Excerpts 11/11/2005

Champions of Valor Excerpt
By Thomas M. Reid and Sean K. Reynolds

Expand the boundaries of your valiant character with the Forgotten RealmsChampions of Valor supplement. The counterpart to Champions of Ruin, Champions of Valor covers what it means to be valorous in the Realms. Not only can you find out more about several good-aligned guilds and organizations that characters can join, but you also can add the benefits for joining to your game. Additionally, the book provides you with an array of new spells, feats, and prestige classes appropriate for heroes of valor. The excerpts below include information on several character options, a prestige class, and some items. For text from the Introduction, check out the October 2005 Preview.

Valorous Racial Archetypes

From top down: the valorous
raptoran, goliath, and illumian

While many of the nonhuman PC races tend toward a good alignment, there is a difference between playing a good character and playing a valorous character. Here are examples of valorous archetypes of each race in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting as well as goliaths, illumians, and raptorans if you're using them in Faerûn.

The Valorous Dwarf: Mountain dwarves and hill dwarves tend toward good alignments, and valorous dwarves are the ones dwarf bards sing about for generations. Valorous dwarves are the greatest champions of their communities, single-handedly hunting down the fleeing members of enemy raiding parties if necessary. Given the relative security of the Great Rift compared to the many declining shield dwarf communities (only reversed in this past generation by the Thunder Blessing), gold dwarves are less likely to become valorous heroes than shield dwarves, perhaps because there is less of a need for them. Valorous duergar are exceedingly rare; the dreary life of most duergar quickly extinguishes the spark of nobility and self-sacrifice among the gray dwarves, and those who resist enough to remain good in their hearts often barely have the strength to escape, let alone champion any valorous cause.

The Valorous Elf: Each of the many races of elves achieves valor in its own way. Sun elves are most often the exalted heroes of the elf race, clearing the path to Evermeet, holding the line so that others make it safely to the Elven Court, and obliterating any evil that threatens the elves that remain in Faerûn. The moon elves are usually the protectors of the things elves love in the world -- things that convinced them to ignore the Retreat. Valorous moon elves are the most accepting of other races, forging friendships with valorous humans and dwarves, uniting against evils that would harm indiscriminately. Wild elves, wood elves, and aquatic elves are generally too reclusive to take up the mantle of great valor, content to live in their hidden communities safe from most large-scale danger. Like gray dwarves, few drow have the potential to become valorous and even fewer ever meet that potential, though some would say that Drizzt Do'Urden is an example of a valorous dark elf.

The Valorous Gnome: Gnomes are much like dwarves in that their most valorous heroes often never appear on the surface world, so intent are they on smashing the enemies of the Forgotten Folk. Rock gnomes are more likely to be valorous heroes than other gnomes, since svirfneblin and forest gnomes generally tend not to be risk-takers willing to make heroic sacrifices.

The Valorous Goliath: The goliaths tend toward good overall, and their competitive and daring nature means that many good goliaths aspire to valorous heroics. Ironically, goliaths are so competitive that if one member of a tribe becomes a valorous hero, others in the tribe often try to outdo their rival's great deeds, leading folk living nearby to assume that all goliaths are overly brave paragons of good.

The Valorous Half-Elf: Because most half-elves are descended from moon elves, it is not surprising that most valorous half-elves blend the tendencies of valorous humans and moon elves, taking their valor to an extreme and watching over places that call to the elven heart. Good half-drow, like good half-orcs, often throw themselves zealously into valorous quests, as if to prove that they are individuals and not slaves to the evil tendencies of their nonhuman ancestors.

The Valorous Halfling: Because most strongheart halflings live in Luiren, many assume they're homebodies, but the stronghearts have a strong warrior tradition, and many valorous strongheart halflings have distinguished themselves in various battles defending their homeland from horrible monsters. Lightfoot halflings often have extended families stretching across multiple frontiers, and as such they're more likely to hear about evil and injustice and take action to defend their loved ones against desperate odds. Ghostwise halflings are the least likely to become valorous heroes because their nature and culture doesn't reward attracting attention, though those who answer the call tend to become great liberators of oppressed people -- halfling or otherwise.

The Valorous Half-Orc: Half-orcs are viewed with scorn and derision in most of Faerûn, and half-orc heroes are uncommon. Valorous half-orcs are not unheard of, however, and a significant number of truly good half-orcs are valorous, either to prove they are not crude orc-spawn or to atone for evils caused by their orc (or human) ancestors. Thesk's population of settled Zhentarim orcs has mixed well with the locals, and their community is the home of at least one valorous half-orc.

The Valorous Human: Some would argue that humans have the greatest potential of all the races of Faerûn -- the greatest good and the greatest evil. Proponents of humanity point to Cormyr, Waterdeep, and Mulhorand as examples of the accomplishments of human civilization; those critical of humanity point to Netheril, Thay, and Zhentil Keep as humanity corrupted by power. Seemingly ignorant of the debates, humanity continues to spit out valorous heroes all over the world, toppling petty dictators, slaying marauding dragons, and even saving the world and ascending to godhood.

The Valorous Illumian: Valorous illumians are great strategists, planning far ahead and trying to anticipate their opponents' next moves. Because they enjoy showing their mastery over others, illumians have no difficulty accepting an enemy's surrender (an appropriate act for a valorous person). Because they constantly analyze social structures, valorous illumians are often the first to realize that something is amiss in an organization that is secretly corrupt.

The Valorous Planetouched: Aasimar, like paladins, are naturally drawn to valorous behavior, and a steady trickle of part-celestial heroes comes from Mulhorand, where that race is much more common. The genasi do not often become valorous because their self-centered tendencies and affinity for the neutral elements makes it difficult for them to take the big step and act for the greater good. Tieflings have the same problem as half-orcs and drow: They're perceived as inherently evil and have to work twice as hard just to be accepted. A few driven tieflings can become valorous heroes, though they always worry about temptation and corruption.

The Valorous Raptoran: These winged humanoids train all their offspring to the maximum of their potential, which means a surprising number of raptorans turn out to be valorous rather than just good. The main obstacle to raptorans becoming valorous is their aggressive nature in combat, which makes mercy a rarely considered option.

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