The Three Traditions

August 13th, 2014


For use in a 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons setting in which there are no Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, or Wizards. The Warlock and Paladin classes are left to fill roles normally taken by these missing character classes, with the Paladins serving not Gods in the traditional sense but the same strange patrons the Warlocks bind themselves: the Archfiends (Amon, Baphomet, Baal, Paimon, and others), the Archfey (Aurora, Mab, Skuld, Titania, and others), and the Great Old Ones (for this purpose the intermediary servants of a single inscrutable cosmic entity).

In the Southern Realms there has been a longstanding tension between the nations of Man and the holdings of the Fey. Their strengths have waxed and waned, through war and peace, revolution and catastrophe. In recent ages, the cities, roads, and industries of Man have gained ground in fits and starts, largely through a tip in the balance between the Three Traditions.

The Archfey and the Archfiends have variously assisted, empowered, and protected the Warlock princes of each side, occasionally troubled by the One Who Is Many and His servants. Variously known as the Great Old One, He That Is, The One Faced By Seven, or simply The One True God, this inscrutable entity has rarely engendered a significant following. The odd hermit or madman here or there would claim to hear whispers from beyond the stars or receive wet, ominous dreams with strange portents, but the servants of the Archfiends in civilized lands would dismiss them out of hand. The green princes of the wilds ensured these odd teachings could not take root in their territory. There was balance of a sort.

Recently this has changed. A rash of charismatic Warlocks and Paladins have established popular cults, erecting temples and shrines deep in bustling cities, in frontier towns, and even in the wilds themselves. Each is dedicated to this unknowable entity to the exclusion of the regularly-excepted fiends and fey courts.

They preach that every mortal is stalked by invisible agents of the One, horrible guardian angels biding their time, observing, waiting to harvest them at the time of their inscrutable Lord’s choosing. They congregate for a ritual cannibalism, transmuting bread into the flesh of their martyred prophet and consuming it raw. They mutilate their infants to mark them as part of their contract. They proselytize vigorously, desperately, and sometimes forcibly. All in hopes of forestalling a coming doom. For none know the purposes of this terrible ancient power, but the cryptic warnings of His messengers have been increasingly specific, increasingly urgent.

The Princes and Emirs have inquired with their fiendish patrons, and found them mute. They offer no refutation of the Great Old One’s prophecy. Instead they are warned not to meddle with The One, his Choir, or his crawling Messengers. Their hands bound by arcane pacts, the mighty potentates must stand by and let this new cult thrive like weeds in their garden.

The Green Lords have looked deep into their pools and crystals and can divine no future guaranteed by the fey courts for all their power. They ask the trees of the origin of the One’s faith, but they do now know. They ask the stones and the stones cannot remember a time before the One. They ask the stars and the stars weep silently. Their silence on the subject, and the complicity of the princes of Man engenders fear and uncertainty among the laity. Even some of the Paladins bound by the Oath of the Ancients and champions under the Oath of Vengeance have turned from their paths, re-dedicating themselves in Oaths of Devotion to the One.

Stormclouds gather ever near. The angelic choirs ululate, wail, and chatter maddeningly. Is it this new faith in an ancient power that will save the world, or doom it?

Adventuring parties are strongly encouraged to have at least one Warlock and one Paladin tied to the same Warlock Patron. Characters devoted to the One Who Is Many are encouraged to subscribe to a number of strictures and taboos similar to Jewish Kosher Law or Muslim Halal. Fluff all interactions with the Great Old One Patron as a cross between the Abrahamic God and Cthulhu

3 Responses to “The Three Traditions”

  1. Dan Says:

    This shit is my jam. Awesome.

  2. Dan Says:

    How are races handled – same DND races, or are the non-human races under the umbrella of fey?

  3. Burrowowl Says:

    The Nations of Men are populated largely by Humans, Dwarves, and Halflings. The holdings of the Fey are largely wilderness, sporadically populated by Elves, Gnomes, and Half-Orcs. There are natives of any of these races in either, but those that were born on the wrong side of a border are somewhat marginalized socially. Dragonborn and Tieflings, if present, would be almost exclusively Fey and Men respectively. Half-elves are exceedingly rare and poorly received nearly everywhere.

    Note that neither of these sides are a monolithic single entity. The Nations of Man are nations, plural, each with its own sovereign, armies, and so forth. The lands of the Fey tend not to war among themselves as fiercely as their counterparts, but require a lot of geographical breathing room and are often slower to support each other against a common threat in times of need.