Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gelanod; a dark & chivalric realm

Okay; so FINALLY running some homebrew Savage Worlds after my D&D hit a brick wall and didn't recover and a brief stint of Werewolf: The Forsaken. Because its a very casual game for first-time Savagers; I decided to do something familiar- a Elves & Knights fantasy -with a little twist to keep the player's guess- a healthy dose of Rober E. Howard's racial notions. My hope was that these two general ideas would have enough background for me to scribe some adventures but be an empty enough canvas for the Player's to add their own little bits. Sure enough; one player wanted a Katana for their one-armed Half-Elf Theif, so created a pseudo-Japanese area south of the Horse Lords- claiming to have stolen the Katana from a trader from that area. Another wanted an adventure in a vampire-filled forrest and added the Feifdom of Gielda. A third wanted to be Cleric, but not of the Hullruno religion and so they added a new god. We also messed with the rules a little so that a Tarot deck is used for Character creation (one player is a big Deadlands: Hell on Earth fan), combat initiative, Beanies and an Adventure deck... so; heres what it all that came out with- the realm of Gelanod (PS; sorry about the map- work in progress)...


The Dark Past…
The Rise of Humanity… The elder world had been long ruptured by the hate traded between Elf and Orc. Such animosity was between the elder races that each turned blind eyes to the first tribes of fur-clad Humans migrating from the south. As vermin, Humans came to breed in the cracks and hallows between the empires of Elf and Orc; multiplying in great numbers and learning the arts of forge, spell and war. And like a like rats grown too numerous for the nest did Humanity burst their borders; coming as a plague against the elder races. With each passing day closer did Elf and Orc alike come to extinction; till all remained but a handful whose blood was mingled with men.
The Crowns of Men… From what shattered relics of the elder races’ civilizations they cared to salvage, the rude and apish Humans built themselves crude civilizations. No longer a united species; they were now varied in application of civilizing qualities and lack of common geography. Gelanod, Hullruno, Kalisuth, Golgotha- all Kingdoms trace themselves back to this time.

A History Of Gelanod…
The Kulan
… After the migration south, the Tribe of Kulan found themselves in the Land of Horses. There they became a mighty race of cavaliers of such skill that the elder races took the Kulan as their slave-knights. When the elder races were defeated, the mighty Tribe of Kulan found themselves with neither chief nor home. They had two captains; Gel, who had ridden for the Elves, and Dohu; Herald of the Orcs. Universally, however, the Kulan sought the Land of Horses once more. Not knowing their path, the tribe split. The followers of Gel settling in a fertile land between the Rift and the Graspik they came to call Gelanod, after their Chief.

The Rise of Chivalry… All realms have Knights and some ideal of Chivalry. Only in Gelanod was it a cultivating force! Since claiming Gelanod, the Kulans had become became the feudal, but still barbaric, people known as the Gelan. Each Lord was thus a warlord in his own real and the King little more than a keystone holding the loose confederation together. Yet, with the development of agriculture, the peasant was bound to the land and so the arts of riding became enshrined mainly in the Nobility. The cavaliers of the Nobles came to constitute the realms only professional soldiers. In time, the Knightly caste emerged as a semi-separate class of Nobility. They also became the richest and most prized. It was thus about the time of King Blud Gel, the last noble of old Kulan blood, that the cavaliers began to exert themselves politically. Where before they had served other Nobles; they now formed compacts amongst themselves. With Blud’s death, a crafty cavalier named Rigimus Uric drew over half the separate compacts into a private agreement with his own; allowing him to take the throne by force. It is from those compacts which supported Uric that the Orders of Knights were born and it is their pact with him on which Gelanod’s code of Chivalry is based.

Powers that be…
Cult of Verod
… Possibly once a great Human chief of the elder world; the Cult of Verod is a faith that predates worship of the High Father and has remained alive amongst disjointed cults scattered across Golgotha and Gelanod. In the latter they are tolerated, in the former the Verodites are loathed for their distaste of Necromancy. The Cult believes their god is god of the world; making Verod simultaneously the sphere itself and a separate being.
Knights… The defenders of the realm and military elite of Gelanod; Knights are those young nobles who have elected to hold up the cause of Chivalry. As descendants of the chieftains, heroes and high-folk of Gelanod’s barbaric past, Knights uphold the nobility’s ancestral duty to protect the common people. Knight’s do this in the form of their quests; seeking out specific threats and injustices.
Knightly Orders… While a Knight’s domain is Gelanod as a whole, these grand military orders of Knights are specialize in one area of the defense of the Realm (and sometime’s beyond).
Holy Order of Paladins… Knight’s dedicated to the Church’s cause and Heilfader’s command. Such Knight’s bare the title of Paladin; and are both divine Cleric and military Knight.
Knights of the Rift… Order of Knights charged with protecting Gelanod’s southern coast. The Rift-Knights have a fierce rivalry with the Corsairs of the Boros Peninsula.
Order of the Black Mouse… Those Knight’s less inclined to frontal confrontation. In this regard, the Black Knights are masters are thieves, rogues, assassins and spies. They are neither the King’s left nor right hand, but rather the ace up his sleeve. Their domain is the entire realm.
Order of the Shield… The Order of the Shield are those Knights who have dedicate themselves to cleansing Sunkwood of evil. The order is relatively few in number for its task is both hopeless and thankless; with little chance of glory. In some circles, joining this hopeless Order is considered a great act of Chivalry. In others, a dire punishment.
Hullruno Church, The… Followers of the High-Father, whose archaic name is Woenaz. In the dawn times he hung himself from the Cosmic-Tree, whose archaic name is Terold, to banish the demons from the world. The Heilfader oversees the running of the faith from the holy kingdom of Hullruno, north of Gelanod, where humanity first received the word of the High Father through his prophets.
Keepers, The… Usually a Knight, Nobleman or Priest; a Keeper is the position awarded to the leader of a township. Some of these appointments are quite prestigious. Such is the case with the Keeper of Abal, usually gained through word of the King himself. Other appointments to Keeper are less endearing; such as the case with the Keeper of some no-name village in Sunkwood.

Glossary Geographic…
… Abal is the capital of Gelanod; the shining citadel of chivalry. To back this boast, the great city is home to the White Citadel; keep of the Holy Order of Paladins.
Belt, The… A stretch of ocean which divides the eastern continent from the western.
Boros… Peninsula of Kalisuth; a fierce kingdom of Pirates.
Edge Port… Port-city in Pittmori; direct on the mouth of the Mori river and thus at ‘the end of the land’. Host-home to the Knights of the Rift.
Gielda… Once a bountiful fiefdom around the forest of the same name, its noble Lord Roland Kane was once a true example of Chivalry, but a change has come over Roland of late and Gielda is now a cursed land where the peasants are prey.
Golgotha… Kingdom of the Skull, south and east of Gelanod. Renown as the home of Necromancers, heretics and decedents.
Graspik… Mountain range which divides Gelanod from Golgothar and Hullruno.
Horse Lords, the… Both the title of the land and the nobles who rule nomads of the great steppe.
Hullruno… Holy Kingdom of the Hullruno Church. A Theocracy overseen by the Heilfader. Hullruno is named for the mountains at its centre- the place where Humans first received word of their creator, the High-Father. Hullruno is north of Gelanod.
Kalisuth… Mystical land of the south-west.
Lower River… River that splits off the Mori and runs through Sunkwood.
Mori… The great river which snakes its way along Gelanod’s gut; central to trade.
Petersdale… Wolf-plagued village in Sunkwood. Located in a narrow valley, it survives as many forested villages’ do- through the daily hunting and gathering the bounty of the woodland.
Pitmori… Province at the mouth of the Mori river.
Serrat… Mountains in the centre of Gelanod whose rise causes the Low to divide from the Mori rivers.
Talkari… A land of sword-wielding foot-Knights known as Hatamoto, bound by their own queer form of Chivalry. It is found beyond that of the Horse Lords.

Character Creation

... Standard race for the setting. Humans gain an extra Card at the start of the Game Session as their bonus.
Half-Elf... Descendants of those few Elves to survive the end of their age. Have interbred with Humans to survive since. Though mostly human, their tainted blood is despised. Half-Elves use the racial profile provided in the Savage Worlds Fantasy Supplement (aka Wizards & Warriors- great little addition to Savage Worlds! And FREE under “downloads” at Must choose increased Agility.
Half-Orc... Descendants of those few Orcs to survive the end of the Elven Age. Have interbred with Humans to survive since. Though mostly human, their tainted blood is despised. Like the Half-Elf, rules for Half-Orcs are available in Wizards & Warriors.

Arcane Backgrounds...
Still fiddling with this one; Basically I allowed Magic, Miracles and Superpowers. The key difference with Superpowers from how its written in the Explorer's Edition is simply that I changed the name to "Folk Charmry". Basically, this represents more the village "wise woman" who learnt a trick or two from her mother, who learnt a trick from her mother, etc. Reliable but limited "everyday" magic, not like the many and varied arcana of the Wizard with Arcane Background (Magic).

Knowledge (Elder World)
The world of the elder races is a mystery to most citizens of Gelanod; Wizards included. But its relics, cults and, more commonly, its monsters litter the world. This Knowledge specializes in the lore of pre-human and early human times; when madness and abomination were common.


Black Knight
Requirements: Seasoned, Knight, Theif, no membership to any other Knightly Order.

Even in full plate, the Order of the Black Mouse are renowned for their ability as Rogues. um... still working out what this should do...

Horse Lord
Requirements: Novice, Beast Bond (Horse), Riding D10+, must be purchased at character creation.

The nomads from the land of the Horse Lords are barbarians born on horseback, they say. While this boast maybe an exaggeration, many have been riding well before they could walk. As such, a Horse-barbarian knows their way around their mount. A Horse Lord gains +2 to their Riding rolls, may ignore the -2 penalty for Shooting while mounted, and use the highest of their Riding and Fighting skills in combat.

Requirements: Novice, must be purchased at character creation.

The character with this Edge is from Hullruno, the Holy Kingdom. The people of Hullruno are renowned for their piety and religious devotion. As such, they are always well received abroad as the kingdom and all within it carry the personal blessing of the Heilfader. This character gains +2 Charisma for their fortunate birthland.

Requirements: Noble, Fighting D8+, Riding D8+

Knights are those Nobles trained from a young age in the art of horse-combat and the ideals of Chivalry. While the ideals do not always stick, with tales of vicious and villainous Knights littering Gelanod’s history, the training always does. A Knight gains the title of Sir (male) or Dame (female), the right to be invited to join Knightly Orders, and gains +2 on Riding rolls and +2 when attacking from horseback with a Lance.

Requirements: Seasoned, Knight, Champion, no membership to any other Knightly Order.

This character has pledged themselves not merely to the ideals of Chivary. No, this Knight has pledged their lance to the Church; joining its militant elite- the Holy Order of Paladin’s. As a Paladin, the character is trained to express their faith through war, making the battlefield their temple; trained to use ‘battlefield’ Powers reflexively, rather than cognitively. When casting the following Powers- Armour, Boost Trait, Deflection, Healing, Smite or Stun –on themselves only, the Paladin may do so as a free action with a +2 bonus.

Requirements: Novice, Agility D6+, Boating D8+, Fighting D8+ Swimming D8+

Pirate, Freebooter, Corsair, Black-heart, Buccaneer! Whatever the name, Pirates are more at home in a battle on the high seas than on land. A Pirate character is skilled fighters on the deck of a ship, knowing how to lunge and thrust with the ship’s movements or account for the waves when aiming. They are also master sailors; knowing how to survive at sea for years at a time. Pirates gain +2 Boating rolls along with +2 on those Fighting and Shooting rolls made on the deck of a ship. Note; this does not cancel the -2 penalty for unstable platforms.

Requirements: Seasoned, Knight, Pirate, no membership to any other Knightly Order.

Knights of the Rift take the Knightly cause to the high seas; spending more time on deck than on horseback- becoming expert Marines. Characters who become a Rift-Knight learns not merely to move with a ship; but use that movement in their own defence gaining +2 Parry when on an Unstable Platform (such as the deck of a ship).

Requirements: Seasoned, Knight, Woodsman, no membership to any other Knightly Order.

The Knights who are permitted to join the Order of the Shield are well versed at forest life to begin with. What they quickly learn, as quest after quest sees Shielder’s (as they are called) riding hard the length and breath of Sunkwood, is to ride through the trackless woods as swift and sure as they would across open ground. A Knight who joins the Order of the Shield may ignore movement penalties for themselves or their mount while in forest or other woodland terrain.

Strong Bloodline
Requirements: Novice, Half-Elf or Half-Orc, must be purchased at character creation

Some blood runs stronger towards the inhuman than it does the human. As such; these creatures- for they cannot truly be called human –run closer to what the elder breeds once were than their semi-human descendants. A Strong Orc Bloodline grants a Half-Orc character +1 Size; for true Orcs are larger than Humans. A Strong Elf Bloodline grants slightly different abilities; depending on if the Half-Elf character has an Arcane Background. If they character has no Arcane Background, then they gain the ability to work a little magic; some simple curses. This manifests as the Boost/Lower Trait Power and five Power Points for its use. This Power uses the character’s Smarts as its associated Arcane Skill. If the character has an Arcane Background, however, their strength of their blood grants them +5 Power Points OR their choice of starting Power.

Stylish Defence
Requirements: Smarts D8+, Positive Charisma Modifier.

In Gelanod, Chivalry defines war and war has in turn become an idealized art. Like the dancer, or the painter; this character has learnt to incorporate their personality into their art; fight with a style and flair so as to disarm their foes! A character with this Edge adds their Charisma modifier as Armour to their Toughness against Melee attacks only.


Golgothan (Minor)
Requirements: Novice, must be purchased at character creation.

A character with this Hindrance is not from Gelanod, but Golgotha. As such, they are distrusted as a child of that dark land, suffering -2 Charisma.

Kal (Minor)
Requirements: Novice, must be purchased at character creation.

A character with this Hindrance is not from Gelanod, but that bizarre realm of mystics and madmen; Kalisuth. As such, they suffer -2 Charisma. This is not so much due to hatred of that land; but suspicion as the Kal’s are said to be of a different race to the humans of Gelanod, Golgotha and Hullruno; rumoured to know many weird things alien to Gelanod.

Talkaran (Major)
Requirements: Novice, must be purchased at character creation.

A character with this Hindrance is not from Gelanod; but from that strangely similar, yet alien, land of Talkari; where sword-wielding foot-Knights known as Hatamoto pratice their own strange brand of Chivalry called Bushiron. So similar any yet so different; a Talkaran in Gelanod is, in short, a curiosity. The character attracts attention wherever they go as people want to know all about them. They can’t walk down the street without being stared at and folks seem to note even seemingly minute details about the character. Naturally, a Talkaran in Gelanod finds themselves getting drawn into numerous adventures.

Weak Bloodline (Major/Minor)
Requirements: Half-Elf or Half-Orc, Novice, must be purchased at character creation, cannot be combined with Strong Bloodline.

Some Elven or Orcish heritages are stronger than others; running truer to what the race once was. Others are weaker, being closer to human as a character with this Hindrance is. As a Major Hindrance, this character’s blood is particularly weak- costing them their racial Trait (Strength for Orcs, Agility for Elves) increase. As a Minor Hindrance, the character looses their Low Light vision ability.

The Book of Lore

“Open your eyes to my pages…”
-The Book of Lore

While Agamotto, the crazed wizard, worshipped certain demons his first loyalty was to his scholarship. This led him to, unlike many other cultists, to seek the lore of his masters- leading Agamotto to the subterranean nightmare below sunkwood and the terrible nameless city of the Elves. While he was burnt alive centuries ago, his great work- the Book of Lore –lives on. The Book of Lore is, in essence, a great encyclopaedia of everything dark and monstrous in Gelanod. Anyone who wishes to learn anything of the dark may merely open its pages and find the answers they seek. Naturally, the Book of Lore is outlaw and ownership of it is equivalent to open admission of Demon-worship. Some Priests, Knights and Wizards do gain permission to possess copies of the book- allowing them to use its knowledge in the realm’s defence. Despite this, there is a disturbing tendency for new editions of the tome to appear. Thankfully, it is generally known that bits of the Book of Lore have steadily been lost with each transcription following Agamotto’s original text; with older editions being far more useful and dangerous to possess.

New - $1000 - +1 on all Knowledge (Elder World) and Spellcasting rolls.
Old - $2000 - +2 on all Knowledge (Elder World) and Spellcasting rolls.
Hoary - $3000 - +3 on all Knowledge (Elder World) and Spellcasting rolls.

Tarot Deck in Savage Worlds Rules
Numbers & the minor Arcana
Ace = 1
Page = 11
Knight = 12
Queen = 13
King = 14

Using a Tarot Deck to create characters
1- Draw seven cards (one for each trait and skills).
2- Discard Lowest.
3- Consult the table below.
4- Each card may be used to assign a starting Trait ranks to an individual trait or retained to gain a number of skill points later.

Card Value Trait Ranks Skill Points
18-21 5 17
14-17 4 16
10-13 3 15
6-9 2 14
0-5 1 13

Using a Tarot Deck as Initiative, Adventure Cards & Beanies simultaneously
1- Players are dealt a hand of three cards each at the start of the session (as modified by the Luck Edge). The Game Master is dealt one card per Player.
2- Any card can be spent as to reroll any Trait test make a Soak roll or eliminate the Shaken condition. These re-rolls do not include tables or Damage rolls unless it is a Major Arcana’s specific ability.
3- Major Arcana can be spent to gain an individual bonus, listed below.
4- At the start of each Combat Round every Wild Card (PC or NPC) is dealt a Card. The Game Master is dealt an additional card per group of non-Wild Card antagonists under their control. From their Hands, the Party chooses one card to act as their initiative card. The Game Master chooses one card per Wild Card and group of non-Wild Card antagonists under their control.
5- The order of Initiative is Major Arcana from highest to lowest, followed by Minor Arcana from highest to lowest.

Card Bonus
Any Card Spend to re-roll any failed trait roll (excludes Damage and Tables) OR roll Vigor and Soak a Wound on a success OR automatically recover from Shaken.

The Fool When making an Unskilled Attempt the character may gain a momentary flash of insight by spending this card. Ignore the usual -2 penalty for the Unskilled Attempt.

The Magician If your character has the Arcane Background (Magic) Edge spend this card to gain a surge of magical energy; activating any purchased Power without roll or spending Power Points.

The High Priestess If your character has the Arcane Background (Miracles) Edge spend this card to have the will of the High-Father work through you; activating any purchased Power without roll or spending Power Points.

The Empress A character must be a Noble if they spend this card. The character may find their way to a household, if not friendly, then at least not hostile to their family.

The Emperor Spend this card to re-roll or force the GM to re-roll on the Fright table.

The Hierophant Spend this card and a helpful ally happens along.

The Lovers When trying to woo a potential lover spend this card. The character finds a way to make them receptive for the night at least.

The Chariot Spend this card when travelling. Your character knows of a short cut to their destination.

Strength The character gains a second wind when this card is spent, removing one point of Fatigue.

The Hermit When pursued the character which spends this card escapes their pursuers.

Wheel of Fortune Spend this card for your character to happen across of a lost money purse containing $3D10, counting ‘0’ as zero.

Justice Spend this card when searching for find evidence against an antagonist or villain. The character happens across some vital piece of information if it exists.

The Hanged Man This card may be spent to reroll any Damage roll.

Death Spend this card to re-roll or force the GM to re-roll on the injury table.

Temperance Spend this card to re-roll or force the GM to re-roll on the NPC reaction table.

The Devil Play this card when bound, locked away or otherwise restrained. Any reasonable (Game Master’s interpretation) plan or scheme to escape succeeds without roll.

The Tower Play this card on a target currently successfully using their Climbing skill. They must reroll their Climbing at -2.

The Star Spending this card gives the character some clever or witty line, sees them give a grand performance or make a gallant entrance. They gain +2 Charisma for the scene.

The Moon When in combat against a monster and this card is spent, the character counts as having the Beast Master Edge for one round and will not be attacked unless they are the only target or have already attacked the monster this round.

The Sun Spend this card to reduce any lighting Penalty by one type; from Pitch Black to Dark, Dark to Dim or Dim to no Penalty.

Judgment Play this card if your character has the Wanted Hindrance. They are not recognized for one scene.

The World Spend this card to allow another Player who has no cards to draw a card.

For the Game Master...
Glossary of Secret Places...
Ao...Fabled home-sphere of Dragons.
Nameless City, The... Rumoured to be the last bastion of pure-blooded Elves. The Nameless City is located beneath the Graspik range. In actuaulity it is a network of small subterranean cities, linked by tunnels.
Subterranean Pits... A great network of Goblin-populated caves in Sunkwood.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Whew... been a while. Been stupidly busy and been between stuff... STUFF! Anywho... started running Werewolf the Forsaken and started digging out all my old World of Darkness stuff and giving it an update. For some odd reason, World of Darkness makes me stupidly patriotic! I only run WoD games set in Australia (or the past, which is just like talking to someone from Queensland...). So I've been revising all my old World of Darkness: Oz stuff, starting with a faction of Hunters. I should stress, though, I neither own nor have read the current edition of Hunter, so these guys are mainly background for NPC's in Vampire or Werewolf games. That said; if anyone wants to write them up as a proper Hunter faction (or Conspiracy, whatever they're called now) I'm fine with that... just email me your efforts!

Hostel: The mate you need.
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Rumors of China’s involvement in Harold Holt’s disappearance struck the right cords in parliament to launch an ASIO investigation. But when the culprit was discovered, neither the lack of communist involvement nor the locations (that’s right… plural) of Harold Holt were the focus of subsequent debriefing. Rather, the most disturbing of facts took focus; monsters are real and they ate the Prime Minister.

Both ASIO and Parliament were unclear just how far many nor of what nature these creatures were, so they did they thing they do best. They passed the buck to a private firm. Off the books, unaccountable and completely unknown the vast majority of Parliament Hostel was formed to protect the Australian government from Supernatural influence.

As is the case with many of the Australian Government’s outsources, it didn’t take long for Hostel to go off the rails. Given the job of privately recruiting and training agents to fight an enemy no one knew any hard facts about. What was initiated as the grand defense of the great southern land quickly became a guerilla war waged by lone, mobile agents hopping from one isolated safe-house to the next as required.

To both compensate for their lack of funds and provide adequate cover, Hostel quickly adopted the emerging Backpacker culture; it’s safe houses doubling as Hostels, its agents posing as Backpackers. From their lonely vigils on the long, open roads Hostel’s Hunters come together briefly to confront a Vampire Haven or Werewolf Pack and then depart before any repercussion can (usually) befall them.

The Enemy

Hostel knows relatively little about the monsters they hunt. They know the difference between Vampires, Werewolves, Wizards and so on. But they are often hard pressed to distinguish between a shape-shifting Vampire or blood-Wizard.

On the other hand, Hostel are often quite aware of the ‘benchmarks’ or fundamentals which, on a broad and basic level, separate one monster from the next. For example; they are aware that if it drinks blood, then chances are it’s a Vampire. Naturally they make mistakes, deadly and costly mistakes.

Still, if Hostel have a strength it’s their universal awareness that most monsters- of any type –have a lair. Somewhere to which the beast can be tracked and used to establish ambushes, ferret the creature out and so forth. Once aware their home has been compromised, its Hostel’s experience that any monster is more dangerous but overwhelming prone to mistakes.

Bludgers On Mate’s Rates

Most of Hostel’s agents operate in one of two modes. Either they run a safe-house or they hunt. As both Hunters and safe-houses receive funding, there is widely acknowledged that Hostel must have some central structure or organization. Yet no member of either category has ever claimed to receive an order or direction.

Since Hostel is virtually unknown to Parliament and invisible to the public and every government agency, it cannot simply recruit through conventional means. Hostel’s Hunters are thus typically not recruited. Rather; they’re the victims of monsters ‘taken in’ and trained by a more experienced Hunter. Operating in cells, the Hunters of Hostel move from safe-house to safe-house as needed. Typically, however, what classifies this ‘need’ is quite unclear and unique to each individual Hunter. Some might contact various safe-houses to see ‘what’s cooking’. Others may look for clues in local news, while others still may simply roll from town to town.
Safe-houses for Hostel usually pose as backpacker hostel’s or something similar with lots of ‘comings and goings’ to hide the presence of operatives when they roll through. This also allows, on paper at least, for a Safe-house to employ their Hunters; providing both an alibi for any ‘crimes’ they may be accused of and a legitimate explanation for their funds. Safe-houses also house hidden armories. Australia’s weapons laws are quite tight and even carrying a knife can result in jail time, much less a firearm. While Hostel’s Hunters certainly carry weapons with them at all times, they need not take the risk of carrying anything more than absolutely necessary.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Races of Sauria: Warcarved

Remember when I mentioned Warforged for Sauria? Well, they rattled around in my head for a bit and here they are (and more of my cruddy art).


Soon after the Sorcerer-Dragons established themselves on Druki, their thoughts turned to the defense of their island. Powerful though the Sorcerer's are, they Druki have always loathed to tear themselves away from their meditations and study. Contemplation of this problem led the greatest of the Druki Dragons, Tu the Supreme Sorcerer, to an unorthodox solution. In order to create a race of warriors who would defend Druki no matter what, Tu carved Humanoids from the island's Tiki trees and shattered himself, imbuing each with a shard of his own life. With Tu's death the Warcarved were born; a race of tribal warriors who carve their young from the Tiki trees of Druki.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Toying the Apocalypse; After the End

had this crazy idea for a Post-Apocalyptic setting. One where Angels and Demons stand shoulder to shoulder with mere mortals. The War between Heaven & Hell's over. Earth is devistated. Lucifer's M.I.A. and God's gone... Angels and Demons are strandard on Earth and forced to deal with a humanity rebuilding. Still not sure WHAT I'm gonna do with it... something...


The War
God made the world, and he made humans after his own image. Lucifer; out of jealousy and spite, rebelled with a number of like-minded Angels. They sought to usurp the Throne of Heaven and bend creation to their own selfish vision. Though they lost that initial battle and were cast into Hell, they were still children of Heaven and thus accorded freedom of will and the eternal opportunity for redemption. But Lucifer and his ilk ignored such chances and so the war raged on.

After Heaven’s victory in the Final Battle, and thus the war, God judged all beings in creation. Demons who had repented, mortals of virtue- these beings were taken unto New Earth and purified. The old creation remained and a rear-guard of the least virtuous Angels remained to usher unto New Earth any wicked mortal or unrepented Demon who mends their ways.

The War’s end took a terrible toll on Heaven. The former Divine realm now stands in ruins. Only a handful of lonely Angels of little virtue still dwell in this realm. The majority of God’s first not with him now dwell on Earth, fulfilling their final duty.


The War
The War ended around a decade ago, after twenty years of Heaven-fire and brimstone. The religious nuts called them “Angels” and “Demons”. The military minds saw two rival forces of invaders- one from below and another from above. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter who they were. Both wanted to kill part of the human population and enslave the other part. Some governments sided with one, the other or balancing between both. Others tried mixing it up with them. It didn’t matter either way. Us, them; no one got out clean.

Both the Angels and the Demons say they win. You know who doesn’t say they won? Humanity: we survived. It didn’t matter how many of us fought (or got hit by the crossfire) and died in that Final Battle of theirs. Humans survived in numbers that’d make a cockroach blush.

Earth is a ruin. There isn’t a government left. There isn’t an intact city left. Humans now dwell like cockroaches. The Angels and the Demons, however, seem in pretty much the same boat. So it looks like everyone gets to scrape through the shit and rubble together.


The War
God isn’t who he claims to be. He isn’t God! He’s a fuck-up. The Aeons, children of the True God, don’t have the whole package. But they’ve still got lead in their pencils. They made our “God” and they made him wrong. For the good of Creation the True God locked our fuck up away. He still had power and divine knowledge, and so alone with that the fuck up assumed he was the True God. So he did what the True God did; Genesis. But he couldn’t pull it off. Creation cracked right down the middle- good and evil. Lucifer and he’s been trying to save us all from the fuck up since.

Hell won the Final Battle, but the War is still raging on. But the Demonic victory was hollow. Lucifer and many high-ranking Demons were lost in the fight. No one is sure if they are dead, or merely lost. While the forces of darkness should be preparing to strike at Heaven, there is pandemonium amongst the evil’s forces.

Hell’s gone. No Demon has been there since Armageddon. While they’ve got theories neither the Angels nor the Demons know what happened.

Races of Sauria: Gensai

Was thinking the other day about how to bring some more 'exotic' races into Sauria. Things like Gensai, Warforged, Deva and so on... For most races I couldn't think up anything too funky (well, the idea of Warcarved- a race of tiki-style islanders carved from trees is still rattling around in there). The Gensai, however, seemed to fit with the Druki. The key difference between these Gensai and other settings is their background and appearence. Rules-wise they're exactly the same (save other changes made for the Saurian setting- such as the presence of Draconic as Common).


In a way, Saurian Gensai are merely another breed of Dragonborn. In another way; they are something else entirely. While other Dragonborn were elevated through the sorceries of ‘mundane’ Dragons; the Gensai’s ancestors were elemental spirits bound into the form of Dragonborn and cursed with mortality by the Druki sorcerer-Dragons. More so than any other Dragonborn, the Gensai are the slaves and vassals of their Druki masters.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

1 Million Panda-Hugs...


One million Panda-Hugs for whoever brings me the head of either Ed Greenwood and R. A. Salvador. These two seem determined to ruin Dark Elves for me....

That is all...



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Twisted background

With Sauria on the march and my Savage Worlds book out on lone, I was holding back on posting most of the Twist (you may remember that I posted the Racial Heritage rules from this setting a long while ago...)- my Savage Worlds Fantasy setting ( for more Savage Worlds stuff). But with me contemplating just buying a new one (they are quite cheap) I deciced to start posting more Twist. For a start, heres the setting background!

The Twist
About two, three hundred years ago- hard to say exactly now –the Twist came and it did that. Twisted everything right around. See, Tzshid, the god of madness, usurped the throne of Lohim- king-god of the world. And after that, well, the world went mad…

Oh Wicked Land!
The wastes that make up the world are not hospitable. In fact, those shifting psychic environs are what most folks call ‘toxic’. Walking on the surface, well if you die call yourself lucky. Most folks aren’t lucky… Instead of dying, they come back Twisted. Needless to say, no one with a sane brain walks anywhere or live anywhere exposed to the surface.

Bebin Stones
Bebin Stones are the foundation of current society, literally. Some clever Wizard named Bebin figured out how to manipulate the Twist, to drain it. Course it had to go somewhere. So rather than- proving that old Bebin was still sane –putting it in their self, Bebin created his stone. The Bebin Stones not only can absorb the Twist, they actively do so.

Getting about
One of the key things a Bebin Stone is used for is just plain old getting about. See, lone Bebin Stone roughly the size of a fist might not do jack for a Bastion. It does, however, such up just enough Twist to make travel safe for one individual. Course, less you want to walk your mount needs one too… Some big trade guilds or nomad bands even carry larger, wagon mounted, Bebin Stones just for extra protection.

The Grand Dragon Trade Guild
One relatively safe means of getting about is with the Grand Dragon Trade Guild. Rather than taking tax from the merchant-Dragons hoards, the guild has been taxing their fire. Collected in special canisters, they use this fire to fuel a modest fleet of Sky-ships. Utilized to transport not only wares, but people and entertainments, from one Bastion to another- delivery isn’t just relatively assured, but it’s also relatively regular. Purchasing passage or space on such a transport is, naturally, extremely expensive.

Locked away behind strategically placed Bebin Stones, the Bastions represent islands of sanity and stability. The Bastions are the standard political division for these times; Island kingdoms harkening to no authority beyond their throne. Needless to say, things can get a bit incestuous within a Bastion.

Bastions of Note
The mighty city of Dundar might not be as grand today as it once was, but to a populace overflowing into the street and born of refugees, brigands, citizens and survivors its home. Dundar is big on two things; Chivalric ideals and pragmatic solutions. This generally means when times are good the knightly virtues of this Bastion are the guiding light of all major decisions. But the moment the shit hits, its swords drawn and quick, clean solutions sought.

Elazar’s Library
Fortress, tomb, and greatest single bastion of Necromantic lore in the world. Since the Twist came about, however, the term ‘city’ has been added to this Baston’s list of titles. When Tzshid’s madness was sweeping the world Elazar’s resident Necromancers and the emerging Twister’s came together with the Clerics of Frog in establishing a number of Bebin stones in key locations around the Library. Today, each of the three factions are part of this Bastions ruling council. To avoid political tension, each has taken a quarter of the Bastion as their own, with the fourth as a free market quarter. Needless to say, this fourth quarter is where the tension overflows. Still, its rather novel how most of the violence isn’t over politics but funeral rights as Necromancers and Frog Clerics all have quite different ideas of the appropriate treatment of a corpse. Thus death follows death in Elazar’s Library.

Grand Dragon’s Hoard
Built on the wealth of the grandest Dragon Hoards of old, Grand Dragon’s Hoard is ruled by Dragon merchant-princes. While life there is more expensive than within other Bastions, the opulent wealth of the Dragon hoards flows down to the streets. This grants citizens of the Grand Dragon’s Hoard a stable and luxurious lifestyle than their peers elsewhere. Even the Dragon’s themselves have been changed by their wealth, having learnt that a gang of thugs sends the same message as a ball of fire with far less effort on ones own part.

From the outside, Sha’Ta-la looks as if it is a forest surrounded by a ring of Bebin Stones. It is! But inside that forest is a city- not amongst the trees. Nope, within them. For Sha’Ta-la calls itself the Elven Bastion, and all within must live as the Elf. Still, some would say Sha’Ta-la is drowning in Elven pride. It was the Elf Capital, back before the Twist and its Nobles pride themselves on the impeccable purity of their bloodlines. Such is the zeal which this purity is defended that everything from individual nobles to whole Houses have been exiled from the Bastion.

Those Sha’Ta-la Nobles, an the others like them, are living in a dream-world. See, long locked in the Bastions together, the unbroken racial heritages of the past have long since become a rarity as love was forced to ‘make do’ with what was available. The idea of a ‘pure’ race is by no means obsolete. Indeed, there are some such- like Sha’Ta-la -that cling to their racial purity like flies on dung. But the reality of it is a rarity at best.

Pit Ball
What do you get when you mix three pits, each linked by a single doorway, put basic dungeon traps in the middle and a hole in the wall of the other two? You get Pit Ball- the Grand Dragon’s most profitable export! The rules are simple; games are two hours long, one ball, six players to a team, no weapons, no killing, but other than that fighting is fine. The middle pit is neutral, each team taking one of the far pits. The team that gets the ball in the opposite team’s goal-hole the most times wins.

The League
Most large Bastions have their own Pit Ball Teams and participate in the League. The Grand Dragon owns the League and so to join, the Bastion must pay the Trade Guild an annual fee. This done, the Bastion pays again- this time to send their team to other Bastions on a sky-ship. While this may initially sound stupidly expensive, after the players and coach’s passage is payed for, a Pit Ball Team may bring along as much cargo as they the sky-ship may carry. This means that any Merchant, Noble or other person sponsoring a Pit Ball team within the League may move cargo safely and securely for free! Thus through the League, not only does the Grand Dragon scoop a tidy little profit, but both the home and away Bastions profit through the added economic stimulation.

The Big Boys
The largest and best funded teams come from are the Zomphibians (Elazar’s Libarary), the Lair Guard (Grand Dragon’s Hoard), the Pit-Knights (Dundar) and the three-year running champions; the True Bloods (Sha’Ta-la).

The Shadow League
Some folks aren’t content just to watch the brutal sport of Pit Ball played out. Some folks want blood and death in their game. Enter the Shadow League- in illegal, underground

Gods & Such
The Fine Lady and goddess of beauty and love, the consort of Arious is a little-hailed goddess these days. There is little beauty and love in the dark pragmatism which dominates the world today. For this reason, Alune is often worshipped in a pure duality with Arious, subordinate to the god.

God of walls, knights and Chivalry, Arious- and his consort, Alune -is patron not only the Bastion of Dundar, but hailed in the temple-places of most Bastions these days. Unlike Thurzaz, Arious is not merely a warriors god, but a god of all those under a warriors care. For this reason, he is seen as a great protector and avenger.

It’s debatable if Elazar- god of death -is a real god or not, as he shares his name with the first and greatest Necromancer. Still, the Cleric’s of Elazar work as the same as any other, so the debate is protracted. The chief centre of worship for the death-god is Elazar’s library.

The god/goddess of nature revered by the Elves, hermaphrodites and individuals of a gender bending disposition are said to be blessed by Faelf’Ert. In winter, when things are harsh, Faelf’Ert is a god. In summer when things are merry, this deity is a goddess. In the ‘between’ times of spring and autumn, Faelf’Ert is only as male as (s)he is female, though one slowly dominates the other as the season rolls on.

Frog is the god of well, frogs. Appearing to his devout in the form of a giant Frog, this deity is also the god of healing. See sickness is a ‘between’ state. It’s a transition and one can either die, going onto the the underworld, or get better, returning to a living state. Shifting between states and worlds- tadpole to frog, water to land –Frog is something of a gatekeeper between the lands of the living and the dead. In addition to Elazar, Frog is also hailed and revered by Necromancers for this very reason.

Once the creator god-king of the world; since his dethroning and death by Tzshid, Lohim has become the Screaming God of Necromancy. Subsequently, Lohim’s faithful have either started to place their faith somewhere else, or become members of the hated and hunted cult known as the Dead God’s Scream.

Goddess of the poetry and war, patron of warriors everywhere Thurzaz fights with a song in her heart. Thurzaz is something of a composite deity, though by scholars to be a composite of several deities, chiefly the old Orc poetry-god of Uraz.

Not much is known about the god of madness and new king of the gods. Mostly its either gobbly-gook or contradictory. He never had Clergy or a central order per say, but instead it was said all the insane worshipped Tzshid. Numerous small, unofficial cults, likewise, claimed to be his followers. These days many of these cults have taken on an apocalyptic bend and are hunted.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nic's Law

One of the things I find when building a setting or world is there hits a point when it becomes an organic process. Case in point with the last two posts being about Dragonborn society in Sauria. Thing about the organic process is the world truly is alive... it unfolds on its own! And because of that, it grows in unexpected ways- producing things that its creator doesn't expect. Case in point- Asianic Dragons popping up in Sauria...

So the stab I'm making here is that RPG setting building should, stress on should, go through a number of phases along the lines of;

Nic's Law
1- The Basics, just write up the bare minimum of ideas you've got for your world.
2- Expand a little- just enough so its playable...
3- Map the damn thing. Thanks to Tolkien, we all expect maps now...
4- Leave it be... Don't touch it...
5- Start using it...
6- Once you start using it both yourself and your players will probably think of things beyond and outside the original conception... just let it grow...
7- Don't worry about new additions breaking the theme of your world...They'll end up highlighting the key themes with contrast if done well.
8- Little additions can be the biggest changes.
9- Don't use every bit of your world... Just because all this stuff is there doesn't mean it has to have an impact on your game. Part of having a HUGE fantasy world is the fact there's usually too much to have in a single campaign. Plus... it lets players incorporate bits of background themselves...
10- Do not convert your setting between rules forms... This is akin to changing the laws of physics! Its a bigger shift than most realize!

So through some development my current world, Sauria, ended up like this...

From starting like this...

Just by adding...
Saurian Background: Dragon Magic & Form
Dragons aren’t just the first sorcerers. They were also the first race to master magic. The Sorcerer, crude in their Arcane discipline, must thus choose one of two paths. Either to forge their own or walk the vast pathways left in the Dragons’ collective wake. Indeed, for the first practitioners of the Arcane, there were no other disciplines other than Sorcerer and no paths other than wild magic. From this foundation, all other forms of Arcane mastery were born.

Sorcery has thus always been a transformers art; the turning of raw magical matter into something more solid through force of will alone. With it the Dragons built the Dragonborn from the crude mutual ancestors the shared with the Kobolds. The latter race being descended from those left to their own evolutionary path. Dragonspawn are, similarly, a failure on the trail-and-error process of which the Dragonborn are the end process. Lizardfolk? Yuan-ti? Who knows precisely how many other creatures the Dragons birthed through their sorcery?

Why then do Dragons only have one form? The short answer is they don’t. Like the Dragonborn there is an accepted form. This form is the one shared by all major Opri- including both Metallic and Chromatic -of Dragon. But, just as the Dragonborn were produced from after strings of experimentation, deviant examples of the Dragon exist. The Druki are one example of such deviations of the Dragon form.

Saurian Monsters: Druki
The Druki (pictured above, image "Lung 2" from D&D gallery, Oriental Adventures gallery) are deviant Dragons from the miniature continent of Druki to the east. Though it is often thought that the Druki are more magic than Dragon; a series of spell given the shape scale, claw and fang. Despite rumours that the Druki ancestors were living spells and not Dragons, the Druki do not heed this claim. Rather, they claim descent from the great Dragon-Sorcerers of old- masters whose Arcane skill was such that their spells became physically part of them.

Druki Deviant
Level 8 Brute 350 XP
Large Magical Creature (Dragon)
HP 105; Bloodied 52
AC 20, Fort 19, Will 20, Ref 21
Speed 8, Overland Flight 15
Action Points 1
Crackling Bite (Standard; At Will) * Lightning
Reach 2, +11 vs AC, 2d6+5 Damage
Flaming Claw (Standard; At Will) * Fire
Reach 2, +11 vs AC, 1d8+5 Damage
Ice Blade Bubble (Standard; Recharge 10) * Cold
Close Burst 5, +9 vs. Fort, 4d8+5 Damage.

Alignment; Unaligned, Languages; Draconic
Str 20 (+10), Dex 20 (+10), Wis 17 (+8), Con 15 (+7), Int 17 (+8), Cha 15 (+7)

Druki Portalist
Level 12 Artillery 350 XP
Large Magical Creature (Dragon)
HP 100; Bloodied 50
AC 22, Fort 21, Will 23, Ref 22
Speed 8
Action Points 2

Side-Step (Move; At Will) * Teleportation
The Druki Portalist may teleport itself 3 squares at will.

Portal-over-Fangs (Standard; At Will) * Teleportation
Range 10, +17 vs Will, Target is Teleported 8 Squares for no damage or is Teleported directly up for 2d6+5 falling damage.
Teleporting Claw (Standard; At Will) *Psychic, Teleportation
+17 vs Will, 1d8+5 Damage, Target is teleported 8 Squares
Boom! (Standard; Recharge 10) * Fire, Teleportation
Close Burst 6, +19 vs. Ref, 4d8+5 Damage, target is teleported 8 squares
Zap! (Encounter; Move) * Lighting, Teleportation, Zone
Burst 4 within 10, +19 vs Fort, 3d8+5 damage, target is teleported 8 Squares.
Alignment; Unaligned, Languages; Draconic
Str 19 (+9), Dex 19(+9), Wis 22 (+11), Con 17 (+8), Int 22 (+11), Cha 17 (+8)

Still to come (maybe)… Druki Golden Sorcerer & Druki Crimson Wyrm

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2 new tidbits of Saurian background

What can I say? I'm gearing up for a D&D Campaign in this world! That means most of my RPG creative juice is geared to it!

Death of a Dragon
The death of a Dragon is often a problematic, if not tragic, affair for the Dragonborn in their service. They are faced with four equally abysmal choices. Firstly, the entire family can commit ritual suicide or Okakesx-loex (Honour-Death), a fate normally reserved for those Dragonborn who have failed in some way and wish to appease their masters. Secondly, they are permitted to enter the service of the next closest Dragon in relation to the deceased (if any exist). This is often means, for a Thurgrix, to give up ones status. It additionally means the Dragonborn family becomes the lowest ranked Dragonborn in this particular Clan.

Thirdly, the family can pledge Vas-durah (all-service). They then maintain the Dragon’s Hoard and Lair till the last member is dead. In most cases this is a tragic affair. Such a family can rarely attract marriage prospects from outside its own ranks. Over the generations they watch their lands; wealth and numbers slowly recede with the last becoming slowly more and more inbred!
Lastly, there is the option to become Thrah (Outcast). Meaning that the family opts out of Draconic society in a strict sense, casting their fortune to the winds to whatever end comes. Of all, this option is the least likely to bring assured shame or doom on the family’s head. Indeed, the Purple Dragonborn are a clear example of this. Bound to no Clan specifically, the majority of Purple Dragonborn are Thrah, as were their ancestors- back all the way to the time when the Purple Clan was lost.
The name ‘Asmodeus’ is that of the Goliath god of Authority. It is also the name of the First Emanation of Dis the Inferno and lord of the Nine Hells within the Teifling religion. How did this come to be?

No one is completely sure. There are, however, two thoughts on the matter. Namely that taking slaves from many lands. it is sometimes assumed that Goliath slaves carried the name into Ba’al-Turath and it eventually became that of the First Emanation. It is equally assumed that an escaped Goliath slave carried the title with them back home. Then again, many point to the fact that Teifling’s trade with Brown Dragons. This means that the title could have just as easily filtered one way or the other through the trade-lines between Dragon Clans.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How the Dragon got his Dragonborn

Was thinking today about Sauria today... Or more specifically; 'how do the Dragons get their Dragonborn?'... Well, here's how!

The Birth of a Dragon
The number of eggs produced by any one Dragon varies, based on colour. Despite the actual number, the number of Wyrmlings hatched is usually between one and four. At this point any real responsibilities of the parents end with a single task. That is, to gift their child with a Dragonborn family. Any married Dragonborn couple (along with their children, grand children and so forth) within the service of either parent are eligible for this task. One of the couple is then given the rank of Thurgrix. Save the direst circumstance, it is usually from such a beginning that all Dragonborn in the service of an individual Dragon originate.

Monday, May 4, 2009

System Neutral

Basically the idea is to write something that’s applicable for ANY RPG system without writing something that’s a universal system. Now, this system won't be used to make characters or detail combat. Rather, it'll be used to write modules that can be applied to any system and, more commonly than anything else, detail NPCs and skill difficulties. So here goes...

Statistics will be rated from: None - Novice - Adept - Master - Super. I figure that the last, Super will only be used for those characters with above-the-peak skill levels (think Stone's shooting skill from Deadlands). None, naturally, means none! The NPC's will have these ranks assigned to a series of Attributes- Mind, Body, Soul, & Civil. Mind and Body are pretty self explainatory, where as Soul is the characters Arcane, Sprititual and basic otherworldly lore rank. Civil, similiarly, are things like Charisma, street-smarts and so on. Attack (ranged or melee) and Defence would be similiarly rated. Needless to say, if the system being used doens't cover anything it can be ditched! Skills will be assigned in a free form fashon. I.e. If an NPC is a theif they'd have something like 'skills- Theivery: Adept'. Arcane or other Powers would also be free form. So if we had a Wizard with a fire ball spell, it'd be listed as 'Power - Fireball - Master'. All in all, it'd probably look like this:

Body - Level
Civil - Level
Mind - Level
Soul - Level
Melee Attack - Level
Ranged Attack - Level
Defense - Level
Skills - Skill: Level
Powers - Power: Level


All sounds pretty arcane, no? To help put it in persective, here's how an Elf Warrior might look...

Elf Warrior
Body - Master
Civil - Novice
Mind - Adept
Soul - Adept
Melee Attack - Adept
Ranged Attack - Master
Defense - Adept
Skills - Nature: Master, Tracking: Master, Stealth: MAster.
Powers - Move-and-Shoot: Adept, Sure-Short: Master.

Now, you might say that looks like a lot of converting of statistics for something relatively simple. Furthermore, you might say that stuff like that already exists in most fantasy systems. Well, that's largely the point. That with this, it won't matter if you play Savage Worlds, Dungeons & Dragons or anything else - you could probably find something that does the job these stats seem to be outlining!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Okay, a while back I finished up running Midnight Circus for the old world of Darkness system. A fun but complicated sub-setting in that it uses EVERY old world of Darkness setting (bar late commers like Demon, Kindred of the East and Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom). Now, I don't just run one game till no one shows up each week. I run stories... Players make characters, I make a narrative. So, as I'm planning my next story I've got an itch for fantasy. And here I've got D&D 4th Edition given to me by my wife for our anniversary this very year. I think 'gee, I could really go doing a long-ish Sword & Steam (a sub-genre of Steam Punk [well, sub-sub-genre]) epic. So, I make up Steam World! Didn't work too good when I gave it a dry-run. Seems, well, the setting was bit convoluted. For some reason I was the only one in touch with 19th century political structures. At any rate, one of the players for this dry run later saw my Critter Cache 2 from Goodman Games (the Dinosaur one) I'd downloaded for my equivalent of Africa in Steam World; an Orc/Goblin/Gnoll continent with lots of Dinosaurs and animal people. Sort of Henry Rider Haggard meets Edgar Rice Burroughs meets Garry Gygax! An this friend's face lit up and he screamed "Dinosaur World!" And thus, I give you Sauria (I even did a map! Cannae have a fantasy world without one)!

The day of flesh-and-fur creatures has yet to come, though they are seen like the first lights of the coming dawn. Still, the noon-day sun shines on cold-blooded and scaled creatures. Dragons, Drakes, Behemoths and their kin rule this age. This is an age of fang and claw, where the only steel held rest in the scaled hands of the Dragonborn. This is the Age of Scales…

The Age of Scales
Eventually the Dragons moved from being predatory sky-nomads to settled cave-cultures, and it is here that they discovered sources of both Arcane and powers. Suddenly, Dragons found themselves in a world populated by creatures that could not be simultaneously more similar or different from their race. Drakes, Behemoths and a myriad of others were similar in that they were all creatures of scale, claw and talon, yet different in that they lacked the same mental capacity as Dragons.

Of particular interest, however, were the Dragonborn’s ancestors. These presented the potential for civilization; hunter-nomads who existed much as the early Dragons had been. Interestingly, however, they were at small crafts. Seeing their potential as servants, the Dragons set about cultivating and enslaving this race for the greater purpose of furthering their civilization.

Through their employment of the Dragonborn, the Draconic civilization dominates the world. Dragon Lairs have since become the sites of Dragonborn cities. Still, it is an isolated civilization. The cities of the Dragonborn are besieged and surrounded by vast stretches of trackless wild. These wilds have since become home to other primitive races, now under the Dragon’s rule- living and dying at their whim. Other civilizations have even risen in the blind-spots of the Draconic eye.

Empire of the Dragon Clans
The rule of Dragons
Dragons might rule the grand continent of Sauria, but they are divided. Each Clan- defined by colour -holds a different territory. Though each Clan is ruled by the eldest Dragon of its kind, no central authority holds the Clans together, and so feuds between Clans are quite common.

Nor do the Dragons rule directly. While they claim all within their territory as their property, they seldom raise the surrounding primitives. Instead they administer their rule indirectly through their Draconic kin; the Dragonborn. By far the greatest city-builders of this age, the Dragonborn have built urban hubs around their masters lairs. Though they do farm themselves, the Dragonborn also extract tribute from their lords’ savage vassals.

Hierarchy of Dragons
By far the most basic organization for the Dragon Clans is that of the Klutch- an immediate family. Each Klutch controls a portion of the Clans territory and is led by a Maekrix (leader). The right to lead the Klutch as Maekrix is by combat, and often ends not only with the victor killing their opponent, but their opponents offspring as well. Likewise, the right to lead a Clan is by combat- though one must be a Maekrix to undertake this challenge. The winner of this challenge is termed Vivex (victor). This is usually where the similarity between challenges over Klutch and Clan end as is extremely rare for a Vivex to eliminate their Klutch. While trail-by-combat amongst the Vivex is often used to determine the leader of all Dragons- a Sveratrix (overlord) –it is rare that such a thing occurs and for the most part, the Clans are autonomous.

Dragonborn Society
Dragonborn are divided into Clans similar to Dragons. The chief difference is that a single Dragonborn Clan serves a single Klutch, with individual family-lines of Dragonborn serving individual Dragons. The chief Dragonborn of any one Dragon is termed a Thurgrix (Loyal Claw). Dragonborn are forbidden any political organization above the family level.

The Dragon Clans

Black Clan (Vutha)
South of the Red Clan’s volcanic mountains the land cracks, but does not break. It is a peninsula of endless swamp dominated by the Black Clan. Orcs are the main race to dwell here under the Dragons and Dragonborn, but they are not the only. In the north, where the ground is still hard and good for building, dwell Half-Orcs; a race born of long passed mixing of the Teifling’s ancestors and the Orc-tribes.

Blue Clan (Ulha)
The islands of the Blue Clan are home to Halflings. Far from being a maritime people, these Halflings can do scarcely more than simply hop from island to island (and thus eventually the mainland). The Dragonborn, likewise, make use of the Halfling tribes for their own transport.

Brown Clan (Rater)
Eventually the jungles of the Red Clan and the forests of the Green give way to grasslands, where the Gray Clan dwell. The grasslands, likewise, eventually cease and the desert of the Brown Clan. The Brown Dragons and Dragonborn alike dwell in desert-cities. The Humans whom they claim exist along the Great Wyrm- a fertile river valley.

Gray Clan (Vuthsir)
Between the seemingly endless desert of the Brown and the trackless woodlands of the Green is the Sea-of-Grass, held by the Gray Clan. War is common here, encouraged to no small end by the Gray Dragons, as the Half-Elves of the southern grass do not take well to the Shifters of the north. Nor do the Razorclaw and Longtooth Shifters bode well with one another.

Green Clan (Achuak)
Trees define the land of the Green Clan, which is home to the race of Elves. There is also a good measure of Half-Elves within this land, existing on the grassy borders with the Gray. To the south, in the temperate jungles beneath the volcanic mountains of the Red Clan, the wild pygmy-Elves known as Gnomes dwell.

Red Clan (Charir)
The Red Dragons dwell in the Mountains-that-Burn, a great volcanic mountain range beneath the realms of the Brown and Green Clans. The Dragonborn have their cities in these mountains, one the slopes below which the cave-dwelling Dwarves live. The Dragonborn have long since grown to appreciate the skill of the Dwarf craftsmen. Crude though they were, the Dragonborn have since supplied them with proper tools and schooling that they might be of true benefit. Additionally, on the Red Clan’s southern border, dwell Half-Orcs.

White Clan (Aussir)
A mountain-barrier divides the Green Clan from the white, and the ground does not drop from this rise but rather plateaus, forming frosty peaks. Here the White Clan dwell. Predatory to the extreme, the White Clan have little love for the Goliath’s who dwell beneath them- seeing them as little more than prey. The Goliath’s, for their part, have raised themselves from savagery to form a crude mockery of civilization. Because of this, they are often taken as slaves to fight as gladiators for sport or to be used as beasts-of-war. More commonly, the White Clan utilize Kobolds and other primitive examples of the Draconic races in the same manner as other Dragons use Humans or Elves.

Purple; The Lost Clan
Ages ago Draconic history records one other Dragon Clan- the Purple or Chahar Clan. This clan was a group of deep cave-dwelling Dragons, deemed odd for their tendency towards introspection. It is commonly thought that these Dragons have gone into an extended period of hibernation or else become extinct, though none are sure. All that is left of them are their Dragonborn, seen occasionally living amongst other Clans or else as independents answering to no master.

Other Civilizations
Off the coast of from the Green Clan lies the city-island of the Eladrin. It feeds itself mainly through fishing and gains both wood and grains through trade with the mainland. The races whom the Eladrin trade with are often happy to part with items that have in such vast quantities in exchange for metal goods. The ore for these, along with stone for other works, is dragged from mines beneath their own streets by the Drow; a purpose-bred race of slave.

Land of the horned folk known as Teiflings, Ba’al-Turath is found just west of the Brown Clan at the delta of another fertile desert river-valley. Since their earliest times, the Teiflings have made dark pacts with the beings who dwelt in flames and given over themselves to vast rituals and sacrifice in honour of their Devil patrons. It is with the twin-tools of blood and magic that the Teiflings have built their kingdom.

Gods & their Faiths
Gods in Sauria are strictly for the Civilized races and no others. While Barbarians do have gods, they are often silent and distant- speaking to their followers through totemic animal-spirits. Savages revere only Spirits.

Draconic Dualism
Religion for Dragons and Dragonborn is a dualist faith, divided between the principle of light, represented by Bahmaut the Platinum Dragons, and darkness; embodied by Tiamat; the many-headed Dragon.

Dwarves and Moradin
Dwarves are monotheists in the sense that they revere Moradin. While this is indeed the case, they still maintain a strict hierarchy of spirits under Moradin. After this fashion, the Dwarves must communicate with the lowests of Spirits, their own Ancestors, who mediate through the grand hierarchy to Moradin’s Throne.

Teifling Emanations
Teifling religion is of the Evil Alignment. Teifling’s revered Dis the Inferno. Beyond that, Dis has nine emanations, each one reflecting a different aspect of the Great Flame. Each aspect of Dis is thus embodied by an Archdevil.

The Eladrin Pantheon
The isle of Thulantis is home to the Pantheist faith of the Eladrin. Corellon, Erathis, Ioun, Melora, Sehanine and Lolth are the gods of this faith.

The Goliath Pantheon
Goliath’s revere strength above all else, worshipping gods that will destroy rather than create; they bow to Kord and Gruumsh, Bane and Asmodeus. This may seem odd, but the Goliath’s know that from the seed of their foes destruction, their own flower will bloom. Still, the Goliath race is strong and silent. They do not yet prey, but revere their gods through totemic animals that embody strength- such as the Mammoth.

Spirits are not gods. Rather, Spirits are seen as intermediaries between the world of flesh and world of magic. In this sense, Spirits are not worshipped but bartered with. If there is a drought, for instance, water Spirits may be partitioned for rain. If there is war, ancestor Spirits may be called on for strength.

It is Savage Races which have Spirits, but not gods. Cultivated races, on the other hand, have gods. Barbaric Races, likewise, have Gods- though these are often distant, silent deities.

Ancestor Spirits
These Spirits are the souls of the dead who have passed to the Lands-of-the- Shadows-Fallen. Often as benevolent as they are malicious, the Ancestors are as fickle and varied as the living. Ancestors are the least powerful of all Spirits.

Celestial Spirits
Spirits of the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Clouds and the Sky; the movements of these beings is clockwork as they embody the principle of Lawful. Additionally, because of their station above the world in the Sea-of-Skies, they are deemed the most powerful of all Spirits.

Terrestrial Spirits
Wild and varied beings, each individual Terrestrial Spirit is tied to a elements, the plants and the beasts of the land. Because of this they are rhe most common kind of Spirit for any of the living to encounter, and also the most malicious and demanding of all Spirits. Terrestrial Spirits come from the world itself. These Spirits originate in either the Wood-of-Elements


The ‘Common’ language for Sauria, being under the Dragons thumb, is Draconic. Many races in particular have stopped speaking their own languages in favor of the Dragonborn’s tongue.

While in many D&D worlds any race or culture may access any Power Source, such is not the case in Sauria. Here, in the savage and primitive world, civilization as it exists in most worlds is absent. Thus many races and cultures have yet to develop proper martial or arcane arts. Some have do not even have gods, worshipping a collection of spirits. Only old races, such as the Dragonborn or Eladrin fully grasp civilization. While others, being particularly predisposed in one way or another, such as Dwarves or Goliaths, have managed to forge rude imitations of civilization.

There are three levels of Cultivation, each tied to particular Power Sources.

Cultivation Level = Power Sources
Savage = Primal.
Barbaric = Primal & Martial.
Civilized = Arcane, Divine & Martial.

Race/Dragon Clan or Kingdom/Cultivation Level
Dragonborn/By Breath/Civilized
Half-Elf/Brown, Gray or Green/Savage
Half-Orc/Black or Red/Savage
Gnome/Red or Green/Savage

Dragonborn Dragon-Breath
The Dragonborn, their current state being the work of the Dragon Clans, share both colour and breath with their ruling kindred. In this sense, the key word options for a Dragonborn’s Dragon-Breath is expanded to reflect the full extent of Dragon colourings.

Dragon Clan/Dragonborn Dragon Breath

Teifling Language
The Teifling culture of Ba’al-Turath exists in something of a modest glory-age, openly worshipping their Devil Patrons and flaunting their hellish visage. As such, Teiflings have their own language- Ba’esh. This occupies their second, normally free language choice.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dixie Adventures

An idea I've been toying with for some time came when I first saw EGYPTIAN ADVENTURES: HAMUNAPTRA from Green Ronin for the 3.whatever D20 system. A little while after that I'd seen AFRICAN ADVENTURES: NYAMBE; published by Atlas Games. Needless to say, both were done in the same vein as the ORIENTAL ADVENTURES books from TSR and now Wizards. That is, they recontextualized Dungeons & Dragons to a specific cultures mythology, providing a setting as an example (though for Oriental Adventures this shifted from TSR's original oriental world- Kara-Tur -to Alderac Entertainment's Legend of the Five Rings setting). All three have since become two of my favourite settings for their originality, daring to step outside the box and their ability to balance all the traits and tropes of D&D while staying relatively close to their core mythological inspirations. But I've since been wondering, what about other cultures folklores that this kind of product doesn't usually explore? What about DIXIE ADVENTURES! Its an idea I've been toying with for a while, and the setting basically goes a little something like this (though, thinking now, I figure the Kingdom's heirarchy goes something more like Elf, Half-Elf, Human, Half-Orc, Orc)...

The Elf-lords of Elamin founded colonies on the savage continent of Sinandor, using humans as their colonial vassals. There was war and rebellion. The colonies won, founding the Republic of Sinandor to the north and the Kingdom of Dixie to the south. The Republic was a new type of society, but Dixie was still like the old. Elven Aristocrats rule Dixie, their work done by Orc Serfs taken from their homeland and into forced serfdom. Between the Orc and the Elf sits the Human- Yeomen farmers who work and defend the land with their honour and hands.

Twisting Racial Profiles...

Note: This post was revised on the 29 June 09.

One thing I've always had a love/hate relationship with regarding fantasy rpg's is the whole Racial profile thing. Especially the half-whatevers. The idea of being this perfect split between Elf/Orc/Werewolf and (because an Orc and an Elf would never screw!) human just seems silly. Perhaps its because I'm an Austrialian and we're all pretty much a mixed brood here (I'm Prussian, Welsh, English and God knows what else!), the idea of someone being 100% Elf and having a set of features that make them Elven seems stupid. So, for my Savage Worlds (great system- check it out at Fantasy setting- THE TWIST -I stripped some standard (and a couple of non-standard) fantasy rpg races down to some key attributes in a point-purchase system. Now, instead of being merely an Elf or Half-Elf (or whatever race or half-race), you can be a Dwarf whoose Grandpa was half Elven and mother was one-quarter Orc! Rules-wise, heres how things panned out (not- the Chakubah are this setting's equivalent of Half-folk. They're short, hair-footed flesh-eaters);

Racial Heritage for Savage Worlds.
Rather than purchasing a single Race, players gain 2 points with which to construct their characters Racial identity from the three lists of common racial traits listed below. To be a ‘pure’ breed of any race, one must take all three types of Heritage (though by most social standards, two points is a ‘pure’ heritage these days). Most folks are, however, just different degrees of mongrel.

Note, though, that racial abilities that begin a particular Ability at D6 mean that and only that Ability may be raised to a maximum of D12+1. No more than four Racial Traits may be purchased per character.

2 Points

  • Agile (Elf); Start with a D6 in Agility instead of a D4.
  • Burrowing (Chakubah); Burrow Power with 5 Power Points. If an Arcane Background is purchased, these Power Points do not stack.
  • Survivor (Human); Draw a bonus Beanie per game session. May be combined with Luck Edges.
  • Stout (Dwarf); Start with D6 Vigour instead of D4.
  • Strong (Orc); Start with D6 Strength instead of D4.
  • Wings (Gargoyle); Fly and Climb at Pace.

1 Point

  • Claws and Fangs (Chakubah); Chakubah have retractable claws and prominent (non-retractable) fangs. Unarmed bite and hand attacks do Strength +1 damage.
  • Diverse (Human); Free D4 in any two Skills.
  • Hardy (Dwarf); +2 to resist the affects of Heat and Cold.
  • Low Light Vision (Elf); Ignore Dim or dark Lighting attack penalties.
  • Stone-skin (Gargoyle); +1 Armour.
  • Warrior (Orc); Free D6 in the Fighting Skill.

-1 Point

  • Lazy (Elf); Elves dislike manual labour, gaining the All Thumbs Hindrance.
  • Nocturnal (Orc); For combat during daylight hours, draw two Action cards, acting on the lowest.
  • Only Human (Human); Human’s are renown for not being particularly good at any one thing. -2 Charisma.
  • Rock Faced (Gargoyle); Lack of facial expression. -2 to Persuasion rolls.
  • Slow (Dwarf); -1 Pace.

-2 Points

  • Short (Chakubah); -1 Size.