A fun little setting idea for 4E Essentials.
The Masara people have carved out more than simply “points of light” in the darkness- theirs is not a great empire, but it is a nation, prospering through hard work and courage, and that is much these days.
Over 3 centuries of work, they have fought back the monsters and beasts, and left the land relatively safe- safe enough that in many places, there are towns and villages without walls, merely a simple watchtower to serve as warning.
Imagine a mix of the architecture of Thailand with Moorish Spain- intricate carvings, expert engravings, beautiful plazas and courtyards. The wealthy have water gardens in their compounds, the less wealthy build their clan houses in a circular pattern facing inward – to a common yard where fruit trees and small gardens sit.
Your mother and your aunts hold council for your clan, they make the decisions. Your families live near by, more from tradition than need at this point, and the traders and travelers are the few who live distantly, though alliances hold families from generations ago, which allows you a network of connections should you travel to the outer settlements.
Your clan, your status and your deeds are worn openly with colored patterns of beads in your hair. Women may wear them in any direction, men only wear theirs on the back (they are not allowed to sit facing forward – usually only to the side, so their beads are always visible at gatherings.)
When you pass, your hair will be cut, and placed on the ancestral shrine with your beads on display – this will be the altar through which your family prays for you, personally. If the beads are lost, prayers cannot be made to you, or for you specifically, but only for the family as a whole.
Mask Keepers (Fighters- Knights)
The mask is a tool for summoning- with a mask, you can bring the spirit or a god into your body for dance and ritual. With armor- you have a mask and full suit – you bring them in for war.
The Mask Keepers are the warriors who keep the land safe from the most dangerous threats, though fewer people study the old ways, and the mask-makers also dwindle in numbers.
The tradition was a marriage of customs- the mask rituals of the Masara and the armorcraft of the Dwarves. The Exile Clans of the Dwarves who still live among the humans, they consider themselves the last defenders of that alliance long ago.
Trance Fighters (Fighter- Slayer)
The other tradition of defense are the Trance Fighters, who use a combination of chanting and mudras to bring their minds into the appropriate state for war. It’s said that their arts come from the Song of the God of War, and each stance and chant is but a part of it.
As the peninsula has become safe, their ways are forgotten around the older towns, but further out, by the frontiers, you can find the masters in the wild, practicing their arts with their disciples and fighting the beasts without.
Divines (Clerics – Warpriests)
The High Temple has 888 Divines at work at all times. During initiation, their name is carved on a tree trunk, which is planted in the Temple Grounds- the tree lets the temple know of the Divine’s life force- when they die, the tree falls.
Then it is time to initiate a new Divine.
As grim as that sounds, they are the relentless mystic warrior-lawgivers who travel the lands aiding the people and driving back evil spirits. They are a major reason the Masara have survived the times of Evil and the monsters.
The Night Blades (Rogue- Thief)
They came to Masara during the time of Evil- their own lands destroyed and corrupted- a mysterious order of mystics and warriors – and they swore fealty to the Queen. They are the hidden society of justice, who have helped keep Masara from falling into disunity and destruction throughout the generations.
They take lives to save life itself- “Many must die so that all may live” is their words of assassination, and their words of sacrifice.
The Mystics (Wizard- Mage)
Before the age of Evil, there was a book with the Knowledge of the World, all the Gods’ knowledge, which the High Mother held and passed down from Queen to Queen. When the Last War broke out, the book itself was shattered, and it’s pages flung across the worlds.
Someone found that page, someone wise, someone who knew their duty was to protect it’s knowledge, until the day the Book would be reassembled. Though the pages are hard to find, the finders would copy the knowledge, and pass it down from adept to adept, each person learning a little bit about the magic of the universe and it’s creation.
A spell is not just a set of words- it’s several ideas changed to the moment and the exact situation- doing the same spell twice entails doing different movements, different words- a mage doesn’t cast the spell as much as line up exact forces of stars, celestial bodies, elemental influences, and ideas, which revolve around a compass always moving.
The spell book doesn’t “teach” you the spell, it teaches you how to calculate these complex forces- the time isn’t memorizing spells as much as checking the times of sunrise/sunset, tides, the exact position of the sun to your current location, so when you actually need to cast the spell, you’ve worked out a lot of the major factors and only need to figure out the finer details in the moment.