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!