samisdat (samisdat) wrote in bec_de_corbin,

Mindshadows Unearthed

My group playtested some of Green Ronin’s Mindshadows setting. For those that don’t know… Mindshadows is a Psionics-heavy setting based in part on South Asia (India). Sometime into our playtest campaign, we heard about the impending release of Arcana Unearthed. As soon as AU came out we decided to try and fit AU’s races and classes into Mindshadows.

One problem… a major part of the flavor of Mindshadows is the inclusion of Psionics. It proved to be problematic only because we didn’t take enough time to really think about the impact of the Psionics Handbook on AU. The notes I’ll provide here should go a long way in helping anyone else incorporate the AU system into the Mindshadows setting.

The Mindshadows setting’s use of new descriptions for the standard races goes a long way in making the setting seem truly foreign. I mean, cannibalistic Elves are a fairly “out there” concept. However, it’s still just Elves, even if they are cannibalistic. Wouldn’t cannibalistic Faen be even better? Overall, I think the AU races fit better in the Mindshadows setting than the PHB races ever did. In all cases we kept the cultural race names presented in Mindshadows.

The Nivashan (Dwarves) were converted to AU Giants. I found no need to change the Giant stats. However, I did change a few aspects of the Giants.
1) The Giants worship gods. Just as it is described in the Mindshadows setting, Giants introduced Matyanism and Pranaism, and their related pantheons, to Naranjan. Along with their religions, the Giants also brought the power of ceremony and ritual as described in AU. Prior to that, the people of Naranjan were mostly animists. Greenbonds and Witches have their roots in these animistic traditions, but animism has been mostly replaced by the three main religious philosophies described in Mindshadows: Matyanism, Pranaism, and Sujahnism.

2) Giants also introduced the caste system as described in Mindshadows. They, of course, filled the top echelons of the caste system when they were in power. They didn’t feel more worthy than the other races. Instead, they felt that being more enlightened they would be better stewards to the people of Naranjan.

3) The war with the Dramojh (in Mindshadows the Dramojh were spawned by the Asuras, demons, not by dragons) left some Giants strangely tainted. Even after entering their state of Si-Karan, many Giants were still affected by the taint. This caused the tainted Giants to act less than steward-like. The tainted Giants were known as Chorrim. After many years under the hard rule of the Chorrim, the people of Sudarsha revolted and eventually wrested control from the tainted Giants. The Great Rebellion, as it became known, drove many Chorrim into the Naranjani Highlands to the east. Many Giants still live in Sudarsha, and many are well respected except, of course, in the Prajeet province where there are still overt hostilities to Giants.

The Jendram (Gnomes) were converted to the Sibeccai. Here are the changes made to the Sibeccai in order to fit the Mindshadows setting…
1) The Jendram remain a race of dog-men that were raised to intelligence by the Giants. However, once the war was over, the Sibeccai were some of the most cruelly treated by the Chorrim. They were set to tasks only suitable to Untouchables.

2) The Jendram’s grievances against the Chorrim was manifested in a new religion: Ashwaga. It is an offshoot of Matyanism described in Mindshadows.

3) Most no longer feel a close kinship to the Giants, but there are some that believe in the old ways and are on very good terms with their former benefactors.

The Puskamu (Elves) were converted to the Faen. Here are the changes made to them…
1) The Puskamu as described in Mindshadows are a cannibalistic and barbaric group that lives in the jungles. This has not been changed for this conversion. Something about cannibalistic Sprytes just sounded too cool to pass up.

2) An alternate campaign could separate the Loresong and Quickling Faen as different groups altogether. One group would be the Puskamu. Another group would be the Shavanni, a gypsy-like semi-nomadic culture that travels throughout Naranjan.

The Amarati (Elves) were converted to the Litorians.
1) Instead of lions, the Mindshadows Litorian is more tiger-like.

2) An alternate campaign could have the Amarati as Faen, with the Puskamu as Litorians. Another alternate possibility would be to have both Amarati and Puskamu as Faen. The Litorians would then be the Shavanni, a gypsy-like semi-nomadic culture that travels throughout Naranjan.

The Rangsten (Halflings) were converted to the Verrik.
1) Merging the Verrik history with the Rangsten proved very easy. Especially since the Rangsten are said to have imprisoned a powerful demon queen within their mountain kingdom. I think that’s a perfect excuse for the Curse of Xyphon described in the Diamond Throne setting book.

2) Verrik discovered the Akashic Memory and developed Witchcraft as described in AU. They are also accredited with developing the Oathsworn. Busy little beavers these Verrik.

3) In diverging from the Mindshadows setting. It is the Verrik that have been native to Naranjan the longest, not the Faen or the Yuan-Ti.

Runechildren have no rough equivalent in Mindshadows. So here is a quick and dirty conversion.
1) It is unknown how Runechildren are chosen. It is widely believed, however, that they gain their powers directly from the three gods of the Pranaist pantheon: The Divider, Lord Night and Lady Day. Some also hold that the three Pranaist deities do not work so directly with the lives of men. Will we ever know how these avatars are gifted with their powers?

2) Runechildren, although considered Outcaste by many Brahmin, are usually given the respect and courtesy afforded to the Brahmin. Even a Brahmin that considers a Runechild Outcaste would treat such a person with great respect. Problems, however, do arise when some Runechildren raised from a lower caste look to abolish the caste system.

Mojh also have no rough equivalent in Mindshadows. This is a bit tough. In our campaign we made it so the mojh transformation was relatively new, and there was only one such creature in all of Naranjan. That was a quick and dirty work-around for my group at the time. Here’s another look at it…
1) As with the AU description, mojh are humans that decide to transform into a lizard-like race. The mojh are generally an unwelcome sight to many people in Naranjan. They are usually shunned in rural areas and barely tolerated in cities. There have been rumors of some Mojh communities in one or two of the Spice Coast city-states and out in the hinterlands of the Naranjani highlands.

2) The people of Naranjan generally feel that the mojh might somehow be connected to the Dramojh, and thereby connected to the Asuras. Mojh are generally considered Outcaste at best or Untouchables at worst. Mojh make up some of the few non-Brahmin spellcasters in Naranjan so they are generally left alone for fear of a magical reprisal. Besides them, there are a few non-Brahmin Greenbonds and Witches, but only a very few.

3) Just because others see Mojh as possibly being in league with Asuras does not mean that they actually are. It is up the DM to determine that. The Mojh may just simply be misunderstood.

Yuan-Ti are not generally considered a PC race. While the Mindshadows setting does not give Yuan-Ti character creation specifics, it does give some insight into Yuan-Ti society. It may be possible to create and use a Yuan-Ti Pureblood in a Mindshadows campaign. It might also be possible to run an entirely Yuan-Ti campaign. DM’s discretion is advised. ;-)

Chorrim are another alternate PC race. In the Mindshadows setting Chorrim differ from the Diamond Throne in that they are descendants of the tainted Giants instead of being native to Naranjan. They live in the Naranjani Highlands and are constantly at war with their Bhavarati neighbors. If both groups should ever join together they would likely sweep into Sudarsha in an attempt to take the empire.

The classes from AU were used in place of the classes from the PHB. One thing that is important to the Mindshadows setting is the idea of Psionics/Sujahnism. While some might argue that the Witch and the Mage Blade could easily replace the Psionic and the Psychic Warrior, we felt it detracted from the flavor of the Mindshadows setting too much if the Mage Blade and Witch were used in place of the PsiHB classes. If you disagree with this assessment, then by all means please use the Mage Blade and Witch as the Psionic classes. Beyond that, the one issue for each individual DM to resolve is whether the Psionic Mage feat will be used in the campaign or not. We opted to keep the Psionic Mage feat, but others might see this as crossing into Psionics territory too much.

Rogues were replaced by Akashics. Some DMs may prefer to keep the Rogue class for it’s unique set of abilities… especially as NPC Jasharaguti or Thagees.
The Rangsten in their monasteries discovered the Akashic memory. This practice has become widespread throughout Naranjan.
1) Some consider it Naranjan’s 4th religious philosophy.

2) As with Psionics, anyone can train at being an Akashic.

Paladins have been replaced with Champions.
1) Only members of the ksatriya caste may become Champions.

2) The one exception is the Champion of Magic. There are rare occasions when a Brahmin takes up that mantle.

Greenbonds from AU replaced druids.
1) Greenbond is one of two spell-casting classes that may be found among non-Brahmins. However, most Greenbonds that are not of the Brahmin caste have very little training and usually remain very low level.

2) Non-Brahmin Greenbonds are usually found in very rural areas, and are usually considered outcaste, but paid some respect for being able to tap into the green.

3) The magic of the Greenbonds has its roots in the animistic worship that predates the arrival of the Nivashan. Even so, most Greenbonds today owe much of their knowledge to studying the Matyanas and thereby developing a stronger connection to the green. The animistic root of Greenbond magic is the reason there are some non-Brahmin Greenbonds.

Mage Blades have no true equivalent in Mindshadows.
1) Only Brahmin or Ksatriya may become Mage Blades.

2) It is quite common for temple guards to be Mage Blades. Brahmin would not entrust the safety of sacred sites to some other caste.

3) Alternately, the Mage Blade may be used to replace the Psychic Warrior.

Wizards were replaced with Magisters.
1) Only Brahmin may become Magisters.

2) Magisters are considered to be Matyanist priests and scholars. There study of magic is part and parcel of their study of the Matyanas.

Oathsworn seems to have replaced the Monk in AU. Some folks may opt to keep the Monk and ditch the Oathsworn. Others might just keep both. Keeping both could work well, if the Monk class was limited to the Rangsten, while the Oathsworn was available to everyone. For the purposes of this conversion, we’ll keep the Oathsworn with a few minor flavor changes.
1) The keeping of oaths is a long held tradition amongst the Rangsten. The first Oathsworn gained power from their oath to keep the demon queen imprisoned within the mountains of Laodeng. There is no shortage of Rangsten Oathsworn willing to carry that particular oath.

2) Rangsten are not very common in Sudarsha, but there are small pockets here and there throughout the empire. While it is uncommon to see non-Rangsten Oathsworn, they do exist. Most were taught by Rangsten or have learned from reading stolen texts. Jendram seem to have taken a great liking to the Oathsworn lifestyle and they are the most common of the non-Rangsten Oathsworn.

Runethanes have no direct equivalent. Here is how the class fits into Mindshadows.
1) Only Brahmin may become Runethanes.

2) Runethanes are generally considered to be Pranaist devotees and scholars. There study of ancient runes and pictograms predates the studies of the Matyanas.

3) If Runethanes are to be considered Pranaist devotees, then some changes to the class may have to occur with regard to spell lists. This is entirely up to the DM, but I would give Runethanes access to Complex spells with the Positive and Negative Energy descriptors. This would be done through the use of Feat.

The Ranger and the Barbarian are replaced by the Totem Warrior from AU.
1) Totem Warriors can come from any non-Brahmin caste. However, they most commonly come from the ksatriya caste.

2) Totem Warriors not from the ksatriya caste are generally from very rural areas where the reach of the caste system has not upended generations of tribal hierarchy.

Unfettered partly replaces the finesse Fighter, and some would say the Rogue.
1) Unfettered may come from any caste except Brahmin. Most, however, come from the ksatriya caste. If the campaign is including the PHB Rogue as a PC class, then I would suggest that Unfettered only be from the ksatriya caste, while Rogues would be allowable from any caste except Brahmin.

2) Unfettered are the most common fighting class in Naranjan. The hot, humid weather of Sudarsha favors a lightly armored fighter.

Warmain replaces the tank Fighter.
1) Warmain may only come from the ksatriya caste.

2) The hot, humid weather of Sudarsha makes the Warmain heavy armor very difficult to use. Therefore Warmain’s don’t commonly wear the heaviest armors. Those that do wear heavy armors might find the enchantments described in Mindshadows useful… especially the one that makes the armor cool even in hot weather.

3) Giants brought with them the concept of the Warmain, and they remain the most common members of this class.

The Witch has no true equivalent in the PHB. Here are the notes for integrating this class with Mindshadows.
1) Witchery was developed by those ever-resourceful Rangsten long before the coming of the Giants. Therefore, as with Greenbonds, The Witch class is accessible to all castes.

2) Even so, due to societal pressures, most Witches are from the Brahmin caste. Those that are not, tend to be fairly low level or live in very rural areas where the caste system isn’t upheld quite so forcefully.

3) If the Psionic mage feat is not being used in your campaign, you may opt to completely ditch the mind witch. We didn’t in our campaign, but I can see a strong argument for doing so as it treads a bit too closely into Psion territory.

4) Alternately, the Witch may be used to replace the Psion.

The Psion and the Psychic Warrior are disciples of the Sujahnist philosophy.
1) These two classes are open to any caste as noted in Mindshadows.

2) Mindshadows and the PsiHB should be used for the Psion and Psychic Warrior. Keep in mind that a revised PsiHB should be coming out this year.

3) Alternately, the campaign might also use Mindscapes from Malhavoc Press.

4) Alternately, the Witch and Mage Blade can be used to replace these classes. If so, then it might be a good idea to look into making the Psionic Mage feat a class ability for both the Witch and the Mage Blade. This might need to be balanced in other ways. This is not an alternate that I would use, but it's up to the DM.

5) Currently, the heightened and diminished spell effect cannot be mimicked with the Psionic rules. Therefore, powers like Charm Person have no effect on Giants, Faen and other creature types. The easiest way to remedy this, in the case of Charm, is to create a second level power that affects these sorts of creatures. It’s either that or the Psion has to wait until she can access 3rd level powers (Charm Monster) before she can Charm Giants or Faen. We opted for creating a 2nd level power, but it is up to the DM how much tinkering should be done with the Psionics powers. A lot of this may be fixed in the Expanded PsiHB... so it might be worthwhile to wait until April.

True Names are generally reserved for Ksatriya and Brahmin. However, other castes are not forbidden from having True Names, and some Vaisya or Sudra (less often) may undertake the ceremony on occasion. It is highly unlikely though that an untouchable or an outcaste will have a true name… unless that person was originally from a higher caste.

Here are some important changes to the history of Naranjan.
1) Prior to the Giant’s arrival, Naranjan was under the control of the Dramojh. The Dramojh of Naranjan aren’t quite the same as the Dramojh of the Diamond Throne setting. In Naranjan, the Dramojh take after their demonic side a bit more. The reason for this is that there are no dragons in Naranjan so the Diamond Throne explanation just wouldn’t work.

2) The Yuan-Ti were servants of the Dramojh. Their culture can still be found deep in the southern jungles. The rest of the Yuan-Ti history has not changed. Including their connection to the Emperor.

3) The Dramojh experiments can be found in the Naranjani highlands and deep in the jungles. This might also be a good place to drop in Diamond Throne sites like Thartholan and Verdune.

4) Some Giants were affected by the demonic taint of the Dramojh. This caused them to be bad stewards for Naranjan. This resulted in the Great Rebellion where the Giants were overthrown. Tainted Giants can be found in the Naranjani highlands. The Chorrim as described in the Diamond Throne setting may be used in place of “tainted” Giants.
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