Player Bootstrap

If you are playing in this world, you probably know it already ;-). This is also the only part of the content here that is system-specific.

For inspiration, read the Magic Cauldron books by Lloyd Alexander, the Conan novels by RE Howard, or Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser by Fritz Leiber. Also, the Mabinogion, mythic Ireland, the Volsung saga, etc.

Here are some notes to get started:

Magic

  • This is a low-magic world with lots of mundane humans. Most people never interact with magic in a flashy way. They may have been duped by fey or seen faerie lights in the trees, or had a cousin eaten by giant spiders, but people find magic frightening and are distrustful of those who wield it.
  • This natural fear is compounded by stories passed down about the Bonegate Blight and the bad things that come from messing about with magic. Magic is generally bad, and bad people meddle in the unknowable mysteries.
  • This means a couple of things relative to play - minor illusions are worth doing, and Thaumaturgy can scare the pants off commoners. Overt use of flashy magic might incite hostility and might get you driven out of town by a pitchfork mob, even if it was for the benefit of that mob! Most low-level cleric and druid magic (such as healing, plant growth, etc.), however, look like miracles or normal processes that are accelerated and don't seem to draw the same fear as Magic Missile or Hellish Rebuke.

Culture Context

Most of the Havislands that resemble 10th or 11th century north-western Europe, while others seem more "exotic" such as Silith which has a medieval Tangiers feel or the far south-east Razor Coast that feels almost Caribbean. Folk don't travel around much.

Gear

  • Despite the general feel of the culture/time-period, there are still DEX-based fighters with rapiers (or flavoured light swords), monks, etc.
  • There is not really heavy armour (no half plate or plate) and no great swords.

Race. Players must choose a hominid race.

  • Allowed: Humans, Human Variant, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-elf, Gnome, Half-orc, Goliath, Firbolg. Drow/Dark Elves should read over the History page for more info on the schism.
  • Not Allowed: Dragonborn are definitely out - they are a feature of the Forgotten Realms. Elementals are out. Aarakokara, Kenku, Lizardmen, Tabaxi, and Tritons are out. No PC should start with flying speed!
  • On the bubble: Tieflings and Aasimar should also be out, but I like them – we should talk about it. Refer to the Cosmology page to see the celestial/infernal contexts that they can use.
  • Refer to the Ethnology page for more about the races and how they relate to each other.

Class. All classes from the PHB are available, including monks and spell casters (there is just social challenges). I think most classes from XGE are in. Check first.

Ability Scores. Generally, use the point-buy model in the PHB. It avoids the potential for crazy-high or crazy-low scores which can wobble games.

Deities/Patrons/etc. The "gods" of the Havislands are the Archfey/fiends.  We use the Archfey to refer to the summer court, and the Archfiends to the winter court - it's all rolled together and simplified.  Refer to the Cosmology for more info. Characters may worship/pact with any of them, or make up a lesser fiend/fey/celestial to follow, providing that it works with the overall feel of the world. Given the different geographic regions, most anything can be made to work.

This article was updated on July 3, 2022