Proppian Player’s Guide (Oct 20 DRAFT)

Here is the next installment of the Proppian Player’s Guide.

Spending the last two weeks in a cabin in the Finger Lakes has continued to inspire the development of the guide, as has The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe and a few fairy tales I’ve had my head planted within. We’ve experienced autumn and winter in the same week, and it’s been memorable — lots of hauling wood and fire-stoking, interspersed with storytelling and lots of writing.

The result in this guide is more depth in the NPC classes, and at the request of some upcoming players to the realm, more information on the key nations of the region that they’ll begin in. These nations will be fleshed out in much more detail in the Proppian Storyteller’s Guide, since it’s information that shouldn’t be well known by the players, since the idea is to have them learn it in-game. However, to get my new players in the right frame of mind to create their characters, it helps to have some basis for their made up reality.

New NPC classes include:

Acrobat: Sneaking about the urban landscape under cover of darkness, the acrobat balances tight rope walking with weapon finesse to provide an athletic character class.

Friar: Traveling the world to preach their own interpretation of the gospel, friars know much of the world and contemplate the afterlife often. Others may see them as overly dogmatic, but they insist they are faithful to their faith, and this keeps them going as they journey from hamlet to township, making observations that they tie back to ancient parables in homilies delivered to all who will listen.

Hunter: Wandering the forest in search of food, hunters have learned where to aim, how to stand, and when to attack their prey. This makes them formidable foes in woods, cities, and dungeons, wherever they may roam.

Jongleur: The ballads sung by wandering minstrels don’t do their adventuring lives justice. In their long-winded tales, they tend to dance around the central theme as well as they dance rings around the local nobility and robber barons alike with their wordplay and wit.

Merchant: Nearly every society requires commerce to thrive, and who but merchants ensure that commerce is successful. Found in almost every settlement, merchants live for one of two things: to see the community prosper through their individual actions, or to see themselves prosper as the expenses of the community grow.

Scholar: Living physically sheltered lives in cloisters and monasteries, these true monks known as scholars receive exemplar educations. Others call them bookish, but when the need for ancient knowledge or other long-dead lore arises, they are often the only ones able to provide the proper perspective for the situation.

Shepherd: Astute animal handlers with aptitude for deep thinking and spending long periods of time in concentration, shepherds are known for their no-nonsense understanding of the ways of the world.

Tinker: Toiling away in their laboratories, tinkers develop new devices to solve society’s problems. Some of these improvements are seen on the battlefield, others in the healer’s tent, and still others remain in their labs, to one day be discovered by some courageous adventurer.

Get the latest version of the fairy-tale-oriented, Medieval guide here. Remember that this guide is still under development, to be released by the end of this year.

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Wild Arbors of Mahdihly Vale

Outlaws defied the local law, setting up a camp in the local baron’s private wood. On a sacred night for believers of the dominant religion in the area, the Baron Allain sent his men into the wood, attacking the outlaws while they were in prayer. The outlaw men were hanged from the trees overhead while their families watched. They wept and prayed out loud, finally shouting insults at the baron’s men.

One of the women shouted, “for many days have these men cared for your arbors! May these trees enact a tax on your bloodthirsty life!”. She was run through on the spot by the baron himself.

A week later, he passed through the scene of the crime on his way back from battle with a small retinue, including some of the men who carried out the hangings. The baron never made it home that night, nor did any of his men. When his castle guard returned to investigate, they noted that the roots of the trees had grown in a circular barrier and that the baron and his men’s bodies were found hacked to pieces in the corral, and there were no signs of his horses, nor the corpses of the outlaws that had been left to rot.

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Proppian Player’s Guide (Oct 1 DRAFT)

Welcome to Proppia, a fantastic land of medieval fairy tales, where knights in plate armor occupy turreted castles of stone, where struggling merchants hawk exotic wares in the town squares, where an ordinary journey becomes a dangerous adventure, where priests claim miraculous powers, alchemists bent on affecting the world mix powerful concoctions, and where scholars study arcane tomes written in long-dead languages for the secrets to powerful incantations.

Based on feudal medieval history, this world is chaotic and violent, and differs from traditional d20 worlds in that arcane and divine magic are hard for player characters to acquire and require intense in-game activity to wield. Without instant healing and three fireball spell slots a day to ward off the many bandits, the roads and rivers are unsafe, let alone the deep wilderness with its dark denizens. In the monarchies, republics, theocracies, and military states, bribery and corruption are as commonplace as poverty and superstition. The fears and superstitions that manifest in the songs of bards and the whispers in dark corners of taverns are likely true, though often embellished when shared with the intoxicated masses.

In this midst of this general disorganization, expansionist kingdoms send their armies to ravage the countryside, strange creatures infest underground mines, thieves stalk mountain passes, witches intone loathsome curses, and various cults deliver dogmatic sermons in forest clearings as they vie for the allegiances of the people. Aggressive animals and strange creatures have reported throughout the land, especially in the forests.

The world of Proppia is inspired by Europe between the 15th and 16th centuries, covering the end of the Dark Ages, the emergence of the Renaissance, and the folk tales captured by the Brothers Grimm and others. The new ideas of the Renaissance have begun to usher in a period of change to the world. The strange, miraculous and magical elements simply reflect popular beliefs, superstitions and myths. This is an era before formal logic or widely-accepted science, a time when anything is still possible in the minds of the people. In short, if medieval Europe believed something might be true, in Proppia it may actually be true. In fact, the players are responsible for and encouraged to bring the fantastic ideas from fairy tales to life within the world. This is, after all, your story; your place to game. Make it fun.

Over the course of the campaign, you will travel across many lands, meet diverse personalities, wage war, crawl from from the ashes of battle, and discover and wield new and ancient magics. You will explore many different city and nation states, castles, hamlets, monasteries, dungeons, and a dangerous, unforgiving landscape of moors, primeval forests, and deep caverns. You will encounter unique creatures as well as those traditionally found in fantasy role playing settings. You will trip over and unwillingly discover specially-designed traps.

There are many opportunities to perform heroic deeds that live forever in the minds of the people, and that fill your purse. If you travel far and wide and accomplish enough, you will be known among Sigfried, Beowulf, Roland, Frodo, and other heroes whose stories are still told today. You may even have your story told and retold by each new generation. One of the goals of Proppia is to generate enough story material for a series of medieval fairy-tale sagas.

And so you are invited to relax your notion of the rigid rules of the 3.5 (and 4th ed) systems and enter Proppia, a world where history and fantasy meld together in a low-magic, high-adventure campaign of politics, intrigue, and mystery. Tiptoe forward from the back of the tavern and take the stage as a lead character in Proppia, and prepare yourself for a lifetime of quests and heroic adventures…

Download a draft copy of the Proppian Player’s Guide. Note that it’s still in the works, but is coming along.

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As the dust from the swordfight clears, there is one man standing. In profile, he is tall and slender, and when the light of the re-lit lanterns fills the room, his bruises become apparent. He holds one hand over his eyes squinting in the brightness of the light, a stoic expression over the rest of his face.

Lars and his traveling companion Faris hail from the eastern edge of Besht, where they live in an intentional community of woodsy folk. His skills in leatherwork give him a keen eye for craftsmanship, and his long hours of toil have tightened his muscles.

Mild-mannered and soft spoken, he is not quick to respond to stimuli, unless he feels immediately threatened, but when he does speak, his words ring with the wisdom of one who has lived on his own for much of his life.

Male Human; Medium Humanoid ( Human )
Fighter2 Expert1
Hit Dice: (2d10)+(1d6)+3
Hit Points: 29
Initiative: +6
Speed: Walk 30 ft.
AC: 16 (flatfooted 14, touch 12)
Attacks: Dagger +4; Dagger (Thrown) +4; Shortbow +5; *Sword, Short +4;
Damage: Dagger 1d4+2; Dagger (Thrown) 1d4; Shortbow 1d6; *Sword, Short 1d6+2;
Face / Reach: 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Qualities:
Saves: Fortitude: +4, Reflex: +2, Will: +4
Abilities: STR 15 (+2), DEX 14 (+2), CON 12 (+1), INT 12 (+1), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 8 (-1)
Skills: Appraise: 1; Balance: 0; Bluff: -1; Climb: 3; Concentration: 2; Craft (Leatherworking): 2; Craft (Untrained): 1; Diplomacy: -1; Disable Device: 3; Disguise: -1; Escape Artist: 0; Forgery: 1; Gather Information: -1; Handle Animal: 3; Heal: 2; Hide: 0; Intimidate: 3; Jump: 1; Knowledge (Geography): 2; Knowledge (History): 2; Listen: 4; Move Silently: 0; Ride: 6; Search: 1; Sense Motive: 3; Spot: 2; Survival: 2; Swim: 1;
Feats: Armor Proficiency (Heavy), Armor Proficiency (Light), Armor Proficiency (Medium), Improved Initiative, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency, Weapon Focus (Shortbow)
Challenge Rating: 2
Alignment: Neutral Good

Possessions: Arrows (50); Backpack; Bedroll; Buckler; Caltrops; Dagger; Flint and Steel; Outfit (Explorer’s); Rope (Silk/50 Ft.); Sack; Shortbow; Studded Leather; Sword, Short; Torch;

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There is a quick double thwap sound, and the boar falls to the mud before you, its snout landing on your chest. Rolling out from under the beast, a young man giggles as he approaches. “You’re not bored, are you?” he quips. As he retrieves his spent arrows from the deceased beast, you note his well-kempt features and the standard of a far-off land tattooed on the insides of his wrists.

Medium-size Male Human
Hit Dice: (3d8)+3
Hit Points: 27
Initiative: +3
Speed: Walk 30 ft.
AC: 15 (flatfooted 12, touch 13)
Attacks: Dagger +5;Dagger (Thrown) +6;*Shortbow +6; ;
Damage: Dagger 1d4+2;Dagger (Thrown) 1d4;*Shortbow 1d6; ;
Face / Reach: 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Qualities: Archery Combat Style, Favored Enemy (Giant) +2, Wild Empathy (Ex) +4
Saves: Fortitude: +4, Reflex: +6, Will: +2
Abilities: STR 14 (+2), DEX 16 (+3), CON 12 (+1), INT 11 (+0), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 13 (+1)
Skills: Appraise 0; Balance 3; Bluff 1; Climb 5; Concentration 3; Craft (Untrained) 0; Diplomacy 1; Disguise 1; Escape Artist 3; Forgery 0; Gather Information 1; Handle Animal 2; Heal 4; Hide 4; Intimidate 1; Jump 4; Knowledge (Dungeoneering) 1; Knowledge (Geography) 4; Knowledge (Nature) 4; Listen 4; Move Silently 6; Ride 3; Search 3; Sense Motive 1; Spot 5; Survival 5; Swim 4;
Feats: Armor Proficiency (Light), Endurance, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, Rapid Shot, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Track
Challenge Rating: 3
Alignment: Chaotic Good

Possessions: Arrows (20); Leather; Dagger; Outfit (Explorer’s); Shortbow;
Spells per Day: (0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/ DC:11+spell level)
Ranger – Known: None, as in Proppia, all magic is learned in-game.

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Padaric Malloy

Padaric Malloy is the leader of a small rebel unit that has held out against the Baroese army’s advances into its home nation. The group of wild-dwellers has evaded the large, organized army by living at the edge of a great forest. The Baroese tactics do not account for heavy forests. Malloy’s group is able to steal supplies and sneak attack the troops in their bivouacs when the sun is down. Malloy’s men and women number six.

Malloy himself was once a soldier, so he understands tactics. His recent need to survive in the the woods has led to his greater understanding of nature, and he has recently gained the ability to cast ranger spells.

Padaric Malloy
Medium-size Male Human
Fighter 5 Ranger 3

Hit Dice: (5d10)+(3d8)+8
Hit Points: 67
Initiative: +1
Speed: Walk 20 ft.
AC: 20 (flatfooted 19, touch 14)
Attacks: Dagger +12/+7;Dagger (Thrown) +9/+4; Shortbow (Masterwork) +10/+5; Sword +1 (Bastard) +14/+9; ;
Damage: Dagger 1d4+4; Dagger (Thrown) 1d4; Shortbow (Masterwork) 1d6; Sword +1 (Bastard) 1d10+5; ;
Vision: normal
Face / Reach: 5 ft. / 5 ft.
Special Qualities: Favored Enemy (Humanoid (Orc)) +2, Two Weapon Fighting Combat Style, Wild Empathy (Ex) +5
Saves: Fortitude: +8, Reflex: +5, Will: +1
Abilities: Str 18 (+4), Dex 12 (+1), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 9 (-1), Cha 14 (+2)
Skills: Appraise 0; Balance -4; Bluff 2; Climb 1; Concentration 3; Craft (Blacksmithing) 3; Craft (Untrained) 0; Diplomacy 2; Disguise 2; Escape Artist -4; Forgery 0; Gather Information 2; Handle Animal 6; Heal 2; Hide -1; Intimidate 10; Jump -5; Knowledge (Geography) 1; Knowledge (Nature) 3; Listen -1; Move Silently -4; Ride 5; Search 2; Sense Motive -1; Spot 1; Survival 1; Swim -4;
Feats: Armor Proficiency (Heavy), Armor Proficiency (Light), Armor Proficiency (Medium), Diehard, Endurance, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Sword (Bastard)), Leadership, Martial Weapon Proficiency, Power Attack, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency, Track, Weapon Focus (Sword (Bastard))
Challenge Rating: 8
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Possessions: Arrows (20); Arrows +1 (20); Banded Mail (Masterwork); Dagger; Medallion of Honor (AC Bonus+2) (Sacred); Shortbow (Masterwork); Sword +1 (Bastard); Wild Boots – AC Bonus (Insight) (+1);

Spells per Day: (0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/ DC:9+spell level)
Ranger – Known:
Level 1: Alarm, Animal Messenger, Charm Animal, Delay Poison, Detect Animals or Plants, Detect Poison, Entangle, Jump, Longstrider, Magic Fang, Pass without Trace, Resist Energy, Speak with Animals, Summon Nature’s Ally I

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Soup Stone

Dropped into a cauldron or pot filled with water, this knobby stone will leak the taste of onions, carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables into the mix, proving a nutritious and tasty meal. The stone shrinks by a negligible margin with each use; a new soup stone lasts up to a year.

This meal will not cover all the nutritional needs of an adventurer, but will provide more than half, making soup stones a valuable, if not expensive item. Multiple soup stones add to the nutritious value of the meal, and make the meal tastier.

Unfortunately, if soup stones get wet (by rain or accidental dunking in a river), they wear away much quicker.

To make a soup stone, the caster must be able to create food through magical means and must be able to enchant objects. Price: 750 gp.

Drawing by Ben Dare.

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Dogs of War

Dogs of war and men of hate
With no cause, we don’t discriminate
Discovery is to be disowned
Our currency is flesh and bone
— the bard band Floidus Pinkus

Dogs of War
Size/Type: Medium Outsider (Neutral, Extraplanar, Lawful)
Hit Dice: 8d8+16 (52 hp)
Initiative: +7
Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
Armor Class: 22 (+3 Dex, +6 natural, +3 hide armor), touch 13, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +8/+16
Attack: Bite +13 melee (1d8+3/19-20 plus 1d6 electricity)
Full Attack: Bite +13 melee (1d8+3/19-20 plus 1d6 electricity)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon, electric bite
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., immunity to electricity, scent, vulnerability to water
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +6
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 11, Cha 4
Skills: Intimidate +15, Jump +16, Listen +12, Spot +15, Survival +8*, Tumble +7
Feats: Alertness, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (bite)
Environment: Lawful plains, battlefields
Organization: Pack (5-12)
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always lawful neutral
Advancement: 9-12 HD (Large); 13-16 HD (Huge)
Level Adjustment: +3 (cohort)

A typical dog of war stands 5½ feet high at the shoulder and weighs 160 pounds.

Dogs of War are never encountered alone. They travel only in packs, and are often conscripted to fight both sides of large battles. They do not speak but communicate through a series of barks, yelps, and growls and can be taught battle commands.


Dogs of war are trained to fight as tight packs, using their strong initiative and skill with their razor-sharp teeth to swarm and flank their opponents. They are also often used as artillery, breathing bolts of lightning into melee.

The natural weapons of dogs of war are treated as neutral-aligned and lawful-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Breath Weapon (Su): 10-foot-long bolt that travels up to 100 feet, once every 3 rounds, damage 2d6 electricity, Reflex DC 17 half. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Electric Bite (Su): Dogs of war deal an extra 1d6 points of electric damage every time they bite an opponent, as if these bites are electric weapon.


Dogs of war have a +5 racial bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks, though these are rarely used, except in surprise raids.

*They also receive a +8 racial bonus on Survival checks when tracking by scent, due to their keen sense of smell.

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Toads of Troll Valley

Hugh Enfant is the ruler of the small city-state on the border of the Baroese Empire, along an ancient valley known for its swamps and trolls. He has been troubled by toads, and has ordered himself protected by his men. In response, his man-at-arms has had him suspended between two trees in a burlap sack, his head barely peeking through as he meets the party at dusk near the valley floor.

The telling of his story is interrupted by hundreds of toads, which swarm him mercilessly, devouring his flesh in front of their very eyes. The toads then hop off as they do, finding easy shelter in the valley’s swampy floor. His men scramble about, attempting to kill or capture the toads, to no avail.

The party is then sent by the man-at-arms to investigate the cause of this disturbance while Enfant’s men are faced with the task of burying their ruler somewhere in the valley where he may remain undisturbed. Unfortunately, toads are known to dig underground, so they will need assistance in this task as well, but that is something that can wait until they return.

Plot Resolution

The trolls of the valley have been turned into toads by a mischevious sorcerer who recently took up residence at the far end of the valley and found the trolls a nuisance. As the party investigates the valley, they will find abandoned camps that smell of licorice. Around the camps are hundreds of cocoons. They will find arcane markings along the trees as they near the sorcerer’s neck of the woods, and markings on standing stones, fractured boulders, and unnaturally-felled trees.

He is willing to turn the toads back into trolls if the trolls agree to leave the valley. Unfortunately, Enfant’s men will have none of this. It is up to the party to propose and enact a solution. If they still face the looming threat of the Baroese Empire, a crafty party will be able to turn all these forces against this common enemy.

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Fair Folk

Also known as children of deepwood, these short, slender, pale folk wander the woods throughout Proppia and the Farghoal. They are strong storytellers who revel in adventure that they can spin yarns about, and their song and dance is often heard before they are encountered in person. Fair folk seem mostly human except they are paler and have slightly oversized eyes due to their natural habitat. They have also been known to take up residence in caves and undersea grottos, living in these locations for periods of five years at a stretch before moving on.

They ride tiny horses (actually medium-sized). They wear long, flowing clothing of fine, highly-colored silk. They often wear wings in their dramatic productions and dances, but do not fly, contrary to certain folk tales.

Rumor has it that they are the descendants of elves who mated with humans, though they stand a mere 2-3 feet tall.

They only count in fives, and are usually encountered in groups of five. This is due to a superstition that runs deep in their culture. They are highly enamored with the truth and seek it with every interaction. Lying to them once means never having them trust you again. Though they themselves often pay for services with gold that turns into manure or cockleshells the next day.

They fear iron and collect bronze wherever they can.

Fair Folk as characters:

• Small: As small creatures, Fair folk have the usual +1 bonuses on AC, etc. due to their diminutive size.
• Fair folk base land speed is 15 feet, but they can move this speed even through the deepest forests.
• 4 extra skill points at 1st level and 1 extra skill point at each additional level, all to be applied to nature-based skills.
• Automatic Languages: Fair folk and one other fey tongue.
• Favored Class: Rogue, wizard. They tend to be both at even levels.
• Favored alignment: Neutral
• Unique Languages: Though each fair folk society speaks a strong dialect of the base fair folk language, each of the dialects is mutually intelligible by other fair folk.

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