Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Humans of the World of Samoth

My long-running World of Samoth game still continues - as of May, we've been playing for 16 years now, starting with the 3rd Edition Rules, then to 3.5, and currently using a mix of Pathfinder and Trailblazer.

I'm back to having four players, including my friend Brian who has been with me since the very beginning, playing the same character, Jeremi Udall, a cleric/sorcerer. My wife, Jody, is another one of my players that was there at the very first session, and she's also playing her initial character, a half-elf thief/fighter/shadow-dancer. She had to stop playing for a bit after my daughter was born, but that was eight years ago (gasp!) and my daughter is now old enough to entertain herself when we get together to play. My friend Cal has been with the group for probably about 14 out of our 16 years, and is back to playing his first character, a human fighter name Cirend (he "retired" Cirend for a short time to play a holy warrior/sorcerer character named Sameer, but somewhat recently retired Sameer and brought Cirend out of retirement). Nick is my "newest" player, but he's been with us for well more than half of the 16 years we've been playing, so he's definitely a veteran. His character, Nicodemus, aka "Sombra" ("Shade") has a human holy warrior, and Nick created a very detail history of the knightly order to which his character belongs, which has had an impact on the history and politics of the world.

I've posted before about the Dwarves and Wraith Elves (aka "Dark Elves") of my world, and on my campaign website, I did a write-up of the Goblins of Samoth, but I haven't delved too much into the human cultures of the world. I was recently re-reading all of my World of Samoth posts here on my blog and found a comment by long-time reader +Kelvin Green who mentioned (years ago) that he wanted to see more posts about the World of Samoth. So, this is for him!

For the humans of my world, I mainly gave a sense of their culture by giving examples to my players of each character class from the 3rd Edition Player's Handbook (with the exception of the Druid, for some reason I can't remember right now), and some ideas of how, and where, that class might fit into my world. This was part of my "Campaign Primer" that I sent to my players before we started playing all those years ago, and I patterned the format off of the old 3rd Edition Hero Builder's Guidebook.


Humans are the most varied race on the Samothian World Continent.  They exist in almost every environment, and they explore the world with great enthusiasm.  Human settlements and farms spring up quickly in the explorers' wake.  Humans excel in commerce, the study of arcane arts, and military campaigns.  At the same time, humans tend to live in a "human-centric" universe.  They can be sheltered and unwittingly unkind to members of other races. 

Human characters are the standout members of their race.  Successful humans often become vastly powerful, ruling entire nations or becoming the counselors of kings and generals.  Human characters are drawn from many backgrounds.  Some are raised for a life of adventure, while others find the path as escaped slaves, runaway apprentices, or simply farmers' children who hear the call of their heroic hearts. 

Your human character can come from almost any background; the decision is up to you.  Below are some ideas for human characters for each class in the World of Samoth.

All barbarians are relatively rare in Samoth, particularly in the more civilized nations.  In Buchlayne Major (a continent to the far West), most of the barbarian tribes were either wiped-out or converted to
Ætonism and “civilized” centuries ago.  The few remaining barbarian nations can be found in the
Esorían Highlands and in Stadhof.  The barbarian tribes of Buchlayne Minor (a smaller continent to the east of Buchlayne Major; the bridge between East and West) can be found thinly scattered in outlying areas of Kovlich and Margova, and as desert dervishes in Zhivod.  The continent of Atkira (a mysterious southern continent) is home to many barbarian nations, which live mainly in the southern part of the continent.  There are no barbarian tribes left in Verundhi (a "sub-continent" east of Buchlayne Minor), but there are some to be found in the remote jungle, desert, and mountain regions of Sonsia (a massive continent to the Far East). 
Feat Suggestions: A human picking barbarian as a first-level character may want to consider Alertness, Power Attack, and Track. 
Zhivod Dervish (Example): You are a member of a proud tribe of nomads who make their home in one of the most inhospitable regions on the continent, the fiery deserts of Zhivod.  You do have contact with other more “civilized” societies, but you would never give up your freedom for the constricting ways of city life.  Your tribe does trade with other peoples when it sees fit, and so you have access to a good array of weapons and equipment.  Your loyalty is to the tribe first and to yourself second.  Having left the tribe for an adventuring life, you earned the scorn and disrespect of your elders, but you are determined to find a better way of life for your people so they don’t have to go hungry and thirsty so often.
Suggested Skills: Handle Animal, Heal, Ride, Wilderness Lore

This class covers a wide array entertainers, historians, storytellers, and morale boosters.  They are common throughout the World Continent, not just as musicians and singers but as important repositories of ancient lore and forgotten cultures.  They are common through both Buchlayne Major and Buchlayne Minor, particularly in Courriseux, the Imperial Theocracy, and the City of Ryn.  In the far east, bards tend to focus more on the acting craft instead of singing.  They are entertainers and masters of court intrigue. 
Feat Suggestions: Skill Focus (Perform) should be first on the list.
Ibaran Court Artisan (Example): You are rarity among those in the Supreme Empire, a commoner who is training to be allowed to have access into the Emperor’s Sun Court.  Your bard skills will be used to perform perform Noh or Kabuki drama (a combination of acting, singing, and dancing) for the Emperor.  You have also learned the highly valuable skills of calligraphy, origami, flower arranging, painting, and landscape gardening.  Your skills are highly sought after by nobles and religious figures in the nicest establishments in the Empire.  You have begun a life of adventuring to broaden your skills and for a chance to learn something that no other Court Artisan knows. 
Suggested Skills: You should focus on skill ranks in Perform (Noh or Kabuki), Craft (many kinds, including Calligraphy, Origami, Flower Arranging, and others).  Profession (Artisan) and Gather Information are good secondary choices. 

Clerics are found everywhere throughout the world.  In the civilized areas of Samoth, most clerics will follow one of the four main world religions (Universal Ætonism , Eastern Ætonism, Bhuwani, or Holism).  A quick glance at the Religions page will show that even clerics within these religions are very different from each other and may follow very different paths in their faith.  In the outlying areas, clerics may be found espousing the virtues of local folklore, superstition, or ancient, “pagan” religions.  Clerics are a favored class in Esoría, the Imperial Theocracy, and Zhivod. 
Feat Suggestions: The choice will depend greatly upon the religion that the character follows and preaches.  Guardian Bhuwani Priests as well as Ætonists should take Martial Weapon Proficiency or Combat Casting.  Holem Clerics may want to consider Improved Initiative or Alertness. 
Illuminator (Example): You are being trained in a highly secretive, highly militaristic order of  Universal Ætonism to rid the Buchlayne of non-Ætonists, starting with all dwarves, orcs, and arcane magic-users in Esoría.  You have been recruited for this elite group based on your strength, determination, and desire to see everyone enlightened to the superiority of the Ætonist faith.  Will you choose to continue on this path, or do you find the methods of the Illumination Council to be too extreme for your tastes?
Suggested Skills: Concentration, Diplomacy, Knowledge (Religion – Universal Ætonism)

In the World of Samoth, one will find fighters of all types: guarding merchant caravans, patrolling the streets with the city guard, protecting nobles, and going off to war.  The world can be dangerous, and many people find it prudent to learn basic fighting skills from a local hero or soldier’s guild.  Some people are even self-taught in the warrior’s arts.  Most people who decide to go adventuring in the world would never think of doing so without one or two strong-armed fighters in their group.
Feat Suggestions: The best choices for a first-level fighter include Weapon Focus, Dodge, and Power Attack.  For fighters wishing to specialize in a particular form of combat, Point-Blank Shot or Mounted Combat may also be good choices.
Throecian Mercenary (Example): The Empire of Throecia has dwindled down to but a pale reflection of its former glory.  The Emperor desires to increase the power of Throecia through any means necessary, including war.  He is recruiting strong, able-bodied mercenaries to build up his army and regain some of his lands lost over the centuries to places like Zhivod, Margova, and the Goblin Lugalate.  You are expected to be ready to answer the call for war, but in the meantime you can adventure to gain experience and treasures to make your status in the army even greater.
Suggested Skills: Ride, Climb, Intimidate, Spot, Craft (Weaponsmith)

There are orders of monks throughout the World of Samoth, mainly in the Far East of Sonsia and in Verundhi.  But, even the continents of Buchlayne Major and Minor have their own orders, which have developed spiritual teachings and fighting styles that are a direct reflection of the areas in which they are based.  Monks tend to be lone, solitary figures who spend their days meditating.  There are a few areas where groups of monks work together to overthrow despots or free prisoners from religious persecution.  In other places, however, some orders of monks have been perverted into unholy killing machines by dark, unspeakable magics.  Take care, adventurer, that you do not succumb to these temptations.
Feat Suggestions: Your best bets are Ambidexterity, Dodge, and Mobility.
Ryn Protector (Example): Living in a cosmopolitan city like Ryn can be difficult at times, given the misunderstandings that are bound to occur with different cultures, racial groups, and religions start to mix.  As a Protector you help to maintain law and peace in this large trading metropolis, no short order in a place where conservative Ætonist priests may live side-by-side with Dwarf Holems and “pagan” Orcs. 
Suggested Skills: Tumble, Diplomacy, Move Silently, Listen, Spot, Gather Information

The life of a paladin is never easy.  Picked by higher forces for a life of servitude, the paladin must be ever-ready to answer the call of his god.  This includes fighting the forces of darkness, ministering to the sick, and setting a good example for all people to live a life of good deeds and piety.  Few are capable of managing all of these tasks.  Those special few who do manage can typically count on the admiration of their fellows and grudging respect from their enemies.  A paladin who fails in his duties, however, can expect banishment, excommunication, and perhaps even the direct intervention of his deity.  It is a tough, but very rewarding life, if you are up to the task.
Feat Suggestions: Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Weapon Focus, and Skill Focus (Heal) are good choices.
Sepoy Kpeshiya Guardian (Example): You are a follower of the Bhuwani Faith, and as a resident of Verundhi, you have chosen the Sepoy Kpeshiya path of the Guardians.  You are expected to uphold the tenets of the faith and defend the followers of Bhuwani against outside forces, be they human, magical, religious, or demonic in nature.  Your status as “divinely blessed” will help the morale of your comrades, and puts you in a good position to become a leader.
Suggested Skills: Knowledge (Religion – Bhuwani Faith), Knowledge (other types, including arcana and history), Ride, Intimidate.

Many rangers are the epitome of the classic woodsman.  But, just as many are not.  Rangers operate in many different settings, including mountains, deserts, plains, and even urban areas.  As more or the world is explored and settled, rangers help lead the way by scouting ahead for dangers and using their skills to create settlements.  There is call for the ranger’s varied skills all throughout the world continent, particularly on the fringes of civilization. 
Feat Suggestions: Alertness, Ride, Point-Blank Shot and Far Shot will come in handy for most Rangers.
Stadhof Border Scout (Variant): The land of Stadhof is a bit backwards compared to the rest of civilized Buchlayne Major.  The country still clings to the institution of feudalism and its various lords are always in a state of uneasy truce trying to hold the country together.  To make matters worse, some of the only barbarian tribes left in the Buchlayne are found on the outskirts of Stadhof’s borders.  This is the setting for the Border Scout, who may work for one of the armies of a local prince or duke, or even for the ArchCleric of Stadhof, patrolling the border and keeping a watch out for barbarian raiding parties, or even worse, orc horselords from the steppes. 
Suggested Skills: Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Ride, Search, Spot, Wilderness Lore

There are all types of rogues in Samoth: petty criminals, wilderness bandits, court spies, and even metropolitan lords of the underground.  There are even some honorable rogues to be found, although such are rare.  Just as any good adventuring party knows the importance of keeping a few fighters around, such parties will also acknowledge the value of a highly skilled rogue who can scout ahead undetected, open locks, and spy on enemies.  If he is carefully watched by his party members, the rogue can work well in a party situation.  The rogue comes into his own when operating independently, however, and many will take on side adventures to keep their skills sharp and their purses full.
Feat Suggestions: A rogue character should consider Alertness, Ambidexterity, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Improved Initiative, and Mobility.
Rijnbosch Merchant (Example): The life of a merchant may originally not sound that exciting, but the merchant guilds of the Rijnbosch Republic are powerful organizations that basically created a nation.  A Rijnbosch Merchant is more than just a seller of goods, she is a community leader, explorer, trader, and an “acquirer” of exotic goods.  Many guilds will send out the more adventurous of their members to find new and mysterious goods to sell or export all throughout Buchlayne Major.  A good Rijnbosch Merchant is well-rounded with a lot of skills, and often serves as the public face for the party rather than sneaking around in the background.
Suggested Skills: Knowledge (lots of different kinds), Diplomacy, Bluff, Sense Motive, Gather Information

The powers of sorcery are a mystery to everyone in Samoth.  Most arcane users of magic study for years until they are able to create powerful spells.  For a sorcerer, the power just seems to come to him naturally.  One day, without training, the sorcerer discovered that he had powers to cast spells.  Many legends have grown as to the source of the powers, many believing that they are divinely inspired, and some that they are given by demonic creatures.  Others believe they come from nature, from the very earth itself.  A small few among the faith of the Hol believe that sorcery is given to them through the blood of the djinn that runs in their veins.  No one knows for certain.  All that is known is that sorcerers add an element of mystery and danger into the world.  You should use this as an opportunity to make some notes on how and when you discovered your powers. 
Feat Suggestions: Combat Casting and Scribe Scroll are two good choices.  Characters with low constitution may want to consider Toughness as well.
m’Boro Society Sorcerer (Example): It is rumored that the m’Boro Society are the real rulers of Atkira (at least in the north).  Almost nothing is known about the society, but many believe that powerful families from Zembari are the power behind the m’Boro.  The majority of the Society are ritual magic-users.  Very little else about the Society and its goals is known.  As a member, you were born into the Society.  Will you exploit its power, or will you investigate it from within to discover its true purpose?
Suggested Skills: Alchemy, Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, Intimidation, and Craft (weaving) are good choices.

Wizards are the subject of debate and heated conversation in many parts of Samoth, particularly in Buchlayne Major where they are nearly outlawed by the Universal Ætonist faith.  In other parts of the world, the reputation of a wizard is looked upon in varying degrees of suspicion.  Some countries, however, have embraced the wizard for the immense hours of study and dedication it takes to master the arcane arts, and look to them for advice and information.  Many wizards get their funds for continued spell research from such advisor-roles.  As a newly freed apprentice, you should make some notes about your previous Master, such as his personality, the type of magic in which he specialized, and the morals that he taught you about using magic.
Feat Suggestions: Combat Casting and Scribe Scroll are good choices.
Zhivod Astrologer (Example): As an astrologer, you are a source of information and fortune-telling for the common people.  As your reputation grows, you may even end up as an advisor in the court of the Caliph.  Astrologers are part-mystic, part-showman, and oftentimes part-charlatan.  How you want to play your particular Astrologer is up to you.  Zhivod has a long tradition of astrologers, and there is most certainly one of the type that appeals to you that will take you as a student.  Learn well, and one day you may be able to pass your skills onto another.
Suggested Skills:  Knowledge (Arcana), Knowledge (Astrology), Scry and Spellcraft are good areas to focus.

I'd love to hear from others out there running their own homebrew campaigns, and how closely, or how differently, their classes in their worlds follow any of the above examples.

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Deschutte's Pinedrops IPA
Listening: "Dear Prudence" by the Beatles


  1. It's good to see more on Samoth! It's fascinating to see a world that's developed over years of play; I've never been involved in anything like that, as all my campaigns tend to have a distinct end point and then we move on to something else.

    1. I'm about ready to move on myself, mainly just because it's been running for so long, and we play infrequently, that as the DM, I tend to forget a lot of things the players have done and plots that I had intended to move forward! But, then I think about all the time and effort I put into creating it, and it just makes me want to do more!


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