Primeval Thule is a Conan-esque third-party campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition created by Sasquatch Game Studio. It is a distinctly Sword & Sorcery campaign setting, overtly inspired by the Hyperborean age, complete with including elements of the Cthulhu Mythos and the iconic Frazetta Man (here called "Beastmen"), but also attempting to preserve a few "classic" D&D elements - for example, playable demihumans and arcanists are not only permitted, they are openly integrated into the setting, although still given a S&S twist - dying elves and mages being regarded with fear and distrust by the ignorant savages around them is very much in-play with Thule.
Welcome to Thule, a primordial land of fierce barbarians, elder horrors, and savage wilderness. In this ancient age, humankind is a young race, newly arisen on a monster-haunted Earth. Cities of cruel spledor lie scattered across the great lands of the north like a handful of gems strewn from a dead thief's hand.
This is a doomed age, a time of great deeds and inhuman terror destined to be lost and forgotten beneath the numbing cloak of endless winter. But for one glittering moment, Thule lives—and it is a fierce, cruel, splendid, and marvelous moment indeed.
By default, PC races on Thule are Human, High Elf, unique subraces of Dwarf and Halfling, and the Atlantean. DMs are encouraged to work with players to discuss the potential of other, odder PC races, representing either cultures hidden within the savage wilds of Thule or perhaps transported from other worlds. Hell, one of the "Character Narratives", a kind of meatier background/prestige class hybrid, has the option that your PC is actually an alien being from beyond the stars trapped in the body of a human after a "star magic" spell went terribly wrong for you both and switched your minds.
Thulean dwarves are the only race on Thule who know how to work steel, and have exclusive control over its production. People wielding steel arms or armor either got them by befriending (or paying a fortune to) dwarves, which is signified by a unique tattoo they place on their "customers", or stole them from people who did... which means they have vengeful dwarven assassins on their tails. Thulean dwarves use the 5e dwarf core race combined with a unique Thule Dwarf subrace:
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Strength OR +1 Wisdom
- Secret of Steel: You start play with a single steel item, which is a weapon, a piece of armor, or a shield. This steel item is treated as a magical version of its default item, gaining a +1 bonus, which increases to +2 at 10th level. If this item is lost or destroyed, you can replace it by either returning to your homeland or gaining a level.
Thulean halflings are essentially Thule's replacement for wood elves, being the "xenophobic yet not evil super-stealthy race that lives in the deep forests and jungles". They are also deeply religious, but are devoted to what Thule calls the "Forest Gods" - the non-anthropomorphic spirits of nature, which have been mostly forgotten by humanity. Thulean halflings use the 5e halfling core race combined with a unique Thule Halfling subrace:
- Ability Score Increase: +1 Wisdom
- Master of Woodcraft: When in a Forest, Jungle, Marsh or Swamp setting, you can attempt to hide if you are lightly obscured or have partial cover.
Thule has pretty much all of the core 5e classes, although shaped by the setting. The small "Primeval Thule Player's Guide" features a handful of new subclasses for several particularly "Thulean" classes.
Barbarians are, of course, incredibly common in Thule, originating from the myriad tribal cultures of the world. They are divided by origin; "savage" tribes are particularly small and isolated, whilst "advanced" tribes are larger and more fully aware of and integrated into the world around them. Think the difference between Picts and Cimmerians.
- The Player's Companion featured the Path of the Slayer, a barbarian who tempers their rage and lets their fury burn cold, focusing it to perform feats of supreme athleticism and endurance to better evade death at the hands of the many wild beasts and other dangers of the wilderness.
Bards in the adventuring sense are rare, as magic is rare on Thule and most who practice it fully commit themselves to its study instead of dabbling in it. The 5e Bard generally only exists amongst elf, half-elf and Atlantean PCs.
Clerics are arguably the most common magic users on Thule, although those with the PC class represent the innermost ranks of the priesthood. There are multiple different deities in Thule; humans worship a pantheon of nine deities, called, simply, "The Nine", but there are also many cults to the Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Clerics have the most subclasses unique to the Thule setting, with four new Cleric Domains in total; the Cosmic and Ophidian domains in the Campaign Setting, and the Cold and Fury domains in the Player's Companion.
Druids serve the role of Cleric amongst the "Barbarian" tribes of humanity and amongst halflings.
- Thulean druids can take the Circle of the Fang, which is a variant Circle of the Moon that gains Wild Shape at a higher level (6th), but is more adept at using it.
Fighters are, likewise, incredibly common on Thule, and represent the default "civilized adventurer", in contrast to their Barbarian counterparts.
Monks are incredibly rare on Thule, hailing from foreign cultures or being tied to strange, mysterious, often Mythosian cults.
Paladins are, for the most part, non-existent on Thule; the Sacred Slayer narrative fulfills the niche of "warrior-agent of a priesthood". However, the Player's Companion subsequently established that the Atlanteans possessed elite warrior-brotherhoods and martial orders whose dedication to the ideals of honor and glory unlocked divine magic, creating a paladin variant that still lingers even in Thule's savage present. This is handled mechanically as the new subclass Oath of Victory.
Rogues also abound in Thule.
- The Player's Companion added the Poisoner subclass, which is pretty self-explanatory.
Sorcerers are uncommon on Thule, though they can be considered the second-most common of the arcane spellcasting classes. Sorcerers fundamentally derive their power from exposure to strange magical devices that altered them (or their family line), or from blood ties to prehuman races; the most common sorcerers are Draconic (tied to the ancient serpentfolk), Wild Magic (tied to the ancient genies and rakshasas) and, with the inclusion of the Player's Companion, Mythosian (represented as the Great Old One sorcerous origin).
Warlocks are uncommon, but also represent the most common of the arcane spellcasting classes. Of the corebook patrons, Fey are the least common, with both Fiend and Great Old One patrons being very common.
- Instead of a new subclass, the Player's Companion offers Warlocks of the Great Old One pact the option to take an alternative level 14 feature, to represent allegiance to a specific Mythosian patron. Warlocks of Hastur/The King in Yellow can take the Unspeakable Name feature, which lets them cast a verbal-based Confusion spell 1/day. Warlocks of Ithaqua the Wind-Walker can take the Chilling Charge feature, which lets them assume a flying incorporeal form that emits a lethally frigid aura 1/day. Warlocks of Lorthnu'un can grant themselves a burrow speed that can be used to create a localized earth tremor once per short rest. Warlocks of Nyarlathotep gain the ability to assume a Swarm Form 1/day. Warlocks of Shub-Niggurath gain the Feral Shape ability, which is a tweaked Wild Shape that can be used 1/day. Warlocks of Tsathoggua gain the Soothing Chimes ability, which can be used 1/day to create a mystical set of chimes that lull listeners into a torpor. Warlocks of Yga-Ygo gain the Nightmare Sleepwalk ability, which can be used 1/day to induce terror and slowness in a single target. Finally, Warlocks of Yog-Sothoth gain the Suppurating Portal ability, which can be used to link two points within 60 feet by a masgical portal that lets the warlock pass through unharmed, but inflicts acid damage on anyone else who tries to use them.
Wizards are generally the rarest of the arcane spellcasters in the present age, although they rose to great numbers and prominence amongst the Atlantean and Elfin civilizations before they fell. Because Thuleans are ignorant of magic as a whole, all wizards are treated with equal suspicion and caution; there is no greater stigma associated with a necromancer or a conjurer than there is with a warmage or a bladesinger, because the average person doesn't know enough to think that the former schools of magic should be seen as especially fearful.
Narratives are new mechanic introduced in the Thule Campaign Setting that replace the normal Background mechanics. They fill a similar conceptual space, but Narratives also offer a beefier bonus on the mechanical side, granting two unique "class features" at 1st level, a third at 6th level, and a fourth at 10th level. Narratives can also be changed during the course of gameplay, as they represent not so much the origins of your character but who they are in a continuing sense; a former Free Blade may stumble across the legendary grimoire and find their fate bound to it, compelling them to embrace its arcane lore and become a Bearer of the Black Book. When this happens, a character loses all of the benefits of their original Narrative and replaces them with those of their new one.
Which makes more sense for some Narratives than others... after all, becoming an Occult Scientist wouldn't really strip your character of being an Atlantean Noble, now would it?