Just another proposal for a Midnight-DawnForge crossover...
For those of you who have read DF01, look further at page 106: "the sages believe that new planes and worlds are constantly forming and dissolving in an eternal symphony of creation and destruction. In this view, the creation of the world was a natural event and it will have a natural and predictable end. No gods are needed to explain the creation of the world, but should true gods arise and gain dominion over Eadar, they may well play a role in its destruction".
From this basic assumption, a DM can assert the following:
1) Eadar actually is the world of Aryth before the Sundering. It is the easiest road to follow, and agrees with the "mood" fo MN as a world closing to its own ending. Will there be a rejuvenation? This track will be further explored in this article (see below).
2) Eadar actually formed after a great cataclysm (in which the PCs are likely to have participated). Possibilities include:
a) recovery of a powerful artefact that reshapes the world (See Moorcock and Elric saga) b) Izrador effectively "wins", pierces the Veil and epic battle with the "Gods" ensues. In the aftermath of the cataclysm, the world is so deeply changed that is a new world. Now the question remains: was evil truly defeated or was it merely contained (or worse, has it "won"?) c) "someone" (messianic character, PC, Aradil...) reaches "godhood" and leaves mortal status, and challenges Izrador. How effective will this be? In the cataclysmic battle, the world is reshaped, for better or worse d) the PCs manage to pierce the Veil and pledge their grief to the Old Gods, who decide to mount a host to fight Izrador while he is still weakened and has not yet recovered all of his godly powers. Chaos ensues, Gods are slain but can evil really ever be defeated? e) and so on. The idea is, that the Pcs actively participate in an apocalyptic "ending" of Eredane, which turns the world into Eadar... a few millenia thereafter.
The following assumes that the DM chose the "DF becomes MN" perspective. Historically, Eadar is Aryth "before the Sundering".
Doppelganger: always rare, only a handful survived the Sundering. They can be considered the most mysterious elthedar. Fearing persecution, they were gradually forgotten until they were not even legends anymore. In the Last Age, this might prove to be the only way for them to survive. Their unique abilities will be sought after by Shadow and resistance alike as they make powerful infiltrators. A few have joined with the Avenging Knives, and most others are unaligned, living the elves of rogues and thieves. Currently, none are working for the Shadow, but there ae sure some evil doppelgangers in Aryth (see my adventure "dangerous allies").
Dwarf: these are actually the elthedar that later gave birth to Midnight's dwarves (clan & kurgun alike). They are closer to nature, an incarnation of the spirit of rock itself. They are now extinct, except a few ones who still live in the magically preserved Mistshrouded Peak (see my adventure "into the eagles' nest").
Dawn elves: these are actually the ancestors of modern-day wood elves and to a lesser extent snow elves. They are now extinct, only pictured in ages-forgotten legends.
Night elves: they were slaughtered by the dawn elves just after the Sundering for their evil ways. Sadly for them, the Veil had cut them from their goddess Lathail, so they thought they were abandoned. Some did actually survive, eventually giving birth to legends of subterranean evil such as the dharguul and horsha (they are neither of those, however - well maybe they could fit the horsha after all...)
Gnomes: since they were cut from their home plane by the Sundering, they slowly became more and more "mundane", until they became current-day gnomes. Their greatest loss was that they were deeply severed from their innate connection with nature. Remember that some of the Gnomes' Racial Transformations will no longer work in Midnight due to the Veil's effects. The "DF" gnomes are technically extinct in MN.
Halflings: by a strange twist of fate, the nomadic small people that had reached "hobbit-like" sedentarism and tranquillity just before the Sundering were pushed back into nomadism and wildlife until they became MN's halflings. A DF halfling could thus easily pass as a MN halfling, and surely would have many tricks to teach to his descendants.
Highlanders are a barbaric lot in DF, but will eventually tame horses and then become feared horsemen warriors, and then will invade more civilized people until they become the Old Empire of Sarcosa. This will take a few millennia, however.
Lowlanders, while pacifistic during the DF era, will eventually be pushed by their more warlike neighbours into a warrior culture until they become the much feared dorn fighters.
Saltbloods slowly mixed with the Lowlanders and Highlanders, until they were forgotten by history. Much much later, they will be remembered as the ancestors (in terms of physical appearance and culture) of MN's Erenlanders.
Trueborns and Tieflings fought each other until mutual extinction. Only a few individuals escaped oblivion, and reproduced with other humans, and their descendants were granted the according Planetouched heroic path.
Lizardfolk were almost exterminated as a side-effect of the Sundering. A few survived until the MN era and live in the Aruun Jungle (see the "Races/Cultures" section in the "Site features" section of this site, and my article about the "greater spirits" in the Lorebook section for more info).
Minotaurs have declined after the Sundering. Many were captured by Izrador's minions and sent to the Breeding Pits, where they gave birth to many other "monsters" to serve the Shadow. They are thought to be extinct, and none was seen in Eredane for millennia. It is whispered in hushed tones that a few are now fearsome bodyguards to the Shadow's most trusted servants in the frozen North.
Ogres: the DF Ogres are the ancestors of MN-era ogres, who were perverted by izrador until they were such weaklings and idiots. They are also the ancestors of any Giantblooded PCs...
Orcs: although they were almost brought to extinction by the Sundering, a smal tribe of these people were sheltered by Izrador in the far north, and nurtured until they became his willing slaves. Much later, when dwarves were captured and enthralled, they mixed until they became a single race: MN-era orcs (who are much weaker).
Yuan-ti: they were a mysterious people of unknown origins in DF, and so they remain in MN. They are more ancient than the elthedar themselves, and will likely survive them all in their well-hidden sleeping cities where they dream for eons. They can only be found in Pelluria, but were weakened when their connection with Zalaph and their other, "lesser gods" was cut (as a side-effect of the Sundering).
DF mechanics in MN
Racial Talents/Racial Transformations: a PC will have to choose between that and following a Heroic Path. under no circumstances could he take both. Ideally, if a player plays one PC in DF, then his MN PC will have the same HP/Racial Talent-Transformation. This is meant to give the idea that, whatever the era you play in, the PCs are designed to be the lands' champions, given the same abilities, even though they can largely differ in their backgrounds, personalities, occupations and motivations...
the "different" DF classes can only be taken by DF PCs. Mn PCs can no longer have access to such expertise. However, if you need a quick equivalence:
- disciple = legate (yes, it hurts!)
- shaman = druid
- shaper = channeler (any tradition actually)
- spirit adept = defender (weird, isn't it?)
Legendary classes: can now be accessed by MN PCs, although opportunities to reach such high levels will be more scarce than in the Df setting.
Legendary Paths: this option now is available to MN PCs. Opportunities to gain legend points will however be much more exceptional in MN, as "Legend points are accumulated by accomplishing legendary deeds [which] is anything defined by the DM as having an important impact on the world at large. It need not be immediately recognized as such, but it must have the potential to be sung in tales throughout the ages" (Df, pages 84-86).
- exotic shield proficiency will not prove to be as useful in MN as it can be in Df, since shields are obvious pieces of warrior equipment that is forbidden in occupied lands, and that such bizarre shields are long-forgotten by the people of Eredane.
- craft magic pouch: this reflects the halfling "hedge magic" (that was sadly not described in "Sorcery & Shadow").
- craft spell fetish: this reflects the gnomes' connection with arcane (spiritual) magic, or their own special brand of "hedge magic". This could also be used for flavour to reflect the Danisil shaman's abilities.
Racial equipment: assuming that the MN PCs manage to recover those old relics of a long-lost, pre-Sundering age, these can be used without balance problems. Learning to use these will take quite some time without a skilled teacher, however.
Arcane magic in DF: as long as PCs play "DF-born" PCs (whether they play in Df or MN era), then they are legit. So, PCs who were born when Eadar was not yet Sundered still can be played using these rules (the 4 Aspects, the Bonding...). But all PCs, regardless of their era, will apply MN's more "general" magic rules (spell energy, rituals, etc.).
Eldritch Wells: swirling with arcane energies during the DF era, they become more rare and their energies are more and more difficult to recover in the Last Age, where they are renamed "Power nexus". Power Nexus rules supersede Eldritch Wells rules.
Immortals: this is a tough one. What are they? What did they become after the Sundering? Possibilities include:
- they are destined to become the Old Gods, ascend to the Celestial Heavens just before the Sundering to battle a growing evil which they sense there... And all becomes hellish!
- they are "children" of the Old gods, placed in the world to take care of it. Of course they fail miserably, some of them becoming Izrador's lieutenants (before there were Night Kings) or slain by him or going into hiding.
- they are slain after the Sundering, and collecting their wasted divine essence throughout the world might insure that one single mortal gain divine traits (or even godhood) and be able to challenge Izrador...
- possibly they were degenerated when their connection with the heavens was cut, and they became horrors such as the ancient darguul and horsha.
And now, what do I do with all this?
The idea behind this article is:
- eternal champions. There is no link between Df and MN Pcs, but both campaigns will be connected with slight details. Whatever DF heroes achieve, the MN PCs will find a trace of past grandeur in their explorations of long lost elthedar ruins. And reversely, in their darkest nightmares, DF PCs will see a grim future for the world, which must be avoided at all costs. They will know they can't avoid the world's corruption, but their efforts are meant to make the peace and tranquillity last as long as possible before the world enters its midnight. Possibilities include a Seer cursed bu visions of a distant, dark future, a Shadowed PC tempted by a celestial evil, a "Terminator-like" scenario, in which PCs fight legates sent by Izrador from the future, as he has guessed that one of them will bear a descendant who will be a chief to the resistance to his reign over Eredane (if one of them is an elf, he might be an ancestor to Aradil herself).
- scions, aka "the Fireborn solution". PCs from both eras are somehow linked, sharing not only Heroic Paths and / or Racial Talents-Transformations, but also common "visions and flashbacks", hints of what their "other self" will do or has already done. It should remain a mystery if MN PCs are descendants from the DF PCs, or their reincarnation, or simply that they share the same gifts from the very world itself. In this option, both campaigns influence each other. As an example, DF PCs might "discover" the mystic Power nexus that is Aradar, exploit it to create artefacts of legend (which will then be recovered by MN PCs to use against the Shadow), discover the evil threat that is Izrador and foresee his victory. Then they will have to "hide" Aradar from izrador, creating wards and traps, subduing monsters so they become guardians, etc. And finally they will have to leave hints so that worthy individuals find Aradar at the "end of the world", so that it can be once again renewed and evil be contained for another cycle. In a parallel campaign (I suggest running one "episode" of DF, then an "episode" of MN, and so on), MN PCs will lead a quest to find the fabled Aradar nexus. They will discover hints left by the DF PCs, and meet the challenges they devised for them. Of course, in 8000+ years, things are likely to have changed quite a bit from what the DF PCs did... so there will still be an element of surprise for the (same) players. Add to that a "race against time" with a legate-archaeologist, whose only obsession is to discover Aradar and claim its power for his god (or for himself?) and you have a lively campaign, where the Df episodes are presented as part of mythic pieces of folklore that the MN Pcs are to discover. Thus the actions of the Df PCs are now the stuff of legend, but they have planted the seeds for future heroes to save their world. And the DF PCs' exploits are not less worthy than the MN-era PCs' exploits in a world claimed by darkness...
- "Jurassic Park" Option: somehow, by the end of the Df campaign, PCs are put into a magical stasis, placed in a grave of frost (perhaps by Xione herself?). Whether this is the result of self-sacrifice (as they accept to be awakened eons after, in time of need) or of a lost fight against evil (they were placed in stasis by an evil necromancer), they will be "found" by a team of MN heroes, who will likely suffer heavy losses in the attempt to recover these strange ancients. After this hibernation, the Df PCs will have to adapt in a strange world that is so different from what they knew. This solution is great if you had several PC deaths and wish to introduce new players who still don't know the MN setting. The "survivors" who discovered the DF PCs will have to explain them what happened in their 8000+ years of slumber. This option is also very interesting if you wish to motivate your DF players by showing them what happens if they fail in their fight against evil.
Itheria is the home plane of the "fey" (elves and gnomes). perhaps they also imported arcane magic from their plane to Eadar/Aryth, which could have interesting implications? Did the Veil really sever the connection with a faery realm (is it really a different plane or just a different level of perception?).
What really happened at the dawn of time?
Who is the evil entity that the Tieflings worship in their volcano? if it is not Izrador, who could it be (his lieutenant on Eadar/Aryth?).
As soon as you begin to mix both settings, questions will arise. from the attempts to solve such questions will no doubt arise fine adventure ideas!
I plan to bring Aryth to a cataclysm resulting in the disparition of al magic. My players will slowly understand that the only way to defeat Izrador is to leave him without is main resource : magic. They'll have to find a way to break the link with magic, leaving Izrador and his minions completely helpless but also killing all the fey races in the process.
The players will have to unite the Resistance to make a single powerful strike against Izrador and the Night Kings... maybe dying in the process. At last, having a chance to change the world's fate. Should they fail, Iz would crush them once and for all.
Running over Aryth, meeting with the Resistance groups, spying and counter-spying and finally maybe leading a single great ost of men and fey against the Shadow one last time. Simultaneously destroying magic (hard but necessary choice to have a chance to defeat the Shadow).
To be clear, magic won't be destroyed, the connection will just be lost for a moment. To do that, the players will have to ultimately drain all nexuses (and maybe helping the Shadow to do so) 'infect' the Black Mirror of Theros Obsidia, spreading a magical virus to all the mirrors and this way, preventing the use of all magic (divine magic and arcane magic) all over Aryth. Magic items won't work, members of the fey races will slowly grow weaker and weaker and finally die, magic creatures will become mad... If no one turns the power back on. Every magic and fey will vanish, leaving only free but lonely humans.
The players will cut the power down and attempt to strike the Shadow. They'll only get one chance (maybe I'll insert the idea that Iz can't be defeated by anger, swords and brute strength, but only by forgiving him for his dark deeds. See my ideas about the Chninkel some posts back). Should they fail, the Shadow puts the power back on and it is over for all of them.
Aryth being locked from the others planes, none will be able to escape. None but a few. Izrador won't manage to pierce the Veil to get back to his Godly Realm, but Aradil and the remains of the elves will. In the last hours of the world, the Witch Queen will manage to save his people from ultimate destruction in bringing a piece of Erethor to another newly created plane : Itheria (the players might bring her the idea or not depending on their reaction when they'll understand that the destruction of magic is the only way to effectively win the battle against the Shadow in the North). She'll probably use the power of the glamour combined with the Whispering Trees. Haven't fixed that yet.
Aradil will die in the process sacrificing her life for the safe of her people (and maybe clearing herself from the seed of corruption that was growing inside her mind).
The other races will be completely destroyed, except for a few community of dwarves, who, hidden deep in the womb of the world, locked in their caves, will manage to survive the disappearance of magic.
But sparks of magic will remain, the old nexuses won't be drained, only the most powerful will allow a few people to survive. And among then, devils and demons of the Aruun Jungle who will later on, cross their lines with humans giving births to the Tieflings.
Somewhere else, reptiles will awake, becoming intelligent (maybe with the help of a dragon that would have survived somehow the cataclysm), building a civilization on their own and the Lizardfolk will rise.
The blood of Orukhs and Boros will slowly bring to life strange creatures part animal, part humanoid, the strange and strong Minotaurs.
Giants will also awake; so will the Trueborn whose blood has been mixed with angels'.
As time passes, the cataclysm will be forgotten, human will spread on the world now called Eadar and the Veil, which had slowly disappeared following the disappearances of magic, will no more prevent access to Eadar from other places and planes. Dwarves will come back from the depths of the world. And Elves from Itheria will come back from their long seclusion.
Here is the world of Dawnforge.
These are mainly thoughts as my players only come to understand that their fight might not be won.
Things might change as I regularly pick some of the very good ideas I found here and add my own. (Fhoi Mhyöre, Eird Gaerin, Cruad Eadhan, Wood of Laments, Spark of Mercy, Stair of Giants, Tear of the Mother, Slaves' Pride, Dol Rhioned, Naârzar, Berkeled an Oaldûr, etc...).