Renaissance Primer

Section 1: Know Your History

    Peace and Prosperity; qualities long absent from Shakandara. Several years have passed since the defeat of the armies lead by the Crymorians, and life has returned to normal in the land. The world continues to be an exciting and dynamic place to live, as Shakandara's people enjoy a renaissance period of growth, discovery, and revitalization. High adventure awaits those who are but willing to step out their front door and seek it. A vast, clean slate awaits the heroes who desire to make their mark upon Shakandara.

Section 2: Dates and Times

    Shakandara has 24 hours to each of its days. Each week is composed of 5 days. These are Dawnday (also known as Traveler's Day), Toilday, Harvestday, Fairday (also known as Duskday), and Godsday. Most people in Shakandara work the first four days of the week, resting and honoring The Gods on the fifth day. A span of two weeks is known as a tenday. There are 30 days to each of the months, of which there are twelve. The months roughly correspond to ours as follows:

Earth MonthShakandaran Month
JanuaryMolus
FebruaryDeepfrost
MarchStaurgos
AprilRenaius
MayPriteen
JuneJunus
JulyAuros
AugustFierus
SeptemberHarvest
OctoberBlazarian
NovemberFloodwatch
DecemberTerminus


    There are four seasons to the year. Winter begins in Terminus, Spring in Staurgos, Summer in Junus, and Fall in Harvest. The sun rises in the West and sets in the East. Shakandara has two moons, Serenas and Argeaon. Serenas completes its full-to-full cycle in 20 days, Argeaon in 30 days. There are ten years to each Cycle. The years of the Cycle are named as follows:

Year OrderYear Name
1stDragon
2ndOgre
3rdElf
4thLeviathan
5thTree
6thTitan
7thWolf
8thMountain
9thOcean
10thSerpent


    The current campaign begins on the 21st day of Staurgos, 243rd Year of the Mountain.

Section 3: Creating Your Character

    All characters begin at 2nd level. Choose your race and adjust your level according to the level adjustment. All non-standard (even +0 level adjustment) races must be approved by the GM before play; satyrs are banned as a PC race. +1 or higher CR races receive racial hit die equal to their race's natural HD or their CR modifier as a PC race, whichever is less. See Section 7: Races for more information on the common peoples of Shakandara.

    Generate your character's six ability scores using the point-buy system with 32 points. Hit points are calculated as follows: max at levels 1 and 2. Calculate racial hit die before class hit die, if any. Determine skills and feats normally (see Section 6 for a few new feats available). Your character may be of any alignment except Chaotic Neutral, or those including the Evil axis component.

    Each character begins the campaign with the following equipment: Large Sack, 1 Week of Iron Rations, 2 Wineskins, 4 Qts. of Water, and 200gp to spend on mundane equipment. All purchased equipment is, of course, subject to DM's approval and may only be purchased from the PHB, Magic of Faerun, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and splat class books. Thunderstones and Poisons are banned from purchase during character creation. Mages (core class only) begin the campaign with 2 standard spellbooks of 100 pages (see below for starting spell information).

    Each character may also select one special bonus item from the list below. For items that are generic (scroll of x, wand of x), you may select the specific spells for the item(s), so long as those selections do not cause it to exceed the maximum value of the item. For example, the scroll of 3 1st level spells cannot include Identify, as the spell requires an expensive component (100gpv pearl) that is consumed in the casting of the spell when the scroll is scribed.

Bonus Item (choose one):
    Next, create a basic history for your character with "plot-hooks" in it. The more information you give me in your history, the more involved in the game you will be. Omit names of cities from the history; when we meet to discuss your character, I will fill in those details for you. In addition, create 5 rumors about your character - 3 true and 2 false - from your backstory.

    Create a "wish list" for magic items and such. It should be from 3 to 6 items long. Be as general or as specific as you like, but keep in mind the following points. First, the more general you are, the more likely you are to get an item that will fall into that general category. For example, if you ask for a magical weapon, you will almost definitely get some kind of magic weapon at some point. Second, if you really want a Flame Tongue Longsword, ask for that item. Since this is more specific, you are less likely to get the exact item (but if you don't let me know that it is the specific item that you want, you have an even smaller chance of getting it). Third, these are simply "wish" lists. I will not guarantee that you will receive any of the items that you ask for, but I do try to accommodate requests whenever possible. Magic Item creation will be available during the course of the campaign; see Section 4 for further details. Magic item purchase opportunities will be rare, but may be available under certain circumstances.

    Some notes on the various classes: Paladins may be of any alignment, as long as it matches the alignment of the god that they have chosen. In Shakandara, a paladin is a champion of the cause of their god, or more simply put, a holy warrior. Any god should be permitted to have holy (or unholy) warriors to champion their cause, be it for good, evil, law, chaos, or to balance all (neutrality). Because of this, the paladins of each deity will have slightly different skills and abilities. If you wish to play a paladin, contact me, and I can fill in the information about each paladin's special powers. Likewise, priest's domains are determined by their deity's portfolio; contact me for more information on the domains available to various priests. This applies only to priests using the core rules version of the class (see Section 4).

    All sourcebooks, PClasses, equipment, spells, and special rules are considered available on a provisional basis, with the following notations. If it is from a source I do not have, you must present me with complete documentation for it, and bring said documentation with you to every session. If you fail to bring it with you, and there is any question about the related text, the ability, spell, item, or feature is considered unavailable and may not be used for play in that session. Whenever possible, it is recommended that you provide a copy of the source material to the DM to keep.

    I use the DM Genie software to manage pretty much the entire campaign, including characters, NPCs, encounters, adventures, etc. Although the software is no longer supported per se, I recommend that players use it for character management, as it allow us to export/import characters back and forth in the same format, including sharing gear, spells, etc. You can find the software here. As the software is no longer available for purchase, I will be happy to share my registration code so that you can continue to use it after the evaluation period expires. Be sure to also download the 3.0 campaign source file so that you can roll the software back, as it comes set up for 3.5 by default. If you have questions about this process, please let me know.

Section 4: Magic in Shakandara

    Shakandara is covered by a web of magical energy. The strands crisscross the entire surface of the world, including running through it. Each force line carries a specific type of magical energy. When many force lines of a type of magic connect in one spot, it forms a Locus, a place of great power. The spellcasters of the world have constructed towers, temples, and schools at many of these points. Casters use spells to draw upon these magical force lines. Magical items are also tied to the force lines. It is possible to determine a magical item or creature's nature by examining the force lines connected to it.

    Shakandara uses the Elements of Magic supplement by Matt Blakeley from Natural 20 Press as an alternate magic system. The system is optional at this time; alternate spellcasting classes for mages, sorcerers, clerics, druids, bards, rangers, and paladins can all be found within the book. I can provide you with a copy of mine for perusal if you are interested in learning more about it. If you wish to use core rules versions of those classes instead, you may, but I still advise reading this material; opponents you encounter may be using this system, so it pays to know what you might have to face.

Note the following changes to EoM document: Note the following changes to existing core document spells: Note the following adaptations of core rules spells for EoM spellcasters:     Casters may create new spells. To do this, they must spend time researching the spell. It takes 1 Shakandaran week (5 days)/per level of the spell for the time to research it. During this time, the caster must spend 8 hours out of the day working on the spell research, but they can still adventure, cast spells, etc. They cannot also be involved in magic item creation while researching a spell. Every day, the caster must succeed in a Knowledge Arcana roll (DC = 20 + spell level, cannot take 20). Any day this roll fails, it extends the time to complete the spell by one day. However, if the caster has access to a library worth at least 500gpv x spell level (this library can be owned, rented, or borrowed), the DC is only 15 + spell level. All new spells 3rd level and higher require the use of a library to research. The actual spell research will cost 25gp x # of days to research it. This would mean a newly researched 1st level spell would cost a total of 125gp to research if the caster made their Knowledge Arcana checks every day. A 5th level spell would require a 2500gpv library and cost 625gpv to research. If a second caster is involved in the process, the DC for the Knowledge Arcana check is reduced by 2, and each caster need only spend 4 hours per day in spell research.

    Casters may create magic items, but Shakandara uses a variant system to the core rules. First, all items require one “component” per 1,000gpv (or fraction thereof). Some of these components are obvious, like a suit of masterwork armor for a magical suit of armor. However, some will be less obvious, and are completely up to the GM's descretion or whim. Each of these components can vary wildly in cost and rarity, but the total of all components to craft a given item cannot have a value greater than ½ the item's market value* (i.e. the gp cost to create an item has now been broken down into the value of its components). Components can either be found and collected during adventuring (a Knowledge Arcana check with a DC set by the GM - generally 20 to 25 - can help spot these items when they appear), or can be sought out intentionally through research or purchase. Any components collected in this manner take a day each. Note that such a task can be shared by companions of the crafter; this can help to dramatically decrease the time necessary to gather the components required for making an item. The time to create any item is now a single day, assuming that all the components have been collected (and the caster has the correct spells and sufficient XP available). Specific item creation requirements will be addressed on a case-by-case basis with regards to EoM caster characters.

* note: special materials, as described in the DMG and other sourcebooks, follow the special rules. Their cost is still included in to total gpv of the item for determining the number of components required. Their value, however, is counted as full, and to be deducted before calculating the cost of all other components. For example, a mithral chain shirt +1 (value 2,100gp) would still require 3 components, one of them being a mithral shirt with a value of 1,100gp. Further, it would require an additional 2 components valued at a total of 500gp (1/2 of the remaining 1,000gpv) to complete its enchantment.

Section 5: Experience Points

    Experience points are gained through several means. Experience is done every session, and all players will receive a role-playing award each night as well as XP for defeating encounters. This role-playing award will include adjustments for successful completion of story elements, creativity in problem solving, and actual roleplaying, both between characters and with the DM. Note that "defeating" an encounter can be accomplished by several means, including negotiation and completely bypassing the encounter due to creative play. Sometimes the experienced gained by not fighting is just as valuable as that which is earned through confrontation and conflict.

    Base experience is divided equally among all party members (including NPCs that are working with the group at the time). To receive the full awards for a given night, the player must be present for the entire session. If they miss any signficant portion of the session (more than 1/2 hour), they only get a half share of the XP (i.e. please be on time). Characters may not be run by other players or the DM in their absence, and therefore receive no XP for sessions for which they are not present.

    Players may earn additional individual bonuses to XP for any number of a wide variety of tasks. All players are encouraged to take notes duirng the game; in addition to serving as a personal reference for the events in the campaign, good note-taking can sometimes result in XP bonuses. Additionally, at the beginning of each session, there will be an opportunity to volunteer to write a post-session summary of the events of the game that night. A well-written, detailed summary of the session turned in to the DM prior to the next session can be worth as much as a full session's XP, plus a DM's Grace Card*.

    To advance to a new level, a character must only have the experience (points) necessary. Training is an assumed part of the game. Characters are continually learning while they are adventuring. Most features of advancement may be put into play immediately upon leveling up; new spells are the notable exception to this. New spells, spell slots, MP and spell lists gained for level increase are only available after the caster has had the opportunity to rest and recover spells. Characters also earn a DM's Grace Card* at each new experience level attained.

* note: These are described in Section 6: House Rules.

Section 6: House Rules

    Throughout the campaign, characters will have the opportunity to earn DM's Grace Cards. There are two sorts of such cards, Lesser and Greater. In general, Lesser DM's Grace Cards allow some small, minor benefit, for a single use. Greater DM's Grace Cards tend to offer similar benefits to the Lesser versions, but are often reuseable, once per session. Greater DM's Grace Cards are not typcially rewarded directly; however, for every three unused DM's Grace Cards a character possesses, they may exchange them for one Greater DM's Grace Card of their choice.

    Some other Shakandara-specific House Rules:


Section 7: Races of Shakandara

    A violent and wide-spread war has left its mark on the political and racial boundaries of Shakandara. The following is a brief description of the standings of each of the main races after the War.

    Minotaurs are considered a barbaric society, but not bestial as in most other worlds. They are excellent sailors. The culture is brutal and often deadly, but they are also known to take pride in their honor and will uphold promises to death. They are historical enemies of the Steppe peoples that border their realm. Historically, the majority of this conflict was limited to raids and small unit skirmishes. These have largely disappeared since the War (see Steppe people's entry for more information). The minotaurs of Shakandara are considered a +3 EL race and use the following adjustments: +4 Strength, Con +2, Int -4, Cha - 2; +3 Natural Armor; gore attack for 1d6 (2d6 charging); 10' reach; Scent (Ex); Natural Cunning (Ex); Keen Senses (Ex) - +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks.

    The Steppe people live the life of nomads across the northern prairies and grasslands, and are consummate horsemen. They follow the herds of elk and caribou during the summer, and retreat to the areas around the border-towns of the north during the winter, trading furs and horses with the frontier merchants. The Steppe tribes fought valiantly during the War, lead by their Khan, Tingtoagis. His quests during the War brought him into direct contact with a Minotaur, Scar, and their friendship has become a model for most of their respective peoples to emulate. A few of the smaller, remote bands still resist the change, but they represent a isolated fragment of the nation, at best.

    After the Race Wars at the beginning of time, all the races of elves banded together in one forest kingdom on the border of the Darklands, the place where most of the evil races were driven to during the final months of the battles. The various races of elves still exist, though the differences that once set them apart from one another in physical appearance have receded quite a bit. The exception to this are the drow and aquatic elves; they maintain their unique and identifiable appearance. All of the elven subraces continue to retain their various special abilities, advantages, and disadvantages. The elven kingdom is rumored to have large deposits of mithral in the northern section of the country. These were used to create the legendary Elven Chainmail. They have been untapped for several centuries and may even be panned out. During the War, the drow tried to take the elven lands by emerging through a passage to Underdeep near an abandon keep in this nothern territory, but they were pushed back. While the elves are still quite secretive by most races' standards, they have opened their borders considerably since the War, and there are few peoples that would find themselves denied access to these verdant lands. Queen Lessa Goldbrook rules over the Elven Nation, and her General Gil Shalos matains order within the realm. Lady Protector of the Forests Shakira Kree oversees the border patrol that keeps a watchful eye on the Dark Lands.

    The Southgate Dwarves represent the richest, most secretive people of all the races. The dwarven kingdom is the only known source of adamantine, and possibly the only extant deposits of mithral, in all of Shakandara. It is also rich in gold and platinum. For all this wealth, they have little arable land for growing food, so they trade extensively with surrounding countries for these goods. The journey to the Southgate kingdom was dangerous by any route, so the merchants that made these trips charged exorbitant prices for the goods. Many of these trading missions never made the complete return trip; bandits and monsters knew the value of these groups exiting the kingdom and ambushed them. These paths, though still dangerous by most accounts, have become safer since the War. The War was very taxing on the dwarves, as they suffered heavy losses both at home and abroad. Once reknown for their famous enchanted weapons of high quality, their export of weapons and armor has shifted to primarily masterwork items, with exceptional material items becoming increasing rare in availability. The dwarves also posses two islands off the coast that supply most of the mithral and adamantine that the smiths work with. These deposits are worked by deep dwarves (+2 Con, -4 Cha; Darkvision 120'; otherwise same as normal dwarves). Very few hill or mountain dwarves are found on these two island. The mainland is the opposite; the population is mostly hill (use gold dwarf stats from FRCS) and mountain dwarves (core rules dwarves) with very few deep dwarves. The population of hill dwarves handles most transactions with surface races, often acting as a go-between with the mountain and deep dwarves. There are no gully dwarves in Shakandara (thank the gods for small favors!).

    The gnomes of Shakandara almost exclusively inhabit a stretch of hilly and mountainous land bordering the ocean just south of the Minotaur Realm. The rock gnomes have constructed several cities in the hill regions and even along the ocean for trade. The deep gnomes work mining operations in the mountains and bring the valuables that they uncover to the surface cities. The Knife Edge Mountains are rich in silver and gems of many kinds. There are no tinker gnomes in Shakandara. There have been reports of forest gnomes, but most dismiss these rumors as children's fantasies.

    There is only a single race of halflings found in Shakandara (use strongheart halfling stats from FRCS). They inhabited burrows among the hilly fields of their land. They engage in frequent trade with their geographic neighbors, the dwarves of Southgate. The pathes between the halfling settlements and the dwarven cities are well-traveled and fairly safe. The halflings have never over-charged the dwarves for food and other goods, and in return, the dwarves have consistently provided them with excellent weapons in trade, often masterwork quality. In fact, this relationship makes the the halfling realm one of the best places to purchase Southgate crafted items. Despite the shady reputation that hangs over the race due to the actions of a small portion of the populace, this is one of the safest civilized areas to be in. The halflings are friendly to all but the most obnoxious or threatening outsiders.

    Humans are the most populous race on Shakandara and can be found across the realm, in every settlement, town, and city. The majority of the Homeland's landmass is divided into many human kingdoms of varying sizes and political structures. Look hard enough, and you can find nearly every possibility among them.

    Many varieties of outsiders and other oddities can be found scattered across Shakandara, including Tieflings, Aasimars, Genasi, and Half-dragons, as well as Incandents and Voidlings (see Andy Collins' website archives for more info on these two races). While none of these races have any known settlements, higher or lower numbers can be found of each individual race in different areas. Even rarer races can be found inhabiting far-flung regions of the world, unknown to the average person.

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