New Player Background
>The Newfish Guide to the Alexandrian World<
(Special thanks to Slitherrr, who helped a lot putting this together.)
Welcome to the Mainland!
The majority of the interaction on this world takes place on a continental mass known rather vaguely as the Mainland. It is a diverse continent existing south of the planet's Equatorial zone, going (roughly North to South) from highly civilized mercantile states in long-settled lands to an enormous expanse of mostly unexplored barbarian territory, with setting and technology that most resembles the usual strange D&D hybrid of late Medieval and early Renaissance technologies and social norms. By and large, most political entities are nation-states have been more-or-less stable for the past 1,400 years since Alexandria's triumph over the Dark Fiend. However, many - if not most - states, nationalities, and polities are far older, dating back to the collapse of the Ubrekti Empire . (see this timeline of major events for an overview of the history of the Mainland)
Each of these states is extremely ancient and highly nationalistic, having developed unique languages, to say nothing of unique quirks of character, eccentric worldviews, and specific cultural norms. In the case of the various human nations, most trace their history to the Ubrekti Empire, who dominated most of the known world for a period of roughly two thousand years. (Roughly five to three thousand years ago for the Empire at its glory: from the last conquest to the first succession.) In some places, particularly in the history of Gildenhome and New Hakan, and among nationless Halflings, the scars and effects of occupation and conquest are still visible. Although the sins of this empire are many - the aforementioned expatriation of the classical Gnomes and the utter eradication of classical Halfling culture - its also served as a conduit to spread a generally unified and codified system of property laws, a respect for learning and education, and a system of writing. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Ubrekt language remains the de facto international language for education, law, and diplomacy between states. As mentioned above, most of the modern nations of the mainland - Odessa, Hakan, Flannary, Celstia, and Fresia - exist as a direct result of the empire's slow decline. Most nations are, themselves, relatively pluralistic states that host several ethnicities and cultures with varying degrees of amicability.
The human nations, generally speaking, are broad pastiches of real world cultures and nations. Odessa, for example, is the Late-Medieval Britain of an Englishman's imagination, while Fresia is a version of the Holy Roman Empire and Eastern Europe while Flannary obeys the tropes one would expect of the France of the high and late middle ages.
(This section covers only the current religion. The setting has seen no less than three changes in supreme divinity. (See: The Ages of History for more)
By and large, the worship of Alexandria is universal among the so-called Goodly Races, although the Sidhe (Elves) might be an exception to this rule. (Metagame: They are.) Despite the numerous cultural and linguistic differences, the one steadfast commonality of the continent is Alexandrianism, or Alexandrian Orthodoxy, a monotheistic faith centered upon the dramatic intervention of its eponymous mortal-turned-deity into the world's affairs roughly a millennium and a half ago. As Alexandria's power and existence are a matter of known fact rather than blind faith, all of the Goodly Races venerate her to one degree or another. However, the particulars of that veneration are in no way universal, and the people are in no way united in their beliefs. In the decades after her Martyrdom and Ascension, competing theologies developed, each aggressively promoted by one of her mortal followers (the First Stand). Within a couple of centuries, three distinct and organized strains of Alexandrianism had developed.
- Alexandrian Orthodoxy : Most of her followers went on to develop a highly centralized and hierarchical supra-national church under the direction of Steros Merroand and Mythrian Arabelle, and this has since to become the largest faith in the mainland.
- Peteran Heresy : A highly ethnocentric take on the Alexandrian narrative, informed by the writings of Sayid ibn Maimun and practiced by the people of the Peteran Empire
- Zupanism : Spread by Sayid's adopted son and designated heir, Mikos Lygit, after he was forced into exile among the Ulan. The most decentralized of all the Alexandrian faiths, many sages suggest that Zupanism should be understood best as an umbrella term for a family of rituals, traditions, and beliefs.
As the church itself is a continent-spanning umbrella organization, membership requirements are tremendously relaxed. All good and neutral characters are welcome to join, and even lawful evil characters have been known to thrive in the organization. It should be noted that while neutral evil and chaotic evil creatures are not specifically excluded, their temperament and worldview lead to a practical if not explicit exclusion.
The primary goal of the established church is not to win souls for the faith, but rather to promote stability and order across the Mainland. Its primary tools in this regard are a pair of monopolies: the first on the minting of high coinage (silver, gold, and platinum) and the second on the investiture of divine power. (The creation of Clerics) Its secondary mission, at the retail level, is to provide the religious and corporeal aid one might expect of an institution of faith, as well as to provide a strong hand in civil, criminal, and magical jurisprudence. Its members forsake national allegiances and swear their devotion to Alexandria's church, although these oaths have been tested from time to time .
The Servitor Races have their own religious beliefs and traditions, which no one has ever asked them about, and which would strain credulity at any rate. Servitor Religion is not covered by Knowledge: Religion, but rather by the "hidden skill" of Knowledge: Servitor Religion. (A class skill for bards and inquisitors)
Altered Mechanics & Character Generation
See the section on House Rules for more specifics.
Although the Mainland campaigns began as 3.5 games, all current games use the Pathfinder rules set, with extra prestige classes, feats, and other rules either created or pulled liberally from other works. Languages play a slightly more prominent role than in other settings, but the work-a-day life of an adventure is much the same here as elsewhere, although "adventuring groups" are far less common and more novel in this setting than in most.
There are some caveats, though, particularly in the composition of races and character creation. Dwarves, although still fond of underground living, are more vigorous, dynamic, and outward looking and interventionist than in other settings, though no less curmudgeonly for it. Elves, for all intents and purposes, are nonexistent on the mainland, although they are available for play as PCs with some background restrictions. The most dramatically changed are the Gnomes, who bear little resemblance to their whimsical and folksy kin. Gnomes in this world have developed into two recognizable sub-branches - Hakni (City) Gnome and Wild Gnome - after thousands of years of hardship. You should make sure to read the wiki-entires if you are interested in any of these races. For reasons made clear in the entry on Sidhe, half-elves are entirely non-existent and may not be played as PCs.
Similarly, as a predominantly Western-European themed society, Monks as the Pathfinder class do not exist in any meaningful way.
Psionics do exist, but due to the extreme efforts required to achieve mastery, as well as several millenia of active persecution of Psionics during the era of the Demi-Pantheon, Psions of all stripes are still virtually unheard of among most of the mainland, while they are merely rare among Gnomes. However, overall knowledge and training in Psionics has grown slowly but appreciably in the 1,400 years since active persecution ceased, and although few have the talent, background, and training to excel as Psions, Psychic Warriors (and to a lesser degree, Soulknives) are not unheard of among all the goodly races, and in many ways the traditional storyline and game mechanics role of the Monk class is played by Psychic Warriors on the mainland.
Character creation is on the point buy system featured in the PFSRD, usually 20 points. Unless otherwise arranged, characters start at level two (although MeFight team Alpha started at one) with maximum hit points. For each earned level past character creation, hit points are not rolled randomly, rather each level automatically gains a set number of hit points according to hit dice as shown below.
- d12 = 9 HP
- d10 = 7 HP
- d8 = 5 HP
- d6 = 4 HP
In general, a coterie of all-mighty and benevolent GMs reign in their individual campaigns, guided by the velvety iron glove of the primary worldmaster, detarame. Most games are run in a fairly anti-Monty-Haul and potentially deadly style. With exceptions mostly limited to Alexandria herself, most resurrection spells are disallowed and death, when it occurs, can be considered permanent (with the usual unsettling exceptions).
While some powerful magicks and psionics that can revive the dead if applied quickly enough do still exist, no body dead more than 24 hours may be raised under any circumstances, not even a wish or miracle spell. Any spells that revive the dead (Raise Dead, Resurrection, etc.) are stricken from their respective spell lists. However, the Psionic Revivify power works as functions, although the hard 24 hour rule still applies. Additionally, no power that contacts the dead may be used on any corpse that has been dead for longer than 24 hours, up to and including wish and miracle.
Generally speaking, detarame disavows treasure tables and creates rewards and loot tables specific to the players, the campaign, and the scenario at hand. Additionally, combats are almost always between APL-1 to APL+5, meaning "routine" encounters are not part of the average adventurer's lifestyle. The overall result is that every combat is potentially lethal, and experience is accrued far faster than treasure. Gold is always in short supply, and players generally must excel on the strengths of their character rather than their bank accounts. However, while treasure in general is found far less often, treasure that is found tends to be of higher quality than in other settings. Adventurers here do not survive by pawning sacks of useless +1 gear, they make their way in the world by relying on the kindness of those they have helped. Oh, and gems.
A more comprehensive list of House Rules can be found.
After all, adventuring is how Alexandria herself got started.