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.