This is where it all begins: with creating a character.
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart always will be elsewhere.
That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
Characters on Wyrlde are exclusive to Wyrlde – the normal D&D 5e rules won’t work here, and as of this writing there is no support for a digital record out there.
Your character, on Wyrlde, is likely somewhat different from characters in other realms, because world is a different kind of setting: it is an open world, sometimes called a sandbox setting.
One of the key things about an adventure on Wyrlde is that you have to choose what to do. Even if there is a story that is to be told, or an adventure to be taken, the most that your DM is able to do is provide you with Hooks – things that lead to a story. It is entirely up to you if you choose to take the bait.
At its heart, Wyrlde is meant as a place for you to explore, to learn about, to engage with, to become a part of. Your adventures will happen, without doubt, but they happen on your timetable, not the DMs. However, there are reasons to want to get connected to a story – you cannot advance in levels if you are not advancing a story, although you can advance many other things in your character’s life if you choose not to.
Wyrlde is intended for people who have the capacity to deal with the darkness that lies in others’ hearts, the recognition that vile things can happen, and the awareness that a stout heart and a strong will can turn a tide.
Wyrlde involves emotions, role playing, `and bad things can happen. There is slavery on Wyrlde, and there is rape. There is racism, and there is discrimination. These things lie beneath some of the larger conflicts – but don’t jump to a conclusion just yet.
As a result, Wyrlde is intended for people who are mature enough to handle these things. The Author feels that 16+ is fine, but your players and your group may feel that is too low.
For now, though, let’s get the rag up on this cantata…
Any new campaign on Wyrlde should start at 1st Level. If you must, start at 3rd level, but do not start out higher than that.
Setting up to play in Wyrlde should involve one or more Zero Sessions. It is during these Zero sessions that the following things happen:
Red Flags. This is a discussion space for folks to talk about what it is that they can and cannot deal with during a game, in relation to their personal challenges.
Understanding the World. This is the session where things that may cause problems are discussed.
Collective Character Creation. This is where everyone creates their characters at the same time.
Understanding the Story. This is where the larger story is described, but not told.
Table Etiquette. This is for any common table rules that are used.
The Meeting of Minds. This is the first real session, and in it, the players determine and describe how they all meet and become a party.
Wyrlde is an expansion on 5e rules, with a different system for handling magic, a different approach to psionics, and completely new classes and races. There are many rules that it expands on, creating what some call a “crunchier” or more involved set of rules that can guide play.
On the surface, Wyrlde is a fairly generic pseudo-medieval kitchen sink fantasy world. Arabesque takes extreme umbrage at that description. It is not a version nor is it based on a version of a medieval Earthly world. It is not Earth. It is not a regular D&D world, even though it might look like it on the surface. This is important: things that might work a certain way on Earth, for example, will not work the same way on Wyrlde. The physics are different, the geology is different, the chemical properties are different. It is exceptionally difficult to metagame on Wyrlde, to bring in ideas for technologies and such, because they don’t always function – and as a default expectation, do not think they will or that they could. Physics that you understand do not work the same on Wyrlde. Chemical reactions that you understand do not work the same as on Earth. The level of technological advancement does vary but is slightly different because of the above. Above all of this, there is a reason for it to be so.
There are two empires that are constantly at war, one of which has the ability to do sneak attacks on the other pretty much anywhere. There are cyclic Crusades, and ruins and monsters abound everywhere.
Wyrlde is an Open World concept. This means that the story of any campaign exists but is something that the Players must find for themselves. It also means that part of the set-up is to find a way to survive in the world. Unlike normative D&D, it is not a world where there are riches beyond value at every turn, it is a world where things must be paid for, be it barter, coin, or in kind. There are vast hoards and piles of gold coins, but they are difficult to find, and even more difficult to claim.
Wyrlde is often said to resemble isekai style anime and manga in many ways, as there are Adventurer guilds where you can find little jobs to do – but it also does not stop you from taking a job that is too difficult or that could kill you.
Because it is open world and player driven, there are consequences involved for actions one takes. Consequences can be good or bad or indifferent. At higher levels, the actions of the Players will have an impact that expands as they grow, and any campaign is expected to have an impact on the world that alters the future. While the Bright lands do not have Slavery, they do have Indenture. The Dread lands do have slavery. Women are treated poorly in Sibola, and men are treated poorly in Aztlan. Most of the people of Wyrlde have darker toned skin than one might expect.
Technically, Wyrlde is a science fiction world that has degraded and been altered by beings of such great power that that they are able to rewrite existence and nature with a whim. A long time from now, it is colonized, and even later from then it is removed entirely from the universe as a whole. The Firmament – the dark sky of the night — is a solid mass beyond which there is nothing. The stars are burning orbs of hydrogen, but they are placed there by a will and with an intent, and some imprison living beings.
These great powers take an interest in those who worship them – and it is key to realize that most people do not worship them. Only about a quarter of the people on Wyrlde genuinely worship the Powers That Be. The rest wish they would just go away. Especially if they show up for dinner on a weekday night. Unannounced. As they do.
Wyrlde’s people and creatures are not robots, nor are they generally lacking in creativity. As a rule of thumb, if a party of adventurers does it, then a party of Foes will do it.
For Wyrlde, character creation is best done as a group activity. Although Wyrlde is 5e based, it uses new ability scores, new ways of doing things, and has different systems. A collective effort allows everyone to explore that process together and helps the DM when it comes time to create encounters.
It also enables them to determine skills and styles and other factors that will maximize their ability to survive a world that is often challenging and not safe.
Traditionally, characters are generated and their features and abilities and such are stored on a Character Record, or Character Sheet.
Now, while you are floating out there in the liminal spaces between was, is, and will be, let us begin the task of giving you form and shape, providing you with the nature and self that will be unique to you in this new world. Don’t worry – you won’t remember any of this when you are born.
We begin that with The First Question.
The first question is: Are you an Outworlder or an Intrinsic?
Not everyone on Wyrlde is from Wyrlde – though they are never able to do things they once could in the elsewhere, no matter how they arrived. Wyrlde sits alone and is inviolate – you may arrive any time you would like, but you cannot leave.
These are things you should decide – either on your own for you, or as part of a team effort with your fellow players. Because these answers will subtly alter the way you play your character and add to the entirety of the setting and the gaming experience.
Intrinsics are people who were born on Wyrlde and have been caught within the Cycle of Rebirth among the Seven Mortal Planes. If you are an Intrinsic, carry on as normal and learn what you can about the place you come from and the world you are part of now. This book is great for that, so take time now and again to glance through it.
The stuff about how you should role play or make your character is a gentle suggestion, since it could have an impact on the side quests and the main questline, since at least one of the major elements involves each character as a person and their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their terrors.
Outworlders are people who were reincarnated from outside The Known Universe, often from an age long ago, muttering about Truck-kun, damned game masters with real magic, mirrors, tornadoes, woods at the edge of the world, wardrobes, peculiar doors, tears in the fabric of space and time, tesseracts, and other strange ways for one to find oneself here.
In short, not everyone on Wyrlde came from Wyrlde. Some people, a rare few, such as Arabesque and Saint Benedict, were people who somehow came here from somewhere else and found themselves trapped, or perhaps were reincarnated here.
If you are an Outworlder, your character may have been one of these people who came from elsewhere. It is not an experience everyone goes through, but it is possible for you to have such a thing happen. However, a few points to delve into a little deeper occur:
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”
Outworlders can be Incarnates, Summoned, or Incorporates. Give these things thought and consideration, as here one can be a hero from anywhere. Even you, yourself.
Something to keep in mind: at the start of the game, you will be between 18 and 28 years old, according to your choice. As we go through tis, we will reach a point where you are at those ages before the veil is lifted and you will have arrived.
Most people are born in this world. Some may have memories or recollections from their prior life, but they will seem as drifting and faded things, perhaps only seen in dreams or during great trauma. Incarnates are folks who were reborn upon the world as an infant. In most circumstances, you will have been at least raised or taught much about the area into which you arrived or were born, and you may have an additional language from your past life that will fade as you move forward in this life. There are a few basic Questions here.
- How did you die?
- Did it hurt?
- Do you have memory of your death?
- How traumatic are those memories?
- Do you still have most of your old memories?
It should be noted that Incarnates do not gain their full memories back until sometime between 5 and 8 years of age, as the brain develops enough to function around them. They will have early childhood memories at that time, as well, but there are no babies that fully understand languages they have never heard before.
Incorporates are folks who are only partially here. Some folks exist in this world only from time to time, frozen in place when they are not around, seemingly dead or intangible, like an illusion you can pass through. These people do not always have a clear idea of what they are capable, and find the world shockingly confusing, often not even fully understanding their own abilities, or attempting things from somewhere else that they find never works.
- What happened that you became stuck here, unable to find your way back?
- Is this world an immersive VR video game for you?
- Is your real body still back on Earth?
- What are you doing in order to incorporate?
- Do you still have most of your old memories?
It should be noted that folks from times long before Wyrlde and times long after world can all find themselves here. However, Wyrlde is not connected to other worlds, and so things which rely on external capabilities will be absent here. While Incorporates have often tried to create things or make changes using knowledge from that other place, things never work the way they expect them to work, Ever. Physics is not the same, the rules that govern physical properties are not the same.
The Summoned are people who were summoned here from elsewhere. Summoned beings arrive naked, in a ritual circle. They have no magical abilities, and they are usually unable to use special abilities they might have had at one time, and so they must start again. As summoned beings, it means that at least one person knows their True Name and has the ability to summon them again.
The location of summoning is always taken as the Homeland of the Character. Most summoned beings face one of three immediate fates: Death, Indenture, or Enslavement. As a result, desperate escape is a fairly common reason for them to be wandering around.
- What happened? How did you come to be here, unable to find your way back?
- Are you in your old body or was a new one crafted for you?
- Do you still have most of your old memories?
- What were you doing when you were summoned?
- Who summoned you?
- How did you escape?
It should noted that Summoned beings have the greatest trouble. During the Age of Myth, a Wizard summoned a being they did not expect, with some long and confusing name. This “Mordy” person was also a wizard, and he was most startled that on his arrival not only had he been summoned, but he was naked and none of his magic as he knew it worked at all. He went mad and was confined in a cell until he vanished mysteriously one day following a visit by Ululani’s Ikon.
A typical Campaign for Wyrlde will be a combination of reactions to the Player’s actions and activities and the particulars of a larger storyline that continues around them, shaping the world and changing things.
Any official published module requires some significant effort to change to fit the world, and anything written for a place other than Wyrlde will have similar challenges, but the effort is always well worth it. A Wyrlde campaign can consist of any of them – we are particularly fond of Phandelver (which is usually based near Antilia) and the assorted heist adventures.
Adventures and campaigns written for Wyrlde, however, will often have a genre, theme, and structure that includes a change to the larger world and offers a mix of side quests and main plot hooks that can slowly build up over time into a larger overall scheme.
A full campaign will employ multiple different genres, including Mystery, Detective, Epic Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy, Western, Mafia, Action, Coming of Age, Horror, Thriller, Supernatural, Travel, Comedy, Noir, and Madcap, all of them linked together in some way to tell a larger story while still being self-contained stories in their own right.
Among the things that should be discussed at the earliest part is if there is any desire for Romance sub-plots relating to the characters, how establishing a family works, and if there are any additional custom rules relating to how the campaign will go, as well as the style of play that is to be agreed on.
Wyrlde is not particularly gritty, though it has elements of it, and it is not particularly suited to generic play.
As the use of Hero, Milestone, and similar points will ultimately indicate, Wyrlde is meant to reward and invoke a sense of the PC’s as heroic characters who struggle with their own personal challenges while facing overwhelming odds and helping others.
This is the general etiquette and rules of the house when playing the game. These should be discussed in general. For the development group, there are a couple key points that we adopted.
On your turn, you have 30 seconds to decide, roll, and be ready for your next turn. This was instituted to stop people from doing the pause and decide thing that is common in most circumstances. In order to achieve that, we do allow some pre-rolls – they will normally be used, but in some circumstances a fresh roll will be needed. After years of actually doing this, we are generally down to about 15 seconds per turn – mostly out of necessity.
When questioning a call a DM makes, it is acceptable to say that you disagree, but arguing about it will happen after the game. The goal is to keep play moving along. Questioning a call regarding an NPC generally isn’t allowed, any more than questioning the actions of a player as their character.
This is a session conducted somewhat during the creation process but is fully engaged once everyone has created their character and the DM has created the Foils for them or any potential romance leads.
While role playing rolls are allowed, there is no combat rolling here – this is a session about how the characters all meet and end up in the starting place for the Campaign to come. It is not a task for the DM. The role of the DM here is to essentially say what’s possible and what is not – the rest is entirely driven by the PCs with the following core rules to guide it:
- The characters must know each other.
- The characters must all be together at the same place at the end, so the game can start.
- It is wholly on the part of the players to create this, with the DM only supplying the location and nature of where they end up.
The default expectation for the initial Campaign is that they will all be at an Inn in Dorado, preparing to accompany a caravan into the Sand Sea, heading from Durango proper to Derier and then on to Deseray.
Not everyone is what folks think of as able bodied. Nor is being able bodied any kind of requirement.
Wyrlde has, since its earliest years, sought to provide assistive devices to those who needed them, and so there are people with clockwork limbs, clockwork wheelchairs, and other features. These are treated as if they were a part of an able body normally, with exceptions noted under gear.
Note that Wyrlde does not use Conditions named Blindness, Deafness, crippled, and so forth. Instead, it uses sightless, soundless, silenced, and other terms. You can see them further in the section on Conditions.
These, then, can be aspects to your character. They are not seen as limitations, but neither do they come with special abilities – you cannot suddenly have Keen Senses because you are blind. Conversely, a club foot does not inherently limit speed or motion, and a peg leg is going to be more common than an ornately carved clockwork limb.
Disabilities are linked to skills in terms of their impact in play. A person with a not quite fully working leg may take a penalty to Athletics, for example.
On Wyrlde, prosthetic Limbs are common for those who have been subjected to loss of limb. They do not change the functionality of the character and do not have an impact on play.
Mobility Disabilities can be addressed through the creation or use of something such as a wheelchair. In looking at wheelchairs, look to modern examples, not historic ones, and the only real difference is that there are no powered options for such.
Sensory disabilities can be addressed through penalties – limited eyesight penalizes Perception checks relying on vision, vision distance reduction, and similar.
The key is that each case needs to be taken individually. Disabilities do not grant abilities – they remain disabilities, but they do not deny a character access to the world or to the task of being an adventurer.
There are no hard and fast rules presented because there is no “one size fits all” approach to how people deal with or handle their disabilities, and they are expected to be handled primarily through role playing.
Of note is that encounters must be adjusted and adapted when there is a disability to account for such and enable such. That is on the DM, however, to do.
Wyrlde includes, built into the core fabric of the world, adult themes. They may or may not have an impact on adventures, but the backdrop in which they take place are still going to include such things.
Ogres are the products of rape, for example. Women are treated poorly in Sibola. Themes of oppression, discrimination, and cruelty exist within the world. Gender Diverse people are a basic and core part of the whole, and people have many different kinds of issues. There is slavery and indenture, and a harshness to the legal system that does not often choose to use prison or jail, and never tries to solve the reasons behind crime.
It is a world where the highest crimes are those against human rights, and where humanity is far more than merely huma