Players
All the world is but a game
But our moves are ne'er the same,
We can change it as we must.
Even if we're only just
Players dancing to old songs,
Which came first, singer or song?

  A verse from Claye's Of The Races

PCs for this campaign should be level 15. Prestige classes are welcomed and encouraged - feel free to be inventive. (The DM has the DMG, Sword and Fist, and Tome and Blood. Prestige classes from other books must be explained to him before being cleared.) PCs of non-standard races are allowed, but are extremely rare on Ibis and uncommon even in Eldos. To figure out PC level, take 15 - the CR of the race in question for the level you can be class wise. Classes and races and such are explained below.

Also, for those wishing to contribute ideas about Axon, here is a nice message board, thanks to aslhk. Toss PC backgrounds there, ideas for your PCs, the world and the like for debate.

The Company

The PCs didn't know the adventuring company that hired them to help "deal with" Arkida by any other name. No one knows who funded it or led it, but the PCs are the only survivors of the Company attacking the Holy City. As the Company had over one thousand members involved in the assault that the PCs knew of, that says a lot about the battle and it's results. Thankfully, most of the battle was fought magically, so the city is still standing, even if the famous Wall can no longer hold out magical assaults.

Homelands

We never get where we're going
If we don't know why we've done
All the good and bad we've done;
We'll never end where we belong
If we don't know where we're from.

  Old farmer folk song.

The land a PC comes from shapes many of their beliefs, so a brief idea of the stereotypical person from each continent is below:

Eldos: PCs from Eldos tend to be very down to earth. Most of them come from countries continually at war and many dislike Ibis for interfering in their affairs. Pcs from Magan may also recall the destruction of their own empire by the Ibisian Empire. Whatever the reasons, people from Eldos seldom have reasons to love Ibisians. Many Eldosians tend to be angry and bitter people.

Ibis: Ibisians tend to think they are better than the other people in the world, and find this point of view fully justified by their Empire. The other peoples need a helping hand to keep them civilised and the Ibisian Empire is that very generous hand. They consider helping the other lands a burden they have chosen to bear. Most of them tend to be rather pompous and insufferable but also generous to the less fortunate.

Ithaca: People from Ithaca tend to be strange. Their worship of the God and Goddess sometimes tends towards the heretical (all men are the God, all women are the Goddess) and they seem to ignore the superiourity complex of Ibisians as easily as they do the anger of people from Eldos. Ithacans firmly believe in the existence of an Other World, where they believe gods and magic and other forces exist and originate. To them, the Other World is more important that rulership in this one.

Races

Elves were born from air and fire,
Dwarves, the mountains deep desires,
Gnomes, the hills where wisdom dwells,
Halflings from the hidden dells.
The last born of the God's fears
Nurtured by the Goddess' tears:
Man was born of dark desire,
In his eyes were envy's fires.

  A verse from Claye's Of The Races

The races were each born in the order listed, pre-eminent among the races of the world for being among the first born, next to dragons and spiders. Each race was born with specific qualities that make them unique from each other. These are the D&D PHB ones, and some others detailed below.

Note that humans are the dominant species on the world (at least, the parts of it that matter), with somewhere between 75% - 80% of the population. Halflings are almost unknown outside their homes, dwarves rarely deal with other races and with the demise of many old woods, the elves are all but extinct. Gnomes still flourish in odd areas, due to their knack with technology, but that's about all. Many humans go through their entire lives on Ibis without seeing another race save for half-orcs.

Elves are taught to never lie,
Gnomes to always wonder why,
Dwarves to build their hearts of stone,
Halflings to be left alone,
Humans born with restless minds,
Doomed to seek but not to find.

  A verse from Claye's Of The Races

Dwarves: The dwarves live deep under the world, in mountains or caverns hollowed out by them and other races over millennia. Many dwarves live their entire lives without seeing the sun or surface of the world. Due to the dangers of caverns and life underground, dwarves tend to be extremely literal minded. As well, dwarves tend to be humourless. A sense of humour is a danger underground, not an asset. More than that, they strive to be completely emotionless, the "hearts of stone" In Claye's famous work on the races. Most dwarves tend to put all their unexpressed emotions into their work, fashioning amazing weapons and works of art that would awe other races - if they even knew they existed. Many dwarves - when reaching the surface - tend to drink a lot, finding it helps them keep their emotions in check. Well, at least when they pass out - and they drink enough so they forget if they do lose control, and what they did the night before.

Elves: Elves are the longest-lived race around, next to dragons. Some claim they are the children of the dragons as well. The simple fact is that elves just live a long time and actually have to work to forget invents in their own lives, especially recent ones. It's the reason no elf is alive in Ibis, for one thing. Others forgot what Arkida did - they could not. As a result of their long lives and good memories, elves have an abhorrence for lying or doing acts they consider evil, because unlike other races they can't forget it. The act stains them. Elves who are hurt enough or do enough evil in a short period of time are unable to make mental blocks around it, even though all elves are taught how to do this. The incident - and when you're past is not forgotten, it's all one incident - destroys them. This tends to make elves very calm, unhurried and disinclined to adventure.

Gnomes: Master technicians, the gnomes love of science and technology was of great use to the world in ages past. With the emphasis on magic to solve all problems that the Ibisian Empire eventually developed, people began to need the gnomes help less and less. Why make a horse-less carriage when you can just wave a wand and it and the horses fly away? Since then, gnomes have harnessed their innate magics to protect their homes and wait for the day that magic no longer replaces science. Most of them live in isolated communities, sometimes with halflings, but are the most commonly seen non humans in Ibis. Despite their use of magics, most gnomes long for the day when technology can take it's rightful place in the world. Enough that some people suspect they were the architects of the fall of the Ibisian Empire.

As well as this, the gnomes have been developing a technology of their own in Eldos, which has resulted in the infamous Gnome Pits, areas where the world is black and grey, odd smoke billows in the sky and stories claim they use the children of other races to power their technological creations. This does not go over well with other races, and the druid guild is not happy with it either. Some people even claim that the gnomes have gone as far as to deny the God and Goddess and resurrected an old heresy calld Science by making it into their god. No one knows the truth of these rumours, but gnomes tend to be greeted rather cooly by other races as a result.

Halflings: Said to have been made by the God and Goddess just before humans,. halflings have long held that they share the same weaknesses and frailties as humans, but at a lesser scale (Tell they it's a "smaller scale" and you'll likely get killed for it, some day). Halflings have felt shamed by this truth - or burden - so much so that they rarely interact with other races and tend to live in very secluded areas. Perhaps because of their wish for seclusion or other long forgotten reasons, most halflings dislike fighting and are natural-born cowards. About the only thing that gets them to abandon this cowardice is comparing them to humans or insulting them as "shorties" or "half-humans". Even then, their revenge is most likely to be a barbed insult or a dagger in the back weeks from then.

Half-elves: Half elves tend to have very good memories, but not the kind that Elves have. This allows them to survive a lot more, even if they also run the risk of insanity from time to time. The ability of half-elves to forget things makes elves envious of them and most elven communities shun half-elves as a result. With their good memories and elvish features, they tend to be welcomed in Ibis, sometimes as scribes and other times as courtesans. In any event, they try and make the best of their longer than average lives.

Half-orcs: Big, tough, not as ugly as the average orc - sometimes even not as scary, too. While orcs tended to have a discipline problem in armies (often owing to a love of carousing), half-orcs tend to make perfect soldiers. They're stronger than humans, they take orders well, are very loyal if paid on time and honest about those facts. Half-orcs made up the bulk of the Ibisian army in Eldos as one time and compromised about half the imperial guard when Arkida was in power. While they only make about 25% of it now, they're very good warriors who can find homes in human and orc societies with ease. In fact, many of them work for humans just to earn enough money to be accepted into the orcs later, as orcs tend to be a lot more tolerant of others.

Humans: The most populous race in Ibis and Eldos, humans are the masters of scientific magics and many other things. Their ambition to rule - according to others - comes from their realisation that, compared to the other races, they come up short. As such, humans have had to struggle to be on par with other races, let alone get ahead of them. Using their comparatively short life span to push themselves to succeed, they have become feared warriors, dangerous foes and perhaps the most driven race in the world. While this had lead to much success, it has done nothing to get rid of their inferiority complex, a complex that some say will only be erased when the other races are extinct.
For another view on humans, here is a paragraph taken from a philosophy textbook *grin*:

Classes

We are ready and trained to kill,
We won't be fed mess hall's pig swill,
'Cause we've been taught to swing a sword,
And swore fealty to our lord:
We've raised his banners to the sky,
So now his foes are gonna die!

  Traditional marching song

The classes in this world are actually called Orders, acting a lot like a guild system. The class your PC begins as is the one that they are considered part of, unless they become unable to perform the duties of a member of it (such as a sorcerer or wizard losing their magic). The Orders train you, take care of you and teach you what you need to know to survive. Most of them dislike members who focus too much on other disciplines, but they realise the value of having a broad background in combat situations. Most Orders take care of members, give discounts to them with certain healers or weapon makers. Most importantly, if you've kept up wit your dues,. the Order keeps you around once you've retired, as long as you're of sound mind and can help train new recruits.

In game terms, a PC is an accepted member of a class as long as two-thirds (minimum) of their non-prestige class levels are in their first class. As some classes stipulate that if you leave them for another class, you can no longer advance in them at all, the following rule change is implemented:
NEW RULE: Characters can learn another class and still advance in their previous class (such as paladins and monks).
The cost to join each Order and remain a member are with each class. A PC whose Order status is revoked is not hired by anyone and considered to be useless at best The reasons for the lost status don't matter, the fact that you lost it says a lot about you, mostly that you're untrustworthy and scum.

For those interested, guilds are impartial and will allow members to be hired by any organisation that needs them. In fact, most members of guilds rarely live in the guid halls themselves, and some just get their training, go out into the world, and come back when dead to be buried. Rising up in ranks in a guild is then a matter of prestige and/or political savvy within the guild itself. For example, the head of the barbarian guild is a level 10 barbarian. Not that high, but he has invested his wealth wisely (bribes) and while he isn't really intelligent, he's so cunning you'd never know the difference. He's also a cold-hearted bastard with follows the barbarian Code rigorously.

Lastly, the ranking of the Orders in relation to each other tends to be vague. Fighters and rangers rank higher than barbarians and monks as guilds, while wizards rank higher than sorcerers who nominally rank higher than druids and clerics. The order of thieves ranks almost as high as fighters since it's very well organised and the order of bards is generally left on it's own.

Barbarians: The most common non-professional warrior, barbarians are rare on Ibis for those who can afford to become fighters. One of the most loose-knit orders, barbarians still tend to stick together and will help each other in fights and the like without a hesitation. Most barbarians tend to follow a certain Code modelled after heroes of old. This is not the rules of civilisation by any means but more an unwritten code that you speak according to your actions, help those who need it and to hell with what the rest of the world thinks. To quote Cohen the Barbarian: "I'm a barbarian", shouted Cohen. "And the honour I got, see, is mine. I didn't steal it off'f someone else." (Terry Pratchett, "Interesting Times")
Requirements To Join: None. The Order gives you your first sword.
Yearly Dues: 1,000 gp of gems, treasure, statues and the like. It cannot be coin.

Bards: The bards are generally left along by other orders, mostly because songs are easy to remember and a good song can destroy someone, if it's employed right. Most bards settle down at inns or spend time travelling and looking for new songs to create or embellish. They also tend to down play their ability to use magic, and few people are even aware that bards can create spells with their music.
Requirements To Join: Good singing voice and first instrument.
Yearly Dues: 3 new songs.

Clerics: The Order of clerics is one of the oldest ones formed. Though in disrepute in the later ages of the Ibisian Empire, the clerics still have great power and the ability to call on the God and Goddess is not looked upon lightly by others. Commoners give them great respect, while they tend to give arcane magic users fear and signs against evil. Clerics are for the most part wanderers from place to place,. though a few choose to remain in sacred groves and places - not buildings, save for Sanctuary in the Holy City of Ibis - to help a village or group of villages. Some clerics spend much of their time rooting out heresies, like the idea that the God is evil and the Goddess good or vice versa. Most of them just travel and help those in need, well aware that it is the acclaim of the common people that will allow their Order to regain it's rightful place as equal to the order of mages.
Requirements To Join: Piety and humility.
Yearly Dues: 300 gp.

Druids: The druids tend to keep to themselves and worship the God and Goddess through their creation - the world itself - rather than directly, as Clerics do. Most druids live in one area, protecting it from those who would encroach upon it and harm the denizens of that area. Besides that, most druids heal travellers who come into their lands seeking aid and tend to be friendly to those they know. Those who harm a druids home, on the other hand, seldom survive to tell about it.
Requirements To Join: Love nature, in all it's forms (be open minded, in other words). Note that they currently refuse to allow gnomes to join, making them the only guild with a race limitation.
Yearly Dues: Protect your area.

Fighters: Fighters are the bulk soldiers of Ibis and Eldos, people trained for war and killing. Unlike the city watch, fighters are trained to kill first and ask questions of the survivors when fighting a group of people. While some of them are honourable (having earned the title knight, even if they have no lands) most common soldiers are crass, rude and overbearing. However, the numbers of this order prevent people - such as inn keepers - from doing too much about that.
Requirements To Join: Be willing to fight. Or, as some others say, be a cold-hearted and merciless bastard.
Yearly Dues: 1,000 gp.

Monks: Monks are warriors who have chosen to take an inner path to learning to fight, harnessing their own bodies as weapons rather than relying on other weapons. Their blend of mysticism and fighting makes many fighters leery of them, but most other people get along well with them. Trained in meditative arts, most monks can remain calm under lots of stress and are often taught the basics of philosophy during their training, since the mind must be honed as well as the body.
Requirements To Join: 100 gp and a willingness to learn.
Yearly Dues: None. Most monks end up going back to their rare Monasteries from time to time and helping train recruits over the years instead. Most also bring some coin with them.

Paladins: The warriors of the God and Goddess, these rare people hold themselves to a standard of good and honour that even knights have trouble holding. Unlike certain other ideas of paladins, these paladins are good and honourable, trained to use their gifts to aid those in need and fight against injustice and tyranny. Paladins are taught that good and evil are relative terms, but also that some deeds are evil by any standard, such as murder and torture. They tend to not get along well with common fighters as a result.
Requirements To Join: Honour.
Yearly Dues: None save acting rightly. Donations to the Order accepted, of course.

Rangers: Rangers are the scouts of most armies, and considered to lie between fighters and monks for training. They tend to serve the dual purpose of tracking foes and being able to deal with animals. Many of them also make good cooks, but it's perhaps best not to ask what they're cooking, especially if some animal didn't like dealing with them recently. Rangers who are not in armies sometimes help druids or live a hermit-like existence in the woods. A few make good city guards.
Requirements To Join: 20 gp and get along with animals.
Yearly Dues: 200 gp

Rogues: The thieves of the world, the order of rogues is perhaps the most organised one of them all, since crime prospers best when it's well modulated and the rogues prevented from stealing from their own order. Well, not too much. Some cynics think this order was the basis for government, or perhaps invented governments since governments seem to steal almost as much as they do. Rogues find that amusing, but don't deny the rumour either. Many of the retired rogues (that is, no longer breaking and entering or travelling the lands) end up in politics.
Requirements To Join: Steal something of value and give it to the order.
Yearly Dues: 2,000 gp and discover 2 secrets for the order.

Sorcerers: Considered by many to be the poor man's wizard, most sorcerers are seen as hedge wizards and looked down upon. They don't form a cohesive order of their own but are generally a subset of the wizard one. Attempts by sorcerers to form their own guild have let to them being taken aside and told a few facts of life by some wizards, mostly that it's not fun spending your life as a frog or ending it prematurely. Despite this, there is an informal sorcerers order that exists more to find and train new sorcerers than anything else.
Requirements To Join: Be a sorcerer.
Yearly Dues: Wizard ones as they are part of the wizard order.

Wizards: The penultimate spell casters of the world, wizards are responsible for much of the wealth of the Ibisian Empire and few of them travel, preferring to discover new spells and work out new methods of travelling and the like. Many wizards actually become rather famous at courts for their achievements and a few of them even marry non-wizards, after learning the mysteries of sex naturally. The fact that few wizards do reproduce does tend to keep the power of this guild on par with the fighters, much to the relief of the fighters.
Requirements To Join: 500 gp and a found (or bought) spell book.
Yearly Dues: 1,000 gp + inventing at least 2 new spells.

Magic (Game Mechanics)

So you wish to learn magic and even become a mage? Get lost, then. We donít need dreamers here, we need those who are their dreams, those who do not want to become mages, but are mages in their mind, the only place where it counts. If you want magic, you will only be a dabbler, not a true wizard.
Now, if you know you will be a mage, step inside. We will do our utmost best to rid you of that foolish notion as fast as we can.

  Common introduction to the Order of Wizards

Arcane magic comes from within a spell caster, drawn from their emotions and pure need. A spell caster who has run out of spells can still cast some, using hit points equal to the level of the spell to cast it (cantrips cost 1/2 a hit point). This can only be one once a spell caster is out of spells to cast and is generally a last-ditch effort against foes. As well, a sorcerer or wizard (not bards) has the power to give up their own magic, to spend it all in one burst of energy that acts as one of their spells maximised and empowered spell. The exact effect is determined by the DM and player together, but the spell cast can only be one that the PC knows. All arcane spell casters can cast detect magic and read magic at will.

Divine magic comes from without, from the world and the God and Goddess Themselves. As such, divine spell caster can also use hit points to cast spells, by calling the energy of the gods (or world, for druids) through their bodies. This works the same as it does for arcane magic users. As well, a cleric at the point of death can call the God or Goddess right into themself to cast a last ditch spell. This spell acts as a miracle of sorts, the effects of which are determined by the PCs need and the DM. All divine magic users can cast detect magic at will.

Note that magic is addictive to use for Sorcerers, Wizards and Clerics. The power of magic is like a massive high that rushes through you, then leaves once the spell is cast, leaving you barren. Sorcerers can deal with this easier since they have magic innate inside them, and druids believe that just being in the world is magic enough. Bards are unaffected by this, perhaps because their need for music overrides the magic.

Bards and other magic using classes use magic normally, but bards can cast detect magic at will whenever playing music or singing etc.

Languages

Then there is Akan, a language with no nouns, lots of pronouns and one verb, which is obscene. Saying hello in it to someone who doesn't know it can lead to them thinking you're having a seizure, choking, cursed them for all eternity, or just told them to do various anatomically impossible things involving enraged porcupines and their long dead great grandmother's corpse.
  from Borin the Elder's Guide to Languages for the Discerning Traveller

Languages tend to be complicated in a world as diverse as Axon. Ibisian (aka common) is the most commonly known and used language. All PCs would know how to speak it, but only how to read it if they are nobility, wizards, clerics or got someone to teach them along the way. As well, PCs from Ibis (100%) and Eldos (70% chance) know High Ibisian. You were taught it when very young, and while you can understand it, speaking it is punishable on pain of death if one is not nobility. High Ibisian tends to be used for giving orders and the like, and is an almost magical language in itís own right.

Wizards (and sorcerers) have their own language as well, the language known as Enochian. This is the language they speak spells in and can hold detailed dialogues with each other in at need. It - along with High Ibisian - is one of the few tongues of power in the world. It is not used lightly.

The other guilds donít have their own languages so much as special written codes used for messages and keeping written records secret from people who steal them. The thieves have developed the worlds first sign language, known to them originally but now to many non-thieves (typically the deaf and/or mute).

Due to the sparsity of other races, racial language tend to be dying out. Gnomes only use gnomish for technical purposes, and to keep their discoveries secret from others. Dwarves use dwarfish in the mines and such, but the ones who end up in the surface world have little reason to use it, mostly because it is rather complex and tends not to make generalisations. As such, there is no word for rocks, but various words for different kinds of rock. This applies to almost everything, including dwarves themselves. Most dwarves are relieved to be free of speaking it once they reach the surface. The halfling language would be expected to survive due to their habit of sequestering themselves from outsiders, but has in fact died out for unknown reasons. Elvish exists still - elves canít very well forget it, after all - but they generally just use it in songs and poems.

Other languages exist, such as many of those of the Hundred Nations on Eldos and Eldran, the language of the fabled city of Magan and one of the oldest non-racial languages around. However, Ibisian has become very popular in the Hundred Nations since some people apparently thought that you could prevent wars if everyone knew what everyone else was saying. (If anything, it seems to have made matters worse since translators arenít around to turn what kings say into something that wonít cause a new war.) It also made sense because Ibisian troops were often in Eldos and knowing the language of the Empire was considered a very good idea.

Languages of Axon
AkanAn old, lost language from northern Ibis. Many linguists don't think it has been lost for long enough.
DwarvishThe dwarven language is only spoken by dwarves who live underground. other dwarves are glad to forget it in favour of easier to learn tongues.
EldranThis was the language of the Magan Empire and is rarely spoken outside Magan any longer.
ElvishThe language of the elves is known to just elves, and mostly used by them in making poems and the like.
EnochianThis is the language of wizardry and sorcery.
GnomishThe gnome language is a technical language invented by gnomes for describing their scientific things. They use Ibisian in normal conversation.
High IbisianOne of the few languages of power, high ibisian is known to all Ibisians but only spoken by nobility.
IbisianThis is the common tongue of the world due to the prevalence of the Ibisian Empire
Thieves CantThis is a sign language invented by thieves. It's often used by people who are mute and deaf and children who want to annoy their parents.

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