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The Dark Eye (originally called "Das Schwarze Auge" or DSA for short) is a German pen-and-paper RPG. Originally released in 1984, its fifth edition came out in 2015. The fourth edition was translated into English in 2006, with two supplements; the fifth edition received an English translation in 2016, with its supplements following suit. The game is set on the planet Dere (called Ethra in the English version, with both terms anagrams of the respective words for Earth, "Erde" in German), primarily focusing on the continents of Aventuria and Myranor. Aventuria, the main continent for the game, is tiny, but one of the most well-described RPG settings known to mankind – every region has its own sourcebook of 200 pages or so, often with minute details about the food, customs and people of that region.

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Typical for The Dark Eye is a very strong and continuous Meta Plot, including the political decisions made in Play-by-Post Games for, preferably, Hard Core players. This very strong canon orientation has created a vivid background but also has the consequence that sourcebook content ages quickly and is rarely up to date. The detailed world is also one of the major selling points of the system, and creates a feeling of verisimilitude which is quite uncommon for fantasy RPG settings.

The majority of the setting consists of blatant Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, with a few alterations and new names. The major religions are also very similar to either the Greco-Roman pantheon, matriarchal goddesses or Islam, respectively. All religions have a semblance to Zoroastrianism.

The game is also well known (at least in Germany) for its many adventure modules, even though the quality varies widely between them.

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In Germany, it's the game most roleplayers start with, and more popular than every other single system.

One of the strongest selling points rule-wise is the completely open character development. It is based on 4 elements:

Attributes: The 8 Attributes are courage, strength, mobility, dexterity, intuition, smarts, charisma and constitution. The default starting value is 8 on a scale from 1 to 20, 11 is average for a starter character and they cannot exceed 14 on character creation, not taking into account certain bonuses/penalties from racial or cultural choices. They influence things like life and mana points, basic attack and defense values, are important for talent checks, and can later be increased with adventure points.

Advantages/Disadvantages: These can only be purchased during character creation, but certain events can lead to gaining or losing any of these if the game master is feeling generous/mean. They generally involve things like social standing, physical properties, or — in the case of disadvantages — fears and negative character traits. They normally give you bonuses or penalites on talent or attribute checks in certain situations, help to flesh a character out, and — since disadvantages grant you extra generation points on character creation — can be used to make up for it if you had to sink a lot of points somewhere else. Think of perks and flaws from the The World of Darkness system.

Special Skills: Can be bought with adventure or generation points at any time. They are divided into two groups: combat and non-combat. There are far fewer non-combat skills than combat skills and they generally involve things like expert knowledge on certain cultures or places. Combat skills are necessary to execute special maneuvers or use certain fighting styles like dual-wielding or shield-combat. Think of these as the equivalent to feats in D&D 3.0/3.5.

Talents: These are the bread and butter of the gaming experience. They can be bought and their value increased with adventure points at any time. Every talent is associated with 3 attributes, with the possibility of one attribute being associated twice. You roll with 3D20, one for each attribute, and hope to roll a value lower than your attributes. If not below the given value, the talent's value can be used to compensate. If all 3 compensations together are higher than the talent's value, you fail the check. Leftover talent points are sometimes used as an indicator for the quality of the executed action. An exception are the weapon talents that have a total value which needs to be rolled below with no compensation for simplifying combat.

The starting value of all these 4 elements are influenced by choices of race, culture, subculture and starting profession, but from there on, the character can develop any way the player wants to, making it even more interesting to keep a character for several adventures.


Other works based on The Dark Eye with English releases:


This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

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     Meta tropes 
  • Canon Discontinuity: Several setting elements have suffered from this, as common with many RPGs. Notably applies, combined with Fanon Discontinuity, for the "legendary" solo adventure "Borbarad's Curse", one of the very first published scenarios when the setting was still developing. It was notable in its own right for the first (and only) attempt of a fantasy/SF crossover in TDE. It begins as a classic dungeon crawl with the solitary hero exploring an abandoned wizard's tower in the Gorean desert, but after the first third or so it features a crashed alien spacecraft, complete with alien monsters on board, technology (which the protagonist can figure out how to use) and, at its climax, the task to repair the ship's drive (aided by the ship's AI), enabling it to launch. Some fans view it as So Bad, It's Good, but the vast majority prefer not to even mention the name. As for the canon discontinuity, certain NPCs were retained as they later became key figures of the setting (among others, Borbarad and Rohal, first introduced here), but the main plot of the scenario and its components (i.e., everything related to the spacecraft) were erased from existence.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: The various artists have done this over and over again. Helme Haffax is the spitting image of Malcolm McDowell, the Mautaban (the chief executioner of the Caliphate) looks like Yul Brynner, Leomar of Almada was cast in the likeness of Peter O'Toole, Irmegunde of Ravensmouth looks like Sigourney Weaver, Tronde Torbenson looks like Robert Mitchum, and so on.
  • Continuity Porn: Some might think that the setting's depth of information was a "bad" thing.
  • Punny Name: The setting is full of them.
    • Quite a few places, people, legends and organizations throughout the setting. For example there is Mantrash'Mor, a mountain range in which the faces of by now five of the twelve gods have been carved...
    • Also a few people. Like the sinister black mage Pôlberra whose hulking bodyguard is presumably undead, the famous prophet "Nostria Thamos", the historian Maffia Vella and son.
    • All the sourcebooks are full of stuff that visibly belongs elsewhere: An academic volume named "The Study of Rings, Beginners and Advanced Levels" was written by Gandalf of Gareth, the battle song of a southern mercenary army is "Forty-thousand Warhammers" etc. Unsurprisingly, most of them only work in German, though. Example? "The wrestling lord", a work on politics and statecraft. However, the German translation of "to wrestle" is homophonous with the German word for "ring" (the trinket, not the sound), which makes the whole thing a pun on the German title of The Lord of the Rings. Incredibly lame indeed.
  • Railroading is to be expected, given the huge amount of Metaplot-centric adventure modules published.
    • Also depending on the writer. Ulrich Kiesow was said to be particularly fond of this, even among his colleagues.
  • Retcon: Happened a few times. Most spectacularly, an old adventure about a crashed UFO was cut out of the canon, while the adventure's supposed big bad later became the big bad of the Borbarad Campaign.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Done in a few instances.
    • Aventuria was initially cast as an Adventure-Friendly World with roaming orcs, marauding bandits, corrupt nobels who don't do their job etc. Then the setting was Growing the Beard and Aventuria was retconned into an overall actually pretty peaceful place where civilization was still intact, but plenty of adventuring opportunities were to be had. And then shit hit the fan and civilization collapsed in wide parts of the world.
    • Hal was initially presented as an Upper-Class Twit who had no idea what was going on. Then, during The Dark Eye's golden age, he was (officially) presented as a respectable, much beloved ruler. Ultimately, it turns out that he actually was an ineffectual and indecisive ruler — his popularity with the common folk on the other hand remained canon (after all, the guy presided over an era that was overall pretty peaceful and prosperous).
    • In order to make the game more beginner-friendly (not like it originally was, but definitely in an attempt to move away from the 4th edition tradition), the convoluted background and the ruleset were a bit reigned in. This was also a consequence of Executive Meddling which saw a few oldtimers in the editorial staff being sacked.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In an inversion of the usual fantasy problem with distance and size of land masses, the entire continent of Aventuria, with all the cultures and empires, is only about the size of Greenland. While that's not small, it doesn't begin to explain the climatological and cultural diversity (some of which has been Hand Waved by way of A Wizard Did It).
  • Sourcebook: Lots. One for every region, and additional ones for specific topics.

     Setting — General 
  • Alternative Calendar: Many.
    • The majority of the main setting uses a year of 365 days, with 12 months (each dedicated to one of the alveranian gods) of 30 days each and the 5 days of the Nameless God (which, depending on where on the continent you happen to be, are either thought of as a cursed time where it's best to stay indoors and pray or as an opportunity to party like crazy because a.) noise drives evil away and b.) the gods aren't watching). There are also several different calendars:
      • Most of the continent counts years after the fall of Bosparan (the setting's Rome equivalent), with "BF" taking the place of real-world CE.
      • The Al'Anfan calendar begins with the manifestation of the alveraniar ("angel") Golgari in 686 BF.
      • The reborn Bosparanian Empire starts its calendar with the founding of the city of Bosparan by the deified first emperor Horas in 1491 bBF.
      • The Middenrealm, in addition to using the BF calendar, also counted years by the ruling emperor. For example, 985 BF would also be known as 10 Reto. This fell out of use after the reign of Emperor Hal, during which an attempt was made to establish the Throne Years as the sole calendar as part of the larger cult of personality around Hal. His successors have been using BF exclusively, in part to distance themselves from Hal and in part to publicly honor him as the last "True" divine Emperor.
      • Various smaller states start their calendars with the date of their independence from the Middenrealm or Old Empire.
      • Dwarves don't have a single "year zero" but instead count years after various events important to dwarfdom in general or just the family of the counter ("Three times three years after Grandfather Amaxosch left the mountainhome..."). This makes converting dwarvish dates to BF extremely difficult.
    • In addition, several cultures use completely different calendars, such as the norbardic lunar calendar, the Novadis' 9 "Names of God" of 40 days each (again with 5 left over) or the saurians' 33-day months.
  • Adventure-Friendly World: Started out as this very early on, with a Vestigial Empire in decline which had a thoroughly incompetent emperor with delusions of grandeur at its helm, where Orcs and brigands roamed freely, the wilderness was dotted with dark cults, plenty of unexplored (or explored but forgotten) areas were on the map etc. As the setting was Growing the Beard, all this was done away with (semi-retconned) and the world turned into a reasonably safe and orderly place where just abundant opportunitites for adventure were to be had, even though several crisises piled up on the continent with an astonishing regularity. Well, at least until the Borbarad crisis hit the setting, when it turned back into an Adventure-Friendly World.
  • Artistic License – Geography: In the attempt to create a very large palette of distinct regions and cultures (see Fantasy Counterpart Culture and Fantasy Kitchen Sink below) — even hopping across historical eras — and, in what almost feels like a desperate attempt to avert the Single-Biome Planet trope, the developers crammed fictional versions of nearly all real-world biomes into Aventuria. There's a polar region, multiple coastal regions ranging from temperate to Mediterranean-like, fertile farmlands, barren steppes, several mountain chains, two deserts (one big, one rather small) and a tropical region. The catch is that all of this is crammed onto a continent about 3000 miles long and 2000 miles across, yielding an area of 6 million square miles. It's pointed out that an Aventurian mile is equivalent to a real-world kilometer. Basically the geological and meteorological diversity of the entire world is compressed into an area slightly smaller than real-world Australia. This is quite literally an example of a A Wizard Did It, though, when the semidivine dragon Pyrdacor used his power over the elements to shape the face of the world.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": There are a few mineral and vegetable examples: oranges are known as as "aranges" (after the region they're most common in, Arania), hemp is called "ilmenleaf" (possibly to get its recreational use past the censors...) and platinum is known as "moonsilver".
  • Darker and Edgier: The series became this over the course of the years.
    • The first edition of the game wasn't exactly bleak or pessimistic, but mostly family-friendly fantasy (well, discounting the violence inherent in battles against Orcs, for instance), with the occasional darker scenario or two thrown in (the valiant heroes raiding the lair of a vampire or other mighty undead). The setting as such wasn't really fleshed out yet; in-universe most of the region only got a few lines of description, with the largest part going to the default region, the Middenrealm, which was depicted as a failed state ripe with corruption, poverty and even (albeit illegal) slavery; and the first regional descriptions explicitly mentioned that the only place where the common folk was actually well off was the Lovely Field (which would later become the Horasian Empire).
    • The second edition, when the setting was Growing the Beard, took a departure from the slightly grimdark first edition (and also offered much more extensive depicition of the individual regions). In-universe, the different states (which were quite strictly typecast into "good" and "not so good", but not outright "evil") were politically stable and quite well-to-do. Then, adventures and mini-campaigns dealing with Aventurian wars started coming up, as well as plots dealing with the Cult of the Nameless One (not that one), a faction best described as Lawful Evil in D&D alignment terms.
    • Then, in the 3rd edition, the so-called Borbarad campaign (offical title: The Marked Seven) was released... which is when it really hit the fan. Aventuria was invaded by demons and a cataclysmic war nearly tore apart the Middenrealm, obliterating several central provinces, severely weakened the other states and certain regions of the continent fell prey to demonic infestation (quite analogous to the Warp corruption of Warhammer). It ended with a dearly-paid-for victory for the free species and peoples of Aventuria, but since then, basically most of the metaplot has been dealing with wars against the remnants of the Heptarchies (demon kingdoms) — the Middenrealm was attacked once again later on by the strongest of these and, additionally weakened by a civil war, was all but shattered, virtually removing its former status as the superpower of the setting.
    • In the next stage of the metaplot, some of the Demon Kingdoms were defeated, but several still remained — and even in the liberated regions, the aforementioned infestation was far from being cleaned up, leading to mutations, instances of When Trees Attack, demon raids and so on (several people at Fantasy Production seem to have been somewhat partial to Warhammer, judging by the influences). And, in the context of a frequent sister trope to Darker and Edgier, there was Oron, one of the Heptarchies which basically was built around non-consensual BDSM, "spiced" with demons. Adventures set in Oron (a few were released) were recommended by the publisher itself to be treated as the German equivalent of M-rated material. This sub-setting really did not sit well with many fans and thus was retired (in-universe, Oron was defeated).
    • The newest campaigns reintroduced the threat posed by the servants of the Nameless One, who, largely dormant during the Demon War, now are using the opportunity to strike at the weakened states from within... to foreign players typically not familiar with the RPG itself, but only with the video game spinoffs such as Drakensang or the Realms of Arkania series, this is mostly not known, but at the current stage of the metaplot, quite a big chunk of Aventuria has become a serious instance of a Crapsack World and the rest is not as shiny as it used to be. The good thing is that the setting as a whole has matured, considerably lessening (though not wholly abandoning) the typecasting prevalent in the beginning.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • Some elves call humans "rose-ears", a derisive and insulting term. The elves and dwarves' names for each other also translate to "short beard-mumbler" and "tree sitter".
    • The orcs are called "blackpelts" and the goblins "redpelts", and the orcs themselves have "smoothskins" for humans.
    • The lizardfolk use "f'zzmech", which translates literally to "excrement", as a slur against every sapient warm-blooded species.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Loads. It is actually difficult to find a culture in Aventuria which is not based on history or stereotype, often several different ones mixed together.
    • Gyldenlandic peoples:
      • The Middenrealm: Originally by far the largest and most powerful state in the setting, it is your standard Medieval European Fantasy realm. While a case can be made for it being culturally akin to Germany in the late Middle Ages, overall it's a lot more generic (similar to Westeros when compared to Medieval England) and from a modern perspective might just as well be considered a stand-in for Medieval North/West/Central Europe at large; though some of its provinces are a lot more clear-cut:
      • Middenrealm,Weiden (Meadows) province: a somewhat backwards province with a firmly medieval flair, while the central part of the Middenrealm is more late Middle Ages/early Renaissance. Naming customs aside, it can be taken as a stand-in for a romanticized version for a rural Germany in the 1200s and 1300s where knighthood is still dominant.
      • Middenrelam, Almada province: Lying next to the Novadi Caliphate and the Horasian Empire; a clear expy of Medieval Spain, including the population which is of Gyldenlandic and Tulamidic stock (mirroring real-life Spain in the Middle Ages). Even their reconquest of formerly Novadi holdings is aptly called 'Reconquista',
      • Middenrealm, Albernia province: Oireland or Scotireland (more the former than the latter), though in-universe it has quite some Thorwalian influences.
      • Middenrealm, Windhague province: A coastal province with medieval Scottish influences (and Highlander-style warriors).
      • The Horasian Empire: A cloak and dagger setting taking place in a renaissance-like time period, strongly influenced by France and Italy (apart from the absence of city states, that is). A Vestigial Empire that got back on its feet, tracing its history back to the Empire of Bosparan (see below).
      • Horasian Empire, Cyclopean Islands: A Mediterranean-flavored assortment of Islands (duh!) with a culture akin to Ancient Greece.
      • The Empire of Bosparan: The precursor of the Horasian Empire and the original realm of the Gyldenlandish settlers, with the emperor being the high-priest of Praios, combines mostly Roman and some Graeco-Roman influences.
      • Nostria and Andergast: Two city states that have been locked in a perpetual feud for 2,000 years, but for some odd reason never have developed their own vastly distinctive cultures that differentiate them from the Middenrealm — apart from being a lot more backwards (especially Andergast, which is basically the setting's Ruritania) and isolated.
      • The Svelltland: An independent region that is modeled after The Wild West (with the Orcs playing the role of the native Americans) — at least as far as this is possible in a medieval/renaissance setting; and especially since Fantasy Gun Control is in full force.
      • The Fountland: An expy of Eastern European nations from Poland to Russia, combining elements like the Commonwealth of Poland with its Aristocrats' Republic and extensive serfdom like in Russia. A lot of their nobility is German-themed though; the descendants of an order of knights priests of the war goddess Rondra (the so-called "Knights of the Theater") who cleansed the Fountlands of the Goblins a long time ago and are probably the setting's most direct equivalent of medieval crusaders (the Teutonic Order in that case). In addition to that, they also have a Hanse-style trading empire, and in the coastal regions a lot of the inhabitants have Dutch-sounding names.
      • Meridiana: The various cities, states and city-states of the deep south to some degree remind of the hispano-american colonial empires of the European Renaissance — with slavery, piracy, conquestadores and soldiers-of-fortune — though the likeness is less pronounced than elsewhere.
    • Tulamidic peoples:
      • Tulamids: These combine basically all oriental influences from the Greater Middle East to India and beyond The most common Tulamids are somewhat Levantine and Persian in nature, though their language (identical to that of the Novadis) is some form of mock-Arab; and live mostly in independent city states. Pretty patriarchal.
      • Tulamids, Aranians: The matriarchal exception from the patriarchal norm and (unlike the other tulamidic settlements) an actual realm; has a cultural flair that is based mostly on India.
      • Novadi Caliphate: Their culture is firmly bedouin Arab (although they have a few larger settlements), with an expy of Islam as their religion to boot, making them the only actual monotheists in the setting. Fitting to the culture they're modeled after, they're even more patriarchal than the other Tulamids.
      • Ferkinas : They are a viciously barbaric and cruel Combat Sadomasochist people that sticks to a stone age culture. Rather peculiar overall, but seems to be closest to Afghan tribes.
      • The Diamond Sultanate/the Mage Moghuls of the Gadang: These were the (pre-Gyldenlandic) ancient human nations on Aventuria, and is based on Ancient Persia.
    • Tulamidic offshoots:
      • Maraskanis: An odd people that combines a strange philosophy, Chinese/Japanese-looking weapons and armor and a Vietnam-like environment.
      • Norbards: A mild-mannered Tartaric/Kirgiz/Khazar-like people of nomadic traders, with some Slavic and (Eastern European) Ashkenazi Jewish influences thrown in as well (for example, whenever their accent is depicted, it sounds like Yiddish German). In-universe, they are of Tulamidian descent, being one of the ancient Tulamid tribes who migrated to the North of Aventuria ages ago, so the real-world inspirations fit somewhat.
      • Zahori: Mostly situated in Almada, this group has practically every cliché-gipsy trait thrown into the mix: A travelling people, famous for their soothsayers and showmanship, passionate and flighty, oftentimes distrusted and even outright persecuted.
      • Kemi: While not a Tulamidic people as such, they're related to them and their culture is modeled after ancient Egypt.
    • Thorwalian peoples:
      • Thorwalians: Basically Medieval Norse (or Vikings), though less violent and mass-murdering, and firmly opposed to slavery on top of that. Fittingly, they're also infamous for raiding and trading.
      • Gjalskerlanders: Another scottish-influenced culture, but more a counterpart of Picts/Celts.
      • Fjarningians: An offshoot of the Thorwalians who branched off the main far up north (and became even more badass than they already were in the process) are only listed for completion's sake since there isn't really a real world-counterpart for them.
    • Forest peoples:
      • Forest People: Combines African and native North- as well as Mesoamerican influences: Culturally, they're like primitive pre-Columbian mesoamerican jungle-dwellers, but their naming customs are influenced by native Americans, and they're dark-skinned.
      • Utulus: Live in the deep south and are tall black-skinned African jungle dwellers. Despite being nominally considered a part of the forest peoples, they're actually a separate race.
    • Nivese people:
      • Nivese: This nomadic people of herders and hunters is a mix of Finns, Inuit and Sami. Physically, they look more like Inuits (apart from the very common red hair), but their dresses and naming customs are inspired by the Finns.
    • Cultures/peoples beyond Aventuria:
      • The 'Gyldenland' itself originally was, according to fluff (i.e. the account of a shipwrecked sailor who accidentally got over the ocean), somewhat of an expy of Ancient Rome. More recent source material additions have strongly retconned that and created a multi-flavored setting that combines all sort of Roman, Indian, East-Asian and a lot more and also totally different influences. This diversity can be attributed to the vast size of the Empire, though — the migrants who sailed to Aventuria have been pretty much exclusively from the sub-culture that was the counterpart to Rome.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Strictly enacted. Black powder exists and is used for fireworks, but is not feasible as a weapon. It rarely makes an appearance, though.
    • For the pirates and musketeer sub-settings/regions, highly advanced torsion based weapons take the place of firearms. Arguably these are more dangerous than the weapons they replace. There are also Automatic Crossbows and other advanced forms of bow weapons.
    • The dwarves, being the master artisans and technologists they usually are in standard fantasy, and the Horasian Empire, which is arguably the technological superpower of the setting (based on Late Renaissance Italy and France, compared to the High Middle Ages Holy Roman Empire Expy that is the Middenrealm), really take the cake in this, stretching the plausibility of the replacements somewhat thin. The Dwarves have the Gandrash Crossbow, a monstrous weapon somewhat like a hand-held ballista and the setting's "anti-tank" crossbow equivalent, dealing something like 3d6+8 damage per bolt and ignoring some types of armor, as well as the aforementioned automatic crossbow. The Horasians have an assault rifle equivalent rapidly firing small projectiles, which even comes with a drum magazine, but is powered by a spring system instead of gunpowder. To be fair, according to the 4th edition fluff, the Horasians are indeed experimenting with weaponized use of gunpowder and even forged some prototype cannons, but they have never been used yet and it is unlikely that the technology will have significant battlefield presence (meaning it probably won't feature in any adventures and certainly PCs will not be able to get their hands on it).
    • Subverted with the Myranor sub-setting as it does have very primitive firearms and even offers rules for inventing upgrades suck as the matchlock or multiple barrels. Although, this is explicitly stated as an optional rule in the sourcebook.
    • Also subverted in the Tharun sub-setting, where so-called “thunder tubes”, i.e. primitive muskets, existed.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Despite the usually more "realistic" presentation of the setting, Aventuria includes many, many creatures and concepts. As a rule of thumb, if something was popular in another RPG, it is likely to appear in TDE as well. This includes dark elves, Lovecraftian monstrosities, and the usual mixture of mythological creatures.
  • The Good Kingdom: The Middenrealm combines aspects of this with Vestigial Empire.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: There was even an entire section on sayings.
  • Mayincatec: The ancient saurian civilizations. Stepped pyramids in the jungle, human sacrifice, obsidian-edged war clubs, plus a lot of similarities in terms of style (saurian glyphs look a lot like Mayan writing, for example). There are also parallels to the Long Count and an expy of Huitzilopochtli...who is still worshipped as a sun god (and chief of the pantheon) by modern Aventurians.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Aventuria fits this nearly perfectly, if it were not for those Arabian, Native American and African expies.
  • Medieval Stasis: Very much in effect. In-universe, the timeline has progressed to more than a millenium after the fall of Bosparan (Ancient Rome expy). While advances in social organization have definitely been made, and lots of magical research has been going on (most of it related to rediscovering the old secrets though, as there have been several dark ages in Aventuria after the fall of Bosparan, the Mage Wars etc.), technology is pretty much stagnating: The scientific development is roughly comparable with the Real-Life progress that has been made in the millenium after The Fall Of The Roman Empire, but the age of gun powder certainly hasn't been reached yet. Seen even more clearly with the Dwarves, who are quite technologically developed (though not to Steampunk levels) and inventive, but have been stuck at the same level of technology for millenia, and especially with the local Lizard Folk, the Achaz, who are the oldest playable species in existence on Aventuria, had a high culture for millenia and survive both in feral variants and a few isolated, civilized communities — which nevertheless have been essentially unchanged for tens of thousands of years.
    • For non-humans it actually makes sense, however. The dwarves are they are a comparatively young species (far more recent than humans, for example), but due to their long lives (which last 4-7 times as long as your average human's lifespan), and have had far fewer generations since they came into being. As for the Achaz: Ever since their fall, their few civilized communities simply didn't have the manpower to make a lot of progress or regain lost knowledge.
  • Mordor: The Heptarchies are like that, to varying degrees.
  • Merchant City: Lots of them. Al'Anfa, Festum, the Horasian seaports and Khunchom being the most famous.
  • The Necrocracy: Warunk, a city state under the control of an undead dragon, used to fit this very much. There still are mini-necrocracies in the area around the city.
  • Noob Cave: A pen-and-paper variation on the trope insofar as there is an entire "noob region" recommended for players new to the system lacking background knowledge, namely the northern kingdoms of Andergast and Nostria. This is specifically pointed out in the sourcebook. The in-universe reasons are:
    • Both kingdoms are remote, small, impoverished and backward, which kept them out of the line of fire during the war against Borbarad and his heirs and also kept them largely free of intrigues by cults of the Nameless God, political cloak-and-dagger games like in the Horasian empire etc. There is simply nothing of interest for the "big players" there and so both kingdoms enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence — well, when they were not beating the snot out of each other, that is, being hereditary enemies for several centuries.
    • There is much less of the supernatural present in the region than in many parts of the Middenrealm, especially after the war against Borbarad and the Heptarchies, not to mention the South with its legacy of magocracies and the like. There is the occasional druid circle, a few witches, a couple of Waldschrate (think "wild Ents") and numerous orcs and goblins — and that's it. No undead necromancer dragons, no flying cities, no demonic hordes, and a grand total of 2 mage academies that can't hold a candle to their colleagues/rivals from further south. In gameplay terms, this means less monsters and magic to fight, with the main threat being fellow humans, the environment (distances between settlements are higher than the Aventurian average, making travel a longer — and riskier — business) and the occasional Orc band or disgruntled witch.
    • In general, Andergast and Nostria form the only region in Aventuria that is well and truly still in the Middle Ages (even the Viking expy Thorwal is more advanced and knowledgeable about the outer world, and all others are culturally either in equivalents of the late High Middle Ages or the Renaissance, or even further) — think a severely devolved Ruritania stuck in the Dung Ages and you'll have a good idea of it.
    • The distance from the events of the metaplot and the fact that the Andergastians and Nostrians don't know much about the wider world and care even less about it enables newcomers to TDE to roleplay in a somewhat familiar Low Fantasy setting tying much more into German folk and fairy tales than the rest of Aventuria (the Middenrealm province of Weiden is comparable in its inherent "German-ness", but it is tied much more centrally into the metaplot, requiring some background OOC knowledge on the part of the players) without knowing or caring much about in-universe history, cosmology etc.
  • Outlaw Town: Several.
    • Phexcaer, the formerly secret holy city of the God of Thieves, started out as an Outlaw Town but has pretty much gone respectable in recent decades.
    • Sylla and Charypso are both pirate havens in the same general geographic area, and that's about all they have in common. Each embodies one side of the main Pirate trope: Charypso is almost entirely type 1, while Sylla is largely type 2. Needless to say, they don't like each other very much.
    • Uhdenberg is a town run by mining cartels. Its "police" force openly employs orcs because they're about the only thing that can get some respect out of the locals.
    • Wehrheim used to be known as a city of law and order until it got razed to the ground by demonic war machines. Now the ruins are inhabited by a mixture of bandits, refugees, outcasts and mercenaries, with one of the mercenary bands providing the closest thing to a central authority.
  • The Savage South: Meridiana is a region of dense jungles, blowpipe-slinging native tribes (some of them cannibals), ancient overgrown temple-cities and city-states dominated by deadly decadent courts. What little is known about the southern continent of Uthuria indicates that it takes this trope Up to Eleven.
  • Shout-Out: There are many, a lot of which work only in German. Besides those, there are things like the towns "Camparisodano" and "Wodkalemonis", and "Sylla" and "Charypso" (Scylla and Charybdis, two obstacles for Odysseus). The dwarf Gargi, son of Gax, wrote the book "Dragons and Demons" (Gary Gygax, Dungeons & Dragons), another book is called "Der ringende Herr" (compare the German title of The Lord of the Rings: Der Herr der Ringe), Gandolf von Gareth wrote the books Ringkunde für Anfänger und Ringkunde für Fortgeschrittene (Rings for Beginners and Rings for Advanced Learners). There's a legendary gorger — a cold-blooded pseudo-tyrannosaur — named G'dzill.
  • Spin-Off:
    • The short-lived "Swordmaster" campaign took place inside the (hollow) planet and was intended as an epic challenge for high-level characters.
    • "Myranor" is a far less heroic, but higher-magic setting on the distant western continent.
    • "Uthuria" is on the continent south of Aventuria.
    • "The Dark Ages" is a singular box that takes place in Aventuria, but roughly 1500 years ago — during the decline of the Bosparian Empire and the Diamond Sultanate (which both still exist at the time).
  • Squishy Wizard: All magic users have trouble with heavy armour, since iron interferes with magic. Druids have a religious taboo against smelted metal, so they can't even use a regular knife (they do get skill points for flintknapping, though). Wizards specifically are forbidden by law to wield weapons bigger than a dagger, or wear armour heavier than a gambeson.
  • Stable Time Loop: Time travel follows a simple law: you cannot change the past, as it had already happened and you'll just end up doing what you did to create the present you're currently living in. If by some chance the hero does discover some hopelessly contradicting action, be prepared for time to heal itself. Oh, and the universe has wardens against such misuse, too.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: A very standard indeed medieval European-ish setting home to elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, dragons and the like menaced by a variety of demons, undead and dark lords and watched over by distant but meddling gods. Due to its popularity, The Dark Eye is the standard for many German roleplaying gamers. However, it is only this, due to the fact that the actual core of the game isn't the ruleset (which wouldn't be fit for things like modern-day or space-RPGs), but the world with its history and metaplot.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: One has to have both magical talent and a long, involved education to become a full mage. A person who wasn't trained, or whose talent was weaker, is a "quarter-mage" or "magic-dilettant": they have a limited number of spells they can cast as a supernatural ability, but they can't learn other spells and have a smaller spell point pool. Half-mages are in between (depending on a character's culture and profession, they may have had more or less magical education). Only some humans are capable of magic, but all elves are, and every half-elf is at least a quarter-mage.
  • The Upper Crass:
    • This is basically the hat of the Fountland's rural nobility. The Fountland is partly based on medieval Russia, and its landholders tend to be either brooding and saturnine...or [[Boisterous
Bruisers boisterous bruisters]] who drink the local vodka-equivalent in gallon-sized mugs, wake up the next morning in a stable somewhere and then go on a brisk ten-mile-run through the snow (wrestling a bear along the way) to work up an appetite for breakfast.
  • While most of the continent is moving well into the Renaissance in terms of technology and culture, the imperial province of Weiden is still very firmly medieval, with a strong focus on chivalric and feudal traditions. The nobles of Weiden are considered backwards by most of their peers from other provinces, while they themselves tend to view the more modern nobles as useless fops.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Middenrealm once encompassed the whole continent, and even in its decline it holds onto a sizable chunk of Aventurica and remains the greatest of the Great Powers.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: Dragons of almost all species are known to demand sacrifices from humanoid communities in their thrall and prefer virgins of either sex, although in general they'll take any youth or child in good health, as these possess much more unspent life energy than their parents or elders do.
  • We Have Reserves: An Admiral Vikos victory is one where you suffer higher losses than the enemy but, unlike them, can afford to do so.

     Setting — Organizations and social tropes 
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Played straight with the various organizations in the setting which are meritocracies of sort:
    • Most churches tend to kick really accomplished (read: high level) priests upstairs; and this goes twice for the various war deities for whom high levels literally translate into the capacity for improved asskicking. The exception being the church of Peraine as well as the cult of Boron in Al'Anfa — in both cases the leadership of the church is hereditary.
    • Wizarding guilds and academies also tend to choose their most experienced mages as headmasters.
    • Orkish tribes settle questions of leadership via Klingon Promotion as a rule.
    • While it isn't exactly a requirement in Thorwalian society to be a great warrior and an accomplished warlord who brings home a lot of booty if you want to be elected as Hetman, it surely doesn't hurt.
    • The heptarchs in the Black Lands definitely qualify, given the volatile dynamics of power politics in these regions. Raw (magical) power a requirement for the highest echelon of leadership, and for staying on top.
    • The Magocrats of Xarxaron (a society in the Gyldenland — irrelevant for Aventuria though) have turned this Up to Eleven. It doesn't matter who your parents are, as long as you're magically gifted, you're golden. The same goes for the inverse: even if your parents are kings, if you aren't magically gifted, you're nothing more than a lowly commoner.
    • If a DM is inclined to play this out, there are ample opportunities to reward a PC for his various deeds.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: This is par for the course for a Medieval-style setting: most noble classes in the world aim to produce warriors.
    • Honorable mention goes to the Amazons where the (hereditary) queens aren't just competent warriors, but tend to be top-notch.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Most of the people who form a pact with Belhalhar (demon lord of bloodlust and murder) tend to become this, if they weren't already by the time they formed the pact.
    • Some members of the clergy of Kor (demi-god of wars and bloodshed) tend to act in a similar way, some have even begun questioning whether this god is in fact a demon. There are subtle differences between the two though, Kor priests are disgusted by the murder of innocents and only revel in the battle and eventual death of armed combatants. There is more than one indication, that the god Kor was almost seduced by the demons though...
    • Thorwalians who suffer from a condition called "whale rage": they have a hair-trigger temper and the tendency to go berserk over the slightest provocation.
  • Blood Knight:
    • All clerics of Kor, son of Rondra fulfill this trope to a certain extent.
    • As do the Maru, a race of crocodile people. According to their legends, their patron god Kr'Thon'Chh wanted them to be this way despite the belief of many humans that Kr'Thon'Chh is a demon, he is in fact the god Kor.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Almost anyone with a pact.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Amazons' body armor only reaches from waist to breast as a matter of religious tradition.
  • Child Soldiers: The Invincible Legion of Yaq-Monnith is a particularly dark example. A long-standing villain who'd been considered a bit of a joke until that point conducted a series of raids on coastal towns, abducting dozens of children. He then proceeded to fuse them with demons, creating nigh-unkillable Super Soldiers in a constant state of homicidal rage. It took an act of direct divine intervention to grant them peace in the end...
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: if it is black, red or black and red it is likely to be something bad. Or a priest of the god of smiths, or the god of mercenaries.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: Several varieties.
    • On the evil side: Cultists of Belkelel, the archdemon of perversion and counterpart to the goddess of love and lust, qualify when they are forced to fight, sadomasochism (with a focus on the sadistic aspect) being their main focus in service to their demonic mistress. However, by and large, they act on their urges in the bedroom (either using willing -at first- victims or slaves), preferring to let others do the fighting.
    • On the neutral, barbarian side: Ferkinas, a brutal nomadic offshoot of the Tulamids infamous for their cruelty to trespassers and enemies and for the bloody raids upon their sedimentary Tulamidian neighbours. Their favorite tribal sport can be described as a sort of hockey/rugby mix on horseback with a liberal dose of (unarmed) combat thrown in — in which the ball (or puck) is either a living animal or a -similarly living- human prisoner. These usually do not survive the "game".
    • On the good side, although "good" in this specific case is fairly relative: Priests of Kor, the demigod of carnage, unrestricted war and bloodlust and patron deity of mercenaries, in contrast to Rondra, the goddess of "civilized" war, combat for a higher cause and embodiment of the romanticized military honor ideal. Those serving Kor are not evil as such and are firmly in the Twelver Pantheon camp as far as theology/cosmology and the cosmic battle between gods and demons is concerned...but they are ruthless bastards and remorseless sadists focusing on brutally, effectively and stylishly (read: as bloody as possible) dispatching enemies and do not shy away from the dangers of combat in return — multiple scars and wounds are seen as status symbols and tokens of honor by the church. note 
  • Conflict Ball: Followers of Lolgramoth juggle these by contractual obligation.
  • Church Militant: The cult of Rondra the warrior goddess are the best example, but roughly half of the cults maintain their own faith militant.
  • Decadent Court: Several examples.
    • The aristocrats, merchant-lords and other power-brokers of the Horasian Empire tend to follow this trope when they're not kept in check by a strong ruler. Their last civil war was such a massive Gambit Pileup that even today nobody is entirely sure who backstabbed whom.
    • The courts of the southlands strongly tend towards this, with the traditional enemies Brabak and Al'Anfa being the most prominent examples. Both have a reputation for taking the "decadent" part to ridiculous levels.
  • Enemy Civil War: There was one at the Pirate Coast. The rebels were perfectly happy with how things turned out under leader Haffax, but worried that he would sacrifice everything for a greater goal.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: The church of Rondra, goddess of war, goes a step further and even abolishes crossbows and similar weapons for their "unsportsmanship".
  • Fingore: Priests of Kor, the god of battle and mercenaries sacrifice a finger (usually the pinky on the left hand) to their god when they are ordained because the number Nine is sacred to Kor...and because they are all about blood, pain, scars and other fun things like that.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner:
    • In theory, every Noble with the privilege of Jurisdiction. As long as he or she is on the grounds of his/her own fiefdom.
    • Also Inquisitors.
    • The Rays of Light often assume these privileges, always in error (assuming the privileges, not the denunciation)
  • Kill It with Fire: Standard procedure of the militant order Rays of Light to deal with magic users, or any given problem really. However, it should also be noted that unlike in real life, Fire Purifies (see below under "Mythology").
  • Knight Templar: The Rays of Light, The Priest-Emperors and often the Church of Praios in general.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Imperial Chancellery of the Middenrealm. Proudly obstructing every move of their own empress.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: THE court fashion in the Horasian Empire under Empress Amene. The fashion at her successor's court is slightly more subdued.
  • Praetorian Guard: A few, but mainly on the good guys' side.
    • The Panther Guard of the Middenrealm.
    • The Imperial Guard of Horasia.
    • The Murawidun of the Caliphate.
    • The Temple Guard and Order of the Raven for Al'Anfa.
    • The Sun Legion for the Heliodans of the Church of Praios.
    • There was even a guard unit named Prætorians for the Horasian emperors of old.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Most cultures are given too much depth to be reduced to this, but the Thorwalians (Viking expies) and Orcs might qualify.
  • Religion of Evil:
  • Smug Snake: Al'Anfa and the Horasiat are breeding grounds for this lot. Combined to great effect in the Kingmaker Campaign with an Al'Anfanian conspiracy in Horasia. Smugness all around abounded.
  • Standard Royal Court: Quite widespread, especially in the Middenrealm and the Horasiat.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The flagellants, also known as the Rays of Light, a layman order, is like this: They want to protect the people from dark magic and heresy. Preferably by a few nice autodafés.
  • Yubitsume: Priests of the god of war and slaughter, Kor, cut off their left pinky finger as part of their initiation into priesthood. This is the ninth and final deep ritual cut during this initiation, as the number nine is this god's holy number.

     Setting — Non-player characters and historical domain characters 
  • A Child Shall Lead Them:
    • Played really straight with the current Horas, Emperor of what amounts to the second most powerful empire on the continent.
    • Frenja Thorkillsdotter, a thorwalian pirate, took command of her dead father's ship at the age of 15. That was almost 50 years ago, though.
    • Narrowly avoided almost 700 years ago with Rude II. The guy was slated to become the Emperor of the Middenrealm after his father's premature death, but alas, he was assassinated three days before he turned 15 (his legal coming of age), an event that kicked off the reign of The Theocracy.
  • Affably Evil:
    • The leader of the Church of Borbarad Azaril Scharlachkraut is an outgoing, charismatic and generally amicable elf. Just don't test her loyalty towards her revered master or her determination to accomplish her goals.
  • Boisterous Bruiser The late Duke of Meadows (Waldemar the Bear) is Aventuria's standout example.
  • The Caligula: Emperor Perval. Slightly less violent, more on the incompetent side, joint Emperors Bardo and Cella (Perval's children).
  • The Dark Lord: Borbarad was one for the history books, his heirs are not that bad, either.
  • Dark Messiah: The Aikar Brazoragh, leader of all orcish tribes, is one of these at least in the eyes of the humans.
  • The Dragon:
    • Rhazzazor to Borbarad. Bonus points for actually being a dragon.
    • Similarly, Pardona to the Nameless God, who, while a High Elf, gets a half-bonus for being artificially created by a dragon and another half-bonus for being able to morph into a dragon due to her unique mastery of the shapechanging spell.
  • Evil Laugh: The Demon-Emperor Galotta had a stereotypical evil cackle.
  • Expy: Pardona is a Composite Expy of Pandora and Lolth. Her name is an anagram of Pandora, she was also artificially created, and brought woe to her people. Her manipulative nature, and the fact she is the engineer of the creation of Night Elves(Drow Expies), likens her to Lolth. Pandora might be also the same as Calyach'an Mochûla, The Mother of Demons, The Black as Night Spider, a spider-like entity feared by Gjalskerlanders. This shows further similarities between Lolth(The Demon Queen of Spiders) and Pardona.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Over the last 35 years, lots of initially sympathetic characters have switched their allegiance to join in their forces with the baddies.
    • Leomar of Almada (or of the Mountain, his actual name) had betrayed the legitimate Empress and thrown in his lot with the usurper Answin.
    • Helme Haffax, most famous general and former Arch Marchall of the Middenrealm, had joined forces with Borbarad and even became one of the Heptarchs.
    • Reknowned engineer Leonardo of Havena was first kidnapped by Galotta, but then inherited his demon shard and his realm.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: The setting uses a decimal system in which one gold ducat is equal to ten silver thalers, each of which is worth ten bronze farthings (in the English version; heller in the original). Additionally, there are ten iron kreutzers to the farthing.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: A particularly strange case is Khadan-Horas, current child-emperor of the Horasiate. His mother was a human noble and priestess. His father was a 70-foot dragon. Nobody is quite sure how that works, and he looks perfectly human for now... with the notable addition of a Third Eye.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Ansvin of Ravenmouth.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain:
    • Well, perhaps not all that sympathetic — but certainly ineffectual: Pardona, the Tongue of the Nameless God and Envoy of Evil, is canonically defeated, rejected or thwarted in every one of her apperances. Even if their characters might fear her, most players regard her with a bemused mix of detached pity and condescension. Not too bad for a 5000 year old being that spent the last 1000 of those in hell and just recently spotted the civilization these dumb apes have built. She is still learning that humans aren't animals anymore... Also she presents the writers and GMs with the same problem every really powerful being does: if you do them right the heroes are toast.
    • The archmage Xeraan was this for most of the time (he makes his first appearance in an adventure module from 1984, but was already level 20 back then) until he went all-in and became a follower of a dark demigodlike wizard, and later one of his successors. While it would be an exaggeration to call this a case of From Nobody to Nightmare, the actual danger he posed for the setting as a whole was magnified basically over night.
  • Layered Metropolis: The city of Fasar is a medieval version of this, with the fortified towers of the rich and powerful linked by a network of narrow bridges so their owners won't have to mingle with the common rabble below.
  • Mad Scientist:
  • Manipulative Bastard: Various.
    • Answin of Ravenmouth, former chancellor, traitor, and usurper. Tried his best but couldn't stand against the power of canon.
    • Pardona, Voice of the Nameless One, is supposed to be this. Alas ...she's great at manipulating dragons, demigods, ancient high elven wizard-kings and so on. Unfortunately, mere mortals have never really registered as relevant in her world view, so she has absolutely no clue how to deal with them...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Borbarad, stuck in an endless cycle of death and rebirth with his twin brother Rohal, eventually manages to cheat and permanently kill his counterpart...which makes his own final defeat possible. Without his act of fratricide, the defeat he suffered at the end of his final grab for power would have been just another temporary setback.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Mizirion III, King of Brabak, played the bumbling, ineffective ruler for decades to keep his Decadent Court from looking too closely at what he was actually doing. Now, thanks to his clever policies, particularly in the diplomatic arena, Brabak is actually flourishing for the first time in centuries.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Glorana and the Aikar have both grand masterplans that are only a measly 80% away from completion and require no hands-on intervention.
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: Borbarad was one in a very twisted way. Although he himself was sort of a semidivine being who has existed for ages and has seen entire species rise and fall, his aim has been to uplift them and turn all mortals into Casters via Magic Enhancement, to ultimately make them independent of the Gods. He just failed to consider that turning muggles into mages isn't possible by non-demonic means.
  • Race Lift: In-universe, the first emperor of the Middenrealm, Raul of Gareth, was (posthumously) subjected to this: Raul originally was a Tulamid whose family was killed off by the evil empress Hela-Horas who had a deep hatred against everything Tulamid (her father was killed in a war against them). Later on, Raul became the leader of the resistance who crushed the Bosparanian Empire and founded the "New Empire" (the Middenrealm). Since all this was basically a Retcon 25 years after the character of Raul was invented, the fact that his heritage has never been mentioned was handwaved away by stating that he was subjected to a Race Lift by the historians.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • Despite them presiding over a steep decline of the Middenrealm, almost the entire House Gareth: Perval the Bloody won a civil war, his nephew Reto conquered Maraskan, King Brin defended the realm against the onslaught of the Orcs and died in the war against Borbarad, his wife Emer won the war against Borbarad, and his daughter, Empress Rohaja, continued the fight against the Black Lands. In fact, the rather ineffectual Hal Is the odd one out in that family.
    • Pretty much every Amazon queen (Yppolita, Thesia Gilia etc.).
  • She Is the King:
    • Type 3 (gender-neutral title) with the Horas, emperor/empress of the Realm of Horas (though in German, the definite article will give away the gender).
    • Also, type 1 for Emperor Hal of the Middenrealm, actually Hal's believed-to-have-died-at-birth sister Selinde.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Seems to be becoming a thing for Aventuria's major villains. The following happened twice: An odd year or two after a major villain's demise at the hand of an adventuring party follows the inevitable release of an official biography. Those biographies tend to depict the villains long before their fall and are written by fans (the editorial staff consists only of fans...) Thus we are treated to stories of how relatively normal people are driven mad by circumstances. We see the later Evil Overlord petting Kittens or the later Evil Chancellor as the only person with a basic grasp of politics in the entire Empire, freeing peasants and being a far better ruler than the actual emperor in general.
  • Upper-Class Twit:
    • An alternative interpretation of the good Emperor Hal (and entirely official if you regard the Answin books as canon). The earliest sources (as early as 1984), taking place at the beginning of Hal's reign, depicted the emperor as vain (declaring himself a lesser God), ineffectual and indecisive and basically predicted that he was to blame for the coming decline of the Middenrealm. Later expansions rectified this since the authors apparently decided that casting the monarch of the most powerful empire in the known world as a buffoon might not serve their interest in creating a proper atmosphere. From then on, Hal was strictly described from an in-universe perspective.
    • The House of Almada, too. A whole Lineage of spoiled, incompetent morons, who, as its reigning Emperors, brought down the Middenrealm from a continental empire to a vestigal rump-state almost entirely on their own.
  • Villain Ball: Aventuria's villains quite regularly die with their hands tightly clamped around one of these.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Torxes of Freespirit, a jester turned evil.
  • Warrior Prince: Quite common for the heirs of the Middenrealm, Princes and Princesses alike.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Borbarad himself. While his methods were surely questionable his goals were ... also sort of questionable. But he had good intentions. What he wanted, or at least claimed to want was the liberation of humankind (and other sentients, although in his last few incarnations he was mainly focused on humans) from the control of the gods and the creation of a world in which any being was a master of their own destiny. This is also the original reason he developed blood magic: it would have enabled any being to use magic by using "life energy" — abolishing the restriction of magic to the tiny percentage of arcane-sensitive creatures and thusly equalizing power. Basically, Borbarad's core beliefs were a fantasy version of Thelema. Too bad that he decided to use demons, viewing them as tools to accomplish his goals, and entered several pacts with the Archdemons...which very probably corrupted him.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The Aventurian pantheon actually has a patron saint of this trope: Saint Thalionmel, the Lioness of Neetha. A priestess of the goddess of valor, she defended a bridge against an invading army that had so far smashed straight through any attempt to even slow them down. When she was finally overwhelmed, a sudden flash flood (believed to be a divine miracle) swept away the bridge, the invading army and her remains.

     Setting — Mythology, gods and demons 
  • 13 Is Unlucky:
    • Every Aventurian knows why. For those who don't: Next to the twelve good gods there exists the thirteenth, the Nameless One, the god who tried to overthrow the others and who should not be mentioned unless it is absolutely necessary.
    • Inverted with the Novadi, for whom 12 bodes misfortune but 13 is lucky.
  • All Myths Are True: After the major retcon that was introduced with the Historia Aventurica sourcebook in 2015 (which rearranged and expanded canon background information on the world's history from its beginning to the present), it can now be said that all culture's myths are true or at least have a true element in them, even though they are partially contradictory. Ironically, the creation of humankind is indeed as it is said in one of the more obscure creation myths, that of the Nivese: the myth said that a tribe of divine wolves created men as brethren for the wolves; the ingame reality is that the first men were created 25000 years ago by a wolf-shaped god Ripgrief as comrades to a race of (now extinct) wolfmen. Which is twice as ironic considering how the close relationship between humans and dogs came into being IRL.
  • A Wizard Did It: The reason for Artistic License – Geography - thousands of years ago, a semidivine dragon used his power over the elements to separate the different elements from one another and started to concentrate them in separate places, thus extracting them from other places. He started by concentrating the Ice in the North, thus raising fertility levels in the rest of the world (according to the hexagonic TDE elemental system, Ice and fertile Earth, or Humus, are opposites, while the counterpart to Air is barren Earth, or Stone). Then he concentrated Humus in the South. He couldn't go through with his plan, but his work brought different climate zones to Ethra.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: This is a power of the priests of the sun god Praios; they can only harm demons and knock out magic users, though.
  • Clock Roaches: Satinav, a deity, who is responsible to keep the timeline intact as a punishment for being the first to meddle with time travel. Even gods and demons rarely dare to mess with time for this reason.
  • The Corruption: Played straight but in the unusual way that the forces of evil are corrupted by something more or less good. As the Netherhells stand for pure chaos, even the existance of the Archdemons and their domains shows some kind of order and organization in at least those parts of the Netherhells wich are close to the universe, which is ruled by the gods and stands for Order. This effect most likely comes from Sakaraya, the Energy of everything that is, which is slowly draining into the Netherhells.
  • Disabled Deity: The Nameless God is a villainous and self-inflicted example. Chained into a breach in the firmament by the other gods as punishment for attempting to conquer all creation, he rages and tears off bits of his own body to free himself. His mortal followers seek to emulate him and sacrifice body parts one by one as they ascend through the ranks of his cult. This doesn't make them any less dangerous, which can make veteran players very nervous when they encounter a one-eyed NPC.
  • Divine Intervention: The second Demon Battle, in which the Horas Empire fought the outnumbered Rebels, is thought to have been one. When the battle changed in favour of the rebels, The Empress Hela tried to summon the Archdemons like her predecessor Fran-Horas did half a millenium earlier. However, her attempt was cut short by alveraniars of the gods Praios, Rondra, Efferd and Ingerimm, which saved the day for the rebels (and led to the fall of Bosparan and the establishment of the New Empire. The events have later been aggrandized by the winners who claimed that the higher beings that saved them had actually been aforementioned gods themselves.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: Every Demon Lord is the dark reflection of one of the major gods, with an agenda which is basically the perverted ideals of the original god. Averted when it comes to their appearance, though — with a few exceptions, most demons tend to look rather alien, with a few of them having a pretty Lovecraftian (like the infamous tentacled Shruuf) appearance. Each demon lord also has one or several types of lesser demons associated with it, which reflect some part of their master's portfolio in their natures.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The supplement literature concerning the Demon Lords and their minions contains a small section about a being called the 'Daemon Sultan', a creature so terrible that not even the most insane and twisted summoners would attempt to bring it into the world, lest it destroy all of creation — starting with the poor dumbass who summoned it, and finishing... not at all, really. It should be noted that 'The Daemon Sultan' is one of the official monickers of Azathoth.
  • Eldritch Location: The Demon Lords' domains definitely qualify.
  • Evil Counterpart: Each of the Twelve Gods (the main pantheon) has a Demon Lord as their antithesis.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Netherhells, home of the forces of chaos that want to destroy the world, are proverbially cold.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Mage-Emperor Fran-Horas summoned the Archdemons to deal with a particularly annoying revolt against his rule. The demons obliterated the rebels...and then promptly turned on Fran's own forces, plunging the empire into four centuries of civil war and anarchy. His descendant Hela-Horas tried to do the same thing a dozen or so generations later, and another Dark Age was only averted because the gods themselves decided that enough was enough and sent their "angels" to stop the summoning (which was later upgraded into them making a personal appearance).
  • Evil Makes You Ugly:
    • The goddess Rahja is said to be more beautiful than her demonic counterpart Belkelel, as the face of the latter is contorted by her evilness. They are implied to be both beautiful and human-looking, with subtle differences.
    • Played straight with Rahja's son Levthan, who raped another goddess and was cursed to look like a goat.
    • Those who worship (some) archdemons, or the nameless one, become gradually uglier, as the domains of some demons are directly connected to things that make you ugly, like disease, and the nameless one requires the sacrifice of body parts. On the other hand, being friends with the churches of the love goddess Rahja or the goddess of youth, Tsa, tends to preserve your beauty, as both have blessings that can remove blemishes or regrow body parts.
  • Fallen Angel:
    • The Nameless One is a fallen god.
    • This is actually a recurring trope; Mada's sacrilege works very similar, and this is also the point of the Borbarad Campaign.
    • Various Archdemons (Amazeroth, Charypta) also qualify.
  • Fire Purifies: The Inquisition's habit of burning heretics and witches has an in-story justification in that burning someone who has entered a pact with an Archdemon to death may indeed save that person's soul.
  • God Is Good: What most humans think of the gods they worship, though of course what "good" means might be up to debate. For example, for a follower of the god of the sun, law, and rulership, this would be more "god is just", for a follower of one of the war deities this would rather be "god is honorable" (or, for those not-so-honorable, "god is strong"). Which is another source of conflict because ultimately, in a battle between two sides who worship Rondra (the most important war deity) equally, there still can be only one winner. But even those gods who should be unambiguously good and peaceful may still find themselves at odds, like the goddess of love and passion and the goddess of marriage and fidelity.
    • Semi-averted with those cultures/races who knowlingly worship hard, sinister and cruel gods, like the Ferkina or the Orks. Though of course this might also be attributed to different concepts of what constitutes "good".
  • God Is Evil:
    • The Achaz see the gods as this, which can certainly be attributed to having been abandoned by them at the end of their age. This is insofar different from the "god is not good"-stance as they actually see them as dying godswho ultimately became forces of destruction and whose attention has to be avoided at all costs (their perception is at the very least debatable considering that a few of their gods are very much alive and became well-respected gods in the human pantheon). Their priests basically try to distract them from possibly destroying the world. Said achaz priests are essentially like really experienced Investigators, treading ever so lightly as not to awaken them.
    • The Nameless God also counts, as he indeed was a member of the Twelver Pantheon at the creation of the universe, and is an aspect of Order — unlike the Archdemons, who are separate Evil Counterparts to the gods and aspects of Chaos (even though they partially were once gods themselves). He was even said to have been the mightiest of them, but then turned to evil and was banished from Alveran (i.e. heaven). In-universe, some freethinkers (not necessarily members of the Nameless God's cult) theoretize that the banishment was actually due to Praios envying his might but that, of course, is heresy. It's partially true, though. He was the Top God, and Praios did envy him, but his fall was his own doing: the short version is that he tried to cut off the world from the other gods and rule their in perpetuity as the only deity of the setting.
  • God Is Flawed: Given the polytheistic nature of the setting, this is hardly surprising and has in a way been like that since its inception. However, in the beginning it was more a "the gods can be overly sensitive, short-tempered and occasionally murderous, but ultimately they are forces of good, have their metaphorical hearts in the right place and stand between humanity and oblivion" (which, in a setting with actual soul-eating demons, certainly is a good thing). Strictly speaking this is correct: most gods do indeed value their followers (usually) living an orderly, peaceful, god-fearing life (for war deities: only god-fearing); lead the faithful to a reasonably pleasant afterlife, (usually) promote order and stability (or at least their brand of it) and help keeping the forces of darkness at bay. However, this productive role has been put into perspective later with the ''Historia Aventurica'': the gods are even more petty and selfish than originally presented, since the onset of time most of them have tried to usurp each other's status at least at some point (even despite formally cooperating with one another); several gods have fallen into demonhood (also as a consequence of this infighting) because they couldn't cope with their loss of status; some gods descended into evil even before their fall (though that usually was a consequence); and even though the gods may defend the mortal races and lead their souls to the afterlife, but when an individual race's time has passed, they nevertheless discard it and hedge their bets on the new top dog (even if said top dog now mercilessly persecutes their once-favored servants or uses them as a source of slaves, food etc.) — though this of course can also be explained by most races in the past (the Trolls, the Gryphons, the Achaz etc.) having faltered in one way or another by turning to the worship of demons, the Nameless God or themselves. Generally extempt from this callous treatment are those races who have been created by an individual god himself — if that god still wields power, one can bank on him or her not tolerating his children being endangered.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Zig Zagged Trope. On the one hand, the net amount of worshippers doesn't really affect a god's status in a given era (the Top God Praios for example has considerably fewer followers than the goddess of agriculture Peraine) — this has already been determined at the beginning of every age by Kha (the god of fate who basically oversees the pantheon but never actually intervenes). However, the gods do indeed have some "shared worship" (since all believers of the Twelver-pantheon revere all gods, they only actively follow a few of them). More important is that they mostly act through their followers, and when they actively intervene, they usually only do so at their request (which makes acting difficult for those gods who don't have ordained priests).
    • Ultimately, worship does play a role in the long term, though. For a god like Rashtul who has been "comatose" basically since the dawn of time, gaining a sufficient amount of followers would be the only way to become able to rise again.
    • Completely averted with the archdemons. They don't want wordly power or mortal worshippers who fear them as gods, their only currency are souls. And worshipping them isn't enough for that, one actually has to sell their soul to them for that to happen.
  • Good Hurts Evil: Zigzagged. Demons take additional harm from priests, holy objects and grounds, but the effect is not restricted to good deities.
  • Hellfire: The god of law is also the god of the sun. His demonic antagonist uses this instead.
  • Kill and Replace: There are at least two demons who use this as their trick, along with the Shapechangers (creatures of uncertain origin likely linked to the Nameless God) and the Mantra'Kim (shapechanging, nigh-immortal dragon-men created to serve the elder dragons).
  • Odd Job Gods: Some of the half-gods are this, luckily not as odd as you might think.
    • Kor is this for Middenrealmians, and was this in the beginning: Due to the honorable nature of Rondra, the actual war goddess, the editors probably thought "well, where does this leave the not so honorable fighters?" and thus they came up with Kor, patron god of mercenaries, revered by those who aren't in it for honor or the protection of the weak, but who like gold and killing - in other words: a deity for murderhobos and munchkins. Later depictions of Kor are more badass, describing him as a dark and merciless but powerful god, and gave him the moniker "he who rides laughing across the battlefield".
    • The child of the goddess of love and ecstasy and the god of trade and thievery? He's a travelling flute-player and the patron of wanderlust.
    • The child of the god of death, sleep and forgetting and a mortal woman is the goddes of peaceful death, assisted suicide and hospices.
    • The oddest might be Ifirn, who is almost the same as her father Firun, god of hunting, living off the land and self-reliance, except compassionate instead of grim.
    • Xeledon, son of the goddess of wisdom and a mortal, who is the god of futility (especially of mortal endevours).
  • Trickster God: Three: Phex (Greater God, thievery, commerce and "rogue-ish" behaviour in general), Aves (wanderlust) and Xeledon (mocking the futility — and destruction — of anything, basically the bad side of Loki).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: In the original fluff Mada, the goddess of magic. Born of a mortal and the goddess of wisdom she wanted to free all mortals from the thralls of the gods by allowing them to wield magic and determine their own fate. She nearly succeeded, brought magic in the world and a select few mortals actually developed the power to use it. Too bad that she weakened creation so much through her actions that the demons of the nether hells found entry into Ethra, too. Though this was retconned with the Historia Aventurica — Mada wasn't a demigod who fucked up, but simply the first God of Magic who handed out the gift of the arcane to the mortals, which seriously pissed off the other Gods (who up until that point had a monopoly on supernatural feats by gifting chosen mortals with a part of their power). Later the Gods got used to mortals wielding magic, but back then they were as comfortable with it as the Church was with the Enlightenment.
  • World Half Empty: According to the background mythology, creation is inevitably doomed.

     Setting/Rules — Races and creatures 
  • Attack Its Weak Point: All dragons have some spot on their bodies where they armor is thinner and more easily breached. These vary between different species and between individuals of the same species, but they're typically at the base of the neck, on the underbelly, or at the base of their wings.
  • Basilisk and Cockatrice: Basilisks, also called toadspawn, are large serpents with metallic crests on their heads. They are unnatural aberrations and intensely deadly — they can petrify any creature they look upon, merely touching one's dead body is a death sentence, and their passage kills plants, mildews soil, and turns water to polluted filth and air to toxic gas; any area they pass through becomes tainted unlivable. They do not need to drink, eat or sleep — they are sustained purely by magic — and legend says that only one is born every 700 years. They are very greatly feared, and the title of Basilisk Slayer is coveted and respected.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: Yetis are a type of ten-foot-tall, white-furred apes found in the far north of Aventuria. Most live on the isolated Yeti Island, although a few live on the mainland, and lead a tribal stone age existence in the wilderness. A related species, the brown-furred forest-sneakers, are said to live in the southern jungles.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Each of the non-human races has at least one quirk in this regard:
    • Daffodils are contact poison to elves, whereas daphne (the plant) isn't; also, elves are highly sensitive to smell and can't stand fermented foodstuffs of any sort (like alcohol or cheese).
    • Dwarves are resistant to mineral poisons, and thus able to eat and digest several species of metal-rich mushrooms, but are highly allergic to Whirlweed, the best-known healing plant in the setting.
    • Orcs and goblins are very sensitive to human childhood diseases, such as scarlet fever or the in-game equivalent of German measles.
    • Achaz (Lizard Folk) have an entire list of differences, such as being lactose-intolerant to such a degree that milk and dairy products are toxic to them.
  • Cats Are Mean: Zantim, violent demons resembling bipedal tigers, are known to embody the worst traits associated with felines, especially in their tendency to cruelly toy with their prey instead of killing it cleanly.
  • Classical Cyclops: Cyclopes are a race of one-eyed giants who live among the volcanoes of the Cyclops Islands. They're extremely skilled smiths and made many legendary weapons, but jealously guard their secrets and don't readily share their creations with humans.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons are a very common type of undead, routinely created by necromancers who want cheap, plentiful troops without having to put up with the decomposition, clumsiness and bad smell of zombies. They quicker and more agile than the walking corpses, although they're vulnerable to blunt weapons as these can shatter their bones.
  • Demihuman: The central races — humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, half-orcs and half-elves — all fit the "humans with a couple of differences" template.
  • Dragons Prefer Princesses: The more powerful dragons occasionally do this. However, they're typically after entertainment, not food, and prefer nobility because they tend to be better conversationalists.
  • Dying Race: Trolls. One of the oldest civilizations of the world, in a long gone age; nowadays, just a few hundred are alive, scattered far and wide through the world. One sourcebook describes their language as due to join the ranks of dead languages soon, as it's a rare occurrence for even two trolls to meet each other anymore to actually hold a conversation in it.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: No outright violence (although there have been wars in the past), but a lot of issues to work out nonetheless.
    • Elves prefer to live under the open sky. Dwarves consider that to be suicidally insane, after all you never know when a dragon might attack.
    • Elves love the forest and will defend it from loggers. Dwarves view the forest as a good source of more mineshaft supports.
    • Dwarves believe (with some justification) that dragons, specifically the Great Dragon Pyrdacor, are the root of all evil in the world. Elves once worshiped Pyrdacor as a god. note 
    • Dwarves distrust all magic, viewing it as the Dragon's Work. Elves are inherently magical.
    • Dwarves love beer (and wine, and rum, and...). Elves find the smell of any fermented foodstuff or drink so revolting it can cause them physical damage.
    • Elves have no body (or facial) hair. Dwarves believe any male without a beard must have been cursed by their god for some very serious crime.
    • Unlike in some other settings, male and female dwarves are fairly easy to tell apart. Elves...aren't. This can lead to embarrassment.
    • The list goes on. Needless to say, the two races have had a traditionally rocky history...
  • Fiendish Fish: Snapfish, also called brabacudas, are marine fish that can grow to seven feet of length and live in large schools. They're aggressive predators, and easily spurred into feeding frenzies by creatures falling into the water or by the smell of blood. Their flesh is toxic to booth, so they're not useful as food.
  • Fish People: Plenty. Some are harmless (the zilits), some are strange and might be dangerous (Necker, Risso), some are truly bad news (the Krakonians) or even worse (the Hummerians are large, fiendish crab people of the demonic-three-meter-tall-with-natural-plate variety).
  • Frog Men: Krakonians are a species of humanoid toads found along the coastlines of Aventuria. They can breathe both air and water, but dehydrate quickly and so mostly stick close to large bodies of water. They worship a pantheon of dark gods and demon lords, and are said to be a remnant of an age when aquatic creatures ruled the world. They despise most air-breathers, which they mostly see as foes and potential sacrifices, although they get along fairly well with the Lizard Folk.
  • Hellhound: White harriers are monsters created from the crossbreeding of wolves and a type of canine demons, the karmanthi. They resemble hideous, twisted wolves with snow-white fur, two-heads, and up to eight legs. They're vicious beasts and often kept by corrupted nobles as monstrous hunting hounds, typically for Hunting the Most Dangerous Game, while others live in the Shadowlands as dangerous feral predators.
  • Hobbits: The hill dwarves are hobbits in everything but name. They have long since abandoned the traditional dwarven lifestyles of warfare and hardship, instead settling rolling hill-lands where they live in round earth houses. They pointedly avoid combat and adventure, which they view as extremely unpleasant, prefer to lead lives of gregariousness and pleasure, and are very fond of fine food and drink.
  • Horny Devils: Laaranim demons can turn themselves into whatever form their target considers most seductive and attractive. They specialize in slowly seducing, corrupting and maddening mortals, and are usually summoned as spies and infiltrators, or to seduce, corrupt or enslave political enemies. In their true form, however, they're coal-skinned, warty, neckless, perpetually drooling horrors. A variant exists in the form of thaz-laraanim, who only manifest in erotic dreams.
  • Humans Are Special: Zigzagged. On the one hand, humans are by far the most populous race in the setting, rule over the known world, their most popular religion reflects the actual makeup and balance of power in the heavens, and they're actually the ruling race of this age. On the other, nothing of this is special in any way or form, since there have been ten other ages before, six of which have been ruled over by other species or types in a similar fashion (draconids, trolls, Cat Folk, arachnids, maritime creatures, Lizard Folk), with humans being nothing more than a servant or even cattle race; and it's to be expected that human civilization will similarly decline once their age is over.
  • I Know Your True Name: Someone who knows a kobold's name has great power over the creature. For this reason, kobolds closely guard their names and prefer to use ones most other species can't pronounce.
  • Killer Rabbit: Death squirrels resemble black squirrels with unicorn horns, and are dangerous ambush predators that hunt by waiting in trees until prey passes below — say, for instance, a human or an orc — and then jumping down to stab them to death with their horn.
  • Lizard Folk: TDE has several of these races. The most common and well-known one are the Achaz (salamander-people, the only playable race), and there are also the Maru (vicious and violent alligator-people), the Shindra (wise and intelligent cobra-people), the Shingwa (chamaleon-people), the Krisra (Pteranodon-people), the Ssrkhrsechim (basically magical Yuan-Ti), the Jharhra (gargantuan Triceratops-people with great magical powers) and the Leviathanim (a giant magical hybrid race that looks like a mix of a frog and a dragon).
  • Giant Flyer: Well, there are dragons. To make them fit into the usually more realistic approach of the setting, these creatures use intuitive levitation magic.
  • Medieval Prehistory: Dere is for the most part a typical modern fantasy world, but its fauna includes such things as mammoths, mastodons, wooly rhinos, saber-toothed tigers, horned saurians (generic ceratopsians) and gorgers (scaly, cold-blooded theropods).
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Chimerology, the practice of fusing multiple animals' natures into a single being, was a widespread and respected science in the past, but has since fallen into disfavor. A successful chimera is typically considered to be one which blends wildly different creatures and does so elegantly and efficiently, and preferably one that can be put to some practical use. Almost all chimeras are sterile and cannot breed on their own, but some are fertile enough to have established stable wild populations. Examples include manticores (human face, lion body, scorpion tail) and wolf lizards (wolves with lizard scales, tails and tongues).
  • Mushroom House: Kobolds who live away from humanoid civilization are often found living inside giant mushrooms.
  • The Needless: Demons do not need to eat, drink or sleep. Many still hunt and kill prey as a matter of course, but simply because they enjoy doing so.
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: The holberker are a very minor fringe race originating from otherwise unheard of crossbreeding between elves and orcs.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Multiple types of demon exist, each in the service of a specific archdemon, which are often summoned by mages to serve various purposes. They cannot enter the material world of their own will, and must rely on summoners to do so. Specific demon breeds each have a base shape most members of that kind of demon take, but variety is common both among individuals and broader regions — demons that take after animals, for instance, tend to resemble the closest local alternative if their associated creature isn't native to the region where they're summoned.
    • Difarim are difficult to observe, because they are constantly in motion and usually perceived only as a moving blur, but are thought to look something like an awful rodent. They are often summoned to serve as messengers or spies, or as speedy, agile fighters with which to wear down enemies.
    • Karakilim are flying serpents with batlike wings and a single horn somewhere on their bodies. They are typically summoned to serve as flying mounts or aerial troops.
    • Karmanthi resemble ice-white wolves with frozen spikes jutting from their elbows and ankles. They possess freezing bites and supernaturally frightening howls, live purely for the thrill of the hunt and of tearing prey to pieces, and are typically summoned to serve as hunters.
    • Laaranim are coal-skinned, warty, neckless, perpetually drooling horrors who can take the shape of seductive humanoids. They are usually summoned as spies and infiltrators, or to seduce, corrupt or enslave political enemies.
    • Shruufya are colossal, vaguely avian, two-limbed creatures with five-eyed beaked heads crowned by four horns and five tentacles. They are violent creatures that live to kill and maim, and are thus often summoned to serve as wartime juggernauts, but are intelligent and patient enough to also serve as efficient guard monsters.
    • Zantim resemble nine-foot-tall upright tigers with slimy fur, numerous open wounds, and armored draconic tails tipped with sharp bone blades. Some resemble other big cats instead, or more rarely take the form of other predators such as canines. They're brutal, violent monsters, and have little use outside of the battlefield.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Multiple types of dragon exist, which can vary greatly from one another, but most tend to be very large, very dangerous, strictly reptilian in appearance and provided with multiple limbs, which may or may not include wings. With a few exceptions, they all breathe fire and gather hoards of treasure. They all have a red stone in their brains, which is called a carbuncle and is the source of the magic. They also have small areas on their bodies where their scales are weaker, and where they're consequently less well-protected. They are divided between the large, powerful and intelligent greater dragons, whose lifespans typically run from one to two millennia, and the smaller lesser dragons of purely animalistic intelligence, who tend to live for a century or so.
    • Cave dragons are wingless, serpentine creatures with either six or eight pairs of limbs, the foremost pair useable as arms. They're classically covetous beasts that lurk in isolated places, terrorizing isolated settlements for treasure and sacrifices, preferably virgins, although any healthy youth is acceptable, or living as isolated wilderness predators. They generally lair in caverns or underground complexes, heading out only by night — they can't see very well in bright light — although some make their homes in dense forests. They're also ancient enemies of the dwarves, and are some of the few dragons to regularly make their way into dwarven holds.
    • Giant wyverns are some of the most common and feared dragons. They possess six legs, two wings and three monitor lizard-like heads — their carbuncle is tripartite and at the base of their necks — which can grow back when cut off, but over an extended period and without their previous memories. They typically lair in high mountains, periodically flying out to terrorize towns for plunder and sacrifices, and while strong and fearsome are also fairly dim and easily outwitted.
    • Glacier worms resemble typical fantasy dragons with light gray to ice-white scales, although they're born as caterpillar-like beings that mature into their adult forms in their thirteenth year of life. They're found in the far north, only coming south during particularly cold and bitter winters, and breathe freezing wind. They're cruel, wicked creatures, and are said to be the most evil of all dragons.
    • Pit worms are lesser dragons that resemble nothing so much as oversized, smelly lizards. They live in swamps and gather no hoards. For unclear reasons, all other dragons, greater and lesser alike, despise pit worms and try to kill them on sight.
    • Tree dragons are small — about human-sized — lesser dragons that live forests with large, tall trees. They make their nests high in the canopies and mostly hunt small prey. They gather hoards, but these mostly consist of whatever shiny rocks and trinkets catch their eye and are almost entirely worthless.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: The dwarves, which name themselves Angroshim, are one of the main playable races. They're a short, bearded people who usually live between 300 and 400 years. Legend says that they were created to guard to treasures of the earth and originally lived in a single empire, but have since fragmented into numerous peoples.
    • The forge dwarves live in an eponymous mountain range and embody the stereotype of bearded mountaineers who live in great underground halls and only interrupt their forge-work for adventures and mighty battles. They also view forging as a religious vocation.
    • The ore dwarves are unyieldingly conservative, obsessed with mathematics, and still live the original dwarven homelands. They distrust the open air and rarely leave their richly decorated underground holds, and scorn the other dwarves for abandoning their old traditions and for their love of excitement and celebration.
    • The hill dwarves are a hobbit-like race who lives in low hills alongside humans, and abandoned their old traditions of warfare and hardship in favor of agriculture and indulgence.
    • The diamond dwarves are former refugees who have created a new culture that places great value on art, beauty and cultured society. Ore dwarves think of diamond dwarves as happy-go-lucky dandies who have lost the fire of dwarven heritage; the diamond dwarves reply that at least they don't waste their lives sitting in the dark and brooding over long-gone glories and outdated traditions and grudges.
  • Our Elves Are Different: The elves, which call themselves feya (fey as the singular masculine, fae as the singular feminine), are one of the main playable races. They all share a very nature-focused culture and are naturally talented with magic — they're all fully able spellcasters on top of anything else they do. They're also a royal pain to play "correctly" — 4e even has its own disadvantage specifically tailored to Elves.
    • Physically, elves are slender, graceful and six feet tall on average, and have no hair save their eyebrows and head coverings. They are functionally ageless and always youthful, and have no set lifespans; rather, each elf has a specific, personal purpose in life and will die naturally until it's fulfilled. When it is, the elf will set their last affairs in order and age and die within a few days.
    • They're descended from beings that "stepped out of the Light", and all of them except for the wood elves are descendants of the old High Elven civilization that built great cities, but eventually broke apart so spectacularly that modern-day elves disdain the trappings of "civilization" (including, among much else, big cities, book-learning and the worship of gods) and instead try to live In Harmony with Nature. This often makes them very socially inept in non-elven cultures, as they commonly misunderstand simple things such as money or ownership; almost all elves live as hunter-gatherers. A few glade elves are the exception, and occasionally take to living in human cities.
    • The elves are divided between a number of major cultural groups, all found in the north of Aventuria. The glade elves ("auelfen") live along forest edges and floodplains, where they usually live in treehouses or stilt villages. They're the most numerous and most likely to interact with humans, and the ones most others think of when thinking of elves. The wood elves ("waldelfen") inhabit deep forests bordering the glade elf lands, where they live In Harmony with Nature, and are deeply isolationist. The steppe elves ("steppenelfen") are horse-riding nomads of the northern plains. The firnelves live in the frozen north, sometimes on the open pack ice, and wage a constant guerilla warfare on the darkness growing in their lands.
    • Their ancestors, the high elves, were the typical "better than all of you" elves of fantasy fame, but with the Jerkass factor dialed up. After Pardona established her cult, that high elves (granted, a minority, but a sizeable one) became outright evil. (She later fused her most devout followers with demons, creating the black elves, a fertile species of elf-demon hybrids that plagues parts of Aventuria to this day.)
    • Half-elves — or elf-humans, as the elves call them — crop up occasionally, and are one of the few viable inter-species hybrids. Elves can normally control whether they conceive, which helps keep their population low, but this isn't very reliable when having sex with humans, and half-elves tend to be the result of this. Their cultural position varies — they can go from outcasts to revered to simply another part of society depending on the specific culture and worldliness of a given place. Elves don't like them too much, however, so most live in human society. They're intermediate in build between their parent species, have slightly pointed ears, retain their elven parents' magical talents but not their control over conception, and live for about a hundred years and remain youthful for most of that time. They can also reproduce fine with elves, humans and each other, and can be separated from their human and elven forebears by many generations.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies are a varied group of creatures that originate from the fairy realm and can cross into Dere when holes open between the two worlds. They sicken and die if they spend too much time away from their home, however, requiring them to periodically return to the fairy lands to rest and recover. Elves are their descendants.
    • Blossom fairies are the classic tiny, butterfly-winged, forest-dwelling humanoid kind. They're the most common type and the ones most people think of when they think of fairies. They are all female, and wear clothing shaped like flower blossoms.
    • Nymphs and dryads are larger and resemble beautiful humanoid women, and appoint themselves as protectors of ancient trees and of bodies of water, respectively.
  • Our Ghouls Are Different: Ghouls are technically living creatures, but resemble undead in most regards. They're gaunt, long-armed, hairless humanoids ruled by a constant hunger for rotten flesh, and are usually found around graveyards, battlefields, and other areas where corpses are abundant. The sun burns and kills them, and they're consequently nocturnal creatures who spend the day hiding underground. They do not breed naturally, and instead turn intelligent humanoids into ghouls by means of their infectious bites. When they gather in large groups, they also tend to mutate to serve specific roles — common, undifferentiated feeders, quick and agile but fragile scouts who find prey for the pack, strong but slow gatherers of body parts, bloated regurgitators who swallow huge quantities of meat and regurgitate them for the rest to eat, blind diggers with large claws who maintain tunnel systems for the rest to hide in during the day, rare morokun capable of casting spells, and bloated, immobile and telepathic ghoul kings who rule over the rest.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Goblins are small humanoids with reddish-brown fur. They're clever, dangerous in large numbers and often get bullied by larger races like orcs. They ride wild boars, which is also how they depict their mother-goddess.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Griffons are holy creatures, servants on the god Praios and stalwart defenders of truth, justice and order. They are intelligent creatures and can speak multiple languages, and never lie. They exist to serve their god and his cause, and can be found all over the world in crusades against demons and dark magic.
  • Our Kobolds Are Different: Kobolds are relatives to fairies and extremely varied, both in appearance and in behavior. Some are diminutive humans with additional traits such as mouse tails, green or wrinkled skin, large and pointed ears and noses, and the like; others look like small humanoid bears or monkeys instead. They are typically mischievous and fun-loving, but beyond that can range from helpful house and shipboard aides to cruel tricksters who spread chaos and disorder, steal children to replace with their own changelings, and turn precious gems and metal to worthless junk. Most live in human dwellings and ships, although many prefer to live in nature under trees and rocks, in riverbanks, inside huge mushrooms or underground. They speak a clicking, whistling language that most other species can't pronounce, which is good for them, as someone who knows a kobold's true name can magically control it.
  • Our Manticores Are Spinier: Manticores resemble lions with flattened human faces, three rows of teeth — typically some combination of human and feline ones — and scorpion tails. They're creations of dark magic, as all chimeric beings are, and are typically considered the most perfect product of the craft. They're intelligent enough to speak and have distinct personalities, but not enough to reliably control their animalistic side. Some exceptional specimens can master themselves enough to find a place in a royal court, a mage's tower or a temple as councilors guards or exhibition pieces; most live as beasts and die violent deaths.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: Nymphs are fairies who resemble beautiful humanoid women with slightly pointed ears. Like all fairies, they come to the material world from the fairy realm for reasons they don't usually discuss, although they must return to their home to avoid wasting away. They appoint themselves as protectors of bodies of water and use their magic to punish humans who damage them. They're also extremely beautiful and almost always nude, and are known for seducing humans away to the fairy land and never to be seen again. There are also dryads, which are much the same but look after trees instead.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Orcs in The Dark Eye have a thick black fur, are small and stocky and bear some traits of Mongol Golden Horde expies. In the first and second editions, they were treated much like the orcs of early D&D: Always Chaotic Evil hat-wearing but comparatively weak monsters used as sword fodder and XP source. Later, more and more of their culture was developed, transforming them into Proud Warrior Race Guys with a violent and alien culture, but also a certain kind of honour system, and a a few sympathetic Orc characters and archetypes were introduced (priests of Rikai for instance). They are still inimical to humans and most other sentients, but only because they serve their own interests, not because they are "evil" (and arguably, "it's their planet" might apply here, since the fluff strongly hints at the possibility that the Orcs are actually the indigenous population of Aventuria's northern regions, with the only older species being the lizardfolk in the south). On a final note, during the Demon War, the Orcs refrained from using the situation to crush the Middenrealm, declaring neutrality at first, and then, in the final battle, sending a small, but effective contingent to aid the Alliance's side.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: The trolls of the setting are huge (3-4 meters tall) humanoids covered in thick, very long fur, with huge noses, big, pointy ears and oversized hands and feet. They are also surprisingly peaceful, their diet consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables and their favorite foods being candy. They are known to be intelligent and possess a complex language, though most people dismiss them as simple brutes who live in caves or under bridges, occasionally showing up to steal livestock. In fact, trolls are highly intelligent and possess incomparably powerful magic, having ruled a world-spanning empire in the distant past. Even today, there exist valleys and forests hidden by magic where trolls gather to stay in wonderful castles, play music and gorge themselves on candy.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: There's a lot of variety in vampires, about the only thing they all have in common is that they have to drain somebody else's Sikaryan to survive. Most are tied to The Nameless God and most of the Sikaryan they drain is transferred to him to aid in his eventual return to power, but there is also at least one vampire lineage created by an Eldritch Location as well as a few Friendly Neighborhood Vampires empowered by some of the good deities. Most vampires are specifically cursed by one or more gods, causing their classic vampire weaknesses: Those cursed by the god of the sun have the traditional vulnerability to sunlight, those cursed by the god of water Cannot Cross Running Water, garlic is the holy plant of the goddess of healing and agriculture and thus hurts vampires cursed by her and vampires under the curse of the goddess of hearth and home cannot enter somebody else's home.
  • Standard Fantasy Races: The primary races in the setting are humans (widespread and culturally dominant, and split between multiple cultures, nations and ethnicities), elves (hunter-gatherers In Harmony with Nature, highly magical, and descended from an ancient, fallen empire), dwarves (sturdy mountain-dwellers descended from another fallen empire, but with a few highly iconoclastic factions), orcs (hairy barbarians who began as a purely evil adventure fodder but were later developed into a more honorable, albeit still barbaric and hostile, culture), and goblins (small, clever and weak, but dangerous in numbers, and often bossed around by the orcs). There are also bestial dragons, nymphs and fairies, powerful but pacifistic trolls, and assorted fantasy monsters.
  • Stubborn Mule: Donkeys are commonly stereotyped as stubborn and stupid animals, but the game rules note that this is an artifact of how people try to deal with them — they tend to be suspicious animals, and will refuse to move if something (say, someone pulling on them to make them move forward) blocks their view of the road. They're actually fairly intelligent animals, and this, combined with their patient natures and tough hardiness, makes them popular beasts of burden.
  • True-Breeding Hybrid: Half-elves can reproduce fine with elves, humans and each other, and can be separated from their human and elven forebears by many generations.
  • The Unpronounceable:
    • The maritime zilites communicate through their gills. Land creatures are unable to reproduce these sounds, and in return Zilites cannot speak languages, that require vocal chords. Risso, who own both bodyparts, are typically used as translators.
    • While basic communication is possible, on advanced levels, the languages of the elves (which require the speaker to speak with two voices at once) and dragons (which requires telepathy) are impossible to master for humans.
    • Kobolds use a whistling, clicking language that other species cannot reproduce. This is a good thing for them, as a kobold's name confers magical power over its owner — it's a bit hard to take advantage of this trick when you physically can't produce the name's sounds.

     Setting/Rules — Magic and spellcasting traditions 
  • Alchemy Is Magic: In a way; while one does not necessarily need to possess magical abilities to create a potion, having access to them allows the creation of more powerful varieties of regular potions and enables the alchemist to create certain potions one needs to cast a spell on. However, what really puts alchemy in that ballpark is that potions can be quite powerful and emulate the effects of a bunch of spells (like healing magic, stat boosts, invisibility etc.). Given the fact that magic in TDE tends to be less powerful than the "sky is the limit"-sorcery of other systems and that a caster's mana is usually rather limited, being able to outsource part of one's work to potions can be godsend for them.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Both played straight with one sisterhood of witches and handily subverted with all other sisterhoods. Most witches do have some type of Familiar though.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Forged metal interferes with the flow of magical energies (with some rare exceptions) in such a way that it makes casting spells more difficult and prohibits the regeneration of Mana if a significant amount is worn close to a magic user's body. While magic users can wear anything not made out of metal (e.g. heavy leather), this is frowned upon by the Magician's Guilds as not befitting a wizard's standing, further restricting proper certified wizards to fancy robes and such.
  • Black Magic: Everything dealing with demons is treated that way. Many other spells are regarded similarly, as well.
    • Summoning demons and most (read: any really effective (using creatures with a soul)) forms of blood magic are punishable by death. Necromancy gets you buried alive. Just killing someone with magic, even in self-defense, gets you automatically charged with murder. In the last case, the main common privilege of the three wizards' guilds — the right to conduct their own trials, if magic is involved — kicks in, so you'll at least get a fair trial.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Exists both in a socially acceptable way, by using one's own life force when all magic power is gone, as well as the socially unacceptable way of Borbaradianism, where anyone who learns this can cast any (borbaradian) spell he learns without any inherent magical talent, only using his life force to cast. The additional downside of borbaradian spells is that they are all at least somewhat demonically tainted, and until after Borbarads return they had a control element allowing him to control everyone who knows them.
  • Color-Coded Elements: The six elements are coded (at least by human standards) mostly this way with a few exceptions: fire is red, wind is yellow or colorless, ice is purple or light blue, water is blue, rock/stone is orange and humus(earth and plants as well as all living things) is represented by earthen colors, but usually by green.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: the three guilds of mages, white(law abiding and usually following strict ethics and codes when using magic, brlieving research must only happen under strict regulations), black(free thinkers who believe that every type of magic deserves to be researched and that no boundaries should be forced upon this research) and grey(somewhere in between, usually rather moderate in one way or the other). All other practitioners of magic don't fall into this scheme though.
  • Deal with the Devil: Pacts with demons are a quick way to great power. They have certain drawbacks, though...
  • Elemental Baggage: Most magical traditions need a small amount of one of the six elements to summon a servant, djinn or master elemental of that particular element. If the element in question is not pure (sand instead of stone for a stone elemental) it will be more difficult, but should it be purer, it will be easier (diamond instead of stone for a stone elemental).
  • Familiar: Most witches and some of the dwarven version of druids (only the kind ones though) have these. They come in many shapes and sizes: cats, ravens, snakes, owls, toads, snakes, small monkeys and spiders for the witches and dogs, wildcats, snakes, eagles and toads for the dwarves. Each familiar is linked to a type of behavior and character that is more or less expected of its mistress.Witch characters can choose a specific benefit (powerful background feats chosen during character creation) to obtain a more powerful familiar. For instance, in the case of the Black Widow coven (Sisterhood in Aventurian terms), the familiar is usually a big (but not giant), somewhat intelligent spider — with the "powerful familiar" benefit, however, it is a Maraskan tarantula, a giant poisonous spider with a diameter of two meters or more. In extreme cases (if the GM agrees, that is), witches can even choose small (housecat- to dog-sized) dragons, which are fully sentient, capable of speech and possess magical powers of their own, as familiars.
  • Functional Magic: A textbook example of the force magic variety, complete with Mana, Background Magic Field and leylines.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Some of the divine powers are truly scary. While they are limited by the slow regeneration of karma (the "fuel" for divine powers) and are somewhat limited in application compared to magic, their power is immense:
    • Magic usually takes effect for seconds or maybe minutes; divine powers at least minutes, usually days and up to several months.
    • Magic needs high investment to become somewhat powerful (banishing a demon? It better be a really weak one or you have to be a lucky expert), while divine powers are far superior (Want to banish a demon? You need a bit of time, but then everything short of a demon prince is toast. Don't have the time? Well if you're a priest of the sun god and spend a degree of karma then a heavenly ray will fry every demon besides demon princes in seconds)
  • Human Sacrifice:
    • Always a favorite of demonologists and other users of black magic.
    • The Achaz did this in their heyday.
  • Hybrid Monster: Chimaerology, the magic of creating magical hybrids from all kinds of animals and humans is a classic but nowadays somewhat rare form of black magic. Later versions are based on the hybrids of mundane creatures – or people and demons.
  • The Jester: "Schelme" (which could be translated as "Jester", "Rascal", "Fool" or "Buffoon") are people who have been stolen from their cribs by kobolds (here depicted as diminutive, gnome-like fairy beings who love pranking) and returned to society years later in order to make some mischief. Being raised by fairies gives them a decidedly weird perspective on humanity, and they possess a completely unique sort of magic which notably averts almost every form of magic resistance. The catch? Said kind of magic only has very narrow, very contextual uses and fits almost solely for the purpose of joking around (e.g. making someone's clothes disappear, changing objects' color, causing annoying noises, etc.) and can only be used if and when it would be funny, to teach someone a lesson, or to provide help for the needy. This makes it all but useless in combat or even for most adventuring needs, as well putting a clever stop to the type of player who'd normally choose that kind of character in order to mess with the group: their magic would literally stop working as soon as people in-universe get fed-up with it because it's no longer fun.
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Common iron blocks magical powers. For some spellcasters, this is only a minor problem, others like druids cannot use forged metal at all.
    • For all elementals their opposing element is their greatest weakness, no matter how resistant to any sort of damage they become.
    • Those who have forged a pact with a demon lord and all that lord's demons are particularly vulnerable to blessed weapons and areas of the god that is their counterpart.
    • Somewhat related to the above example: Most Vampires are specifically cursed by one god. The most "common" variety is cursed by the God of the Sun and has the traditional vulnerability to sunlight, followed by curses from the Gods of Agriculture (vulnerable to wooden stakes, hates garlic) and the Sea (can't cross rivers, vulnerable to blessed water). This can result in some weird weaknesses, for example a vampire cursed by Tsa would be weakened by the presence of art and creativity while those cursed by Rahja are repulsed by wine and beauty. Vampires are very, very hard to get rid of without exploiting these vulnerabilities.
  • Life Energy: Sikaryan is the cosmic energy of "All That Is" and thus covers this trope as well (another form of it is Mana, which is why Cast from Hit Points works). It is contrasted with Nayrakis, the cosmic energy of "All That Can Be", which could loosely be called "Soul Energy".
  • Loophole Abuse: Guild Wizards following the Codex Albyricus aren't permitted to wear armor made from metal (not that they'd want to, since contact with iron weakens magical power), boiled leather, horn or wood. This rules out the vast majority of worthwhile suits of armor outright, but adventurous wizards through the ages have found that a suit of (rare and expensive) Iryan Leather isn't covered by these very specific rules, since Iryan (made from reptilian hides) is quite strong enough for use as armor without any hardening. Note that the prohibitions against armor made from wood or horn were already obvious rule patches designed to prevent the abuse of certain other exotic (and highly effective) forms of armor.
  • Magic Potion: While one does not necessarily need to possess magical abilities to create a potion, having access to them allows the creation of more powerful varieties of regular potions and enables the alchemist to create certain potions one needs to cast a spell on.
  • Magitek:
    • Very rare in modern Aventuria (except for one of the Heptarchies, where demon-powered machinery is gaining in popularity), but a strong element in the culture of the now-extinct High Elves a few millennia back. Everlights, magical elevators in their spire-like skyscrapers, the occasional airship or two — the usual works. The modern elves are technologically backward even compared to humans by choice, as they believe that it was this lifestyle coupled with the hubris of the High Elf leaders that led to their culture's downfall.
    • In Myranor Magitek (called "Arcanomechanics") is a major part of the setting, and occasional examples make "cameo" appearances in Aventuria (such as a submarine being mistaken for a sea monster).
    • Another Aventurian example would be Artefact Magic. It's rather low-level compared to "true" Magitek settings, but the possibility of imbuing items with spells, with a set number of charges or a specific effect duration, does exist in the rules. In-universe, it's nowhere near the level of, for instance, Eberron (or Myranor, for that matter), but nonetheless present, and the magic academy in Khunchom, which specializes in artefact magic and got filthy rich selling various artefacts, many of which are of the classic "magic ring" variety, but some of which straddle the line into magitek, has this as their hat. One could, for instance, imbue a metal rod with the Ignifaxius spell, used to generate a jet of flame, with the "tight beam" modification, in which the jet becomes a narrow, very hot, focused beam of, well, essentially thermal energy, pump a set amount of charges into the artifact, specify a trigger (say, when the user of the artefact touches a "button", which could be a gem set into the rod) and voila— you got a magitek handheld combat laser.
  • Mana: One of the forms of Sikaryan (see Life Energy above) is "Astral Energy", used in spells and rituals.
  • Magic Staff: Trademark weapon, ritual implement and status symbol for wizards. Almost entirely indestructible and capable of injuring otherwise invulnerable opponents, the wizard's staff can also be enchanted with effects that require a ritual once and then just a thought, word or gesture every time the PC wants to use it and require only a handful of mana points to trigger. One of the most useful examples (besides the magical torch spell) is the Hammer of the Magi: Breaking down doors is easy with this physical amplification of any swing with the staff, although it only works against nonliving materials and only increases force not damage. Other options include transforming the staff into an animated, levitating flaming sword, storing spells inside the staff for later use or simply reducing a full-sized quarterstaff to the size of an elegant cane.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Invoked by shamanistic rituals that can seal "evil spirits" (curses, illnesses, demons...) into containers.
    • There are also Rohal's Jars, a collection of various nasty entities (evil spirits, demons and the like) bound by the great wizard. It is generally a very bad idea to open one, as the contents tend to be things that even the nigh-godlike Rohal was only able to imprison rather than destroy.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: With magic being of the Functional Magic variety, this trope is very much in effect among the three Mage Guilds, whose members are generally (to varying extent) of the "rational" and "scientific" mindset, leading to copious amounts of Magi Babble. Much less prominent/nearly non-existent among magic users with a Wild Magic mindset, like Elves, witches, druids or shamans. For Guild mages, it sometimes crosses the line into outright expies of real-world academia, with -quite faithfully rendered- typical academic behaviour, jargon, bureaucratic peculiarities etc. The reason for this is likely that the magic system in TDE, as well as large parts of the initial magic-related fluff, has been strongly influenced by Thomas Römer (a longtime key member of the TDE core design team), who happened to have studied (at a university, that is) physics and astronomy, but left before obtaining a degree. This exposure to a) hard sciences and b) the academic world very much shows in his TDE work.
  • Time Travel: Not a common feature, but a few adventure modules deal with this.
    • With a mix of Temporal Mutability types 1 and 2 (and occasionally but rarely 3): Base sources say that all time travel is supposed to be a Stable Time Loop, and all adventure modules featuring time travel turn out to be such after the fact; and if someone really tries to change the timeline in order to capitalize on the change of events, Satinav, the God of Time, gets sufficiently pissed to join the action (and this is something you don't want, even gods and demons don't want that, in fact he is the only entity that always wins besides Los, the primeval creator of the universe). Should someone still inadvertedly make irrevocable changes, like killing one's own ancestor, the DM is encouraged to let type 3 kick in (f.ex. like making the PC father a replacement ancestor himself).
    • There's exactly one event in the source material that qualifies as category 4: After a cult of theNameless God gained a foothold in a major city, Poseidon Expy Efferd killed off the whole settlement, and the PCs with it. However, time is turned back immediatedly after the event thanks to the Love Goddess, who does what she did best in order to win over the otherwise normally bribe-proof God of Time. And this very likely was only possible because she acted right of the bat and didn't wait until the events could have an impact on the "real" timeline.
  • Wicked Witch: The witches of the setting fulfill most aspects of the trope, with the notable exception of, well, not being necessarily wicked. They brew potions, specialize in casting curses, gather in covens, and even fly on brooms. Witches are classified into "Sisterhoods" based on their animal familiars: Cat Witches are beautiful and seductive with a taste for luxury, Toad Witches are rustic types who deal in herbs and potions, and Raven Witches are ominous crones who make prophecies. Some witches also hatch fully grown from mysterious human-sized eggs, rather than being born, and are blessed with eternal youth.

     Rules — Game and class mechanics 
  • An Adventurer Is You: The most basic character class existed in the very first edition.
  • Badass Normal: Wizards might tell the universe to shut up and sit down, but a competent fighter will usually be able to do the same with the wizard.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": TDE is particularly guilty of this, it's obvious that the creators intentionally went out of their way to avoid naming their stats the way they're called in other tabletop games (particularly D&D).
    • Fairly literal-minded example: "hit points" are "life points".
    • "damage points" are called "hit points' before armor or other mitigating factors; after the reduction, they're called 'damage points' as well.
    • "strength" is "body power" or "physical power".
    • "intelligence" is changed into what could be translated as "sagacity".
    • "dexterity" is "agility" (3rd edition onwards).
    • "wisdom" is "intuition" (they're not completely the same though, yet similar enough in most regards).
    • "skills" are called "talents" (introduced in 2nd edition).
    • "feats" (from D&D 3e) are called 'special skills' (introduced in 4th edition).
    • "experience points" are 'adventure points".
    • "perks" and "flaws" from The World of Darkness are called "advantages" and "disadvantages".
    • Also quite a few classes use unusal terms - priests are called "Geweihte" ("ordained"), and thiefs/rogues are called "Streuner" ("roamers").
    • An interesting exception is the term for a GM or DM, who is called "master", which is reasonably close to the "original"... it's just that the german version of Dn D uses the term "game director" for that role (the translators probably decided on that word because a faithful translation of "Dungeon Master" would sound too much like "gaoler").
  • Character Customization: From the 4th edition onwards. Using a Point Buy system and several templates. Characters are all based on race/culture/profession (4e) or people+profession (5e), and are customized afterwards.
  • Character Level: Editions up to third use classes, after which they are strictly skill-based. 4e still lists levels as a measure of comparative power.
  • Competitive Balance: Presumably in order to avoid a Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards situation, the system has various drawbacks that serve to rob classes who are able to use supernatural abilities of their edge over completely mundane characters (though it also serves to put fighting classes more in line with "civilian" classes):
    • The relative power of magic is rather limited in comparison to other settings: Casting two or three fireballs or other hard-hitting direct damage spells in a row is taxing enough to fully deplete the mana of a seasoned caster; magic items either work only a fixed amount of time per day or need to be recharged; creating unlife from magic is not only rather limited (golems may be created from wood, clay or stone, hybrids can't be larger than a horse, undead are rather weak) and rarely useful for ingame purposes, but also comes with a hefty price-tag attached for those who want to really master the art; immortality is pretty much off the table; making full use of certain magical actions (like, say, telekinesis) requires a character to beat outrageous modifiers; the shapechanging spell has to be leveled for each separate form and is restricted to non-magical animals up until the size of a horse and so on. That being said, spellcasters (especially guild mages) still had a lot of leeway when it came to boosting their power in 4e, and got taken down a notch in 5e to bring them more in line with mundane characters.
    • In additon to this, while a magic user can in theory wield anything apart from metal armor (barring Druids and Geodes which can't use metal at all), the magic-heavy professions are forbidden by law and/or custom to divert from their usual attire (robes & staff for Wizards, an obsidian dagger for Druids etc.). A Wizard could go on an andventure wearing the actually pretty good wood or bone armor and a sword, but he shouldn't get caught that way. Though in the end, they usually aren't that good at fighting anyway (see above) and their ritual weapons are usually unbreakable, bypassing the very realistic break-factor checks, so sticking to the standard garb usually is easier. All this doesn't apply to such a degree to Elves who are free when it comes to weapons usage, while having access to the Elven spells and being able to pick up others. But while they potentially could dualclass better than anyone else, they are still limited by the number of xp they've gathered. On top of that, they're still limited by the "Elven Worldview" trait which not only makes properly playing an Elf in the setting a real pain, but also comes with severe drawbacks in any social situation.
    • What applies to magical classes even more to priests of any sort (at least to those who aren't considered magic users, like druids or shamans): Gameplay-wise, they are very similar to mundane characters and hardly qualify as casters. Apart from some minor feats which are available to all priests (like blessings etc.), they only have access to those miracles which their patron god's portfolio allows — something that limits their number as well as their versatility (though these can be quite powerful).
    • Rule-wise, spells (which count as skills since they need spell checks to succeed) and abilities that are magically oriented work pretty much the same way as mundane skills and abilities and are raised the same way. Due to the "stats for xp"-trade system, magic users raise their skills alongside their spells, which could potentially lead to dualclassing characters, but since they have only one xp-pool for both abilities, they have to decide whether they want to raise magical or mundane abilities, attributes or skills. If a PC is played for long enough, a magic-user could level up in combat arts greatly — however, they pay more experience points for combat ability than dedicated fighter types and most weapon skills depend on physical attributes that won't be particularly high on a wizard's list of priorities: The professionals (Magicians, Druids, Geodes and Witches) usually have better things to spend their experience on, as they usually should be somewhat academically educated, and either socially or naturally too. Building a professional magic user into a competent warrior leads to bad magic users that are equally bad warriors. The nonprofessionals (shamans, savants, totemics etc.) on the other hand don't have that much load in the magical and academical fields, and can "dualclass" way better.
      • This also means that being a Jack-of-All-Stats in regard to magic doesn't really work: One just doesn't have enough xp to learn all spells one may potentially have access to — which prevents "swiss army-knife magic users" that can solve any situation a DM can throw at them by virtue of having every possible spell at their disposal)
      • On the other hand, "civilian" professions (craftsmen, bards, hunters, bureaucrats, scholars etc.) can potentially be molded into being as capable as warriors as those professions who are intended to be fighters, provided they just dish enough XP into these areas, since mundane abilities (which fighting skills are) don't have specific access requirements beyond certain stats. On the other hand, warriors could also potentially be similarly competent as them in their respective areas (nature, science, crafts, social etc.). The usual drawback is that this wouldn't really make that much sense since it's more feasible to focus on the areas you already have decent starting stats in, and also because players tend to pick perks/flaws that make leveling up in your area of specialization easier and/or leveling other skills harder.
      • Also, anyone can become ordained (i.e. multiclassing to priest) later on. However, this does come with the according drawbacks, like being forced to adhere to religious principles which aren't as severe for normal laymen followers of the same faith, without being reimbursed for them). On top of that, some cults (like that of Praios, for example) require a caster to forfeit their magical abilities — though generally, mage/priest characters are exceedingly rare anyway (a few dozen in the entire setting).
  • Dump Stat:
    • Older rules editions (2e and 3e) had negative as well as positive attributes, and could be swapped to improve the stats.. Often the negative Curiosity or Greediness stats were maxed out to raise positive stats.
    • Depending on your build, almost all of the attributes except for Courage can be this. Manual dexterity in particular is so narrow that it often suffers this fate.
  • Failed a Spot Check: While there is no direct spot check, you can still fail to sense stuff.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: The Dark Eye has lots and lots of classes, divided into fighting professions, traveling professions, social professions, crafting professions, magical professions and clerical professions. On the other hand, most professions usually only are separated from one another by their point allocation (which, due to to having loads of skills, opens up a lot of possible options that ultimately resulted in aforementioned lots and lots of classes); and on top of that not every profession is automatically a good choice for an adventurer though, and it's absolutely possible to play something unspectacular like a confectioner with wanderlust.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Averted — the TDE group build is far more often optimized around different fields of problem solving than just combat expertise. The main areas, in broad strokes, are Combat, Wilderness, Social, Science and Crafts.
    • There are so many different skills that special rules are present if you want, for example, help repair a boat and only have the woodworking-skill but not the boat-carpentry-skill, so you can use the skill you have to supplement the missing skill.
    • Especially in the knowledge and crafts sections there are so many skills that a character focused on those areas most commonly needs an additional sheet just to write down all their skills. This is mentioned in the rulebooks.
    • Combat suffers from this as well. Beyond a certain point it is neither affordable nor useful to keep maxing your weapon-talents. Then you are just better off buying extra maneuvers that allow you to trick opponents in combat, break their block, turn an attack into a defense, use your legs, use things as weapons, swing from a chandelier, etc. Luckily, all those special moves may play out as epic strikes with much finesse and creativity, but are not more than a basic attack/defense roll with maybe a difficulty modifier.
  • House Rules: Usually made to simplify the game.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The local katana-equivalent is one of the best weapons in its category (longswords).
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: Oh, yes. In every edition since the third, there was a "basic" rulebook but it usually is so abbreviated, it is basically worthless or can’t really stand on its own. In 3e and 4e, all information in the book was repeated or contradicted later on, making it entirely possible to skip the "basic" rulebook and start with the real rules; while in 5e you need the basic rules and a lot more. Also, it is usually assumed that you use the full rules. These consist of at least two full-sized hardcover books containing rules for character creation, combat, skills and the environment. If you want to play a priest you will need another book. A magic-user, another two books. You still lack enemies to fight and comprehensive setting information.The authors addressed this issue, however, not by reducing the rules, but by making them extremely modular. Many rules (especially for combat) are marked as optional and you can play with about half of the rules cut out and still have a very detailed experience. Also, the ruleset has undergone a very particular development over time.
    • 1984, it started out as a super-simple Dungeons & Dragons knockoff with 5 stats, only 5 character archetypes (generic adventurer, warrior, mage, elf, dwarf) a handfull of weapons and armor items, around 15 magic spells and no skill system to speak of. Pretty early on, the whole thing got expanded to include a few more archetypes, partially scattered throughout other adventures or background modules (druid, sylvan elf, rogue, all sorts of priests etc.), introduced a simple skill system and added a few arcane and divine spells as well as more items, and added a fairly extensive critical success/failure system for combat.
    • In 1988, the 2nd edition introduced human cultures as separate archetypes for the first time, but other than them mostly stuck to the existing archetype already introduced during the four years before. However, it added 5 negative attributes (which had preciously little impact to be honest) and introduced the trademark TDE skill system with 3d20 skill checks and expanded the skillset in general. The combat system got an overhaul as well by adding a few maneuvers (and by doing away with the overly ludicrous critical success/failure tables); combat stats became far more intricate (also due to the new skill system), and the spell lists (also streamlined with the skill system) got expanded a lot.
    • In 1991, the 3rd edition hit the shelfs, though it was actually more of a 2.5e given the fact that it wasn't really that much of a leap from the edition of 1988, but just restricted itself to expanding on the concepts introduced before. The most fundamental change was that the system got another 2 positive and negative attributes each, but other than that it was just a lot of polishing and upgrading: even more skills and spells, more creatures and demons, more special rules for everything (from wilderness to social to combat), more archetypes.
    • In 2000, the 4th edition was introduced, which was partially a reaction to the changing RPG landscape. As opposed to the 3rd edition, this one actually changed things by overhauling most of the concepts that had characterized the game for the past 16 years. For starters, instead of being fully randomized, characters were now generated using a stat budget including having access to newly introduced extensive perks/flaws lists (both changes were obvious ripoffs of The World of Darkness systems) with the negative attributes being outsourced to the flaw list (and thus made entirely optional, unlike before); and an additional 8th stat. Also, the characters were designed with a character construction kit that made every character a combination of race/species, culture and profession (unlike before, where one was limited to be either race/species/culture, profession, or both combined as an additional option). Oh, and loads and loads of different options for each group were added. Also, levels were made meaningless because now you could buy skillups by expending XP instead of getting a fixed budget every level. Also, the skill system got expanded again by adding specializations for each skill, thus basically bloating the number of skills to over 100 with 4-5 specialization options each. The fact that players weren't necessarily forced to take up every skill (and, in fact, couldn't do so due to the nature of the stat budget-based system) alleviated this a little, but not by much. Combat got another overhaul by changing the nature of weapons (some weapons were now better than others at converting strength into damage) and adding special skills (another ripoff, this time from the feat system introduced in DnD3E) that mostly focused on combat and magic as well, and of course loads of maneuvers (usually tied to said special skills). And a lot more changes, too many too mention. The entire thing, while in theory pretty eclectic, turned TDE into a rather convoluted and not really beginner-friendly system; with the added irony that this was the system they stuck with the longest (15 years, almost the duration of all the three prior editions combined) which probably didn't help when it came to acquiring additional players during that period.
    • In 2015, the staff decided to do something really novel and outrageous: for the first time in the history of the game, they actually downsized the rule system instead of restricting themselves to only adding things. A lot of things were downsized, streamlined and cut (like the number of skills, special skills, weapons, perks, flaws etc.), the character creation process was streamlined with the leveling process (players got an XP budget at the start to design their character instead of having a different budget for either process), the character creation kit lists were now streamlined in a way that every preset race/species, culture and profession could be perfectly recreated using the creation system (before, this wasn't possible) which increased player autonomy. Combat stats were made easier to calculate by removing extensive formulas and so on. Whether all changes were for the better is up to debate, but given the drastic measures that were undertaken, at least it's feasible to say that the staff realized that something had been amiss with the 4th edition.
  • Magic Knight: Even though actual fighter/mages like in other games don't really exist in this setting, a few combos qualify as Magic Knights to some extent:
    • A few priests (either those of war and combat deities or specific ordained knights) are basically warriors by trade but happen to be able to use their gods' favor for channeling supernatural abilities.
    • The Gjalskerlanders have totemic warriors who have a few magic abilities on top of their martial skills.
    • Theoretically, it is possible to mold actual mages into fighters since their weapon limitations are legal but not technical and a few really decent armor aren't made of metal. This is generally a poor idea due to the fact that dispersing your XP to bolster your character in two areas equally generally doesn't result in a much stronger characters, and that it basically puts you at the mercy of the Dungeon Master and his willingness to let you suffer the consequences of your extralegal decision.
    • Suprisingly, it's Elves who make the best characters for this: On the one hand, they're full wizards by default (i.e. able to actually cast a wide array of spells and not being restricted to merely a few enchantments, rituals and tricks like half- or quarter wizards), which means that the Elf-specific fighting professions are also proficient casters. Also, they don't have the same legal restriction to bear arms or don armors as other human magic classes (though of course metal armors are still off the table).
  • Mundane Fantastic: Called "phantastic realism" by the authors, making magic pretty weak compared to Dungeons and Dragons, at least as far as most PCs go.
    • There actually IS a rule describing how to become super-awesomely powerful, but you'll always have to pay with something. In the end, with spells being extremely flexible on the run and often having basic effects usable to the caster's liking, wizards are more of a "box of super awesome utility". Very few spells have definite descriptions, and most are only limited in their power, not their potential.
  • Made of Plasticine: Compared to the unstoppable juggernauts in many other fantasy RPGs, TDE characters are pretty easy to kill. On the other hand, if you manage to survive grievous injury, chances are you'll heal extremely quickly even without magic.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All:
    • Constitution can be, not only because it is most important to HP-Base and many physical talents, but also because the better half of your constitution is your wound-threshold. Any damage received higher than that threshold deals a wound, which is a crippling effect, that, if not suppressed, can quickly lead to another one and another one. Also, afterwards, any healing-skill-check is severely constricted by each wound.
    • Another example would be Intuition. Taking a major part in attack- and defense- base values (until 5e, that is) and in many physical talents is good enough for most action-oriented characters, but it also has at least normal weighting in all science talents, along with almost all spells (ALL spells in elven representation, along with often having double weighting) and additionally all social and language talents. This is the stat to go especially for characters who are supposed to be able to fight AND talk/cast magic in usable proportions. In their case, cunning most often gets less attention than it normally would.
    • Even some stats are regarded lesser by almost all characters, while others are more important, no stat really overtakes all others, since for every talent-check, at least 2 attributes are necessary, balancing characters out automatically.
    • The strength attribute used to be the top dog since it was equally important for hand-to-hand stats as dexterity, but paramount when it came to calculating damage, which was arguably the most important stat for any melee-oriented class — and on top of that was also indispensable for the generally fairly low carrying capacity. The most recent edition has downgraded the efficiency of strength for all but the really heavy weapons to such an extent that it rarely pays off to raise the stat above 15, though.
    • Some talents (and the associated attributes, guess which!) are seen as core important to play and survival. Self-control, body-control and acuity may be rolled any number of times between once per adventure to once every few actions, but almost all GMs agree that those are the talents most commonly saving a character's ass outside of combat. Similarly, empathy is the most important social talent; without it, nearly no decent sale, negotiation, persuasion or intimidation would ever work (again, varies from GM to GM).
  • Spoony Bard: Averted with bards and their varieties, who (from a gameplay perspective) play pretty similar to the other generic "civilian" classes (thieves, craftsmen, hunters...) who don't fit into the fighter/mage/priest-concept. Played straight with the "rascal" class (see Jester above), who is probably the least player-friendly class in the game, and also to some extent with the "charlatan", a carnival magician who is sub-par compared to any actual guild mage, but without offering meaningful perks to compensate like the other magic users (witches, druids, elves...) do.
  • Weapon of Choice: Weapon skills are expensive to increase, so it is very useful to specialize for most warriors. This is made worse by the inclusion of D&D 3-like feats in an otherwise GURPS-like point-buy system. Pre-planning for your future combat style is almost a must — then again, a half-decent GM will throw in some NPCs for you that happen to know that technique that is basic for every other technique your WOP is capable of.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: A systemic example: A pretty standard action that was neither considered too hard nor very easy was tested by using a standard skill +0 check — given the 3d20-mechanic of skill checks, however, this meant that any beginner level character had an extremely high chance of blowing rather trivial tasks, even when it came to areas they were actually specialised in. High level characters however passed even checks that were considered very difficult with flying colors (apart from some prolonged efforts with aggravations that went through the roof). It took 25 years to remedy that situation by introducing more extensive modifiers that properly considered both ends of the scale.

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