Sneak Preview – The Five Scars

This is a sneak preview of the Five Scars. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.

The Five Scars

 Introduction

Far to the South, beyond even the southernmost oasis of the Desert tribes beyond Ket exist a seemingly endless expanse of harsh and barren steppes known as the Five Scars.  The land is named for five great chasms that cross the wastes as if a great claw had slashed into the world itself, leaving deep and angry scars befitting the people who thrive here.  Life there is a constant battle to survive against summer heat rivalling the hottest of deserts and winter winds as deadly as the coldest glacial mountains.  Game is scarce but there is no shortage of dangerous beasts willing to make a meal of the unwary.   This harsh land is home to the Sunscar orcs who arrived here long ago after the Sojourn brought them to this land.  The Orcs of the Five Scars are every bit the warriors, worthy of calling such a harsh land their home.

Orcs in the Five Scars follow the concept of Ahzrahn, living all aspects of life as if they were a perpetual march of war, ever advancing.   They constantly wander the badlands, considering their survival in spite of all the dangers of the land proof of their strength. Adversity provides a necessary challenge to keep themselves worthy.   The clans seldom shelter in a single place for more than a season, allowing the slaves captured from the north enough time to grow meager crops.  Once the clan moves forth, those who are unworthy are left behind and that which is left behind is forgotten.  The Five Scars Orcs are harsh, tenacious, and unforgiving, but not unnecessarily cruel.

The clans of the Five Scars would happily live raiding north against the Desert Tribes, viewing them as a worthy and challenging, if wily, foe, but the Five Scars Orcs have discovered a gift that makes them a menace to any people of any land.  Surrounding their namesake chasms, the Elemental Shamans of the Orcs have learned to find naturally occurring and in some cases even open gates from the badlands to numerous and distant lands. They cannot control or even know where the Gates might open on their other side, but the Orcs eagerly raid forth in search of strong foes and worthy challenges.

With their militant outlook and brutal upbringing, the Orcs could easily overrun and claim for themselves a lusher and more forgiving home, but that would be to accept defeat from the challenges of their lands.  They believe leaving the constant struggle to survive in the Five Scars would make them soft and weak, so instead choose to remain in the badlands, forever battling to conquer the unconquerable barrens they call home. While the Scars will always be their home, they frequently venture forth in search of advancing their Ahzrahn before returning.

Costuming

Orcs from the Five Scars dress for war and danger as often as they can, favoring armor of leather and metal that appears primitive at first glance, but in fact displays an experienced use of limited materials. While the Five Scars is a hot and unforgiving place, the winters can reach alarmingly cold temperatures, and there is no telling when a gate will offer a chance to raid into a cold or humid location, so adaptability is favored as well.

Roleplaying

~ All life is a pursuit of greater strength, in combat and in life. Against danger and adversity, it is the strong who survive, and those who survive the most challenging and brutal conditions prove themselves the strongest still.

~ Respect the tenacity and strengths of other warriors. There is no glory in competing with or besting children, so the greater your peers and adversaries, the greater your advance in Ahzrahn.

~ Treasure is to be taken, not found. If you did not face peril worthy of your Ahzrahn, you have not earned a true reward.

~ If one cannot defend what is theirs, it is not theirs, but rather they use it at the mercy of the strong.  If one cannot fight for their freedom, they are not free, but rather they go about life waiting for one stronger to put shackles upon them. An Orc must always be strong, so that none can take what is theirs or put them in chains.

~ To take pity and go easy on a foe is the ultimate insult. While killing them is not essential to defeating them, a worthy foe is worthy of an all out attempt to defeat them.

Religion

Elemental Shamans are common among the Orcs, as they are known to be able to listen to the Earth, Air, and Fire to find the Searing Ways, gates primed to open into the Northern Lands where fresh battle and plunder await. Animal Shamans are also not unheard of, but these are less common.

With their raids, and through captive slaves, some Orcs have found themselves called to the Woven Faith, though they remain largely uninvolved in the churches of the North, and would not pay so grave an insult to those who share their faith as to show mercy.  A few are also known to have adopted the philosophy of the Magi, though Northern Magi would accuse them of an imbalance toward destruction.

Magic

The most noteworthy magic of the Five Scars is the Searing Ways, which in fact the Orcs have no real control over. Rumors may swirl of Elemental Shamans who quest for a means to do so, but for now these mystical gates bring Orcs into battles they cannot predict. Some Elemental Shamans of the Five Scars can sense the gates forming, however.

Arcane Magic is by and large nonexistent among the Orcs of the Five Scars. The danger of an Arcane mage may be respected, but besting them with an axe is still considered the ideal approach to dealing with such a threat.

Society

The Five Scars Orcs organize themselves into Clans, and each clan is led by the strongest and deadliest of their number. Formal challenge over leadership is not necessarily uncommon, though there are social mores discouraging this when the act of doing so would weaken the clan.

As a balance to the warrior chief, the elders of each clan also speak with a great deal of influence, as they are the ones who have proven for the longest that they are strong enough to survive. These elders are not exempt from war or hardship, and take pride challenging death to take them.

The Orcs have certain standards that they expect their kin to meet. The most obvious are of strength and self-reliance; all Orcs are expected to be fit to march, hunt, and fight. All Orcs are expected to embrace and pursue battle, in particular the deadliest and most challenging of battle, and cowardice is a disgusting thing to a Five Scars Orc. While mercy is considered insulting, cruelty is seen as a sign of deep sickness, and so there is no room for the spiteful or torturous. Deceit and betrayal are viewed as unforgiveable sins, as they bring weakness to entire clans. Finally, forbidden magics such as Malediction are punished by death. If an Orc fails to meet these standards, they are left behind, and according to Ahzrahn all that is behind is to be Forgotten.

Because all Orcs of the Five Scars are expected to function as part of a raiding party, they have no room in their lives for things such as weaving or mining. This they force upon slaves captured in their raids through the Searing Ways. A slave is considered a slave so long as they can be made a slave, and there are cases of those who held their heads high and pushed at the bounds of their enslavement and survived long enough that their captors came to respect them, upon which their captors declare them free. The bar is set high for this, however, and a greedier clan will always find ways to deny the resolve of their captives.

There are a multitude of clans within the steppes, but there are several major clans which all are aware of. No clan has a set home, though they may have favorite hunting grounds or a guarded mine along the ravines.

Clan Kohaizar roams the steppes closest to where the Deserts of the North begin, and raid against the Children of the Sand almost as often as they do through gates, viewing their constant skirmishes as a dance long practiced, and raiding parties affiliated with this clan are known to respect to traditions of those desert tribes regarding their sacred oases, so that their feuds can remain a pure thing of strength and cunning, instead of true blood feuds of hatred and desperation.

Clan Emberskull hunts through the Searing ways almost exclusively, and traditionally takes relatively little from their raids, not wanting to risk softening themselves with “Northern Luxury.” Not only do they proudly live by their understanding of Azarahan, they see themselves as spreading the ideals to the North by destroying the things they believe coddle the “civilized” northerners. Structures such as farms, houses, and libraries are set to the torch, while leaving many survivors behind with the opportunity to become strong without those obstacles to Azarahan.

Clan Haktazsmitt rotates more regularly through static territories, as they include among their number many Runesmiths, which they support with forges and mines as best they can. Because of this Clan Haktazsmitt faces much raiding from other Five Scars clans to take their slaves, true runes, and true elements, and so this clan is much better trained at defensive warfare than any other clan.

In addition to these major clans there are several other notorious groups.

Clan Deepscar stalks the shadows, training themselves in stealth, tracking, and brutally efficient killing. Many other clans would call this cowardly, but a Deepscar Orc is ultimately known to be fearless and deadly, and these hunters venture through the gates longer than most, seeking out hard to reach targets to kill.

The Forgotten, though none would call them a true clan, is comprised of those who were deemed unfit by their clans and “forgotten” as they were left to fend for themselves. Many die when faced with this challenge, but should they find their way to the Forgotten Clan an Orc might strive for redemption and a second chance… or sink further into hubris as they travel among others as wicked and depraved as themselves.

Regions

To the North the terrain is the mostly flat, making it easier to travel on but harder to find shelter. These lands have easy access to the Desert Tribes of the North, but also face the occasional raid from those same Tribes venturing South.

As one goes further South the earth becomes more uneven and hard, with cracks and cliffs creating a shallow maze across barren lands until at last one reaches the Five Scars themselves. Each canyon is deep enough that most of the day it gets only minimal light, and temperatures can drop to be very cold. The Searing Ways are most concentrated around here, though they have been seen in many places in the Five Scars region beyond the canyons themselves.

Further south the ground continues on as rugged steppes with occasional desert sand, as far as any have ever traveled. The Searing Ways stop appearing well before the land stops being inhospitable, and none have ever found anything worth continuing south for.

People

Chief Iron Eye: Chief of Clan Kohaizar, and a follower of the Woven Faith, this Orc prides himself on battling with honor, prizing the most even of fights. He is said to seek out single combat almost compulsively, in the hopes of one day finding his better in a duel.

Chief Aslofk Unstoppable: Chief of Clan Emberskull, in her youth Aslofk voluntarily became a pit fighter in Vellingrim to test herself against their best, and found the concept of conceited nobles owning skilled warriors too sickening to continue, and instead slaughtered numerous onlookers before helping several gladiators escape, bringing some with her to claim the Chieftainship of her clan.

Visgoph the Unclean: Bedecked in rags instead of armor, and wielding spells instead of blades, this Orc claims to seek strength greater than any constrained by the way Ahzrahn can obtain, using dark spells and artifacts other clans would reject out of hand. The worst of the Forgotten flock to him for a chance at that power, while the rest hope they might kill him to redeem themselves in the eyes of their former kin.

Madrigal Armor Props

Some armor skills require that you wear an appropriate prop when you use them. This section describes what we expect from an armor prop for each armor type, and explains how many armor points a player can gain from those skills.

Our goal with armor props is to add to the look and atmosphere of the game. We do not require armor that adds a lot of weight, nor must armor provide real life protection. We would rather have armor props made from lighter materials that look good and add to the atmosphere of the game, rather than armor with weight that is hidden under a tabard or surcoat where others cannot tell you are wearing any armor. Plate mail pieces that look like rigid metal but are created from lighter materials painted to look like armor are perfectly acceptable.

There are three armor skills in the game that require an armor prop; Heavy Armor, Medium Armor, and Light Armor. Each skill requires you to be wearing an appropriate armor prop to use the skill. Armor props are evaluated and are given marks for coverage and material. You get marks for your armor prop when it is evaluated, as described below. The basic requirements for the prop for each skill follows.

Heavy Armor

Heavy Armor provides a base 4 armor points, and can be increased to no more than 5 points with additional skills. The requirements for your heavy armor prop are as follows:

Heavy Armor Prop

  • Requires 16 marks
  • Requires chest coverage
  • Requires plate pauldrons or a plate full helm

Medium Armor

Medium Armor provides a base 3 armor points, and can be increased to no more than 5 points with additional skills. The requirements for your medium armor prop are as follows:

Medium Armor Prop

  • Requires 12 marks
  • Requires chest coverage

Light Armor

Light Armor provides a base 2 armor points, and can be increased to no more than 4 points with additional skills. The requirements for your light armor prop are as follows:

Light Armor Prop

  • Requires 8 marks
  • Requires chest coverage

 

Evaluating Armor: Marks

Armor coverage is divided into a number of areas; Chest and back, full helm or half helm, pauldrons or shoulders, forearms, hips, upper legs, and lower legs. To determine how many marks an armor prop is worth, count the armor type on each area using the chart below and add them all up.

If the armor is plate armor, scale mail, or metal brigandine:

Chest: 6 Marks

Full Helm: 3 Marks

Half Helm: 2 Marks

Shoulders: 3 Marks

Forearms: 3 Marks

Hips: 3 Marks

Upper Legs: 3 Marks

Lower Legs: 3 Marks

 

If the armor is chain mail or hardened leather:

Chest: 4 Marks

Full Helm: 2 Marks

Half Helm: 1 Mark

Shoulders: 2 Marks

Forearms: 2 Marks

Hips: 2 Marks

Upper Legs: 2 Marks

Lower Legs: 2 Marks

 

If the armor is light leather, hide, or fur:

Chest: 2 Marks

Full Helm: 2 Marks

Half Helm: 1 Mark

Shoulders: 1 Mark

Forearms: 1 Mark

Hips: 1 Mark

Upper Legs: 1 Mark

Lower Legs: 1 Mark

 

Articulations of metal or leather on any part of your armor are worth 1 extra mark. Multiple areas of articulation do not contribute more than 1 mark.

In addition, certain culture skills can change the requirements of armor or the evaluation of the armor prop.

Armor Specialist

Cost: 2

Any suit of armor you are wearing is worth, as an armor prop, two extra marks.

 

Magical Leather

Cost: 2

Requirement: You have learned one of the secret techniques to strengthen your own leather armor. Choose One:

  • You have spent time in Blacktallow and strengthen leather with Balefire.
  • You have spent time in Kyrzenwold and know to to construct an armored long coat.
  • You have spent time in Five Scars and know how to more effectively in leather armor.
  • You have somehow obtained armor made from the hide of a rare or magical beast.

You gain the following benefits when evaluating leather armor pieces:

  • Your light leather pieces give marks as if they were hardened leather.
  • Your hardened leather pieces give marks as if they were plate armor.

 

Armor of Khoros

Cost: 2

Requirement: You have spent time in Khoros in your character history.

  • Chest protection is no longer required.
  • If wearing warshend, double the marks it gives for upper legs and lower legs.
  • A cloth warshend, if decorated, counts as light leather before it is doubled.
  • An armored warshend can be used to satisfy the Heavy Armor requirement of pauldrons or a full helm.

 

Armor of Morgrave

Cost: Free

Requirement: You must have spent time in Morgrave in your character history.

  • A gorget can be used to satisfy the Heavy Armor requirement of pauldrons or a full helm.

 

Orcish Armor

Cost: 2

Requirement: You must have spent time with Orc tribes in your character history.

  • Your chain mail pieces, when layered with leather, are evaluated as scale mail.

 

Asymmetrical

Cost: 2

Requirement: You have been taught to fight by a Gladiator in your character history.

Choose up to two armor pieces on your limbs. You gain marks for coverage even if you only have armor on one side of your body. You may use this skill to satisfy the pauldron requirement for Heavy Armor with only one pauldron.

 

Other Armor Skills

If you obtain another type of armor skill you are protected by some mystical force or you use speed and cunning to absorb hits that would damage other fighters. Other armor skills need no prop. These skills provide a base of 2 armor points, and can be increased to no more and 4 points with additional skills. You cannot use skills that require the Heavy Armor skill.

 

 

Sneak Preview – Races of Madrigal

Races of Madrigal

Many distinct races dwell in the lands of Aerune. Members of the many races exist in most civilized kingdoms, although old prejudiced and oppressive law can still make life difficult for folk in some of the less enlightened kingdoms. The concept of racial kingdom faded in ancient days, and now most kingdoms have a wide mix of races.

 

Humans

Willful and determined, humans are the most numerous of the races. You folk tend to be highly adaptable and creative. Humans are numerous in all cultures and kingdoms. Their personality and disposition varies greatly with country and culture. Humans have no racial make-up requirements.

Costuming: None

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Defiant, Determined, or Energetic

 

Demonbound

It is said that the nobles of Vellingrim will sometimes bind themselves to demons. True or not, you have been bound to a demon, and that demon attempts to manipulate and corrupt you. Perhaps you spent time, willingly or unwillingly, in Vellingrim. Perhaps you were exposed to some strange magic in the presence of a noble of Vellingrim. Perhaps you were subjected to the mysterious ritual of some dark cult. Whatever the reason, something is inside you and you have begun to manifest signs of demonic power.

Playing a Demonbound character means struggling against the demon inside. To prevent it from consuming you (and losing your character in the process) you will need to remain virtuous. By the time the game starts you already know that succumbing to Hubris weakens your will and gives power to the demon inside you. In other words, if your character becomes evil then the demon will take over and you will, in essence, become an NPC.

Demonbound always have at least two physical manifestations of the demonic heritage. You can choose whichever two you please, as long as the manifestation is somewhat difficult to hide. Possible Manifestations include red skin or red face markings, demonic horns, a clawed hand, a demonic tail, one hoof, or even small wings if they are deemed safe. Other feature are possible if they are approved by plot.

If you don’t like plot messing with you, being temporarily controlled by plot, or role playing some kind of alternate persona if your demon becomes, for a time, strong enough to influence you then this might not be a good race for you.

Costuming: Choose at least two from the following: red skin, red infernal markings on the face and other exposed skin, one demon claw, one demonic hoof, a demonic tail, demonic horns, small demon wings that are deemed safe, other plot approved demon themed costuming. Optional: You can have more than two demonic manifestations.

Advantages

Choose one: Clawed, Elemental Resilience, Firestarter, or Intimidating

Disadvantages

Close to Corruption, Demonic Spirit

 

Elves

The Elven people were once, it is claimed, closer to what historians have said is their Faerie roots. Even today, your graceful and pointed ears belie that notion. If the Elven people once heard the song of Faerie, however, that music was silenced when the gates to Faerie were destroyed and the Fading quietly stole the heritage of your people.

The Elves were profoundly affected by the Fading, when – in a single night – all the elves from each of the ancient Elven kingdoms simply disappeared, leaving those lands and forests empty. The proud halls of the Elves of Light, the shadowed towers of the Elves of Darkness, and even the ancient forest homes of the Elves of Nature suddenly stood empty, leaving the wanderers, diplomats, and adventures behind.

Left without kingdoms of their own, and feeling that the song of Faerie was suddenly silenced, the elves of old became lost. Some sought new beginnings in other lands, living mixed lives with many other races. Even the marks of light, darkness, and nature faded. Many elves searched the world for any remaining signs of Faerie, and came to form Houses in the presence of the remaining Faerie Lords. Some even fell to despair, and suffered darker fates.

Faded Elf

You are one of the Faded Elves. You no longer hear the song of Faerie, and any remaining vestiges of its power have left you. Although you have pointed ears like others of your kind, and a graceful curve to your eyes, you do not show any other signs of Faerie power. You are a wanderer and a survivalist, and your life as an outcast and survivor has made you quick and cunning.

Costuming: Pointed ears. Optional: A colored eye design that sweeps off the eye.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Determined, Elusive, or Willful

 

Snowcrown Elf

When the song of Faerie faded your ancestors and kin traveled to the land now called Winterwold, and sought out the Spire of Ice. That monolith has infused your people with its cold and ice, and your heritage has been changed by it. You have pointed ears and graceful, curved eyes. Your skin is frosted with icy sparkles, and your lips are white, or a very light and pale blue or violet. Many of your kind also have a similar color around the eyes. Some Snowcrown Elves have white or gray hair.

Costuming: Pointed ears, frosted lips and eyes. Optional: Frosted skin, ice colored swirled markings, white or gray hair.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Elusive, Elemental Resistance, or Winter Born

 

Spidersilk Elf

When the song of Faerie was silenced, the Lady Eranthis called to your ancestors and led them to the lands now called the Silken Call. The last Spider Sylph, Lady Eranthis has showed you the great Web and you are touched by it. The web has marked you, both physically and spiritually.

Costuming: Pointed ears, a spider web pattern over at least one fourth of the face. Optional: Black, gray or purple lips, a similar dark eye design that sweeps off the eye. Purple sparkles. Many Webwork elves wear translucent lace or web veils when they travel in unfamiliar company or territory.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Elusive, Poison Eater, or Web Weaver

 

Verdant Elf

Your kin are bolstered by the presence of The Verdant Lord, an ancient tree spirit who once walked both the Faerie realm and the Weald. Your nature has been changed by his presence, and you are much closer to the forests of the world than your kin. After the Fading your ancestors traveled into the deepest forests and wildest places following rumors and clues that led to the Verdant Lord’s clearing where he slept. He has sustained your kin, generation after generation, since that time.

Your kin are champions of the natural world. The Verdant Lord can feel the pain of the forests and natural places of the world, and as such many of your kin feel it is their place to protect those places. As your folk have served the Verdant Lord your features have grown more wild and forest like. Some of you have only a hint of the forest in your hair and features. Others have become much like the forest, with leaves in your hair, leaf like patterns on your skin, green features, and even areas of bark showing.

Costuming: Pointed ears, a green vine pattern on at least one fourth of your face, your hair has leaves. Optional: Green lips, a green eye design that sweeps off the eye, leaf markings on your face.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Elusive, Forest Walker, or Life Giving

 

Drowned Elf

After the Fading, some elves succumbed to despair and threw themselves into the sea. These elves did not truly die, however, but instead the drowned elves were found by something else. Changed by the swirling depths of the sea, these wicked elves now bear a great hatred for other Gifted Races. Players cannot be drowned elves.

Advantages

Unknown

Disadvantages

PCs cannot be Drowned Elves

 

Eurvein

Once almost fully elemental, the Eurvein in modern days retains only a small amount of that elemental power. The destruction and collapse of their underground Roots drove them forever to the surface. Each generation has seen less elemental influence. Each Eurvein has only a Core of elemental power. This is represented by a wide vein of color, at least two inches in width, starting at the hairline and falling down the face and onto the neck. The strip is a webwork of elemental veins connecting crystals that show the Eurvein’s elemental nature.

Costuming: Choose Air, Earth, Fire or Water. The element you choose makes up you Core. The color of the elemental core that shows on your face should reflect the element you chose. Air is white or light blue, sometimes with jagged lines of pale yellow, with clear or gold gems. Earth is gray or brown, sometimes with metallic streaks and metallic gems, or gems of amber or cinnamon. Fire is red and orange and yellow, with gems of fiery color. Water is blue and green, with gems of similar color, or rarely the gems have an appearance like a pearl from the sea. Optional: Eurvein can choose to use glitter instead of affixed gems. Eurvein can also use a partial mask if they wish to decorate it. Rarely an Eurvein will have an alternate pattern on their face to represent their Core so long as the look is approved by plot.

 

Advantages                                                                                                  

  • Air: Choose one advantage: Elemental Resistance, Elusive, or Shocking
  • Earth: Choose one advantage: Clawed, Elemental Resistance, or Resilient
  • Fire: Choose one advantage: Elemental Resistance, Energetic, or Firestarter
  • Water: Choose one advantage: Elemental Resistance, Elusive, or Life Giving

Disadvantages

Elemental Spirit

 

Korred

The Korred left the Faerie realm in ages past, and your kin have been roaming the land, drinking, and causing trouble ever since. Your folk tend to be wanderers, moving from place to place. Korred seem most often at home in rural areas near natural places, but perhaps you are an exception. When the world was a bit younger, the Korred felt the gates to the Faerie realm closing. You feared your kin would fade from the world. Feeling their vitality failing, the Korred journeyed to find the last Faerie Lords to save them.

Korred of Spring

Some Korred traveled deep into the forest to seek aid or advice from an ancient Faerie Lord called the Lord of Thorns. The Korred elders remembered the ancient ways and gained entry into a legendary site known only as the Root Maze. Rather than finding the Lord of Thorns on a throne of roots as was foretold, they found him gravely wounded in body and spirit. Before the Korred could learn what had caused such a terrible attack, the Thorn Lord used the last of his power and with his dying breath bolstered the Korred with the power of Weald.

The Korred of Spring have not squandered the gift of the Lord of Thorns. They have thrived from his gift, and the power of the forests themselves course through their veins.

Costuming: Faerie horns which can be satyr like, deer like, or larger. Pointed ears, wild hair with leaves entwined. Optional: Green swirls or warpaint, green lips, green hair. Some Korred embrace the thorns of their namesake lord, and have vines with thorns entwined in their hair, or as a crown, or even extended from their wild fingers a long claws.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Energetic, Forest Walker, or Life Giving,

Disadvantages

Faerie Spirit

 

Korred of Autumn

Not all Korred gained strength from the Weald. Some looked away from the Root Maze and the Faerie Lord who slept there, and instead used rhyme and song to awake the Goblin King from his visions and his curses. They came before that strange being and asked that he open the Faerie Gates before they faded from the world. The Goblin King shook his head sadly and told them it was not within his power to do so. The Goblin King would not, however, let the Korred fade away. Instead he bid the Korred to drink from the remaining power of the ruined pool he guarded. And so the Korred drank the last magic from the Well of Souls, before it faded forever, and became infused with the power of Gloaming.

The Korred of Autumn are sustained by Gloaming, but the Goblin King’s gift has a price. They do not simply witness death when it happens around them. They feel it. They feel the spirits slipping away, and have visions and dreams of the deaths they see for days or weeks after. The visions of deaths of those important to them might last for years. Each Korred of Autumn reacts to this differently; some become withdrawn, but many have developed a jaded and perhaps sardonic outlook because of it.

Costuming: Faerie horns, sometimes black, which can be satyr like, deer like, or larger. Black lips. Optional: Some Korred still have pointed ears, but some do not; their Faerie nature has fled from them entirely. Korred of the Black often have dark, exaggerated lashes. Some show dark color over the eyes as well. Some Korred have a glittery sheen of purple or some other dark color. They tend to wear black, and also tend to favor the fancy dress of the Highborn Faerie Lords and Ladies of old.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Determined, Feed on Fear, or Willful

Disadvantages

Faerie Spirit

 

Orcs

Your people are tusked, rough skinned warriors and raiders that dwell at the fringes of Aerune. You are warriors, and hunters, and sometimes you are raiders if times demand it. You have been called savage, honorable, fierce, and a number of other names and titles; some deserved, some not.

Your people follow a philosophy that you call Ahzrahn, which translates to “Forward, not backward.” This concept has a number of applications in society, philosophy, and tactics. Your kin believe they should always look forward, and not regret or dwell on the past. It is important to let the past go and concentrate on the future, and looking at what has passed is only useful if the lessons will inform future decisions. This concept permeates the orc culture, and has a number of applications.

With Ahzrahn, holding grudges is wasteful. If an Orc is wronged they will and should seek restitution. An Orc’s honor, after all, is important. Once the matter is dealt with, however, then the matter is dropped. Likewise, Orcs find regret wasteful. While it is wise to look for ways to improve, empty regret serves no one.

Orcs also value victory greatly, and if a victory is achieved it seems useless to Orcs to argue about the details. While failure is certainly questioned, victory is celebrated. It’s not so much that the ends justify the means; a victory must be honorable to be worthy. If an honorable victory is achieved, however, details are washed away. If an Orc, as an example, seizes victory they are celebrated even if they disobeyed a leader to do so. The concept of “Seize Victory” is an important tenet, and it has both led Orcs to stunning wins and sometimes to crushing defeats. If you go against the command of a warlord in an attempt to “seize victory” you do so with the understanding that if it doesn’t turn out well you shouldn’t survive the outcome.

You people also share the belief that a warrior is measured by their enemy. This idea that the honor of a warrior and their enemy is entwined is important to your kin. As such, honoring the enemy is an important facet of your own honor. Trivializing an honorable enemy is also insulting those who fight against them. A worthy foe makes a worthy warrior, and a lesser foe means victory is hollow. Those who insult your enemies rob you of true honor in victory against them. As such, your kin can find insult in words that marginalize your enemy.

 

Frostrime Orcs

You dwell far in the north, and you have embraced the cold, the ice, and the harsh blizzards of Winterwold. When you first arrived your Shamans called to the Spire of Ice and you drank deep from its magic. Now that monolith is denied to you, at least while the truce with the other races stands.

Costuming: You have lower tusks that protrude from your mouth, and your skin is either gray or pale green. You face is accented with a darker gray or green wear wrinkles might be. Some of your kin have dark gray skin and wear lighter war paint, and some of your kin have light gray or green skin and wear darker war paint. Optional: Some orcs have ridges and other misshapen features represented by prosthetics or masks.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Rip Free, Willful, or Winter Born

 

Sunscar Orcs

You dwell far to the south, in the barren badlands called the Five Scars. You raid north into the desert ruins to take food, water and valuables from treasure seekers. You also raid in the far northern kingdoms when the Shamans hear the call of the Searing Way, and those gates of fire open to lands far away; lands ripe with food, water, and other valuables.

Costuming: You have lower tusks that protrude from your mouth. Your skin is tan with brown wrinkles, or dark green with black wrinkles. War paint is common, and gold jewelry taken from the ruins, treasure seekers, or raids with a further reach is a sign of strength. Optional: Some orcs have ridges and other misshapen features represented by prosthetics or masks.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Defiant, Intimidating, or Resilient

 

Shoathri

You take the form of one mammal or avian animal from the natural world. You are a shifter, and you can spend time in animal form, or you might also take a form that is almost human. Your face shows a distinctive and unique red mark that is visible and consistent in both human and animal form. Some Shoathri are in animal form most of the time, while others tend to take animal form when they become angered or agitated. In the past the Shoathri were considered a savage race, and some kingdoms have even treated them as little more than property. While many Shoathri follow the Pale, or become Shaman and live in the wilderness, others have embraced civilization and fight this perception that they are savage or less civilized than other races. When you are ready to change forms, you will become agitated and feel the need to be alone. You will transform during this restless state. You have the Beast trait while you are in your animal form.

Costuming: Both your forms have a distinctive and easily seen red marking on your face. The mark remains the same in both forms. When you change to animal form you create an animal like appearance with makeup, prosthetics, a mask, or a combination of these. Exposed skin should also be animal like. Optional: You may have a tail, horns, and similar costuming additions as appropriate for your chosen animal.

 

Hunter Shoathri

Your animal lineage comes from an animal that hunts prey to survive. Your natural instinct is to stalk prey, and you can be, if you are not careful, the most savage of the Shoathri. Your civilized self, if you embrace that aspect, constantly resists aggressively pursue what it wants, whether the urge is the basic need to hunt for food, or some stronger emotion that you want to satisfy.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Clawed, Defiant, or Energetic

Disadvantages

Bestial Spirit

 

Sprinter Shoathri

Your animal lineage comes from an animal that moves quickly and uses evasion to survive. Your natural instinct is to constantly want to move from place to place, looking for safe havens in which to find food. You are watchful, and your civilized self constantly resists the urge to be wary and move about.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Elusive, Energetic, or Life Giving

Disadvantages

Bestial Spirit

 

Trickster Shoathri

Your lineage is that of an animal that scavenges for food and objects, and evades danger using cunning.  Your natural instinct is to examine things and figure them out, always trying to open things to see if food is inside. Your civilized self constantly resists the urge to take things, open things, and figure out the secrets of objects you find.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Clawed, Determined, or Poison Eater

Disadvantages

Bestial Spirit

 

Trolls

Your people dwell in the high mountains, though sometimes they descend into the kingdoms below if they have some business with the lowlanders, or they are just bored and looking to cause trouble. You have large, over-sized lower tusks protruding out and large horns. The horns of your people vary wildly in size. Many trolls feel that the best horns are large horns that curve and sweep back off the forehead. If any troll ever purchased the Highborn header a thousand of your brethren would storm down from the mountains and drag the drunken sot away to be kicked and beaten until the rampant violence had restored them to their senses. There are probably other skills you would pick on a troll for learning but sometimes your kin do things like that just to be stubborn.

Stone Troll

Your kin are the most magnificent of the troll folk, and it is well known that you are stronger than your Mountain Troll kin. The skin of your Stone Troll kin is stone gray with deep highlights. Some Stone Trolls have stone like cracks running up the neck or from the jaw line or down from the forehead.

Costuming: Required: Large horns, lower tusks, gray skin with black wrinkles. You may use gray stone like patterns on your face rather than full gray coverage. Optional: Some trolls have darker beast-like noses or lips. Some have stone-like cracks running along their faces.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Elemental Resistance, Resilient, or Rip Free

 

Mountain Troll

Your kin are the most magnificent of the troll folk, and it is well known that you are stronger than your Stone Troll kin. The skin of your Mountain Troll kin is tan with deep brown highlights. Some Mountain Trolls have stone like cracks running up the neck or from the jaw line or down from the forehead.

Costuming: Required: Large horns, lower tusks, tan skin with brown wrinkles. You may use tan highlights on your face rather than full tan coverage. Optional: Some trolls have darker beast-like noses or lips.

Advantages

Choose one advantage: Intimidating, Resilient, or Rip Free

 

Undying

You have been tainted by Malediction, and although you have thrown off that taint, the Foul has left its mark on you. Your horrific existence is the price you have paid for escaping the madness of true undeath. You are neither living nor dead. The Undying are created when humans are tainted with Maledictionand have somehow escaped their eventual fate. Perhaps you willingly allowed a vampire to feed on you in the presence of the Foul. Perhaps you were slain by the undead and carried their taint with you when you passed through the Gate of Death. Perhaps you were infected by the Fever of the Foul. Regardless, you have become one of the Undying. Although you were cured, or somehow fought off the taint of Malediction, it has left its mark upon you. During the day you appear to be human, but when night falls you take on an undead appearance that shows your true nature.

Ghul Undying

You take the appearance of an undead with dark rings around your eyes and blackened lips. While many Ghul simply have pale skin, some Ghul have become pallid white or gray and have rotting skin. Many Ghuls are clawed.

Advantages

No Metabolism. Choose one advantage: Clawed, Corrupted Rage, or Intimidating

(You may only use advantages at night while you are in Undying form.)

Disadvantages

Close to Corruption, Undead Spirit

 

Spectral Undying

You form at night becomes almost incorporeal. The color washes from your clothes. You either become entirely white, like a spectre, or entirely black like a wraith. When night comes and you transform the armor and weapons you carry become ghost-like as well.

Advantages

No Metabolism. Choose two advantages: Clawed, Corrupted Rage, Feed on Fear, Ghostly, or Intimidating

(You may only use advantages at night while you are in Undying form.)

Disadvantages

Close to Corruption. In Undying Form: Non-Corporeal, Susceptible to Light, Undead Spirit

 

Vampyr Undying

Your transformation into a vampire of Malediction has been interrupted or somehow forestalled. Although you look human during the day, you must travel hooded. If direct sunlight touches any part of your skin, you are weakened and strickened by its touch. You are forever cloaked against the rays of the sun. At night your transformation is less noticeable than other Undying. You grow fangs, certainly, but you can pass as human if others do not observe your fangs. You hunger for the blood of the Gifted races, but you must take it only after a ritual of purification, and if you take it unwillingly you will become tainted with Malediction and succumb to that madness and violent nature.

Advantages

Choose two advantages: Corrupted Rage, Elusive, Feed on Fear, Intimidating, or Willful

(You may only use advantages at night while you are in Undying form.)

Disadvantages

Close to Corruption, Hunger for Blood, Undead Spirit

 

Grotesque

Your body was once an unliving effigy; an inanimate form with a humanoid shape that was awoken, and somehow gained consciousness and purpose. You became infused with Chimera as a result. During the day you appear as a human. Night, however, reveals your true form, and your human façade fades away as your constructed form comes forth.

 

Alabaster Grotesque

Your form is that of a porcelain figure, like a doll or statuette. You are entirely white, although you wear clothing as would one who is truly alive. Some of the Alabaster have painted decorations on an otherwise white face. Alabaster Grotesque most often come from Dremasque.

Costuming: During the day you appear as human, except you have faint white cracks on your face and neck. At night your face and other visible skin becomes pure white, either by using make up or wearing a mask. Optional: You have decoration on your face or hands as well, either lines that show joints, paint like a doll, or both. Some Grotesque have fainted gray cracks. We encourage creative costuming for this race when it takes full Grotesque form.

Advantages

No Metabolism. Choose one advantage: Feed on Fear, Intimidating, or Repairable

Disadvantages

Chimerical, Susceptible to Despair

 

Harvester Grotesque

You were a scarecrow or other cloth, stuffed effigy. You are made of course cloth stuffed with straw. At night your face shows the stitching and whatever decoration was painted upon your form. Harvest Grotesque comes from many lands.

Costuming: During the day you appear as human, except you have tan or brown cracks on your face and neck. At night your face and other visible skin becomes tan or brown like a scarecrow, either by using make up or wearing a mask. Optional: Straw pokes out of your sleeves and neck. Your face is painted like a scarecrow. We encourage creative costuming for this race when it takes full Grotesque form.

Advantages

No Metabolism. Choose one advantage: Feed on Fear, Elusive, or Forest Walker

Disadvantages

Chimeral, Susceptible to Fire

 

Forged Grotesque

You were a metal statue, construct, or even a suit of armor that somehow gained free will. You are metallic. At night, when your true nature is revealed, you appear to be metallic. People can see your joints and rivets. Forged Grotesque most often come from Coalmire, although rarely one of the guardians of the Free City of Ket will gain free will.

Costuming: During the day you appear as human, except you have metallic cracks on your face and neck. At night your face and other visible skin becomes metallic, either by using make up or wearing a mask or full helmet. Optional: Rivets, joint lines, armor protrusions. We encourage creative costuming for this race when it takes full Grotesque form.

Advantages

No Metabolism. Choose one advantage: Energetic, Repairable, Resilient, or Shocking

Disadvantages

Chimeral, Susceptible to Rust

 

Racial Advantages

Clawed

You may grow and retract claws in both hands with which you may attack and parry. You may fight with a claw in each hand at the same time, but you may not fight with claws and other weapons or a shield. You may use one long claw and one medium claw. If you have another ability that also allows you to use claws, you may instead fight with two long claws. The time it takes to prepare the claws or put them away is the time it takes to grow or retract the claws.

Corrupted Rage

If you are struck by an effect with the Malediction trait you may choose to call out “Reduce to Frenzy” to negate the attack and allow the Malediction to cast you into a mindless rage.

Defiant

Once per long rest, call out “Resist” to negate one Mental attack.

Determined

Once per event when one of your skills or spells is negated by a called defense you may choose to use this skill instead of exhausting attributes for that ability. Call out “Imbue by Determination” instead of exhausting attributes for a skill negated by a defense.

Elemental Resistance

Once per long rest, call out “Resist” to negate one Elemental attack.

Elusive

Once per long rest, call out “Purge” to end one Paralyze, Root, or Slow effect delivered by a melee, missile, or packet attack.

Energetic

Once per event you may re-use a skill that is “once per long rest” or “once per short rest” that you have already used. You must still pay attribute costs.

Feed on Fear

Each time you make an attack with the Fear trait and the target role plays the effect (and doesn’t negate it with a defense) call out “Heal to Self.”

Firestarter

Once per long rest, call out “4 Damage by Fire” and make a melee, missile, or packet attack to burn your foes.

Forest Walker

Twice per event, if you are touching a tree that is too wide to place your hands around while touching fingers and thumbs, Refresh one point of Earth or Water.

Ghostly

Once per short rest, call out “Purge” to end one Physical effect.

Intimidating

Once per long rest, call out “Agony by Fear” and make a melee, missile, or packet attack to unnerve your foe.

Life Giving

Twice per long rest, call out “Heal 2 by Weald” and make a packet attack to heal an ally.

No Metabolism

Once per short rest, call out “Resist” to negate one Metabolic attack.

Poison Eater

Once per short rest, call out “Resist” to negate a Poison attack and then call out “Heal 2 to Self” as the toxin heals you.

Repairable

If you receive a Repair Armor effect delivered as a melee, packet, or touch attack you can treat some or all of those points as healing. You can choose to convert one or more points of a Repair Armor effect to a Heal effect. If you are unconscious the first point of Repair Armor must be used to restore you to 1 Vitality. This skill does not work when you spend Focus time to refresh your armor points; only when an ability with a Repair Armor effect is delivered by melee, packet, or touch.

Resilient

Once per long rest, call out “Resist” to negate one attack with a Physical trait.

Rip Free

Once per long rest, call out “Purge” to end one Physical effect.

Shocking

Once per long rest, call out “4 Damage by Lightning” and make a melee, missile, or packet attack to electrocute your foes.

Web Weaver

Spend 10 seconds of focus, unweaving webs around the recipient, and call out
“Cure Web” to free them of a web effect. This ability requires a free hand.

Willful

Once per long rest, call out “Purge” to end one Mental effect.

Winter Born

Once per short rest, call out “Resist” to negate a Cold or Ice attack and then call out “Heal 2 to Self” as the cold or ice heals you.

 

Racial Disadvantages

Bestial Spirit

You gain the Beast trait. You are considered by some evil folk to be less than human.

Chimerical

Your form is sustained by the magic of Chimera. You have the Chimera trait.

Close to Corruption

You are more susceptible to Malediction. If you end the event with the Malediction trait bad things might happen. You are required to send a separate message to plot if this occurs.

Demonic Spirit

You have the Demon trait. You are not affected by beneficial effects with the “to Demon” trait if they are delivered as a “By My Voice” attack.

As someone tainted with Demonic power, some folk have an unreasoning hatred of you.

You are constantly tempted by the demonic voice inside you. If you ever fully give in you could become evil and your character could become an NPC.

Elemental Spirit

You seethe with elemental power. You have the Elemental trait.

Faerie Spirit

Even though the gates have closed, you still have the blood of the Fae. You have the Faerie trait.

Hunger for Blood

Although you can eat food for pleasure, you do not gain sustenance from it. You do not pay maintenance. You start the event with one point of Void already exhausted. Once per event, you may perform your feeding ritual to restore this exhausted Void point.

To perform your feeding ritual, you must have a willing victim who will allow you to drink their blood. You spend one minute of Focus performing a Ritual of Purification to cleanse the feeding area of Malediction. This ritual will require a chalice, cup, or goblet and props to mark off a circle where the Purification has occurred. When complete, you Focus for 10 seconds to role playing the feeding. This involves role playing drawing blood from the wrist into the purified vessel, calling out “Waste Void by Blood” to drain the victim, and role playing drinking the contents. The process will restore one point of Void.

If you ever drink the blood of an unwilling victim, or feed off a willing victim without the Ritual of Purification, you will gain the Malediction trait. An Undying Vampyr must be careful, for feeding in the presence of a plot creature that seethes with Malediction, even after the Ritual of Purification, can taint both the Undying and the victim. Being tainted by Malediction for too long will drive you to Hubris and madness, and can lead to a loss of your character.

(As a reminder, the exhausted Void point does not affect the number of times you may refresh your attributes. That is based on your maximum Void.)

Non-Corporeal

When night falls and you take your Undying form, you become spectral. Your form and all items you are carrying become slightly out of phase. During this time moving objects becomes harder. You can only use weapons and armor you were carrying or wearing when you transformed. You cannot move the bodies of other characters.

You cannot move game objects that are less than a foot in length, such as treasure, puzzles, written props, and the like. You cannot loot corpses or pick up treasure in the form of coins or tags. You cannot carry plot items such as boxes of food, weapons, or written text props.

You can still use spells and skills like First Aid on other characters. You can move doors, furniture, blankets, and similar non-game objects in the environment. You can move food and drink. You can open chests, but you cannot take anything small inside them.

Susceptible to Despair

Whenever you are hit with an attack with the Despair trait you take “1 Damage by Will” as an additional effect.

Susceptible to Fire

Whenever you are hit with an attack with the Fire trait you take “1 Damage by Fire” as an additional effect.

Susceptible to Light

Whenever you are hit with an attack with the Light trait you take “1 Damage by Light” as an additional effect.

Susceptible to Rust

Whenever you are hit with an attack with the Water trait you take “1 Damage by Rust” as an additional effect.

Undead Spirit

You have the Undead trait. You are not affected by beneficial effects with the “to Undead” trait if they are delivered as a “By My Voice” attack.

As someone with an undead taint, some folk have an unreasoning hatred of you. Your undead nature sometimes makes it harder for you to remain Virtuous.

 

 

 

Sneak Preview – The Free City of Ket

This is a sneak preview of the Free City of Ket. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.

The Free City of Ket

Introduction

Like a shining jewel on the southern coast of the Inner Sea, the Free City of Ket sprawls along the River Vitas until it spills along the coast looking out onto the Bay of Gold. The free city ranges from opulent to squalid, and fortunes in the Free City can change quickly. With the rarity of gold mines in the northern kingdoms, the Free City of Ket would be rich simply trading gold from all the mines the city controls. The flow of wealth is exaggerated by treasure seekers looking to explore and plunder the ancient ruins to the south.

The vast desert south of the Free City holds seemingly endless ruins full of dangers and treasures of great value. The shifting sands move like tides, revealing and hiding ruins, tombs, and halls of the once great kingdom of Onhur. Not only do these ruins contain wealth and magical treasures, but the ruins are the only source of Sun Gold that is known to exist. Sun Gold is prized by enchanters because it will hold more potent magic than normal precious metals.

The Free City of Ket is ruled by Hekros, a scaled entity who has, if rumors are to be believed, an impressive amount of magical knowledge. Hekros claims to be the last remaining member of an ancient race called the Armitage. Whether any of this is true is up for debate by many scholars. Regardless of whether you believe this, Hekros has ruled the Free City since its inception two centuries ago and has demonstrated on a number of occasions its competence in combat, magic, and knowledge of the politics of the kingdoms of Aerune.

Hekros, who carries the title of The Majestic, makes sure that the city maintains a strict neutrality. Because the Free City allows for and maintains free trade, any number of explorers and tomb raiders use Ket as a base of operation for expeditions into the south. Merchants do pay a reasonable tax to the city, but in return they are protected by both the Scaled Guard who serve The Majestic, and by stone constructs that roam the city and uphold the laws.

The Free City operates largely on the concept of contracts. A signed contract is binding, and it is illegal to break a contract signed by an Oath Scribe who is authorized by the city. As a result, all manner of business is conducted in the city, and all types of goods are traded within the walls of Ket. A number of goods are outlawed, including slavery of all types, and artifacts or magic of Necromancy, Malediction, or the Foul.

Not everyone is in agreement with the laws or policies of the city. There are tribesmen of the southern deserts who are not at all happy that folk from the northern kingdoms are intruding upon the ruins of their once great nation. To many of them, those who violate the sanctity of the ancient kingdom are cursed and deserving of death, whether they are tomb robbers, treasure seekers, or historians. When added to the many dangers present in the tombs themselves, the southern lands are quite inhospitable to travelers.

The Desert

Two once great nations lay buried beneath the sands of the Great Desert. The Desert has always been and will always be, but twice has a mighty nation risen from the barren lands, only to be reclaimed by time and the shifting sands of the ever consuming Desert. The bones of the past, crumbling ruins of once great cities and tombs of stone, are sometimes exposed by great storms of wind and sand. The ruins can provide great riches for those who dare to explore them before they are again buried.

The dangers of exploring the desert and its ruins are many beyond just death from exposure and thirst. The ruins and even the sands themselves are home to countless undead and malevolent spirits seeking to rend and feed upon the living. A number of great and ancient undead even claim some of the ruins as their own, often gathering masses of undead servants to defend their domain.

There is also life within the Desert. The River Vitas winds through the heart of the Desert, flowing towards the Free City of Ket and into the sea beyond it. There are also hidden islands of life – known as Tanuras – in remote places where water is near enough to the surface for plants and life to survive. Surrounding the banks of the river and the sanctuary of the Tanuras are stubborn forests, remnants of ancient and magical attempts to bring life to the vast sea of sand.

Amongst these scattered oases and magical forests live the tribes of the desert. The tribes are varied in composure with a mixture of Shoathri, Ghuls, and even Sunscar Orcs who have left the Five Scars. Some have lived in the deserts their entire lives, descended from the inhabitants of the last great civilization to thrive there. Others were brought against their will by the Orcs to the South, and have since gained their freedom and joined with the native tribes. Others still come to feel more at home in the desert and its ruins as they adventured for its secrets and treasures, and have chosen to stay.

They are a scattered people, with little in the way of written history or law, but traditions are a strong guiding force that binds them together even as they raid and skirmish amongst themselves. To not only survive in such a harsh place, but to do so with a sense of honor, is something many Children of the Sand take pride in.

Nomadic and under constant threat of attack by undead, orcs, opportunists heading out of Ket, and other tribes, the Children of the Sands have learned to be wary, but also to celebrate the moments of safety they can share with those who would do them no harm.

Among the tribes there are those who simply seek to survive and raid as they always have, but some have either greater causes or more ambitions. Some tribes trade not just the goods they find with the outside world, but also their skill at arms, serving as mercenaries in the desert lands. Others view themselves as the rightful defenders of the thrice dead land, and seek out the undead, slavers, orcs, and generally wicked to hunt without mercy.

Costuming

There is no specific look in the Free City of Ket. Too many travelers, and too many factions, ensure that the city is a menagerie of colors and styles. The only constant is that visitors and locals alike must dress for the hot days and the cool nights brought by the surrounding desert and sea to the Free City.

The clothing of the tribes is driven by the necessity of surviving the harsh desert.  Their clothing tends toward light loose fitting shirts, tunics, and pants though some priests do wear robes.   Few choose to wear simple whites or blacks, preferring bright colors to contrast the unchanging white of sand. They rarely cover their faces except to veil themselves against the harsh sun and wind driven sand.  The people of the tribes have nothing to hide, so Ghul, Shoathri, and human alike display who and what they are so that they will be known and recognized.

The warriors and scouts of the tribes prefer leather bracers and grieves augmented by light chain rather than full suits of armor.  The fighting in the sands is one of hit and run engagements often in the dark of night rather than full stand-up fights.

As wealth must be moved in their nomadic life, jewelry is the favored form of riches, and an accomplished desert mercenary will have a few flashy pieces for special occasions or to demonstrate wealth during negotiation. It is considered vain to wear said wealth all the time, however, and impractical to do so in combat where it might be damaged.

Roleplaying

With so many different factions in the city, the attitudes and mannerisms have a great variety. The only constant is the sanctity of the negotiation, the agreement, and ultimately the contract.

As the Children of the Sand:

~ Seek the wisdom of experience when approaching a new problem.

~ Cherish what is good in life, such as companionship, food, and safety, but embrace that death comes for all, and thus is not to be feared. “We are keeping the Reaper waiting, best have a happy story for him when we finally arrive,” is a common saying among children of the sands.

~ Wastefulness and overconsumption are terrible sins, though outsiders in their land of plenty might not understand that.

~ Undead of Malediction have shown that evil will lurk forever if not hunted down. To be a hunter of such things is as much a necessity as water or food.

~ For many of the tribes, outsiders trespassing in the sacred lands and ruins is a crime, and it must be punished. For the most extreme tribes, that punishment is death.

Religion

All religions are followed, or ignored, in the Free City of Ket.

Among the Children of the Sand, priests of the Woven faith have been present the longest, or at least are the deepest rooted in most tribes. The Threadbearers offer hope and guidance even in the bleakest reaches of the desert, and so the tradition of priests has remained strong through generations. While not quite as pervasive, animal shamanism also persists as an old practice among the Children of the Sands, perhaps brought in with the many Shoathri.

Followers of the Celestial Court or the Pale are rare, but not unheard of, as many tribes have taken in the lost or enslaved, some of whom follow these religions of distant lands, but there is no strong tradition of either.

Magic

Arcane Magic is much more common in the Free City of Ket than other places in Aerune, except, of course, for the Guild Arcana. Three rival Mage’s Guilds vie for prestige and attention and sell services to travelers far and wide. The Left Eye of Collose, the Backburners, and the Guild of the Gray Hand are all powerful guilds that practice, study, and theorize to rise above their rivals. This makes magic of all types more common in the Free City than elsewhere.

Society

Rather than houses or nobles, there are a number of factions in the city that vie for power, trade for wealth, and value secrets.

The Catalyst Club is an exclusive and expensive private resort that caters to the rich. In reality it is the headquarters for a group of individuals who believe that the pursuit of experiences is the ultimate goal in life. At its inception, The Catalyst Club was almost all Cat Shoathri that sought the history and knowledge of ancient houses of their kind in the ruins. In time they formed the Catalyst Club, and now the inner circle boasts a number of races and it is growing quickly. The Catalyst Club specializes in all types of intoxicating and recreational alchemy. They also arrange for other types of experiences and thrills. They have been known to arrange hunting expeditions to kill dangerous prey, engaging in brutal but non-lethal fighting tournaments, and even seeking and experiencing a wide variety of magical spells and effects.

Her Six Blades is a religious group that believes that the Queen of the Moon of the Celestial Court will end the world. They claim to serve and worship that goddess, although most Magi of the Celestial Court decry the Six Blades as a cult. The Six Blades also hires itself out as assassins, and is both skilled at that profession and feared because of it.

The Beggar King is a mysterious entity that claims to watch over and protect the many beggars in the city. Whether this is an actual person or a collective myth, sometimes bad things happen to those who mistreat the beggars of the city, and this is often attributed to the Beggar King’s judgment.

The Mercenary Guild is a city wide guild that employs all manner of mercenaries and hires them out to both domestic and foreign interests. The guild aggressively recruits, and those mercenaries and adventurers who frequent the city often and do not join the guild may find themselves in an ever-escalating series of confrontations about their involvement with the Guild. Bullying aside, the Guild has an excellent reputation for provided well trained and competent people for a wide variety of jobs.

There are three rival Mage’s Guilds within the confines of the city; the Left Eye of Collose, the Backburners, and the Guild of the Gray Hand.

Regions

The Free City of Ket is located at the head of the River Vitas, where it empties into the Bay of Gold. The City is divided into sections called quarters, even though there are now more than four districts and number six or seven distinct areas depending on who you ask.

To the south winds the River Vitae, and old forests kept alive with ancient Weald magic stubbornly cling to the banks of the Vitas and cluster around various oasis and crevasses in the desert floor. These out of place stretches of forest are remnants of an earlier time when nobles of Onhur attempted to use magic to bring the desert back to life. Scattered in the broken lands and trackless desert, the Children of the Sands maintain caravans and tent cities.

The Desert has many creatures in addition to the undead in the ruins. Giant and dangerous insects roam the desert, and tribes of particularly dangerous lizard-folk hunt along and in the River Vitas further south. Orcs from the Five Scars also are found north of their lands to hunt and raid. They know expeditions of treasure seekers can be laden with loot from the ruins.

People

Hekros, The Majestic is the ruler of the Free City of Ket. Rumored to be centuries old, it founded the city and rules it to this day. It upholds the law with the Scaled Guard and a number of stone golems that roam the city and keep the peace.

Selicia Goldenbrow is the current head of the Catalyst Club. She is savvy and politic, and she can be ruthless if her club or her people are threatened. Although in the past she sought all manner of experiences, these days she most appreciates the rush of politics and power. Selicia is a well decorated Cat Shoathri.

Ekmet Tallis is the captain of the Scaled Guard, and the right hand man and voice of The Majestic when it is not available to speak. Ekmet is dour and suspicious and has standing orders to keep, in his words, “rubes and gawkers” from wasting the time of The Majestic.

 

 

 

Sneak Preview – Sollos

This is a sneak preview of the Sollos. We thought players would be interested in seeing cultures and kingdoms as we work on them. As with all Sneak Previews, details may change over time.

Sollos

Introduction

The people from Sollos are a reserved folk, both introspective and spiritual. Their silk clothing and robes can make a visual impression that make them stand out from many other kingdoms, and the culture of the people places a great emphasis on the words they say and how they say them. The Sollosir do not like to break their oaths, either deliberately or mistakenly, and this leads them to carefully consider their words.

The most peculiar thing, perhaps, about the Sollosir is that many of them cannot and do not always have a choice of what they will say. The men and women of Sollos live in both the present and the past. The folk of this land sometimes hear echoes of past Sollosir, and when the whispers of the dead become strong enough, those echoes can become fully manifest and take hold of the folk from this land, offering opinions and making decisions for the living.

This process is not random; echoes only manifest in men and women who knew and interacted with that person in the past. It is not enough, it seems, to have spoken with the person whose voice is within the echo. The most powerful manifestations come to people who spent time with the people in the past; traveling, playing, fighting, and seeing the world together.

Echoes only whisper to, and manifest within others who are most like them. Echoes manifest in people who see the world, at least in part, as they did. The most common manifestation comes from the echoes of past relatives. The closer the relative was in demeanor and experience in life, the more likely the echoes will visit the living who survive them.

When an echo fully manifests in the living it takes over. The echo will control the host for some amount of time, making decisions and even offering opinions. The echo, however, has only the memories and talents that it has shared, either in life or during some past manifestation. It cannot recall knowledge or memory unless it has shared those words and scenes with its host.

When you make a character from Sollos, you first choose whether you are susceptible to whispers and Echoes. If your character is not susceptible, then you will understand this process happens to your country folk but you do not experience it. That is perfectly fine.

If you choose that you are susceptible, then you create both your character and the personality of the character who can manifest within you. You must decide on the personality of an Echo that can visit you. While it is possible for people from Sollos to be visited by more than one Echo, we do not recommend it for player characters.

There are restrictions on how Echoes can manifest and what they are capable of when they do.

~ You cannot choose an evil Echo. An Echo can never cause you to perform some act that you would never do, either for emotional or moral reasons. That is not to say that an Echo can’t make rash decisions, or make your life more interesting and complicated. They just don’t have the control over you to make you break your emotional or moral codes.

~ An Echo only remembers talents and experiences that you shared. It can offer insight or perspective; it will never provide additional knowledge or skills. An Echo can, however, use any of your skills and while manifested might choose (if you decide this out of game) to use your skills or items as it sees fit.

~ You can never manifest an Echo to try to end or circumvent a game effect. Echoes are just as affected by game effects as you are. If an Echo would cause some questionable interaction with some specific game effect, then you cannot manifest the Echo until that game effect has been removed or cured.

~ The folk of Aerune have at least some vague understanding of the Sollosir and how Echoes manifest. They hold all folk responsible for their actions, and an Echo that is manifest is no excuse or defense for any action or inaction. The Sollosir know full well that an Echo cannot force someone to truly act against their will.

~ You as the player choose when your Echo becomes manifest, and when it chooses to relinquish its hold on you. Although your friends can certainly convince your Echo to end its manifest, the decision should be made out of game to offer maximum fun for you and your fellow players, and to enrich the shared story. Echoes that are obstinate or annoying will drain the fun from the game for everyone, and we don’t want that.

Not all Echoes are benevolent. There are Echoes that contain whispers of malevolence, and the Sollosir guard against these. These whispers and Echoes can gain enough power to enter the physical world and become Eidolons, appearing as violent or even depraved haunts or spirits. These Echoes, and the Eidolons they can create, have given rise to orders of mystics which work to quiet their whispers, and quell the appearance and destructive purpose of these malevolent spirits.

Malevolent Echoes and even Eidolons can enter and manifest within Sollosir who, through their actions, are rife with Hubris. Acts of Hubris make Sollosir susceptible to Echoes which have become corrupt or evil, and fallen Eidolons that roam the land. It is for this reason that the Sollosir strive to be particularly virtuous, and distrust those who are not.

Players are not generally susceptible to these malevolent spirits, although if a player commits some act of Hubris they might, for a time, be susceptible to these dark Echoes or the Eidolons that roam the land. This might take the form of a Frenzy effect, or in extreme cases the player might become plot controlled for a time. Players of Sollosir characters who commit too many acts of Hubris and become too susceptible to these malevolent entities could potentially be driven to permanent darkness and malevolence and could lose their characters in a manner similar to permanent death.

There are four orders of mystics, and four temples that house them. Each have developed their own method to quiet these malevolent spirits, or to destroy the Eidolons that roam the land. Mystics trained at the Shrine of the Empty Glass use colored glass and mirrors to quiet defeated Eidolons, trapping the Echoes in the glass until they can be cleansed in the temple itself. Mystics of the Shrine of the Bronze Mask wear some form of metal mask to protect them from the strongest of the Eidolons, and concentrate on militant arts to destroy those haunts. Mystics of the Shrine of the Endless Flame purify Echoes and Spirits with fire, although this can cause great pain in the victims. Mystics of the Shrine of the Soothing Rain draw Echoes into liquids they carry, and cleanse those Echoes in the fountains and falls of their shrine.

As a result of all this, the common and noble people of Sollos are, for the most part, virtuous and introspective. That is not to say that common wisdom never fails the folk who dwell here. The land has its share of less virtuous folk. Many who have never heard the Echoes presume they are not susceptible and do not fear any manifest, although violence of wandering Eidolons is always a threat. Sometimes, however, whispers can manifest late in life. These unexpected occurrences serve as a reminder to all folk of this land that it is better to be virtuous in life.

One affectation of the people of Sollos is that many are given, by a member of the noble houses, a title that is usually appended after their name. These titles are considered honorable, though a person might be given a succession of titles throughout their life, each replacing the former. Titles such as “the Wise” or “the Cautious” are common, but more unusual titles like “the Illuminated” or “the Sorrow Drowned” are considered both more interesting and more prestigious. As a result, lords and ladies of the land who are more literate and who have a flair for dramatic language can often gain more power simply because they give out more interesting and sought after titles.

One defining feature of Sollos is that the people trade for lots of silk from their northern neighbor, the Silken Call. This silk has a particularly fine quality and is surprisingly strong, and this means that the people of Sollos use it to craft a large number of goods. They use the silk in clothes, tents, curtains, rope, and other crafts.

Costuming

The Sollosir people favor loose, flowing clothing and many of the nobles use silk to accentuate and decorate their outfits. The Sollosir usually start with a loose shirt that, when worn, is long enough to fall over the thigh. They favor loose trousers either tucked into high boots or gathered at the ankle over low boots or sandals. Low pointed shoes are sometimes worn. Over this simple base layer, they will decorate themselves with long flowing and patterned layers of silk or other rich fabrics. Vests, tunics, surcoats, robes, sashes and other well-tailored over-layers complete the fashion. Women that favor a more traditional look might wear dresses with intricate patterns.

To match these flowing outfits the Sollosir favor similar accessories on the head. Flowing headbands tied in the back, head wraps, long hair scarves, and recently even deep mantled hoods are worn when the weather is foul or the Sollosir does not want to be recognized.

As the months grow colder the Sollosir simply add layers of cotton or silk to stay warm.

Young men and women from the affluent houses of Sollos are encouraged to travel when they have finished training or scholarly pursuits to widen their horizons. As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals from Sollos to favor the dress of other kingdoms and countries so long as it isn’t so decorated that they risk appearing prideful.

Roleplaying

~ Be virtuous, for succumbing to Hubris invites the Echoes of madness and violence.

~ Be aware during negotiations that an Echo can manifest, and might not understand the situation.  Have others present who will recognize this and can take over a conversation or negotiation.

~ Do not let Eidolons linger over your wounded and dead.

~ Be proud of your title. Those who question it are questioning your own honor.

~ Learn the mannerisms of your allies so you can recognize Echoes within them.

Religion

Many of the people of Sollos favor the Celestial Court; it is the most common religion in Sollos. Magi are not uncommon here. Some of the rangers of Moongarden have adopted the Pale religion. Although less common, some folk who have traveled in their youth have encountered and adopted The Woven Faith or have even turned to Shamanism.

Magic

Mystics and Magi are perhaps the most common, although House Zenith has Shadowmancers and practice that type of magic. Otherwise both arcane and divine spellcasters are scattered among the noble houses and the common people.

Society

The common people of Sollos work in villages and farms, providing food and raw materials to the noble houses in exchange for a fair wage. Though the land is divided by rivers that flow towards a great swirling vale in the center of Sollos, the whole of the country is broken and rocky with very little flat land. Although there is a great deal of vegetation, this makes it impossible for traditional farming. Sollos depending on beans and vined fruit because those are the easiest to grow in the terrain. The people of Sollos also have to spend more time traveling, as roads either wind to a fro between rocky hills and canyons, or they go up and down over hills carved with paths or stairs.

There are currently five great noble houses in Sollos, and a number of lesser houses. Each greater house has a lord who holds the title of Sha, which is appended to their personal name when addressing them. Lords of the land use Mir as a title in a similar fashion. These houses rule various parts of the land, with one house dwelling in and tending to a large round structure called the Ancestria. The Ancestria acts as the country’s capital, and the emissaries of the great houses meet here.

As an example, the head of a great house might be called Loros-Sha Ancestria, or simply Loros-Sha. His knight might be called Harrod-Mir Ancestria.

House Ancestria – This house both dwells in and acts as keepers of the Ancestria, a massive round fortress built into the mountainside in northern Sollos. The Ancestria is both the house where nobles gather and policy is made, and the under tombs that hold the ashes of noble lords and ladies after they die. Nobles of House Ancestria tend to be scholars and don’t tend to travel. The house has a large number of Magi who teach the worship of the Celestial Court.

House Highsun – This house has holdings in the south of Sollos, with many of their towers built up the slopes of the mountains. House Highsun is the most militaristic of the noble families, and generally wear long suits of lamellar armor and carry spears and swords. Shields are not uncommon. House Highsun also has the best mines and most skilled smiths in Sollos, although most of the armor is created with silk reinforcement and embellishment. House Highsun holds Tisal and although there is some trade with kingdoms and countries to the south, Highsun still guards against influence from the Commonwealth of Blacktallow. Sollos saw the court of the former Queen Elysia as rife with Hubris, and is cautious as a result even though that queen has been disposed.

House Morningstar – A house with a large number of Eurvein, this house has holdings along the entire northwest region of Sollos. They have mines all along the mountain range where they produce some of the finest gemstones in Aerune. Magi consider these gems to be among the purest in the lands, and favor their use with their divine magic.

House Moongarden – This house holds the lands to the east within Sollos. These rocky lowlands provide the best areas for the vineyards and small gardens that provide food enough for both the people of Sollos and trade with the Silken Call. House Moongarden, as a result, keeps rangers to guard its lands. The rocky, broken terrain forces the gardens and vineyards to be built apart from one another. This makes it easy for hobgoblins to enter the land from the eastern mountains undetected, and bandits to rob the unwary and disappear into the hills and forests of the area.

House Zenith – Holding the lands north of the Ancestria, this house holds Easin and derived much of their wealth from the silk trade with the Silken Call. The nobles of this house are said to be Shadowmancers, and the warriors and scouts prefer to employ subterfuge and stealth over brute force. House Zenith is also known to be less forthcoming than others of Sollos, largely keeping to themselves and their dealings with the Silken Call.

Regions

All of Sollos is a land of broken rock grown over with vegetation. The center of the kingdom was twisted in ages past, and it is now rock basin formed into a large spiral. The rivers that flow into the basin form a similar and unnatural spiral pattern as they flow in a circle around the large basin. The Shrine of Soothing Rain is built on the shore of a lake that is almost perfectly round. All the rivers flow into the lake, and yet somehow it never rises.

The Ancestria is built into the mountainside. What can be seen is a large, circular, pantheon like structure with arched entrances. The upper floors of the Ancestria have halls and offices and it is used as the center of government for Sollos. The undertombs store the ashes of the nobility.

The north of Sollos is broken into a number of canyons, which makes navigating the area cumbersome. The high land over the canyons is surprisingly hard to explore, as House Zenith has hidden most paths or stairs that provide a means of ascension.

The other areas of Sollos are comprised mostly of hard, rocky hills choked with vegetation. The rivers have carved canyons through the land like furrows, and the vales and gardens are typically separated by winding paths.

People

Loros-Sha Ancestria, the Esteemed – The sha of House Ancestria and the high lord of Sollos, Loros-Sha commands three votes on the Council of Nobles. He is old now, and many expect him to step down and leave the seat and title to one of his four sons.

Mariem-Sha Zenith, the Whisper at Dusk – The sha of House Zenith, Mariem-Sha is still young and skilled, it is said, in many arts that exemplify her house. While the members of the house are reserved and rarely speak, she takes visitors directly. There are visits where guests at House Zenith heard only the voice of the Whisper at Dusk.

Master Callaos, the Master of the Pool – The master of the Shrine of the Soothing Rain, Master Callaos spends his days gazing into the Swirling Lake. It is said the master sometimes sees visions in those waters, as did the masters before him.

Master Na’ar, the Scorched – The master of the Endless Flame is also someone who received the cleansing flames as a youth to free him from the madness of a particularly powerful Eidolon. The Scorched still bears the scars of the burning. The Master is less introspective than many mystics, and fights tirelessly against Eidolons and malevolent Echoes with both weapon (he favors a staff) and the magic of fire.

Master Alia, the Reflection of Alkym – Master Alia is the master of the Shrine of the Empty Glass. With this position comes the responsibility of holding Alkym’s Mirror, an ancient artifact that allows her to glimpse Echoes in the world around her. Although she appears youthful, she has actually been the master of the Shrine for many more years than her features might suggest.

Master Aarethen, the Bronze Lion – Master of the Shrine of the Bronze Mask, Master Aarethen is unusual as a master in that he has often sought enlightenment among the beasts of Sollos. He has become akin to them, and he can grow and fight with wicked claws in battle.