[5E D&D] VOIVODJA - Vampires in Wonderland

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The Pale King
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Post Post #0  (ISO)  » Fri Aug 03, 2018 10:03 pm



A Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition game, focusing on storytelling, accessibility, and player agency, set in a "sandbox" environment using A Red & Pleasant Land by Zak Smith a.k.a. Zak Sabbath. (That link is to a review which contains plenty of in-depth analysis, but also some spoilers and information that player characters wouldn't necessarily have.) The setting is a wonderfully crazy mashup of Dracula's Transylvania and Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, among other things...



Spoiler: POTENTIAL PLAYERS - READ THIS IF NOTHING ELSE
  1. This is a game of Dungeons & Dragons, and we are playing the 5th Edition of that game. It's easy to play once you get into it (I promise!) and we have several new players. If you haven't played much D&D before, you will not be alone.
  2. Read the tiny blurb at the top of the post and the teaser below for information about the setting. For in-depth information about the setting (parts of which your character may not know, so you will have to keep from metagaming), read the spoilers below - there's a stylized map as a bonus for getting through it all!
  3. [ --- CHARACTER GENERATION CURRENTLY BEING LOOKED INTO --- ]
  4. During the character creation process in #3, you'll have to come up with some kind of backstory for your character. This can be... almost anything (within reason). I'm always willing to help with this, if you have no ideas, and I'm not picky. I'd much rather mold the world around what you all are playing than force you to play a certain way because of how I want this world. This game is for you all to play and live in - I'm just a storyteller. Voivodja is also particularly adept at being, shall we say... flexible to the needs of both GMs and players. For any information you wish to keep to yourself, you can always PM me.
  5. That should be... pretty much it! Specifics about equipment, magic items, and anything else you start out with will come after character creation. Stay tuned!
  6. Do you think I've forgotten anything? Let me know!


VOIVODJA TEASER
Some women, some men and most children know that dreams leak.

A lifetime of thinking it that way in your sleep can make a drawer on a drafting table three or four inches wider on a side.

But there are longer lives than ours. And longer dreams.

There is a Red King, and he is terrible and he is tall. He wears a red crown. The long red years have made him strange and he hides from the sun, sleeping, his strange dreams making unseen days stranger. Sleeping, he dreams of ruin and of distortion— of an Antiland, reversed and red. When he opens his red eyes in the red night there is his red land: it is inverted, rigid, and wrong.

There is a cruel Heart Queen: she is in a different castle and she is on a different mountain and she sleeps in a different wooden box but she is also hiding and dreaming. She dreams into being a world unending, unbeginning, with wonder and murder, disruption and unreason. And melancholy green gardens. And it is there now. And hers.

Their home is called
Voivodja but it has other names:

The Land the Gods Refuse To See
Zeu Orb
Orb Dumnezeu
Isten Vak


The Place of Unreason

Spoiler: VOIVODJA - The Slow War
In green Voivodja, Vlad Vortigen dreamt a castle to cover his kingdom; to keep away the sun, and goblins, and to move his plants closer to the rain. Parlors, pantries, long halls and gardens with great wrought gates athwart each other in stacked profusion; observatories and aviaries and zoos, oubliettes and minarets, seraglios, saunas and music rooms, a fortress of infinite leisure multiplying out from the Terrible Goblin Wood to the vast Carpathians, its sub-basements reaching deep into the strata of the Earth and the Earth’s many dungeons.

One day, like all things, it fell.

Did the Once Palace of the Red King, Vlad Vortigen, fall to Elizabeth Bathyscape, now called The Heart Queen, the Decapitator of the North? We don’t know. Some say they were lovers, some father and daughter, some court rivals, some rival devils, some bitter, dying demons who awoke already foes in the early hours of the very first morning.

Due to the distortions of time, space, memory, and communication that surround and suffuse the country, no-one even pretends to know if they have been fighting for three years or two hours, or forever. We know only that there is war, and that what once was Voivodja is now the Place of Unreason. The land is still hidden from the West by the Terrible Goblin Wood, still hidden from the East by the Carpathian Mountains, and now from the gods by the gods’ own disgust.

For not only has every kind of creation and creature been abused by the blasphemies and sorceries of the unfathomable war, but every force, law, lesson and explanation ever decreed by those above and those beneath. Meaning is meaningless and there are never any reasons. There are, however, monsters you can kill, some of whom have stuff.

The war itself is played on weird terms, as the belligerent monarchs and their thrall armies are mostly vampires, all therefore unable to cross the rivers with which their region is densely latticed. In addition to the traditional tools of all slow wars: sabotage, stealth, subterfuge, catspaw and intrigue, both armies make extensive use of networks of linked interiors— tunnels and irrational portals left over from the Once Palace, moving from room to lonely room like rats in plumbing, eventually emerging miles away, ready to bring battle to the open gardens in the bleak red night.

Spoiler: VOIVODJA - The Land Now
Imagine you are looking down at a map, or at the land with a satellite eye.

Imagine a grid or lattice laid over the land. The graph paper lines are rivers and hedgerows, narrow as alleyways, running at angles, defining squares the size of city blocks. Now build, in your mind, tall buildings of different heights up from these neighboring square foundations: one big skyscraper in each— in stone and in a medieval style, some ten, some twenty stories high. Give them gardens on their roofs and across their terraced balconies. Now link
them with bridges. Now destroy them with time.

Some tumble, some crumble, some rot, some have four stories or five, some are half-left, some are squat, some are flat, some are holes in the ground, exposing the corridors under the Earth’s surface. The remnants of the gardens spread over it all like a moss— or the icing on a cake the day after the party— coating the land’s rainward face in a mask of friendly green, with the occasional window, door or rabbit-hole poking through, allowing access to the dungeony layers of the interior.

Some say it looks like a house of cards made with too many decks laid out on a chessboard made with too many squares. It’s all covered in grass and dotted with blood.

The practical point is: it’s all in squares now. The squares have names— Queen’s Bishop 706 or King’s Slaughter 9— though nowadays, considering the number of foreigners, it’s become much more fashionable to say 1 dash 17, 1 dash 2, 9 dash 3, 56 dash 67 etc. As in: “I am in Square 67 dash 44 and the experience appalls me beyond anything in my experience”.

The maddest mapmakers add a third dimension, describing how high or low a floor is by saying: Toad, Pig, Wolf, Stag, Crow etc. (so the second floor of a building in the ninth square away from the Queen’s castle might be Queen’s Rook 9 Pig) and how far beneath it is, saying: Worm, Mole, Pike, Loach, Cod, etc.— though this is even more hopeless, since even children know the floors go down forever into the artificial gigadungeon called the Earth, and, besides, physical location in Voivodja, especially indoors, is all equivocal.

While your author hopes the aforementioned goes some way toward explaining the strange signs one sometimes sees in hallways or forgotten parlors (“King’s Treacle-Well 156 Goby”) you do not need to master Voivodjan Notation to navigate or describe the Place of Unreason and, due to its endemic distortions of time and space, the best instructions for getting anywhere (especially in the interiors) read more like recipes.

For example, if someone said “Start in square 15 dash 87. Climb 16 feet down into the crocodile pit, find the rectangular window, climb through it. Walk an even number of steps or until you see something orange, drink the blood of a mother or small ape, walk in any direction at any speed for nine minutes, strike the gazebo, then sleep. When you awake you’ll be in the Virgin’s Pantry,” then they would be telling the truth, and describing the most reliable route.

By these unusual means do the forces of the Heart Queen of Castle Cachtice in the north, and the thralls of the Red King, in Castle Poenari in the south, prosecute enigmatic war throughout the melancholy remnants of the kingdom-sized Once Palace.

Spoiler: VOIVODJA - Map
Image

Spoiler: With Regard To Unearthed Arcana
I am often inclined to rule in favor of including Unearthed Arcana material because I like the variety it brings and I enjoy sharing playtesting information with others. For those who do not know of or have not heard of Unearthed Arcana, they are a series of articles released by the Dungeons & Dragons publisher providing new content for 5E D&D. Everything from tweaks to races and classes to new creatures to whole new systems of play or campaign settings. All of it is experimental and sometimes fun to play with. The mass combat article will definitely be useful for players to check out at some point during this game...

Phew! That's a lot, but that's it! If you are interested please send me a private message or post in this thread. I would prefer some kind of substantial post instead of just "ego" (I love bookmarking things and I don't know why others do not), and I will start putting things together as soon as I have 3 to 6 people committed.
Last edited by The Pale King on Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:01 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Post Post #1  (ISO)  » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:35 pm

/in

I'll read things over soon

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Post Post #2  (ISO)  » Fri Aug 03, 2018 11:49 pm

I'm intrigued.

I don't mind variations to the rules necessarily; but I would appreciate having my hand held a little as I'm blonde irl :lol:

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Post Post #3  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:10 am

Alright, looked over the setting a bit, I love the idea of it.

I'll be up front here, I've dabbled in a few different RPG systems, and read plenty of DnD playthroughs so i have a general understanding of what it takes to play, but unfortunately i've never actually had the chance to try dnd proper, 5e or otherwise. Despite this, I still am very interested. I tried reading through the hacks, but, well, i cant tell the difference. I hold no preference to how you run the game regarding the hacks or variations, just point me to what i need to read and i can figure out things on my own. (EDIT: As clarification, I do have the 5e player's handbook, but never read it, something im gonna rectify... now)

I have a few possible character archetypes/backstories in mind, will see what the stat rolls turn out to be to settle on one, if thats fine? Also- how are you planning to have us do these rolls in the first place? For that matter, what kind of character knowledge do we start with? Are any and all races and classes fair game?
Last edited by Klazam on Sat Aug 04, 2018 4:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post Post #4  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 3:38 am

I think a lotta that will depend on how close to the handbook we go. :)

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Post Post #5  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:44 am

Ahh, i read through the hack stuff, the character creation thing is pretty extensive, are we gonna use that?

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Post Post #6  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:49 am

I think that's up to us (and The Pale King) to decide!

It's actually a much more linear character creation process than general 5E which would probably save a fair bit of time I guess? and definitely sounds re really interesting. More of a retro vibe I think.

what do you think? I'm pretty much down for standard 5E or TPK's discretion.

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Post Post #7  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:51 am

im fine either way. Probably leaning towards using the hack stuff.

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Post Post #8  (ISO)  » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:03 pm

(Pssssttttt........ People join!
I'm not for time reasons.)
Currently Modding: NY 213 - Game over!
Level Up - Game over!

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Post Post #9  (ISO)  » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:50 am

what sort of timings are we thinking to play?
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Post Post #10  (ISO)  » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:57 am

im real flexible.

Sunday and Mondays are the ideal days for me, i got nothing going on either day, but flexible so i can make other stuff work also

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Post Post #11  (ISO)  » Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:45 pm

Hello everyone. Thank you for your input!

I am already thinking that at the very least some of the "hack" things are too extreme, and not to my liking. I am leaning towards normal 5th Edition, with some slight homebrew tweaks to my liking, nothing so extreme as the removal of cantrips or other insanities.

Has anybody other than Klazam put any thought toward a potential character? Again, I'd love start with at least 3 PCs, the more the merrier, and we can develop (me and you, individually) some of the background for how you traveled to/got dropped into/woke up in Voivodja, the Land of Unreason.

If you haven't done so, I highly suggest reading the spoilers in my first post, since they are a good introduction to the history of the world. If your eventual character turns out to not be a native of Voivodja, reading those will require some work on your part to prevent metagaming, but it's worth it, I feel, to know what you're getting into. In addition to the history and politics described above, any PC who has been in Voivodja for more than about a day will know the following, so I'm posting these general "Rules of the Wonder-land" as a guide to the general "feel" you can expect from the game:

Spoiler: Some General Rules For The Behavior Of Voivodjans

  • Offense taken is inversely proportional to offense meant.
  • (Corollary of 1) Real violence, oppression, and injustice are ignored or purposefully misunderstood (though inhabitants do fight back when directly attacked). Minor, accidental or imagined breaches of etiquette are met with violence, oppression, and injustice.
  • In all situations (including trials), tangents are treated as more important than the purported purpose of the conversation.
  • Everyone is difficult.
  • No-one is unalterably hostile.
  • No-one can be made to understand anything.
  • Information creatures provide is usually accurate.

Does anybody have any questions for me to continue discussion? I am already preparing a starting "region" and "encounter" and I can't wait to see what direction some of you will want to take us in next!

EDIT TO REMOVE DOUBLE & TRIPLE POST:

In post 9, randomidget wrote:what sort of timings are we thinking to play?

I am very flexible with timing, and if I know we have a solid group of 3-5 players, I will happily take any number of people on an adventure. If that means that a game has 4 players but 1 player couldn't make it, I will catch that player up and play out what happened with them while they were separated, kidnapped, imprisoned, asleep, drugged, getting married, having tea, or were otherwise engaged elsewhere - the catch-up can happen individually if necessary. Nobody will be left behind in the campaign, and players will be free to come and go as they please. That means our schedule will be mostly up to when players can play.

In post 3, Klazam wrote:how are you planning to have us do these rolls in the first place? For that matter, what kind of character knowledge do we start with? Are any and all races and classes fair game?

Rolling for stats can be done before choosing character class (roll stats for Wizard, assign highest roll to INT) or after choosing character class (roll stats in order, STR-DEX-CON-INT-WIS-CHA or pick another one and stick to it, then decide class based off of what got the highest roll). All non-exotic races are good to go (e.g. anything in The Lord of The Rings or similar traditional high fantasy), exotic races should be discussed with me before-hand, just to justify it in-world. Most (if not all?) classes are good to go. All backgrounds are good to go, as long as we can justify it in-world. That's a general rule of mine: discuss with me if there's any doubt and 95% of the time I will help you justify it in-world so you get to play what you want to play. If I can't think of a way to justify it in-world, or if I don't accept your justification and we can't move forward from there, we'll have to pass on that idea.

That's the gist of it, though! Again, send me a PM or post here with any questions. Spread the word, please! They're probably annoyed with me for posting multiple times in Site Chat, but I'd love for this idea to get some love...
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Post Post #12  (ISO)  » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:14 pm

if we're rolling level 1 standard 5e in this setting I have this burning urge to play a rogue (a few things are pinging me as very rogueable :3). but I'm pretty flexible. if you guys have something in particular in mind, yell out and I'll gear myself to fill gaps.

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Post Post #13  (ISO)  » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:35 pm

We will not be starting at 1st Level! I should've mentioned that earlier. We will be starting at 5th Level. Voivodja is a dangerous place, and you would have to be either incredibly powerful or brave, incredibly misinformed or stupid, or simply incredibly unlucky to be there. Also, for those who wish to play Rogues but would like something with a little more... pizzazz...

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/20 ... -of-d.html

Again, this is Zak Smith's personal, sometimes NSFW blog (note the website title) so some content could be considered questionable and I take no responsbility, etc. but that page details the Alice Class - Alistair for males who require gender-confirming designations - that I will be making available for you all to use if you so desire. More than 1 PC may be an Alice or an Alistair. Discuss with me (preferably in PM for this) and we will justify it in-world.

Alices/Alistairs are slightly-lower-power Rogues that trade damage for a massive array of fun, immersive, and strategic combat choices. Check out the level-up section in the blog post, but know that a lot of it will require conversion to 5th Edition, which I will detail at a later time if we have a PC who chooses to use the class.
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Post Post #14  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:17 am

Interesting class.

what im considering is either a barbarian of some flavor, or (more likely) a warlock that is melee focused- (pact of the blade).

Well, a fighter i can do, but the warlock is what interests me. i have a rough idea of the background and stuff that i'd do it with.

so basically once we get to 3 people, you can start the thing, and add more people as necessary?

Question about starting at level 5, what does that mean in terms of starting equipment? (in fact, anything you can point me about starting a campigan at not-level-1 will be helpful, because as i said, im new to this)

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Post Post #15  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:45 pm

In post 14, Klazam wrote:so basically once we get to 3 people, you can start the thing, and add more people as necessary?

Question about starting at level 5, what does that mean in terms of starting equipment? (in fact, anything you can point me about starting a campigan at not-level-1 will be helpful, because as i said, im new to this)

Yes, I'd like to start with 3 players (minimum) in a thread in the Frogstar subforum ASAP and leave this thread open for others to read up and join as they like. I'll post updates in this thread and probably ask for discussion outside-of-game to happen here as well. Hopefully it will draw the attention of others who may be interested!

Starting equipment will definitely be assigned semi-randomly as indicated here (look about halfway down the page), because I really like the equity and humor of many of Zak's random tables. Starting gold will be bumped, and players will have the option of spending a large portion of their starting gold on a Common or Uncommon Magic Item, using prices from this document.

If anybody has any questions regarding all the information I've thrown at you, please ask! I realize a lot is getting thrown into this thread for potential players to process at once, and I can work on a "What Do I Need To Get Started If I Want To Play" shortlist, if people would like that.
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Post Post #16  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:00 pm

i'll fully catch myself up on homebrew stuff and come up with a character tomorrow (i have plenty of ideas floating around its just figuring which one to use here)
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Post Post #17  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:43 pm

Do you want us to create characters here, in a other thread, or pm?

Because I have a pile of questions lol

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Post Post #18  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:09 pm

In post 17, Klazam wrote:Do you want us to create characters here, in a other thread, or pm

If your questions would benefit the group, feel free to ask them in the thread. If there is anything in your questions that would reveal things you don't want other characters to know, it'll be easier on other players if you ask them via PM so metagaming becomes easier to manage. When I use the term "metagaming" in this context, for those who don't know, I use it to mean "anything that a player knows that a character shouldn't know" - for instance, personal information about other characters or about the game setting - that is used to give a character an advantage that they shouldn't have.
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Post Post #19  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:52 pm

I see here in the book that feats are "optional"

Can i take feats in this campaign?

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Post Post #20  (ISO)  » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:43 pm

In post 19, Klazam wrote:I see here in the book that feats are "optional"

Can i take feats in this campaign?

Feats and Inspiration are both in, feats will be implemented using the Vanilla 5E D&D rule: "At certain levels, your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature, but you can forgo taking that feature to take a feat of your choice instead. You can take each feat only once, unless the feat’s description says otherwise." There are 3 particular feats I have always thought are far too powerful for use with a large number of play-styles - they're so good they're good to take on any PC, basically - and I am considering banning them but haven't decided one way or another yet.
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Post Post #21  (ISO)  » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:22 am

Klazam's character is created, pending a couple small decisions!

I'll be sending my other 2 adventurers a PM to check on progress.
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Post Post #22  (ISO)  » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:18 am

Got any idea around when we can start this? I'm kinda excited for this lol

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Post Post #23  (ISO)  » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:06 am

i'm not being a flake I promise!!
work and mafia lives have been fairly busy during the day.

I'd like a couple of hours & a PC to roll this.... I'll be able to smash it on the weekend. :)

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Post Post #24  (ISO)  » Thu Aug 09, 2018 3:10 pm

No problem! Please, PLEASE message people who you think may be interested and free. We can't really start the game with just 2 people; I haven't heard back from random. Even then, I'd prefer more than 3 just in case people become too busy to keep up.
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