Forgotten Realms: Splendors & Shadow
The core Dungeon Fantasy adventurer templates from DF1: Adventurers are all more-or-less appropriate to the setting, though “nature-oriented” characters (barbarians, druids, scouts) will find their wilderness abilities less useful. The additional templates and options given in other DF titles may be suitable, but many of them tend to be over-specialized.
Any character without the Low Tech disadvantage may trade template melee (Axe/Mace, Broadsword, etc) or ranged (Bow, Crossbow, etc) weapon skills for appropriate TL4 skills – Fencing (Rapier, Saber, etc) or Guns (Musket, Pistol, etc), and may take TL4 versions of other template skills, e.g., Armoury (Small Arms), Engineer (Clockwork), etc.
Barbarians (DF1) – genuine primitives hailing from lands far from civilization – are a rarer and rarer sight in the city as the years go by. And yet, a handful show up each year, coming to trade their wares in the markets, or test their prowess and survival skills in the urban jungles and dungeons below. Barbarians will usually take the Low TL: Dark Ages disadvantage, meaning that they have no ability with TL4 skills or technologies (Fencing, Guns, etc), and can’t learn such skills, unless the GM allows them to buy off the disadvantage.
Bards (DF1) are naturally drawn to the city – the confluence of people (and their stories, magics, and valuables) draws them as much as the city’s famous bardic college, New Olamn. Many adventuring bards will take Bardic Magery (DF3, p. 20) in place of regular Bardic Talent. More martially-inclined bards might study the basics of a fencing style. Any character with Bardic Talent may use the house rules regarding Enthrallment skills. (Requires GURPS Magic.)
Clerics (DF1) of many faiths come to Waterdeep, whether to save souls, battle enemies of the faith, or spread the influence of their church. Those most likely to go adventuring aren’t high enough in the ecclesiastic hierarchy to be tied up in the liturgical duties and politics that tend to occupy the time of higher-ranking prelates. While the generic “Cleric of Good” presented in DF1 is setting-appropriate, serving Holy members of the Faerunian pantheon, each of the Realms’ deities has clergy and champions of their own, often with distinctive holy powers and spells — see Divine Realms. Clerics have the supernatural Holy (“Good”) Alignment. (Requires GURPS Magic; DF7: Clerics may be needed for clerics of specific deities.)
Druids (DF1) are rare in the city, but not unheard of. A circle of druids meets in the city cemetery on solstices and equinoxes, and more than a few have come to watch over the development of civilization, in the hopes of encouraging harmony with nature, or at least of countering the corruption that festers within the walls. Druids may be generic “Nature Priests,” as given in the template in DF1; they can also be priests of specific nature deities. Druidic characters will often take the Low TL: Dark Ages disadvantage, meaning that they have no ability with TL4 skills or technologies (Fencing, Guns, etc), and can’t learn such skills, unless the GM allows them to buy off the disadvantage. Druids have a supernatural Alignment towards Nature. (Requires GURPS Magic, and optionally, DF7: Clerics.)
Holy Warriors (DF1) (aka Paladins) most often come to the city to fight evil – to their reckoning, evil abounds both in the streets of Waterdeep and the passages of Undermountain. Some, particularly champions of the Holy Triad, are members of chivalric orders (such as the Knights of St Vigius and the Paladins of the Radiant Heart). For some deities and their individual champions, the warrior aspects of the template can be dropped, and the holy traits applied to another concept – swashbuckling holy warriors, trading heavy weapons and armor for fencing and speed (such as the Order of the Sun Soul); pious warrior-monks, with divine powers in addition to chi abilities (such as the Order of the Broken); holy mystic knights (such as the Knights of the Crescent Moon); etc. As with clerics, holy warriors dedicated to specific deities may be created, complete with distinctive Holy abilities. Holy warriors unsurprisingly have a supernatural Holy Alignment. (Optionally, rules from DF7: Clerics can be used.)
Knights (DF1) (aka Fighters) — not necessarily literal knights, i.e. warriors of noble birth, but soldiers and men-at-arms with the “knight” template — make up a good portion of the city’s mercenary and adventurer population: sellswords hoping to sign on with rich employers, or treasure hunters looking to wrest the fabled fortunes of Undermountain from its current owners by sheer force of arms.
Martial Artists (DF1) (aka Monks), though always a rare and exotic sight, arrive in increasingly numbers with ships from distant lands, passing through the city as a gateway to the West, or as a destination in itself – many find that they can learn much by applying their rarified arts against western foes. There are several monastic warrior orders unique to Faerun, as well as farther abroad (Shou monks of Kara-Tur, etc), some of which blend holy (or other) powers with esoteric combat abilities, such the Order of the Broken. And some practitioners of Waterfront Kickboxing elevate their fighting style to an art form.
Scouts (DF1) (aka Rangers) find the city to be a convenient stopover on long treks through the wilds of the North and West, and a place to winter when the snows are too intense even for them. Some are mercenaries or bounty-hunters, some protectors of the wild, others are wandering adventurers – and many deign to test their skills at survival and marksmanship in the dungeons below.
Swashbucklers (DF1) are a fairly common adventuring breed in the city, whether gentleman swordsmen, professional duelists, or scoundrels and pirates. While many prefer the more urbane confines of the city, a goodly number of them can’t resist the temptation of trying out their skills with a blade in the dungeons below. Some swashbucklers will study a particular fencing style, gaining signature moves and special capabilities; see Martial Arts.
Thieves (DF1) are thick as flies in the shadows of the city – in addition to at least one thriving thieves’ guild operating somewhere in the bowels of Undermountain, many freelancers and shady “entrepreneurs” find the confluence of people and their wealth to be an irresistible draw. Their stealth and trap-finding skills can make them indispensable in the dungeons below, and some might even learn a fencing style.
Wizards (DF1) most often come to the city in hopes of perusing the famous arcane libraries of Blackstaff Tower. Others come to seek the lost occult lore of the Mad Wizard, or perhaps the dark mystical arts of the drow, both rumored to be found in the dungeons below. Whatever one seeks in particular, Waterdeep is a center of magical learning. (Requires GURPS Magic.)
Evil Clerics & Unholy Warriors (DF3: The Next Level) who openly display their faith tend to find themselves scorned in Waterdeep. While not generally attacked or arrested on sight, they’re seldom greeted with warmth, and often blamed (rightly or wrongly) for bad things that happen around them. Like good clerics and holy warriors, many unholy clerics and warriors are “generic” servants of the Dark Gods in general, while others serve specific deities. All have the Unholy supernatural Alignment. (The evil cleric requires GURPS Magic, and either template can optionally use appropriate rules from DF7: Clerics.)
Artificers (DF4: Sages) are a rare but growing phenomenon, appearing with the sputtering start of the technologies of a new age – clockwork, gunpowder, and even the beginnings of steam-age technology. Waterdeep is a natural place for them to gather – a center of learning and trade – and Undermountain is the perfect testing ground for more adventurous inventors to break in their devices. Such inventors can come into their own in the setting by taking High TL.
Scholars (DF4: Sages) modular abilities can be useful where exotic skills are needed, provided that they have the time and resources to prepare. They tend to be a bit bookish for serious dungeon delving, however, and given the extra time required to make use of their abilities, they’re not optimal adventurers. Of course, the scholar lens can make a good level-up for a wizard or other intellectually-inclined character. Alternately, a scholar who scrapes up enough points for a suitable lens (Scholar-Cleric or Scholar-Wizard being the most obviously suitable) has some secondary abilities to fall back and build upon.
Demonologists & Necromancers (DF9: Summoners) tend to be too specialized (and villainous) to make good PCs. Those known to be dark summoners often face similar prejudices to those that meet evil clerics and unholy warriors in the city above, and their abilities are optimized for use against a very limited portion of the creatures to be face in the dungeon below. Still, their summonable allies can be invaluable – as scouts, reinforcements, bodyguards, etc. (Both templates require GURPS Magic.)
Elementalists (DF9: Summoners) are specialized but powerful, and can take the place of the wizard as a party’s artillery mage. Like other summoners, they bring powerful and useful allies to the table as well. They sacrifice versatility for specialization, especially single element casters, but their specialization is generally well-suited to adventuring. (Requires GURPS Magic.)
Shamans (DF9: Summoners) are in a similar boat to druids, with abilities focused towards a world apart from the hustle and bustle of the world’s greatest city and dungeon. They’re exceedingly rare in the west, and will be seen as a curiosity — even by those who realize that they’re not druids. Shamans usually take Low TL: Dark Ages, meaning that they have no ability with TL4 skills or technologies (fencing weapons, firearms, etc), and can’t learn such skills, unless the GM allows them to buy off the disadvantage. Shamans are almost always of the “Nature” Alignment. (Requires GURPS Magic.)
Ninja (DF12: Ninja) are from the distant eastern realms of Kara-Tur, and are virtually unknown in Waterdeep. Those ninja who make it so far from home certainly won’t reveal themselves as such to just anyone… they will often work as freelance assassins, and face the same challenges as native killers-for-hire.
Assassins (DF12: Ninja) aren’t exactly common in the city – a saturated market of assassins tends to thin itself naturally – but it’s not difficult for those who know where to look to find one. The majority are guild professionals, mostly working for the Eye (although other groups, including cells of the Fire Knives and Shadow Thieves, are said to be active in and beneath the city). Freelancers often find themselves on the wrong end of guild assassins’ knives, unless they command enough respect (or are wary and cunning enough) to evade the Eye’s ire.
Justiciars (Pyramid 3.10, Crime & Grime) might be officers and investigators for the City Watch, or they might be scrupulous bounty hunters. Their investigative abilities see more use in the city above (although tracking fugitives and even monsters into the dungeons isn’t terribly uncommon), while their combat prowess can help to keep them alive in either place.
Mystic Knights (Pyramid 3.13, Thaumatology) — along with Mystic Swordsmen and Mystic Archers (Pyramid 3.36, Dungeon Fantasy) — exist among the city’s warriors, often filling a niche similar to standard warriors. The Knights of the Crescent Moon combine the powers of a mystic knight with the master swordsmanship of a swashbuckler. (Requires GURPS Power-Ups 1: Imbuements, and optionally, Pyramid 3.4: Magic on the Battlefield and Pyramid 3.36: Dungeon Fantasy.)
“Multi-Class” Characters can be created in a number of ways. The “Mixing Professions” lenses from DF3: The Next Level and subsequent volumes can be purchased with discretionary points from the character’s primary template, as discussed on DF3, p. 17. This will result in a character who’s good at his primary role, but has a few other tricks up his sleeve – and he can always spend earned points to build on his secondary role. Alternately, a PC can be built from the ground up to balance multiple roles. See the Elven Storm Knights (high elf swashbuckler/wizard), Knights of the Crescent Moon (Mystran/Selunite holy warrior/mystic knight/swashbuckler), Knights of St Vigius (Tyrian holy warrior/justiciar), Monks of the Broken Order (Ilmateri holy warrior/martial artist), and Monks of the Sun Soul (Lathanderite holy warrior/martial artist) for worked examples of multi-class characters.
For characters built without using an adventurer template, use the following rules of thumb:
- Traits listed in the “Dungeon Delvers’ Cheat Sheet” (DF1) are generally available to any character, provided that the character meets any relevant prerequisites (e.g. Trained by a Master or Weapon Master for cinematic skills, appropriate power talents for Chi, Holy, and other powers, etc).
- Abilities that are taken as part of a specific power (e.g. Holy Might, or any ability with the Holy power mod) require that the character has at least one level of the relevant power talent (e.g. Holiness or Power Investiture), as well as any related disadvantages (i.e. those required in the related template).
- Only a character with (Un)Holiness or Power Investiture may select a divine realm.
- Any character who meets all requirements may learn a martial-arts style.
- General Power-Ups can be taken by any character who meets the prerequisites. Professional Power-Ups can only be purchased by a character who meets all minimum traits of the template in question.
- Traits that appear only as part of a racial template, including Racial Power-Ups and optional advantages made available by the “Racial Gifts” perk, can only be acquired by taking the racial template in question.
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