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The Broken Isles


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This thread is where I’ll post early draft text from my fan setting for Magic World. The intention is to get feedback or at least provide material for others to raid for their home games.

I’ll start with the 3 A4 pages intended as a player handout.

3 Page Summary of the Broken Isles

Morg yanked the warhammer from the strangled legionnaire’s hands. The ceremonial hammer had a pleasing heft in the slave’s hands. Morg smiled grimly in the light of the burning tents. If enough giant and troll slaves rebelled, then the indigenous dwarves might find the courage to slaughter the whole legion. Perhaps Morg would not be worked to death in this cold foreign land after all. 

To make good use of the rules presented in Magic World this setting is an Iron Age archipelago where bloody conflict between the various nations and species of peoples is all too common; often due to the hidden influences of the gods of Light, Balance, and Shadow. Here wizards are rare but feared and drawn blades all too common. Into this world was born a man determined to be Emperor.

Magic World copyright Chaosium 2012. This article copyright Karl David Brown 2018.

Survival, ambition, the sea, cosmic forces

Magic World provides rules covering the unpleasant aspects of Iron Age life: disease, poison, seasickness, drowning, and fights that can leave you horribly wounded if not dead. However, overcoming these risks makes achieving your goals even sweeter. Ambition and grit can make a soldier an Emperor and allow a wizard to uncover powerful arcane knowledge, or they can die horribly trying.

Magic world also provides rules for ships and seafaring. The sea will be present as a god, as a means of travel, and as an environment for adventure. The campaign is set on islands and even when the sea is out of sight its influence can be felt.

The influence of the sea, the struggle to survive and reach your goals, the ambitions of an emperor are all obvious to any traveller. However, behind the scenes gods and cosmic forces struggle to exert their influence on the world.

The Broken Isles

The Broken Isles are a long archipelago stretching from the equator to the arctic and nearly as wide. The only other land mass is the continent of the elves separated from the Broken Isles by a vast ocean. This is a low magic setting where even a large town typically has only one spellcaster and resembles the real Iron Age and early Middle Ages in coastal Europe. Like the real Middle Ages, the people are divided by culture and are adapt at trade and war oscillating between the two. However, this is not a historical setting. As well as wizards with real power, the lands are home to numerous species of peoples, monsters, and spirits. 

Risks and Rewards

Most people of the world try to find somewhere safe to raise crops and children and perhaps be happy. This is not you. Whether driven for a desire for something more or your safe corner of the world being burned down, you are on a riskier path with great rewards for those that survive. Some of your adventures will address personal ambitions such as steal a powerful wizards grimoire or assassinate a mad king. However, whether you seek knowledge, power, or just a life of ease you need money to achieve these things. Therefore, money is often the glue that holds the ambitious and cut-throat together, if your allies won’t help you steal the wizard’s grimoire, pay them. If you can’t pay them get the money from somewhere, perhaps from the local chieftain who is offering a fat purse to mercenaries. Needless to say, the best paying jobs and the quests that can achieve your ambitions quickly are also the ones where you can get killed. You will have PCs die. Others will be so maimed they should hang up their sword. Fallen allies are a fact of the life your PCs have chosen.

Visual Style and References

The Broken Isles draw inspiration from a number of sources, which blended together give the setting its own look. The primary sources are historical Europe in the late Iron Age and early Middle Ages before gunpowder but skipping over the dark ages. Next add some inspiration from the pre-Christian myths and beliefs of those times. Finally, blend in my personal love of the sea and snatches of life on the coast from all over the world and across history; everything from free-divers, kayaks, whalers, Ancient Greeks, Inuit, Phoenicians, Polynesians, and Vikings have influenced the diverse cultures and look of the Broken Isles. That said the cultures described here-in do not really have any historical analogues.


Your characters will be blooded veterans. Whether soldiers, wizards, criminals, traders, or diplomats they are not only skilled at their job they have honed some method of surviving battle. Perhaps you are an armoured sword-master, or perhaps you are just good at dodging and running. Before even starting character creation, answer three guiding questions: what species is your PC, what did they do for a living, and what motivates them to face danger. Some typical characters follow.

·      A human sorcerer from the northern clans seeking arcane knowledge within the Empire.

·      A dwarf scout from a stronghold of the Broken Spine seeking gold for a dowry.

·      A shipwrecked elf sailor from Elfland who seeks a way home.

·      A young giant stone mason and escaped slave fleeing the Empire.

·      A gnome fisher consumed by vengeance after a dragon burned his warren’s fishing fleet.

·      An outcasted goblin stone-knapper and carver from an arctic island trying to survive.

·      A troll from a nomad tribe seeking his enslaved brother.

·      A young dragon hiring as a mercenary until she is strong enough to defend a territory.

·      A prince of a centaur chiefdom sent as a diplomat but turned away from the Emperor’s court. Too shamed to go back, he survives as hired muscle.

·      A talking cat astrologer from the Empire who knows deadly magic seeking a wealthy patron.

Iron Age

The technology of the most advanced nations of the Broken Isles is based on the equipment available in the Magic World rules, a blend of the best the Roman Empire had with the early Middle Ages, before about 1300CE. This world has had no Dark Ages. However, technical knowledge is not spread evenly. For example, elves are barely Iron Age in their capabilities except that they can build true ocean-going ships and use magical communication to govern large territories. Dwarves of the Broken Spine are as advanced as the Empire in crafts and mechanics but have never managed to unify beyond their squabbling city-state sized strongholds and therefore remain Chiefdoms.

World Lore


No two cultures agree on what the stars are but all except that movements of the heavens contain accurate omens and that when a star falls sometimes it has a heart of iron. However, every scholar knows there are three worlds. The Sun is a world of white fire. On a clear night we can see the Moon is a world of more forests and plains than oceans so high above us that air thins to nothing before the dragons can reach it. Perhaps rare and powerful wizards send spirits to learn the Moon’s secrets but if any have the power to do this, they keep this lore to themselves.

Even the rudest savage who is ignorant of the three worlds seeing them as great eyes or the wheels of gods’ chariots or other such non-sense knows of spirits. Spirits live in our world but are usually unseen and intangible. Magic can place spirits in physical bodies. Most spirits do this by possessing physical living beings, elementals can animate non-living matter to make a body, and demons can magically create unnatural bodies. There are many kinds of spirits such as those that cause disease, elemental spirits of nature, and ghosts of the dead. The most powerful spirits are the gods, these include ghosts of mythical Champions, potent demons, and massive nature spirits.

The Broken Isles

So, what of the one world we can know? The one we live on. Any child can tell you most of the world is covered by oceans. Land is restricted to the distant continent of Elfland and our own archipelago, the Broken Isles. Only the Homeland Elves can build ships capable of surviving the open ocean crossing to Elfland. Today the elves send so few ships and take no passengers so our Broken Isles may as well be the whole world. The Broken Isles cover roughly a quarter of the globe stretching from just south of the equator to the ice-locked isles of the northern pole. 

Most of the islands are of modest size; the smallest are little more than bare rocks home only to seabirds. Three however are quite large. The largest island is XXX which spans the whole of the temperate zone. The southern portion of XXX was once claimed by numerous small chiefdoms and kingdoms however over the last decade all of these have been swallowed up by the expanding Empire. Only the cold north of the island remains unconquered, an area dominated by the massive elven forest-state of YYY. The other two large islands are the two halves of the Broken Spine. Far to the north west of the Empire the islands of the Broken Spine are two mountain ranges rising sharply out of the sea separated by a deep sea-filled fissure. The Broken Spine is the homeland of the dwarves and even today few people of other species live there. The hundreds of smaller islands are covered by a great diversity of nature and peoples we could not hope to cover in this small treatise.

Peoples of the Broken Isles

Once the peoples of the world lived on their own islands. Today the citizens of cosmopolitan ports and cities include dwarves, elves, giants, gnomes, goblins, humans, and trolls mingling amongst each other without much remark. Humans in particular are now so common the elves call them a plague. However, there are rare peoples who would draw the stares or blades of even the most jaded dock dweller. Most people will only ever see one or two dragons, centaurs, or talking beasts in their life. All of these peoples have numerous and varied cultures further adding to the bewilderment of travellers.


In the God War the primordial gods scarred and cratered the land and created the first Champions who became gods in death. The gods we think of as nature gods won the war and their creations dominate the world. However, goblins created by selfish gods of magic grew in number enslaving many islands until the elves arrived from across the ocean and warred upon the goblins. The time of elves lasted only a thousand years because fecund humans freed of goblin predation grew in number and came to dominate many islands. A decade ago, a general claiming to be a Champion like the legends of old usurped the throne of XXX and proclaimed that an empire would cover the world. So far, the Empire has absorbed a dozen small neighbouring chiefdoms. The elves of YYY call for an end to the Empire’s expansion and openly support chiefdoms that resist absorption into the Empire.  



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5 hours ago, rsanford said:

I particularly like the seafaring aspects.

Yeah, the idea of island hopping is very appealing... like myriad little kingdoms to visit without so much concern for having to cross mountains/deserts/enemy terrain.
Lots of possibilities for aquatic monsters, storms to blow you 'somewhere else'.

Edited by Simlasa
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40 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

Yeah, the idea of island hopping is very appealing... like myriad little kingdoms to visit without so much concern for having to cross mountains/deserts/enemy terrain.
Lots of possibilities for aquatic monsters, storms to blow you 'somewhere else'.

Deserted islands with sorcerers and pirates, evil mer-people, strange priest found alive floating on shipping pallets, lots of sea monsters...

Check out our homebrew rules for freeform magic in BRP ->

No reason for Ars Magica players to have all the fun!

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 The three page summary is intended as the minimum information needed by players. Casual players could be given the 3-pager and a regenerated character and be ready to start learning the game through play. What follows is the first part of the Player's intended to provide further information to player and chroniclers so that players can gain a better appreciation of the setting and make characters that belong to this world. 

As with the 3-pager this is a draft text for discussion.

A Player’s Guide to The Broken Isles


A gritty low fantasy. Creatures that look obviously unnatural have their origins with the gods of Light or Shadow. 

The player characters are not novices on the path from zero-to-hero or swashbuckling high-fantasy adventurers. Instead you’ll play hard-bitten veterans, cynical rogues, or skilled professionals. Experience rolls using relevant skill category characteristic (p51) is in use to encourage those who favour brawn or personality over brains. 



Magic World provides rules covering the unpleasant aspects of Iron Age life: disease, poison, seasickness, drowning, and fights that can leave you horribly wounded if not dead. However, overcoming these risks makes achieving your goals even sweeter. Ambition and grit can make a soldier an Emperor and allow a wizard to uncover powerful arcane knowledge, or they can die horribly trying. Your PCs will find themselves in a world increasingly concerned with the ambitions of one man, the Emperor who is trying to bring the world under the laws and faith of his homeland. The effects of this one man’s crusade are felt even in nations distant from the battlefronts as refugee’s and slaves arrive, trade is disrupted, and emissaries of the Empire influence local rulers.

The Sea

The Sea is a god. The sea’s vastness represents freedom but also fickle fate bringing fair skies one day and storms the next. On a world of islands, the sea is an important source of food and the road that brings trade and war. On a more individual level the PC’s senses should experience the sea through the Chronicler’s descriptions. The colours of tropical fish, the steel on steel of a clouded sky over arctic waters, the tang of the salt air, the stink of rotting seaweed, sweaty humidity, cutting icy winds, the taste of saltwater, being dragged under by a crashing wave, the stillness of a becalmed ship, your heart slowing in response to the pressure as you dive deeper. Even on the islands, the sea is never far away and its presence will be felt through the senses.

Cosmic forces

While the sea and ambitions will dominate the PCs view there is an unseen game being played by the gods. The gods are aligned into factions that rally behind one of the three philosophical forces of the universe. Light represents order and a knowable universe. The forces of Shadow prefer mystery, creativity, and chaos. The gods of Balance see the struggle between Light and Shadow as merely part of the process of the universe, if either Light or Shadow triumphs the result is the same end to all things. Mortals are but pawns in this three-way struggle but insightful pawns glimpse the truth and powerful mortals are recruited and empowered by the gods.

More to come!


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Optional Rules

There are a number of optional rules in the core book. Whether or not they are used in this world is summarised here:

       Heroic Hit points MW15 NO

       Experienced Adventurers MW22 YES Veterans

       Custom Adventurers MW23 NO

       Experience rolls using relevant skill category characteristic p51. YES

       The effect of armour on all non-combat skills (-25%) p76 NO

       Spell casting requirement options p97. NO

       Train to maintain MW220. YES

Furthermore, the Advanced Sorcery supplement for Magic World provides more options for spells and potions. These are discussed in the section on magic. In this setting the Advanced Sorcery rules represent rare arcane knowledge that must be discovered during play and is not available during character generation. 

·      Advanced Sorcery chapter YES. Extra spells are rare and not available during character generation

·      Deep Magic NO.

·      The Summoner’s Art YES. With additions covering summoning spirits. Each entity you wish to summon requires a separate ritual that must be discovered during play.

·      Necromancy YES. The effects on Allegiance are different in this setting.

·      Rune Magic NO.

·      Arete NO.

·      The Three Incantations Maybe. are thought to be only rumours.

·      Herbalism YES. See the notes in the magic section of this document.

·      Fey Magic of the Southern Reaches NO.

Getting Started

The chronicle is the connected series of adventures you are about to start. Some games call this a campaign. Before you get started sit down with your group and talk about the chronicle to ensure everyone is on the same page.


What’s in? First the chronicler should suggest the kind of adventures they plan. Will there be maritime exploration and naval battles, struggle and intrigue on the streets on one city, heists and double-cross, mercenaries and battles, or something else, or a mix of all these things? Players should feel free to suggest small changes or additions.

What’s out? No-one wants a nasty surprise during the game. If your chronicle was a film what would it be rated? The chronicler should suggest a rating but anyone can overrule them to make the content more safe but not less. Most chronicles are going to be PG (parental guidance for ages 15+) or perhaps R (ages 18+) unless children are playing. The chronicler should take each player aside and ask if there is any topic that is to not be included. Don’t pry as to why just accept the answer. Some things excluded might be really big fires, spiders, overly gory descriptions, slavery etc. but really it might literally be anything. For example, slavery is a fact of life in many cultures of the Broken Isles as it was in most real historical Iron Age cultures due to strong economic forces. We all know it was horrible and wrong but seeing it in fiction does not upset us because it is utterly removed from our experience. However, in some real countries the legacy of slavery is still very real to some. If a player does not want to talk about slavery, then ‘poof’ all the slaves vanish from your version of the Broken Isles.


By default, the Broken Isles assumes a gritty tone of characters striving to survive and perhaps achieve their goals. If the chronicler is planning and even grimmer horror tone or a lighter tale of heroic daring do now is the time to tell the players.

How are character pairs handled?

All players should generate one character before play. Ideally, a player would also later generate a second character. The two characters created by a player are never in use at the same time. Some chroniclers will only let the second character enter play after the first has died. Having the second character ready means a player can jump right back into the game after a death. Other chroniclers will allow players to switch characters between adventures or even during quiet period during adventures! This approach is especially useful if your chronicler allows dolphin PCs or if, after many adventures your giant gets huge! It also allows the characters to put together teams with the right skills for a specific mission from their circle of friends.

Character concepts

Before starting you should have an idea of the kind of character you want to make. Bear in mind the content and tone of the chronicle when doing this. A concept sentence of 10-30 words is usually enough. See the three-page Player’s Handout for some examples. Consider including a goal or ambition in this sentence. Having a goal fits the character to the campaign theme of ambition, helps you make decisions in character, and suggests to the chronicler encounters they might include in your adventures.

Next, choose a species, culture, and occupation to suit the concept. For now, just write the names of your choices we’ll fill in the details later.

Group Language

Once all the players have a concept, discuss which language will be the known by all characters. Often this will be the language spoken by the culture most of the PCs come from. In a multicultural group Traid, a creole used by travellers and merchants, is a good choice. Language proficiency is represented by a percentage. During character generation players should get this group language to at least 50%, the level of skill for completing everyday tasks (conversations) without a test. During character generation there will be opportunities to add 60% to any skill of your choosing; choosing the group language is the easy way to exceed 50%. If at the end of character generation your character’s skill in the group language is not 50% or greater then aging the character into middle age can supply more skill points (MW17). 

There is no ‘Common Tongue’ spoken everywhere in the world. Beyond cosmopolitan port docks and markets even Traid is rare. Therefore, having a diversity of languages in your group, even at low levels, is an advantage but unlike the Group Language is not mandated. The Understanding spell is very useful.


As always any comments on this first-pass draft text are always welcome.

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More guidance for creating your character concept...


The world has only a small number of species of intelligent peoples. Of these you may be from any intelligent species that dwells on land. There are also whales in the sea and in some very maritime campaigns the chronicler might allow you to play a dolphin.

Humans are the most numerous and widespread species in the Broken Isles. However, humans do not dominate the Isles and perhaps make up only 30% of the population of the Isles. Many islands have almost no humans present. The distant continent of Elfland has a population of nearly entirely elves. The breakdown of the population of the Broken Isles is as follows:

Common PC species: dwarfs 8%, elves 10%, gnomes 8%, humans 30%, giants 10%, goblins 20%, and trolls 7%. 

Uncommon PC species: centaurs 2%, dragons 3%, talking beasts 2%.

These numbers do not include the intelligent dolphins, orca, and sperm whales who perhaps out number land dwellers 2:1. In some campaigns, dolphins are a PC species. Ask your Chronicler.


Some of the numerous cultures of the Broken Isles are described in detail later. You could pick from them or work with the Chronicler to create a minor culture of your own. For character generation purposes, cultures have their own language and are classified as Band, Chiefdom, or Tribe. There is also a new Solitaire option presented here. If the number of specific cultures is overwhelming, you could for now just note the type of culture. The chronicler might be able suggest a specific culture that fits your concept or their campaign.


Occupations are limited by culture. Consult the rules for your culture’s type for a list of available occupations. For Tribe, Chiefdom, or State cultures there is a new available occupation Navigator. In this world Government Officials (MW24) from State are often ordained priests and might begin with spells. Astrology really works in this world so astrologers can make fine investigators and advisers. If an expensive piece of equipment is central to your concept, for example a longbow archer or an armoured knight, then it is a good idea to choose an occupation that grants extra money.

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  • 1 month later...


Now the groundwork has been laid, we are ready to create characters…

Read Survival Tips MW32 before making a character

Other than having a ransom, which is beyond the means of starting characters, this short section contains good advice. Most character’s will not begin with a weapon skill of 101 or higher either, but one weapon skill as high as you can get it is recommended. Not every encounter will end in a deadly fight, but battles will happen, and you should create a PC prepared to survive one way or another. The world is a pragmatic place and even the most scholarly wizard might consider a shield or perhaps armour under that voluminous robe before heading towards a battle.


Your species determines the allowed starting ranges of your characteristics (see below), Move, base skills, and perhaps special abilities or limitations. Please read the information later in this document on the species you selected; some vary a little from the presentation in Magic World. There is an error on MW21, human Move is 8, not 10.


As described in Magic World characteristics determine your character’s innate abilities.

For Broken Isles characters, characteristics are determined in three steps.

1.     Rather than rolling dice, 83 points are distributed between characteristics while remaining within the ranges that could be rolled. This ensures you are able to play the kind of character described in your desired concept. Non–human characters also use 83 points, but the rollable ranges of each species are different. Using the same number of points puts all species on something closer to a ‘level playing field’.

2.     In either case you may use the Sorcerous Heritage rule (MW103) exchanging 2pt from any one other Characteristic for a single point of POW. This may take you to one higher than what could be rolled for your species and therefore may be useful even if the point buy system is used.

3.     In the Broken Isles player characters begin as veterans. As per the rules for veterans (MW22) you will add one point to POW (to a maximum of 2 points above the maximum that could be rolled) and one point to one other characteristic (to a maximum of one higher than could be rolled).

Other than the 83 points instead of rolling, rules for characteristics and derived characteristics are as given (MW14).


Other than Solitaire these culture types are as described (MW18) except the Government Official occupation from State cultures can be used to represent civilised priests who must add 1d4 extra points to Shadow, Light, or Balance (MW29) and may begin play with 1d4+6 levels of spells. Note that while many of the cultures (not types) described later are dominated by a species, culture and species are not synonymous. If you want to play a dragon living among elves you can. Note that species still determines your base skill %’s. This is for several reasons. The inherent physical and mental differences between species affect base skills. Additionally, species cannot interbreed, therefore families and communities of a species tend to pass some tendencies and traditions down through the generations.

Choosing an Occupation

Occupations list skills. Common sense with the approval of the Chronicler will often modify these lists. A centaur nomad does not need the Ride skill nor does a talking raven. A culture of water-nomads might have Sailing instead of Ride.

Practical Magic: Astrologer, Physician, Apothecary.

The herbalism rules from Advanced Sorcery are in use making the Potions skill more useful. Similarly, rules are given here for Astrology that does actually predict the future.

Government Official/Priest

Government officials from State type cultures can be described as priests and gain spells as noted above and add 1d4 points to Shadow, Balance, or Light (MW29).

Navigator (new occupation)

You are a necessary crew member of any ship able to navigate to all the trading ports. Your travels have shown you the known world and plenty of adventure but you long for more. Now you seek to find a voyage of exploration. When you discover new lands, your name will be remembered forever.

Skills: Sailing, Swim, Navigate, Nature, World Lore, Scribe, one other skill as a personal speciality, and one weapon skill.


Veteran Adventurers

The adventurers are not novices but hard-bitten veterans or skilled professionals (MW22). This changes the allotments of points added to skills as follows:

·      Characteristics adjusted as noted above.

·      Instead of +10 to three culture skills, add +40 to three culture skills.

·      The usual allotment for occupation skills is replaced by this more generous allotment:

o   +60 to two skills.

o   +40 to three skills.

o   +20 to three skills.

·      Rather than the usual allotment for personal hobbies add+40 to three skills and +20 to six skills. These should be skills not listed for your occupation or previously selected.

Group Language

During character generation players should get this group language to at least 50%, the level of skill for completing everyday tasks (conversations) without a test. One way to do this is if the Group Language is the ‘Own Language’ of your culture and you INT is 10 or greater. Alternatively, during character generation there will be opportunities to add 60% to any skill of your choosing; choosing the group language is the easy way to exceed 50%. If at the end of character generation your character’s skill in the group language is not 50% or greater then aging the character into middle age can supply more skill points (MW17). If at the end of character generation the Group Language is below 50% then increase the character’s age to gain more skill points (see below).

Reputation (new skill)

A new skill used to determine if others have heard of you. It in never part of an occupation skill list. It can be allotted points where you are given a free choice. Since magic use is rare and important in this world, base reputation is (number of spell levels known)%. Reputation is a Communication category skill. 

Unlike other skills, other people roll on your skill to see if they have heard of you. A special success will also have heard of the character’s most notable deed, their flashiest spell, and recognise them from description. A critical success will recognise them, be able to list the caster’s three flashiest spells, and be able to list the several of their noteworthy deeds. In places you have never been these levels of success are reduced one step or two if there is no shared language. A critical failure mistakes the character for someone else entirely. Reputation is checked for experience only after completing a notable deed that had witnesses or recognition. Adventurers thanked by the count with a feast after slaying a dragon would qualify.


It is imagined that most characters will begin older than the usual 17+1d6. At least 17+4d6 is recommended unless the PC’s early years were harsh and they had to grow up fast. The exceptions are dragons and giants who always begin at 17+1d6 and giants who have special rules for starting age. At 17+6d6 or older for every 1d6 over the 5th subtract 1 point from two characteristics or 2 points from one characteristic then add 20 points distributed across any skills you like.


For our veteran characters, if POW is 16 or greater and not a member of a spell casting occupation then you may choose to know up to 6 levels of spells rather than the usual 3 for novice characters. 

Instead of the usual amount of spells assign the following to spell casting occupations if the character has POW 16 or higher: sorcerers INT/2+3, shaman/priest/cultist 1d6+6, and for State culture Government Officials who are priests 1d4+6. 


Though all character sheets have scores for Allegiance most people of the world are ignorant of the great struggle between the three factions of the gods (MW28). Most people only think of their own gods as ‘good’ and those that oppose them as ‘evil’.  After character generation your PC only knows about the forces of Light, Balance, and Shadow if their World Lore is 50% or greater. Even if told about the three forces during play they may not have the understanding to cast off their lay-understanding of the myths and gods and accept the three forces are real unless their World Lore is 50% or greater.

Below are lists of traits used to describe the forces in the Magic World book. You’ll see that Light and Balance have some shared traits and that Light and Shadow include traits mortals consider good and evil. Write a short sentence describing your character’s personality using one trait from each of your two highest allegiance scores. This sentence might change as your scores change during play.

Traits associated with…









Freedom loving













Mindful of Security




Steward of nature








Starting Money and Prices

Starting money is determined in the usual way (MW23). There are several lists of equipment (MW34-36, MW72-75). More items are given below, all prices are bp:

Astrolabe 2000

Astrology Atlas 150 an atlas of the heavens filled with diagrams of the constellations and complicated charts

Arrow or crossbow bolt 1

Bedroll 10

Bottle, empty. Holds four goblets worth of fluid 20 

Cave Lair with one chamber 100 (representing the time and effort to find the cave and perhaps remove the previous occupant)

Cave Lair several chambers 1000 (representing the time and effort to find and perhaps remove the previous occupant)

Cave troll club: Base 25%, 2H, 1d10+db, 2H, Medium, no parry, STR/DEX 11/7, Class 5, cost 0. 

Chart for ocean crossing one-way common route 1500. If available in setting.

Charts, folio of 5 return journey ocean crossings 15000. If available in setting.

Ink, vial. 300

Great Axe, Large: Base 15%, 2H, 3d8+2+db, HP 37, Length long, Parry? Yes, STR/DEX 20/9, Weapon Class 9, Cost 222 BRP. A x1.4762 scale weapon weapon suited to starting giants, trolls, or extraordinarily strong humans.

Giant’s Maul: Base 25%, 2H, 3d6+db, Medium, 28hp, no parry, STR/DEX: 18/7, Class 5, cost 17

Longbow, Large: Base 10%. Damage 2d10+1+1/2db, Range 245, HP 18, Class 25, Parry N, STR/DEX 17/13, Cost 300 bp. A 1.5x weapon suited to starting giants, trolls, or notably strong humans. The biggest issue for starting characters is the cost. Bundle of 20 large arrows for 30bp. Large quiver 30bp.

Mead, goblet 2bp.

Mead, bottle 28 bp (note value of bottle alone above). 

Navigator’s Instruments. Depending on culture this could include astrolabe (see above), magnetic compass 700, kamal 5, quadrant 500, sunstone 1500, knotted line and float 10, map (not a chart for for ocean crossing) 10, blank book for a log 50, ink and quill pen (elsewhere in this list). 

Parchment sheet 4

Paper sheet 5. 

Quarterstaff, Bronze shod 25. The same as an iron shod one except it does not rust and polishes up nicely.

Quill pen 2

Quiver to hold 20 arrows 20

Sack, large made of sturdy canvas 3

Saddle and tack for huge beast or aerial or aquatic mounts. 600

Satchel, large leather 20 about half the capacity of a backpack but more stylish

Waterskin 4

Wine, good bottle 32 (note value of bottle above).

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  • 2 years later...

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PC Species

The differing species of peoples in the Broken Isles often live within the same cultures. However, due to differences in biology including size, diet, inability to crossbreed, and instincts each species forms a distinct sub-culture within the culture, much as some religious minorities do. This explains some of the differences in base skill %’s. However, regardless of species every character in a culture has the same list of cultural skills, with perhaps some commonsense substitutions when a species is incapable of using a skill, for example a centaur has no need for the Ride skill.



Dwarves are nocturnal humanoids originally adapted to the cold mountains. Stocky bodies conserve heat, broad noses pre-warm air before the lungs, and thick hair limits heat loss from the head.

Use the dwarf rules (MW169) with the following small changes.

Change SIZ to 2d4+2

Change the skill in bows (MW170) to skill in crossbows (Class 25).

Note that repair devise is a flat 40% regardless of DEX.

Dwarves begin with extra bronze pennies equal to POW squared or 324bp whichever is lower. POW is used as it also represents luck.

The Earthsense of dwarves makes them prone to sea sickness. Dwarves automatically fail any roll to avoid sea sickness.

Dwarves tend to be in the heavier half of the weight range given for their SIZ.

Simply record a species base skill of 25% for crafts (the Dwarf species craft skill of ‘Stone and Metal work’ is too broad. If this is further developed then individual crafts such as stonemason, blacksmith, whitesmith, or gem-cutting must be nominated recorded separately then raised. Other Crafts that are not stone and metal work are also at the base of 25%).

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Gnomes are small spry humanoids with bushy brows, rosy cheeks, silky hair and, in the men, beards. Gnome hair turns to snowy white in early middle age. Gnomes average only 2ft tall and mass 4 to 9 pounds. Physically weak, gnomes rely on keen minds and senses to survive. There is no size difference between the genders.

Gnome instincts are both more cautious and more curious than humanity. They avoid violence and unnecessary risks preferring to make peace or move on rather than fight. However, their love of learning, interest in new experiences, tradition of magical lore, and intellect make them valuable allies.

Many gnomes have lived in the towns and cities of other species for generations. Gnomes get along best within societies where violence is rare and therefore are most often found among humans, elves, and dwarves in towns where good will or the rule of law prevail.

Gnomes originated on a green and pleasant island far from the threat of other larger peoples. When the elves developed ships capable of crossing the vast ocean, they first reached the island of the gnomes just after the goblins first arrived and began to eat and sacrifice gnomes. The elves and gnomes quickly became fast allies. After the war the gnomes spread with the elves throughout the known world. Gnomes make good adventurers and excel in roles suited to their keen minds, small size, and limited strength.

Characteristic             Average           Minimum

STR     1d3                  2                      1

CON    3d6+1              11-12               4

SIZ      1                      1                      1

INT     4d6                  15                    4

POW   2d6+5              13                    7

DEX    2d6+10            17                    12

APP     3d6                  10-11               3

Move 6

Hit Points for average NPC 6

Damage Bonus (db) for average NPC -1d6

Armour: often nil but can wear any armour.

Skills: Art 15% (+10), Bargain 25% (+10), Sailing 00% (-15), Climb 15% (-25), Ride 00% (-35), Conceal Object 10% (-15), Hide 25% (+5), Move Quietly 30% (+10), Fast Talk 25% (+10), Oratory 15% (+10), World Lore 25% (+10) Craft 10% (+5), Scribe 05% (+05), Insight 20% (+5), Listen 20% (+5) Sense 20% (+5) Total 0.

Gnome scale gear generally uses a 1/3 multiplier. See my scaling rules. Gnome weapons do divide by 1/3 the damage of human weapons (d3’s and d4’s become 1pt, d6’s and become d2’s, d8’s and d10’s become d3’s, pluses are rounded down).

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