Showing posts from July, 2018

Campaign Conversions: Tyranny of Dragons

Strangely, Wizards of the Coast's campaign featuring dragons seems one of the hardest to adapt to a world featuring dragons. This is because in Tyranny of Dragons is about dragons trying to take over the world. In Dragon Princes, they already have! However, there are ways to make this campaign work.

The first change that we need to make is to the Cult of the Dragon. In Tirenia, the Cult of the First Dragon is made up of disaffected young dragons. They feel that dragons have lost their rightful power by ruling humans rather than destroying them. Most of them also feel that they, personally, should have more power, and that this is a way to get that power. They make offerings to the First Dragon, the mythical creation of Malifer during the Hostwar, which later rebelled against him as Malifer rebelled against the Creative One. These dragons are also served by many humans - hirelings and agents, those who have been manipulated, lied to or promised great things when the First Dragon co…

Campaign Conversions: Lost Mine of Phandelver

The first adventure for Fifth Edition, and still one of the best, Lost Mine of Phandelver is a perfect match for Tirenia with only a few mild tweaks!

Consider changing the setting of the adventure to Sfantalini, a small town in southern Tirenia. Like Phandalin, it is rebuilding itself after a disaster. In this case, rather than having been destroyed by an invasion of orcs, it was decimated by the Great Death. Now, a generation later, the town is starting to rebuild itself. However, banditry is rife, and the notorious group, 'Le Marchi Rossi,' now has a lot of influence in the town. The fabled Lost Mine nearby was a forge during the Hostwar. You may want to play up which faction ends up with control of the mine at the end of the adventure.

Dungeons and Dragons has a tradition of monstrous humanoids. In this adventure, there are tribes of these monsters at the Cragmaw Hideout and Cragmaw Castle. It is unusual for these monsters to reach so far into the heart of Tirenia - you may…

Recommended Reading: Nonfiction

The Renaissance is an extremely popular time period, and there is a lot of very readable and informative popular history books that are readily available, ready to give more details about any topic in which you are interested. There are books about the artists, the politicians, the warriors, the famous men and women; there are more specialised works about different aspects of society. (An article about shopping, inspired by one of these books, is coming down the pipeline!) In addition, modern travel writing can be very good for talking about the feel of a place, what the most important locations are, and giving an overview of the history and personalities. I am not going to touch on those topics because there's far too much out there! Instead, these are my favourite overviews of the entire Renaissance.

The Renaissance in Europe by Margaret L. King

This book is intended to be an introductory textbook for university students or just those who are interested in the topic. It is divid…

Recommended Reading: Period Sources

There is a huge amount of literature from the Renaissance that survives to the modern day, and it is all worth reading to get into the head of people living at the time, and to add the small details that can really make a game pop. Here are four works that I particularly recommend for Dragon Princes.
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
This book is a collection of a hundred short stories told by a group of young nobles while they hide away from the Black Death. The description of the plague is horrific and excellent for Dungeon Masters who want to include it in their games. But the hundred short stories, in a wide variety of genres, are great for understanding Renaissance social life and attitudes, and seeing a huge range of possible NPCs for a game.

The Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso) by Dante Alighieri
This poem is the story of a mystical trip that the author takes from the depths of Hell to the heights of Heaven. It was (and is) immensely influential for the popular…

Dragons of Tirenia: The Golden Horde and the Last Gold Dragon

Not all of the gold dragons are dead.

At the fall of the Auromian Empire, the last surviving gold dragons fled Tirenia for distant lands. Tirenia is often myopic in its focus, and so their survival went unnoticed. Over time, the Golden Emperor unified Tataria. Tataria is wrongly dismissed as a backwards, barbaric land by the Tirenians, and so this went unnoticed. The Golden Emperor then brought his Tatarian horsemen to bear against far-distant Cataia. There was a brief hiccup in the trade of silks, but when the silk trade resumed, the Tirenians paid it no notice. Eventually a Vanzenian trader, Niccolo Defusah, travelled to the court of the Golden Emperor, where he was given many rich gifts and told the Emperor all about his home. Defusah has since returned home, but few have noticed the threat implicit in the story of his travels - of course a foreign court would mimic Tirenian dragon iconography!

The Golden Horde is mustering. The Emperor's bodyguards, a legion of half-dragons th…

Dragons of Tirenia: The Brass Dragons

The brass dragons are the only dragon bloodline that have not claimed land. They deplored how the evil dragons had dominated Tirenia, and swore to oppose them. However, they see the actions of the other good dragons as hypocritical and self-serving - freeing humans from oppression by taking control yourself will just trade one master for another. The brass dragons have gone into deep cover, hiding themselves among the cities. They work to promote the humanist agenda. Some foment rebellion, working to destroy the hold that the dragon princes have upon the land. Others have a more day-to-day approach, simply trying to make the world a better place. When their work is done - or when their cover is broken - they depart, only to start again in a new place. The brass dragons are not unified in the same way that the others are, although they try to have a passing knowledge of where their kindred are at any given time, and try to help each other out if needs be. But these dragons are socialit…

Recommended Reading: Young Adult Fiction

I've been reading a lot of books set in Renaissance Italy. Dungeons and Dragons has a famous appendix of recommended reading: this is the beginning of a similar list for Tirenia! Here's the first group: a series of excellent books for younger readers that are great inspiration for players and Dungeon Masters alike! As I find more recommendations, I'll update this list.

The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
Anything by Diana Wynne Jones is always worth reading on principle! But this story is particularly relevant for us, set in an alternative world where magic is commonplace. It's part of a series, but no prior knowledge is required, and tells a Romeo and Juliet inspired tale of feuding wizard families. Diana Wynne Jones is always superb at making magic feel unique, alive and quirky. The Italian setting is also very well realised. While not set in the Renaissance, there is a lot to recommend this book!

The Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman
One of my players recom…

Character Creation: An Overview of Character Classes

No one in Tirenia knows what a character class is. Most people define themselves and others based on what their job is, rather than how they do that job. In game terms, this means that a person's Background can be more important for their identity than their class. A 'barbarian' might be a brawling sailor, a fierce mercenary, or an incensed farmer fighting in a rebellion. While mechanically, all three of these people are identical, they would not see themselves as having anything in common. A preacher who can delivery powerful speeches and a nun with the gift of divine healing, on the other hand, are considered the same. While the one may be a Rogue and the other a Cleric, both have the Acolyte background.

Another thing to consider is that the typical person cannot tell the different types of magic apart. This is aided by the rhetoric of the Church. Divine magic is seen as miraculous, and a gift from the Sacred One or the Saints. It is considered to be good. Most other mag…

Dragons of Tirenia: The Benevoli and the Black Dragons

Sunny Southern Tirenia has more farming villages, and fewer cities, than the north. It is famous for its historic culture, and the advances that were made in philosophy, literature, the arts, science and mathematics. But today it is famous for a more insidious menace - crime. While small feudal landowners might officially have say, organised crime is rife in the south. The 'Benevoli', the Benevolent Men, portray themselves as businessmen and community leaders. But they are involved in protection rackets, smuggling, gambling, prostitution, embezzlement, and many other illegal businesses. Most of the local lords are under the thumb of the Benevoli, and those who attempt to stand against them are destroyed through scandal, intimidation, or murder.

The secretive leaders of the Benevoli are each responsible for crime throughout a large swathe of southern Tirenia. And, unknown to all but their most trusted underlings, they are black dragons. Rather than infiltrate political structur…

Dragons of Tirenia: Ercolia and the Dead Dragon

Ercolia was an ancient seaside city, believed to have been founded by the mythical hero Ercole in the years after the Hostwar. It became popular under the Auromian Empire as a holiday destination, and its hot-water springs were believed to have healing properties. However, Ercolia was destroyed a long time ago during a volcanic eruption. Even one of the gold dragons who was there at the time, a member of the imperial family, was killed. The lava flows and the ash completely buried the city, and it was lost to history.

But not for much longer.

Aurelius Victor Incantator Divus was the uncle of the Emperor and a mighty wizard. He cast a great spell as he perished to ensure his survival. His body was almost destroyed, but his indomitable will kept him alive - barely. It took an excruciatingly long time for the dragon-wizard to free himself, and his sanity is the poorer for it. Eventually, however, the undead, mummified corpse freed himself - to find that the world had changed. The eternal…

Campaign Conversions: The Five Factions

Wizards of the Coast has released a series of very popular adventures for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition. Each of these adventures is intended to be a shared experience for players around the world. While they are set in the Forgotten Realms, many of the adventures include notes on how to convert them to other worlds. Each of these adventures can be converted to Tirenia with only a few adjustments.
One of the biggest adjustments is one that affects almost every adventure released by Wizards of the Coast. For its Adventurers' League series, five factions have been created, who act as the players' patrons. Factions and patronage are extremely important in Tirenia. All of these five factions can be converted or replaced easily. Here are some suggestions for five iconic Tirenian factions to replace the five Faerunian factions.
The Emerald Enclave: Tirenia has been inhabited for a very long time. As a result, it does not have an environmental organisation that is the equivalent…

Daily Life: Women in Tirenia

The Renaissance was an enlightened time in many ways. Its attitude towards women is not one of them. Female infanticide existed, and girls had very limited opportunities for education. As adults, women were expected to marry, become servants, or to become nuns - regardless of their personal wishes. In fact, women being forced to become nuns because their fathers could not or would not pay their dowries was regarded as a serious problem, leading to the creation of a public dowry fund in Florence and elsewhere. Otherwise, prostitution was widespread, often as a career of last resort.

Women have a better experience in Tirenia than their historical counterparts would have had in Italy.  While broad gender roles are still in place, Tirenia is more accepting of women. La Salvatrice, the founder of the church, was a woman after all! Men and women are considered equally important by the vast majority of people. Women can become soldiers, scholars, artists, artisans, magicians, priests, or any…