Empire of Gold is the slightly extravagant temporary (or permanent, who knows) name for the fantasy setting I mentioned here. At the moment I think I’ll make a somewhat OSR-y system to follow along with it, and possibly templates for pure retroclones if one doesn’t want a new system. Today I think I’ll write some about how I want the system itself to shape up, as well as another country… With dragons!
As I mentioned before, this one probably ate my “D&D modded so hard it isn’t even D&D anymore”-project. It might be similar… or not. We’ll see how it goes.
Hit Points: These can’t be just the plot armor of regular D&D, I need some kind of wound system to top it off. There should be a possibility of serious harm, not just knock-outs. In addition I’m not a fan of the extreme HP increase with levels.
Attributes: Just as HP I’ll probably not keep it as is. However, it might require a little fewer changes than HP, and I’ve actually posted on this before… I should check it out.
Classes: These will be setting specific, if they exist at all. They probably should, as I based this whole setting on the idea for the mage class. Hah.
Races: Humans? I think I’ll go with nationalities and no actual different races. Maybe.
Skills: I’ll fix these probably. 2d6 for these maybe? I like some reliability.
Combat: Might actually keep this d20, or not. Haven’t decided yet.
HP and Wounds
I’ll give this a shot right away. Prepare for just a raw idea as well as later revisions.
Hit Points. All that “almost get hit but not actually”-stuff from old HP. Let’s say you gain 3 HP per level at levels 1-5, and 1 HP per level at levels 6-10 perhaps. Add your constitution to that, and perhaps a bonus from your class, who knows.
When you run out of HP or take more than your level + con modifier damage in a single round, the excess turns into a wound. Roll a hit location, and apply an injury penalty if it reaches a threshold. This might cause bleeding depending on the damage type.
Something I also like is actually from GURPS. The rule about slashing weapons dealing multiplied damage after armor, and piercing weapons dealing even more damage against vitals or the head. It allows you to have actual force as the damage number and still have cutting weapons being strong against naked people (and spikes in the eyes being nasty).
This means armor as damage reduction, which is something I prefer over the AC method. I like to mechanically differentiate evasion and absorption of damage, as it allows you to do things like harder to hit attacks against chinks in the armor.
But now, some setting information hidden here below all my system design ranting.
The land of the dragons lie at the absolute south of the habitable lands of the empire. The arable land is not that large, but it’s mostly used to support the dragons’ servants, as the dragons feed mostly on metals, preferably gold or silver, as well as adamantium and meteorite if available. They often export gems and crystal, which they prefer not to eat most of the time. This has something to do with the complex dragon metabolism, but rumors have it a dragon takes on a new form if it consumes too much crystals.
The lands has no set southern border, and the dragons fly as they wish all across the great mountain chain there, perhaps even beyond. Not that anyone could reasonably stop a dragon from going where it wishes, but they hold politeness as a virtue. In addition they are considered legal inhabitants of the Empire of Gold after the Dragon Peace Treaty of 586 YE (year of the empire).
This is actually quite an anecdote in many places. People of the empire tells the story on how they once went to war against the brutal and evil dragons. They say the war lasted 100 years, but that the glorious army finally managed to push the dragons to their last stronghold. There the vile dragons were utterly crushed, and begged for mercy from the devout followers of the Sun God. They were granted peace by the Shining Monarch of the Heavens, and were allowed to live restricted lives in the empire for their repentance. The dragons tell the true version of course (as dragons never lie): the overconfident empire, in its most powerful days, attacked the dragons from ambush and were shamefully and totally defeated. The dragons allowed the empire to remain if they would just stay out of the dragon’s business. This was sealed with a written agreement inscribed in two adamantium obelisks, one for each party. The dragons put theirs in the archive, where they have all their important agreements, and the empire did something similar. Despite all the claims of having defeated the dragons they hid it in the cellar beneath the Grand Temple of the Sun. That should make people suspicious on how real the Golden Empire’s victory was, but no one questions the church.
There are currently 21 living dragons, as well as an unknown number of eggs and bastards. The dragons are, of course, fully aware how many of each type there are, as well as the exact number of ascended servants and the number of humans they each rule over. Each of these dragons could alone defeat a small country with ease, which might make one wonder how dangerous they are together. But it’s obvious that most of Dragon’s Peak’s inhabitants aren’t dragons. They are farmers and gardeners, scribes and librarians, soldiers and lawyers, anything that could allow the dragons more time to contemplate philosophy, discuss interesting matters, conduct magical experiments, write poetry, or whatever else they feel like, instead of taking care of their own needs. The higher caste are Dragon Servants, officials of one of the 21 dragons, and are even more zealously loyal than the rest of the population. The highest of these are the Ascended, and have acquired draconic traits from a ritual of secret nature. They are scaly and large, but keep their general human shape and fine manipulation.
And that is probably what the dragon’s need the most. Their bodies are larger than a normal house, and thus they have to write really big if they can even get their clawed hands to hold a pencil. They love art and beautiful things, but have a hard time creating any on their own. They are walking contradictions, the minds of artists and philosophers in a body that is the ultimate killing machine. Maybe that’s what gives them their true majesty?