Life is hard upon most of the face of Hearth, and it's the tough that survive. The Barbarian way is that of strength, and the rage and brutal training it provides makes it the most common path to take.
Shifters, orcs and humans often resort to barbarity, especially in the Frostfell. Half-orcs are commonly barbarians as well, but they are less led by fury and more that of passion.
Shifter and orc barbarians have recently joined under the banner of Warlord Teh, and it is feared he will someday have the strength to overturn the Empire.
Totem barbarians are frequent amongst shifters, revering the spirit of the creature that fills them.
There are no ape, dragon, or serpent totems.
Story and song connect all living creatures. It inspires, it teaches, it comforts, and it influences. Those who yield this power builds bridges between others and close distances once thought beyond reach.
In a place as large as Hearth and with towns few and far between, the bard's task of bringing news and battling stagnation of thought and culture is an important one. Only the rangers come close to the distances they travel, and no journey is without peril.
Bards are most common amongst humans, who are the greatest story tellers of the lands and those with the strongest will to bond and build. Half-orcs are also noted musicians, particularly of percussion. The greatest of singers however belong to the Darfellan, though rarely are their melodies appreciated by those earthbound.
In a land so cold and life so difficult upon Hearth, faith helps one through the hardships. To know they are being watched and guided and matter aids the burden.
Clerics are those who have given themselves wholly to a spiritual power and through them gain strength and power to forward the plans of their deity. Be they of evil intent or unimaginable love, there are those who will worship.
Nearly all of the races have a large population of those that revere a higher authority. Humans are most commonly drawn to those of goodness and comfort, while orcs and shifters prefer those of strength and ferocity. Dwarves are the exception, being almost without fail rigid agnostics. They know that gods exist and there are great powers beyond, but they feel no urge to give them their hearts and souls. The midgards were cast down for their refusal to pledge allegiance, and so it continues with their descendants. Dwarves become spirits of the earth, and many elementals, fey and undead creatures of stone and ice were once dwarves. Only once the Mountain That Walks comes over them will they be brought to their eternal home, becoming a Midgard themselves.
Druids are the stewards of Hearth. They above all seek to maintain the natural balance of life, though the ways in which each druid see to this task varies considerably. Because of this druids are rarely trusted until they have proven themselves. Some see only the balance as a whole, the parts matter little, so that the destruction of a town for the good of the area may be an appropriate response. Others revere all life as sacred and worthy of protection, and those of intelligence worthy of the most respect and dignity.
Druids are the most widely spread divine class upon Hearth, from the impossibly cold poles to the great Ochine ocean they are to be found. They are the guardians of many secrets, and through their powers much of the past has been preserved until the equilibrium of the world can be restored and warmth be balanced with chill.
It was they who performed much of the magic required to bring the heat from below to warm the surface and as such they are hated by some and held in awe by others.
Fighters are masters of the extended claw and tooth. They may guard against the hungry beasts and protect the families or be ruthless mercenaries, fighting for whoever has the gold. Regardless of their reasons, they are the weapon wielders, and with the care it takes to maintain them in the conditions of Hearth they almost seem to become one with them.
This bond and the epic nature of Hearth combines to make any fighter a warrior of great renown.
In A Dying Ember, to keep Fighters up with such classes as those from Tome of Battle, their weapons are all considered potential Legacy weapons. The exact nature of the legacy depends on the use the fighter has had for the weapon, with DM approval.
They automatically gain the Least Legacy feat at 5th level, Lesser Legacy at 11th level, and Greater Legacy at 17th level.
Monks are almost exclusively found within the Tomonyok mountain range where Licc and its surrounding settlements are found. Disdaining material wants and attempting to focus on humility and discipline, the ancient ways of the religious sects developed a strengthening of the mind and body. The basics are taught to all of the peoples, that they may achieve strength and control of themselves in day to day life.
They believe that drugs may not be required to achieve the state of mind necessary to tap their limitless potential.
Through this discipline their bodies were also honed. As a side effect of this, a fighting style and channeling of ki was subsequently developed, and thus the way of the empty fist was taught it to any who had the discipline. Those who follow the path to this discipline became known as monks.
Since the beginning of the years of frost human psionicists seemed to spring up overnight upon Hearth. The foremost conclusion is that it was man's way of adapting to the suddenly inhospitable world. Through this control bodies could be adapted to the chill, and even to thrive in the new conditions. Minds could be connected and draw peoples together.
Psionicists in fact are almost exclusively human, the pinnacle of the adaptability that defines the race. Dream dwarves are also well known for their mental prowess, first developing them through extended living amongst deep crystal.
* Society Minds: These psionicists are connected through links in Introvertia, and as such are literally dream-bound together. Those in their link often combined dreamscapes as they sleep.
Rangers are much respected upon Hearth, with the ability to live off the land and pass through snowfields with no trace. They, like bards, travel too and fro, though are more likely to take up residence in an area than pass frivolously from place to place. They are often the first to give warning of danger and their ability with the bow despite the dark and rain is legendary.
Frostfell Ranger Variant
With the constant slippery dampness, the all-telling snow and the finger-stiffening cold, it's difficult to be a rogue on Hearth. Actual burglary and house-breaking is rare. Instead, thievery tends towards more refined methods. Instead of lock picking, sneaking and hiding, the Hearth rogue prefers counterfeiting, bluffing and diplomacy. The manipulation of the person and the laws are the standard.
With few large cities, only a few choice places can hide the acts of a rogue. Gelid Falls hosts quite a number, though in Licc it has risen to an art form. Oddly enough it is the dwarves whom are the most common rogues, at least underground. Their stability grants them balance and their prowess with mechanisms and traps is legendary. As such it is they who are often the most sure fingered and stealthy.
Sorcerers are the most common of the arcane magic users. They have surfaced all the more often since the fall of the comet amongst human. It is speculated this may be because of the great surge of magic that brought the comet, as well as that which saturated the world to bring up the heat from below. Others feel it is a way of adaption.
Sorcerers tend to be at least as respected at wizards, the latter somewhat less so due to their bookish ways. However, all arcane magic is held with some suspicion for their odd requirements and the strange rituals behind them.
Wizards are a rarity upon Hearth, where most abilities spring from instinct or as a result of a higher power. Few indeed have both the intelligence and the idle time to learn and pursue the knowledge to become a true wizard when most merely attempt to survive.
As such, wizards are born almost exclusively amongst the nobles and rich amongst humans. Dwarves are the most common wizards, and it is said there is a great hall of mages below that will occasionally take in a human prodigy, provided they are willing to withhold from seeing the sun for many years. In fact, it is the dwarves who developed the runes allowing spells to be written down. Some even say the rule over arcane magic was discovered by the midgard before the world even formed, while they still remained in the upper planes.[/center]
Much of the knowledge the world once possessed is now lost to time. Rare remnants remain preserved beneath snow and ice, or are hidden away miles underfoot, abominable passages written by cultists and the children of the elder evils. It is such knowledge that archivists wish to uncover and bring out into the light. Common are archivists amongst the kenku, who seem to have little fear of how the knowledge they discover will impact the world, selling their secrets and findings to any who will pay. Dwarves are the next most common, with access to above and below, as well as an environment more kind to writing materials and the ability to read even in the darkest pitch.
With the drive to just survive for so many centuries, and much knowledge lost during the comet's fall, few are the skilled artificer's in the world above ground. Dwarves however are exceptionally skilled artificers, at times surpassing even the midgard. It is a racial affinity for the creation of items both beautiful and magical that continues on in their mortal brethren.
Licc however is plentiful in psionic artificers, creations run by emotion and thought. Despite this little is made in the way of automatons, their heritage of rigid pride, sense of honor and independence keeping them from taking the easy path of having machinery doing their thinking for them. Instead the items are built to focus and channel their people's natural potential.
The multiverse is not as most think it, every area more or less coming to a boundary line, or fading into infinity or another realm of existence. There are cracks in existence, bubbles of reality that even the gods can do little with except put an eye to the keyhole and try to peer in. Vestiges are creatures pushed beyond reality, or were never meant to be a part of it to begin with, such as the Gurgling God and other children of the elder evils.
Those that seek these hidden or banished beings are those who will do anything to gain power or learn of things hidden, remote and locked away. Such secrets are most commonly sought by the ever-curious kenku, and are the most common binders. Wild children sometimes seek an alternative path, bonding with creatures of faerie locked away as only the lords and ladies of the court know how.
There is death in your soul. While sorcerers possess innate arcane powers, dread necromancers are cursed with the antithesis of life and joy. Where this link comes from is unknown, being anything from a fiendish ancestor to an affiliation with death due to generations of your ancestors all residing in hell. Sometimes its simply a random, yet hellish fluke. Even the best of people may find themselves with this power, but resist it and fight it, the outcome usually amounting to death by the pent up energies. More neutrals however use the soul scarring energies as a matter of survival and necessity, for otherwise lays the path of sure death. Evil necromancers however are the most common, good or neutral originally in most cases, but the powers they wield eventually perverting their souls.
The ways of the Dread Necromancer are uncommon amongst all peoples, though humans are most known to be possessed by this power. This is often thought to be caused by the uncountable amount of deaths in their ancestry during the beginning years of frost.
Evil gloi are also known to take interest in this path.
On Hearth the most adaptable of individuals do well. Thus the jack of all trades Factotum, the dabbler in all things, strives in this trying world. He might one day be healing broken bones from avalanche victims to commanding a team of sled dogs to investigating strange disappearances within the glens. He thrives on diverse challenges and new vistas. Wherever a factotum travels, and on Hearth there is a great deal for them to travel to, the factotum is welcome and admired.
Humans and mongrelfolk are the most common factotums. The human ability to catch on to new tasks and the mongrelfolk racial knacks aiding them greatly in whatever broad range of tasks they find themselves committed to.
Though there have always been the rare Harrowed, maybe once a generation a creature from the depths or beyond reality such as a survivor of Orsa, would force themselves upon an unfortunate mortal. However, since the the Desire of the Edge drug was first administered there has been a great uprising of Harrowed. Still uncommon, but a veritable swarm compared to years before.
Through the link with the damned mind of these Edgers, unspeakable influences have leaked up from the Far Realm to poison dream and the minds that connect there. The Harrowed are one of many such results. They are found particularly within the boundaries of Licc and are subsequently banished. They now wander without home or identity, a stranger to all, even themselves.
The ways of the Martial Adepts on Hearth have a long and varied history. The eight original disciplines (there being no Desert Wind) were once known to all of mankind, while others were a secret by others not of man that they kept hidden. Then came the Fall. The sublime way was one of the many knowledges lost to the world as a whole. Only within a single monestary of Saga are its practices and ways retained. The building itself was destroyed in the great quakes, and those that had occupied it were killed or narrowly escaped. One survived. A dwarven scholar on the ways of war, he was exploring the catacombs below devoted to the bodies of their greatest warriors when the quakes hit. He salvaged what he could from the wreckage and returned to his own people. There, from his vast memory and remnants he reconstructed the original ways. A glacier dwarf warrior, escorting a shipment of blue ice, was fascinated by the rebuilt temple and the instructions he read within. Returning frequently, he gained great prowess and developed a new discipline himself, that of the Bitter Edge, battle upon the ice.
When human refuges began to flood the dwarven darks the Sublime Way was rekindled full force, and since many have made the pilgrimage into the Caverns of the Way.
Amongst other peoples other disciplines have long been known. The Courts of Faerie have jealously kept the secret of the Dancing Leaf, though amongst the Wild Children the discipline has leaked out.
Amongst the naturally psionic somnambuls there have also developed the Sleeping Goddess.
The ever curious Kenku even learned to turn their knowledge towards offensive use in the way of the Open Tome.
There are even whispered tales amongst the rare Harrowed that several have tamed their beast, forcing the mutations they wish and listened to its gibberings to develop maneuvers of madness.
The Spirit World is a place of great wonders, where all souls pass into when they die before determining where they shall go from there. The plane resonates with this spirit, and even after they move on the echo remains, like the vibration of a string after the hand of the musician has left it. However, there nothing fades away. The echo remains, its energy more commonly known as incarnum. Still others never leave, spirit beasts, lost souls, fey creatures and gods of ancestry. Depending on whether the souls were sinking or rising, some echoes resonate with the Good or Evil leanings within the veil, while others are untouched by moral. All that lives, or those possessed of a will so strong that they form their own souls, are connected through this realm as well at a spiritual level. Those that learn the way of this natural connection can gain great power, and become known as meldshapers.
Incarnate: Incarnates are generally human or dwarves, who most often are found with extremes of alignments. Dwarves more towards law, while humans roam the entire spectrum. Wild Children are also quite common amongst chaotic incarnates.
Soulborn: Free People (half-orcs) are the most common soulborn, the majority of chaotic good alignment, while their much more violent ancestors, true orcs, are very common chaotic evil soulborns. Both however are very dedicated to ancestry and lineage, one of their few common traits. The free people god, Harkotottom was an epic-leveled soulborn in life, and encourages this path even more than that of the cleric or spirit shaman.
Totemist: Shifters are very common totemists, their hunt and rituals of slaying showing reverence to the magical beasts they follow, often believing they take in a bit of their force as they eat upon their remains. Goliaths are known to follow mountain dwelling creatures, and darfellan the beasts of the deeps, almost always whale-like creatures.
Within Licc there are few crimes. Even death is allowed if the powers that be are notified. Ninjas are the assassins and spies of the iron city, originally trained as monks, but finding themselves too eager to kill or draw blood. They are trained to battle the Paladins of Tyranny that guard those they would seek to assassinate. They are a gray area amongst the warriors of Licc, and the head Ninja is the Emperor or Empress themselves. They will not take a contract that the Head does not approve. And then, she only approves if the death would not impact the smooth working of the city. There are rogue ninjas that answer to no one, but they must always be on the lookout of all the warriors and parts of the body.
As such, ninjas are limited almost solely to the humans of Licc, those outside it being the rare self-trained individual.
Samurai are both physical and mental warriors, trained in the ways of psychological warfare. They will attempt above all to cow their enemy and force him to surrender or throw down his weapon. Coupled with the focusing of ki and psionic meditations, they are, like the ninja, almost solely a discipline of Licc. Unlike ninjas and paladins of tyranny, they rarely carry firearms, their main purpose to be shock troops that frighten away their enemy through sheer force of their intimidating personalities. If this is not sufficient, a samurai is quite willing to give his life to defeating his foe, throwing themselves with fearless abandon against their foes.
On a world with a dying sun, clouds providing unending dusk, and caverns below near unending in their dimensions, Hearth is a place with strong connections to shade and Noc, the plane of shadow. Through this link shadowcasters gain their power. Kenku are the masters of shade, born and raised within the deepest of shaded wood and possessing the proper mindset and fearlessness to delve into the dark.
A cult of dwarves are also potent shadowcasters, though instead of making use of them, they command shadow, driving off that which lurks within it and combating them with their own weapons.
Hearth is rife with beings that are part of nature, yet unseen and unknown by most. Guardians of ash and oak, household gods, and wandering souls. Creatures of neither here nor there. Enter the Spirit Shaman, both master and servant to those that hide under hedge and dwell behind the veil.
Half-orcs and shifters are very commonly spirit shamans, with their racial tie to their ancestors, while wild children speak more to fey and element. Humans tend more towards the spirits of home and hearth, while those of Licc are more concerned with driving out the influence of the possessed.
Common Races: 86% glacier dwarf, 10% common dwarf, 3% human (imperical) 1% human (longhouse)/wild children (cold fey-descended)
Chief Location: Azure Floe - The Biting Winds of Hearth are limited almost exclusively to the great sea of blue ice within the northern Everdusk Region. Occasionally the discipline is seen amongst the frozen regions of the Ochine.
Common Races: 75% human (imperial), 12% wild child, 10% glacier dwarf, 1% common dwarf, 1% okilei/cheval, 1% human (poqtian)
Chief Location:The Forgotten South is the most common location to find the discipline of Cold Ken, where ice and snow are eternal and they have privacy for their unique meditations. A number also are found with the Everdusk regions, though are extremely rare. Only while traveling do they pass through the Ring, where their powers are severely weakened.
Common Races: 80% Human (imperial), 10% common dwarf, 5% Wild Children (underground fey-descended), 3% Duergar, 1% Goliath, 1% Human (liccan)
Chief Location: This is a widely spread vocation as much of the land is underground or mountainous. There are always a number roaming the Highway, clearing roadblocks and avalanches that have blocked the road. Dwarves look down on their fellows who make use of this discipline, feeling that they should show more respect to their surroundings.
Chief Location: Mongrelfolk are found literally everywhere, from ocean to cave to tree and town. A large number are to be found within the lower badlands nearby Licc and large congregations are known in areas of the Red Dew forest with a hundred generations having bred with a dozen different types of fey and human kind.
Common Races: Human (imperial) 68%, Human (longhouse) 25%, Wild Children 5%, 2% Human (Liccan)
Chief Location: Goodwives are rarely found in any one location, but instead travel extensively through all places. They are to be found in every human city settlement, and many other race's. Thus, most commonly they are upon the Emporer's Highway, between stops.
Common Races: Wild Children 60%, Human (longhouse) 40%
Chief Location: The Red Dew forest is where the Golden Orchard was established and remains there. On very rare occasions a small party will be called away to a distance dispute, but it often requires a true threat.
Common Races: Wild Child 45%, Human (imperial) 30%, Trleetrlaa 20%, Shifter 4%, Free People 1%
Chief Location: Lichenfriends are found in the harshest locales of Hearth, often far from any habitable land. The cold of the frostfell, the barren mountaintops, and the blasted, volcanic landscapes from the Great Opening are all their homes.
Common Races: Kenku 60%, Human (longhouse) 20%, Human (imperial) 10%, Human (licc) 5%, Dwarf (duergar) 3%, Dwarf (common) 2%
Chief Location: Monstrumologists tend to be concentrated in areas of particular dangerous location, or those with many strange rumors. The Red Dew Forest attracts an inordinate amount of monstrumologists due to the magical nature of the vast tracts of unexplored forests and the frequent oddities that occur. Within the Empire it is about the Lurkstock Moors that monstrumologists find much to discover. As well as the few settlements that lie near the Tangle. Liccan monstrumologists specialize mainly in possessions, as their long history of spiritual visitations requires.
Common Races: 80% human (imperial), 15% human (longhouse), 2% cheval, 2% wild-children, 1% free people
Chief Location: Storyhosts seem predominantly limited to Gelid Falls, where life is the easiest and boredom is possible. There adventure that awaits them beyond the protecting mountains calls to a fair number who have spent their life reading tales of heroes and villains.
Common Races: 40% Trleetrlaa, 30% Human (imperial/longhouse), 15% Wild Children, 10% Kenku, 4% Duergar, 1% Darfellan
Chief Location: The Xenoxera are particularly common within the Tangle, where they seek to understand beginnings by the intrusion of the Queen of a Thousand Roots. Others delve deep into the Red Dew forest where the oldest of Hearth's inhabitants, the fey, are to be found. Just as many seek the bottom of the ocean for hints of Hearth's beginnings, which is but the start of their search.