Chronicles of the Orb: Shaedeam's Song
Chronicle of the Orb is a massive Gothic horror-fantasy game originally designed for 3.5 d20. When we formed Haphazard Projects, we adjusted the game for the in-house DPS System. Now, we’ve gone back to our roots for one hell of a divine epic.
The gods are leaving the prime material planes, and without so much as a ‘good day’ to anyone. A series of new cults move into the now vacant power vacuum, but nothing is anything that it seems.
Chronicles of the Orb (CotO) melds cosmic horror with romantic fantasy, and it is intended for characters of all levels. The game will begin at level one with custom races and experience tables, and characters who manage to survive may find themselves continuing into the Epic Levels.
The gods of Shaedeam are collectively known as the Divine, and they are never referred to as ‘gods’ or ‘goddesses’. There are myriad Divine but the most commonly worshiped are the Church of Light (a group of Divine held in the highest esteem within the dreven empire), the Church of Night (a group of Divine outlawed within the empire), the Balance (a collection of neutral Divine that focus their might within the domains of weather, disease, animals, and even time) and the Dragoncult, who represent the First Dragons.
Psionic power is quite common among the races that draw their heritage from fae spirits. Though the classes, powers, and utilities of psionics are not changed at all, the effects are collectively referred to as Rushen. Rushen does not interact with magic – the two are completely differing forces of power.
CotO utilizes several variant rules, many of which are prominent features of the SRD via the WotC book Unearthed Arcana. Specifically, CotO uses Traits, Flaws, a revised spell points system (faith points for divine spells), a revised Renown/Notoriety system, incantations, complex skill checks, summon monster variants and craft points. Also used are the Advanced Player’s Guide, Advanced Dungeonmaster’s Guide, and Advanced Bestiary books by Green Ronin Publication (all data within these three books is open-game content). Specifically, the Background, alternate point-based character creation, ars vitae (renamed victus), boons, rites, levin (renamed oer), sovereign materials, and new conditions.
House Rules include:
- tactical combat utilizes hexes (referred to as ‘grids’)
- there are 10 Character Classes: Adept (psionics), Bard, Changeling, Channeler, Druid, Fighter, Priest, Ranger, Rogue, and Wizard. Characters cannot multi-class. Instead, players may select Class Abilities to provide talents not regulated by Class, such as a Fighter’s ability to be trained by Savagers and thus ‘become’ a barbarian. It is possible to have a fighter capable of casting spells without the need of multi-classing. This allows for characters to truly be adapted into unique and personalized as well as minimizing the ‘power leveling’ or ‘munchkin factors’.
- NPCs do not have Vitality scores, only a Wounds score. The use of Vitality (non lethal damage) and Wounds (lethal damage) scores are considered a part of the SRD for 3rd/3.5 core rules and can be found in the source book Unearthed Arcana or listed on the d20SRD website as well. Most NPCs will not have a Vitality score, though main villains and other important NPCs may have fractional Vitality or even full Vitality for their level. Any special ability, racial ability, or bonus from Class Abilities/Feats and so on that provide a modifier towards hit points is instead added to Vitality
- weapons do not have an inherent multiplier for damage dealt on a Critical hit; instead, a Critical hit bypasses the Vitality score (regardless as to its current level) and deals its damage directly to the target’s Wound score. Since NPCs do not normally possess a Vitality score, a Critical hit instantly kills them.
- the Toughness Feat is altered to increase the Vitality gained at each level by one. A ‘Frail’ character cannot gain the Toughness Feat.
- for the most part, elves are referred to as Edael (‘elthian’ is a negative appellation) and dwarves are referred to as Khazalds. Both races retain several familiar castes though setting history is dramatically altered in the cases of the ‘drow’ and the ‘duegar’.
- player created races (via the Green Ronin point-based character creation)
- Critical Success and Failures on Skill Checks
- Experience required per level up is increased by 25%
- MDC (Massive Damage Capacity) equal to Con score, with bonuses based on Size, indicate possible one-hit/one-kill shots
- true dragons (cromatics and metallics) are extinct, victims of genocide during what is now referred to as the War of Wars. Dragon-blooded and dragon-kin creature types still exist, but such an ancestry is very rare to say the least.
- fae creatures featured in any MMs are not used. All fae-folk and creatures are created specific for the setting
- goblinoids and orcs are all of the same stock and collectively referred to as the race gojifae; this race has several built-in Bloodlines to define individual characters
- any race from any WotC 3.0/3.5 core or source book is available for play (though DM approval is required)
- a new condition, “Vexxed”, refers to an Edaelan character unable to meditate for the requisite length of time per day. A Vexxed character suffers a +2 to all Complex Skill Checks and any Saving Throw regarding endurance. A character that is Vexxed for a number of days equal to their Constitution modifier becomes “Regressed”. A Regressed character is incapable of casting spells (unless they are a sorcerer or rage mage), unable to perform any Complex Skill Checks and automatically fails any mental-based Skill Checks (Int, Wis, or Cha). They do enjoy a +3 bonus to all physically based Skill Checks, Ability Checks, and all Savings Throws. One normal interval of meditation causes a Regressed character to become Vexxed; after a number of days equal to that character’s Wisdom modifier the character is no longer Vexxed, so long as the character’s ability to meditate is not again compromised.
- the boundary between all planes of realities is known as the Horizon; magics that directly effect or interact with the Horizon are of the Universal school; this is measured as a number between 0 (non-existent) and 10 (impassible) and these rating can increase the difficulty of spell casting of most kinds (excepting Truenaming or “Mesomancy”, from the 3.5 Tome of Magic)
- spell casting requires a Skill Check in many cases; the DC of this is 11 + the spell’s level + the local Area Horizon rating. This DC can be increased by some conditions.
- attacking or defending actions within combat do not rely on a Base Attack Bonus. Instead, the characters possess Weaponskills as a standard skill. Weaponskill is a Class Skill for Fighters, Rogues, Rangers Priests, and Bards. It is considered to be a Cross class Skill for Wizards, Channelers, Changelings, and Adepts. Characters may spend Skill Points to increase the character’s combat prowess, though each of the ten Classes also provide a small bonus, more in line with Savings Throws (e.g. no class will provide more than a +10 for Attack or Defense modifiers, and even that is reserved for near-Epic level characters). Using a weapon without the proper Weaponskill forces a character to rely solely on their Attack Score. No Feats or Special Abilities can side line this penalty unless the rules-as-written specifically say so.
- All forms of attack have a Speed rating; the larger the number, the slower your attacks and the harder it is to make multiple attacks. Lower number values indicate light and quick weapons, and paradoxically add to your character’s Initiative value for the first round of combat.
For any other issues, reference to the Player’s Handbook, DungeonMaster’s Guide, and the Monster Manuel, or visit d20srd.org