The basics of Madius

A Brief History

A long time ago, the gods came to the fertile land of Madius. They saw that the land was lush with life and decided that this would be the world that they would settle. They moved the heavens and earth to suit their desires, building the lands as they saw fit, and moving the celestial bodies in the heavens to meet their ideals. Because of this the world has a global seasonal cycle, as the planet moves closer and further from the sun. The years are exactly 360 days, the moon cycles exactly 40 days, as the gods decreed it to be.
From there, the gods created the planes, and all who inhabited them, and in doing so blessed the people of Madis with magic.

For the longest time, all was good, until it came to be that about 1400 years ago, the gods ceased to answer the prayers of the people. They had, it seems, abandoned the world of Madius, and for a thousand years, the world declined into a dark age. Magic began to be seen as a dangerous craft, without the power of the gods to keep the balance, people began to grow suspicious of all magic. All too quickly the world descended into an age of fear, knowledge was lost to the fire, and the few who were able saved what they could and fled to isolation.
With the loss of the gods, the world became a cruel and unforgiving place to live. Punishable by death, magic was slowly forgotten, lost into myth and legend. The creatures of the wild, the fey, also retreated from the world, seeking refuge from the harsh land of the mortals, into the heart of mother nature herself.
For a thousand years, the world stagnated, like a bog, rotting itself to the core.

It was not until 400 years ago, when heros arose from the land of Rairom, the desert nation across the sea to combat an unknown evil that threatened to plague the world that Madius rose from this diseased sleep. With the defeat of this unseen enemy, the planes opened themselves to the world and declared that for the past thousand years, the world had not been abandoned by the gods, but that the gods had died in a terrible civil war. The mismanagement of souls across the planes had caused the world to decline, but with the evil that had been defeated, a few powerful planar beings, calling themselves paragons, had taken over. With this, the world awakened, and life seemed to flourish once more. Magic slowly began to be seen as less of a crime, though till this day does still garner a great amount of suspicion amongst the common folk.

Races

Humans are by far the predominant intelligent race on Madius, having spread far and wide, and have gone as far as completely dominating the civilized areas of Concordia. Dwarves, gnomes and halflings are generally able to pass as deformed/short humans in human populated areas, so they are generally paid little attention due to their race beyond the occasional intrigued second glancel. Even those who can identify them for what they really are generally have no issue with them. Dwarves have their own homeland, the mountains of South Confusa, where the majority of the dwarven population exists. Halflings and gnomes are a more nomadic and sparse culture, rarely, if ever, forming isolated communities, instead integrating into existing human society, or, on occasion for gnomes, dwarven society.

Elves on the other hand recieve a very different treatment. Well known across the world, elves are generally a rare sight outside of the Elven Lands. They are met with a mix of, usually extreme, reactions, ranging from envious hostility, respectful admiration, or even curious intrigue. Being well known for their cultural devotion to mother nature, as well as one of the only cultures to have maintained an understanding of magic through the dark ages, they are generally seen as having ulterior motives for any interaction outside of the elven lands, and as such most authority figures will treat them with the respect and suspicion of a unfriendly foreign dignitary when they arrive without warning. In Concordia, elves are incredibly rare, and are met with confusion and worry by commoners, and selfish interest by nobles.

Orcs, and by extension half-orcs, are practically non-existant. Once a proud race of warriors, they underwent a genocide shortly before the dark ages began. Today they are most likely to be found in the Termina mountain range in very small, isolated communities, or in Southern Confusa as marauding bandits, and are generally kill on sight within human or elven communities.

Monstrous or strange races are entirely non-existant within human communities except as slaves or pets. As such it is highly recommended that players not seek to play such characters (if the DM even allows such characters in the first place) unless they have a means to blend into human society by some means, such as by the means of the Shapeshifter egoist ACF.

Languages

The races of Madius all have their own languages as is the case in most campaign settings, however the biggest change comes to the Common language. It is referred to as Common, not because it is commonly used, but rather because it is a universal language, a common language between nations. Roughly only 25% of the world's population in the civilized nations speak Common, and it is not a default starting language for players, though it is open to all as a bonus language. The default starting language is the regional language of the area you start in.

Technology

Since emerging from the dark ages, technology has become a more commonplace occurance in society than magic has. Alchemy is common enough that people would not bat an eye at the though of drinking a concoction to help rid themselves of a sickness, guns are rare, but not unheard of (though the degree of refinement will vary wildly from place to place) as the discovery of black power was made, and water piping to the home is fairly commonplace in the larger cities. Electricity has also been learned to be harnessed, but is a very rare thing to be seen, rarely existing outside of any noble's or royal districts.

Changes to Assumptions

Here you will find some of the changes to the base assumptions of the classical high fantasy dungeons and dragons setting.

Community GP Limits and Magical Item Availability/Creation

The gold piece limits of towns and cities is significantly reduced for the higher end cities. The new gp limits are as follows:

Thorp 40gp
Hamlet 100gp
Village 200gp
Small Town 500gp
Large Town 1000gp
Small City 3000gp
Large City 5000gp
Metropolis 10,000gp

Magic item availability is also highly reduced, only those with connections in the upper districts of large cities can even hope to see magic items, and they are always a small number of randomly generated magic items. Turnover rates for such expensive items is low, so it may take months for a seller of magic items to have a new stock of magical items. Crafting commissions are potentially available at a rate of a 10% markup (110% base market cost) unless the commissioner is willing to supply XP costs, which reduces the cost by 5gp per xp supplied by the character, usually 20% of the base market value if the commissioner supplies all the xp costs, reducing the total cost to 90% of the base market value. Sourcing crafting materials will reduce the cost by an additional 50% of the base market value (for a minimum cost of 40%). Crafting materials may be sourced within communities up to half the gp limit of the community, meaning that the most expensive item craftable using the resources found within the community are equal to that of the community's gp limit. For example, a metropolis could supply the crafting materials needed for a 10,000gp magical item, which would cost 5000gp.
To craft magic items beyond the limits of the community's gp limit, characters must source the crafting materials in some other way, usually by adventuring in search of the required materials (this is left to the DM's discretion).

Please note that while the ability to commission magic items does exist, finding a crafter is no easy task, as, except in the largest of communities, mages will tend to hide their magical talents in the interest of maintaining a discreet life, without the interference of those who distrust magic.

The Planes

The planes of Madius are all coexistent, they exist in the same place at the same time everywhere. Each plane has it's own spin on the material plane, such as oceans on the plane of fire being made of lava. In the interest of keeping the mystery for players, the features of these planes will not be published on this wiki, but will be explained to players with the appropriate knowledge skills.

The World of Madius setting also does not have an astral plane to act as a “4th dimension” with which to teleport through. This means that the plane shift spell cannot be used to travel distances to other planes, instead landing you at the same location on the destination plane (although remains conjuration). Greater plane shift acts as a plane shift and greater teleport combined, making it a Conjuration/Transmutation spell. Non planar spells of the teleportation subschool are instead moved to the transmutation school, as they warp space, essentially making two places exist in the same space, allowing instantaneous travel as normal, instead of bouncing through the astral plane. This also means that teleportation no longer breaks line of effect when being used, although line of effect may still be broken by the fact that the teleportation destination may be out of line of effect. Dimensional anchor and similar effects still prevent both planar and teleportation travel.

Plane of Malevolence/Spirit Plane

These planes are roughly analogous to the Shadow and Ethereal plane respectively in the great circle planar setting. When a spell references the shadow or ethereal plane, it instead utilizes the plane of malevolence/spirit plane. These planes are only accessible from the material plane, and are not coterminous with any other plane.
Plane shift cannot be used to gain access to the plane of malevolence/spirit plane. Instead, ethereal jaunt can be used to transport the caster to either plane, with an instantaneous duration. Etherealness acts the same as Ethereal Jaunt, however it may bring up to 1 creature per 3 caster levels along in addition to the caster. Creatures who are brought to these planes by the etherealness or ethereal jaunt spell may return to the material plane by spending a minute of concentration as they focus on shifting back to the material plane. A second casting of Etherealness or Ethereal Jaunt will may also return creatures to the material plane, or to the plane of malevolence/spirit plane, whichever the caster is not already on.

Alignments

Alignments play a significantly reduced role in the World of Madius. Certain clerics (especially evil ones of deceptive nature) are not restricted in the kinds of alignment spells they can cast. Spells with alignment descriptors directly associated with an alignment (such as blasphemy, or holy smite) retain their alignment descriptor, however, all other spells with alignment descriptors (such as animate dead, or contagion) have them removed. These spells themselves are not inherently alignment related, and are not considered aligned acts by the mere nature of casting them, they are merely tools, and how they are used determines what kind of an act casting the spell is. Some of these spells may, by their very nature, be incredibly hard to use in ways that differ from their previous alignment descriptor (such as contagion), however others (such as animate dead) merely depend on how the spell's effect is used. Animating an army of undead from the fallen soldiers during a long battle to defend a city of innocent people is a good act for example.

On the note of creating undead, the creation of undead is also not an inherently evil act. While most undead that are created are inherently evil, a necromancer can make temporary use of undead to perform good deeds, before returning the corpse to rest. Intelligent undead are animated using the soul of the creature to be animated, so creating such an undead against their will could be either a chaotic (if simply a temporary forced ally, akin to casting a dominate spell), evil (if used as a form of long term slavery), or even lawful act. In a nation where executed criminals are raised as undead to perform reparations for their misdeeds in life, either in public service, or in some kind of militia, raising that criminal would be a lawful neutral act the same way that the execution of the criminal was a lawful neutral act, and not an evil one.
Raising mindless undead in itself is a neutral act, as it simply uses the body, and does not affect the soul of the creature.
In either case, creating undead and leaving them to roam free is an evil act.

A character's current alignment is dictated by their current ethical and moral outlook. This is what determines their interaction with spells such as holy smite, or blasphemy, however, it is not what determines their destination in the afterlife. A character's afterlife is determined by the sum of their deeds in life, their dedication to a paragon or alignment, and any paragon's attachment to the character. For example, a character who committed murder early in their life, living uncaringly for most of their life, and only upon their deathbed sought absolution of their acts would have only a superficial connection to the paragon they sought for atonement, and having performed no acts to make up for their deeds, would still be sent to hell, and likely the worst place, due to no attatchment to any evil paragon in particular. If the same murderer instead had even a moderate connection to an evil paragon, he would be sent to that paragon's domain.
If the murderer had instead felt guilty for his act from the moment he committed it, and had spent his life in service to Uriel, performing good acts and repenting, even if the sum of his acts could never outweigh the cost of a life (unless he had managed to source a resurrection of some kind), his ongoing dedication to the pursuit of good, and his attachment to Uriel would have secured him a place in heaven. If, however, the forces of evil had been particularly attracted to the character ater his act, he may still end up in hell, taken by force.

Finally, all abilities or spells that grant some form of alignment detection are removed, with a few exceptions. Paladins of certain paragons, retain this ability, and any creature with the innate ability to detect specific alignments also retain this ability. These abilities are, however, altered to act as the scent ability, being able to determine the strongest aura in their range (but not the number of auras), and able to discern the strength of a single specific aura per round within 5ft as a move action. These abilities are always active. Characters are still stunned in the first round by overwhelming auras of the opposite alignment, but are dazed in the second round, and then staggered until the aura is out of range.
This ability to smell evil registers mortal auras based on their afterlife destination, meaning that a creature bound for hell, but who's current moral and ethical outlook on life is good would still register as evil, despite being a good character. As such, any attempt to harm the character with anti-evil abilities, such as smite evil, or holy smite, would be ineffective. As such, this ability should not be taken at face value, as it can produce misleading results.