might be shaped into specific spells.
Racial ideology in Kala Anar tells that this sorcerous ability is the legacy of draconic ancestory among the Sky-born people, effectively making them a separate race from other humans. Thus, sorcerers among the Sky-born enjoy a good deal of prestige and attention, along with all sorts of pressures and expectations to faithfully serve their Monarch. Soil-born sorcerers exist — actually, quite a few of them, thanks to illicit sex between the two castes — but their practicing arcane magic is prohibited. Almost all sorcerers from Kala Anar are of Draconic Origin. Sometimes, a young person travels into the Mountains of Morpheus, and returns with sorcery at her beck and call, even if she had no prior inclination toward the art. Sorcerers such as these usually have the Wild Magic Origin. Finally, stories among the Azna kingdoms and the Eastern Tribes speak of the Eventide-Father, a mighty fey lord who invisibly wanders Drau-Mura, visiting mortals by night to seduce and rape them; the progeny of the victims, even men, are always sorcerers.
Rules note: A sorcerer may choose to take the Ritual Casting feature at level, meaning she can cast any sorcerer spell she know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag. However, her number of Sorcery Points is permanently reduced by 1 at level 2, and again permanently reduced by 1 at level 11.
In Drau-Mura, warlocks usually choose a deity as a patron. To most, this is just a matter of course, though a few insist on unraveling the theological intricacies. (Perhaps the gods grant different powers to the two classes because they have different purposes for them. Perhaps the two classes acquire their power from different aspects of the same divine being.) Clerics and warlocks who follow the same deity may well be allies, but not every deity has associated warlocks. Non-religious warlocks may contact ghosts, spirits, archfey, demons, and supernatural deep-sea beings for power. Asha, the deity of the monotheistic faith of Ashoum, is never a warlock patron, but his counterpart, the dark god Upan, is.
Small cults of warlocks dot the social landscape of Drau-Mura, in both counts’ castles and hinterland cottages, and the more powerful of them must often balance service to their patron with service to their worldly lord or king. Many renounce service to political powers, however; such is their fear of being eradicated by those who cannot understand their wedding of faith, magic, and power. This fear is not unfounded: Ashoumite texts speak of a few demon-worshiping cults of warlocks in Drau-Mura that will one day summon untold, insurmountable evils to this world, unless destroyed beforehand. Whether these texts are correct or not, they certainly inspire a number of crusading zealots.
The god-patron correspondence is as follows:
- Great Hart: Treat as Archfey pact
- Talos: Treat as Fiend pact
- Hecate: Treat as Great Old Ones pact
- Upan: Treat as Great Old Ones pact
Drau-Mura, infamous for its dream-warping Mountains, has always favored the magic that is intuitively mastered, that calls out to otherworldly forces, that brushes with the godly and transcendent. Wizards are somewhat underrepresented in this part of the world, whereas in other realms. Wizardry is seen as somewhat narrow-minded, obsessively rational, and unable to adapt to change — though much of this reflects the opinions of the Sky-born. Often, wizards from other lands travel to Drau-Mura hoping to exploit the powers of the Mountains of Morpheus, contributing to the popular image of a wizardly, wealthy, untrustworthy foreigner.
Wizards are often taught by an older relative, or a neighborly mentor. Their societies are small, local, and familial, and usually dependent on a lord or baron’s patronage. Two wizards from different backgrounds are more likely to see each other as rivals than friendly peers. Necromancers are favored among the rulers of the Arius Kingdoms, while the most talented diviners and illusionists dwell near Koreth’s Staircase among druidic sects. Wizards are uncommon in Kala Anar; they are not popular among the Sky-born, and it is forbidden for most Soil-born to practice arcane magic.