Vanitas. A world where light and shadow intertwine in an endless, moonlit dance. Every ten thousand years, the cycle begins anew, brought about by the coming of the Ten'Er Duin, or "Eternal Night", a century of total darkness, where beings wrought of living shadow wake upon the world and force their will upon the bindings of reality. Once the darkness comes, no light may shine, and no mortal heart can can beat to orchestral joy.
Sorrow is what they bring. Sorrow is what they are. It is their blood and their breath, their body and they spirit.
All light dies before their smiles, and all hope is given flight.
Only to be consumed as part of their rapacious hunger.
Seven are the harbingers of Shadow. Their names are lost to legend, but their number is known and it is seven. When they first walk the world, there is no sign. Only the wise and learned will know the Heralds, and only they will know their doom. With the Heralds is born a book.
The Book of Lingering Dusk.
There are those who say that books can shape and sculpt the minds of men. And sometimes, those same souls whisper that some books—books of power—can go even further. They say that there are Books of Light that can redeem the darkest, most tormented souls. But so too are there Books of Shadow… and these books can twist, can warp the very fabric of good within the human spirit.
They are wrong.
At least, in a sense.
The reality of the books themselves is irrelevant to the issue of the human soul. For even should their existence prove true, the books themselves are merely catalysts for the transformation, not the substance of it. The books no more fill a soul with light or shadow than would a candle or the night sky.
Nothing has that power.
Instead, the books direct and channel either the darkness or the radiance inherent in the soul of any given individual. And they are all the more insidious for it. For objects possessed of their own inner shadows, or inner light, are to some degree sentient, and thus discernible to human perception. But empty shells, conduits for those unseen aspects of the human soul are forever invisible.
And so humans live their lives, struggling to shape and control their own inner balance. Some succeed and some do not. Some turn to light and others to darkness. But in either case, the decision is one that is ultimately a result of free will, and not some divine and demonic impetus.
Such is the way of things. There is good, and there is evil. There is light, and there is dark. And in all instances, there is balance, a balance the books claim to disturb.
Welcome, traveler, to the world of Vanitas.
The world of Vanitas is like nothing you have known before. With the coming of the Shadows every ten thousand years, every aspect of the world is reshaped not merely at their whim, but by their very presence. Mortals build cities and empires, but nothing lasts. This is a world whose litany has become a discordant symphony of shattered hope and tempered despair.
Everything you know about, everything you have dreamt about exists in Vanitas. It is a place of dreams and of nightmare. While much of the world is stable, there are some places where reality is weak, where the land itself writhes like a living thing. There is no limit to what you can encounter here, from magnificent feats of masonry in the construction of towering, mountain-side cities to endless barren wastes. There are incredible beasts born of magic and there are warped, twisted creations of living shadow. There are vast libraries, filled with incalculable knowledge, as well as dungeons and gladiatorial arenas where the only art is that of killing.
Advanced technology is nonexistent, however, though some machines exist in the cities of the rich and powerful. Most of these are powered by magic, and their secrets are closely guarded.
Vanitas, however, is always changing. And there is no telling whether what exists one day will still be there on the next.
Reality, dear traveler, is a matter of opinion.
--Any teleportation magic beyond the scale of dimension door does not exist. To attempt to so bend reality is to invite the Shadows.
--All magic with the [Shadow] or [Darkness] descriptors is unavailable to PCs. This includes, but is not limited to: Darkness, Deeper Darkness, Shadow Evocation and all its forms, and Shadow Walk. Shadowcasting is unavailable to players. Possible exceptions exist for this rule, as detailed in Character Creation, below.
--Gods do not exist. Mortal people's of the world have created religions and faiths, as in any other setting, but truly divine beings are not real. Clerical Magic, rather than being God-given, is born out of belief. While this may seem innocent, it is extremely significant in-game. In situations where characters are faced with something that truly shakes their fundamental beliefs, whatever they may be, they may find themselves weakened or even unable to make use of their clerical powers. You have been warned.
--Just as divine magic is built upon faith, arcane magic stems from a person's conviction, their determination, and their will. Those who falter, who have not faced their inner demons, those who lie to themselves...these people are weak. Magic will never come to their beck and call. As with divine magic, this can make or break you in-game. The way you role-play your characters in times of crisis can save your life or can swiftly lead to character-death.
--Resurrection magic, besides True Resurrection, does not exist except among the most powerful mortals of the world, and those that transcend mortal bounds. Bottom line: do not expect revival to be easy.
--Leadership is flatly forbidden. You have a single character, and that is it. Invest yourselves in them, because you will receive no other chances.
--There exists a mechanic called Destiny Points. All characters have a single one, which may be spent as a free action to perform impossible acts. There is no theoretical limit on what this can be used to do, with the following caveat: the extent of this bonus is defined entirely by how well your use is role-played and the purpose you put it to. I operate on Rule of Cool for this, but any post where a character uses his/her Destiny Point must be epic and compelling.
--Truenaming does not exist.
Feel free to ask about, or suggest, others.
All characters will receive unique marks, or Brands, at creation. These will be decided entirely by me based on the characters you build, and will be kept secret until you get them IC. They will evolve in power at certain points in the story, and no two will be even remotely related. Because they will be kept a secret until characters are completed, I will not discuss them in-depth until that time. Know, however, that they may be either your doom or your salvation. I will add only this.
One time, and one time only, should your character die, your Brand will forcefully return your soul to your body and bring you back to life, at no level or experience penalty. This works regardless of the circumstances of your death. Understand that this benefit is for your own good, as you will die. As DM, I am the manifestation of this world, nothing more and nothing less. Vanitas is not a kind place.
5th level Gestalt. Fractional BAB/Saves (show your math!)
Pre-mod Stats ranging from 7 to 18. You may have no more than two odds. And your total stat mods = 11. Example: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 17.
Any non-evil. However, there are exceptions. PCs are tasked with preventing the
, and evil will be fought at every turn. That said, if you wish to play an evil character, working
the party, that is an option. If you can construct a character that I deem compelling enough to deserve that honor, it will be allowed, and a number of options will open up for you, including Shadow-casting and the like, though all power comes at a cost. Talk to me privately for details if desired.
All D&D 3.5e material is acceptable. However, players are asked to run specific requests by me. Nothing except Beholder Mage, Planar Shepard, Incantatrix, and Tainted Sorcerer are denied flat. Anything else, propose it and I will respond. Tome Material, Homebrew, and Pathfinder is likewise acceptable, though tweaks will be made when called for. Everything operates on a case-by-case basis, subject to my approval.
Most importantly, your goal in character creation is to create a
, a true
, and breathe life into them. If that is impossible within current mechanics, I will work with you to make it possible. There are no limits to this aspect of character construction, up to and including new disciplines, classes, feats, etc.
Race choices are limited to anything with LA +2 or lower, though no PC may choose a race with any affiliation to shadows or darkness. Sadly, this means that there will be no drow in this game unless you are playing a villain, in which case the answer is still no. [Commence crying]. If you wish to play a monster, ask.
No PC may play an undead character
One per level, Tome bonus feats at 1st, 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, etc. Bonus feats from classes are standard unless from a Tome class or by special DM fiat.
Two traits, no flaws.
No character may begin the game with templates, though they may be acquired over the course of the story. If a specific template is desired, indicate it on your application, and it will be considered as a possible reward during the story-line.
All skills are class skills.
Acrobatics (balance, tumble), Appraise, Athletics (climb, jump, swim), Autohypnosis, Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Decipher script, Diplomacy, Disable device (includes Open Lock; Int), Disguise, Forgery, Legerdemain (escape artist, sleight of hand, use rope),
Handle animal, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge skills (taken separately), Perception (listen, spot), Perform, Profession, Ride, Search, Sense motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft (includes psionics), Stealth, Survival, Use Magic Device (includes psionics)
Half plus 1 at all levels except first, which is maxed.
This is the most important part of your application. Characters with weak backstories and boring personalities will be summarily slaughtered. After reading your character's backstory, I should be just as invested in them as you.
TL;DR Character Creation:
Ask for anything, but don't be stupid. Write a good backstory or face humiliating death.
A WARNING TO ALL:
Be aware that I will not be pulling punches. All of you, as a result of your Brands, as discussed earlier, will automatically be resurrected with no penalties after your first death. Enemies will be mercilessly powerful (as optimized as all of you), and will be bestowed with homebrew abilities as much of this campaign world is not linked with traditional D&D.
Moreover, boss battles will require teamwork and strategy. None of them will be killable by a single character, no matter how powerful and will often seem on their face initially unbeatable. You will have to play smart, or death will follow.
In Vanitas, the shadows are always waiting.
The cloaked man walked on slowly, face hidden by his cowl, intention hidden by his silence. The man himself, or at least what little of him was visible, seemed unremarkable. Things, of course, are not always as they seem.
The man glanced about. Seeing no one, he smiled slightly.
“It’s been quiet a long time since we’ve last spoken… hasn’t it?” thought the wanderer to the silence. No words were spoken, but the question was heard.
“You never were much for conversation, were you?” continued the cloaked man dryly.
The silence continued unabated, seemingly in quiet anticipation.
“I’m sorry, my idea of a joke. Some of us enjoy occasional humor you know.” The wanderer smiled wanly, knowing that with this, as with all things, there existed a delicate balance between what is said… and what is not. He brushed off the sleeves of his cloak absently, enjoying his surroundings for what little time he dared. He gazed up at the crescent moon, almost as if he was trying to make himself a part of it, something distant, yet ever-present.
The wind arrived then, consuming the silence, almost casually, with the faint rustling of dead leaves.
Noiselessly, the wanderer turned toward the source of the rustling. With practiced calm, he exhaled, releasing his breath in a sharp burst. The night froze—stunned. The rustling, like the silence before it, lay broken…unmoving. Now truly alone, the wanderer gazed up at the starry night. He reveled in the ease of nights such as this—nights where all that stood between a man and utter tranquility was his own desires, his own needs. He sighed. The night was a time of solitude, yet one of completeness as well. It was a time when a man and his surroundings were one and the same. The wanderer wished he could go back to a time when he could still feel the wind brush softly against his cheek.
He laughed. Such things could never be.
There came a brief interlude, one of absolute calm. It was a peace untainted by action and held together by thought… then:
“I’m glad you’re back, though I can’t say I’m really surprised. You still haven’t left me yet, have you? Sometimes I wonder if you ever will. When all is said, I suppose, you are both cloak and companion. We belong together you and I. It’s true. I may not have believed myself at first, but I learned well enough. I look back on my previous life, my old life, and I understand its true emptiness.” The wanderer stood still, thinking mute, unspoken thoughts, some at odds with words, others in full agreement.
The wanderer spoke voicelessly to the silence… and the silence spoke back. Their communion was practiced, as if it had been done a thousand times before. Neither the man nor the silence seemed the least bit agitated.
“So soon?” the wanderer asked wonderingly. “Ah, I understand. Might I assume that the suddenness of your arrival means that we will end up quite busy for the time being?”
As usual, the silence said nothing. In a way, thought the man, all was as it should be.
“I begin to see,” the wanderer briefly dipped his head. “And will I be blessed by your continued company?” he pursed his lips. “Wonderful. Off we go then.”
The wanderer sighed momentarily, then briefly grinned. Quiet as death, the wanderer began what was soon to be an entirely new game—new players, he thought, were always worth the wait. His gait itself was ordinary, if purposeful. The wanderer himself was most certainly not. Whistling mutely, the wanderer vanished into the night.