Nordic D&D with rails

This is a campaign idea. Not actual right now, as I have other games to run and play in. But maybe some day. The structure is inspired by a Chronicles of Prydain campaign by Eero Tuovinen for D&D 4.

  • Setting: Pre-Christian Nordic countries, with lots of mythology and folklore included.
  • Characters: Start at first level. Most are humans; at most one non-human, and you have to tell us which source that comes from. Some character classes are restricted and many have particular ties to the society; paladins are holy knights that from the Christian Europe, wizards have the same origin, no monks, a bard might be a skald or a tietäjä, a barbarian is probably a berserkr, and so on.
  • Ruleset: Probably D&D 5 with light modifications.
  • The game is railroaded: I offer a few adventures with their rough level and you choose one to play. The adventure is a preplanned sequence of a number of scenes with maybe four to six encounters (situations where players make decisions and which might turn out badly or well), with possible branching. An adventure can be successful or a failure.
  • No involuntary character death: This is a rule. Your character can not be permanently removed from play without you, the player, explicitly asking for it. The stakes in the adventures will be something else than death. You might be stuck in Tuonela or Hel, or imprisoned by a mountain troll, but you won’t permanently lose the character. Liberating the character will be a possible adventure, as might escaping under their own power be.
  • Voluntary character death: If you are in the middle of an encounter and decide that this is so important you are willing to risk the character, say so. You gain immediate short rest and inspiration, but now you can die, should you be reduced to zero hit points or affected by suitable monster abilities. The death will be permanent if it happens. If you declare it between encounters, you gain inspiration and the effects of a long rest, but now you can die during the rest of the adventure, and you can’t retreat from the adventure; you have to see it through. It is a strong statement.
  • Resting: Short rests between encounters (exceptional difficulties might make them impossible). Long rest only between adventures.
  • Character stable and new characters: You can have several characters, and it might be clever to do so. New characters start at first level, but of course bounded accuracy keeps you relevant, lack of character death removes the risk and the trivial experience cost of the first few levels allow you to earn them fairly quickly.
  • Optional rules: Feats are not available under character advancement, but there are quests to learn them. Same with multiclassing.
  • Backgrounds: Heavily customized and probably a work in progress throughout play.

The point in such a game would be to enjoy the mythology, folklore and culture, and the interaction of the colourful characters with them. Low level adventurers would involve trolls and other monsters, witches, travelling, neighbour hostilities, going viking and honour of women and men. Higher level adventurers would involve travelling to other worlds, meeting and maybe fighting gods and giants and deciding the fate of the world.

Nordic D&D with rails

Some utility spells for D&D 5

I use plenty of modules from various games and editions of D&D. This leads to players finding spells which might not be part of D&D 5 repertoire, which is quite focused on combat magic. Here are some, converted from OSRIC for the most part and extended to have higher level effects. The spells might not be interesting as starting spells in a combat-focused game.

Erase

1st level transmutation
Casting Time Action
Range 30 ft
Target A scroll or two pages of writing
Components V, S
Duration Instant
Erases mundane writing, leaving no trace of it.
At higher levels: At second level the caster can trace their finger and have those parts of the text be erased, while others remain. This takes as long as it takes. At third and higher levels, the spell can dispel magical writing, runes, glyphs, and symbols. if the spell is of lower or equal level than erase.

Fool’s gold

2nd level transmutation
Casting Time Action
Range 10 ft
Target At most a cubic feet of copper or brass
Components V, S, M (some fool’s gold)
Duration 8 hours
The copper or brass turns into material closely resembling gold. A close investigation of the material allows an intelligence save to detect it is not actually gold. As fey magic, the spell is broken for any item that touches iron.
At higher levels: At third level, the duration is one day, and at fourth, a month. At fifth level, it is one year.

Hold portal

1st level abjuration
Casting Time Action
Range 60 ft
Components V
Duration 1 hour

Targeted door, window, gate, chest, shutter or other entryway closes and gets stuck for the duration of the spell. Casting knock on the object dispels hold portal.

At higher levels: If cast at second level, the duration of the spell is one day. At third level, the duration is instant.

Proper mending

1st level transmutation (ritual)
Casting Time Action
Range 30 ft
Target One object
Components V, S, M (two lodestones)
Duration instant

Repairs small tears and holes. Recombines several pieces of a broken item, as long as they are approximately in correct positions. Does not restore magic to an item that has lost it.

Proper message

1st level transmutation
Casting Time Action
Range 120 ft
Target One creature at a time
Components V, S, M (copper wire)
Duration Minute

Allows two-way whispered conversation with the target, whom the caster can change by subtly pointing at a new one. There must be a straight line, not completely blocked, from the target to the caster.

At higher levels: If cast at second level or higher, the range of the spell is sight and the conversation can continue as long as the target is visible. If cast at third level or higher, the duration is an hour and there can be a number of simultaneous targets equal to spell level, all of whom can communicate with each other.

Some utility spells for D&D 5