Firearms in Minaria

(I ran a kickoff session for my new campaign last week. One of the questions I put to the players was whether they wanted gunpowder and firearms in the game. They decided to go for it, and one of the players is interested in a Gunslinger PC, so I’m posting this today.)

The Dwarves of Minaria were defeated by Elves & Goblins almost 1700 years ago at the end of the Bitter Wars. Under their terms of surrender, Dwarves were forced to renounce all magic and surviving populations were restricted to isolated reserves (called “holdfasts”). To this day, the Dwarves remain rare except in their secluded holdfasts.

However, the Dwarves have not been idle – they have developed and perfected gunpowder technology.

In recent years, sole knowledge of this “secret” technology has slipped from the Dwarves. Human alchemists now produce their own gunpowder and firearms, and cannons & mortars may even threaten the domination of Wizards in some realms.

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Greater Serpent-Men (Draft)

(There was some discussion about Snake-Men on the ACKS Discord that linked to my old Serpent Men Custom Classes post. I’m dredging up a related post that I had in draft but didn’t publish. I never finished the flavour text, but otherwise it looks complete…)

Serpent-Men_CastesLong before humans struggled up from the lowly depths of apedom, the Ophidians – prehistoric snake-men of brilliant intellect – reigned in Old Earth during ancient epochs.

In their declining ├Žons, the Ophidians kept human slaves as servants and feedstock. As they degenerated in numbers and power, they were compelled to create Serpent-Men hybrids of various castes to serve them. Eventually, these servants outnumbered their Ophidian rulers. In the ancient realm of Valusia, humans – aided by some Serpent-Men – overthrew their Ophidian overlords and created their own civilisation.

In the end, Valusia was itself subject to destruction and chaos. Volcanoes and earthquakes rent the land asunder, and great storms swept across the land. Impossible cyclones and whirlwinds swept fragments of Valusia away to far-flung Hyperborea.

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Giant Riding Birds of Minaria

Wild Dromornis
(See cool article)

Whether it’s psychedelic sleestaks, Giger-esque Hyperboreans, or lumpen-ones, I can never resist adding “weird” elements into my campaigns. The Age of Autarchs is a bit more “vanilla” than my previous games, but I’ve got one or two oddities I’d like to add.

One early inspiration for the campaign was some pictures of Air Cultists from the 5e Princes of the Apocalypse adventure. Later on the ACKS Discord, conversation turned to the “riding ostriches” from the old Joust arcade game, and I got to thinking that maybe I should replace horses in my game with giant flightless birds. There’s precedents in comics and games – such as horseclaws (from Nausicaa) and chocobos (from Final Fantasy) – but I’m not sure of anything published for D&D.

I also needed to come up with names for these creatures. I’m going to use Dromornis as generic name for “giant flightless domesticated birds”. There are “light” Dromornis which are used as Riding Birds and “heavy” Dromornis used as Draft Birds. Meat-eating Dromornis breeds can be trained for war. Light War Birds are the most common, but elite cavalry (aviary? avemry?) would ride heavy Knight Birds.

I figure these there are no horses at all in my Minaria, which is why these giant birds were domesticated. And since there are no horses, there are also no centaurs, pegasi, hippogriffs, or unicorns. Instead, I am going through various monster manuals and crature collections looking for weird bird-like creatures to add.

Here are the game stats for Dromornis:


Riding Bird: These light Dromornis are built for speed and long-distance travel. They can carry up to 20 stone and move at full movement, or they can carry a maximum of 40 stone and have movement halved. Riding Birds are too timid to be trained for war. Most wild Dromornis are equivalent to light Dromornis. Cost: 75gp.

Draft Bird: These heavy Dromornis are the most common domesticated variety; bred to be big, strong laborers. Draft Birds can carry up to 40 stone and move at full movement, or they can carry a maximum of 80 stone and have movement halved. Most Draft Birds will not tolerate a rider. Cost: 40gp.

War Bird: War Birds are a breed of omnivorous light Dromornis that have been trained for battle. They can carry up to 20 stone and move at full movement, or carry a maximum of 40 stone at half movement. A War Bird can make a claw attack in addition to its beak attack. The rider of a War Bird may attack with a charge, dealing double damage with a lance. The War Bird may attack with its beak during the charge as well. Cost: 150gp.

Knight Bird: Knight Birds are heavy Dromornis with a taste for meat. Bred for combat, they are meant for shorter distance travel than War Birds. Knight Birds can carry up to 30 stone and move at full movement, or they can carry a maximum of 60 stone at half movement. Knight Birds are typically used as mounts for elite warriors, and can make attacks in the same manner as War Birds. Cost: 250gp.

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Languages of Minaria

Diabolist by Martin McKenna

A wonkish post today – I have some thoughts on languages in Minaria and related house rules. The writing is pretty rough, but I want to get this posted before kicking off the campaign…

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All Hail Xathoqqua!

The Frog (1908), from Segundo de Chomon.

(Check out my other Xathoqqua-tagged posts.)

Hyperborea HR

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Sorcerers of Minaria

Sorcerer by
Martin McKenna

(Today it’s Minarian sorcerers. I’ve taken the spellsinging rules from the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook and just renamed it “sorcery”, then built a human sorcerer class. I also put together Bloodline Proficiencies.)

Scions of innately magical bloodlines, the spawn of monsters, pawns of fate and destiny, or simply flukes of fickle magic, sorcerers look within themselves for eldritch prowess and draw forth might few mortals can imagine.

Gifted from birth with power beyond other men, sorcerers are feared and respected by all. Because of their independence and unpredictable nature, sorcerers are often branded as dangerous threats to the realm by the Wizard-Kings.

Sorcerers who survive long enough to become powerful (between 5th and 9th level) can present themselves to the Invisible School to gain recognition for their ability. Those who can pass the tests are accepted as near-equals by wizards.

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Wizards of Minaria

(A post today about Minarian wizards. With the exception of the “Language of Magic“, none the game mechanics presented here are original; it’s all adapted from the ACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook or other sources.)

Wizard by
Martin McKenna

At the height of the Bright Empire, loremasters of the College of Thaumaturgy made a breakthrough – they discovered a universal language which could describe the workings of magic. They dubbed this language the Logos or the Words of Creation.

Through disciplined study and application of the Logos, individuals with an aptitude for magic can learn to memorize and cast spells with mere words and gestures – they can become wizards.

The College of Thaumaturgy formalized various schools of magic. Eight distinct paths were established – Artifice, Dominion, Fellowship, Lore, Nature, Necromancy, Summoning, and Transmogrification.

As the Bright Empire declined, the Wizards of the College of Thaumaturgy (now called the “Invisible School”) grew in power. By the time of the Empire’s collapse, many of the regional governors, or Autarchs, were wizards. They were able to protect and preserve enclaves of civilization, forming the foundation for the current Age of Autarchs and the rise of the Wizard-Kings.

Wizards still take apprentices and train them in the classical schools of magic. Once these apprentices have proven themselves (reaching 3rd level), they are sent to the Invisible School to complete their training (advancing to 5th level). They can then go back to former masters or strike out on their own. Those who become “true” wizards (9th level) return to the Invisible School to be recognized by their peers.

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