Reign of the Frost Queen: A Tale of Arkadia

Old Nov 6 '12, 2:03am
Irving Irving is offline
Great Wyrm
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Ohio, USA
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Reign of the Frost Queen: A Tale of Arkadia

Reign of the Frost Queen: A Tale of Arkadia - Forum
Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e
Estimated Members Requested: 1

Post all applications in the thread given in the game forum. Roll for hp and any other rolls need in the Roll forum of the game thread. Ask for things or make comments here.

Game Description:

"It was the darkest winter Arkadia had ever known. Blood-Handed Ivan, the mad tzar, had been on the throne for ten years. No one, from the mightest boyar to the humblest serf, had escaped his terrible wrath. His son remained locked away in the heart of the tzar's fortress, a mystery to all. It seemed our suffering would never end.

In the depths of this bleakest winter, I was sent to Arkadia as a sacrifice - a bride from the distant West, an appeasement worth more than gold for the mad tzar's son. Or so my mother hoped.

I had no prayer of surviving a year in this harsh land. Not without the help of heroes. And in my hour of need, the Firebird provided. "


Greetings! This this setting has been rattling around in my head for too long, and absolutely refuses to leave me alone. It promises to be a brutal, yet exciting game - very different from my current one, but nonetheless great fun. Break out the vodka, neighbor. Come closer to the fire. Let us tell the tales of the Frost Queen, who brought us out of winter into the light once more...

Game Masters

I am the only Game Master. I expect to post once per day; when I cannot, I will let you know. Likewise, I expect all my players to post once per day.


Bitterly cold Arkadia, land of the everfrost, has entered into the depths of its darkest winter. The mad tzar Blood-Handed Ivan has killed hundreds as he claimed power with an iron fist, and hundreds more will die at his hands. At this bleak time, a princess has been brought to the kingdom, a bride for the tzar's mysterious son. It is up to our heroes to escort this princess to greatness, and hopefully bring the winter kingdom into the light.

Blood-Handed Ivan, however, is setting his own plans in motion...

This is a campaign meant to begin at 5th level and continue until it ends. Expect to see intrigue, exploration, and travels across the vast frosty wilderness. The setting is more or less set, but I'm open to new ideas; offer me a suggestion and I'm likely to say yes.

The campaign setting is one with a casual attitude towards sex and violence. Russia's history has enough gore to drown a hundred murderers, and lovers who embraced life passionately. I fully intend to tell its tale to the fullest.

Core Concept

The game is centered around a fantastical version of Medieval Russia, during the time of Ivan the Terrible (a man who richly earned his epithet). Calling Ivan "evil" doesn't do the man justice; the PCs will be in for a difficult fight. Much of the game will center around aiding and assisting a foreign born princess; fans of history may well guess who this woman is inspired by, but suffice to say she is destined for greatness (and yes, I'm jumping through time shamelessly). Most, if not all, of my posts as DM will be told in the first-person past tense, through her eyes.

If you're familiar with the writing of Guy Gavriel Kay, you'll understand my inspiration and the style of writing I hope to see. Realistic, passionate characters; a sense of humor; almost, but not quite, history. Provide those for me and you're in.

Adding historical detail and texture earns you bonus points with DM, but is not necessary by any stretch I'm engaging in some shameless hand-waving in the course of bringing this setting to life. Im going to be firm on the basic campaign concept, but open to suggestions regarding classes and races. If you can convince me, Ill allow it but work to convince me. Cheese for its own sake will not fly; tell me a good story and Im yours.

Books Allowed

The SRD, Tome of Battle, and Frostburn are all excellent resources. The Complete Spell Compendium may well be a help, as will the Complete Divine. Sandstorm, oddly enough, has some useful items as well.

All characters begin at 5th level with maximum starting hp for your first 2 levels, randomly generated hp for the final 3. Bear in mind that the environment is almost always cold or worse. I will be enforcing environmental penalties. No evil PCs, please.

Gold is low, simply because I want to keep magical items to a bare minimum. 5,000 gold for most characters, 7,000 for highborne class characters. I normally start games like this at 1st level, because I don't want showy magic items in a quasi-historical setting. I'm asking for your cooperation at "hiding" the magic items as much as possible. +1 swords, aren't magic swords. They're really, really masterful masterwork swords.

Colorful magic items help beat the "standard D&D Magic Blues" as well. Wand of cure light wounds? How about an ivory scrimshaw of a saint of the Mother Church, something that radiates warmth and a sense of well being when brandished? Treat every magic item you carry as an artifact and we'll play well together.

Experience with this setting has taught me that mounts are a must. A lot of outdoor combat occurs in snow, which literally slows your movement to a crawl. Extra mobility is tremendously important. Choose your skills and feats accordingly, blow some cash on good horses, and think about the implications.

Statistics are generated via a 32 point-buy system (DMG, p.169).

PC's Needed: 6
Date due: 11/20/12

House Rules

I will be using a massive damage variant. Massive damage occurs when you take (Your Constitution score+(your levelx2)) in damage. When massive damage occurs, roll a DC 15 Fortitude save; failure reduces your hit points to -8. For the purposes of checking the massive damage threshold, all damage taken in a round is cumulative. Example: A 1st level warrior with a Constitution of 12 has a threshold of 14. If one wolf bites him for 7 points of damage, an orc hits him for 4, a second wolf bites for 4, he must make a DC 15 Fortitude save.

We will also be using the armor as DR variant. For convenience's sake, the permitted armor for this setting with DR and armor value are available here.

Some additional weapons and banned weapons are here.

Equipment and clothing unique to the setting may be found here.

Perform is a class skill for any class with Profession or Craft on its class skill list.

If a character has 5 or more ranks in Craft(poison), he never risks accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade. The character is also treated as having the Poison Use class feature for the purposes of qualifying for feats.

Class Variants

A homebrew class, the highborn, is available here. Note that you will need access to the Tome of Battle for the class. This is a game where courtly intrigue is front and center; I firmly recommend you look closely at this option.

Wizards select their spells from the druid spell list as opposed to the wizard/sorcerer list. Spells from that list are still arcane in nature; it's just the spells that are different. Remove any divine focus requirements for any spell. Along the same lines, any other arcane class must pick from this list (which means that arcane classes such as the duskblade and beguiler will not be permitted). Arcane magic is referred to as "geomancy" in this setting.

Conventional specialist wizards are not permitted. However, domain wizards are. Cold and fire domain wizards are especially common in the setting, but other domains are not unheard of.

Druids and monks will not be permitted.

Rangers will be using this variant: instead of a combat style, they may shapechange into any Small or Medium animal native to the area and gain fast movement as per a barbarian. Wolves, swans and black bears are extremely popular choices in Arkadia, and such shape changers have their own "lodges" (and resources to share with their fellows). You may well get an opportunity to voluntarily limit your forms and gain other bonuses in play. The ranger spell list is unchanged, but it is considered arcane rather than divine (and uses Intelligence rather than Wisdom as the key stat).

Clerics have two deity choices: Mother Firebird, a good deity with Sun, Good, Fire, and Protection as potential domains; and the Grey Wolf, a stern goddess who grants the War, Winter, Animal, and Law domains. Generally, both deities are worshiped in conjunction. Exact details of worship haven't been fully spelled out, but are inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Warblades and crusaders from the Tome of Battle are permitted. Don't bother talking about The Sublime Way or martial schools; I consider these classes to be mechanically different fighters and paladins in this game, not classes with their own lore.

There may well be other classes that are suitable for this setting; bear in mind the changes to arcane classes when you apply.
Barbarians and scouts look promising, but bear in mind that there is a significant amount of courtly intrigue in this game. "Bezerkers"? Certainly. Barbarians? Maybe not.

These classes strike me as being particularly suitable:

Highborn(house class)
Barbarian(buy literacy)

Preferred Races

In addition to humans, three custom races are permitted: The birdlike biata, the sagely domovoi, and the savage ursa. They may be found here. Other racial choices will probably not be accepted.

Opening Scene

You have been summoned to the court of Blood-Handed Ivan - a potentially lethal situation. Who has called you? (Or, perhaps, who did you offend to get in this predicament?) Why did you come? What do you want from the mad tzar?

Character submission

Post the following information in the Application thread of this game:

Link to character sheet
Reaction to opening scene

If Ive omitted anything, remind me gently and I will amend. Thank you for your interest and submissions, and Im looking forward to playing with you!

Last edited by Irving; Nov 6 '12 at 2:09am..
It is ENTIRELY Irving's fault. Shame on you Irving.

EDIT: Irving, you don't mention Psionics at all. Would a Psion fluffed as a Frost Mage be off?

And I re-read that damn post like 4 times, I swear there's nothing about Psionics.

Basil_ Bottletop: ToB is the fuel for the new Highborn class, but it's by no means necessary - I've already had a straight fighter come ask to play. The maneuvers in the Highborn class are significantly more limited than any regular ToB class, so a "plain" fighter shouldn't be outshone (hopefully, playtesting shall reveal). Go for it.

@TheRunestone: Wizards get all the druid spells, but no regular spells. Rangers can shapechange. We're indoors a good bit, but most combat's outside. A little something for everyone. Considering that rangers now shapeshift and have access to a spell list similar to wizards, they almost qualify as a gish in this setting...

Yes, it is all my fault. I'm a Dad with an 8-year old daughter. I'm used to this.

Haven't thought too hard about psionics. Not in my original concept for the setting - I want magic to a have a fairly natural, "earthy" feel to it. Then again, we have geomancers, I'd love to see some astrologers as a contrast. Convince me.

I've worked up some equipment and livestock for purchase. Yes, you can "buy" a serf. No, you're not evil to do so, blame the oppressive society we live in, insert Monty Python joke here. Some feats are forthcoming.

Let me put it this way: Not saying no to them, but tell me why we should include them.

Easy done.

Psionics is a greater more versatile system than the Arcane. You are not locked into a contract with your abilities- you can spend your PP however you see fit and filter them into the most effective and efficient methods that day.

Not only this but isn't it a sexy system? Easy to understand, easy to utilise and better yet- flavorsome. It fits any campaign who is willing to accept it and with 100% transparency rules in effect you wouldn't need to change a single thing within your world- I would affect it as much as any wizard.

Why else? Because I'm a dedicated player- whilst my history on the weave is short my ability to write a good story and construct meaningful and emotive characters and sentences based around those characters should be one to be desired.

Another? Because you need a Psion. This campaign is sexy and it needs the sexiness of a Psion.

Done deal.

No? Still not enough? If you don't already know Psionics I will include a detailed OOC tag on any power used with a break down of what it does and how.

....I'm not explaining myself well. Explain to me why Psions make the world of Arkadia a richer, more interesting setting. Is it simply a parallel system of magic to geomancy, that the domovoi understand well? I'm leaning hard on the druid spell list explicitly for its flavor; the psion power list is often the antithesis of "grounded" with its nearly scientific sound power names and powers heavily influenced by the Astral plane. The telepathy-based powers could serve as the foundation for a Rasputin flavored character; I'm already getting some applications heavily influenced by that historical legend, so there's some competition for the space.

I've used psionics in other campaigns heavily; I banned arcane casters entire in favor of psionic classes for my mideval Indian setting. It was easy to see psionics in that world. Explain to me how psions would add to Arkadia.

In short: Give me a story. The mechanical reasons aren't compelling, I know that they system's got advantages over the arcane system, but that doesn't matter to me, especially since I'm pureeing classes like mad for this setting. I was debating siccing that hideous Truenamer class from ToM onto folks before sanity kicked in. Tell me why psionics makes sense in the context of mideval Russia and we can play together.

For bonus points: People are already thinking about Baba Yaga and Rasputin as caster concepts. Give me an explicitly Russian character type that doesn't lean on either of these and we're in a really happy place.

*nods* I like that you're exploring it and I'm going to take time to give you a good answer. Will shoot you back something asap!

Also worth pointing out to you that there's a Truenamer Fix that is....surprisingly viable.

Thanks for understanding where I'm coming from. Take as much time as you need, no decisions until Thanksgiving week. There are some Yiddish undercurrents to the domovoi race, but I'm treading lightly there for fear of bringing in ugly stereotypes. Kabbalah traditions might be fertile ground for this sort of character, but it would take a light hand (if you start breaking out the Borscht Belt comedy routines, we're in trouble.) It's a good starting point, though. Go play, see what you come up with!

On the topic of Ursas:
I agree that bipedal bears would not exactly fit the setting (though Russian circus bears are known to walk on hind and do crazy stuff). Bear-like huge humans work better. The change to the Powerful Build trait is a good one, well done.

Some pictures I have come across that I think would fit Ursas well:

Questions about campaign specific mounts/creatures: I'm guessing that both horses are large (if yes, then I believe vanakya charger should have its attack bonus reduced by 1), is the same true for the bearhound (awesome animal)?

Bearhounds are Medium size. Both horses are Large (I'll fix the charger). I love both the pictures you found, especially the second one. It's horribly embarrassing that I didn't think of it right away, but dear old Zangief is a prime example too.

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