PLAYER'S GUIDE TO SOULSHARD

Soulshard is a campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition (D&D 4E). The setting is designed to fit into the core assumptions of D&D, with only a few changes to give the setting flavor. Some of the key changes have to do with cosmology, and the races of the setting. These changes are described below.

Cosmology

The cosmology of the setting, as described in the Manual of the Planes, is kept intact; however, the vast majority of the populace are not necessarily aware of the true nature of this cosmology. Though the feywild and the shadowfell exist, they are not as deeply influential on the world of Soulshard as they are in some of the other D&D settings. For example, Eladrin, with their deep connection to the Feywild simply do not exist. In addition, there is no known method of travel to the planes. Therefore, abilities that allow travel to the other planes simply do not work.

There are some scholars who have recently discovered artifacts from a bygone era that hints at the existence of these other plans; however, it remains speculative and grounds for charges of heresy in some places. No one, however, knows how to actually prove their existence or travel to these planes. Even those races that have a connection to the other realms, such as the Elf or the Githzerai, have long lost any factual understanding of these planes. Such knowledge is lost in myth.

Within the vast space of the Great Pale, there are motes that have broken through to this world and float above the barren waste; however, few if any people have seen these motes. Those who have seen them, have no explanation and tend to shrug it off as a manifestation of the same cataclysm that caused the Great Pale in the first place.

The deities of the D&D core exist in the world; however, they are known by various names based on culture and geographic location. In other words, these deities do not manifest in any universal form in the Soulshard setting. More information can be found in the religion section.

The Common Races of Soulshard

The world of Soulshard includes a rich array of races, including all the common races found in the Player’s Handbook. The Soulshard campaign setting adds its own flavor and style to the races. This does not change the game mechanics of the various races, except where noted below. In other words, except for the changes indicated, the common races should be played as indicated in the core D&D rulebooks.

The following descriptions are stereotypical representations of the peoples of the world of Soulshard. They are gross generalities and as much diversity exists within the culture and race as it does between them. Thus, even a given Lysantho Elf may be compassionate and kind.

Humans

Humans are the dominant race in campaign setting, geographically spread throughout the world. They come in the myriad of physical variations that depend on the region of origin. Some believe that humanity originated on Aren Doael but there are now a number of regional groups that are differentiated by cultural identity and national allegiances and only those that remain on the southern continent consider themselves Aren Doaeli.

Humans have established the Confederacy of Sheinar and are the predominant race in the the theocracy of Iesadhe. Various nomadic tribes travel across the Ambari desert of Aren Doael and various smaller human kingdoms are found in the southern regions of the continent.

//Of all the races, players have the greatest choice of origin with humans. Although there are cultural differences from one region to another, the racial traits described in the PHB, pg. 46 apply to all human player characters.

Humans in Soulshard have no class restriction and may play any of the classes listed below.//

Dwarves

There are a number of dwarven kingdoms in Darejh and the rift canyon of Aren Doael. A vast majority of the population was wiped out by the cataclysm that created the Great Pale. Those who remain are protectionist and, until recently, were isolationists. Over the last few decades, they have opened their kingdoms to traders and explorers; younger dwarves have also left the safeholds and come into the world at large.

In Darejh, dwarves are found in the Iron Break range and in other smaller mountain ranges across the continent. On Aren Doael, the dwarven population is limited to the rift canyon of Deephold. The Deephold Dwarves are an even more isolative group than their northern cousins. Their histories hold that they arose from slaves that escaped the Lysantho Empire centuries earlier. Distrusting of other races except the Gnomes that share their homeland, they are a dour and paranoid lot that rarely venture out of their rift canyon homes. Few are allowed to venture into their kingdom, though merchants have established trading townships along the top of the chasm.

The dwarves of Soulshard are a dying race and they blame the forces of arcane power for their condition. Thus, arcane power is forbidden amongst dwarves. Perhaps due to the cultural barriers to arcane power, there is an increased presence of psionicists amongst the dwarves of Soulshard.

//Few dwarves leave their mountain strongholds, and even fewer travel out of Deephold; however, there are those who would see the world. As contact has increased with the ever-wandering Sheinari, younger dwarves have come to leave their safeholds and seek their fortunes in the larger world. The racial traits described in the PHB, pg 36 apply to all dwarven player characters.

Dwarves have the most restrictive set of classes. They may not play any arcane or primal class. They may not play the monk character class.//

Elves

The elves are the oldest of races, having originated on the continent of Aren Doael, though only those who remain there recognize it as their place of origin. Generations before human had even appeared, the Elves spread to Dhaere, establishing a homeland in Gael Dar, and then, after the great cataclysm, escaping to Darejh.

Calling themselves the Aethani, the nomadic plains-dwelling elves call Darejh home. Although their shamans and lore masters speak of their passage from Gael Dar to Darejh after the great cataclysm, it is little more than a place of myth. Surrounded by enemies for generations, they are hardy and martial people. In appearance, they are tall and lithe with brown and dark brown skin tones.

In Aren Doael, the elven empire of Lysantho has been an ancient presence. Generally perceived as cold, arrogant, and cruel, the Lysantho elves see others are little more than prey. They do not even consider the Aethani to have once been of the same race. As with other elves, they are tall and lithe, but the Lysantho elves have ebony and dark brown skintones.

//Aethani adventurers are relatively common as they do not really see national boundaries as a hinderance. For a time they have tended to avoid cities, the increasing contact with Sheinari and Iesadhean merchants has resulted an increased desire to see a greater part of the world. And, as their martial prowess has been demonstrated time and time again, the coin they can earn for their mercenary services has resulted in increasing numbers leaving their tribes. In contrast, The Lysantho are a proud people who have little fear and travel the world; however, they are different in appearance and trigger prejudices that often pose a barrier to being completely accepted.

If playing a Aethani Elf, use the racial traits found in the PHB, pg. 40, except their elven weapon proficiency is as follows: You gain weapon proficiency with the javelin and the spear. If playing a Lysantho elf, your elven weapon proficiency is as follows: You gain weapon proficiency with the longsword.

With regard to character classes, Aethani Elves may not play any divine class, except Rune Priest. They may not play Monks or Wizards. In stark contrast, Lysantho Elves may not play any of the primal classes.//

Goliaths

Rarely seen outside their mountain strongholds, it is the Goliath tribes that hold dominion in the Iron Break Range. Though they have no particular love for the peninsular people, they serve as a buffer against imperial encroachment.

Many find their appearance and size intimidating and prejudice against them is common;however, mercenary companies and merchant houses have found that their size, strength, and love of competition make them good soldiers and guards. As would be expected, the Lysantho elves have also found use for them as slave-soldiers and for their gladiatorial games.

Goliaths have little concern for how others perceive them and their size and appearance often prevent outright violence. Thus, they are commonly found wandering the world as adventurers.

If playing a Goliath, use the racial traits as described on pg 12 of the PHB2. With regard to character classes, Goliath characters lack the piety necessary to play some divine character classes. Therefore, Goliath characters may not play Clerics, Paladins, or Avengers. They may not play Monks.

Half-Elves

The vast majority of half-elves live in the Six Cities Confederacy of Sheinar, where they are accepted. A small population, most originate from the relationships that develop between the Aethani and the humans of Darejh. It is only on the rarest of occasions and under the most dire circumstances that the child born of a Lysantho Elf and human slave will manage to survive and escape the empire. These half Elves often find themselves alone in the world.

As with humans, Half-elf adventurers are common. If playing a half-elf, use the racial traits in the PHB, pg. 42. In addition, they have no class restrictions,and along with humans, can play monks.

Halflings

There are two general regional groups of Halflings, and both are as dissimilar as the Aethani and Lysantho Elves. Because of the strong differences in appearance and culture, many scholars believe that they originated separately from each other.

Scattered along a series of archipelagos in the Iesadhe Sea, the Corelayan Halflings are a sea faring race, with merchants and pirates that live as much on their immense ships as they do on land. Taller than the typical halfling and thin in stature, from a distance they can pass for young adolescent children. Their skintones vary from light olive to darkly tanned skin tones. They are a generally amiable lot and travel as much more the thrill of exploration as they do for mercantile ventures. Corelyan Halflings are common in the Six Cities Confederacy, finding kinship with the mercantile humans.

Living deep with the western jungles of Aren Doael, the Bryl are an unfriendly and isolationist group. Pale skinned and the height and appearance of a typical Halfling, they live within the canopy of the jungle in small bands. They are openly hostile to most other groups and only the rare merchant has come out with his life, much less established any trade. It is believed that the Bryl engage in ritual cannibalism and blood sacrifices, though there are scholars who believe that such a fearsome reputation was encouraged by the Bryl as a means of keep strangers away and protection themselves from the expansionist Lysantho. In that regard, this strategy has worked as even the slave-traders of Lysantho do not venture into the jungles of the Bryl; and, others who share the jungle with the Bryl halflings avoid them.

Bryl adventurers are rare, whereas the Corelayan Halflings can be found nearly everywhere as they ply their trade and seek new adventures in the world. If playing a Bryl halfling character, players use the racial traits found on pg 44 of the PHB, except they receive the following ability scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution. If playing a Corelyan halfling, players use the standard racial traits. With regard to character classes, Bryl halflings can only play martial and primal character classes. In addition, they may be rune priests. With regard to Corelyan halflings, they may not play any psionic classes or primal classes, except Ardents.

Tharged Half Orcs

Known as the Tharged, the Half-Orcs are limited to the blighted lands of the Great Pale. Some believe that the Half-orcs are not a natural race but rather forged during the age of magic by the powerful High Lords of Dobrai. At a time when these wizards walked like Gods among men, they created the Tharged as slave-soldiers.

Organized into clans and tribes, the Half-Orcs are in a perpetual state of war between themselves and with others. Brutal and hardy warriors who practice the necromantic arts of bloodbinding, they hold dominion over the western provinces of the Empire.

Even more so than the Goliath, the Tharged are feared and persecuted. It is only over the last few decades, and the onset of some semblance of peace, that merchants and adventurers have made contact with the the Tharged. Some Tharged have hired themselves out as mercenaries, but this is rare and far between.

Most Tharged player characters are ones who have abandoned their tribes and clans for one reason or another. They are pariahs in their own lands and barely tolerated in others. If playing a Tharged Half-Orc, players use the racial traits found on pg 14 of the PHB2. With regard to character classes, Tharged Half Orcs may not play any psionic, divine, or arcane class, with the following exceptions: Runepriest, Bard, Ardent, and Sorcerer.

Other Races

The following races exist in Soulshard, but they are scattered and few and far between. Though adventurers may have rare contact with them, they are rarely seen outside their domains. Players may choose to play such races; however, the degree of prejudice against them will be a significant barrier. In addition, their vastly different heritage, cultural norms, and ethos will pose a challenge to such races outside their domains.

Githzerai

Adventurers who have ventured into the Great Pale have made contact with small bands of Githzerai, ascetic warriors who make their home in the scattered mountains and rifts of the Great Pale. Few and far between, they are excellent warriors who have managed to survive the aggressive Tharged and the unforgiving environment through force of will and sheer tenacity.

As with the Tharged, they are not a natural race; however, unlike the Tharged,they were not created. Rather, it is believed that the High Lords of Dobrai summoned them from another place of existence. The Githzerai do not speak of this to outsiders.

For players who wish to play Githzerai, use the racial traits found on pg. 8 of the PHB3. With regard to character classes, the Githzerai player characters may not play any divine or arcane class except clerics and sorcerers.

Shifters

The Shifter share the Bryl jungle with the halflings. Hunters par excellence, there are very few shifters that have been seen by the outside world. Some believe that the Shifter are like the Tharged, a race created by magic rather than divine fiat. Though little is known of their origin, some claim that the Shifters were created by the Lysantho in dark rituals to forge a race of warriors.

For players who wish to play Shifters, use the racial traits found on page 16 of the PHB2. With regard to character classes, Shifters may not play any arcane, divine, or psionic class, except ardents.

Tieflings

The Tiefling are another race brought forth by the High Lords of Dobrai. A somewhat larger population than the Githzerai, the Tiefling have also made a home in the Great Pale. The nature of the Tiefling is unclear. Some believe that they were brought from another plane by the High Lords of Dobrai; others, however, contend that the Tiefling are the remnants of the High Lords, who made a pact with infernal beings to survive.

Within the empire, Tiefling are a hunted race and prejudices against them are high even in the otherwise tolerant Confederacy.

For players who are bold enough to play a Tiefling, use the racial traits on pg 48 of the PHB. With regard to character classes, Tiefling player characters may not choose any divine class. They also may not play monks.

Non-Playable Races

The following races do not exist in Soulshard:

  • Changeling
  • Deva
  • Dragonborn
  • Eladrin
  • Gnomes
  • Minotaur
  • Shardmind
  • Wilden

Character Classes

Not all the character classes are available in the Soulshard setting. Players may choose from the following:

Ardent

Ardents are found amongst many populations and cultures, particularly where psionicists are common. OF all the psionic classes, the ardent is perhaps the most common.

Artificer

The rules for playing the artificer class may be found in the Eberron Players Guide. Artificers are quite common amongst the Lysantho Elves and the Six Cities Confederacy.

Avenger

Due to the nature of religion in Soulshard, the vast majority of human avengers will be of the dhomestic faith. In fact, dhomestic avengers are referred to as Soul Wardens.

Barbarian

As a barbarian is a common motif, often found in the more primitive and primal regions of the world.

Bard

Bards may come from many of the races in Soulshard.

Battlemind

Battleminds are found amongst may cultures and populations.

Cleric

In Soulshard, the vast majority of humanity follow the monotheistic dhomestic faith and, clerics will essentially be dhomestic priests and priestesses. In Aren Doael, the nomadic tribesman of the Ambani desert and of the southern kingdoms continue to worship the ancient pantheon of gods and a greater diversity of clerics may be found amongst them. Amongst the other races, polytheistic worship is common, though some have also adopted the dhomestic faith.

When playing a cleric, one may chose Dhom as the patron diety. In this case, you may choose from any of the "channel divinity powers." Alternatively, if creating a non-Dhomestic cleric, choose of the deities presented in the PHB as normal.

Druids

Although druids may be found amongst many races, they are most common in the Aethani elves and the Bryl Halflings.

Fighter

A common archetype, fighters are found amongst every population and civilization.

Monk

Monasteries are common in the dhomestic faith and the monks in the world are dhomestic in nature; however, given the open nature of the religion, this should not be inferred to mean that only humans may become monks. Rather, any other race that becomes a monk must adopt the dhomestic faith, which prevents a significant barrier toward this path.

In addition, the Lysantho elves also have a tradition of piety that resembles the monastic orders. These orders, however, are restricted to Lysantho elves and tent to be far more dour in their outlook.

Paladin

As with clerics, Paladins are not broadly apparent in every culture or population and are often found in those cultures with a strong sense of devotion and religiosity. Most Paladins are of the Dhomestic faith and belong to one of the many martial orders.

Psion

Psions are found in many races and cultures, except where noted above.

Ranger

Another common archetype, rangers are found amongst every population and civilization.

Rogue

Rogues are found amongst every population and civilization.

Runepriest

Notably, runepriests are a common divine class in Soulshard, though the traditions and practices of runepriests vary greatly from culture to culture. The term rune is used broadly, as Tharged runepriests may carve runes into their flesh, dhomestic runepriests make sigils of their faith in the air, and dwarves carve them into slate.

Seeker

As with druids, seekers are most common amongst those who call the primal world home.

Shaman

As with seekers, shamans are commonly found amongst the primal races.

Sorceror

Sorcerors are found amongst many populations.

Warden

As with druids, wardens can be found in many populations, but are most common among the Aethani and the Bryl.

Warlord

Warlords are found in ever population and civilization.

Wizard

Wizards are found in only amongst the civilized populations by the nature of study required to pursue this arduous route.

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