Classes of Shambles

Non-magical Classes

Martial or low-magic classes, such as fighters, rogues, barbarians, and similar classes are not much changed in the world of Vernlarum. They all have found their own little niches in the world and tend to be respected, feared, cherished, or reviled based mostly on their own actions.

Barbarians tend to roam the Wastes with raider clans, and rogues tend to hail from the various cities where they can maximize the use of their skills for profit. But neither of these are the only time those traditions appear. Fighters find employment as sell-swords, guards, soldiers, adventurers, or any job where the direct application of violent force is necessary or appreciated.

Natural Magic

Classes that use natural magic, such as druids, rangers, and shaman, are accepted as necessary by the people of Vernlarum. Druids, in particular, are the tenders of the last few, vital, green areas that provide food to the people of the world. In some cities this makes them royalty and rulers of the city. In others, they are captured and forced to labor as slaves—their skills being too necessary to "leave to their own desires".

Rangers might find employment as defenders of groves alongside druids or as escorts and guides in the Wastes. Some rulesets make rangers non-magical, which is fine. In those cases, they would be like any other non-magical class.

People don't understand druidic magic, but they respect it. More importantly, perhaps, they don't attach the Shambling to druidic magic, so they do not fear the practice of druidic magic will further destroy the world. When a practitioner of druidic magic performs some heinous deed, people tend to see that as an individual actor—not representative of all practitioners.

Arcane Magic

Arcane magic use covers a broad number of classes each to a greater or lesser degree. Wizards, sorcerers, witches, warlocks, artificers, and bards are examples of users of this magic in most rulesets. A full wizard is not the same as a dabbling bard, and if a bard class doesn't grant access to arcane-looking magic, members of that class aren't categorized here. The people of Vernlarum don't think in terms of PC classes, of course. They respond to what they see and what they're told. Flashy, eye-catching, over-the-top magic, fireball, perhaps being the most iconic example, is how people most easily recognize magic users.

When people recognize a person as a magic user, their responses vary greatly—some few judge an individual on his own actions, most believe the person is fiddling with the basic forces of nature that caused the Shambling and hate, fear, or are in awe based on that impression. Few normal people believe they can do anything to stop a person using magic, and most have no idea about the limits of magical use. To an average citizen, a mage who uses burning hands might be capable of animating another Shamble any moment.

Because of the general fear and ignorance of magic-users, few people will openly antagonize a known mage. Different cities respond in different manners. Some cities require registration of all magic users, some forbid the practice entirely on pain of death, some make their city so inhospitable with constant guard surveillance mages do not wish to stay there. It is a rare city where an open wizard's academy is allowed to operate.

The dark elf empire stands as an exception to how magic users are treated in the world. The dark elves, though injured in the Shambling, do not have a strict aversion to magic. They view magic as the best way to repair the world, and think those who ignore or destroy magic are foolish. Because of this, many magic users seek safety in the Empire, and some use the freedom granted therein to use magic for exactly the sorts of things the rest of the world fears they will.

Artificers

Magic-users whose sole purpose and effect is to create magical items and constructs are probably best left out of a game in the Age of Shambles, unless the campaign is embracing that sort of disruptive character. An artificer in a party of Golemforged is not particularly noteworthy.

Wizards

The direct and open study of arcane magic is merely a non-normative in some cities, in others it is a strict taboo. Wizards and other studiers of the arcane do their best to keep their interests quiet. Many lead dual lives, where even their closest friends have no idea of the mage's true interests and power. Those wizards who no longer wish to hide, or who which to experiment without fear, often move to the dark elf empire where there are almost no limits on what they can study.

Sorcerers

Sorcerers, who have an innate talent for magic, are heaped in with all of the rest, though those who have a little bit more knowledge of the differences might pity sorcerers for their "curse". Many sorcerers are asked by their friends and relatives if they can "just stop" using their magic. Some try, and some are even successful, though they tend to not live very fulfilled lives afterward. Others flee to the Empire to be accepted for who they are.

Warlocks and Witches

Warlocks and witches, or any other class that makes a pact with dark or outside forces are feared along with other magic-users. Like with sorcerers, the distinction between warlocks and wizards is not well known or understood by the general population, which may actually work in the warlocks' favor. Cavorting with demonic influences is rarely popular.

In a ruleset where the warlocks get access to pacts that alter the visual appearance of their powers, warlocks can choose a golem-pact. These warlocks claim to hear the whispers of the Shambles, and draw power from them. Their powers then reflect the nature of their golem pact-master: mountain golems will grant rocky and earthy powers, while iron golems grant powers that look like interlocking gears or metal plating. Whether these warlocks actually hear the Shambles and what the creatures want, are both unknowns that cause no small amount of fear to those who have looked into the matter.

Divine Magic

Practitioners of divine magic, such as clerics, paladins, priests, and the like, are very rare in the world of Vernlarum. After the Shambling, the Old Gods left the world. Many now doubt their very existence and look at those who practice divine magic as fools who still haven't let go of the old ways.

Most cities have a temple to the Old Gods, and some come and pray at them, but the temples where built in a time of great upheaval when the people of the world cried out for help they never received. As time as progressed, the flocks of these temples have shrunk so much as to make religious services comically small in the grand open areas that, generations ago, would have been filled with the city's citizens.

Many people cannot tell the difference between a cleric casting sound burst and a wizard casting wave of thunder, so clerics must often be as circumspect in their use of magic as arcane practitioners. And many arcane users carry around a holy symbol of the Old Gods to use priesthood as a cover for their magic. This has the end effect of making commoners doubt true clerics and priests.

Some rulesets don't provide paladins overtly magical effects. In those games, a paladin would be seen as an errant knight for an already lost cause.

The Old Gods

Some faithful cling to the old ways as best they can, even when people tell them, derisively, they are worshipping Dead Gods. Unfortunately, much was lost in the Shambling. All that remains is a vague knowledge of "Old Gods" and very few specifics of who these gods were and what portfolios they held. The symbol of the Old Gods, is a ring of seven rings. Sometimes these rings are fashioned from different metals or colored in the primary colors. Sometimes they are simply steel rings.

The modern teachings of the faithful of the Old Gods is to be patient and wait for their Return, to help those who need help, and to aid the in saving and restoration of civilization in whatever ways one can. Some have taken these teachings to mean nothing more than to be kind to one another. Others look for any excuse to try conquering cities and creating a theocracy.

In rulesets with domains, the domains of civilization, protection, healing, and life would be common domains for followers of the Old Gods. Followers are not limited to those, though, as almost any domain can be justified with the loose theology of the religion.

Acolytes of the Arks

Some believe the "Arkers" began as an off-shoot of the worship of the Old Gods. Others claim it is the only true religion. Either way, the Acolytes of the Arks grow with each passing season.

The holy symbol of the Acolytes is a stylized golem with a city upon its back.

The Acolytes believe the Arks, as they call the Shambles, did not destroy the world so much as save it. They claim the world was on the brink of destruction from some threat unknown to the modern world. Those non-believers call Ruiners, the Acolytes call the Saviors. Most Acolytes will openly admit they do not know the threat the Saviors created the Arks to face, though same claim, and will tell all who will listen, they know exactly what the threat was. The stories range from major war, a threat from beyond the stars, to a massive flood that wasn't recorded in the chaos of the Shambling.

Some Acolytes even wonder if the threat the Saviors foresaw has even happened yet. They believe, with some devotion, the Arks must be kept in operation and respected, else the world will end. Other Acolytes may not believe this, but all respect and revere the Arks. So Acolytes all adamantly oppose any attempt to control or sabotage an Ark.

In a system with domains, the domains of war, luck, magic, and sun are the most common domains, but Acolytes may choose any domain they think is the best expression of their devotion.

The Gods are Dead

One option the GM has to make Age of Shambles her own is to make the Old Gods entirely dead and remove all divine classes from the game. The temples might still exist as artifacts of bygone days, been repurposed for other uses, or been razed and raided for building materials.

As a consequence of this option, the Acolytes of the Arks are a much smaller and less influential group, though they still carry some political clout. People would follow these religions out of faith but would have no direct evidence of divine existence. In a world where a man can study a tome and make fire fly from his hands, faith alone might not last long. If demons and the like are able to touch the world, they would use a lack of divinity to try and establish their own.

Thematically, this option makes the world of Vernlarum even darker. With no hope of the Arks saving civilization or the Old Gods returning, many people would look at each day as hopeless as the last.

Psionics and Other Magics

Psionics, and any other magical system provided by a given ruleset, are all optional and only allowable under GM approval. Most systems fit into one of the three categories already mentioned. If an average person in Age of Shambles saw a psion levitate a stone or control the actions of another, she would assume the psion was a magic user of some kind and respond with the appropriate amount of fear.

There are plenty of spots in the world where small enclaves of practitioners could huddle together for support and learning— the dark elf Empire being premier among them.