A quick reference for learning some common culture and flavor. Most common folk have little knowledge of the larger world and history (other than what is taught to keep them in awe), go no further than a few miles from where they are born, and rely on larger institutions and groups for guidance. PC’s have, at the very least, something which makes them open to a larger perspective. This leads to a Character Concept, and Character Stories which will allow a character to move beyond the common perspective.
- PC’s are not inherently exceptional; they rise above through their actions to become that.
- The world of Helca is not fair; beings will do whatever it takes to advance their own cause.
- The average person just wants to live and has no agenda – they leave such to their liege and faith.
- The common person is superstitious, untraveled, illiterate, and uninformed – and kept that way.
The role of PC’s
PC’s types are common in the sense that many from every place in the realms, in every walk of life seek to make a fortune for themselves – leaving friends, family, home and hearth… and most die. Most common folk will see them as the source of trouble and potential concern. Items of power, adventure, perilous travel, and violent encounters of the kind of thing most adventurers seek out are something commoners wish to avoid. In some places, PC’s are overcharged, under-served, and even “ushered” out of town by angry citizens hoping to prevent the delicate local balance of power from being upset. Some PC’s may have a Patron (a Lady or Lord, or Institution; see Factions of Power) which give them authority and respect to avoid such local animosity.
Gender Roles of the Civilized Lands: Females are generally seen as a weaker class of people among most races. In general, they are physically less strong than the normal male, and in places where survival is a daily concern it relegates them to a lower status. Males hold most of the dominant positions of power, and in general the cultures are patriarchal in modern times (less so in the past). Key exceptions to this are some Pine Tribes clans, Skraelings, Ducateon society (caste, not gender is the main factor), Wyld Aelf clans, the Duchy of Dunstrand and the Duchy of Aelmir (wherein lies Oerdney – the seat of the High King); females are treated as equals in almost all ways – legal standing, property, marriage, and business. The binary of female and male conform to definitions brought on by appearance and sexual characteristics. “Krasals” are a form of hermaphrodite that is common (2% of humans) in the southern heartlands and are typically androgynous in appearance; they are accepted there and in the central heartlands without issue. The Pine Tribes accept without issue the “Wind Wending” – those among them with fluid gender (homosexuals, hermaphrodite, cross dressers and others) both in appearance and sexual characteristics. Those of the Wyld Faith are much more accepting of gender fluidity than either the regimented Light Bringers or Unholy Trio of Darkness.
Key Historical Events
- Item – Date
- The Sundering – 5000 CY (Common Year): Fall of the southern lands and Sea King empire. To stop the tide of demonic creatures of the Lords of Darkness, the powers of the realms causes a great chasm to open from the sea to the mountains in the south. The coasts of the realms are shaken and many of the Sea Kings cities and settlements fall into the sea, bringing death and ruin to their empire in a day.
- Item – Date
Laws of the Land
PC’s may not be familiar with the specifics, but there are some universal laws and observances that most denizens are familiar with and abide by. While the realms rely on peerage for ruling hierarchy, the heartlands are also governed by “Hindsmuth” (old word for “Common Law”); the heartlands in particular have a court system in the major town and cities, with magistrates and law officers. Peerage titles offer the ability to call for a retrial with a new judge, or to declare a mistrial in the event of a travesty of justice. In rural and country places, Bards are often sought to pass judgement using their knowledge of the law and insight. Outside the heartlands, sheriffs enforce titled nobles direct wills. Many PC’s must follow a code of conduct or set of laws or tenets dictated by their Patron (see Factions of Power).
Factions of Power
PC’s may not be familiar with all of the factions, but some are known across the entire breadth of the realms well, while others are known only to those of related class or backgrounds.
Most PC’s must find the protection and enter into the service of a Patron. Patrons take an active role in the direction of the actions and development of characters. A patron WILL (its a question of when, not if) demand service and an accounting of their servants/bannermen/followers/brethren.
- Secular: Secular patrons cannot take away any powers or knowledge once given.
- Arcane: Characters learning magic from a source other than the divine have a debt to be paid typically; the knowledge was given or taught because the character believed in common goals and directions the patron pursued. They were given their powers to further these.
- Religious: All divine powers take a direct interest in followers and their actions, in as much as they have the ability to affect the prominence and power of the faith. Followers will be expected to actively work against enemies of the faith and usually be vocal in local affairs representing the faith.
Languages of the Steel Realms
PC’s may not know all the languages, but most are aware that there are multiple, and traveling means they will likely have to learn a few.
- Dumastri (Dumastorian language of the Steel Realms)
- Dundarian (human language of the Steel Realms)
- Orrish (language of the Steel Realms)
- Feyloise (Elven language of the Steel Realms)
- Gladnorian (human language of the Steel Realms)
- Hrubah (Grollen language of the Steel Realms)
- Mercat (common trade language of the Steel Realms)
D20 Steel Realms Characters
The ©Players Handbook will be the official starting point, with the general Incarna Character provisions applying, and the Steel Realms an errata of changes and inclusion/exclusions for Races of the Steel Realms and classes for new options. Race may be constrained by locale, and determine class and other options including alignment.
Character Races of the Steel Realms
|Core Race||Steel Realms Change|
|Dragonborn||The Dragonborn are Extinct. All were hunted down after the dragons returned to slumber. Any remaining live far away and in fear; in most places they would be killed on site.|
|Dwarf (all)||Ducateon (caste) ; “Dwarf” is a mix of Ducateon and Human or half elf blood – they gather unto themselves.|
|Gnome||Skraeling; they never live underground, only in the outdoors.|
|High Elf/Wood Elf/Drow||Ynthian Elf/Wyld Elf/Faey|
|Gnoll||Grollen; though they have given up their evil ways|
|Half-Elf||Half-Elf (mixed Faerie) – their angular features, odd colorations and temper make them pariahs in most places.|
|Half-Ork||Half-Ork (mixed blood Ork)|
|Halfling > Lightfoot||Halfling (3 tribes)|
Character Classes of the Steel Realms
Bound by Duty: Certain classes are bound by duty. This means they have strict observances in their outlook and training – this usually means a code of conduct and other limitations around them. The knowledge around their classes is simply not given out to anyone. Such characters will not have a choice when their Patron or organizations come calling upon them – they may be forced to leave a party, align themselves against it, or report its doings to other powers.
|Core Class||Steel Realms Change|
|Barbarian||Limited by race & place; Any magical capabilities are of the Divine nature.|
|Bard||Limited by race & place
A Bard is a sacred calling and Bound by Duty…
|Cleric||Vary by race & place|
|Druid||Limited by race; Druid is a calling and is Bound by Duty.
Only the Order of Davros learns to be the Circle of the Moon. More…
|Fighter||Limited by race & place
Eldritch Knight: This may have a source in a Grimoire (Wizard tradition), a Patron (Warlock tradition), or Spark (Sorcerer tradition) – the character must pick one.
|Monk||Limited by race & place
There is no Monk available for PCs. Only the Orrish train in the Way of the Shadow.
|Paladin||Limited by race & place; The Paladin uses Wisdom, not Charisma and their magical abilities are Divine in nature (they must choose a deity).|
|Ranger||Limited by race & place; Unearthed Arcana rules
A Ranger is a sacred calling and Bound by Duty…
|Rogue||Limited by race & place
Arcane Trickster: This may have a source in a Grimoire (Wizard tradition), a Patron (Warlock tradition), or Spark (Sorcerer tradition) – the character must pick one.
These art are long lost to the realms and their ways mostly forgotten.
|Warlock||Limited by race & place
Warlocks are Bound by Duty to their Patron and owe them everything.
|Wizard||Limited by race & place|
ICore Steel Realms Characters